HL Deb 11 May 1855 vol 138 cc395-6

moved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for a Return of Regiments of Militia embodied in each month to the present time, stating the effective Force of each when embodied and at the present time; the Number who have volunteered from each Regiment previous to and since their last training; the Number re-attested within the month stated in circular, distinguishing those retained for future training; and Number of those discharged in consequence of their wives and families becoming chargeable to their parishes. The noble Lord said he was informed that those returns could be made out in a few hours. He thought it was only right that their Lordships should know not only the present effective force of the militia, but also the progress that had been made in the embodiment of that force since May last. He did not make the Motion in any hostile spirit to the Government, but only for the purpose of obtaining information. He found by the papers that from May to September there were eighteen regiments embodied, and from September to December, thirty-seven regiments, and since that time 20,000 men. He wished to call the attention of the noble Lord the Secretary of War to one or two measures that were prejudicial to enlistment. Since the order of the Minister of War had issued—the order that each private re-attested should receive a bounty of 1l., a circular had been issued which limited the payment of the bounty to one month. It came within his knowledge that the privates considered that order a great grievance. The promulgation of that circular had virtually stopped the enlistment, and he hoped the noble Lord would be induced to extend the limit to four or six months, or remove the restriction altogether. The bounty, under the original Act, was to be given to the men after they had completed their twenty-eight or fifty-six days' training. That was looked upon as a nominal but not a real bounty. He was informed that 11s. of that bounty in some instances was held back until the men rejoined their regiments. Large deductions, too, were made for their kit and shell-jackets which was also a source of great dissatisfaction. A great many of the men offered their services in last January to go to any part of the world; but since then great discontent had been manifested at the deductions that were made from their pay. He hoped therefore the government would consider how far these causes of discontent could be removed.


had no objection whatever to the returns being made, but did not promise that it could be completed within the time the noble Lord anticipated. He was sorry to find that the noble Lord had thought it necessary to revive a subject that had been already submitted to the House, and by the introduction of which the ranks of the militia regiments had been to a certain extent depopulated. The period of a month had been fixed upon in the circular in consequence of a statement made to him by several officers of militia, that after a month's absence amongst their friends, many of the men, having spent their money, would voluntarily return, therefore he had fixed in the circular one month as the period during which, if they rejoined the force, the 1l. should be paid to them. In all arrangements of that kind some definite period must be fixed, but a circular of that kind was not to be considered as unalterable. In many instances the colonels of regiments had asked for a prolongation of the time, stating that it would be of great service in getting back a number of men, and he had at once consented to prolong the period for a fortnight. He had not been asked to grant a longer period than six weeks, though, if a longer period were necessary to get back men to the ranks of the militia, he should be very glad to give it, but that must depend upon the representations of officers commanding the regiments of militia. With regard to the deductions referred to, the same practice prevailed without complaint in the regular army, and as of course they could not alter the arrangement with regard to the militia without altering it also in regard to the army, he could hold out no prospect of any change being made, and it was not deemed desirable to make a change in the practice with respect to the militia.

Motion agreed to.

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