HL Deb 10 August 1860 vol 160 cc1035-7

in moving the third reading of this Bill, said the noble EARL (the EARL of Derby) had suggested on a former evening that the age fixed in the Bill should be lowered from 18 to 16. He had consulted his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War on the subject, and, after full consideration, it appeared that there were reasons which rendered it unadvisable at present. The Government had also determined to persevere in their intention of reducing the limit at the other end from 35 to 30. The schedule would therefore remain as it stood at present in the Bill, and the liability to the ballot would be from 18 to 30 years of age.


said, that he had objected to the reduction of the age from 35 to 30, because many men would be able to render good service in the Militia at the latter age, when they would not be available for the regular army, while at the same time it would extend the area of liability. In the same way, lads of from 16 to 18 years of age, though they might not be fit for service in the field, would be very competent for service in the Militia; and at the end of the period of service namely, five, years, they would be 21, when such as felt inclined to enlist, would form a most valuable addition to the army. So long as they did not go beyond the physical capacity of the men, he thought the greater the extension of the age at which persons were liable to the ballot the better; while at the same time, by increasing the number of the persons liable to the ballot they would render the ballot less oppressive to the people. From 18 to 35 were the ages lie should prefer; but if 30 were taken for the one limit, ho thought the other should be lowered to 16. However, as her Majesty's Government had expressed their opinion on the matter, and had avowed a determination not to alter the clause, he would not put them to the trouble of dividing the House on the question.


said, he was not aware that an English boy of 16 was less strong, hardy, or brave than an Italian boy of the same age; yet it was well known that by far the larger proportion of the army under Garibaldi was composed of youths between 16 and 20.


said, that Von Archenholz, the historian of the Seven Years' War, when 14, was engaged in actual service in the field, and he thought it would be a very good plan to extend the limits of liability to the ballot from the ago of 14 to the age of 33.

Bill read 3a.

On Question that the Bill do pass,


expressed his opinion that the extension at least to the age of 33 would be a great improvement in the Bill.


pointed out that it would only be in cases of urgent necessity that the ballot would be put in force, and the recruits which would be obtained by reducing the age so low as 16 would not be of much use for service in the field. He said that even in the regular army in time of peace the age of recruits was from 18 to 20, and in time of war it was only reduced to 16.


said, that in time of war, when there was a great demand for recruits for the army, and it was found necessary to extend the age at which men could enter it, it was always found that the militia ballot formed a serious impediment to recruiting, simply because a much larger amount could be obtained by a substitute for the Militia than the bounty given for entering the army; and if they fixed the period at the precise age at which men entered the army, they very much interfered with its recruiting, the substitutes being for the most part drawn from the very class from which the army was recruited. To remedy that inconvenience he wished to include in the liability to the ballot a class of men not so liable to become recruits—those who never could serve in the army might do so in the Militia.


suggested that 17 should be fixed as the limit.


said, that any one who would go to Eaton would see 400 young gentlemen, every one of them under 17, going through their exercises in a very excellent manner.


said, that the reason why the Government did not think such extension advisable was that to a certain extent the militia ballot was contrary to our general usages, being the substitution of compulsory for voluntary service; and they thought by confining it within reasonable limits, as respected the age of persons liable to the ballot it would lose much of that unpopularity which would otherwise inevitably attach to it. The lower the scale the larger the number of persons who would be found unfit for the military service, and the greater the chance of being compelled to have resort to the second Ballot. The question of the extension, both upwards and downwards, bad been very carefully considered at the War Office, and on the whole, Her Majesty's Ministers thought it would be better to pass the Bill in its present form.

Further Amendments made; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.