§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
rose to call their Lordships' attention and that of the Government to the subject of the militia lately embodied in this country, and said that the question derived peculiar importance from the fact that the recruiting of that force had, unfortunately, been brought to an almost total standstill. That impulse under which, at the original formation of the militia, large masses of people in all parts of the country had nobly come forward to join its ranks had now died away. The causes which had led to such an unhappy revulsion of public feeling in regard to this constitutional force he would presently endeavour to trace. He assumed that the noble Lord at the head of the War Department would answer him, because when, the other day, he gave notice of his intention to put some questions to the Government, the noble Lord kindly 547 offered to afford him any information that he desired if he would only apply to his office for it; and certainly, if the points to which he was now about to allude only concerned his own regiment of militia, or affected his own county exclusively, it might be sufficient for him to avail himself of the noble Lord's courtesy by calling at his department, and then to repeat to the parties interested the answers he obtained at the Government offices. His present questions, however, related to the whole militia force of the country, and to a subject which had been very generally misunderstood by the officers of regiments, the magistrates of counties, and persons who had enlisted or were likely to enlist; and, therefore, he thought it his duty to put the question publicly to the responsible Minister, in order that they might receive a public answer. Now, he thought that the cessation of that spirit which had led the people to enlist in the militia was ascribable, in the first place, to an apparent—if not a real—breach of faith on the part of the Government towards the men who had enrolled themselves. Their Lordships were aware that the Militia Bill of 1852 first raised the force on the understanding that the men would only be required to serve for twenty-eight days, unless in case of an invasion. In 1854, war having been declared in an unexpected quarter, a new Bill was necessary, by which the militia were called out and embodied. The men so embodied received a larger amount of bounty than those who enlisted under the Act of 1852, and justly so, because a greater demand was made upon them; but it was never sufficiently explained to the men of 1852 that they would be liable to be embodied permanently or for a service of five years; and the consequence was that many married men, who would not have joined a permanent force, but did not object to serve in one that would be called out for a month, found themselves entrapped—as they considered it—into liabilities which they had had no intention whatever of incurring when they first enlisted. This had produced a very unfavourable effect upon the minds of those men who went out, as well as upon the minds of their relations at home. It had also had the effect of throwing a great number of wives and children upon the parishes for their maintenance, which would not have been the case had the head of the family been taken away for only a month's training. The men not only thought themselves 548 unfairly dealt with, but the ratepayers, influential farmers, and others, to exempt themselves from the burdens thus cast upon them, had been led to exert themselves to check enlistment, and especially that of married men. Again, many country gentlemen and others who had encouraged enlistment under the Bill of 1852 were seized with apprehension at the anomaly and injustice created under the second measure; but their alarm was allayed by the result of the debate which took place in their Lordships' House in the month of May, 1854, in the course of which the noble Duke then at the head of the War Department (the Duke of Newcastle) stated that the Government, in consideration of the apparent injustice he had now described, meant to deal very indulgently towards the men of 1852, and that the married men should be relieved after a month's service and allowed to return home. He would read to the House a few extracts from the speeches made on the occasion in question. The discussion was commenced by a noble Earl opposite (Earl Grey), who quoted a letter which he had received from a militia colonel, remonstrating against the injustice done to these militiamen, and stating that—The country came forward very handsomely upon the appeal made to it, and now, while they believed themselves to be secure of being called out only under certain circumstances and at 3s. a day, they are now exposed to be called out to service for a longer period than they had ever intended for only 1s. a day."—[3 Hansard, cxxxiii. 313.]The noble Duke the War Minister then replied, observing—It will not be necessary in some instances to embody whole regiments; and in that case leave of absence will be given to those who cannot, from their vocations, come forward, and those only will be selected who may be disposed to attend, so that no serious inconvenience, if any at all, will be felt."—[Ibid. 314.]It did not appear whether the noble Duke spoke, in this passage, of whole regiments, or only of individuals; but the doubt was cleared up by the subsequent part of the discussion. His noble Friend (the Earl of Derby), remarking on what had fallen from the War Minister, said—If he understood aright, although the noble Duke did not lay down the principle that persons who were unwilling to serve under the terms of the new Act should be absolutely free to do so or not, as they chose, yet the Government intended in the first instance only to select for embodiment those regiments which, as a body, were desirous of acceding to these conditions, and in whose case, 549 therefore, the further embodiment would be equivalent to a voluntary act. Then, again, he understood that in the regiments thus selected—each consisting, perhaps, of 900 or 1,000 men—if 500 or 600 were willing to serve when called upon under the new measure, it was proposed to give the remaining section an opportunity of being released from attendance. If that pledge were specifically given to the country no injustice would be done, and in that case he should entirely approve the course that was to be pursued. He hoped the noble Duke would further confirm what he had been understood to state already, and say that he (the Earl of Derby) had not misinterpreted what were the present intentions of the Government."—[Ibid. 315.]In answer to this appeal, the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle) responded—You have not in any respect misinterpreted what I said. The only difference is that you stated it more fully and clearly than I did myself,"—Ibid. 315.]These assurances relieved the minds of those who felt, after what had occurred, that their honour had been almost compromised by inducing the men to enlist. Practically, however, the promised indulgence had not been shown to the men. He could maintain this assertion by adducing particular instances to prove it, and although he would not mention names in that House, he was ready to furnish them confidentially to the noble Lord the War Minister, if he wished to know them. One landed proprietor of some influence took great pains to raise recruits for the militia force under the Act of 1852, and succeeded in inducing a considerable number in his own district and on his own property to enlist. When, however, the militia of his county were embodied under the Act of 1854, and called out for permanent service, finding that the men had to undergo a considerably longer period of drill than the twenty-eight days to which they were fairly liable, this gentleman applied to the lord lieutenant of the county for leave of absence for one of these men, who had been receiving very high wages. The application was refused, and, in fact, leave had been constantly denied to men to whom the Government had certainly pledged themselves to give it. [Lord PANMURE inquired the date of the refusal.] It was in September last. Since then his (the Earl of Malmesbury's) notice had been attracted by a correspondence which had appeared in a Herefordshire paper, purporting to have taken place between the Lord Lieutenant of Hereford (Lord Bateman) and the present Premier, who was then Home Secretary. The Lord 550 Lieutenant's letter to the noble Lord was to the effect that it was extremely desirable that the wives and children of married men who had been enlisted in the militia should be supported during the absence of their husbands with their regiments by other means than the local rates; and the reply of the noble Viscount was, that an order would be given that the married men belonging to the regiments in question should be sent home. Certainly, however, with respect to his own county he had heard of no such order having been given as yet. He would, therefore, ask the noble Lord opposite whether such an order had been, or would be, given; and if given, to what extent it was intended to be carried? He would also ask whether it was the intention of the Government to provide some other more public fund for the maintenance of the wives and children of married men serving in the militia, inasmuch as the fact of their being at present dependent upon the rates of small localities had been found to produce a great discouragement to recruiting for the militia?
§ LORD PANMURE
said, he must explain what took place between himself and the noble Earl on the occasion to which he referred. When the noble Earl gave notice of these questions, he (Lord Panmure) said that if the noble Earl or any other noble Lord simply wished for information on any particular points, it would be the best for them to apply to him privately at the War Office, and he would give them all the information in his power; but if, on the other hand, there was anything in the question the noble Earl wished to put which would make it more advisable to put it publicly in Parliament, it would be best and most proper to take the course which he had just taken. With reference to the questions, he hardly thought that the noble Earl could be in possession of a circular which was issued from the War Office in November, 1854; otherwise he imagined that this circular, which was addressed to the commanding officers of militia regiments, and was lithographed throughout, would have rendered his question unnecessary. He was sorry that any impression should have gone forth, that a breach of faith had been committed with those who had engaged to serve in the militia; for he was quite certain that no Government would ever be mad enough to commit a breach of faith, or approach to a committal of any such thing as a breach of faith, with those who had enrolled themselves in 551 the militia. When the Militia Bill of 1852 was passed, it referred to a very different state of affairs to the present, an embodiment of twenty-eight days for training was alone contemplated, and the enforcement of continuous service was only to be in case of an invasion. But when the declaration of war, in 1854, rendered necessary the Act for the permanent embodiment of the militia, no doubt the men who originally engaged simply for training and exercise were embodied for actual service. But he could not admit that these men had been entrapped into continuous service, for in November, 1854, by the circular to which he had referred, and which he held in his hand, the attention of the commanding officers of all militia regiments was called to the case of these men, and they were directed, when the embodiment took place, to call only on such men as had no claim for exemption through age, employment, or domestic circumstances, &c.; and with respect to the men whom they did not think it advisable to call out, they were directed to report their opinion as to the expediency of granting discharges. There certainly had been no intention on the part of the Government to break faith with these men, for when a regiment was embodied, and it was found that there were men in it whose families would suffer by their absence, and become a burden to the locality, thus throwing the militia service into disrepute, the colonel was empowered to allow such men to return to their homes on the repayment of their enrolment money, and in certain cases, where it should appear that they were entirely unable to make such repayment, to remit it and grant a full and complete discharge. If any blame attached to any one, therefore, it would be to the commanding officers of the regiments, and not upon Government. He thought that he had shown that it was the practice of the last as well as the present Government, in fact, that it had been the constant practice of the War Office, to give these men their discharge, first on the condition that they returned the enrolment money, and if they were unable to do that, to give them their free discharge.
§ LORD BATEMAN
said, that neither he nor his noble Friend near him (the Earl of Malmesbury) had any knowledge of the circular to which the noble Lord had referred, but whether this arose from any mistake in the transmission of it he was unable to say. He certainly had received a document, bearing date January 31, 1855, 552 referring to the same subject, but not in the same terms. As reference had been made to his correspondence with the Secretary of State, he might be allowed to say that the Herefordshire Militia had certainly no reason to complain; they had been treated most handsomely by the Home Office, Lord Palmerston having allowed the colonels to exercise a discretion in sending the married men home. In consequence of that, he applied to the colonel of the regiment, by whom he was informed that a considerable number of men in the Herefordshire Militia were married, and that it would be exceedingly inconvenient at once to carry out the instructions relative to the discharge of the married men, but that he would state, in course of time, the steps that might be taken. The colonel accordingly wrote, as he (Lord Bateman) supposed, to the War Office, and received a reply, to the effect that on his returning the names of the men he wished to be discharged, the Secretary for War would take into consideration the propriety of discharging them on the repayment of the enrolment money, amounting to 18s. 6d.; and that if they could not repay that sum, such men as the colonel recommended might be discharged free. Therefore he repeated that, so far as the Herefordshire Militia was concerned, he had no reason to complain. Since the receipt of the letter he had just adverted to, twenty-eight married men had been discharged, and forty-two married men at the present moment remained in the regiment, either in consequence of certain difficulties between the colonel and themselves, or, perhaps, because they were not able to find the necessary 18s. 6d., or were not desirous to accept a discharge. He was bound, however, to say that the colonel had informed him that he had made it a point only to discharge such married men as could prove that they had two children born in wedlock. Now, he must say that, if every man in the militia were refused his discharge unless he had two children born in wedlock, it was a very hard case for the militiamen. So far as the Herefordshire Militia was concerned, he believed steps had been taken to mitigate the evil as regarded married men; but if out of every regiment, consisting of 500 men, the services of 100 men were to be lost because they were married, very great difficulty would be felt in replacing them. He wished, therefore, to know whether the rule applied to every regi- 553 ment, or whether it was an exceptional case, in favour of the Herefordshire regiment, and whether a return could be produced of the number of applicants in the militia for leave to return home, and of those who had had their discharge granted to them?
§ LORD PANMURE
said, he could hardly give a return of the number of applicants for discharge, though he might be able to give the number actually discharged.
After a few words from the Marquess of SALISBURY, which were not heard,
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
said, that if every married militiaman might obtain his discharge with or without payment, according to circumstances, he apprehended the number of transactions between the War Department and married men with two children would become rather numerous and extensive, inasmuch as there could be no more convenient boon than the receipt of 18s. 6d. without the discharge of any duty. It appeared to him that there were two classes militiamen—those enlisted before the 12th of May, 1854, and those enlisted subsequently to that date. The first class were liable to be ordered out on a service, first of all, of twenty-one days; and if Her Majesty should be pleased to issue an Order in Council, which She might do on any emergency arising, then they were liable to service for fifty-six days. Those enlisted subsequently to the 12th May were liable to be permanently embodied for five years. He understood it to be conceded that no man enlisted before the 12th of May should be compelled against his will to serve for that period or for more than fifty-six days;—but he thought the Government would act very unwisely and imprudently if they did not require of this class of militiamen that they should serve for the whole amount of the period for which they had engaged when they enlisted. He could not imagine why they should not perform not only the twenty-one days' duty, but why, under the special circumstances of the case, the Government should not issue an Order in Council and require them to perform fifty-six days' duty. If they trained a man during fifty-six days, not only was he a more valuable subject, but there was a greater chance of his volunteering into the army and of his remaining there. Therefore he hoped nothing would induce Government to depart from the strict letter of the law, which gave them a power to demand of those who had enlisted prior to the 12th 554 May a service of fifty-six days during the year, under an Order in Council. Such an order should be issued at once, for without it there was no such power. He wished now again to do what he had already done more than once—namely, to press upon the Government the necessity that existed for making some great exertion for the purpose of raising the militia to the full extent of its establishment. The militia at the present moment was only 44,000 strong; the establishment was 136,000; so that it was 92,000 under its complement. At the same time in the Army Estimates a Vote had been taken for 60,000 recruits to the regular army, and at the same time an allowance must be made for the casualties of the year, amounting to 30,000 more; so that not fewer than 182,000 men were required to raise the regular army and the militia to their complements. Nay more—they required 6,000 or 7,000 artillerymen to raise that branch to its full complement. Their demand, therefore, was for nearly 200,000 men; and he really trusted the Government would look seriously at the position in which the country was placed, deficient to that extent in the force which it was thought necessary to have for the purpose of carrying on the war with success.
§ EARL GREY
said, he was extremely glad the noble Earl had brought this subject before the House, for it was one of very great importance. He had not the slightest doubt the noble Earl was right in saying that the present state of things had materially interfered with the recruiting for the militia. He had heard with the greatest regret that a noble Marquess, himself a Lord Lieutenant of a county and a colonel of militia, had stated there would be no breach of faith in calling upon men enlisted under an Act of Parliament which distinctly provided they should be permanently embodied only in the case of invasion, or similar imminent peril to the country—that there would be no breach of faith in calling upon such men to serve beyond the time they engaged for. In his own opinion, there could be no more flagrant breach of faith; and whether the fault rested with the Government or with the colonels of the militia regiments who might agree with the noble Marquess, of this he was quite certain, that, practically, men enlisted under the Act of 1852 had not been aware that they were entitled to demand leave of absence or discharge whenever they had fulfilled the period of 555 service of twenty-one days for which they had engaged themselves. He hoped the present discussion would make it generally known throughout the country that such men, whether married or not, or whether he had children or not, or who thought he could earn higher wages in some other employment than the public service, and who had enlisted under the terms of an Act of Parliament, had a right, which no colonel of militia and no Government could set aside—an express right to demand to have leave of absence after the expiry of the time he stipulated to serve. But when that became known, another inconvenience would arise—a very large proportion of the militiamen would walk off. No doubt that would be a great inconvenience: and what was more, it would be impossible to fill up their places, for no man in his senses would engage to serve five years in the militia, and perform the very same service as that of the regular army, except that of actually being in the face of the enemy, without any eventual claim to pension, when he could find higher bounty, and much more advantageous terms altogether, by engaging to perform that service in the line. To be sure, he would not in the militia have to face the enemy, but he was sure the chance of facing the enemy was no discouragement to men entering the service—on the contrary, it would act with many men rather as an inducement to engage in the army. He thought that all this only showed the extreme impolicy of departing from the original scheme of the militia. The militia was intended to be a reserve force, composed of that description of men who could not consistently with their private avocations enter into the permanent service of the country, and who were not to be permanently embodied; but when they came to keep the militia permanently embodied, that class of men was excluded, and they were forced to fall back upon men who must enter on the service as a profession. But then the consequence must be, that recruiting for the militia must, under those circumstances, interfere with recruiting for the army; and he had seen many officers who had assured him that it was so interfering. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ellen-borough) had just told them that men were wanted both for the army and for the militia. That ought to affect the Government most seriously, and he would recommend them to return to the original principle of a militia. Let them just look 556 at the inconvenience of the present state of things. There were only 44,000 embodied of an establishment of 136,000; but how many officers were there? If he was not mistaken, the country was at this very moment paying for an establishment of militia officers for very nearly the whole army of 136,000. The militia was rendering very little service in return for the enormous sum of money it was costing the country, and it was interfering decidedly with the recruiting for the regular army and causing other inconveniences. Country gentlemen were unwilling to allow their sons to enter it as officers; a different class of men was therefore being brought in; it was interfering with labour to a considerable extent, and agriculturists looked upon it with an evil eye. The departure from the original plan was, in short, bad in every respect. He should put it to the Government, whether they thought that the militia officers ought to be converted into mere drill sergeants for the army? It was the intention of the Act of 1852, that a distinction between the regular army and the militia should be maintained. He was still of opinion that the original Act was a mistake—it was not the right way to make a force, but it was, at all events, a clear and intelligible policy. The Government had departed from that policy, and had not adopted any other; their militia was neither the one thing nor the other; it was neither the militia of 1852, nor was it a force founded on any other plain and rational principle. He did hope, therefore, that the subject would be seriously considered by Her Majesty's Government, and that they would not allow the arrangements connected with the militia force to remain in their present state of confusion.
§ THE EARL of MALMESBURY
said, he could not say that he was satisfied with the reply of the noble Lord opposite, with respect to the breach of faith which appeared to have been committed. How could the course taken by the Government be anything else than a breach of faith, after the positive declaration of the late Secretary of War in that House, which he had had the honour to read to their Lordships? He hoped the noble Lord would state before he left the House that he was ready to adopt the principle so well recommended by the noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) who had left the House, that they would, by some general and comprehensive order, restrict the services 557 required of the men who had enlisted under the Act of 1852, to the liabilities imposed upon them by that Act, and that while they obliged the militiamen who had been so enlisted to serve for the full period of fifty-six days, they would, after that period of service, release them from duty. With respect to the question of married men, the noble Lord had completely forgotten to answer him. He wished to know whether Government intended to relieve the wives and children of married militiamen from any other fund than that created by the parochial rates? With reference to the circular which had been issued to the colonels of militia regiments in November, he believed that there was nothing in it to lead a commanding officer to suppose that it amounted to an order from the War Office for the discharge of the married men. A more obscure circular he had never read. He understood it to mean that men who were unfit to remain in the service, for certain reasons of which the colonel alone was to judge—these men were to be released from duty, and outstanding men, who had not yet joined, were then to join; and an indirect proof that it was so understood by the Home Office was, that in replying to the observations of my noble Friend the Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire (Lord Bateman), the noble Lord gave my noble Friend permission to discharge such men.
§ LORD PANMURE
This question has takes a much wider range than I at first anticipated. In my opinion, the speeches of the noble Earl opposite and my noble Friend below me, will raise a very grave question throughout this country—a question which would be of the gravest importance for any Government; for I think that a sort of general notice has been given this night to all the militia of the United Empire, of which many will be too ready to avail themselves and which may occasion great difficulties to the country in its present exigency. I do not hold myself in any way responsible for the consequence of these statements; it shall he my endeavour so to administer the law as to obtain the services of as many of Her Majesty's subjects, either voluntarily or under the law, as the exigencies of the State may require. With reference to the question of the noble Earl, it resolves itself into this. In the year 1854, in the month of November, a circular, which in my opinion would have given clear light to any colonel of militia who chose to read it, was 558 issued from the office of the Secretary at War, and addressed, not to the private residences either of the lords lieutenant of counties, or of colonels of militia, but to the orderlies of the militia regiments, or to the clerks of lieutenancy in the various counties. In my mind the last paragraph but one of that circular, points out in distinct terms that if there be any reason why, in the opinion of the colonel, a man ought to be released from service in his regiment of militia, either upon repayment of the enrolment money or without such repayment, upon the recommendation of the colonel that man would receive his discharge. Now that exigency did arise in the case of married men who had enlisted as burdens upon the parishes, and who, having become embodied for five years, stood in the position of soldiers of the line in that respect, and were not bound to maintain their families further than they could afford to do out of their pay. To those individuals it was, and is now, the practice to give discharges, that they may return to their families upon a free discharge (if they cannot pay the enrolment money); for it is better not to have a man at all, than to have him with his wife and children burdens upon the locality—a thing which would render the militia service extremely unpopular. It is not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to take any other steps with reference to the wives and families of married militiamen further than to discharge the men from a position in which they make their wives and families a burden upon the parishes. If such men are not discharged, it rests with the colonel who did not recommend the discharge to accept the responsibility of imposing those liabilities upon the parishes; and I trust that one issue of this debate will be to acquaint the colonels of militia fully with the power they have in that respect. But I do trust that the other and far more serious and important result of this discussion may not be to reduce the militia of this country, and to impair the existing arrangement, which is one I should be very sorry to see disturbed.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, he did not yet distinctly understand whether the discharge of these men was to rest solely and exclusively upon the responsibility of the colonels of the regiments; because, however unpleasant and awkward it might be to raise any question at the present or at any moment which might have the effect 559 of diminishing the numerical amount and efficiency of the militia force, whatever inconvenience might arise in that way would be as nothing compared to the evil resulting from the promulgation of an impression that Government might tamper with the men who had been enrolled in the militia with impunity. Depend upon it no temporary inconvenience and loss could be equal to the permanent injury and loss which would be sustained if it were to be held that engagements entered into with the Government of the country were not to be adhered to and strictly fulfilled. A great mistake had been made in not fulfilling to the letter, as well as in the spirit, the declaration made by the noble Duke the late Secretary of War, at the time of the introduction of the Act of 1854, namely, that at the time the terms of the enrolment of the militia were altered, the period of the service and the character of the service would be altered altogether and that an individual offer would be made to every single man enrolled under the Act of 1852, to say whether he would or would not enter into the new engagements. If that had been done, if every man had had his free option in the matter, to serve or not, as he pleased, under the Act of 1854, those perplexed questions would not have arisen. Government would then have had men submitting voluntarily to the embodiment of the regiments of militia. Although he agreed in a great deal that had fallen from the noble Earl, he differed from him as to the embodiment of large bodies of militia, which he held to be very essential. He would have those regiments embodied for service in this country according to a well understood agreement with the men, whether married or single. If they did enter into that new arrangement with their eyes open, and with a full knowledge of the circumstances, they would have had no cause to complain and no right to withdraw; but he could not subscribe to the doctrine that it was unfortunate to the men to know that they had that right which practically they had, and he, for one, would be no party to concealing from those men the existence of that right. He agreed with his noble Friend near him (the Earl of Malmesbury) that every man in the regiment, enlisted under the Act of 1852, was liable to be called out for a service of twenty-one days without an order in council, and for fifty-six days under an order in council. He agreed with the noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) that 560 such an order in council ought to be issued for the purpose of placing under training the largest number of militia who were to be used as militia, and not as soldiers; but it was not right that men who had enlisted for twenty-one or for fifty-six days training should, by an alteration of an Act of Parliament, be compelled to go into service for five years, or that their being free from that extra duty should depend upon the colonels of regiments, or upon the will of any other man whatever.
§ LORD PANMURE
said, that if he supposed for a moment that the men in the militia had been ignorant of their rights, whatever those rights might be, he should have been the last man to have adopted or advocated any course of policy which would have kept them in that ignorance. But he believed there was no militiamen who did not know that if he chose to break that service, he might do so legally, being subject always to fifty-six days' service under an order in council. When whole regiments of militia volunteered for foreign service, they all appeared to be re-attested. That proved that they were by no means ignorant of what their rights and obligations really were. He thought he had stated pretty clearly that it was not in the option of colonels to discharge men mero motu. He thought he had stated that they must recommend every discharge. They could withhold the necessary recommendation if they pleased, but if they did so they took the responsibility on their own shoulders; but if the colonels recommended the discharge, their recommendations would be complied with if fair grounds were shown for it.
§ EARL GREY
thought it was important that the men should know their rights. So far from agreeing with the noble Lord, he believed that the fact of those who were embodied for foreign service requiring to be re-attested, as no re-attesting was requisite for home service, led the men to the conclusion that they had no right to break that service. The impression was, that the men had no such right without the consent of their colonel. He (Earl Grey) had been assured by the Government on a former occasion, that although they had the legal power of altering a man's engagement, yet that it would not be exercised; that no man should be held to do more than he had agreed to do. The men who were enlisted before 1854 were not aware that there was such a power of discharge. He (Earl Grey) was 561 not aware of it himself; and, indeed, on application to Lord Palmerston, that noble Lord told him, not that the men might be discharged, but that their colonel might give leave of absence to those who claimed it, and he wrote to the lieutenant-colonel of the Northumberland Militia to that effect. But up to that moment he had never heard of this power of discharging them, and the right which the men possessed.
§ LORD BATEMAN
moved for an Address for, Return of the number of Married men in every Regiment of Militia, specifying the number who have received leave to return to their homes, in accordance with the permission granted them by the Secretary of State.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House adjourned till to-morrow.