§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, and for taking into consideration the Standing Orders, Nos. 37 and 38, in order to their being dispensed with on the said Bill, read.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
I really expected, my Lords, that in moving the second reading of this very important measure the noble Baron the Secretary for War would at least have made a statement to the House—similar to that which has been made on all occasions when a great alteration has been proposed in the mode of supplying deficiencies in the Army—of the operation of the existing mode of enlistment; that he would have stated the amount of the establishment, and the amount of the effective force which we possess; and, likewise, that he would have informed us of the number of recruits ob- 1600 tained at different times under the present circumstances, so that we might be enabled to judge of the practical effect of the present system of recruiting the Army. The noble Baron has afforded us no information whatever of this kind. I must confess, however, that under the circumstances of the country and of the Army, as they appear to me at the present moment, I am not disposed to make any opposition whatever to the Bill which is now proposed to us; but at the same time I must venture to suggest to the noble Baron that this is a very strong measure, and one which deserves the greatest consideration before the House adopts it—we ought, I say, very seriously to consider whether we should make so very great an alteration in the system of recruiting for the Army without limiting the period for which that alteration is to continue. The necessity is one which we may hope may be at an end at the expiration of three years, or may not exist to the same extent; and even if the case should be otherwise, and the necessity should still exist, there can be no difficulty in coming again to Parliament to ask an extension of the period during which this alteration is to have effect. I shall, therefore, suggest in Committee that the noble Baron should limit the duration of the powers contained in the Bill to the period of three years; and I am quite sure that if, when those powers expire, the need should still continue, Parliament will make no difficulty in granting an extension of them.
I have looked into the Army Estimates for the present year, and I confess, my Lords, that the view I take of the state of our military establishments, and the means of furnishing the amount of force required for the public service according to these Estimates, is one of considerable alarm. I observe that the number of recruits expected to be obtained, or desired to be obtained, during the present year is 60,000 men; and I find also that the increase of the establishment proposed in this year is 35,869:—but I apprehend that at the present moment, considering the great losses which have been sustained in the Crimea, it cannot but be supposed that the army is considerably below the establishment. Taking the deficiency of the effectives of the establishment at 24,131, and adding it to the number by which the establishment is proposed to be increased, the numbers will amount to the full 60,000 recruits for which provision is made. If, indeed, 1601 the 60,000 recruits could be obtained in one day, no doubt on that day the army would be in a perfect state of efficiency, and up to the complement which has been voted by the House of Commons. But observe—in this calculation no provision has been made for the casualties which are to be expected during the present year. I apprehend that, under ordinary circumstances, if we were not engaged in actual war, we could not expect that the casualties from various causes would be much less than 12,000 men; and I am sure I take a very low estimate of the probable casualties of war when I put them at 18,000 more; and, therefore, in addition to the 60,000 recruits required to complete the establishment, if they were obtained to-morrow, you will require 30,000 more in order, on the 31st of March, 1856, to have the actual establishment up to the strength now voted by Parliament. This is a very serious state of things. In the same Army Estimates I see it is proposed that 60,000 recruits are to be obtained for the militia, or rather are wanted for the militia; but, as there is a very large deduction from the expenditure for these recruits, amounting to 700,000l., which may be taken to represent 28,000 men, I apprehend that it is supposed that 28,000 men will be transferred from the militia to the regular army:— there can be no doubt, however, that a very large number of men will be required for the purpose of keeping the militia up to its establishment, even after the deduction of the 28,000 men for which provision has been made. All the consideration I have ever been able to give to this subject has led me to the conclusion that the only solid foundation for an efficient army in this country is a full militia —a militia full up to its complement: but of this I must say I am quite sure, that, unless Parliament shall take very energetic measures, and unless individuals will exert themselves for the public service to the full extent of their personal influence, in the localities in which they have that influence, it will be perfectly impossible to effect this object. I, therefore, earnestly recommend the noble Baron that he should communicate with the Home Secretary; that the Home Secretary may write to the, lords lieutenant of counties, stating the requirements of the country and the absolute necessity of individual exertion; and that the lords lieutenant may then call together their deputy-lieutenants and 1602 state to them, each as he may best think fit, the wants of the public service and the duties imposed upon them. I must say, too, that having considered this matter to the best of my ability, I have come to the conclusion which I have more than once expressed in this House, that it would be advisable that the Government should avail itself of the power which is granted in the Act passed two or three years ago, to make the Poor Law unions the districts to which the quotas of the militia are to be apportioned. I feel, too, that some measure of coercion should be adopted—though I should be most unwilling at the present moment to resort to the ballot; but it appears to me that the most convenient mode of stimulating their energy would be to inflict a fine upon the union for every militiaman of the quota apportioned to the district not provided. I have had a great deal to do at different times with the practical operation of Poor Law unions, and, having sat a great deal on boards of guardians, I know the great power which that establishment possesses, and I am perfectly confident that if the chairmen of boards of guardians—men always of the first influence in the union —in co-operation with the guardians, a great many of whom are continued from year to year, and in co-operation with those with whom they have been connected as guardians in former years, would really exert themselves for the purpose of obtaining a sufficient supply of militiamen, the fine would rarely be imposed, and the militia would generally be maintained up to its full complement. In the present state of the country, however, and of this war, I am convinced that it is necessary not merely to resort to those measures which may be passed by Parliament with this view, but that the personal exertions of every individual, wherever he may be able to make those exertions, are required for the purpose of filling the ranks of the militia, and enabling it to supply the army with that force which is absolutely needed for the maintenance of the public interests and the national honour.
My Lords, there is something that strikes me very much, in looking into these Army Estimates, as defective in the present organisation of the army, and I beg to submit the subject to the consideration of the noble Baron the War Minister. I perceive that there has been a very great addition to the number of the officers in the army in the course of last year. In 1603 one page of the Army Estimates I find it stated that that addition has amounted to 1,962. I do not find, however, that that number corresponds with the number which I should calculate from the details given; and which, on the contrary, appears, when added together, to be in the total 1,669. But your Lordships will observe that while the addition of majors is proportional to the addition of captains and other officers, so that the chance of promotion to the rank of major remains the same as before, yet not only is there no addition to the rank of lieutenant colonel, but, in point of fact, the latter are one less than when the subordinate officers were fewer. This is a matter which appears to me of material importance, for not only in the matter of promotion is injury done to officers in the ranks of lieutenant and captain, but the service sustains a very serious loss; for there could be no doubt that it is most desirable that persons in a considerable number should be placed in the rank of lieutenant colonel, and should in that rank have the command of a sufficient body of men to acquire the power of moving battalions, and so qualify themselves for higher appointments in the army.
This subject brings me to the enormous increase which is proposed to be made in the numerical strength of the regiments—to which increase I very much object. I see that each regiment serving in the Crimea is to be made up to 2,200 men; but it is not intended that this body should ever be brought together in one mass; but some were to be kept in depôt at home, others at Malta, while the main body would be employed in the Crimea. But the men so employed, amounting to more than 1,400, would be infinitely too large to be handled by the ordinary regimental officers; they would form the ordinary strength of a brigade, and not of a regiment; it would be necessary to break them into wings, and thus altogether to destroy their usefulness as a substantive unit—for the battalion should be a unit in the army organisation. But there is this further objection to the proposed arrangement, that one-third or more of the battalion would be dispersed in small bodies in a fragmentary state, and no officer commanding a fragment could obtain any knowledge of his duty so as to command an entire regiment hereafter. In what position should we then be in England, when the only force in England would consist of these fragmentary regiments, and when there would be no pos- 1604 sibility of bringing together a military force of any amount fit to contend with an enemy, for you could not put together occasionally and for extraordinary purposes of war two or three bodies of 200 or 300 men, each commanded, perhaps, by accidental captains who may engage for a short period in such a service. The system about to be adopted is practically nullifying the efficiency of the army. By the deductions made from the militia, from the regular force by detachments at Malta and elsewhere, and by the enormous force in the Crimea, you will have at home men, but army none—nothing in the shape of an army—and that appears to me to be contrary to all military principle and reason.
It is with very deep regret that I am compelled to come to the conclusion that our military institutions are utterly inadequate for the support of an army of the strength of that originally sent to the Crimea. That army, no doubt, has been subject to extraordinary losses; but, even had it only been subject to the ordinary losses of war, we have not in our military institutions the means of maintaining such an army to its full complement. The consequence of that deficiency has been that we have been taking most extraordinary measures for the purpose of maintaining it at the number at which it originally stood. For this purpose we have denuded the Colonies, shuffling regiments together, and dislocating them, so that when a regiment lands in the Crimea it finds its best men, not in its own ranks, but transferred by volunteering to the ranks of other regiments. The whole army is thus shuffled together; the esprit de corps is entirely destroyed, and all the effect of discipline done away with. Thus, instead of sending out a perfectly well disciplined and equipped army, perfect in all respects as the one we ought in all circumstances to send abroad—if we send an army abroad at all—we have sent out the present one deficient in all the qualities which ought to distinguish an army, except that courage which is innate in the British soldier. What is the consequence? In the endeavour to keep up the number of the army the Government is compelled, day after day, to send troops to the Crimea utterly unfit for the service. I have seen a regiment sent out to the Crimea composed of boys of from nineteen to twenty years of age, not of the usual stature, full of spirit, but utterly unable to contend with the difficulties, or to bear the hardships of a campaign. The 1605 consequence is, that you are throwing regiment after regiment into a bottomless pit, where they can do no public service, and must die, because nature compels them to sink under the exertions and privations to which they are subjected. It is most painful to see this state of things, which has resulted altogether from the extraordinary notion of sending out every man you could lay your hands on without considering whether it was possible to maintain the army up to the complement at which it was sent out, and thus all these calamities have arisen.
I confess I look with very great regret on the conduct of this war. It is very painful for me to see that, while the Turks were fighting at Silistria, our troops were doing nothing at Varna; and when our troops were fighting before Sebastopol, the Turks have been doing nothing on the Pruth. All this is very unsatisfactory. It shows a want of system and of combination in the operations between the three armies, and that either there was no knowledge of the principles and mode of conducting war, or, if there were that knowledge, that there was some impracticability in applying it.
But I rejoice that in the midst of a great deal of regret on various subjects, I have at least to congratulate the noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Department on two events which appear to me to be a very good augury, and extremely valuable in themselves. Whether diplomacy has had anything to do with them I know not—I am not one of those who profess any great respect for diplomacy—but I really envy the satisfaction which the noble Earl must have enjoyed when the Convention was signed with Sardinia. I look upon that Convention as contributing a most valuable force to the common exertions of the Western Powers. I envy him the satisfaction he must have enjoyed, because I must say that of all the events which have occurred since 1848—events which have generally been creditable to the smaller constitutional Powers of Europe, whose conduct almost universally has been far superior to that of the great Powers in the emergencies in which they have been placed —I say of all the measures adopted, that which most conduces to the credit of the Piedmontese statesmen by whom it was adopted—that which most conduces, not only to their present credit, but to the future interests of their country—is that Convention, by which Piedmont joins the 1606 Western Powers. That of all other measures is destined to find a place in history as one of the most admirable transactions —one of the most remarkable acts—of a long-sighted Government. I congratulate the noble Earl and the statesman at the head of the Piedmontese Government—the people and the army of Piedmont, on that event. They are the hope of Italy—they have taken a new position in Europe, and have justified the expectations entertained of their virtue and wisdom; and I most earnestly hope that they may get the reward they so justly deserve in the advantage to be derived from the measure to their country, and in the honour which they deserve to have for themselves. It is to me a subject of the deepest regret that that noble prince the Duke of Genoa—as noble a soldier as ever met an enemy in the field—should not have been spared to lead his country's troops to glory and victory, and to add another ray of honour —of that honour which never deserts them—to the head of the illustrious military family of Sardinia.
There is another subject on which I have to congratulate the noble Earl, and that is the recent convention with Turkey; that also makes a very material addition to the forces of the Western Powers. Undoubtedly, it would have been a subject of very great satisfaction if that convention had been made ten months ago. Whether it was impossible to overcome Turkish scruples sooner, I know not—or whether the ordinary means were adopted for the purpose of effecting that great object, I know not; but this I will say, that it is an object fraught with advantages, not only to the prosecution of military operations, but more especially to the actual position of Turkey itself; because we must not think that if we can save Turkey in the present war, we have done all that is to be done;—we have done little or nothing unless we place Turkey in a position in which she will be able to protect herself, at least, until the other Powers of Europe may come to her assistance. I know nothing that can tend so directly to the revival of the Turkish empire as the revival of the Turkish army. It has had at a distant period an army more instructed, more disciplined, and more scientific than any army known in Europe at the time, though that was the time of Charles V. I know not why at this time she should not he capable of producing an army of equal merit; it may perhaps be a 1607 difficult task; but this I know, that in States sunk as that is, the only possible chance of revival is in the reconstruction of the army. When a State is falling in virtue the last place virtue leaves is the army in the field. It was so in the fall of the Roman empire, when the highest virtues still adorned the army, while everything that was corrupt existed in the court; and, my Lords, I feel satisfied that if you can in any way reconstruct the Turkish army, you will give to that country the chance of reconstruction in other respects which it has never yet had, and which may free the future Government of that country from many difficulties and dangers to which it has been recently exposed. But I must say that I think the extent to which the employment of Turkish troops in our service is to be made available is very insufficient; and I think that it is not in our own service only, but in the service of the French also, that a very large body of Turks ought to be employed. Instead of 20,000, we should at least have 30,000 Turkish soldiers in the pay and disciplined by the officers of this country; and I should earnestly desire to see the same number in the service of France, officered by French officers, to serve on the Pruth, as our Turkish contingent should be led by English officers to serve in Asia; for, my Lords, I have no doubt whatever, that, so long as we attempt to conduct this war against Russia without attempting any diversions whatever—allowing her to bring her whole forces over the hardened snow, with all their means of transport, and all their artillery, to attack our forces, exposed as they are to most inclement weather, and at a distance of 3,000 miles from their supplies, without an adequate artillery perhaps, certainly without the adequate equipment that an army in the position before Sebastopol ought to have—I say, that so long as we contend with Russia as we are now doing at Sebastopol, the allied troops will be exposed to a weight which it is impossible they can withstand, and it is impossible that we can succeed at the point which we have selected as that of conflict. My Lords, it has been to me a deep subject of regret, from the commencement of this war, that Her Majesty's Government should not have paid that attention which I think they ought to have done to the importance of the war in Asia. I entirely concur, my Lords, in all that has been said and written by that able gentleman who, more than any other, is 1608 acquainted with the affairs of Asia—I mean Mr. Layard. I entirely concur in all that he has said. We are not merely an European, we are an Asiatic Power. To us this war has a double interest and importance. It affects us, not merely as regards the coasts of the Mediterranean, or the manner in which Russia may get possession of Constantinople and establish her fleet in the Black Sea, with a view to the destruction of our commerce and our position there as a naval Power; it is of importance to us, as it affects greatly our position in the East. Upon the result of this war depends the maintenance of our communication with India through Egypt. Upon the result of this war depends the question whether Turkey shall possess any independent strength in Asia Minor. If Russia advances to Erzeroum, that strength will fall—all communication between Turkey and Persia is cut off; Persia becomes subject to Russia, and all the power of Persia, through Russia, will be directed against us in India. I say, therefore, the importance of the war in Asia is incalculable to us. It is quite a different thing to us whether Russia succeeds in Asia than it is to any of the other Powers engaged in this war; and therefore I most earnestly desire that in addition to these Turkish troops in our pay, we should also have the aid of Persian soldiers. From what I have heard, I believe the Persians are the best soldiers in Asia, equally able with those of other countries to bear heat and cold, brave as their swords, and obedient to their officers whenever they are paid, and will go wherever they are taken. I most earnestly desire to see such an army in our employ, officered as the irregular forces are under the East India Company, by a commandant, a second in command, and an adjutant; and I feel satisfied that, so officered, those troops would be equal to any service to which they might be called. But, my Lords, there is another Power whose assistance I think we have a right to claim in this war—a Power most deeply interested, whose existence as connected with India is, I will not say dependent on the result of this war, but most materially connected with it—I mean the Government of India. Is the Government of India to stand aloof in this war, which affects Persia and which affects the communication through Egypt? Is that Government to do nothing? Is she to be the Prussia of the East? Is she to let others fight her battles, and not adventure one man of her 1609 own in her own defence? I think not. I think not only that the available forces of India should be brought into the field, but that the Government of India should pay the cost of maintaining them in the field, because it is for their interest and for their safety that they would have to fight. In addition to the 30,000 Turks and Persian soldiers that could with great effect be opposed to Russia in Asia, why should we not have the use of the noblest artillery in the world—the Native artillery of India? You can have forty-eight guns without the smallest inconvenience to the service in India—not served by men who will run away when the enemy is advancing to their muzzles, but who will die at their guns; who may have their guns taken, no doubt, but who will never desert them, standing at their post till left dead men. And why not add, also, some part of the irregular cavalry of India, than which there is no nobler body of men in the world. The officers are selected from the whole army of India—men full of daring, full of knowledge, genius, and zeal, to whom the soldiers are devoted, and who would follow them to the end of the world. Of those you can easily have 3,000 or 4,000, officered by the best men in the world. In addition to this force of irregular cavalry, we should have eight or ten battalions composed of volunteers from different regiments in India, all Mahomedans, officered by men—some of whom I well know—equal to any you possess in the army. Thus, then, including the Turkish and Persian troops, you might have an army of 50,000 men, which would be strong enough to give you Teflis and Georgia. Observe that in this war before Sebastopol you are inclosed by the town and by the enemy, and you have no means of contact with the people of the country. But in Georgia you would have the feeling of the nationality of the country in your favour. We should have allies by our side. We should have Schamyl and the Circassians, and would have an opportunity of attacking Russia with the arms she has herself used for the purpose of subjugating a large portion of Asia. You would attack her with her own arms, and you may depend upon it that in this war you must fail unless you determine to appeal to nations and not alone to armies—unless you will avail yourselves of the means which the national feeling of the people more recently annexed to Russia places at your disposal. This is a war, I regret to say, 1610 ad internecionem, and it is absolutely necessary that you should avail yourselves of every means in your power to bring it to a conclusion honourable to this country, safe for us, and safe for the rest of the world.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
said, he had listened with satisfaction to the observations of the noble Earl, and more especially to what he had just stated with regard to the nationalities oppressed by Russia. He believed that we had made a great mistake in not having called the nationalities of Europe to our side in our present struggle—for it was only by arousing the nations that had been oppressed by Russia that real and efficient obstacles could be opposed to the future extension of that empire. On the side of Asia the Circassians and other nations on the Russian frontier had, almost unassisted, opposed a successful resistance to her progress. Why, then, did not Europe afford assistance to those who were carrying on this struggle for independence? They had fought battles occasionally with success; it was true they had occasionally been defeated, but they had never been defeated ingloriously, although the whole power of Russia had been arrayed against them, and they had not been supported by the assistance or the sympathy of Europe. If aid were afforded to these people, and they were enabled to resist the power of their assailant, Russia would be prevented from gaining a position between Persia and Turkey which would enable her to turn the flank of Turkey, and Turkey would be protected against future encroachments. But there was one name which ought not to be lost sight of in considering this subject, and that was the name of Poland. He deeply regretted the statement that was made a little while ago in the other House of Parliament, by the noble Lord the late President of the Council, to the effect that whatever the result of the war there was to be no change in the territorial distribution of Europe. But if you do not do that, what are you fighting for? Are you fighting simply for a treaty? Are you fighting for a disclaimer of pretensions which may be revived at any future opportunity? For his part, he understood they were fighting for a substantial guarantee; and what better guarantee could they have than by altering in some degree the territorial power of Russia? They could not retain the Crimea in the long run; and to whom could they give it? On what point 1611 could Russia be so effectually attacked as on the side of Poland and the Caucasus? Yet on neither of those two points had the slightest effort of the Allies been made. If they could get the concurrence of Austria to enable them to raise the standard of Polish independence, what did they do? They at once raised 17,000,000 of men, the most warlike opponents of the power of Russia, as a permanent barrier between the East and the West—from the Baltic to the Black Sea—between Russia and the rest of Europe. Knowing how ready Austria, through Prince Metternich, was at the time of the Congress of Vienna to restore the ancient dominion of Poland, and establish that barrier between Russia and the rest of Europe, he could not but believe that with proper encouragement Austria would be ready to make sacrifices of portions of her territorial possessions for the safety and security of the remainder, for he thought the cause which had hitherto induced Austria to hold back was the position occupied by Russia from her possession of Poland, which enabled her to command the whole of Germany from North to South. The question of the independence of Poland was, after all, the key to the whole policy of Europe. At the present moment there was not a doubt as to what was the public opinion of Europe with regard to the position of Russia —none whatever. The other Powers of Europe who stood aloof from the Western Alliance did so, not because they did not sympathise with the objects of the Allies, but simply from terror of the power of Russia; and as that terror arose solely from the strategical position which the possession of Poland gave to Russia, surely such an important question ought not to be overlooked or neglected. When the propriety of establishing a Polish Legion was some time since discussed, it was urged as an objection to the measure that such a body of men would act as a revolutionary force; and the noble Lord now at the head of Her Majesty's Government was represented to have replied, "Oh, no; not revolutionary, if you please, but desertionary certainly." He trusted, however, that any rate the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) who was about to proceed as our Minister at Vienna, would not go there pledged to carry out the opinion which he had, perhaps rather hastily, expressed — that under no circumstances would a change be made in the territorial position of Russia, either on the side of 1612 Poland or the Caucasus, or on both; for he was convinced, that unless some alteration was effected in the distribution of territorial power in one or both of these quarters, we might conclude treaties with Russia, but have no security that they would be observed—we might achieve her humiliation for a season, but would leave her power of ultimately disturbing the peace of Europe unimpaired.
§ LORD PANMURE
My Lords, I certainly did not expect that a debate upon the second reading of this Bill would have led to such an enlarged statement of the noble Earl's (the Earl of Ellenborough) views as that with which he has favoured your Lordships, and before I take any notice of those views I may disencumber the subject of some of the technical details to which the noble Earl has referred. In the first place the noble Earl has expressed his opinion that it is an expedient that Parliament should grant to the Crown an unlimited power of curtailing the period of enlistment in the army. I, to some extent, participate in the opinion he has expressed, and I do not dissent from the proposition of the noble Earl that the operation of this Bill should be limited to the period of three years, for I earnestly hope, and most sincerely pray, that the necessity for its continuance may not exist three years from the time at which I now address your Lordships. I can have no difficulty whatever, therefore, in consenting to the Amendment suggested by the noble Earl. With this Amendment, and limitation of the period for which the alteration is to be in force, I trust that the House will have no difficulty in agreeing to this measure. I thought I had fully and distinctly explained the object of this Bill when I proposed it and laid it upon your Lordships' table. I stated distinctly that its object was to enable us immediately to enlist in Her Majesty's service men of somewhat mature age, whose sinews were sufficiently strong and whose constitutions were sufficiently formed to enable them to enter at once upon the arduous and trying work of a campaign, instead of—as at present— enlisting boys of the age of eighteen, who have to be fed and trained for two or three years before they are fit to engage in any operations of the commonest kind. I do not understand that to such a plan, limited to a certain definite time, any objection will arise on the part of this House; and therefore I shall proceed, instead of dis- 1613 cussing the mere principle of the Bill, to meet some of those points which have been raised by the noble Earl, connected rather with the state of the army in general than with the subject to which the Bill particularly refers. The noble Earl has referred to the number of recruits requisite to raise the effective strength of the army to the number of men for which the Under Secretary of State for the War Department obtained a vote in the House of Commons last night. Those who are conversant with the affairs of the army are, however, well aware that it is almost impossible, at any period, to maintain the effective force of the army up to the number voted in the Estimates for the year. If that is the case in time of peace, it must be much more difficult in time of war. The noble Earl has stated that, in time of peace, in an army of 120,000 or 130,000 men, there are annually about 12,000 casualties. Of course the casualties in an army of 190,000 men, and in a time of war, must be considerably more numerous, and a greater number of men will be required to supply the deficiency thus created. I do not fear that there will be any difficulty in raising the requisite supply of men by recruiting. The Government do not rely solely on their own measures—we do not doubt that every possible exertion will be made by all lords lieutenant, by deputy lieutenants, by all men of property, by all men interested in the welfare of the country, by any interests, whether landed, mercantile, or commercial, to induce men to enter the service of their Queen and country, for the more speedily we can employ an efficient force, the more speedily will a conclusion be put to a state of things which disturbs all the relations of the country, landed, commercial, and mercantile. But, my Lords, recourse has been had, to a certain extent, to the militia. I am sorry to say that some of the militia regiments have not shown that alacrity and vigour in supplying their quota to serve in the line which it was expected they would do. It is my intention to take energetic measures for inducing a proper supply of men from the militia regiments; but I trust that, previously to taking energetic measures, an appeal which I have made to the commanding officers of the several militia regiments may have its due and proper effect. But, my Lords, with regard to the militia itself, I am perfectly ready to admit, with the noble Earl, that the number 1614 of that force is not such as is required by Parliament and the country. With respect to the system of fines referred to by the noble Earl, I am afraid that, also, is an illusory resource. It was tried during the last war, and the system failed; as far as my information goes, I believe that the fines which were imposed were never exacted, and were never paid into the public Treasury. With that precedent before us, I doubt very much whether the system would succeed any more now. The attention of Government has been much directed, my Lords, to the recruiting of the army, and there can be no question that means must be found, if not gentle, then they must be found by compulsion, for recruiting the ranks of Her Majesty's service, in order to enable this war to be carried on with the requisite vigour. My Lords, in another point to which the noble Earl alluded, he raised an objection to the composition of the regiments which now form the army in the Crimea. He objects, in the first place, to the disproportion of superior officers in those regiments—namely, of one lieutenant colonel and three majors as compared with the captains and subalterns. I have to state to the noble Earl that that circumstance has attracted my attention, and, agreeing with him in what he has said, I have instructed the Commander in Chief, instead of making the establishment of each regiment one lieutenant colonel and three majors, as at present, to make it two lieutenant colonels and two majors. When, therefore, the regiment is separated into two divisions, both the portion which remains at home and that which is engaged in service in the field will have the advantage of being commanded by a lieutenant colonel. This I trust will secure the increased efficiency of the various regiments both at home and abroad. It is intended to raise the force of each regiment serving in the Crimea to 2,000 men, and it is proposed that there shall be present in the field the half of that body—namely, 1,000 men. Out of that force of 1,000 men, it is supposed that there may be from casualties of various kinds a deficiency of about 200 men, bringing the regiment in the field down to 800 men, which, I believe, all military men agree is the number which can be most easily handled, which can be most successfully formed and manœuvred, and which can be best managed in action. Having thus provided for 1,000 men, it is intended to compose the other 1,000 as follows: 1615 A depôt of 400 men will be stationed in the Mediterranean for easy and immediate relief, and for supplying any vacancies which may take place in the portion of the regiment engaged in the Crimea. The remainder of the regiment, consisting of 600 men, under a lieutenant colonel in command and his due proportion of officers will form the regimental depôt at home; add I will only remind the noble Earl that that is not altogether so despicable a force, inasmuch as the regiments that were sent out to the Colonies only a few years ago went out at a strength of 650, being only fifty over the number we take to form the regimental depôts which we now propose shall remain at home. Each depôt regiment will, in fact, form one battalion under the new system, what you had formerly in two battalions. The noble Earl, in the remarks which he addressed to your Lordships, proceeded to notice that which took place certainly long before I had any conception of being called upon to take any part in the administration of the war—namely, the mode in which the regiments originally embarked for service in the East were brought up to the complement at which they were required to embark. Great inconveniences, no doubt, did arise from the course which was followed in bringing up these regiments to the complement at which it was necessary to send them to the East. But at that time it was thought that the expedition would not be of a permanent character; but when the Commander in Chief was suddenly called upon to raise the strength of the regiments destined for foreign service from 800 to 1,000 men, I do not see that he could have done better than to call upon those regiments which were not required for immediate foreign service to supply by volunteering the vacancies existing in those regiments which were about to proceed abroad. If any inconvenience did arise at that time, I am quite sure that that inconvenience has disappeared altogether many months ago. It was merely an inconvenience of a temporary, and not of a permanent nature. The noble Earl then proceeded in a much higher tone to address your Lordships on various subjects of high policy connected with the war, and he enlarged at some length upon the course which the Government have taken with reference to the convention entered into with Piedmont. My Lords, in every word which the noble Earl said with respect to that convention I entirely concur. I also 1616 concur most entirely in the high compliment which he paid to that gallant individual whose loss we all deplore; and, my Lords, to show the sincerity with which the Piedmontese Government are acting in this matter, I may state that not only are they affording to the Western Powers the flower of their troops, but they are sending in command of them the man whom they recognise as most fit above all to take charge of them — namely, their present Minister of War. The noble Earl next proceeded to congratulate my noble Friend (the Earl of Clarendon) upon having achieved a convention with Turkey, by which a certain body of Turkish troops are to be maintained in British pay. It is not necessary to follow the noble Earl in the details to which he has adverted. Of course Her Majesty's Government view with the same satisfaction which he does the conclusion of that convention. We see much benefit to be derived, not only by the English but by the French army, from the Turkish contingent; but we do not say how that contingent is to be raised, or to what extent it is to be raised, beyond what was stated in the terms of the convention itself. I do think it would be somewhat unbecoming in me if I were to venture to follow the noble Earl in all the details of the campaign to which he has referred, considering the position which I have the honour to hold. It might be inferred from some of the observations of the noble Earl, that this war is undertaken for some special purposes in which this country has an individual interest; but I cannot help deprecating the idea that England is fighting this war for any peculiar interest of her own. My Lords, this war in my opinion is undertaken against the aggressive policy of a great Power in Europe. It is undertaken with no aggressive views on the part of this country; but it is undertaken honestly for the purpose of restraining the power and the ambition of Russia. It is not undertaken for the advancement of any particular interests of this country, and I should be sorry to see this country endeavour to turn to her own individual advantage a force which has been brought together for a higher and nobler purpose. With reference to any assistance we might be able to obtain from the Indian Government, I confess that the noble Earl speaks with somewhat more conviction upon his own mind than I can speak with conviction upon mine. He has filled a high office in India, and he ought 1617 to know more of the exigencies of the Indian Government, and more of the relations of the people of India, than I can pretend to know. But it must be a very serious consideration that can induce us to withdraw from India such troops as the noble Earl has described, and I could not venture to express an opinion upon that subject without being thoroughly acquainted with the views of the Governor-General of India at this moment as to the safety of India; nor, further than withdrawing those few regiments belonging to the Queen's service, to the withdrawal of which the Governor-General has given his full acquiescence, would I venture, merely for the sake of employing Indian regiments in the Crimea, to deprive India of troops on which it may be necessary that she should rely, either to resist attacks within her own territories, or to maintain that order which at this moment, I am happy to say, exists from one extremity of our Indian dominions to the other. With these observations it is not my intention further to detain your Lordships, except to assure you that, in moving the second reading of this Bill, I do so solely with the intention of engrafting upon Her Majesty's service a body of men who shall be capable of discharging more fully and more I immediately the duties, and of supporting the hardships of war, and at less cost of health and life than the class from which our recruits are at present taken. I have no objection, as I said before, to limit it to a period of three years, feeling not the slightest doubt that when that period has elapsed, should it unfortunately be necessary to continue the operation of the Act, your Lordships will grant that extended power as willingly as you will grant the power for which we now ask.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH;
Perhaps I may be allowed to explain. I do not know whether or not the noble Lord misunderstood me—that I did not speak of withdrawing a single European regiment from India, or of employing Native troops in the Crimea.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
My Lords, I must say that on one point the language of the noble Lord the Secretary for War rather alarmed me when he stated, and stated very truly, that the militia regiments had not on every occasion contributed that number of recruits to the line which was looked for. The manner in which the noble Earl alluded to that point, and the stringent measures 1618 which he indicated as necessary in order to promote enlistment, certainly alarmed me to some degree, because, being myself a militia officer, I know that a very strong feeling exists upon that very point. Your Lordships must recollect that not very long ago, as was done during the last war, recruiting sergeants were sent out to enlist militiamen for the regiments of the line. The consequence of this was, that all the militia regiments for a week or ten days, while these recruiting sergeants were at the different garrisons, were in a state of complete disorganisation. This, for example, was the case at Portsmouth, where it was really no light matter in an arsenal of such importance, for four or five regiments of militia to be so completely beyond the control of their officers as the men stationed in that town were, while the army recruiting officers were tempting them to enter the line. There is another impression which prevails very generally, and it is that the militia has not been in all respects treated fairly by Parliament and by the Government of the country during the last three years. When my noble Friend behind me (the Earl of Derby) introduced his Bill for the establishment of a militia force in this country, the men universally enlisted on the understanding that they should be only embodied in case of invasion, and exercised for only fifty-six days. That Bill remained in force for a year. Then, in consequence of events which took place, the apprehension of war shifted from the West to the East, and your Lordships were called upon to pass a second Bill to embody the militia in case of a war. That was never fairly understood by the men who were enlisted under the first Bill. I can give numberless instances in my own regiment, and within my own county, where many men who enlisted into the militia had no intention of ever enlisting into a force which was likely to be permanently embodied. They looked upon invasion as a mere vision. They were glad to serve their country in the way provided for under the first Bill; but they had no intention, and never thought it possible, that they would be called upon to be permanently embodied. However, the Bill for their permanent embodiment passed in 1854. At the same time they were called out under the provisions of the first Bill for twenty-eight days, but many of them did not know that at the end of twenty-eight days they had the opportunity of going back to 1619 their homes, and they were kept under the second Bill and then permanently embodied. Many of the men now said, "If we are to be permanently embodied, though that was not what we expected, we would much rather be in the line, because then we should share in the advantages enjoyed by the soldiers of the line. There is no 'humbug' about that force. In our case we have been gradually led into a force which is to be embodied, and if that is to be done we would rather go into the line." That has caused a feeling, at all events in the South of England, which has prevented in a very great degree recruiting for the militia being carried on successfully. If, for instance, the noble Lord the Secretary for War looks at the statistics in the case of the militia of Hampshire, an agricultural county which ought to produce, and has hitherto produced, a large supply of recruits in the militia, he will find that the proportion supplied to their quota falls short of that supplied by other counties. I would, therefore, press upon the noble Lord that, whatever is done by the Government—and I acknowledge that even if the ballot is necessary it must be resorted to — but whatever course is taken it should be taken in the most open, frank, and intelligible manner. These men had much rather, if I may use the phrase, "know the worst of it" at once. They had much rather be chosen by ballot; because, though this course is disagreeable enough, it is a fair one, and no man is worse treated by it than another; but what they do not like is that they should be tempted step by step to enter into a force by one Bill, have the service prolonged by another Bill, and finally be forced—though, no doubt, not violently—to enter into the line, where they had no intention at all of entering. I agree with the noble Lord in the opinion that the militia should remain as the nursery of our Army, and that if all other efforts fail the ballot must be resorted to; but I entreat him to consider the subject with all the force of his mind, and, whatever steps he takes, I hope they will be made thoroughly intelligible to the most ignorant mind among the population from which these men are taken.
§ EARL GREY
My Lords, I can confirm entirely what has been stated by the noble Earl who has just sat down. I know that the departure from the original understanding upon which the militia was raised has had a most prejudicial effect upon the service. At the time the Bill was passed 1620 last year which authorised the permanent embodying of the militia, I, for one, expressed my dislike to it, and my apprehension of the consequences of the measure. I know from long experience that the class from which you raise your soldiers requires to be dealt with not only with good faith, but with scrupulous attention, even to appearances, so that there may not be the shadow of a suspicion of any departure from good faith. Now, with respect to the militia, you have not adhered to this rule. When you originally raised this force you took the greatest possible pains to inculcate upon the people of this country a persuasion that in going into the militia they ran no hazard of being permanently embodied even during war, unless there was an apprehension of invasion, and the Act of 1852 contained a clause which specially provided that the militia should not be called out for a longer time than that allowed for training even in war, unless in the case of actual invasion, or immediate apprehension of invasion. But having induced men to volunteer into the militia on the faith of that principle, you departed from it, and passed a different Act, by which, without the consent of the men, you altered the terms of their engagement, and enabled the Government, though there was no fear of invasion, permanently to embody the militia during the war; and, as far as my own county is concerned, I must say since this I observe a very marked difference, as well as I can judge, in the readiness of persons to engage in the service. In one case it was represented to me that the feeling described by the noble Earl was so strong that a man who had been enlisted into the militia under the original Bill said, that if the regiment was to be permanently embodied, he must emigrate to America before that took place. There was no power of stopping him if he went away before the clay on which the militia regiment was ordered to assemble, and he stated openly and publicly, that if the engagement into which he had entered was altered without his consent, he would emigrate to America. When this case was brought under my notice by the colonel of the regiment, I wrote to the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the subject, and I asked whether a man in this situation should not be entitled to leave of absence for any period after twenty-eight days' service. The reply to this was in the affirmative; but I much doubt whether the intimation that they may obtain leave of 1621 absence has been generally given to men in a similar situation, or would satisfy them. I must say I differ from the noble Earl who has just sat down in thinking that the militia is the proper nursery for the Army. The original intention in the establishment of the militia was not that of making it a nursery for the Army, but a totally distinct force—a force for national defence. I think you have made a great mistake in departing from that original intention. It is now neither the one thing nor the other. It is neither a reserve force kept back for great occasions, nor is it a nursery for the army. If it is a more nursery for the army, how can you expect colonels and officers of the militia to take any interest in disciplining their men, when, directly they have made them efficient, their men are to be drafted into the regular army? It is utterly impossible you can expect this. And then, are we to keep up the whole staff of militia officers to discipline the men when this could be done equally well by a few captains and drill sergeants? I say the course of the Government with regard to the militia is an entire departure from the original scheme, and one which has thwarted, instead of promoting the great object of increasing the strength of the army. The proper plan to adopt is to increase the army as much as you can in a legitimate manner, by holding out inducements to men to enter at once into the regular service of the army, and by using such means, and by ameliorating the system which has hitherto existed, the regular force might be legitimately increased. My Lords, I entirely approve of the measure of my noble Friend the Secretary for War, and I have listened to his speech with great satisfaction. The course he has adopted in holding out inducements to persons of a more advanced age than the general run of recruits is, in my opinion, a very wise course. I venture to express a hope, while I am upon that subject, that my noble Friend will take some steps to bring back again into the service of the army a class of persons who would, under the present circumstances, be most valuable. Your Lordships are aware that, during the peace, successive Governments have acted upon the wise principle of allowing men to leave the army upon easy terms, and a large number of men have been in that manner discharged from the service; but I believe that a very large number of those men might be induced to 1622 re-enter the service if they were allowed to reckon their former military services as part of the time which all men are obliged to serve before they can receive a pension. At the present time, my Lords, when one well trained soldier is worth nearly his weight in gold, when he is at least worth five or six recruits or young lads, it is of the greatest importance to consider the propriety of inducing that class of men to which I have referred to re-enter the service; and, as I have said, the greatest inducement to those persons would be to allow the time they have served, before leaving the service, to be reckoned in the term of years' service necessary to secure a pension. It would no doubt be just that those persons who having purchased their discharge should have the money they have paid refunded to them on some fit and reasonable terms. Having made these remarks, I would not further trespass on the time of your Lordships, but that I cannot pass by a subject of great importance referred to by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ellenborough). I concur entirely with my noble Friend (Lord Panmure) that this is not a convenient opportunity for entering into the high and important questions relating to the conduct of the war which the noble Earl has raised, and if he wishes your Lordships to consider the policy he has recommended, he ought to bring the subject before you distinctly, and with due notice; but the subject having been introduced I cannot help saying that I heard with great satisfaction that my noble Friend the Secretary for War did not concur in, what appeared to me, the wild and extravagant suggestions of the noble Earl opposite. I heard the suggestions of that noble Earl, my Lords, with no little dismay. I believe that, if we were to act upon those views, we must be prepared to wage a war extending over the whole globe and lasting the whole of our lives. I am glad, I say, that my noble Friend does not sympathise with those views. I regretted to hear from the noble Earl who has held high office in India, and whose opinions must be regarded with interest, that India has a deep interest in the present war. I believe it to be impossible to make a statement less founded upon a correct view of the real interests of India, or more calculated to be injurious to the interests of this country in Europe. The noble Earl has endeavoured to show that India has an interest in this war, because it would be 1623 menaced by the extension of Russian power in Asia. From a person of the noble Earl's experience I did not expect such a statement. I believe the idea of danger to India from Russia to be utterly monstrous and chimerical. Danger to India from Russia? Why how is Russia to attack India? Is Russia to advance many hundred miles through a wild and trackless waste, to carry an army over the great mountains dividing the peninsula of India from Central Asia with the necessary artillery and provisions for the march? Could Russia carry such an army across such an extent of country, with all its necessary equipments, that could contend against your army in India? We know that, however formidable Russia may be in defence, her means of attack are not very formidable. Even in the present war, however formidable the defence of Sebastopol, we have seen that on the Danube the means of attack on the part of Russia were not very formidable, and that she does not possess the means of moving large masses of men and parks of artillery over great distances. Now, my Lords, to carry an army across the Danube is nothing, but to carry an army through that part of Asia, across those mountains, with artillery and supplies, is a very different thing. Does any one think that Russia could so carry an army that could, when it arrived in India, contend with such a force as we could oppose to it? That any one should think that such could be the case appears to me to be a delusion so absurd and monstrous that I am at a loss to conceive how any one can entertain such an opinion. My Lords, while we possess the affection of the people of India we are secure from Russian attack in that quarter, but if we lose their respect and confidence let our armies be what they may, our empire in that country will most assuredly crumble. To call upon India to take part in the war would be to bring upon that country a financial embarrassment; and to burden the finances of India for the sake of a wild scheme of military organisation in Central India would be most impolitic. The Government of this country have shown that they have been acting upon a wiser method, that they know that the best way to improve the country and the inhabitants of India is by the extension of useful public works and the promotion of education and commerce. My Lords, I cannot help observing that, with regard to other points which have been adverted 1624 to, and more especially with regard to Poland, which has been adverted to by my noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Harrowby), I hope and trust that this war, which has been entered into to prevent Russian aggression upon Turkey, may not be converted into a war having for its ject the carrying out of magnificent schemes for the restoration of Poland. No man feels for the fate of Poland more than I do, or condemns more strongly the iniquitous proceedings of the three Powers which terminated in its dismemberment; but, at the same time, I am bound to say that, if it had not been through the faults of the Poles themselves, if it had not been for those internal divisions which, in spite of their many great qualities made the Poles incapable of governing themselves, the designs of Russia upon that country would never have succeeded. If it had not been for those unhappy divisions, the number of the people, the extent of the territory, and its natural resources, were ample to have enabled the Poles to protect themselves against the ambitious designs of their neighbours. I fear, my Lords, that the Poles have the same faults now which they had in those times, and I believe that if Poland is to be restored that restoration cannot be effected from without, but that it must be accomplished from within. If we were to engage in the hopeless task of re-establishing Poland we should find ourselves embarked in numberless difficulties and committed to the hazards and responsibilities of future wars, which might for generations involve this country in calamity. My Lords, as I have already said, I do not think that a subject so important ought to be discussed at a moment like the present; but, entertaining as I do such strong opinions upon the matter, I could not pass by what has fallen from two noble Earls opposite without entering my earnest protest against the views they advanced to your Lordships.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
I rise to explain what appears to have been misapprehended. I want to know if the noble Earl who has just sat down contemplates taking any security against future aggression on the part of Russia, and if so, I should like to know how that can be done if not in the direction he has just specified? The present war is not one of immediate self-defence, for Russia is not attacking us, and we are under no obligation to be perpetually protecting Turkey. It is a war of far-sighted self-dafence—a war 1625 of policy, of which the main object is to prevent Russia obtaining a preponderance in the affairs of Europe. That object can not be effected by expelling Russia from the Principalities, humiliated but not weakened; but it may be by the restoration of Poland. It was not a trifling matter when we went to war with Russia; ought we not, therefore, to have counted the cost and to have seen that we could not impair her power for future aggressions without a European struggle? ["Order!"] I admit I was going too far. Perhaps, however, I may be allowed just to point out one inaccuracy in the speech of the noble Earl (Earl Grey). He spoke of Poland as having ever been unequal to defend herself. I must remind him that not only was Poland equal to defend herself, but that she was the saviour of the empire of Germany. under Sobieski, very little more than 150 years ago; and it was at the moment when the main evils of her internal condition were about to be remedied that Russia stepped in and effected her subjugation. I must apologise for troubling your Lordships, but I think that the noble Earl must have rather forgotten one part of the history of Poland.
§ THE EARL OF EGLINTON
I am not going to detain your Lordships by entering into the large subjects which have been introduced this evening; nor will I travel so very far from the subject of the Bill upon the table of the House as some have done. I will only depart from it so far as to allude to the subject of the Scotch militia. It has been said by the noble Earl who commenced this discussion, that there was so much difficulty in obtaining a sufficient number of men for the militia that he thought it right that the lords-lieutenant of counties should call upon the deputy-lieutenants to aid them in inducing men to volunteer for that service. I wish, however, to call the attention of the War Minister to the fact that in the Scotch Militia Act there is a clause which prevents lords-lieutenant from calling together the deputy-lieutenants for the purpose of carrying out that Act except under authority specially given by the Crown. Entirely concurring with the noble Earl who made the suggestion, and with the Minister of War as to the necessity for the present Bill, I think that it is desirable that as little time as possible should be lost in giving to the lords-lieutenant authority for calling together the deputy lieutenants for the purposes of the Act. I am happy to 1626 say that in the county with which I am connected we have been tolerably successful in obtaining volunteers. Several weeks ago I was informed by the colonel of the militia that considerably more than 400 men out of 600 were then enrolled, and I have no doubt that we are rapidly approaching the number which is allotted to us; but I must be permitted to call attention to the fact that, however much soldiers who come from warmer climates may do without clothing, or however well the Scotch may dispense with it on some parts of their body, yet that they cannot come entirely without clothing to be embodied and trained. It is not yet settled, I believe, what dress the Scotch militia are to wear. The colour, even, is not settled. There is some question, I understand, between green and gray; or, up to this moment, the tinge of gray, if gray it is to be, has not yet been decided; and though we have between 400 and 500 men ready to be embodied and trained, we are at a complete standstill until the Government shall decide what dress they are to wear.
§ LORD COLCHESTER
observed, with reference to the comment of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Grey) upon what had fallen from his noble Friend (the Earl of Ellenborough) with respect to India, that the point which his noble Friend had meant to raise was this—that whereas the Government were at the present moment removing from India, in order to carry on the war in the Crimea, Queen's troops to whom we looked in a great measure for our security in India in case of internal troubles, it would be infinitely better to send—not to the Crimea, but to Asiatic Turkey—the Company's Native troops, who being Mahomedans, would be of the same religion as the people with whom they were to act as allies, and to whom, from their habits and manners, they would very readily assimilate. The irregular cavalry of those troops were known to be among the finest in the world, and they would no doubt be of very essential service. His noble Friend also thought that if they were sent it was not unreasonable that they should be paid for, to some extent at least, by the East India Company, because they had a great interest in preventing the countries lying between India and Russia from falling under the dominion of Russia; and, though the noble Earl opposite might think it illusory to suppose that Russia should ever attempt to attack India by land, he might remind 1627 him that other very great authorities had been of a very different opinion. What was it but that which made the independence of Persia a matter of importance? And was not the noble Earl aware that the Melbourne Government in 1838, upon a mere rumour that the Ameer of Cabul was entering into intrigues with Russia, had thought it necessary to send an army to upset his sovereignty?
§ EARL FITZWILLIAM
said, he entirely approved the measure before the House, believing it to be calculated to produce a most beneficial effect in improving the composition of the army. He was old enough to remember the discussions which had taken place in another Assembly with relation to the preference to be given to limited or unlimited services; and he remembered also the effect which was produced by the substitution of the limit of a seven years' enlistment for the previous permanent enlistment. The result of the recruiting in corresponding periods of those years during which recruiting was for an unlimited period, as compared with those when it was for limited services, showed that the recruiting had actually trebled under the limitation system. He believed that the measure now proposed was a great improvement upon the enlistment for seven years, and that the effect of it would be found to be very beneficial. He was not desirous of detaining their Lordships at that critical part of the evening, but there was one point to which he wished to direct the attention of his noble Friend at the head of the War Department. He entirely concurred with his noble relative (Earl Grey) with respect to the injurious effect which would be produced upon the militia service of the country if it were to he converted merely into a nursery for the regular army. He had no objection to the "volunteering" of the militia into the regular army; but then it must be a bonâ fide volunteering—it must be the free will and desire of each man, whether that man were a private, a subaltern, a captain, or a field officer. It was a great mistake on the part of the Government which had been—not changed, but rather metamorphosed—that it should have encouraged the volunteering of entire regiments of militia, as it had done. Under that system he did not see how the militia could be officered in a proper manner; and he quite concurred in the opinion expressed by his noble Friend who spoke early in the debate, that it was desirable that the 1628 militia should be officered, both as respected the subalterns and those who were higher in command, by men of the greatest fitness; but this they could not expect to be the case if the militia regiments were to be induced to volunteer in their corporate capacity. Speaking generally, he thought the field officers of militia regiments ought not to be expected to volunteer for foreign service, because, if they were fully qualified to hold the higher commissions in the militia they were also in situations in which they had other duties to perform to their country, which would not permit of their volunteering either for colonial or foreign service. He trusted, therefore, that the Government would consider well before they called on the officers of the militia to enforce—if he might so speak—volunteering among the men of their respective regiments. He said, "to enforce" volunteering, because what was termed "volunteering" was, when managed in a peculiar manner, anything but real volunteering; and, he was satisfied that they would not recruit the sources of the army, but, on the contrary, dry them up, unless they continued the militia upon its original footing. He made these remarks because he was very strongly impressed with a sense of the impolicy of making the militia force a mere nursery for the regular army; although, to the volunteering of the militia, provided it was a bonâ fide volunteering, he entertained no objection. He could not sit down without expressing the great gratification with which he had listened to the speech of his noble Friend who commenced that debate, with almost the whole of whose sentiment he perfectly coincided; but he could not concur with him in the fear he had expressed that Russia would attack us in India, If his noble Friend expected that a Russian army would march into the northern parts of the peninsula of India, that was an apprehension which he (Earl Fitzwilliam) did not share. He did not believe that a Russian army could pass over the intervening deserts, or scale the mountains which protected that peninsula from the frosts and snows of the North—ay, and which protected it, not alone from those physical evils, but also from the ambition of the Northern Autocrat. He did not fear any danger of that character; but, if in speaking a the Asiatic aspect of this question, his noble Friend meant to refer to the countries which lay between Persia and the now advanced Russian 1629 frontier, he concurred with him in thinking it most desirable that we should avail ourselves of the high spirit and peculiar position of the tribes inhabiting the regions situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian, because he thought it highly essential to maintain a harrier in that quarter between Russia and Persia. Whatever apprehension he might entertain of Russian designs upon India would not arise from the North, from the neighbourhood of the Sea of Aral—but would spring from the influence of Russia in Persia—an influence which he considered must prove most detrimental to our interests in India.
§ LORD PANMURE
wished to say a word or two in explanation of what had fallen from him earlier in the debate, and which appeared to have created a somewhat erroneous impression. When he stated that ether steps must be taken to obtain the quota of volunteers from militia regiments for foreign service, which had not yet furnished them, he did not mean that in any sense they should coerce the militia:—all he meant was that there should be no time lost in volunteering, so that the quota of each might be ascertained. He thought it was of the highest importance that every man should understand for what service he was volunteering, and that his volunteering should in no way be compulsory, but should be an entirely free and spontaneous offer on his own part to perform a duty which was distinctly and properly explained to him; but he fully agreed that it was not for the credit of the service that the practice of sending down recruiting sergeants and keeping militia regiments in a state of disorganisation for a period of a week or ten days owing to the uncertainty that was left around the matter, and was not consistent with the efficiency of Her Majesty's service; and, therefore, when he had spoken of taking a more stringent step, in order to obtain the due quota from each regiment, he merely proposed that a person of the rank of a field officer should go down and communicate with the commanding officer of the regiment, to ascertain why the quota had not been furnished, and to see that the men had fair opportunities for volunteering afforded them. With respect to the suggestion of the noble Earl (Earl Grey) as to the propriety of allowing men who had purchased their discharge to re-enter the service, the noble Earl was apparently not aware of the existing regulation upon this point. When he (Lord 1630 Panmure) first went to the War Office, the existing regulation was that, if a man purchased his discharge, he was allowed six months for further considering the step he was about to take, and, if he rejoined the service before that period expired, a portion of the money was repaid to him and his former term of servitude then counted towards his pension. When he was Secretary at War he extended the period given for consideration to one year; and he understood from the Commander in Chief that it had been still further prolonged, and was now two years. So that, at present, if a man purchased his discharge and repented of the step during the next two consecutive years, he might return to the army, and his previous service would be reckoned as an integral part of the whole term, at the expiration of which he was entitled to a pension. This system, he thought, already presented a sufficient opening to men who had retired from the service and afterwards wished to return to it; and even if they were now to propose that all the men who had purchased their discharge should, without restriction, be allowed to rejoin the army, and reckon their former service towards a pension, an experience of six years at the War Office convinced him that the force likely to be so obtained would be of very trifling worth indeed. During the whole of that period of six years he did not believe that there were more than sixty or seventy men in each year who purchased their discharge; and when they remembered that the cost of a discharge was 20l. for the infantry, and 30l. for the cavalry, it was easy to understand that the friends of private soldiers, looking at the class to which they generally belonged, would experience considerable difficulty in raising either of those sums. Again, men who had purchased their discharge after fourteen years' service, would, he apprehended, be somewhat too old to enlist again. A man who joined the army at eighteen would be thirty-two years of age when he had served fourteen years; and if he purchased his discharge this year he might be a very good soldier, but if he offered himself after he had attained his thirty-fifth or thirty-sixth year, he would be rather too old to be invited to re enter the service.
§ LORD VIVIAN
said, that their Lordships must recollect that the country was now in a great crisis, and wanted an army that could at once take the field; and he believed that the Government would be 1631 able to obtain a considerable number of men who had bought themselves out of the service, and who would be ready-made and efficient soldiers, if it only consented to reimburse them the money they had paid for their discharge.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly; Committee negatived; then the said Standing Orders were considered and dispensed with: Bill read 3a; an Amendment made (limiting the operation of the Bill to three years); Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.
§ House adjourned to Thursday next.