Mr. Tree to
Brussels, November 29, 1886. (Received December 13.)
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that a bill has been introduced into the House for the reorganization of the Belgian army, the chief provisions of which are that every Belgian twenty years of age is liable to military duty; that the army shall be recruited every year, and that there shall be no exemptions in time of war; that the active contingent shall be fixed each year; that the permanent army in time of peace will represent always 1 per cent. of the population. The length of service is to be ten years for all branches, three years of active service, four years of service in the reserve of the active army, and three years of service in the national reserve.
Under the present service any one who draws an unlucky number at the annual drawings for recruits may free himself by buying a substitute for about 1,600 francs. This feature of the military law has been always very distasteful to the working classes, who have to do personal service in the army when they draw a bad number, because they have not the money to purchase a substitute, while those who are more fortunately situated pecuniarily may escape by paying 1,600 francs.
As, however, the Government does not seem to be in accord with the principal features of the bill, it is probable that it will not be accepted, but it will doubtless produce considerable discussion.
I have, etc.,