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AUG. 1. Iuld go further in sent, than the photo
NILITIA TRANSFER BILL.
578 which would go further in seven years, to render the union not merely nominal, but real, than the present mode of proceeding will do in fifty. Sir, I know too well the zeal with which the gentlemen of the militia have acted, the privations to which they have so long submit. ted, not to be persuaded, that they on that occasion also, acted according to their views of the best interests of their country, and that, had they thought the exigency required it, they would readily have gone there. At the same time that I think so highly of their patriotisın, I am not less persuaded, that from their good sense, they would rather meet the enemy in Munster or Connaught than in Yorkshire or Kent. As these latter considerations do not immediately belong to the question before us, I shall say no more on them at present. If it was permitted for so insignificant an individual as I am, to mention myself, I would say, that having had the honour to serve in several campaigns in different parts of Europe, having had the honour to serve thirty-nine years in this House, and having attended all the discussions on those important subjects, I presuine to think myself not totally incompe· tent on them, and concurring, as I do, in the soundness of those suggestions, and being persuaded that great national advantages may be derived from them, I will take the liberty to lay them before the House. Suggestions for the better Defence of the Country, &c.
1. To enable volunteers to propose to bis majesty's lieutenants of counties, to form themselves into local militia, to be regularly trained for twenty-eight days, with the same establishment, in the same inanner, and under the same regulations, as the old militia used to be in time of peace. To leave their counties only in case of invasion, or imminent danger thereof.--The object of this clause is to establish at litile expence, under command, and under officers of some experience, a large body of men, which may be specdily applied to the public service, in case of emergency. I would wish this source of supply to be cxtended to the number of 160,000. It may also, if it shall be consonant with the wisdom of Parliament, to adopt the next proposition, to be made a source from when cemay be drawn a supply of men to keep the embodied militia con, stantly full.
2. To enable his majesty to accept the voluntary servi.
ces of one-fourth part of the embodied militia, annually to serve in the regular army. And if the men so volonteering were put invariably into the regiments that are supposed to belong to the counties from whence the men came, whenever those regiments shall want recruits or be augmented ; if ensigncies were sometimes given on the recommendation of the lord lientenant.to young men of those counties; these two measures could not fail to add much to the facility of keeping our regular force complete; but as those arrangements are within the power of the commander in.chief, that illustrious personage will certainly adopt whaiever, on consideration, shall appear calculated for such important purposes.-The object of this clause is to give (as is obvious) a regular supply of efficient men to the regular anny. I would wish this force, the embodied militia, to be carried to the extent of 80,000 for Great Britain, giving annually a recruit of 20,000, men to the army, and establishing a force commensurate, as I apprehend, for the ordinary purposes of the kingdom, thereby leaving the whole or the greatest part of the regular army a dis osable force.
3. To enable lieutenants of counties to accept the voluntary services of as many men from the local militia as would fill up the deficiency occasioned by the drafts from the embodied militia into the army. If there shall be a deficiency of volunteers for filling up the embodied militia, that deficiency to be made good by a ballot without exemptions, and deficiencies in the local militia to be supplied annually by a similar ballot.--The object of this clause is to make use of the ballot only when indispensable, and then in a manner little burthensome.
4. To enable lieutenants of counties to employ the staff of the local militia in training the men intended to be transferred to the embodied militia, during the time such staff may not be actually on duty with the local militia. - The object of this clause is, to have the embodied militia compleat in members acquainted with the use of arms.
5. To enable his majesty to direct lieutenants of counties, if he should see it proper so to do, to employ the said 'staft of the local militia, when not otherwise employed, in
exercising the persons bound to serve under the provisions · of the (raining act.--The object of this clause is, to give further efliciency to the training act, which is admirable as giving to the crown the positive command of a large body
of men in case of emergency, but which in its actual progress only amounts to a muster of men. '
I humbly conceive, that it is no small recommendation of these suggestions, that at the same time, that if adopted together, they would draw forth the physical powers of the population in a most efficient, and in the least expensive manner, and mutually strengthen each other, they may be applied with advantage separate, without adopting the whole. The one to which the greatest objections would be made, is that of enabling his majesty to accept annually so considerable a number of volunteers into the regular army. This is not the moment to discuss this most important subject, I shall not, therefore, intrude further on the time of the House.
The Secretary at War thought it beyond a question, that compulsion was the most efficient means of recruiting the regular army; but he doubled much whether it would accord with the habits, feelings, and principles of the people of this country. He was anxious to draw the attention of the flouse to statements of fact, which would shew the substantial effect of the various military systems that had been lately in use, and he recommended these statements of fact to the notice of the House, in preference to those eloquent declamations and ingenious reasonings, which afforded no solid ground of decision. The present measure was intended to provide for theextraordinary emergency of the occasion, and by no means designed to interfere with the system introduced by the right hovourable gentleman opposite (Mr. Windham), which would resume its full operation when this temporary in'erruption should have passed away." He did not conceive that the present emergency should be left unprovided for, in order to try the experiment of the uninterrupted progress of the right honourable gentleman's system. On reference to the papers or the table it would be found, that the ordinary recruiting under the system superseded by the right honour. able gentleman's plan had produced, in its last six months, 9,993 men, exclusive of those produced by the additional force act, and of boys whom he would put out of the question, in the consideration of both systems. For, though much benefit may at a future time be derived from the services of the boys, he thought that in all considerations of present service, they ought to be left out of the account. The number of men produced by the new plan, in
the the six months, from January to June last, was 9,091. He admitted, that the account of the men furnished under the additional force act, contained merely the gross number as enlisted, independent of the defalcations by desertion and rejection. Deducting 900 for these defalcations, which was more than the fair proportion, there was not room to boast much of the success of the right honourable gentleman's plan. A death blow had moreover been given to the additional force act, shortly after the commencement of the late administration ; so that in the month of June 1806, it produced but 400 men, instead of 1287, wbich it had produced on the average of the first three months of that ycar. The balance was therefore in favour of the old system. The success of the new plan could not be called progressive, for it had produced in the month of January as many men as it bad produced on the average of the six months ending in June. The plan had been in the first months successful from its novelty, in the middle months it had fallen off, and in the last it had been restored by the appointment of an increased number of recruiting officers, and by threatening the reduction of the second battalions, in the event of their not completing their complement. The casualties of the army were under-rated at 13,000 men. They amounted, in fact, generally to 18,000. In 1805, they amounted to 18,232. In 1806, they amounted to only 13,907, or, in round numbers, 14,000: but in this return, the account from Gibraltar and Sicily was made up only to Ist December; and the account from the East and West Indies was still more imperfect. The general casualtics of the army were, in fact, not less than 18,000 men; so that the right honourable gentleman's measure, promising only an increase of 9,000 men, would not cover so great a deficiency. A large proportion of the existing army must besides be discharged at the end of the seven years service, so that a still greater deficiency would arise. The House therefore wisely adopted this strong measure in the existing emergency. With respect to the diminutions said to have been effected in the desertions by the new plan, the accounts on the table shewed but a very trifling difference. Under the former system it was one in 257. Under the latter it was one in 255 in men who had joined. In 1805 it was among the recruits one in 16 in men enlisted for life, and afterwards it was one in 12 or 19 for men enlisted for seven years. He again urged the propriety of adopting some measure of temporary exertion. The danger would not in all probability arrive till spring. The derangement that would have been produced would before then have subsided, and every thing would have resumed its settled course.
Dr. Laurence begged to call the attention of the House to the conduct of the present ministers, who never rested their measures on their own merit, but always went to comparisons. When in opposition, they bacl perpetually called for his right honourable friend's plan before behind been two months in office, a d yet, after a lapse of four months, they themselves had come forward with this maga nificent measure! They had taken care too to bring it forward at this late period of the session, and had reserved the most obnoxious clause, that of granting an option to enlist for a term of years, or for life, which destroyed in a great measure the effects of the plan of his right honourable friend, till the committee, that there mighi be no opportunity to consider it on the second reading, which was the time for debating it. The consequence was, that many had gone out of town with a wrong impression of the nature of this measure. He then entered upon a defence of his rivht honourable friend's system. It was intended to supply the whole casualties of the army, in which the for. jner system was grossly deficient. But this was not all the effect of the plan; it would have a much greater, in his opinion, whatever the noble lord opposite might think and say of it. It was natural for the noble lord to smile at a philosophic measure, as he tauntingly called it, who had never conceived any grand scheme in his life ; who never could generalize ; who from two figures before him could scarcely draw a legitimate conclusion ; who could do nothing but go on in the common routine way, and endeavour to impose himself on the multitude as a great states. man, but wbo had only this in common with his colleagues, that lie was as great a statesman as he could be. Thic riglit honourable secretary had made allowances for the former method of recruiting, but none for that of his right honourable friend. He forgot the diminished bounties, and was for putting the boys out of the question, because he knew that, in this view, the advantage would have ap. peared greatly on the side of his right honourable friend's plan. He then talked of his right honourable friend's forgetting his measure. The right honourable secretary well VOL. 1.-1807.