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called out into actual service, and made subject to military law. Could any man think that the volunteers of Great Britain ever meant to undertake such an obligation ? Minis. ters might indeed have desired them to look at this bill, and then have informed them that they must stand to their bondo But could such a ftipulation have been in the contempla: tion of the volunteers, when they enrolled themselves ? Let any mian look at the acts under which the services of the volunteers were accepted, and he will see that they were to be marched only in the event of a rumour of invasion or actual landing on the coasts; and let him judge, whether by the words Great Britain, uniformly accompanying those ftipulations throughout, the coasts of Great Britain alone were not in the contemplation of the volunteers, at the time of entering into fuch an engagement? The right hon. Gentle. man might, no doubt, avail bimself of the technical exprelfions in the present act to give support to such a plea. The volunteers might have other battles to fight with Minifters. They had already conquered them, but it was only by flow degrees. When they beat them out of one trench, Ministers betook themselves to another. When the volunteers gained the power of resigning, that power was endeavoured to be limited to one half of their number. It was said, however, that these two objectionable clauses should be done away. They had lood in the bill from the beginning, and might have been looner perceived. He, for one, contesled that the interpretation which one of those clauses was capable of receiving had never occurred to him. He thought those Gentlemen who introduced the bill might have pointed out the interpretation, which they must have been aware the claufe was capable of receiving, in an earlier stage of the bill, and not have reserved it till the bringing up of the report. Had it not been for the jealous caution of a learned Gentleman who fpoke in an early part of the debate, the claule no' alluded to might have been allowed to pats in its equivocal form, which would have been a grofs violation of the faith pledged to the volunteers. The other clause, it must be admitted, had not been ubjected to now for the first time. The unjust tendency of it had been pointed out in ihe Committee, by an honourable Member under the gallery. It was then, however, defended by Minifters; and now, for the firft time, they are pleased to give up this pott also to the volunteers. All mankind had agreed in the right of volunteers to resign, except the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had not been able to form any opinion on the subject; at least, if he had, he seemed refolved to
keep it to himself. Finding they could not do better', Mi. nifters had at length brought in the present bill. They had at first denied the right of resigning : lhe Court of King's Bench fanctioned that right. The clause now-alluded to took it away; and the honourable Gentleman hoped that the decision of that day would again restore it. He believed by the clause, as it stood at present, a great majority would he deprived of this right. But it was said, they might resign on giving 14 days notice. It was, however, undoubtedly the opinion of the volunteers, that they might do so at pleafure, without any notice whatever. Let it be recollected, that they were told on the first of February, that the threatened invasion might take place in the shortest possible period, and now on the 19th March, we are again to be informed, that 14 days notice must be given by any volunteer desirous of resigning. Thus, had it not been for the at. tention of the learned Gentleman (Mr. Erskine), and the hon. Member under the gallery, similar disputes might have been revived. A new opinion of the Attorney General, and a new bill to explain the opinion of Ministers, might have been necessary. But were these the only objectionable clauses in the bill There are cafes in which a person may forfeit his exemptions by non-attendance, probably for 12 days, even when labouring under indispofition. It is true he may regain his privilege by attending other 12 days, but how is this to be accomplished? Is his corps to be called out on purpote to enable him thus to qualify himself? The thing was ridiculous ; Ministers were deceiving the volun teers, and holding out to them immunities which they could never realife. Another circumftance which had been noticed by an bon. Friend of his (Mr. Whitbread) he thought was particularly deserving of notice. Would any man ieriously say that forty-four days service, in labouring of the ground. could be taken away from a farmer without injury to him? It was well known that contentions did sublitt between masiers and servants ; and that the latter were often rcady to take every advantage. No man could view the fan&tion given by that clause to a practice of this fort in any other light than as a kind of robbery. The time of an apprentice was his master's, not his own ; by a solemn contract it had become lo as much as any other property whatever. Yet by the present bill, apprentices are reduced from their master's service, and an inducement is held out to them to neglect his business. It is said a compensation will be given ; but to whom? Not to the master, but to the apprentice. In the case of any improvement being to be
earried on, which occasions the appropriation of any private property, to whom is the compensation made? Why, surely, io ihe proprietor. This reasonable plan of proceeding, however, is departed from in the present instance. The compensation is taken away from the party who has a right to it, and is bestowed on another, as a recompence and induce ment to him to desert his master's employment. The hon. Gentleman again alluded to the little progress that had been made in the defensive system during ihe present session, and declared his convi&ion, that he would not be wrong in alserting, that three-fourths of the volunteers who had been embodied at an early period, had never yet drawn a trigger. If no plan 10 expedite the arming and training of the volunteers could be devised, he was alhamed to think what opinion their constituents must entertain of the deliberations of that House, marked as the present bill was with such promi. nent symptoms of imbecility and weakness. The public had a right to expect, if Gentlemen reited their whole defence on a volunteer force, that they should have adopted fome steps to render it as efficient as possible. They were entitled, at so awful a crisis, when armaments of an unparalleled and gigantic nature, and not only great but immediate, were to be opposed, to expect something like a proportionate defence.
Like the poet, who lamented that in proportion to the smaliness of our support, the evils which we had to encounter were great, he trembled at the danger to which we were exposed. He trembled the lefs, however, because he knew the spirit of the volunteers. They had basıled and skirmished with Ministers, post' after post. They had driven them from trench to trench, and were now come to engage them in their last war-dike. He was happy to think that the spirit of the country and of the volunteers would rise superior, not to the attempts of our enemies alone, but, what he thought a more arduous talk, superior to the imbecility of Miniliers.
The Attorney General could not at all see that any argument had been adduced 10 shew that the recommitment of the bill would be attended with the smallest advantage. It was contended by the hon. Genileman who suggested the necessity of the recoinmitment, that a great deal too much time had been already spent on the bill, yet with this admission, the great object he now appeared to have in view was, that the bill should still longer occupy the attention of the House, and all this for the protested purpose of preventing the character
of Parliament from being degraded. A great deal had been faid about the present defective state of our military establishment, but for his own part he could not see how the recommitinent had any thing at all to do wiih this business. Could any ihing connected with the bill be done to increale our military establifhment? Could going again into the Committee fill up any deficiencies in the army of reserve ? No man could seriously urge such an opinion. The bill was designed to explain and amend what at present appeared defective in the volunteer system ; but let it be sent back as often as Genilemen pleased to a Committee, it must fill come out of the Committee in its original form-of a bill for the better regulation of the volunteer establishment. On the one side of the House it was urged that the bill contained every provision which was best calculated to effect its object. If on the other lide it was argued that there were other provisions wanting to complete the efficiency of the bill, it was then for those who held this opinion, to have, on former occasions, expresied iheir sentiments in the Committee. The bill had already passed through three Committees, and it was sacher singular that none of those Genilemen who now so graciously smiled complacence on each other in the prospect of having the bill recommitted, had ever thought of previously introducing their amendinents. He begged leave to know what reason there was to expect in another Committee suggestions which had not been brought forward formerly, and unless such an expectation was held out to the House, he could not see why the report would not afford fufficient room for the reception of such aircndments as appeared to be necessary. The hon. Gentleman who spoke lait had come down to the House wish the intention of giving his decided opposition to the bill, but certain circumstances had since occurred to alter bis derermination, and he was now contented with infilling on its recommitment. What these circumItances were he could not pretend to delerinine, for he could hardly imagine that they arose out of any thing which had taken place on the present occasion. Was ir the clause which referred to the right of volunteers to resign, connected with corps which had engaged to serve during the whole war, or the clause, as the bill now stood, which directed that on the appearance of an enemy off the coait of Ireland, the volunteers should be placed on permanent duty? If either of These clauses had been to be continued in the bill, or even if a doubt had been retained as to the expediency of continuing
the clauses, there might have been some ground for going
D. Laurence supported the motion for the recommitment. His principal reason for this was, that a number of the clauses now in the bill were introduced on a day (Saturday) when There was a very thin attendance of members. The bill was now seen for the first time as a whoie, since it had last passed the Committee, and it appeared to him highly proper that it Thould be now recommitted, to give an opportunity for full and fair discusion of this very incresting subject. The hon. and learned Member expressed his decided disapprohation on the clauses as they now iland in the bill, with refpect to the right of dilinifal, and the compensation to be given to fer