HL Deb 03 August 1882 vol 273 cc578-81

rose, and called attention to the 50th clause of the Militia Voluntary Enlistment Act (1875), in regard to militia regiments volunteering their services for the garrisoning of Channel and Mediterranean stations; and asked the Under Secretary of State for War, Whether he can state, in the terms of the last three lines of that clause, that— No commanding officer has certified any voluntary offer (i.e., on the part of his regi- ment) previously to his having explained to every person offering so to serve that the offer is to he purely voluntary on his part; he would ask whether, in consideration of the proved disadvantages in regard to maintaining both the numerical strength and the efficiency of militia regiments caused by the regulations of last year, it has yet been decided (as already announced to be in contemplation by the Under Secretary of State for War) to revert to the regulations of preceding years; whether it is intended to give those militiamen who are to be kept out 56 days this year an extra bounty of £1, or else in the case of married men some separation allowance; whether the Queen's Regulations of 1881 for Her Majesty's Military Forces are to be taken to supersede the Militia Regulations of 1880 in cases where they do not harmonize together as far as the militia is concerned?


, before the Question was answered, expressed a strong opinion that it was very undesirable that the volunteering of the Militia should be asked for by officers commanding battalions without the sanction of the Secretary of State for War or the military authorities, as it put those regiments whose services were not thus asked for in an invidious position. Speaking for his own regiment, although he had not thought right to call upon them to volunteer for foreign service, he knew for certain that they were ready and anxious to do so. The new system of drilling at military depôts had not been a success, but unpopular—unpopular to such an extent as to interfere seriously with recruiting. He did not wish to cast any blame on those in command of depôts, but upon the system. The work the men were put to during the course of the preliminary drill was not the work for which they were intended.


In answer to the Questions put to me by the noble Earl opposite, I have to say that I regret very much that the answer I gave to his Question 10 days ago was so obscure that he has had to repeat the Question to-day. No Militia regiments are at present embodied, nor is there any intention of embodying them, or of employing them out of this country. It is true that many commanding officers have written to the War Office expressing the readiness of their regiments to serve where they may be required. These offers have, I have no doubt, been made by the Militia officers from a general knowledge of the feelings which animate the officers and men under their command. But I need hardly say that before such offers could be officially considered, the regiments would have to be embodied and proper opportunities would be given to the men to volunteer in accordance with the section of the Militia Act referred to in the noble Earl's Question, which will be strictly adhered to. I cannot but think that the offers which we have received evince a highly creditable spirit on the part of the Militia, and prove the alacrity, which was never doubted, to respond to any demands which may, in case of need, be made upon them. That spirit, I am sure, is shared by all the regiments of Militia, although many of them have not as yet thought fit to make any communication on the subject. The selection for service will be made from all the regiments, and will not in any way be confined to those who have already volunteered. As regards the second Question, I explained the other day that the system of drilling recruits on enrolment has not been in operation for a year, and is only applied to regiments which have their head-quarters at the regimental depots. What I then said was that when the Reports are received we shall have an opportunity of judging how the new system has succeeded, and whether it requires modification. At present, of course, these Reports have not been received; and I cannot by any means admit that the disadvantages of the new system have been proved, as the noble Earl asserts in his Question. With regard to the third Question, no additional bounty will be granted to Militiamen because the period of their training has been prolonged beyond the usual time. The bounty has always remained the same, whether the period of training has been 21, 27, or 56 days. The training can be prolonged by Order in Council, and as this is a part of the engagements of all Militiamen, it is unreasonable to grant an additional sum to them for performing their engagement. Separation allowances have never been granted to Militiamen because the training is prolonged. Every facility, however, will be given to the men to remit a portion of their pay to their families. As to the noble Earl's fourth Question, the Queen's Regulations of 1881 do not supersede the Militia Regulations of 1880. Clause 42 of Army Circulars, 1881, governs this question, and runs— In all matters which are not detailed in the Regulations for the Militia, 1880, commanding officers will be guided by the Queen's Regulations and Orders for the Army by the field exercise and by the rifle exercises and musketry instructions.

House adjourned at half past Six o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Four o'clock.