§ (In the Committee.)
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £2,998,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Provisions, Forage, Fuel, Transport and other Services, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1888.
§ COLONEL DUNCAN (Finsbury, Holborn)
It will be in the recollection of the Committee that the Army Estimates were under consideration some days ago, and that certain Votes were taken up to the small hours of the morning, when, 69 in consequence of an appeal that was made to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith), he offered to give a more general discussion upon this Vote than it was possible to take upon the Votes as they wore submitted to the Committee on the first night. I trust that in any step I am about to take I shall not abuse the privilege which the right hon. Gentleman was kind enough to grant to the Committee. There are, however, two points to which I specially desire to direct the attention of the Committee, and they are connected with the paymasters and the quartermasters of the Army. With regard to the paymasters, I wish to remind the Committee that system of appointing these officers has been frequently changed, and that the effect of these constant changes has been very prejudicial to the position and interests of the officers employed in the Army Pay Department, who complain that they have not been treated with the same consideration which has been extended to the members of other Departments of the Army. For instance, while the officers of the Commissariat and the Ordnance Store Department are always certain of obtaining the rank of lieutenant colonel, after having reached the rank of major in the course of four or five years' further service, that privilege is denied to the officers of the Army Pay Department. A very small number of officers connected with that Department succeed in obtaining the rank of lieutenant colonel, even although they may have been employed in active service in the field, and I need scarcely say that it is extremely mortifying to an officer who has been a combatant to see a non-combatant promoted over his head. I trust the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. E. Stanhope) will see that the very moderate appeal which the officers of the Army Pay Department make shall receive a favourable consideration. I have not sprung this question suddenly upon the Committee, seeing that nearly a year ago I stated the grievances of this body of officers. I may point out that they are admirable officers, and that their branches of the Service is working as well as any other in the Army. I therefore trust that their grievances and claims will receive some consideration. There is a special reason for bringing the matter before the House 70 this year. Under the recent Warrant it has been decided that for 1887 no step on retirement shall be given, so that if the officers of the Army Pay Department do not get the privilege enjoyed by the Commissariat and Ordance Store Departments this year, they will still remain in the rank they now hold, although, in point of actual service, they will be senior to other officers who may be promoted. There are one or two other points in connection with this Department which are worthy of the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. It is a matter to be regretted that the Department has no representative in the War Office. All the other Departments of the Army have some representation among the permanent officials of the Government. The great strides which have been made in connection with the Commissariat and the Ordnance Store Department have been in the main duo to the fact that those Departments have had representation at the War Office. There is no such representation in regard to the Army Pay Department, and I therefore appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State to take into his careful consideration the propriety of having some link, so to speak, at the War Office between himself and this large and important body of officers. Passing from that Department, I come now to an entirely different matter—namely, the Quartermasters' Department. I have myself, on more than one occasion, brought the grievances of the quartermasters before the House, and I believe that their case has been frequently commented upon in this House; but I found that, on the whole, the opinion of the War Office has been that the grievances complained of are not very great. Nevertheless, the Secretary of State consented to the appointment of a Departmental Committee, and the result of the inquiry of that Committee has been to prove that there really is a case, because additional advantages, to a considerable extent, have been given to the Department; although, in my opinion, the concessions which have been made have not covered all the ground which ought to have been covered. It must always be borne in mind that the Army of this country is enlisted on the voluntary principle, and, therefore, that it is desirable to give 71 proper inducements to the men who join the Army. At present, the only temptation you offer is deferred pay at the end of service, and the dreary prospect of passing into the Reserve, which really is no better than passing into the workhouse. The men who are passed into the Reserve find great difficulty in obtaining employment; and I see from the workhouse returns that a very large proportion of the men belonging to the Army Reserve have been compelled to become paupers. If your desire is to induce a better class of men to enter the Army, I am afraid that you will not accomplish your object by treating the men as you do at present. You must certainly make the inducements and temptations to enter the Army far greater than they are now. Let me call attention to the position of the quartermasters. They have essentially sprung from the ranks, and is their treatment so favourable as to afford a temptation to other men to enter the Army? How are they treated? I am sorry to say that they are treated differently from any other officers who may be promoted from the ranks, and that they are placed at great disadvantage. These quartermasters get commissions so late in life, that when the time comes for compulsory retirement there are two or three years' service wanting to entitle them to the maximum pension of £200 a-year, and for each year's time they are short they are mulcted £10. If, on the other hand, a man commenced to act as quartermaster in comparative youth or middle age, when he reaches the maximum of service to entitle him to a pension, and consents to serve for an extra number of years, he is unable to add to the amount of his pension at all. Surely, if it is right to mulct a man £10 a-year from his pension for every year of service that he is short, when the War Office retains a man in the same position beyond the time which would entitle him to the maximum pension, he ought to receive an addition of £10 every year. Unless a man finds that he has a prospect of increasing his pension by staying he will undoubtedly leave the Service, and the country will not only have to pay the maximum pension of £200 a-year, but will have to pay the man who takes the place of the officer who retires upon his pension. I believe that if a different principle were adopted 72 the sum saved to the country would be very large indeed; and, therefore, apart from the question of justice, I make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War on the lower question of economy to do something to make the conditions of service in regard to the quartermasters of the Army better than they are now, They are excellent men, who represent what I may call the cream of the Service. In an ordinary case, when an officer has risen from the ranks he is well able to look after himself, but these men require to be treated with special tenderness and gentleness. I therefore hope the Secretary of State, taking into consideration the value of their services, and the justice of their demand, will consent to do something in their behalf. I have only one word more to say, and it has reference to the Royal Horse Artillery. The position of that branch of the Service has been before the country now for a long time, and it is understood that a considerable reduction in the force of the Royal Horse Artillery has been decided upon. I accept that decision, and will say nothing about it in any controversial spirit. There were, however, circumstances which occurred during the past year which led to my being to some extent the historian of that corps, to which for 30 years I belonged. I had, therefore, special opportunities of becoming acquainted with the bitterness of the feeling which has been occasioned by the decision of the War Office. I could recite stories of the gallantry of this branch of the Service which would make the eyes of hon. Members glisten and their cheeks glow. I am satisfied that those who are serving in the ranks to-day would emulate the deeds of those who went before them. I will, however, on this occasion do no more than express my most deep regret that the country is likely to lose the services of any portion of this most distinguished Corps. They can never be re-created with their old prestige.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
I do not propose to follow the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down; but I desire to draw the attention of the Committee for a few minutes to a question which is very germane to the Vote now under the consideration of the Committee—namely, the question of the rations supplied to 73 the British Army. I have already had the honour of bringing that matter two or three times before the House. On the last occasion, the Vote was not brought on until 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, and I am afraid that my remarks did not make any great impression upon those to whom they were directed—at any rate, the matter has not received that consideration which I think it is entitled to. Unfortunately, the frequent changes which have taken place in the Departmental Chiefs must necessarily have made the consideration of any special question most irregular. The rapidity with which one Secretary of State for War has succeeded another has rendered it difficult to bring the mind of the Head of the Department to questions of this nature. I may say that the question was brought under the consideration of the War Office some years ago, and General Peel presided over a Committee appointed to inquire into the matter. The Committee were of opinion that something ought to be done, and that better rations ought to be provided. But General Peel recommended that, instead of giving better rations, the soldier should get a little more pay. There is now a strong and growing feeling, especially in certain medical quarters, that the rations supplied to a soldier are too small. The surgeons of the Army Medical Department have reported that the soldier's ration of ¾lb. of meat is certainly too small for the support of his constitution. He certainly receives ¾lb. of meat; but if any hon. Member would go to the barracks and see how the rations are served up, he would find that those ¾lb. of meat are boiled down to a very small bulk indeed, so that in the end the soldier gets very little more than four or five ounces, after the meat has been cooked. Then, again, the soldier practically gets all his rations at one meal—namely, at dinner; he receives scarcely anything at all in the morning or in the evening. The consequence is, that when he goes out in the evening he gets a little liquor; the drink—operating upon an empty stomach—produces a very bad effect indeed. Although the question is one of importance concerning the regular soldier, it is of still greater importance when we have to deal with the case of the recruit. The recruit is generally a growing boy, often a 74 weak, weedy boy, who is called upon to do a considerable amount of work of an intricate and complicated character. He has his drill to learn and a large amount of work to do, and he is certainly not well fed. He has to expend a considerable portion of his pay in buying extra food—such as milk, butter, bread, and cheese, which he finds it necessary to obtain in order to enable him to carry on the work he has to do. It may be said that so long as he has the money why should he not spend it in food; but in the case of a young recruit, he is open to very strong temptation to spend it in amusement. If he does, the result is, that he gets an insufficient amount of food; and we know very well that there are a far larger number of diseases prevalent in the Army than there ought to be. Hon. Members have frequently referred to free rations. Now, free rations are an entire delusion, a snare, and almost a swindle. A recruit is told when he joins the Army that he will receive free rations; but those free rations consist simply of ¾ lb. of meat, a little coffee, and some bread. He has to provide himself with milk, with butter, choose, and various other things, and finding himself disappointed in the idea which had been impresssd upon him that he would get free rations, and that such free rations are purely ornamental, a very bad impression is produced upon him. I am afraid that the large number of the desertions we find reported in the Officers' Returns are very much due to the fact of the young soldier having found out that the delusive hopes held out to him have not been realized in actual practice. Considering the responsibilities of the career upon which he is entering and the probability of his losing his life in the service of his country, I think he is very badly paid, and that he ought to be provided with better and more ample rations. There are a large number of men engaged at the present moment all over the country in recruiting for the Service. I think it is very desirable that when they go down to the country districts they shall be able to describe the Service in such a way as to induce young fellows to come forward and to render the Service popular, so that we may get into the Army a better class of men. It will be said that recruiting is going on very favourably; but labour is now depressed, and there are a 75 large number of men out of work. When employment becomes more abundant and more remunerative, the recruiting sergeant will have to compete with the labour market, and therefore it is highly essential that he should be able to offer an adequate temptation to the recruit. I will not weary the House by going into any other phase of the question. Any hon. Member, however, who looks at the Returns will be struck by the large increase of desertion that is now going on. Last year, out of a number of recruits, which amounted in round numbers to 35,000, nearly 5,500 deserted in the course of the same year, or 13.7 per cent. There was a much smaller number of desertions in 1883, showing that some cause must be at work which is rendering the Service less popular than it used to be. No doubt, a good many of these desertions are caused by a feeling of disappointment in the minds of young persons who have joined the Army at finding the inducements held out to them unrealized. I believe it is a fact which, in the great majority of cases, determines them to throw up the Service, and to retire into private life at all hazards. I think I have shown that if the regular soldier is sufficiently fed, at all events the recruit is not, and I would ask the Secretary of State for War whether it is not desirable to appoint some kind of Committee to consider the question. I do not want to lay down any hard and fast rules, or to define any machinery by which the matter is to be carried out. I have no doubt that it would involve a considerable additional expense; but I think it would be worth the money if the War Office could be induced to provide better rations, especially in substances of a fatty and farinacious nature. At the present moment the soldier may get enough meat; but he certainly does not get enough of other articles—such as butter and cheese. Therefore, I ask for the appointment of a Committee, although whether such a Committee should be a Committee of this House, or of a departmental character, I do not presume to say.
§ THE SURVEYOR GENERAL OF ORDNANCE (Mr. NORTHCOTE) (Exeter)
Perhaps it will be the most convenient course to dispose of the various questions one at a time as they arise in the course of the discussion of the Army Es- 76 timates rather than mix up different questions. The points raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Finsbury (Colonel Duncan) and the hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Dr. Farquharson) are altogether different, and must be replied to separately. The question of rations was brought forward last year by the hon. Member for West Aberdeen, who stated his case very fully, as he has done this evening, and was replied to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman). One point raised by the hon. Member was, whether the matter was to be met by an increase of rations to the soldier, because if so it should be borne in mind, as was pointed out last year, that that would involve an addition of not less than £750,000 to the Army Estimates—too serious an increase to be decided upon rashly. The hon. Member will also know how reluctant the Government are to increase the Army Expenditure without the very strongest grounds indeed. Then comes another question, whether the ration is sufficient, and what the position of the soldier is as compared with what it was a few years ago. He now receives 1s. a-day, from which 5d. a-day is deducted for mess; but he also receives 5½d. a-day in addition, and 2d. a-day deferred pay. The position of the soldier now is much better in regard both to pay and rations than it was a few years ago, and as contrasted with foreign Armies, the British soldier receives more than double the rations of a Russian soldier, and more than any Continental soldier receives, the French soldier being the only one who can in any way approach to us. Including pay and rations, the British soldier now receives what is equal to 1s. 7½d. a-day, as against 1s. 3d. in 1866. It is apparent, therefore, that the position of the English soldier has been much improved of late years. I believe it would be of no advantage to the soldier to increase his rations by reducing his pay, because that would involve our contracting for special vegetables, and would curtail the liberty of choice which the soldier now has of purchasing certain articles of food for himself. The hon. Gentleman says that the Report of the Committee which sat in 1867 was favourable to an increase of rations; but as far as I am aware it is not the belief of medical men that 77 our soldiers are at all underfed. As a matter of fact, I do believe that there are very few regiments in which there is anything like a full stoppage made, and that affords strong evidence that, so far as the officers are concerned, they consider that the soldier does get enough to eat. As to the appointment of a Committee, the War Office is already over pressed at the present moment with Committees of all sorts and sizes, and I am not prepared, therefore, to accede to the proposal off-hand, but I will undertake that the suggestions which have been made shall receive due consideration.
§ COLONEL HUGHES-HALLETT (Rochester)
As we have permission upon this Vote to speak on general matters I should like to say a few words about the strength of the Army. Hon. Members are probably in possession of the General Annual Return handed in in October last, and the preliminary annual return of the Army this year. They are both of them most important documents, and they furnish hon. Members with some valuable information about the state of the Army and its effective strength. If hon. Members will take the trouble to examine the statistics contained in those documents I think they will arrive at a very good idea as to the state of the Army, and a comparison of its effective strength for the last 20 years, commencing with the 1st of January, 1866, and ending with the 1st of January, 1886. But while these Annual Returns furnish us with valuable and instructive facts they also afford a considerable amount of disappointment, As far as the numbers go it appears that the Army has been tolerably well kept up. On the 1st of January, 1866, the strength of the Army was 201,641, and on the 1st of January, 1886, it was 200,785; and it was 230,857 on the 1st of January this year. Although the increase, so far as the numbers go, is satisfactory, there seems to me to be something more required than the actual numbers—the age and physique of the men must also be considered. In 1873, the year when the short service system first came into operation, 46 per cent of the men who enlisted were under 25 years of age, and 31 per cent were over 30 years of age. In 1885, the last year for which the Returns are made up, the number of 78 recruits under 25 years of age was 62 per cent, and there were only 14 per cent over 30 years of age. That is the natural result of what is called the "short service" system. It is no exaggeration to say that our ranks have been filled up with boy-soldiers. If scholarship tends to make a good soldier then certainly the Army has improved; but I contend that that is not so, and that something more than scholarship is needed. Scholarship does not make a soldier capable of hard work, of enduring hard knocks, and the fatigue of a campaign. It would appear from these Returns that the aim of the authorities has been to get recruits with a superior education rather than to pay attention to physique, robust health, personal strength, and power of endurance. This, no doubt, suits the views of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), but it is certainly not all that is required in the Army. What we want is men with broad chests, and a good sound constitution, who know how to use the weapons placed in their hands, and are capable of undergoing the effects of a hard campaign in a bad climate. For such purposes I would prefer a lad with a good physique, who cannot read and write, to a more delicate lad who knows how to make obtruse calculations in decimal fractions. No system of superior education will compensate for want of personal strength and power of endurance, although it looks very well in theory. In the year 1873 I find that we had 21,753 soldiers who could neither read nor write, and only 10,930 who had received what is called a superior education. In the year 1885 there were only 5,473 who could neither read nor write, and 148,723 of superior education. There is, however, this remarkable fact, that all this superior education does not make your soldier one whit better in regard to his conduct, for I find that in 1885 there were far more courts-martial than in 1873. More than that, it is a very significant fact that desertion, casualties, and discharges have greatly increased under the short service system. In 1873 the net loss by desertion was 1,720, while in 1885 the net loss by desertion had increased to 2,975, or nearly double. In 1885 the loss by death was 2,585, and the number of those discharged and invalided 79 was 3,581, 1,008 were discharged for bad conduct, 1,488 bought themselves out, and 3,531 retired on the completion of their service. Hon. Members who pay attention to this matter will find that the total withdrawal in that year was no less than 35,000, of whom only one-third went into the Army Reserve. Upon that basis it will be found that the whole loss in the regular ranks in the Army was something like 23,000 or 24,000—that is to say, one in seven of the men who enlisted. It appears to me that that is a most serious loss and a loss which, I maintain, the short service system is not able to stand. You may train a lad to a perfect appreciation of drill, discipline and order, you may train him to perform his duty thoroughly, and you may train him to a perfect appreciation of the honour of his corps and of his colours; but what is the use of all that if, after a few years, he is to be sent into the Reserve? In the Horse Artillery it takes four years to make an efficient driver, and yet in two years more that man is gone. It is almost sufficient to break the hearts of your non-commissioned officers to have to deal with a constant stream of raw recruits. The system which invites all the strongest young men in the country into the ranks of the Army, at the same time instilling into them the necessity of a superior education, and then draining them off in the course of a few years to earn their living as best they can, is a most pernicious system. It is a system not justified by results, and it is useless in practice. The fact is that Englishmen have no idea of originating military notions of their own. We copy most servilely the systems of other nations. But for the battles of Wörth, Weissenberg, Gravelotte, and Sedan we should never have copied the Gorman system. In the Crimean War we looked upon the Trench Army as the greatest military machine in the world, and we had our shakoes and uniforms cut according to the French Fashion. Then came the year 1870 and France, as a military nation, was found to be a sham. The German Army was then found to be the best, and the result was that our French military shakoes were thrown away to be replaced by the helmets of the Germans. We invariably copy foreign nations, and I believe if the Zulus had got the better of us in our campaign against 80 them the uniform of the British soldier would have been a cincture of cows' tails. Hitherto we have made spasmodic efforts, which have not only been most costly but exceedingly cruel. In spite of what enthusiasts may say of the short service system the ranks of the Army Reserve will, in my opinion, decrease rather than increase, because a man knows that if he enters the Army Reserve it will not be easy for him to obtain employment. We cannot wonder that an employer of labour who has to keep factories and other means of employment at work should refuse to employ men from the Reserve. No man engaged in a great commercial operation will take a man who may be called away at any on moment, should a certain emergency arise; and as the hon. and gallant Member for the Holborn Division of Fins-bury (Colonel Duncan) says, the result is that a large proportion of the paupers in many of the workhouses are men on the Reserve List. I am glad the hon. and gallant Member has called attention to that fact, because it reminds me that not long ago I had placed before me a list of 10 workhouses, and from that list I deduced this extraordinary fact—that 27 per cent of the paupers were on the Army Reserve List. The short service system is totally unsuited to this country. England is not like Germany where the Army is exclusively used for one purpose. We have to send our Army to Burmah, to Egypt, or to India, whereas the German Army is confined to Germany. Consequently, the conditions which apply to the German Army are not those which govern the British Army. It must be borne in mind that we have enormous possessions abroad which require the services of our Army to defend them. I know the advocates of the short service system say that we can retain our lads and wait until they grow; but there is no time for that, as any hon. Member may see if he takes the trouble to inspect the great military depots, and visit the graveyards and 1ho hospitals which are the natural consequence of the short service system. We are obliged to send our young soldiers to unhealthy climates, and they are sent home after a short service to die, or to become invalided and sent to the hospitals. That was not the character of the men who fought in the Peninsula War, the Crimean War, and 81 in India before the Mutiny, and in the Mutiny itself. They were men of a very different stamp. Every man in the Army 30 years ago was worth two of the men of the present day, although I do not say this in disparagement of the young soldiers of to-day, who do their work bravely and well in the midst of a campaign in the face of the enemy. It it not their fault if, instead of being veterans, they are mere striplings; but it is our fault if we impose upon them tasks which they have not sufficient strength to perform, and which they are unable to perform with vigour and success. I maintain that an Army Corps of 100,000 men 30 years ago had the same fighting capacity as 200,000 men now. The argument derived from this is that the Army costs twice as much as it is worth. Every soldier now-a-days costs about £100 a-year. That is what the cost is when a man enters the Army as a recruit; but when he is sent into the Reserve he is worth at least £200 a-year. It will be said—"What limit can be found?" No Conservative on this side of the House has broader views on political and general matters than myself; but I am a Conservative in my belief that we had a far better Army, as regards the constitution of the Army, 30 years ago than we have at the present moment. I hope the nation will always have the greatest solicitude for the condition of the Army, and the system under which it is constituted. No one wishes to indulge in idle dreams of military competition with foreign nations; but the British nation has a right to demand that its Army shall be maintained as regards armament, training, and organization. While on the subject of the British soldier I may refer to an incident which happened not very long ago. A right hon. Gentleman, a Member of this House, made some very severe accusations against the British soldier. He accused him of acts of cruelty and inhumanity in the Soudan War, charging him with bayonetting the Soudanese as they lay wounded on the ground. To such charges as those I can give an emphatic contradiction, on evidence just as good as that on which the right hon. Gentleman spoke. Those who know what battle-fields are like on which the British soldier fights, when he is dealing with an Oriental or uncivilized 82 enemy, will know that it is a very usual thing for an enemy to feign death until the Englishman approaches him, perhaps bringing water to relieve his thirst, or medical appliances, and to endeavour to shoot or stab him. These things were constantly done in the Soudan War, and is it to be wondered at that a man placed in such a position should protect himself by putting some such wounded wretch out of his misery, rather than run the risk of being killed himself? The well known Peace Party in this country is often fond of speaking bitterly against the Army when this country was not at war, but directly there is a sound of war in the air they are the very persons to press round the soldiers and praise them. I remember some lines which are àpropos to this point; but I do not know who wrote them—When danger comes, and the foe is nigh,'God and the soldier' is the cry;When the enemy's beat and danger righted,God is forgotten and the soldier slighted.I would say that such accusations as those to which I have referred do not find favour with the great bulk of the British people.
MR. FINLAY&c) (Inverness,
I desire to say a few words for the purpose of endorsing the appeal which has been made by the hon. and gallant Member for Finsbury (Colonel Duncan) on behalf of the quartermasters, and for some reform in the Army Pay Department. I do not wish to add anything to the statement which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has made, with very full knowledge of the subject except that my attention has been called to the matter, and I earnestly press it upon the consideration of the Government. I will only add one observation. We have heard a great deal of the necessity of supplying our soldiers with the best possible weapons; but, after all, our success in war must depend upon the men themselves; and, therefore, I trust that steps will be taken to gratify the legitimate ambition of a deserving class, and to remove the grievances of which they complain in order to show that we properly appreciate the services which have been rendered to the country.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that the Department 83 over which I have the honour to preside is most anxious to remove any impression which may exist among any of those officers who are serving Her Majesty, that they will not do their best to remedy any grievance which may be proved to be a real grievance. The question of the Army Pay Department has been brought forward to-day by the hon. and gallant Member for Finsbury with extreme moderation, and, on a previous occasion, as he has reminded the Committee, he was kind enough to give way. I am. sorry that I am unable to give a satisfactory answer to his appeal. The discussion has come upon me rather sooner than I expected; but I have given some attention to both of the points which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has raised, and what I am about to say will not, I trust, be altogether displeasing to him. The hon. and gallant Gentleman complains that the officers of the Army Pay Department after five years service do not obtain staff rank. He has pointed out that their position is a harsh one as contrasted with that of two other corps with which they compare themselves—namely, the Commissariat and the Ordnance Store Department, and he says that the officers complain that they are badly treated as compared with officers serving in other Departments. Now, in the first place, I should like to say that, at the present time, the War Office is engaged in remodelling the Commissariat Department, and all questions of rank whether in one department or another must be treated as a whole—that is to say, that it is impossible to concede claims in one Department without considering the effect upon another Department. In regard to the case of the paymasters, I may say that the whole subject is now undergoing very careful consideration, and my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary is now trying to deal with the subject in as comprehensive a manner as was possible. We admit to a certain extent the justice of the claim which my hon. and gallant Friend supports, and we shall be prepared, when the time comes, for promulgating our general views in respect to the paymasters to give some recognition to their claim to staff appointments. As to the quartermasters, their case was considered last year before the Royal Warrant was issued, and the Royal Warrant gives the views of 84 the War Office of the time being upon the case of these officers; but I admit fully that there was one point which with regard to the quartermasters which we engaged to meet which has not been yet met. I stated the other day that it was intended to give a step in honorary rank to certain quartermasters; and I hope to be able in a few days to give the exact details of what we propose. Unfortunately I am not able to do so now. But before many days are over I believe I shall be able to state to the House exactly what we are able to do in regard to giving a step in honorary rank. I have now, I think, answered all the points of the hon. and gallant Member.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
As to the pension I fear that we do not see our way to dealing with that at present without opening the question in regard to other Departments; but the subject was considered at the time of the issuing of the Royal Warrant. With regard to the larger question of the reduction of the cost of the Army, I should be glad if my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Rochester (Colonel Hughes-Hallett) could show me any scheme which is calculated to reduce the cost of the Army without diminishing its efficiency. I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the War Office would not turn a deaf ear to any suggestion on that subject from whatever quarter of the House it may come. It would certainly receive the most careful attention of my hon. Friend and myself.
§ SIR WALTER BARTTELOT (Sussex, North West)
I should like to address a few words to the Committee, especially as this is the first opportunity I have had of congratulating my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War on the very clear and lucid Memorandum which he placed before us at the commencement of the Session. My right hon. Friend, like many other men in the high position he now occupies, has come into that position under somewhat difficult circumstances. Probably up to the time of his appointment he had hardly ever turned his attention to the great questions of the Army, and he now finds himself, at a very difficult time, called upon to consider most intricate and involved questions. I can 85 only venture to express a hope that all those who are able to do so will give him that support which a man ought to receive who is endeavouring to do his duty under difficult and trying circumstances. My right hon. Friend has already made a speech in answer to the remarks which were made on the Memorandum he had placed on the Table of the House. In that speech my right hon. Friend complained, and rightly complained, of the present condition of affairs. He stated that if this House is prepared to vote the money, he should be prepared to place the Army in the most efficient condition possible. Well, Sir, it is that question of voting money which has been one of the main difficulties in regard to keeping up the efficiency of the Army. I will venture to say that it is one of the questions that deserve the very serious attention of the House. I see that an hon. Gentleman opposite takes a different view; but I do not think that even he would wish to see the Army in any condition except that of absolute efficiency. What we require, and what we really ought to have, is that every portion of the Army should be effective and efficient; and it has been proved to us beyond dispute that even the arms they have been called upon to fight with have not been what they ought to have been, and ought never to have been placed in the hands of the soldiers of this country. There are two things upon which mainly depend the efficiency of the Army. The first is Vote 1 of these Estimates, for the men; and the second is Vote 12, for warlike stores. Yet these are the two Votes which I say, unhesitatingly, are more manipulated for Party purposes than any other two Votes in the whole of the Army Estimates. It cannot be generally known that under our system of government such is the case. It used to be the case until quite lately, that when anything was wanted to be done—such as a reduction in the number of men or something or other in connection with the supply of stores—these two Votes were made to suffer. What was the effect? Why, that the whole calculations with regard to the Army were upset. You did not know exactly how far you could go, or how much the efficiency of the Army might be impaired. Half a million had to come off somewhere, and, accordingly, the num- 86 ber of the men was reduced. That is the way in which we have been accustomed to deal with that portion of the quesiton. Then, again, as to stores; something more was to be reduced; and as the Vote for stores amounts to nearly £3,000,000, another £500,000 of reduction required must come off that, utterly regardless of the fact that the reduction was made for Party purposes, without any reference whatever to the efficiency of the Army. Everyone would admit that the efficiency of the Army was impaired; but there are only two Votes which can be easily manipulated; and, therefore, these two Votes, although they are more necessary than any others to keep up the efficiency of the Army, are the two which are invariably dealt with in this way. I have always thought, and I still think, that we ought to have some authority for the consideration of these questions. I do not know whether the Committee of this House, which is to inquire into the Army Estimates, will go into questions of this kind; but, as a great nation, the first thing we have to determine is what number of men we require, and how they are to be distributed—how many men we require for England, how many for Ireland, how many for India, and how many for the Colonies. Instead of this, we distribute our forces as exigencies arise, and then. cut off a certain proportion here and there, the result of which is that we rarely have the number of men we ought to be able to rely upon in the event of an emergency. It is precisely the same with our supply of stores. Surely the first thing we ought to do is to decide what quantity of stores we require, and every Member of the House should be able to see and know what the requirements of the country are; to insist that the Government shall keep up those requirements, and to see that all the stores are maintained in a proper and efficient state. Let me ask one question. Suppose we were to go to war at once, should we be able to get all the powder we require, especially of a particular kind, which we get now from Germany? If Germany were at war should we be able to get it? Would this country get one atom of that powder if Germany were at war herself? That is a very serious consideration, and if I regard the recent speech of the Secretary of State for War aright, he wishes 87 to know what he can depend upon Parliament to supply, in order that he may provide an adequate number of men and a sufficient supply of stores to provide the Army with all necessary appliances in the event of war. I have thought it right to say this, because I feel that it is a question upon which a great deal depends. We come here year after year, and we find that sometimes one thing is cut down and sometimes another is raised, while the real efficiency of the Army and of the stores is never considered at all. Then, again, there is another question. It is a question which has been already touched upon in the course of the discussion—namely, that of the Horse Artillery. I do not propose to enter into the question of the reduction of the Royal Horse Artillery at any length. I will only say that it is an arm which has done much good service in the past; and it is an arm which might be depended upon to do good service in the future. Further than that, it is an arm which cannot be got up at a moment's notice; but one in which the men require to be most carefully trained. I, therefore, venture to hope that my right hon. Friend will, if experience shows that he has made a mistake in reducing the number of the batteries of the Horse Artillery, have the boldness and courage to re-establish this branch of the Service. I understand that there are 14 batteries of Field Artillery which are to be converted into ammunition columns. In the case of war, I take it that we are to have two Army Corps. Surely my right hon. Friend cannot for a moment have regarded the efficiency of two Army Corps, if he seriously contemplates a project which would render 14 of the existing batteries deficient and unfit for the purposes for which they are now employed? The moment we go to war all the available horses, and, I presume, all the available men, are to be taken from those 14 batteries, and the Horse Artillery and the Field Artillery in the two Army Corps are to be made efficient by providing an additional train. If that is to be the case, there must, indeed, be a deficiency of Field Artillery for an active campaign. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will avail himself of the opportunity of explaining in what position we shall stand supposing that two Army Corps are called out for 88 active service and are engaged in war. What will be the position of the Army at home and of the Army in India, as well as of the forces in the Colonies? This is a very serious question, and it is one upon which, so far, we have had no real elucidation whatever. Therefore, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us a clear statement. There is another question which has been raised, and raised very strongly, in regard to the organization of the Artillery Force. We have a force of something like 33,000 men; and it has been suggested that this force should be divided into three branches—Horse Artillery, Field Batteries, and Garrison Artillery. Now, although it is suggested that the Horse Artillery and Field Batteries should go together, the two services are absolutely distinct. The Garrison Artillery stands, however, in a totally different position at the present moment. Any officer going into the Artillery would prefer the Horse Artillery or the Field Batteries to the Garrison Artillery, although it is the most scientific branch of the Army. Why is it that the officers dislike service with the Garrison Artillery? It is because they are put by themselves into small isolated forts all round the country, and they do not get the advantage of the promotion which other officers get who are serving in the field. It is, in fact, a place of the worst fortune, as it is called, and officers dislike it very much. Then, again, at the present day they are called upon to work enormous guns—guns which have cost very large sums of money, and the charges for which are also most expensive. I believe that one of the larger description of guns costs from £19,000 to £21,000, and the cost of each charge from £125 to £150. Some of the largest guns used in forts and the Navy are from 42 feet to 43 feet 8 inches long, and you require men to deal with them who have had a special training. You require men who have made them their study; and the officers who have specially studied this work and the construction of guns are the men who look forward to securing posts in your Arsenal at Woolwich, and your other manufacturing establishments. I understand that my right hon. Friend is going to increase the Garrison Artillery by 1,800 men—one half of which (900) are to be raised 89 this year. I know the question is a difficult one; but I say that it is a serious question, whether Garrison Artillery do not deserve a great deal more consideration than they appear to have had hitherto. It is in the hope that they will receive the consideration to which I think they are entitled, I have ventured to call the attention of my right hon. Friend to the matter. I come now to another question which is of great interest, and upon which we always receive valuable information from the hon. and gallant General my hon. Friend the Member for South Hampshire (General Sir Frederick Fitzwygram), and that is the case of the Cavalry. It has been asserted, and, I believe, rightly, that whenever we have a little war on hand, and desire to send out a regiment of Cavalry, we have to take men and horses from other Cavalry regiments in order to make up the requisite strength. In that respect our system differs materially from that of foreign nations, who always keep their Cavalry and Artillery up to a war footing. They know that services of Cavalry or of Artillery are of little or no value unless they are regularly kept up, and, therefore, they use every possible means of keeping up their strength and efficiency. That is what we ought to do; but I am sorry to say that hitherto we have not followed the example of our Continental neighbours. I believe that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Hampshire maintains that every Cavalry regiment ought to have five squadrons, four to take into the field, and one to form a depot at homo. I quite agree with him, and have so stated in previous debates. From the squadron maintained as a depot at home men can be drafted as necessity arises, in order to keep the regiment in the field in a constant state of efficiency. My hon. and gallant Friend is of opinion that every Cavalry regiment should always have four squadrons in an absolute state of efficiency. It is an arm of which we have always been proud, and which has rendered the country good service; but, as it is now kept up, there would be great difficulty, in the event of a war, in putting into the field a force of Cavalry which a great country like this ought always to have at its disposal. Then, again, as to the Re-serves. You often experience a diffi- 90 culty in getting the proper men belonging to a regiment when you wish to fill up vacancies. You ought to know where all your Reserve men are, and try them every year, in order to see whether they retain their efficiency, and so that you may not have mere Reserves on paper, but real Reserves, capable of being called out at any moment. I hope my right hon. Friend will go one step further. Let him got his First Army Corps together, and let him attach to it the Generals and officers who will have to command it in the field. We should then be able to see what it is that we have to depend upon. The men would know their officers, and the officers their Generals, and we should then be quite certain that we had one Army Corps—perhaps two—that was really efficient and ready to take the field at a moment's notice. I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend will understand the spirit in which I have made these remarks, and I hope they will commend themselves to his attention.
SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL&c.) (Kirkcaldy,
I am sure it cannot be held that our Army is a cheap Army; it is a very expensive Army indeed. In spending money on our Army, the great question is whether we get our money's worth for the great expenditure incurred. That depends very much upon organization. I am inclined to think, with the hon. and gallant Member for Rochester (Colonel Hughes-Hallett), that the Service has suffered, to some extent, from the short-service system. For service in India, and in other parts of the Empire, we need a larger proportion of long-service men. We have to maintain a large Army in India and all over the world, and we have gone too far in the direction of short service. When the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) was Secretary of State for War he took steps in the right direction, with a view of providing that the Army should be divided into long-service and short-service men; but the compromise we have now is one which means neither one tiling nor the other. What I have risen for, however, has been to ask one or two questions in reference to the finance of the Army. Our position in regard to the Army is this—after deducting the cost of the Army in India, to which the fullest contribution is made 91 by India, and also the contributions from the Colonies, we pay something near £19,000,000 for the Army we maintain for the defence of these Islands. For that purpose we have on paper something like 100,000 men, and the question is—are these men really effective? About 25,000 men are locked up in Ireland, and the remaining 75,000 are in England and Scotland. I believe there is much truth in what was said by the hon. and gallant Member for Rochester in regard to the large deductions which must be made before we can get at the real effective state of the Army. I believe that a large portion of it is not effective, and that there are a very large number both of soldiers and recruits who are not efficient in many ways. It appears to be necessary, in order to keep up an efficient force in India and the Colonies, to emasculate the battalions serving here; and I think it is an exaggeration to say that one-half of the men who serve in England and Scotland are efficient men fit to take the field. Therefore, when we are paying £18,000,000 or £19,000,000 for an extremely small Army, which exists to a great extent on paper only, and which would be greatly reduced before we could put it in the field. I must say that I am very uneasy. I have no wish to reduce the cost so far as the home defences are concerned. We have heard a great deal about the necessity for providing fur the defence of our possessions in remote parts of the Empire; but I confess that we ought to feel much more interest in the defence of these Islands, and yet we possess but a very small, and altogether very insufficient Army. I ask whether the British taxpayer is fairly treated in regard to the financial arrangements? After deducting all the contributions we receive from the Colonies we have to pay £18,000,000 or £19,000,000 a-year for an emasculated Army, and what I want to ask is this, I believe that India pays the uttermost farthing that can be fairly charged upon her. I have never complained of that charge. I think it is quite right and proper seeing how dependent India is upon us for protection that she should pay every farthing of the cost which can be fairly charged upon her either directly or indirectly. But when we come to the Colonies we find a very different state of matters. We 92 have in the Crown Colonies some 25,000 men who really represent a great deal more than that number seeing that they are the pick of the Army. But the contributions received towards the support of that Army amount to but a small fraction of the cost. Even that little is being constantly diminished. In all our questions with the Colonies we are only too apt to seek a settlement by putting a little heavier burden upon the shoulders of the British taxpayer. The total contributions towards the cost of these 25,000 men was no more last year than £139,000, which is but a very small fraction of the annual expenditure of the troops sent there. The Colonies are progressing in wealth and prosperity; they are making immense progress; but I do not find that their contributions towards the cost of their defence are increasing, on the contrary, there has been a considerable decrease in the contributions received from the Colonies this year. I want to know why that decrease has taken place? I think we may say that both in India and in this country something like one-half of our effective and actual revenue is spent on the Army and Navy, and on the defences of the country. But on the other hand, in respect of the Colonies only, an infinitesimal portion of the revenue is devoted to those purposes. I want to know why the contributions from the Colonies are so small, and why they have been reduced this year from what they were last year? Why should the West Indies pay nothing at all for their defence? Honduras used to pay £5,700 a-year, and that contribution has been reduced to £700 this year. I want to know why a colony like Natal—a most ambitious colony—always seeking for a larger territory, with a revenue of £800,000 a-year, a great part of which is derived from the British expenditure on the troops employed in the colony—I want to know why Natal only pays the infinitesimal small sum of £4,000 a-year for its defence, or something like one-half per cent on its revenue, while the British taxpayer has to pay fully 50 per cent upon his? Let me take the case of Ceylon; geographically, and for many purposes it is an outlying district of India. It is a rich country with a revenue of £1,200,000 a-year, but for purposes of military defence the Island of Ceylon pays only 3 per cent of its 93 revenue; and I find that even that small payment has been considerably diminished this year, while India herself is required to pay a full contribution. Last year the contributions from the Colonies were reduced, and this year they have been still further reduced. Instead of paying 50 per cent like India why should Ceylon be only culled upon to pay 3 per cent of her revenue? In these days of depression, I think we ought to look to the interests of the British taxpayer, as well as to those of the rest of the British Empire; and I contend that the contributions of the Colonies are not adequate, and are not on a fair scale compared with the contributions of this country. I will only repeat, before I sit down, that I think something ought to be done to establish a more efficient long-service system for the employment of the Army in India and the Colonies. The noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) went considerable lengths in that direction; and I hope that, after what has been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Rochester and others, the Secretary of State for War will be inclined to go further in the same direction.
§ GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
I perfectly agree with what has fallen from the Members who have already spoken in regard to the organization and administration of the Army. I think, however, the Committee should understand that we do not make these observations from any Party or personal point of view, either in reference to any particular Secretary of State for War, or any other official. The right hon. Gentleman who now fills that high position has made a first attempt to put things in a practical way in the Memorandum which has been laid before the House. He says—The success of the Prussian organization in 1870 for the first time drew the attention of this country to the question of the localization of our forces in peace time, and to the means of mobilizing them with rapidity when war was anticipated; and accordingly, in 1874, a plan for the localization of the forces was worked out and adopted, followed shortly afterwards by one for the mobilization of the Army.That was in 1870. The Memorandum goes on to say, a little further on—This scheme of mobilization was very carefully devised; but it had the serious defect of aiming too high. It assumed, as its starting 94 point, that the whole of the Militia, as well as the Regular Army, was available for mobilization; and it passed over the fact that the strength of our Cavalry, Artillery, and the other branches of the Service, was much below what it should have been, to correspond to the strength of our Infantry…. The result was that the mobilization scheme of 1875 never had more than a paper existence.Here we are in 1887, and we are engaged in organizing now. Have we had no organization at all—have we only had an apparent organization, but no more real organization than we had in 1875—namely, a paper organization? We have a Secretary of State for War, a Commander-in-Chief, an Adjutant General, and a Quartermaster General; but in the years which have elapsed since 1875 we have had some five or six different Secretaries of State. Whether that is to the advantage of the Department I do not presume to say; but I do say this—that if any business in the commercial world was conducted on War Office principles, it would be in bankruptcy before many years were over. You are constantly saying in this House that you are anxious to cut down the Army expense. I am for nothing of the kind; but I am for efficiency; and every military man in the House of Commons will tell you that the country has not secured efficiency. I was glad when the late Chancellor of the Exchequer resigned, because I thought there would, at least, be a chance of drawing attention to the vast amount of money which is expended, and the very little which the Government gets for it. The noble Lord was not in favour of reducing the number of men; but of what I and other military men in this House wish—namely, that the money voted for the Army should be judiciously expended. If we possessed a proper system, the money would go a longer way; but under the existing want of system it will do nothing of the kind. You ought to have gone much further than you have done, and made many changes which you have not made. We soldiers feel that it is undesirable to have a civilian at the head of the Army, who, in the first place, can have no military knowledge, and who, if he had, would be unable to bring his knowledge to bear owing to the short time he remains in the Office. His time is occupied in learning his business, and in doing 95 what he is told to do by his military advisers, and ever since 1870 we have had the same set of military advisers. The changes which have been made since have been altogether insufficient. Many of the Orders issued in recent years have been simply to put you "as you were." In ringing the changes between long and short service, I cannot but think the interests of the Army have suffered. The first thing we have to do is to see that the regiments, as they are now constituted, are properly organized and renumbered. At the present moment, there is a difficulty in getting the recruits required, and the reason is that you do not holdout sufficient temptations to induce young men to enter the Army. I should like to see more commissions given to men from the ranks, the position of the quartermasters improved, the uniforms simplified and cheapened, the officers' quarters furnished. Under the existing system, the Secretary of State for War, at the end of two or three years, is changed, and this is the real cause of much of the evil complained of. There are 30 or 40 things which require to be done; but as soon as some of them are done, a new Secretary of State is appointed, who undoes everything, and makes further changes. That, I say, is at the bottom of the whole thing. If the Secretary of State were to remain in Office for a considerable length of time, his views would become matured, and he would be able to introduce the changes which are necessary. In Dublin, you have a special command; in Scotland, you have none; and the consequence is that the Dublin staff are all tumbling over one another. To render the Army efficient a great number of things require to be gone into. For 16 years we have been doing nothing, and now, in the next six months, we hope to do all that we ought to have done in the last 16 years. I will not take up more of the time of the Committee; but I trust that the Committee will see that military men are desirous, not only of securing the efficiency of the Army, but of saving the money of the taxpayers.
§ GENERAL FRASER (Lambeth, N.)
I will only take up the time of the Committee for a few minutes in asking permission to bring to the notice of the Committee a question of national im- 96 portance—namely, the proposed reduction of Horse Artillery. The nation is led to believe that there are to be sufficient Horse Artillery batteries ready for the Army Corps to take the field; it should know that the nine attenuated batteries on peace strength when concentrated could only form sufficient for one Army Corps, leaving the other Army Corps with only 423 men and nine horses, and a deficiency of 277 men and 643 horses; and, further, that these batteries of one Army Corps will be in the air, without any substantial source from which to replenish. The reasons given for these reductions are various, and appear to be irreconcilable, and suggest "confusion worse confounded." Against these reductions proofs unanswered and unanswerable have been put forward. The Secretary of State for State for War has announced at different times that the object of the Government is "no longer to have too large a force of attenuated batteries, but to make those the country has effective and available for service;" yet, in answer to a Question, he stated that the batteries retained would be kept at attenuated peace strength. Further, the Secretary of State for War has announced that the first object in the reduction is to increase the number of Field Artillery guns, in which this country is specially deficient. Yet he also states, that by the reduction he creates an ammunition column, of which we are totally deficient. He has also said—"I must honestly say I should be very glad to have more field batteries;" yet, he declares that 14 batteries of Field Artillery—namely, 84 guns—are to be kept up in the time of peace, to be disarmed, broken up, and made into ammunition columns in time of war. Therefore, the scheme comes to this, that four batteries of Horse Artillery are to be used at once for "the provision of transport," and 14 field batteries are to be swept away for the same purpose in the event of war. The Secretary of State for War allows, with reference to a speech of the Adjutant General, that it will require 3,702 horses above the number estimated for this year to place the Royal Artillery and their ammunition columns for the two Army Corps on war strength. The Secretary of State for War has spoken of "the perplexity of the situation" with regard to the horse supply, and the 97 especial difficulty with regard to Horse Artillery, and he used these words—I say there are no horses available in the country to man these Horse Artillery batteries in any short time, and to make them fit for active service.His admission that the horse difficulty "engages his earnest attention, "certainly gives the strongest reason against transferring to transport work these grand Horse Artillery horses, for which very inferior horses can any day be obtained. Every man interested in horses throughout the Kingdom knows that condition is everything. It was my duty, in 1882, to purchase several hundred horses. Artillery horses at £55 were difficult to obtain, and they were quite unfit, from want of condition, to go on service. With regard to the Horse Artillery men to fill up and to supply the vacancies caused by casualties, they are to be found in the highways and the bye ways from the Reserve. Many men have taken to tramping, and have not been mustered or medically inspected for years, and have lost the Horse Artilleryman's art. There is no other resource. Without the reduction we have not one man or one horse too many. It is a fact that within the last few days batteries in the ordinary course of relief from one station to another in this country have been obliged to borrow horses to move the guns. The question is—How can the batteries be raised to war strength? The answer must be, either by drawing on other batteries in reserve, such as the four doomed batteries, still within call, or else from a large Horse Artillery Depot, for the two Army Corps, which condition, an excellent authority states, was the recommendation of the Committee. Of this we now hear nothing. There is no reserve whatever of horses, and yet no battery could be safely sent into the field with some 70 horses now to their work; one inefficient horse may mean the loss of valuable lives, or of guns. Guns, as the Secretary of State for War remarks, would be useless without ammunition; also, it may be said, ammunition would be useless without guns. The question is—Which is the most easy to improvise, gun batteries or ammunition columns? In his Memorandum on the Estimates the Secretary of State for War shows that there is sufficient Field Artillery for the two 98 Army Corps without touching the Horse Artillery, if only provision is made for ammunition columns. Now, 14 effective field batteries are to be turned into ammunition columns in war time, a step equivalent to absolute reduction of them so far as the guns are concerned. The result of this scheme would be, that were the two Army Corps on emergency to be sent abroad, and were an invasion of this country attempted, we may be absolutely denuded of all regular Field Artillery. The Secretary of State for War has stated that it was intended to issue to the Volunteers field guns, which were to compensate for the loss of our guns of Regular Field Artillery. Is it still intended to carry out this part of a scheme? Has any arrangement been made for the instruction of the Volunteers in Artillery riding, driving, &c.? Surely England should maintain a sufficiency of Horse Artillery, on which India, which pays for so many of our batteries, might draw on sudden emergency. If the two Army Corps are raised above paper condition and have to go abroad, England will be left without a man or horse to recruit casualties either for those Army Corps or for India. Is it wise or prudent, at a time when every European power is arming to the teeth, to reduce one of the special branches of the British Army? Considering our responsibilities in the Mediterranean and the East, where Cavalry and Horse Artillery are of vital importance, are we right in reducing an arm which cannot be immediately strengthened or constructed without years of special training? The necessities of India appear to have been ignored—the reliefs even of the batteries there are not taken into account. Field Marshal Lord Napier of Magdala, in "another place," has expressed his opinion that the reduction of our more perfect armament, which has taken a long and careful training to bring to that perfection, is sure to be followed, at no distant time, by increased expenditure, if by no greater evil. It must be borne in mind that, in 1870, the Royal Artillery was decreased by 2,190 officers and men; that very year it was increased by 5,000. In 1881 there was a further reduction of 352 horses and 659 men and 42 guns. In 1882 there was a further reduction of two batteries of Horse Artillery, two of Field Artillery, and also of three Gar- 99 rison batteries. "Within the last four years the Indian Government represented that it might be obliged to call on England for a largo number of horse and field batteries, which could not possibly have been supplied without almost denuding the whole of the home batteries. The distinguished General spoken of by the Secretary of State for War as his military adviser, appears to have overlooked the necessity of mobility in Artillery, and to ignore entirely the value of Horse Artillery; if his advice is adhered to, in a very short time in a campaign there would be no Horse Artillery available. His depreciation of the value of the Horse Artillery as being armed with a very poor gun is not applicable, as a large proportion of the Field Artillery are at present also armed with the 9-pounder gun, though we are told these batteries will be armed with a superior gun and the Horse Artillery with "some sort of 10-pounder;" but these equipments are not in existence. He claims that our field batteries are armed with an admirable 13-pounder or the old pattern 16-pounder—a good but unwieldy gun—the fact being that there are only 13 batteries armed with the 13-pounder, and 15 batteries with the 16-pounder. I have received earnest representations from many of our most distinguished officers, who have organized and commanded Armies, protesting against the proposed reduction, and I feel confident that this House and the country in general support their views. We soldiers repudiate the idea just now put forward that there is an agitation on this subject likely to lead to indiscipline; we fully recognize the brilliant deeds and the discipline that have gained for the Royal Artillery a name that no taunt can touch and no disparagement discredit.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I think it will be for the convenience of the House that I should now say a few words in reply to the speeches which have already been made. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) has called attention to the contributions now being made by the Colonies towards the military expenditure of this country, and he named certain Colonies in which he thought the contributions, inadequate as they were, had been reduced. I wish to offer one or two words in answer to the remarks of the hon. Gentleman, because I am one of those who, looking 100 at the cost of employing Her Majesty's troops for the defence of the Colonies, think that the Colonies themselves ought to be called upon to contribute fairly. First of all, the hon. Gentleman called attention to the case of Honduras.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
Honduras is one of them. In the case of Honduras the troops wore being gradually withdrawn, and, accordingly, Her Majesty's Government had agreed to remit the Honduras contribution of £5,000. Hong Kong and the Straits Settlements and Ceylon have also slightly reduced their contribution; but that has been done at a time when they have been induced to vote an enormous sum for the defence of the coaling stations, or their own defence. Hong Kong has voted over £145,000, Ceylon £45,000, and the Straits Settlements a very large amount, for the purpose of putting Singapore in that position of defence in which we wish to see it. Therefore, I do not think that anyone could say that the Colonies have neglected the responsibility thrown upon them, or have failed in their duty. And now a word or two with respect to the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Lambeth (General Fraser) who has just sat down. So far from there being any desire, on my part, to make an attack on the Horse Artillery, I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that I am one of those who joined with him in hearty recognition of the merits of that splendid force. The Horse Artillery has rendered magnificent service to the country, and should the occasion arrive I have no doubt they would render services equally great. Anyone who has seen the admirable pitch of training at which the force has arrived cannot fail to admire it, wherever they see it employed. Therefore, it is in no spirit of hostility to the Royal Horse Artillery that any of the proposed changes will be carried out. I speak as a Secretary of State for War who has only held that position for a few weeks. All that a Secretary of State for War can do, under such circumstances, in regard to any alteration in any part of the Service, is to ask for and receive the opinion of his military advisers, and having weighed their experience and their views they put forward, to arrive at the best conclusion he can form from the expression 101 of opinion he receives from them. His duty is to look at the question from the broadest possible point of view. He is bound almost to utilize in full all the resources of the country, and there are two questions he is specially bound to ask himself. The first is whether the stop he is about to take will increase or diminish the defensive or the offensive power of the country; and in this case the evidence before me proves, at any rate, to my satisfaction, that the proposed alteration will increase the defensive power of the country. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), whose speech I may say we were all glad to hear, after his long absence from the House, referred to the Garrison Artillery. Now, I may tell him that during the short time I have been in Office it has been my duty to devote a very large portion of my time to the consideration of that question. There is nothing more important than to maintain the Garrison Artillery in a state of efficiency. I know that up to a certain point the Artillery Volunteers can be relied upon in case of necessity, but that is not sufficient. In the scheme we are laying down we are utilizing to the full the services of the Volunteer Artillery; but it is impossible for them to devote sufficient time to training and the acquisition of that scientific knowledge which would alone enable them altogether to supercede the regular Garrison Artillery in case of invasion. It is, therefore, necessary that there should be a large increase made in our Garrison Artillery Force if we wish to put the defensive Force of the country upon a proper footing. I have put forward, in a Memorandum, which has been circulated to Members of Parliament, a hope that Parliament will be induced to sanction the creation of two new Army Corps of regular troops. Some people say that I am much too sanguine, and that the scheme is far too ambitious; but if that is the argument which is to be put forward it makes our case all the stronger, because, according to the evidence of military experts, when the scheme is carried out the present proposal which has been determined upon will enable us to provide two Army Corps, with an efficient force of Horse and Field Artillery, as well as with an efficient ammunition column which at present does 102 not exist. Let me now refer to some of the objections which have been raised. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Sussex was the first to refer to the ammunition column, and my hon. and gallant Friend who just sat down has pointed out that it will be weakening the Artillery to turn 14 batteries of Field Artillery into ammuninition columns. I explained the other day that that is what we have already done. As at present we have no ammunition column; if it is necessary to send the Army abroad, we have practically to break up the field batteries. It is now proposed to establish ammunition columns solely for this purpose, that we may be able to send an Army Corps into the field in any sudden emergency without undue delay. If we are to have a little time, and to be supplied with the necessary funds for the purpose, I undertake to say we shall be able to send out an Army Corps, and at the same time to retain field batteries for effective service, either at home or wherever they may be wanted. My hon. and gallant Friend also called attention to the fact that the batteries of the First and Second Army Corps are not fully equipped, either with horses or men; and, he added, that if we were called upon to act in any sudden emergency we should experience great difficulty in fully manning these Corps. I admit that to the fullest extent. I can only say what I have already said, that if Parliament wishes to have these two Army Corps put upon a war footing, it must be prepared to supply the War Office both with men and money. On no other condition should we be able to carry out the work; but I do not think Parliament will refuse when it is asked to supply those means which are not refused in other countries. I may say that the steps we have taken, although they have met with the greatest hostility from my hon. and gallant Friend behind me, will greatly increase the fighting power of the Army, and will enable us to take the steps which have been advocated in this House year after year, but to carry out which nothing has hitherto been done. It is also intended to provide the nucleus of an Army Transport Corps in connection with every regiment in the two Army Corps, that being one of the primest necessities of the Army. All I can say as to the 103 Commissariat Department is that it will be carefully inquired into, and I hope and believe that the inquiry will be made in the course of the current year. The object will be totally to re-organize the system so as to make it very much more efficient, from a fighting point of view, than it has ever been before. We hope to take other steps. We believe that even out of the present Estimates we shall be able to do a good deal towards putting the First Army Corps in a state of readiness, so that it may be able to take the field at a moment's notice. It must be remembered that our Army, after all, is a very small one, and that it is the duty of the War Office to so utilize it as to make every man in it of value, and every portion of it applied to the most effective purpose. That is what we really want—namely, to secure that every man in our small Army shall be applied to the most practicable and the most useful purpose possible—that every man shall be acquainted with the particular purpose to which he is to be applied. In carrying out this object, a heavy responsibility lies on the Secretary of State for War; but it is one from which I do not shrink, and one which I will endeavour to discharge to the utmost of my ability. I am quite certain that if any Secretary of State for War, on coming into Office, can satisfy Parliament that his object is to make our small Army useful for all the purposes for which it is intended, he will have no difficulty in inducing Parliament to supply him with the means.
SIR HENRY HAVELOCK-ALLA.N (Durham, S. E.)
May I be permitted to say that I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman very much upon the course he has taken. It is, I believe, the first instance in which the Representatives of this House who are especially interested in military matters have been assembled upstairs in order that the Government might lay their proposals before them. Such a course will, I think, tend to shorten the debate in Committee, and to bring the views of hon. Members best qualified to form an opinion forcibly before the right hon. Gentleman. As far as the reduction of the Royal Horse Artillery is concerned, the essential points of which have been so ably laid before the Committee by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Lambeth (General Fraser), I regret that 104 the right hon. Gentleman should have announced his final determination to adhere to the decision at which he has already arrived. We had reason to believe that it was still open for consideration, and that, after a discussion here, the War Office might have been induced to come to another decision in the matter. The right hon. Gentleman told us, as we have been told before, that the opinion of his military advisers has strengthened him in making this reduction, although I believe there has been no step which has been more universally condemned by the whole military opinion of the country. But I think the right hon. Gentleman must have been altogether misinformed if he supposes that even at a moment when military officers have felt themselves professionally obliged to condemn the change about to be introduced, they will be induced to turn from the strict path of the lines laid down by military discipline, or to get up anything which may bear the slightest semblance of agitation against the scheme. I am one of those who have taken a humble part in pressing reasons and arguments against any reductions of the Royal Horse Artillery upon the right hon. Gentleman as strongly as possible. I have therefore been brought into contact with other general officers; and, I believe, the right hon. Gentleman is entirely misinformed as to their feeling, for I have seen nothing but the strongest indications of dissatisfaction. I am not going to repeat again the arguments which have been so strongly put by my hon. and gallant Friend opposite (General Fraser). He has made the question his special study, and I think he has acquitted himself in a way which reflects the utmost credit upon him. I believe that further argument on our side is needless; the question is well understood in the country, and our views have been endorsed by the public Press in every direction; and, therefore, the only persons who remain in favour of the scheme of the War Office are certain unnamed military officers, although who they are I have not been able to make out, after the most minute and careful inquiry. I am in possession of the opinion of all the officials of the Horse Guards and the War Office, although I will not name them or the offices they fill, and with the exception 105 of one general officer who is understood to be the originator of the scheme, I have not been able to find a single individual, high or low, who is not prepared to express his strong condemnation of the step the War Office were about to take. The reason why I now speak on this subject is, that when the matter came under discussion half-an-hour ago, I was under the impression that the step had been finally taken, and in that case it would have been unnecessary to make any further allusion to it.
§ SIR HENRY HAVELOCK-ALLAN
I am extremely sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman confirm my fears upon that point. But even if the decision should be reconsidered, I believe that at the eleventh hour it would not be an easy matter to call these batteries again into immediate existence. I want to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War that he is now taking a step in the name of economy which, instead of being economical in its results, will lead, in my opinion, to the moat extravagant and wasteful expenditure that can be devised. Supposing in 12 months it should be necessary to reinstate these batteries, I venture to say that the saving, which the right hon. Gentleman thinks would be effected would be exceeded four times in amount in the attempt to reestablish them, and that they would be re-assembled with a degree of efficiency so minimized that there could be no comparison between it and their present state of efficiency. I repeat that it is the most wasteful and extravagant proceeding I have ever heard of. The right hon. Gentleman tells us he is only following the precedent of foreign armies in preserving the Horse Artillery on a small footing at this time, and reducing the number of guns from six to four. But, in saying that, he is instituting an analogy which is utterly and entirely inapplicable in the case of our Army. In Austria, France, Germany, and Russia there is a well-constituted and efficient system of reserve for horses, extending over all parts of the country, and in the cases of Artillery there are numerous Reserves, amounting to thousands of men, perfectly trained and kept up in their exercises, so that on any emergency, they can be brought in to swell 106 the batteries from four to six guns. In our system there is nothing resembling that. To talk of filling up these batteries with our Reserve Artillery men appears simply ridiculous to those who are acquainted with the matter. On going back to civil life, the men lose nearly all their riding and driving, which in the Horse Artillery has been raised to the position of a fine art. Therefore, I say, to talk of analogy in this respect between this and foreign countries, is a thing so ludicrous, that, as I ventured to say before, it approaches to something in the nature of a practical joke. I suppose we must consider that this matter is at an end; but we military Members, who are strongly impressed with the fatal nature of the step that is taken, have discharged our consciences; we have, at all events, the satisfaction of knowing that, with the exception of this shadowy individual, who has been referred to, we carry the whole country with us. Having said that and stated our views, I do not desire to go further in the matter, because I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I do not wish to embarrass him in the slightest degree, but, on the contrary, to give him every aid in the task which he has taken upon himself. The right hon. Gentleman already, during the short period he has been engaged at the War Office, has given us the assurance that he will equal, and even exceed the records of many of his Predecessors; and, therefore, it is not with any contentious feeling that I express my regret that he should have been led to take this step. Our protests have been made against a measure which, we are told, it is no longer in our power to reverse, but which we believe to be most mischievous. Having recently returned from abroad, and having had long experience of the military system of every nation of Europe and that of America also, it seems to me that, in view of the possibility of having to make a sudden demand for a large development of our military forces, either for the defence of our Indian possessions, or on account of contingences which might take place in Europe, this is the very worst moment that could have been chosen for taking this step. But I would beg to be allowed to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to that which I conceive to be the next important step to be taken. The hon. and gallant Member for the 107 Fareham Division of Hants (Sir Frederick Fitz-Wygram) is the man best qualified to speak on this question, and, therefore, I shall only touch upon it. It is no secret that the condition of our Cavalry, as regards their power of rapid expansion, is unsatisfactory; the officers and men of the force are undoubtedly all that can be desired; but as regards the power of expansion and the supply of horses, it is probably in a lower condition than it has been for years. I have long been the advocate of the foreign system, by which a sufficient supply of horses is obtainable. We have nothing amongst us approaching to that system. It is true that there is a skeleton depot for Cavalry at Canterbury, which, it appears, supplies the demands which arise in our Indian Service; but it is no exaggeration to say that if a sudden demand were made upon us, even such as was made in the Egyptian Campaign of 1882, to say nothing of any European contingency, which would, of course, be a much more serious matter, we could not at the present moment put three complete Cavalry regiments into the field; and to do that, it would be necessary to draw from every Cavalry regiment in the Service, so that you will have nothing approaching a Reserve behind it, I do not want to dilate on this subject longer, because the hon. and gallant Member for the Fareham Division of Hants, who has filled the post of Inspector of Cavalry for years, will deal with it, and I know that when he gets up we shall have a full supply of details. I will, therefore, in conclusion, beg the right ton. Gentleman early and earnestly to direct his attention to this matter. I say this with the desire to aid him in achieving a brilliant success; and I assure him that if he can succeed in putting our Cavalry on a footing of efficiency with the two other arms of the Service, he will have accomplished more in the direction of a most necessary and valuable work of Army reform than has been achieved during many years past.
SIR FREDERICK FITZ-WYGRAM (Hants, Fareham)
The question of reduction of the Horse Artillery has been very fully discussed, and I do not propose to deal further with that subject. But I have another subject before me to which I desire to direct the attention of the Committee, and to which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State 108 for War (Mr. E. Stanhope) has alluded—namely, the absolute necessity which exists for increasing the number of trained men in garrisons for the service of our largo new guns. That necessity arises from the great weight of modern guns and the machinery connected with them. In the old days, in case of siege, infantry were used for working guns; but that cannot be done at the present time with modern guns under existing circumstances. We have been told that these guns cannot be worked except by thoroughly trained men. My idea is that the Infantry regiments ought to be trained under a full course of instruction in the loading and management of garrison guns. The knowledge of this cannot, of course, be gained on the emergency, for, as the Committee will be aware, it takes a long time to teach men what they have to do. It would take a considerable time to put the men through the course. Now, there are two classes of instruction—first the laboratory course through which gunners have to go, and which can only be gone through at Woolwich. It embraces technical and scientific knowledge. That course I do not think adapted to Infantry regiments. The second class of instruction relates simply to the working of the guns when in position, and that course I believe may be thoroughly learned by Infantry regiments. I do not propose that the whole of the regiment should be taught, because there are in all regiments a number of stupid men who are incapable of being so instructed. There are, however, in all regiments a number of intelligent men fond of machinery; and I think if, say 15 per cent of the regiment were taught, the result would be in every way satisfactory. To effect this, I think three or four months, with two hours instruction a-day, would be necessary. It cannot be expected, however, that men would give up their time without payment, and I think that about 1d. a-day per man would be sufficient. Taking the number of men at 120 per battalion, this would cost, in round numbers, 10s. a-day, which, with a slight extra allowance to non-commissioned officers, would amount to £200 a-year; that sum, multiplied by 100, the number of the battalions, would make £20,000 for the year; and I believe that for this sum, by utilizing your 109 Infantry soldiers in the way I have described, the Nation would have the advantage of possessing 10,000 men thoroughly and completely trained in the working of the guns which are now placed in our forts. I am aware that this scheme can only be carried out when these Infantry regiments are in fortified places; but I think, in due time, the whole of our Infantry regiments might pass through the course I have described. In the meantime, I may point out the whole cost of the arrangement would not fall at once upon the Exchequer. It is said, by way of objection to this proposal, in the first place, that the Infantry men would lose their practice when not in forts; but I think that might be avoided by the Secretary of State for War placing one large new gun at the head-quarters of each Infantry regiment. In the next place, it is said that there would not be time, in these days of short service, to put the men through the course; but I know something of the practice in Cavalry regiments, where numbers of the men are spared for various purposes, and I think that if the men of a Cavalry regiment can spare five hours a day in stables, it is only reasonable to believe that an Infantry regiment can spare 15 per cent of the men to be put through the course I have suggested. There is another subject cognate with this to which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War has slightly alluded to—namely, the value of Volunteer Artillery. At Portsmouth—and, I presume, also in the neighbourhood of our other fortifications—there are largo and excellent corps of Volunteer Artillery, who only learn and practice with the old smooth-bore 64-pounder. It seems to me utterly absurd that they should be restricted to obsolete guns and obsolete practice when there are in our modern forts new guns, and when there are also Royal Artillery officers in the garrison who are perfectly able and willing to train the men in the use of these weapons. I admit there would be the cost of providing the ammunition for the practice, but that would not amount to a very large sum. Then there is another question connected with the Artillery which I wish to bring before the Committee. The Field Artillery are no doubt a most valuable branch of the Service; but less 110 valuable, I believe, than they might be made. In the Field Artillery only a certain proportion of men are taught to ride and drive, whereas it seems to me that every man who joins should be put through a course of instruction in the riding and driving school. It seems to me absurd that, in a corps where there are waggons and horses, and all the means of instruction in these respects, there should be a single man loss useful than he might be. Then there is the question of the Cavalry pioneers. In modern warfare, I believe Cavalry pioneers to be invaluable. The work of pioneering is hazardous, I know, but you will always find men ready for that in every regiment, and it is impossible to see the extent of mischief that may be done to the enemy by these men in the destruction of telegraph wires, railways, engines, bridges, and so on. We all know that, in the present day, wars are carried on at a great distance from the base, and, therefore, offers great fatalities for the destructive operations of well-trained mounted pioneers. At present there are 16 pioneers in every Cavalry regiment; they are sent to Chatham for their training; the men come back well trained, undoubtedly—and I have nothing to say against the system in that respect—but when they return to the regiment they do not practice, and the reason of that is, that they get no extra pay for the work. You cannot get men to go out an hour a-day unless you give them some remuneration. I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to take this into consideration—to give 16 men in each regiment 1d. per day, say, in all, 2s. per day, £36 per year per regiment, which for 30 Cavalry regiments would give a cost to the State of £750 a-year. No doubt the Cavalry are very expensive; but it is not worth your while to render them loss effective than they might be if this comparatively small sum of £750 a year were expended upon them. The Army Estimates amount to £18,000,000 a-year, and it seems to me cheeseparing to hesitate to hand over these small sums for the purposes I have described. I know that many in high quarters attach great importance to numbers; but I value more than that the efficiency of each individual man. I say, reduce numbers if you will, but in the name of common 111 sense give the money which will make the men you have as thoroughly and practically efficient as they can be. The hon. and gallant Member for South-East Durham (Sir Henry Havelock-Allan) has appealed to me to make some observations on the subject of Cavalry reorganization. I dealt with that subject when the House was considering the Army Estimates at an earlier period in the Session, and I will not, therefore, repeat all that I said on that occasion. I believe that a re-organization of our Cavalry is absolutely necessary. All our Cavalry regiments are too weak for the purpose of war; we have far too large a number of units. I agree that the Cavalry regiments ought to consist of five squadrons at least—not the depot squadrons which the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Durham spoke of, as existing at Canterbury, but five effective squadrons, four to go abroad in case of war, and one to be left at home. I know that remarks of this kind are distasteful; but it is our duty to point out to this House and to the Secretary of State for War that this plan is absolutely necessary for the efficiency of the Cavalry branch of the Service, and on the whole the most economical means of effecting improvement. What I ask, with regard to the Cavalry would, I believe, cost nothing to the country; and I believe also that the Indian Government would only be too glad if the Home Government would consent to the increase in the case of the Indian regiments, because they know that regiments of a certain strength are more effective and more economical than weaker regiments. Allusion has been made to the supply of horses which it is said we cannot get. With regard to that matter, the facts are very simple; the breeders will never rear more horses than the trade of the country requires. Horses are unlike boots and shoes, they cannot be kept in stock; and when they are produced they must be sold by the dealer at the price he can get for them. I have myself looked into this matter, and I may mention that the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (The Marquess of Hartington) placed me on a Committee some time ago, and the result of our investigation was to find that the same state of things which exist in England occurs in almost every country in the world—that is to say, there 112 is, beyond the actual requirement of the trade of each country, no stock of horses fit for bit or bridle. I believe that something like 5,000 horses might be got in this country without much trouble; but when you have taken up the whole number in the hands of the dealers you would not be able to get the number which would be required in case of war. In the course of my inquiry, I was informed by the managers of the London General Omnibus Company that nothing would induce them to part with more than two per cent of their stock of horses. In short, I am of opinion that nothing you can do will create a supply of horses in excess of the number which the trade of the country will support. The Committee will remember that some time ago a Commission went to Canada for the purpose of ascertaining what horses could be obtained there; they went to Canada, as I have said, and they brought back 73 horses. When the Commission returned, I asked one of the members if he could get 1,000 horses in Canada. He said that he could not. I then asked him if he could get 500, and I think his reply was that he might got about that number. I must confess that the result of my inquiries is that in case of a great European war, I believe we should have the greatest possible difficulty either in mounting the Cavalry, or in getting the necessary draft horses for the Royal Artillery, Engineers, and Transport Corps. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War has conceded a certain amount of Transport to Infantry regiments, and I look upon that as one of the best steps taken for many years. When the Egyptian War broke out, Infantry men were sent down to Aldershot for three days training in the art of saddling and tending horses; but, of course, when they landed in Egypt they were found to be so totally ignorant of the duties required of them that the transport broke down. Finally, I am glad to hear that there is to be a certain number of mules kept in stock. These are very useful animals, but somewhat difficult to manage. It might be well that some provision should be made in respect of camels, having regard to the enormous loss of these animals which occurred in Egypt—but that, of course, would be impossible in this country.
§ COLONEL EYRE (Lincolnshire, Gainsborough)
With the indulgence of the Committee, I wish to make some observations on the subject of the Horse Artillery. In doing so, I feel that I shall be not only acting fairly to my constituents, but to a great many of my brother officers outside the House. Not having been an Artilleryman myself, I shall not enter into any details; but I may, perhaps, be allowed to express an opinion on the subject generally, which I think will be a correct one, having served with the Rifle Brigade throughout the Indian Mutiny. In the first place, I will give, not my own, but the opinions of high authorities with regard to the value of Artillery in Asiatic warfare. Sir Colin Campbell—afterwards Lord Clyde—took care that, as far as lay in his power, to every column which was formed there should be attached a body of Horse Artillery; and so important did he regard this, that he gave directions to every column that whenever they attacked any fortified place they should first bring Artillery to bear upon it. Passing from the opinion of Lord Clyde on this matter, I will quote from some correspondence and papers relating to the East India Horse Artillery during the time of the Indian Mutiny—in the years 1857 and 1859—when a great change had to be carried out with regard to that branch of the Service. Military letter from the Court of Directors to the Secretary of State for India, No. 123, dated July, 1857, has this passage—As no doubt whatever can be entertained of the necessity for an augmentation of this important arm of the Service, we are of opinion that no time should he lost in collecting the means for rendering it effective at the earliest possible period.I will now read an extract from a Minute of the Governor General of India (Lord Canning), dated 9th of August, 1858, which says—I do not believe that any reduction worth counting can safely be made. With every allowance for the greater trustworthiness and, in some respects, greater efficiency of European Artillery, the ground which has to be covered is the same—I see no hope of a diminution of the aggregate Force.Another good authority—Brigadier General Jacob—said—"The strength of the Artillery should be increased," Sir J. L. Lawrence also said— 114The value of Artillery is, perhaps, greate in Asia than in any other part of the world. Guns are objects of intense fear to the Natives of India. A small European Force with a powerful Artillery would be irresistible.This Minute of the Governor General of India is dated the 24th of August, 1858. Another Minute says that—"At the end of a march the active exertions of Artillery are needed;" and I am in a position to boar that out from my own experience, because at the end of a long march it is impossible for the troops to move, and it is necessary that you should be able to send off at once some guns to the spot where they are required. Another Despatch of the Military Department, No. 644, says—The Government in Council instructs mo to recommend earnestly that the subject of the total inadequacy of the strength of the Artillery may receive the serious consideration of the Governor General of India.The date of that is the 26th of February, 1857. Then we have a letter from the Adjutant General of the Army to the Government Secretary to this effect—I am directed to state that the Commander-in-Chief cannot too earnestly press upon the attention of the Government a third time the subject regarding the total inadequacy of the strength of the Corps of Artillery.That is dated the 14th day of February, 1857. Again, Despatch No. 804, dated the 10th of March, 1857, from the Secretary to the Governor of Madras to the Governor General of India, says—I am directed to forward you a letter from the Quartermaster General of the Madras Army urging the necessity for an increase in this branch.Then there are in a Memorandum by General Beresford, dated the 29th of August, 1857, these words—I would urge that no consideration of expense should in any way be allowed to interfere with efficiency in so vital an arm as the Artillery.And, finally, the Commander-in-Chief in India referred, in a Minute of the 19th of August, 1857, to the hesitation to increase the Artillery as "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel." I think I have brought forward enough statements on the part of those in authority to show how important and how valuable the Artillery was considered to be in Asiatic warfare. If there should be war again, the probability is that it will arise in some part of Asia, and therefore I venture to say that we 115 should not have decrease in the number of our Artillery, but rather that there should be an increase. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War has, in the course of his remarks, expressed the hope that if any Member of the Committee had in his mind any ideas that would tend in the direction of economy, they would be stated. I wish to call attention to one point on which I think that economy can be effected, and I refer to those expensive luxuries, Brigade Depôts, in connection with which I believe that a stroke of the pen would have the effect of saving a considerable sum of money. I think, then, that each brigadier should be responsible for everything which goes on in his brigade, and cease to be what he undoubtedly is now—a nonentity. I will give an instance or two of what is continually occurring. A short time ago my servant had occasion to ride a short distance to the Brigade Depot in Derby to ask for a military surgeon to be sent to an ambulance corps which I have; he received a letter saying- that my letter would be forwarded to York, and after considerable delay it arrived at last at the proper place. I say that all this is absolute waste of time, and I cannot see why the brigadier should not have sent the surgeon to the barracks on his own authority. In another case, the adjutant wrote to the Brigade Depôt at no great distance to ask for a surgeon to come and examine an animal that was sore. The letter went from the adjutant to the Major General commanding the division at York; from him it went back to the Brigadier, from him to the adjutant of the Volunteer regiment, asking him to fix a day. When this was done, it went again to Derby, and the result was that, instead of a surgeon being sent from Derby, the county had to pay for a surgeon coming all the way from Birmingham. I suggest that, instead of economizing by cutting down the strength of the Artillery, we should begin by making necessary reforms in such matters as I have referred to. I earnestly trust the right hon. Gentleman will give his attention to these points, and I shall be most happy to assist him in case of need with the statistics and correspondence with which, as commanding officer, I am flooded.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I wish to point out, with regard to what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. E. Stanhope), that the increase in the number of Garrison Artillery is only an increase in the Reserve, which is an extremely different thing from an increase in the strength of the effective. The hon. and gallant Baronet who represents the Fareham Division of Hants (Sir Frederick Fitz-Wygram), like the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, also dwelt on the necessity of increasing the number of Garrison guns, and of having a sufficient number of well-trained men to work them. The hon. and gallant Baronet proposed that a certain number of Infantry men should be instructed in the management of garrison guns. That proposal appears to mo a strange one, because, from what I have seen of Infantry soldiers, I venture to think that they are not the class of men who are best fitted for work of that kind. I suggest that you will get a sufficient number of men to work the guns in this way—that you should have a separate class of men in the Garrison Artillery, amounting to, say, one-third of the total number, who should bear the same relation to ordinary gunners as the A. B. s bear to ordinary seamen. Now, the only way that you can secure that is by giving a certain number of the men a higher rate of pay when they show proficiency in the management of the complicated machinery connected with some of the new guns, such as hydraulic buffers and the various moving gear, all of which complicated machinery requires for its handling skilled workmen, and not ordinary soldiers. I think some recognition of this fact ought to take place, and that an efficient body of Garrison gunners should be established, which, in my opinion, could be obtained, as I have said, by the increase of pay. This matter, which is one of great importance, I think, is well worthy of the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, who, I am glad to see, is alive to the importance of improving the Garrison Artillery. I do not state this on my own opinion alone, but from my knowledge that the plan is one which commends itself to a large number of Artil- 117 lery officers. The right hon. Gentleman stated that a certain number of our batteries of Artillery ought to be kept on a peace footing; and there I agree with him, because I could never understand why this country should be the only one which keeps its Artillery on a war footing. No doubt, it would, from an effective point point of view, be better that the Force should be kept on a war footing; but the question is whether it would be worth the money you would have to pay for it. Therefore, although the proposal of the right hem. Gentleman is one which would not commend itself as a general rule to Army men in this House, yet, I think, he is quite right in saying that the whole of our Artillery ought not to be kept on a war footing. I must say that, in my opinion, the Secretary of State for War is making a great blunder in the matter of the Horse Artillery. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that it was his duty in this matter to choose his advisors—and I have no doubt that he endeavours to obtain the best advice possible in matters relating to his Department—but on this occasion I do not think he has been well advised, nor do I think that the country will be satisfied with a Minister of War who relies upon technical advice only. The country wants a little more than that; and they will hold him responsible, notwithstanding the trouble he takes to get the best advice, if mistakes are made. I think I can see the way in which the right hon. Gentleman has gone wrong in connection with this subject. There is a new plan in the heads of the War Office Authorities. It is to have the Corps modelled on the Continental system—to have two Corps d'Armée. The new idea is to have 70,000 men ready to be sent away at a few days' notice. The proposal of the right hon. Gentleman seems to paint to the reduction of our military strength for the purpose of making these Corps d'Armée perfectly efficient. I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that military advisers are often very unsafe guides. They will try to make the Army efficient, no doubt; but then they have very little idea of the cost which is involved; and although I do not believe that the country would care about the ultimate cost, provided that efficiency were obtained, yet the advice which has the effect of placing a large additional 118 sum upon the military vote is not likely to be held in high estimation by the Minister of War. I believe that if you have two efficient Corps d'Armée only the people will cry out that 70,000 are too few, and that you will have to establish a third Corps d'Armée.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
It is not proposed to reduce the strength of the Army outside the two Army Corps of the Reserve in any case.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War has given that explanation, because it shows how very important it is that our Army should not be reduced to two Corps d'Armée. I point out, however, that the right hon. Gentleman has taken the first step in this direction; he has struck at one arm of the Service, although he has not more Horse Artillery than is sufficient for two Corps d'Armée, and his proposed reduction will have to be joined with reductions in other arms, and the Cavalry, for instance, may have to be reduced. You are, at all events, striking at the very arm which it takes longest to create; and which, on an emergency, it will be impossible to improvise. It is not an easy matter to produce Garrison Artillery, but it takes months and years to produce efficient Horse Artillery. I think that this plan ought to be very carefully considered by the public. The Corps will, no doubt, be very good and efficient in the main, and they are sure to be excellent on Paper; but if you are going to have them at the expense of the Military Establishments of the country, I think you are buying them too dearly. The fact that these Corps are to be ready at a moment's notice shows that you are keeping up your Army for offensive purposes. But suppose that your two Corps d'Armée were sent abroad, and that they surrendered, you will have no Horse Artillery at homo, and in that respect you will be at a great disadvantage. Anyone can see that it is a very rash thing to destroy that which has been created at great expense, and which it takes a long time to replace. It is an easy thing to cut down the tree which is many years in growing. What the Government are doing suggests something very like the act of a man who, having furnished his house at great cost, breaks up expensive chairs and tables for use as firewood. But what is to be done with the men of the batteries? 119 Surely the right hon. Gentleman is not going to turn them into Garrison Artillerymen? Probably they will gradually be brought back when they have lost some of their efficiency and smartness. On the whole, I think the right hon. Gentleman has been led into taking a step which, besides doing a considerable amount of injury directly and indirectly by unsettling men's minds, will prove in the end to be a very costly one. There is another subject which has not been referred to except by the hon. and gallant Member for the Fareham Division of Hants, and on which I wish to make a few remarks. I refer to the expedition to Canada for the purpose of buying horses. That is a step on which I think the opinion of the Committee ought to be taken, because anything more contrary to military and political economy I cannot conceive. You go 2,000 miles to try to open up a new supply of horses, a new market as you say, but nothing can be more unfair to the people of this country. Instead of trying to open a new market in Canada, you should increase your price and then—although you might not get what you wanted in the first—you, in a year or two—you would be able to get plenty of horses. These horses from Canada cannot be landed here at a less cost than £60 or £70 each. It has always been the theory that a country in time of peace should get as many horses as possible from internal sources, although in time of war the more horses bought in foreign markets the better, because you prevent the enemy getting them. I think the mission to Canada was a most ill-judged measure, and I should be glad if some hon. Member would move a reduction of this Vote as a protest against what I consider a most unfair proceeding towards the horse breeders in the country.
SIR FREDERICK FITZ-WYGRAM
The object of the Commission sent to Canada was to test the market in case horses should be scarce here, and to get a small number of horses sent over for the purpose of seeing whether or not they were suitable for military service.
§ MR. TOTTENHAM (Winchester)
I shall not trouble the Committee with a repetition of the figures and arguments that have been used against the reduction of the Horse Artillery; I shall say nothing further than that I agree with 120 all that has fallen from previous speakers on the subject, and express a hope that the country will not have cause to regret a step which I believe is fatal to the efficiency of the Horse Artillery as an arm of the Service and detrimental to the interests of the country. We have had the cases of two classes of officers brought before the Committee by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, that is to say of the paymasters and quartermasters. I am glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. E. Stanhope) express his opinion that there is justice in the case of the paymasters, and that in all probability their grievance will be removed. I should have been more glad to hear that the quartermasters would be given something more than honorary rank, and that the concession would have been more of a financial character; and that, I think, is the point of view from which the quartermasters themselves will look at the matter. But the class whose claims I wish to bring before the Committee is that of the present commanding officers of regiments and battalions. Within the year 1886–7 there will have been no less than 107 of these officers relegated to half-pay, and of these six will have been in command for little more than a-year, 87 between one and two years, and 14 between two and three years. Previous to 1871, the period of command was practically unlimited. From 1871 to 1881 the period of command was fixed at five years, from 1881 to 1886 the period was fixed at four years, and it was also provided by the same Royal Warrant that, after having served five years as a lieutenant colonel, whether second or first in command, the officer should be placed on half-pay. Now, a new Royal Warrant has been issued within the last few months, by which it is enacted that in future an officer shall command his regiment for four years, no matter for what length of time he may be second in command. This is a sensible and reasonable arrangement; but because that arrangement has been made in the case of future commanding officers there appears to be no reason why officers, who are now commanding regiments, should be relegated to half-pay, and practically put on the shelf for the rest of their military lives any more than those who are to have command for four years in future. It has been said 121 that one reason for doing this is that it is hard, or would be hard, upon those who have to succeed to the command; but I maintain that it is no harder upon them now than it was previously to 1881, and that officers would actually succeed now to the command of their regiments in a shorter time than they would previously to 1881. Just as an instance of the hardship that has been done certain officers, let me name one or two out of the long list of cases which has been prepared by officers who are interested in this matter. I take the case of the officer commanding the present 10th Hussars: he was 25 years in the Service before he got command of his regiment; he was five years second in command, and under the existing regulations, under the Royal Warrant of 1881, he lost his command after he had been one year and five months in possession of it. Then I take the case of the officer commanding the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry: he was 29 years in the Service before he got command; he was five years second in command, and he will have been but one year in command of his regiment when he has to retire on half-pay. The whole 107 I have mentioned are similar to these, varying only in degree. Now, I say it is hard upon these officers that they should lose what all officers look forward to as the reward of their exertions—namely, the command of their regiment. It is no argument to say they have been second lieutenant-colonels, or second in command. Everyone who is acquainted with military life knows that the second in command is only the second fiddle, that he has no status at all in fact, that he hardly considers himself in the position of second lieutenant-colonel, and that often he is very much better off without the rank, and very much in the way. I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War will be able to tell us that the position of these officers will be reconsidered by him. These officers have been selected for the command of their regiment as efficient and properly qualified officers, and there seems to be no reason whatever why they should be punished for the benefit of those who have to succeed, if really it is for their benefit. I hope before this Vote is taken that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us some assurances that this matter will receive 122 his consideration. There is one other point I should like to lay before the Committee, and that is in reference to the Question which was asked by myself of the Secretary of State for War within the last few days—namely, the strength or establishment of the two Army Corps which are about to be formed. We were informed by the right hon. Gentleman that he was about to lay a Paper upon the subject on the Table of the House; but I very much fear from the Answer to another Question in regard to the strength of the batteries which are to remain in the Horse Artillery, that the establishment of these Army Corps is to be a peace establishment. If that is so, it is simply continuing the present childish system of skeleton regiments at home. It cannot be anything else. The regiments will be actually incapable and inefficient to take the field. If we want any instance of the condition in which our regiments are when suddenly called upon for service, we have only to recollect the state in which they were in at the time of the outbreak of the Egyptian War. Two Cavalry regiments had to be entirely broken up to form two squadrons for the Egyptian War. We have the case of other regiments which were sent during the same period to the Mediterranean, one half of them never having gone through a course of musketry, and more than half in some cases being under one year's service. I hope that will not be the state in which these two Army Corps are to be left. I trust my right hon. Friend will be able to assure us that the regiments which are to form the two Army Corps will, at all events, be kept at proper strength and in thoroughly efficient condition.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
There are just one or two matters to which I should like to refer at once. In the first place, let me say a word with regard to the question of the horse supply to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South-East Durham (Sir Henry Havelock Allan) called attention. Although an experiment was made with regard to Canada by sending out an officer to see what amount of horse supply could be reckoned upon from that country, it is felt that the proper course for the War Office to adopt is to rely upon the home 123 supply of horses, and not on any supply from foreign countries or even from our Colonies. I do not yet know what the result of the Canadian experiment will be; but when we receive a full Report, I want to make out in the fairest possible way the cost per horse. Then there are two subjects which my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Mr. Tottenham) has mentioned. The first is in regard to the position of the Army Corps. I am afraid I must ask him to restrain still further his natural impatience. I hope to present in a very short time full details of the composition of the two Army Corps. I am going through the matter myself at the present time, and I hope shortly to be able to lay before the House full details as to how the Army Corps are to be composed, so that the House and the country can judge for themselves how far it is likely that with a little more time given to us we can put the scheme into thoroughly practical effect.
§ MR. TOTTENHAM (Winchester)
Perhaps I may be allowed to say that I merely asked whether the two Army Corps were to be kept at a peace or war establishment.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
If I wanted to go into that subject, I should have to go into it at great length indeed. Then, my hon. Friend called attention to the question of retirement of commanding officers of regiments. I confess I have seen cases myself where very excellent officers, officers whoso services the country ought to be sorry to lose, have, by the operation of this scheme, been compelled to retire from the command of regiments. I have been very sorry for them indeed; but, as my hon. Friend knows, the whole of this matter was thoroughly considered before the late Royal Warrant was issued. Those who were concerned in the framing of the Royal Warrant considered it in all its bearings, and they came to the conclusion that, on the whole, the rule laid down must be insisted upon. I am afraid someone or other must suffer. If you were to extend the terms of employment of lieutenant colonels, then majors must retire, and certainly I should be very sorry to see any further punishment inflicted upon majors. I have not yet had very much opportunity of looking into the matter; but I mean to do so, and if I find I can do anything to meet the 124 views of my hon. Friend, I shall be only too glad to do it.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
Mr. Courtney, nothing strikes one more in these discussions upon naval and military matters than the utter hollowness of the debates. A Minister, advised by no one knows whom, certainly by no military authority, takes a step which is of the most vital importance, comes down to the House without asking for an opportunity of taking the House into his counsel in regard to this step, and then thinks that if some hon. Members get up and grumble for five or ten minutes, that is all that is necessary. I entirely disagree with such a method of carrying on debates upon such serious subjects. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South-East Durham (Sir Henry Havelock-Allan), towards the close of his remarks, asked the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. E. Stanhope) if the reduction of the Horse Artillery had been finally decided upon, and the right hon. Gentleman with great alacrity jumped up and said—"Yes, finally decided." Thereupon the hon. and gallant Gentleman said—"If that is so, it is not much use our discussing the matter." I am astonished at him, because if there is anything that the whole military opinion of this House, the whole military opinion of this country, is entirely opposed to, it is to the action which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War has taken in regard to the Horse Artillery. It depends entirely upon the military Members of this House whether the Horse Artillery shall be reduced or not. Of course, if hon. and gallant Gentlemen come down here and think they have done their duty sufficiently in grumbling at what has been done, and declining to take any action which will give public expression to their opinions, they have no one to blame but themselves. I have taken some interest in this question of the reduction of the Horse Artillery, and I have come to this conclusion, that of all the unpatriotic actions that have ever been perpetrated by any Government this is the most unpatriotic. I do not at all wish it for one moment to be understood that I mean to say that it is the desire of the Government to be unpatriotic; but that, as far as its effects go, this stop is the most unpatriotic act that 125 has ever been committed by a Government in Army matters. Now, Sir, the English Army of all the Armies in Europe is the one that ought to have not only its full, but the fullest measure of Horse Artillery. Whenever you have a small Army like the English Army, which may at any moment be called upon to face some Continental Army, you are absolutely at a discount if you have not got your full measure of Horse Artillery, and more than your full measure. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Galway (Colonel Nolan) mentioned, in speaking of the Field Artillery, that during the Franco-German War the French were able to get together some good Field Artillery in three months. I served in that unfortunate war, and I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that he is entirely mistaken. Even after three or four months training our Field Artillery was not worth a straw. I will go further, and say that the greatest loss and difficulty which we experienced during the whole of that war was caused by the want of Horse Artillery. I will not detain the Committee by giving them examples, but I could give them examples by the score of our formations being peppered, our ranks broken, and every movement we had intended to take obstructed, owing to the rapidity and accuracy of the fire of the German Horse Artillery. Our want of Horse Artillery was felt during the whole war, but especially in the latter end. Men who had had long experience in military matters, my own chief, for instance, often said to me, in the course of our conversations, it was almost impossible to do anything owing to the want of Horse Artillery. Now, in the English Army you want, above all things, Horse Artillery; and. for the life of me, I cannot understand what object the Government can have in taking a step so fatal to the interests of this country as the reduction of the Horse Artillery. If it is a question of economy, how much will you save—do you save anything that is worth thinking about? As I understand, the total saving will be something like £4,000 or £5,000 per annum, and for this miser-able bit of childish economy you are going to destroy a portion of your Force, which it will take you two or three years to replace. If you are ever engaged in an European war, you will assuredly find it necessary to replace these men; 126 but that to do so will take you a very considerable time, at least two years. You will find that you have reduced this arm of the Service at a loss of life and loss of prestige in the earlier part of that war, for which nothing will ever repay you. Now, upon the question of economy, are there not plenty of Departments in which you could effect economy infinitely greater than this, and without in the least endangering the interest of your Service? If anyone had the time and the inclination to devote a week's study to the Estimates, they would find means of making reductions which would simply be appalling, and in the face of which this economy is a myth. Take the case of the Civil Service. I have it upon the authority of one who knows perhaps as well as any man connected with the Civil Service of this country what economies may be made without in the least injuring the Service, that if economies which should and ought to be made were made, the Government would be able to take off 1d. of the Income Tax. What is true in regard to the Civil Service is equally true in regard to the Naval Service, and especially in regard to the Army Service. I grant it is a good thing to have two Army Corps; I think it would be a good think if you had troops ready; I know that during the late Egyptian War your highest authority in this country said that if he were called upon to send another regiment to Egypt, he could not do so. So far as your Army Corps go, I am entirely with you; but I ask most seriously what is the object of reducing the Horse Artillery? You are going to turn them into Field Artillery; in two years time they will not be worth a straw for the purpose of Horse Artillery, Now, I do not believe that any step that any Government has ever taken cannot be retraced. I believe that if the military men will only take a firm stand in the matter, this Horse Artillery will be replaced in six months. The only way to give effect to the opinion of this House is to take a Division, and for that reason I propose, as a practical protest against this fatal step, that this Vote be reduced by the sum of £5,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed "That a sum, not exceeding £2,993,000, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Molloy.)127
§ MR. MALLOCK (Devon, Torquay)
Though I regret very much the decision the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. E. Stanhope) has thought it his duty to come to with respect to the Horse Artillery, I congratulate him on his determination to strengthen the Garrison Artillery. That branch of the Artillery is a very valuable Service, and it has not generally received the recognition that is due to it. I wish now especially to refer to the Volunteer batteries of Garrison Artillery—I do not believe they are receiving the training they ought to receive. This subject is of great interest to many of my constituents, and, having served in the Royal Artillery myself for 11 or 12 years, and for a greater part of that time in the Garrison Artillery, it is a subject in which I take very great interest. I believe that if the Volunteer Artillery were called upon for active service they would be required to garrison such places as Plymouth, Dover, and Portsmouth. Therefore, one would suppose that their training in time of peace would consist in working those guns which they would have to work in time of war. But what, Sir, is the fact? There are a great many Volunteer Artillery batteries who never see any gun larger than an old 32-pounder smoothbore, or a 64-pounder rifle gun. The training they get at these guns is no use whatever in working the heavier guns they would have to man in case they garrisoned these forts. It is true that a small percentage of every Garrison battery is sent annually into some of these forts; and I believe, too—at least it ought to be the case—that those Volunteer batteries who are fortunate enough to be situated within easy distance of forts where heavy guns are mounted have opportunities of working at these guns. But there are numbers of batteries who never have any chance whatever of learning their drill at the heavy guns—at the 12-tons, 18-tons, and still heavier guns, which are mounted at these forts. No doubt, to give all Volunteer Artillery the extra training I desire to see them have would entail some extra expense; but when I remember the vast sums that have been spent on our fortifications and our armaments, I think we ought not to begrudge the alight extra expenditure which would be involved in instructing these men in 128 the duties they would have to perform if they had to take charge of these forts and the guns in them. I believe the requisite training might be given to them in one or two ways. Some 12 or 18-ton guns might be mounted somewhere within easy distance of two or three Volunteer batteries, so that they might have a chance of being able to drill with such guns; or a much larger percentage—say, 50 per cent—of our Volunteer Artillery might be sent into the forts yearly to learn their duty with these guns; or, it would be better still, if the whole of the batteries could be sent even once in two years. I believe the best policy would be that nearly all the Volunteers—at all events, the bulk of those who are close to any of these large towns where forts are situated—should be Artillery as far as possible; certainly every encouragement should be held out to Volunteers in the neighbourhood of seaports to become Artillery Volunteer Corps. A rifleman can have his weapon anywhere, and he can find drill grounds at any place; but an artilleryman's gun cannot be brought to him, therefore it necessary he should be taken to the gun. Unless he has sufficient opportunities of drilling with heavy guns he can never become a valuable soldier. It is not only with the object of learning his drill with heavy guns that he should be sent to these places, but also that he should learn the ins and-outs of the various forts, that he should be acquainted with all the arrangements of magazines, and stores, and lifts, and the thousand and one other arrangements which are necessary for the effective service of the heavy ordnance in these forts. This subject may not be a very interesting one, but I believe it is one well worth the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, and I am sure that the more opportunities the men of the Volunteer Garrison Artillery have of perfecting themselves in their drill and duties the more popular that branch of the Service will become.
§ COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, S.W., Ince)
Mr. Courtney, I am anxious to say a word upon one point which has not been touched upon up to this, but which I believe to be equal in importance to anything that has been mentioned, and that is the reduction of the home battalions of Infantry. Those 129 Gentlemen of the Committee who are not connected with the Service must understand that, after all, the Infantry bears the same relation to the other arms of the Service that the joint bears to the other dishes of a dinner, that the Infantry is the main stay. Now, the home battalions of Infantry have been reduced to 730 men; before Lord Airlie's Committee evidence was given which showed that when a battalion was sent on service one-fourth of the men wore found to be, from various causes, unfit for active service, that reduces the 730 men to 548. To complete the war strength of a battalion you have to put in 252 fresh men. Well, now, that means that the new comers are nearly half, at any rate, a good many more than one-third, of the men left in the battalion, a very serious matter indeed. And, when the Committee understands that, at the present time, according to the Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting, there are 350 men in each Regiment of only one year's service, they will see that, if the home battalions are reduced much more they will be very inefficient to go on service. When once the Secretary of State for War begins nibbling at the battalions, there is a great danger that the 30 men who are above the 700 will be cut off the next year. I strongly urge upon the right hon. Gentleman not to do that on any account. The Infantry, after all, is the most important body to us in our Army. It is true that our battalions have too many young soldiers in them, and it would be very desirable if men in the Reserve, as has been suggested, were allowed to re-enlist. But if they do so, in my opinion, they should be placed under an enforced stoppage of pay, in order to provide their own retirement allowance. I believe we are fast approaching the time when every Government official, from the Prime Minister down to the policeman and the postman, must be subjected to a compulsory stoppage for retirement allowances, or else that the charge should be made en bloc against the accounts of the year, for the amount thrown upon futurity in the shape of pensions discounted is becoming something terrible to contemplate. Now, in regard to the Artillery question. The Horse Artillery batteries are really wanted as reserves for India, and it would be far better to keep them, even if they had to 130 be dismounted in turn, than to disband thorn. I doubt very much the necessity for the proposed great increase of the Garrison Artillery. This country, hitherto, has always found that a good thrust is the best parry, and though it is very necessary that our coaling stations should be fortified, and that our ports should be fortified, I believe that the defence of these places may be loft, to a very much greater extent than is supposed, to our Auxiliary Forces. I think the Secretary of State for War would do a great ser-vice if be induced Volunteer battalions in the neighbourhood of our forts and ports to be converted into Artillery. I will not detain the Committee longer; but I do strongly urge upon the Secretary of State for War the necessity of keeping our home battalions at 750 men if it is possible, and the other battalions at 850 men, because the experience of the last 20 years has shown us that our case is entirely dissimilar from that of foreign countries. Our battalions must be ready to go into the field at any moment, and we ought to be able to meat the wants of little wars such as we have had of late years without calling out our Reserves, except, perhaps, the last two years Reserves or the men of the Re-serve who volunteer. We have been doing a most serious thing in regard to our Reserves; when the Reserves were first formed it was, I think, expected they would have to fight in a European war—say, once in a generation. Well, now we have had them out in whole or in part three times in little more than half that time. Now, that is a very serious thing; it prevents Reserve men getting employment in the country, and, therefore, is very detrimental to their interests. We ought only to call upon our Reserves in serious emergencies as was originally intended, and the only possible way of doing that is to keep our battalions at their proper strength. When our Reserves were first formed in 1870, Mr. Cardwell calculated upon having a Reserve of 60,000; the statement of the Secretary of State for War this year shows us that by the year 1894 we shall have 60,000 Reserve men. That means in five-sixths of a generation, after the number of 60,000 was fixed upon, and in that time the nation will have grown probably by 8,000,000 of men. I particularly want to draw the attention of the Secretary of State for War to this 131 The cost of maintaining our forces should be calculated upon the cost per head of the population. That is the only fair way of looking at the cost of our Force.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I am sorry my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Blundell) has been an exception to the almost universal rule in this debate, inasmuch as he disparages the increase of the Garrison Artillery. I can assure him there is no subject to which I have given more personal attention than that. I think there can be no question that the increase of our Garrison Artillery is the most important step that can be taken for the defence of the country, and I am satisfied that if my hon. and gallant Friend will give me a half-an-hour of his time I can show him that there are very important places which cannot be adequately defended unless this House consent to add to the Garrison Artillery. Now, as regards the other point, which has really been hardly discussed in this House to-night upon a proper footing. The real question is—whether Horse Artillery, or Field Artillery, is better for our purposes in time of war. The line I have endeavoured to take up, and in which I have been supported by military experts, is that you do want a certain proportion of Horse Artillery, but that for many purposes the Field Artillery is very much more valuable than Horse Artillery can be. They have a better gun, or they will shortly have about the best gun it is possible for Field Artillery to have. We believe that in time of war Field Artillery batteries will be more efficient, and able to provide a greater amount of gun power, than Horse Artillery will. There is, I think, a certain portion of our Artillery which must be capable of rapid movement—that portion, for instance, which is required to move with the Cavalry; but when you go beyond this portion, you will find that Field Artillery provides a better and more efficient arm, because it is able to work guns of greater power. But, having said that, I should like to appeal to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Molloy), who argues, as a great many other Members do, that we are making a great mistake in reducing the Horse Artillery, and that we are only doing so for the purpose of effecting a very small economy. What step has he taken? He proposes to cut down the Estimates still further—to 132 reduce still further the sum of money we have for the purpose of all our various kinds of defence. I should be exceedingly sorry if that lame and impolitic stop were taken to-night. I regret the proposal I hare made and carried out has not been received by hon. Members with any favour, yet, at the same time, I cannot understand why hon. Members, who object to the reduction in strength of the Horse Artillery, favour a reduction in the amount of the Vote for the Army generally.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
The argument the right hon. Gentleman has just used I have heard used in this House for the last nine years. Whenever a Member of this House rises to protest against what he thinks an unwise step on the part of the Government, and moves the reduction of a Vote, the Government say—"Oh, your method of proceeding makes matters worse." If the right hon. Gentleman will tell me how we are to protest against an act, which certainly a large proportion of Members disagree with, except by moving a reduction of the Vote, I shall be very glad to put what he says into practice. If he would prefer it, I will merely move to reduce the Vote by £1—I simply make my Motion as a protest. Of course, there is no use in trying to conceal from ourselves the fact that my proposition to reduce the Vote has as much chance of being carried as I should have, if I so wished, of replacing the right hon. Gentleman by myself. I do think that it is necessary, in these matters, to get rid of the hollowness of debate which has been apparent so long; that we should publicly show our disagreement with the action of the Government, which we can only do by taking a vote on the subject. If I thought that my Motion had any chance of being carried, I would certainly not go to a Division, because the effect of its adoption would be to injure the Service still more. The right hon. Gentleman is far abler in these matters than myself, and I am satisfied that what he has done he has done from thoroughly conscientious motives; but the difficulty is this—that all the military opinions of the country disagree with the right hon. Gentleman. I do not know who the advisers of the Government are in this matter. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South-East Durham (General 133 Sir Henry Havelock-Allan) said he had made inquiries in every Department to find out who had advised the Government, but he had been unable to discover their advisers. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War seems to be under the impression that the best thing the country can do is to strengthen its Field Artillery. Do that as much as you like; but if you are going to strengthen one arm of the Service by weakening another I must disapprove your action. For the sake of the paltry and miserable economy of £4,000 or £5,000 a-year you are going to disband that branch of the Service which is really the most useful you have in time of war.
§ COLONEL HILL (Bristol, South)
So far from desiring to reduce this Vote, I personally should like to add something to it, to enable the Volunteer Artillery to acquire a proper knowledge of the working of the guns they will have to work in case their services are ever required. They have not at present that opportunity; they have to drill with guns that are distinctly obsolete; and it is rather discouraging to them that they should spend their time in learning that which is not directly applicable to the purpose they may be called upon to serve. There are some Artillery Volunteer Corps who have the advantage of being within reasonable distance of ports, and they have an opportunity of acquiring the knowledge they ought to have; but there are others. Take, for instance, my own regiment, which has within it 1,250 efficient gunners—which are situated very considerable distances from any large fort, and the only opportunity such batteries have of seeing the larger guns, and becoming at all acquainted with the interior of forts, magazines, and so on, is that afforded by being sent down to exercise with the Royal Artillery. These opportunities come very rarely, and they are seized by Volunteer officers, and I think that, if some money could be granted to give to the Volunteer Corps the opportunity of more frequently visiting large ports, the been would be very much appreciated. It has been suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Hampshire (Sir Frederick Fitz-Wygram) that something might be done by placing these large guns at depôt 134 centres. That, no doubt, would be something for us; we should have an opportunity of practising with such guns; but I have in mind a case in which it might be desirable that these guns might be so placed as not only to be valuable for drill, but for the defence of the country. I have in my mind particularly the case of the Bristol Channel, where a heavy gun would be of the greatest possible service in the defence of the roadstead; and, at the same time, be valuable for drill. I venture to impress on my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War the fact that the Volunteer Artillery are most anxious to do all in their power to acquire a knowledge of the modern guns, and to assure him that any assistance he may give in that direction will be very much appreciated.
§ GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
While I shall not vote for the proposed reduction, I wish it to be understood that I am opposed to the reduction of the Horse Artillery; no one in this House has stronger views on this subject than I have. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that he has only been a few months in Office. I do hope that when he has been longer in Office, as I trust he will be, he will see his way to reconsider his decision as regards the Horse Artillery. It is impossible to make gunners in a day, and I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will endeavour to defer to the feelings of the vast majority of military experts upon this question.
§ SIR EDWARD HAMLEY (Birkenhead)
I have not quite succeeded in gathering from the Secretary of State for War whether his proposed reduction of the Horse Artillery is still open to revision. If he has not committed himself beyond recall, I venture most earnestly to beseech him to reconsider his decision, because it seems to me one of the most unpopular and impolitic steps ever taken by the War Office. I ask him to consider that all the Military and Naval Members of the House have joined in the very respectful and very strong remonstrations against the step which he proposes, and I think perhaps their opinions may be considered as well worthy his attention as those of that distinguished General of whom we have heard so much, and whose opinions, I 135 think, go to show that a man may be a distinguished General and yet a very unsafe adviser for a Secretary of State for War. I think everything has been said in the course of the remarks of previous speakers that can be said against this measure, and therefore I do not propose to go over the ground again, or any part of it; but I do wish to take this opportunity of recording my earnest protest against the reduction of a single gun either of the Field or of the Horse Artillery.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR (Kincardine)
I must, with deep regret, give my vote for the Amendment proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for King's County (Mr. Molloy), though I assure the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War that I shall not give my vote in any factious spirit. I entirely disapprove of the proposed reduction in the Horse Artillery, and I trust that before long the right hon. Gentleman may see his way to retrace this fatal step. I cannot help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman would act wisely if he were to dissociate himself from his present military advisers and act solely upon his own responsibility, which, I am sure, would lead him to agree with the tenour of the remarks which have been so generally expressed by hon. and gallant Gentlemen to-night.
§ MR. HENNIKER HEATON (Canterbury)
I just wish to say that I represent the military town of Canterbury, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War that it is the opinion of all the military men there that he has committed a serious mistake in the matter of the Horse Artillery. I, therefore, trust he will reconsider his decision.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 57; Noes 94: Majority 37.—(Div. List, No. 141.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a further sum, not exceeeding £3,830,300, he granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charge for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1888, viz.:—