« AnteriorContinuar »
MARINE MUTINY BILL.
(The Earl of Longford).
Order of the Day for the Second ing read.
applicable were cases of the most aggravated kind and the position in which the Bill in its present form placed them was Read-this-that whereas the power of inflicting that punishment for those offences had ceased to exist, no punishment of any other description had been substituted for it. There was a Royal Commission now sitting whose attention had been directed to that
THE EARL OF LONGFORD, in moving that the Marine Mutiny Bill be now read the second time, said, their Lordships would be aware that discussions occurred almost annually on the subject of corporal punish-subject, and if that Commission had thought ment in the army, when this measure and the other kindred measure which also now stood for a second reading—namely, the Mutiny Bill-were presented to the other House of Parliament. By the Bill of last Session the power of sentencing prisoners to corporal punishment was restricted to a very few cases of aggravated offences. This year the House of Commons had adopted a further Amendment, one not proposed by the Government, and not supported by any considerable authority-the effect of which was that sentences of corporal punishment in time of peace were wholly abolished for all classes of offences. It might be doubted whether it was together wise to withdraw that power from the military authorities; but he did not ask their Lordships to reverse the decision of the House of Commons. He could only hope that its effect would not be preju dicial to the efficiency and discipline of
fit to report in favour of the total abolition of flogging, he apprehended they would have at least recommended or suggested some other mode of dealing with the class of offences which he had just indicated. But, as things now stood, nothing of that sort had been done, and those very aggravated cases under the Mutiny Bill were really unprovided for. It might perhaps but he asked their Lordships whether so be said a soldier could be shot for mutiny; extreme a punishment as that could be inflicted when flogging had been deemed too severe? The power of shooting a man on the spot was so grave that it could be justial-fied only in the most serious cases. Therefore the military authorities were now placed, as he had said, in the most awkward position in this matter; and should they have any instance-as he hoped they would not-of aggravated mutiny or anything of that kind, in consequence of that portion of the Mutiny Act having been. expunuged, he trusted their Lordships would clearly understand that the fault did not rest with the military authorities. At the same time he could not help thinking
Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2.", -(The Earl of Longford).
THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE said, that before the House agreed to the second though he was not the person to propose reading of these Bills, he wished in addition any alteration in the decision of the House to what had fallen from his noble Friend of Commons-that this subject had hardly (the Earl of Longford), to point out to their received the amount of attention which its Lordships the rather awkward position in importance deserved. He certainly adwhich matters now stood. He certainly mitted that the punishment of flogging was had no intention of asking their Lordships in itself degrading; but it was the deterring to make any change in the Mutiny Bill as effect of a punishment to which they had to sent up by the House of Commons; but it look, and he did believe there really was an was only right their Lordships should un- immense deterring power exercised over derstand the position in which the military the men by the knowledge that this punishauthorities stood now that corporal punishment would be inflicted for gross miscon ment had been wholly abolished, without duct. The civil law had lately adopted any other punishment whatever having corporal punishment for various offences, been substituted for those offences for and with what result? Since "garotting' which it had hitherto been inflicted. Ac- had been visited with flogging they had had codring to the wording of the Act as it far fewer cases of that crime than before. passed last year, the power given to pass That exactly illustrated what he meant by sentences of flogging was extremely limited, saying that this punishment had a great but it was still retained for the very grave deterrent effect; and it was on that ground offences of mutiny and insubordination ac- alone that the military authorities felt it companied by personal violence. The cases, was undesirable wholly to abolish it. Antherefore, to which that punishment was other serious point was this. He under
stood that the present Mutiny Act was not intended to do away with that species of punishment when the army was in the field; but if it was done away with in time of peace, it seemed to him very questionable whether it should be inflicted the moment the army took the field-the time, above all others, when they desired to raise the tone and morale of the troops. The object of them all must be to keep the army efficient, not only in respect to general duty, but especially in its discipline. In this country an army not in thorough discipline would be most distasteful to the people, and they might depend upon it it would give great trouble not only to the authorities but to the public at large. He therefore hoped, as that punishment had now been struck out of the Mutiny Act, that the Royal Commission now sitting would give the subject its very gravest consideration. That punishment having been expunged from our military code without waiting for their Report, he repeated that he did trust the Royal Commissioners would now more than ever devote their most anxious and serious attention to the question of what substitute should be adopted for the very powerful means which had been placed in the hands of the authorities for preventing dangerous, troublesome, and undisciplined men from committing themselves in the way they sometimes did. He was the last man to stand up for any improper punishment; but he had thought it right that their Lordships should know the exact position which they now occupied as regarded the whole question of punishments in the army.
VISCOUNT HARDINGE said, he was not surprised that the illustrious Duke who was responsible for the discipline of the army had brought that subject forward. Very great concessions had been made by the Government in respect to it. Before last year, corporal punishment was applicable to no fewer than twelve different offences; but the Government on that occasion consented to restrict it to two-namely, mutiny and gross insubordination. It was true that under the old Mutiny Act flogging could be commuted to penal servitude, and he believed that under the present Bill also a soldier could be sentenced to penal ser vitude as well as to dismissal from the service. But penal servitude could be applied only in extreme cases; and as to dismissal from the service, even with ignominy, many soldiers would actually commit gross offences in order to get dismissed. Therefore, under that Bill, there was positively
no substitute for corporal punishment. He felt sure that it was always a painful duty for the illustrious Duke and for officers of the army to advocate the retention of corporal punishment in time of peace, but they felt that without it the discipline of the army could not be kept up, and he for one believed that a very large majority of officers were of this opinion. gretted that the other House should have decided this question without waiting for the Report of the Royal Commission; and that the matter should there have been treated as a party question, the announcement of the numbers having been, it was stated, received with loud cheers from the Opposition. He trusted, however, that the change would not be detrimental to the service.
EARL GREY also regretted that the result of the division had been received in "another place" with loud cheers. Of late years new notions seemed to have sprung up as to the duties of an Opposition. was certain that, in old times, it used to be considered the duty of those who had held high office under the Crown to be present when Motions of this kind came under consideration: but, on consulting the Division List, he found that not a single Gentleman who held office under the late Administration was present, to take part in the discussion, or to vote on one side or the other. Thirty years ago, when he was Secretary at War, this question of corporal punishment occasioned a great deal of excitement. There was a strong opposition to the continuance of corporal punishment; but he thought it his duty to resist the Motion for its abolition. He wished to restrict the punishment as much as possible; but he believed that entirely to do away with it in extreme cases would be dangerous to the service and disadvantageous to the really good soldier. The father of the noble Viscount (Viscount Hardinge) gave him the most able and efficient support in meeting this Motion, and it was very much owing to his aid and assistance that he was able to convince the House of the danger of agreeing to the Motion. When he subsequently sat upon the Opposition Benches he thought it his duty to assist the Government in resisting a similar Motion. late years, however, a new doctrine had sprung up, as to the responsibility of the Opposition. It used to be thought that the Members of the Opposition who had served the Crown were not less responsible than the Members for the Government, and
that they were bound to use their best ef- | pediency of corporal punishment, it apforts to prevent the passing of any mea-peared to him that Her Majesty's Governsures prejudicial to the public service, and ment might have inferred from the debate to give the House the benefit of their advice and official experience. These remarks were, he thought, called for by the conduct of those who were in Opposition both on one side and the other.
EARL DE GREY said, he presumed the remarks of the noble Earl applied principally to his noble friend Lord Hartington, the late Secretary of State for War. But the fact was that he was a member of the Royal Commission to inquire into the question of the discipline of the army, and at an early period of the debate Colonel Wilson-Patten, also a member of the Commission and a Cabinet Minister, laid it down that no member of the Commission ought to take any part in the division. On Mr. Otway's Motion Mr. Gladstone paired against the Motion during the dinner hour, and the division came on unexpectedly during his absence. The noble Earl's own practice must have told him that Members who had held high office occasionally paired during the dinner hour. As the division came on sooner than was expected, perhaps this would account for the absence of the names in question from the division.
THE MARQUESS OF EXETER said, he could confirm from his own experience the necessity for substituting some other punishment if they abolished corporal punishment. When he was at Gibraltar some men in certain regiments were in a highly insubordinate state, and two separate Courts martial were appointed to try the offenders. One of these Courts martial was presided over by a field officer of the Line, and the other by himself. Some of the men insulted the Court, and the only way in which order could be preserved was by sentencing one man to corporal punishment, and another to three months' imprisonment. This was effectual; but if flogging were done away with, he feared that scenes such as he had witnessed would often occur, greatly to the inconvenience of the service.
EARL GREY explained that he had not particularly alluded to the Marquess of Hartington; but it was the fact that no Members of the late Government voted against the Motion of the hon. Member for Chatham.
EARL RUSSELL said, that his noble Friend (Earl de Grey) had, he thought, entirely vindicated Lord Hartington. With out entering into the question of the ex
and division of last year, that whenever the question came on this year, there would be a very considerable majority in favour of the abolition of flogging. He thought that after the division of last year the Minister of War ought to have immediately appointed a Royal Commission to sit during November and December, and then, when the House met in February, they might have had the Report of the Commission, and their suggestions as to the best substitute for corporal punishment.
THE EARL OF LONGFORD said, that the Secretary of State for War had been taken by surprise by the impatience of the House of Commons, and was not prepared to recommend at once a change in the system of military punishments. As a Royal Commission now had the subject under consideration, with the best means of forming a judgment, the Secretary of State would await their Report without taking any further steps. With regard to the conduct of the front Opposition Bench, as he might not be a good judge, he would rather leave that question in the hands of the noble Earl on the cross Benches (Earl Grey).
Motion agreed to: Bill read 2a accordingly; Committee negatived, and Bill to be read 3 To-morrow.
MUTINY BILL read 2a (according to Order): Committee negatived; and Bill to be read 3a To-morrow.
It very frequently happened that the Petitions presented to the House contained matters of great importance, and which would be of great use to their Lordships in subsequent discussions.
LORD REDESDALE thought that the adoption of the proposal would entail considerable expense with no corresponding advantage, for the Petitions would very seldom be read by anyone. It was open to persons who desired publicity to be given to a particular Petition to print and circulate it for the benefit of the public and of the Post Office. It was likewise in the power of any noble Lord to propose that a Petition be printed, in which case the House would decide whether it was advisable that it should be done. The question had been discussed on previous occasions, and it had always been thought better to adhere to the existing practice. He should like to hear the opinion of noble Lords on the subject; because there could be no objection to deal with it according to the general sense of the House.
EARL STANHOPE gave his cordial support to the proposal. He was of opinion that the printing of Petitions might, in many cases be very useful. The only doubt he entertained was rather as to a point of form. The noble Earl proposed that the Committee should report to the House what Petitions should be printed. Now, he thought it would be a great saving of time if the Committee should have power at once to order the printing of such Petitions as they might think advisable. Such, he believed, was the case with the Committee of the House of Commons.
THE DUKE OF SOMERSET said, as he understood the proposal of his noble Friend (Earl Russell), it would not interfere with the power which any noble Lord had now of moving that a Petition be printed.
LORD LYVEDEN approved the suggestion made by the noble Earl opposite (Earl Stanhope) that the Committee should have power to order Petitions to be printed.
THE EARL OF MALMESBURY said, as far as his own opinion was concernedfor this was not a Government questionhe saw no objection to the proposal of the noble Earl (Earl Russell) except that it would entail some expense. At the same time, he thought some Petitions might be very usefully printed. At present the publio were under the impression-not a very
wrong one-that very little attention was paid to Petitions presented to Parliament, and, perhaps, the adoption of this Resolution might give a new impetus to the presentation of such addresses. As to the proposal of the noble Earl, interfering with the right of any Peer to move that his Petition be printed, he apprehended it would have no such effect. The fact that a Peer had made a Motion to have his Petition printed, if the House agreed to it, would supersede the necessity of the Committee ordering the printing of the same Petition.
EARL RUSSELL said, he had no objection to adopt the noble Earl's (Earl Stanhope's) suggestion that the Committee should have power at once to order the printing of Petitions.
LORD REDESDALE thought the practice of printing Petitions might be very much abused. A person might present a pamphlet in the shape of a Petition, and have it printed at the public expense. He only hoped when the Petitions were printed that their Lordships would read them.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE said, that the Committee, of course, would exercise a discretion with respect to the Petitions that should be printed, and he thought that power might very well be given to them.
After a few words from Lord STANLEY of ALDERLEY,
Motion amended, and agreed to.
Resolved, That a Select Committee be appointed other than Petitions relating to Private Bills, to whom all Petitions presented to this House, shall be referred, with Instructions to the said Committee to direct the printing for the Use of the House of such Petitions as they shall think fit.
(The Earl Russell,)
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE.
THE EARL OF MALMESBURY, who had given notice to move the following Resolutions :
1. That it is expedient that Notice of an Intention to ask a Question should be given in the Minutes, except in Cases which admit of no Delay :
2. That the Committee of Selection are desired to exercise their Discretion in calling for the Service of Lords absent from the House:
3. That in future, in entering the Reports of Bills amended in Committee of the Whole House in the Journals, instead of the Report of such Amendments being entered as made formally by
the Chairman of Committees, the Name of the
Lord who moves the Reception of the Report and takes charge of the Bill in that Stage be substituted.
said, he would direct their Lordships' attention to a subject which had been discussed on Thursday evening-the Report of the Select Committee upon the Conduct of Business in their Lordships' House. It appeared to him at that time that the best way to proceed would be for their Lordships to assent to the Report, and that the recommendations of the Committee should be discussed in detail afterwards, at their Lordships' discretion. He had inferred, however, from the debate of the other night, that their Lordships would prefer that the recommendations of the Report should be embodied in a set of Resolutions to be proposed seriatim. That wish of their Lordships he had endeavoured to carry out. He thought the most convenient course would be to move the Resolutions separately, and their Lordships could discuss them one by one as they were moved. He begged to move the first Resolution.
Moved to resolve
"That it is expedient that Notice of an Intention to ask a Question should be given in the Minutes, except in Cases which admit of no Delay."-(The Lord Privy Seal.)
heads of Departments, or unless it was apparent that the Question was such as to show the propriety of suspending the rule in that instance.
LORD TAUNTON said, he did not think the present practice of the House led to any serious inconvenience, for noble Lords usually gave notice of Questions when they were of such a character as probably to give rise to discussion. He thought it undesirable that any positive rule should be laid down.
LORD LYVEDEN said, that the Resolution carried out the intention of the Committee in making the recommendation. In the other House, the Speaker would stop any Member seeking to put a Question without notice, as being contrary to the rules of the House. In their Lordships' House, however, they had no similar functionary whose duty it would be to stop any irregularity. The great point to be attained was, no doubt, to put a stop to the practice of putting without notice Questions which were likely to give rise to debates.
EARL GRANVILLE suggested that the noble Earl should vary the Resolution, and follow more precisely the words of the Committee. This would stop the practice of putting Questions without notice, when
would not prevent the putting of urgent Questions, although they might possibly give rise to discussion.
THE DUKE OF CLEVELAND said, there ought to be some rule on the subject which should be sufficiently distinct to prevent debates being raised upon Questions; but the rule could always be suspended in cases in which the House might think discussion desirable.
VISCOUNT HALIFAX said, he thought that the Resolution of the noble Earl went beyond the recommendation of the Com-there was no necessity for haste; but mittee, and, if carried, would put a stop to many Questions which might be fairly asked without notice. In the other House of Parliament there was a very convenient usage, no discussion being permitted on a Question being asked. He concurred in the opinion that it was not desirable to stop the putting of Questions in all cases without formal notice; but, at the same time no Question which was at all likely to give rise to debate ought to be put without notice having been given. The proposal of the noble Earl, in its present form, might put a stop to a number of Questions that were not likely to raise debates; and it was scarcely expedient to go quite so far as that.
EARL RUSSELL said, he saw no objection to the Resolution as proposed. It would have the effect of stopping any noble Lord from putting a Question at ten minutes past five o'clock, and thus initiating a debate which might last a considerable time, to the great inconvenience of those noble Lords who had given notices. He thought it might fairly be left to the discretion of noble Lords not to put Questions early in the evening without notice, unless they could be answered at once by the
THE LORD CHANCELLOR said, that if their Lordships followed the precise words of the Committee they might not attain the object the Select Committee had in view. That object was not merely to prevent the putting of Questions without notice; for that object might easily be gained by the refusal of the Minister or the other Member of the House to whom the Question was addressed to give an answer until he should have had an opportunity of informing himself upon the subject to which it related. The real evil was the debate which was sometimes raised by putting a Question. It had been complained that Questions had been put and discussions raised without notice; and it went forth to the public that many noble Lords who might have been most anxious