Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That there be laid before this House, a Return of the number of Militiamen, stating date, corps, county, offence, and punishment, who had been brought before either Magistrates at Petty Sessions or any Superior Court since 1865 charged with any agrarian or political offence in Ireland."—(Mr. Stacpoole.)
said, without having any intention whatever of casting an imputation on the loyalty of the Irish Militia, he must, on the part of the Government, decline to accede to the Motion of the hon. Member. The Return was one which would take much time and cost a great deal of money, besides which it would not be possible to secure accuracy in such a Return. For all practical purposes the Return would be useless.
denied that the compiling of the Return would involve trouble, delay, or expense. There would be no difficulty in furnishing such a Return. He thought the Government acted unwisely in not embodying the Irish Militia. The Staff was kept up, but the rank and file of the force were allowed to dwindle away. He wished to know whether the Government had any reason for not calling out the Irish Militia regiments? In his opinion the hon. Member was entitled to the Return he asked for.
observed that yesterday another Militia question had been passed over, in what he could not help regarding as rather unseemly haste. As the Secretary for War was not in his place he should not enter upon the question of the Militia further than to express a hope that the Government would avail themselves of the favourable opportunity now afforded them to place the Militia Force in a state of efficiency, both as regarded officers and arms. It would be a graceful act on the part of the Government to call out the Irish Militia, and to bring them over into this country.
reminded hon. Members that the question before the House was not whether it was expedient to call out the Irish Militia, but whether a certain Return, involving considerable delay and expense, should be granted. For the reasons already given he trusted that the hon. Member would withdraw his Motion, more especially as he had never heard any charge brought against the Irish Militia, such as the terms of the Motion would seem to imply had been alleged against them.
said, he was glad that the question of the Militia had been ventilated, even in this indirect manner. He trusted that the Militia regiments would be kept up to their full strength, and would be properly officered and armed. It would of course be very unwise to take any stops that might present the appearance of our being in a panic; but as the Militia was the force we looked to in times of peace, it might be placed upon a proper footing without leading to any improper inferences.
said, he would be the last person to cast a slur upon the Irish Militia. His only object in moving for the Return was to show that they were entirely innocent of the charges that had been brought against them. He begged to withdraw his Motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.