HL Deb 05 August 1875 vol 226 cc546-50

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.


said, the question now arose whether the Militia was to be a substantive force with an administration of its own. The principle of feudality which had hitherto prevailed in respect of this Reserve was past and dead; but, though no doubt that was intended, some of the clauses of the Bill were inconsistent with the carrying out of such intention. He thought they ought to be careful in interfering with the organization of a force which had proved itself so efficient. All regulations emanating from the Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary for War the officers of the Militia would receive with confidence and respect. He would add that he had perfect and absolute confidence in the Assistant Adjutant Generals; but he would suggest that there ought to be an additional Assistant Adjutant General of Militia. He had viewed with pleasure the adoption of a system by which Army officers now joined the Militia; but he had not observed any signs as yet of the Militia officers joining the Regular Army, and he hoped shortly to see the prospect of a successful arrangement between the two branches of the service.

House in Committee.

Clauses 1 to 20, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 21 (Appointments and commissions of officers).


, in reply to the noble Lord's (Lord Waveney's) criticism, reminded him that the Bill was, in reality, merely a consolidation Bill, and that it did not preclude the future consideration of the reforms which he advocated.


took occasion to observe that the recent Regulations issued by the War Office for the appointment of officers of the Army as adjutants in the Militia were, in his view, of the most objectionable character. Ever since the formation of the force it was of a local character, and had always been looked upon as a local force, ranged in the different districts, and commanded by its own officers; and if they now proceeded to appoint officers in the Army as adjutants, he believed that they would totally destroy the local character of the force, and he was confident that if they destroyed its local character they would destroy it altogether, because he believed that Militia recruits would never consent to join a force that was not commanded by the officers connected with the county, but by those of whom they knew nothing at all. Under 42 Geo. III., special restrictions were made with regard to the appointment of adjutants of Militia. They must possess certain qualifications; but now they were taken out of the Staff of the depôt, and he would point out that it was not necessary that because a man was a good soldier, and performed his other duties extremely well, he would be a good adjutant. Another objection to the proposal was that the adjutants of Militia regiments had duties to perform for which experience in those duties and a knowledge of the locality were essential. They had to attend Central Boards of Examination, do the work of brigade majors, and several other things. A young officer from a Line regiment would find himself like a fish out of water during the first two years of his adjutancy of Militia, and the office was to be held for only five years. The object of the Warrant seemed to be to get rid of the present adjutants, because it gave them a higher rate of retirement if they resigned at once, but informed them that if they insisted on remaining in for a year or years longer they would receive only the old rate of retirement. Under the present system the regiments were improving in efficiency every year.


was also of opinion that it would be a great mistake to make any change in the class of officers who now discharged the duties of Militia adjutants. He would remind their Lordships that all officers of the Line, with the exception of the colonel, were under the regimental control of some other officer or officers. The adjutant of a Militia regiment was his own master for the greater part of the year, and they were going to put young officers of Line regiments into that position.


begged to suggest to their Lordships that the question on which the noble Duke and the noble Earl had just addressed their Lordships was in no way touched by the clause now before the Committee.


said, the appointment of adjutants was of great importance, and the greatest care ought to be taken with reference to it. His 23 years' experience had taught him that the adjutants were the life and soul of the regiments. Smart men of the Line know nothing of the feeling and temperament of the men of the Militia. He trusted the Government would re-consider the question discussed by the noble Duke and the noble Earl.


concurred with his noble and learned Friend (the Lord Chancellor) that this question of the adjutants was in no way raised by this Bill. It was one which had recently been discussed in their Lordships' House, and he thought the explanation given of the Warrant was satisfactory. There were a number of adjutants of Militia regiments who desired a better scale of retirement; there were a number of commanding officers of Militia regiments who were not satisfied with their adjutants; and there were a number of officers of the Line who would prefer becoming adjutants of Militia to going out on half-pay from the Army. If, as he understood, the Warrant was intended to meet those cases, he thought there was much to be said for it; but the question did not arise on this clause, nor was it raised by this Bill.


said, that the case had been correctly stated by the noble Viscount. Various complaints had been made by adjutants, and the Secretary for War had devised this scheme of retirement to meet those complaints, and now it was said that the Government were forcing these adjutants out of the service. Those officers who did not wish to perform the new duties which would fall to their share would be able to accept the retiring pay, which would be very advantageous, and those who did not retire would remain in the service under the old conditions. The whole subject of the duties and position of the Militia adjutants was under the consideration of a Committee of the War Office, and he hoped that the Report would meet with the approbation of all parties.


considered that the clause was an intimation by the Secretary of State to these adjutants that they ought to retire from the service on this increased pension, and that if they did not they would be placed in a disadvantageous position. The noble Duke also complained of the new arrangements in reference to the position in which the adjutants' clerks would be placed.


said, it would be extremely hard on any Judge who might have earned a retiring pension, if he were told that, at the end of 15 years, he must immediately retire, or submit to a smaller reward than those who suddenly quitted the Bench, and it was equally unjust to impose any such analogous conditions on adjutants, and he expressed a hope that the Government would endeavour to make provision for the retention of the services of the adjutants.


joined those who were of opinion that the scheme of retirement did practically convey a threat that if the adjutants did not now retire on a certain amount of pension, they would be placed on worse terms hereafter both as regarded their duties and pensions.


said, he was sure that the opinions which had been expressed by his noble Friends would be very carefully considered by the Secretary of State for War; and he had authority to state that there was nothing further from his right hon. Friend's intention than either to cast any slur upon those gentlemen or to evince a desire to dispense with their services; still less to show any want of courtesy or confidence to the colonels of Militia.

Clause verbally amended, and ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Amendments made; the Report thereof to be received To-morrow; and Bill to be printed, as amended. (No. 264.)