HL Deb 11 July 1859 vol 154 cc947-50

said, he had two Questions to ask of the Government respecting the Volunteer corps. The first was, whether it was the intention of the Government to pay the non-commissioned officers employed in drilling the volunteer corps throughout the country? he thought it was of importance to have sufficiently qualified persons to discharge the duty of instructing the volunteers, and that they should be entirely under the control of the Government. With that view they should be paid by the Government and not by the corps. The other question he had to ask was, whether it was intended to give a small remuneration to volunteers in artillery corps? He was afraid that unless Government held out some inducement— say a shilling a-day for a certain number of days' drill—they would not find men willing to volunteer for the artillery service. He wished also to make an observation with reference to the militia. The militia were out for drill twenty-one days in the year according to the present arrangement, they were then marched and counter-marched and went through all the ordinary evolutions; but for the last five years some of them had never fired once. He should like to hear from the Government an opinion as to whether some portion of the militia should not he furnished with the Enfield rifle.


was understood to urge upon the Government the necessity of giving encouragement to these corps.


said, that there ought to be no rivalry between these two corps except that honourable one which he hoped would long continue to exist—which of them should be most efficient for the public service. One object, therefore of the Government was to prevent any clashing between the formation of volunteer corps and the recruiting for the militia, and this was one of the reasons why they declined to give any pecuniary assistance to those corps. It was not the intention of the Government to assist volunteer corps by paying the musketry instructors; but sergeants of the staff of the disembodied militia would be allowed to act as drill instructors to such corps, who would be required to pay them at the rate of 1s. a day and to find them a lodging or billet. The noble Baron had said that if the sergeants were paid by the Government they would have more control over the arms and the drill. The object of the Government, however, was to leave to the volunteers as much of the management of their own affairs as was consistent with their character as military bodies, and with the maintenance of military discipline; and they thought that by requiring their submission to the annual inspection of a military officer they would have ample control over the drill. With regard to the arms a proper place of custody and a proper person to take care of them were to be provided by the volunteers themselves upon the recommendation, and subject to the approval, of the Lord Lieutenant, which he did not doubt would secure the choice of a proper person. He regretted that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State could not assent to the proposal of paying volunteer artillery regiments and providing them with uniforms, because if that were done a similar demand would speedily be made by the rifle corps, and it would be impossible, in principle, to refuse to accede to their claim. Artillery regiments would receive instruction and a supply of ammunition gratuitously, and he did not think it would be right to give them any further preference over their brethren of the rifle corps. Her Majesty's Government had, with the concurrence of the illustrious Duke the Commander-in-Chief, made arrangements for the instruction at Hythe of twenty-five adjutants and 100 sergeants of militia during the approaching autumn; and it was intended, as soon as those sergeants had received the proper instruction, to issue Enfield rifles to the staff of the disembodied militia. The issuing of that weapon to the whole of the militia force was a much larger question, and must take place gradually, according to the state of the public stores. On a previous occasion he had stated that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War was not prepared to sanction the formation of volunteer corps in larger bodies than companies. Since then, however, his right hon. Friend had received so many representations as to the desirability of sanctioning the formation of battalions under certain circumstances, that he had decided that when several companies were formed in one town, or in a small district, he would sanction the appointment of a field-officer to command them, in order that they might have one' practice-ground and one arm-store. He was also willing to consider whether in rural districts a field-officer might not be appointed to exercise a general supervision over the scattered companies, to conduct their correspondence with the War Office, and to be their inspecting officer.


made a few observations which were not heard.


said, he had the honour to command an Artillery Regiment of Militia, and he was sorry to say that, although the complement of the regiment was 500 at present, although it had been embodied more than nine months, they had not been able to muster more than 250. He thought the reason of this was that the men were, in most instances, called upon to serve at such great distances from the towns and villages in which they lived. He thought that if the services of each regiment were confined to its own county, the force would be considerably strengthened. Another point to which he wished to call the attention of the Government was the fact, that no ammunition had been supplied to the regiment for several months; and without ammunition an Artillery regiment could have no practice in the duties which it was specially instituted to perform.


wished to state, in reply to the noble Marquess, that what he had intended to say was, that the sergeants of the disembodied militia would be trained at Hythe, and that they would, on their return, not only instruct their own regiments, but would be available for the instruction of the members of the rifle corps. But the Government did not mean that the volunteers should not, if they should think proper, obtain instruction from other quarters. He hoped the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Malmesbury) would excuse him if he did not then enter into a discussion of the points which the noble Earl had raised. He should take care, however, that the matters to which the noble Earl had referred should become the subject of due inquiry.


asked the noble Earl to consider whether these volunteer corps had not better be formed on a system of companies instead of regiments, so that if they were ever called out for actual service, a company might be attached to each line regiment as a light company.