§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Secretary Childers.)
§ VISCOUNT EMLYN,
in rising to move—That it is undesirable that punishments to be awarded by Courts Martial for grave offences committed by soldiers on active service should be regulated by the Secretary of State, and thereby withdrawn from the direct control of Parliament;said, the question he desired to raise did not affect the main principles of the Act of 1879; but it appeared to him that the 4th clause of the Bill now before the House would import in that Act a principle so new and so objectionable, that he claimed to be justified in raising the question before the stage of Committee. The principle to which he referred was no other than this—that for the gravest offences a soldier could commit on active service the punishment should be regulated, not by Parliament, but by the Secretary of State. They all remembered what took place in 1879, and how the question of the abolition of flogging was introduced. It was then said that the great difficulty in the way of its abolition was the finding of punishments which could be substituted for it. They remembered, too, the strange changes of front which were executed by the noble Marquess the present Secretary of State for India, then the Leader of the Opposition changes brought about by concessions made by his right hon. and gallant Friend the then Secretary of State for War (Colonel Stanley), and also by the pressure brought to bear upon him by his supporters below the Gangway. The result was that the question was made a Party question, which had landed them in a not very pleasant position. What had been the result to the soldier? It was this, that he was now placed, as regards grave criminal offences, in a worse position than any one of Her Majesty's 370 civil subjects. The punishments could be changed by the Secretary of State at his will, and for the gravest offences the soldier would be subject to what he must call experimental punishments. It might be said that the Bill contained such restrictions that it would be perfectly safe to leave the matter in the hands of the Secretary of State. But, even from a civilian's point of view, it appeared to him that to be tied to a cart tail or to a horse's tail with heavy weights on one's back and to be marched under the sun for a period of 18 days was nothing less than torture. They had been told that the Secretary of State was anxious to see how these punishments would work; but the Bill would not come into operation, except for the United Kingdom, Europe, America, and the West Indies, until the 31st of December next, and, as the Bill must be renewed this time 12 months, he did not see how experience of its working was to be acquired. It had been frequently stated that it was desirable to abolish flogging in the Army because it prevented good men joining the ranks. Well, he said it was most desirable that whatever be the punishments to be inflicted for these serious offences, above all was it desirable, in the interests of all concerned, that they should be clearly known and understood by every recruit who joined; and yet we found this Bill—if passed in its present form—adding this further difficulty to recruiting, that no man coming into the ranks to-day could tell to what punishment he would be subject for those grave offences to-morrow. No good purpose could be served by discussing at any length rules which at any moment might be altered; but they need not go beyond the provisions of the Bill itself, and the language used from the Treasury Bench, to find the strongest condemnation of the rules in question. The right hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced it said he would lay the rules on the Table, but could not say that they had been approved of even by the highest military authorities—they might have to be changed, and the Secretary of State did not wish to have his hands tied. He maintained that the hands of the right hon. Gentleman ought to be tied. He claimed for the soldier as well as for the civilian that for grave criminal offences he should be subjected to no 371 punishments but such as were clearly prescribed by statute. The right hon. Gentleman said he was willing to share his responsibility in this matter with the House. Well, he believed the House was willing to take its full share of that responsibility. A very large principle was involved in the question. When the Bill of 1879 was before the House, the right hon. Gentleman the present Home Secretary said—There were many parts of the Bill on which he was incapable of forming an opinion; but the great merit of it was that it was a consolidation of the Mutiny Act and the Articles of War, and that it brought the whole thing under Parliamentary revision and control.But what were they asked to do now? Why, they were asked actually to remove from Parliamentary control some of these very provisions over the acquisition of which the Home Secretary rejoiced so much in 1879. He wished the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to understand that in anything he said he was not actuated by the slightest mistrust of himself; but the question was one which involved a large and grave principle—a principle to which he hoped the House would not assent. The noble Lord concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
§ EARL PERCY,
in seconding the Amendment, said, his noble Friend had sought to justify the course he had adopted by the fact that the proposal of the Government was altogether unusual. He might have cited, too, the tone adopted by Members of the Government on the second reading of the Bill, from which it would appear that their condemnation of flogging was of a very qualified nature. They had more than once appealed, not to a sense of what was really necessary for the proper discipline of the Army, but to what would be popular with the constituencies. For his part, he believed that if sonic of the supporters of the Government had their own way, uncontrolled by the influence of popular sentiment, they would re-enact some of the clauses of the Bill of the late Government, and, to some extent, restore flogging to the position it was in before the Bill of 1879 passed. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate General quoted, with approval, the statement of the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Sir 372 Henry Havelock-Allan), that the lash was an appropriate punishment for the crime of drunkenness, and for crimes arising out of drunkenness; but he added that he wanted the question looked at from a popular point of view also. His main objection to the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War was that it was calculated to impose upon soldiers an absolutely uncertain punishment, and that it would afford to commanding officers a power to inflict as much physical torture on their men, if they were so disposed, as was possible under any system in which flogging was included. He could not imagine any punishment more degrading than for a soldier to be dragged through the country tied either to the tail of a cart or the stirrup of a horse; and though surgical advice was to be taken as to the punishment being inflicted, it might involve the men in great torture, because it was by no means easy to tell whether a man was or was not malingering. He would shrink from exposing the British soldier to such a degradation, and he believed that its effect would be injurious to the Army.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it is undesirable that the punishment to be awarded by Courts Martial for grave offences committed by soldiers on active service should be regulated by the Secretary of State, and thereby withdrawn from the direct control of Parliament,"—(Viscount Emlyn,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that nothing could be more moderate or reasonable than the speech of the noble Lord who had brought this question forward. He (Mr. Childers) hoped the House would agree with him that in a matter of this kind the responsible Minister of the Crown could have no object except to propose to Parliament what, in his judgment, appeared to be the best solution of the question. In asking Parliament to give the Secretary for War power to define for the next few months what ought to be the summary punishment for certain offences, he did so not because he desired to have that power, but 373 solely because he thought it would be in the interest of the Public Service. Before bringing in the Bill he consulted with those with whom it was his duty to consult whether it would not be possible to introduce into the Bill itself a proper definition of the summary punishment which was to be substituted for flogging; and it was only after very careful consideration with his military advisers that he came to the conclusion that it would be better if the House would repose in the Secretary of State for the next few months the responsibility of deciding, from time to time, what ought to be the punishment, rather than to stereotype at once in the Act words which it might be desirable to alter when it would not be possible to do so. In reference to the concluding remarks of the noble Earl, ho need only say that the punishment of tying a soldier to a cart or the stirrup of a horse if, finally adopted, would only be resorted to when the Army was in the field, or so far removed from a prison that he could not be conveyed thereto. The Bill said that in cases of disgraceful conduct—especially drunkenness and offences connected with drunkenness, which formed by far the greatest item in the list of the crime of the Army—there should be entrusted to commanding officers, who could not send the offenders to prison, power to inflict upon them a summary punishment which would be a deterrent, while at the same time it would not possess those characteristics which had made flogging so odious to the English people. In answer to requests that had been made, he had laid on the Table of the House a Paper explanatory of the intended punishments to be inflicted for offences for which flogging had been formerly the penalty; and these punishments, drawn in a spirit of humanity, but with a determination to preserve discipline in the Army, would only be inflicted with due consideration for the physical powers of the soldiers upon whom it was deemed necessary to inflict punishment. These were the proposals which the Government had to make, and under them the punishments to be substituted for flogging could not be inflicted for more than a certain number of days in the aggregate, nor for more than a certain number of days continuously; while the officers were required to take care that no personal injury was done to the individual being 374 punished, and on the certificate of the medical officer, the punishment was immediately to be discontinued. It had been objected, on the one hand, that the punishments indicated would not be effectual substitutes for flogging, in consequence of their being of too mild a character; and, on the other, that they were so severe that they would prevent men from joining the Army. He, however, felt himself justified in coming to a conclusion which lay between these extremes, and in thinking that the punishments were neither too mild nor too severe. He was afraid, in the circumstances, that he must ask the House to repose confidence in the Government until next year, when he hoped to be able to submit a Schedule to the Army Discipline Bill containing a more exact description of these summary punishments.
§ COLONEL NORTH
regarded the interference on the part of the Government with the old punishment of flogging, before they were prepared to lay before the House any definite substitute for it, as a great misfortune. He was one of those who were in favour of retaining the power of flogging as a punishment in the last resort. How could the proposed punishments be carried out in the case of forced marches? In that case, to place the lazy blackguard in the waggon was exactly what he would like best, and would throw his share of the work upon the honest and loyal soldier.
§ MAJOR O'BEIRNE
said, he could not see how the punishments proposed in place of flogging could be inflicted in India under a burning sun. Although he was by no means an advocate of flogging, nevertheless he could not help feeling that it would be very difficult to keep up the discipline of the Army without it. Insubordination in the Army had been far more frequent since the introduction of the short-service system than it was before, owing to the utter inefficiency of the non-commissioned officers, and the discipline of the Army had sadly deteriorated in consequence. It was this want of discipline that had led to the disasters at the Cape, where, to use the words of The Times Correspondent, the men had ran away helter-skelter with a cry of despair.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
regretted that the Government should have taken the step of abolishing this old-established punishment without having any- 375 thing definite to propose in its place. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government had taken that course after consultation with their military advisers; but he should like to know whether they had taken the advice of any General who had commanded an army in the field, such as Lord Napier of Magdala, Sir William Codrington, Sir Garnet Wolseley, or Lord Chelmsford? It would have great weight with the country if the change could be shown to have the support of those distinguished officers. The prevailing idea in the Army and the country was that it had been effected from political motives. The summary punishment now proposed would be impracticable in the field. It would take away the ill-behaved soldier from the labours and risks of actual warfare, which was a very serious consideration in the case of a small army; and, moreover, under certain circumstances, it must become an exceedingly brutal punishment. That was altogether a novel power to give to a Secretary of State. It was certainly an un-English idea to tie people by their hands to a cart or a horse by way of punishment. He would not say that such a punishment never took place in this country, because he did not know what happened before we had a Standing Army; but he did not think that since we had had a Standing Army there had been such a mode of punishment. If the right hon. Gentleman was determined to abolish flogging, he had better leave the matter as it was. Imprisonment might be inflicted where it was available; if it was not, he could see no other alternative but a resort to the ultima ratio which he did not care to name. He made these observations in the hope that his right hon. Friend would make inquiry of experienced officers with reference to this subject and give time for reflection.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, he could not conceive it was possible to retain corporal punishment any longer in the face of the strong public opinion against it which prevailed throughout the country. He had seen hundreds of lashes inflicted, not upon one man, but upon many men, week after week, and he was not surprised at the feeling of horror with which the people of this country regarded that brutal punishment. He considered that 376 the punishment proposed to be substituted was detestable; but, at the same time, he admired the right hon. Gentleman for taking upon himself a responsibility which few politicians would assume, instead of throwing it upon his military advisers. He thought much could be done to keep the soldiers from drink, under the influence of which the crimes were committed which brought the punishment of flogging upon them. He objected strongly to soldiers being sent to the field until they were declared fit by competent officers. It was a scandal that youths with only three months' service should be sent into the field, as had recently been the case. We spent millions upon millions on our Army, and yet we had no security that the men were fit for their duties.
said, that the right hon. Gentleman himself recognized that the power he asked for was one which had never been granted to a Secretary of State before. They were not asking that every detail should be specified, but at present everything was left vague. The right hon. Gentleman said that as one person argued that the punishments would be hard and another that they would be moderate, the objections answered one another and fell to the ground. But if the rules could be read with such different interpretations that persons who did not wish to distort anything could take opposite views of the matter, that only showed how objectionable it was to leave a discretion on the subject. The lash had the advantage of uniformity so far as uniformity was possible. Officers had no discretion one way or another as to the administration of the punishment, which was as certain as any punishment could be. But that would not be the case with the punishments now proposed. Could the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that in the punishments to be substituted there would be the same amount of uniformity as attached to the punishments formerly administered? They were throwing a great responsibility upon the officers constituting courts martial and those who had to review the sentences of those courts. It would be much fairer to allow the officer commanding to carry out the punishment as he thought fit than to leave the matter so vague. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about putting a man into irons, 377 and then said something in a gentle way about the ancle. Did that mean leg-irons or not—that a man was to be put into irons hand and foot, and that the irons were to be linked together; or did it mean some much more gentle mode of dealing with the man as the right hon. Gentleman indicated? The right hon. Gentleman said that the punishments would be regulated by the Secretary of State, and would not be subject to the control of Parliament. Parliament did not wish to interfere with details, but to leave them to the Executive officers and to hold them answerable for the result. Would the right hon. Gentleman introduce upon the Report or some other stage some words which would in some degree explain the nature of the summary punishments? Would the right hon. Gentleman sanction the French mode of burying a man? He quite admitted that certain matters must be left in the hands of the Executive. The Amendment of his noble Friend was quite in harmony with that sentiment. If his noble Friend went to a division, he would support him; but, at the same time, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give such explanations as would render a division unnecessary.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
said, the question was not whether flogging should be abolished. Public opinion had declared itself so strongly against that punishment that it could not be retained. There was an almost universal consensus of opinion that the existence of the punishment was hateful to well-conducted soldiers. He was perfectly convinced that three-fourths of such men held that the retention of flogging would be a degradation and injury to them. It was perfectly impossible for any Government to retain it. But if flogging were abolished, it was necessary that some summary mode of punishment should be adopted for offences such as drunkenness on duty and on the line of march. At present there was no power of summary punishment whatever; and two-thirds of the crimes committed in 1877, and for which death or penal servitude ought to be the punishment, did not occur twice in 25 years. He thought the Secretary for War had acted discreetly in making the punishments under this Act experimental, until he had sufficient information to enable them to fix them by statute. It was to be deter 378 mined whether the retention of corporal punishment, even in a modified form, was possible. He maintained it was. The feeling of the country was not so much against corporal punishment as it existed in 1879, but as it existed 40 or 50 years ago. He had not voted for the abolition of flogging, simply because he did not see what punishment could be substituted for it; and he had reason to complain of the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Parnell), who denounced him to his constituents as one who was in favour of the brutal and cruel system of flogging in use at the close of the last century. He had no hesitation in supporting the substituted punishments, which, he thought, should not be introduced into the statute, leaving it to time and experience to determine whether they would be effectual.
§ MR. GIBSON
asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman considered himself bound under the existing law to lay all these rules, or modifications of them, before the House?
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
thought it better not to leave this matter in doubt, and he had prepared a clause which he would move in Committee on the Bill to make it perfectly clear. The clause was to this effect—That all rules made in pursuance of this Act shall be laid before Parliament as soon as practicable, and if Parliament be not then sitting, as soon as practicable after the beginning of the next Session of Parliament.He had very little to add; but, in reply to the noble Lord, he must state that he had never said that this was a matter on which they should defer to popular clamour. He said they should be guided by the opinion of the most experienced men; but it was impossible to disregard altogether the opinion out-of-doors. The Army was recruited by voluntary enlistment, and they all knew that the retention of this punishment deterred not the blackguard, but the best class of men from entering the Army. When it was abolished, they would get a better class of men to join it. Flogging was dead. There was no use in rearguing the matter. They could not revive it. The only question was what punishments could be substituted for it? The noble Lord said the punishments proposed to be substituted were too vague; but it should be borne in mind that they would be 379 administered by reasonable and humane men, and with reference to the climate and country where they would be inflicted. Against the conduct of any of our soldiers in the Transvaal we might well set the conduct of our troops on the march from Cabul to Candahar. He believed the discipline of the Army to be thoroughly sound, and he hoped that what they were doing, so far from having any tendency to destroy it, would have the effect of improving it.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, that the Motion of the noble Lord had his entire concurrence. Its object was to prevent the re-introduction of methods of torture in substitution for flogging. He wished to know whether, under the new condition of things, a soldier would not escape the liability to be flogged for offences which would be punished with flogging if committed by civilians? He put the case of a man who, after being imprisoned on board ship for striking a man, rushed on his victim and worried him. In civil life the man would have been liable to be flogged for the analogous offence of garotting. If the triangle and the lash were abolished, there was no knowing what torture an officer might think it necessary to inflict for the purpose of maintaining discipline in the field.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN,
in reply to the question just put, said that the offence of garotting would be a civil crime, for which the soldier would be punishable by a civil tribunal.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, that the noble Lord had done good service in bringing the question before the House. An explicit declaration had been given that any new rule should be laid on the Table. Never before had the House been asked to sanction the proposal that a Secretary of State for War should have the power of prescribing what punishments were to be inflicted, and of doing it in the vague way indicated by the Bill. He would put it to the right hon. Gentleman whether it would not be far wiser to leave to the officer in command the responsibility of deciding what it might be necessary to do in the peculiar circumstances of each case? He hoped that, at least, the right hon. Gentleman would place something more definite before them, in order that they might know what was to be done in the case of an emergency arising in the field. It would be interesting to know whether the right hon.
380 Gentleman had consulted the highest military authorities with regard to these punishments, and particularly those capable of expressing an opinion as to whether they would be effectual in the field?
§ VISCOUNT EMLYN
said, after the statement that had been made, he should not trouble the House to divide, but would ask leave to withdraw the Motion, reserving the right to raise the question, if necessary, on the Report.
§ MR. CHILDERS
desired to say, in response to the appeal that had been made to him, that these punishments were as distasteful to him as they could be to any Member of the House, and he looked forward to the time when the character of the Army would be so much improved that everything in the nature of punishments like these might be minimized. He had consulted those whom he thought it was his duty to consult on questions of detail concerning such punishments, and he did not feel prepared to narrow at present, too far, the power proposed to be given to the Secretary of State—powers of deciding from time to time what the nature of summary punishment should be. But he would undertake, between the Committee stage and the Report, to make further inquiry in order to ascertain whether it would be possible to introduce into Clause 4 of the Bill a few words limiting the summary punishment to personal restraint, and such hard labour as shot drill. He would take the Report on Monday next instead of to-day (Friday), which would give him time to consult those whose advice would be useful on this point, and he hoped that on Monday, after the Report, the Bill might be read a third time.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clauses 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 4 (Summary punishment).
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, by the Amendment to this clause standing upon the Paper in his name, he intended that no summary punishment should be inflicted on non-commissioned officers. He found, however, that the Judge Advocate General had considered the point, and 381 had put down an Amendment which fully met the case. He should not, therefore, move his Amendment.
On the Motion of Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN, Amendment made, in page 3, line 30, at the end of the sub-section, by inserting the words—
The said summary punishment shall not be inflicted upon a non-commissioned officer, or upon a reduced non-commissioned officer, for any offence committed while holding the rank of non-commissioned officer.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 5 (Summary court martial).
§ On the Motion of Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN, Amendment made, in page 4, line 12, after the word "convened," by inserting the words "and shall have jurisdiction."
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
said, he proposed to add words in line 15 that would, he believed, meet the objection of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Galway (Major Nolan) to evidence being given without an oath being administered, as indicated in the Amendment standing next in his name. It was intended to provide rules to govern the proceedings of these summary courts martial, which, when they were seen, would be found to guard very carefully against the miscarriage of justice feared by his hon. and gallant Friend.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
thought the point he intended to raise had, perhaps, hardly been understood. He was, however, satisfied with the provision that witnesses were to be sworn.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
pointed out that there was, in the case of a drum-head court martial, no time to carry into effect many minute regulations. Still a certain form was gone through. An oath was administered, a simple note was taken of the men forming the court, and a record made of the punishment awarded.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, there was no such thing as a drum-head court martial, although there might have been 70 or 80 years ago. They had, moreover, never been recognized by law, and the sooner the idea of their existence was ceased in the minds of the people, the better. No doubt, a drum might be placed on the ground, and a Bible put upon it; but so-called drum-head courts martial only existed in romances.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ On the Motion of Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN, Amendment made, in page 4, line 19, after "1879," by inserting the words "as amended by this Act."
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, he did not intend to move his Amendment to retain the five sections of the Army Discipline and Regulation Act of 1879, because the principal reason he had urged in support of it on the second reading—namely, that witnesses and others would not be sworn—had been met by the Judge Advocate General. Still, there were many things to be said in favour of the retention of the five sections of the Act of 1879, which provided certain safeguards for the administration of justice—among others, that the officer prosecuting should not sit on the court martial or give evidence as a witness. All these safeguards would now be abrogated by making the sections in question inapplicable to summary courts martial as constituted by the present Bill. The Amendment he now intended to move related to the number of officers necessary to form a summary court martial. He had given the subject careful consideration, and arrived at the conclusion that the words "where a summary court martial consists of less than three officers," ought to be left out. This Bill constituted a totally new form of court martial, and he hardly thought the Committee quite realized the effect of passing the clause as it stood. The minor punishments of carrying an extra weight, or of being tied to a waggon, he did not regard as very serious affairs, so far as the power of sentencing to them by the summary courts martial as constituted by the Bill was concerned. But when the power of sentencing to death was given to these courts martial, the matter became very serious indeed. Under the present Bill, if any three subalterns were got together and any two of them decided that a man should be punished with death, the punishment of death could be inflicted. The court that had this power was of a most informal character. It was not, however, so much the court itself that he feared it was the action of the provost marshal. That officer, at starting on the line of 383 march, was no worse than any other officer, but he very soon became so. He was made responsible for almost everything, and in time he became a sort of policeman. If discipline was not preserved, he knew very well that he would be reprimanded, and was, therefore, determined to stop every irregularity. Under those circumstances, he flogged men for almost anything. He (Major Nolan) was afraid that, under the present Bill, he would shoot a man for almost anything. The provost marshal or senior subaltern had nothing to do but to get an assistant and form a summary court martial. The sentence of the court could be carried out on confirmation by the major. The major might not like to confirm the sentence; but he would know very well that the provost marshal had the ear of the General of the Army, and that he would be looked upon as a weak man if he did not support the provost marshal. He would be, so to speak, afraid of the provost marshal, or rather of his influence with the General. He (Major Nolan) could not help thinking that, in a great many cases, a weak officer would be coerced into approving the sentence. Again, the clause was, in his opinion, objectionable, because it allowed the Commander-in-Chief to remove the responsibility for shooting a man from his own shoulders and cast it upon an inferior officer, who, being a weak man, might be inclined to shoot one or two men for the sake of example. It would be seen in line 31, page 4, that a sentence of death awarded by a summary court martial might be confirmed by the General or Field Officer commanding that body of the Forces with which the prisoner was present at the date of his sentence. In the Act of 1879 it was not so. In the old Mutiny Act, the responsibility was brought home directly to the General or Commanding Officer, who knew very well that, when he shot a man on his own responsibility, he must have a clear ease. But the present Bill did away with that safeguard, and practically placed it in the power of the provost marshal to force, perhaps, a major to say "yes" or "no" to the sentence of the summary court martial. Formerly, no man could be shot until the General Officer commanding in the field had signified his approval; but it was now proposed that every major in charge 384 of a baggage guard should have the responsibility which, in the Peninsular War, rested only with the Commander-in-Chief. It amounted to this—that any offence whatsoever could be punished with death by any major in command of a body of the Forces. That seemed to him very like murder. It had been remarked to him recently by an American officer that our system of field general courts martial was very much more simple and expeditious than that in force in the American Service. We had already far more power in our system than was deemed necessary in the United States Army, and yet we were about to double and even treble the powers of courts-martial. He had never heard of such tremendous powers being given to any court.
In page 4, line 26, to leave out the words "where a summary court martial consists of less than three officers."—(Major Nolan.)
SIR HENRY FLETCHER
hoped the Judge Advocate General would not agree to this Amendment, because he thought it important that, as flogging had been done away with, there should be some means of punishing an offender in a summary way. If the clause was not carried, he feared that General Officers commanding an army in the field would have great difficulty in maintaining discipline. He would not follow the hon. and gallant Member who had just spoken into all the details of the subject, but would remark that he had had an opportunity of discussing the question with a General Officer of distinction in the field. That officer was of opinion that no General could undertake the discipline of his army without summary courts martial, seeing that the punishment of flogging had been abolished. There could be no doubt that, when a disgraceful crime had been committed, the best way to deter others from committing it was by punishing the offender at once. It would never do to allow two or three weeks to elapse before bringing the offender to justice. He felt that summary justice had the best effect in deterring men from following a bad example, and therefore trusted the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill would not give way.
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
said, it would be utterly impossible for the Go- 385 vernment to assent to the Amendment of his hon. and gallant Friend. The observations with regard to the provost marshal might have applied before 1879; but the Act of that year practically abolished the power of the provost marshal. It established a court called a field general court martial, which was, of course, only another name for a summary court martial. If hon. Members looked at Section 49 of the Act of 1879 they would see that the field general court martial might consist of three officers, who could inflict capital punishment, penal servitude, corporal punishment, and imprisonment, subject to this—that the sentence of capital punishment had to be confirmed by the general officer commanding. It had now become absolutely necessary to have the power provided by this section. Officers in command of a small detachment, possibly in a beleaguered town, must have at their disposal means of promptly suppressing mutiny. The object of the Government was, therefore, to put the summary court martial in the place of the field general court martial, with, in some cases, more extensive powers. They were, however, practically in conformity with the Act of 1879. The rules of procedure issued by the late Secretary of State for War governed the course of procedure in the case of general courts martial. One of these provided that the witnesses and the members of the court were to be sworn, and that if the court passed sentence of death the whole court should be of one mind. That rule was now in force. He thought that the hands of these courts martial should not be crippled; and, therefore, could not accept the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman.
said, the hon. Gentleman admitted that the proposed regulations were more stringent than those under the system of field general courts martial. That was the whole point in the argument of the hon. and gallant Member for Galway. His case was that under the field general courts martial there was security that the sentence of death should be confirmed by the general officer commanding the forces in the field. Under the proposed system, these summary courts martial would be formed without any limitation as to the rank of the officers composing them; so that, in fact, sentence of death might be delivered by three subalterns of the regiment.
386 Whereas, under the old system, the sentence had to be confirmed by the general officer commanding in the field, it might now be confirmed by a major. He regarded that provision as a distinct addition to the severity of the system. The sentence of death ought not, in his opinion, to be delivered by any court martial that had not at least upon it an officer of the rank of captain, and that it ought to be confirmed, as it had been formerly, by the general officer commanding.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
said, the hon. Member who had just spoken had alluded to a point that had seriously occurred to himself. It was not three officers alone, but two, who could deliver a sentence of death. There was really only one independent officer to judge of the case, and that officer might be a junior subaltern. He hoped the Judge Advocate would consider the extent of the power conveyed by the clause. It was a remarkable fact that there existed a strong tendency to make Mutiny Acts annually more severe.
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
pointed out that, under the rules which governed the procedure of field general courts martial, there must be an absolute concurrence on the part of the members of the court, in cases where the sentence of death was awarded. The words—By the general or field officer commanding that body of the forces with which the prisoner is present at the date of his sentence,were introduced to meet the case of a mutiny breaking out in a small detachment commanded by two or three officers, cut off from communication with the outer world. He was unable to give up the wording of this section.
said, the Judge Advocate General now admitted that there was only one valid reason for this increased severity. It was intended, he said, to meet the case of a force cut off from the main Army. But surely there was no necessity for hurling a man out of existence in such haste. He thought the officer in command of the force to which the man belonged might detain him in prison until he could get a confirmation of his sentence from the general officer commanding the forces.
§ MR. CHILDERS
was willing to agree that the sentence of death should only 387 be carried out in the manner provided by the clause in cases where there was no practicable communication between the main body and the beleaguered forces.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
wished to ask the Judge Advocate General whether one of the three officers who might sentence a prisoner to death could be the officer who investigated the charge beforehand and ordered the court martial? The words which allowed this were, at his request, struck out in Committee on the Army Discipline Bill of 1879; but he afterwards found they had been re-introduced on the third reading. He thought that the officer referred to should not be a member of the court martial.
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
said, as a matter of fact, the convening officer might be a member of the field general court martial; and he was afraid that it would not be possible to insert words in the direction indicated by the hon. and gallant Member for East Aberdeenshire.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. OSBORNE MORGAN moved, in page 4, line 32, to leave out "that body of forces" and insert "force."
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, the substitution of the singular for the plural in this instance might have an important effect. He understood that the proposition of the Secretary of State for War was to leave the Act in the same state as it was left by the Act of 1879, except in regard to its legal character.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, the Amendment was proposed so that it might apply to the case where there was a small force commanded by an officer who was not a general.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to, and added to the Bill.
§ Clause 6 (Abolition of capital punishment) agreed to.
§ MR. OSBORNE MORGAN moved a new clause to provide that all rules made in pursuance of the Act should be laid before Parliament if Parliament was sitting at the time; if not, as soon afterwards as practicable.388
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
said, he had intended to move a new clause to the same effect, the only difference being that his clause required the rules to be laid before Parliament within 14 days after they were issued.
§ Clause agreed to, and added to the Bill.
MR. CAINE moved to insert the following clause after Clause 3:—
(Prohibition of supply of intoxicating liquors.)
On and after the commencement of this Act the sale of all intoxicating liquors in canteens and other places of refreshment in garrisons shall be prohibited, and the supply of spirit rations on the march discontinued.
The hon. Member stated that he proposed this clause in consequence of a sentence contained in the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate General (Mr. Osborne Morgan) upon the second reading of the Bill. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was referring to the strange and unaccountable difference in the Return of offences in different regiments; and he said—
It did seem to show, some way or other, how he would not pretend to say, that you could make the British soldier pretty nearly what you liked; and that if, on the one hand, he could be powerfully influenced for evil, on the other hand he could be powerfully influenced for good. How was that object to be carried out? They would not do it by the lash; they would not do it by these summary punishments, however necessary they might be; but they would do it by raising the character and morale of the soldier, by removing the temptations to drunkenness, which was his greatest curse.
When he (Mr. Caine) heard those words, he took it for granted that the War Office fully intended to take some immediate steps to remove "the temptation to drunkenness" which the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself said was the British soldier's greatest curse; but he found nothing in the Bill now before the Committee, nor any expressed intention in the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, that at all pointed to any such intention. He proposed to insert this clause in the Bill as the best means known to him for securing these desirable results, and making some change in the awful and deplorable state of things revealed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman's reply to a Question he (Mr. Caine) had put to him that afternoon at Question time, when the right hon. and learned
Gentleman told the House that in 1879 there were 14,750 punishments in the British Army under the sentences of courts martial, 4,421 of which were for drunkenness. There were also 43,372 fines imposed, and out of the total number 23,000 resulted from drunkenness. [Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN: Upon 23,000 men.] He (Mr. Caine) inferred from that some men came up two, three, and four times to be fined for the same offence of drunkenness. The right hon. and learned Gentleman further gave the House the astounding information, although they were certainly prepared for a serious state of things, that 236 per 1,000 of the entire British Army were fined or punished for drunkenness during that year—1879; and also, that three-fourths of the whole crime of the British Army resulted from drunkenness. [Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN: It was a mere surmise of mine.] The right hon. and learned Gentleman further told them that these figures were the result, after a great declension from year to year, the declension having been caused by the inculcation of principles combatting this drunkenness. The House had also heard the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War state that night that drunkenness, and crimes resulting from drunkenness, made up nearly the whole crime of the Army; so that both the Secretary of State for War and the Judge Advocate General had arrived at the same opinion, that a large proportion of the crime in the Army resulted from drunkenness. He must say that he had considerable sympathy with the difficulty which seemed to have been felt in the House, especially on the Opposition Benches, in devising some punishment which should take the place of the barbarous punishment of flogging. What he wanted to do, if he could get this clause inserted in the Bill, was to prevent the offences resulting. Ho ventured to think that prevention was much better than cure. He had heard an hon. and gallant Member on that side of the House (Sir Alexander Gordon) say that the Mutiny Bill increased each year in severity. He was not surprised at that, when such a state of things existed as that which they had heard of to-day from the Government Benches. He was afraid ho should be obliged to trouble the Committee with a good many quotations; but he would not apologize for doing so, because he knew
that in military matters the opinions of a civilian like himself, however they might be in accordance with common sense, would have no great weight. During the last few weeks he had taken the trouble to collect the opinions of many of the most distinguished officers in the Army upon this vital question, and he had done so in view of the Resolution he hoped to bring forward on going into Committee of Supply upon the Navy Estimates. The first opinion he would give was that of Sir Garnet Wolseley, from The Soldier's Pocket Book, published in 1868, and which was accepted as a standard authority in the Army. Sir Garnet Wolseley said—
Give your men as little spirits as possible; tea and coffee are much more sustaining, and are more profitable. The old superstition that grog is a good thing for men before driving, or after a march, has been proved by the scientific men of all nations to be a fallacy, and is only still maintained by men who mistake the cravings arising solely from habit for the promptings of nature. It is the commonest thing to see men, when travelling at home, taking brandy to keep themselves warm. It is an ascertained fact that alcohol of any sort reduces instead of increases the temperature of the body. The use of spirits in cold weather has been well tested during the various Polar expeditions, the medical officers of which all condemn it as a preventative against cold. No men require greater endurance than the trappers of North America, and none do a greater amount of hard physical work than the voyagers' lumbermen there; none of them drink spirits when in the woods, tea being their constant beverage. Our armies in Kaffraria had no spirits issued to them, as a rule, and no army in the field was ever more healthy (if any other was as free from sickness). Our experience in the Indian Mutiny also carries out this theory; for months, in some places, our men were entirely cut off from all liquor, and they were healthier than when, subsequently, it was issued to them as a ration. By increasing the allowance of tea, and abolishing that of rum, you diminish the supplies to be carried to a great extent, whilst you add to the health and efficiency of your men. Their discipline will improve as their moral tone is raised, engendering a manly cheerfulness that spirit drinking armies know nothing of. No men have ever done harder work than was performed by the troops employed upon the Red River Expedition. No spirits of any sort were issued to them; but they had practically as much of good tea as they could drink. Illness was, I may say, unknown amongst them.
That was an old opinion of Sir Garnet Wolseley, published in 1868. For fear, however, that any hon. Member should think that that gallant officer had changed his opinion, he would quote a passage from a letter written by him from the War Office at the Horse
Guards, on the 17th of August, 1880, in which he said—
My experience has proved to me that less liquor there is consumed in an army the more efficient is its condition. I have never seen men do harder work than that done by the three battalions I took with me on the Red River Expedition in 1870, and I never saw men make lighter of hardships, be more cheerful, more healthy, or better behaved than they were. With the troops under my command recently in South Africa, we had very little spirits. Of my own personal escort the majority were total abstainers, and they were models of what soldiers on service should be. I find that if you give men plenty of tea and sugar they do not miss their grog after a time; having no grog with you in a campaign eases your transport very considerably, and removes a temptation to steal which its presence with an army always creates. There is no one that wishes well to the temperance cause more sincerely than I do.
That was the opinion of Sir Garnet Wolseley expressed within the last 12 months. He would now quote a single passage from the book of Lieutenant Colonel Denison on Modern Cavalry which, he believed, was another standard book—
Care should be taken on the line of march to prevent men drinking. Some will say it is necessary to give men spirits to keep them up. I do not see any necessity for it. I have always noticed the men who do not drink at all work the best and will hold out the longest.
He was sorry that he was not able to quote the opinion of Major General Sir Frederick Roberts. Had that gallant officer been in the country, he believed he might have been able to do so. But when at the Mansion House the other day at the banquet given to him there, in answer to Mr. John Taylor, a member of the National Temperance League and a personal friend of his (Mr. Caine's) own, Sir Frederick Roberts stated—
That the absence of crime amongst total abstainers in the Army was almost incredible, and that drink was a great incentive to punishable offences in the Army.
In a letter sent from Simla in October, 1877, to the Soldier's Total Abstinence Association, Sir Frederick Roberts said—
I have the pleasure to inclose a cheque in aid of the Soldier's Total Abstinence Association, in the success of which I am deeply interested.
The next letter he would read was one from Lord Napier of Magdala, dated May 5, 1876. The noble Lord said—
"I have deferred writing to you regarding the operations of the Society for the Suppres-
sion of Drunkenness in the Army in India, in order that I might ascertain thoroughly how the action of the Society has affected regimental discipline, and what has been its effect upon crime resulting from drunkenness."
In 1874 there were in the Indian Army 1,751 abstainers, and 16,233 non-abstainers. The crimes committed by the teetotallers were virtually none. The aggregate percentage of crime committed by teetotallers during the five years amounted to 0.12, while those of the non-abstainers amounted to 4.68, or, in round numbers, were about 40 times as numerous. He came next to a letter from Lieutenant General the Hon. Sir Henry W. Norman, a Member of the Council of India, dated October 3, 1876, and written in connection with the Association in which he (Mr. Caine) had for a long time taken a warm personal interest. Sir Henry Norman said—
You are well aware of the interest I take in the Soldier's Total Abstinence Association, and may rely upon my aiding it as far as I am able. The work you are engaged in is one of the highest value, not only to the soldiers themselves, but also to the Government they serve, which has the strongest reasons for desiring the success of efforts calculated to promote the physical and moral welfare of the troops.
He did not conceive that he was wasting the time of the House in reading these extracts. He merely wished to give the opinion of these distinguished officers rather than offer any arguments of his own. The next opinion was that of Lieutenant General Sir Charles Staveley, Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Army from 1874 to 1878—
I desire to say that there is no doubt that drunkenness is the source of nearly all the crime in the British Army, and here in India of a very great deal of the sickness and invaliding.
That confirmed the opinion which had been expressed on the Treasury Bench. He would now quote a letter from Sir Richard Temple, and he was almost inclined to regret that the hon. Gentleman had been unsuccessful at the last General Election, because otherwise he might have been sitting on those Benches to endorse, as he (Mr. Caine) was sure he would have done, the views he was now expressing. Sir Richard Temple, writing from Malabar Point on the 18th of March, 1878, said—
From long experience in the field in almost all parts of India, I am convinced that beer, wine, and spirits do not conduce to strength and en-
durance under circumstances of severe and sustained physical exertion, but have rather a contrary effect, and are often at the bottom of illness and ailments erroneously attributed to the Indian climate and other causes.
He would next read a portion of a letter from Colonel Charles Blewitt, now commanding the brigade depôt at Halifax, written in 1874, when commanding the 65th Regiment in India—
I do not hesitate to say that were the principle and habit of totally abstaining the rule and not the exception crime would be comparatively unknown, and the roll of other offences insignificant. Drunkenness at all times and in all regiments has been, in my opinion, the direst foe to discipline, and the destroyer of the health of the soldier. Further, it has sapped his moral and weakened his manly character. Men of experience in the Army know what shifts a man will make to buy, conceal, and consume a bottle of rum. He will prevaricate and mislead to prevent his superiors learning from whence he obtained it. The same man, when free from the debasing influence of liquor, would scorn to deceive on any subject whatever. Abstinence from intoxicating liquors is, I think, of greater consequence in its moral effects than its physical. Under the first condition we have our soldiers in their own proper nature, loyal, truthful, frank, and bold, doing the right for the right's sake—hating the wrong, because it contaminates, and is loathing to their manhood.
He would now venture to read a short extract from the opinion of a colonel in the Indian Army, who, however, had not given him permission to use his name. He quoted this gallant officer because he was not a total abstainer, and he stated so in his letter. The letter said—
Many commanding officers, myself among the number, are not advocates of total abstinence; but I believe all commanding officers to be hostile to the issue of rum to the men: at least, all I have ever conversed with have been so, and I believe if by your efforts you can induce the authorities to stop the issue of spirits to all regiments arriving in this country, you will confer a great boon on the Army, and you will remove one of the chief causes of the universal use of spirits in the Army in India. I look upon a free canteen as fatal in India, where a man has so much money to spend, and so much idle time. The strongest argument against free canteens is the fact that in the Army of India, the greatest proportion of delirium tremens is amongst the sergeants who are possessed—in their mess—of the privilege of a free canteen. If, therefore, these men, the selected men of each regiment, with superior education, cannot be trusted, what would be the result if free canteens were thrown open to the whole body of men?
From a very interesting Return from Her Majesty's 1st battalion of the 11th
Regiment in India he would quote three sentences—
The late Commander-in-Chief, Lord Napier of Magdala, in his farewell General Order to the Army in India, proclaimed that the introduction of temperance had been clearly the means of reducing the number of courts martial during the last five years by one-half; and he said that the proportion of crime in Bengal amongst temperance men, versus the moderate and intemperate, was 1 to 40. Statistics from the records of the 1st battalion, 11th Regiment, bears out the above statement in every respect, as the following examples will show:—The number of trials by courts martial in 1870 was 45, of which 33 were for drunkenness. The numbers of trials in 1875 was 11, of which 6 were caused by drunkenness.
He had quoted these figures in order that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate General might see whether they were in a decreased or in an increased degree. The next short sentence he selected, because he thought it might have some weight with hon. Members on the Opposition Benches. There were, certainly, not many present on those Benches; but he quoted the passage because he thought it might have some effect upon the two or three who were there. It was the opinion of the Marquess of Salisbury, written in January, 1875, respecting the Army Sanitary Commission. Lord Salisbury said, in his despatch—
I would also request your attention to the remarks of the Commission as to the importance of every effort being taken by the Government to discourage the use of alcoholic drinks in the Army in India.
Ho was now about to trouble the Committee, for a moment or two, with the medical declaration respecting the habitual use of intoxicating liquors in the Indian Army; and he might add that he did not intend to quote any authority that evening that was not an Army authority. The declaration to which he referred was signed by six deputy surgeons, 35 surgeon majors, and two surgeons, all of them in the Army Medical Depôt. The declaration said—
I. Being fully convinced that nearly all military crime may be traced to the use of intoxicating liquor, and a great deal of sickness caused by its excessive use, there can be no excuse, on physical grounds, for rejecting the practice of total abstinence. II. A common idea, that intoxicating stimulants are necessary in India, is a fallacy, which has gradually led many moderate drinkers into baneful excess. The habitual use of rum, brandy, and other spirits, is far more injurious than beneficial to the vast majority of those who daily indulge in them. III. Young
soldiers, on landing for the first time in India, should be warned against the pernicious habit of drinking a dram or rum daily. Many men, who never knew its taste before receiving their first dram at the canteen, have acquired a thirst for spirits, which has ruined their prospects in the Service, and prevented the recruit from developing, morally and physically, into a well-trained soldier. IV. The men who abstain from intoxicating liquor, in the Service, are not more subject to climatic diseases than their drinking comrades; on the contrary, the teetotallers are not so frequently under medical observation or invalided. V. The object of the Soldiers' Total Abstinence Association commends itself to our sympathy, in its endeavours to suppress drunkenness in the Army. The whole question of the use of alcohol, as a medicine, is not touched upon by the pledge of the Association, which leaves every member at liberty to use such, under medical direction.
He had read this medical declaration through, because he thought it was not fair to take extracts from it. There were now two or three individual opinions from the surgeon majors who had signed the declaration, which he would also read. The first was from Surgeon Major Hamilton, who said—
I have long advocated the disuse of spirits in canteens as a Government issue. The best change Sir Hugh Rose ever effected for the British soldier in India was the alteration in the rum ration, when it was reduced from two to one 'tot' per day; and that Commander-in-Chief who completes the work, and stops the issue of rum in canteens, will do more for the Morale of the European force, and cause a greater diminution of crime, than any other measure that has hitherto been proposed.
For the benefit of those civilians who did not know what Sir Hugh Rose's Order was, he had it there, and would quote it. It was an Order given at Simla in June, 1864, and was as follows:—
Sir Hugh Rose has taken into mature consideration the opinion, and unanimous one, of medical officers, that it is prejudicial to the health of the soldier, especially in a tropical climate, to drink daily two drams of spirits. They consider that this constant consumption of ardent spirits weakens gradually the organs of life, affects the head, gradually the senses, and paves the way to crime. His Excellency is persuaded that many young soldiers, sober from childhood, have contracted habits of inebriety from drinking, at the canteen, what they conceive to be a regulation allowance of spirits for soldiers.
A very important separate opinion was given by Mr. F. R. McFarlane, Surgeon Major in charge of the 65th Foot. Mr. McFarlane said—
In reply to your letter, asking me the relative numbers of teetotallers to non-teetotallers admitted into hospital, with the general results
of disease, I send you the following particulars taken from the admission and discharge book. From the 1st of January to the 26th July there were 565 admissions; of these, 45 were teetotallers, or about 1 in 12; but, as only about a third of the regiment are teetotallers, the proportion of admission of teetotallers to non-teetotallers is about one to four. I believe, in nearly all cases, it is the rum ration which makes men spirit drinkers; they rarely are so when they enlist. If the rum ration were done away with, I do not think many men would drink native spirits.
The last opinion he would give from those who signed the medical declaration, although he might, if necessary, give replies from nearly all of them, was from Surgeon Major Robinson, who said—
I hope such an amount of consentient testimony may be obtained, as will enable the advocates of temperance and of total abstinence to obtain the withdrawal of the rum ration. I behave that a large proportion of the rank and file of the Army, who now partake of it, would be pleased with such a result. I have myself recommended this step, and have no doubt that many medical officers have done likewise.
There were just two or three other sentences from other letters with which ho would close. Surgeon-Major Turton said—
The dram of rum might, with advantage, be done away with in India, as it is not only unnecessary, but pernicious.
Surgeon Major Condon said—
The rum ration is about the greatest curse ever inflicted on the Army. The soldier takes it, at first, because he thinks Government is giving him a boon.
Surgeon-Major Colan said—
Some men who were temperate before canteen facilities were opened to them thereby acquired a thirst for spirits.
He would close his quotations with two from distinguished medical officers at home. The first was from the late Dr. E. A. Parkes, F.R.S., Professor of Military Hygiene at the Army Medical School, Netley, who, in the latest edition of his Manual of Practical Hygiene, asked—
Are there any circumstances of the soldier's life in which the issue of spirits is advisable, and if the question, at any time, lies between the issue of spirits and total abstinence, which is best? To me there seems but one answer. If spirits neither give strength to the body, nor sustain it against disease—are not protective against cold and wet, and aggravate, rather than mitigate, the effects of heat—if their use, even in moderation, increases crime, injures discipline, and impairs hope and cheerfulness—if the severest trials of war have not been merely borne, but more easily borne without them—if
there is no evidence that they are protective against malaria or other diseases—then I conceive that the medical officer will not be justified in sanctioning their use under any other circumstances.
Surgeon-General W. C. Maclean, M.D., C.B., Professor of Military Medicine, Army Medical School, Netley, in a lecture at the Royal United Service Institution, delivered in February, 1874, said—
If there be any point of military hygiene that may now be regarded as settled beyond doubt or cavil it is this—that spirits are not only not helpful, but are hurtful to the marching soldier, everywhere, I believe, but nowhere more so than in hot climates. The evidence on this point is overwhelming. Were I the medical chief of any Army destined to take the field in a tropical climate, not a drop of spirits should, with my consent, accompany it, save what the requirements of the ambulance service demanded. The evidence shows that wherever soldiers, by accident or design, have been cut off from the use of spirits on marches, on active service, in temperate climates exposed to wet and cold, or in the tropics to ardent heat, or in laborious sieges, they have maintained their health, spirits, and discipline far better than when the once-deemed indispensable grog was in daily use. I cannot leave this important subject without adding that for 12 years I have, at Netley, had unrivalled opportunities of studying the effects of habitual dram-drinking on the persons of our soldiers, and add my testimony to the immense weight of evidence accumulated by medical men in civil and military life, to the effect that alcohol is one of the most active agents in causing degeneration of the human tissues—in other words, disease, premature decay, and death. If this be true, as I believe it is, those officers who, by precept and example, strive to wean their men from the practice of this, our national vice, may, with truth, be said to be engaged in a patriotic work, and to deserve well of their country.
He had no other quotation to lay before the Committee, though he could have given a great many more. He could have occupied two or three hours' time in making quotations from the speeches and writings of very great authorities, all of which would tend in precisely the same direction as those he had already made. What he wanted to point out was that the Government proposed no remedy for the appalling state of things that was revealed in the answer to the Question he put to the Government this afternoon. He proposed, no doubt, a very drastic remedy; but still, until the Government proposed some remedy which would be equally effective, he must press his case to a division, that the feeling of the House might be tested upon the question. He could not under-
stand how the War Office could go against such opinions as he had just quoted, unless it was, as had happened before, that the influence of the leading and active agents of the Army counted little or nothing as against that other influence which sometimes prevailed in that particular branch of the Service. The Government admitted the evil; they expressed their intention, in the speeches they delivered from the Treasury Bench, to do something or other; but they did not do so. He now gave them an opportunity, by their acceptance of his clause, to get rid of those temptations to drunkenness which they themselves provided.
New Clause (Prohibition of supply of intoxicating liquors,)—(Mr. Caine,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
said, that with a very great deal of what had fallen from the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Caine) he most cordially agreed. The hon. Gentleman would know that there was no man in the House who was more anxious than himself (Mr. Osborne Morgan) to put a stop to the terrible amount of drunkenness which prevailed in the Army, and which, as he stated early in the evening, in answer to a Question of the hon. Member for Scarborough, was the root and cause of a very large proportion, if not the whole of the crime committed in the Army. But what he was afraid of was that his hon. Friend's clause would not secure the object he had in view; in fact, he thought it would have an exactly contrary effect. The hon. Gentleman proposed, in order to promote sobriety in the Army, to stop the sale of all intoxicating liquors in the canteens. Why, if that were done the soldier would simply be driven from the canteen to the public-house. Instead of getting good liquor, as he now did get in the canteen, the soldier would get bad liquor at the public-house; and instead of drinking beer, as he did now, it would be found he would drink gin and other spirits. Was the hon. Member aware that the sale of spirituous liquors was expressly prohibited on home stations? In the course of the 11 months he had held Office, he 399 had never come across a single case of drunkenness occurring in canteen; cases of drunkenness had invariably originated outside. That, he thought, would be also the experience of his Predecessor (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck). He (Mr. Osborne Morgan) would go further and say that in India, where there were no public-houses, but where the only drink supplied was that from the canteen, cases of drunkenness, as compared with those in civil life in England, were exceedingly rare. The Queen's Regulations relating to canteens strictly prohibited the sale of ardent and spirituous liquors of any description in canteen on home stations, although at foreign stations the sale of spirits was permitted at the discretion of the commanding officer. Furthermore, it was stipulated that no intoxicating or malt liquors of any description were to be sold before 12 at noon, or after tattoo, or during Divine Service, or to any man apparently intoxicated. His hon. Friend had spoken of the prevalence of drunkenness in the British Army. Great as the drunkenness was it had been steadily diminishing; and he had heard, though he could not state it as a fact, that the number of total abstainers in the Army was as large as 25 per cent of the whole force. At any rate, temperance was on the increase. There was another objection to the adoption of the proposed clause. It was not a clause which could be conveniently inserted in a Mutiny Bill, inasmuch as it was quite outside the scope of the Bill. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would not press the clause to a division, because, if so, he would be compelled, for the reasons he had assigned, to vote against him.
§ DR. KINNEAR
could not follow the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Caine) in the extracts he had read; but he could give the Motion his heartiest support. In the North of Ireland he, as pastor of a congregation, constantly came in contact with the soldiers stationed there. He had questioned the men with reference to drinking in the Army; and from the answers he received he had concluded that if the Government would offer the men, in addition to their pay, 2d. per day in lieu of the drink rations, at least 50 per cent would very gladly accept it. There was hardly a young man who entered the Army or Navy who did not leave his parents' 400 home without carrying with him the prayers of his father and mother, and who did not join the Service without promises of the very best nature. He would like to see the Government doing everything to assist the men to carry out the promises which had been so justly and solemnly made; and he hoped the arguments of the hon. Member for Scarborough, supported as they were by such weighty authorities, would commend themselves to the judgment of the Committee. Their earnest desire ought to be to promote the characters of the young men in the Army and Navy for sobriety and righteousness, which was the greatest aid to discipline and efficiency.
§ CAPTAIN HERON-MAXWELL
said, that as the clause applied to home stations the Committee ought not to accept it. Judging from his own experience as a soldier he did not think there were many cases of drunkenness arising out of the drink obtained at the canteens; and if, as it was now proposed to do, they drove a soldier out of the canteen, they would inevitably drive him to the endless number of public-houses which infested camps and military stations. The real remedy of the evil of excessive drinking in the Army was that the magistrates who had the issuing of licences should restrict the number of public-houses in the neighbourhood of large camps. That would assuredly have the effect the hon. Member for Scarborough had so much at heart. In India there was a very common conviction that spirit drinking and the issuing of the rum ratio was deleterious in the extreme to the health of the soldier. But at home, on account of the good regulations in force in respect to the canteens, it was hardly possible for men to get drunk in those establishments; and the shutting up of the canteens would simply result in the soldier being driven to the public-house, where he would get drunk unknown to the authorities. The evil of drunkenness would increase rather than diminish; and he, therefore, hoped the Committee would refuse the Motion now before them.
said, he had not the advantage of being present during the early part of the discussion; but after reading the mere terms of the Motion on the Paper, and after hearing from his hon. Friends around him an 401 account of what had taken place, he was bound to join with those who wished to offer an opposition to the insertion of the clause. He did so, not because he was less anxious for temperance than even the hon. Member for Scarborough himself, but simply on the grounds he had already heard stated by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Heron-Maxwell) and by others—namely, that if they prohibited the sale of intoxicating liquor in the canteens they would drive the men outside where they would get liquor of an inferior description, and in quantities totally unstinted. He did not believe the bounds of reasonable drinking were at all exceeded in canteens. He was a member of the Canteen Board, and he spoke from personal observation when he said that when the canteens were taken over from the canteen keepers, for the benefit of the soldiers, they were very well regulated and looked after, and drinking was reduced to a minimum. Furthermore, he could not help feeling that if they were to get, as they hoped they would now get, a better class of men in the Service they would not do so by restrictive measures of this sort. He was glad there was one common ground on which the hon. Member for Scarborough and himself could meet, and that was in the promotion of the new movement which he hoped would gain ground every day, that of the Army Coffee Taverns. He trusted that in the persons of the hon. Member for Scarborough, and those who thought and acted with him, they might find supporters of that movement; and he felt persuaded they would do more, by engaging in a work of that kind, to promote temperance in the Service than by coming to the House with a Motion of the description now on the Paper. He wished to enter his very earnest protest against soldiers being understood to be the most drunken class of men in existence. That was an entire mistake. He did not mean to contend for a moment that there was not too much intemperance in the Army; but it must be borne in mind that when hon. Gentlemen read the lists of punishment and the general Returns connected with the Army they read of cases of drunkenness in men who were under observation at all hours of the day and night. The soldier, from his very uniform, was conspicuous; and he (Colonel Stanley) was afraid there 402 was not always a friendly feeling towards him on the part of the general public, but that they were always ready to notice in him the slightest shortcoming. He was glad to believe there was not more drunkenness existing in the ranks of the Army than there was in the corresponding branches of civil life. He would be pardoned for entering his protest against the character usually given to our soldier. It was very easy to give a soldier a bad name; but it was very difficult for a man to retrieve his reputation when he had once, whether rightly or wrongly, lost it. He felt hon. Gentlemen would best advance the social position of the soldier, if, instead of giving him a bad name, they would assist him in getting a better one.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
did not think the object the hon. Member for Scarborough had in view would be attained by closing the canteens. Drunkenness in the Army had diminished very sensibly since the Government took over the canteens. This very action had tended to discourage drinking, not only at home, but in the Colonies, and for the simple reason that the men now got in the canteens a good description of liquor at the lowest price. The drink sold outside barracks, both at home and in the Colonies, was very bad; and, in his opinion, it would be a great improvement if spirits were sold in canteens. There were some men who wished to drink spirits, and if they were supplied in the canteens they would be of good quality. He hoped the Committee would not accept the Motion.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
said, it was cheering to him, and it must be cheering to the country, to know that both the present and late Ministers for War were entirely at one in a sincere desire to assist the soldier who was willing to assist himself in pursuing a policy of sobriety. He did not believe any one of them had the well-being of the individual members of the Army more at heart than the Secretary of State for War himself. The only difference between the hon. Member for Scarborough and the War Office authorities was as to the mode of attaining the desired end. Perhaps he might be allowed to point out what struck him as an unconscious inconsistency in his friends. Either the position of the hon. Member (Mr. Caine) was untenable, or he was right. The 403 soldier ought to have good drink in the canteens, because if he could not get it there he would go to the public-house. They ought to give him brandy and whisky as well as other liquor. If the soldier wanted good and honest liquor, but it was not provided for him in the canteen, it was agreed that he would be compelled to go out of the barracks, where he would get what his hon. Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Sullivan) called "silent spirit," but which, in reality, was a spirit which made him very noisy. That struck him, and others, as inconsistent and illogical in the present position. He appealed to the War Office to consider that the step they had already taken, such as it was, in the direction of his hon. Friend's position, had been attended with great benefit. They had struck out the more ardent spirits, and since the military authorities took over the canteens and placed them under their own regulations there had been good order prevailing in the barracks. his hon. Friend considered that if they would take the remaining half-step they would go the whole way, and make the canteens army coffee taverns. Then, at all events, the soldier would not be in a position to turn round to his court martial, and say—" You train me to the appetite within the barrack gates, and upbraid me for the consequences." He admitted the men did not get drunk in the canteen; they commenced the drinking in the canteen, and, having taken the first two or three steps in drunkenness, they went out of the gates. He protested against throwing the blame on the public-house keepers, for they only finished the transaction. The first part of the operation was performed under the authority of the War Office, and the finishing touch was put upon the business by the unconscious and innocent publican over his counter. [A laugh.] He meant that it might happen that a soldier might have had several glasses of good beer in the canteen, and have gone to the public-house before the beer had produced any marks on his countenance; the publican would then innocently complete the wreck by supplying him with more drink. It was not for a moment supposed that there was any want of desire to help forward sobriety in the Army. He knew nothing connected with the Service better calculated to attract young men of good conduct than the abolition of flogging, 404 and the establishment of reading rooms and the like, in the different barracks. The hon. Member for Scarborough simply asked them to take into account that they had done a great deal of good by prohibiting the sale of ardent spirits, but that they would do a great deal more good if they went still further.
MR. ILLING WORTH
thought the Committee owed a debt of gratitude to the hon. Member for Scarborough for having brought the question under the notice of the Committee. He had no doubt it was true that since the Government had undertaken the control of the canteens drunkenness in the Army had very greatly diminished. This, however, conclusively showed that if no intoxicants were supplied they would have everything they desired in making the British Army the model army of the world. But then they were told that if intoxicating liquors were suppressed in the canteens the soldiers must go outside and get worse drink. If that were so, it was only necessary to go a step further. They already punished a soldier for drunkenness, why should they not punish the publican for making him drunk? That was no new doctrine. It was the law of the land, and the only misfortune was that the law was never put in force. He hoped his hon. Friend would go to a division, because they were all interested in raising the character of the British Army. Every Member of the House must be concerned to hear the testimony about the desertions in the Army, the great percentage of crime, and the great outcry made about the relaxation of discipline, and the increase of mutinous spirit in the Army. The testimony produced by the hon. Member for Scarborough was to the effect that if there were no drink there would be no insubordination, but perfect discipline; and it appeared to him, therefore, that the duty of Parliament was clear—namely, to force on the War Office the necessity of introducing this system of suppressing intoxication and supplying non-intoxicants in the canteens instead of these dangerous things. If the hon. Member went to a division, he should be glad to support him; and other hon. Members, by supporting him, would be doing more to lessen the expenditure upon and increase the efficiency of the British Army than by any other step it was left to the British Parliament to take.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
did not think that the hon. Member who just sat down had shown that by introducing this clause in the Bill they would raise in the manner described the credit, and discipline, and honour of the British Army. The hon. Member was one of those who, like so many hon. Members who sat near him (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), wished to regulate by Act of Parliament, not only what people might drink, but also what they might eat. He had always believed that we in England were a free people, and should be allowed to do that which we thought to be in our best interests; but there were some people who seemed to think that we should be regulated in all we did by Act of Parliament. He admired those who could refrain from drinking ardent spirits or malt liquor, or anything else; but they must certainly give people credit for some little discretion, and allow them to do that which they considered for their own interest and benefit. There was not one of the hon. Members who had spoken but had shown that it had been a good thing to take away from the canteens the power of selling ardent spirits; but they had not proceeded beyond that one inch. They had not shown that by giving the soldier good beer in his own barracks they had not prevented him from going into the public-houses, which had been the curse and the abomination of the soldiers of the British Army. What he wanted to point out was that if the men wanted beer and porter, and could get it good in their own barracks, it was infinitely better for them to get it there than to have to go outside for it. Hon. Members must not tell him that if they did away with the canteens they were going to prevent soldiers from drinking in public-houses outside the barracks. Then, he wanted to know, what good would they do? They would take the men from those places where they got good liquor which did not make them drunk, and drive them to those places where they would get bad liquor which would make them drunk. The argument hon. Members used was absurd. He knew what their feelings were, and that they would like to make all the soldiers sober. If they could, well and good; but it was impossible to make them more sober by what they now proposed than they had been able to do before. They 406 had all listened attentively to the statements that had been made, and he would venture to say that if they looked back to what the Army was 40, 30, 20, or even 10 years ago, with regard to drunkenness, and then at what it was now, they would find that a great improvement had taken place. If that was so, why not let well alone? They should not hurry the thing too much, for if they did they would bring about an outbreak far greater than anything they could attempt to remedy. [Laughter.] The hon. Member for Scarborough might laugh; but, although, no doubt, he had got up the question very well to-night, he practically knew little or nothing about it; and he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) would inform him that if they stopped the sale of malt liquor at the canteens they would drive the men to public-houses outside; and it was because he wished to prevent men going outside, and getting worse liquor than inside, that he was for maintaining the canteens.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
thought his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) must have an extraordinary idea of what "well" was when he said "Let well alone." They had a list of 22,000 soldiers in the British Army fined for getting drunk in one year. If that was the hon. and gallant Baronet's opinion of what was "well," he must say he could not endorse it. The hon. and gallant Baronet was a good old Constitutional politician—for here he was, staunch as ever, standing up for flogging and drinking in the Army. The hon. and gallant Baronet talked about the temptations outside the barracks, about the better conduct of the men inside, and so forth; and, no doubt, his argument would have a certain weight if they were discussing one of his (Sir Wilfrid Lawson's) Bills, which he wished to apply to the general public; but nobody knew better than the hon. and gallant Baronet that the soldier was in an exceptional position altogether. He was under masters—captains, colonels, and generals. He was looked after to a certain extent—regulations being made for him that would not be made for other people. Now, they had heard a great deal lately in these Army debates, and had read a deal in printed articles, about the importance of removing temptation out of the way of the soldiers. The Judge Advocate General himself had spoken 407 about it; but he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) did not in the least know what was going to be done. He had heard nothing in connection with this Mutiny Bill, nor in connection with any other Bill, about removing this temptation, which, they were told, did so much harm, out of the way of the soldier. The only person who proposed anything was the hon. Member for Scarborough; and because he proposed the clause he was said to be impracticable. Theoretically, they were all in favour of sobriety and everything else that was good, and they were all united in desire to advance any scheme that proposed to bring about sobriety. He would ask, then, was there ever a stronger case than that which had been brought forward by his hon. Friend to-night. The Judge Advocate had said—and he was not a man who exaggerated—that three-fourths of the crime in the Army was owing to drink, and they had evidence from the most competent authorities that drinking was a great cause of sickness in the Army, and the cause of the Army being more inefficient than it otherwise would be. Before the House was as full as it was now, they had had voluminous evidence tendered to them by his hon. Friend on his left, to the effect that all the principal generals agreed in saying that drinking in the Army was an alarming evil, and that our soldiers would be much more efficient in every way if the means of obtaining drink were kept from them. They talked of improvement in the Army; well, he was glad it was improving, and that in spite of the 22,000 fined for drunkenness, according to the Judge Advocate General, there were 25,000 teetotallers in the Army. [Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN: 25 per cent, I said.] That made the number still greater. If a fourth part of the Army were teetotallers, what awful drinkers the others must be; but, really, the principal argument used to-day was this—that if we did away with the canteens the men would go to the public-houses. Well, why should they not go to the public-houses? ["Hear, hear!"] An hon. Member said "Hear, hear!" but he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) maintained that if the public-houses were good places, why should not the soldiers go to them? He hoped the next time he brought forward a Bill, endeavouring to get rid of public-houses, hon. Members, who were so 408 horrified at soldiers going into these public-houses, would vote for it. They must remember that it was they who set up the public-houses, and not the soldiers. They licensed these traps where these men were caught; but he was glad to hear the argument that was advanced on the other side, because he was sure it would prove a very useful one. He had noticed over and over again, when these questions came up, hon. Members, who were opposed to his views, made use of arguments most useful to him. Sir Garnet Wolseley had said that intoxicating drink was bad for soldiers both before, during, and after a march—surely that meant that drinking was bad for them during the whole of their lives. But he had been told another thing. It had not been said openly in the House, but it had been said to him by a gallant soldier who was a Member of the House—" Why, if this clause of the hon. Member for Scarborough is carried, you will never get the men to enlist at all." That, he believed, was in the hearts of many hon. Members, though they did not like to say so. What a shameful and miserable idea it was—that they could not get men in the Army unless they did what was wrong. He was sure our soldiers would fight quite as well without this temptation. What happened the other day? Why, Sir Evelyn Wood was negotiating as to the terms of peace with the Boers—whom, we all agreed, made gallant soldiers—and, in the course of the proceedings, he offered them champagne. It was not accepted. "No," said the leader, "thank you; we came here not to drink, but to fight." And we knew they did fight, just as our own soldiers would fight without this temptation. When he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) brought forward any Motion to shut up public-houses, in general he was always met with the compensation argument. It was said—" Compensation must be given to the people who keep these houses." But there was no question of compensation here. It was to nobody's interest to keep these places open, for canteens were Government property; indeed, it would be a saving to the Government, as well as a benefit to the men, if they were shut up; and he could not see why the Secretary of State for War should not be careful about the soldiers, and anxious as for their benefit, as the 409 Navy authorities were for the benefit of sailors. They knew what the naval authorities had done? During this very Session they had heard that they were going to cut off the spirit rations from the sailors, and give them other things in its place. ["No, no!"] Well, perhaps they were not going to cut off the spirits entirely, but only to a certain extent. The use of spirits would be very much restricted. ["No!"] At any rate, alternatives were to be given to the men. The Secretary to the Admiralty would correct him if he was wrong; but he believed they were going to take away all spirits from everyone under the age of 20; but why should they not extend the age to 40 or 60? If the Government looked sharp after the health and morality and efficiency of the Navy, why should they not do the same thing for the Army? He hoped the House would divide on the question, so that they might see who were the real friends of the soldiers, and who were they who only made speeches about them in the House.
§ MAJOR O'BEIRNE
thought it would not conduce greatly to the discipline and good feeling of the Army to have one law for the soldiers and another for the officers, for the latter could have what they chose to drink in their mess. But there was another objection to the clause proposed—namely, that if it were adopted recruiting would simply come to a standstill. Everyone knew that our Army was drawn from the lowest classes of society in this country. It necessarily must be so, seeing that it was a voluntary Army. Well, the lowest classes of society were frequenters of public-houses; therefore, if the canteens were closed, an end would be put to recruiting.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
thought the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) was going against his own favourite principle in advocating this clause. The hon. Baronet had distinguished himself as the great advocate of local option; and, to be consistent, he should be ready to apply the principle of local option to the barracks—to allow every regiment to say whether they would have canteens or not. He did not see why the hon. Baronet should step forward and, without allowing the soldiers to vote upon the question, say "They shall not have liquor supplied to them in-doors."
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
said, he would go even further than the hon. Member who said they should have the same law for the officers as for the soldiers. He would say they should have the same law for the House of Commons as they had for the Army. If they were anxious to teach soldiers not to use intoxicating liquors they should exclude those liquors from the bar of their own Lobby. If they did that the soldiers would see that they were in earnest and were ready to set the Army a good example, and it would then be easier to shut up the canteens. If it could be shown that the sale of liquor in the canteen was under complete control, and was not abused, the House should not support the clause, which was, in his opinion, contrary to common sense.
§ MR. W. FOWLER
could not accept the language of the hon. and gallant Member who had just sat down. As far as he was concerned, he should be delighted to see the sale of intoxicating liquors stopped at the bar, because he was one of those infatuated people who did not make use of such liquor. What did we want to give our soldiers these liquors for? Was it to make them stronger and more efficient? No; he apprehended that the real reason was because they thought the men liked it, and because they thought the men considered it pleasanter to get liquor at home than to be driven into the public-houses outside for it. This was not the only question they had to consider. They had to consider whether it was good for the soldiers to have liquor sold in the barracks. It could be shown that the system did a great deal of harm to the soldier, and the only argument he had heard used against the clause was that if they did not give the soldiers liquor in the canteen they would be driven outside to get it. That was what the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) and others would say; but he would point out that the House was not responsible for that. The men were not bound to go outside, and would not if they had tea and coffee and that sort of thing provided inside. He admitted that the clause was an extreme one. It was a strong measure to say that intoxicating liquor should not be sold in the canteen; but it was desirable, if the men wanted it, that they should get it in places licensed by Parliament. He did not see 411 any necessity for intoxicating liquor being sold in the canteen; and he, for one, would vote for the clause.
§ MR. CHILDERS
I yield to no man, not even to my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough (Mr. Caine) in my desire to do all I possibly can to promote the sobriety of soldiers. No one who knows anything of the records of intoxication in the Army and its effects on crime can have any other wish. But still I would repeat what has been said by others opposite to me and near me, that the consumption of intoxicants in the Army is steadily diminishing, and that, though there is still more to be done in the direction of promoting sobriety, the Army now is far more sober than it was 30 or 40 years ago. Therefore, from the evidence before us, it does not seem necessary to adopt such a drastic measure as that which the hon. Member for Scarborough proposes, when we see that without it sobriety has been steadily increasing. So much for the general principle. Will the Committee allow me for a moment to go to the particular proposal of my hon. Friend, which may be divided into two parts. One is that he wishes the spirit ration to the Army to be put a stop to in India; and the other s that he wishes the canteens elsewhere, in which spirits are not sold, but beer only, to be stopped altogether. The hon. Member quoted from the Reports of medical officers and others as to the state of the Indian Army; but I would remind him that the Mutiny Bill only refers to the Army in the United King-don and some of the Colonies. India is not referred to in it; and the adoption, therefore, of the clause would not interfere with the sale of spirits at canteens in India. I will say at once, however, on that point, that I will spare no pains to endeavour to discourage the issue of liquors to the soldiers in tropical countries. I firmly believe with those who have gone before me that the use of spirits by soldiers, particularly when it is possible for them to get malt liquor, ought to be discouraged as much as possible. That is the policy I shall endeavour to adopt, and that, I know, has the general approval of military authorities. Passing now to the proposed prohibition of the sale of malt liquor, I must protest against the doctrine laid down by some hon. Members that it is wrong to drink a glass of beer. ["Oh!"] Well, I have 412 taken down the words of more than one hon. Member who has spoken in this debate, and I find that allowing beer to be sold in the canteens has been described as tempting men to do that which is "wrong." I protest against that doctrine altogether. There are some people—though I am not one of them—who have been accustomed to do without malt liquor, and others who have trained themselves to do without it; but I am bound to say, and I think I shall have the majority of the House with me, that a very large number of people indeed who have been accustomed to drink it are none the worse for it; and that, in moderation, it is the most wholesome and healthy of the national beverages of the country. To lay down the doctrine that to drink a glass of beer is to do something that is wrong is a piece of fanaticism with which the House, I am sure, will have no sympathy. Therefore, I say distinctly, whilst wishing to do what I can to put down, as far as it lays with me, the unnecessary use of spirits, that I will not be a party to the doctrine that the soldier is to be prevented from getting a glass of beer when he can get it good and wholesome, because the country, by allowing him to get it, is tempting him to take a first step in doing what is wrong. I do not think it is wrong for the soldier to drink a glass of beer; therefore I say that if the result of selling good beer in the canteen is to save the soldier from getting a worse description of drink outside we are doing not a wrong thing, but a good thing, in maintaining the canteen system. I cordially go with those who advocate the principle of giving the soldiers not only the opportunity, but every encouragement to drink coffee and cocoa. My right hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Colonel Stanley) has been good enough to say that he, when he was in Office, and that I am now doing all that is practicable to encourage the sale of good wholesome coffee and cocoa in the garrison towns. Moro than one society has been established for the purpose, and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite and myself have done all we can to promote them. We must give the soldier inside the barrack-yard opportunities for obtaining good wholesome coffee and cocoa at a fair price, so that those who wish to have these beverages can have them instead 413 of drinking beer; but I am not prepared to drive the soldier out of the canteen, where, at any rate, he gets wholesome beer, into the public-houses of a garrison town, where the associations are not always of the best, and where, certainly, the beer is not always of the best, and where he will be tempted into excesses of which there would be little or no danger in the canteen.
§ SIR ROBERT CUNLIFFE
said, his hon. Friend (Mr. Caine) would admit that he (Sir Robert Cunliffe) was not indifferent to the subject of intemperance. He was very sorry he could not stand on the same ground as his hon. Friend on this question. So far as he could follow the hon. Member's remarks, the assumption upon which his speech was founded was, that by accepting his Motion they would be removing the temptation to drink from the path of the soldier. He (Sir Robert Cunliffe) differed from his hon. Friend. He maintained, and he believed the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War went to prove it, that if the soldier could not get wholesome liquor in the canteen he would go and get it somewhere else. The hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had alluded to the fact that 25 per cent of the Army were teetotallers, and had gone on to say what "awful drinkers the rest of the Army must be." But if his hon. Friend's proposition was right, and they drove these "awful drinkers" out of the canteens into low public-houses, how much worse they would become? The teetotallers did not want the canteens; but the "awful drinkers" would be better for drinking their beer there. Yet the hon. Member said—" You must not have it in the canteen; you must go outside for it." During the time he had been in the Service, he had had an opportunity—in Canada—of observing the result to the soldiers of their getting a bad description of liquor. He could appeal to several hon. Members to bear witness to the way in which the men suffered from the spirits sold in Montreal. The hon. Member for Scarborough seemed to assume that if his Motion was carried an immense deal would be done to put an end to drinking in the Army. That was an assumption he should be very glad to accept; but it seemed to him that the hon. Member had not given sufficient arguments in support of it. He 414 thought his hon. Friend had not proved his case; but that he had only proved that if the liquors, which were believed to be in a large degree wholesome, were not bought in barracks they must be bought elsewhere. As the Motion stood, he must vote against it.
§ MR. RAMSAY
regretted that he could not see his way to voting for the clause proposed by the hon. Member for Scarborough; but he observed that it consisted of two parts. In the first place, it proposed that the sale of intoxicating liquors in canteens should cease from the passing of the Act, and then it proposed that the supply of liquor on the march should be discontinued. He thought he could vote for the latter portion of the Motion, believing it to be well worthy of the consideration of the Committee whether it would not be advantageous to discontinue the supply of liquor on the march, and give money in lieu of liquor to the soldiers who were teetotallers, or who did not desire the liquor. It would be better to give them the chance of taking the value of the liquor than to force them to drink; and, if the hon. Member could confine his clause to the discontinuance of all supply of spirits on the march he should support the Motion.
§ MR. CAINE,
replying, said, the Judge Advocate General and the Secretary of State for War had suggested that he claimed a monopoly in that House of a love of temperance. He did not claim any such monopoly, and he was quite sure that the right hon. Gentlemen were quite as anxious as he was for the sobriety of soldiers; but he did claim something of a monopoly in having proposed the right remedy. A great deal had been urged in favour of the canteen as against the public-house outside, and a great deal had been said of the good and cheap liquor at the canteens and of the bad liquor supplied at the public-houses; but no evidence had been adduced, or could be adduced, to show that there was any real difference between the liquor in the canteens and the public-houses. The beer, as a rule, in public-houses, whether large or small houses, was pretty much the same, and he had not found any adulteration in it, because it was difficult to tamper with beer. What he wanted to point out was that, under the present system, the soldier subscribed for liquor in the canteen, and when the sergeant in charge, 415 thinking that he had had enough, refused to supply any more to him, the soldier then went elsewhere and got more to drink than was good for him. The sergeant would refuse him more drink because he showed signs of having been drinking; but, as the hon. and learned Member for Meath (Mr. A. M. Sullivan) had said, the publican outside was not to be blamed for supplying drink to a soldier, if he only showed slight signs of intoxication. He contended that the canteen gave the first impetus to drunkenness, which was completed elsewhere; and he hoped that before long the Government would do away with canteens, and, at any rate, not supply liquor themselves. Twenty-five per cent of the soldiers were teetotallers; but the existence of the canteens was a continual temptation to them. In the interests of those teetotallers in the Army who were trying to live sober lives, something ought to be done in the direction of removing temptation. The late Secretary of State for War had spoken of the coffee canteen, and suggested that he (Mr. Caine) and those who agreed with him might found coffee canteens. There were coffee canteens in the Army, and the number was increasing; but nearly all the coffee canteens in the Army had been started by teetotallers, in the same way that coffee palaces and cocoa-houses all over the country had been started by teetotallers. Something had been said in favour of the much abused soldier, as to his not being such a bad character as he was said to be; but it was also remarked that there was no very friendly feeling on the part of the public towards the soldier. We constantly heard of the soldier being refused admission to coffee palaces and places of entertainment, and he thought that the proprietors of those places ought to be compelled to treat soldiers in the same way as other people; but it could not be wondered that people shrank from soldiers when, as the House had been told, 23,000 soldiers were punished every year for drunkenness. In reference to an observation by the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), he did not base his argument entirely upon his own opinions; but on the opinions of experienced officers in the Army. Sir Garnet Wolseley, ho had served in India, at the Cape, in Ashantee, and in 416 the Red River country, had declared that, in his opinion, in each of those campaigns the soldiers were bettter without liquor than with it. In conclusion, he would only say that he had been exceedingly gratified by the sympathy of the Government, especially by the statement of the Secretary of State for War. It was because he felt sure of their sympathy, though not, perhaps, of their support, that he put his Amendment on the Paper. He should proceed to a division; and, in consequence of the strong opinion expressed that something should be done with regard to spirit rations on the march, he should, on Report, bring forward a clause, declaring that, from the passing of the Act, all supply of spirits on the march should be discontinued.
§ MAJOR VAUGHAN LEE,
as an old soldier, wished to defend the soldiers against the accusations of drunkenness; and said he doubted much if the hon. Member (Mr. Caine) himself would not like to have had a glass of rum if he was up to his knees in snow for the whole night. The soldier who got his liquor at the canteen paid ready money for it; and it would be very hard that a man who might be at drill from 6 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon should not be allowed to get a glass of beer during the whole of that period. He had served Her Majesty in the Crimea, and he did not know where the soldiers would have been at night without their rations of rum.
asked the Judge Advocate General whether he correctly understood him to say that 23,000 cases of drunkenness occurred every year in the Army?
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 34; Noes 156: Majority 122.—(Div. List, No. 173.)
The next Clause proposed is in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Kincardineshire (Sir George Balfour); but it is not possible to introduce that as a proviso in the Preamble as he proposes, and as a new clause, as it is outside the scope of the Bill.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Monday next.417
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he proposed to take the Consideration on Monday next, as he had promised the Committee to confer with those he should desire to consult about the introduction of words limiting summary punishment to restraint and hard labour; and, if the words should be acceptable to the House, he hoped the Bill would be allowed to be read a third time on that day, as there would otherwise barely be time to get it passed before the Easter Recess. He would try to put the words on the Paper before Monday.