Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

vants and apprentices. Ministers, in his opinion, had done nothing to improve the volunteer system laid down by the late Ministers.

Sir J. IV raiteley was for the recommitment. He inti. mared a wish to move for the introduction of a clause into the bill, for the better regulation of the number of days alJoried to drill in corps in the country. He adverted in the number of volunteers in the metropolis and its vicinity; their number, he understood, was nearly 32,000, but out of that number, if he was sightly informed, nearly the half had engaged only to extend their services to the vicinity of the capiial, even in case of invalion. It was his object that a clause should be introduced, taking away the exemptions from those whose services were ihus limited. .

Mr. Ald. Combe wilhed to explain to the hon. Baronet who had just sat down, the nature of the service of that part of the volunteer force in and about the metropolis, which the city of London had furnished, amounting to about 12,000 men. It had been understood as the undoubted presogative of the Crown, that in case of actual invasion, or the appearance of the eneiny upon the coast, his Majesty had the right to call forth the services of every man in the king. dom. The magistrates of the city adopring that principle, had recommended it to their fellow citizens to associate themselves for the purpose of learning the military exercise, and asisting the civil power in case of iumult or insurrection, thinking it would be a mockery to make an offer of services which, at a fir season, his Majesty could coinmand; and he was quite sure, that in the whole number, there was not one man who did not consider himself liable, in care of inva. fion, to be put under the command of a general officer, and marched to any part of the kingdom. There was one other maller respecting ihe volunteers of the city, which he wilhed to state to che House, which was this, that no one could doubt that their offers of service arole (rom a pure patriotic pub: lic spirit, because as, by their charters, clicy were exempt from thole military duries to which other paris of England are liable, they had no occalion 10 seek refuge from the ballois.

Mr. Pite obferved, that under the present circumstances, he fhould vote against recommitting the bill. With respect

10 the just expectations of the public from the measure, how · far is conferred those fair benefiis they were entiled to, he Tiad already stated his opinion, he iherefore shculd not isou.

ble

ble he House with a repetition of it. The measure under consideration left many deficiencies in the system; there was not a proper degree of encouragement held out with respect to the important point of discipline; neither was there a sufficient number of days allowed for the purpose ; and even when they had assembled, the means of instruction were not adequately afforded. Ar the same time, he was of opinion that the bill, with reference to the confideration of immediale danger, had one beneficial fealure in the inducement it held to corps to come immediately forward upon permanent duty, with a view to the improvement of discipline, in its holding out a bouniy; but even this, he feared, was in a degree that would not be sufficient for the purpose: it was, however, under the present circumstances, and as far as it weni, a valuable and important consideration, and should be an inducement to the House to pass it without delay; he meant, with a reference to the expectation of a speedy inva. sion, against which they could not too soon be prepared. Though he could not avoid lamenting the imperfections of the bill, yet containing the provision he had alluded to, ir, should speedily be palled. There was another clause in the bill, which he thought ''kely to be of beneficial consequence, that which went to prevent the arrests of commanding officers while on service. With respect to the remaining parts of the bill, it was little more than a regulation of convee niency, by consolidating into one, what before had been scattered into two or three different acts. He was impressed with the conviction of speedily passing this bill, or that no. thing in fact would have hitherto been done; it thould be act. ed upon as soon as possible. With respe&t to the proposal of recommitting the bill, he saw no prospect of great or subftantial improvement which could be derived from such a proceeding. In regard to the subject of apprentices, the leave of absence, and certain other points on which fome Atress had been laid, he thought the bill was not liable to any serious obje&ions on those heads. There were other topics upon which objections had been urged, but if these could Aot be effeétually discussed upon the report, it would certainly be a reason for recommitting the bill; and he felt the importance of ihese points as much as any other person could do.

Mr. Sheridan was of opinion that whatever idea was en. teriained of the military lystem of the country, this was not the moment for such a discussion. If Gentlemen thought this a matter for for inquiry, they might move for a Commit. Vol. il. 1803-4.

A a

tec

tee on the subject, and the difcuffion mighe regularly iake place. Ai present the question was extremely fimple. It was merely whether certain ainendments, the propriery of which was not denied even by the framers of the bill, should be introduced on the report or in a Committee for that specific purpose. For some time past he had, confiltently with a principle which three years ago he had stared in that House, felt it his duty to absent himself from his altendance in Parliament, and he had consequently not been present at the different discussions which had taken place on the previous stages of the bill. This, however, he knew, that the bill had already been in three Committees, and the ques. tion came to be, should it go to a fourth Commitice to receive new amendments and improvements? If it was true, what, was stated by an hon. and learned Genileinan (Dr. Lau. rence), that the bill as a whole had not been before the Cominiisee, this would be the strongest argument which he had heard for the recomınitment. If a right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Pitt) would rise and state that he had new clauses to propose in the Commitiee, or if any other hon. Genileman would make a similar declaration, he should certainly vote for the recommitment. Independent of such a declaration he rcally had heard no ground laid againft proa ceeding to the confideration of the report. He was the more inclined 10 this opinion from seeing the candid desire of his Majesty's Ministers to make every fair concession (here there was, a general laugh). He thought the question quite important, and that the time of the House would be inuch more usefully employed in proceeding to the discussion of the report.

Dr. Pili, in explanation, stated, that he had been milunderstood by the hon. Member. He seemed to conceive that he was for the recommitment of ihe bill, whereas he was against it. Whatever the principle of the hon. Gentleman's absence was, if he had been in his place he would have seen that ine clauses which he wished to introduce, were not now wanting from any deficiency on his part in proposing them, but from his inability to persuade the House 10 adopt them.

Mrill indhan rose, he said, to trespass on the attention of the House but for a few moments, alihough before he came down to his place that day he meant to enter very much at lengih into the meriis and endency of the volunteer system, and particularly to reprobate two clauses which had found

dan hem

their way into the bill under consideration, and which excit, ed his altonithinent in common with ihat of every man who valued good faich and justice toward's ihe volunteers. Those clauses, however, having been abandoned by The framers of the bill, and the discussion having taken a turn extremely singular in this page of the proceeding, a discullion which would more properly belong to a Committee, he felt that he could not enter upon the consideration of the general measure without great disadvantages. He therefore waved for the present the full delivery of his opinions upon the subject, the more particularly as he could not but observe that the atterrion of the House was nearly exhausted. He, however, could not forbear to say, in contradiction to the sentimenis of the learned Gentleman on the Treasury Bench, that he cona ceived it quite imposible to investigate the merits of the voluna teer systein, which comprehended above ihree fourths of ihe public force, without also taking a view of the other means of our defence, 10 ascertain how far those means were correspondent to each other, and calculated to act efficaciously together. This was a question, in his judgment, of infinite importance, and demanding the most attentive inquiry, inaliuch as it was the commencement of a system, the effects of which would grow on us every day, for the more we advanced in such a lirualion, the more difficult it would be to change; and, therefore, the farther we proceeded, the stronger would the argument become which was relied upon so much that night, namely, ihat we had gone too far to recede. For this reason it was his anxious desire, that we thould stop, as soon as pollible, the progress of a system so defective, so radically ineincient. When arguing against this system, he wilhed to correct an error that seemed to prevail in the minds of some Gi nulemen, that he and others whjoined with him meant ihai The volunteers should be disbanded. Nothing could be more erroneous ihan ihis idea, for on the contrary, the principal objections which he and The Gentlemen with whom he acted had to this measure, and which he hoped would not he confidered inc:filteni, ivere there, that it would produce the difTolution vi the greater part of the volunieers, while it would go to render the volonieer sy, ein permanent.

- With respect to the motion imui diately be ore ihelloule, he would admit the just ce of the rimrk, ihal new clauses might be proposed and adopied without recomminuing the bill; but yet he was for going into the Committee, wiid for this plain reason, that a Committee was the natural and pro1. Aaa

. por

[ocr errors]

per place to disco's such clauses. An hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sheridani ad urged that it was unnecessary to go into the Com , . as Ministers had manifested such candour as left co' v doubt of their readiness to accede to any necessary amendmene ihat night be proposed in this stage of the bill, and ihe hon. Gentleman had taken occasion to observe, that it was wonder that candour in a Minister should excite surprise in the House, as the quality was rather new ; but niishrit not be the case, as he suspected it was, that the fur. prise which the hon. Gentleman perceived in the House, did not arise from the circumstance that candour was a new qua. liv in a Minister, but that such a compliment from such a quarter was new? not the fact stated, but ihe stater provoked the general !mile upon which the hon. Gentleman had remarked. The hon Gentleman, however, had probably ex. perienced such candour in his Majesty's Ministers, in return for the candour which he had shewn toward them for some time back, as justified, in his mind, the compliments he appeared so strongly disposed to pay them. Reverring to the motion before the House, Mr. Windham stared, that in order that the imperfections of ihe measure might as far as pollible be diminished, he would vote for the recommittal.

Colonel Bastard maintained that the volunteer system did not militare so much as its adversaries asserted against the progress of the ballot for the militia, &c. As a proof of ihis, he stated that in the militia of the county to which he belonged (Devon), where volunteer corps were very aumerous, the regiment of militia was not only complete, but had many supernumeraries, although not more than ten guineas bounty had ever been given ; and he was confident that if any men were wanting for that body, they could be had from among the volunteers themselves, whose spirit, zeal, and military habiis naturally disposed them to enter, if necessary, into regular military service. With respect to the efficacy of the volunteers for the defence of the couniry, he referred to the speech of that gallant officer, that high military authoriiy, Earl Moira, wo declared at the Highland Society a few days since, that with the volunieer force of Scotland, combined with the few regular croops in that country, he would undertake to defend it against any allack of the enemy. This opinion, with that of many other general officers of high character, was quite sufficient to satisfy his mind of the fallacy of the objections so often urged against the utility and strength of the volunteers. As to the

opinion

« ElőzőTovább »