§ Considered in Committee. (In the Committee.)
§ (1.) £57,200, Chaplain's Department.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
I object both to the form and the matter of this Vote. In the first place it is important for the purpose of comparing the Votes year by year that they should always have the same name and refer to the same thing. Now, I should like to ask my right hon. Friend why it is that within the last two years the name of this Vote has been changed. It used to be called the Vote for Divine Service; it is now the Chaplain's Vote. Why has the name been changed? What, too, is the whole cost of Divine Service for the Army? Anybody, looking at 35 this Vote, would suppose that the total cost of the Department is only £58,000. But that is not so, and I believe it costs us in cash alone £86,000. That is a matter which requires explanation. If the Vote does not include all the payments, then it is misleading. Neither the sums expended under other heads on the same subject nor the real cost of the charges shown appear in the particulars given. Therefore, we have not the real facts before us. It would be useful to compare the salaries of the Army Chaplains with the payments made to clergymen of the Established Church, and in doing that it would be necessary to take into consideration the question of residences. Now, there is nothing to show us whether the clergy, whose salaries we vote under this head, have residence allowed them or not. We ought also to know what allowances they get. There are, I believe, three different kinds of allowances; yet under this Vote we only have set out the allowance for servants, which comes to something like £1,500. Then, I find that, under Vote 10, there is a forage allowance to the chaplains amounting to no less than £860. Surely all these are facts and figures which ought to be brought clearly on the face of the Vote, so that we should know exactly how much it is we are paying for Divine Service in the Army. So much for the form of the Vote. One word only as to the system. It does seem to me that a considerable saving might be effected if the recommendations of the late Colonel Duncan were carried out. He told the Committee who inquired into this Vote that a great saving might be effected if, instead of having chaplains at every station, we were to utilize the services of the parochial clergy a great deal more than we do. That can.not be done in a hurry, but I hope my right hon. Friend will gradually see his way to effect some economy in that direction. Again, we seem to have a most curious way of paying the chaplains. In no other Department of the State, except that of the Civil Service, do we recognize the principle that a man's salary shall be increased by the sheer dint of living. Chaplains go up by one dull round of routine, and the efficient gets exactly the same amount in the end as the non-efficient. I think discrimination ought to be 36 exercised amongst the two classes, because they exist as much amongst the chaplains as they do amongst the officers of the Army. Furthermore, in the Established Church we have no system of pensions for the clergy who are past their work, and I cannot see why in the Army, after a not very long service, chaplains are entitled to pension. There are hundreds of livings in the gifts of the Crown and the Lord' Chancellor, some of which might with advantage to the public interest be reserved for some of the men who have done good work in the Army, instead of giving them pensions.
* MR. STANHOPE
My hon. Friend has complained that we do not give the total cost of the Chaplains Department, but in reality we do in another portion of the Estimates show the total cost. We have what is called a total cost statement, which was issued at the same time as the Estimates.
§ MR. HANBURY
There is a large amount of money voted under other Votes, like Vote 10 for instance, which is not alluded to at all in the statement.
* MR. STANHOPE
I do not think my hon. Friend can have looked at the statement. The total cost statement shows the whole cost of the Chaplains Department.
§ MR. HANBURY
My contention is, that if the statement at the end of the Estimates is to be worth anything at ally it must be complete, and it is not.
* MR. STANHOPE
It has been thought best to keep the Chaplains Department separate; in the total cost return is given the total cost of the Divine Service Department. Then my hon. Friend asks why the name of the Vote has been changed. That question was discussed by the Committee upstairs, and the reason of the change was fully explained. The Vote used to be called Vote for Divine Service, but it was incorporated because it did not give the-whole cost of Divine Service in the Army; it gave the cost of the chaplains, but not the total cost of Divine Service. Then my hon. Friend asked, what is the actual cost of the clergy employed? and he pressed the point whether, instead of having so many chaplains, we could not employ a larger number of officiating clergy? My answer is, that we de employ as many officiating clergy as we 37 think sufficient for the Public Service. I pledged myself to look very carefully into the matter, and the result of my investigation is that it would never do to rely upon local clergy. In the first places what has been found is that it is absolutely essential that the chaplain should devote the whole of his time to their duties, and administer to the troops not only occasional compulsory services, but a number of voluntary services, besides administer to the wives and families of the soldiers. Then the hon. Gentleman asks why chaplains should have pensions. The chaplains have no settled home; they must have a large proportion of foreign service; they have to go off at short notice; they are exposed to the dangers of varying climates; they are often required to risk their lives, and I think it is not unreasonable that in the end they should be entitled to a moderate pension from the State. It is true that chaplains can retire at an early age, but often we utilise the services of clergy who can retire.
§ Vote agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £29,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Pay of the Staff of Military Prisons and other Charges for the Administration of the Military Law, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1890.
§ * MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green)
Upon this Vote I wish to know what is the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Brighton (Sir. W. Marriott)? I find from the Estimates that no salary is paid this year for the office of Judge Advocate General, but I certainly understood that the office continued to be held without salary by the right hon. Gentleman. Is the right hon. Gentleman Judge Advocate General or is he not? If he is, I submit he ought to be here to answer for the Department for which he is nominally responsible. It is important that the work of the Judge Advocate General should be well done. The office was established for the protection of the private soldier. In the first place, it is the duty of the Judge Advocate General to consider all the findings of Courts Martial in the Army, and 38 he is empowered to set aside any finding of a Court Martial which is not justified by legal evidence. Again, the Judge Advocate General may go a great way to secure the equity and the equality of sentences of Military Courts. A right hon. Gentleman who was Judge Advocate General for five years has told us that where he thought the severity of sentences was excessive, he made representations on the subject in the proper quarter, and that in every case except one his representations received attention. A Committee of this House has reported that the office ought to be entirely independent of the Military authorities, that the Judge Advocate General ought to be a lawyer of high standing, and that he should be adequately remunerated. It has been said that the Department is overmanned; in fact, some little time ago the office of one Deputy Judge Advocate was abolished. Now, it seems, there is important work to be done in respect to the sister service, which might be appropriately discharged by the Department of the Judge Advocate General. At the present time the findings of Naval Courts Martial are not submitted to the corresponding officer—namely, the Judge Advocate of the Fleet, unless the Admiralty choose to so refer them. The proposal I would throw out is that the Department of Judge Advocate General might be properly utilised by making the findings of Naval Courts Martial subject to review and scrutiny in the same way in which the findings of Military Courts Martial are. Another portion of this Vote relates to military prisons. The Committee which sat upstairs last year devoted considerable attention to this subject, and reported that the whole of the question seems to require the careful consideration of Parliament and of the Secretary of State. Certain facts were brought before the Committee which justified that recommendation. It was found by a Return, prepared by Mr. Knox of the War office, that the cost of the establishment of military prisons in 1887–8 was over £72,000, and attention was also drawn to the fact that in the United Kingdom alone we maintain no fewer than nine military prisons, although the daily average number of prisoners in these prisons was for the last recorded year only 865. 39 The Committee suggested that the number of these military prisons should be considerably reduced and the cost thus diminished, and they were supported in that suggestion by Colonel Lascelles, who holds a very high office in the Army. The right hon. Gentleman has had that subject apparently under his consideration, but he has not reduced the number of military prisons on account of the cost of transporting the prisoners which would thereby be incurred. Well, that argument deserves very great weight, but at the same time I must point out that it was obviously before the minds of the Committee when they made their suggestion, and they evidently thought that, notwithstanding some increased cost of transport, the expenditure, upon the whole, would be very materially diminished by the reduction of the number of prisons. The right hon. Gentleman has, however, reduced the establishments of the prisons, although he has not diminished their number. Now it is very satisfactory, as a rule, to find establishments cut down, but it is very important that they should be cut down judiciously. There is one respect in which the cost has been diminished to which I invite the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. In respect of seven out of the nine military prisons, the Governor is to be replaced by a chief warder with a salary of £125 a year. Now, I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he considers it safe that the chief control of a prison, of all institutions in the world, should be entrusted to a person whose qualifications are considered to be adequately remunerated by a wage of £2 10s. a week? I think in this matter the desire to cut down the estimate has prevailed over the interests of the soldiers. There is one respect in which it seems to me that the number of military prisoners might be materially reduced. I refer to the number of times which some of these prisoners have been convicted. I find that one man has been convicted of violence and disobedience to superiors no less than 14 times; another man has been convicted 13 times of being absent without leave; another 12 times of drunkenness; another 10 times of disgraceful conduct. Now, I think that the Army must run a great risk of being demoralized if you permit men to remain in it who have been convicted of 40 disgraceful conduct as many as 10 times. I think it would be well from every point of view if men of that description were regarded as very bad bargains, as far as the Army is concerned, and got rid of. One word with regard to flogging. I find that 29 soldiers were flogged in military prisons in 1887, and that there is a remarkable disparity between the numbers of floggings in different prisons. No less than 12 men were flogged in Brixton Prison. Gosport Prison contains about the same number of long term prisoners, and I find that, whilst in Brixton Prison, out of 1,231 men, 12 were flogged; in Gosport Prison, out of 689 prisoners, only one was flogged. I should like to know who is responsible for the floggings in the two prisons. This is a matter of very considerable importance. Some years ago Parliament deliberately abolished flogging in the Army in time of peace, but we find we are reduced to this anomaly that, whilst we understand that soldiers cannot be flogged for military offences in time of peace, by the facile intervention of the military prison they can be flogged, and merely for offences against discipline and not of a disgraceful character. I think that is a matter well deserving the attention of the right hon. Gentleman and the country. I had put down a notice on the Paper to reduce this Vote by £5,000, but I have discovered since I put that notice down that the cost of military prisons has been reduced this year, as compared with last year, by £4,000, so I think it would be hardly reasonable on my part to move the reduction as I originally intended; but in order to secure some explanation from the right hon. Gentleman upon the matters I have touched—and more especially in regard to the present tenure of the office of Judge Advocate General—I will formally move the reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That £28,900 be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Pickersgill.)
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
The hon. Member has raised two questions of considerable interest, and certainly I should like to hear a little more about the position of the Judge Advocate General. At the present moment we have the absolute anomaly of a Judge 41 Advocate General receiving no pay, and I am sure you cannot expect to have the duties of an office discharged as they ought to be under such a condition. For my own part, I was never in favour of the abolition of the office of Judge Advocate General, and I see much objection to throwing the whole of the administration of law in the Army upon the Commander-in-Chief and his staff, and such would, to a great extent, be the case if the office of Judge Advocate General were abolished. On the whole, I think Courts Martial are fair tribunals, though in complicated cases they may be inefficient; they mean to act fairly, however, and that is a great element in a Court of Justice. But the presence here of the Judge Advocate General is the one means by which the House can exercise power over the Army administration in regard to Courts Martial. It is to him we direct our questions and remonstrances. We have the power now, but in an intangible fashion, because though the holder of the office sits here, there is no salary for him upon these Votes, nothing for us to take hold of. The only other means we can have of obtaining information and keeping control is through' much fuller returns of Courts Martial proceedings being periodically laid before the House—I do not mean the evidence, but all other particulars. But I very much prefer to have the Judge Advocate General hero to answer, and I do not think sufficient reason has been shown for the abolition of the office. But for some personal matters in reference to the holder of the office, I do not suppose there would have been any desire to abolish the office, and it has always appeared to me to involve a grave constitutional question touching the control of the House of Commons. There was another matter to which the hon. Member for Bethnal Green referred, and I confess he somewhat surprised me. He said that soldiers in military prisons could be flogged by the intervention of the Military Authorities. Of course convicts, whether military or civil, should be subject to the same prison discipline, but if it is the case that soldiers in military prisons can be flogged under circumstances when such a punishment could not be inflicted upon civilians, then I say that is altogether at variance with the decision arrived at 42 when the question of flogging in the Army was fought out some years ago in this House. It was a disgraceful practice that of flogging. I have known it inflicted for the most trifling infringement of a camp rule, and it was rightly abolished. On the facts as presented by the hon. Member I offer no opinion, but I think they desire some explanation.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
In one of the speeches made lately by the Adjutant General we were informed that half the military prisons were empty, and I think it is well worth the attention of the Secretary for War whether it would not be possible to reduce the number of these prisons.
* MR. STANHOPE
If my hon. Friend will allow me to interrupt him, I did reduce the number by two last year, and I have reduced them by two this year since the Estimates were presented.
§ MR. HANBURY
That is a satisfactory announcement, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will go still further in the same direction. It will be remembered that Colonel Lascelles, in his evidence before the Committee, went so far as to express his opinion that three military prisons would be sufficient—two in Great Britain and one in Ireland. Of course, I know that there would be additional cost in the conveyance of prisoners longer distances, but this would be more than balanced by a reduction in the number of prisons; the cost of their maintenance is very large, and it would take a large amount of travelling expenses to equal it. However, it is very satisfactory to know the right hon. Gentleman has gone so far in this direction, and I hope he will proceed still further. Then a word or two as to the way in which these prisons are tilled. There are two sets of prisoners who largely fill these military prisons. Habitual criminals in the Army, though few in number, are the cause of nearly all the crime according to Lord Wolseley, and I should like to know what steps are being take." to deal with this small percentage of men. Sir E. Du Cane, the Inspector, in his last Report—which, as usual, was late in being issued—deals with a matter in relation to military prisons that deserves some attention. He points out that though sentences of imprisonment under Courts 43 Martial have been shortened, the diet has not been reduced as it ought to be in military prisons, and there is a great tendency among certain classes of military offenders to seek short terms of imprisonment as a comfortable change from work outside. Sir E. Du Cane says further that these prisons are a haven of rest to the habitual criminals in the Army, and he gives a remarkable instance of a man who, in April, 1878, deserted from the 14th Regiment and soon after re-enlisted in the 16th Hussars, and again deserted; then in May joined the 12th Regiment, went to India, served two terms of six months' imprisonment, and yet deserted and re-enlisted four times afterwards. I think this shows that military prisons have not a deterrent effect. Sir E. Du Cane suggests several remedies to prevent these repeated desertions and re-enlistments, and one of them seems to me simple and practicable, and that is that Courts Martial should be given the power of sentencing a man to police supervision in certain cases where discharge from the Army follows upon his punishment. If the Police Authorities were in communication with the Recruiting Department, the authorities at recruiting stations would he kept informed of the movements of discharged soldiers, and the chances of such discharged men re-enlisting without detection would be materially lessened. Another, and the main, source of crime in the Army is drunkenness, and of course this is difficult to deal with; but I do hope my right hon. Friend will, in relation to this evil, consider the question of the sergeants' mess. I am told by several authorities, and not to mention names of particular officers, I may refer to Major Buxton's book on Army administration, that much drunkenness may be traced to the way in which young soldiers are induced to get beer from the sergeants' mess. It is forbidden to obtain drink in this way, and so the price of it is enhanced to the advantage of the mess. It has been suggested that a check might be placed on drunkenness arising from this cause by requiring a list to be kept of all to whom beer is supplied; but not being a military man, I do not know how far this is practicable. Major Buxton is a well known authority, and his remarks on this subject are well worthy of attention.
§ * MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton:)
I may, perhaps, take this opportunity of recalling the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to a case I brought to his notice, and he was courteous enough to give me a reply, but it left me in some doubt as to how far the Military or Civil Authorities were responsible for what occurred. If I just mention the circumstances that may recall the case to the right hon. Gentleman's recollection. It was a case of a man—a malingerer no doubt—who was sentenced to be flogged in gaol and who produced some sores on his back where he expected to be flogged. He was flogged on another part of his back, and other sores were produced, and certainly the man died from the flogging. I am not in a position to say on whom the responsibility of this rests, but I would suggest that a man must be almost a lunatic who would carry personal disfigurement of himself to that degree that flogging endangered life. Death resulted under circumstances of such a grave character that no doubt the right hon. Gentleman caused inquiries to be made, and I shall be glad to learn the result of such inquiries. I should not have risen for this alone. I feel bound to say I do not share the opinion of my hon. Friend (Mr. Pickersgill) as to the value of the Judge Advocate General. I do not know whether the value of this official to the private soldier has increased since I was a private soldier, but I can assure the Committee that then it was absolutely nil so far as we were concerned. Acting as orderly room clerk the proceedings of Courts Martial passed through my hands, and I had some opportunity of forming a judgment. Regimental Courts Martial proceedings did not then come before the Judge Advocate General at all. I do not know whether any change has been made in later years, and the bulk of Courts Martial are regimental. I think it is excessively awkward to have a Judge Advocate General sitting here without a salary, and to whom we have no right to make appeal. It would be far better, I think, to sweep away the office, leaving responsibility with the Secretary of State for War. I hope there is no intention of keeping an office open to which a salary may again be attached by this or a future 45 Government. It would be better to abolish it altogether. I find myself quite unable to agree with the hon. Member for Preston in reference to the diet in military prisons, unless, indeed, the scale of diet has greatly changed since I was in the Army. I cannot speak from actual experience, though I came pretty close to it, but I know from conversation with comrades that the prison treatment was regarded as some thing terrible. I know that from having talked with men who had suffered the punishment, and I had rather a bad reputation among the officers as a kind of unprofessional lawyer with whom the men discussed their grievances. I may hope my then captain has not borne me altogether in ill remembrance from kindly words he has since spoken of me. But I apologize to the Committee for lapsing into personal matters. I can assure the hon. Member for Preston that I never heard of a man, however bad his character, who desired a short term of imprisonment the treatment and discipline was too severe for that. In fact, I have known men rendered quite incapable of performing the ordinary duties of a cavalry soldier after undergoing a 28 days' sentence. The food was at the minimum, the labour was terrific, consisting as it did in marching about picking up and carrying shot. The continual stooping and marching round on this monstrous and useless task is a most severe strain upon the system. On behalf of the men, whose uniform I once wore, I think this much should be said. I disagree with the readiness to turn men out of the Army for what are called disgraceful offences. Of course, a man guilty of a crime that may really be considered disgraceful ought not to be kept in the Army; but when we should consider that some small theft, being followed by discharge from the Army, 'may have a tendency to encourage the commission of such offences as a means of procuring a discharge.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I am sorry I do not carry in my memory the case to which the hon. Member for Northampton referred.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I have not the details in my recollection to enable me to answer; but I have made a note 46 of the matter, and I will give the hon. Member all information I can procure. In reference to what has been said about flogging, I say at once I have not the slightest interest, directly or indirectly, of reintroducing this form of punishment in the Army. It was swept away by Act of Parliament, and I am the last person to wish to run counter to the view Parliament expressed. The flogging inflicted in military prisons is under precisely the same conditions as it would be inflicted upon civilian convicts; there is not the slightest intention of making it a special penalty for soldiers. As to the military prisons we had a good deal of evidence before the Committee, and Colonel Lascelles went so far as to suggest the reduction of the number of prisons to three. We looked carefully into the matter, and we invited Colonel Lascelles to prepare his scheme. He did so, and a careful estimate was made of the cost. We found, from facts that we could not get together before the Committee, that the cost of conveying prisoners would be so largely increased if so many prison s were abolished, that there would not be the large saving that, in the first instance, Colonel Lascelles supposed there would be. But we found that reductions might well be made in the number of prisons, and so we closed two last year, and this year two more—Taunton and Naas—thereby effecting a saving of £1,200 a year. These reductions were carried out upon the suggestion of Sir E. Du Cane, the Inspector of Military Prisons, whose experience can be relied upon. I am ready to consider the possibility of carrying the reductions further, but I am afraid we have almost reached the limit, and it may be that we may have to establish additional military prisons abroad. At home, however, I hope there will be no such necessity, and there is just a possibility we might make a further decrease. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green condemns the putting military prisons under the charge of chief warders; but here again we adopted the suggestion of Sir E. Du Cane, and I think we may rely upon his judgment and experience. The hon. Member for Preston has made various interesting suggestions, largely based upon the Report of Sir E. Du Cane, for reducing the amount of crime in the Army, and with the object of my 47 hon. Friend I cordially sympathise. Drunkenness, I am glad to say, is on the decrease. Fines for that offence have largely decreased since last year. My hon. Friend made allusion to the serjeants' mess, and that is a matter that has been under my attention more than once. I would rather not express an opinion upon this point at the moment; but I can promise that this matter shall be carefully looked into, and I will state my view at no distant date. And then I come to the position of the Judge Advocate General. He remains exactly as before, except that he receives no salary. There was, as we know, a strong feeling expressed in the House against a salary being paid to the Judge Advocate General, while others thought the salary should be reduced. I am of opinion that a high legal authority, independent of the Military Authorities, is essential, not necessarily and technically a Judge Advocate General, but some high legal authority. I cannot help thinking that circumstances have arisen, and will arise, when, for the protection of the private soldier, such an authority has been, and will be, invaluable. The present Judge Advocate General gives the same careful attention to the discharge of his duties as heretofore, and he has kindly undertaken to hold the office pending the reconsideration of the position. We have not yet had a full opportunity of coming to a decision as to the best means of solving the problem, and I must confess the recommendations of the Committee on the point are difficult to reconcile. Meanwhile, I am glad to say we shall have the services of the Judge Advocate General.
§ * MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling)
I am extremely glad to hear that there is no intention of dispensing with some legal authority of high position to discharge the functions hitherto discharged by the Judge Advocate General. I never joined in the outcry against the office, and I think it is absolutely necessary to have a lawyer of position in his profession to review and revise military sentences. I do not go so far as to say, as is sometimes said, that every private soldier derives satisfaction from the knowledge, he has this safeguard at the War Office; but whether he knows it or not, there 48 are others who it is right should know it, and it is most essential for the interests of the Army that in some form such an official as a Judge Advocate General should be maintained. A proposal has been made for filling the office which I am rather chary to accept. It is that we should appoint, in this capacity, a third Law Officer of the Crown at the expense of the other two. However that may be, I would join with those who have impressed on the Government and the Committee the necessity of continuing the office of Judge Advocate General. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman cannot speak on behalf of the Admiralty as to what they do in reference to naval court martials. The decisions of those courts are much less the subject of review than those of military court martials, and I think it would be of great importance in the final arrangement of the matter that if possible Naval and Military Court Martial proceedings should be submitted to the same public functionary, so that, allowing for the necessary differences in the laws affecting the two services, there should be at least some uniformity in their judicial procedure.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
Allusion has been made by the secretary of State and the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) to drunkenness in the Army. The cause of that, as everybody knows, is that the men are insufficiently fed, and not unnaturally they go to the canteen and fill themselves up with something else. The cure for fraudulent re-enlistment is to so mark—not brand.—a man who is discharged for improper conduct that he cannot enlist in any other corps. The abolition of the Judge Advocate General's salary would not lessen the expenditure to any great extent, as the staff would still have to be paid.
§ * MR. PICKERSGILL
I am not altogether dissatisfied with the discussion which has taken place upon the question which I have raised. In the first place, it is satisfactory to know what we did not know before, that two more military prisons are to be closed. I think that the Government are proceeding upon the right line. In the second place, we are told that the question of the office of Judge Advocate General is under the consideration of 49 the right hon. Gentleman. I was delighted to hear the right hon. Member for the Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell Bannerman) support me in my contention that the findings of naval courts-martial should be subjected to some such review as those to which the findings of military courts-martial are now subjected. With regard to the present holder of the office of Judge Advocate General, we are told that the right hon. Member for Brighton (Sir W. Marriott) devotes adequate time and attention to the duties of this office. I regret, if that is so, that the right hon. Gentleman has not thought it worth while to come down to-day, and answer for the department for which he is nominally responsible. If there were any means open to me of attacking the right hon. Member for Brighton, I would avail myself of it; but, unfortunately, there is no Vote in his name, and I do not think it would be logical to reduce the salary of somebody else solely for the purpose of condemning his action. I therefore beg to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. HANBURY
Is it the fact that the Judge Advocate General gets nothing for his services, neither fees nor salary?
§ SIR F. FITZWYGRAM (Hampshire, Fareham)
I would suggest that instead of regimental courts-martial there should be "station" court-martials, consisting, as far as possible, of officers from different regiments, but having the same powers as regimental courts-martial. I do not say that any injustice is done by a regimental court-martial, but it is perfectly clear that a great injustice may be done. The distinction between the two sorts of court-martial is this—that a regimental court-martial is ordered by the commanding officer of the regiment, and consists exclusively of officers of the regiment, the finding being approved by the commanding officer himself; whereas a station court-martial would be composed of officers of different regiments, and the finding would be confirmed by an independent authority. I think most officers will substantiate me 50 when I say that under the present system it is perfectly possible for some tyrannical officer to abuse his authority especially in regard to officers who, sitting upon a court-martial, are obliged to disagree with him in the opinion he may have formed; and I have known many such cases. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green has complained of the retention in the Army of bad characters; but I think that the hon. Member and those who sit on that side of the House are mainly responsible for that. It is found quite useless to discharge men from the Army because they have the power of re-enlistment. If power were given to mark in some slight manner a man who is discharged from the Army, we should be able to get rid of bad characters. At Aldershot we have a military prison which generally has 150 prisoners, and as fatigue duties are complained of, I do not see why these prisoners should not be employed to perform those duties so as to relieve the better conducted soldiers. My own opinion is that though the work might not be so hard, yet it would be more irksome and disagreeable to these men to be employed in doing the camp work whilst the better conducted men thereby got relieved from fatigue duties. The same applies to other stations, where there are military prisons.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I quite agree that it is an anomaly, so far as the Judge Advocate General is concerned, to have an officer of professional standing without any salary attached. It has been asked why the Judge Advocate General is not here to-night. Why should he be here if he receives no pay? I think that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green has done good service in drawing attention to these matters. The House of Commons has now lost its control over the Judge Advocate General; and I think it is a significant fact that he is not here to-night to answer for the Department. Personally, I am altogether against the abolition of the office.
§ MR. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)
With regard to the office of Judge Advocate General, I can understand the Government abolishing the office altogether, but I cannot understand why they should keep up the office if there is to be no salary attached to it. Hitherto, when we have allowed a court martial to invade the liberty of the subject, there 51 has been this safeguard—that there was a high legal authority who could be consulted, and who would keep the Military Authorities within their proper jurisdiction and within certain lines. I trust that the Government will speedily see their way to settle the question, not only by continuing this office but by seeing that the officer is properly remunerated. By that means they will command the services of men worthy to fill the office who will possess the confidence of the House.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ (3.) £299,500, Medical Establishments and Services.
* DR. FARQUHARSON
I suppose it would not be of much use if I were to appeal again to the right hon. Gentleman to postpone this Vote until the Departmental Committee have reported, and I presume, therefore, that it will be passed without any serious discussion, because, in the absence of information from the Committee, it would be fruitless to offer any serious remarks upon the Vote. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the appointment of the Committee. We have been hammering away Session after Session trying to get some sort of inquiry into Army medical matters, and at length a Committee has been appointed. No doubt the non-effective Vote has grown very large; but the difficulty to be encountered would be very great if by stopping the inducements now offered to men to join the Medical Department of the Army it were found that the supply did not equal the demand. There were many complicated questions which required the consideration of a Committee. We all know that the Medical Department is full of discontent now, and there are numerous questions which could only be thoroughly thrashed out before a Committee. What I do hope is that when the Committee report their decision will be regarded as something like a final settlement, so far as Army medical matters are concerned. At present things are in a state of great unrest; and I sincerely trust that something like finality will be reached, so that we may not be compelled to come down here year after year to worry the Government, and that things may go on pleasantly for some time to come. So 52 far as the composition of the Committee is concerned, I have no objection to make against it, although of the two gentlemen selected by the College of Physicians and the College of Surgeons one had only seen service in India, while the other had only seen service in the Guards. I think it would have been better if someone had been on the Committee who would have been able, of his own personal knowledge of the Service, to cross-examine the witnesses. But, on the whole, I think it was a fairly good Committee, and I trust they will give a liberal consideration to the points which have been put before them. The right hon. Gentleman has been blamed for having selected, as members of the Committee, two representatives from English corporations and not one from Ireland. What my right hon. Friend did was to apply to the College of Physicians and the College of Surgeons to recommend two highly-qualified medical men to sit on the Committee, not to represent those two corporations only, but the profession generally. I should be glad to be informed when we are to have the Report of the Committee; whether it is likely to be presented before the end of the Session; and whether the evidence will be presented with the Report?
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, S.)
Before the Vote is passed I should like to ask if it is a fact that typhoid fever has broken out in the Ship Street Barracks, at Dublin, within the last fortnight? I also wish to know whether any inquiry has been made in regard to the system of ventilation and the drainage of the barracks at Dublin, and also into the character of the water supplied to the soldiers, and the filters, if any are used in the barracks? The Royal Barracks in Dublin have been a perfect charnel-house for some years past. I can recollect when the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) was Secretary for War, some years ago, that I directed his attention to the insufficient medical inspection of the troops and the arrangements which were then made upon that occasion, and subsequently I received assurances that every necessary step would be taken. But, nevertheless, officer after officer and man after man continued to die in those barracks until last year. Other officers and men died 53 in a second barracks, and now typhoid fever has broken out in a third. If this is true, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to cause a searching investigation to be made as to the character of the water supplied to the troops. I would further ask whether typhoid fever was not present some years ago in the barracks at Fermoy and in other barracks in the South of Ireland, and whether there has been a proper inspection of the filters?
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I am quite prepared to answer the questions of the hon. Member at once. I have not heard of ony recent case of typhoid fever in Ship Street Barracks, although no doubt one or two cases have occurred there. I do not know whether the hon. Member may not have confounded the case of Richmond Barracks with the Ship Street Barracks, where, I am sorry to say, there have been one or two cases. The sanitary arrangements in Richmond Barracks have been carefully inspected, but I have not yet received a Report, and I am not able to say whether any defects in the drainage have been detected. It is, therefore, too soon to say what the cause has been. We have paid particular attention to this question of the water supply at the Royal Barracks, and the Report to which reference has been made, when it is submitted, will, I think, show that the authorities are satisfied that there is no reason, in the barracks itself, for the continuance there of typhoid fever. I hope that before the close of the Session the Report will be laid on the Table of the House—whether the evidence can also be produced I cannot yet say—but I can assure the Committee that I am most anxious to lay all the facts before hon. Members to enable them to form a proper judgment upon them.
§ * COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, S.W., Ince)
I consider that there is something very faulty in the medical system in the Army. Some years ago there was a regimental system under which there were two and sometimes three medical officers with each battalion. They had only the practice which their own battalion gave them and that was, of course, very little, so that the tendency was to sink the medical profession in the soldier. No doubt the system required alteration, but I am afraid we rushed 54 into the opposite extreme in determining that the medical officer who, in the past, had been all soldier should, in the future, be no soldier at all. Under the present system in the event of a man being attacked with illness at night there is no doctor on the spot to attend to him and one has to be sent for. The doctor cannot check malingering as effectually as he would be able to do if he were attached for a period to the battalion and had a thorough knowledge of the characters of the men. Such knowledge, too, would protect good men whom a stranger might suppose to be malingering. I would draw attention to another point—namely, the practice of employing in peace time retired medical officers to do home service. This system increases the proportion of medical officers on foreign service, and it does not give civil practitioners an opportunity of acquiring a knowledge of medical service in the Army in peace time, so as to render them useful in time of war.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War is, perhaps, not in possession of all the information in regard to Richmond Barracks, where the deaths have been very considerable. The South Wales Borderers have already had several officers and men attacked with typhoid fever, and one has died. We pay our medical officers very large salaries, and yet it is never until typhoid fever has broken out that it is discovered that the drains or the water are wrong. Paying the salaries we do we ought not to have to wait until diseases break out, but our soldiers ought to go into barracks knowing that they have been thoroughly inspected and found in a proper sanitary condition. This is no old question, this amount of sickness in the Army. It is something appalling that even in Great Britain and Ireland every day about 5 per cent of our soldiers are on the ineffective list owing to ill health, and this ill health, I believe, is in a great degree due to the insanitary condition of many of our barracks. Many lives have now been lost through this cause in Dublin, and what the Committee would like to know is, who is responsible for the sanitary state of these barracks? There are medical men receiving large salaries whose duty it is to see that the barracks are in a healthy state, but the 55 unhealthy state is only discovered after the deaths occur. Some persons are responsible, and, whoever they are, they ought to be punished. Looking at the Reports of some of the medical officers of the Army we see remarks made as to the clothing of the men. There is a good deal of sickness in the Army—a good deal of consumption—and when we have, as at present, so many young men entering the service, I think greater care ought to be taken of their health in the matter of clothing than is taken at present. We hear, even from the southern districts, that the clothing is insufficient. The young men should have a warm cloth tunic like the older soldiers——
§ MR. HANBURY
This question arises out of the Reports of the medical officers whose duty it is to report upon matters affecting the health of our troops.
The hon. Member cannot criticize a Department which is not connected with this Vote because of Reports made by medical officers whose conduct in the matter he does not object to. What he is objecting to is not to the Reports of the medical officers, but to the fact that those Reports are not carried out.
§ * MR. STANHOPE
It is not the medical officer who is responsible for the condition of the barracks; the principal engineer is the person in charge of the barracks. But with regard to the Dublin Barracks, I can not attach blame to any one. It has been proved that the drains are well looked after, and the source of the insanitary condition is up to the present a mystery, which it is hoped that the inquiry now proceeding will solve. Probably it is connected with the general condition of Dublin.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
It is true that an eminent engineering authority, who has carefully investigated the arrangements existing in one of the barracks, where there has been a great deal of sickness and mortality, has come to the conclusion that this sickness is a very mysterious matter, there being nothing the matter with the drains. This shows that engineering inspection is not adequate nor sufficient to meet the 56 difficulty. I submit that the fault lies with the medical authority. Some years ago—in 1877—when there had been a great deal of zymotic disease in Fort George it was found that the water was bad. When this was subjected to filtration every trace of disease disappeared. Possibly the sickness in the Dublin Barracks is traceable to an impure water supply consequent upon contamination from the Liffey, which is in a disgraceful state.
§ * MR. STANHOPE
In a very short time we shall know the result of the inquiry as to the water supply at the Richmond and Royal Barracks, and if, after the Report is received, I see any cause for it I will extend the inquiry.
§ * SIR W. BARTTELOT
Nothing is more important to the health of our troops than that the barracks should be in a perfectly sanitary condition. The present state of things in Dublin particularly has been going on for years, and some determined action is necessary. It is a scandal that men should die owing to the insanitary condition of any of our barracks.
§ * MR. STANHOPE
I am precluded from pointing out in detail the steps that are being taken, as it would be out of order on this Vote.
§ MR. HANBURY
I think that before this Vote is taken we ought to be distinctly informed as to what is the responsibility of the medical officers in regard to this matter. We seem to be driven for responsibility from the medical officers to the engineers, and then from the engineers back again to the medical officers. We are entitled to know how far it is the duty of the medical officers to see that our troops are not sent to barracks where their lives will be put in jeopardy.
§ LIEUTENANT GENERAL FRASER (Lambeth, N.)
Having had command of the Royal Barracks many years ago, it is a great consolation to me to know that the Secretary for War is throwing all his energies into the question. I notice that he went over to Dublin the other day to inquire into the subject, and I do hope that the mystery which he speaks of in connection with the outbreak of fever will be put an end to. The head of the Military Hospital at Kildare, a very eminent man, has told me that it is not the quays of Dublin which are unhealthy but the streets behind the 57 quays. The Royal Barracks are behind the quays and all the foul gases are thrown into them when the Liffey rises. Some years ago, when a disease broke out among the horses, I had the asphalte taken up, and found underneath it a thick deposit of black mud, which instead of being cleared away had been merely covered over. I am glad the Secretary for War is taking up the question, and I can assure the Committee it will not be allowed to drop now.
§ MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
Will the right hon. Gentleman give us the date of the last analysis of the water? I do not know whether these barracks have been under the control of a Medical Officer of Health, but it seems to me a matter of duty on the part of the Medical Department of the Army to provide every now and then for the analysis of the water supplied in every barrack in the three Kingdoms.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I can state that an analysis of the water supplied to the Royal Barracks was taken by the Medical Officer concerned not very long ago, but a second analysis has now been taken at the request of Mr. Rogers Field, with what result I do not know. The result of the first analysis was favourable to the water.
§ * SIR F. FITZWYGRAM (Hants, Fareham)
There is very little complaint made against Army Medical Officers of want of care or attention. I was in command of the cavalry at Aldershot for some five years, and I do not think there were during that time more than four or five complaints of want of attention, and all of these on being investigated were completely disproved. So far so good. But there are, however, serious—and I fear well founded—complaints of want of practical skill on the part of the Army Medical Officers. I have nothing to say against the young men selected for the Army Medical Department. They are appointed by competition, and are no doubt well qualified, both socially and in theory. The evil arises not from the class of men selected, but from the want of practice in the Army after they join the service. Our soldiers are young men in the prime of life and the vigour of health. Every man in the Army whose constitution is even slightly impaired is at once discharged. The result is that there is and must be want of 58 practice, and, in consequence, want of practical skill. Theory without practice is of very little use. I would sooner be treated by a thoroughly practical man without much theoretical or scientific knowledge than by a scientific man who had no practical knowledge. Let me take the cases of two young medical men, both of whom are well qualified. They get their diplomas at the same time, and, while one goes into the Army Medical Service, the other goes into civil life. The latter attaches himself to some medical man of large practice in one of our great towns, and I will be bound to say that at the end of his first week he will have seen more practice and obtained more practical knowledge than the young man in the Army at the end of his first year. I will also be bound to say that at the end of his first year the young man in civil life will have seen more practice than the Army man in the course of his whole 21 years of service. The Army consists of 220,000 healthy lives. I will add to that 20,000 women and children, making 240,000, generally speaking, healthy lives, committed to the charge of the Army Medical Department. The medical men in the Army List this year number about 980. I will knock off 20 per cent for medical officers on leave, an sick leave, on sanitary duty, and specially employed, and I should then have say, 800 surgeons. Dividing 240,000 by 800, I find that the number of healthy patients that each medical officer has to treat is about 300. If we reduce the number of medical officers to 600, each of them would still have an average of about 400 healthy people to attend to. That is not sufficient for the proper training of the medical officers and their progress in knowledge and skill. It is not very easy to find a remedy, but I have given a good deal of time and thought to the question, and I wish to suggest to the Secretary for War a measure which will, I think, not be distasteful to the Army Medical Department, and not be unacceptable to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as it will be carried out without any increase of expense, and will probably have a good effect. I should like to see every military medical officer given six months' leave once in every five years of his term of service on the understanding that he shall occupy those six months in attending medical schools 59 and hospitals. I would not place any onerous obligations on them. I have great confidence in them and believe they would employ their time to the best advantage in the interest of the soldiers they have to treat. A further suggestion I would make is that when our medical officers are stationed in large towns where there are large hospitals, the Director General of the Medical Department should encourage them to take advantage of the practice of these hospitals. Many years ago I was quartered in one of the great Northern towns where there were some of the best hospitals and schools in the world. Our then Assistant Surgeon was grossly ignorant, and I suggested to him as mildly as I could that he should avail himself of the medical schools and hospitals of the town to improve his knowledge. He did not take my advice and never once went near the medical schools during that year. In about a year and a half he was promoted to the rank of full Surgeon and sent to India, and all I can say is, God help the regiment to which he was sent!
* DR. FARQUHARSON
I am sorry to disagree with the hon. and gallant Baronet, but I think that the Army is an extremely good field for keeping up practical knowledge. Besides the men there are the women and children to look after, and a man increases his experience by service abroad in a great variety of temperatures and by the sanitary work he has to do. I think that the practice of the Army is of a much less routine and a more varied character than ordinary medical practice. It must also be remembered that the Army Medical Officer has to pass a very severe examination before entering the Service. At the same time I regard the plan of having six months' leave as a very good one and as well worthy the attention of the Government.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I think there ought to be some means by which the Medical Department could be largely extended in time of war, and I am of opinion that provision ought to be made for that purpose in times of peace.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I am glad to say there is a scheme now in operation whereby a reserve of medical officers—that is to say, men who have been in the Army Medical Department and have 60 retired—are liable to serve, and I have no doubt would gladly serve, at the base of operations in the event of war.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4) £530,000, Militia pay and allowances.
§ MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, East)
I wish to make a few observations with regard to this Vote. Although I see that in 1889–90 the expenses of enrolling the Militia are put down as much less than they were last year, I find that the force itself appears to be in a gradually decreasing condition. In 188i-8 there was a decrease in the personnel of the Militia of no less than 1,770 men, and last year there was a decrease of 2,185 men. The establishment strength of the Militia is supposed to be 141,000 men, but at the training in 1888 there were only 101,000 present. This being so, the force is unnecessarily expensive because you have to keep up the permanent staff. And I think it eminently wrong that the £1 bounty should not be, if a man joins the Army, charged against the Army Vote, instead of against the Militia Vote, for the Militia forces gain nothing at all. You would keep a larger number of men in the Militia if they were drilled immediately prior to their training, by their own officers, and then that their own officers should have charge of them. Another reason why the Militia are not as strong as they were in some years past, is that you have effected a very false economy by the abolition of the system of "bringing-in" money. The men, after their training, used to go to their homes, when that system was in operation, and tell their neighbours of the advantages of being in the force. When the recruiting officers went round, the men found it to their interest to bring recruits to the regiment to which they personally belonged. But now you have done away with that system they have no inducement to bring men to the Militia from the factory, workshop or mine, or agricultural pursuit in which they are employed. Considering the Militia have only 27 days' training they do very efficient work. No doubt you cannot expect a man after 27 days' training to be a first-class shot, but, for the amount of time he has to practice, the Militiaman is fairly efficient for the. 61 purposes for which he may be required. The Militia is a cheap force, and it draws on a class of the population that would not otherwise be touched for military service. It is desirable that there should be some alteration in recruiting for the Militia, and that we should not find year by year that there are about 2,000 less men in the Militia service.
§ * SIR W. BARTTELOT (Sussex, North West)
I think my right hon. Friend himself will see that the Militia regiments are not in that satisfactory state which we ought to expect in so old a constitutional force as the Militia. The highest number at which the force can be put is 141,444, but we have only 101,000 men now. If you deduct the 30,000 forming the Militia Reserve from that 101,000 you find you have only got 70,000 men left. I want my right hon. Friend to encourage the Militia a great deal more than in the past. The force is not in the condition in which it ought to be. By the Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting, I find that in 1885–6 there were 40,011 recruits for the Militia; in 1886–7, 36,843; in 1887–8, 31,815 only. But all this time the Militia has not been increasing; the number of recruits also has been decreasing; and in addition to that there is a very large number of desertions. It is quite true that last year there were not so many. But in 1884 there were 8,492; in 1885, 10,924; in 1886, 10,680; and in 1887, 10,282. In 1888, it is true, there were 8,795, but that is a very large number for a force such as the Militia. There must be some reason for these desertions. I know my right hon. Friend is trying to organize to the best of his ability the whole of the Reserve Forces, and it is a scandal to the country that it has not been done long ago. We have at the present time at home something like 500,000 men, including the Army, the Army Reserve, the Militia, the Yeomanry, and the Volunteers, and I most unhesitatingly say that they are not properly organized. Looking at the present position of Europe, we have no right to delay for one moment the organization of these Forces which are amply sufficient for the defence of this country, if put into a permanently efficient state. I believe when the Militia were joined, as they were said 62 to be joined, to the regiments of the Line, 1st and 2nd battalions of the Line, and 3rd and 4th battalions of the Militia jointly, they were called by the names of the regiments, they were put into gold lace, and everything was done for them, excepting to make them efficient. What I wish to point out is that, if you can get 30,000 men to serve in the reserve from the Militia, and upon whom you can depend, to be called out at a moment's notice, and to be sent to any part of the world, you can, I venture to say, for the same money, £1 extra per man, get the whole of the Militia to undertake the same duty. I believe that you may have the 3rd and 4th battalions not only in name, but in reality, as an absolute reserve to the 1st and 2nd battalions of the Line. That question deserves the serious consideration of my right hon. Friend. The question of the officering of the Militia also deserves serious consideration. We have no right to have a force which is inefficient, and it is because I am anxious that the whole of our forces should be efficient that I rise to speak on occasions of this kind. I should like to ask this question of the my right hon. Friend the Secretary for War, if the Militia are to be sent out on active service with the Line, are they to be armed with the new rifle; and, if not, is the ammunition of the new rifle to be that which is to be used by the Militia? I would here remind the Committee of the great amount of mischief that has been occasioned in many of our small wars of late years by one sort of ammunition being sent out for guns, &c., of different patterns. When a force has to go on active service it is absolutely essential that the same ammunition should be suitable to the whole of the small arms employed. These I think are questions that deserve the serious consideration of the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee. The Militia are a force on which we have always looked with pride and pleasure, and I hope that both now, and in the future, it will receive from the War Office that attention which it has failed to obtain in the past and which the country generally is anxious it should receive.
LORD HENRY BRUCE (Chippenham)
The Returns that have been put forward seem to me to give no account 63 of what is the real state of the Militia at the present moment. Last year we were told that on the 1st January, 1888, the strength of the Militia was 117,000 non-commissioned officers and men; but that was no indication at all of what was the actual state of things. As far as we know there were 20,000 men short, and probably if we were to call out the Militia we should find it at least 10,000 or 20,000 shorter than we expect it to be. It must be remembered that many of the men make a trade of enlisting, first in one Militia regiment and then in another. The Secretary for War now tells us that the reason we are so short of men is that there is an increased competition for recruits, owing to the somewhat different class now admitted into the ranks of the Volunteers; but last year the right hon. Gentleman told us a totally different story, for he then said another cause had been assigned, in the greater facilities for procuring work. Now, I say that one reason for the shortness of numbers in the Militia is that the recruits are enticed into the regular Army, and one of the results of this is that the farmers are strongly opposed to their men going into the Militia, because they fear they will be induced to enlist in the regular service. When a commanding officer comes down to inspect a Militia regiment or battalion he does not speak so much about their duty in that branch of the service as about what a good thing it is to enter the regular Army. In my opinion, you will never make the Militia such a force as it ought to be if you are constantly drafting the men into the Army against the wish of the country generally. You may perhaps succeed in the large towns, but you will not be successful in the counties. I am afraid, however, that at the Horse Guards there has always been a determination to carry out this doubtful policy. There is another point to which I would call attention, and that is that there is not proper barrack accommodation for the Militia during the period of training, and, further, that when you get them on parade there is an evident insufficiency of kits. If they were provided with the requisite kits they would not feel the inconveniences to which they are subjected so much as they do under existing circumstances. As it is, half the bags are empty, 64 and many of the men are without the extra clothing required during periods of bad weather. Moreover, our billeting system is only worthy of a barbarous people, for the men have not sufficient sleeping accommodation. I should like to know how would the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War like to be doubled up in the same bed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers)? In fact, I would put it to hon. Members generally whether it is conducive to decency that these men should be doubled up two and two in the same beds during the 27 nights of the training period? Again, I would point out that the majority of the Militia officers do not belong to the same counties as their regiments, whereas, in my opinion, in order that they may take a sufficient amount of interest in he regiments, they ought to be men holding positions in the counties from which the men are drawn. My hon. Friend near me has pointed out that there are three different kinds of rifles and ammunition served out to the forces, and I agree with him that a more dangerous practice could not be adopted in time of war. But this sort of thing has been pointed out over and over again, and it seems to me that it is mere waste of time on the part of military men having seats in this House to put forward the views they entertain with regard to the means of improving the effective services of the country. As far, however, as I am concerned, I speak what I believe to be the truth in regard to these important matters in connection with the Army.
§ * MR. BRADLAUGH
I merely wish while the Committee is considering this Vote to call attention to a question I cannot raise as an independent subject, and I take this course at the request of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War. I allude to the question of the Channel Islands' Militia. The right hon. Gentleman has, I know, had his attention directed to the matter, and what I want now to put to him is this: That the present system operates exceedingly unfairly, because, while it nominally applies as a sort of conscription to the whole of the islands, it, in reality, does nothing of the kind, inasmuch as the sons of all but the poorest inhabitants 65 leave the islands at the period during which they are liable to service, and an enormous amount of dissatisfaction is occasioned in consequence of the in cidental offences that arise and the prosecutions that take place. In fact, the whole system is so had that even if you had the whole of the Militia serving its full time, so small is the force that it would give no serviceable result, while the sum paid for the permanent staff and all the other expenses is practically wasted. I appeal, therefore, to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War to see whether he cannot take steps to put an end to a state of things whereby great discontent is produced among the people, and a number of petty cases, such as assaults on officers, and so on, are brought before the Magistrates. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take this matter into consideration.
§ MR. LLEWELLYN (Somerset, N.)
A year or two ago a Return was presented in regard to the efficiency of the Militia and Volunteers at ball practice, and, as far as the Militia are concerned, that Return was a very unsatisfactory one, although to those who know the way in which the Militia are taught and the few opportunities they have of learning the use of their weapon, this can hardly be surprising. It would be much better, it would save a considerable sum of money, and would get rid of a great many worthless lads, if, in addition to the recruit training, there was also musketry training in different parts of the country, not with their own battalions merely, but, say at such places as Dartmoor, in the West of England. There are a great many recruits who never can be made good shots, and the percentage of whom, even in the second class, is ridiculously small. During the training period it is from beginning to end a scramble between the musketry instructor and the adjutant as to what shall be done with the men, and a large number of them are kept in the force who ought to be rejected, and whose cost ought to be saved to the country. With regard to what has been said by an hon. Member behind me, I believe there are a great number of militiamen who regularly do two trainings with different regiments, and I may state that it happened at Aldershot some 66 years ago that my own battalion was in square with another, the next side to our own being a Surrey regiment, one of whose sergeants captured four of their men in my own company. The same thing has undoubtedly been going on for years. It is a difficult matter to deal with, but the authorities ought to be able to ascertain how many of these cases occur, and in what way they affect the strength of the militia generally. With regard to the musketry question, I can bear testimony to the practical way in which the Secretary for War has evidenced his anxiety to improve the musketry training of the Militia, and I have to thank him for providing a range close to the camp, whereby musketry practice will he materially facilitated.
§ * MR. SEALE HAYNE (Devon, Ashburton)
I think there are two causes which militate against the success of the Militia force in regard to recruiting. The first is the bad housing of the men. They come up for their month's training ready for any amount of drill and work, but they naturally expect to be decently housed; as a fact, they are not, and they get very bad experiences of military life. I think it would be a great advantage if huts or barrack accommodation were provided for them, and it would not only be economical, but it would also be good policy for it is one of the main objects to show the Militia recruit during his month's training the best side of military life, so that he may go home and induce his friends to join not only the Militia, hut also the regular Army. Again. I think the abolition of "bringing" money has had a bad effect on recruiting. I fully agree with much that has fallen from my hon. Friend opposite in regard to Militia training. As at present carried out it is a complete farce, and it is so because we have not got a sufficient number of duly qualified non- commissioned officers to ensure proper instruction. For instance, the proper number of men to be in a squad undergoing musketry instruction is ten; as a fact the squads frequently contain 20 or 30 men. Again, many of the instructors are inefficient. We have great difficulty in finding capable men willing to act as squad instructors. Non-commissioned officers in the Militia are not paid on the same scale as those in the Line. To be an efficient 67 instructor in musketry requires considerably more intelligence than is necessary in an ordinary drill instructor, and I therefore trust my right hon. Friend will put the Militia non-commissioned officers on the same footing as their brethren in the line, or hold out some other inducement to tempt men of intelligence to join, with a view of becoming non-commissioned officers. Some economy might be effected by reducing the bounty for joining the Militia Reserve from £1 to 10s., for I do not believe that such a reduction would materially affect the number of men desirous of joining the reserve. I have great pleasure in acknowledging that the right hon. Gentleman has recently taken considerable interest in these questions, and that the other day he had a meeting of commanding officers at Willis's Rooms, at which many of these subjects were threshed out. I trust, however, he will not be content with the recommendations pressed upon him by that meeting. I notice the only outcome of an hour-and- a-half's discussion with some hundred or more commanding officers, brought from all parts of the kingdom was the removal of the brass letter "M" from the shoulder-strap. I hope that the right hon. gentleman will not rest content with this trivial concession, but that the result of the deliberations of the Committee which has been appointed will be to remedy many of the evils which prevent the Militia battalions from being maintained at their proper strength at the present time.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I am afraid it is impossible not to agree with my hon. Friend behind me (Sir Walter Barttelot), when he says that the condition of the Militia is not altogether satisfactory, and for that reason I have called together the conference of colonels to which allusion has been made. Every suggestion which has been made to-day was among the suggestions made at that conference, and I believe, as I had written to every commanding officer for information, that at the conference we had, in the form of suggestions, all possible information on the subject. Some of these suggestions require consideration, and I have appointed a Committee for that purpose, and to make recommendations before the next annual training. I hope and 68 believe that we shall gain considerable advantage from the deliberations of the Committee. I think it was rather unworthy of the hon. Member to speak of the removal of the letter from the shoulder-strap as the only outcome of the conference. That was a point on which I could make up my mind at once, but the other points raised were closely connected with one another, and I preferred to await the recommendations of the Committee before arriving at a decision. I sympathize very much with several of the points that have been mentioned in this discussion. As regards the musketry Returns, no doubt the musketry of the Militia requires very considerable improvement. Something has already been done in that direction, and I hope we shall be able to do more. The greatest difficulty is the short time of training. I attach so much importance to the question of good shooting that I hope and believe that among the changes to be made it will be found. possible to give more time to musketry training. The housing of the Militia certainly requires attention, and I am. considering whether something can be done in that direction without undue expense. I shall be glad if it is found. possible to do something to add to the comfort of the Militia. Several hon. Members have referred to the question of "bringing money." Now, as I have already stated, I do not think it would be possible to restore the "bringing money" in its old form, but whether a modified form could be adopted will be considered. We want a form which will secure us the advantages of the old system and avoid the disadvantages. I have especially asked the Committee to consider this matter, and I shall await their Report before coming to a decision. The hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Sussex has asked if the Militia are to be armed with the new rifle. Sir, we must first supply the weapon to the Army. The work of arming the Army with the new rifle is being proceeded with, and when that is completed the new magazine arm will be supplied to the Militia. My noble Friend the Member for Wiltshire complained that there were now three descriptions of rifle in the hands of our troops, and he mentioned among them the Snider. But, Sir, the Snider rifle is 69 now practically withdrawn, and when the new weapon is in the hands of the Army there will be only two rifles in the Service. I am afraid that I must agree with the hon. Member for Northampton that the condition of the Channel Islands Militia is not altogether satisfactory. The Channel Islands Militia, as hon. Members are no doubt aware, are under civil not military control. In Guernsey the compulsory law is administered so as to be as little burdensome to the people as possible, the training taking place in the afternoon, when the greater part of the day's work is done. It is a subject which deserves attention, and of the inquiries I am now making I will specially look into this matter. I hope the House will not think that I am trying to unduly limit this discussion, but I hope that, considering a Committee is inquiring into these matters, I may ask hon. Members to wait till that Committee has reported and until I have had time to consider what the next step shall be.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
As the hon. Member said just now, the outcome of the conference of the militia colonels has been the removal of the brass letter "M" from the shoulder-strap. I have not much sympathy with the conference; however it will do no harm if it does no good. Now there are three matters to which I should like to direct the attention of the Secretary of State for War. One is that it is necessary in these days to go back to the old system of training recruits in the mass. Now they come up in twos and threes and forget before the annual training what little instruction they receive. Again, I would suggest that no enlistment should be allowed from the Militia into the Army under one year's service. Of course if the Secretary for War only looks on the Militia as a feeder to the Line and intends to treat it accordingly, I have no more to say, but if it is to be a homogeneous force to be depended upon, then the officers ought to have the men under their command for at least one year. Another point on which I should like some information is, whether the Secretary for War is going to enforce the time limit in reference to officers commanding Militia regiments? At present he allows officers to command Militia regiments for a term of 40 years or 70 more, whereas in the Line the limit is 4 years. These relics of antiquity, these patriarchs—these fossils—do not conduce to the interests of the Militia Service. I know perfectly well the Secretary for War will say that these colonels bring recruits in. But that is not so; nowadays it is the adjutant and not the colonel who brings in the recruits. I think it would be to the interest of the Force if the adjutants were taken from among the Militia officers, instead of officers of the Line being pitch-forked into Militia battalions of which they know and care nothing beyond desiring a comfortable berth. Reference has been made to the strength of the Force. I think if the Secretary for War were to call out 20 or 30 battalions in the same district at the same time he would not find the muster so strong, for it is well known that Militia men are in the habit of serving in half a dozen regiments, and go from one place of training to another. I hope the Secretary for War will give consideration to the suggestions I have made.
§ MR. HANDEL COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
This is a question which largely affects the trade of the country. I speak as an employer of labour, and I know the disadvantages we suffer from the men being called out. Men who are called out are utterly ruined in character when they come hack and are unfit for civil duties. I think the House should be satisfied that it receives value for the money which is expended on the Force, and the calling out of which seriously interferes with the civil duties of the country, which are far more important than all this military nonsense.
§ * SIR A. CAMPBELL (Renfrew, W.)
I must say the hon. Member who last spoke astonished me when he says the men return from their annual training worse than when called away for their civil employment. My experience all tends in the other direction. I have command of a regiment in a large and populous district, and employers of labour often say, "I do not know what you do with the men, but they come back perfectly civilized." Indeed, I have the greatest possible support from large employers of labour. My regiment has always been full, and this I attribute to the fact that the regiment is recruited entirely from our own 71 county. We are placed in the fortunate position of not having to send our recruits to a depot. I think the great reason which prevents the Force keeping up its numbers is the change which has been made in the matter of drilling the recruits. As to the Reserve, I should be very glad to see that done away with altogether, because the fact of the matter is, that if the regiment is required for service it is found that the best non-commissioned officers and men have already been called upon to join the Reserve. You might use the money now spent on the Reserve in another manner, which would tend to increase the efficiency of the Militia regiments. At the present time it is very difficult to get Volunteer sergeants for the Militia. One of the reasons for this is, that the work is very hard, the sergeant is always under the supervision of the adjutant, and if the man does his duty strictly he loses his popularity with the men, and his position after the training is over is not pleasant. Now, to counteract this, I would suggest that an extra bounty should be given to non-commissioned officers who conduct themselves well, as it is upon them more than any other class of men that the success of a regiment depends. I think, also, that a commanding officer should have power to withhold or reduce this bounty. It was absurd, in the case of the misconduct of a lance-corporal, for instance, to invoke all the power of a Court Martial to reduce the man to the ranks, especially when it is remembered that he gets no extra pay. I think the commanding officer should be able to take away his stripe, while in regard to other noncommissioned officers he should be able to punish dereliction of duty by reducing the amount of bounty at the end of the training.
§ * MR. C. W. RADCLIFFE COOKE (Newington, W.)
I can quite understand that Militia officers and Military men in the House should desire to take part in this discussion, and, therefore, I was not surprised to find that although I have risen to speak half a dozen times, you, Sir, have missed me almost as easily as a Militiaman would miss a haystack. But, Sir, the Militia is to some extent a civilian force; the men serving in that force are withdrawn only temporarily from civilian 72 occupation, and civilians employ and pay them. I hope, therefore, I may be excused if, although a civilian, I venture to offer some observations to the Committee on the force. I regret that the hon. Member for North-East Sussex (Sir W. Bartellot) should have stopped short in what he intended to say on this subject and not given us, as he implied that he could, the real truth on the question of the efficiency of the Militia. Now, there was one branch of the subject on which he touched on which some information has been furnished to me, and that is the question of the education of Militia officers. In relation to that we have to consider what the nature of the force is, and what it will be called on to do. It was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Webster) that the Militia is depleted of its best men at both ends. The Reserve take the cream of the Militia, and the best of the recruits join the Line; so that those who are left are more or less of an inferior character. It seems consequently to be considered by those who are responsible for the administration of the force that as the best of the men pass into the Army, and most of the Subalterns, too, it is hardly necessary to pay so much attention to the education of the officers permanently attached to the Militia as would otherwise be deemed necessary. Speaking at a dinner to the Commanding Officers of Militia regiments who were lately assembled in conference for so good a purpose, the right hon. Gentleman (the Secretary of State for War) said there were two functions for which the Militia were to be depended on—first, to defend the country; and secondly, to supply the needs of the Army in times of emergency; and the right hon. Gentleman went on to add that the Military Authorities at the War Office were anxious to promote the development of the Militia, and to make them available in every respect for the performance of the duties for which they were intended. His Royal Highness the Commander in Chief on the same occasion said—The spirit in which the Militia should act was to help the Army, and by that means to really perform the functions for which it was intended.In a previous debate in this House the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for 73 War declared that after providing the 80,000 regulars, who formed the first field Army, there would remain a small force of regulars of all arms and a good many regiments of Militia available for the defence of the country, and for the mobilization of these the preparations were not yet completed. Now even to my civilian understanding it is clear that the instruction given to Militia officers is not such as will fit them to command troops in the field. It is very difficult to get information at first hand from experienced persons, not merely because officers dislike to make observations which may be detrimental to themselves or their comrades, socially or otherwise, but also because, I suppose, it is considered to be a breach of etiquette or discipline to communicate facts they know. For example, the noble Lord the Member for East Hampshire (Viscount Wolmer) drew attention earlier in the Session to the loss of time that often took place in the short 27 days' training, when it is obvious all the advantages of that limited period ought to be made the most of. Subsequently to that, information was furnished to me of the fact that a certain junior captain in the Militia had kept a dairy of his proceedings during training for some years past and had therein recorded the waste of time that often took place. The inferences to be drawn from the diary were published in a military newspaper, and upon that I founded a question which I addressed to the right hon. Gentleman below me. Greatly to my surprise the right hon. Gentleman expressed the opinion that strong measures would be taken against the junior captain if he were only known. Now, if he were known why should strong measures be taken against him? What evil has he done? If the author of the diary be the man I suppose there could not be a more loyal subject of the Crown, a greater disciplinarian, nor one more desirous to promote the efficiency of the Force. His only object in publishing the diary could be to give information at first hand with regard to a matter most material to the efficiency of the Force and on which he could speak from actual experience. I therefore dissent from my right hon. Friend and think that this gentleman has done a service to the country and to the force whose interest he has so much at heart. The education of Militia officers 74 may be shortly summarised and shown to be deficient in subjects most essential, if the Militia is ever expected to act as a field force in defence of the country. Analyzing the subjects in which Militia officers have to pass, it will be found that omitting matters not relating to the Force as a fighting body in the field—such as interior economy, Military Law, Militia regulations, office work and so on, the following is the knowledge of their art required of Militia:—Decent-drill, but of the barrack square order alone; nothing relating to work in the field; a little musketry—sufficient to teach men how to take care of arms and ammunition, go through firing exercises and instruction in the extremely limited practices Militia go through in shooting 40 rounds up to 300 yards; tactics—eight pages of advanced guards from new Infantry Drill Bock, pages 251 to 260, although pages 227 to 260 containing valuable information admirably put together, are nominally supposed to be read by Militia officers. Having described the amount and quality of the instruction in the art of war, let me say a word as to the way in which the knowledge of an officer is tested. The examinations take place before a Board of Examiners (a field officer and two captains of a Line regiment), at the depot of the territorial regiment, and often local and social causes may incline the Board to let off the candidates easily. But even if unknown to the Examiners, they are by no means hard on the candidate. I have the experience of an officer who passed before a Board as an entire stranger to them, and I give it in his own words—After an hour's drill, I had a vivâ voce, where, after prompting me (frequently wrong), the good-natured captain who had me in hand gravely reported to the Board that I had answered very well. Then a couple of hours' paper work. Before I tackled each question, the President inquired whether I knew the answer, and if I did not, gave me a friendly hint, in order' he said, That the Boss who has finally to check your papers shall not be able to say we passed you too easily.'My informant adds as to the questions on the Militia regulations that the Examining Board, being Linesmen, knew nothing of the subject, and, therefore, put questions out of a well-known question and answer book, or crib, which the candidate 75 naturally coaches up beforehand. The subjects, too, are extremely limited. Let us contrast their paucity with what is required of Linesmen. The Linesman has a thorough knowledge of drill and musketry, a good knowledge of tactics, of topography (which means the art of reconnoitering an enemy's position, roughly sketching a piece of country, reading a map, &c.), and of field fortifications, or, in unprofessional language, he is taught to bring his men against an enemy in the best formation, to employ against the enemy the most effective form of fire, to select the ground for his attack or defence, to make a rough plan of it for his superior officer, to fortify it by the proper use of hasty shelter trenches and improvised defences of all kinds,—in a word, to turn everything to account. In not one of these things are Militia officers trained. At the present moment no Militiaman is obliged to read a line of the articles in the Military Drill Book on the defence of position, fire tactics, outpost duty, operations by night, yet the Drill Book is so impressed with the importance of outposts that no less than 37 admirably written pages are devoted to the subject, "the most momentous duty (as the book says at page 295) on which troops can be employed." Yet, although denied to Militiamen, the War Office sees their importance to Auxiliary troops, for they urge Volunteer battalions to practise night operations (pages 415–434 Infantry Drill Book). Moreover, in the regular Army so much stress is laid on field fortification, that even sergeants are being sent to Chatham to learn it there. They are also invited to pass in tactics the same examinations as subalterns for captains. If necessary for them, how much more necessary is it for Militia officers, who may on service have to command these very men? It is true that the examinations in these subjects—tactics, law, field fortifications, and topography—are now open to Militia officers and Volunteers who choose to pass in them at the same time and under the same conditions as officers of the regular forces, but difficulties are placed in the way of Auxiliary officers that are not met with by Linesmen, though I will not enter into these now. The passing of these voluntary examinations, it is important to note, confers no claim to—promotion in the Militia as it does in 76 the Army. A Militia officer may go to Hythe for two months, to Wellington Barracks for six weeks, may pass, in addition, in signalling, tactics, law, fortification, and topography, yet a man senior to him, who may have merely passed an examination of the perfunctory character I have described, because he is senior, will get his promotion over the officer so much better qualified for it. I will not sit down without suggesting a remedy. If examinations in these subjects are desirable for any officers, they are desirable for all, and should be made compulsory. It is possible that one result would be that you would lose a proportion of your officers, but better so if you made soldiers of the rest. Ultimately, the improvement in the character and efficiency of the force would attract good men into it. I will not further pursue the subject at this hour of the evening (8.40). Indeed I, although a civilian, have dealt with it at this length because I consider the question of the military education of our Militia officers one of the utmost importance.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy)
I do not propose to go into details regarding the Militia, and indeed, knowledge does not qualify me to do so, but I take the opportunity of repeating the opinion I have expressed on former occasions, that justice is not done to our auxiliary forces—their interests are sacrificed to the interest of the regular Army. We are always increasing Army expenditure, and very lately we sanctioned an enormous increase of the Navy, but we do not do justice to the Auxiliary forces. I regard as our true defensive forces the Militia and Volunteers as distinguished from the regular forces, which are aggressive as well as defensive in character. Unlike other European countries we pay little regard to our auxiliary or defensive forces. I have heard much to-night that confirms my view, and I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Newington (Mr. Cooke) speak out on this subject, though I am not able to say whether all his conclusions were justified, but I think he is right in the main. Our Militia are not regarded as the true defensive force of the country, and treated as, in Switzerland and other countries, such forces are treated. My views find confirmation, too, in official documents. 77 I find them confirmed by the remarks of the Secretary for War in his memorandum of the Army Estimates of the year, showing that while the efficiency of the Army is increasing the Militia is decreasing, and that force is now much below its strength. The right hon. Gentleman acknowledges the evils of the billet system, and I cannot see why 'we should not provide barracks and parade ground at Militia headquarters. We find that in Switzerland where a country holds its own by means of a Militia, handsome barracks are provided and every means for making the service popular, and no doubt it is popular, though compulsory service may occasion a little grumbling, and there is no difficulty in obtaining citizens to serve. But all inducements of the kind in this country are wanting; the Militia are a scratch kind of force collected and billeted anyhow, and trained as they best may be in the nearest available field. There is a difficulty in obtaining efficient officers, and the examinations are used as a ready means—a sort of back-door into the Army when officers find themselves unable to enter the Army by the regular way—and so both the Militia and the Army suffer. After short service in the Army these officers retire on handsome pensions, and the utmost inducements are held out to men to leave the Militia for the regular Army, whereas encouragement should be given to induce men, after Army service, to join the Militia. At the annual drill the men are collected, and are not sufficiently under discipline to prevent them breaking out into mischievous pranks. I have suffered myself from their depredations in my garden, and though I am not disposed to be too hard upon the men for "sprees" of this kind, I think it is most desirable that by the introduction of men retired from the Army, by means of a permanent staff, a more consistent system of training, and an alteration of the billet system, better discipline should be maintained. I will not detain the Committee with details. I only wish to express my opinion, formed long ago, and confirmed this evening, that this auxiliary force is left in a most inefficient state.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
Although I have not served in the Militia I have had opportunities of seeing their 78 annual drill, and I paid special attention to this portion of the inquiry before the Committee. One thing that strikes me is the excessive cost in connection with the force, for be it remembered that this £530,000 is not the total, because from the footnote it will be observed that a further sum of £82,000 must be included. The officers do their best under the conditions to drill the men, but the shooting of the Militia is allowed by everybody to be very bad. When the Inspector General of Musketry was before the Committee, I tried for a quarter of an hour, but could not get him to express an opinion—good, bad, or indifferent on this point. He always put me off with the reply that it was as good as could be expected. I do not think the officers are to blame; it is due to the want of ranges near the barracks. If you can give men practice at 300 yards only, that is sufficient to gain the manual skill by which a fair proportion of the men may become good shots at longer distances. By means of intercepting screens, there ought to be little difficulty in obtaining such short ranges near at hand. To give a civilian force a good military training, you should have good central barracks and parade grounds with ranges close at hand, and you should have drill sheds for bad weather, and I think in the end, this would be found more economical than our present system, and certainly it would be more efficient. The system of calling the men out in this country differs materially from that of other countries. We call them out once a year, but I do not think it is necessary to do so more than once in two or three years, as is done in Switzerland. With regard to the policy of regarding the Militia as a feeder for the Army, some say it is desirable to reduce the bounty, and some say it is desirable to abolish it altogether. The question is a difficult one for the Secretary for War to deal with, as it is, no doubt, a very convenient thing for him to know that he has 30,000 men to call upon on an emergency. I am, therefore, not sure that the bounty money is altogether wasted; but the policy of trying to recruit from the Militia is a mistaken one, and I think the men ought to be left to join the Line or not as they choose, without having a special inducement held out to them to do so. 79 With regard to the £287,000 paid for the Militia Staff, I think the charge an extravagant one, and it shows some of the worst military administration it is possible to conceive. The Secretary for War is not responsible for the system; no one has made it, but it has grown up in time. Why do we pay this enormous sum? The Militia are only called up, for one month in a year, and yet you pay the staff for 12 months. To be sure, you have your recruits coming up, and it is true that the Inspector General stated that you could use the Militia Staff for other purposes, but I have always been unable to discover those other purposes. You could drill your recruits with a much smaller staff than that you at present employ. And as to the clothing Vote, though £2 per man is not a large amount, you must remember that it is only paid for one month in the year and that at that rate each man might be said to cost £24 a year. I think it would be much better to give the men the money and adopt some other clothing system. The evil in this respect is all due to the system of short training, which I believe to be a great mistake. The whole question of the principle upon which the Militia is established should be gone into. It is very seldom that anyone attempts to go into it, but I believe it to be altogether wrong. You have only 100,000 men, whereas you ought to have 200,600, even if it were found necessary to establish the conscription.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
The observations of the hon. and gallant Member are very interesting, and his views, which are much valued by the authorities at the War Office, will receive due attention. The difficulty suggested as to the size of the staff is a serious one which has not been lost sight of, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has undertaken certain reforms which will tend to a reduction. We hope that by next year we may be able to report a larger number of men on the strength of the Militia. The whole subject of the Militia is being considered in a practical spirit by a Committee upon which there are several distinguished Militia officers as well as other officials, and I can assure hon. Members that it will 80 not be relegated to obscurity in any way. The Committee will thoroughly thrash the matter out, and by next year the House will have before it the Report of that Committee, and can then more advantageously discuss the subject. Under these circumstances, I hope that I shall be excused from replying in detail to the points that have been raised, and that the Vote may now be allowed to be taken.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
What will be the constitution of the Committee? Will it be a purely Military Committee?
§ * MR. STANHOPE
It is not a purely Military Committee. There are four Militia officers on it. Lord Harris is the Chairman, and there are two other Members who do not belong to the Militia force.
§ Vote agreed to.
(5.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £76,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Pay, Allowances, and Miscellaneous Expenses of the Yeomanry Cavalry, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1890.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
The observations we have heard from hon. Gentlemen in the course of this evening have mainly tended in the direction of increased expenditure. I, however, do not take that line. I think we spend too much on the armed force which is to defend the country. We have been called on to increase the number of our soldiers; we are perpetually being called upon to increase the capitation grant of the volunteers, and we should. look around to find a means of economising a little in order to be able to meet these increased calls. I think we find the means on this particular Vote, and I, therefore, propose to ask the Committee to disallow the item. I regard the Yeomanry as a relic of past ages. We might as well have so many knights in armour, having regard to the service they render the country. The primary idea of a Yeomanry is that the country gentlemen should enrol their tenants, who should come with their horses and form a force perhaps rather ornamental than useful. A regiment of Yeomanry consists of about 200 men, who meet once a year for six days. The 81 whole thing is the merest humbug. They do not have horses of their own. Generally they hire old cab horses. It frequently happens that the men cannot retain their horses for the whole six days and that the animals are required for their other businesses—that they have to go back to their cabs or omnibuses—or that the warriors cannot pay for their hire more than two or three days. There is recruiting in the villages, and same sort of military drill is gone through, for which purposes the men get other horses, but the whole thing is nonsense. And what does it cost? Why £76,000 per annum. For this sum of £76,000 per annum we get 743 officers nominally and 13,117 non-commissioned officers and men; but it appears that out of the 743 officers only 566 attend drill, and out of the 13,117 men only 8,433 attend it. I challenge any military Member in the House to get up and say that this money could not be more usefully spent to guard against invasion of the country. But what we have to consider is, whether the Yeomanry is worth this £76,000 a year. I for one very much doubt it. So far as I can make out the Yeomanry is maintained in order that some gentlemen may wear the uniform, and have some sort of military rank, and may attend at some county town and have a Yeomanry drill. Occasionally when the force is called out there is a great deal of rowdyism, and as a matter of fact this £76,000 is not all the force costs, because a good deal of the money that goes to the police is employed in looking after these men. The Yeomanry are more dangerous to the town in which they meet to drill than they would probably be to an enemy. I used to go and look at a similar force during the siege of Paris, and I believe a strong wind would have blown them out of their saddles. Whenever there was to be a sortie, officers were sent to keep them out of the way. As a better use might be made of the money than by maintaining this mediæval humbug, I oppose the Vote altogether.
§ MR. LEES (Oldham)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has gone to Paris to see what the Yeomanry look like and to the middle ages to see what the force really is. He says that the idea is that the country gentlemen 82 should enrol their tenants, and no doubt country gentlemen do enrol their tenants to some extent, but that is by no means the universal rule. I myself am an officer in a Yeomanry regiment, and am in command of a troop of 30 men, not one of whom is a tenant of my own. Instead of six days, they meet for ten days a year, during which they work very hard. They are drawn from a very intelligent class of men, and they know how to ride before they join the force. Six months or a year has not to be spent in teaching them how to ride, and they ride their own horses. In my troop there are only two who do not, and one of these is an old soldier. Nothing can be further from the fact than that the Yeomany give trouble to the police. During the five years I have served not one in my regiment has ever been brought before the Police Authorities, and the Mayor of the town in which they are called up every year makes it his business to compliment us on the good order we have kept. The hon. Gentleman has spoken rather contemptuously of the class to which I belong, namely, the Yeomanry officers. Well, we certainly do have to wear an elaborate uniform—a more elaborate one than is desirable, but we have to pass a rather strict examination at Aldershot, and are brigaded there with ordinary cavalry regiments. We have to learn cavalry drill and to go through a good deal of training. The hon. Gentleman judges of the English Yeomanry from a regiment he saw at Paris. For my own part, I should be sorry to judge of English horsemen or horsemanship from French horsemen or horsemanship. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that it would take a very strong gust of wind to blow English yeomen out of their saddles. They are in the habit of riding across country, and ride better than the cavalry, who only learn the art in a mechanical way. The Reports of the inspecting officers show that for years the Yeomanry have been doing their best to improve themselves; and instead of disallowing or diminishing the grant, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to give us a little more money, because then we can make ourselves a very efficient force. The hon. Member for Northampton approves of a Volunteer army instead of a Conscription army. Very well, we are the only Volunteer 83 cavalry in the country, and I believe that if we had a little more encouragement, a great deal might be done. By the superannuation system you get rid of the older men, who can devote most time to the service. It is not so easy to get younger men to spend their time and money in the Force, and if any money has been saved in the matter of capitation grant by this superannuation system I would ask the right lion. Gentleman the Secretary of State to give us a little more.
§ * SIR F. FITZWYGRAM
I admit that some years ago there were some abuses in connection with the Yeomanry, but I think it was owing more to a defective system of inspection than to any want of zeal on the part of the yeomanry. The War Office sent down some officer on the morning of the inspection to see what is called the field-day; he made a complimentary speech and then went away. Under such a lax system of inspection you could expect abuses to occur. I admit that some years ago there were abuses in the Yeomanry. The chief of them was that the commanding officers were allowed to remain as long as they liked, and many of them became old and inefficient. Men do not very readily recognise that they are becoming old and inefficient. I was sent down in the year 1869 to inspect a regiment in one of our northern counties, where the colonel had just resigned at the age of 81. I need scarcely say that the regiment was in a state of chaos and not at all worth the money it cost the National Exchequer. The commander of a Yeomanry regiment should be a man in the prime of life, strong and vigorous. I believe the age has been fixed at 55 years, but I should have preferred it reduced to 50 years. A similar abuse existed in regard to adjutants. The system was to make life appointments. Many of the adjutants were old and inefficient, and most of them had for many years left active service, and were completely ignorant of the great changes which had taken place in our ideas as to the utilization and employment of cavalry. But those days have gone by, and the Yeomanry of to-day should not be spoken of as they were formerly, but as they are. The great improvement in the Yeomanry dates from the appointment of Inspectors General. Colonel 84 Oakes, of the 12th Lancers, was the first Inspector General, a man of remarkable ability, and who, though rough in language sometimes, nevertheless by his tact and geniality, conciliated the men. Colonel Oakes threw his whole soul and heart into his work, and infused a vitality into the Yeomanry which it has never since lost, and which, I believe, it will never lose. Shortly after, a complete change was made in regard to the appointment of adjutants, who are selected from captains on full pay by H.R.H. the Commander in Chief for zeal and ability. They hold the position for five years, and they are liable to be withdrawn if they show any want of zeal or tact. When it was first introduced, I thought the new system would be a failure, but I am glad to say that I find it has answered well in every respect. The Commanding Officers of the Yeomanry as well as the two Inspectors report the very great improvements which have taken place in the Yeomanry since the new system of adjutants. A similar change has been made in regard to the drill sergeants, who are now appointed from cavalry sergeants of 16 years' service, and who are entitled to a pension after 21 years' service, are appointed for five years, and they are only allowed to remain in their positions so long as the Inspector General is satisfied that they show zeal and tact. These are very comfortable berths, and the Yeomanry have now the very pick and flower of our cavalry regiments. As regards the officers, in most of our auxiliary forces the breakdown has usually been in the inefficiency of the officers. I think in this respect the Yeomanry suffer less than any other branch of our auxiliary forces. The auxiliary school for Cavalry Officers has been a great success. It was started 25 years ago, and it has done good work, and never better than it is now doing under Major Morrison. No officer can be promoted to command of a troop of Yeomanry unless he holds a certificate of qualification from the Yeomanry School at Aldershot. That certificate is not lightly given, and when I was Inspector General of Cavalry I saw officers come up one, two, and three years before they obtained it. As the Yeomanry school has now been started 20 years, I think that there are very 85 few captains of Yeomanry who do not hold the necessary certificates of qualifications. Sir, I claim for the Yeomanry in the present day that as far as time and opportunity go, they are thoroughly well instructed both as regards officers and non-commissioned officers and men. It is said that seven or eight days' drill is not sufficient to make them efficient. That is true. But of late years the War Office has supplemented that period by a certain number of half day's troop drills, for which a payment is made. And since the introduction of the new system of adjutants, the adjutants are required and expected to hold two troop drills per week throughout the summer. There are 25 weeks for drill in the summer, therefore the adjutant can hold 50 troop drills in the course of the summer—that is, 8 per troop. The Yeomanry regiment of the county which I have the honour to represent has exceeded that number. There is more to be learnt in many respects by a troop-drill than when the regiment is brought together in line. The principal points to be learnt are outpost and detached duty, and it has been asked how these can be taught in eight drills per year. In the Line I admit it could not be done with idle and inattentive recruits. In the Yeomanry, however, you are teaching an intelligent class of men, anxious and willing to learn, and who listen to every word that is said, anxious to profit by it. I claim for the Yeomanry that they have not only progressed, but that they have made great and rapid improvement. The question is not whether they are equal to the regular cavalry, it would be absurd to argue that they are. The real question is whether they are efficient for the duties they would be called upon to perform in the event of an invasion. Before we can properly consider this question, we must consider the probably occurring circumstances. Before an invasion is possible, we must presuppose a continental war in which our troops have got the worst of it. You must presuppose that our cavalry at home has been thoroughly depleted to make up the casualties in the regiments abroad; and probably not more than 2,000 cavalry would be available at home. Now London and the South Coast can only 86 be defended by an army in the field—in the absence of a chain of forts such as are around some continental capitals. The Secretary of State in his speech said he would be able to collect 80,000 regulars and back them up by 200,000 Volunteers. For the service of that Army a large cavalry force, which is the eyes and ears of an army, would be absolutely necessary for obtaining and transmitting intelligence as to the force and movements of the enemy to our generals, whose movements would depend upon that information, and on his movements again would depend the success or failure of the campaign. For the army of 280,000, there would be required 10,000 cavalry. For reasons given above you cannot have that number in your cavalry. But in your Yeomanry you have 10,000 men and horses ready to be placed in the field at a moment's notice, and to be carried to the south as quickly as the trains could take them there. Now comes the crucial question. Would the Yeomanry be fit for the service of the Army in the field? I think they would. In the present day the principal duties of the cavalry are to scout, patrol, and reconnaissances, outpost and detached duties, gathering and transmitting intelligence. All these duties I think the Yeomanry would be well fitted to discharge. Bodies of five and six men under a non-commissioned officer are employed for outpost and detached duties, and the Yeomanry, consisting of men of intelligence, accustomed to observe and look about them, would be well fitted for their efficient discharge. If you ask me, whether the Yeomanry are well fitted for the attack in line or to manœuvre, I hesitate to answer that question in the affirmative. I do not think they would, certainly not at the outset of the campaign. But that question does not arise in connection with an invasion of our southern coast, the land between which and London is enclosed by hedges and ditches, and contains no large plains on which cavalry could be manœuvred. The only possible and the most valuable use which could be made of our cavalry and the Yeomanry in England would be that which is comprised in the phrase "outpost and detached duty," and for these duties, 87 which are of primary importance, Yeomanry, as now trained, are I think well fitted. I should like now to make a few suggestions with regard to the improvement of the Yeomanry force. I should like to see every Yeomanry regiment brought to one of our great camps of instruction either at Aldershot, York, or some part of Scotland, at least once in every seven years for 14 days' training, and placed under canvas. I ask for 14 days because the expense would be considerable, and it would be provoking if the weather were so wet that, if they had only seven days, the whole of that period might be wasted. I also ask that they should be under canvas because they would thus learn more in the way of picqueting horses, erecting tents, and other field duties than they could go through if they spent their time in barracks. In the next place, I think it absolutely necessary that the age of the commanding officers should be limited to what, in my opinion, is the prime of life, and I cannot put that age above 50. Moreover, I think it still more essential to limit the period allowed for the command of a regiment, which I would fix at eight years. In the Line it is four years only; but I do not suppose you could get in the Yeomanry so frequent a renewal as one in four years. My reason for suggesting an eight years' limit is that nothing is so discouraging to a young man as to find when he joins his regiment a young commissioned officer, say 30 years of age, who might retain the command for the next quarter of a century. The period ought to be so limited as to afford a fair chance of command to every officer. The command of the regiment is the object of honourable ambition. My next suggestion is that more attention should be paid to musketry instruction than hitherto. The rifle carbine of the Yeomanry regiments is a very beautiful weapon, and very little inferior to the Henri-Martini of the infantry—it is perfectly true at 600 yards, and deviates only one foot at 800 yards. I would impress on the Secretary of State that accuracy of aim and a good weapon are of far more importance in the case of Yeomanry and other mounted troops liable to be detached on out-duties than they are in the case of the Line. The 88 men who are employed on these duties carry their lives in their hands, whereas in the infantry regiments, where thousands are massed together and all are well armed, it does not matter so much whether some shoot straight or not; but where men are sent out in small bodies, exposed to all kinds of perils, it is absolutely necessary that they should be good marksmen. I would also ask the Secretary at War to give them, in proportion to their strength, the same capitation grant as is given to the Line cavalry regiments for musketry. Now as regards the expense of these proposals. The cost of the railway fare per man and horse, to the camp of exercise, I reckon at £4 which, for 1,200, amounts to £4,800. Pay for 1,200 men for seven days would he about £300; then there would be the capitation grant. There are 39 Yeomanry regiments, and I would reduce the number to 31; and taking the capitation grant at £100 per regiment, that would make something over £3,000, which, added to £4,800, would make the total something over £8,000, which is the increase I desire the Secretary for War should give to the Yeomanry. But I always feel it my duty, whenever I ask for increased expenditure, to show some method by which the money may be saved. For my part, I attach more value the efficiency than to numbers. I know that the Horse Guards worship numbers, but I dissent from that in toto, and would sooner have 100 men well trained than 110 men trained insufficiently. I propose to reduce all regiments of a strength less than 250. They are too expensive in proportion to strength. The normal strength of each Yeomanry regiment should be six troops of 60 men, making a total of 360, the limitation being 250. The present strength of the Yeomanry is nominally 18,000, and the real strength 10,000. I propose to reduce that strength by 1,000, and the average cost being £8 15s. per man, that multiplied by 1,000 would give £8,600. In this way I am prepared to say that the Yeomanry may be materially increased in efficiency without any increase of expenditure. I now come to the point with which I started. London can only be defended by an army in the 89 field, and 10,000 cavalry are absolutely necessary for the service of that army. You cannot have that number of regular cavalry under the conditions I have named; but you have them in the Yeomanry, whose number, however, I propose to reduce from 10,000 to 9,000. From that number we must knock off 10 per cent for those who from various causes would not turn up if called on for active service in case of invasion. I take the average from the Line regiments—namely 10 per cent of sick and so forth. Thus, the Yeomanry would be reduced to 8,000, and as you would have 2,000 regular cavalry left in the United Kingdom, you would thus get your 10,000 men, who are absolutely necessary for service of the Army of 280,000 men in the field. In my opinion, which I express as the result of considerable experience, you would, under these circumstances, have a thoroughly efficient and trustworthy force of cavalry on whose service the nation might safely rely.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I am sure that no Member of the Committee who has listened to the speech of the hon. and gallant General who has just sat down, and who speaks with so much knowledge and experience in regard to our cavalry forces, Call have regarded this question in the light in which it has been treated by the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). I may say that the view entertained by the Military Authorities fully bears out the statement made from the independent position of my hon. and gallant Friend. The question is a very simple one—namely, are you prepared to pay £76,000 in order to drill and organize 13,000 men for the defence of this country? As the hon. and gallant General has pointed out, nothing could be more absurd than to devote large sums of money to the maintenance of a great mass of infantry without at the same time providing that initial organization of cavalry, which is absolutely necessary to complete our Army service. I cannot suppose that the hon. Member for Northampton has proposed the omission of this Vote in a serious spirit. Indeed, his observations make it almost clear that he can never have seen a Yeomanry regiment in his life. He has compared them to knights in armour, he has 90 attacked their drill and derided their horsemanship; but I think that, reading between the lines of his speech, there is a great deal more sympathy with the object of this force than he has openly expressed. Although the Yeomanry regiments may not be comparable to the cavalry of the Line, we have, nevertheless, in that force a total of 13,000 men at a cost for which we could not produce and maintain half a regiment of regular cavalry; and it is obvious that we should be cutting off a considerable source of national security, were we to throw over the services of this body. I do not wish to detain the Committee by going into evidence as to the value and importance of this arm of the service. That point, I think, has been fully dealt with by my hon. and gallant Friend. I may say, however, that the Reports of the Inspectors abundantly show that a great attempt is being made, on the part of the Force, to render itself efficient. It is evident to everyone that an immense improvement has taken place in this branch of the service within the last few years. Their permanent staff is good, their organization excellent, and their morale has greatly improved. I hope, therefore, that the hon. Member for Northampton, having delivered his annual speech on this subject, will be satisfied with the protest he has made, and allow the Committee to pass this Vote.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I do not know whether the hon. Member for Northampton is convinced by the statements of the hon. and gallant General, who has laid before us the result of his experience; but I may say that I am partial to a Volunteer organization of this kind, and if convinced of its efficiency, should be inclined to support it. In my part of the world the Yeomanry have abolished themselves, and from their ashes has arisen a Volunteer force, no doubt a fine body of men, and they think so themselves. I think the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Brodrick) was outside the mark when he spoke of a force of 13,000 men, because the official statement shows that only 8,000 put in an appearance at drill, so it would seem that in some parts of the country the Yeomanry are dissolving themselves. The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but we have the official figures given as 8,433.
§ MR. BRODRICK
That does not imply that there are not more men under the colours. The men have to attend a certain number of drills, and the present depression of agriculture accounts for the absence of many.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
It seems to indicate there is great difficulty in maintaining the Yeomanry in a state of efficiency. I should have been glad if the hon. Gentleman could have told us something about the horses, whether they are the superannuated animals hired for a day or two, as the hon. Member for Northampton says. As a cavalry regiment of the Line the force is worth nothing at all; but as there is reason to suppose the Yeomanry can be made an efficient force of light horse, I am not inclined to support my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton. I understand the Committee to which allusion has been made will have this subject under consideration as well as that of the Militia, and I hope that Committee will not be entirely professional, but constituted on the broadest general grounds.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
As a cavalry officer, I support the contention of the hon. Member for Northampton, for I could never see the slightest use in the Yeomanry force. I do not believe that more than one out of every ten regiments are efficient, the regiment referred to by the hon. Member for Oldham being, no doubt, one of the exceptions. I do not think the Yeomanry justifies its existence by providing a berth for a cavalry officer, giving him a few days' work in the year. As the hon. Member for Northampton says, the Yeomanry force is an anachronism, a survival from the days when tenants followed their landlords to the field. I once belonged to a regiment of Essex Yeomanry before it was disbanded by the late colonel, and there were 15 officers to 25 men. If the Secretary for War has £70,000 to dispose of, I think the money would be better spent in providing reserves for the cavalry regiments. During the Egyptian War it took two cavalry regiments to mount a couple of squadrons.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I need hardy say that I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken has displayed more intelligence than 92 any other hon. and gallant Gentleman who has taken part in the discussion. We have had the other side taken by two other hon. and gallant Gentlemen, one an able and distinguished cavalry officer (Sir F. Fitz Wygram), who has thrown his ægis over the Yeomanry, and has defended them in a kindly spirit, but he has practically admitted the Force is of very little use. He says my criticisms would have justly applied to the Yeomanry of some years ago; but he says the Force has made such advances of late years that my remarks do not apply now. Well, I remember the same thing being said ten or more years ago, and I have no doubt that if the Force is maintained the same defence will be made by some hon. and gallant Member ten years hence. But when the hon. and gallant Gentleman proceeded to go into details he showed us that the Yeomanry could only be made worth anything by reducing them. in numbers and spending £8,100 a year more upon them; and as I gather from the hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench that the Government have not the slightest intention of spending this additional £8,100, I think the Committee should adopt my suggestion and abolish the Force altogether. I may point out that this £76,000 is not the entire cost, but as a matter of fact, according to the information lately put before us, the entire amount is £105,700. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Oldham (Mr. Elliott Lees) also made a defence of the Yeomanry, but he did not quite agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman who followed him as to what the Yeomanry ought to do; he would have the Yeomanry charge in line and carry defeat into the ranks of the enemy.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE:
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. I understood him to be ready at the head of 25 men to charge and carry desolation into the ranks of an invading army. The hon. Gentleman said of this Force that it was specially intelligent, and it was taken chiefly from the agricultural classes. Now, I have very great respect for the agricultural classes, but I should not go there particularly to 93 find intelligence. The hon. Member explains why he considers them intelligent, because they can ride a horse, and he accepts this as absolute proof that they are more intelligent than others.
§ MR. ELLIOTT LEES
I said they were intelligent, and I said they could ride, not that they were intelligent because they could ride.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
They are intelligent and they can ride, and I suppose they are intelligent because they belong to the agricultural classes, for the hon. Gentleman gave us no other reason. Certainly the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Hampshire gave an instance of their intelligence, for be said that in case of an invasion a considerable number of them would probably disappear. It appears to me that if this force is so intelligent as the hon. Member for Oldham represents we might well do away with 13,000 of the regular cavalry and substitute for them this cheaper Yeomanry force of phenomenal intelligence. It seemed to me the hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench defended the Vote in but a half-hearted way. He said he knew nothing about the force himself, but he had been assured by a friend of his, a cavalry officer, that he had never seen such excellent troops.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I never said I did not know; but I said that, as a layman, I would not attempt to give an opinion on the subject. I left that to Military Members of the House.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
If we left these matters to Military Members Heaven knows how much we should spend. The hon. Member for Oldham expressed a strong opinion as to the superiority of the Yeomanry Cavalry and of English Cavalry over the French, but there are eminent military authorities who do not agree with him. The Duke of Wellington expressed an opinion that French cavalry were infinitely superior to English cavalry; and, if I remember rightly, it was to the father of the present Secretary for War that the Duke of Wellington expressed that opinion. I hope the Committee will take a practical and reasonable view of the matter. The Yeomanry may be of 94 some use, I have no doubt, in case of invasion, but not, I maintain, in proportion to their expense. It is a force that is entirely behind the requirements of these days. To say that they are capable of acting as vedettes after their six days annual training is a rather surprising statement to hear from an experienced officer. Of the horses he said nothing. The whole thing is a piece of nonsense; a wasteful, expensive farce, and I shall certainly ask the Committee to divide against the Vote.
§ * MR. STANHOPE
I think the most practical and sensible course will be for the Committee to proceed to a division. It is an old subject brought out every year. It has afforded some amusements and the Committee is now, I think, in possession of the arguments on either side.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 132; Noes, 50.—(Div. List, No. 141.)
§ (6.) £742,700, Volunteer Corps.
§ * MR. STANHOPE
I think it will be right for me to mention in relation to this Vote what has arisen since the preparation of the Estimate. The Committee are well aware that the question of Volunteer Camps has excited keen interest among all who have the welfare of the Volunteer force at heart. Accordingly, we in the Estimate propose an increase in the amount for this purpose from £50,000 to £56,500. Such a general desire was evinced for increased camping accommodation, and applications from all parts of the country became so frequent, and I was so convinced of the advantages to the corps in these camps, that I felt justified in making application to the Treasury for an increased Vote. The Estimate I find may be exceeded. I hope it may be met by savings from other Votes, but if not it will be my duty to present a Supplementary Estimate for the purpose.
SIR H. FLETCHER (Sussex, Lewes)
I am sure the statement of the right hon. Gentleman will give the greatest satisfaction throughout the Volunteer force. As one who has served in the force for 30 years, I think the country is to be congratulated on the increase of the number of Volunteers by 16,000 during the year. These camps are of the greatest benefit in 95 bringing officers and men together. But I desire particularly to allude to the General Order just issued by the War Office in reference to Volunteers and their equipment. They are required to provide themselves with great coats, water bottles, and haversacks within a specified time—which may mean 12 months—or lose the capitation grant as non-efficient. I think it would be unfortunate if this regulation were insisted upon. It is, I admit, most patriotic on the part of the Lord Mayor of London to start a fund for the assistance of the Metropolitan Volunteers; but be it remembered that the Metropolitan Volunteers are only 31,000 out of a total of 200,000 who are required to provide themselves with the articles I have mentioned. Who will have to provide these articles for the Volunteers? The liability will fall no doubt upon the officers, and I think it will be rather hard upon them that they should have to borrow the money for the purpose. Having had to borrow a large sum of money for the regiment to which I belong, I know from experience that it cannot be obtained at less than 5 per cent; whereas if the Government were to furnish the great coats they could probably obtain the money at 2½ per cent. In the Estimates there is an allowance of 2s. per annum for every great coat produced; but still I think it would be better if the Government were to provide the coats themselves in lieu of the annual grant. I hope my right hon. Friend the Secretary for War will see his way to help us in the difficulty in which we shall be placed.
§ * COLONEL LAURIE (Bath)
I rise to support the contention of my hon. Friend the Member for Sussex (Sir H. Fletcher). I wish to direct the attention of the Committee more especially to the Circular Letter recently issued. I entirely agree with the Secretary for War that the Volunteers ought to have all the articles mentioned under the first head of the Circular Letter recently issued. It is, however, also made incumbent on those who are in command of Volunteer regiments to provide the various articles mentioned under the second head. In the Letter it is stated that commanding officers should make their proper arrangements for obtaining those articles beforehand. In point of 96 fact, they can only be obtained on payment of the Capitation Grant of two guineas per head in case of the mobilisation of the Volunteer force. I think the Government ought to enable us to obtain beforehand those articles which are necessary for the efficiency of a Volunteer regiment. Even the articles mentioned in the first category are not deemed essential by the Committee which sat a year or two ago under the Presidency of Lord Harris, and their enforced purchase would press hardly on the Volunteer force in the poorest parts of England. I am exceedingly glad to hear that the Secretary of State proposes to increase the amount of camp allowance; but I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us some information as to the principle on which that allowance is distributed to the Volunteers. I should also like to have some information as to the manner in which the accounts are now passed. Many years ago all the accounts of the Volunteer regiments had to be passed by the War Office, but that was found unworkable, and the passing of the accounts was therefore handed over to a committee of the officers of each corps. This arrangement has worked very well, but I hear that there is to be a much closer inspection of the accounts now. I am an older member of the Force than perhaps any Member of this House; and I will remind the Government that 20 or 30 years ago every trifling payment a commanding officer made had to be certified by him in writing, even if it was only for six-pennyworth of firewood for the orderly room. Once, on signing a voucher for a small sum of money, I ventured to put the ½d. in figures, and the voucher was actually returned to me to be altered. The Committee will therefore see that when I ask that the supervision of the War Office should not be too close, I have some reason to dread it. I am told that it is intended to prevent any charge being made for increased lodging allowance for the permanent staff and drill instructors. I think the Secretary of State will admit that the price of living and lodging is very different in different parts of the country, and that a Staff sergeant who can live in luxury on the Government allowance in a distant part of 97 Cornwall cannot live so luxuriously in London. I hope the Secretary for War, before making any alteration in this matter, will consider that it will deprive the Metropolitan regiments of the services of a great many highly trained and efficient non-commissioned officers.
§ * SIR J. GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
The officers of the regiment with which I happen to be connected have asked me to mention a matter which affects them seriously. They consider the new Order to be a very necessary one; but hitherto the arrangement has been that 2s. a year has been allowed to the Volunteers for the purpose of providing them with great coats and other necessaries. Gradually many regiments have been doing so, but if now they have to provide themselves with coats all of a sudden, they must either borrow the money or obtain it by means of a subscription among the officers and others. Now, one of the difficulties that Volunteer regiments have to contend with is this—that such heavy expense is thrown on the officers that when vacancies occur there is great difficulty in filling them, and there is great fear lest by throwing further expense upon them that difficulty will be largely increased. If it is not intended that officers should put their hands into their pockets, it is not fair that regiments should have to borrow the money in ordinary course, because bankers will not give money to Volunteer regiments under 5 per cent. On the other hand, the Government can borrow on much more favourable terms, and I submit that if the Government will assist them in that way a much smaller liability would be thrown on the funds of Volunteer regiments. In London the Lord Mayor has initiated a very considerable fund to provide for the needs of the Volunteers in the London district, but that will still leave 130,000 in the country to be looked after, and I think the Lord Mayor would have done greater service if he had made his fund apply to the whole country. No doubt the Lord Mayor cares primarily for the City which he so properly represents, but the necessities of Volunteers in all parts of the country are the same, and consequently if the fund 98 is a patriotic fund it ought to be participated in by all the Volunteers in the country.
§ MR. MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)
In common with many other Volunteer officers, I feel much gratified with the larger amount which is to be given to the camps, but before this Vote is passed, I should like to know where the camps are to be situated. In Scotland we are most anxious to get another camp besides that at Barry Links. This could be done at little expense, and, if it were done, I think the great majority of the Artillery Volunteers would have a strong inducement to attend. We find, in the West of Scotland, that it is almost impracticable to send our men to the east coast, and that the camp is very far removed from the largest centre of Volunteers in Scotland. I wish also to impress on the Government the great importance of withdrawing the old 32-pounder guns from the different batteries. They are utterly obsolete, and nothing is to be gained by practising with them. The men are thoroughly disgusted with having to drill with them. If we had a few more 4-pounders sent down and a few 6-pounders there would be much more anxiety on the part of the men to learn the drill, and I think that much better results would be attained. I am afraid it will be a long time before the new magazine rifle reaches the hands of the Volunteers; but, at any rate, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us some indication as to when that time may come, in order that our Volunteers may feel that their interests are not being disregarded. The cost of the gun houses has been found to be a great tax on many commanding officers, and the increased grant will no doubt tend to relieve them partially. As to the grant for great coats, I can only corroborate what has been fully stated, and trust that the Government may see their way rather to give great coats than to add 2s. to the capitation grant.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I will tell the gentlemen connected with the Volunteers why they are obliged to come to the House and ask for more money, or why they are obliged to put their hands in their own pockets. The reason is that they will not devote the money to the purposes for which it is intended, 99 and that the portion of it which they do devote to the purposes for which it is intended is wastefully used. Let me take a regiment of eight companies of 100 men each. The regiment would consist of 800 rank and file, and 27 officers—827 in all. What is the amount of money that such a regiment ought to receive from the Government? The Capitation Grant of 35s. per head would amount to £1,447, the extra capitation for proficiency of officers and sergeants would be £54, a 2s. allowance for great coats would amount to £82, the allowance for travelling to ranges over five miles would be £164, if five of the officers passed the examination in tactics the allowance would be £7, the stationery allowance at £2 10s. per company would be £20, the allowance for regimental headquarters would be £50, or a total of £1,824. Now let us see the expenditure. I take the main general items of expenditure as set down by the Departmental Committee which sat in 1887. Orderly room, drill rooms, &c., £240, ranges £160, conveyance to ranges £80, band £80, repair of arms £82, total £612. Coming to clothes, I find that every single item of equipment may be obtained for £3. Let us suppose that in a regiment of 800 men there are 150 fresh recruits each year. The equipment of these men would, therefore, cost £450. Let us suppose too that the equipment of 100 of the old men would have to be renewed every year; that would come to £300. The total cost of equipment, therefore, would be £750 per annum. Great coats cost 15s., but you can get them cheaper, because there are large numbers refused by the War Office, and these can be got for 6s. ["Oh, oh."] Well, I will deliver them myself at that price. But taking the cost at 15s., the total cost of greatcoats for 800 men would be £600. I take it that these coats would last at least 10 years. A Volunteer has to attend 30 drills in each of the first two years, and after that nine drills a year. I suppose a man would not be expected to wear his great coat at home as a dressing-gown, so that it is obvious it would last a very considerable time. But if great coats last 10 years, the cost would be £60 per annum. Taking, therefore, the general expenditure at £612, and cloth- 100 ing, including great coats, at £810, we have a total expenditure of £1,422, as against £1,824, which the regiment ought to receive. Now, why is it that this money is not sufficient to cover the expenditure? It is because, in the first place, the money is expended upon objects for which it is not intended. For instance, some of it is spent in regimental prizes. [Colonel LAURIE: No.] Does the hon. Gentleman mean to tell me that in some regiments regimental prizes are not provided out of the capitation money? Again, in some regiments the entrance fees of the men who are sent to compete for prizes at Wimbledon are defrayed out of the capitation grant, and in some instances even the expenses of the men while at Wimbledon are defrayed out of this money. [Colonel LAURIE: Not out of the capitation grant.] The whole capitation grant is put into a bag. [Colonel LAURIE: No.] The hon. Gentleman speaks for his own invaluable regiment; does he know the circumstances of every regiment in the Service? There is more wasteful expenditure on clothes. While some regiments spend as much as 37s. for tunics, and 21s., 22s., and 23s. for trousers, others spend 20s. and 13s. respectively. The reason of this high expenditure in some regiments is that the colonels of these regiments are neither military men nor business men. There ought to be a specific understanding as to the amount to be paid for these various articles, and I think the better plan would be to supply them out of the Government stores, and deduct the price from the capitation grant. Again, at present there is no fixed contract into which the recruit enters. In some regiments he has to serve three years and in others less. It is only reasonable that there should be some distinct system in this matter, and that the War Office should lay down definite rules and regulations. Now lately a subscription has been started by the Lord Mayor of London, which has a very laudable object, but I think it would be infinitely better for the money which will be raised to be spent in providing ranges for the men rather than in giving them equipments. I see it is proposed to give the men overcoats and boots. Now I should 101 like to know, are these coats and boots to be kept at head quarters, or are the men to be allowed to take them to their own homes? because if they are allowed to take them home, we may be sure that these articles will not be used merely for drill purposes, and that they will soon be worn out. You must remember that the class of men who now enlist in the Volunteer force are not the same as those who belonged to it some time ago. There are a considerable number of regiments entirely made up of artisans. I do not suggest that these men are not quite as respectable as those who formerly belonged to the Volunteers, but it must not be forgotten that they are not so rich, and they would be far more likely to wear the boots and overcoats at home. I hope that the Secretary for War will look into this matter, and that he will not think that in making these observations I am attacking the Volunteers. This is a most important matter. We are being perpetually asked for more money, and my point is that we should see that the best possible use is made of the money which is already granted, and that proper regulations should be laid down for controlling the expenditure of it.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I feel sure there is a general disposition on the part of the Committee to grant me two or three more Votes to-night, and therefore I propose to offer a few observations with a view to trying to bring this discussion to a close. The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken addressed himself to the economic side of the question, and with very great force he pointed out the necessity of the accounts of Volunteer corps being carefully watched. So far as I can gather, sufficient supervision is already exercised over these accounts. The accounts come before the War Office, and are subjected to very minute examination, and anything which ought not to appear in them would at once be stopped. And now as to the question of equipment. The War Office has recently issued a Circular giving a list of articles which they consider necessary for the proper and efficient equipment of the 102 force. Nobody will say that these articles are not necessary in order that the Volunteers may be ready at short notice to do their duty in the field. These items have all been recognized by various committees as necessaries, and the grant will enable the whole of the Volunteer force to be equipped with them in the long run. Take the greatcoat, for instance. We have agreed to grant 2s. for every greatcoat. The effect of that is that every Volunteer corps will be able to get greatcoats and to pay for them by means of the grant. In many country districts corps had no difficulty in getting bankers to advance the money and in repaying the capital sum and interest by means of the 2s. grant. The number of Volunteers now in possession of greatcoats is 67,000, against 40,000 last year; and I am sure that next year there will be a considerable increase in the number. Of course, the War Office is perfectly prepared to give Volunteer corps reasonable and fair time to provide themselves with the articles which have boon named in our Circular. In the City of London the Lord Mayor has come forward in a public spirit and is endeavouring to induce his fellow-citizens to give subscriptions for the purpose of supplying the items which are thought necessary by the War Office and also some other articles. The Lord Mayor will, I hope, be thoroughly successful, and I think he will find that the patriotic spirit of Londoners will be equal to the demand he has made. In London the Volunteers have a special expenditure to incur, because they have to provide headquarters and means of shooting at some range. All this is extra expense, and more than is incurred by corps in country districts. The same may, of course, be said in a modified way of corps in large towns. I will hope that this movement initiated by the Lord Mayor will be extended, and that in future more local support will be given to Volunteers. I think that public subscriptions in the various counties should enable Volunteer corps to be put into the field properly equipped without undue expense having to be incurred by the officers, who come forward at so much self-sacrifice to take a part in the movement. I can only add, as regards the equipment, that I look with great hope to the results of the 103 Circular which has been issued. I believe that if the Volunteer force applies its mind generally to this problem, in the course of the next year or two the great difficulties to be met with will be successfully surmounted. An hon. Member has urged that there should be a separate artillery range for Scotland. Now, that is a matter of expense- England has to content itself with one range, and the Government cannot be expected at present to ask the country to go to a great expense in establishing a second range unless the necessity for it is more absolutely proved than it has been. I am aware that the present artillery range at Shoeburyness is not convenient for all the Volunteers in Scotland, but the same may be said of the Volunteers in England, and much praise is due to the public-spirited manner in which they are making a sacrifice to qualify themselves at the existing range. In conclusion I may say I shall be glad to receive suggestions, and I can assure the Committee that I am trying to spend the money granted by Parliament to the best advantage of the Volunteer force taken as a whole.
§ Vote agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £477,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Pay, Allowances, &c., of a number of Army Reserve First Class, not exceeding 58,300, and of the Army Reserve Second Class (including enrolled Pensioners), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1890.
§ * SIR WALTER BARTTELOT
I should like to ask a question in regard to this Vote. My right hon. Friend stated some time ago that the authorities were considering some plan for calling out the Army Reserves. I think he must be well aware of the absolute necessity there is for our knowing whether the Army Reserve is an efficient force, or whether it is, as some people say, a sham. I have no idea that it is a sham, but that it is as efficient as it ought to be I very much doubt. We do not know whether the men would be forthcoming if necessity arose; we do not know 104 whether or not they would be effective; we do not know whether they would be up to the requirements and equal to that efficiency which every soldier is bound to attain before he becomes effective. Now, this is a question which deserves the serious consideration of the Government. Objection, I know, is made by many employers of labour to these men being called out, and it has been suggested as a reason for not calling out the Reserves that many men would thereby be deprived of their permanent employment. I venture to say, however, that employers are more patriotic than is suggested by that, and they would readily give assistance and employment to men who belong to the Army Reserve. I think some arrangements might be made for calling out the men at a time when it would not cause great inconvenience to the masters. For instance, the men might be drilled in the evening, along with the Volunteers; and I do hope, bearing in mind the importance of this matter, that the right hon. Gentleman will carefully consider it, and that he will afford the House some information as to the best means of effecting the object which we all have in view—namely, the testing the efficiency of the Reserve forces.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I agree with almost all my hon. and gallant Friend has said as to the desirableness of testing, if possible, the value of the Reserve. I believe the infantry reserve is a thoroughly reliable force, although it is more difficult to say the same as to the artillery and cavalry. But even if those arms were immediately required I believe they would be found to be fairly effective. I desire very much to bring this force to a practical test. But many exemptions would first have to be made, as, for instance, men in the Government employ, and then private employers of labour would regard it as a cause of grievance that their men should be called out to the detriment of business. Nevertheless, it seems to me essential that the Army Reserve should have some knowledge of the use of the new weapon likely to be in use, and I hope next year to devise some means whereby the Reserve men will have some training in the use of the new weapon. I believe that end 105 could be gained without an undue disturbance of trade.
§ LIEUTENANT GENERAL FRASER
I propose to detain the Committee for only a few moments, but I wish to say a few words on the question of the Reserve, and especially as regards the field artillery branch. His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief gave important evidence on this matter before Lord Randolph Churchill's Committee, and after that it was promised by the Secretary of State for War that the few attenuated batteries should be kept up to a proper strength in readiness for service, and that the Second Army Corps should not have to be drawn upon to supply men to the First Army Corps. But these promises have been entirely broken by the Government. I hold in my possession papers from distinguished officers, such as Lord Napier of Magdala, which prove the weakness of this branch of the Service. We have no horse artillery reserve. I think it would be well if a Committee of distinguished military men wore appointed to inquire into the best means of bringing about a more satisfactory state of affairs. I hold it is absolutely essential we should have a Reserve to fall back upon.
§ MR.ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I think that any Member who takes an interest in the administration of the Army is justified in addressing the House on this subject, whether or not he belongs to the Service, and I am bound to point out that the question of the Reserves is one of vital interest, especially in view of the importance of keeping these Reserves up to a proper standard of efficiency in the event of times of difficulty arising. A distinguished French officer once said that in his view the most interesting point of military administration in this country was that the Militia existed only on paper, and was not a reality, and that the Reserve force was really an unknown quantity. At the time of the outbreak of the war between France and Germany it was found that the French Army existed only on paper, and we know what the result of that was. I think that this country will be somewhat surprised to read some of the observations which have fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for 106 War. He has referred to the supposed impossibility of calling out the Reserve on the ground that the employers would reasonably raise objections, and that, at any rate, the men in Government employ could not be called out. I should like to know how it is that it is impossible for men in Government employment to be called out. Surely they are the men as to whom the least difficulty should exist. It would have boon well if the right hon. Gentleman had explained why these men cannot be called out. I have endeavoured to ascertain what difficulty there can be in the matter. I suppose, after all, it resolves itself into a question of expense, and that money would have to be forthcoming to supply the places of the men temporarily detached from duty. But that is a matter which is inseparable from any organization, and I do think that we ought to ascertain what the available force is, and that we should apply to it some test in order to gauge its efficiency.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I should like to have an explanation of this £175,000, which includes the expense of the First Class Army Reserve——
It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolutions to be reported tomorrow.
§ Committee also report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.