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IX.-CHRONICLE OF THE SESSION OF PARLIAMENT,
1854 (LORDS.) The session was opened by the Queen in person. Dec. In her speech from the throne, Her Majesty said that she had 12. assembled Parliament "at this unusual period of the year," in order to take measures for the vigorous prosecution of the war with Russia. To effect this object an augmentation of the forces in the Crimea was an indispensable necessity. Her Majesty alluded in terms of admiration to the great victories already gained by her brave troops in conjunction with those of her ally the Emperor of the French, and expressed satisfaction at the Treaty of Alliance concluded with the Emperor of Austria. The Treaty of Commerce and Navigation entered into with the United States of North America, formed the next topic, Her Majesty then having glanced at the general prosperity of the country, and the satisfactory state of the revenue, recommended the continued encouragement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures; and concluded by expressing a confident reliance on the patriotism of a united people to bring the war to a successful termination. An Address in reply to the Royal Speech, moved by the Duke of Leeds and seconded by Lord Ashburton, was agreed to after a long debate, which turned mainly on the Crimean expedition, and the ill-management of the Commissariat and Medical Department of the Army. The Duke of Newcastle brought in a Foreign Enlistment Bill.
(COMMONS.) The Address in reply to the Royal Speech, moved by Mr. Herbert, and seconded by Mr. E. F. L. Gower, led to a discussion on the conduct and character of the war, and was agreed to.
(LORDS.) The Duke of Newcastle moved the second reading Dec. of a bill empowering the Crown to enlist 15,000 foreigners to 14. be drilled in England for military service. The Earls of Ellenborough, Derby, and Malmesbury, denounced the bill, which was supported by the Duke of Richmond, the Earl of Aberdeen, the Duke of Argyll, and Earl Grey. The bill was read a second time without division.
(LORDS.) The Duke of Newcastle moved a series of votes conveying their Lordships' thanks to the British Army and 15. Navy and to their French Allies, which were unanimously agreed to. The new treaty with Austria was laid on the table. The Duke of Newcastle moved the committal of the Foreign Enlistment Bill, consenting to reduce the number of men to 10,000. The Earl of Ellenborough opposed the vote, as did also Lord Berners, and the Earls of Hardwicke and Derby. The motion, supported by Lord Wodehouse, Earl Granville, and the Duke of Argyll, was affirmed on a division by 55 against 43; the bill then passed Committee.
(COMMONS.) Lord J. Russell laid on the table the new Austrian Treaty, and proceeded to move a series of votes of thanks to the British and French Armies and Navies; the motion, after a desultory debate, was agreed to unanimously. Mr. Craufurd brought in a bill to enforce Judgments issued by the Superior Courts in any part of the United Kingdom.
(LORDS.) The third reading of the Foreigners' Enlistment Bill was opposed by the Earl of Ellenborough, who denounced the whole measure as involving a traffic in blood as horrible as the African slave-trade had been, The Marquis of Lansdowne cha
racterised the objections made to the bill as exaggerated and absurd. The Earl of Derby considered that the Constitution would be perilled, and the nation degraded by the passing of this bill, which was defended by Earls Grey and Granville; read a third time, and passed without division.
(LORDS.) The second reading of the Militia Bill was moved Dec. by the Duke of Newcastle, who briefly explained the object of the measure. A long debate followed, in the course of which the Earls of Derby, Grey, and Ellenborough criticised the measure at considerable length. Lord Denman and the Duke of Argyll supported the bill, which was read a second time, and the standing orders having been suspended, it was afterwards carried through Committee.
(COMMONS.) The Chancellor of the Exchequer brought in Dec. a bill for the Better Management of Savings' Banks, and gave notice that the Tea Duty would be maintained at its present rate-1s. 6d. per lb.-until the end of the war. Lord J. Russell then moved the third reading of the Foreigners' Enlistment Bill, which motion was opposed by Sir E. Dering, who proposed to fix the third reading for this day six months. Mr. Cobden reviewed the situation of the country in relation to the war, urging that its object-the defence of Turkey-was already achieved, and that as Russia had accepted the "four points," those terms should now be entertained. Several other members having addressed the House, Lord J. Russell replied to Mr. Cobden, and showed that it would be most unwise to patch up a hasty peace which would leave the road still open for renewed aggressions on the part of the Czar. Nevertheless the Western powers are willing to treat on the basis of the "four points" (the import of which the noble lord explained), and added that they afforded terms both prudent and moderate for the re-establishment of peace. There was no intention of leaving Russia other than a powerful state; but if the Czar insisted on prosecuting his scheme of absorbing Turkey, he must be repressed at all hazards, and the Government had reason to rely upon the cooperation of Austria in opposing his designs. Sir J. Pakington having spoken against the measure, Mr. Bright defended Mr. Cobden from the strictures of Lord J. Russell, commented on the degraded state of Turkey, and inveighed, in strong terms, against the conduct of the ministry, whom he denounced as guilty of all the suffering and bloodshed caused by the war. The House then divided: for the third reading, 173; against it, 135. Provisoes were then added to prohibit the employment of foreign levies in this country otherwise than might be necessary for training; to prohibit their being billeted upon the inhabitants; and to limit their number present at one time in the United Kingdom, to 10,000 men; and the bill passed.
1855 (LORDS.) The Lord Chancellor read a letter from ViceJan. Admiral Dundas, acknowledging their Lordships' vote of thanks to the British and French navies.
(COMMONS.) Mr. Roebuck gave notice of a motion for a Select Committee "to inquire into the condition of our Army before Sebastopol," and into the conduct of the Commissariat and Medical departments of the Army. Leave was given to Sir B. Hall to bring in two bills to alter and amend the Public Health and the Nuisances' Removal Acts.
(COMMONS.) The Speaker read a letter from Lord Raglan, acknowledging the vote of thanks passed by the House to the army in the Crimea. On the motion of Mr. Greene, a Committee was appointed to consider the cheapest, most expeditious, and most efficient method of Parliamentary printing.
(LORDS.) The Lord Chancellor read letters from Lord Raglan and General Canrobert acknowledging their Lordships' votes of thanks to the officers and men of the Crimean army. The Duke of Newcastle informed their Lordships that Lord J. Russell had resigned office, and moved the adjournment of the House, which was agreed to.
(COMMONS.) Sir G. Grey, in presenting to the House certain Colonial papers relating to the war, announced the receipt of 20,000l. voted by the Legislature of Canada "for the relief of the widows and orphans of the soldiers and sailors of the allied army of France and England. Mr. Hayter announced the resignation of Lord J. Russell, whereupon Lord Palmerston moved the adjournment of the House, which was agreed to. Jan.
(COMMONS.) Lord J. Russell detailed the motives that caused his resignation of office. Lord Palmerston expressed 26. his regret for the retirement of the noble Lord from office, but complained, both on public and private grounds, of the mode and time selected for the proceeding. Mr. Roebuck rose to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the condition of the British Army in the Crimea,-to find out the cause why, out of an army of 54,000 men sent out altogether from England, only 14,000 were now fit for duty, and these were left without shelter, food, clothes, or ammunition. The honourable Member, in consequence of indisposition, was obliged to conclude abruptly by reading his resolution. Mr. S. Herbert argued that the retrenchments made in the organization of the army in recent times had deprived our military force of the character of an army, and reduced it to a mere congeries of regiments. He then entered into numerous details to show that no blame could be charged upon ministerial departments. Respecting the resolution proposed, he contended that the appointment of a Committee would be embarrassing to the public service, and utterly useless in redeeming past errors, or in securing a more energetic prosecution of the war for the future. Under existing circumstances, however, he admitted that the House should pronounce an opinion on the conduct of the Government; and interpreting the motion into a vote of confidence or censure, he accepted the challenge thus laid before the House. Mr. Drummond insisted on the necessity of immediate and searching inquiry into the whole subject. Colonel North assigned as the cause of all our failures, the unwise economy of Parliament. Mr. M. Milnes and the Marquis of Granby opposed the motion. Mr. Lindsay considered that the terrible facts disclosed in the accounts from the Crimea demanded strict investigation. Mr. Layard detailed at much length the errors, omissions, and blunders (as he alleged) of the Horse Guards, where, he said, the root of the evil lay. Sir G. Grey objected to submit the conduct of the war to the investigation of a Select Committee, and construed the motion into a vote of censure on the Government. He admitted and regretted many errors and evils for which, however, the administrative departments, neither at home nor abroad, could be justly blamed. The sad results which they all deplored, arose from Providential visitations and from inexperience resulting from a long peace. Mr. Walpole advocated inquiry, not as implying a direct censure on the Government, but with a view of ultimately assigning censure where it was due. Mr. V. Smith, after commenting on the state of disorganization in which the Ministry was left by the resignation of Lord J. Russell, argued that that motion ought to be resisted as totally unprecedented, and highly inconvenient to the public service. The debate was adjourned.
(LORDS.) Earl Grey moved a resolution for the concentration of the administration of the army under the control of a
29. single and well-organized department analogous to the Board of Admiralty, which should administer all business relating to the military service in every branch. The resolution, after a debate in which the Duke of Newcastle, Viscount Hardinge, Lord Campbell, and the Earl of Ellenborough took part, was withdrawn.
(COMMONS.) The adjourned debate on Mr. Roebuck's motion was resumed by Mr. Stafford, who recapitulated several cases of mismanagement and neglect as regarded the treatment of diseased and wounded soldiers in the hospitals, which had come under his personal cognizance during a recent visit to the Crimea; and supported the resolution in order to effect a total change in a system which had occasioned so terrible a sacrifice of our heroic defenders. Mr. B. Osborne, after congratulating himself that no censure had been directed against his department-the Admiralty-declared the military organization of the country "altogether rotten;" it required reformation from the Horse Guards to the barrack-room; and condemned the system of promotion by purchase and favouritism, and the spirit of aristocratic exclusiveness traceable in every department of military administration. Admiral Berkeley praised the conduct of the Admiralty. Mr. Beresford supported the motion in order to discover the originators of the expedition to the Crimea, which he believed was undertaken against the advice of Lord Raglan, whose military talents he eulogised. Mr. Rice opposed the motion because, if carried, the Committee would enhance the difficulties of the Executive. Mr. Miles adduced new proofs of failure and mismanagement as arguments for inquiry. Sir F. T. Baring would vote against the motion, but declared that his confidence in the administration had been shaken by recent disclosures respecting.the mismanagement of the army. Mr. Bentinck supported the motion as a vote of censure on the Government. Mr. Rich praised the conduct of Lord J. Russell, and declared inquiry to be now an absolute duty. Sir E. B. Lytton argued that the explanation given by Lord J. Russell of the cause of his resignation, deprived the Ministry of all defence against the call for investigation; commented upon the many instances of neglect and omission supplied in the history of the recent campaign; upon the past policy and present transitory state of the Ministry; and denounced the Whig party as "a small hereditary body of great families, who assume a fictitious monopoly of liberal policy-democratic in opposition, monopolists in office." Mr. Gladstone, after some observations on the high importance of the questions involved in the motion, and on the painful and difficult position in which the unexpected secession of Lord J. Russell had left the administration, proceeded to show that the condition of the Crimean army was improving; and in allusion to fallacious reports which had been circulated of the extreme attenuation of its numbers, stated that the latest accounts gave the number of men fit for active service at above 30,000, including the naval brigade. Arrangements had been concluded with General Canrobert which would afford some relief to the British force by giving it less of siege work to do. As to the charge of "starving the war, "the House would find, when the financial statement was before them, that the expenditure had been perhaps too profuse. Mr. Disraeli, in supporting the motion, reviewed the arguments urged during the debate; denied that the resolution implied censure on Lord Raglan, that it was either unconstitutional in character or inconvenient in its results; declared that the failures so much to be deplored did not arise from the incapacity of a
single department, but from the tortuous policy and general want of sagacity of the whole administration; other ministers, besides the War Secretary, bad shown themselves deficient in energy and ability. The Home Secretary was to blame in not completing the preliminaries for the embodiment of the Irish and Scotch militia. The sign of disunion among the members of the Government, and the facts vouched by the recent ministerial explanations, proved the existence of a series of profligate intrigues unparalleled even in the last century. Lord J. Russell defended himself against the charge of having engaged in a profligate intrigue; his recommendations to the Earl of Aberdeen respecting the rearrangement of the War Office were dictated solely by consideration for the public service. Lord Palmerston accepted the motion as one for censure against all the members of the Government; scant justice had been done to the Duke of Newcastle, whose merits would be hereafter acknowledged; he denied the existence of any singular diversity of opinion in the Cabinet; submitted that the failures complained of arose from providential causes, or from the disorganization produced during the lapse of a long peace; the Committee of Inquiry must either prove a delusion, or occasion a paralysis in the Executive at home and in the army abroad. After a few remarks from Mr. Muntz and Mr. T. Duncombe in support of the motion, Mr. Roebuck replied, and the House then divided: for a Committee, 305; against, 148. (COMMONS.) Lord Palmerston moved (in consequence of the vote against ministers last night) the adjournment of the House till Feb. 1, which was agreed to.
(LORDS.) The Earl of Aberdeen informed their lordships of the resignation of his ministry; and explained the causes that led to that step. The Duke of Newcastle rebutted certain allegations made against himself by Lord J. Russell in the House of Commons. The Earl of Derby said that he had been invited by the Queen to undertake the formation of a ministry; but in the existing state of parties, he felt bound to decline that responsibility.
(COMMONS.) Lord Palmerston formally announced the resignation of ministers, and moved the adjournment of the House, which was agreed to.
(COMMONS.) The House expressed, through the Speaker, its thanks to Sir De Lacy Evans, a member of the House, for his 2. gallant conduct in the Crimea. The gallant member expressed his acknowledgments for the honour conferred upon him. The Speaker's address, and so much of the gallant General's reply as referred to the vote of thanks, were entered in the journals of the House on the motion of Lord Palmerston.
(LORDS.) The Earl of Aberdeen informed their lordships that Lord Palmerston had been commissioned by the Queen 5. to form an administration.
(COMMONS.) Lord J. Russell again entered upon the causes of his resignation, and defended himself from certain imputations made against him by the Duke of Newcastle. Mr. Gladstone offered some comment on the personal questions raised by the noble Lord.
(COMMONS.) New writs were ordered for Tiverton in room of Lord Palmerston, who had accepted the office of Prime Minister; and for South Wilts in room of Mr. Sidney Herbert appointed to the Home Office. In Committee of Supply, the conduct of the war, the condition of the Scutari Hospital, and the transport services, formed topics of a desultory discussion, after which 1,200,0007., on account of the supplemental Ordnance estimates were voted.