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Lords Chamber

Volume 203: debated on Tuesday 26 July 1870

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House Of Lords

Tuesday, 26th July, 1870.

MINUTES.]—PUBLIC BILLS— First Reading—Greenwich Hospital* (244).

Second Reading—Clerical Disabilities (210); Absconding Debtors (214); Army Enlistment (236); Sheriffs (Scotland) Act (1853) Amendment, &c.* (243).

Committee—Settled Estates (191–245); Wages Arrestment Limitation (Scotland)* (192); Juries* (213–246).

Third Reading—Sugar Duties (Isle of Man)* (209); Stamp Duty on Leases* (148); Exchequer Bonds (£1,300,000)* ; Paupers Conveyance (Expenses)* (208), and passed.

France And Prussia—Alleged Draft Treaty—Question

My Lords, I think it right to call attention to a statement which I understand has been made "elsewhere," respecting a document which has excited great public interest, and which was referred to in this House last night. I have no right to ask a Question on the subject, as I have given no Notice to put one; but if the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) is in a position to communicate to your Lordships the information which I believe has been given to-day "elsewhere," your Lordships would be glad to receive it.

My Lords, I have received a telegram this morning from Lord Augustus Loftus, stating that yesterday afternoon the attention of Count Bismarck was called to the matter, and that the official paper of this morning contains the text of a draft Treaty such as that which your Lordships read in The Times yesterday; and adding that it was stated that the Minute of the Treaty is entirety in the handwriting of M. Benedetti. Having said thus much, perhaps your Lordships will allow me to state that I have seen the French Ambassador, M. de Lavalette, within the last hour. I have made the following notes of what occurred, and your Lordships will perhaps permit me to read them to the House:—M. de Lavalette called on me, and the conversation turned at once upon the draft Treaty. He told me that now that war had been declared between France and Prussia, there only remained for him two objects in his post here. These were to maintain intimate relations between the two Governments, and to preserve the friendly feelings, the growth, of late years, between the two nations. The plan contained in the alleged draft Treaty, published in The Times of yesterday, was one which had been originated by M. de Bismarck, had been the subject of some conversation with M. Benedetti, but it never had any serious basis, and was rejected by both parties. M. de Lavalette went on to say that the Government of the Emperor had absolutely respected the neutrality of Belgium, even when there was reason to complain of its conduct—that during the last month the Emperor had made a declaration of neutrality to the Belgian Government, which had also been communicated by M. de Gramont to Lord Lyons, and which, M. de Lavalette said, I must know was absolutely binding on the honour of His Imperial Majesty—unless, indeed, the neutrality was violated by the other belligerent.

Clerical Disabilities Bill

( The Lord Houghton.)

(No 210) Second Reading

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.

, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time said, the object of the measure, which had met with very slight opposition in the other House, was to enable clergymen of the Church of England to relinquish all rights, privileges, advantages, and exemptions attached to the office of minister in the Church; and under certain conditions to resume them. This was not the first time the subject had been brought under the consideration of the Legislature. As long ago as 1862 the subject was discussed by a Committee of the House of Commons, of which Committee he (Lord Houghton) had the honour to be a Member. By that Committee some conclusions had been approached, but none were quite arrived at, owing to difficulties which then prevailed in public opinion on the subject. Ordination was regarded as a sacrament by the Church of Rome, as well as, he believed, by the Greek Church; but the Fifth Article of the Church of England took a different view, and the very canon which the Bill sought to repeal treated the indelibility of Orders as a question merely of discipline. It was true that a respectable section of the Church took a different view, but Luther and Calvin might be quoted against them. The proposed mode of relinquishing the clerical status was that the clergyman, after having resigned the preferments held by him in the Church should execute a deed of relinquishment, to be enrolled in the Court of Chancery, an office copy of it being delivered to the Bishop of the diocese in which he last held preferment, and by notice to the Archbishop. At the expiration of six months a person who had complied with these conditions would become to all intents and purposes a layman. He trusted that this principle would be acceptable to the House, for it could not be to the advantage of the Church to retain unwilling members, who could not conscientiously perform their duties, and were likely to be a scandal rather than a benefit to it. Not that the large proportion of those whom the Bill would relieve were likely to occasion scandal, for there were men of great eminence who had abandoned the clerical calling, but were under a great social disadvantage and were debarred from the performance of other duties. The Bill would allow them to become members of municipal bodies and of the House of Commons, a provision which might not in itself be very advantageous; but it would be difficult to show upon what principle clergymen of the Church of England were excluded, seeing that Dissenting ministers were eligible. Indeed, in the course of his own experience in the House of Commons he had known many Dissenting ministers in that House, who were not only very useful Members, but he had remarked the invariable respect with which they were treated. The Bill, however, did not affect Roman Catholic priests, whose disqualification being connected with the Emancipation Act might be mixed up with political considerations, and had better therefore be treated separately. The latter part of the Bill enabled a person, under certain conditions, to resume his status as a minister of the Church of England on executing a deed of revocation, if the Archbishop chose to re-admit him; but he would not be capable of holding any preferment until two years after such revocation. Now, he admitted the undesirableness of persons becoming by turns clergymen and laymen; but there would be a hardship in disabling a man who had relinquished the clerical status from ever resuming it; for, in a recent case, a clergyman who joined the Church of Rome, thereby losing his sacerdotal status, as that Church did not recognize English Orders, had returned to the Church of England. He did not, however, consider this a very material point to insist on, although the mental struggles and experience of such a clergyman might be of great service to the Church if he were re-admitted.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a ."—( The Lord Houghton.)

said, it would probably make very little difference to the future of the Church of England whether the Bill were passed or rejected. If it had interfered with the indelibility of Orders, it would have been viewed with great dislike by a large number of its members; but it simply removed the disabilities, mostly imposed by statute law, for secular employments. Seeing that men who had been ordained might afterwards make the terrible discovery that they had mistaken (heir calling, and that they were unfitted for it by abilities, acquirements, or habits of life, it might possibly be to the advantage of the Church that they should be relieved from their sacred duties and betake themselves to other callings. Occasionally, doubtless, men of a higher class, owing to intellectual difficulties or hesitation in accepting particular doctrines, wished to be relieved from obligations they could no longer fulfil. The Bill, on the other hand, would diminish, to a certain extent, the caution with which such obligations should be undertaken; for if a man might regard Holy Orders as a mere experiment, to be renounced, perhaps, after two or three years, he might deceive himself and take the most solemn of all vows in an unsuitable frame of mind. There was thus a danger of the introduction of a lower class of minds into the Church. The difficulties on both sides were not enough to oblige him to oppose the Bill, but would console him if the House should not think proper to pass it. He objected to the power given for resuming the clerical status; for though men of high character, ability, and goodness had left the ranks of the Church and had afterwards desired to return to it, there had been no difficulty in the way; nor would any arise under this Bill unless, in order to enter some trade or profession, they had executed a deed of relinquishment. It was not desirable that persons who had entered the Church as an experiment, and had afterwards failed in secular occupations, should be allowed, under the influence of a fresh disappointment, to re-enter the Church as, after all, the best mode of getting a living. It was true that the Bishop's or Archbishop's sanction would be required; but in all such cases the friends of the applicant would testify to his character and exert a moral pressure which it would be difficult to resist. In his opinion clergymen who had once abandoned their sacred character in order to pursue some other calling, should not, in the interest of the Church, be per- mitted to return. With this view when the Bill got into Committee he should move the omission of the clauses which gave that permission.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.

Settled Estates Bill—(No 191)

( The Earl of Airlie.)


House in Committee (according to Order).

observed that the amount proposed by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Airlie) to be charged for carrying out certain improvements at the cost of the estate was equal to three years' rental. He had, however, ascertained that, so far as Scotland was concerned, two years' rental only was allowed. He thought that the charge should be based upon the rateable value of the estate, and not upon the rental, in order that the net value might be determined, and that jointures and other charges should be deducted therefrom. He contended that a private Act of Parliament was the better process, and condemned the tendency to charge everything on the inheritance, the tenant for life bearing no burden himself.

was understood to have no objection to the two years' rental as in Scotland. The Bill had for its main object the improvement of small estates, that could not afford to spend much money in obtaining Parliamentary powers; and he further objected to the intervention of the Court of Chancery, as suggested on a former occasion by a noble and learned Lord, as a tribunal associated with delay and expense; he hoped their Lordships would not introduce any provision which might tend to embarrass the operation of the principle of the measure.

Amendments made: The Report thereof to be received on Thursday next; and Bill to be printed, as amended. (No. 245.)

Absconding Debtors Bill

( The Lord Penzance.)

(No 214) Second Reading

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.

, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, that in the present state of the law, in the case of a debtor owing not less than £50 he could be made a bankrupt; but he must first receive a debtor summons which, in the case of a trader, was not returnable until the expiry of seven days, and, in the case of a non-trader, 21 days. This gave ample opportunity for a dishonest debtor to abscond, and the laws now in force for the arrest of such absconding debtors were insufficient. It was to put an end to this state of this state of things that the present Bill was introduced, and though the machinery was cumbrous, yet if their Lordships chose to read the Bill a second time, the machinery might be simplified in Committee.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a ."— (The Lord Penzance.)

said, he did not intend to oppose the second reading of the Bill; but it was a measure which would require very grave consideration before their Lordships assented to it. The Bill was far too coercive in its present shape, and gave very great power to one creditor who wished to obtain an advantage over the others. There were many difficulties in the measure; but possibly his noble and learned Friend might be able to meet them when the Bill was considered in Committee.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.

Army Enlistment Bill—(No 236)

( The Lord Northbrook.)

Second Reading

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.

, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, that the object of the measure was to extend the area of recruiting by shortening the period of service, and to establish a Reserve Force, which might be called into active service in a time of emergency. For this purpose the 2nd and 3rd clauses provided that no person should be enlisted for a longer period than 12 years; and that the enlistment may be for the whole of that period in Army service, or for a portion of it, to be fixed from time to time by the Secretary of State, and specified in the attestation paper in Army service, and for the residue of the period in the first-class Reserve Force, as established under the Act of 1867. The way in which the power would, in practice, be exercised, would be that a soldier would be enlisted for a term of 12 years, six of which would be for the Army, and six for the first-class Army Reserve. This scheme of enlistment was intended to apply to the infantry only, and not to the cavalry and artillery. By the 4th clause power was given to the Secretary of State, either by general or special regulations—but in both cases with the soldier's free consent—to vary the conditions of service, so as to permit a soldier who might have served three years on Army service, either to enter the Reserve at once for the unexpired residue of his term of 12 years, or to extend his Army service to the whole term. The object of the provision was two-fold. It was proposed, in the first place, in the interest of the men, so that if at any time it should be found necessary to make reductions in the Army, there might be a power to allow the men who might be discharged to enter the Reserve, the Crown having now power to dispense at any time with the services of those soldiers without any such advantages being given to them. The provision was intended also to meet the case of regiments ordered abroad with which it might be inconvenient to send out men who had only a short time to serve. There was another important change proposed by the Bill. At present, in accordance with the Acts in force with respect to the Army and Militia Reserves, there was no power by which we could avail ourselves of the services of the men who had enlisted in those Reserves except in time of war. It was therefore proposed to adopt the words of the Royal Naval Reserve Act and to enable Her Majesty to call upon those Reserves to serve in the case of imminent national danger or of great emergency. He hoped that under the operation of the Bill the numbers of the Army Reserve would be largely increased. The reason why he entertained that hope was that the inducements held out when the Army Reserve Act of 1867 was passed were not sufficient to lead men to enter the service. Those inducements were 2d. a day and certain conditions with respect to pension. The inducements which, however, it was now proposed to hold out would be considerably greater. Instead of 2d., the men would receive 4d. a day. Men who had enlisted in the Reserves under the existing, or any former Act, and desired to take advantage of the provisions of the Bill to enter the Army Reserve, would be allowed to do so. With respect to pension, no pension would be given to men for service in the Reserve unless called upon to join the Army, in which event they would be entitled to count their time in the Reserve for good-conduct pay and pension, and enjoy the same advantages as a man who had passed the whole time in Army service. Men would readily, he thought, be found to take service in the Army Reserve under those conditions. The Commission on Recruiting in 1867 reported in very strong language that men were rather inveigled into the Army than induced to enter it by the reasonable prospects of the service. The late Government, acting on that Report, had made considerable alterations in the system of recruiting. They were now acting on the principle of dealing with the men as reasonable beings, and the result had been very successful. In the last Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting it was stated that out of 8,000 men who had en-listed during the whole year only seven had deserted on their way to join their respective regiments, although the old practice of sending recruits to their regiments under escort had been abandoned. That showed the good effect of giving them a reasonable knowledge of the prospects which they had before them. Since the abolition of bounty, which had been recommended by every man who had the real welfare of the soldier at heart, it had been found that there had been no unwillingness on the part of men to come forward and enter the service. He was of opinion, therefore, that it might be reasonably expected that the additional inducements which were held out by the present Bill would bring back to the Army Reserve a very large number of men who had already served in the Army, but who had taken their discharge at the end of the term of their engagement. Thus, if successful—which the military authorities regarded it as very likely to be—the result of the measure would be to give us a very valuable additional force of trained men, whose services in case of emergency would be at once available. He had now to inform their Lordships how that part of the Bill which was new was likely to work as respected the existing system of enlistment and re-engagement. All the advantages with respect to pensions to men who remained in the service 21 years or more, and who constituted a valuable portion of our Army, would remain the same as at present. Under the 3rd clause enlistments might still be made for the old period of 12 years in the Army, and the 9th clause provided that a good soldier, whom it was desirable to retain in the ranks, might be re-engaged for a further period, to complete 21 years as at present. Lastly, the Bill retained the existing rule as to soldiers who had served for 21 years being allowed, with the consent of their commanding officers, to serve for a further period. In the year 1847 the Duke of Wellington gave a strong support to the Limited Enlistment Bill then introduced, and the arguments he urged in its favour were equally applicable to the measure now under discussion. It was satisfactory to find that the anticipations entertained in 1847 that a large proportion of old soldiers would still elect to remain in the service had been entirely realized. The Commission on Recruiting, to which he had already referred, went into this question with great care, and it was shown by figures that the soldiers re-engaging between 30 and 40 years of age were 182 per 1,000 before the Limited Enlistment Act was passed, whereas in 1866, after that measure had come into full operation, the number had risen to 225 per 1,000. This Bill, he might remark, was not a hasty production. The subject had occupied the thoughts of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War from the time when he first assumed the seals of Office—and, indeed, he had several times shadowed forth the scheme embodied in the Bill. His right hon. Friend had sought the advice of the illustrious Duke on the cross-Benches in regard to it, besides obtaining all the legal assistance at his command. The Bill had been deliberately framed in a most cautious spirit, with the intention not of rashly interfering with the present system, but of supplementing it by a shorter term of enlistment. If the Bill were successful, it would, he felt assured, add very considerably to the military strength of this country; while if, unfortunately, the anticipations he entertained as to its success should not be realized, we should only be in precisely the same position which we at present occupied.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a ."—( The Lord Northbrook.)

My Lords, I have no hesitation in supporting this Bill, because I feel that this is a tentative measure, and will not deprive us of those means on which we have hitherto relied for recruiting the Army. But although the Bill does not alter the existing system of recruiting, it will largely increase its area, being framed in a spirit which will be most advantageous to the persons desirous of enlisting in the Army, and will also add greatly to our means of creating a Reserve Force. While, on the one hand, all who understand military matters rejoice to see the old soldiers remain in the service, yet it cannot be denied that the expense of keeping up a large Army in time of peace would be so great as seriously to affect the finances of the country. It is essential, therefore, to maintain in time of peace a Reserve force which can be made available in case of any emergency. Up to the present time our system, of Reserve has been confined entirely to the Militia, which is no doubt a most valuable Reserve; but, on the other hand, the Militia is not exactly the sort of Reserve we wish to have. We desire to be in a position to fill up the cadres of the regiments rapidly in the event of war. If, however, we took men directly from the Militia, we should certainly destroy the Militia regiments—a result much to be deprecated. Therefore, if we can obtain a Reserve without destroying the Militia regiments a great advantage will be gained. The scheme embodied in the Bill will enable us to obtain two Reserves—one a direct Reserve from the Army, and the other an indirect Reserve from the Militia; while, at the same time, we shall maintain the efficiency of the Militia. There are two or three points which my noble Friend the Under Secretary for War has referred to, and which, I think, were not quite understood when this Bill was under consideration in the other House. It was there assumed that under these arrangements the cavalry and artillery, like the infantry, would be enlisted for short periods of service; but this will not be the case, as the Bill is specially applicable to the infantry. It has likewise been assumed that the men may enlist for 12 years, three only of which are to be spent in the Army and nine in the Reserve. The real intention, however, is to enlist men for six years' service in the Army and six in the Reserve; but, at the same time, there is a power of discharging men into the Reserve at the expiration of three years, in the event of its being necessary or expedient at any time to reduce the regular Army. Taking into account the fact that the old system of recruiting will not be interfered with, I think I may safely recommend your Lordships to adopt the Bill, which I hope will prove advantageous to the service. The only point on which I have doubts is, as to whether men will freely come forward to enlist for so short a period of service; but I hope no difficulty will arise on that point. In other countries a man never ceases to be connected with civil life; whereas here, when a man enlists his connection with civil life entirely ceases. Under this Act it may be that a change will take place, and if it should happen that men are found ready to enlist with the idea of returning to civil life after a short time, it will be a very great advantage; but my impression is that it will always be found easier to obtain men for a longer period than for a shorter one. If I am right in this, the Bill will not in the least interfere with such an arrangement; and if, on the other hand, I am wrong, as my noble Friend the Under Secretary thinks, and we get the men, I shall feel very much gratified at such a result, being perfectly aware that we should always keep a sufficient number of older soldiers to season our regiments with—that valuable description of men who are by all authorities acknowledged to be the life and soul of the Army. I am not aware that I have anything to add to the observations I have made; but I hope I have made it clear to your Lordships that, at all events, there is no risk run in reading this Bill a second time; and, for my own part, I am prepared to strongly urge it on your Lordships.

My Lords, it is now, I am sorry to say, many years since I was first officially called upon to consider this subject, and came to the conclusion that in our Army it has proved a great evil that large bodies of our soldiers are enlisted for such long periods, and that it would be of unspeakable advantage to the country that a change in this respect should take place. That change was, to a certain extent, accomplished a good many years ago by my noble Friend (the Earl of Dalhousie) who sits on the other side of the House. A very useful Bill was passed by him, when he was Secretary at War, through the House of Commons, and I myself had charge of it when it came up to this House. But I fear that in that Bill, as in the present one, sufficient importance was not attached to the great object of creating a large and effective Reserve in connection with the regular Army. My Lords, you must remember that the great changes which have taken place in the world within the last 30 or 40 years have altered the whole circumstances of the case. We can no longer consider ourselves safe if we content ourselves with a moderatesized Army, to be raised by degrees, and after a considerable lapse of time, when war breaks out to sufficient proportions to meet the emergency. The facility which modern invention has given to the movement of troops—the alteration in the whole system of warfare itself—must impress upon us all that this country is no longer in a proper state of defence, unless at the very earliest period of the outbreak of war a regular Army of very considerable strength could be put into the field. It is obviously vain to trust to the Militia or Volunteers. They may both be highly valuable in their way, and, with regard to the Volunteers at least, I have no doubt that they are so; but even the staunchest advocates of the Militia admit that it would require six months to put them in a state of war efficiency. But six weeks may not be given us, perhaps hardly six days. In the present state of Europe the real danger is the first week after war has been declared, and during that week I ask the illustrious Duke who has just spoken—I ask any man who has studied this subject—if the Militia would be fit to take the field against the practised troops of Continental countries? The inefficiency as regards the officers alone is enough to disqualify them; and you cannot have first-class officers for the Militia simply because you do not pay them adequately, and do not employ them in a manner to enable them to look on their duties in a truly professional spirit. They are at best, as compared with regular soldiers, only amateurs. It is vain to say that during the Great War at the beginning of this century the Militia proved of the greatest value, and that with this experience we may rely on the same force to carry us safely through the dangers by which we may hereafter be surrounded. The Militia of those days only arrived at its efficiency after it had been months and even years embodied, and was in truth, in all but name, a part of the regular Army. The circumstances of the present times are altogether different, and a force which can only after long delay be made really available will not now suit our purpose. I say, then, that it is of extreme importance to the safety of the country that there should be a large Reserve in connection with the regular Army; and the only way to accomplish this is to allow soldiers to leave the ranks of the regular Army after a certain time, keeping such a hold on them that you can reckon on them the first week after hostilities have broken out. This would also be accompanied with many other advantages. It would reduce the dead weight of the Army. Under the old system the pensions form an enormous item compared with the expenses of the embodied Army. The reforms I advocate would also have very great moral advantages. The moral evils arising from keeping together large bodies of men for a long period are well known to Army administrators. If soldiers who are to continue in the ranks of the Army are encouraged to marry, their families become an encumbrance with which it is difficult to deal. If not, the evils I have alluded to become most serious; and the best preventive against such a state of things is to insure that a large proportion of the soldiers of our Army should be men serving for only a very few years, and contemplating a return to civil life. I must add that the adoption of the system of greatly restricting the time of active service required from soldiers would be a very incomplete measure, unless it were coupled with arrangements for making the period of service in the Army a term of apprenticeship to some useful employment. There is no reason why the Army should not be a great industrial school, where men would get the very best training for the various employments of civil life. The training of the Sappers and Miners proves the advantages of such a system, for the men on leaving that corps can always command the very best wages for the kind of work to which they have been trained. I welcome this Bill, therefore—or rather the intended diminution of the period of active service for soldiers, for I doubt whether any Bill was necessary for that purpose, and whether it might not have been better attained without any change in the law—as a small advance in the right direction. I highly approve of the determination of the Government to increase the number of men in the Reserve, and to abridge the period of actual service in the Army. But I cannot help warning your Lordships against the danger of allowing the intended augmentation of the Reserve to be accepted as a reason for the immediate reduction of the present Army. Even if the Bill is successful, it must be a considerable time before a Reserve Force is created—and I fear that we are hardly justified in assuming that the Bill before us will succeed; I am afraid it is intended to provide for introducing a system not sufficiently simple to win the confidence of the soldier so as to create such a Reserve as we require. But even if we were certain that it would prove successful in creating such a Reserve, until we have that Reserve—not on paper but in reality—it is most inexpedient that the ranks of the regular Army should be reduced, for by reducing the ranks of the regular Army you are reducing the source from which the Reserve is to be derived, and must retard its formation for a very considerable time. While you are talking about the 60,000 men you are to have in the Army of Reserve, but of which number we are not likely to have for a long time even one-tenth:—this must not be lost sight of, you have actually reduced the rank and file of your Army by about 20,000 men. The statements which have appeared in the newspapers—which from information that has reached me privately I have reason to believe are not exaggerated—with respect to the state of our Army, go to show that the reductions that have been effected have brought our regular Army to a state of perilous weakness; while the Army of Reserve, upon the credit of which those reductions have been made, exists only in expectation. Now, it appears to me that, in the present state of Europe, the policy of sacrificing safety for the sake of a slight relief from taxation is most unwise. Let me remind you, my Lords, of the information we have received within the last two days. For some years back a very mischievous notion has prevailed abroad that unless England was immediately and directly affected she would make no sign—that she would not interfere, whatever injustice might be going on in the world; and the notion that we had adopted those doctrines has encouraged other nations to believe that might was the only right; that the interests of the weak could be set aside with impunity, and that the great States of Europe were at liberty at their pleasure to combine for the spoliation of peoples. My Lords, I could not let this Bill pass this stage without raising my protest against the policy which seems to be adopted; and, while I maintain as strongly as my noble Friend opposite the wisdom and advantage of not prolonging too much the time which the soldier spends in the Army, and desire a large and powerful Reserve, I still hold that while this Reserve is being created we should take care not to reduce the number of our rank and file—so that we may be sure our strength will not be too low until we shall have such a Reserve as would be equal to all the emergencies that might arise in our relations with other States.

said, there could be no doubt that the Bill proposed to confer large powers upon the Secretary of State for War, but thought that after the speech of the illustrious Duke the Commander in Chief there need be no apprehensions of those powers being abused. The powers of the Secretary for War under the existing system of recruiting would not be taken away by the Bill; they would be merely amplified and modified. The Bill would not launch us in the sea of untried experiment; because during the last French war recruits were enlisted for short terms, and even for service during the continuance of the war. He felt satisfied that the Secretary of State had no intention during this crisis of transferring men who had not served their full term from the Army into the Reserve. On the contrary, the seasoned soldiers would be kept in the Army until peace was restored, in order that they might form a nucleus round which the short service men might be collected. The Bill would popularize the Army, and would inspire a military spirit among the classes whence the recruits were derived. Believing that the Bill would commence a new era in the history of the Army, he should gladly support its second reading.

said, the Bill appeared to add one more complication to our over-complicated War Office system. It would be satisfactory if the Secretary of State had been able to point out that we had either an Army or a Reserve; but it appeared we had broken up our Army, and that the Reserve did not exist, He believed, as he reminded the House a few weeks ago, that there was not one battalion of infantry or one battery of artillery fit for effective service. Such a state of things could not be regarded as satisfactory by a great people dwelling alongside of powerful nations—especially when we knew them to be capable of declaring war at a very short notice. He believed Her Majesty's Government would have to introduce a larger measure very soon. However, as the illustrious Duke had expressed his satisfaction with the Bill, he hoped he might find it easy to work.

said, he was glad to find the measure received with so much favour by the House, because he believed that it would tend to render our military service more acceptable to those about to enter the Army, and would give our Army the support of a large Reserve Force. The measure did not propose to abrogate in any way the advantages of the present system, but merely to superadd other advantages. First, the men would be enlisted for 12 years, of which they would have to serve six years in the Army and six years in the Reserve. In consequence of the power taken in the Bill by the Secretary of State to draft men into the Reserve after three years' service under the colours it had been sedulously reported that this meant that no man could remain in the Army more than three years. That was a mistake. If it were so he could not support the measure so cordially as he did, because three years was not a sufficiently long period for a man to be trained properly as a soldier; six years, however, was quite long enough to make a man an efficient soldier; and when after that time he was drafted into the Reserve, he remained competent for active service. The Secretary of State was to have a discretionary power; but, as a rule, the men were to remain six years under the colours, and after that to be drafted into what he trusted would become a bonâ fide Army of Reserve, owing to the better conditions offered by the Secretary of State to men who would take service in the Army. The strong point of the Bill therefore was that it provided for an Army of Reserve by offering inducements to men to enter the Army. But there was another feature in this Bill to which his noble Friend below him (Lord Northbrook) had not alluded, but which he hailed as a great improvement—namely, that every man entering the Army would be enlisted for general service. But that, in order to prevent the breaking up of the regimental system, care was taken that within a limited time—15 months—every man was to be posted to a regiment, and having been so posted he was not to be removed without his own consent. The advantage of the arrangement appeared to him to be this—that if they were called on suddenly to increase their Army service, they could post a large number of men in a particular regiment. That would be better than the old system of volunteering from one regiment to another, than which nothing could be more detrimental to the service generally, for it made up the effective strength of one regiment by crippling the strength of another. What happened at the time of the outbreak of the Crimean War? So many men were taken from the regiment in which he had at one time served—the 79th—for the purpose of filling up the 42nd, which was ordered for service, that the 79th were almost broken up, and great was the inconvenience when, subsequently that regiment also received orders to proceed to the Crimea. He was very happy to find the illustrious Duke Commanding in Chief giving so hearty a support to this measure. That fact would show the public how considerable was the amount of nonsense talked of late about supposed differences be- tween the Secretary of State and the Horse Guards. They had heard much on that subject, and he thought one of the not least useful services performed by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War was his having defined, for the information of the public, the respective duties of the Secretary of State and the Officer Commanding in Chief. In some of the papers the illustrious Duke at the head of the Army had been charged with foregoing privileges which, in reality, he had never possessed. If the Officer Commanding in Chief had offered to forego those privileges the Secretary of State would have pointed out to him that by the Constitution of this country they had always been vested in the Secretary for War, who was responsible to the country for the manner in which they were exercised; and that though, in some periods of our history, it might have devolved on the Officer at the head of the Horse Guards rather than on the Secretary for War to exercise those privileges, yet the moment we had a Secre-of State to administer the military affairs of the country, that Secretary was the responsible Minister charged with all military acts of the Government, he having at his service the advice of the Commander in Chief. That advice was necessary for the guidance of the Secretary of State, but he was the Minister who was responsible for everything. In defining, as he had done, the nature of his duties, his right hon. Friend had assumed nothing that did not belong to him, and in supporting the Secretary for War in the discharge of his duties the Commander in Chief was not sacrificing any privileges he had ever possessed. He thought this Bill would offer some inducement to officers to join the Reserve. He agreed with the illustrious Duke that the description of Reserve now most required was a Reserve taken from the Army, because, while the Militia constituted our great Reserve, this Reserve was not one to go into the field, but rather one for defence at home when the Army was engaged in warlike operations. He thought this Bill was a good one for the purpose intended, and therefore he gave it his cordial support.

said, that while he admitted that some change in our recruiting system was necessary, and that this Bill effected considerable improvements, he would say he could not approve all the provisions of the measure. Short enlistment was a question of very great importance, and it would be well if it were deliberately considered before any absolute rule was adopted. Two Royal Commissions had been appointed to inquire into the subject. Among the witnesses who gave evidence before the Royal Commission presided over by Lord Hotham, and the Royal Commission presided over by the noble Earl who had just spoken (the Earl of Dalhousie), whilst many general officers expressed their opinion that it would not be advisable to return to the system of 21 years' service, very few were found to advocate a system of short enlistment. It must be borne in mind that we had already had short systems. There had been the Windham Act, under which there had been three periods of seven years; but that Act had been allowed to drop because it had not been found to work well. Again, the Army Service Act was passed during the Crimean War, which enabled Her Majesty in Council to enlist men for short periods. It continued in force during the Crimean War, and for two years afterwards; but men were not found willing to recruit under that Act. The real object of the Bill now before their Lordships was to meet the necessity which existed for Reserves. This, he thought, was a thing very much to be desired. At present our Reserves were in a very unsatisfactory state. From a Return laid before Parliament it appeared that the first active Reserve numbered only 2,000. The plan of that Reserve was partly the late Lord Herbert's and partly General Peel's; but its fault was that it did not give the soldier a sufficient retaining fee. The Militia Reserve had amounted to 10,000, but this year another 10,000 had been added to it. He would ask his noble Friend the Under Secretary for War, who on a recent occasion said our Reserves were in a satisfactory state, whether he considered 22,000 men a sufficient number for our Reserve Forces? Our Reserves had been properly described as Reserves on paper. He believed the Militia Reserve proposed by General Peel to be an admirable one. The illustrious Duke (the Duke of Cambridge) had pointed out that if a fourth of the Militia volunteered into the Army the Militia could be again recruited and no inconvenience would be felt. He would ask his noble Friend the Under Secretary how he proposed to retain the services of the old soldier?—because it appeared that the Secretary for Wax was to have a carte blanche. He could enlist men for six years in the Army, and six years in the Reserve; or he could enlist them for three years in the Army, the rest of the term to be spent in the Reserve. All were agreed that it was very desirable to have a due admixture of old soldiers in the ranks; but how was it proposed to meet the difficulty of having six years' men in India, for very considerable expense would be incurred by sending them home? If it was to be done by volunteering in this country, he thought the difficulty would be increased by the present system of bounty. He also wished his noble Friend the Under Secretary for War to explain why, if the three years' system was not to be applicable to the cavalry, artillery, and engineers, those services were not excepted by the Bill? It would be much better that the Bill should state clearly what was intended, so that anybody could understand it. There had been many writers and speakers on the subject of Army organization; but they all argued it as though the system of France or Prussia could be applied to this country, and as though there could be a conscriptive Army without a conscription. Though he was not particularly charmed with the principle of this Bill, he thought it so important to have a Reserve ready for the hour of need, that he waived all objections in the hope that the new plan of enlistment would not interfere with the existing system, and would not prove detrimental to the service.

thanked their Lordships for the support the Bill had received from so many quarters of the highest possible authority. He would now endeavour to answer the various questions that had been asked. With respect to retaining the services of old soldiers, the Bill contained the most ample provisions—the soldier at the commencement of his 12th year of service might be re-engaged for such a term as would make up a total service of 21 years—and even after 21 years' service he might, under certain conditions, be continued in the ranks. With regard to Indian service, he did not know that any alteration was contemplated.

said, that what he desired to ask was, how the Government proposed to deal with six years' soldiers who were under orders for India?

said, that upon a regiment being ordered to India, men whose term of Army service was within two years of expiring, might be transferred to some other regiment of the same arm, or might, at their option, re-engage for a longer period.

Without their consent if they enlisted under this Bill; but with it if they had enlisted before its passing. This power of transfer was, he thought, reasonable and advantageous. The cavalry, artillery, and engineers were not specifically excluded from the operation of the Bill, because it was thought that the Secretary for War should, at any rate, have the option of allowing such men to join the Army of Reserve, instead of being discharged, in case of a reduction of the Army. As the noble Earl (Earl Grey) who had criticized the present Army organization had left the House, he would not reply to his observations further than to say that if at any future time he desired to challenge the policy of the Government as to their administration of the Army, and to suggest a wiser and better course, he should be prepared to meet the argument of the noble Earl, and to contend that, with the exception of 1856, at no time since the peace of 1816 had the Army, as regarded the defence of this country, been on a sounder or more satisfactory footing. The noble Earl who preceded him in Office (the Earl of Longford) had made some very disparaging remarks; but if the noble Earl thought that the policy of the present Government was one of folly and danger, why had he postponed his attack until this time, and had not made use of many previous opportunities of saying what he would recommend? He asked the noble Earl what was the condition of the Army when he left Office, and in what respect it was stronger and better than at present? The reason for the introduction of this Bill was because there was no real and substantial Army of Reserve. In stating the objects of the Bill, he had dealt in the gentlest way with the Government of which the noble Earl was a Member; but the plan which that Government offered for creating an Army of Reserve was surely, in some respects, almost a farce; for one class of men were expected to serve in the Reserve for nothing, and it was only because the condition of the Reserve forces was left unsatisfactory that their Lordships were troubled with this Bill. When the noble Earl quitted Office, how many men were in the Reserves who could be called upon to serve the country in time of war? The number was 3,545. When the noble Earl left Office the effective force of infantry at home amounted to 35,500 men. It now numbered 40,500, and the Reserves 21,500. Yet the noble Earl commented on the condition to which the present administration of the War Office had brought the country. As to the artillery, small arms, and reserve ammunition, Sir Henry Storks, who was responsible for that portion of the administration of the Army, had authorized him to say that supplies of all descriptions at no time stood better than they did at present.

disclaimed any desire to make invidious comparisons between the administration of the late and of the present Government at the War Office.

said, the two noble Earls were by no means singular in their belief that our land forces had been reduced to too low a point. There might be a larger number of regular forces in the country now than there were two years ago; but the noble Lord (Lord Northbrook) overlooked the fact that this result had been attained by withdrawing our troops from the Colonies, and leaving our colonial Empire to its own resources. In case of any unfortunate rupture with a foreign nation, he wished to know what would be the position of that Empire. He thought the noble Lord opposite had not given a very encouraging account of the Reserve Forces. The Army Reserves seemed to be 2,000; the Militia were only 20,000.

said, the Reserves capable of being put into the regular Army at any moment numbered 21,908 men.

replied that the regular Army had been reduced by 23,000 men, and therefore the Reserves did not counterbalance this reduction, and the country had not so many men in her service, whether in Reserve or not, as she had when his noble Friend (the Earl of Longford) left Office. Was that a state of things with which the country, or even the Government themselves, ought to be content? He trusted that before Parliament was prorogued some distinct declaration would be made that the military forces of this country would be maintained in a state of efficiency, would be prepared for any emergency, and would be rendered worthy of the honour and power of this country.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.

Sheriffs (Scotland)Act 1853 Amendment Bill — (No 243)

( The Lord Chancellor.)

Second Reading

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.

, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, he would state what it proposed to do in a very few words. Its object was briefly to carry into further effect the provisions of an Act of Parliament — the 16 & 17 Vict. c. 92 — by which, so far as related to the jurisdiction of the sheriff, certain counties would be consolidated and united, and some disunited which were now united, and to make provision for the administration of the offices and duties consequential upon the alterations now proposed. He believed his noble and learned Friend (Lord Colonsay) had some objections to make to the proposed details, but no one he thought had made any objection to the principle of the Bill.

said, that he should not make any objection to the principle of the Bill if it was precisely what the noble and learned Lord had stated. He should, on the contrary, rather approve of it, for it carried out the suggestion made by the Royal Commission, of which he had had the honour to be a member. He was not prepared to approve of all the methods adopted to carry out the object of the Bill, but he did not object to the proposed combinations, because while there might be differences of opinion even on the point, he did not think the matter worth discussing. Had the Bill, therefore, been confined to the combining of counties, he would not have had a word to say; but, as a matter of fact, the Bill went a great deal farther. For the information of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, he would mention the subject to which his objections referred. In the first place, he objected to the clause which provided that when a number of counties were united there should be only one sheriff-clerk for all. He could not understand how one sheriff-clerk could perform the duties for five counties. How the sheriff-clerk of Peeblesshire, for instance, could be sheriff clerk for Edinburgh was more than he could understand. Such a proposal appeared to him to be unworkable. He did not object to sheriffs or sheriffs-substitute having jurisdiction over four counties in that way, because the sheriff could fix a limit within which the duties might be exercised. He did object to the proposal with regard to the clerks, who were necessarily local officers. There were also some omissions of consequence in the Bill. No provision was made as to the person who should register the voters. They seemed to have been altogether lost sight of, as well as some other circumstances in connection with the political position of the counties. On these various points he should make some observations when the Bill got into Committee.

Motion agreed to; Bill road 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.

Irish Land Bill

Report from the Committee appointed to prepare reasons to be offered to the Commons for the Lords insisting on one of their amendments to which the Commons have disagreed, read, and agreed to; and a message sent to the Commons to return the said Bill, with amendments and reasons.

House adjourned at a quarter past Eight o'clock, to Thursday next, a quarter before Five o'clock.