§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL) (Paddington, S.)
I beg to move that Mr. Leonard Courtney do take the Chair.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
I understand the practice is that if anybody rises to speak on the Motion the Speaker will resume the Chair.
§ Mr. COURTNEY took the Chair.
§ (1.)£30,800, to complete the sum for Divine Service.1328
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £17,600, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge for the Administration of Military Law, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
Upon this Vote I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) whether the War Office have considered the recommendations made to them in regard to the great advantage attending the improvement in the occupation of military prisoners in Brixton Prison; whether the industrial occupation did not result in a very satisfactory way; and whether effect will be given to the recommendation of the Military Authorities in favour of the extension of the system to other prisons?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (MR. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I have not had the subject brought under my notice; and the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) will, I am sure, understand that I have not been able, during the few weeks I have held Office, to read up all the Papers at the War Office. I will attend to the question he has mentioned.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
The point is, whether the practice of putting men who are only convicted of military offences should be put to baneful and lowering occupations should be continued; whether oakum picking, for instance, should be done away with, and something in the way of manufacturing occupation extended to all military prisons?
§ Vote agreed to.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £173,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge for Medical Establishments and Services, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887.
§ COLONEL DUNCAN (Finsbury, Holborn)
I do not mean to stand long between the Committee and the Business of the evening; but this is a very important Vote, and I desire to enlist the sympathies of the Committee, quite irrespective of Party, on behalf of the Military Medical Department. It is within 1329 the knowledge of the Committee that that Department has gone through considerable changes during the last few years. In olden times the Army medical officer was a unit belonging to the regiment. It was a comfortable though expensive system, a system which had many advantages. I believe the men were better looked after. The medical officer in former days was more intimately acquainted with the constitutions of the men, and he was emphatically a friend among the officers. When we went on active service, however, the regimental system could not exist. The officers had to be worked as Departmental officers; and it was clear we must have the same system in times of peace as in times of war. There are many things one regrets in the old system—regrets having lost them; but it is far better to accept the inevitable, and do what we can to make the Army Medical Department even more efficient than it is. No efficient Department can be found in which there are distinct grievances; and I maintain that although successive Secretaries of State have done their best to remove the grievances of the Army Medical Department there are some yet remaining. There is a distinct grievance with respect to the proportion of home and foreign service. When the Department was formed it was assumed that every medical officer would have from one and a-half to two years at home to from three to five years abroad. That was based on on assumption which was absolutely wrong; it was a sort of arrangement which would suit the Millennium, but not the times in which we live. It is no use saying that the disturbance has been caused by the wars in which we have lately been engaged. We must always be prepared to find some small wars, which must disturb the best calculations. But every medical officer has, for every three years at home to serve, 12 years abroad. Such a proportion of foreign service is excessive, and it is more injurious to a medical officer than to others, because a medical officer ought to keep pace with the times, and with all great questions of surgical and medical science, and if he is kept away from home for so long he is sure to get more or less useless. Besides, to keep up efficiency in a Department the men must feel they are being treated justly. I, 1330 therefore, trust that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War will take this distinct grievance into consideration, and do what he can to remedy it. It has become almost a chronic grievance, because the War Office has got in the habit of availing itself during times of war of the services of men who have retired from the Army Medical Department. From an economical point of view that is wise; but, at the same time, it is not wise to outrage the feelings of any Department. Again, we have a system of calling upon the medical officers to pass examinations. It is a right system, one which I trust will never be dropped; but we ought to give to medical officers the advantages we give to the combatant officers. It is the practice, under the present system, to give combatant officers who are about to undergo an examination leave and special facilities for study; but the medical officers receive no encouragement whatever. They may be at the other end of the world, and yet they are called upon to produce certificates. Under these disadvantages, assisted in no way by the State, they are called upon to pass examinations. I think that in the interest of the Service, as well as in justice to the medical officers, they should be allowed one or two months' leave in every six or seven years, in order to qualify themselves for the examinations they are called upon to pass. Again, there is another hardship which I believe they feel very keenly. Combatant officers who reach the rank of Lieutenant Colonel are relieved from further examination. The authorities know our capabilities, and, therefore, do not require us to be tested. But medical officers, even when they reach the higher ranks, are called upon to pass examinations. It is quite clear that when a medical officer has attained a certain rank his capacity for the different Services ought to be well known. Again, Sir, the question of hospitals is a point of great importance, not so much for the medical officers as for the country. A field hospital had to be sent out during the Nile Expedition. Orderlies were called from all the hospitals of the country, who had never worked together before. Men who had not been accustomed were put in charge of the hospital, and I was told by the officer in command that he 1331 had, in the face of the enemy, to teach the men how to pitch their tents. I think it would be better if, at our large stations, field hospitals were constantly standing, and men were being constantly trained in hospital work. I do not think this would cost anything. At all events, it is most important that it should be done, because we should then have a standing field hospital in readiness; besides which, the hospital might serve as a training school for the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps. We must remember that no nation in time of peace can keep up a Medical Staff sufficient for its wants in time of war. We must have men in reserve, and I think we shall find a good reserve in the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps. We live in a time when people look upon preventible pain as a crime; and, therefore, we ought to see that we are not obliged, as we have frequently been, to put men by the side of our sick and wounded soldiers who are unaccustomed to hospital work. I trust the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) will consider these questions before the next Estimates are presented. It is a most desirable thing that a Department such as the Army Medical Department, which is doing so much to raise the feeling of esprit de corps in the Army, whose members have, in the field and in epidemics, shown courage worthy of all praise, should receive from us, as the Representatives of the nation, some recognition of the work they have done in the past, and some assurance that any grievance which they feel shall be removed.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
No one will take any exception to the criticism with which my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Duncan) has brought forward the case of the medical officers. I fully agree with him in the view that the Army medical officers deserve the largest encouragement, and that anything the Secretary of State or the War Office can do for the Medical Service ought to be done. My hon. and gallant Friend asks me to do a great deal. I can only say I will examine carefully the statements he has made, and wherever I find a grievance use my best endeavours to remove it, and bring the Medical Staff to the condition which, he desires it should 1332 attain. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has spoken of the large disproportion between the terms of home and foreign service. It is, no doubt, a fact that recently the foreign service of the Medical Staff has pressed hardly upon them; but I am glad to say that that has now been relaxed, and that the officers of the Medical Service who are next for duty abroad will only have two years and eight months' service abroad to one year of home service. My hon. and gallant Friend has also referred to the question of examinations, and of the facilities which should be afforded the medical officers to endeavour to qualify themselves for the discharge of their duties. These questions have been under the consideration of my Predecessor and myself; and the War Office will do everything in their power to secure for the medical officers that increased knowledge and skill which improved and developed science affords.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR (Kincardineshire)
I miss from the Estimates this year any Return showing the strength of the Medical Department in India. I should be glad if the Secretary of State for War could give the Committee any information on the subject. I have reason to believe that the proportion, as regards India, has been very much altered.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I thought that the answer of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War to the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite would have given a full explanation of this Estimate. It appears to me that it still requires further explanation. I find, under Sub-head D, that there has been a notable increase in the pay of nurses and for miscellaneous labour, &c.—an increase from £8,000 to £15,000. Then, again, in Sub-head C, under the pay of Civil Medical Practitioners, there is also an increase of 25 per cent. Furthermore, under Sub-head F there is a sum of £1,400, which appears now as a new item in respect of payments to the Government of India for the Medical Staff serving on board troopships. All these very considerable increases appear to point to some distinct new departure, on the part of the Military Authorities, in regard to improved medical treatment in the Army. The right hon. Gentleman either forgot this point, or he has not yet been able 1333 to inform himself of its full significance. I hope he will be able to answer the question now. There is also another point on which I should like to put a question. Is it or is it not the fact that the medical officers at Netley Hospital are complaining of the insufficiency and inferiority of the food supplied to the Army, and that they attribute the lowness of vitality which has been observed to that cause?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH (Strand, Westminster)
I think the hon. Gentleman is inaccurate, or that he has been misinformed in regard to the large increase in the cost of the Medical Department. There has been an increase in the pay of Militia surgeons. Referring to the Estimates I find there has been an increase in the pay of nurses, and on other heads, amounting to about £8,800 on a total Vote of £35,200. That is made up of an item of £5,000 on one head—of £1,300 for 11 nurses for Egypt, and £2,500 in the shape of Departmental pay for an addition to the Medical Staff of 200 men. As regards the food supplied to Netley and other hospitals, I am not aware that any complaints whatever have lately been made by the medical officers to the War Office as to the insufficient character of the food, or its unsuitableness. I believe, on the contrary, that it has been found to be both sufficient and good.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I wish to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that the junior medical officers for the last few years have been constantly sent away from one station to another without having received due notice of the proposed change. I maintain that this constitutes great hardship to them, and is very detrimental to the efficiency of the Service. Young men who have been just told off for a particular district are moved about with hardly any notice at all. It reached my ears some time ago that the junior medical officers of the Army were getting up a very strong and formidable protest against the way in which they have been treated. It seems to me, in regard to the Army Medical Service, although of late years it has been vastly improved, that a great deal still remains to be done. If the Government really wish to preserve the health of the Army and keep the men fit for active service, or even for 1334 ordinary garrison service, they will certainly only be doing what is just and right if they endeavour to make the Army Medical Service—what it undoubtedly is not at the present moment—an efficient Service. I was sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman say just now, in the answer he gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Holborn (Colonel Duncan), that he must have due regard to the expense that is incurred in providing medical necessaries. I find, in looking into the history of every war in which England has been engaged of late years, that, owing to the fact that the Army Medical Service had not received that due regard and attention to which it was entitled when a stress and strain was brought to bear upon the army in the field, the men invariably suffered. I am sorry to say that that has almost always been the result. Not merely have the men suffered, but the country has suffered also; and the difficulty has invariably been brought about by the process adopted here of cutting down the Army Medical Estimates too closely. I trust that while the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman is a Member remains in power they will try and do their best not to cut down these Medical Estimates, which are a matter of absolute necessity and a question of life and death, dealing, as they do, with the well-being of the Army. I sincerely hope they will receive full consideration at the hands of the right hon. Gentleman and the Government, and that, while Her Majesty's Ministers will do what is just and right to save the country from an extravagant expenditure, they will do all they can to place the Medical Service in a satisfactory condition. In going through these Estimates I certainly have not found them as satisfactory as they ought to be. In reporting upon the sanitary condition of the Northern district at York, Deputy Surgeon Tipton says that additional accommodation is required, more especially for the hospital staff. If the hospital staff is not provided with suitable accommodation close to the hospital, it is impossible for the patients in the hospital to receive proper care and attention. Deputy Surgeon General Reed reports from the Midland District that at Colchester a lunatic ward and a hospital for infectious diseases should be supplied. 1335 As to the lunatic ward, that is altogether a matter for the consideration of the Government; but in regard to a hospital for infectious diseases, in a large garrison like that at Colchester I think it is a matter of absolute necessity that something of the kind should be instituted. Surely no one will say that small-pox patients, or patients suffering from other infectious diseases, should be mixed up with the ordinary hospital patients. I would also draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to this fact—that, not only in this Report, but in preceding Reports, this additional hospital ward accommodation has been asked for over and over again; but the subject has never received the attention which its importance demands. Then, again, I find that at Cambridge the drains have been very much out of order. The drains connected with the barracks and the hospitals have, I believe, been in many respects repaired; but a great many of them still remain out of order, and as regards the valves and traps over the drains remedial measures ought at once to be taken. In another Report attention is called to the ineffective condition of the drainage at Gosport. I think this a matter which deserves the most prompt attention at the present day, when everything bearing upon sanitary progress is exciting so much interest, and when steps are being taken to improve and preserve the health of the different sanitary districts; we are even endeavouring to carry out improved sanitary arrangements with regard to this House itself. It has become absolutely necessary that some thing should be done in this matter; and, so far as Gosport is concerned, I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that this is the second time the sanitary condition of that station has been reported upon. The right hon. Gentleman will find a reference to it in the Report of the brigade medical officer, at page 14. I find, on looking through these Reports, that the same complaints keep constantly re-appearing. The responsible medical officer in the district makes his Report; and, unfortunately, because it happens to be a Medical Report only, it is practically shelved. I find that the Reports of combatant officers, on the other hand, receive proper attention; but exactly the opposite course is taken in regard to the Medical Reports. I have, 1336 therefore, considered it my duty to bring these facts under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State. Then, again, in dealing with the grievances of the Army Medical Department, it certainly appears to be a lamentable state of affairs that in a Department of such great importance, where you have a number of gentlemen entering the Service after a long preparation and an expensive; raining, that they should be treated socially in an inferior manner. As a matter of fact, the medical officers in the Army are altogether placed outside the pale of society to which other officers are admitted. They are practically treated in the present day very much in the same way as the engineers in the Royal Navy are treated. [Cries of "Oh!"] I speak of facts that I am acquainted with, and I am prepared to maintain that that, unfortunately, is the case. It has been brought to my knowledge over and over again that medical officers are only tolerated as members of the messes at various stations, and that, in point of fact, whenever a slight can be cast upon them, it has been the custom to do so. I certainly hope that the right hon. Gentleman will endeavour to do something to remedy this very serious state of affairs, because it really is more serious than hon. Gentlemen may understand. I know, from acquaintance with many of these schools whore medical men are educated and trained, that you do not get, in the Army Medical Service, the best men from those schools. The best men always try to stay at home, in the hope of being able to improve their position in this country by obtaining a private practice; and they will not, as a rule, place themselves under the benevolent care of Her Majesty's Government, where they have hitherto found themselves, generally speaking, driven from pillar to post. As a rule, in the past they have found themselves dismissed from the Service in the prime of life, with a very small sum of money—taking into account the intelligent services they have rendered, the cost of their education, and the time it has taken to train them. I maintain that, unless more care and attention is devoted by Her Majesty's Government to the Medical Service, instead of getting intelligent men, you will only secure the services of men who are, more or less, the ruck and scum of the schools. [Cries 1337 of "Oh!"] Yes, unfortunately, that will be the state of affairs. I speak strongly upon the matter; but I know exactly what I am talking about, because I have been living among the men themselves, and assisting some of them in their studies. I know that the Army Medical Service does not obtain the best men, because they do not receive that care and consideration to which they are fairly entitled. Then, again, when a stress comes on in a time of action, the state of affairs is still more deplorable. I quite agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Holborn (Colonel Duncan) that the complaints of the medical officers ought to be fairly considered by the Government, and especially that medical officers should be afforded an opportunity of coming home at intervals, in order that they may attend the medical institutions, and be able to brush up their knowledge afresh, instead of remaining stationary, as usually happens to be the case. We know perfectly well that a medical officer stationed for seven or eight years in a hill district in India may have to look after occasional cases of fever, or certain peculiar diseases which occur in tropical climates, and when he comes to be removed to another district the knowledge which he had acquired seven or eight years before is of very little use to him in the performance of his new duties. As a matter of fact he has become stale, and he requires a little time in order to brush himself up again, and make himself more thoroughly acquainted with the progress of medical science. I therefore endorse all that fell from, the hon. and gallant Member for Holborn, and I trust that Her Majesty's Government will pay due attention to these things, and not give the general public and the Medical Profession an opportunity of saying that the Service is allowed to suffer through the adoption of a cheese-paring policy.
§ CAPTAIN COTTON (Cheshire, Wirral)
There is one special matter to which I wish to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War—namely, the difficulty there is in providing proper rations for soldiers on the first day of their admission into hospital. The fact is that the daily rations of a soldier are drawn very early in the morning. If a man feels unwell, and goes to the hospital to see the doctor 1338 about 9 or 10 o'clock and he is sent into hospital, the only ration brought to him that day is the one which was drawn for him early in the morning. It is, therefore, quite obvious that if the man is very ill he might be unable to eat the three-quarters of a pound of meat with bone and gristle served out to him, and one of three things must happen—he either gets no food at all that day, if he is unable to eat the ration; or he has to depend upon the charity of his comrades; or else the medical officer, who has the power to do so, grants him extras. The medical officer is very loth, however, to grant extras, because it throws additional labour upon the Medical Staff in having to keep a journal of everything that happens, from the day of the man's admission into the hospital, until the day on which he is discharged from it. It is easy to see that the medical officer regards the writing of these notes as a great trouble and inconvenience, and no doubt it is; and, therefore, it is only in very extreme cases that he will grant the patient those medical comforts or extras which his condition demands on the first day of his admission into the hospital. I have no desire to detain the Committee; but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to take into consideration whether some means may not be devised whereby a soldier, if necessary, shall be supplied with extras on the first day of his admission into the hospital, without the medical officer being required to keep a journal and make notes daily of the patient's progress. If this system of keeping journals were done away with altogether, the right hon. Gentleman would enjoy the merit, at any rate, of having eliminated from the Army Regulations one small piece of red tape. There is one other remark I should like to make in connection with what fell from the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner), as to the social position which a medical officer occupies in the Army. I am afraid that I am obliged to endorse what the hon. Member has said upon that point. I believe that the position which medical officers now occupy in the Army is not nearly so good, socially speaking, as it was some 10 or 12 years ago, before the present system of the Army Medical Corps came into force. In the old days the medical officer formed part 1339 of the regiment, and he was treated as part of the regiment, the same as any other officer. It is through no fault of the combatant officers that the position of the medical officers is, socially speaking, not so good or so comfortable as it used to be. It is the fault of the system by which the medical officers are taken away from the regiments of which they formerly formed part, and with which they used to serve on the same terms as the combatant officers in all parts of the world.
§ GENERAL FRASER (Lambeth, N.)
I am sorry to trespass on the time of the Committee; but I feel compelled to say a word upon the treatment of the medical officers of the Army. A long experience of 38 years in the Army does not allow me to concur with the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) in the statement that the medical officers have been treated with anything but respect and affection by members of the Army of all ranks. Nor can I endorse the statement that it is the "scum of the schools" which now joins the Service. At the present moment every man, whatever his rank may be, when he falls into sickness knows that his best and truest friends are the medical officers. There have been other questions raised in reference to the Medical Service; but I do not propose to enter into them.
§ MR. TUITE (Westmeath, N.)
I wish to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War to the manner in which the sewage from the military barracks at Mullingar is dealt with. At present there are from 500 to 700 stationed there, and the sewage is drained into an open drain which passes under the public roads of the town. I believe it would cost from £200 to £300 to remedy the evil by constructing proper drain pipes to conduct the sewage into the river, and this is an expense which certainly ought to be undertaken by Her Majesty's Government. I am satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman only requires that his attention should be called to the nuisance in order to ensure its removal.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH (Strand, Westminster)
In answer to the observations of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kincardineshire (Sir George Balfour), I will consider whether it is advisable to give Returns of the numbers and stations of the medical officers 1340 serving in India. It has never been done hitherto, seeing that India bears the chief cost of the establishment. With regard to the observations of the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner), I really must be allowed, speaking on behalf of the Medical Service in the Army, to repudiate the statement of the hon. Gentleman that they, or any of them, are the "scum" of the schools.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I did not say that the medical officers actually serving at the present time in the Army are the scum of the schools; but I said that had been the result of the system in the past. I believe I added that last year the position of the Service had been improved.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I am glad to have given the hon. Member an opportunity of repudiating the statement which was calculated, I am certain, to inflict pain upon many excellent medical officers—gentlemen to whom the country owes a deep debt of gratitude for their devotion to the Service to which they belong. The hon. Member referred to the fact that the junior medical officers are sent about from place to place. I was not aware that that was the practice to any excessive extent; but, unfortunately, it is the case that all junior officers have to do junior's work, and probably the duties involve a little more personal change and discomfort than is the case after a medical officer has arrived at a higher rank. The changes which have been introduced into the Service were arrived at after full consideration by my Predecessors in Office, and I have no doubt that they were considered to be for the good of the Service and of the country. I cannot admit that the medical officers are not received by the gentlemen of the corps to which they are attached with all the consideration and respect due to their personal character and the eminent services they render to the regiment. With reference to the questions which have been referred to by other hon. Members, I can only promise to give careful consideration and attention to them; and I may add that wherever it is possible to improve the position of the medical officer, with due regard to the interests of the Service, and consistently also with the interests of the taxpayer, that position shall be improved. I will also inquire into the individual cases which 1341 have been mentioned, and see how far there has been inattention to the representations which have been made. I cannot admit that the authorities have been in the habit of refusing to pay attention to the representations and complaints of the medical officers, while those of combatant officers have been attended to, and it must not be forgotten that the medical officers are always able to exercise a certain amount of power in the Press, which procures for them an amount of attention which the combatant officers frequently find it impossible to obtain. The hon. and gallant Member for Wirral (Captain Cotton) has asked me to look into the question of the rations supplied to the soldier on the first day he enters hospital. I will make an inquiry into that matter, and the same answer will apply to the representation of the hon. Member opposite as to the defective drainage of the barracks at Mullingar. I am not aware that there are any further questions I ought to answer.
§ MR. BIGGAR (Cavan, W.)
I wish to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War relative to a very important subject—namely, the Contagious Diseases Acts. I desire to know what precautions are being taken by the Military Authorities to preserve the health of the soldiers in regard to the particular class of diseases the Acts I refer to were passed to grapple with? I should also like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman can give us any information as to the extent to which these diseases have increased since the change was made in the law by the repeal of the Acts, and whether he is not disposed to recommend the renewal of the law which was repealed?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The provision for hospital accommodation is made under another Vote, which the hon. Member is probably not aware of. No additional provision has been made as to the health of the soldiers to meet the change which has been made in the law. The facts regarding the Contagious Diseases Acts, and the result of their repeal, will be inquired into this year, and it will be for the Government to consider what course they will adopt, between this period and the 31st March next, when they may have to propose to the House some measure with reference to the maintenance of the hospitals exist- 1342 ing for the maintenance of the persons affected. I am sorry to say I have no information at the present moment as to the increase of disease; but if the hon. Member wishes for a Return, and will move for it, I shall be pleased to obtain it.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR (Kincardineshire)
I wish to call attention to an item on page 146, as to the employment of members of the Medical Staff on transports in connection with the Indian Government. I cannot find that any such officers have been employed hitherto. This is a new item, and it seems to me that it should not come in these Estimates, but should appear in the Admiralty Transport Vote. The appearance of the item in this Vote seems to me to be an irregularity which has sprung up this year for the first time. I think it is a thing that should be corrected, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will make a memorandum on the subject, with a view of seeing whether it is not a Vote that ought properly to belong to the Navy Estimates.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I should like to correct the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, who wishes me to take the opportunity of repudiating the statement I made in reference to the medical officers of the Army Medical Department. I do not mean to repudiate that statement. I did not desire to convey the impression that the Department was recruited now more or less by the scum of the schools; but I maintain that in days gone by that was literally the case. ["No, no!"] Perhaps hon. Gentlemen opposite, who quarrel with that statement, have not been so intimately connected with the Medical Schools as I have been. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, and hon. and gallant Gentlemen opposite, that if they go into the statistics of the schools, and find how and by whom the Army was supplied with medical officers, they will find that the Service did not get, by any means, the best men from the schools. That is an absolute fact, and an investigation of the statistics will show what I say to be absolutely true. Therefore, I say I will not repudiate what I stated; but I certainly should not like it to go out that I had declared that the condition of things in this respect is as bad at present as it was in the 1343 past. On the contrary, I think it is much better on account of the attention which has been paid to this Department in the past few years. You are practically getting better men now; but if you are to employ medical officers, why, I ask, should you not get the best men? Why should your soldiers, to whom medical attendance is such an important matter, be deprived of the very best possible medical aid and attention? I have no doubt—I am confident—that if the right hon. Gentleman carries out that which he has declared to be his intention the Army Medical Department will very greatly improve. Then, with regard to another point I mentioned—that is to say, the sending of junior medical officers about from pillar to post to post, as a medical officer, who happened to be a friend of mine, was sent during the past year, I wish to add a word or two to my observations. This friend to whom I allude was sent first from Cork to Liverpool, then from Liverpool to Glasgow, from Glasgow to Cork, from Cork to Dublin, from Dublin to London, and so on. He was kept constantly moving about, and his health has lately broken down through his being so perpetually on the road. [Laughter.] Yes; I say his health has broken down. I maintain that to employ a gentleman in this manner is to use him really for convoy duty rather than as a medical officer. In like manner, the junior medical officers are sent about in what I must describe as an undue and reprehensible manner. If these medical officers are attached to certain districts, they ought to be left to those districts; and if medical officers are required to convoy troops from one station to another, there should be a certain number of these officers attached to the Army Medical Service told off for that particular duty. I feel it to be a great hardship, and I am certain that the House will agree with me, that a medical officer should be sent to the Cork district, and should be no sooner there, and settled down in his quarters, than he should get an order to start off to Liverpool; and that after being there a short time he should be allowed to return to Cork; and should be subsequently sent from there to some other place. The result of treating a man in this way is vhat he is put to great expense to furnish his quarters, and that 1344 all his expenditure is without any commensurate benefit so far as he himself is concerned. He is made to incur certain expenses that probably Her Majesty's Government are not at all cognizant of. I ask them, would it not be better to tell off a certain section of the Army Medical Corps for that particular kind of service, and allow the medical officers who are stationed in a certain district to do their duty in that district? It seems to me that that would be better for everybody. The recommendation appears to me to be founded on common sense, and I feel certain that the right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary of State for War—than whom there could be no one more capable to appreciate what is adequate justice to the junior medical officers of the Army Medical Department—will take this matter into his favourable consideration. I trust he will kindly look into it, and see if it is possible to apply a remedy. There is yet another point to which I should like to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention, and that is this:—That at the present time it is, unfortunately, the case, when an assistant surgeon joins the Army, within three months of his appointment—in some cases six months, but always within one year—he is sent straight away off to India. In this way, they practically do not get sufficient time after entering the Service to become properly acquainted with the military routine which it is absolutely necessary for them to be acquainted with for the proper fulfilment of their functions. The effect of the system adopted by the Government is that these young medical officers, when posts are entrusted to their charge in India, have not only the difficulties which a great change of climate is bound to bring about to contend with, but, owing to want of experience, they are practically incapable of paying that amount of attention to their professional duties which the necessities of those under their care require. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War whether it would not be better for the troops that, as far as possible, these young medical officers should not be sent away to India directly after passing their examinations and entering the Army Medical Service? If he will look into the statistics of the Army 1345 Medical Department, he will find that a greater number of deaths occur amongst those officers within the first two years after they have joined this branch of the Service than take place at any other period. How is this to be accounted for? It is simply owing to the fact that when these men are sent away they are so young that they are not seasoned, and are unfit to plunge at once into the arduous duties of their profession and to bear the tropical heat and all those other circumstances which militate against the health in such a country as India. These men are cut down in the prime of their youth, and their death occasions this country the loss of a considerable sum of money. The Committee should bear in mind that the training of these officers costs the country a considerable amount to keep up; and after all the money which has been spent upon them, if an unduly high per centage of deaths occur, it is owing to the young men being sent too soon to India. I maintain that the point is one which ought to receive the earnest attention of Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
There is one observation made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War which seems to me to clash a little with the evidence which has been laid before this House—namely, that medical officers get their recommendations as well attended to as do the combatant officers. The evidence taken by the Committee which sat to inquire into the transport and Commissariat arrangements of the Egyptian Campaign show that if that is true with regard to the recommendations of medical officers at home, it is not true of their recommendations abroad. The evidence is overwhelming that during the campaign the recommendations of medical officers out in Egypt were not properly attended to, despite the theory—I am quoting from memory—even though the recommendations were those of officers of high position. To use the words of a medical man, examined before the Select Committee on the Egyptian Campaign—"I was knocking about from pillar to post all day long," endeavouring to find means of transport for the medical stores, but was obliged to give it up, and the medicine chest did not reach the men until 24 hours 1346 after an engagement had been fought, though they were sorely needed.
§ MAJOR GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
I believe the circumstances referred to by the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) as to the medical officers do afford some reasonable ground of complaint. I refer to these young medical officers being sent to military stations directly after entering the Service. They arrive at the stations unknown, and they find that the senior medical officers are all married men; and they—the new comers—are thrown, in a great measure, upon their own resources. I can speak from my own personal knowledge that on many occasions they are sent to stations where there are two or three regiments, and they practically have no homes. In old days a medical officer was attached to the regiment, and was received with open arms by all the officers; he was practically part and parcel of the regiment. Now the medical officer belongs to a Department, and, practically, has no claim upon any special regiment; and whilst an officer of a regiment, whether a combatant military officer or belonging to the Medical Department, was called upon by regimental officers who made him an honorary member of their mess, young medical officers now, not knowing how long they are to be in a station, do not like to call on their brother officers in regiments. The constant shifting about of young medical officers is detrimental to their learning the military portion of their duty which it is necessary for them to know. I think I can explain a point referred to by the hon. Member for Mid Cork just now, when he spoke about the constant removals of these young medical officers and their being sent about with detachments. That system is in a great measure unavoidable, because the Medical Service is not as strong as it ought to be if you have these constant changes; but the country could do a great deal to make the position of these medical officers, who are liable to be shifted, a little easier. I know myself that medical officers were sometimes sent from Cork with detachments, and that they had no sooner returned to Cork than they were again sent with another detachment, and that this involved many of them having to get fresh lodgings—not 1347 quarters, because there were none available for them. Of course, in this way they sometimes lost a great deal of money. I think that if, in these cases, furnished quarters were provided for these officers, they would not have so much ground of complaint. The Departmental officers who are liable to be shifted, and also some of those who remain for a very long time on station, ought to be provided with furnished quarters. I mention this in reference to the Medical Department specially, as there is great hardship on the young medical officers under the present system, and there is no doubt that they do not feel as happy and as comfortable as they did under the condition of things which existed formerly. I believe also that it is detrimental to the Army to have the Medical Department organized as it is now, because it is within my own knowledge that one officer had three medical officers in successive days to attend him for a broken leg.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4.) £285,000, to complete the sum for Militia Pay and Allowances.
§ COLONEL WARING (Down, N.)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State if he will take into consideration the question of improving the pay and allowances of the Staff sergeants of Militia regiments serving on Militia engagements, so as to place those deserving upon a footing of greater equality with non-commissioned officers holding a similar position on Army engagements? The right hon. Gentleman will recollect that I called attention to the question last year, and that the hardship was admitted by the late Secretary of State for War, who promised to consider whether something could not be done to ameliorate their condition.
§ MR. LLEWELLYN (Somerset, N.)
The question to which I desire to draw attention is the unsatisfactory nature of the Militia drill and instruction. The shooting of the Militia is most unsatisfactory. It is not, however, to be wondered at, and for this reason—that there is no preliminary training for the Militiaman before he is taken on for a second year's service. It occurs to me that if the Militia, in addition to preliminary training, had to undergo, at least, a month's instruction in musketry, 1348 we should be better able to know whether a man was worth keeping or not. I know from experience that during the short period a Militia regiment is up for training there is a race between the Adjutant and the Musketry Instructor. The musketry instruction has to be got through somehow or other, and probably in bad weather; and it is also necessary that the men should undergo a satisfactory inspection in a march past. There is generally a race between the two, with the result very frequently of most imperfect instruction in musketry. What, with all deference, I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War is that the preliminary training should be undergone before the men are passed on to the strength of the regiment. Probably I may be told that many recruits would fail to attain the prescribed efficiency, and would be lost to the Service, so that the battalions would be very much reduced in size, and the men rendered unfit for inspection and fatigue duty. But what gain is there to the Service in retaining men who are absolutely useless in the field, because they are incapable of profiting by musketry drill? I maintain that this is a question of very great importance. I had the honour of serving for 18 years in the Militia, and I know that there were many armed men in the Force who, under no circumstances, would ever make good shots, seeing that they are incapable of being taught. If you keep men for six years they will never be any better. For most purposes they can only be regarded as paper men, whose services are not worth retaining.
§ COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, S.W., Ince)
At present nearly all the time the Militia regiments have is devoted to drill. In my opinion, we ought to put up with a less standard of efficiency in battalion drill, in order that the men may be kept for a longer time at musketry training. I should, however, be sorry to see the Service lose any number of men by adopting the course proposed by the hon. and gallant Member.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I presume that Militia bands are included in this Vote. Now, Sir, during the last Parliament I called attention two or three times to the fact that regimental bands were in the habit of play- 1349 ing at political demonstrations, and I believe, at that time, that some sort of Order was issued by the Military Authorities; but I never distinctly gathered what that Order was. I may say that I am constantly receiving letters—almost every day, indeed—from persons in different parts of the country, complaining of military bands being allowed to take part in political demonstrations.
§ COLONEL WARING
I rise to Order. It appears to me that the hon. Member is making this statement under a mistake. No public money whatever is granted for the support of Militia bands.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I see an item for 1,038 drummers. Who on earth are these drummers? I suppose they make a noise; and, judging from the demonstrations they go to, I presume that they please the people. I do not treat the question as one of Party, and I do not say whether the demonstrations attended by these military bands are Liberal or Conservative. I would, however, ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to lay down the law definitely, and say to what regimental bands the Order sent out a few months ago applies. Are we to understand that it applies to all bands the members of which wear Her Majesty's uniform? That, I think, would be a reasonable idea. I do not think that either Liberals or Conservatives ought to have bands playing for them in Army uniform; and if the right hon. Gentleman will issue an Order to that effect he will save a great deal of trouble, annoyance, and ill-feeling in many parts of the country.
§ MR. SEALE-HAYNE (Devon, Ashburton)
Having had upwards of 30 years' experience in connection with the Militia Service, and chiefly as an Instructor of Musketry, I desire to support what has been said about the necessity for an improved system of training. I know from experience that the musketry drill is carried out in a most unsatisfactory manner. A certain number of rounds are expended; but the ammunition, as a matter of fact, is wasted, and practically thrown away. The unsatisfactory character of the last Hythe Report on the Militia performances affords ample proof of this. In my opinion, the first consideration in training a soldier in the 1350 present day is to make him a thoroughly good rifle shot. It is impossible to have a regiment which can in any way be regarded as a force available for the purposes of defence unless the men belonging to the regiment are thoroughly instructed in musketry, and are converted by prolonged practice into good, steady riflemen. I regard that as being of far greater importance than any mere superficial efficiency in drill. The time of Militia regiments is at present needlessly wasted in teaching battalion movements, nine-tenths of which are as obsolete as the movements of the Macedonian Phalanx or the Roman Legion. If we want to have a thoroughly efficient Militia regiment, we should confine our training to squad and company drill, and then men who are thoroughly efficient in these drills can at any time, in a very short period, be put in possession of what is necessary for them to know under existing circumstances in connection with the battalion drill. Good steady shooting is a much more difficult matter, and can only be produced by careful drill and long and frequently repeated practice. I have a Notice upon the Paper for to-morrow, in which I propose to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War a Question in reference to Militia training, and I do trust that between this and the next period of training a much better system will have been adopted for the instruction of Militia regiments.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
I wish to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to the practice now followed in regard to the payment of Militiamen upon their disembodiment. I am sure that hon. Members who know anything of the subject will agree with me that some of the scenes which occur at the disembodiment of the Militia after they have been out for training, are most disgraceful. I am satisfied that the hon. Member who is acquainted with the North of Ireland will agree with me in that remark.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
Nevertheless, I am certain that the hon. and gallant Member will concur with me that it would be for the benefit of the men themselves if some alteration were introduced into the system under which 1351 these Militiamen are paid off. I did think, even if only for once, that the hon. and gallant Member opposite would have been found to agree with ton. Members on this side of the House, and I am sorry that there is not even a single point upon which we are likely to agree. I am sure he will not deny, nor will the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War deny, that men who have been under the restraint of discipline for some months, and who are not accustomed to military restraint and discipline as a general rule, may be inclined to go farther than they otherwise would when that restraint is removed. I believe that that is only a natural rule, and I may say that even hon. Members who sit in this House are not free from influences of that kind. We all know what the restraints of duty are, and the great desire that exists in the breasts of ordinary mortals to indulge in a little relaxation when the restraint is removed. What I contend is, that it is detrimental to the men who belong to the Militia themselves that they should be paid on the day they are disembodied; and I believe that the Committee will agree with me that it would be much more beneficial to them, and to their families, if a postal order or a cheque were sent to pay them at their homes, rather than that they should get their full pay on the day of disembodiment, to be spent sometimes, I am afraid, in rioting and excesses which tend to depreciate Her Majesty's Forces in the eyes of the public. I have no wish to cast a slur even on the regiment which the hon. and gallant Colonel commands, and of which I have no doubt he will give us a good account; but I have seen different corps of Militia disembodied all over Ireland, and even in England and Wales, and I say that there is a remarkable uniformity in the way in which they spend their pay. Very little of it ever finds its way to their families. Many of the scenes I have witnessed on these occasions have been most distressful indeed. I have seen Militiamen go upon a "spree" which has lasted for many days; and when I remember that the families of these men have been deprived of their services for months, that their labour has not been devoted to the support of their wives and children, but that they have given their services 1352 to their country, I think it is only a fit and proper thing for this House to interfere with the way in which they usually spend the money which is given to them, in order to induce them to devote it in the future, in some measure, to the wants and necessities of their families. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to take this matter into consideration, for the purpose of putting an end to the discreditable scenes which we all witness from time to time on the disembodiment of this branch of Her Majesty's Forces, and that he will adopt some other way of paying them. I would suggest a means which I believe is in operation already in some branches of Her Majesty's Service—namely, that of sending home a portion of the money which has been earned. [An hon. MEMBER: Deferred pay.] I am informed that this can be kept back as deferred pay, and I believe that in reference to the Navy one-half of the pay is sent home to the family. Then, upon every ground, I think the proposition I make ought to recommend itself to the Committee; and I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will take it seriously into his consideration, and that he will provide some means by which the pay of Militiamen may be sent home to their families at the time of the disembodiment of the force, so that it may be of real benefit, not only to themselves, but to their families.
§ MR. TUITE (Westmeath, N.)
I wish to emphasize the observations which have been made by the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor). I have witnessed the disembodiment of the Westmeath Militia in the town in which I reside—Mullingar, and I have seen in that town disgraceful scenes of riot and drunkenness for some days after the disembodiment has taken place. I know, further, that the calling out of the Militia generally brings into the town, which becomes their headquarters, a band of thieves and disorderly characters, who make it their business to rob the unfortunate members of the Militia when they get drunk. The town of Mullingar has, on more than one occasion, been a scene of riot and disturbance on the occasion of the disembodiment of the Militia. The men are out at all times of the night; they sleep in the ditches and barns round about, and they are the promoters of 1353 scenes of riot and disorder which would be a disgrace to any civilized country. I cannot see why such scenes should be allowed to take place when an easy remedy could be provided. If the money is sent home to the families they would obtain some advantage from the time the head of the family has served in the Army; but at present I am afraid that every penny of the money received is spent in drink.
§ COLONEL WARING
I hope the Committee will allow me to say one word upon this question. In the first place, I must deny that it is the practice of Militia regiments, on disembodiment, to behave in the manner which has been described, nor is it at all general for disorders of this kind to occur, and when they do occur it is the fault, according to my experience, of the Commanding Officer. If anything like proper precautions are taken no such scenes are likely to occur in connection with any well-regulated regiment. As a rule, the Commanding Officer makes an arrangement with the station master to remove the men as soon as their duties have ended, and everything is carried on orderly and to the satisfaction of everybody concerned. With regard to the proposal of the hon. Member to remit the money due to the men in payment of their services home to their family, I do not think that would work well at all. At the present moment every encouragement and assistance is given to the man if he desires to remit home a portion of the money due to him while he is undergoing training; but to remit the whole of it in the way suggested on the termination of the training would be most inconvenient. Many of the men who go up for training have left work in England, Scotland, or elsewhere in order to attend the training, and they go back again when they are disembodied, not knowing where they are certain to get work. It would put such men to serious inconvenience if such a Regulation as that which has been suggested by the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) were acted upon.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
The hon. and gallant Member for Down (Colonel Waring) disagrees with my hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) as to the conduct of Militia regiments when they are dis- 1354 banded. I have no doubt that the regiment which the hon. and gallant Colonel commands is facile princeps—the first Militia regiment in the United Kingdom. It has, however, been my lot to see a considerable number of Militia regiments disbanded in the county to which I belong, and for a part of which I have had the honour to be returned to this House. Indeed, I may say that I have many friends who are connected with Militia regiments; and although it is not necessary to particularize any one regiment, I may say that I have seen many of them disbanded, and am able to speak of the results of the practice which the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite says has been found to act so well. I have seen the Militia marched down to a railway station and put into carriages, and I have seen their officers compelled to stand over them in such carriages with swords in their hands on some occasions, and with sticks on others. Unfortunately, when the trains arrived at the first junction, or at the first stopping place where a drink could be obtained, everything in the shape of discipline was at an end. Let me give an instance in reference to the City of Cork, where I live. Several regiments are sent there for training, and they come from Kinsale, and sometimes, as in the present year, from Spike Island; they are brought by steamers from Spike Island and by train from Kinsale, and when they arrive at Cork they are met by a large crew of women and children, who await the arrival of the steamer or train. Both women and children are generally provided with bottles, and directly the men come in the nearest public-houses are taken by storm by the gallant members of Her Majesty's Militia. Unfortunately, the disturbances which are brought about by this system of disbanding the Militia and paying them off is frequently productive of serious evil. In the case of one Militia regiment, the name of which, however, I will not mention, I saw the men after being disbanded go into the barrack square and assault the guard, literally driving them across the yard, and some of the most outrageous incidents which it is possible to imagine occurred. So much has this been the case that people nowadays to look upon a Militiaman as another name for a rowdy, and the two terms are synonymous. I recollect a 1355 case which occurred in connection with the Limerick Bench of Magistrates. A boy was brought up charged with having committed a felony, and some of the magistrates on the Bench happened to be officers of the Limerick Militia Regiment. The mother of the prisoner came up and begged hard to have her boy let off, asserting that he was her sole support and only hope. The magistrates inquired into the case, and they found that that was so—that he was the only hope she had of obtaining aid and assistance outside the prison. Nevertheless, the magistrates felt called upon to reject the woman's appeal; whereupon she turned round and said—My eldest son was hanged, I have another undergoing penal servitude. My only girl has gone God knows where, but thank God there never was any member of my family in the Militia.That is a kind of character which attaches to the position of a Militiaman; at any rate, in Ireland. I can only express a hope that the right hon. Gentlemen will give some consideration to the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor), and make arrangements by which these men in future will not receive full payment for their services on the day of their disembodiment.
§ MR. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN (Stirling, &c.)
I venture to think that the point which has been raised deserves consideration. It is quite possible that some of the statements which have been made are highly coloured, and that they will not bear the strictest investigation. I have no doubt that by proper arrangements on the part of the officers much of the evil which has been described may be avoided; but still it will always be found that something of the kind occurs when large bodies of men are paid simultaneously. Some years ago that was found to be the case with regard to the enrolled pensioners. The enrolled pensioners were called together to receive payment in person on a certain day, and the result was that a great many of them spent the money they received in drink, and in conviviality among each other. The authorities became alive to the evils of the system, and a right hon. Friend near me, who was then Secretary of State for War, introduced the plan of paying the pensions by means of Post Office orders 1356 which were sent to the homes of the men, and thus temptation was removed. I am not aware whether any system of that kind could be applied to the Militia; but I would urge upon my right hon. Friend that it is certainly a point which deserves to be looked into. The only other topic to which I will allude is that which has been raised by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). My hon. Friend is very much exercised on the subject of the presence of bands at political demonstrations, and I confess that I entirely share his views upon the question. Indeed, I cannot think there can be two opinions as to the propriety of keeping the Army and Navy entirely separated from all political feeling. We civilians have quite enough of political controversy and discussion without importing them into the two Services. If I remember rightly, the Queen's Regulations lay down that no soldier, including, of course, Militiamen for that purpose, is allowed to attend any political demonstration near the camp or barracks in which he is stationed, nor is he to go to any political demonstration whatever if he is in uniform. Now, that is the point. It is alleged that these bands go in uniform, and that, therefore, they give the sanction of military approval to demonstrations of a Party character. I found, when I was at the War Office, no difference of opinion on the subject, and all the staff were as anxious as I was to pnt a stop to this proceeding. His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief issued a letter, or a communication, calling attention to the paragraph in the Queen's Regulations on the subject. That was all that was done, and perhaps it was not sufficient. If so, I hope something further will be done to prevent what I think would be a calamity to the country and to the Services themselves, if the men should ever get mixed up either on one side or the other with political demonstrations. There is only one other remark I desire to make, and it has reference to a matter mentioned by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Waring). The hon. and gallant Gentleman brought forward the well-known grievances of the Militia Staff sergeants, and he stated that they were admitted grievances. In making use of that expression the hon. and gallant Gentleman has attributed to me an opinion altogether contrary to that 1357 which I have entertained. I think that there may be an apparent grievance; but in reality I do not admit that it is one of a pressing character.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE (Dublin Co., S.)
There is one suggestion I should like to offer in reference to the Militia. I do not think they are out for training long enough. I do not see how we can expect men to learn much about their drill in 28 days; I therefore think that it would be to the advantage of the Militia that they should have a longer term of training than at present; and if it could be made 48 days, or even longer than that, it would be of great advantage to the Militia Service. A few years ago the Militia were called out for longer periods of training, and very good results were produced from the longer drill they underwent; they were rendered much more efficient in their work. There is another point which I also desire to mention. Perhaps it is not generally known, but it is nevertheless a fact, that somehow or other a number of men manage to enrol themselves in different regiments; and some men, I am informed, have received payment for their services in the Militia from no loss than three different regiments. That is a somewhat extraordinary circumstance, and I believe that it results from the manner in which the men are called out. It is certainly a point which deserves attention at the hands of the Government. Then, again, something ought to be done to improve the arms which are served out to the Militia. I know that the Artillery Militia still have the old carbines. Cartridges of different kinds are also served out, and in the event of the Militia being called out for active service you would inevitably have many mistakes occurring owing to different kinds of ammunition being supplied for different descriptions of arms. In the Egyptian War mistakes of that nature took place, and in some instances ammunition was given out which was not suitable for the weapons that were carried; and if in the Militia you are to continue the Snider rifles there will be very great danger of serious mistakes of the kind occurring. Then, again, the guns which are given to the Militia Artillery ought to be improved. The guns and other weapons supplied to them are altogether obsolete, and yet they are now required to learn their drill upon them. In many places 1358 you have 24-pounder guns which are really armaments of a fossilized character nowadays; they are guns that shoot very badly, and if you fire at a target at a range of 500 yards with a 24-pounder, the shot would go 40 or 50 yards to the right or left. The muzzle-loading ordnance supplied to the Militia is also out of date, and useless to assist the men in drill. I have no doubt there are many other instances, and I believe that the weapons supplied to the Militia require to be changed altogether. Another point is the fines imposed upon the men for irregularities. The men expect at the end of the training to have a certain amount of money coming to them; but it is likely to be curtailed if they have done anything wrong. It is very hard upon the men to find when the period of training is over that instead of receiving a pound or two, or whatever the sum may be, they only get a few shillings. I believe it would be advantageous if a more regular system were introduced by which the men could calculate exactly what they would receive when the training was over. It is only regulated now according to the whim of the officer, who can cut off as much or as little as he likes. I am informed that this is felt as a considerable grievance among the men.
§ ADMIRAL SIR JOHN COMMERELL (Southampton)
There are one or two questions which have been raised upon which I should like to gay a word. I think, myself, that there may be some objection to bandsmen being allowed to go to a political demonstration in uniform, yet, at the same time, I see no reason why they should not be engaged there if they are out of uniform. It must always be remembered that the pay of a bandsman is very small, and he is allowed to supplement it by the gratuities he receives from attending entertainments, whether political or temperance, or whatever they may be. It would be a great misfortune if he were deprived of all opportunity of obtaining these gratuities. I do not consider it absolutely necessary, because a bandsman goes to a Primrose League entertainment, that, therefore, he is to be regarded as sharing the opinions of the Primrose League. My own opinion is that if Liberals had bands a little oftener at their entertainments they would not be so fond of grumbling at our bands. 1359 Some men are not fond of music. I knew a man who only knew two tunes—one of which was "God save the Queen," and the other was not. At the same time we all have our opinions, and the mere fact of a band playing at a Primrose League meeting, or a meeting of the Liberal Party, I am perfectly certain would have no influence upon the opinions of the public in any way whatever.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War whether, if bands are allowed to play at Primrose League meetings and Liberal meetings, they should not also be allowed to play at our National League meetings? I think it would be highly invidious to draw the line of distinction at any political Party whatever; and I trust that if the right hon. Gentleman allows the employment of a military band in one case he will allow it in another.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I will treat the questions which have been addressed to me in the order in which they have been put; and if I fail to answer any hon. Gentleman who has spoken, I trust that my attention will be called to the omission. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down (Colonel Waring) spoke of an alleged grievance on the part of the Staff sergeants of Militia. I am afraid that I can give no more favourable answer than that which was given by my right hon. Predecessor. There is no doubt that these valuable non-commissioned officers receive less pay than they would if they were on the Staff of the Regular Army; but they enjoy other advantages, and they receive as much as it was understood they should have. I am not in a position to undertake that a higher rate of pay will be awarded to them than that which is now considered sufficient for the services they render. I fully agree with the remarks which have been made as to the importance of the Militia being efficient in musketry practice, and I will give the subject my best consideration with the view of ascertaining what improvement can be effected. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) has called attention to the employment of military bands at political demonstrations. I entirely concur with the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of 1360 State for War that the Queen's uniform should not be associated in any way with Party politics. So far as the Army and Navy are concerned, I believe it has always been their desire to avoid, even in this House, any identification with political Party; and I am sure it is for the advantage of the country that the same course should be followed in every branch of the Service. I will communicate with the proper authorities, and so far as my influence can be exercised I will endeavour to secure that no person in the Queen's uniform shall be allowed to attend a Party demonstration of any character. The hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) referred to the question of the payment of Militiamen on the day after their disembodiment. I can only say that if it is possible to introduce any improvement into the system of payment I will endeavour to effect it. The hon. Member is aware that the men have to sign for the pay they receive when the training is concluded; and I am not quite certain if it is in my power, or the power of the Department, to insist that they shall receive payment in another place instead of the place where they are disembodied. At the same time I fully admit that the ease is one which requires attentive consideration; and if anything can be done to improve the moral condition of the men or those dependent upon them, no effort will be spared on my part to effect it. The hon. Member for Dublin County (Sir Thomas Esmonde) has referred to the question of the duration of Militia trainings. I think the hon. Baronet is not aware that Militia recruits are trained for 56 days, irrespective of the period during which their regiments may be called out. As to maintaining Militia regiments in training for a longer period than 28 days, that is a matter which would require careful consideration. It would involve a very considerably increased charge upon the Estimates, and I am not prepared to say that any change of that sort could be brought about without very serious consideration. The hon. Baronet has referred also to the question of fraudulent enlistment. There is no doubt that fraudulent enlistment does occur on certain occasions; but I doubt whether there are any Militiamen who can find it possible to belong to three or four regiments at the same time. It might even occur that all the regiments would 1361 be called out at the same time, and then the fraud would be at once detected. Although a man may be able to pass muster in two different places, it is hardly possible that he would succeed in three or more. Reference has been made to the training of the Artillery Militia. I believe it will be found that Artillery Militia regiments are generally quartered in places where they are trained in the use of the newest and best description of guns. I think I have now answered all the questions which have been addressed to me.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE
In reference to the last remark of the right hon. Gentleman, I may say that in one of our fortified stations there is a gun which is supposed to have been there since 1641. With regard to the drilling of recruits, I believe it is a fact that the recruits may take their 56 days' drill whenever they join, and they can join at any period of the year they like. It does not follow that all Militia recruits join at the same time. It is quite possible for a recruit to join one regiment at one period of the year and another regiment at another period—I believe, in point of fact, that that is the case now in some instances.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I observe that the sum charged in the Vote this year for levy money for medical fees on enrolment and re-enrolment, and on other heads under Subhead E, page 37, shows an increase from £9,000 to £14,000 in the present year. An increase of £5,000 upon that one particular item is a startling increase, because it represents the Militia as a whole, and it would almost appear to suggest that there has been almost double the amount of recruiting for the Militia this year over the previous financial year. If that is so, the condition of the Militia might reasonably be expected to be very different from what it was before; but when I go to the bottom of the page I find that last year the Militia Establishment was 129,000 men, but only 98,000 men came up for training; so that there were 31,000 men absent. I think it would be much better that the authorities should endeavour to make the Militia something more than a paper force, and not allow the levy money to increase without any explanation at all from £9,000 to £14,000. There is another point upon which I should 1362 like to have a word of explanation. I notice that the sum of £4,800 is taken on account of Militia fines for drunkenness. I should like to know what the explanation is of so large a sum being set down for this item, inasmuch as the whole amount of fines for drunkenness in the Regular Army only amounts to £1,100, and the Militia is only on duty for so short a period? It is perfectly plain that there ought to be some explanation of this item of £4,800 taken on account of fines in the Militia for drunkenness. I find that in the last account of the Comptroller and Auditor General reference is made to these fines for drunkenness. It is stated that an application had been made by the War Office for permission to appropriate the fines on account of drunkenness; and it is added that the fines have been accumulating for some years past at the rate of about £600 a-year. I find a letter, signed L. Courtney, from the Treasury Chamber, authorizing the appropriation of £600; but there is nothing at all stated with regard to the further sum of £4,200, which appears in the present Vote.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I find in the Estimates that the fines for drunkenness in the Militia are put down at £4,800; but I am not able at this moment to give any explanation of the item. I believe there has been an accumulation of arrears since 1867. As the hon. Member is aware, I have not prepared these Estimates, and consequently I cannot answer fully all these matters of detail. The sum of £14,000 referred to by the hon. Member is the total amount of levy money paid for fees on enrolment and re-enrolment.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the Estimates he will see that the same Estimate for 1885–6 for levy money and enlistment fees was £9,000, and this year it is £14,000, being an increase of £5,000 upon the year. Surely if £9,000 was sufficient in the year 1885 6 the fact that £14,000 is asked for now requires some explanation. The explanation which the right hon. Gentleman has given as to the fines for drunkenness is only what I expected. It appears that the process of accumulation has been going on, and that the sum now given in the Estimates represents the result of the accumulation. I be- 1363 lieve that some years ago these fines for drunkenness were handed over to the Stock Purse Fund in a different manner from the way in which the money is appropriated now. That was recognized as a regimental fund; but of late years the War Office has put its hands upon that money, instead of allowing the regiment to have the benefit of it. The difference in the course of procedure now adopted is certainly startling. If the regiments were entitled to the money some time ago, surely they are as much entitled to it now; and I think they are fairly entitled to complain—I mean those who are in charge of the Stock Purse Fund—that it is not handed over to them now.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The hon. Gentleman, as I have already stated, is aware that I did not prepare these Estimates; therefore I am not able to give him all the explanation he desires. But I believe that this change in the appropriation of the fines for drunkenness was done with a view of meeting the necessities of the case.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid.)
With respect to the pay of the Militia officers, I should like to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War and of the House to the actual state of affairs which at present exists in connection with those officers. Anyone who has had any acquaintance with the Militia and the Militia officers both in England and Ireland knows very well that the officers are very frequently altogether incompetent and incapable of doing their duty in the way in which it ought to be done. Unfortunately I have myself, from time to time, witnessed a great deal of this incompetency on the part of many of the Militia officers; and I should like to learn how it comes to pass that these men do not know their duty, and are incapable of performing it. As a matter of fact, it arises simply because the Militia training every year is looked upon as a gigantic joke. It is regarded as a portion of the year's amusement. A number of men form themselves into a kind of club; they travel about in uniform, and spend the larger part of their time in playing lawn tennis by day and cards by night. Perhaps I may be allowed to give the House an instance of the way in which these Militia officers, and notably some of the higher officers 1364 in command of Militia regiments, perform their duty. A case came to my knowledge a few years ago which has reference to a Militia regiment which I do not propose to name. The officer in command of the regiment went on parade, and he was asked when he got there to put the men through certain evolutions, which I believe are known as putting them through their manual exercise. I believe that duty is not a very difficult one, and that it is, practically speaking, the A. B. C. of the most elementary Militia work; but when this Commanding Officer came to issue his commands he was not very long before he committed a mistake. It was passed over, however, and then a very short time afterwards he committed a second blunder, the result of which was that one-half of the regiment went off in one direction while the other half went in another, whereupon this gallant officer slapped the pommel of his saddle, and exclaimed, "Looed again." I think that anecdote will convince the House that these Militia officers are not in earnest at all, and that when they are called upon to go through the most elementary portion of their work they are unable to do so without committing ludicrous mistakes. Some of them may be capable of marching into a barrack square and taking themselves out again; but they are by no means competent to go through even the most ordinary military evolutions. No doubt there are able officers connected with the Militia regiments, officers who have served for a considerable time in the Regular Army, and who have been placed on the Reserve List. Of course, officers of that character are capable of understanding their duties, and of carrying them out successfully. In addition to such officers, there are a certain number of young officers in the Militia who also understand their duty. These are young men who are intending to go up for Army examinations—young men who find that they could not pass a direct examination in order to obtain a commission, and who join the Militia Force, and then endeavour, by attention to their duties and diligence, to obtain one of the commissions which are given to Militia officers, and thus, as it were, they stray into the Regular Service. I believe there are many instances in which, in this way, young men endeavour to pass 1365 from the Militia into the Regular Army; and what I desire to complain of is the unfair treatment which many of these young men receive. Now, it certainly appears to me, and I happen to possess some knowledge in connection with this force, that a considerable number of these young men who are trying to pass from the Militia into the Army are treated very roughly. A good many of them have been down on the list for a long time; but, owing to the exercise against them of family influence and other influences in connection with social position, many of them who ought to have obtained commissions long ago are passed over solely because there are other candidates who are put over their heads because they happen to be of a higher social rank than those who are left behind. Now, I maintain that that is a very unfortunate state of affairs, and that it ought to be seen to. In reviewing the capacity of Militia officers, I believe it will be found that, practically speaking, the two classes I have mentioned are the only ones which are worth being retained in the Service. I think there ought to be a better system of examination—I mean of practical examination—for Militia officers of all ranks, and that is a suggestion which I believe will be endorsed by hon. and gallant Gentlemen opposite. There should be a system not only of examination, but of exercise, for all ranks of Militia officers, not in the usual farcical way which has been the case up to the present moment, but altogether on a sound and intelligent plan; and in that case, instead of having a large body of officers who are altogether incapable of doing their duty, you would be able very materially to improve the Militia Service, and raise the status of all persons connected with it.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
I observe in this Vote an item for the payment of Lieutenancy Clerks. I should like to have an explanation of what it means.
§ MR. A. BLANE (Armagh, S.)
Are we to understand that military bands, when not in uniform, will be allowed to attend political demonstrations? Is the objection only to bands being employed in uniform?
§ MR. MOLLOY
I have not received an answer to my question—Who are the Clerks of the Lieutenancy, and what work do they do?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
They are clerks who do perform work in connection with Militia Companies. They are paid under an Act of Parliament.
§ MR. HARRIS (Galway, E.)
I quite concur in the remarks which have been made in reference to the Militia, and especially in reference to what has been stated by my hon. Friend the Member for North Westmeath (Mr. Tuite). An hon. Gentleman sitting above the Gangway on this side of the House said that squad drill and company drill would be quite sufficient for the Militia. I quite agree with him; and if an arrangement of that description could be carried out I believe it would confer an immense advantage upon the country. At present, young men reared in the country towns who may be perfectly harmless, and even intelligent young men, unfortunately join the Militia, and after having served with the regiment, and having been sent to whatever town the regiment is required to assemble in, they return home, I am sorry to say, to their native towns to a great extent finished ruffians. There is another point which is also deserving of attention. A good many of the men who belong to the Militia are married; and I think it is most desirable, if the requirements of the Service permit, that they should be left at home with their families. As to the officers of the Militia, it appears to me that the Militia Force has been brought into existence solely for the benefit of the landed aristocracy of the country, in order to give them a firm grip over the people, to confer upon them additional status, and in that way to assist them in carrying out that system of oppression which for so long a period has been connected in so large a degree with the landed aristocracy of the country. I am sorry to say that this remark applies quite as much to the Regular Army as to the Militia; but as we have not yet reached the Vote for the Regular Army, I presume that, as a matter of Order, I must confine my remarks to the Militia. My opinion of the position of a soldier is this—I think that every man, whether he joins the Militia or the Regular Army, should be required to join as a private soldier, and 1367 that he should work up from the position of a private soldier to that of an officer. In the next place, they should all mess together, and live together, and share each other's comforts and discomforts. As soldiers, every man in the Army or Militia ought to be upon a footing of equality. I trust that the Department which has the control of the Militia will consider in some respects the desirability of altering the existing system. If every man was required, as I contend he ought to be required, to join as a private soldier, there would be a great deal more respect paid to intelligence, and very little to the superior social position occupied by one man over another, and the result in the end would be to increase very materially the comfort of the Army.
§ MR. MOLLOY
I am sorry that I am compelled to return again to the question I put to the right hon. Gentleman just now in reference to the item which appears in this Estimate of £3,000 for Clerks of Lieutenancy. I know that in former days the Lords Lieutenant of counties had the appointment of officers in the Militia, and no doubt it was quite proper that they should have clerks to assist them in the work they had to do. But, at the present moment, the Lords Lieutenant of counties have nothing to do with the Militia appointments; and, with the exception of filling themselves sometimes the position of honorary Colonel, no work whatever falls upon them in connection with the Militia. Therefore, this sum of £3,000 which appears in the Estimate represents £3,000 paid under an Act of Parliament when they had actual work to do; but, notwithstanding that the work has been taken away, the item for the payment of it is still retained. The point I wished to ascertain from the right hon. Gentleman was who these clerks are, and what work they have to do? The right hon. Gentleman informs the Committee that the money is paid, and this Vote retained under an Act of Parliament; but, if that is so, I should have thought the sum would have been debited to the Consolidated Fund. It is quite clear, however, that it is money which is paid for work which was done at one time, but which has now ceased. Therefore, at the present moment, this sum of £3,000 is being paid—Heaven knows to whom—perhaps to clerks who do other work for which they are paid 1368 from another source. Personally, I am of opinion that this item of £3,000 has no right to appear on the Estimates at all.
§ MR. A. BLANE (Armagh, S.)
Under the heading of "fines for drunkenness" there is an item of £4,800 to which attention has already been called. Now, in my opinion, the same law ought to apply to everybody in the Militia, from the Colonel right down to the humblest private. I should, therefore, like to learn from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War what is the amount which has been contributed by officers of Militia to these fines for drunkenness? I know a regiment in which, bad as the men are, the officers are a great deal worse; and I want to know what proportion of these fines for drunkenness paid by them is their share of this £4,800? I sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to state the amount contributed by the officers as well as that paid by the privates. There is an impression that the stoppages of pay to which reference is made in the Estimates consists exclusively of fines imposed upon privates.
THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. ST. JOHN BRODRICK) (Surrey, Guildford)
In reply to the hon. Member for King's County (Mr. Molloy), I have to say that the clerks to the Lord Lieutenants have still special duties to perform in connection with the Militia. The fees consist of certain allowances for actual work, and those allowances have, in fact, decreased under the Act of Parliament rather than increased. The work of the clerks is not as great as it was, and, on the other hand, the scale of remuneration is very much lower.
§ MR. P. J. POWER (Waterford, E.)
I presume it is requisite that there should be a stated time for calling out the Militia for training; but I believe the period of the year in which they are at present called out is the most inconvenient which could be selected. The embodiment of the Militia takes place in the summer months, when there is plenty of work to be found in agricultural pursuits. I know that, as far as Ireland is concerned, it would be of great advantage if the training could take place in the early spring months, when there is little or no work on the farms. At present the farmers are con- 1369 stantly complaining that when they want the services of farm labourers the men are off to the Militia for training. So far back as 1879 it was suggested that the training should take place in the early spring months, and we were then told that it was for the convenience of the War Office and the State that the Militia were called out in the summer. In view of the destitution, which I am sorry to say we may all expect in the coming winter, I think the Government ought to fix the training for a period when it would be most to the advantage of the Militiamen and to the general public. In the summer time, when the training goes on as a rule, there would be no difficulty in obtaining labourer's work all over the country; whereas in the early spring months—February and March—there is no work to be obtained. It would, therefore, be of great advantage to the men and to their families that they should be at the disposal of the War Office when it is difficult for them to obtain other employment, and free to take employment in the summer months, when there is abundance of farm labour to be procured. I sincerely hope that the Government will take the question into their serious consideration, especially now that there is every reason to suppose that before many months have passed there will be great destitution all over Ireland.
§ MR. A. BLANE
I have not yet received a reply from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State to my question whether officers of Militia are ever fined for drunkenness? It is well known that stoppages are imposed upon the men; but what I want to know is whether fines are also inflicted upon the officers for the same offence?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The hon. Gentleman does not seem to be aware that if an officer is charged with drunkenness he is tried by court martial, and, if found guilty, is dismissed the Service.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I wish to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman in reference to a transaction connected with a particular regiment of Militia—the Cavan Militia. I put a Question upon the subject the other day, and as the answer was not satisfactory I gave Notice of my intention to raise it again upon the Estimates. The question I wish to put is whether the right hon. Gentleman can account for, 1370 or give any reason why, the absence of Captain Somerset Maxwell from the training of the Cavan Militia Regiment, both this year and last; and whether it is usual, in the case of Militia officers like Captain Somerset Maxwell, to allow them to combine the pleasure and amusement of Militia soldiering with the more unpleasant business of electioneering? The discharge of one duty is evidently incompatible with the efficient performance of the other; and, in order to fulfil the one, it was absolutely necessary that Captain Somerset Maxwell should neglect the other. What I want to know is, how it was that Captain Somerset Maxwell was allowed to enjoy this very singular privilege, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman, or some other Member of Her Majesty's Government, may be able to account for the extraordinary conduct of the Colonel commanding the Cavan Regiment of Militia? It does seem to be an extraordinary state of affairs that; because Captain Somerset Maxwell happened to be an unsuccessful Tory candidate for one of the Divisions of Belfast, from which he was suddenly withdrawn by a distinguished Member of this House—the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson). It seems very strange to me that the same thing should have been tolerated, not only last year, but this year as well; and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give some reason why it should have been permitted.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The hon. Gentleman is aware that I was not in Office when the General Election took place, and that if anybody connected with the Government is responsible for what occurred it is my Predecessor. But, as a matter of fact, the granting of leave of absence is regulated by the Military Authorities; and if an officer is a candidate for a seat in Parliament, I believe it is customary for him to obtain leave, whatever his politics may be. But, however that may be, I understand that Captain Somerset Maxwell obtained leave on the occasion to which the hon. Member referred, on the ground of ill-health.
The right hon. Gentleman says that Captain Somerset Maxwell obtained leave on the ground of ill-health. It would therefore appear that, finding he was unable on account of illness to perform the comparatively 1371 easy duties which a Militia officer is required to perform, Captain Somerset Maxwell obtained leave of absence, and then found himself able to take an active part in a contested election, and an election which was attended with a great deal of disturbance and ill-feeling in the North of Ireland. The health of Captain Somerset Maxwell seems to have been quite good enough for that, although it was not good enough to enable him to go through the duties of a Militia officer called out for a short period of training.
§ MR. P. J. POWER
I have not received an answer from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to the question which I put to him in reference to the time of the year at which the Militia regiments in Ireland are called out for training. At present they are called out at a time when there is no dearth of agricultural employment; and I think it would be of great advantage to the men themselves and their families if the Government would make, an arrangement by which in future the training should take place at a time when it is more difficult to find employment—namely, the early spring months.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I trust that if I do not answer every observation of every hon. Member who may address the Committee, any neglect on my part will not be construed into an act of disrespect. I waited until I thought every hon. Member who wished to speak upon the Vote had addressed the Committee, and the hon. Gentleman did not rise until after I had completed my reply. In regard to the subject to which he has called attention, I can only say that the Militia are called out for training at that period of the year which, in the judgment of the officer commanding the district, is deemed to be the best suited. I must remind the hon. Member that due regard must be had to the exposure of the regiment; and the months of February and March are not those months of the year which are best suited, even in Ireland, for bringing men together and training them in the open air. Apart from that, there is always a strong desire to call out the regiments at times when it is considered that the training will interfere as little as possible with the civil occupation of the men.
§ DR. TANNER
I should like to ask whether Captain Somerset Maxwell applied for leave of absence in writing?
An hon. MEMBER
I find that in the Island of Lewis there are about 800 Militiamen; and I find, further, that they are sent all the way to Fort George to be trained. A considerable amount of time is wasted in consequence, and there is also a large expense incurred. In other years we have been able to train and drill the Militia in Stornoway, and I believe the training could still be carried on there with ease. I want to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to this consideration—whether he does not think that there ought to be a centre at which these men could be trained? I am aware that there are objections to this; but if the loss of time and the difference between local training and the system which I propose be taken into account, I think the right hon. Gentleman would see that an advantage would result to the Public Service. I would also point out that if there were a training ship stationed there, you would get as many boys as you liked for the Naval Service.
§ Vote agreed to.
(5.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £36,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge for Yeomanry Cavalry Pay and Allowances, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st; day of March 1887.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
We have had some very valuable suggestions made by Gentlemen opposite as to reforms which might take place in the Service; but the difficulty is always in getting money for carrying out those reforms. I think the best way would be for hon. Members opposite to join Gentlemen on this side of the House in getting rid of some of the items of this wasteful expenditure. I am about to move an Amendment to the present Vote, which, I am sorry to say, has been reduced by the Vote taken on Account from £76,000 to £36,000. I think that hon. Gentlemen will agree 1373 with me that a more utterly wasteful expenditure than this £76,000 for the Yeomanry Cavalry Pay and Allowances cannot be imagined. For what is this Yeomanry? There is generally a regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry in each county; the country gentlemen become officers in it, and the troopers are, as a rule, their tenants and others connected with them. Once a year they come together for eight days' regimental training, and, besides that, they have three days' troop drill in the year—at least, that is what it is supposed to be; but, if it be so, it is perfectly obvious that it is impossible to make a man in it a soldier, or to make a horse a Cavalry horse fit for service, by drilling them for eight days a-year. I have stated what the theory is; but, as a matter of fact, it will be found that the whole thing is a piece of humbug throughout. It generally happens that the trooper hires the horse for the day, and after eight days, thinking that he has done his duty, and kept well with the squire, he gives up the horse and goes away. I am informed that most of the horses which can stand fire are old cast-off troop horses. Now, I ask what in the world is the good of a force like this? No doubt, if the country was invaded, you would require some sort of Cavalry for defensive purposes; but I think that any General commanding, under the circumstances, would be very careful to see that the Yeomanry Cavalry were kept out of the way. They are not much good for reconnoitring purposes; and where you have, as in this country, a large number of persons fond of such exercises, you would have no difficulty in getting the right sort of men for your purpose. I find that there is also a charge of £2,000 per annum for retired Yeomanry Cavalry officers, and I point out that this Vote of £78,000 would almost give that Capitation Grant to the Volunteers which is so much wanted. The question is, how you are best to employ money voted for military purposes? I think most hon. Gentlemen will agree with me that it would be better to employ the amount of this Vote on the Volunteers than maintaining an inefficient Yeomanry. Under the circumstances, I ask the House to vote against this Estimate.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 155; Noes 64: Majority 91.—(Div. List, No. 13.)
(6.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £304,500, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge for Volunteer Corps Pay and Allowances, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Estimate whether there should appear a charge on account of the Clerks of Lieutenancy? We could understand that there should be this charge in connection with the Militia and Yeomanry; but I am bound to say that I see no ground why there should be a charge of £2,500 a-year for the payment of the Clerks of Lieutenancy on account of the Volunteer Corps. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will state what these clerks have to do in connection with the Volunteer Corps.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
There are some other observations which I shall have to reply to before the question of the hon. Member.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, North West)
I have to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War two questions upon this Vote. The first is, whether he has taken into consideration the question of an extra Capitation Grant; and whether he has received from officers of Volunteers the statement which the late Secretary of State for War applied for to each of those officers; and if he has carefully considered those statements with a view to coming to a final decision upon the subject? I am sure it will be a fair and careful decision; but time is going on, and the Volunteers are anxious to know what they are to expect during the coming year. The next question has reference to the Code of Instruction in Musketry. The Code of Instruction in Musketry has been entirely altered recently—that is to say, in the middle of the year—and it is stated that the alterations are 1375 to come into force immediately they are received. It will be a very hard case for some regiments, who have possibly completed their instruction, to go through another course after that which they have already gone through. Therefore, I would ask whether it would not be more wise and fair towards the Volunteer Force that the new Rules should not come into force until next year? I believe that will give satisfaction to this branch of the Service.
§ COLONEL LAURIE (Bath)
I concur with the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken in thinking that the new musketry instruction should not come into operation before the end of the present Volunteer year. The right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that the musketry instructions are only a part of the Volunteer drill.
§ MR. JOHN O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
I have to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War whether he contemplates the establishment of a Volunteer Force in Ireland? [A laugh.] Hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway laugh at this question; but probably they are not aware that, in a former Parliament, a Bill was passed through this House for the purpose of establishing a Volunteer Force in Ireland, although it was opposed in "another place." I have no doubt that, if a Bill were again introduced here, it would be passed and sent forward in like manner. The Volunteer Bill to which I allude was brought in by an Irish Member, and received the support of Members on both sides of the House at the time, and was passed through this House by a considerable majority. I believe that the main objection urged against the establishing of a Volunteer Force in Ireland is that the loyalty of the people is to be doubted. But, if the Irish people are disloyal, how is it that you can trust 53,000 Militiamen in Ireland to carry arms—how is it that you can trust these men, who are not usually drawn from the more respectable and orderly classes from which the Volunteer Forces would be drawn? I hold that the argument of assumed disloyalty on the part of the Irish people has no force whatever, and is refuted by the fact that you have already a large force in Ireland under arms, not only for the defence of your Home Possessions, but for the purpose of drawing thence your 1376 very best Army Reserve men. I say that the best of your Reserve men are those recruited from the Irish Militia; and I say that you knew this when you were in trouble some time ago and expected war between this country and Russia, for no men returned with more readiness to the Colours than did the Army Reserve men who were drawn from the Irish Militia. I repeat that the argument as to disloyalty does not weigh in this question; and I regret that some hon. and gallant Members from the North of Ireland are not present to add their testimony to this fact. It appears to me to be a palpable injustice that you should afford to the people of England and Scotland an opportunity of indulging in the pleasure and pastime of playing at soldiers, and that you should deprive a military nation like the Irish nation of this exceeding great pleasure. I believe that one of the chief mistakes which the Government of England has committed in its dealing with Ireland is, that it has not yielded to and encouraged its peculiarities. In Scotland you encourage the people to dress in the Celtic costume, and you allow them to indulge in their pastime of playing at soldiers—in short, you encourage their every national proclivity. Why have you not done so in Ireland? This has been a very one-sided policy on your part; and I believe the sooner it is abandoned the better it will be, and that the more you conciliate the Irish people the more you will attach them to yourselves. I ask whether the Government will consider the advisability of establishing in Ireland a Volunteer Force, which I believe would be conducive both to the interest of Ireland, and favourable to other conditions that we hope to see in existence.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
There is a matter connected with this Vote to which I have on former occasions alluded; and although something has been done in the direction indicated, still something more is required. I refer to the expenses of officers which are incurred by them in going through their tactical examination. During past years officers desiring to go through these examinations have been required to travel long distances at considerable cost to themselves, while no allowance whatever is made to them for expenses 1377 thus incurred in rendering themselves efficient. I was told on a former occasion that something would be done, and that it was intended that examinations in tactics should be held elsewhere than at the district centres. So far as that was carried out it was an improvement; but I am informed that officers are still put to a considerable expense in going through these examinations. They do feel it is rather hard they should be required to incur expense in proving their higher qualifications for the service of the country, and I suggest that when officers are required to leave their homes for the purpose of passing examinations, some allowance should be made to them.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I am afraid I can give the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) no other explanation than that given by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Brodrick). I will, however, look at the Act of Parliament, and if it is possible to effect a reduction it shall be made. With regard to the question raised by the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) as to the Returns made by officers commanding Volunteer Corps, I am sorry to say we have not even yet received the whole of these Returns; there are some 20 officers who had not yet sent in their Returns. We are taking steps with a view to ascertain what the real necessities of the corps are, and anything we find really necessary for the efficiency of the corps will not escape the attention of the Department. I am afraid I cannot go further than that at the present time. My hon. and gallant Friend knows that examinations of this kind require great care and consideration. We have asked for assistance in that examination, and I have no doubt the result will turn out to be satisfactory. My hon. and gallant Friend, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bath (Colonel Laurie) referred to the musketry instructions this year. I was unaware of the effect of the regulations; but I fully realize what the hon. and gallant Gentlemen have said, and I will look into the matter and endeavour, as far as possible, to obviate any of the inconvenient results which it has been suggested may follow from them. The hon. Gentleman the 1378 Member for Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) referred to the old question of establishing a Volunteer Force in Ireland. I can quite understand the feeling with which the hon. Gentleman raised the question; but I am sure he does not expect from me a statement now that Her Majesty's Government are prepared at once to introduce a Bill to authorize the raising of Volunteer Corps in Ireland. The question shall have consideration, for I assure the hon. Gentleman that we are as desirous as he himself can be to provide for the people of Ireland the excitement and interest which he considers military exercises afford. The hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Tomlinson) referred to the facilities for technical examination offered to Volunteer officers. I will look into that question, and if it is possible to afford Volunteer officers greater facilities in this respect they shall be afforded.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
In this Estimate there is one very remarkable item, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman may be able to throw some light upon it. I find that the pay of the adjutants of Volunteers is increased this year by the amount of £2,600. Of course we know that the adjutant of a Volunteer corps is practically the working officer on the staff of the corps, and that the next most important men to him in respect to the instruction of the corps are the sergeant instructors. Now, I find that the pay of the sergeant instructors of Volunteers has diminished by the amount of £1,500, and I confess I do not see how the two items dove-tail. In fact, instead of dove-tailing, they show that there is something radically wrong. The pay of the adjutants is increased, whereas that of the men who really instruct the Volunteers is diminished by £1,500. I should be glad to receive some explanation upon this point.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will at the same time also explain why it is that the Isle of Man has to pay to this Exchequer £200 a year for the privilege of having Volunteers?
§ MR. HARRIS (Galway, E.)
I have no objection to the enrolment of Volunteers generally; but I consider it is very unfair that Ireland should be deprived of the right of having Volunteers. In late debates in this House challenges to us were 1379 thrown out by very distinguished persons. We were called cowards, and asked why we did not fight as the Hungarians and the Italians fought. After all the bombast about fighting which we have heard in the House of Commons, it seems to me strange that when we demand the ordinary right of citizens to be put on an equality with England and Scotland in respect to the enrolment of Volunteers, we should be denied the right. Liberality of view upon all questions was one of the chief characteristics of the Irish Volunteers of old. Many quotations have been made in this House to show the liberality of the Protestant Volunteers. Whether on the Religious Question, the Free Trade Question, or the question of Native Government in Ireland, the Volunteers of Ireland showed themselves to be a body of men who were only anxious for the public good and the welfare and interest of their country. We hear a great deal from time to time about Free Trade. Are hon. Members aware that it was in Ireland that the question was first raised, and that the strongest supporters of Free Trade principles were the Irish Volunteers? They wrote upon the mouths of their cannon—"Free Trade, or else!" And though the English may be inclined to ignore and disregard the sentiments of these men, we in Ireland have a very clear recollection of them, and we value them very highly. As to Volunteer corps generally, it is most desirable that there should be such bodies of men in any country. Every citizen should have the right to carry arms; if occasion arose, every citizen should fight for his country. How can men fight if they do not know how to fight? How can they fight if they have no arms, and if they have not been drilled? How can they fight if they get no opportunities? We in Ireland do not only complain that we are denied the right to become Volunteers, but that we are also not allowed to carry arms. These grievences are felt very keenly in Ireland. If you want to conciliate the people of Ireland, you must conciliate them upon some liberal principle—upon the principle of equality and right. Unless you do that, I fear the relations between this country and Ireland will go on from bad to worse.
§ MR. BIGGAR (Cavan, W.)
I am sorry I cannot agree with my hon. 1380 Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Harris), because I look upon this sum of money which we are now asked to vote as money practically thrown away. We have had Volunteers in this country for many years, but as far as any fighting in connection with the country is concerned they appear to be perfectly worthless. I will show why, in my opinion, they are worthless. If the Volunteers are ever to be of any value, it will be in case of foreign invasion. Now, I should like to know whether there is any commissariat department in connection with the Volunteers, and whether the Volunteer corps have had any training which would make them of the slightest value in case of actual warfare? I am inclined to think that, in case of an invasion of the country, a large number of the Volunteers would make themselves very scarce. Of course, it is very good amusement for men to dress up in regimentals; besides, the movement gives an opportunity to a certain portion of the population to pose as military captains and majors and colonels. If I were a military man, I really would protest very strongly against this system of allowing men to use military titles, men who are in reality only amateurs, who, in point of fact, are not soldiers at all. Unless some explanation of the Vote is given by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War of a very much more satisfactory nature than I expect he can possibly give, I shall move to reduce the Vote and divide the Committee on the subject.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR (Kincardine)
I entirely disagree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) upon this question. I think the Volunteers are a very admirable force, and I only wish we had 300,000 or 400,000 under arms. I trust the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War will treat them generously.
§ MR. J. F. X. O'BRIEN (Mayo, S.)
It is not necessary to tell hon. Gentlemen that Ireland is a very poor country. Everything appears to be done which prevents the progress of the country; money is drawn away from Ireland, but nothing is done to spend any there. In this country Volunteering affords considerable amusement for the people; besides which, a very large sum of money is spent annually in the maintenance of 1381 the force. Nothing is spent in Ireland upon such a force, neither does the country get anything in the way of an equivalent. I really think that until we can get a Volunteer Force in Ireland, we at least ought to receive an equivalent in the outlay of money. That is a very fair proposition. If we are to be deprived of the pleasure and glory of a Volunteer Force, we ought to be given some equivalent.
§ MR. ISAACS (Newington, Walworth)
Although the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) has criticized the Volunteer Force of this country in no friendly spirit, he has, I think, done it a large amount of good. The hon. Gentleman called attention to the commissariat and transport, in respect of which the Volunteers of the country stand in great need. I trust that when the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State the War is preparing the Army Estimates next year he will consider whether he can afford to give the very modest sum in the way of an increase in the capitation grant asked for by the Volunteers,—namely, 10s. per head. I am in a position to say that if this increase in the grant were made, the Volunteers would be able to put themselves in a proper position with regard to commissariat and transport, and to be fit themselves to take part in any military proceedings which might be necessary for the defence of the country. It is too late in the day for hon. Members to question the value of the Volunteers. It has been recognized on all hands that the Volunteers of this country form a very reliable force; military experts have borne testimony to the excellent qualities of the force. I regret that circumstances will not permit the establishment of Volunteer regiments in Ireland; but the regiments that are embodied in this country and in Scotland are admitted to be composed of men of excellent qualities, well calculated to give good service if ever they are called upon. I trust that when the next Estimates are being prepared, the question of providing the Volunteers with proper commissariat and transport will be favourably considered by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
I wish to say that if my hon. Friend (Mr. Biggar) goes to a division I shall feel bound to follow him into the 1382 Lobby. As I do not disapprove of the Volunteer force in general, it is necessary I should say a few words to justify the vote I intend to give. I have asked that the War Department should consider the advisability of establishing a Volunteer Force in Ireland. In consequence of the unfavourable answer I received from the right hon. Gentleman—in consequence of the inequality that is kept up with regard to the establishment of Volunteer Forces in England and Ireland—I have resolved to support the proposition of the hon. Member for Cavan. I do not wish to depreciate the character of the Volunteer Force. I have great respect for the character of the Volunteer Force of this country, and for the character of the Volunteer Force in every country. Your Volunteer Force was established in the time of the Napoleonic Wars—a Volunteer Force was established then. I do not know whether the present one is a continuance of that or not. Volunteer Forces in every country have done the main portion of the military work of the country in which they are enrolled. They were Volunteer Forces who fought the best battles of the American War; they were Volunteer Forces who won the only victory that was achieved by the French in the late Franco-German War; and I believe that, with very little training, Volunteer Forces may be made very effective in the field. We all remember reading the account of the Battle of Dorking. It was admitted by the anonymous writer that while the Volunteer Forces of England were not the best for manœuvering, they were, at least in the opinion of the supposed German invaders, very good shots. That, I believe, no person will deny—the Volunteers of England are very good shots indeed. They are material out of which good forces may be made, and I shall not depreciate them. However, I intend to vote against the Establishment, not because I have any hostility to the Volunteer Force of this country or of any country, but because I wish to mark my disapproval of the unequal manner in which the War Department, as well as every other Department of Government, treats the country of which I am a Representative.
§ MR. ANDERSON (Elgin and Nairn)
I desire to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for 1383 War a matter which I think has escaped his attention. A question was asked him just now with regard to the capitation grant to Volunteers, but the right hon. Gentleman made no reply to it. I do appeal to him with regard to the subject. There is a very strong feeling, indeed, amongst Volunteers that the capitation grant should be increased, and it is hoped that we may receive some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that Her Majesty's Government will look upon the matter with some favour. A statement of that kind would be a great encouragement to the Volunteers in the performance of their duty. I trust the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) will not think it proper to divide the Committee upon this Vote. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. O'Connor) who has just addressed the Committee has given a most extraordinary reason for supporting the hon. Member for Cavan in his opposition to the Vote. The hon. Gentleman says he is in favour of Volunteers in general, but he is going in the Lobby against the Vote for the purpose of satisfying, as far as I understand him, some feeling that Ireland should be allowed to enrol Volunteers. I think it would be well if the hon. Gentleman had a little patience. It is useless to put us to the trouble of a division. Many of us are in favour of the establishment of Volunteer corps in Ireland, and no doubt they will, in due course, be established.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I do not think that the criticism which has been founded upon the argument of the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) is at all a fair one. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Anderson) may or may not be aware that it is not within our power to propose any Vote for Ireland, and that the only way in which we can possibly show our objection to the present system, the only way in which we can enter a protest against the distribution of the public funds in favour of England and against Ireland, is by opposing the Vote for this country. I must say I am in favour of Volunteers rather than otherwise. I myself was a Volunteer once. I joined the force principally with the idea that possibly some day or other my training might be of use to Ireland. But I do not look upon the Volunteer movement from a military point of view only. The hygienic and 1384 social effects of the movement have been very valuable to this country. Such an obvious accompaniment of the Volunteer movement as the early closing movement shows the important social effect of volunteering. Now, that is one of the advantages which England has enjoyed in consequence of the privilege allowed her which has been denied to Ireland. There is a very marked distinction between a provincial town in England and a provincial town in Ireland in this respect. In many of the towns in Ireland there is on a Saturday afternoon nothing of the kind you find here—most of the shops shut and people turning out for what is really a half-holiday. The Volunteer movement has certainly been of great use in respect to the health of the nation, and if it were only on that account I think the Volunteer system ought to be extended far beyond the limits which it has at present reached. Therefore tens of thousands of working men in a country who would make very good Volunteers—who would certainly be benefited by the drills and the outdoor exercise on the Saturday afternoons if only they were placed in a position to avail themselves of the movement. They cannot do it. There is a certain amount of expense inseparable from joining the Volunteers; and so far from opposing the Vote I should be disposed strongly to support a very considerable extension of it, in order that hundreds and thousands of men, not only in London, but also in the Black Country—in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and other Midland counties—should be enabled to equip as far as necessary, take part in the movement, and have the hygienic advantages of the drill. But I must say that I am astonished that any English Member should take it ill that we object to the distribution of this £800,000 a-year in Great Britain when we are refused a single farthing for a like Service in Ireland. There is absolutely no reason for refusing it. As has been pointed out, you are already prepared to trust with arms men in the lowest social stratum—in the Militia, but you hestitate to allow the enrolment of Volunteers—men who occupy very much higher social positions and men who are perfectly prepared to give you every assurance you exact from your Volunteers in this country. Under these circumstances, if my hon. Friend the Member for Cavan (Mr. 1385 Biggar) finds himself constrained to go into the Division Lobby I shall find myself constrained to follow his whip. But, as I have said before, I doubt whether there is any practical advantage in our doing so. We have protested against this Vote year after year, and taken divisions upon it. The hen. Member (Mr. Anderson) has told us it will all come in due time; but we have no indication that we are a bit nearer the establishment of Volunter corps in Ireland now than we were 15 years ago.
§ MR. SHEEHY (Galway, S.)
We are asked to vote something over £600,000 for Volunteers in England, Scotland, and Wales. An hon. Member above the Gangway has told us that we in Ireland have 20,000 Regular troops in our country, and that that ought to be considered as some recompense for the absence of Volunteer corps. But what are the troops in Ireland and what are they doing? They are not purely Irish troops, and, as we have seen within the last month, they have been employed in rendering assistance at evictions. I will not, however, discuss that question now. The Committee are asked to vote this large sum of money to be expended in England and Scotland, and we in Ireland are to receive nothing as an equivalent. If we were allowed to enrol Volunteers we should be only too willing to contribute our proportion of this Vote. Inasmuch as we are not allowed that privilege I shall go into the Lobby with my hon. Friend the Member for Cavan.
§ MR. JORDAN (Glare, W.)
I am strongly inclined to support the suggestion of the hon. Member for Cavan. I consider, from all I have heard in relation to the Volunteer Force in England, that for the purpose of actual warfare they are comparatively worthless, and if they are comparatively worthless the money expended upon them is thrown away. In my opinion they are simply amateurs. But we have heard from an hon. Member opposite (Mr. Isaacs) that they are very valuable as a military force; but I question that, and I do not think the hon. Member has any data on which to make that statement. The Volunteers, as an army of defence or offence, have never been tested, and until they have been we cannot say for certain that they do constitute a valuable force; we do not know whether, if occasion arose, they might not be found running away 1386 like as in another Bull's Run instead of defending the country. I know that it is a very valuable force for conferring titles upon different gentlemen. When first I heard the Speaker call upon Colonel So-and-so and Major So-and-so and Captain So-and-so, I really thought the Gentlemen had derived their titles from service in the Regular Army, and I was greatly taken aback when I was told that they merely derived their titles from the Volunteer Force. I really believe that that is mainly the ground upon which the Volunteer Force is defended by many hon. Gentlemen. If the Volunteer Force is to be maintained it should be extended to Ireland, and it lies upon the Tory Party to grant a Volunteer Force to Ireland. They have refused to give us many things that we want—they have refused to give us Home Rule, but they have always professed a desire to place Ireland on an equality with England. For these reasons I urge upon the Government and upon the House the desirability of granting to Ireland a Volunteer Force if they intend to maintain a Volunteer Force in England. I think it is very unfair that they should refuse to legislate equally all round, seeing that we in Ireland contribute a portion of the money to the maintenance of the Volunteer Force in England. This is clearly a case in which there should be an equality of legislation between the we countries, and for that reason I shall feel it my duty to vote for the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Cavan.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I am afraid we are getting rather mixed up in this discussion, because we appear to be proceeding on two different lines. The first argument upon this Vote was urged by the hon. Member for Cavan. The hon. Member seems to think that a Volunteer Force would be of no use in Ireland. I will not, however, argue that point, although I may be permitted to say that I do not agree with him in that opinion. For a considerable portion of my life I have had experience as a Volunteer, and I am perfectly certain that a Volunteer Force is a practical gain and benefit to the country in which it exists. On the other hand, I agree with the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. John O'Connor) in the view he has taken, and I think our best course would be to have two divisions, one upon the Motion of the hon. Member for Cavan, 1387 and the other on the issue raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary—namely, that the fact that a Volunteer Force is not granted to Ireland constitutes a great grievance. My hon. Friend asks why, when a Volunteer Force is granted to England, to Wales, and to Scotland, Ireland should be left out of the category? We have had a prolonged discussion on the Militia. Now, Sir, I have never heard the same points urged against the Volunteer Force as we hear urged against the Militia. You have both forces in this country, and I have never heard it said with regard to Volunteers, as has been said in the case of the Militia, that the officers were unable to carry pocket-handkerchiefs owing to the felonious propensities of the rank and file. I should be only too happy to support the Amendment which my hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary will, I hope, move; but, at the same time, I must say that I cannot go into the Lobby with the hon. Member for Cavan.
§ COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, S.W., Ince)
I wish to observe that there is no doubt whatever with regard to the efficiency of the Volunteer Force; and I am convinced that, with a very few few weeks' training, the great majority of the regiments of the Volunteers would be able to take their places in the Line with Her Majesty's Regular Forces, and that any Foreign Power which should measure that force at anything less than the number of bayonets of which it is composed would make a very grave mistake.
§ MR. BYRNE (Wicklow)
I object to this Vote on several grounds. First of all, this is a Vote to keep up a force of Volunteers for England alone; and the people of Ireland object to bear any portion of the expense. Another ground of objection is, that we are not allowed to have a similar force for our protection. Again, I say that the system of getting up the Volunteer movement is not an efficient one—usually two or three gentlemen get together and start a movement, and these gentlemen become the officers of the regiment. Now, Sir, in the selection of officers you want efficiency; but I have known officers who, if they were required to shoot at an enemy from the distance at which I am from the Chair, could not see him. I am satisfied, Mr. Chairman, that at 1388 this distance they would not be able to distinguish you from another Member of the House. My next point is, that money enters too much into this question. I was myself asked in one case for £1,200, and for what? That I might become a full-blown colonel. I am speaking now in the interest of the people of England. I say that the object of having Volunteers is the protection of people at home, and that efficiency ought to be the first qualification for every officer of Volunteers. But I have known cases where the uniform was the attraction and not the Service. I believe that there are amongst the Volunteer officers men who, if you were to go to war to-morrow, could not ride a horse at all. I believe that men have been made officers who have passed through no test whatever as to qualifications, and of this I can give many instances. I repeat that so long as you have Volunteers you ought to have officers who are thoroughly efficient, and the rule should be laid down in every case that before this position is attained the men should be in all respects capable of performing their duties. As I have said, the money qualification has a great deal to do with the position of officers in the Volunteer Force, and I am convinced that unless a man is rich it is impossible for him to get on the officers' list. I have heard of colonels and officers being obliged to pay for the clothing of the men as well as incur other heavy expenses; and, with these facts before me, I say that we ought to have a promise from the Minister in charge of these Estimates that, so long as the Volunteer Force has to be paid for by the people, the first consideration shall be the efficiency of the officers.
§ MR. A. BLANE (Armagh, S.)
I have a ground of objection to this Vote different from that of my hon. Friend who has just sat down. It is that the Volunteers have not only a military spirit but an aggressive spirit. My belief is that England is too warlike a nation. The people of England are continually making war, and I think that this warlike spirit is injurious to a people who should devote themselves to commerce and peaceful pursuits. They already rule one-fifth of the human race, and they are still dissatisfied unless they have a war with some people on hand. 1389 This aggressive spirit requires watering down.
§ MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
I think that there are very few Members in this House who will agree with the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken in saying that the Volunteer Force cultivates an aggressive and warlike spirit. Their motto, we must all remember, is "Defence, not defiance." I will not enter into the arguments adduced by hon. Members below the Gangway, but simply express a hope that the Amendment before the Committee will not be pressed to a division, because I think those hon. Members ought to feel that the Volunteer Force is equally in favour with all Parties in the House. I represent a Radical constituency in the Midlands, and I can assure hon. Members that the Volunteers are very much in favour with us. When the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Estimates replies on this Vote, I hope to hear that Her Majesty's Government have seen their way to an extension of the capitation grant.
§ MR. GILHOOLY (Cork, W.)
I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Channing) that it is the duty of Irish Members to support this Vote because it is in favour with various Parties in the House. The first duty of hon. Members who sit upon these Benches is to see that the money to which the people of Ireland contribute is spent in the interest of their country. The Volunteers may be a very efficient and useful force; but seeing that the Irish people derive no benefit and get no equivalent for the money which they pay to the Imperial Exchequer for the maintenance of that force, I think it is monstrous that they should continue to be taxed for that purpose, and, therefore, I shall certainly vote for the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Cavan.
§ MR. BROOKFIELD (Sussex, Rye)
I merely wish to protest against what appears to me to be an unjust attack upon the Volunteers as a body in this country. I do not know what the experience of the hon. Member for Wicklow (Mr. Byrne) may be in such matters; but I should have thought that he would have been better qualified to speak on many other subjects. But a great deal of the indignation felt in matters of this kind sometimes arises from ignorance alone— 1390 ["Question!"]—and I think there are very few Members in this House besides the hon. Member who cries "Question!" who are not aware that it has always been insisted on that officers in the Volunteer Force should give proof of their efficiency, not only before being promoted, but before being permitted to retain the rank they already hold. I will not insult the intelligence of the Committee by going into details of the question, because it is well known to everyone who is acquainted with the subject, that the case is as I have stated it. I have said enough to show that the opinion that the efficiency of officers of Volunteers is not attended to is entirely erroneous. With regard to the other point raised by the hon. Member, I am, of course, quite as anxious as he is for a small extension of the capitation grant.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
I regret that I cannot accede to the appeal made on both sides of the House with regard to this Vote. I should like to oblige the hon. Member above the Gangway (Mr. Channing), who represents a Radical constituency, for I feel that both he and his constituents, looking at this matter as we do ourselves, will desire that justice should be done to Ireland. I trust that our Motion will go to the country in its true light, and that the people of this country will understand that it is in no unfriendly spirit that we make that Motion. I trust, too, that the constituencies in which Volunteers abound will make their voice heard at the next Elections, and that at the polls they will exercise their priviledges as citizens with a view of doing justice to Ireland in this matter. I shall move that this Vote be reduced by the sum of £16,000, being the increase in the capitation grant for the year 1886–7 over the year 1885–6, which will be found under Sub-head C.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £288,500, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge for Volunteer Corps Pay and Allowances, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887."—(Mr. John O'Connor.)
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
In reply to the inquiry as to the cause of the increase in the cost of the force, I may say that it is due to an increase in the number of 1391 adjutants with increased pay. There is also an increase in the number of sergeant instructors, which is a cause of the increased charge. The cost of clothing is also charged; formerly an allowance coming under another Vote. With regard to an Irish Volunteer Force, I hope that hon. Members opposite will not think me wanting in respect to them when I say that I have not the power to propose a Vote for the establishment of a Volunteer Force in Ireland, The establishment of a Volunteer Force in Ireland can only take place by Act of Parliament, and therefore I hope hon. Members will see that it is impossible for me to make any promise with regard to this matter.
§ MR. J. NOLAN (Louth, N.)
I wish to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee to one thing which strikes me as being very peculiar and unsatisfactory. That is the reduction which has been made in the number of Mounted Riflemen. I have heard the opinion repeatedly expressed by military men of considerable experience that if there is one respect in which the Volunteer Force would be most efficient and serviceable, it would be in assisting the Regular Army as scouts; and I believe, Sir, if more attention were paid to this branch of the Service, it would be a great benefit to the country. I should like to know how it is that the number of Mounted Riflemen is so small? It cannot be that there is want of wealth in the country, and it cannot be that the young men of the middle class are averse from exercises in the open air, because, to their credit be it spoken, the young men of England are as efficient in rowing, cricket, and sports of that character as the men of any country in the world, and I do not see why they should not furnish a very valuable and large contingent to the country in the shape of Mounted Riflemen and Light Horsemen. There has been some reference this evening to the fact that Ireland has not the benefit of a Volunteer Force at the present time. In the Volunteer Force which Ireland had in the latter part of the last century, the mounted portion of the force were both numerous and highly efficient. It was said of them that the Mounted Volunteer Corps in Ireland were superior to the Regular Cavalry, because they were better mounted, and the men were accus- 1392 tomed to ride across country, and were able to keep their seats better than the Cavalry soldiers, who were merely trained to do the regulation work. It was also notorious that the gentlemen of Ireland were good shots with the pistol at that time. I should like to have from the right hon. Gentleman some explanation as to the miserably small number of Mounted Rifles and Light Horsemen in the Service.
§ MR. BIGGAR (Cavan, W.)
I do not object to the Volunteers as Volunteers, and I do not find fault with them with regard to the point of efficiency they have reached. But I look upon them as an isolated force, having no cohesion with the other branches of the Service. At the same time, I believe that in actual war they could not co-operate with the active portion of the Army. With regard to the increase of the capitation grant which has been asked for, I am of opinion that there is either too much done for the Volunteers already, or very much too little. I believe that more money should be spent in making Volunteers efficient, instead of giving large sums to colonels of regiments, and allowing it to be squandered, which I think is a very objectionable proceeding. If the money were spent under the direction of the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, for the purpose of making Volunteers a really efficient branch of the Service of the country, then I think we should be thoroughly justified in providing a much larger sum; but, at present, I think the money spent on the Volunteer Force is entirely thrown away, unless we intend to make them more efficient and put them into a higher grade in the Service. For these reasons I feel it my duty to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Tipperary.
An hon. MEMBER
I cannot agree with the opinions which have been expressed with regard to the Volunteer Force by some of my hon. Friends, because I think that this force, having regard to the men and money spent on it, is one of the most efficient in the country. My feeling is that the force has not received an adequate amount of support, and for that reason I must oppose the Motion of my hon. Friend.
§ MR. O'KELLY (Roscommon, N.)
I think that some hon. Gentlemen who have spoken on this side of the House do not quite understand our position. Our 1393 position is based upon this—that while Volunteers are paid for the defence of England and Scotland, no similar provision is made for Ireland, and that we are called upon, nevertheless, to contribute from our taxation to the maintenance of the force. I cannot agree with the opinion that the Volunteers in England are efficient, because those who know anything about military affairs, at least in action, know that they are not efficient. The Volunteers are an admirable war material, and might be made an available adjunct to the Forces of the Empire; but the fact is that, at present, they are not so, and there is no doubt that a great deal of the money spent upon them is wasted. I am old enough to remember the beginning of the movement, and I can say from my own observation that the Volunteer corps are not much better now than they were 20 years ago. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite say "Oh, oh!" That is a matter of opinion, no doubt, but it is the opinion which I hold. I am sorry that the Secretary of State for War has not seen his way to give us some promise that the Government will take into consideration the establishment of a Volunteer Force in Ireland. The Volunteer Force was established in view of certain eventualities, and if these eventualities arise, Ireland will not have the same protection as England or Scotland. We are in this position—for 20 years we have contributed to the maintenance of a force for the defence of your country and your homes, and yet you leave us, who are in a more exposed position than you are, entirely without defence. A great deal of Army expenditure which is made with the view to eventualities is laid out in this country, but very little of that money is spent in Ireland. Under these circumstances, I think we are justified in making a protest against a continuance of this policy, and, at the same time, it is our duty to see that the Volunteer Force should be made efficient. With regard to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for North Louth (Mr. Nolan), of course the Cavalry Volunteer Force is ridiculously small, and could be of no real service in war. I think it is the duty of the Government, if they want to go on spending money in the maintenance of the Volunteer Force, to see that the money is spent in making it really available for the country 1394 in actual war. Under these circumstances, I shall feel it my duty to support the Motion before the Committee.
§ MR. O'HANLON (Cavan, E.)
I think it right to say that, in my opinion, Ireland is as good a country as any other country under the Crown, and, therefore, finding that Ireland is treated unfairly by not allowing it to have the advantage of a Volunteer Force, I must, on behalf of my constituents, support this Motion.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 55; Noes 150: Majority 95.—(Div. List, No. 14.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (7.) £223,000, to complete the sum for the Army Reserve Force.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I should like to ask if the Representative of the War Office can say what is the present distribution of the Army Reserve Force—that is to say, how many men of the First Class Army Reserve are serving in Ireland, and how many of the second class?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I am afraid I cannot give the information asked for. I can tell the hon. Member for East Donegal how many Reserve men there are altogether, but not how many there are in the two countries respectively. I will, however, inquire into the matter, and endeavour to answer the hon. Gentleman on Report.
§ GENERAL FRASER (Lambeth, N.)
I should like to be permitted to say upon this Vote that the expenditure upon the Cavalry Reserve is, in the opinion of Cavalry officers, an expenditure that is neither advantageous for the Cavalry nor for the country. It is a well-known fact that a Cavalry man who has been away from his regiment for a lengthened time is useless, and yet, since the establishment of the Reserves, there has been great pressure brought to bear to induce men to leave the Cavalry and join the Reserve Force. So great was the pressure that, in one instance, 45 men were induced to leave their regiment before they had served the time they had engaged to serve, and they thus threw additional work upon their comrades, 12 of whom deserted the next month. The 1395 Lancer regiment that was sent out to the campaign at Suakin, the full complement of which was 469, received in 18 months no less than 252 recruits. The good soldiers, the highly-trained horsemen, the men who could handle the lance, sword, and carbine effectively, and who knew how to scour a country, were sent into the Reserve—sent into the Reserve to live on the small pay allowed them by the country, for, in many instances, they found themselves quite unable to obtain any civil employment. In their place raw recruits were sent out. To send out men who are not trained to scour a country, who do not know how to back each other up and act in concert, in front of an enemy, is really to sacrifice good lives, with no result but discredit and disaster. I say, and I challenge anyone to refute my statement, that there is no regiment of Cavalry in Her Majesty's Service that is fit in men and horses to take part in or to do its duty in a campaign. The regiments that are most efficient, according to their establishments, are the three regiments of Horse Guards. Therefore, I trust the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War will take the great question of the Cavalry Reserve into his serious consideration.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, North-West)
Mr. Courtney, I look upon this Vote as one of the most important Votes that we have to consider. It is a Vote upon which I have always made some remarks; and I venture to say that never in our history was the question of our Reserve more important than it is at the present moment. The question of the Reserve is intimately bound up with the question of recruiting. I do not think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War will for a moment contend that the waste in the Army, which, I am sorry to say, is still going on, has not a material effect upon the Reserve of the Army. When the short-service system was established, we were told that in a very short time we should have a very large Reserve indeed. I am glad to say that the Reserve is creeping up, though only in small proportions. I see that the Reserve of the Army of to-day numbers 41,889 men, and that the Militia Reserve numbers 30,128 men, making a total of 72,017 men. Now, I think that this Reserve ought to be an absolute Reserve, and 1396 one that we should hold in readiness for great emergencies. The question of recruiting, and the question of the depletion of regiments at home, are so intimately bound up with the Reserve in all its bearings that I will venture to make a few remarks in regard to it. No one knows better than the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) that when we deplete regiments at home, as we have had to do during the time of any of the small wars in which we have been engaged, when we send out all the best men in the regiment at home to serve in India or elsewhere, and to keep up to the mark the regiments abroad we leave the regiments at home in an absolutely indefensible condition, and the consequence is that the very moment we call out the regiments at home and send them away, as we did to Egypt a short time ago, and as we may very shortly have to do to the East, we find we have to draw upon our Reserve to make the regiments we are sending abroad efficient. I maintain that that is a false system, and that our regiments at home ought to be in themselves efficient. How is that to be accomplished? How are we to arrive at that very desirable state of things? Let us look at the recruiting statistics for last year. We got last year 39,971 recruits. It is natural to suppose that in consequence of the depression of trade, which has now existed for some years, we have of late received more recruits than we otherwise should have done. If things were in a more prosperous and nourishing condition than they have been during the last few years, we certainly should not have received anything like the number of recruits I have just quoted. But we want recruits to fill up the gaps in the Army, and the question for us is how we can make the Service so attractive as to get men to enter the ranks. In the first place, we should never deceive men in regard to rations. One of the first things that a man considers is what he is going to be given to eat; it may be a low consideration, but still it is one prompted by human nature. If a man has been told that he will have everything found him, and he then finds that he is required to pay for many things, he feels he has been taken in, and that the Service is not what it has been represented to him to be. This is a matter to which I particularly call the 1397 attention of the right hon. Gentleman. If we are not going to give free rations; if we are only going to give 1 lb. of bread and ¾ lb. of meat per man per day, let us tell the men so. That is an honest and straightforward statement, but it is not the statement which is made in the papers distributed through the Post Office. I have heard it said that we should not get recruits if we were so candid as this. I say it is better not to get recruits than to get them under false pretences. The next important question is that of clothing. When they join the Service men expect they are going to receive a good outfit of clothing. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Lambeth (General Fraser), who has had a large number of battalions under his command from time to time, will bear me out when I say that instead, of receiving a proper outfit on entering the Service men have had handed over to them clothing which is dirty, soiled, and perfectly unfit to be put on. The men become disgusted when they find that they are not fairly and properly clothed. I think that if the clothing served out were better then it is the effect upon the number of recruits would be very material. I pass on to another point. Every consideration should be paid to the men on joining the Service. I think my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith) will bear me out when I say that it is important that the officers should deal with the recruits in a kind and lenient spirit. When a young horse is to be broken in the very best thing to do is to put a man on him who will treat him gently, but who, at the same time, will be firm with him. In the same way, if officers and non-commissioned officers will only deal with the recruits carefully and tenderly, I believe they will thus do a great deal to cause men to remain in the Army. Then there is another question which must be borne in mind. When a man joins a depôt he does not know which battalion of the regiment he is to be sent to. He may be required to serve with the battalion at home, or he may be sent out to India to serve with the battalion there. Surely where it can be managed a man should have his choice, or at any rate, if he cannot take his choice, he should be told he will have to go to the regiment in India or 1398 to remain at home. These things can very easily be managed with a little careful consideration, and attention to them would tend very much to facilitate recruiting, and to prevent the enormous waste we now find going on. But the great question is this, whether a man on first joining a depôt should be drilled at that depôt, or whether the regiment at home should drill its own recruits? Now, this is a matter which I commend to the attention of my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith). The practice now is that a man should be drilled with the depôt for three months, I think, and then sent to the regiment at home. The regiment at home takes him in hand for another month, and at the end of the four months he is supposed to know all his work. I should like to know what soldier—what ordinary Infantry soldier—the Cavalry soldier is drilled with his own regiment—can learn his duty in four months? Because we are short of men, having sent out a large number for foreign service, we put men, who very possibly have not undergone their musketry drill, to do guard and other duty. If recruits are sent to a garrison like Portsmouth they have very often to do guard duty, and get very little bed. We have been taking men at 17 years of age; and I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether a system by which men who have only been a very short time in the Service are kept out of their beds so frequently is one which is likely to tend to keep up the number of recruits? There is another point worthy of attention. It is a grave question whether a regiment at home should drill its own recruits, or whether the depôt should drill them on behalf of the regiment at home, as well as the regiment in India. If they do, the men ought to be there for not less than six months. The original proposal was that the Army should be increased by a certain number of men. Lord Wolseley contended that we ought not to have less than 10,000 men in hand in order to fill up any gaps which might from time to time occur. These are considerations which do deserve the serious attention of my right hon. Friend. The depôt centres ought to be very much increased, so as to give a sufficient number of recruits to the regiments at home and also in India. Of one thing I am cer- 1399 tain, looking at the state of Europe at this particular moment, and that is that the regiments at home ought not to be denuded. What do you think the waste of the Army during this year is estimated at? Why, it is estimated at 32,000 men. And. what do you think is the average transfer to the Reserve? I cannot make it out accurately, but the Inspector General of Recruiting estimates it at 8,820. He admits, and everyone admits, that the waste is one-sixth of the whole Army each year. Last year the desertions numbered 5,147, and of these men how many did we recover? Somewhere under 2,000, so that there was a net loss to the Service of 3,000. There were invalided 1,304 under three years' service; there were discharged for misconduct 1,008; there were discharged by purchase, at £10 a piece, 1,909. It is, perhaps, a very good thing to allow men to purchase their discharge if they do not like the Service. These men generally came in with the view and wish of liking the Service; but they find things so totally at variance with what they expected that they purchase their discharge. Well, now, last year a large number of men were called out from the Army Reserve. What is their complaint? There was a complaint, written in excellent language, by a soldier of the name of Edward Diblin, who formerly belonged to the 2nd Scottish Rifles. I am told, and my right hon. Friend will correct me if I am wrong, that an alteration has been made with regard to deferred pay, and that now if a man hits spent any portion of his deferred pay he can still come back and continue his service. This is a very important matter; and I hope that my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith), when he comes to reply, will be able to state whether the men who get their deferred pay when they are transferred to the Reserve are able to spend it and then return to their regiment if it is their desire to do so. In his letter to The Times Diblin said he left his regiment in India in October, 1884, and was transferred to the Reserve. It being then winter, he could not obtain any employment until the spring. He was, with hundreds more, called back to service with the Colours in the spring of 1885, and detained all the summer. At the end of the summer the authorities had no use for the Reserve men, and, with 1400 another long winter staring them in the face, they were sent back. He had obtained comparatively little employment, and he believed that was the case with many others. When he told anyone to whom he applied for work that he was in the Reserve, the answer was—"I cannot employ you; you may be called upon to serve at any time." He believed there was an organization to find employment for men of the Reserve Forces; but although his name had been on its list for nearly two years it had failed to find him work. When he applied to rejoin the Colours he was told that his application could only be acceded to on condition that he refunded in one sum the deferred pay he had received on his transference to the Reserve. Now, all I have to ask in regard to this matter is—what are the men to do if they cannot get employment? How are they to live pending employment? What can they do but spend the deferred pay they have received on joining the Reserve? And is it not reasonable to suppose that if men on re-engaging are required to refund the deferred pay they had received, the services of many good men will be lost to the country? Men will say—"Deferred pay is a delusion and a snare, and we certainly shall not reengage if we have to refund it." The question may be dealt with in many ways. I will not detain the Committee by discussing how it should be dealt with; but this I will say—that the question is one which vitally affects the recruiting for the Army, which vitally affects the Reserve, the success of which we have so much at heart; and, therefore, I trust the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War will give it his earnest attention, and deal with it in a way which will be satisfactory to the men who are anxious to re-engage, and also to the country. Now, Mr. Courtney, my hon. and gallant Friend (General Fraser) spoke about the Cavalry Reserve. There has been a good deal said about the Cavalry of this country. I know how difficult the question is to deal with; but do not let my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith) suppose for one moment that he would do any good with the Cavalry if he were to break up the identity of the regiments. We have followed the example of Continental countries in regard to the Infantry Reserve, why not follow their example with 1401 respect to the Artillery and regiments of Cavalry? Continental countries always keep their Artillery and Cavalry up to war strength. Surely that is what a country like this ought to do. Our Cavalry is so small that it ought to be the most efficient in the world; and such efficiency can only be secured by being able to transport a regiment complete both in men and horses at a moment's notice. Besides being able to do that, we ought also to be able to leave a depôt capable of sending out from time to time men and horses sufficient to keep the regiment up to its original and proper strength. To amalgamate regiments of Cavalry is one of the greatest mistakes we can possibly make. Only let us follow the example of foreign countries and we shall do a great deal towards securing the efficiency of the Cavalry. The Artillery and Cavalry Reserves are most useful, though I fear that, when called upon, they will have to go into barracks to learn the duties they have forgotten. They are, however, most useful bodies to have in reserve; but what is really wanted first is that the regiments themselves should be efficient and perfect. One word more and I have done. I should like my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith) to see we have that which all his Predecessors have said is necessary, and that is an Army Corps always ready to take the field. We should always have our First Army Corps at Aldershot, under the Generals who would command it if it were sent out on active service. Having regard to the complications all around us, to the numerous small wars in which we are called upon to engage, and to the great war which I fear is looming in the distance—I hope to God it is very distant—we ought not to spare the expense necessary to maintain our First Army Corps in the most efficient condition, and to have a Second Army Corps ready to take the place of the First when required.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
On all matters, but particularly on Army matters, this Committee always listens with the greatest interest to the speeches of the hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir Walter B. Barttelot). His heart is bound up in the efficiency and welfare of the Army, and he always brings great knowledge to bear on the subject. I do not agree with him in everything, 1402 but I think I can agree in every word he has just uttered. He has drawn our attention to a most important subject, that of the Reserve. The fact is, we established the Reserve, upon the initiation of Mr. Cardwell, because every other country had a Reserve; but it has been kept up without any regard being had to the special circumstances of the country, and without following very closely the Continental example. Our Reserve is a good institution, but upon certain men it imposes, as it is now worked, a great deal of hardship. In respect to the Reserve, we neither follow the history of our own country nor the precedent set by foreign countries. We do not follow the precedent of foreign countries, because their Armies are very large; and we do not follow the history of our own country, because this country is dependent upon a small and efficient Army. The Reserve has prevented the Army being regarded by a private soldier as a profession. We have got an Army and a Reserve much smaller than those of Continental countries, and yet there is the disadvantage that the Army is no longer a profession for the private soldier. Until the adoption of the system of compulsory retirement, the Army was a profession for the private soldier; but it is no longer so. After a man has served a given time, he is put into the Reserve, on, I think, 4d. a-day. Of course, that is not sufficient to keep him. I, as Chairman of a large Union, have found that Reserve men very often come for relief of one form or another; indeed, the position of these men is not at all satisfactory. A good many of them get employment and work very hard, but not so with the whole of them. Twice in the last 10 or 12 years we have called out the Reserve, and on each occasion I received many letters in which complaint was made of the loss entailed upon the men. Continental countries are very careful in calling out the Reserve; they only call upon them at times of great emergency. Personally, I do not think our Reserve is very well treated; I do not think, for instance, it is sufficiently paid. The hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) mentioned a good many remedies, but I should not like to see any of them adopted. I would go further. I cannot help thinking that at the present 1403 time you act in a perfectly absurd manner. A man who has been three or six years in the Army, who has a good character, who is a good marksman, and who possibly wants to stay on, you force into the Reserve, and then he may not be able to get any work. On the other hand, you have a bad soldier, who does not want to stay in the Army, who is a bad marksman, and you will keep him on. Lord Wolseley once said that one man who shot well was worth half-a-dozen who shot badly, and I think that this can very easily be proved. You actually insist upon one man staying on, while you make another, who is ten times as good as him, join the Reserve. Why do not you allow a man to stay on after his term of service if he wishes to? You give a man three years' or six years' service whether he likes it or whether he does not; but, in my opinion, a much more simple and satisfactory method would be to allow the soldier to remain with his regiment as long as he chooses. You would not diminish your Reserve, because you would have a lot of men going into it after one year's service, but you would make service in the Army much more attractive than it is at present. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War should look over the whole system, and should make up his mind whether it is good or bad. It cannot be said that it has not been well tried. No doubt, it is necessary to have Reserve men; but, to get a good Reserve, you must either increase the pay of the Service or adopt the plan I have suggested. You should not force a man to join the Reserve unless he is a bad character, or a bad soldier, so that then, when the ordinary Reserve man came to you and said his pay was not sufficient, you could reply—"You joined the Reserve voluntarily, or because you were not a good soldier, and you must take the consequences." But I contend that to force a good man to enter the Reserve after six years' service is treating him badly, if you do not find him an ordinary subsistence, which, as the hon. and gallant Baronet opposite (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) has shown, he does not get at present. Though he may get employment sometimes, the State gives him very little to do; in fact, it does not give as much work as it might give to Reserve men. I think, on the whole, that the Reserve is badly 1404 treated, and that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) should take the matter into his careful consideration.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR (Kincardine)
I wish to add a word to those of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down (Colonel Nolan). There is, in my opinion, a delusion in respect to the annual increase of Reserve men, which ought to be made known to this Committee. By the existing process of transferring trained soldiers from the ranks of battalions of Infantry, the Reservists may be increased to a large extent, but at the cost of diminishing the battalion effectives. At present, by the latest Monthly Return of the Army, the rank and file of the Infantry of the Line battalions ought to be, according to the established strength, 114,000, whereas the effectives are only 104,000, thus showing a deficiency in battalions of 10,000 rank and file. This is partly traceable to the depôt effectives being in excess of the established strength; the effectives being 12,000 rank and file, whilst the fixed number is 8,000—thus making 4,000 rank and file of the battalions to be at the depôts. Now, on examining the Return of Transfers from the Effective Service to the Reserve List, as also the Return of Recruits who have joined battalions, it is quite clear that if the battalions had retained their trained men, instead of parting with them to swell the Reserve, the effective strength of the battalions would have been nearly maintained at the fixed establishment, instead of being one-tenth below it. Then the depôts have also been a delusion, which deserves serious attention. As already stated, the strength in rank and file fixed for depôts of Line Infantry is 8,000, whilst the actual effectives are 12,000—or 4,000 in excess. But the difference between effective and established strength, only a year or two before, was much greater, the establishment of depôt rank and file being at one time 5,500 whilst the strength in a depôt was 14,000, the excess of 8,500 being taken from the battalion strength; and yet large numbers of transfers to the Reserve List are shown to have then been made, thereby still further lessening the efficiency of the Home and Foreign Battalions. On these grounds, I urge the Secretary of State to fix the strength 1405 in depôt at the rate of at least 100 privates for each of the 141 battalions—making in a depôt 14,100 privates. Indeed, it may be advisable to calculate on 150 privates being the average waste of each battalion, thereby needing 21,150 privates to be kept in training in the 69 depôts. This strength will ensure the filling up of all vacancies in battalions, including the transfer of trained soldiers to the Reserve List, but only to such an extent as will not lower the strength of battalions below the established number. There is an existing waste, which I desire to mention to the Committee. It is the many depôts now maintained for 141 battalions. The system of one depôt for the seven battalions of Guards at Caterham, or the one depôt at Walmer for the Marines, may be followed with advantage for the Infantry of the Line. Instead of 69 depôts, 15 or 20 would be far more useful and less costly. The waste in battalions would be more readily met by average losses being spread over 10 or 15 battalions, instead of, as at present, one or two battalions located in unhealthy stations.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
I venture to think that the great difficulty with reference to the Reservists is that of employment and the labour market. It is no use disguising the fact that manufacturers will not take men who have been in the Service and who can be called on again. If two artizans present themselves before a manufacturer and ask for service, and one man can earn 2s. 6d. a-week more than the other, or if there is any doubt which to select, he always takes the civilian and not the old soldier. You cannot object to manufacturers not taking old soldiers, if they think they can get more useful men; but I do think that employment can be given to these old soldiers in the Departments of the Government. The employment of Army clerks and writers has increased by leaps and bounds in the country, and many men in the regiments are kept away from their ordinary duties and employed in clerical work, particularly in answering questions put to the various sections of the Army by the Commanding Officers, the War Office, and other Government Departments. Surely this work might be taken from men who have important military duties to attend to, and might be made to afford employ- 1406 ment to some of the Reservists, who would be quite competent to act as clerks and writers in Government Offices. Then there is the question of the re-enlistment of Reservists. A man wrote to The Times the other day and stated that he could not re-enlist because he had spent his deferred pay. Of course, he had spent his deferred pay—every soldier does. He was told that unless he could replace his deferred pay he could not re-enlist. Well, he could not replace it, and, consequently, could not re-enlist. Another point, which should be considered, is the fact that the men, when they are discharged from the Service, having no work to go to are compelled, through no fault of their own, to move about as tramps in search of it. They go about the country, from North to South, their condition is observed by all classes, and they make the Army stink in the nostrils of the country. I venture to think that Reserve men should be allowed to re-enlist, and that as much employment as possible should be found for them in connection with Government Offices.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (MR. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I listened with attention to the remarks which fell from the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) as to a question in which we are all extremely interested, and upon which the hon. and gallant Baronet spoke with great authority. He spoke of the actual number of the Reserves. I am glad to tell him there are more than he thinks—that at present we have 45,000 men. He spoke of the necessity of battalions at home being well maintained, and I concur with him in his view on that point. I believe the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Childers) sought to contribute to the efficiency of battalions by raising the number of men in them to 750 as a rule, and I hope it will be possible to maintain that number by recruiting. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend that, unless the battalions at home contain an adequate number of trained men, they cannot supply an adequate number of trained men to the linked battalions abroad. I am asked to consider a great many serious questions which have been dealt with by my Predecessors, and settled, after great consideration. I am asked to consider the 1407 whole question of Reserves and Deferred Pay. I undertake to consider them; but I cannot undertake to make great changes upon very short notice, nor can I undertake to hold out prospects that these changes will be made unless I am convinced that they are absolutely necessary for the efficiency of the Service. The system of Reserves that now obtains was adopted after very serious and very prolonged consideration. I own that at the time the new system was adopted I considered that its adaptability to the circumstances of our Army was very doubtful. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Childers) spoke of the fact that our Reserve was not like the Reserve of any other country. The circumstances of the Reserve of this country and those of other European countries, are wholly different. We have a Volunteer Army to begin with; we have only a certain limited number to whom we can appeal to serve in the Army. We have, therefore, conditions to contend with, conditions which we deliberately accept, which are altogether different to those which prevail in any Continental or European Armies. Under the circumstances it is inevitable that the conditions under which the Reserve exists should be different in principle from those which prevail in other European Armies. We do not pretend to have a great Army, and all we look for is that, so far as it goes, it shall be an efficient Army, and that we shall have an efficient Reserve on which we can depend in time of emergency. The circumstances in which we find ourselves are difficult; but I freely admit that it is the duty and responsibility of the Military Authorities, and those who represent the War Department, to provide a Force on which the country can rely in a time of difficulty and emergency. I say that if the Commission which at present is in existence seems to think that our Reserve is insufficient, I shall be the first to bring the matter before the House. But I am not prepared to admit that the circumstances at the present moment seem to require an increase. The hon. and gallant Member opposite (Colonel Nolan) stated, think, that the Reserve pay is only 4d. a-day, but, as a matter of fact, it is 6d. The hon. and gallant Member asks that the men in the ranks shall be allowed to stay on as long as they choose. 1408 Well, there is a great deal to be said in favour of that principle; but I ask what would become of the Reserve if that principle were to be now applied? Where would be the men upon whom we could fall back, and on whom we could rely in time of emergency, if none of the men in the ranks were willing to go into the Reserve? There would be no Reserve. There must be some sort of rule applied to the men whom we ask to enlist. It may be that they should be asked to enlist for a shorter time than they now do. It may be that they should have their pay increased; but there must be some rule by which we could with certainty accumulate a Reserve for times of difficulty and emergency. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir George Balfour) recommended that we should increase the size of the depôts. I am sure the hon. and gallant Member will excuse me if I say that I am not prepared to follow him immediately into that matter. I will only say that I will examine the question and endeavour to form an opinion upon it. The hon. and gallant Member for Essex (Major Rasch) spoke of the necessity for finding employment for our soldiers. I must say I am under the impression that a good soldier is a person whom many employers would engage in preference to an ordinary civilian. There is a very wide-spread feeling in favour of an old soldier—a man who brings a good certificate with him as a steady and reliable man. I should be loth to believe that because a man was discharged from active service in the Army and was a Reserve man, that, therefore, he would experience greater difficulty in obtaining employment than men who had not had a military training. For my own part, I think that the discipline of the Army, and the training a man gets in the Service, especially fits him for many employments in life in which regularity, discipline, and trustworthiness are required. Indeed, it seems to me that the fact of a man's having been a soldier, is a great deal in his favour.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR (Kincardine)
One of the recommendations of the Committee which was presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers), and of which I myself was a Member, was that soldiers should, where practicable, be employed by the Govern- 1409 ment in the various Departments, after their discharge. That recommendation does not seem to have been carried out.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the Military Authorities should endeavour to employ as many of these soldiers as possible, and I believe that they do so. The hon. and gallant Member for North Lambeth (General Fraser) spoke of the necessity of having an efficient Cavalry; and, in reply to him, I would say that it is impossible that any man should hold a position at the War Office without appreciating to the fullest extent this necessity. My Predecessors adopted an extremely wise course. They sent to Canada to obtain remounts for Cavalry regiments, where they could obtain them more efficiently and satisfactorily than they could be supplied in this country. The supply of horses has given great concern to the Department, and is doing so at the present time; and I shall gladly follow the invitation that has been given by my hon. and gallant Friend, and do everything in my power, consistently, as I said on another Vote, to provide the country with an efficient force of Cavalry. Many valuable suggestions have been made by my hon. and gallant Friends in the course of the debate which has taken place. I could not at this moment be expected to express a distinct policy and conclusion with regard to many of them; but I can assure those hon. and gallant Gentlemen that their suggestions will receive most careful consideration.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
No one, I am sure, could complain of the tone in which we were met by the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith); but I think one of his arguments calls for some answer. The right hon. Gentleman contrasts our Army with Continental Armies, and seems to think that, looking at the conditions under which our Army exists, we have done very well. He did not quite say that; but I think that was the tone of it, speaking, as he was, as Secretary of State for War. Without contradicting the right hon. Gentleman, I would say that we have entirely changed the character of our Army. Formerly it was a professional Army as far as the men were concerned; but, owing to forcing men into the Reserve, it is rapidly ceasing to be professional, and I should 1410 think that in 8 or 10 years' time it will have altogether ceased to be so. That is a point that should be remedied by the Secretary of State for War, by allowing good soldiers to stay in the ranks if they desire to. The right hon. Gentleman seems to fear that if the plan I recommend were adopted, it would have the result of making the Reserve too small. I do not think it would have that result—in fact, there would be a large number of men who would be willing to leave at any time, and I would let them go as soon as they were drilled, instead of sending away the good soldiers who wish to stay. That arrangement, it seems to me, would suit everyone. It would suit the soldier, and it would certainly suit the country, which would have to pay less, and would get better material for its money. What I particularly want the public to know, and what I think the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War should remember, is that the Army has never been thoroughly tried under the short service system. There have only been a few small wars during recent years, and in those wars Lord Wolseley, who backs up the short service system, carefully utilized the old soldiers. You have not had that trial that Lord Napier, in connection with the Peninsula, talked so much about. In the old Peninsula days they took a soldier and put him under an iron system, and, whether he was a good man or a bad one, they made a good soldier of him.
§ Vote agreed to.
(8.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £260,200, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge for Commissariat, Transport, and Ordnance Store Establishments, Wages, &c. which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, North-West)
I think that this Vote is one of those questions which deserve the very serious consideratio nof the Committee. I think it is under this Vote that the contracts are made. ["No, no!"] Then I will reserve my observations.
SIR FREDERICK FITZ-WYGRAM (Hants, Fareham)
The break-down in our military arrangements has nearly always been in connection with the 1411 transport, and that break-down has always been not so much for want of animals, as the want of knowledge how to use the animals in war. In a highly civilized country like England, of course it is impossible to transport our men and material from barrack to barrack by road. We have no need to use the road here; but it pretty generally happens that in war we have not the use of railways and canals, and that the transport has to be carried by road. The Commissariat, I think, thoroughly understand their duties, and perform them very well; but they are scarcely able to provide for what may be called the general transport of the Army. A large part of the impedimenta has to be carried by what we may call the regimental transport, and for this purpose there are handed over to the Infantry a number of baggage waggons, horses, and carts. I cannot conceive a worse system than this, for it is bound to result in an enormous loss of animals; not only does it involve great monetary loss, but it is seriously detrimental to the transport of the Army. There is a great deal of knowledge required in the proper management of transport animals, nearly as much as is required in the management of horses; and there is a knowledge of saddling and of transport waggons and carts also required. It is for lack of proper knowledge of these matters and want of skill that the great break-downs have always occurred in our campaigns. When I had command of the Cavalry Brigade at Aldershot, in 1882, squads of 30 men from each of the Infantry regiments, ordered on the Egyptian Campaign, were sent to Cavalry regiments for three days' instruction in the management of horses and mules. It is hardly possible to conceive anything more absurd than that, and the Service suffered for it—the loss was enormous, not only in animals, but in the efficiency of the Service. Well, it is no use making a complaint unless one suggests a remedy. My impression is that it would be a good thing if some 30 men of each Infantry regiment at home could be sent during the winter season, when no drill is being carried on, to the nearest Cavalry barracks, there to be instructed in the management of horses and carts. Then I would suggest that a small nucleus of the regimental transport should be es- 1412 tablished in every regiment, I would give them four carts and 12 horses, and I believe that with that nucleus you would have the means of working up a pretty good staff for the operations of war. Supposing in the Infantry the transport men remain two years after they were trained you would always have 60 efficient men for these duties. By the system I have mentioned it seems to me you would always find it possible to keep the men moderately efficient in the knowledge of their duties. It may be said that it would lead to great expense to find these horses and carts; but there is always a great deal of expense in the matter of transport in connection with the railways and about the camps which could be relieved by the means I suggest. I think, in fact, that with care it would be possible to make the regimental transport repay its own expenses. There are always many works being carried on in connection with barracks which require transport. Such an auxiliary service as I suggest would be available, for instance, to the Engineers who repair the barracks, and who are constantly requiring transport. I am always unwilling to suggest anything that would necessitate a great expenditure; but if what I propose were adopted it would be possible, with a comparatively small outlay, to establish not a Transport Corps, but a nucleus which might be of very considerable use in time of war, and we might obviate the great break-downs which occur in all our wars, especially at the beginning of them. It may be said that Cavalry regiments would object to having the burden of 30 or 40 Infantry soldiers thrust upon them. I think I can say, on behalf of the commanders of Cavalry regiments, that they would welcome the assistance of these 30 or 40 Infantry soldiers during the winter season. There is one other point of a somewhat similar character I should like to mention. We ought to provide all our regiments with ambulances—that is, a few mules and litters should be given to every regiment. I am aware that the Commissariat and Transport Corps provide ambulances; but I think that every regiment should have a certain amount of ambulance material under its own control. Mules are very vicious animals, and unless the men in charge of them understand them they often kick and give 1413 great pain to the sick and wounded. I do not know whether hon. Members have tried to manage mules; but if they have they will know that they are the most intractable brutes one can find. But with men who understand them they are tractable, and the very best transport that can be provided for the sick. I hope the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) will kindly give some thought to my suggestions, which I believe, if adopted, would be of very practical use, both in transport and ambulance matters.
§ MR. P. MCDONALD (Sligo, N.)
I hope I shall be excused for obtruding myself in this debate. I am in every sense of the word a non-combatant; but I rise to tell the tale of that very deserving class of men—the barrack clerks. In 1866 a Royal Warrant was issued for the purpose of putting in order the Barrack Department of the Service at the same time that the other three Military Departments were reconstituted. In the reconstitution two offices were opened up; one was that of barrack master, and the other that of barrack clerk. For both offices commissioned officers were eligible, and for the latter non-commissioned officers also. Of commissioned officers who accepted one or other of the offices there were, I believe, 40, and these men accepted the appointments on the understanding and in the hope that their positions would be improved, and that a certain retiring allowance or pension would be granted them on the expiry of their term of service. Before they were entitled to any allowance or pension another Army reform was made—the reform of 1871, under which the Barrack Department, in conjunction with the other three Departments of the Military Service, was again reformed. The consequence was that these offices were abolished, or, at least, they were so remodelled that the same officers could not continue to hold them, or, rather, to hold the new positions. It was all very well for the commissioned officers or the barrack masters; they were permitted to retire on full pay. How was it with the barrack clerks? To them the hope deferred was never realized. They got no retiring allowance whatsoever; and I know that one officer—a very deserving officer who had had 28 years' service in the Northern District—had to retire on a pension of £90 1414 a year, whereas a few years before, under other and different circumstances, he would have been entitled to £200 a-year. Now, the barrack clerks are very hard-working and deserving men, and they ought not to be subjected to hardships such as this. They have complained, and justly so, but what was the reply they received? "You are old soldiers; you must bear with it, for it is your duty." That is no consolation to an old soldier, to a man who has done good service to his country, and who expects his country will care for him in his old days. If such treatment is to be continued—if there is to be no redress given to this deserving class of men, a very bad example will be held out to the young men of the country, and will, no doubt, deter many from entering the Service. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) to take the case of these officers into account, and to show them that consideration which their position and claims entitle them to.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR (Kincardine)
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would do whatever he could to improve the Commissariat and Transport Services.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I understand the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) prefers to hear all the criticisms before he replies; and, therefore, I venture now to bring under his notice a matter which has appeared to me for some years to be of great consequence in connection with this Vote. But, before I proceed to refer to that matter, I ought to say that I am glad to endorse what has fallen from my hon. Friend the Member for North Sligo (Mr. P. McDonald) with regard to the barrack clerks. If I remember rightly, there are not more than eight or nine of these men; many of them are men of exceedingly long service—over 40 years; men who have given good service, and who now, at the end of their days, find themselves in a most exceptional position with respect to the terms of retirement. Many of their juniors, their subordinates, are enabled to retire on terms quite as good as these unfortunate men have before them. I am sure the sense of justice of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) will enable him to better the 1415 condition of the barrack clerks. Sir, the point which I especially rose to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to is an item of £500 at the bottom of page 43, "for taking remain at Woolwich." For some years I have endeavoured to impress on the Government the very great importance of the question of the reserve stores of the Army; and I am gratified to think that, after two or three years' struggle in the Public Accounts Committee, I was enabled to effect some little improvement. But I am not satisfied with what has been done, because I believe the War Office Authorities have not met the representations which have been made to them fairly or generously, and have not come up to the anticipations and intended requirements of the Treasury in the matter. The stores on hand have a nominal value of many millions—about £12,000,000; but this amount represents the value of the stores estimated at the making cost, or the cost of purchase. Now, a Return has been furnished for two or three years in succession, showing the value of the stores on hand in the War Office; but this Return is perfectly valueless. At the last meeting of the Public Accounts Committee it was elicited that the sum of £100,000 realized by the sale of old stores really represented a nominal value of 12 times that amount; so that where you have £1,200,000 worth of stores shown as being on hand, in reality, when you come to realize the stores, you have not £1,200,000 worth, but only £100,000 worth. Well, Sir, as far back as 1884, the Treasury said, and the Public Accounts Committee endorsed what the Treasury said—The audit of the store account is important, and the difficulties connected with it must be fairly faced. The step which is now being taken"—that is, the step which was promised by the War Office Authorities—is, in their opinion, an all-important step towards the realization of that object. First of all, the War Office should compile an annual account of stocks of Army stores, and when such an account as that is prepared it will be for the Treasury to judge to what extent that provides an efficient control over the Army stores.The Public Accounts Committee reported that they were strongly impressed with the advantage of an audit independent 1416 and outside of the Department. However careful and exact the Departmental audit might be, they believed that an arrangement might be made for an impartial audit by placing a fixed sum annually at the disposal of the Comptroller and Auditor General. Now, this sum of £500 in the present Estimate is not placed at the disposal of the Comptroller and Auditor General, but is handed over to the War Office to be spent in what they are pleased to call "taking remain at Woolwich." It is quite clear, from the proceedings of the Public Accounts Committee, that the following year the Treasury expected the War Office Authorities to furnish an account which would show the stock in hand; not the value, but the quantity. It was under that impression that the Treasury was left by the War Office Authorities. A representative of the Treasury then said—So far as the account presented by the War Office goes, I should not be prepared to accept this abstract as satisfying completely what the Treasury have asked for.Again, last year the Public Accounts Committee urged upon the Treasury and upon the War Office the propriety of having a Return showing the actual quantity of stores on hand, and again the War Office demurred to furnishing the account, and the Treasury failed to insist upon their doing so. The representative of the War Office was asked why his Department had not obeyed or acted upon the representation of the Committee; and his answer—a perfectly proper Departmental answer—was that the War Office did not act upon the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee, but upon the direction which they received from the Treasury, founded upon the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee. In view of that the Committee reported that the estimate of the value of the stores in the reserve depôts which had been given in the Appropriation Account was not in itself sufficient. Though the Committee considered the Estimate formed the foundation of a store audit, they suggested that the quantities of the principal articles in stock should be specified. The Committee were glad to observe that so far steps had been taken in the direction they desired; but they hoped that some more rapid progress might be made with this important 1417 question. That it is a very important question will, I think, appear to the Committee if they will allow me to read to them certain figures from the last statement with regard to stores. The statement furnished is a statement which shows only the official value of the stores in hand, and yet this alone reveals a very serious state of things. In March, 1884, the value of the accoutrements, small arms, and small arm material in hand was £2,088,000; but that had been so reduced that on the 31st of March, it was only £1,530,000. That is to say, that upon that one class of stores alone there had been a falling-off in value to the extent of £500,000. With regard to ordnance, there is a falling-off in the value of field guns, smooth-bore guns, gun carriages, and the like, of£60,000. In transport material there was a considerable reduction, and in projectiles, including gunpowder and gun ammunition, there was a diminution in value to the extent of nearly £200,000. Small arm ammunition diminished in value, and presumably also in quantity, and the other ordnance stores sank from a value of £1,838,000 to £1,575,000, or nearly £250,000. So that, besides a reduction of £500,000 in the value of accoutrements and small arm materials, there was a reduction of £250,000 in the value of the ordnance stores. Sir, the same story is traceable all through the barrack, hospital, and military prison stores. There is a reduction from£378,000 to £309,000—£69,000. The Committee will therefore see that upon this total of £12,500,000 there is in one year a reduction in stores of £1,100,000 worth. But that is not the worst of it. This is a reduction according to what is called The Woolwich Vocabulary Price List. Now, The Woolwich Vocabulary Price List is a large volume containing an enormous number of items, with the officially recognized prices set against them; and the War Office- having in hand a large number of guns, many of them altogether obsolete, which cost a considerable amount in the manufacture, still include in their Valuation Return these guns as stores in hand. That was illustrated very well last year, when, as I said, an enormous amount of stores were sold for, I think, £93,000, which in reality would have represented on this list twelve times that amount. The whole of this Return is perfectly 1418 valueless, perfectly misleading, and the object of the Public Accounts Committee has been defeated year after year by the obstinacy of the War Office officials, who, because they have not got explicit directions from the Treasury to furnish an account of the quantity of stores, have every year refused to do so, and they palm off this Report, which is not only worthless, but absolutely misleading. One would suppose the country was prepared for an emergency; but that is far from being the case. With regard to one article alone, there was a depletion of stores to the extent of £100,000 in a single year. There is nothing to show that when stores are depleted proper steps are taken to replenish them. Mr. Disraeli said that depleted stores may be quite as serious a matter as attenuated battalions or phantom ships. The expenditure of £500 for a nominal remain at Woolwich which only results in a Return which is entirely misleading is a simple waste of money. It is not necessary for me to say how I come by my knowledge; but I do know, as a matter of fact, that many of the men engaged on the remain at Woolwich last year looked upon the whole thing as a perfect farce, and knew it was a farce. Nothing will be satisfactory until you treat the War Department as the War Department itself treats every Quartermaster in the Army. Every Quartermaster has to render an account showing what were his stores on a certain date; he has then to give an account of the further stores he receives, and from the total he deducts the stores he issues, and then the balance is that which he is liable to account for when the Inspector comes down. But you cannot do that with the War Office and the Woolwich authorities, because there is absolutely no basis on which to work. There is no balance sheet presented, and I doubt very much whether the War Office could furnish a Return showing the number of any particular articles they have in hand. I know they have a great number of figures written in books in ink, and that they want these figures to be taken as trustworthy; but in reality they are not trustworthy, because they represent, not their efficient stores, but stores which are obsolete, and which would not be issued to regiments on active service. I hope the question I have raised will receive from 1419 the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) that attention which its importance justifies.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
I desire to say a few words in support of the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor), for I think no person can have read the last Report of the Public Accounts Committee without feeling that, with reference to this subject, it contains several points which are well deserving careful examination at the hands of the Committee. But before I enter into this matter I wish to refer to another, which I cannot help thinking is of some importance. I find, from the Report of the Public Accounts Committee, that about £70,000 is paid every year at Woolwich without the payments being vouched for by regular receipts. It must be quite evident that a system of this kind is very unsatisfactory, and may possibly lead to great swindling. The 14th section of the Revenue Act of 1884 prescribes the duty of the Treasury in such cases as this, and imposes on it the duty of making certain regulations. I should like to know what regulations have been made, or whether any have been made, and, if not, why it is that the War Department itself should not call the attention of the Treasury to the matter, with the view of having the regulations made as quickly as possible? Now, with reference to the subject mentioned by my hon. Friend (Mr. A. O'Connor). The recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee was that the quantities of the principal articles, such as ordnance, rifles, and the like, should be specified; and the hon. and learned Gentleman who is now Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst) has remarked that the recommendation was made in order that the War Office should consider whether, in the interest of the country, they would not give the quantities of stores in stock. The answer to that was that the War Office absolutely declined to give the information. The hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say that the great object which the Public Accounts Committee had in view was that no Government should tamper with the stores at the expense of the country, and that the stores should be kept up at the same uniform rate. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) has 1420 declared still more explicitly the object of the Committee. He said—We want to know how many stand of arms we have got in the armoury. If there is no Government Return available to the Members of this House, showing the actual number of arms in the possession of the Government, it seems to be a most extraordinary position, and one that may lead at no distant date to extraordinary disasters.I do not think that Her Majesty's Government could turn their attention to any more necessary subject than a rigid examination of the way in which the money is spent in the various Departments of the country. The same excuses are given year after year by the officials of the War Office for not giving the information demanded; and if at any time accounts have been furnished, they have been quite useless for the purpose for which they were wanted—being merely a list of prices such as a tradesman publishes in his hand-bills, and in no sense an account of stock-taking, which is really what is required. It seems to me that this system is absolutely vicious, and that, in the interests of the Public Service, it ought to be searchingly inquired into and ended. It is an extraordinary thing that £95,000 should be put down as the proceeds of articles sold, which are represented in another place as valued at ten times that amount. As far as I can see, these accounts are made up to delude the public. The taxpayers find the money, and there is no guarantee under the present system that their money is properly applied, or that it does not find its way into private pockets instead of being expended for the Public Service. While the system exists I, for one, shall lose no opportunity of protesting as strongly as I can against it as ridiculous, disgraceful, and dangerous.
§ MR. JORDAN (Clare, W.)
Although I cannot agree with all that has been said by my hon. Friend, I sincerely trust that the present Government will not in this matter follow in the steps of their Predecessors.
§ THE SURVEYOR GENERAL OF ORDNANCE (Mr. NORTHCOTE) (Exeter)
I have a few words to say on the points raised by hon. Gentlemen on this Vote. In the first place, the observations of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Hampshire (Sir Frederick Fitz-Wygram) with regard to regimental transport are entitled to 1421 great weight with the War Office, and I will certainly take care that the subject which he has brought forward shall be fully considered. With regard to the observations of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. P. McDonald) on the subject of barrack masters, they disclose a state of circumstances of which I was not aware. I will, however, inquire into them, and I am certain that if any just cause of complaint exists it will receive proper consideration at the hands of the authorities. Then, Sir, with regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) and the hon. Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy) as to the question of stores, I have no disposition at all to minimize the subject which they have brought forward, and which the hon. Member for Donegal supported by a reference to various statements which are perfectly accurate. I should regret that the Department should do anything in the way of allowing the stores to be unduly depleted; and, whether my term of Office be short or long, I shall do all in my power to prevent it. It is a serious matter, and Governments have certainly in the past occasionally allowed these stores to become dangerously low. It is quite possible that some such reform as that advocated by hon. Gentlemen opposite should be adopted; but, of course, I cannot be expected to make any complete statement on that subject.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid.)
I have some points to urge in connection with this Department which have been before the public for some time, but have not been brought forward in the present discussion. In the first place, I would ask what is the condition of the Army to be when it is called, as it is quite probable it may be called in a short time, on active service—what will be its position if there is no proper Commissariat; and how will the Commissariat work when you have two opposition Departments supplying it, a system which must militate against its success? I find, Sir, that the Commissary General is not responsible for the quality of the stores supplied to the Army in the shape of food, forage, and horses. That is a most important point, and it is one that is urged in Military Reports dealing with the subject; and I should have thought that some hon. Members 1422 who are acquainted with all the details which have come before them would have brought the matter under the notice of Her Majesty's Government. We are told that the Commissary General is little more than an Adjutant—that is to say, that this officer, who ought to know everything about the stores supplied to the Army, is an officer who deals with the men under his command more than with the stores of his Department. He is principally, it appears, concerned with the men under his charge; whereas I find that all these other matters are referred to the Surveyor General of Ordnance. Well, I ask, is the Surveyor General of Ordnance a practical man, who, by experience and training, is competent to deal with these important matters? No, Sir; we find that this is not the case. He is a War Office official, a Conservative, and a civilian; and of course, as a civilian, he is not capable of dealing with these most important military items. Going into the past history of this Department, what do we find? We find that, whenever the British Army has entered into any serious war with a foreign Power, the first Department to break down has been the Commissariat. We shall also see, by going into military history, that the Ordnance Department was shelved a few years after it was appointed, and the control went to another Department, which in its turn broke down, and so we have now a double duty devolving alternately upon two branches of the Service. Then, Sir, it seems to me an anomaly that the Surveyor General of Ordnance, who is a civilian, should draw a much larger salary—namely, £1,500 a-year—than an official who ought, at least, to have practical knowledge and experience in dealing with these matters, and who only draws £1,095 a year. I find that the Director of Supplies has a salary of £1,000 a-year, and that assistants and Directors of Contracts also draw large sums. Now, Sir, it is alleged by competent authorities that instead of having all these clerks the whole of the work ought to be done by the Commissary General and his staff, and that if that were carried into effect the country would not only be saved great expense, but the work would be better done. It is, therefore, my intention to move the reduction of the Vote 1423 by the sum of £4,500, which represents the salaries of these officials. You will find, Sir, that the Adjutant General has expressed himself in favour of this course being adopted; and if he is not strongly in favour of it, he ought to be so, in consequence of the Reports which have reached us. Now, with, regard to the officering of the Commissariat Department, it is plainly observable that very few officers enter the Department; and not only that, but we find that those who do enter leave it after five years' service. There is very small inducement to remain so far as the pay is concerned. We find that these men become dissatisfied with their position and give it up. Why is that? In the first place, an officer coming into the Commissariat loses his mess; he finds that there is a mess, but that he is not entitled to be a member of it. It will be said that when an officer goes to his station he is made an honorary member of the mess. That is true; but he is not entitled to be a member; he is only allowed to become a member by complaisance, which is certainly an indignity to him, and reflects on the Service which he has joined; and we find it constantly urged that when he leaves the society of the regiment, where he is known and knows everybody, he becomes only "one of those clerks," as they are called, who are certain to be looked down upon. Thus he not only loses the society of his friends, but his prestige also. He also loses in the matter of hospitality, because, if a man goes to a station as a Commissariat officer, he is not likely to receive the same amount of hospitality as would be shown to an officer belonging to a regiment. Officers belonging to a regiment, as is well known, have the greatest hospitality shown to them, and it is customary for them to return it; but the unfortunate Commissariat officer has no opportunity of returning it, because he is only an honorary member of the mess. I am also told that the Army Pay Department offers more inducements, and, accordingly, you will find that gentlemen belonging to Her Majesty's Service desire to enter it; perhaps, for pecuniary reasons, they go to the Army Pay Department rather than to the Ordnance Department. For these reasons, I think that the whole constitution of the Commissariat Staff requires investigation and re-organiza- 1424 tion not only for the sake of the Service, but in the interest of the taxpayers. With regard to the Transport Department, we find that a large number of tradesmen belong to it. We find that they are supposed to enter the Service with the view of making the trades they have learnt of advantage to the corps to which they belong; but, instead of that being the case, the result is quite the reverse, because, instead of being employed in their various trades, they are employed as transport drivers. Consequently, there are many complaints on the part of the tradesmen who have learnt their business, and entered the Service in order to practise their trades, that their knowledge is allowed to lapse. For these reasons, I maintain that the two Services ought not to be interchangeable; that the men who enter in one particular branch should work in that branch alone, and that so long as the present state of affairs exists so long will these Departments be a disgrace to the country—it will be in the future as it has been in the past.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £255,700, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge for Commissariat, Transport, and Ordnance Store Establishments, Wages, &c. which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887."—(Dr. Tanner.)
§ COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, S.W.)
I can assure the House that in the Nile Expedition, at any rate, the Commissariat, far from being inefficient, was, equally with the Medical Department, in a very efficient state. The Force was very well supplied under exceptionally difficult circumstances.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
There is one point to which my hon. Friend (Dr. Tanner) has not referred, and which I do not think has come within his knowledge. It came to my knowledge when presiding over a Committee which was appointed to inquire into the state of the Commissariat in Egypt, when the War Office came to the conclusion that the Committee occupied so much attention that they could not carry on the war and the Committee at the same time. I was very much struck by the fact that there was no head to the Commissariat and Transport. Although there is a Director of Contracts, you have no Director of Commissariat and Transport—you have 1425 no head to look to. I think that the whole War Office recognizes that the Commissariat is faulty. The Secretary of State has no subordinate in this matter; the Director of Contracts shuffles off responsibility on to someone else, and those upon whose shoulders he lays it transfer the burden to someone else. There should be proper officials to take responsibility, and you could then, if necessary, find fault with them in the House. I think the right hon. Gentleman should either start the Committee—though, perhaps, it is too old a story to re-open—or he should ask some Department to inquire into the system. I think there is a great deal in what was urged by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner), because if you do not give these persons a good position you injure their status. I defy the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State to say who is responsible for transport. Though he has excellent assistants sitting beside him, he has no one to advise him on Admiralty matters. It was pointed out in the last Committee that during the Egyptian Campaign the senior Commissariat officer was in London he wanted to interfere, but that the other officials would not let him, saying—"Your work begins in Egypt." There seems to be no proper responsibility in this matter; and I think it is quite time that the matter was looked into. If there was a great war looming ahead, as the hon. and gallant Member for Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) said, the Government would have to look into these matters; but I would advise them to do so at once, so as to be prepared for any emergency. As the Commissariat Committee was stopped, and as a previous House of Commons sanctioned the action of the Government in the matter, it appears to me high time that they looked thoroughly into it themselves, and endeavoured to get a responsible technical adviser on transport affairs. I feel it to be absolutely necessary that they should move in the matter.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
There is just one matter on this question of Commissariat that I wish to submit to the right hon. Gentleman. At present considerable sums are disbursed regimentally by certificate and regimental order, which, if they were charged by external authority, would be 1426 reduced—such as forage allowances that do not exist, lodging allowances for officers who are in barracks, and charges for fuel and lighting that are not used strictly according to the Regulations. Those officers who are concerned in the matter now are under the influence of regimental officers, lieutenant colonels and others. There is no denying the fact that the War Office Staff are perfectly well aware that many certificates that are signed by officers as to allowances are not absolutely correct. Money is issued on certificates of officers which would not be issued if some independent authority were required to look into the charges and sign the certificates. I would draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to two vouchers of accounts that I now hold in my hand. One is for forage, hay and straw, drawn at—. I will not mention the place. This is a voucher on which was to be drawn a certain amount of allowance for a considerable number of men. It is signed by the Lieutenant Colonel commanding, but it is signed in blank. Here is another: A Return of officers and non-commissioned officers of the—Regiment of Foot, occupying—Barracks, Depôt—, and somewhat similar in effect. This also is signed in blank by an officer, who wanted to go away and signed a large number of vouchers by anticipation, this amongst the rest. In this regiment, at any rate, there is ample ground for saying that one officer drew forage for a horse that did not exist. He had not one—["Name!"]—no; I shall not give the name—but when it was necessary for him to produce a horse he hired one. In the same battalion there was an officer who was drawing lodging allowance, and at the same time was accommodated in barracks; and as to fuel and lighting allowance, if the right hon. Gentleman will question some people in Pall Mall, he will come to the conclusion that some of these charges would not be allowed if the Commissariat officers had to deal with these persons instead of the Quartermasters, who are subject to regimental officers.
§ THE SURVEYOR GENERAL OF ORDNANCE (Mr. NORTHCOTE) (Exeter)
With regard to what has fallen from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner), I must say I think he made his statement to some extent 1427 on imperfect information. He says the Surveyor General of the Ordnance is responsible for the contract supplies he has mentioned, and not the General Officer. As a general rule the duty of supplying these things is vested in the General Officer, who has attached to him a Commissariat officer to see that the duty is properly carried out. The local contracts for supplies—and the majority of contracts are local—are made by the General Commanding. There are certain cases in which the General Commanding may have to refer to the Commander-in-Chief on questions relating to the state of the Commissariat Department, to its numbers and efficiency. If there are points in dispute, the contracts do come before the Surveyor General, who takes advice from the permanent officials at headquarters. I believe that in these cases the Commissariat officers themselves are invariably consulted, and that, generally speaking, the great bulk of the contract questions are disposed of by them. I believe it has been considered that it would be a mistake to take from the General Officer commanding the responsibility of the supplies to the troops under his command, and all the Commissariat has to do is to see that the duty is properly performed. When a foreign campaign is going on, and when it might be difficult to obtain supplies, then the duty of supplying the troops with food and stores is taken away from the contractors on the spot and vested in the War Office. If I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that the Adjutant General disapproved of the present system I am informed that he is much mistaken. I am told that he expressed the strongest approval of it. As to the pay and position of the Commissariat officers, I believe there is no doubt that it is not at present good; but inquiries are being made which it is hoped will have the effect of improving their position. With regard to what the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan) said, I certainly should not presume to think that I could express any opinion which would be of the slightest value; but I am far from saying that it is not possible that some improvement might be made in the matter he referred to. Much improvement might be made which would prevent the possibility of the recurrence 1428 of such scandals as the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. A. O'Connor) referred to; but I am afraid I cannot answer the questions which have been put in greater detail.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
Will the hon. Gentleman consider the suggestion I made to him as to the officers?
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
Though the answers of the hon. Gentleman the Surveyor General of Ordnance cannot be deemed entirely satisfactory, still, from the general tone of the hon. Gentleman's reply, I think it would be, perhaps, better not to press the Amendment to a division, as I had intended at the outset. But, at the same time, I must say the House does not care to take it for granted that complaints which are made are groundless, simply because it is said by a Member of the Government that, "as a general rule, things are not done in such and such a way," and that "they believe the Commissariat officers were consulted." Answers like that I cannot deem altogether satisfactory; but, taking the affair as a whole, and from the general tone of the hon. Gentleman's reply, I do not intend to take a division.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed, to.
(9.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £426,600, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge for the Clothing Establishments, Services, and Supplies, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
I beg to move that this Vote be reduced by £30,000. I am afraid I shall have to trespass a little on the time of the Committee to explain the reasons why I ask for this very large reduction in the Vote. I wish to explain that I desire this amount to be deducted from the sum that is set aside for the purpose of keeping the factory at Pimlico going; and I wish it to be understood at the outset that I am moving in this matter entirely on public grounds. I think it is very bad policy on the part of the Government to confine themselves entirely for their supplies to their own particular factory. I believe it to be de- 1429 sirable that other factories should be called into existence and nursed and kept alive in times of peace, so that they may be useful in times of war. We hold the opinion that the factory at Pimlico, being at present worked up to its highest point of tension, will be utterly useless in time of war to supply the increased requirements of an Army put into the field. Let the Committee understand that this Vote is divided into three parts, and that the largest portion is applied to the Pimlico Factory—namely, £60,000. That amount is devoted to regimental work at Pimlico, and £20,000 is devoted to outside contracts. In time of war the regiments would not be able to get on with merely their £60,000 worth of work, and the Pimlico Factory would be utterly unable to take up the work which would have to be done, for the reason, as I say, of being worked up to its fullest possible working ability. Probably that £60,000 worth, together with the rest of the work, would have to be put out to public competition, and then the Government would find themselves in this difficulty—that they would have no private factories in the country, no firms with machinery and perfect appliances for taking up their contracts and carrying them out in a satisfactory manner. I also move this reduction on the ground of public economy. It has been proved beyond yea or nay that private firms have been able to turn out the work at considerably loss than it costs the country to have it performed at Pimlico. There is one establishment in particular to which I wish to refer, and that is the factory at Limerick, reference to which has often been made in former Parliaments. It has been proved that they make at Limerick many garments which cannot be produced at Pimlico. Now, as I have mentioned the matter of the Limerick Factory, I desire—as it is in their interest, or to some extent in their interest, that I open up this question—to give the Committee every information concerning this factory and its connection with war contracts and with the War Office. It will be necessary for the Committee to understand what the Limerick Army Clothing Factory is. The Army Clothing Factory of Limerick was established about 30 years ago, and the premises, plant, and machinery is sufficient for the employment of 1,500 people, and that number 1430 has been sometimes employed, especially during the Civil War in America and the Franco-German War. For many years 1,000 hands were employed in making clothing for our own Army; but for the past 10 years in particular the War Department has monopolized so much of the work for their own factory that the result has been to the Limerick Factory that scarcely work enough can now be obtained to partially employ 500 people. It has been shown from time to time by Parliamentary Returns that the work done in the Limerick Factory is equal in quality and much cheaper than that made in the Government Factory; and the consequent claim of the Limerick employés to a larger share of the work has been frequently urged by direct applications, Motions in Parliament, and by deputations waiting upon the Secretary of State for War. This factory was visited some time ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers), when Minister of War. That right hon. Gentleman undoubtedly had in view the nursing of this establishment and the keeping of it up in perfect order, so that he and the Government Department might rely on it in time of difficulty, when a heavy strain occurred and the resources of the Pimlico Factory were stretched beyond their capacity. Well, the right hon. Gentleman, after his visit to Limerick, made an order that two-sevenths of the clothing for the Army should be made by contract; but even this slight concession was never carried out by the War Department, the Director of Clothing, who practically controls the whole business, virtually disregarding any orders in the matter. Though it was arranged to put out two-sevenths of the clothing to be made by contract, the Estimates were prepared as before—that is to say, the £60,000 was given to the Government Factory, and the £20,000 to private contractors. But even then, instead of putting out work to the extent of the £20,000 at the commencement of the year, only about half the quantity is then contracted for, the remainder being put back to the end of the year, when there is not sufficient time to make it up, evidently with the view of making sure that the Government Factory shall not run short of work, the result being that the Vote for the Government Factory is exceeded and the 1431 Contract Vote reduced; and a note of explanation is inserted in the Army Appropriation Accounts, that the reason the Contract Vote was not all expended was because the supplies were not delivered in time. Well, it so happens that at that time a Question on the subject was put in Parliament by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). He asked the Surveyor General of Ordnance on the 7th of August, 1885—Whether the work executed at the Limerick Factory costs less than similar work done at the Government Factory in Pimlico?He got a reply from the Surveyor General of Ordnance—then Mr. Guy Dawnay—that the work executed at the Limerick Factoryusually, but not invariably, costs less than work executed at Pimlico.To a further cross question put by the then Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), who asked—Are we to understand that, if the work can be done cheaper than at Pimlico, Limerick will not suffer?The Surveyor General of Ordnance replied—Yes; Limerick will not suffer at all."—(3 Hansard,  1458.)Now, let us see whether Limerick has, or has not, "suffered at all." I maintain that it has suffered both by short contracts and by the vexatious conditions attached to those contracts. In order to prove my contention I will ask the attention of the Committee while I read some letters addressed by the Director of Army Contracts by persons connected with the Limerick Army Clothing Factory. On December 3, 1885, they say—SIR,—With reference to the accompanying tender for the annual supply of clothing for next year, we beg to point out that the whole amount represented by wages only amounts to £15,000, and if the Company obtained the whole of the contract it would not suffice to keep the Limerick Factory fully employed for the whole year.We beg to remind you of the promise made by the Surveyor General in the House of Commons, that if the work was done cheaper at Limerick than at the Government Factory Limerick should not suffer. As the prices now tendered are lower than those paid at Pimlico for the same garments, we think we have grounds for claiming the fulfilment of that promise.With reference to the percentage paid to us hitherto on our accounts, we think it would be fairer when the contract is decided to ascer- 1432 tain the actual difference between the cost of the material issued to the Company and the prices tendered for the made-up garments, and let the difference be the actual percentage to be paid to us.We also beg to call attention to the great inconvenience resulting from the delay in inspecting the supply which, during the present year, has been above one month. Without making it a matter of stipulation, we think there should be an understanding that the supplies should be reported upon within one week of the receipt of the goods of Pimlico. As a matter of fact all garments made in the Government Factory must be examined as they are made, and we cannot, therefore, see any objection to such an obvious act of justice to outside contractors.We have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servants,The Auxiliary Forces Uniform and Equipment Co., Limited.W. E. HEALTH, Managing DirectorTo the Director of Army Contracts,War Office, Pall Mall, S. W.I stated a short time ago that we claim more work for the Limerick Factory on the ground of economy. Now, I have statistics here to prove that greater economy would be effected by giving a larger amount of work out in contracts than by keeping it in the Pimlico Factory. I will state what the difference is. I will mention the garments, and the percentage I state will be the excess in the cost of making them up at Pimlico over the Limerick price for the same.
§ Tweed (Royal Artillery) 40 per cent
§ Cloth (Royal Engineers) 40 per cent
§ Kersey (Infantry) 15 per cent
§ Tweed (Royal Engineers) 20 per cent
§ Tartan (Royal Artillery) 20 per cent
§ Tweed (Infantry) 5 per cent
The Cavalry cloaks and capes, great coats and capes, blue cloth (Royal Artillery), &c. are not made at Pimlico; but, as they are obtained in competition, they should also be included in the three years' contract. That proves my statement, that there would be a great saving effected by giving out a larger number of garments to be made by contract. I stated also that there were vexatious conditions attached to the giving out of these contracts; and in order to prove that I must inform the Committee that on the 24th of December, 1885, the following requisition was sent to the Director of Clothing:—
We beg to hand you herewith requisition for materials for our contract, 18, 12, 85 7/5 1/5 5/6 2/1 and will feel obliged if you will make the issues weekly, as follows—namely:—
§ 500 Artillery Frocks
§ 1,500 Kersey Frocks Infantry
§ 250 Tunics, Infantry
§ 500 Cloaks, Cavalry
§ 500 Capes Cavalry
§ 1,500 pairs Trousers Cavalry
To this requisition the following reply was received:—
Sir,—With reference to your letter of the 24th ultimo, accompanying a requisition for the materials for contract - 7/5 1/5 5/6 2/1 18, 12, 85, I have to inform you that, in accordance with the conditions of the contract, the garments are to be delivered in equal monthly instalments from January to December; and as there are 112,000 garments (exclusive of 20,000 for which materials have already been issued) to be delivered between these periods, the monthly proportion of issues will be 9,400, the last issue to be made about the middle of November, in order that you may be in a position to complete the contract by the 31st December.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
C. H. MORESHEAD,
Assistant Director of Clothing.
Such an interpretation was never known to be put on a delivery clause before, and it was evident that the clause had been so framed by the Director of Clothing himself for the very purpose of limiting the production of the Limerick Factory, if not of destroying it altogether. What was the effect of that condition? Why, that you have the Limerick Factory working all the year round on half time. They would have the Limerick Factory perform in 12 months an amount of work which could be easily got through in six months. We all know that the principal argument adduced by the Director of the Clothing Factory in Pimlico is that it would greatly increase the proportion of the permanent charge on the cost of production to reduce the factory at Pimlico; but the same thing applies to the Limerick Factory. Mr. R. T. Tait, in a letter to the Director of Army Contracts, says—
The quantity of material (4,750 garments weekly) asked for, is barely sufficient to keep the Limerick hands employed on three-quarter time. I beg to remark that, during 30 years' experience I have had of Government contracts, I never knew a case in which objection was taken to the delivery of supplies before the periods named in the contract, which have always been regarded as the maximum periods allowed. I hope, therefore, that the Secretary of State for War will be pleased to order the
requisition to be complied with by the Director of Clothing.
The result is that the Limerick Factory has been placed on what I would call starvation diet. Not only was the promise of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) that two-sevenths of the entire sum should be put out to contract not carried out, but even the small amount of work that is put out—£20,000 worth—is spread over 12 months. That, as I say, would only give the Limerick Factory about six months' work. With these vexatious, hampering, and stifling conditions it is required that the Limerick Factory should eke out a miserable existance; and possibly it is hoped that, with other private manufacturing concerns, it will eventually die out altogether. I maintain that it is bad policy to starve out an institution like this. It should be nursed and kept alive, so that it might be possible for the Government to fall back on it and on similar institutions in time of necessity. There is another grievance as to the outside contract work. A great portion of this £20,000 is held back towards the end of the year, so as to hold it over to such a time as that it would be impossible for the Limerick Factory, or any other contractors who might take the work up, to perform it within the required period; and then the Director of the Contracts cunningly applied that part of the £20,000 which remained unexpended, owing to the inability of the contractors to comply with his conditions, to keeping his hands going at Pimlico. So that really there is more than £60,000 voted by this House to keep Pimlico going, and absolutely less than the £20,000 voted for outside contracts eventually reaches the outside establishments. I have another letter here which I must read, in order that the Committee may thoroughly understand this matter. What was the consequence of this starvation? On the 15th of February the manager of the Limerick Factory wrote to the Director of Contracts—
Sir—On my return here to-day I find the greatest dissatisfaction possible prevails among the people of the factory in consequence of their having been turned out for nearly a fortnight—the end of last month and the beginning of this—for want of materials to proceed with our contract for clothing.
On account of the change of Government and consequent rising of Parliament, I have not
been able to call attention to this subject in the proper quarter; and as it will be a short time before I can do so, I would feel obliged if you would order that the issue of material for next month should be made immediately, in order to avoid a repetition of the hardship and suffering to which the people are exposed, as stated above.
As this matter is very pressing, kindly wire if you can comply with my request.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
R. T. TAIT, Manager,
To this the Director of Contracts sent the following reply:—
Gentlemen—I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 13th instant with regard to your contract 7/5 1/5 5/6 2/1 of the 18th December last. In reply, I am to refer you to my letter of the 19th ultimo, in which it was stated, in answer to your request of the 11th idem for the issue of further material, that the terms of the contract must be carried out. Your present application has been submitted to the Surveyor General of Ordnance, who regrets that, on the information before him, he is unable to accede to your request.
I am, gentlemen,
Your obedient servant,
Director of Army Contracts.
Such is the manner in which the Contracts Department has treated the Limerick establishment. Now, what is it that this Company asks for, and what claim is it that we find ourselves willing and able to sustain? The claim that the factory makes is contained in a letter dated January 2, 1886, and written by Mr. Tait, whose name I have already mentioned. He says—
With reference to the several interviews I had with you whilst the Annual Clothing Contract was under consideration, I pointed out that the Limerick Factory nearly always got certain descriptions of garments in competition with the rest of the trade, and was very much lower in price than the Pimlico Factory.
I suggested that if this Company succeeded in the present competition (which it has done), in order to avoid the great hardship upon the operatives here of being thrown out of employment at frequent intervals, that a triennial contract should be entered into for the whole of these garments required for the Service. This would give nearly sufficient work to keep all the workpeople fairly, but not fully, employed all the year round; and I may here remark that when the work is slack it cannot be confined to fewer hands, as all the workpeople insist that whatever work there is should be divided amongst them all, as they have no other means of employment here. Mr. Childers, when he visited Limerick, recognized this fact, and ordered the contracts to be made for three years.
That is our demand—that the contracts should be made for three years, and that the factories should be kept going; that a sufficient amount, or nearly a sufficient amount, of work should be given out to keep the factory going all the year round. We ask, as I said before, that this shall be done on public grounds. The objection of the Director of Clothing to make issues in accordance with the requisition of the 24th of December can only be attributed to a certain amount of unfriendliness or hostility to the Limerick Factory. Whatever his reasons are, he has frustrated from time to time the good intentions of successive Secretaries of State for War with regard to Irish industries; and, taking into account that Ireland contributes pretty largely to the Imperial Revenue, I think that she is entitled to a fair share of the expenditure of those Revenues. Now, the whole Clothing Vote for last year exceeded £1,250,000, and with the exception of perhaps £2,000 or £3,000 paid for linen in the North of Ireland, and the £15,000 spent in Limerick, it is all expended in Great Britain. Not another 1d. is spent in Ireland. I think we are entitled to a fair share of this public expenditure, and on that ground we ask that out of the public grant a larger amount should be set aside for public contract work. I think I make this demand at a particularly favourable time—at a time when a Government has come into Office avowedly favourable to Ireland in these respects—a Government that announces at the outset of its career that it is going to issue a Royal Commission for the purpose of making inquiry and seeking out means whereby it can devote money to the advancement of the material resources of Ireland. Well, now, here is a case for the exercise of their philanthropy. If they are in earnest, they have it in their own hands to do a valuable work—not to prop up an industry not indigenous to the soil, but actually to support one that is already in existence. They can do this not only on grounds of philanthropy, but on public grounds—for the sake of economy and the good service of the State. We hold that it is to the interest of the State that this factory should be maintained in all vigour and in all health; but how can it be in vigour or in health if it is on starvation diet for the whole
year round? How is it possible that this Company can exist without work? Where is it to look for work? There are no wars, or rumours of wars, on this Continent or on the Continent of America. This Company got work from America during the American War. It occasionally gets a little increase of work when new orders are sent out in consequence of rumours of wars in this country. I believe that 132,000 garments were this year ordered in consequence of such rumour; and, according to an answer given to-night by the hon. Gentleman the Surveyor General of the Ordnance (Mr. Northcote), 25,300 of these were given to the Limerick Factory. But what does that amount to? Not to more than an additional six weeks' work. I have already pointed out that the amount of work given to it up to the present will only maintain the factory in full employment for six months in the year, and the fact that an additional six weeks' work is to be given does not materially affect my argument. I have moved that the Vote be reduced by £30,000. It is my desire that that sum should be taken from the amount given to the Pimlico Factory. I do not suppose it will be possible, although, we are in a time of peace, to have the £60,000 given to Pimlico for regimental work reduced by a single farthing; but if my Motion is carried, it will be possible to get money for the needs of the Pimlico Factory elsewhere. England is a large place—London is a large place, and there are means here for giving employment for factory hands. In Ireland that is not the case. Ireland is a poor country, and has little means of giving employment to her people. It has no means of keeping people in its factories—people who labour at a cheaper rate than do the factory hands of England—unless the factories receive their fair share of work. And it must be remembered that the factory on behalf of which I am pleading not only turns out cheaper work than the Pimlico establishment, but that its work is better done. It is better work than any work of a similar kind in Great Britain. I appeal to the hon. Gentleman the Surveyor General of Ordnance on all these grounds—on the ground of economy, on the ground of fairness, on the ground of philanthropy, and on the ground that it will be beneficial to the State to keep
the Limerick Factory alive. I appeal to him and to the Government at large for their most favourable consideration to the circumstances I have brought before them. I would appeal to the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Lord Randolph Churchill). Here is an opportunity for him to carry out, to some extent, his grand professions with regard to Ireland, without troubling the Royal Commission which is to consider the best means of developing the material resources of that country. I would remind him that it is in Ms power, by the exercise of his influence, to induce this Department, over which the Surveyor General of Ordnance presides, to get this Vote for Pimlico reduced by a certain sum, so as to give out more work to contract, and nurse these establishments in time of peace, so as to be of incalculable service to him in time of war.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £396,500, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge for the Clothing Establishments, Services, and Supplies, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887."—(Mr. John O'Connor.)
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I am sorry that nobody rises from the Government Bench to reply to the observations of my hon. Friend, because I think his complaint is extremely well - founded. To show how well-founded it is, I have taken out from the last Return figures as to the distribution of the Vote last year but one. There was then, as there is now, £60,000 for piece-work at the Government Factory, and for work outside Pimlico £20,000; but whereas the £60,000 was not only spent, but was exceeded by more than £10,000, the sum of £30,000 taken for contract was not expended, but some £1,800 was returned, into the Exchequer. It was clearly understood in previous years in this Committee that the whole £20,000 at least should be expended in contract services, and that if any economy was to be made in the sum voted it should be rather in the amount taken for Pimlico than in that taken for work by contract outside Pimlico. I find that instead of that being done, Mr. Ramsey, a thorough official obstructive, and a strong minded old gentleman, has had his way, as he 1439 always has had his way. The officials at the head of the Department appear to be afraid of him. He has never carried out the assurances given to hon. Gentlemen in the House; but year after year we get the same experience. He constantly throws in the way of the contractors the same difficulties. He will reject garments on the slightest excuse, for the most minute deviation from the pattern, though they may be much better than the pattern. His system seems to be to worry the contractors by every means in his power, in order, if possible, to drive them out of the business. His object seems to be to make his own place—that is to say, the Government Factory—the only establishment in the country for the manufacture of Army clothing. He wishes to increase the importance of Pimlico. That is a very natural desire, no doubt; but if it were realized it would be anything but a good thing for the State, for the Government finds it can put work out and get it done quite as well and cheaper. I wish to call attention on this Vote to a falling-off in the amount of clothing in hand, as I drew attention, on a previous Vote, to the falling-off in general stores. As according to a Return supplied to us the general stores, valued at £12,500,000, sank one year by £1,100,000; so the clothing stores, which on the 31st of March, 1884, were valued at £813,000, on the 31st of March, 1885, had sunk to £618,000, or nearly £200,000, or 25 per cent of the whole. This is another case of depleted stores. We are supposed to have garments, badges, boots, and all sorts of clothing in store, available for use in any emergency that may arise, of the value of £800,000; but we find that when some exceptional draft is made by the Army at the end of the year 25 per cent of these stores have disappeared, and have not been replaced. This is a matter which, seeing the menacing condition of things in the East of Europe, deserves the closest attention of Her Majesty's Government.
§ THE SURVEYOR GENERAL OF ORDNANCE (Mr. NORTHCOTE) (Exeter)
With reference to the position of the War Office in regard to the Auxiliary Forces Uniform and Equipment Company, I should like to remind the Committee that the hon. Member for South Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor), in the 1440 quotation he made, left out a very important part of Mr. Guy Dawnay's answer to the then hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) last year. Mr. Guy Dawnay said that work executed at the Limerick Factory usually, but not invariably, cost less than work executed at Pimlico; and he went on to say—But, as regards reduction of workpeople, a large reduction will have to be made at Pimlico, and Limerick can scarcely hope to escape one also.Then the hon. Member (Mr. Sexton) asked—Are we to understand that, if the work can be done cheaper than at Pimlico, Limerick will not suffer?in reply to which Mr. Guy Dawnay said—Yes; Limerick will not suffer at all."—(3 Hansard,  1458.)There was a redemption, as far as possible, of the pledge given by Mr. Guy Dawnay in the autumn of 1885, for at the request of the Earl of Carnarvon, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, a further order was given to the Auxiliary Forces Uniform and Equipment Company with the object of keeping the hands in Limerick employed. An order for 14,000 garments was given for this purpose. I am informed that since August, 1885, the Company have had 166,000 garments issued to them at an estimated value to them of about £12,500. But as regards the general question raised by the interpretation the hon. Member put on Mr. Guy Dawnay's answer, I do not think that answer can be considered as extending so far as the Limerick Company seek to make out. If it did it would really amount to this—that Mr. Guy Dawnay gave an answer to a Question on the spur of the moment overthrowing the decision arrived at by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) in 1880, after a full inquiry into the question of the capacity of our manufacturing establishment at Pimlico. The decision the right hon. Gentleman then came to was that the factory at Pimlico could best be worked with an establishment of 1,250 hands, or, allowing 50 to be absent from illness or other causes, with a normal establishment of 1,200 hands. When Mr. Guy Dawnay gave his answer last year to the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), we had, as a 1441 matter of fact, over 1,400 employed at Pimlico, and the interpretation placed by the Department on the promise of Mr. Guy Dawnay was that Limerick should not be made to suffer whilst anything like an abnormal rate of employment obtained in Pimlico. As a matter of fact, as I stated in the early part of the evening, we have reduced the number of hands employed at Pimlico by 334. The number employed there, I am told, was 1,084 on the 1st of September, 1886, as against 1,418 on the 1st of September, 1885. I may also say that in the spring of 1885 we had 2,100 hands employed; therefore, although it is unquestionably, I am afraid, the case that Limerick does suffer by the fact that there are no such special demands for these manufactures as exist in time of war, yet it cannot, I think, be said that Limerick has suffered unfairly as compared with the Government Factory, when it is considered that we have only 1,084 hands, as against 2,100 a year and a-half ago. As to the complaint of the Limerick Factory that only £15,000 is allotted to the trade, the fact is that at this moment, out of the £20,000 allotted for wages, we have liabilities out to the amount of £19,964; but of that a sum of £4,450 is on account of orders which the trade failed to deliver in the last financial year, and which we have had to charge against the present financial year. That is an occurrence which, I hope, will not be repeated, and in the next financial year I hope we shall be able to distribute the whole sum amongst the trade. If we can, certainly the trade of Limerick will be fairly considered. Of the £15,514 issued to the trade, I am informed that the Limerick Company have nearly £12,000. They have for the current year orders for 153,500 garments, or a daily average of 500; but we shall have no more work to give until the demands are made for next year, which will be issued in November. I could not, for the sole sake of helping the Limerick Factory, recommend the Secretary of State to take steps which would cripple Pimlico, which would be the case if a serious reduction in its present amount of work were reduced, because it must be remembered that though the work turned out at Limerick is on the whole cheaper than that done at Pimlico, yet that it is of a rougher kind. If we were to allow 1442 our great Clothing Factory to be shut up we should, I am afraid, be running the risk of getting into the hands of a ring of contractors who might take the opportunity of squeezing the Government if an emergency arose. Then it must be remembered by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite, that the War Office have not only to consider the complaints that come from the Limerick Factory, but that there are other contractors, and that these other contractors are somewhat inclined to grumble at what they consider the excessive amount of such contract work as we are able to give out which the Limerick Company secures. [An hon. MEMBER: Try competition.] With regard to the question put by the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Donegal (Mr. A. O'Connor) that the work done at the Pimlico Factory might be performed at a cheaper rate by having it put out to contract, I should be very unwilling to incur the risk. I should be unwilling to have it said that I was recommending the Secretary of State to obtain what is called "sweating" work—namely, work performed by the workpeople of London and elsewhere at starvation wages. With regard to the inconvenience caused to the Factory by the non-delivery of materials, I believe that such steps as we could take have been taken to meet the views of the contractors, and that whereas they complained that we only issued materials monthly, and they wanted a weekly distribution, we were able to compromise the matter by a fortnightly distribution. It does not lie entirely with the War Office to distribute or not, as fancy may guide them; but they have to be led by circumstances, and at one time they may have very little work to give, whilst at another time they may have a great deal to send out at a moment's notice. Some reference has been made in the course of the debate to the visit of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) to the Limerick Factory, and it was said that it was represented to him that all the Limerick Factory claimed was that it should have work given to it to keep its hands going throughout the year. Well, Sir, when the right hon. Gentleman was over there a letter was written by the manager of the Limerick Factory on the 9th of July, 1880, stating that the number of hands 1443 employed there was 600, and that wages amounting to £10,000 would keep them in work for a year. The hon. Member for South Tipperary, (Mr. J. O'Connor) now says that that Factory has something like doubled its number of hands. While that Factory has so increased its hands, the Government have not been able or have not been in a position to double the orders which we previously gave. No undertaking was given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) that if there was an unlimited increase in the number of hands in the Factory, sufficient work would be found for such increase. Then, I would remind the Committee that the special war preparations, to which reference has been made, not only gave work to the Limerick Factory, and our own Factory at Pimlico, but enabled us to give employment to firms in Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester, Derby, Chester, and Newcastle-under-Lyme. The ceasing of these war preparations, of course, necessitated our taking away work from the majority of these towns. But the fact that in the time of need we were able to obtain work from these places rather consoles one for the alarm one might feel at the statements of hon. Members in reference to our being left to the tender mercies of the Pimlico Factory in time of emergency. Though I do not wish to disparage the quality of work at Pimlico and Limerick, what I have said shows that there are other places we could avail ourselves of in time of need. During the present year I hope we shall be able to give the total amount of work—that is, £20,000 worth—out to contract. Though I cannot take the same view of the duty of the Government towards the Limerick Factory that the hon. Member opposite (Mr. J. O'Connor) very naturally takes himself, yet I do not think, from such conversation as I have been able to have with the officials at the War Office, that there does exist that prejudice towards this particular Factory which he seems to apprehend. I have not yet had an opportunity of seeing this formidable Director of Clothing to whom reference has been made; he is just now taking his annual holiday. But, I can assure the hon. Member that when I have made this gentleman's acquaintance, I will press upon him the view, which I am sure he will be anxious to take, that 1444 orders shall be given out with the utmost fairness, and with due regard to the prosperity of the Limerick Factory.
§ MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
As some reference has been made to me by the hon. Member for South Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) and by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down—to whose explanation I have listened with great care—I should like to give a short explanation to the Committee as to what occurred in this matter when I was Secretary of State. The facts are these. A short time after I became Secretary of State, in 1880, I found that there were great difficulties both as to the Pimlico and Limerick Factories, and as to the work given out to contract in the East of London, and other places. The Pimlico Factory had just gone through a great controversy as to the wages paid to the women employed there. The Limerick Factory was also the subject of controversy. The financial position of the latter Factory led to its being strongly urged upon me that it should be granted regular work, and I was quite satisfied before I went to Limerick that regular work ought, if possible, to be given. At the same time, I was by no means satisfied with the work in some other places where clothing was being produced, because it was then represented to me that "sweating" was going on, which we could not approve. I went fully into the business of the Pimlico Factory, and I obtained all the information I could concerning the Limerick Factory, which I personally inspected with some minuteness, and other places where work was done; and I came to the conclusion that on the one hand it was necessary, on economical grounds, that a minimum of—I think the hon. Gentleman says—1,200 persons should be employed at Pimlico, and that at the same time at Limerick there should be such a system of contract as would ensure the Factory having work for three years ahead. It appeared to me that if the requirements of these two establishments were properly treated the question of work at other places was of very minor importance, because I was satisfied that if a great demand for clothing arose through war, or other cause, it was perfectly easy to give out an almost infinite amount of work not only in the East of London, but in other places. On that 1445 ground I arrived at the conclusion which has been generally approved to-day. There was a special reason, both in the interests of economy and of the proper supply of garments when wanted, that the Pimlico Factory should not stand alone, but that competition of an efficient character, such as that afforded by the Limerick Factory, should be assured to us. It seemed to me that Limerick should not be allowed to get into that state of disorder through want of work which had previously, more than once, occurred. During the two years that followed I satisfied myself that the requisites that I insisted upon were carried out. Since that time I know nothing officially of the matter, but I believe that the statement of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is correct.
§ MR. W. ABRAHAM (Limerick, W.)
I desire to say a few words upon this Vote, as I happen to have some personal knowledge and experience of the Limerick Factory, having been for some 10 years the manager of that establishment. I was manager during the Civil War in America and the Franco-German War. It is stated by the hon. Gentleman the Surveyor General of Ordnance that some 600 persons were formerly employed at the Limerick Factory, and that that number has now been doubled. I wish to state for the hon. Member's information that the number of hands employed does not exceed 800. The ground upon which we ask that Ireland should obtain a three years' contract for the manufacture of all those garments which in competition they have been found capable of producing at a cheaper rate than the Pimlico Factory is the ground of right and justice. We ask that this Committee and the Government should undertake, on the representations which we make, in the interests of the Public Service, that the manufacture of all those garments which the Limerick Factory is able to produce at a cheaper rate than the Pimlico Factory should be given out to the Limerick Factory for a period of three years. Surely the Committee is familiar with all the arguments which have been urged in support of this demand, for they have been used over and over again. I have heard it advanced from the Treasury Bench that supplies should be obtained from any place, even from a foreign country, if they can be purchased at a less cost than that for 1446 which they can be produced at home; and when we know that many of these garments can be got cheaper at Limerick than elsewhere, I contend that on their own showing the Government are bound to give the work to the Limerick Factory. To give the Committee some idea of the difference in cost between the Pimlico and the Limerick work, I may point out that in the case of tweed frocks for the Royal Artillery the Pimlico price is 12s. 4½d., while the Limerick price, delivered in London, is 12s. 1d.; that the Pimlico price for frocks for the Royal Engineers is 11s. 3½d., while the Limerick contract price is 9s. 4d.; that the kersey Infantry frocks cost 8s. 8½d. at Pimlico, while the contract price at Limerick is 7s. 10d.; that at Pimlico the tweed trousers for the Royal Engineers cost 9s. 9d., while the Limerick price is 9s. 1d.; and that the tartan Royal Artillery trousers cost 7s. 7½d. at Pimlico, whilst the charge is only 6s. 11d. at Limerick. We have gone very carefully into a calculation on this subject, and we find that the effect of having these garments made at Pimlico instead of giving them to the Limerick Factory actually involves the country in a loss of some £5,000 a-year. I assert without fear of contradiction that since the Government Factory was established in South Belgravia—a most extraordinary place for such a factory—the Government have paid £1,000,000 more than they need have done if they had had the work done by private contract even in London. Why, look at the salaries which are paid! There is a Director of Clothing at a salary of £1,200 a-year, an Assistant Director at a salary of £825 a-year, and a Factory Manager at £500 a-year. I suppose that there is nothing that this Factory makes in which it is able to compete with contractors in other parts of the country. We are promised a Commission of Inquiry into Irish industries. Well, here is an Irish industry in regard to which we want no inquiry. If the managers of the Limerick Factory are able—by the skill and intelligence which they have brought to bear on their establishment in the course of their 30 years' experience, and the long training they have given to their hands—to compete with the general trade and to effect a saving of £5,000 a-year, in those articles for the manufacture of which they compete, 1447 over a great Government establishment, I cannot believe that, speaking in an Assembly composed for the most part of commercial men, our claim will not receive general support. Our claim must be recognized as one which cannot be denied by any Government. It is a claim which is founded upon right and justice, and we confidently believe that it will be recognized. We ask that for all those garments that we can contract for at a less price than they can be produced for at the Pimlico Factory, we should have a contract for three years. There is plenty of work to be done at Pimlico besides that which we claim should be given to us. We cannot accept the statement of the Surveyor General of Ordnance as to the manner in which the material is given out, our contention being that the contract has been divided, or rather that the material has been distributed, over a period of 12 months, with the idea of hampering and injuring this Limerick industry. The cloth issued would only make 9,400 garments per month—that is to say, only a fortnight's work was given out to keep the Limerick Factory employed a month. We say, therefore, that there has been an attempt to stifle the Limerick industry, and we confidently appeal to the Government to properly redress this grievance.
§ MR. WOODALL (Hanley)
I am quite sure that the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, who appealed to this Committee for justice, may expect to have even more than justice in regard to our dealings with this industry in Limerick. But, if I may be allowed to offer him a piece of advice, it would be that he should not base his claim on the desirability of buying in the cheapest market. During the time I was at the War Office I learned that there are many firms throughout the country who send in tenders considerably lower than those of the Limerick Factory. There are many factories in the country, conducted on the best principles, which can see their way to do the work at much lower prices merely for the sake of keeping their hands employed and their works open for other and more lucrative purposes. Reference has been made to the inconvenient way in which the material has been given out to the Limerick Factory for the execution of orders intrusted to that factory. The Committee is not, perhaps, aware of the fact that 1448 the contracts for this kind of work are merely for the labour and the making up of material which is obtained from the various manufacturers in the country. These contracts are subject to regulations as to the time of delivery; and it certainly has appeared to me inconvenient that these regulations for the delivery of material to the clothiers should be on a different scale to that upon which the cloth made by contract is delivered to the Government. This was one of the matters on which it was extremely desirable that we should meet the convenience of the factory. I arranged, I believe, that the cloth, instead of being given out month by month, should be given out by arrangements extending over periods of three months. Application, however, has been made from Limerick, saying—"You give us a contract for a certain number of garments to be delivered in 12 months. Why limit us to deliver so many garments month by month? Why not allow us to deliver at any convenient period within the year?" Well, hon. Gentlemen have complained that the factory is kept at starvation wages, and that the hands can only be kept on half-time; and I am afraid that it would not be much of an improvement, so far as the men are concerned, if a 12 months' contract were allowed to be executed in six months. It is perfectly impossible; and I am sure in this the Committee will agree with me, that we should undertake to keep the Limerick Factory fully employed in production. It has been explained that an arrangement has been made by which the Pimlico Factory should be kept at a certain minimum rate of production which will enable it to be carried on efficiently and economically. According to the arrangements which have been made the work performed at this factory is a certain proportion of the ordinary average consumption in time of peace. That arrangement, I venture to say, has been honourably maintained; and while the strictest and most kindly regard has been shown towards the Limerick Factory, it has only been done by completely closing contracts with other factories which have relied on Government orders—factories in places like Derby, Chester, and Norwich, not to speak of very important clothiers in different parts of London. In regard to this subject, it 1449 should be remembered, also, that there has not only been a desire to hold the balance between the Government Factory and the private factories, but also there has been a very serious desire that, in trusting work to outside contractors, strict regard should be had to the conditions under which the work was done. The rule at present applying is that no contracts shall be issued to any contractor who will not undertake to have the work done under all the conditions required by the Factory Acts; and it has been, as the Committee will readily imagine, a matter requiring the greatest vigilance and care to prevent these contracts getting into the hands of people who are well known as "sweaters." But, as I think I have already stated, there are circumstances from time time which lead private contractors to tender for large orders of this kind in order to keep their workpeople employed and their machinery going. I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for South Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) that the prices tendered by the Limerick Factory have been, in a very large number of cases, beaten down by competitors in London and other parts of the country. But the hon. Gentleman has spoken of the cost of the administration of the Pimlico Factory. He must remember that the Pimlico Establishment is not merely a factory. It is a place that has large duties in the way of passing, testing, and examining, not merely clothing such as that which is made at Limerick, but boots and accoutrements in great variety, for the Police, the Post Office, and other Departments of the State. I am sure that everyone who visits that factory will be greatly impressed with the care, conscientiousness, and strictness with which it is carried out. I was half prepared to hear a revival to-night of the complaints made last year as to the treatment of the employés at this factory. I am glad to find that that complaint is suspended. That was a matter which required a great deal of careful investigation. I had the extreme good fortune to induce Mrs. Fawcett, the widow of the late Professor Fawcett, to undertake a very strict and confidential inquiry. I am sure the Government are extremely indebted to that able lady for the good advice she has given, and the Report she has made, upon which we have been enabled to make arrange- 1450 ments which have smoothed away a great many of the differences which existed, rather in apprehension than in fact, and which have had the effect of restoring the administration of that factory to a perfectly healthy and satisfactory condition.
§ MR. SHEEHY (Galway, S.)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down says there are many English firms who would have done this Government work at a cheaper rate than the Limerick Factory. Then, I ask, why did not the Department give the work to those firms? Was not the work submitted to competition, and was it not because Limerick won that it was given to Limerick? I certainly believe it was. And now that the Limerick Factory is, as I might say, the only private establishment to which this work can be given, the object seems to be to starve out that establishment, so that all the work will be brought to Pimlico. We from Ireland contend that the Limerick Factory has been getting very little support from the Government, and that they have found it impossible, no matter what sweating process was adopted, to get the work done in England as cheaply and as well as it is performed in Limerick. We say that, notwithstanding that fact, a great deal more work is given to Pimlico than formerly at a higher price than is charged in Limerick. Has it not been proved over and over again by hon. Gentlemen near me that the Pimlico Factory is being asked to do work which could be done cheaper in Ireland? I hope the English Members appreciate the fact that they are able to keep their money at home, but we Home Rulers insist that a greater share of this expenditure should go to Ireland. We have been voting a great deal of money here to-day—over £1,000,000—every 1d. of which is to be spent in England; but here is a Vote in regard to which we find that the gap can be opened and money can be spent with no loss but with great advantage to the State in Ireland instead of England. We ask that this money should be spent in Ireland. We are not asking you to make us a gift, but we are simply asking the guardians of the public purse to do that which they have a right to do in the interest of the public. Members of the Government say—"If you do this you will starve Pimlico and close it up, and then when it is closed up 1451 you will have Limerick and other factories forming themselves into a kind of ring." But I would point out that compliance with the demands made by the Irish Members would not have the effect of closing up the Pimlico Factory. You can reduce your hands in the Government Establishment—you need not close it up. The Government could start their Pimlico Factory again at any time they liked—at any moment of pressure; and if at any time manufacturers outside formed themselves into a ring, as the hon. Member opposite fears they would be inclined to do, the Government could bid Pimlico to arise and Pimlico would do so. [Cries of "Divide!"] It would be very easy for the Government at any moment to call into existence such a factory as that in Pimlico. As a matter of fact, this plea on the part of the Government will not hold; and I would ask Radical Members on this side of the House, and also hon. Gentlemen on the other side, who have recently in the Elections been posing before the constituents as Gentleman desirous of saving the pockets of the ratepayers, whether they do not think this a singular method of effecting economy? Why, you are really putting your hands in the pockets of the ratepayers. I hope my hon. Friend (Mr. J. O'Connor) will go to a division and use all the Forms of the House to oppose the Vote. We have not got any satisfactory answer, and I think we have a right to receive such an answer.
§ MR. P. MCDONALD (Sligo, N.)
On two grounds I claim that Ireland has a right to expect the Government to give it the preference we ask. The first is the ground of economy, and the second is the development of the material resources of Ireland, to bring about which the Government have expressed their desire to do everything in their power. My hon. Friend the Member for South Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) has very clearly pointed out that a saving of from 15 to 40 per cent would accrue to the Government if they gave the contract to the Limerick Factory instead of to the Pimlico Establishment, and that thereby they would effect a saving to the taxpayers of the country of at least £5,000. I maintain that it is the absolute duty of the Department to give the contract for Army clothing to the establishment which can produce the garments at the cheapest price. But I place 1452 the claims of the Limerick Factory upon a higher ground. It is the duty of a Government which professes to exercise a paternal and fostering influence over Ireland at the present time to encourage tin growing industries of the country, especially those of Limerick, as being most needful in that respect. We have shown that we stand on an equal footing with the manufacturers of England, both as regards price and quality of material. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Hanley (Mr. Woodall) has said that there are several manufacturers in England who can compete successfully with Limerick. I call upon him to name the manufacturers, and to inform us why, under such circumstances, they do not get a contract. Why did Limerick get a contract? Not because it was Limerick, but simply on account of the quality of its work. The execution of this contract is an important matter to a city such as Limerick, which has a large population, and a population requiring employment. From a social point of view it is the duty of the Government, which, as I have already said, professes to be a paternal Government, to find employment for the people. Moreover, I consider that it is not generous of the Government—not alone of the present, but of the last Government—to hold on to those hampering conditions which have impeded the action of the Limerick Factory, and prevented it executing its work in the manner which would be most convenient to them while not disadvantageous to the country. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Sectretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) to have regard to the efficiency of the Limerick Factory, and to bear in mind that the establishment has hitherto executed in a most satisfactory manner the work entrusted to it. I hope there will be a continuance of the contracts, not merely because they are executed at as cheap or cheaper rate than they are at Pimlico, but because the manufacture of garments is one of the few industries of Ireland, and every encouragement should be given to a struggling people.
§ Mr. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I certainly do not believe, with the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, that it is the duty of a Government, paternal or otherwise, to find employment for the people; but still I am bound to say that, having lis- 1453 tened to this discussion, I do not think the case fairly made for Limerick has been answered by either of the Front Benches, and, therefore, if the hon. Member (Mr. J. O'Connor) goes to a division, I shall support him. It is not what the thing can be done for, as the hon. Member for Hanley (Mr. Woodall) put it, but what the thing is done for, and the case made here to-night proves that the Limerick tenders were lower than those accepted from other establishments. On that ground I shall support the hon. Gentleman if he goes to a division.
§ MR. JORDAN (Clare, W.)
I wish to make a few observations in relation to the remarks of the late Surveyor General of Ordnance (Mr. Woodall). The hon. Gentleman said that the establishment at Pimlico was large and varied. If that be so, the establishment at Pimlico can better afford to share other contracts with the Limerick Factory. He (Mr. Woodall) also said that he had a very kindly regard for Limerick. I would like to know what that kindly regard amounted to. So far as we can gather it amounted to very little; it was in words more than in deeds. What we want is that if there be a kindly regard for Limerick it should take the form of deeds and not words. But the advocates of Limerick do not want any special favour from the Government, so far as I can see. They stand upon their own merits, and all they ask is that they should be given work when their tenders are lower than the tenders of other people, or as low as Pimlico. That is a very fair and reasonable proposition, and I do not see how the Committee can get over it. If you are disposed to deal fairly, justly, and generously with Ireland, and indeed honestly with the ratepayers of this country, I do not see how you can get over the proposition that you should give work to Limerick when her tender for that work is lower than that of any other firm. I therefore appeal to the Government and to the Committee to give to Limerick the work for which her tender is lower than that of any other firm.
§ MR. WOODALL (Hanley)
I must have been very obscure in my remarks for it to be possible for the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jordan) to have completely misunderstood me. We have not only given Limerick orders when there have been lower tenders from other places, 1454 but I assure the Committee we have given Limerick work which has occupied them six weeks longer than the time originally agreed upon.
§ MR. JORDAN (Clare, W.)
In future will work be given to Limerick when their tenders are lower than those of other firms?
§ MR. J. NOLAN (Louth, N.)
I do not intend to prolong the discussion very much; but I certainly must say that, after having listened to the speeches made here, to-night, I, as an Irishman, feel slightly humiliated, for, after all, the amount of money which my hon. Friends ask should be spent in Ireland is very trivial. With regard to what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hanley, (Mr. Woodall) said as to the work done in other parts of the country, I should like to know if clothing which was tendered for in this way was like that supplied by English contractors to the French Army during the Franco-German War, because the garments so supplied literally fell to pieces? The managers of the Limerick Factory have satisfied the Gentlemen who occupy the Front Opposition Bench that they cannot only do this work cheaply, but upon a good principle. It is a notorious fact that in connection with the manufacture of clothing for an Army, especially in view of war, there is an enormous amount of peculation, besides bad work being done. At Limerick you have a factory which is able to do work well and do it quickly, and it only asks for a fair share of support from the Government. During the course of the discussion upon the Estimates to-night it has been contended that inasmuch as Ireland is not allowed to have a Volunteer Force of her own, but is forced to contribute towards the maintenance of the Volunteer Force in England and Scotland, she ought to be granted some equivalent. In a small matter of this kind you have a ready means of showing that you are willing to do something to recognize the claims of Ireland, and I earnestly hope that some assurance will be given from the Treasury Bench that the views of the Irish Members in this matter will be met.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I have but one remark to make, and it is that there is the strongest desire on the part of the Department to recognize the claims of 1455 labour in Ireland and of the Limerick Factory, and everything that can possibly be done in that direction will be done.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
So far as the discussion has been conducted on this side of the House I am very well satisfied with it. There is a consensus of opinion that something ought to be done for the Limerick Factory, and I trust that I have not made my Motion in vain. But, while I am satisfied with the discussion on this side of the House, I am not at all satisfied with the expressions of the Ministry, for what have we got, after all, but a Minister's promise? ["Oh!"] Well, a Minister's promise may be much to some people, but in regard to Ireland it has not amounted to much up to the present. A Ministry propose, but the constituencies very often dispose. We have appealed in this matter.—[Cries of "Divide, divide!" and Adjourn, adjourn!"]
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I rise to Order, Mr. Courtney. Seeing the excited state of the Committee—
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
I was about to say, Mr. Courtney, that we have appealed in this matter on certain grounds. We have appealed on the ground that it is in the interest of the Public Service that additional contracts for Army clothing should be given out to the Limerick Factory. We have appealed on the ground of economy, and we have proved our case. We have appealed on the grouud that Ireland contributes much to the Imperial Exchequer. What have we got as a result of the discussion? An admission from the Surveyor General of Ordnance (Mr. Northcote)—an admission that is very valuable to us—that there are certain rough clothes that can be made in Limerick cheaper and better than elsewhere. Now, all we ask is to be permitted to make these rough garments. Give us the rough garments to make, and keep the fine clothes for your splendid Establishment in Pimlico. Well, as I have said, the admission is worth something to us; and I trust the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) will act upon it. However, I do not feel at all inclined to withdraw my opposition to the Vote, recollecting, as I do, that the Government of this country have made many promises with regard to Ireland, and that those promises have scarcely ever been fulfilled. 1456 It is quite true that we are very like Lazarus, waiting for the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table. Our case is a very good one; and, as a protest against the manner in which we are treated in this respect, I propose to divide the Committee.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 51; Noes 152: Majority 101.—(Div. List, No. 15.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.