HL Deb 17 June 1898 vol 59 cc552-4

The House went into Committee on this Bill.


My Lords, I beg to move the following Amendment— Page 2, line 3, after 'any' insert 'part of any'"— the scope of which will not, I am sure, frighten the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War. The object of the Amendment is to give effect to some suggestions which I ventured to offer on the Second Reading, and to make it perfectly clear that, under this Act, it will be in the power of the War Office to call out not only a whole battalion, or any member of the Militia, but also any "part of a battalion"—the words used in the Militia Act of 1882, but which have now been omitted. I do not think it is quite clear in this Bill whether it will be possible for the War Office to call out companies as companies. I quite recognise that, under the Bill as it now stands, individual Members might be allowed to volunteer in sufficient numbers to ofrm one or more companies; but that is not the object I have in view. What I want to make clear is that it shall be possible to call out a company as a unit, with its own officers and its own staff. I quite realise that there may be difficulties in the way of this being done—such, for instance, as a company, or part of a company, being called upon to go out in the non-training period—but I feel sure they are difficulties which the noble Marquess will be able to overcome. If he will accept my Amendment, it will, I am sure, give great satisfaction to the Militia battalions, and bring about what the noble Marquess desires to promote—namely, greater unity of feeling between the Line battalions and the Militia.


My Lords, I have carefully looked into the matter which my noble Friend has brought before the House, and I have satisfied myself that the Bill as it now stands would enable us to do that which he desires. If your Lordships will look at the wording of the clause, you will see that we propose that the Militia Act of 1882 shall be— construed as authorising the employment of any member of the Militia volunteering to serve for a period not exceeding one year. Well, if we can take any member, we can take any number of members, up to a battalion. I am told that there is no doubt whatever as to the legal effect of the words as they stand. If there is any difficulty, it would be, as, I think, my noble Friend sees, not a legal difficulty, but an administrative difficulty, and that administrative difficulty I think he must leave us to endeavour to overcome. But, as a question of policy, there is no difference between him and us. I hope that with that assurance my noble Friend will not think it necessary to press his Amendment.


My Lords, after the assurance that has been given by the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War, I withdraw my Amendment. I am sure that assurance will be received with the greatest satisfaction by Militia battalions.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill passed through Committee.

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