HL Deb 06 August 1857 vol 147 cc1122-5

Order of the day for the Second Reading read.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.


expressed a hope that every encouragement would be given to enlistment from the militia into the line. He believed that very many militiamen who had served for some years would be extremely glad to seize the opportunity of entering into the army, if proper inducements were held out to them.


also thought that every reasonable encouragement ought to be given to enlistment from the militia into the line, if any considerable addition to our present military force should be required. He wished to take that opportunity of suggesting to the noble Lord the Secretary of War the expediency of giving to the commanders of militia regiments the power of re-enlisting militia men whose time was nearly out, before the period of their present enlistment should have expired. If the men whose period of enlistment would terminate in a few months were to receive in the meantime the bounty due to them, a very favourable opportunity would be afforded for securing their services for a further term. It would soon be his duty to attend at the headquarters of his regiment to pay the balance of the bounty to his men, and he had no doubt if he was authorised he would be enabled to re-enlist a large number whose time would expire almost immediately after, and thus secure the services of trained men. In conclusion, he had to express a hope that if the Government were prepared to encourage enlistment from the militia into the line, militia officers would feel it their duty to promote that object to the utmost of their power.


said, he had listened with great gratification to the remarks of the noble Marquess and the noble Duke, connected as they were with the militia, and anxious as they seemed to be to promote enlistment into the line regiments. It was, certainly, most desirable that, at any particular emergency of this kind, as many men as possible should be induced to enter into the regular service. At the present moment, there was some little difficulty in allowing men who had not been six months in the militia, or who had no gone through some degree of training, to volunteer for the line without paying back the militia bounty. His Royal Highness at the head of the army had, however arranged that any militiamen who had served six months, or who had been out at one training, should be exempted from this re-payment. It was not desirable that raw recruits should pass from the militia into the 'line. That was not just to the commanding officers of line regiments, and was a thing to be discouraged as much as possible. It was, however, highly desirable to procure men for Her Majesty's service as early as possible, in order to fill up the vacancies occasioned by the departures for India; and the Commander in Chief, therefore, in addition to the ordinary machinery of the recruiting service, had given directions to the permanent staff of the militia to assist, in their various districts, the efforts made to procure men. At this season of the year, he anticipated that, in many counties, they would soon begin to reap the fruits of this arrangement, and as the harvest concluded, he loped a considerable body of men would be enlisted for the service of the country. With reference to the remarks of the noble Duke, he would look into the militia laws, and would see whether any legal provision was required to enable the colonels to re-enlist men before their time of service expired. He quite agreed that it was desirable to give power to the commanding officers to enter into arrangements with the five years' service men, if they came to receive their bounty, two or three months before the expiration of their term; and if any such provision were necessary, he should not hesitate to ask Parliament to accede to it.


I have heard, with much satisfaction, the sentiments expressed by my noble Friends as to the necessity of giving every facility to volunteers from the militia into the line. That the militia is one of the mainstays of the army in times of emergency like the present, there can be no doubt whatever; and, as the officers in command of militia regiments, whether embodied or not, must have great power over their several corps, it is most gratifying to me to hear my noble Friends, as two colonels of militia, so warmly expressing their opinions in favour of encouraging enlistment into the line. I feel confident that the same feeling will pervade the whole militia force of the country, and I cannot too strongly impress upon all commanding officers of that force the vast importance of encouraging their men to enter the regular service on this occasion. Circumstances of a grave character have called a considerable portion of Her Majesty's forces from this country, and it now becomes our duty to fill up the reserves of the army. No army, however complete and efficient in the field, can be regarded as in a satisfactory position if it has not considerable reserves to draw upon at all times; and this is more especially the case when we remember the climate of India, with which it is peculiarly difficult for Europeans to cope. At the same time, I feel the greatest confidence in the exertions which will be made by the country—exertions which were so conspicuous on a recent occasion, and which, I believe, will certainly not now be withheld. I may also express my cordial approval of the power taken by the Government, in the present Bill, to embody the militia, should the circumstances of the country require it. It is necessary that every one should put his shoulder to the wheel, and I must repeat, therefore, my gratification at the spirit displayed by my noble Friends, and my conviction that every possible support will be afforded us by the country.


said, that no one could be more anxious than he was to offer every assistance for the promotion of enlistment from the militia into the line, and he suggested that his noble Friend (Lord Panmure) should, with as little delay as possible, send circulars to the officers commanding militia regiments, stating exactly what would be allowed with regard to volunteers for the line. Definite information of this kind would very much facilitate re-enlistment.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read 2° accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House, Tomorrow.