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House of Commons Hansard
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27 February 1806
Volume 6
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rose to submit his promised motion, for a return of the effective volunteer force, to which as no opposition had been manifested when he gave his notice, he trusted none would now be made. There was no subject on which it behoved the house and the country to be more completely informed than the present. They had been buoyed up with the most magnificent descriptions of the state of the voluntary defence, and it was now highly expedient to ascertain the actual fact. At such a crisis as the present, this was particularly indispensible. It was of the utmost importance, previous to the sums being voted for the clothing and expences of a considerable portion of the volunteer establishment, that the house should know what number of men were likely to take the field in case of emergency. He was sure that his hon. friends, who were near him, would give this subject all the attention that its great importance de- manded. Were it not for this conviction, he should consider it his duty himself to found a motion on the papers, for which he should on that evening move. As it was, however, he should leave it with perfect confidence in their hands. One additional remark he would make, which was, that not only the number of effective men should be clearly ascertained; but that the rank of the officers should likewise be considered and arranged. He was himself in the command of a volunteer corps, and he was solicitous that neither he, nor any other officer in a similar situation, should be circumstanced in that particular in the way in which he now was. He would say no more on the subject at present, but rest satisfied with moving, "that there be laid before the house, an account of the returns of the different volunteer corps of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, in that part of the united kingdom, called Great Britain; describing the effective strength of each corps, together with their state of discipline, and fitness for service, as reported by the general officers and inspecting field officers of the different districts throughout the kingdom, in their last returns; and also the names of the officers by whom such returns have been signed."

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was very happy to give his support to the motion. The volunteers and the public at large were anxious to know, whether or not any new measure of defence was to be adopted. It was now near March, a period at which a campaign usually commenced, and this circumstance, added to the dangers with which the country was threatened, pointed out the necessity of expediting as much as possible any military plans that might be in contemplation.—The motion was then agreed to.