HL Deb 23 March 1871 vol 205 cc452-4

asked the Under Secretary of State for War, What steps Her Majesty's Government propose taking to ensure the attendance of a sufficient number of officers at the preliminary drills of Irish Militia regiments? He had no intention of criticizing the action of the Government in calling out the Irish Militia. Their Lordships were doubtless aware that the Irish Militia had not been embodied or recruited during the last six years. The consequence was that, at the moment when the order was received to recruit, the regiments were found to be in a very attenuated state, and the number of recruits at the preliminary drills would be unusually large, and to ensure proper drill and discipline an adequate attendance of officers was necessary. In his own regiment, only 395 men were on the roll, and 450 or 500 recruits would be present at the training. The circular at present in force directed the proportionate number of officers that were to attend—namely, one officer for 30 to 75 recruits, and two officers for any larger number. It also provided that all officers who desired to attend might do so for instruction during preliminary drill. These officers themselves could only be looked upon as so many recruits. He thought that in the case of disturbances the number of officers allowed would be insufficient to ensure steadiness and discipline. It would hardly be consistent with good policy that from any cause there should be an insufficiency of such officers on occasions of this kind. The recruits of his own regiment and of another regiment which would assemble in the same town would number 700, and under the present arrangement there would only be six officers and adjutants to ensure proper drill and order.


desired to ask the noble Lord the Under Secretary for War what the Government proposed to give to officers attending preliminary drill? They would not have the advantage of a mess until the regiment was regularly assembled. They could not afford to attend on half-pay; and he thought they should be allowed full-pay when they incurred the expense of attending.


stated, in answer to the first Question, that an arrangement had been made by the War Office with the Lord Lieutenant for the supply of officers to Militia regiments in Ireland during the time of the preliminary training of recruits. If the noble Earl, as commanding officer, of his regiment made application to the Inspector General of Militia in Ireland, provided the number of recruits exceeded 200, he would be authorized to have a captain and two subalterns for the purpose of superintending drill; and, further, should the Inspector General be of opinion that it was advisable that officers of the Line should be brought in to assist at the training of recruits, arrangements would doubtless be made in accordance with that wish. In cases where disturbances were apprehended further assistance would be given. With respect to the Question put by the noble Marquess, he believed that officers called out to assist at the drill of the recruits would have full-pay, and that officers attending for the purpose of receiving instruction themselves would receive 5s. a-day. If he was not correct in this statement, he would communicate with the noble Marquess.

House adjourned at Six o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.