HC Deb 08 March 1888 vol 323 cc593-678

In rising to take part in this debate I must ask the indulgence of the House for two reasons—in the first place, because I am afraid that I shall greatly exceed the limit permitted by those who think, and who think rightly, that speeches should never exceed 20 minutes in duration; and, secondly, because, although I have been in the House of Commons for a not altogether inconsiderable period, this is the first occasion on which I have ever taken part in a debate on Army matters, with the exception of a few unimportant remarks in the Committee of Supply last year. On Monday the House commenced a debate of unusual importance, and I think I am right in saying that since the great debates on Army Organization, which will be well within the recollection of the right hon. Gentleman opposite—the debates which took place in 1869, 1870, and 1871—we have had no such debates in the House of Commons so important as the one which the House is now engaged in carrying on. An important Motion has been brought before the House, and I think the House will act wisely if it endeavours to arrive at what I may call the real meaning of that Motion. Primâ facie the Motion, as appears from its wording, is a demand for a Royal Commission to inquire into the requirements for the protection of the Empire. That is a meaning to which I attach comparatively minor importance; the real meaning I hold to be that it is a concerted and combined action on the part of those who, without any impropriety, may be regarded as the direct and trusted Representatives of the two Services in this House in order to stop your leaving the Chair, Sir, for the purpose of the House going into Committee on the Army Estimates. The meaning of the Motion appears to me to be this. It is a great and loud cry raised by the Representatives of the Services—a cry of alarm at our present condition as regards offensive and defensive preparations; it is a great and loud cry of intense distress at the present condition of our military organization. There is one feature about this Parliament which is worthy of notice. I doubt whether in any former Parliament the Services have been so strongly represented as they are in the present House. I do not wish the House to be led away into any discussion as to whether that is a wise arrangement or not. By consulting a work which is in favour with hon. Gentlemen opposite, and which I have no reason to suppose is incorrect, I find that the Services are represented more or less directly in the House by no less than 178 Members; therefore the strength of the representation of the Services is most unusual, and probably has never been equalled or even approached in any previous Parliament, and may possibly never be equalled again. What happened on Monday night? Many speakers addressed the House, and of all the speakers who addressed the House, and who all, except one, belonged to the Services, and may be said to have represented the Services, every single Member who spoke was agreed with every other Member who represented the Services in assailing the position Her Majesty's Government had taken up with regard to this Motion. There can be no question among us, as practical and reasonable beings, that on all questions of technical administration and management the authority of the Representatives of the Services must stand high. What was the most remarkable and will continue to be the most remarkable feature was the absolute unanimity which characterized the declarations of hon. and gallant Gentlemen who represent the Services. Unanimity has not always characterized the Representatives of the Services. There have been great divisions with reference to the Army; one hon. Member would advocate a particular reform and was contradicted by another; and if you take the great debates on Army Organization which characterized the years I have before alluded to—I mean the debates on the introduction of Short Service and the abolition of Purchase—you find a sharp division of military opinion on the merits and demerits of those reforms. The bulk of Army opinion was against them, but there were many distinguished soldiers who sided with the Government of the day and advocated the reforms. the unanimity which you now have among the Representatives of the Services with regard to the merits of this particular Motion is almost unparalleled, and is, I think, worthy the attention of the House. The Motion before the House deals with absolute matters of fact—that is its peculiar feature. There is absolute unanimity among the Representatives of the Services as to the matters which they allege to be facts. In connection with this point, I should like to allude to the speech of the Financial Secretary on Monday night. Nothing is more easy to criticize for the purpose of taking debating advantage than the speeches made in this House by those whom I may call soldiers and sailors. They are men not of words, but of action; and we may take it that, with the brilliant exception of the hon. and gallant Member for Birkenhead (General Hamley), nothing is more easy than to take debating advantage of the speeches made by them in the House of Commons. The Financial Secretary would have done well if he had recollected that fact before administering the severe snubbing he did to the Representatives of the Army on Monday night. He should have remembered that hon. and gallant Gentlemen who addressed the House were speaking on matters with which they were directly and intimately acquainted, and that it was only by the exercise of politeness, charity, and a vigorous imagination that they could attribute to the hon. Gentleman himself a similar knowledge. With respect to the speeches of the Representatives of the Service, I would wish the House to draw, as I do, a very broad distinction between the statements of fact which hon. and gallant Gentlemen put before the House, and the remedies which they propose for the grievances which they allege to exist. They, one and all, by different arguments and by different allegations, asserted our position, from a military point of view, to be in a deplorable and unsatisfactory condition, and that notwithstanding the immense and increasing expenditure which the House has been called upon to defray in respect of the Army of this country. It would certainly appear, from some of the speeches made, that the only remedy proposed was that we should spend more money. I am not prepared to say that is their remedy; but if it is, I am at issue with them. My remedy, if their statements of fact are true, is—" Reform your system." If you reform your system, I am convinced that the money which is spent now will be amply sufficient, and more than amply sufficient, to maintain your Army in a fairly efficient and satisfactory condition. Let the House consider the nature of our system of military organization. There is one feature about it which is absolutely unparalleled in any other country in the world. No other country has a military system at all approaching ours, and that drives us to one of two conclusions. Either our system is so good that no other country can at all approach it, or it is so bad that no other country would adopt any part of it. The House can form an opinion for itself as to which is likely to be the case. The system is this—it is a most curious mixture of civil and military elements, the great feature of which is that the civil element predominates over the military, which is subordinate to the civil. The consequence is that the responsibility to Parliament is laid upon the civil element alone, and altogether taken away from the military element. There is no connection whatever between the military heads of the Army and the Parliament of this country. That, I believe, is a correct statement of our military system; and not only is there no approach to it in other countries, but our military system, compared with that of other countries, is very costly. Now, Sir, we are told by the Representatives of the Services in this House, speaking with responsibility and authority, that this system, which costs more than any other system, is useless, and worse than useless; it is a mischievous system, which gives no results in the shape of the military preparations which the country has a right to expect. That that is the result is not a matter of surprise. You have made arrangements by which military men, who from their youth have studied and mastered all the intricacies of military service, are placed in direct subordination to civilians, who have had no such training, and who, from the necessity of the case, are incapable of acquiring it. You apply to the Army a system which I venture to say you would not uphold and maintain in any other case. I will draw a homely analogy. Supposing the Prime Minister of this country were to select the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) to be the head of the Church of England, and were to appoint him Archbishop of Canterbury, or supposing he were to select the right hon. Member for Sleaford (Mr. Chaplin) to be head of the Legal Profession and make him Lord Chancellor, the result would be that the public mind would be shocked by such appointments. A man who made such appointments ought to be placed under legal restraint. But that which is supposed to be an insane action in ecclesiastical or in legal matters is regarded as a perfectly sane act in the management of military affairs. Not only are military training, military life, and military experience not required in the case of War Office appointments, but I believe I do not go too far when I say that military training, military life, and military experience are almost a disqualification for official appointments at the War Office. In what I am about to say I do not propose to throw any blame upon the present Secretary for War. When the present Secretary for War was appointed he endeavoured to put an end to the many curious anomalies which undoubtedly prevailed in his Department. The Secretary of State, in his Statement on the Army Estimates, has mentioned certain reforms which he has adopted for the purpose of relieving the civil authority of the control over the Army. The Secretary of State regarded that as a primary feature of re-organization. What strikes me, however, is that by this so-called reform certain offices have been abolished and others have been sot up in their places, and the heads of the abolished Departments have been placed in other positions. That is the character, as a rule, of War Office re-organizations. The Secretary for War has abolished the offices of Director and Assistant Director of Supplies and Transport, which were formerly respectively filled by Sir A. Haliburton and by Mr. Lawson at salaries of £1,200 and of £1,000 per annum. But although these gentlemen ceased to exist in their former characters, they nowre-appear—resurrected as it were—Sir A. Haliburton as Assistant Under Secretary for War, with a salary of £1,200 per annum, and Mr. Lawson as Assistant Deputy Accountant General, at a salary of £1,000 per annum? Will the House believe that there was already in existence an Assistant Under Secretary for War, at a salary of £1,500 per annum, in the person of Colonel Deedes, who has no duty to perform except to look after the messengers at the War Office, and who has now the aid of Sir A. Haliburton to assist him in the discharge of that laborious work? There were already in existence two Assistant Deputy Accountant Generals, one with £1,200 and the other £1,000 a-year; but they apparently are not sufficient to discharge the duties of their office, and Mr. Lawson has been appointed to assist them with a salary of £1,000 per annum. That is not all. In the place of the Surveyor General of the Ordnance Department two now offices have been created. There has been created a Director of Ordnance Factories, and the gentleman who holds that office is General Maitland, who was formerly one of the Superintendents of the Gun Factories at a salary of £950. His salary is now doubled, and he receives £1,800 a-year, and what is more remarkable, although I have nothing personal to say against the gallant officer, is that he was singled out by the Commission, presided over by Sir James Stephen, as being mainly, if not entirely, responsible for the manufacture of the ill-fated 43-ton guns. The Secretary for War, in the course of his Statement, used the following language:— Among the advantages which I anticipate from this alteration, I place first the fact that the Military Authorities will now be enabled to take a comprehensive view of the whole condition of the military resources of the country, of our requirements, and of the means available for meeting them. All the threads are in their own hands. Any scheme put forward by them should be founded upon full knowledge of all surrounding conditions, and the Secretary of State will be enabled to rely upon them for advice as to the comparative importance of all proposals for Army expenditure. In view of that statement, what I wish to ask is whether the Commander-in-Chief and his great Military Advisers were parties to that paragraph in his published statement? Are they aware of the increased responsibility which has been thrown upon them, and are they willing to accept that increased responsibility? Do they admit that they have greater power than formerly? If not, and if the statement is a mere expression of the opinion of the Secretary for War, with all due respect to him, it is not worth the paper it is printed upon. The Secretary for War says that all the management of the Army is in the hands of the Military Authorities. That is quite contrary to the facts. The most important matters connected with Army administration, such as those relating to contracts for clothing and manfacturing ordnance, are absolutely removed from the knowledge of the Commander-in-Chief; and, that being so, I fail to see how all the great Army administration is in the hands of the Military Authorities. Now I come to a much more important question—that relating to the Estimates. Under the Order in Council which created the present Office of Commander-in-Chief, the duties of that officer were greatly enlarged, and the Commander-in-Chief was charged with the duty of preparing these Estimates. If the House turns to the duty of the Financial Secretary to the War Office, they will find that he is charged with the duty of compiling the Estimates. Will the Secretary of State draw a distinction between preparing and compiling the Estimates? Does compiling really mean adding up the Commander-in-Chief s figures to see whether he has made any mistake in his arithmetic, or does it mean going over the Estimates, reducing some amounts fixed by the Commander-in-Chief and increasing others? That is a most important point. If you have not given any financial control to the Military Authorities you have not increased their responsibility nor their control over the Army. The control over the Army depends upon financial control; and if the Commander-in-Chief has nothing to do with the preparation of the Estimates matters are left exactly where they were before. That argument is incapable of being contradicted, but in spite of this the Secretary of State says that now, for the first time, he has been able to rely on the Military Authorities. That is a most extraordinary statement. I altogether deny its accuracy, and I assert, if former Secretaries of State have not been able to rely on their Military Advisers, nothing which takes place in the War Office will enable the Secretary of State to rely upon them now. I would like with regard to our present position, and with regard to this question of military responsibility and military control, to read to the House some extracts from the evidence given before the Royal Commission by a witness of the highest authority. Lord Wolseley, in his evidence last year as to the civil establishments, used these most remarkable expressions, which are well worthy of the serious consideration of the House of Commons. In reply to Question 2,473, Lord Wolseley said— The tendency of all our military administration, so far as I have been able to judge of it, has been to make military men extravagant, has been to make them spending animals instead of economical animals. You have divided the great administration of the Army into the military and into the civil, and you have strictly reserved to the civil branches everything connected with finance and everything bearing upon economy. The result is, as might be expected from such a system, that the Military Commander and his Staff consider that they have absolutely no responsibility about money, and in all the demands and requests they make for stores or for money they do not think of economy, having been taught that the economical side of the question is entirely to be dealt with by the financial people in the War Office. Whereas, according to my notions, if you threw upon officers commanding districts and all the stations throughout the world a certain amount of financial responsibility, you would make them very anxious to economize for the Public Service; their reputation would then be at stake, and they would hesitate before they made any extravagant demands. In reply to Question 2,528, Lord Wolseley said— My experience is that when soldiers are trusted, as I have soon them, as Governors and in that sort of position abroad they are more particular about public money and more economical than anyone else. In reply to Question 2,529, Lord Wolseley said— Now if the officer is economical he gets no credit for it. He is looked upon as a fool. That is one of the results of your curious military system. Now, Sir, these are Lord Wolseley's statements before a Royal Commission. But he gave further evidence as to the effect of placing a civilian in a responsible position over military men. In reply to Question 2,250, Lord Wolseley said— I think it a very ridiculous thing to bring a gentleman into the War Office and make him responsible for supplying the Army with the most important implements they have to make use of, their arms, great guns, &c, who may be absolutely ignorant of everything connected with war, or the requirements of war, or the stores made use of in war. In reply to Question 2,460, he said— I think that the amount of effective work, as far as the Army is concerned, that a Parliamentary gentleman coming into the War Office can do is very small. I do not think the public have any very great return for the salary he receives. He brings no special knowledge to bear upon any of the very difficult subjects he is asked to deal with. He is the fifth wheel of the coach. The only thing I know he really can do is to answer Questions in the House. If he interferes with people he has to deal with he interferes with the efficiency of the Army, and if he does not interfere with them, what good is he, and for what purpose is he there? Lord Wolseley thought that Parliamentary Gentlemen could answer Questions in the House of Commons; could the Secretary of State answer the last question put by Lord Wolseley? It is only fair to say that the statement was made about the Surveyor General. Lord Wolseley, who had been through many campaigns and who was a G.C.B., being subordinate to the Secretary of State and dependent on the Secretary of State for his existence, could not apply that language to his official superior; but I am putting no extravagant construction on Lord Wolseley's words if I were to say—Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur. I trust these extracts I am reading will not weary the House, but the opinions of Lord Wolseley are extremely important. Lord Wolseley contrasts our system with the German system, and that is a very important matter. Lord Wolseley, in answer to Question 2,338, said:— Germany is divided into 19 Army Corps, and each Army Corps is as independent almost as England is of Ireland. It has its own establishment, its own headquarters, and its own storage accommodation. It has its own transport and everything complete, and there is allotted to it, to the General Officer commanding, so much money on an estimate, and he manipulates the whole tiling, and is responsible to whoever is the financial man at the financial headquarters. Thus we see that the German system is in direct opposition to our own. For the moment I leave the matter there, in order to relate an interesting experience of my own. When I passed through Berlin the other day, I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of a captain of one of the regiments of Hussars. He was good enough to offer to show me all of what I may call the domestic economy of his regiment. I may mention that this officer was a man of high station, the heir to a great fortune. That officer went to his regiment every morning at 6 o'clock, remaining with it until 12, when he left. He returned to his regiment at 1 o'clock, and never left it until 5 or 6 o'clock in the evening. That is the way in which the Prussian Army works. The reason of the greater efficiency of that Army is because of the responsibility which the German system puts on the officer, as I shall show the House. The German officer has not only military control, but also financial control; and the manner in which an officer manages his regiment and the finances of his regiment is the measure of his promotion. Well, what did this officer show me? He showed me the whole of the squadron of about 150 men in all its working. That squadron was complete in every single particular. The whole of the money for the maintenance of the regiment was allotted to the colonel of the regiment, who, with the five captains of the five squadrons, dealt with that money entirely as they thought fit. They made their own contracts, bought their own supplies, purchased all their articles, except horses and actual stores and guns. He showed me the storehouse of the squadron. There were in it duplicates, triplicates, and all the stages beyond triplicates of every single article of equipment or accoutrement which a Cavalry regiment could possibly want. There were three or four suits of clothes, three or four sets of pouches and helmets; in fact, they had every sort of thing in their storehouse in duplicate and in triplicate. Will the House believe that the great rivalry between regiments in Germany is not to spend, but to economize money, so that their stores may be better and greater in extent than the squadron of any other regiment? That is the result of putting financial power in the bands of a soldier; and it is a fact that every Prussian regiment going to war is turned out with every article brand new from beginning to end. That regiment of which. I am speaking could have gone at 12 hours' notice, and not one single letter of any sort or kind need have passed between them and the War Office. I venture to state that not one single regiment could be moved in this country without reams and files and folios of correspondence, extending over a period of several days, and that is your system and your military efficiency. I have given to the House an instance of a Prussian regiment, and from one instance you may learn all They are all alike. I give the House now an instance of an English regiment which also came under my personal notice last year. An officer commanding one of our crack Cavalry regiments required for his regiment new ammunition pouches. He applied for them, and after a time he got them. When he got them, however, he found that the straps across the shoulders were so weak that when the pouches were full of ammunition the straps broke, and the ammunition tumbled out. This defect was brought to the notice of the War Office, but at first they did not believe it. There was a long correspondence, but at last the War Office replied and admitted that they were bad, and new pouches were sent. When they arrived, it was found that they would not hold the regulation quantity of cartridges. Again the colonel commanding brought the matter to the notice of the War Office, who were most indignant and perfectly incredulous. A prolonged correspondence ensued with the War Office, but at last a solemn inspection was made of those pouches, and the statement was found to be correct. The colonel told me only the other day that, after a correspondence extending over more than a year, he had at last succeeded in getting a crack Cavalry regiment proper ammunition pouches. From that you may get a most perfect picture of the beauties of the German and English systems. That is an instance which may not be contradicted. But the absurdities of the War Office are worthy of a moment's notice. Lord Wolseley, in his evidence, stated to the Royal Commission that a man in Canada who had claimed on the War Office for 2s. 6d. had to sign his name 19 different times for it. In the Report by the Committee which audits the accounts of the Woolwich factory there is a passage as to the query sheet. On the question of payments made, it had to be signed or initialled by no fewer than eight persons, and after one year's labour of those eight persons in reference to this particular question the result was a total disallowance of 2s. 4d. Then, in another passage, Lord Wolseley speaks of the many signatures required, and says that "much labour is bestowed on most trifling amounts." But what does Lord Wolseley say with regard to his own work? Here is what the Adjutant General of the Army says— Taking my own work, there is such an immense amount of small work that, instead of having time for serious and big subjects, one's time is taken up in reading stupid little papers upon stupid little subjects. There is an immense amount of routine which ought to be avoided. [" Hear, hear ! "] If the Secretary of State for War is kind enough to cheer me when I read that statement, I should have thought it would have been better to deal with matters such as this, rather than with matters which mean mainly the creation of new appointments. Well, that is how Lord Wolseley describes the working of the system, and now I should like to tell the House what are the results of the system. Lord Wolseley says— I think we move our troops a great deal too much, and that an immense amount of money is spent uselessly upon the movement of troops continually all over the world. Then I will quote Lord Wolseley about the supplies of the Army. He says, in answer to Question 2,267— During my time in the Army we have not been supplied with as good material as we ought to have been supplied with. I think, for instance, the tools supplied to the Army are very bad, extremely bad, taking them generally. The picks, shovels, axes, and all those descriptions of stores are very bad. This, mind you, is the evidence of the Adjutant General of the Army. With regard to the clothing of our troops, Lord Wolseley says— I have seen the French Army, the soldiers of the German, and the soldiers of the Italian Army, and, looking at the clothing, I should say that their clothing is made of a decidedly superior quality to what ours is. I hope that the House will bear that in mind. If the German Army were to be clothed at the same rate of expense as our Army, that would add £300,000 to their expenditure. Then, again, Lord Wolseley says, in answer to question 2,510— I am quite sure that if you sent to-morrow for a implement called a billhook, the common billhook that is used in the Army, you will find that it is made of very inferior stuff, little better than hoop-iron. If you chop wood with it, the wood chops it. That is the statement of a man who is speaking of his own experience, and it is a statement which was only made last year. But there is one more statement made by Lord Wolseley which is even more important. In answer to Question 2,443 he says— I think that one of the most important elements in regimental efficiency is regimental transport, and one of the greatest misfortunes which our Army suffers from at the present moment is that we have not got even the nucleus of any regimental transport. Of all the troubles we suffer from when we take the field the want of any regimental transport is the greatest. Now I have given to the House some of the results of our curious system, which the Government do not seem to wish inquired into. But there are other results which have met with a great chorus of military condemnation. Some right hon. Gentlemen will recollect the Crimean War. What was the great feature of that war? The great feature was that while the British soldier was covered with glory, the civil administration was covered with the deepest disgrace. But take the series of scandals in the last few years. Besides the scandals connected with the swords and bayonets of the Army and the cutlasses of the Navy, and that connected with the 43-ton gun, there appears to me to be a very unpleasant business at the present moment about what is known as the 9.2-inch gun. We have not quite arrived at the truth about it, but the Secretary of State for War assured the House that a gun with a cracked lining is a better one than a gun with a lining which is not cracked. These are matters on which we hare not yet full information, but look at the Commissariat scandal in Egypt—that terrible and unequalled scandal in connection with the column in the desert. It is not that I want to irritate the authorities by placing upon them the responsibility for these matters; I place the responsibility on the system. The system which has produced these results is the same which has obtained up to the present time, and not in the slightest, in the most trifling particular, has that system been altered; it is as powerful for evil now as it was then. We are told that there is Parliamentary control, but what has Parliament ever done to bring any single person to justice for these scandals? Why, my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) is going to bring before the House a Motion concerning the supply of leather. What will happen? He will make a strong and convincing speech, and he will receive a official reply, which will be to shield everybody, and my hon. Friend will find himself in a small minority. We have seen over and over again what is the use of Parliamentary control. We have been told that with regard to the number of field guns we cannot do what Switzerland, Belgium, Servia, or Roumania could do with ease. But a very serious statement was made by the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord Charles Beresford), which, I think, was a "calculated indiscretion," but which was of enormous value to the House. The noble Lord states—and it rests with the Secretary f or War to admit or deny it, and not only that, but to prove his denial—that we had no gunpowder in store, and were obliged to depend for our gunpowder upon manufactories in a foreign country. I do not know whether the noble Lord referred to cocoa powder used for our heavy guns, but he has stated that there was not sufficient in store.


I said that there was not a sufficient amount in store to meet what would be requisite if we went to war.


At all events, we have a statement of such importance as that made by the noble Lord, who was in Office only a very short time ago, and who must be in a position to know. Certainly the House of Commons has never refused to Vote money for the purpose. Now, may I ask the House to judge the system from an Army point of view—that is to say, compare its cost with that of the German system? Such a comparison is very interesting and full of lessons for us. We have the evidence of one of the most distinguished officers in the British Army—namely, General Brackenbury, the head of the Intelligence Department. We examined him as to the cost of the German system. I think it will be admitted that the German system is nearly an ideal system, and that the more nearly we approach to it, the more likely is our system to be a satisfactory one. General Brackenbury stated one thing which is most remarkable. He gave the cost of the German War Office and of our own. Our War Office costs exactly £400,000-a year; it contains 693 officials, and manages an Army which, on a war footing, may be considered as amounting to 500,000 men. The German War Office costs £160,000; it includes the War Ministry of Bavaria, of Saxony, and of Wurtemberg; and there are only 503 officials. The German War Office, with this small proportion of expenditure, manages to control an Army which, on a war footing, amounts to upwards of 3,000,000 men. Those are broad facts, however they may be explained away by official ingenuity. Now let us look at the cost in the two cases. The expenses of the German Army system last year were £21,000,000, or, deducting the Non-Effective Vote, £19,300,000, as compared with £14,600,000, the expenses of the British system, after deducting its Non-Effective Vote. I asked General Brackenbury whether he did not consider that the best test of any organization was the number of Army Corps which could be put into the field after making the various necessary allowances, and General Brackenbury agreed that it was. Well, for an effective cost of £19,300,000 Germany can put into the field 19 Army Corps; we are supposed to be able to put into the field two Army Corps for the sum of £14,600,000, making the cost of each Army Corps £7,000,000, as against £1,000,000 in the case of Germany. General Brackenbury said that that was a most unfair comparison; that it must be recollected we have a Volunteer Army; that it is much better paid, fed, and clothed than the German Army; and that if the German Army were paid, fed, and clothed in the same way their expenditure would be much higher. I was not afraid to follow the General on that ground, and I asked him to add on what that expenditure would be if the German Army were paid, fed, and clothed as well as the British Army. I found that to the £19,300,000 should be added £6,650,000 in respect of pay, £1,300,000 for better food, for clothing £300,000, and for the item of forage £373,000, making a total altogether, if the pay, bed, clothing, and forage of the German Army were in the same style as ours, of £27,900,000. I add on something more. The German war authorities, no doubt, possess a fund over which Parliament has no control in the indemnity which was paid by Franco in the last war. Out of this Military Chest they have constructed enormous fortifications, and added largely to their supply of military stores. Still, it would probably be extravagant to say that they take out of the Military Chest more than £2,000,000. Therefore, by adding on to the £27,900,000 the sum of £2,000,000 as contribution from the Military Chest we get a total of £30,000,000. So that for £30,000,000, even supposing their Army were kept up on the more extravagant style of the British Army, the Germans can send into the field 19 Army Corps, as against £14,600,000 for our two Army Corps, making the cost of each German Army Corps about £1,500,000, as against an English cost per corps of £7,000,000. I think those are startling figures, which must attract the attention of the House and the public. You may say what you like, but there must be something wrong with a system which shows results so miserably inadequate as compared with those of other military systems. I cannot pass away from this subject without reminding the House that Germany has, moreover, 17 first-class fortresses, military camps they might be called, in such condition that they are ready at the shortest notice for any emergency; and that she maintains her Army in the moss perfect equipment, ready to cross the frontier at a fortnight's notice. As for our fortresses, what have we? We have only four first-class fortresses—Portsmouth, Plymouth, Gibraltar, and Malta—and we are told in the Memorandum of the Secretary of State that every one of those fortresses, to make them reasonably safe, requires an enormous amount of money to be spent upon it. And what says the Secretary of State about his two Army Corps? The Secretary of State says— For the 1st Army Corps, the Cavalry division, and the troops for the line of communication, the whole of the necessary outfit, including clothing, arms, accoutrements, equipments, tents, stores, supplies, and vehicles, might have been said to be practically complete "— not are complete— except that every month produces new demands and alterations, and some of the transport matériel is not of the newest pattern. Does the Secretary of State really mean to bring forward that miserable excuse that constant changes in accoutrements and equipment have prevented him from completing the equipment of the 1st Army Corps? Those things do not change, at all events in such short periods of time, but that your 1st Army Corps at least ought to be completely equipped. The next paragraph is still more important— For the remaining troops it is partly in existence, and could probably be completed without serious delay. Partly ! Probably ! And yet the Secretary of State is anxious to conceal our weakness ! If the House of Commons thinks that a satisfactory statement to make to the House of Commons in respect of the results of our military system, and if after that it can lightly vote supplies to a system which produces such small and inadequate results, the House of Commons takes a very remarkable view of the situation. I cannot pass from this paragraph without alluding to the Cavalry division of the 1st Army Corps. Will the House believe it that, after providing for the wants of the 1st Army Corps, there would not be left in the country for military purposes, 2,000 Cavalry horses? Will the Secretary of State stand up and say that the Commander-in-Chief and the military heads are responsible for this state of things? That is what I want to know. I wish to apologize to the House for detaining it at this length; but the matter is so important that I venture to make even further demands upon the patience of hon. Members. I wish to allude to the ques- tion of the rifle of the British Army. Now, it is a most remarkable thing that there are three distinct operations going on in the Government factories with regard to the rifle of the Army. In the first place there is a new rifle which is going to be manufactured in certain quantities this year and in larger quantities next year. There is then going on the conversion of the Enfield-Martini rifle, and a most melancholy story that unfolds. Two years ago we spent nearly £300,000 on manufacturing what was considered to be an excellent rifle for the Army, the Enfield-Martini. Although a magazine rifle was then before the War Office, the War Office decided that they would not manufacture a magazine rifle but the Enfield-Martini, and they spent the sum I have mentioned in doing so. Now the War Office have decided that they will have a magazine rifle, and thus the money spent on the Enfield-Martini has been absolutely thrown away. And what are they going to do now? They are converting the Enfield-Martini, which had a smaller bore, into the Martini-Henry, which had a larger bore. That is the second operation, and the third operation is that they are continuing to manufacture the Martini-Henry, although it is likely to be superseded very soon by the magazine rifle. The result of all this is, that supposing, for the sake of illustration, this country was invaded in 1890, there would certainly be two rifles, and probably three rifles, in the hands of the British troops defending this country, with certainly two, and probably three, different sorts of ammunition. What nonsense, then, to talk of concealing our weakness from foreign nations. I think the House will agree that this is a sickening and heart-breaking story. Now, is it not the case that the time has come for rigid and vigorous inquiry and for radical reform? A Royal Commission is asked for, and the Government do not see their way to assenting to the Motion, at any rate in the form in which it stands on the Paper. From the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury on Monday night they do not appear to have made up their minds on the subject.

THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

I beg my noble Friend's pardon. I distinctly said the Govern- ment were prepared to grant an inquiry into the system of organization and into the administration of the Army.


I can assure my right hon. Friend that though I listened to his speech with great attention, I caught nothing of that kind, and if he will turn to the report in The Times I do not think he will find those particular words. But at any rate the matter comes to this, the Government refuse the Motion of my hon. and gallant Friend for a Royal Commission to inquire into the requirements for the protection of the Empire. Now, a Select Committee would be absolutely useless, and a Royal Commission of the ordinary kind would be worse than useless—because it would be composed probably of a great number of men who would meet three or four times a month during the Session and adjourn over the Recess, and it would be highly improbable that such a Royal Commission could possibly give a Report before next year; probably not before three years would they be able to examine the mass of evidence that would fill a volume or two of the Blue Books. In the meantime our splendid system would go on in all its glory. There are two essential points about a Royal Commission which must be recognized. It must be a Commission of high authority, and it must be a Commission which will work with the utmost expedition. I do not think that anybody can suppose that the need for an inquiry has not arrived. If that is conceded, I will tell the House that what we want is a Military Commission, whose function it will be to tell they people what they do not know—what is the real opinion of the military heads upon our existing military state. That has always been kept from the people. We have asked, why should we know—what is the necessity for knowing these things? They are known to the military experts and the Government know them. I know the Government know it, but it has been kept from the public. What these high military authorities ought to do is to discover what they know, tell us what we want, and they ought to discover and inquire into the cost of putting things in order and maintaining things in an efficient state. It might deliberate and report to the Government in less than six weeks Without doubt such a Commission might give to the Government and the country and Parliament the military opinion on these points. Can there be any doubt that we should be infinitely better off than we are now? I will now read the last extract with which I will trouble the House; it is from the evidence of Lord Wolseley, who said— The greatest misfortune that occurs to me upon this subject arises from the fact that our military requirements have never been inquired into—have never been tabulated and laid down. There is no fixed point up to which we work, whether it is the Commander-in-Chief or any official connected with the Army; we have had nothing decided by the country as to what the country wants, or as to what our military policy, its aims and requirements are. Q. 2,642.—Then you do not know what you want? A.—We do not know what we want. We do not know what we are working up to. …. There has never been any authoritative inquiry instituted as to what are the military requirements of the Empire. He recommended a Royal Commission to examine experts on the various topics connected with the subject. If this House by its vote puts aside all the opinion of Members of the House; if it puts aside the opinion of the Adjutant General, if it consents to an inquiry which is meant, not to enlighten, but to blind the country, this House does not represent the opinions of the country. There are other matters to which I wish to refer, but I shall not go into them now. I shall confine my remarks to the importance of the subject; but perhaps I have said enough to let the House understand the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1886. Year by year, as a private Member, I have seen the expenditure growing, and year by year I have seen the result. Year by year I have seen the distress and disquietude, not only in the minds of the Army, but the public, growing deeper and stronger. I hoped that by putting that pressure on the spending departments, by cutting off the supplies—I hoped that I might force them and compel the heads of these departments to look into their own affairs and make the necessary reforms; but they would not. What, therefore, was my position? I knew that in the Session that was then coming, I should be called upon to defend an expenditure which I knew was lavish and wasteful. I knew I should be called upon to sustain and maintain a system and an establishment which was rotten and bad, and I concluded that my miserable capacities were not equal to the task, and that I must leave such a performance to some one more qualified. The attitude the Government have taken up is one of resistance, but what are we called upon to do f To vote confidence in the existing system. I cannot do that, because I know it is hopeless and bad.

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

I think in the closing sentence of the noble Lord's speech, will be found perhaps the best reason for the Address he has made. The House will probably agree with my noble Friend that he was bound to justify the resignation which took place 12 months ago at perhaps the most critical period that has ever been arrived at in the history of this country. For motives which were, no doubt, entirely satisfactory to himself, my noble Friend thought it necessary to place his resignation in the hands of the Prime Minister at that time, and, therefore, I am not surprised when the Estimates are again before us my noble Friend again feels it necessary to justify in some manner the step he has taken. I have two preliminary observations to make on his speech. When this debate commenced on Monday last I listened with great attention to the speeches made by the Naval and Military Members of the House, all advocating from their different points of view, but in the kindest manner to myself personally, an enormous increase of the public expenditure of the country. And it would really appear, as I listened, that the Secretary of State, instead of being the reckless spendthrift my noble Friend described him to be, was the most economical guardian of the public purse. After that I had hoped we should have heard from my noble Friend, who has always been putting forward his desire of strengthening the Government in the direction of economy, a speech offering some substantial assistance towards effecting economies which he, at all events, desires to see effected. Well, now, there is another point on which I expected to hear my noble Friend say something more. He has got a plan. I do not allude to the suggestion which he made at the time of his resignation last year that the necessary economy should be effected by abandoning or modifying the policy of defending our ports and coaling stations, because I understand that he has row abandoned that plan.


said, he would still decline, under the present system, to spend money on the coaling stations.


My noble Friend adheres to that suggestion. But he has another plan. He told us that in his speech at Wolverhampton, and it seems hardly patriotic to continue for a year to hide it in his sleeve, especially as that plan was one which, we were told by my noble Friend, would put right the defences of the country substantially in the course of a year or 18 months, and, at the same time, this could be effected with a reduction of about £4,000,000 a-year. I regret that my noble Friend thinks it necessary that he should still keep this explanation back from Parliament and the country. All that my noble Friend advocates now is an inquiry by Royal Commission with the real object of substituting a Military head for the civil control as it at present exists at the War Office. I come now to deal more closely with the speech of the noble Lord. He attacks the Department for its inefficiency and its extravagance. My first observation is that if it be an extravagant system, it is a system of very old standing indeed, and if you make a comparison, as my noble Friend has on many occasions attempted to do, between the expenditure of the most economical times in recent years, say, 1874–5, shortly after Lord Cardwell's reforms, and the present time, you will find that, although there has been a considerable increase of expenditure, the causes of that increase are thoroughly capable of being explained to the country and the House. I have taken 1874–5, because it is, par excellence, the economical year. The reforms of Lord Card well, who had endeavoured to cut down the cost of military administration, were beginning to have their full effect, and the result was a considerable reduction over the expenditure of a few years before. Comparing the Army Estimates of 1874–5 and the present time, I find that the increase has been £3,500,000. Let me analyze that for a moment. In the first place, 20,000 men have been added to the Army. The cost of adding these 20,000 men, together with the additional expenditure caused by the institution of deferred pay, which means additional pay to the soldier, accounts for about £1,000,000. The extra cost of the Auxiliary Forces, which have so greatly added to the strength of the country, is about £750,000. The Non-Effective Services largely caused by the abolition of purchase and the cost of increased pensions under several Administrations, account for £1,000,000. There is also a sum of about £300,000 in the present Estimate for ammunition and other armaments required for the Military ports, and thus there remains only £400,000, which is required for our field artillery, small arms, and other defences which have been necessitated by the great advances in scientific knowledge. But I want to go a little further into my noble Friend's arguments. He has dwelt in particular upon the enormously greater cost of the English as compared with the German Army, and the small result we get in England as compared with Germany. I think I shall be able to show the House one or two reasons why any such comparison is practically valueless. Germany has practically emancipated herself from what was described by a distinguished military critic as the toils and trammels of annual Estimates. All Germany's armaments and equipments have not been paid for out of annual Estimates, but from large sums which Germany has received from other sources. I have taken the trouble to work out the course of England and Germany during the last 16 years. So far as I can make out Germany has spent the whole of the French Indemnity and a further sum, in all I believe £212,000,000, upon her fortresses and the arming and equipment of her troops.


Where do you get those figures from?


I get them from the best possible source I can, but my noble Friend must be aware it is impossible to get them with complete accuracy. They are not official figures, but they are at least as accurate as those of my noble Friend.


My figures were given to the Committee by General Brackenbury, who had taken them from the German Army Estimates. Where did yours come from?


From General Brackenbury. My figures are these—the German Government spent during that period £91,000,000 on forts and fortresses; £75,000,000 were spent upon arms and armaments of various descriptions, and now they are asking for a further grant of £14,000,000 to add to the armament of the troops. You thus find that outside the annual Estimates Germany has during the last 16 years spent £14,000,000 a-year. What has England done during the same time? There have been various Votes of Credit in that period, amounting to £28,000,000, or £1,750,000 a-year. My noble Friend will not contend for a moment that money so voted all goes to the equipment of the Army. A large portion is spent on foreign expeditions to Egypt, South Africa, or other parts of the world, and only a small portion is used for arms or equipments. These Votes of Credit, as I say, amount to £28,000,000. Germany has spent £212,000,000, and France has doubled her National Debt. And now as regards the annual expenditure, General Bracken-bury has pointed out that in order to make a fair comparison, you must add to the German Estimate the amount which would be required if the German Army were on the same system as our own, and the rations, clothing, and other items cost what they cost in England. You must add, in fact, £9,000,000 to the cost of the German Army, and you will arrive at this result. Germany spends £28,000,000 a-year, for which she gets a regular army of 470,000 men, besides the enormous Reserves which she can call up by mobilization. England, deducting the cost of the Auxiliary Forces and the cost of troops in the Colonies, gets for £8,000,000 at the outside 115,000 men in this country, besides she has also got in addition those very expensive depôts which have to be kept up to feed the Army in India and the Colonies. In support of what I say I will only quote one single answer given by General Brackenbury. In that sentence General Brackenbury expresses his opinion that, taking into account the difference between a Conscript and a Volunteer Army, the cost of living for our Army and the greater amount of salaries, diffierences amounting in some items to 50 or 100 per cent, if we could put two Army Corps into the field, we get fairly good value for our money. I give one further illustration, if the House will allow me, of the argument winch I am now using. When my noble Friend speaks of the military strength of Germany, and of her being able to put 19 Army Corps into the field as against our two, why does he not include our Reserves?


I do.


We have an enormous reserve power in this country. We hare the Militia and Volunteers, of which my noble Friend is not disposed to take any account. The result of our expenditure is, shortly, this—that, in addition to the Army which we can put into the field in this country, or for the purpose of a foreign expedition, we have one whole Army Corps throughout the Colonies; we have available for garrisons and allotted to garrisons, composed of Militia and Volunteers, 124,000 men, or at least three Army Corps; and, lastly, we have an available force in this country of 152,000 men more, or four Army Corps, which could be utilized for the defence of the country in time of invasion. I have given this summary in order to show that it is not fair in making comparisons between England and Germany to take into account all that Germany can get together by conscription, and not to make allowance for what we in England can get by that public spirit which exists so largely in our population, and which supplies us with Volunteers who will be of the greatest possible value in time of need. Now I come to the charge of extravagance. My noble Friend alleges that in the reorganization which it has been my duty to introduce into the War Office, the only result has been to abolish some offices and substitute others. If that were true, I should still claim some credit for it. I do not believe that there has over been a great reorganization at the War Office which has been effected at so little cost. My noble Friend says we have abolished a Director of Supply and Transport, and made Sir Arthur Haliburton an Assistant Secretary for War. Everybody who is acquainted with the War Office will acknowledge his great services to the War Office. Instead of allowing him to retire, as he was entitled to do, we asked him to undertake the difficult duty of assisting in the transfer of the Commissariat and Transport Departments from the civil to the military side. He can render most effi- cient assistance to the Quartermaster General, and I therefore entreated him to remain at least one year to give us the benefit of his experience in carrying these reforms into operation. My noble Friend also calls attention to the fact that we are adding to the financial department, and that although we have abolished the Assistant Director of Transport, have added an Assistant Accountant General. It must be remembered that the control of the financial department had now been extended for the first time to the expenditure of £8,000,000 of the public money, hitherto without such control, and that this has been done practically without any increase of cost. As to the other criticisms which my noble Friend made respecting Army reform, he will admit that in the Committee over which he presided last year we had a good deal of evidence affecting the department of the Director of Artillery and Stores. I would remind the noble Lord that General Alderson told that Committee what he had told the Committee on the Manufacturing Department, that it was utterly, entirely impossible for any Director of Artillery, however industrious and able, to carry out the whole work devolving on him. He explained to my noble Friend that it was utterly impossible for the Director of Artillery, sitting in London, to exercise adequate or complete control over the manufacturing departments. And accordingly, in the reforms which I have made, I have adopted the proposals made by Lord Morley's Committee, and have cut in two, as it were, the office of Director of Artillery, and have put over the manufacturing departments one single head, and limited the Director of Artillery, under military control, to ordering all weapons for the use of the Army, and to inspecting them before they are passed into service. I do not conceive there is any man in the House who will rise up and say that it is not desirable there should be a competent man at the head of those manufacturing departments. To fill that office I have appointed General Maitland—one of the most popular men in the Army, and a man who will command the universal confidence, not only of his own profession, but of all who understand gunmaking. Lord Morley's Committee had proposed that the departments under General Maitland should be ad- ministered not by a military man, but by a civilian; but I have not acceeded to the proposal, for this reason—that I think the best man ought to be appointed, whether he is a military man or not. The spirit in which that proposal has been earned out will best be seen when I tell the House that while at the head of the manufacturing departments I have appointed General Maitland. I have put a Royal Engineer at the head of the carriage department, and for the head of the Enfield Rifle Factory I have appointed the best gun maker I could find. With respect to the gun factory, after every inquiry which it was possible to make, I have come to the conclusion that it was not an artillery but a Naval officer who would be best man at the head of it, and I have accordingly appointed Captain Young husband. Whatever prejudices may have existed on previous occasions, I trust the House will think that, acting with the advice of General Maitland, himself an artillery officer, I have chosen the best men for the various positions. I pass to another point. We have taken away the control of the stores from the manufacturing departments. They cannot now inspect the stores. That, inspection has been a very great difficulty. We have now handed over to the Military authorities complete control in the matter. I hope and believe that the system which has now been introduced will lead not only to greatly increased efficiency in the inspection, but will prevent the recurrence of such great scandals as have happened in recent years, and that the issue of defective weapons will be put an end to. We have thought it right that all manufacturing departments should be entirely placed under Civil control. Manufacture is one thing, but ordering and inspecting is another, and that has in all cases been placed under Military control. Though the clothing department is undoubtedly a Civil department, there, again the Military authorities order the supplies of clothing. A representative of the Quartermaster General seals the patterns and the clothing is inspected by a Board of officers. To make the inspection as effective as possible various reports on the clothing are made out. It is very easy to say, as is sometimes dune, that the clothing supply is bad. [Mr. ARTHUR O'CONNOR: Lord Wolseley said so.] I will give the House an instance which occurred only recently. Some woollen clothing was supplied to particular regiments, and the officers complained of it. At the same time they sent up a sample, which they said was much cheaper. It appeared to be a much better article to all appearance; but when ordinary tests were applied it was found that while the clothing supplied to the Army was made of pure wool, the article sent as a sample as being so much superior was almost if not entirely cotton. Now I come to the question of contracts. No doubt the Director of Contracts remains under civilian control. I think it is highly important that the Director of Contracts should be in the closest possible communication with whatever official is responsible for the financial administration of the Army to Parliament, and the Amendment I have introduced will have the advantage that, instead of the Director being under the control of the Surveyor of Ordnance, he will in future be placed entirely under the Financial Secretary, who will be responsible to the House. The post of Director of Contracts is a most difficult and responsible one; but in order to keep touch with the various Departments, the Head of each will be asked to give an opinion with regard to tenders, before those tenders are accepted by the Director of Contracts. My noble Friend asks as to the financial responsibility of the Military Authorities. I wish that financial responsibility to be as complete as it can be, subject to the legitimate control which must be exercised by the heads of the Department in Parliament. My noble Friend has given two or three very amusing cases as instances of the result of the system on which the business affairs of the Army are now managed. He said that there was an enormous correspondence with reference to a deficiency of 2d. I happen to know about that case. It was started by a Military officer, and after passing through I do not know how many hands, it was observed by a civilian—the Assistant Director of Clothing—that, instead of its having been allowed to give rise to a voluminous correspondence, the difficulty might have been easily settled by means of a needle and thread. I agree with the noble Lord as to the necessity of more decentralization, and I shall be quite prepared to con- sider any proposal with that object which may be put forward by the Military Authorities. As to the trumpery details which the Military Authorities have been called upon to deal with, it will be their fault if they do not devise some system under which those trumpery details can be got rid of. The Civil Authorities have been guided by the Military on the question of moving regiments from one place to another. Although a good deal of criticism might be passed upon these constant transfers, in justice to the Military Authorities it ought to be said that they desire to render the Service as popular as possible by not keeping any particular regiment too long at a station which was not considered agreeable. Turning to another point, I must refer to the suggestion of the noble Lord that greater financial powers should be conferred upon the Military Authorities so as almost to put an end to the necessity for the continuance of the office of Secretary for War. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL dissented.] As the noble Lord does not admit that that is his moaning, I will not trouble the House further upon the point. I will now pass on to the proposal that a Royal Commission should issue to inquire into the state of the War Office. The War Office has been a good deal inquired into of late years, inasmuch as there is scarcely a branch of it that has not formed the subject of a special and exhaustive inquiry. But if it is the pleasure of the House that a Royal Commission should be appointed to further inquire into the working of the Department, or any division of it, I may say, on the part of the Government, that we shall offer no opposition to such further inquiry. The labours of such a Commission as has been suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) would, however, be a very different thing, for it must necessarily occupy an enormous extent of time. It would embrace the requirements of this country, the Colonies, and India, the defence of our ports and coaling stations, the reserve of stores, and their maintenance in storehouses throughout the work!, long and short service, and numberless other questions which, I venture to say, would occupy not months but years. Moreover, in approaching the consideration of a Royal Commission, the House would like to know whether it was intended to promote economy or promote extravagance. My noble Friend (Lord Charles Beresford) wanted a Royal Commission because the French had got a number of melenite shells.


explained that he had merely adverted to it as a subject worthy of inquiry.


Yes, my noble Friend regards it as a question which a Royal Commission could inquire into. I may further point out that, if a Royal Commission of the character suggested were to be appointed, much danger to the public interest might occur through the publication to the world of the weak points of our military service, our stores, our home forts, and our coaling stations abroad. In the Report upon the Military Ports now before the House, we have given only a general account of our deficiencies. Every word of it was considered by me with my Military advisers, who assured me that to give more detail would be dangerous to the interests of the country. If such matters were to be made public, there would be an end, not only of the responsibility of a Government in reference to military matters, but of their freedom of action in regard to them, while with the report of such a Commission before it, if the report is to be considered binding, any Government which is responsible for the safety of the country would find it far more than ordinarily difficult to grant such an increase of the military resources of the country as they might think necessary on an emergency; and, on the other hand, any Government that desired, as I hope we all desire, to carry out legitimate economies, would also find it increasingly difficult to cut down useless expenditure. In these circumstances, Her Majesty's Government cannot consent to the appointment of the Royal Commission which has been asked for, and they adhere to the proposal which was put forward by the First Lord of the Treasury on Monday night. He repeated to the House the terms on which he thought a Commission of Inquiry might be granted. To those terms we are perfectly willing to adhere. They cover an inquiry into the whole naval and military system as at present organized. That, surely, is large enough for any Commission to undertake for all practical purposes. Notwithstanding the inordinate amount of time during which I have trespassed upon the attention of the House, I cannot sit down without touching briefly upon another matter of great importance. I cannot but feel that the speeches such as have been delivered by my noble Friend and by some of my Naval and Military Friends, as reported to the public, are calculated to diminish the influence of this country in the eyes of foreign nations, and in so far as these speeches do not accurately represent the true state of our defences, they diminish that influence to an extent that is unfair and unreasonable. Therefore, I propose shortly to dwell upon the condition of the defences of the country in greater detail than I have dwelt upon the subject in my Statement. In my Statement, as hon. Members will see who have read it, I desired to leave the impression that the defences of our ports and of our coaling stations were far from satisfactory at the present moment. We have at those places obsolete guns, and the defences are not suited to the requirements of modern service, and there are great steps which it is absolutely necessary to take, if we mean to keep abreast of modern requirements, even to the most reasonable extent. The proposals of the Government now before the House consist of an honest attempt to grapple with all the main difficulties, and, indeed, all the criticisms which have been passed upon those proposals accept thorn as a moderate and reasonable attempt to deal with the great difficulties in which the country is placed at the present time. First, as to the coaling stations, I said last year, with a blunt-ness that gave offence in some quarters, that the Colonies had reason to complain of the delay which this country had shown in fulfilling in spirit the promises we had made; and for not having, as soon as possible, put those defences in a thoroughly efficient condition. The Government now propose to complete entirely the defence of the coaling stations. That statement has been received in some quarters with cynical laughter, and although it is true that the statement has been made in previous years, yet never in any previous year have the Government asked Parliament to grant once and for all the money required for that purpose. With the exception of certain orders which await the result of this debate and the approval of Parliament, almost all the guns that are necessary for the defence of the coaling stations are not only ordered, but will be ready in the course of the year.


By the end of this month—this financial year?


No; certainly not. The hon. Member misunderstands me. I am speaking of the next financial year; and I trust and believe it will be pushed on by the Government, and that with the assistance of the Colonial Governments, who hitherto, I am bound to say, have shown every desire to go beyond us in this matter and to push on the works for which they are responsible, these coaling stations, which are of great importance to the Mother Country and her Colonies, and of general advantage to the Empire, may be completed, if not within the next financial year, at any rate very shortly after. Now, Sir, I come to the military ports. The proposals of the Government contemplate an immediate completion of all the urgent works connected with our military ports. When I was face to face last year with the enormous expenditure asked for by the military authorities, I felt the great difficulty of knowing what really ought to be done at once and what could be postponed until a more convenient period. I took a step which is, I think, a reasonable one. I asked a Committee to assemble with me and to recommend to me and to the House what were the most urgent works of defence of our military ports. All those urgent works are now taken in hand. Although we do not forget such important ports as that mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend—the defences of Gibraltar urgently requiring some addition—we mean, in the first place, to direct our attention to the important great military ports of this country; and I hope this financial year will not pass without our being able to say, both in respect of Portsmouth and the Thames, that all substantial and main difficulties have been removed. I come now to the mercantile ports. I felt that if we were undertaking the defences of our military ports and coaling stations, the great mercantile ports of this country are also bound to be re- membered. We knew that there was a desire in all those ports of the country to raise, for the service of the country, submarine mining corps which were so urgently required for the protection of those ports. We have included a provision in the Estimates for the raising of those corps, and we have included proposals which we are now making to Parliament for money towards the carrying out of submarine mining. We have also added whatever sums may be required for light armaments to protect the submarine mines. But it may be said that is not all they want. Of course not. We know it, but we have put it in that way because we want to induce the localities to come forward and co-operate with us in their own defence. If they desire to see increased defences given to them, they should come and meet us and tell us what they will do in the way of contribution towards their own defence. I can say for the Government that if they will do that we shall be prepared to meet them, and I am anxious, at any rate as regards the principal mercantile ports, that no time shall be lost in providing for them such defences as are adequate to the needs of the case. It may be said, "Why do you not do more than this? Why do you not ask for all the money required to put the ports of the country in a sufficient state of defence, and be done with it?" I will tell the House why. Simply because it is impossible to do more than we are doing at the present time. The rules I have endeavoured to lay down are these—the defence of those ports ought to be carried out as quickly as you can do it, and I have asked those who are most responsible for advising me in carrying out these defences, how quickly they can do it. I am acting on their advice when I fix the term I have decided upon. But I would say at once to the House—and it is abundantly clear in our proposals—that we are not going to be limited by a notion of the three-year rule, if we can do it more quickly. That was the reason why we have asked to put a certain amount of money out of the control of Parliament. My second rule is this—we ought to get value for our money. I urge the House not to open the flood-gates of extravagant expenditure. Lay down a definite programme, as we are endeavouring to do, and then let those who are intrusted with the expenditure of that money—I mean the War Office, both the military and the civil side—show their power to carry out that programme with efficiency and economy; and let them come to Parliament as that programme is being completed, and, if they think fit, ask Parliament to grant them further resources to carry out further work. As regards the garrisons of the military ports and the mercantile ports, we have arranged all the garrison required. Engineers were required, most of which have been provided. Submarine miners were required, and we believe no difficulty will be found in raising among the Volunteers efficient members for the mining corps at these ports. As to the general condition of the Army, I say, and say gladly, with a full sense of responsibility which attaches to the thankless office which I at present hold, that the Army, according to the reports of military authorities, is in a satisfactory state, and steady improvement is taking place. When we are asked for a Royal Commission for the purpose of advising us with regard to some questions relating to the Army I would ask whether it is possible for the Government to find among those persons who would constitute the personnel of the Royal Commission any better military advisers than those who are at present at the War Office subject to the Commander-in-Chief? We have Lord Wolseley and Sir Redvers Buller, both men who command in a remarkable degree the confidence of the country. The new organization set on foot by them has only been in force for one year. Great progress has been made during that period, and I am satisfied, unless we are perpetually digging up the roots in order to see how the plant is growing, that the organization lately set on foot is destined to accomplish what this country so urgently requires—namely, the organization of the limited force in this country in a manner which will be sufficient for all practical purposes. I admit that the equipments of those two Army Corps are not fully completed; but I am quite sure hon. Gentlemen who criticize do not fully realize the great producing power of the country. I believe it is the practical experience of the War Office that, although we have gone on year after year adding to the equipments and to the armaments and transports required for those Army Corps, nevertheless there has been no expedition of any magnitude since the Crimean War that we have not been obliged to go to the trade and obtain special articles and equipments for the wants of the troops in that war. The statements which have been made in the House by my noble Friend (Lord Charles Beresford) require some answer. My noble Friend says that he believes we have got very little gunpowder, and that obtained abroad would be stopped if war broke out. I assure my noble Friend that we are fully alive to the fact that all the gunpowder made abroad would be stopped from coming into this country if war broke out. I am also able to inform him that we are able to get an adequate supply of gunpowder in this country. And further, we have at the present time a very largo supply of gunpowder of all descriptions; and I am informed, on unquestionable authority, that we are better off than ever before in that respect.


That is not saying much.


I am perfectly aware of one very difficult question affecting gunpowder, and that is that the annual expenditure of some new forms of powder has not at present been ascertained. But even of these descriptions of powder, only recently discovered, we have a very fair supply. Another complaint has been mentioned. We have been told that we have a very limited number of good field guns, and that all the remaining field guns in the Army are worth nothing at all. With perfect frankness, I tell the House that we shall have with the proposals now made to the House 33 field and horse batteries equipped with 12-pounder guns. The 12-poundor gun is known, I believe, to be the best field gun in Europe at the present time. With all the remaining batteries we have got 14 equipped with 13-pounder guns, and we have a large number of 16-pounder guns for other batteries. I am told by those who advise me in this matter that the 13-pounder gun is at the present time as powerful a gun as any army abroad possesses. If the armament of our field batteries with new guns is resolutely pushed forward, before long we shall be able to say that all our batteries are better armed than the field batteries of any other country in Europe. With regard to the question of rifles, I really think the noble Lord was a little hard in the terms which he used. The military authorities, after a great deal of experiment, have chosen a magazine rifle for the purpose of a final trial. This matter has exercised very much the minds of the military authorities during some years past in this and in other countries. A committee, mainly composed of military men, but having the advantage of the presence upon it of one or two others who were either specially connected with the Volunteer Force or who knew about shooting, in the first instance selected a rifle of .4 bore, and inconsequence, those responsible for the administration of the Army ordered these rifles. The military authorities, as well as those of other countries, have since discovered that the bore is larger than is desired for the rifle of the future, and so, instead of pressing on the manufacture of a rifle, which might after all have proved not thoroughly good or efficient, they decided to admit their mistake, and say that they would have a smaller bore. I was put into this very uncomfortable position. We had an enormous number of rifles—over 90,000—of .4 bore. What was to be done with them? Was I to say that they were not of any further use, and to put the country to an enormous loss if they were not made available for service? The course which was taken was, I contend, the only practical one to be adopted; we converted these rifles at a small cost into Martini-Henry rifles, and added them to the store of those rifles with which the troops are still equipped. If I were not to continue to manufacture Martini-Henry rifles, but only to manufacture the new rifle, I should not be able to keep up the adequate reserve of Martini-Henry which is requisite. That is not how I am inclined to regard my responsibility. I have been taunted with saying that we were only going to give these new rifles to the Army, and not to the Volunteers. But everybody knows that you cannot give them all at once to all branches of the Service, and in the meantime the Volunteer Force will naturally continue to be armed with the Martini-Henry. I hope I have given a frank and candid explanation of those points to which reference has been made; if there are any others which may require to be answered, by the leave of the House I may be allowed to answer them afterwards. I do not for a moment deny any responsibility; I am personally conscious that much remains to be done, and I feel deeply the responsibility that rests upon me. I know perfectly well that this is not merely a question of money, although enormous sums are required; it means the utilization of our existing forces, and the application to all the forces of the country of that system of organization which we are endeavouring painfully and carefully to build up. I know that good and honest work is now being done in this matter in this country, and efficiency is being gradually obtained without undue extravagance. The only danger we have to apprehend is the fluctuation of public opinion, and in that respect there is no more certain way of producing that fluctuation than to hold out an exaggerated account of the money required in order to put us in an efficient condition. If we are allowed to go on for a few years in the direction in which we are at present tending, I am certain that, although we have much lee-way to make up, we should gradually achieve our purpose, and that all the defensive forces of the country, whether Regular, or Militia, or Volunteers, can be and will be so organized as to enable the country to feel as safe as any country could feel against any dangers which may threaten it.

MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)

I have listened with great interest to the statement that has just been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. E. Stanhope). I consider that the present debate is by far the most important debate upon Army and Navy administration that has taken place during the last 20 years. What is the position of affairs? The Government have been in Office now for two and three-quarter years with the exception of a few months. They have appointed Commissions and Committees without end on this subject of Army organization and the work of the Departments of the Army and Navy. They have introduced very great changes in the organization of the Departments, and have proposed very heavy expenditure. No opposition has come to any part of their proposals from these Benches; on the contrary, we have done our best, while fulfilling our duty of criticizing, to give our general support to Her Majesty's Government. And let me remind the House that the debate has been aimed at the object of increasing the expenditure incurred by this country. [Cries of "No, no !"] Well, wait a little, and I will prove it. I have taken some pains to compare the expenditure in the two Estimates for the Army and Navy now before Parliament with those of 1881—the last year in which there were practically no Supplementary Estimates and no Vote of Credit. In 1881 there was no special expenditure, except a small expenditure with regard to the Transvaal. What was the expenditure of that year? According to the Statistical Abstract, which enables us to compare like with like, it was £25,190,000, and this year it is £30,870,000—that is to say, that there is an increase of about £5,700,000; and, in addition to that, there is the one-third of the £2,000,000 which is to be spread over three years. Is that a time to ask for a Royal Commission with the object of increasing that expenditure? Again, we know nothing from its proposers as to its length and scope. Is the proposed Commission to sit for a few weeks only, or to sit until the naval and military expenditure of the country is brought into a satisfactory state? If the Commission is temporary, how will it get through the enormous duties assigned to it? If the Commission is to be a permanent one, it becomes really a body of irresponsible Ministers. What, then, are to be the objects and functions of this Commission, because we have had a great deal of vague statement? The hon. and gallant Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), in arguing for the appointment of this Commission, said that he wanted to know what was to be our policy with regard to Bulgaria, and as to preventing the Russians getting that country; and he said something more about Russia getting Constantinople as the reason why we should appoint this Commission. He said that he wanted the new rifle to be at once issued to the whole Army, as well as to the Militia and Volunteers. The hon. and gallant Member for Birkenhead(Sir Edward Hamley), whose speeches—marked by great ability—I always? listen to with great interest, quoted at some length the words of Admiral Aube, of the French Navy, in which he described the duty of the French Navy in future to be to attack defenceless towns like Brighton. He ought also to have added that other and far more able French naval officers have repudiated entirely that proposal. Besides, French officers are as opposed to their Admiralty as some of ours. I read the other day an article by a French officer of great ability severely animadverting upon the present condition of the French Navy, and I was startled at the similarity of language to that with which we are not unaccustomed here, and I could pair off quite as many adverse comments by French officers upon the French Navy as are made by the English naval officers upon the English Navy. Other Members have urged the appointment of this Committee for the purpose of increasing expenditure. It is, according to one, to supersede all the existing fortifications of our Military Ports; according to another, to insist on the fortification of our coal shipping ports, to supersede the present military organization and increase the depôts, to set on foot a large increase in the construction of magazine guns; in fact, there is hardly any form of addition to expenditure which has not been given as a reason for forming this Commission. But whatever it is to do, what is the body itself to be and what its functions? It is simply to supersede the Cabinet by a Commission of irresponsible experts. I have had a little experience lately of the work undertaken by a Commission, which wandered, as all Commissions tend to wander, from the original object for which it was appointed. There was a very interesting Commission and Report referred to during the debate—the Commission presided over by Sir James Fitzjames Stephen. It was appointed to inquire into the system under which patterns of warlike stores! were adopted and the stores passed into the Service during the last five years. Now, for that purpose it was an excellent Commission, presided over by a learned Judge who, alike as a Judge, a literary man, and a journalist, we all very much admire; but they, unfortunately, went far beyond what was referred to them. That Commission travelled into the most important Con- stitutional questions regarding the functions of the Secretary of State and the Cabinet and the officers of the Department, which were not for a moment the subject which they were appointed to consider. In examining what ought to be the Constitutional functions of the Secretary of State they made absolutely erroneous statements, without ever thinking it necessary to examine any Secretary of State except one who had held the Office for a few months. I was myself the subject of one of those absolutely incorrect statements, and I wrote about them to the Chairman to take the necessary steps to have the matter put right. It has not been done, and the subject has now passed by; but it shows the danger of referring Parliamentary and Constitutional questions to a Royal Commission presided over by great Judges. What was the main recommendation of this Royal Commission? It was to substitute for the Secretary of State, in respect of half his functions, a great General, holding office on the tenure of a Judge—that is to say, only removable by the vote of both Houses. We have heard about the extravagance and want of system in the framing of the Army and Navy Estimates in recent years. What would the House think of Estimates brought before Parliament by a great General, for which Estimates nobody in Parliament was to be responsible, and according to a system under which the whole ground of Parliamentary control of the Army and Navy expenditure would be entirely lost? If Royal Commissions, with a Judge as their Chairman, tend to run riot in the particulars to which I have alluded, what is likely to be the outcome of one under military influence, to whom all military matters are to be referred? I ask how it would be possible for a Royal Commission, whoever they may be, to determine what would be required as to the Army with respect to events in Bulgaria or Constantinople, or difficulties with any Foreign Powers, unless they saw the despatches on which the policy of the Government was founded? Then we are told that this Commission is to be independent of Parliament and made popular. All I can say is that these words are not very consistent with some of the ideas of a democratic House of Commons, and I doubt whether any democratic House of Commons would resign the control of £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 of expenditure to the revision of experts according to the present idea of a Royal Commission. I do not counsel that we should do nothing. I had the honour of being Secretary of State shortly after all these questions of Army organization had been settled. The settlement commenced with Lord Cardwell's proposal, and proceeded afterwards for some years, and was completed under other Secretaries of State, including Lord Cranbrook. I made no change in a system I found so recently reformed, and I therefore feel perfectly impartial at the present moment with respect to any proposals which may be made to improve the administration of the War Office; and I admit that there are several points on which we shall require further information. There is one point on which I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. E. Stanhope) will throw a little light. According to his Memorandum—as I read it—he does contemplate the expenditure of something like £6,000,000 upon the defences of the country and coaling stations abroad, but he only proposes to raise £3,000,000. What does he propose to do as to the other £3,000,000? We must remember that this is not the first time we have had loans raised for a limited number of years for certain operations. There was the loan asked for by Lord Palmerston in 1861, and Lord Cardwell's loans more recently. In those cases Parliament made arrangements for the entire cost of the work. How does the right hon. Gentleman propose to raise the whole sum? I must also say a word as to the new organizations. I say nothing about naval administration; but as to Army administration, I think that the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington has hit one great blot. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War has made a very great change in the administration of the Army; he proposes that the officer at the head of the Military branch should have cast on him the duty of preparing the Estimates of his Department. But under Mr. Card-well's Order of 1870 the head of a spending branch—say that of the Surveyor General—had not only the charge of preparing the Estimates, but also the responsibility cast on him of song that the cost and expenditure were duly and carefully examined. That, I think, is a sound principle. But these later words are omitted. It is true the military officers are charged with preparing the Estimates, but there is no responsibility for the expenditure. There is nothing more agreeable than to prepare Estimates; but without responsibility for the expenditure under those Estimates the charge of preparing them is a mere sham. I agree with the remarks of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington in regard to this matter. I have referred to one or two points in a practical spirit, and I hope that the remarks I have made may have some influence with the Secretary of State and the First Lord of the Treasury.


said, he distinctly repudiated the idea that the Motion that had been brought forward was an indictment of the Government. On the contrary, those who supported it wished to strengthen the hands of the Government in every possible way. They had made no claim for control over expenditure, and they had not attacked any Member of the Government. It was the system which caused the extravagance that had been attacked, and in which they had no confidence. The great evil was that no matter what happened, there was no responsibility attaching to any particular Minister. No soldier wished for extravagance; but they wished that the country should get value for its money. They gave the Government full credit for any saving that had been effected during the past year, and they also recognized the advances that had been made towards organization. They were strongly of opinion that the country should know the true state of affairs with regard to the position in which it stood. Members of the House of Commons who had spent their lives in the Service knew only enough to make them anxious to know more. They had very little information from the War Department to guide them, except the Army Estimates and the Memorandum issued with them. But this Memorandum threw no light on many questions of vital interest to the nation. For instance, no mention was made of the Horse Artillery branch of the Service, although the question had a very prominent place in last year's debates, in which numbers of Members expressed their strong sense of the inadvisability of the reduction of four batteries of Royal Horse Artillery. On last year's Estimates the Secretary for War announced— Our object is to have no longer a large proportion of attenuated batteries, but to make those we have efficient and valuable for service. Instead of many skeleton batteries, we hope to have a few organized in the most effective manner, ready to be produced whenever they are wanted."—(3 Hansard [312] 300.) On this year's Estimates the Secretary for War announced that the Aldershot Division had been raised with the object of organizing a small force to despatch, complete in every detail, on the shortest notice without calling out a man of the Reserves. This surely implied that the promised increase to the attenuated batteries—retained in the Service after last year's reduction of four Horse Artillery batteries—had taken place. Yet on reference to page 10 of this year's Army Estimates it was found that no battery had been raised to war strength, and that the Horse Artillery batteries remained now as attenuated as before. It was evident that to raise the four batteries of the 1st Army Corps to war strength it would be absolutely necessary to break up entirely the remaining batteries; and for all this there would not be sufficient horses. It was evident that any call for an extra battery of horse to India or elsewhere would cause further confusion; and that in case of one Army Corps being despatched the United Kingdom would be left without horse artillery: They were told that The whole of the units necessary to complete the organization of two Army Corps, a Cavalry Division, and troops for the communications are now actually in existence. There was a great deficiency in the Horse Artillery, and it now appeared, that the units were but cadres, and there were no means of completing them. As the Memorandum stated that the Reserves were not to be touched, were the other units more fully prepared? In view of the statement in the Memorandum he would ask was it a fact or not that the three regiments of Cavalry at Aldershot were 100 horses and nearly 300 men short of the complement? If this was the position of the troops at Aldershot, were they better prepared elsewhere? He feared not. The strength of the Cavalry regiments set forth in different parts of the Esti- mates varied. For years they had been assured that all was done on the responsibility of the Secretary of State for War. But what was the worth of responsibility without penalty? Who had suffered of late years for his responsibility? Who had suffered for not relieving Gordon? Who suffered for Majuba Hill? There was no wish to relieve the Government of responsibility; but they did think that it should understand what it was responsible for in the interests and welfare of the nation, and the inquiries of the suggested Commission might effect this.

DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

said, that although the debate had afforded him an intellectual treat, he had watched its progress with wonder, confusion, and with something like alarm. They knew that society abounded with croakers and alarmists, who told them on all possible occasions that the country had no Army and no Navy, and that if it had a Navy it would be useless. Until now, however, these sentiments had found no widespread or authoritative echo in the House. During the present discussion they had heard hon. Member after hon. Member give forth with dismal wails prophecies as to the terrible consequences which must ensue. Various speakers had said that our coaling stations were absolutely unprepared for any contingency in time of war. They had been told that if the Channel Fleet was away for a week or two, or was incapacitated for service, the country would be a prey to the nearest foreign invader. They were told that the Army, if the country had one at all, was inefficient, and that the Navy was also not in the state it ought to be in. Then, again, they were told by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) that it did not matter how much was spent because the system was all wrong. It was said, too, that they had got no fixed point, and that they were absolutely deceiving the public as to what was going on. There was some comfort to be found in the fact that nearly all these accusations were made by Gentlemen of the military persuasion, who were very naturally inclined to take a gloomy view of the condition of our Army, and who were apt to wish and to press for large and ever increasing expenditure. He did not desire to introduce any Party considerations into the debate; but he could not help thinking that a certain amount of suspicion attached to statements made upon the opposite Benches. The demands made for increased expenditure had, in the main, been made from the Tory side of the House—from what might be called the professional Jingo side of the House. Of course, he did not want in any degree to go counter to those who had, he thought, with some amount of right on their side, pressed the Government to give a Committee or a Commission to inquire into the present state of things. After all the alarmist expressions, the very able and very clear and interesting statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. E. Stanhope) came with a most refreshing flavour. The right hon. Gentleman told them that, within our narrow limits of expenditure and size of the force, the Army was good and was doing well. That, no doubt, was true in a very great measure; but it was certainly very probable that the country would become somewhat alarmed in consequence of the statements which were now being made in very influential quarters. He was sure the people would like to get a little more information, and therefore he thought it was right and just and reasonable that the Commission asked for should be appointed. He was glad the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had agreed to give pretty nearly all that had been asked by the hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) who opened the debate. Of course, the size of our Army must depend very largely upon what we wanted to do with it—whether we wanted it for offensive or purely defensive purposes. There was still the Russian bogey in front of us; but if at any time the Russian Army dreamt of crossing the Indian frontier, he thought we should find it a far better defence to have a happy, contented, united, and well governed-people there than any amount of force. If he judged from what he had Been in India lately, the people were persuaded that the Army was not the best that could be invented, but it was better than what they had before; it was certainly better for them to have it than to have the Russian Army. There was, too, the old bogey of foreign invasion. For a century or more people had talked about foreign invasions, but they had never come off. There had not been an invasion of England since the time of Julius Cæsar, and he did not suppose we were likely to have another. Surely the day was past when one country invaded other countries for the mere lust of booty or plunder. Some reason must be given for proceedings of that kind; and he thought that probably, by the aid of diplomacy and the observance of a cautious policy, we should avoid dangers of that kind. They heard a great deal about the wishes of the constituencies. One hon. Member opposite told them that the people were desirous to see a large increase of our armaments. He doubted that very much. What he saw in his own part of the country was quite the opposite. He believed that the people would like to see the armaments diminished, if possible, and the great burdens of the country diminished in equal proportion. What the people said was that we must defend ourselves, keep what we had got, not mix ourselves up in the affairs of the Continent; we must take care of our force and power as directed to the preservation of our own coasts, our own property at home, and the defence of our honour and position abroad. Of course, the country must have a strong Navy; but we could never, with our Military Service, attempt to play at the game of brag with Foreign Powers. We must have a small Army at home—perhaps a mere skeleton Army which could be rapidly filled up. He would not venture to make any more remarks upon the general question. He did not think he should have risen at all if it had not been for certain statements in the very valuable Memorandum submitted to them by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, with respect to the Service with which he was formerly connected—namely, the Army Medical Department. He hoped he would not be out of Order in saying one or two words on the present aspect of that Department. It would be more convenient, no doubt, that remarks on that subject—or on any specific subject—were deferred till the particular Votes relating to the different subjects came on. But they had often heard that the Army Medical Department must be put on a proper footing. He was bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman who so ably presided over Army matters in the House met them in a very cordial way in a Committee upstairs last year. The right hon. Gentleman recommended that they should defer any discussion on Army medical matters until Vote 4 came on, and he promised them a good opportunity of discussing that Vote. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman could not arrange the Business of the House; he could not arrange when any particular topic should come on. He might propose, but the House disposed; and it happened that the discussion took place in the small hours of the morning. Although they had now put their House in order, and they would have no more small hours, still the discussion upon Army medical matters would very likely come on at an inconvenient time—either late in the evening or late in the Session, when many Members who took great interest in the question might be away. Now, one or two alterations in the medical department of the Army had filled the Service with a certain amount of discomfort and alarm. It was said that doctors were grumblers; but he did not think that any people grumbled unless there was some foundation for grumbling. The fact was that the medical department had for years been in a state of perpetual uncertainty and unrest; what had been given to it one day had been taken away the next. The general feeling of discomfort and uncertainty culminated in 1878 in a practical Boycotting of the department; in other words, no candidates came forward, and the condition of the Army Medical Department, as regarded the influx of new men, was really at a standstill. The Government of the day very properly gave a Committee to inquire into the grievances and to suggest remedies. Evidence was taken, including that of the leading surgeons of the Medical Schools of London. It was then distinctly stated that the condition of unrest and the want of stability in the department was the reason of the great paucity of candidates, and the principal recommendation of the Committee was that the medical men in the Army Medical Department should be allowed the privilege of retiring after 20 years' service. The adoption of that recommendation was quite successful. There was a large influx of candidates, and, in spite of certain ups and down, the supply has been continual. Although doctors gained a good deal in being able to retire after 20 years' service, they gave up something to get it. Be fore that they had had the right, if incapacitated by illness, to retire before 20 years on a pension. They gave that up, and now they had no such right. Not many had retired; but—


Order, order ! The subject of retiring medical pensions has no direct reference to the Amendment now before the House, which relates to the military resources of the Empire.


said, he would not pursue the subject any further, and apologized if he had in any way trespassed on the House at the wrong time. He would only add that he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would undertake to give them, on Vote 4, ample opportunity of discussing fully the question he had referred to. Had it been proper for him to do so, he should have referred to the question of increased foreign service, and also to the burning question of the relative rank of the Army Medical Department. Before he resumed his seat he must join his voice to that of others as to the necessity of some kind of Commission, as had been suggested by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and express his satisfaction that the wishes of those who wanted a Committee of Inquiry had been so justly met, as he thought they had been, by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War.


said, that in supporting the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), he wished it to be distinctly understood that he did not, in the slightest degree, intend to reflect either upon the Government generally or upon the right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary of State for War (Mr. E. Stanhope) personally. As an officer of the Army, he had had the privilege of seeing the working of the present military system, which civilians had not. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) had given them his opinion; but then he had had no experience. A man might be at the head of a Department, and yet know nothing of the working of the Army generally; there were many things which never came under the cognizance of the Secretary of State for War; and what the supporters of this Amendment particularly wished to do was to call attention to the fact that the system at present prevailing in the Army was not one of decentralization, but of centralization—a system of red tape, a system of inefficiency. One of the greatest reasons he could conceive for the granting of this Commission was the statement the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War made to the effect that his Military Advisers included Lord Wolseley. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) quoted the evidence of Lord Wolseley, which was to the effect that there was no information as to what the Army required. If an officer in the position of Lord Wolseley was not aware and had no means of ascertaining what the Army required, he (General Goldsworthy) did not know how any other means were to be devised, except the appointment of a Royal Commission, through which to obtain the requisite information. Many officers did know what was wanted, so far as their own particular branch was concerned; but they did not like to say it was wanted. Officers who were independent and expressed their feelings too freely had black marks put against their names. One of the reasons which induced him to make up his mind to become a Member of that House was that he was determined, as far as in him lay, to get the Army put upon a good footing. An immense amount of useless correspondence took place in the Army; if there was the same in any private business, the business could not last a day. He was able to say that there were hundreds and hundreds of letters every year sent up to the Department about things which ought not to need any reference being made to it. They might have a general officer nominally commanding in a district, and yet find that the district was really commanded in London or in Dublin, or in some other place. How could such a system as that work? If a general officer was not fit to be entrusted with responsibility, do not appoint him; and if, when they had appointed him, they found he was a failure, they ought at once to remove him, and never let an inefficient officer remain in a high position a single moment. What he had maintained all along was that they must decentralize. The War Office or the Horse Guards must look to higher things than interfering with general officers, and general officers should have a great deal more power than they now possessed; and colonels commanding regiments should have more power than they had at present. He did not think that any extra money was required. If the money they now had was properly applied they would be enabled to do a great deal more than they at pre> sent did. He complimented the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War upon his Memorandum, and upon the evident attention he had given to the subject. His (General Goldsworthy's) desire was—and he believed it was the desire of nearly every Member in the House who had spoken upon this Amendment'—to strengthen the right hon. Gentleman's hands. The right hon. Gentleman, in his Memorandum, remarked— The only remaining deficiency consists of four companies of fortress engineers which it is not proposed to raise this year. Now, those were just the sort of remarks which made military men rather vexed. What they said to this was—" If these companies are necessary, why are they not raised? or if they are not necessary the deficiency does not exist. There are only four companies wanted. Why not raise them?" The right hon. Gentleman admitted there was a deficiency, so that if there was a deficiency the men. were wanted. Then, again, in another paragraph of Ms Memorandum, the right hon. Gentleman said— In all these particulars considerable progress had been made in the past year. Progress had been made for a long time, but they had not yet arrived at finality. Then the right hon. Gentleman remarked in his Memorandum— These stores have been hitherto, to a great extent, concentrated in largo depôts. The arrangements for the decentralization of a large portion of them which is indispensable to avoid delay and confusion are being proceeded with. That was a very good thing; but all these things had been proceeded with, and what he and his hon. and gallant Friends wanted to see was that all these things should be completed. They did not like the present uncertainty. Very likely next year they would find that these things were still being proceeded with when they should have been com- pleted. It was just the same with the coaling stations; the sooner they were put into a proper state of defence the better it; would be for the country. It had been remarked just now that it would be well if there was one head for the Army and the Navy. He did not know that that would be a bad thing if they had one Cabinet Minister with great power responsible to the House and the country for the defences of the country.


said, he did not propose to detain the House for more than a very few moments; but he desired to express the satisfaction with which he had followed the course of the present debate, because, carrying back his mind some eight or nine Sessions ago, and comparing what he then witnessed with what he witnessed to-day, he was more than satisfied with the great advance which had been made. It would not be any exaggeration to say that eight or nine years ago the command which that House had of the military or naval expenditure, the check which the House had upon the Ministers of those two Services, was merely nominal; but during these years there had been—and he had watched it with great interest and satisfaction—a great advance in the attitude of the House and a much firmer grasp of the conduct of affairs than used to be the case. Now, the Government were challenged from their own side with regard to the administration, of the Army. That of itself was a good sign. The arguments which had been advanced by hon. Members and by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) were such that no intelligent and reasonable Member could help feeling it was necessary that he should address himself to the points which were urged upon him. All this was very different from what used to be. He remembered hearing the noble Lord the Member for the Rossendale Division of Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington) declare that he had never known a discussion on the Army Estimates result in any reduction of the public charge except on one solitary occasion, when he (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) objected to an exaggerated establishment of a minor character. That was perfectly-true; but the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington had raised a number of points which would certainly force themselves upon the attention of the House and of the country. Now, the reason he (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) rose was to express, in spite of the satisfaction with which he regarded the general situation, the disappointment with which he read the Statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. The right hon. Gentleman claimed credit for his administration for having, as it were, put his house in order, and yet his very Statement showed he was conscious that his house was not in order. He said that in past years many millions of pounds sterling had been spent upon the Army, and the result had not been satisfactory, and he proceeded then to indicate the intention of the Government to come to the House and ask for a further sum of money outside the Annual Estimates altogether, and which the Army Administration or the War Office was to have the management of without any possibility of effective check on the part of the House. He (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) hoped the House would be very chary of entrusting these large sums to the War Minister without some assurance that the expenditure could from time to time be checked by the House. He regarded much of the Statement of the right hon. Gentleman as a mere official letter making the best of things and really avoiding anything of a practical character. The Army was a practical thing, organized and maintained at an immense expense for practical purposes. If the country wanted to know whether it got value for its money, if it wanted to ascertain whether the weapon for which it paid so much was really effective and ready for service at any moment, why in the name of common sense did it not resort to tests? There was absolutely no test used at all with regard to the efficiency or the readiness of the Army for practical purposes. What he ventured to suggest, and what he suggested last year was—and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State was then good enough to smile complacently at it—something of a very simple and practical character. He suggested that they should test the Army and our military resources, and he would submit to the right hon. Gentleman a plan, by which he could do so without any addition to his Army expenditure. They had a number of military divisions covering the whole country; in each of those military districts they had Infantry, Cavalry, Commissariat, Transport, Medical Service, everything, in fact, for effective military operations. They had their Reserve Force and they had their Volunteers. What was easier than to test the whole of their administrative system by giving notice at the beginning of the year that one or other of these military divisions or districts would be called upon during the course of the year to show its efficiency? Suppose the Secretary of State for War, having given that general warning, were to select a particular district, say the York district, and give notice to the general commanding that district that he was to make preparations against an invader at Scarborough in 10 days or a fortnight, and direct that officer to have all the military resources at his command ready to meet the supposed invader. They would thus test not only the real strength of their military resources within the district, but they would test their Commissariat; they would test their Transport; they would test their stores, and they would test the general working of their system. They could ascertain what their resources in that particular district were really worth, and they could ascertain what their Volunteer Force was really worth. His suggestion might be met on the part of the right hon. Gentleman by the plea that its adoption would involve expenditure. Of course it would involve expenditure, and it was necessary to consider how they could economize in one direction in order to be able to enforce this practical test. As he suggested before he suggested now, and he was fortified on this occasion, he was glad to see, by the high authority of Lord Wolseley himself—he said last year that there was a great deal of money wasted in unnecessary moving of troops, in the shifting of regiments from one station to another in the United Kingdom. He believed they might with very great advantage save £50,000, £60,000, or £70,000 a-year on that particular item, and he did not believe it would cost very much more to make the experiment he had suggested in the York district. They could economize on that single item for the movement of troops, which was now so inflated and so perfectly unjustifiable on other grounds than those of mere economy. That was the practical suggestion he made last year, and what was the result? Within three weeks of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War smiling disdainfully at it, the French authorities put it in force; they mobilized some of their troops in one of the Southern Departments, and set the whole of Germany wondering what it was the French authorities were at. The result of that experiment in France—as the right hon. Gentleman, through his Intelligence Department, would be able to ascertain—was such that the whole mobilization arrangments of France were revised, corrected, and made perfect. It was an experiment of immense value to the French War Minister, and the French had no reason to complain of the expenditure, though it was much heavier than was expected. He (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) suggested that if they wanted to test the value of their military administration—if they wished to test their Army resources—they should adopt the plan which was ready at hand, and which was not likely to involve any large expenditure of money. But it should be clearly understood, when this experiment was carried out, that whenever they found a weak spot in the system, that weak spot should be made good, no matter at what cost, and that wherever they found the system broke down by reason of the shortcomings of any particular officer, whether he be a general officer or a lieutenant, that particular officer should be made to suffer for his delinquencies. As it was, on many occasions they had opportunities of judging in a small way of their existing system; but where they had clear proof of shortcomings on the part of officers, there was no result of an unpleasant kind to the officer which was shown to be inefficient. What they wanted was to make their officers understand that each and every one was responsible for the efficiency and complete discharge of the duties entrusted to them. If they found men—no matter what their position might be—unfit for their position, they should get rid of them and have no mercy; then they would have an efficient instrument in the shape of the Army. Until they did something of that kind, they would find that the Army was not in a bit better position than it was at the outbreak of the Crimean War.

MR. HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)

said, that many statements had been made in the course of the debate which were worthy of the consideration of all sorts and conditions of men in all parts of the country, and thanks were due to the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) for having brought the question before the House. The Amendment, as submitted to the House, had been supported by men of world-wide reputation, worldwide experience; and he earnestly hoped that the Government, even if they were not able to accede to the very letter of his hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment, would, at all events, be able! to give a cordial assent to the spirit of it. He had no intention of prolonging the debate; indeed, there was very little to be said. He ventured, however, for one moment to express dissent from some of the rather pessimistic opinions expressed concerning the Intelligence Department of the Army of this country. He believed that the Intelligence Department, as at present organized under General Brackenbury—an officer who was well known not only in this country but almost in every European Army—was in the highest degree deserving of the confidence of the country. He (Mr. Howard Vincent) would be unwilling the debate should conclude without an expression of the acknowledgments of that branch of the Service with which he had the privilege to be associated for what had been done for them by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. He (Mr. Howard Vincent) had always taken the very greatest interest, since he had had the honour of a seat in the House, in all that concerned the welfare of the Volunteer Force, and he was sure he had the assent of his hon. Friends who were members of that Force when he said the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had done a great deal to contribute to the efficiency of the Force. The increase in the Capitation Grant had the cordial approval of the taxpayers of the country; and in spite of what had been said in the course of debate, he was quite certain that out of the Volunteer Force an Army of 150,000 men at the very least—second to none in muscle, in physique, and in. courage—would be forthcoming whenever the country needed it. But he hoped that before that period arrived a great improvement might take place in the equipment of the Force. He could not share the consolation his hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the War Department (Mr. Brodrick) derived from the contemplation of the fact that one-fourth of the Volunteer Force were provided with greatcoats. The noble Viscount the Member for the Petersfield Division of Hants (Viscount Wolmer) took comfort in the reflection that the remaining three-fourths might take the field with blankets; but he could not find comfort in that view either. It was exceedingly necessary that the Government should take every possible opportunity they could of improving the equipment of the great National Army. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had, in his Memorandum, referred to the Auxiliary Forces as those "upon whom our main reliance must necessarily be placed." He was certain that this expression of opinion could not be otherwise than highly encouraging, not only to the Volunteers, but also to the Militia, and that if they were met in the spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman said in his Memorandum they would be met—namely, in a spirit of hearty encouragement from the War Office authorities, their efficiency would improve as years wont on, and when the day of need came the country would have no cause to complain of the efficiency of the Volunteer Force.

MR. GOURLEY (Sunderland)

said, that from all he had heard in the course of this discussion he thought the Government would act wisely in accepting the Resolution of the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot). He did not agree with the proposal of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), who asked for the appointment of a Commission composed entirely of experts. To his (Mr. Gourley's) mind, so far as experts were concerned, that was where the great blot in our system rested. We had too much government by experts and too little government by civilians, and if there were now appointed a Royal Commission or Committee of Inquiry— he did not care which—it would be good policy to compose it in part of civilians. What had been the main cause of failure in all recent experiences? Why, the main source of failure in the field had been in connection with Commissariat and Transport, and that was a reason why, if they had this Royal Commission or Committee, they should have on it men like Spiers and Pond or Bertram and Roberts. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington had given an illustration of the defects of the existing system—the system they all found fault with. He had referred to our Egyptian experiences—bad food, bad forage, defective clothing, and defective ammunition having been served out. The fact that we had had such an experience proved the necessity of some Parliamentary control over the War Office in the shape of a Royal Commission or Committee of the House. The Memorandum of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War indicated the necessity for an inquiry. He found on page 9, paragraph 11— With regard to the defence of our ports and coaling stations, generally speaking, it may be said that recent improvements in guns have completely altered the conditions of naval attack and defence, and it has appeared to Her Majesty's Government that a general examination of the state of our defences should no longer he delayed. That paragraph alone proved the necessity of inquiry. It alluded to the altered system of attack and defence. We found that our ships with modern artillery could deal blows at a distance of something like six miles; but what he should like to arrive at was, at what distance could the ports strike ships with modern artillery? Modern artillery had a range of something like five or six miles. Well, was it possible, in making calculations with regard to the defence of our coaling stations and commercial ports, to provide means of attack sufficient to drive off ships at a distance of six miles? He would like to have an expression of opinion from some experts in the House on that question. The engagement which had taken place between the ships and the forts in Egypt had only been at a distance of two or three miles, so that the experience we had gained in that part of the world could not be taken as a guide to what would be likely to happen in the future, if we were at war with a strong Naval Power. He desired to know, in regard to the provision to be made in the future for the defence of our military ports and commercial ports, what was the policy of the Government as to the strength of the forts and the calibre of the guns. He found it was proposed to spend a large amount—£1,200,000—on the fortifications of our coaling stations, military ports, and commercial ports. A large proportion of that sum would be spent on Malta and Gibraltar—places which he had always understood were in themselves actual fortresses. He should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for War what kind of works under the new system of defence were to be undertaken at Gibraltar and Malta? Then he would also like to ascertain from the Secretary of State for War what description of forts it was contemplated constructing in connection with our military organization for the defence of our commercial harbours? He thought the experiment with regard to the construction of forts in our commercial harbours was to a large extent unnecessary, for this reason—the only recent experience we had as to what forts could do was that of Plevna, where the Turks made so protracted a stand against the Russians. We all knew that in those celebrated operations the Turks ran up earth forts which defied the Russians for a considerable period. His contention was that whilst we had such an admirable force as the Volunteers the men ought to be made thoroughly conversant with the use of the spade, the pick, and the axe. He did not see why Volunteers should not be engaged in running up earth forts and in mounting the guns with which it was proposed to defend our harbours. He should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War what his opinion was with regard to the construction of forts for our military ports and commercial ports? Again, granted that our coaling stations and commercial ports were in what might be considered a reasonable condition of defence, he should like to know what was their stock of coal to be? Did the Government intend in every case to have a sufficient supply of coal at the coaling stations? for it struck him very forcibly that unless they had sufficient supplies of coal on hand to meet emergencies in the event of a war breaking out, they would find that each coaling station would be neither more nor less than a white elephant. Then, with regard to the defence of our home ports, it must be borne in mind that an iron-clad squadron as at present constructed was not able to carry more than five days' fuel, so that the longest period for which an iron-clad could leave its base would be something like two and a-half days. If it was away a longer period a disaster would happen, for it would not have sufficient fuel to enable it to get back into port. He would like an answer to this question—what arrangement had been made with regard to keeping a stock of coal on hand at the various coaling stations for use in the event of war breaking out? His own idea and view with regard to the condition of the Army and Navy was that our chief want was organization. We had the matériel and personnel, but to his mind—and he would speak plainly—we wanted most of all that which we had never had—namely, a Von Moltke. If we had such an organizer we should find a different state of things prevail not only in connection with our Army, but also in regard to our Navy, and our organization, instead of being a defective one, would be in a large measure perfect. Hence the view he held was that it would be a wise policy on the part of the Government to grant either a Royal Commission, not composed entirely of experts, or a Select Committee of the House composed of experts and civilians, for the purpose of exercising that control over the Army which hitherto no one had possessed.

COLONEL DUNCAN (Finsbury, Holborn)

said, that in rising to speak on the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter 15. Barttelot) he felt a little embarrased. He thought they were right in asking for some form of inquiry into the administration of the Army; but, at the same time, he thought they would be wrong if they refused the form of inquiry that had been offered by the Government. He was sure they all meant the same thing—the Military and Naval Members. They wanted to get at the truth and to adopt a means of improving the administration of the Services of the country, and if they could avoid a Division he was sure they would be wise. He did not know that he should have risen to speak at all had it not been fur the remarks made a few nights ago by the Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Brodrick)—a Gentleman who, from his (Colonel Duncan's) own experience, he could say had mastered his work in an admirable manner and had always applied the closest attention and the greatest industry to every question brought before him. But the hon. Member had been to some extent infected with the official element which, more or less, permeated the permanent officials. The hon. Member spoke as to the manner born. He told them, almost in terms of resentment, that their Military and Naval Members were, like Oliver Twist, always asking for more. Well, the Military and Naval Members certainly did wish the good of the Service, and sometimes that meant asking for more, and sometimes asking for less; and when the hon. Member had appealed to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen sitting opposite to him to help him, he (Colonel Duncan) could not but feel it a great pity that the hon. Member had mastered his lessons so well as to have forgotten to some extent the interests of the Army, which were the interests the House were now considering. The Army was a reasonable one, and though they were told that the Military Members did not represent the Army, but only represented their constituents, he (Colonel Duncan) wished to observe that they did represent the Army in a very high and special manner. They thought only of the interests of the country, but in thinking of the interests of the country they thought also of the interests of the Army. There was no Secretary for War who had done better service than the present Secretary. He (Colonel Duncan) did not know any document which it had given him greater pleasure to read than the statesmanlike document prepared by the right hon. Gentleman which accompanied the Estimates. He should have been glad if the Estimates themselves had been presented in a better form; but in the right hon. Gentleman's own Report they saw everything to encourage them, and in any criticism they might make he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would not believe that they were actuated by any hostile feeling towards himself. In the first part of the document the right hon. Gentleman had submitted to them he referred to alterations in the organization and administration of the War Office. He (Colonel Duncan) sincerely trusted everyone in the House would pause before criticizing any one of these alterations. Let them give them a little time to work. He was sure they were all in the right direction, and it would be unfair for them to criticize them yet. Let them pause, and then he was sure that they would see that either the alterations were very good, or that they were not very good. Without exaggerating the duties of experts, and the responsibilities of experts, he was quite sure that steps had been taken in the right direction in handing over the Army to those who best understood military wants. But when they came to other parts of the right hon. Gentleman's document they were entitled to use stronger criticism. He frankly admitted that he could use, with regard to the document, no words except words of praise. The right hon. Gentleman's allusions to the defences of the Empire—that was to say, the coaling stations and the defences of our military ports—were couched in words of the highest statesmanship, and now, for the first time, they had placed before the country the real necessities of the Empire. He could not speak too highly of the scheme in the Memorandum with regard to the defences of the Empire. In the Estimates themselves, there were many changes made in regard to which he differed from the right hon. Gentleman. With regard to the medical branch of the Army, Mr. Speaker had ruled in the case of another hon. Member that subject could not be gone into. All he would say, therefore, in regard to it was that it was, of course, necessary to the Army that they should have an efficient Medical Service, and further observations upon the matter he would defer to a future occasion. But it must be remembered that one of the greatest resources of the Army was the Reserve Forces. They were told that the men were not passing through into the Reserve in any large numbers, and they were also warned that men were leaving the Reserves to an extent which the country would some day deplore. Well, it did appear to him that something should be done for the Reserve men, and that they should bear in mind that when they had taken away the cream of the lives of a large number of men, it was not fair to turn them adrift heedless of what became of them, and leaving them without any prospect which was the case in a great number of instances of employment. They had heard that various Government Departments were doing all in their power to give employment to men in the Reserve. This was the answer given to those who made inquiries on the point; but it was not one satisfactory either to himself or to those who were interested in the Reserve. As the answer of the First Lord of the Treasury was being given, he could not help remembering a very amusing story told by Artemus Ward. During the American War everyone in a certain village voted his father and brother and cousin into the ranks, but forgot to vote himself, and one wild patriot even went so far as to vote his mother-in-law there. Her Majesty's Government Departments thought it right to employ men who were in the Reserve; but there they stopped—they voted, so to speak, that the men should be employed, but did not employ them themselves to any extent. He would urge the Departments to do all they possibly could to increase the Reserve by setting an example to employers of labour. If there was any danger of the Conscription coming upon us, no doubt much would be done to spur on the Departments to give a fair share of employment to the men who had passed through the ranks of the Army, so as to give an example to ordinary employers of labour. The House would be astonished to hear how many letters he, as a Military Member of the House, received from men who felt that they had a claim on the country, having given up many years of their lives, and that they deserved some support from the State. It had been said that the rule as to the age of the men had been relaxed; but they could not take men of the age of 18, keep them seven years, and find them 18 years of age at the end of the term, it was necessary to relax the age. These men left the Army infinitely better men than they were when they joined it. They left it with something of virtue, loyalty, steadiness, and obedience—qualities which were not very largely developed in some of thorn when they entered the Service. On leaving the Army their services and their moral and social improvement ought to receive some recog- nition at the hands of the country. Did they receive it? They did not, for their reception by employers of labour had been utterly inadequate. All over the country were to be found soldiers, who ought to be a great source of strength to the country in the Reserve, in the workhouses and living under conditions which absolutely had the effect of deterring other people from entering the Army. He maintained that a soldier who was well treated and who was contented with his lot was the best recruiting sergeant in the world: but that a soldier who went about with a sense of grievance and was able to tell his fellow-citizens that, after having given up the best years of his life to the country, he was allowed by it to live in want, and was never able to rise from the ranks of the very poorest of the country, was the very worst man they could have to deal with in working up the Army or the voluntary system. They had in this demand for an inquiry perhaps forgotten one great point. So far as he understood, the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the War Department (Mr. Brodrick) had deprecated inquiry on the ground that it would reveal the weaknesses of our Army; but, to his mind, a Royal Commission, or a Committee of the House, would not only reveal weaknesses, but would reveal also strength. He did not think that the country understood the great strides which had been made in the Army of late years. The Army had become to an extent utterly unsuspected throughout the country a great scientific profession. Not long ago the heaviest shot fired only weighed some 68 lbs.; but shot was now fired weighing some 1,800 lbs., and whereas the heaviest charge of powder had been 18 lbs., charges were now fired weighing 960 lbs. Such things as this showed what immense strides had been made by the Army, and a Royal Commission, such as was suggested, would show that the Army had not only failures to record, but great successes as well. It was not possible for the country to rest satisfied unless it knew the real condition of the Army, and it could not know that unless an inquiry were granted. They did not know that the Government would grant an inquiry. They had done a great deal for the Army, and were anxious to do a great deal more. People talked of the guns that cracked; but it must not be forgotten that there were also guns that did not crack. Guns were very like men. He did not mean to say that a large proportion of men were cracked; but it could be said of guns, as it had been said of men, that "the evil that they do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones." The strength of these modern guns was almost incredible, and no doubt a great deal to re-establish confidence in our Artillery would be the result of the granting of this inquiry. If it were granted, he did not think that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would have any reason to regret it. On the other hand, any attempt to resist an inquiry would, he was sure, produce a wrong impression in the Army. If they did not let the country know the actual strength of the personnel and its matériel, it would be always living in a fool's paradise, or dreading to know the terrible truth. If an inquiry were given, Members of the House would be very much surprised to find how valuable were the resources of this country. The hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary evidently feared that it would only be weakness that would be revealed; but he thought that if they had the whole truth before them, the hon. Gentleman would have no cause for regret. He (Colonel Duncan) had been 32 years in the Army, and had been living in daily touch with it, and he could assure the House that never was the Army better or stronger than at this moment.


said, he had in the first place to agree with the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) that there ought to be some sort of inquiry into the state of our defences at the present moment; but he looked upon the hon. and gallant Member's proposal as altogether too gigantic for the occasion; for he believed that if a Commission were appointed on the lines laid down by the hon. and gallant Member it would recommend that everything in connection with the Army and Navy should be of the very best. It would recommend the manufacture of 500,000 small-bore rifles; it would recommend the putting of all our forces into apple-pie order, and would very likely recommend a very large increase in the Army. It would, for the purpose of self-defence, recommend the country to go to an enormous and extravagant expense. That was not the only objection he would have to such a Commission. As the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) had pointed out, it would take a long time for such a body to present its Report—the noble Lord, he thought, said four years—which would be by far too long a period. The next objection he took to such an inquiry was that it would have the effect of relieving the Government from responsibility, and it was the Government which should bear responsibility for the state of the defences of the Empire. It would be easy to make the Government safe if someone would undertake to pay the cheques and procure the taxes necessary to pay the cost of large increases in the Army. It would be very easy to have 50,000 more men and plenty of guns and horses if the taxpayers were willing to pay the money and such expenditure was recommended by a Commission. If for any experiment they had to carry out in consequence of a Report of a Commission they were called upon to pay £1,000,000, the bill would be regarded as a pretty large one, and he had no doubt that an experiment of a much cheaper description would serve the necessities of the time. But no doubt if the state of things were such as the noble Lord had pointed out in such glowing colours, and a Commission were appointed which would report in six weeks, such a delightful Commission they certainly ought to have. He (Colonel Nolan) had been on the Committee appointed on the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) which inquired into the circumstances of the Egyptian Campaign. That Committee found that a great many of the Supply Departments had failed in numerous respects, and had wasted a vast amount of money. They had not thrown the money about recklessly and paid no attention to the expenditure, but they had fallen into a great many mistakes—for instance, they had bought the wrong kind of flour—flour that could not stand the hot climate, and so on. But what happened in connection with the Committee. The whole of the Members of the War Office used to attend the Committee every day. He used to joke with Mem- bers of the Government in regard to the inquiry, and to one of them he said—"You will not be able to carry on this Committee with all your officials in this room if you should have a military expedition going on at the same time; "and the reply made to him was—" No doubt you are right." His observation had turned out to be accurate, because in the following year there was an expedition, and the Committee was not continued; the result being that they were unable to report as to what had been the system. The next inquiry he was on was Lord Morley's Committee, and in the course of that inquiry they did not find that the Departments were in very bad order. He (Colonel Nolan), however, had signed a Minority Report. He had practically signed that by himself; and, though he was almost alone in his view, he was glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War had acted very largely upon his Minority Report. The third Committee had been appointed on the suggestion of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, and the right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary of State for War had, in the most praiseworthy manner, shown himself not only willing to accept all the recommendations of that Committee, but to be guided by everything which came out in the course of the inquiry. His (Colonel Nolan's) experience of these Committees was that they were most useful. They stirred up the War Office, and were the only things that would stir up that Office, on account of the prevailing system. The system was to appoint to the War Office statesmen, or Members who wished to be statesmen—some of them were statesmen, and some, perhaps, would be in the fruition of time. They did not ask a Member, when they first put him into the War Office, whether he knew anything at all about War Office matters. They selected very often clever men, no doubt, but men being entirely ignorant of the Department. No doubt, these Gentlemen soon acquired a knowledge of their Departments; but they were soon promoted to other places. Great statesmen had to be in the Cabinet in order to prepare measures of the most vital consequences; and it was necessary that the Prime Minister should appoint the best men to take over those difficult duties. The young Ministers or states- men, when placed at the War Office under the present constitution of that Department, were entirely in the hands of permanent officials, and it was, therefore, of great use to have these Committees, as they had the effect of frightening the officials. A Committee or Commission was able to cross-examine the officials from evidence they got from outside people. The best inquiries, no doubt, were Committees of the House of Commons, not because Members of the House of Commons knew more about these subjects than everyone else, but because they were much more acceptable than other people. People could come to see Members of the House, and make recommendations to them. People availed themselves of the opportunity of coming down into the Lobby—probably availed themselves too much of these opportunities—and primed Members upon subjects as to which they had special knowledge. In this way, a Committee of the House of Commons became far more weighty in dealing with these matters than any other inquiry. Then the House of Commons was more independent. What, personally, did Members of the House of Commons care about the Army? They were at high pressure to-night with regard to it, no doubt, but a fortnight hence they would be equally at high pressure on the subject of Ireland or the Local Government Bill. The House might forget these Army questions too rapidly if it were not for the fact of these Committees keeping the subject before their minds and keeping them up to their work on such matters. If the Committee could finish their work before June, their Report would be most valuable, and there could be another discussion in the House, and everybody would work up for it. In his opinion, the very worst of all forms of inquiry—the most absolutely useless and damning form—was a Departmental Committee. Such a Committee would simply say that everything was right and beautiful, and would end in recommending, probably, the appointment of two more officials at large salaries, and the thing would be done accordingly. He thought a Commission would be of value if it reported quickly; but the proposal of the hon. and gallant Baronet who had moved the Amendment—though he had the greatest respect for his opinion on these sub- jects—was altogether too gigantic. If the Amendment were adopted as it at present stood, they would be handing the functions of the House of Commons to the Commission. With reference to the recommendations of Lord Morley's Committee, he was glad the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had not adopted the Report of the majority, and had not laid it down that a certain number of appointments should be handed over to military men and a certain number to civilians. The right hon. Gentleman had adopted the right principle in deciding upon taking the best man for each Department. As to what had been said with regard to the 43-ton gun, it was true that it had been manufactured by Colonel Maitland; but Colonel Maitland was not responsible for the failure; that was the fault of the designer, who had not known what was discovered by Herr Krupp, that it required two pieces of metal to make a gun. The 43-ton gun had been manufactured in only one piece, and that had been the cause of its failure. The whole of the Committee were unanimously of opinion that they had got the fullest information from Colonel Maitland, and that he had shown himself a perfect master of every detail of iron and steel. They had had some of the best steel men of the United Kingdom on the Committee, and they all pronounced that opinion. In addition to that, Colonel Maitland had done one of the most valuable things that had ever been done in connection, with the Army of this country. He was the first man to introduce breech-loading guns into the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Loader of the House (Mr. W. H. Smith) had no doubt been the first in Ministerial circles who had gone in for them. The right hon. Gentleman had been two years behind himself (Colonel Nolan), but he was sorry to say that he had only approved of the principle just as he was going out of Office. Colonel Maitland, however, had been the first to introduce the principle of breech-loading guns in the Arsenals, and carried it through. For a long time this country had gone on a wrong tack, but instead of England being in the last position as to ordnance as it used to be in, it was now numbered in the first position in Europe in respect of its guns. But Colonel Maitland had introduced another thing. He had been anxious to change from iron to steel, and had written to the War Office on the subject, without being able to get a satisfactory answer. At last, however, he had set up a steel factory for himself—converting an iron factory into a steel factory, and the Government had not raised any objection. A man who would do that was undoubtedly the proper man to be put at the head of the whole artillery manufacture of the country. He (Colonel Nolan) did not think the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War could have made a better selection. There was another point with regard to which he (Colonel Nolan) was almost alone in the minority in regard to it, but still it was a suggestion, which, if it had been adopted, would have effected the saving of £500,000. It was a point which had not come before the Committee of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, and therefore, he had no opportunity of examining upon it, although, if there was a new inquiry, he hoped that the matter would be gone into. The principle to which he alluded was one which was adopted by all merchants in their private businesses. It was thought that they should buy their stores by open tender—by open advertisements. It was all very well to say that there was a list of firms in Ireland, but he knew that many firms were kept away be the difficulties connected with this arrangement. The Government did not buy their goods—or used not to do so—by open tender, but confined their purchases to two or three firms, and it was the same with regard to almost everything else they required. The consequence was that the Government very often bought things at a very much larger price than what they could have got them for if they had bought them by open tender. When he said "open tender," he meant that the Government should advertise for what they wanted; but he did not mean that they should always accept the lowest tender. No doubt they should do so unless there was strong reason to the contrary, and they would in most cases do be, knowing that if they did not their conduct was likely to be made the subject of severe criticism in the House. On the Committee of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington he had asked the Director General of Artillery whether he could not often got goods under cost price, and this official had replied that he would not care for such goods. But it was a fact that they could often get goods of the best quality under cost price. It frequently paid a manufacturer, who, no doubt, made up for it afterwards, to manufacture under cost price rather than discharge his hands and discontinue his business. Goods in this way were sometimes to be obtained 10 and 20 per cent under cost price. It was not, however, from permanent officials that they were likely to get these recommendations. He agreed that there was nothing to be said against the rectitude of these gentlemen; but they were not experts on all subjects, and they could not always rely upon their own judgment, the result being that there was a constant temptation for them to deal with a limited number of contractors, knowing that these contractors, in order to retain the monopoly, would not be likely to supply them with inferior articles. The result of this was that very often much larger sums were paid than the articles purchased could be procured for elsewhere. He would strongly recommend the War Department to look into this matter very carefully, and see if they could get the manufacturers to deal with them more through open tender than they had done up to the present. He did not think in other respects they would be able to save much in the Manufacturing Departments, which were very well managed. He did not, on the whole, think that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to make much reduction in the Manufacturing Departments. It appeared to him that the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington was not quite fair in his remarks when he compared the two English Army Corps with the three Army Corps in Germany, and said that the latter cost little more than half of what the former cost. He pointed out that there was a great discrepancy in this respect between the two countries, the pay of the officers being much less in Germany than in England. It might be, however, that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to make some improvements in this direction. He was glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman was making some efforts at reduction; and, among other things, he pro- posed to reduce the expense of the Medical Department. That was a very good step to take, because there was considerable room for improvement in the Department. He (Colonel Nolan) knew of the case of a man of 44 years of age who was receiving £450 a-year from Government; he was a good officer and willing to work longer, but the Government offered him £500 a-year to go out. That was an instance of the way in which the Medical Department was managed. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the system of the Paymasters' Department was extravagant, and that he was going to make some reductions there also. There could be no doubt that the whole system of the Department was cumbersome and expensive. For instance, the men were obliged to give up their old clothing: among other things their caps. If they did not give up that they were fined a farthing, and that farthing had to be entered in the book, and by the time it was got it must cost the country a considerable sum. But there was a large number of other articles of old clothing treated in this way, and the trouble taken with them would be represented by a very large sum. The right hon. Gentleman had no doubt paid attention to these matters, and would, probably, remedy the defects complained of. He (Colonel Nolan) was glad there was not to be any increase in the expenditure for schools. Nothing, in his opinion, was more ridiculous than this expenditure, which was all very well a few years ago, but was quite unnecessary now that board schools had sprung up in England and Ireland. The soldiers hated the system which required them to attend schools, and certainly the taxpayers hated it, because they had to pay for the schoolmasters. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War need not be afraid that he will have too many new charges put on the Estimates. The permanent officials would Boycott any man who came forward with new items of expenditure, but they were determined not to allow anything to be taken off the Estimates if they could help it, and it was to that point the right hon. Gentleman should direct his attention. Altogether, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had had a very uncomfortable time of it; but, for the short space that he had been in Office, he (Colonel Nolan) thought the right hon. Gentleman had done exceedingly well. He believed, however, the right hon. Gentleman could effect further economies without knocking out a single man. From that point of view a further inquiry, instead of injuring, would help the right hon. Gentleman; but to go into the wide question of the defence of the Empire would simply be equivalent to shuffling the whole problem for a couple of years, and then they would be told to spend £7,000,000 or £8,000,000.

Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling, &c.)

I desire to make a few observations on the subject of the proposal of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North - West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), especially as that proposal has been developed tonight by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill). Now, having listened to most of the speeches in the debate, I may, perhaps, not be saying too much if I express the opinion that there may be some advantage in recalling the attention of the House to some very elementary facts relating to the nature of the Constitutional system under which we live and conduct our Business. The direct responsibility to Parliament of the Ministers who control the affairs of the nation is the very keystone of that system, and no innovation could be imagined more fatal to the Constitution than to adopt any change whatever which, whether temporarily or permanently, invalidated that Ministerial responsibility on which our whole system rests. I observe it has lately become the fashion, not so much among practical politicians as among eminent men in the country, literary, scientific, sometimes judicial, who tender to the world their opinion, or who may be called in to give their opinion on some branch of administration, to speak lightly of representative government, covertly if not openly to sneer at it, and to attribute to it some supposed defects. They speak of it as being cumbrous, unreasoning, illogical, and costly. Now I venture to say that, whether it can or cannot be proved that representative government is open to such objections, there is no doubt that in the view of the people of this country its advantages greatly out- weigh any disadvantages which may attach to it; and it is the first business of this House to see that by nothing that it does shall that principle of Ministerial responsibility suffer damage at our hands. It is easy, however, to see that that principle is endangered, not only by the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Sussex, but by certain other ideas which are in vogue at the present day. In the first place, with regard to that proposal, I agree with every word said by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) on Monday night. It is not only that the duties to be transferred to such a Commission are among the most ordinary functions of the Executive Government, whose discretion in the matter would be superseded. It is not only that the questions with which the Commission would deal are questions which depend largely upon matters of policy which would not be submitted at all to the Commission. It is not only that the recommendations of the Commission would for years to come hamper the action of the Executive. It is not only that the Commission would not be answerable to Parliament for its recommendations, or for the success of those recommendations, and that on the contrary, it might happen that those recommendations would be used to cover or excuse neglect or mistakes on the part of the Executive Government. Besides, and above all these considerations—serious enough in themselves—there is this further consideration, to my mind the most fatal of all, that while the men who would compose such a body—eminent men no doubt, and capable and patriotic—would make suggestions involving large expenditure, they would themselves have no share whatever in the task of finding the cash necessary to defray the cost of the expenditure which they recommended. The point is not one of mere theory, but of practice. It may well be thought that the Secretary of State for War has enough to do in deciding questions as to the organization and establishments of the Army, and the supply of stores for its use. But, besides this, he is a Member of the Cabinet, who knows what burden can be placed upon the taxpayer, and he has, therefore, the further task of adjusting the demands, not unreasonably made upon him by his Department, to what he knows to be the money available. This is apparently regarded now-a-days as a somewhat low and grovelling view of the case. The eminent Judge who presided over the Commission which has often been alluded to, and who in his Report frequently allows his rhetoric to carry him off his feet, in talking of the present system, by which professional officers make full demands, and the Minister reduces these to the amount that can be reasonably spent on Army service, says that it cannot possibly succeed, because it is a system of "extravagance controlled by stinginess." The words he uses, of course, merely beg the whole question; it might equally be described as a system of "generosity checked by prudence." It is, in fact, a system of common sense, and it is the system we each try, with more or less success, to apply in our common daily life. But the House will observe—and this is the point I wish to make—that the whole of this necessity, which constitutes the greatest difficulty of administration, of having regard to the burdens to be laid on the taxpayer, would be altogether absent from the Commission. But I am bound to say, bad as was the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member for the North-West Division of Sussex, it was not bad enough for the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington.




I said, bad as the proposal was, it was not bad enough for the noble Lord, for he proposes something worse, and would constitute the Commission entirely of military men. He would capitulate to the demands of the military men, and allow them to fix what they required as the expenditure of the country. That would practically be handing over the control of the expenditure to soldiers, and I need hardly point out that such an arrangement is practically irreconcilable with responsibility in this House. There was a time—the time of pocket boroughs—when it was possible to secure the presence in this House of the best soldiers and the best sailors of the day; but that has passed away. No one will suggest that the administration of the Army and Navy should be placed in he hands of anyone but soldiers and. sailors of the highest rank, character, and distinction in the Profession; and although we have in this House—as Members of the House—officers who are highly distinguished and deserving of all praise and respect, it does not follow that we find among them individual officers who would fill adequately the high places to which I have referred. We may, therefore, put aside as impracticable the idea of extinguishing the civilian element in the administration of the Army; but, even far short of that complete transference of power to the heads of the Army, it seems to me that in the comparatively limited scheme of the present Secretary of State there is some danger of mistake. The right hon. Gentleman intends by his scheme to concentrate upon the Military Department in the War Office the responsibility for furnishing the Army with all stores—both for determining and stating the requirements, and also for supplying them. But to whom will it be responsible? It will not have the responsibility of which I have been speaking—namely, direct responsibility to this House; the responsibility will be to the Secretary of State. He will remain the person responsible to Parliament; and wherever that responsibility lies, there will also be the power. It is the Secretary of State, assisted by civilians, who really is the master hand, and I am afraid, therefore, if the other impression has prevailed it may lead to some disappointment. It certainly will lead to disappointment if it is supposed that the step now taken will greatly increase the power of the Military Authorities. Nor will it do in future for the right hon. Gentleman or his successors to use the plea, in order to cover errors or neglect, that he has given the control in these matters to the soldiers; the responsibility will be his, and his alone. We are told, indeed—and I think some witnesses who were examined before the Committee of the noble Lord have rather tended to convey that impression—that if the Military Authorities were allowed to have their own way great economies would be effected. Well, that was a promise that was made in a sketchy way, but I am not aware of the ground for it, and our experience hardly justifies it. We have a very large department of public expenditure placed practically in the hands of a most dis- tinguished body of men—I mean the Corps of Royal Engineers. They have had for years the charge of the whole business of building barracks and erecting fortifications in this country. I do not wish to say a word in disparagement of them; but I will say that the very last quality which would be attached to their management is the attribute of economy. Then, again, we are told that if civilians were dispensed with, and if the Military Authorities had it all in their own hands alterations of method and organization would be more readily adopted. This, also, I venture to question. On the Headquarters Staff of the Army at present there are officers of distinction and experience, and of enlightened and progressive views. Those officers have been in favour of the great reforms of recent years: of the abolition of Purchase, whereby the commissioned ranks of the Army were relieved from the incubus of money investment; of enlistment for short service, adopted at a time when long service had notoriously failed; and of giving to the Infantry a more efficient and elastic organization. But will any one of those distinguished officers say that a single one of those reforms would have been carried into effect if it had not been for the aid, the influence, and even the pressure of the civilian administrators in the War Office, backed by public opinion? Therefore, I regard with some degree of scepticism the promises which depend upon the weakening of civilian control in the War Office, Coming back to the Amendment of my hon. and gallant Friend, it practically means increased expenditure. No doubt he would say it would be made up of savings from the extravagant cost of the Army, and here he joins hands with the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington. Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to say that I heard his speech with surprise and deep disappointment. There was a great deal of interesting matter in it, great knowledge of particular features of Army organization, and there was a great desire to expose anything open to criticism in the proposals of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War; but I failed to see the signs of his ardent love for economy. The noble Lord has done such good service in awakening public interest in the subject, and in making economy popular, that I hardly like even to appear not fully to appreciate his position; but I would say that in the animadversions which he made on the existing state of affairs sufficient account was not taken of the difficulties in our way. I agree with the noble Lord as to the costliness of the Army, and I believe great reductions could be made in its cost on condition—and that is an essential condition—that all persons concerned or interested in the matter co-operate for that purpose. But there is no use of underrating the obstacles which stand in our way in this country. The noble Lord has referred to the case of Germany. That is an instance with reference to which we ought to bear in mind the French proverb—Comparaison n'est pas raison. In attempting a comparison we must be sure that the circumstances are parallel. The noble Lord, for instance, quoted the case of a Cavalry regiment at Berlin which had perfect independence, financial and administrative, which was in all respects totus teres atque rotundus, having its money and supplies in its own hand. But such a system is incompatible with our rules of Parliamentary account. The noble Lord left out of consideration the fact that we have in this House an organization for the purpose of examining and auditing the expenditure of public money in this country; and the truth is that the cause of the greater part of the centralization complained of—certainly the cause of the bloated scale on which the War Office is established—is the jealous control exercised by this House and its Accounts Committee over the expenditure of public money. We have, however, some experience of systems in which officers of regiments have been allowed to manage their own affairs; and I am not sure that the history of the clothing Colonels should lead us to renew any such proposal. I admit that the picture which the noble Lord draws, in comparing the German Army with ours, is startling in the extreme, but you do not dispose of the case by saying that you make allowance for conscription. In Germany every civil interest in the country, public and private, is practically placed at the disposal of their great military organization. Our Estimates have, at least, the merit of bringing to the surface and placing before the country practically every item of the cost of the Army and Navy Services. But in Germany, on the other hand, apart from the power they have of dipping into other funds, there is a great deal of expenditure practically incurred by the people of the country which is really incapable of being assessed in figures at all. It must also be borne in mind that the necessities, and, therefore, the system, of Germany are simple, uniform, and homogeneous in character. Germany has no foreign service; she has no India, no small wars; the one thing which she has to prepare for is a great European war, which would be conducted either in her own territory or within some conterminous country similar to her own. She, therefore, knows what she has to provide for; and while she is thus obliged to maintain, portentous military establishments, from the necessity for which our insular position happily frees us, her position admits of a uniformity of system which in our small Army is impossible. I would not, however, despair in this country, if we had a tabula rasa, of creating an organization for the Army much cheaper and much more efficient than we have, and be it remembered that the organization of the Army is the key to the question. What has our experience been? In this country, wherever we turn, if we wish to make the slightest improvement, we are met by vested interests, by prejudices, by prescription, by sentiment, and by traditions of which we may have our own opinion, but which it is impossible for us to overlook, and which are so supported by opinion both within and without the Army, as well as by opinion in the House, that they cannot be ignored. I speak of the past with some experience, and I should be happy indeed if, under the stimulus of the noble Lord, we may be able in the future to overcome those obstacles. I shall mention one or two illustrations which have come within my own knowledge. In looking broadly at the Estimates, the most striking feature is the enormous amount of the Non-Effective Vote, which reaches the sum of £3,750,000. Of this sum out-pensions to soldiers cost £1,750,000. Not a penny of that sum, let me say, has been incurred owing to the claims of any man enlisted since short service was introduced. It is the legacy which comes to us from the long service system, and I believe it has now reached its highest point. Passing from the men, a much more significant item is the retirement of officers, amounting to nearly £1,500,000. What is the history of that sum? Some years ago Purchase was abolished, and I do not think there are many hon. Members who now doubt that the abolition of Purchase was in itself a good thing. At the time it was abolished it was thought necessary, in consequence of those strong feelings to which I have referred, to make a promise to the Army that the flow of promotion would be kept up to the standard then prevailing. It was an unfortunate circumstance, because the flow of promotion was at that time above its normal rate. A Royal Commission, with an eminent Judge at its head—and let the House mark here the effect of a Royal Commission—was appointed to look into the question. It made several recommendations, and among other things it recommended an elaborate scheme of compulsory retirement up and down the line of a man's career in the Army. The Government of the day—not a Liberal Government—hastily, though not unnaturally, adopted en bloc the recommendations of that Commission, and the result has been nothing but expense to the taxpayer and discomfort and grievance in the Army ever since. All the efforts of succeeding Secretaries of State have been directed to modifying the evils thus created. I am speaking my own opinion when I say that the whole plan upon which that scheme and subsequent action of Governments were founded is entirely wrong. I disapprove of it from beginning to end, but I do not blame those who adopted it, for the reason that in the state of public opinion which then existed they could not have taken any other course. But if it had been in Germany, does anyone suppose that such a scheme would have been adopted? My idea is that in the Army rank should follow duty, and the officers should be selected for the duty to be performed. We should thus afford reasonable retirement, but avoid all compulsory terms. But how was it possible to adopt such a system in this country, with all the sacred claims of officers, and the jealousy with which any departure from the old principle of seniority is regarded. In fact, when the principle of selection began to be used somewhat more freely there was hardly an officer promoted but a question was asked in the House, or certain paragraphs appeared in the newspapers about it, and the words favouritism and jobbery were freely thrown about. Another instance occurred with reference to the organization and localization of Infantry. I well remember that in 1871, when I first went to the War Office as Financial Secretary, I was at once handed papers by several able men on this subject. It was the problem of the day. Everyone was agreed that the system of organizing our Infantry in single battalions with nothing to depend upon but themselves was an ineffective system. It had been found in the Crimea that the battalions which belonged to the Rifle Brigade and the Guards maintained a condition of efficiency long after the single battalion regiments had become practically extinct. There were, accordingly, proposals for regiments of two, three, and four battalions. My own belief is that three would be better than two, and four better than three. But what would it have involved? It would have involved the doubling of all the regiments in the British Army, and the obliteration from a large part of it of all those sacred memories and those records of past glories which are attached to the different regiments. It would have involved something more. There arose the question of county interests and county jealousies; each county in England insisted on having at least a regiment of its own; every country town must remain the headquarters of a Militia battalion; and in the face of all those difficulties it is small blame to those who were responsible that they had to adopt a compromise. They adopted a system of linked battalions. That went on for some years, and had to be replaced by a more thorough amalgamation of the battalions; but the whole system has resulted in the duplication of brigade depôts at great expense beyond what was necessary, and at the same time it fails of full efficiency, because of the modifications and the compromises which the influences to which I referred compelled us to adopt. I think these considerations go far to show why it is our Army costs so much more than the German Army. Does the House imagine that if some new organization was found necessary in Germany any modification or compromise would be for a moment tolerated in favour of local jealousies, however natural, or of traditional associations, however honourable and worthy they might be? Now, Sir, I would venture to say that it is not enough to make economic speeches, as the noble Lord sometimes does. It is not enough for him to endeavour in Committee upstairs to expose anomalies and extravagances. If this House is really desirous of seeing economies effected, it must set its face against, and refuse all encouragement to, those sentiments and interests, such as those to which I have referred, which prevent the adoption of a better system. The House, also, must set its face strongly against individual proposals for expenditure sought to be forced on responsible Ministers. I trust I am not saying too much if I warn the House against giving any countenance to the growing tendency which is shown by various classes of men in the Army and Navy to enter into associations for enforcing their own interests. I have received within the last few days circulars from the chief engine-room artificers, the gunners, Royal Navy; and the Army quartermasters. These classes of public servants form associations, they earwig Members of Parliament, they canvass for interest in the constituencies, and I have oven heard of an hon. Member who interested himself on behalf of a certain class being presented by his clients with a handsome piece of plate. What is the result? Concessions are made to these various classes, not from conviction of the justice of their claims, but on account of their importunity. Other classes require similar treatment, and so the ball is kept rolling. And besides classes and individuals in the public Service, other interests in the country are desirous of an increased expenditure, and hon. Members are often made their unconscious mouthpiece. There are particular localities, particular trades, particular firms, particular contractors or inventors, whose interest lies in pushing and urging, under the guise of patriotism, certain forms of expenditure; and I trust hon. Members will pardon me if I venture—having had a long experience—to warn them against being led into taking action, in all innocence, on behalf of such interests—action which can only be mischievous and dis- couraging to honest and prudent administration. These are some of the causes of the excessive cost compared with the efficiency of our Army system. The remedy is to be found in the exhibition by the House of a resolutely economical temper, and a determination not to allow itself to be influenced by individual interest, prejudice, or sentiment. It will require much nerve, patience, and perseverance to do this. If it is done, it is, in my opinion, well within the capacity of statesmanship to furnish at a more reasonable cost a greater and more effective force than we now possess; but of this I am sure, that the worst step that we could take—the worst blunder we could commit—would be, by the appointment of a Commission such as has been suggested, to relieve from his proper and direct responsibility the Secretary of State for War, who is the responsible Minister of the Crown.


It is only by the indulgence of the House that I can answer the questions that have been put to me. First of all, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) asked me two questions with regard to the scheme. The first question was whether the control over the Director General of Ordnance Factories was complete. No doubt there is complete control over the Director General, as he cannot undertake any expenditure without the sanction of the Financial Secretary. With regard to his second question, I have only to say that my intention is that those spending the money shall have full responsibility for it, and I will make any alteration of words that may be required to give effect to that intention. With respect to the question of the hon. and gallant Member for North Galway (Colonel Nolan) in regard to small stoppages from soldiers' pay, I will take care that for the future small charges of less than 3d. for old clothing deficient will be dealt with so as to avoid their being matter of account. As regards the very admirable speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling (Mr. Campbell - Bannerman), I entirely agree with him as to the importance of preserving the responsibility of the Secretary of State for War. That responsibility is, no doubt, complete when he acts on the advice of his Military Advisers; but it exists to a greater extent -when he differs from them. If he agrees with them, as the Secretary of State did with regard to the reduction of the Horse Artillery, he sometimes gets into a great scrape with the country; but if he differs from them, he takes upon himself a still greater responsibility. I do not think anyone can accuse me of being unable to trust my Military Advisers. I have great confidence in their experience, and I think that at no previous time was the Army so thoroughly determined to do its duty to the country, or the chief advisors of the Secretary of State so thoroughly trained for their duty and so desirous of carrying it out. Under their advice I have initiated the reforms which I have explained to the House, and which, in spite of some criticism, will, I believe, receive the favourable judgment of the country. With respect to the Estimates before us, it is necessary for the service of the country that the two first Votes for men and money should be taken to-night. No one is more anxious than I that the hon. Member for Preston should have an opportunity of bringing forward the Question of which he has given Notice; but I must appeal to him to postpone the speech he intended to make to-night to another occasion. On our part we will undertake to bring on a Vote at as early a period as possible to give him the opportunity he desires.


If the Votes are going to be taken upstairs, how can the Government bring them on here'?


That is a difficulty. If my noble Friend will agree in accelerating the progress of Vote 12 in the Committee upstairs it can then be discussed here at any early day.


May I put one question to my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury? It has been proposed to us that a Royal Commission should inquire "To what extent our present naval and military system is adapted to the national wants." That Commission is to have full powers, to be a small Commission of eminent men, and is to report to this House as soon, as possible. I wish to ask whether that is the proposal which my right hon. Friend makes in substitution of the Motion?


I said on Monday evening that the Government were perfectly prepared to give an inquiry of the character which has been mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend. But as regards this particular Motion, we can only meet it by a direct negative. I have already explained to the House that we have no alternative.


Do I understand that it is to be a Royal Commission according to the words I have read out?

[No reply.]


repeated his question, and asked for a decided answer.


I stated on Monday that I was prepared to grant an inquiry in these terms— The extent to which our present naval and military systems, as at present organized and administered, are adapted to the national wants. But I distinctly refused to grant a Commission which should in any way lessen the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government, or which should in any way refer to the amount of force required or to the provision to be made. I told my hon. Friend that I was prepared to grant any inquiry which would not in the slightest degree lessen the responsibility of the Government of the day.


I should like to understand what the system is which is to be inquired into. Is it to be an inquiry into the organization of the Army, or into the organization and administration of the War Office? Is the inquiry to be into the organization of the Army, or into the organization of those who manage and control the Army?


I think that my right hon. Friend will see that it is utterly impossible for me to debate at this hour of the night what the meaning of this word" system "is. I can do no more than adhere strictly to the words in which I expressed the intention of the Government on Monday evening. I then expressed the meaning which the Government attached to them.


May I ask one question? Were these words which my right hon. Friend has read out to the House agreed upon between him and my hon. and gallant Friend before the debate began this evening?


No, Sir. There was no agreement whatever between my hon. and gallant Friend and myself. I went to my hon. and gallant Friend yesterday and gave him the words, and he took them into his consideration. We arrived at no agreement whatever on the subject


Does the right hon. Gentleman retreat from those words?


No; I do not retreat from anything I have ever said.


I do not in the slightest degree desire to controvert anything which the right hon. Gentleman has now said in extreme good faith; but, having been one of those who accompanied the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) in his interview with the right hon. Gentleman, I must say that the right hon. Gentleman did not convey to me the impression that he has just now communicated to the House. I am in the recollection of the House when I say that the word "Commission" with regard to that inquiry has several times been used by Ministers and by those on the Front Bench in the course of this discussion, and I can only express on my own part, and on the part of many others with whom I am acting in this matter—I believe including a very large number of Members independent of Party on both sides of the House—that we now hear with extreme regret that the proposed inquiry instead of being a Royal Commission is only to be a Committee. Is it to be a Royal Commission? If the right hon. Gentleman will say that it is to be so, I will apologize for taking up the time of the House in asking this question.


I have already said that I have never changed from the words which I have used. The words agreed upon by my Colleagues and myself on Monday evening I read out to the House. I adhere to them, and I adhere to every word I said on Monday evening. My hon. and gallant Friend will bear me out, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite will bear me out, as to the effect of the interview I had yesterday.


We on this Bench are anxious in this matter of an inquiry to support the right hon. Gentleman. One question we now want to ask is—Is the inquiry to be in respect of the strength and expenditure, or only with respect to the organization of the Army? If it is only with respect to the organization of the Army, we are perfectly satisfied.


That is so, Sir. I have expressly kept out any question of strength and expenditure. The words I have read do not include any question of strength, material, stores, financial provision, or of fortifications. I distinctly refused to admit any such questions whatever as matters of inquiry by the Commission.


As one of those favoured with the interview yesterday, I will say that up to the present moment I remained under the absolute impression that there was an agreement in the terms set forth in the Resolution that has just been read by my hon. and gallant Friend behind me.


then again asked whether it was to be a Royal Commission?



Question put, and agreed to.

Main Question proposed.

MR. MURPHY (Dublin, St. Patrick's)

who had an Amendment en the Paper relating to contracts for works under the War Department in Ireland, next rose, and was about to address the House, when—


rose and said: I must appeal to you, Sir, that the Question be now put.

Question put accordingly, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided:—Ayes 250; Noes 75: Majority 175.—(Div. List, No. 32.)

Main Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 268; Noes 63: Majority 205.—(Div. List, No. 33.)