§ CAPTAIN NOLAN,
in rising to call attention, in connection with the new mobilization scheme, to the organization of the Army, said, it would be within the recollection of hon. Members that between the last Session and the present a new scheme was published in The Army List, and discussed in the newspapers, for the mobilization of the Army in case of war. The scheme itself had never come in any way before the House, although certain Votes had been taken for partially putting it into operation. On that occasion he did not intend to discuss the whole, he rather wished to confine himself to almost a single point in connection with the subject. He felt, however, that the subject was a very proper one to bring before the House, because, although the expense during the present year caused by the scheme would be very small, at some time or 367 another many millions might be expended under the Bill, and it would be too late, and some might say unpatriotic, to raise any question on the subject when the formation had been completed, or on the eve of a campaign—Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
proceeded. He did not wish to find fault with the scheme in its general aspect; on the contrary, he thought the idea an exceedingly good one, sketched out with great ability, but he objected to one or two important details. The two faults he found were, first, that the scheme was too expensive—not, for the present year, £40,000 being all that was taken for this year; but in regard to the expenditure which must be incurred at some future time, if ever the scheme should be put in force. The second fault he found with it was that, in the present advanced state of military science it rather looked as if they ignored some of the lessons of the Franco-German War. The leading features of the mobilization scheme were to allow an offensive Force to be sent abroad on an emergency and also to retain a Force for the general defence of the country, and therefore, as only Regular Troops were liable for service abroad, there would be two corps made up practically entirely of Regular Troops. There were to be eight field corps, but the Volunteers would be excluded. One feature was, that a large number of Militia regiments were to be sent long distances from their homes. Now he thought this idea of sending troops great distances from their homes had been overdone. He approved to a certain extent of the Government scheme, but he found fault with it as likely to be too expensive in future. The units or brigades into which the Forces were divided were too small, involving increased expense in the staff of officers and in the cost of administration. It was obvious that the larger the divisions the fewer in proportion would be the non-combatant expenses. All the great Continental countries—Russia, France, Germany, Austria, and Italy—had very large divisions compared with ours, for while we had only 3,000 in a brigade, and 7,000 infantry in division, they had at least 6,000 men in a a brigade, and 14,000 or 15,000 in a 368 division. At the same time a corps ďarmée was not so much smaller in England than in other countries, for we put three divisions, while other countries put only two in a corps ďarmé'e. As far as he could make out, the total cost of the Staff pay of the eight corps ďarmée would be about £500,000, and that was only the beginning of the expense. He calculated that the present system of organization would be more expensive by one-third than the organization, of the Continental Armies as far as the Staff officers were concerned. The system had also military as well as financial defects. If in time of war two corps ďarmée were sent abroad they would be found difficult to manage. All military authorities were opposed to dividing an Army into two equal or unequal divisions, as it would probably lead to a conflict of authority between the generals in command of the two fractions when either was ordered by the Commander-in-Chief to detach aid to the other. In his opinion the best course to adopt in time of war would be to divide the two corps ďarmée into three corps ďarmée of two divisions, and he believed that whoever devised this scheme contemplated something of that kind; but still, this, though the best course, would be but a weak expedient. He asked the Secretary of State to tell the House the reasons why these small units or brigades had been adopted? He could suggest two reasons for the adoption of that system—one being that during peace manœuvres there was an advantage in having small divisions, because it enabled a large number of Staff and general officers to be trained, and afforded a good opportunity for making a number of appointments to well-paid posts; and the other being that it was intended to mitigate the evil of our regimental system, which had for its base a single battalion per regiment, instead of the three battalions per regiment used in Continenal Armies. The point on which he wished to get an answer from the Government, however, was not with regard to the regimental system, but with reference to the new mobilization scheme, and as to why the brigades and divisions were made so small and were so expensive, not only in the Staff pay of the officers, but also in the administrative service, and in many other respects. These errors were no mere fancies of his own. He 369 had only pointed out what all the Continental powers were doing in that direction. They had long since by experience discovered that small brigades were more expensive, because they required more officers, more Artillery, and more Cavalry in proportion. No doubt, it was more convenient for manœuvres in time of peace to have small divisions; but as the mobilization scheme was ostensibly devised for a time of war, it ought not to be based upon considerations only applicable to a time of peace. In foreign military states the administrative unit was 3,000 or 4,000 men, and the fighting unit about 1,000, and he should like to know why a different and more expensive system had been adopted in this country, by confining our regiments to practically a single battalion? He thought that the Government had done very good work in publishing a scheme for mobilization in The Army List, as now one had something definite to look to; and no doubt any scheme which the Government could have put forward would have been subjected to criticism, but he wished to point out that this scheme, although in many respects a good one, would entail much future expense, and he asked that the Government should give a reason for it, trusting that they would not fall back upon the answer that they had merely acted on the advice of the military authorities. If such an answer were the only one given, it must be remembered that on the other side there were such military authorities as Moltke, Blumenthal, and MacMahon; and he trusted that the Government would be able to give some reason why the mobilization scheme was specially applicable to England.
§ MR. J. HOLMS
said, he entirely agreed with the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Captain Nolan) in thinking that the mobilization scheme was a very expensive one, and that it entirely ignored the lessons of the Franco-German War. He thought the forthcoming mobilization of two Army Corps would prove the unsoundness of the present military system of this country. Whether the English public did or did not take an interest in the changes going on in our Army, the fact remained that every country in Europe would give critical attention to them, and unless he was much mistaken, the 370 military authorities of such countries would discover in our so-called mobilization much that fell but little short of the grotesque. The scheme ought to have been submitted to Parliament before being adopted. It would almost entirely undo the localization scheme, which was adopted by the House at the instance of Mr. Cardwell a few years ago. A still greater objection was that it adhered to principles of organization and administration which had been condemned, and justly condemned, by all other military Powers in Europe. With respect more particularly to the scheme itself, the force indicated by its authors must either be required or not, and he could not believe that the Government would publish to all the world that they required a great many more men and horses for their Army, unless they were absolutely required. And at a time when every one knew that the country was not actually in the position to supply the number of men, guns, and horses which the War Office said was requisite. The statement of the War Office was that for eight Army Corps they required of Regulars 102,636 men, and for garrison duty in all 21,566; for the Militia they would require 221,469 men. The number of horses required would be 85,866, and the number of guns 720. But the Government had only—deducting the number of men in prisons and hospitals—in round numbers 93,000 Regulars, or 71,000 if the number required for garrison duty was deducted. The Militia numbered 100,000, of which number 34,000 was required for garrison purposes. The horses at the disposal of the Government were only 15,000, very far below the number said to be required, and of the 720 guns we had only 342. In other words, we had only enough of Regular troops to supply three Army Corps: our Militia would only be sufficient for four Army Corps; we had only horses for one and a-half Army Corps, and only enough guns for four Army Corps. Well, that being so, we had only men and guns for four out of eight Army Corps, and he was anxious to know what was to become of the other four Army Corps? Why, if matters remained as sketched out in the scheme, four out of the eight would be composed simply of 32 generals and 292 officers of the Staff. He asked the 371 Government whether they intended or did not intend to carry out their scheme. If they did, how were they to procure the men, guns, and horses? If they did not, why did they not reduce the number of corps ďArmée to the number of the men they intended to maintain? He protested against the scheme altogether. It would simply result in an increased expenditure, and would entail the appointment of 96 generals and 644 officers of the Staff.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
Mr. J. HOLMS proceeded
If the scheme were carried out in its integrity, the Army would be short by the number of 70,000 horses, 378 field-guns, 120,000 Militia, and 30,000 Regulars. He must therefore again ask if the Government really intended to give effect to the scheme? If they did, it would involve in the first year a charge of £8,280,000, of which sum £3,260,000 would be a capital charge incurred for horses and guns alone to supply the existing deficiencies, and each succeeding year there would be an addition to our present Army Estimates of £5,000,000 for the supply of the requisite number of men to bring up our Forces to the standard prescribed by the scheme. Mr. Cobden once told the House that he had been assured by high military authority that our Army organization was the most extravagant in Europe. Mr. Cobden was right in discussing that organization, for upon sound organization efficiency and economy entirely depended. A sound formation of an Army Corps system would be the very keystone of improvement in our military system; but the composition of the proposed Army Corps did not comply with the requirements of a sound system. They would, as he said, have the military attachés of every European Court criticizing our Army system next month, and he could not believe that their verdict would be altogether satisfactory. He believed that the ruin of the French Army was the scrambling for appointments which took place, and he was afraid that something very similar was going on in our own case. He could not understand how the military authorities should have selected for the command of one of the Army Corps an 372 officer, however capable, who was over 72 years of age, and had been out of the Army for years, and this when making a trial for the first time of a new system. Look at the composition, of the 2nd Army Corps which was about to meet at Godalming. So far from the men being close to their own homes, the Army Corps was to be composed, as far as the Militia were concerned, of men mainly drawn from the most distant portions of the Kingdom. How was it possible that such men could have been trained together? The General knew nothing of them, and they knew nothing of their General. Why, again, should the War Office draw men from Scotland and Ireland to the South of England for the purpose? Would it not be much more reasonable to have an Army Corps in the Southern counties drawn from the young men of that part of England? Tilbury Fort, which 200 years ago was the scene of a Dutch invasion, was to have its defence provided for by the Militia of Argyllshire, Bute, Ireland, and Northumberland, when surely there were enough men in Middlesex to defend it. In the event of invasion our Yeomanry would be called upon to discharge the duties performed by the Uhlans in the Franco-German War, which they were incapable of doing. Two conditions of efficiency they were supposed to possess—first, that the Yeomanry should own their horses, and, secondly, that they should understand their own county. From a recent Return it would be seen that the Yeomanry in many cases were not all provided with their own horses, and by this scheme they would be quartered, not in their own counties, but in different parts of the country, of which they knew nothing whatever. He should like to know whether the Militia and Yeomanry attached to the 5th Army Corps were to appear at head-quarters at all, or whether it was true, as he had heard, that, being short of equipment, they were to assemble and then return to their own homes? He trusted the House would receive some clear assurance of the intentions of the Government as to whether this mobilization scheme was really to be carried out or not, and whether they would re-arrange the Army Corps which at present appeared in The Army List, or remove it from that publication altogether.
§ MR. STANLEY
said, some of the criticisms which had been made upon the scheme of mobilization would almost justify a retort like that of the horse dealer, when some one pointed out what he deemed to be a fault in an animal with many excellent points—"Do you really think it is a fault? For my part I think it is the best thing about the animal." Many of the so-called points of weakness in the scheme were deliberate departures from the rules which had guided the formation of large armies in foreign countries, and were intelligent applications of the same principles to the different circumstances under which we lived. There appeared to be a very considerable amount of misapprehension prevailing as to the precise objects and merits of this scheme. It did not aim at any very large increase of the Forces, nor at any extensive alterations of the mode in which they were arranged; but from the first it had purported to be an intelligent and intelligible scheme, marking out, as in a time table, the precise places where, until further orders, particular troops would rendezvous under given contingencies. From the very nature of it, therefore, there could be no finality about it. It was clearly shown, even from the mode in which the Army Corps were mobilized this year, that the intentions of his right hon. Friend was to test the orders for mobilization that had been established, and to test them openly before the public with all their merits and all their defects, and the last speaker seemed to have misapprehended the real state of things in that respect. To prove that he need only refer to the second Article. If it had been thought desirable to bolster up fictitious strength nothing would have been easier, for instance, than to attach to the 5th Army Corps, from places where they could be well spared, a sufficient number of batteries to complete the Artillery to the normal establishment, which would complete the Artillery of the corps ďarmée. So far, however, from that having been done, many batteries were wanting, and one corps ďarmée, appeared with an Artillery force of six guns only, instead of 90. Comments had been made about the Forces not being entirely composed of Regular troops; and he might explain that arrangement arose from the wish of the military authorities not to make a great disturbance 374 in the present military arrangements of the country, but to provide for the concentration of troops where they might be required. There was one point which it was impossible to leave out as a factor in these calculations. That was that although our frontier was penetrable at many places, it was not penetrable without a certain expenditure of time, and he was fairly entitled to use that fact when asked how regiments could be transmitted in time from one part of the country to another. Criticisms had been made as to the number of officers, the small units, and the number of divisions. Undoubtedly, if he were prepared to go into arguments which he thought more fitted for the United Service Institution than the House of Commons, he should have something to say about the different opinions existing between many competent authorities as to the exact composition of divisions and brigades. But he would only say at present, that there appeared to be an immense advantage in having a large number of small divisions. He would ask the House to separate this scheme from some others on which criticisms had been passed. This scheme was nothing more nor less than what it purported to be—a scheme for the mobilization of the military Forces of this country. It was wholly in its nature a defensive scheme, and on its merits and demerits as a defensive scheme he was prepared to meet any arguments that might be adduced. As to the supposition of the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Captain Nolan) that if it were proposed to send two Army Corps abroad, the two commanders from jealousy would do all they could to disorganize the Army, it was too late in the day to be guided by such minor considerations in devising any scheme. Under such circumstances, when large bodies of men were to be moved, was it not to be expected that some intelligible plan of action would be drawn out beforehand, subject to modification by the senior officer; and if there was any risk that two commanding officers might neutralize it, was it meant to be implied that there ought to be a third, so that a majority might settle differences? That would be something new in military matters. Then with respect to the Forces at home and the scheme of defence, he wished to point out that the scheme laid down where certain troops were to be 375 placed, in case of necessity, upon the basis of there being eight Army Corps. Before this scheme was brought forward a Committee on Organization was sitting at the War Office, and they laid down what was the plan that would be most effective for the right concentration of these Army Corps, excluding the troops that were to be set apart for the defence of certain fortifications, the rest being available for this special Army Corps. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) talked about the enormous cost of the scheme, but it involved a mere distribution of the Force now existing, and the cost had not been increased by the addition of one officer or man. Supposing also that the Force when distributed was found to be weak in one place or unnecessarily strong in another, there was nothing to prevent any troops from being detached from one place and attached to another by the simple process of a General Order. The hon. Member had also commented upon the mode in which the Force was to be moved from one place to another, but the difficulty of dealing with Forces was not so great when they got them together, as before they got them together and before they were organized. What they had to consider was how they might best meet that difficulty. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Holms) had also spoken of the anomalies of bringing battalions from Scotland to serve in England, and sending battalions from the South to serve in the North. All these arguments as to interchange had met with intelligent consideration, and all he could say was that the changes themselves had not been in any way guided simply by local considerations. If the Northern portion of England was most open to attack, he should have thought that the highest honour was conferred upon those who were called upon to take part in repelling such a demonstration. In the Waterloo campaign the Brigade of England, Scotland, and Ireland earned for itself the distinction of being the Union Brigade, and well maintained its position in the history of that campaign. In case of hostilities, given a strategical point, lines of communication must be kept open, and taking the great lines of railway as the arteries of commerce, it was desirable to interfere as little as possible with the peaceful traffic of the 376 country, and it was desirable that a particular corps ď armée should be able to concentrate at a particular point and by the rolling stock of one line. Special management would be required in such a case, and that must be regarded as having no small influence on the question they were discussing. There were other considerations which had not and could not be put on paper. He would not follow the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Nolan) into a discussion upon Army organization further than to say that considerations connected with colonial, foreign, and Indian service had influenced the decision of these questions, and that in the nature of things there could be no finality about these measures; they must watch what was going on elsewhere, and from time to time adapt the military organization of this country to the most approved systems. The hon. Member for Hackney said that when Lord Cardwell brought forward his scheme for the re-organization of the Army he invited the consideration of the House to the whole question, and offered very full explanations of all the points of his scheme, and probably by implication the hon. Gentleman complained that the Secretary for War was not doing the same thing on this occasion. But the circumstances were diametrically opposite. Lord Cardwell's scheme involved very considerable alterations in the internal arrangements of the Army, and an essential change in our military organization; and the estimated cost of the scheme was £3,500,000. Naturally, therefore, on such an occasion, the House had a right to call upon the Minister for a full explanation of the conclusions at which he had arrived. In this case, however, the outlay involved was no more than for ordinary manœuvres, and, so far as the Votes of the present year were concerned, the cost was not so much as that of the ordinary Autumn Manœuvres. The Government only proposed a re-arrangement of existing troops. They did not propose to bring up the battalions immediately to a war strength. He thought the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Hackney in relation to these Army Corps must be taken as fallacies. He could not but think that the hon. Gentleman had, in his calculations, taken the theoretical strength as it might be on a war establishment, instead of that which was 377 the fact under the existing scheme; but the filling up the Army Corps to a war strength would only be thought of in case of the most urgent necessity. The hon. Gentleman spoke of the enormous cost that would be incurred; but there would be no additional cost, except that of concentration and the ordinary allowances to troops who were under canvas. What his right hon. Friend wished was to see, in the first place, how these Regulations, put into operation in time of peace, would be likely to act in time of war; secondly, not only to see whether he would be enabled to call out a portion of the Reserves, but to test a matter as to which some persons had expressed considerable doubt—namely, whether the men would be forthcoming, and, if forthcoming, what they would be worth; and, thirdly, to ascertain how far the calling out of these men might cause a disturbance of civil employment throughout the country. These were points which should go a long way in recommending the scheme to the House. The hon. Member for Hackney had erred in mixing up two questions which were very distinct in their character—namely, the mobilization of the forces as shown in The Army List, and the localization scheme of the late Secretary of State for War; and he seemed to have thought that the former would completely upset the latter, but the two things had no necessary connection with one another. It was quite true that his hon. Friend, who had studied the interesting question on the spot, had come home from Germany very much impressed with the ideal of the German Army Corps. His hon. Friend said that the men of the German Corps were localized together, that they came from the same districts, and that they knew their Generals and their General knew them. But these were conditions which could not apply to the Army Corps system in this country, and if his hon. Friend looked at the first Report of the Localization Committee of Lord Cardwell, he would find a very intelligible account of the way in which our Reserve Forces must differ from those abroad. Here the men would enlist at a particular depôt to which they probably might never return until they were discharged. In our mobilization of troops the unit had been taken not of the battalion, but of the barrack in which the battalion was 378 placed. The battalion might belong to a Norfolk depôt, whilst it was placed in a garrison far away from there. Therefore our localization scheme must be worked on a different system from the German; and if the late Secretary of State for War were now in this House he would give the hon. Gentleman very nearly the same explanation of the localization scheme as had now been given. To carry out rigid localization would be to do that which caused so much difficulty in the French war; but this would be avoided by adopting the barrack as the basis. It had been said that the Yeomanry were no longer mounted on their own horses, but the Committee of last year brought that point to light, and a Regulation had been issued that no one should be accounted efficient as a member of the Yeomanry unless he fulfilled the condition of riding his own horse. As to the men being well acquainted with the country, troops in these days travelled over so much ground that a man must have a versatile talent and wide information if he knew the inns and outs of all the locality which he had to act in from personal knowledge, and he must rather trust to that derived from maps and other topographical information. He might say, in conclusion, that this scheme had not been taken up lightly or carelessly. It was not announced with any great flourish of trumpets. The sounds which heralded its approach did not partake of that inspired character which had been attributed to them, though the subject had evidently been handled in the Press by those who thoroughly understood the question. No extra cost beyond that of the manœuvring of former years had been incurred in connection with it. Not one single officer had been added to The Army List in consequence of this scheme. The only expenditure was that of the Parliamentary Vote in the usual Estimates. The scheme laid down as clearly as it was desirable to lay down, the mode in which, until other Orders were issued, troops might be concentrated at such particular points as the occasion of their being called together might render necessary. That had been done to avoid complicated routes and other complications. All this had been placed in an intelligible and practical form before the military authorities, and 379 the country would thus have no obscure indication of what the military forces were intended to effect, and without entering into further details, he thought it was a scheme which would command the approbation of the House and the country.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, the House must approve of the object which the Secretary of State for War expected to be gained by the mobilization of the troops, in order to ascertain what improvements ought to be made, but he could not agree with the manner in which it was to be carried out. It was not by any means an easy task to bring together into two separate Corps or Armies the miscellaneous Forces which make up the respective strengths. And however excellent might be the Generals and Staff officers, yet it should be remembered that it required long associations with regimental officers in order to make the Staff known to the whole Army. It was only right to add that he thought the sum of £40,000 taken for this purpose during the present year would not be grudged by the House or country to enable us to ascertain how far we could rely on our military organization. But he desired to urge that it would have been better to have commenced the mobilization on a much smaller scale than that of corps. The formation of a brigade, or a division at the highest, would, if placed under very efficient officers, have done more good, especially if fully equipped. The whole success of mobilization depended upon the organization of the Army, and therefore it would be wise for the House to take into consideration the present Army arrangements. The organization at present into companies, troops, squadrons, and batteries, then into battalions, regiments, brigades and divisions and Army Corps was framed on a most wasteful scale, and greatly at variance with the experience of the Prussian Army, which set them an example of economy and efficiency. He believed Mr. Cobden spoke correctly when he said that in every possible manner in which expense could be created the organization of our Army was of the most expensive character. He (Sir George Balfour) did not object to men being made efficient in the field, but the expensiveness of the present Army system was not necessary to the efficiency of the Army; 380 on the contrary, it weakened the Army. The defects of the Army that was sent to the Crimea were well known. We neglected that part of military arrangements to which Germany carefully attended—namely, the keeping up of an army in the field. Germany, instead of allowing her battalions to dwindle away to skeleton battalions and the Cavalry to small squadrons, as we did in the Crimea, carefully filled them up to the full strength, so that the Infantry battalions before Paris were complete to the war strength. In the Crimea, on the contrary, we had many more headquarters of regiments than were needed if the men had been kept up. At the very time we needed cadres at home to train the many youths we recruited, we were uselessly keeping them in the Crimea. Then with regard to the two plans of Army Corps Organization and the Localization Scheme—the two plans did not appear to dovetail together, and certainly the Brigade depôt system appeared very extravagant. If the only object of the localization scheme was that 15 officers should undertake the training of a few men, the sooner that scheme was set aside the better. He trusted the Secretary for War would see for himself whether this scheme of mobilization was or was not suited to this country and ought to be maintained in a permanent form.
§ LORD ELCHO
agreed with the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir George Balfour) that our regimental and recruiting system might possibly be improved. Turning to the question of the organization of the Army, he thought we heard too much about Prussianizing our Army. It was a great mistake to attempt to introduce the Prussian system into our Service when we had not the Prussian basis of compulsory service to go upon, and while we refused to adopt the English system of compulsory service in the Militia. As regarded the mobilization scheme, we might criticize it upon this or that point; but we had the broad fact before us that for the last three or four years some of the ablest, youngest, and most efficient men in the Army had been working upon this scheme, which gave us, at all events, some data to go upon, and the result was that we had something like an organization in place of the ghastly 381 chaos of Regulars, Volunteers, Militia, and Yeomanry, which we should have had without it. He believed that the various routes the regiments would have to take in the event of war breaking out as well as the points which were most likely to be attacked were known to the War Office, and that in view of a possible expedition abroad every transport was numbered and the place of each regiment on board was determined. Under these circumstances, the nation, instead of looking a gift-horse in the mouth, should be grateful to those who had secured these great advantages for us.
§ SIR HENRY HAVELOCK
believed the mobilization scheme to be an honest and fair attempt on the part of the Government to carry the organization of our Army a little further than it had been carried when they came into office; but trusted that nothing which had been said on the present occasion would be considered as a final expression of opinion on the subject of mobilization. Greater progress had been made in the re-organization of our Forces during the three or four years before the right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary of War came into office than had been made during the previous half-century, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman was bound to go a step further in the same direction. He thought the criticisms which had been offered to-night were made at the wrong time, and that they would have been much more valuable if they had been made about the end of the present Session or the beginning of the next, when the result of the mobilization would have been ascertained. He agreed with the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had brought this subject forward (Captain Nolan) that we had too small a number of battalions in our brigades and divisions. The effect of the present system in case England was engaged in a Continental war would be that we should be opposing regiments, brigades, and divisions which were weak in numbers to forces vastly superior, considered from a numerical point of view. Perhaps the weakest point in the Army of this country was its Cavalry. As far as men, horses, instruction, and esprit de corps were concerned, the Cavalry was perfect; but it was weakly and fatally deficient in numbers, and in the fact that it possessed no reserves, 382 either to bring it up to proper strength in case of war or to fill up any vacancies that might result from casualties or loss arising from any causes. He trusted the coming mobilization of the Army would be made the occasion of testing several points in regard to which experience was wanted in order to improve the existing system. He hoped that care would be taken that the whole of the Reserve men should as far as possible be brought out, that they should be medically examined, and those unfit for service struck off, and that the men should not be detained from their civil employment one day longer than was absolutely necessary. He trusted also that the Government would furnish Returns showing how many men came when called out, how many were effective, and how far the equipment was adequate in the event of war. The great object of bringing out the Reserves was to take stock of what we had got, and to see if they would stand the test of actual work.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, he must complain of the statement of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) to the effect that this question had been withdrawn from the discussion of the House. That was scarcely correct, for the fact was that in introducing the Army Estimates he (Mr. Hardy) made a long statement on the subject, and on subsequent occasions ample opportunity was given for discussion. With regard to the language used by the hon. Member, it was for the country to decide whether the scheme was what he had described it to be. Public opinion, so far, appeared to be satisfied with it, and therefore did not confirm the opinion of the hon. Member that it was a scheme not fit for sane men. The system as he had described it had been elaborated with great care, and put on a footing which would bear a strict test, but its authors did not claim for it that it was perfect in all details. It was the intention of the authorities to call out the Reserves to test them, and see whether they were fitted for the discharge of their duties. The Militia reserves would be subjected to the same strict examination. With reference to a remark which had fallen from the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Captain Nolan), he had taken the advice of those who instructed him on 383 military matters at the War Office as to the various parts of this scheme, and he should continue to consult them upon matters of this character. The hon. Member for Hackney seemed to be so enamoured of the system under which corps ďarmée were formed on the Continent that he wished it to be adopted in this country; but as had been pointed out it was not thought necessary to go to the expense in this country that was incurred in the construction and maintenance of Continental Armies, and they were based upon a different foundation. The hon. Member for Hackney had spoken of the possible invasion of the country. He (Mr. Hardy) was one of those who did not share in the fear of a probable invasion, nor had the noble Duke to whose speech reference had been made spoken of immediate invasion, but of the necessity of putting the Army on a good footing in order to be prepared should it come. If it did he did not hesitate to say that the country would provide, and promptly provide, for any such emergency. It would not grudge the cost; on the contrary, he believed they would go further, and be ready to bear the expense of increasing as well as of filling up the battalions and brigades. He regretted that the hon. Member for Hackney had spoken in terms of disparagement of a gallant officer who had been appointed to the command of an Army Corps. General Sir William Codrington was one of the few officers who had commanded an Army in the field; and though he had not recently been on active service, he had, nevertheless, kept up his interest in the profession to which he belonged, and his appointment had his (Mr. Hardy's) hearty approbation.
§ MR. J. HOLMS
disclaimed any wish or intention to cast a slur upon the character of Sir William Codrington.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
thought when the hon. Member spoke of that distinguished general as being too old for the Service, that was speaking of him in disparaging terms. General Codrington having the misfortune to be out of employment had yet continued his military studies, and evinced his interest in military affairs, and he (Mr. Hardy) thought it most unfair to speak of him in such disparaging terms. He, however, did not wish to dwell on so ungracious a sub- 384 ject. He would only say, in conclusion, that he had arranged to call out these two Army Corps, in order to put what had been done to a practical test. One thing he could promise—that there should be no concealment as to what occurred. It would be seen whether the men would come and how they acted when they were brought together. He should have no hesitation in telling the House the number of men engaged in these operations. His object was not to deceive the country by a show of force which was illusory, but to let the country see how far it had forces which could be relied upon.