« PreviousContinue »
a day, undoubtedly the service would be objectionable. But it would be no great oppression upon the head of a family to be obliged, during a period of four years, to devote one month in each to make himself serviceable to his country; and with respect to the burthen apprehended by parishes for allowances to the families of poor men during their absence on service, it was groundless, as such allowance was to be reimbursed by the paymastergeneral. As a measure of national expence, he had now reason to believe it would not be nearly so expensive as he at first imagined, from the number of volunteers who were coming forward in every part of the country. It was only in counties where volunteers did not come forward in sufficient numbers, that the ballot was to be adopted at all; and as to the alteration proposed, he had no objection to accede to this amendment, and substitute the age of thirty, in the place of thirty-five, the service to commence from the age of eighteen, provided it was agreed to extend the period of volunteer service to forty years of age.
The proposition was agreed to, and the amendment made accordingly.
Sir John Cox Hippesley observed, that there was no exemption in this bill in favour of the resident students at either of our universities. nor of pupils in our public schools, such as Eton or Westminster, more especially of those who were educating for holy orders. This he thought a great defect in the bill, not only because it would materially interfere with the studies of those youths, but because, when balloted to serve, they would be obliged to associate with men of morals and manners very unsuitable to their rank, education, and destination in life; they would be exposed to all the vices and corrup tion inseparable from such intercourse; they would return to their studies with new ideas and martial habits, extremely ill-suited to the purposes of their education, and, in many instances, probably become unfit for ordination; and even if they preferred to pay the fine rather than serve, namely, a sum from 301. to 201. or 101. according to the circumstances of their parents, it would only secure them exemption for two years, when they might again be drawn, incur a similar fine, and in fact be liable to an expence which, to many of their parents, might be a most oppressive burthen. Another objection was, that there
was no exemption in favour of Roman-catholics, although they were expressly precluded by the mutiny bill from military service; for if they were once enrolled in the ranks, and refused to march to a protestant church, and attend public worship in a religion contrary to their tenets, they were liable to be confined, tried by a court martial, and punished at discretion. He would therefore ask the noble viscount, whether this was a predicament to which he would wish to subject any of his majesty's catholic subjects; and he instanced two cases, the one in his own county, the other in the county of Kent, in which two Roman-catholics had pleaded their religion as an exemption from service under the militia law; and the justices, after taking the opinion of counsel, felt themselves warranted to admit the exemptions.
Lord Castlereagh, while he admitted the principle of the honourable baronet's objections in the first case, rejected their adoption only because he conceived it would open a wide door to abuse and evasion of the act. If such exception was admissible, there would be so many distinctions to draw between the cases of exemption and non-exemption, that a wide field would be open for abuse; and as to the honourable baronet's objection, the cases he had mentioned to him were so few, being only eight in the county of Kent, that it was hardly worth any exception, more especially as the fine might be mitigated at the discretion of the deputy lieutenant.
Mr. Windham supported the objections of sir J. Hippesley, and observed, that in the training bill, though there were no exceptions in favour of students, there were in favour of teachers in public seminaries.
Lord H. Petty and Mr. Smith spoke on the same ́side.
The amendment was rejected.
Mr. Caleraft proposed an amendment for the exemption of apprentices from the operation of the act.
Lord Castlereagh observed, that as the master would probably not come within the age fixed by the bill, it would be no great hardship on him to have his apprentice called out, particularly as the twenty-eight days service was not intended to be successive, and as the apprentice in no instance was to be permitted, during the continuance of his indentures, to enlist in the line.
Mr. Calcraft persisted in taking the sense of the house. After some further conversation, strangers were ordered to withdraw, but no division, we understand, took place.
Mr. Wynne adverted to the words in the same clause, that " no poor man who has more than one child" should be exempted from this service, though exempt from the regular militia; and proposed, in order to make the thing more precise and intelligible, to leave out the words more than one child," and substitute "less than three children." This was agreed to.
Mr. Spencer Stanhope and Mr. Vansittart objected to the mode of the scale of gradation in the imposition of fines.
Lord Castlereagh observed upon the necessity of proportioning the fines to the conditions of the different orders of the, community: those belonging to what may be called the smaller gentry, would be induced to serve by a fine that would be sufficient to compel persons of an inferior description.
Mr. Windham ridiculed the idea of compelling the small gentry to live for 28 days the life of a common soldier, herding with the lowest dregs of society, by a penalty of 201
On the clause relating to lodging the fines with the clerks of the subdivisions, a desultory conversation took place between Messrs. Spencer Stanhope, Cripps, Williams Wynne, Vansittart, and Lord Castlereagh, in the course of which it was urged, that those clerks should be made to furnish security adequate to the trust reposed in them.
On the clause which states, that persons claiming exemption upon the payment of fines, are to swear that they have not insured themselves against such fines, or any part thereof, a long discussion took place. Mr. Windham, seeing that the committee was not likely to come to a determination speedily upon that point, the bill not being half gone through with, and it being then late in the night (about 12 o'clock), proposed that the debate should be adjourned, in order that gentlemen might come to the discussion with their faculties more alert than they could be supposed to be at that time; and that Voi. IL-1808. K
several gentlemen, who were absent, from an idea that the debate would not be brought forward that night, might have a fair understanding of the time of its being discussed. In this proposition, he was supported by Lord Milton, Sir G. Warrender, Mr. W. Wynne, and Mr. Tierney.
Lord Castlereagh, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and some of their friends, urged the expediency of proceeding as far as possible that night.
The gallery was then cleared for a division, but we understand the further discussion of the clause was postponed, and the committee proceeded to consider of some of the following clauses. It was fixed that volunteers may be enrolled between the ages of 18 and 40. The clause directing that the sum of two guineas should be paid to each volunteer, by the parish in which he is enrolled, gave rise to a very lengthened conversation; and, without coming to a determination on that point, the house resumed, the chairman reported progress, and obtained leave to sit again to-morrow.
The Scotch judges bill was read a second time, and ordered to be committed on Monday next.
The Irish militia service bill was committed, reported, and ordered to be read a third time.
The other bills on the table were forwarded in their respective stages, and the house adjourned.
HOUSE OF LORDS.
THURSDAY, MAY 19.
Mr. Boyle (solicitor-general for Scotland) and several other members of the house of commons brought up the court of session bill, which was read a first time; as were also some private bills, brought up by Mr. Davenport, Mr. Graham, lord Milton, colonel Hughes, and other
On the second reading of the bill for rendering valid certain marriages celebrated in certain chapels where bans. could not legally be published, moved by the Bishop of Exeter, a conversation took place, in which the Lord
Chancellor intimated some objection to these bills being brought into parliament as if they were matters of course. If it was thought right by the legislature that the mar riage act should continue on the statute book, it ought to be obeyed.
Lord Holland hoped that the noble and learned lord would entertain a similar doubt respecting the expediency of the test and corporation acts, for the violation of which annual bills of indemnity were passed.
The Lord Chancellor said he had given no opinion respecting the marriage act; as to the test and corporation acts, he should shortly have an opportunity of stating his opinion why he thought their continuance essential to the constitution.
The Earl of Lauderdale condemned the principle of the marriage act, which he considered as mischievous.
Lord Redesdale objected to the expressions used by the earl of Lauderdale, in alluding to the marriage act, as unparliamentary, when applied to an act of the legisla
The Earl of Lauderdale spoke to order, and contended that the noble and learned lord had no right to call an expression of his unparliamentary, unless the words had been taken down.
Lord Ellenborough thought the objection of the noble. and learned lord in order, as it went to the general scope, and not to a particular expression.
Lord Redesdale proceeded to condemn the disposition which seemed to be evinced to attempt the repeal of acts which were the safeguards of the constitution.
Earl Stanhope spoke to order, contending that the topics introduced by the noble and learned lord had no reference to the subject before the house.
Lord Redesdale made some further observations, and The Earl of Lauderdale in reply contended, that the opinions and tenets advanced by the noble and learned lord were inconsistent with liberality.
Lord Redesdale spoke to order, and appealed to the house whether such expressions were consistent with order.
The Earl of Lauderdale resumed, and expressed his sa tisfaction that the opinions of the noble and learned lord had met with opposition on all sides of the house