§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ £3,467,600, Provisions, Forage, Clothing Establishments, and Services.
*(7.24.) DR. FARQUHARSON) (Aberdeen, W.
I should like to say a word or two on this Vote, as it is one in which I have taken the greatest interest ever since I have been in the House. I should like to express a hope that the Report of the Committee which inquired into the question of soldiers' rations will not be put unceremoniously into the waste paper basket, as other Reports of this kind have been. I do not think the Government intend to deal in that way with the Report, because I see that this year there is an increase of £15,000 in the item, which would seem to show that the Government have determined to have regard to the recommendations of the Committee, The plan proposed for remedying the grievance of the men seems to me a fair and sensible one, and brings many practical points under the notice of the Secretary of State, which I hope he will be able to tell the House he has decided to adopt. The only fault I have to find with the Department is that they have not published the full details, for I think it would have been interesting if we could have heard the statements and opinions given in a large number of influential Reports not only from soldiers, but other people of experience, who have a right to give an opinion on the questions now under consideration. I know, however, there have been Departmental reasons for keeping back these Reports; therefore, I will not say anything more on that point. Complaints have been made of the inferior quality of the meat, and it is frankly admitted that there have been good grounds for complaints, especially at the smaller stations. The inferior quality of the meat, I think, has been due to the pernicious practice of always accepting the lowest tender, although the price tendered might be so low as to leave no profit if fairly carried out. I hope that in future when a contractor is found to be supplying meat of a bad quality he will not be allowed to tender again, at any 733 rate until the lapse of a certain number of years. The recommendation of the Committee that there should be cooking classes established in the Army is, I think, a very important one, as it will teach the men how to make the most of the nutritive qualities of the meat. Instruction should also be given in judging meat. Then, as to bread, I think there should be some general regulations laid down as to the best description of yeast to be employed, and the most appropriate form of loaf to bake. In conclusion, I would say I think the most important tiling of all that has come out of the investigation is the recommendation that in each regiment there should be an officer directly responsible for the quality of the provisions and the bread. I am sorry, however, the Committee were not able to suggest any practical remedy as to the great drawback which results from the long gap of semi-starvation which exists between dinner time and half-past 12 or 1 o'clock. I am glad, however, to see that one practical man has done much himself to meet the difficulty. Evidence was given before the Committee by Colonel Burnett, of the First Royal Irish Regiment, who has nearly solved the question from his own point of view without making any addition to the actual money charge for rations. He has been able to provide his men with a good breakfast and something nourishing for supper, so a3 to bring them back at a reasonable hour at night and give them a good meal in the morning. I think it very unfortunate that something has not been done for the recruits. The present ration is clearly sufficient for the soldier if it is well distributed, properly cooked, and of good quality; but I think it is not sufficient for the recruit. He is a growing lad; if he has ceased to grow in height he is growing in breadth and thickness, and as he is constantly called on to do a great variety of very difficult work, great strain is thrown not only on his body, but on his mind. I know that the recruits of Caterham are compelled to spend every farthing they can scrape up in order to keep body and soul together, and their present ration is deficient in farinaceous and fatty ingredients, such as cheese, butter, and milk. I must, however, congratulate the Secretary for War on having taken 734 up the general question, and on having as I hope, gone a considerable way to wards settling it.
§ *(7.34.) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE,) Lincolnshire, Horncastle
I am glad to say that while we have carried out some of the recommendations of the Committee, which I may state includes the Quartermaster General amongst its members, we are in course of carrying out others, and I hope before long almost the whole of the Report will have come into operation. I wish especially to allude to the question of the inspection of meat. Last year the House allowed us to incur some small expenditure on the inspection of meat and the result has been of the utmost service to the Army, and I think the quality of the meat supplied has undoubtedly been improved. The hon. Member has alluded to the importance of giving such instruction as will enable officers to judge between good meat and bad. Officers often do not possess sufficient knowledge to do so. We are endeavouring to remedy this defect, and the Quartermaster General is about to issue a little book which will have the effect of teaching officers a good deal of what they ought to know on the subject. The hon. Member thinks the ration, although sufficient on ordinary occasions, is not sufficient for the recruit. I may point out that the Committee has not expressed any such opinion in its Report, and I must say that the evidence which reaches me is to the effect that the improvement which takes place in the condition of the recruit after he joins the Army proves the ration to be ample. Indeed, I believe it to be the case that in many instances the food the recruits receive after they enter the Army is very much superior to that they receive before they join. I do not know that there is any other point to which the hon. Gentleman wishes me to refer. I can assure him that this subject, having been once taken up, will not be lost sight of, and that we shall do our best to give effect to the recommendations of the Report.
§ (7.38.) MR. HANBURY (Preston)
I have given notice to move the reduction of the Clothing Vote, and the first thing I have to say is that this year, for the first time, clothing and rations are 735 mixed up in the same Vote. This seems to me entirely indefensible, for the two things are entirely distinct, and are administered by different Departments. The course adopted must lead to a good deal of confusion, and I am afraid will result in a loss of Parliamentary control over the Vote. I hope that in any criticisms I may have to offer on the subject of Army clothing, my right hon. Friend the Secretary for War (Mr. E. Stanhope), who has sometimes shown great anxiety to turn and rend me, will not suppose that on this occasion I desire to attach any responsibility to him. I know he represents a very centralised office; I know that the traditions of that office, with regard to clothing and all the rest of it, have been handed on from one Secretary of State to the other, and, therefore, I know it is impossible for any Secretary of State at once to bring about those changes in the War Office, which, to my mind, are in that as in other Departments so urgently needed. It would be useless for me to try and attach responsibility to anybody, for it is the main point of the present system that it is utterly impossible to find out who is responsible for anything. I do not know even whether, as far as the clothing is concerned, I ought, to attack the right hon. Gentleman himself or the Financial Secretary. I have found from experience that it is impossible to make any one person responsible, and, therefore, I shall content myself with attacking the system. The first thing that strikes one with regard to this subject is that the clothing which our officers and men wear in time of peace would be of no use in time of war. When our troops went out to Egypt, did they wear the uniform in which they parade about London? Do not we know that Lord Wolseley has described the dress of our soldier as the dress of a monkey on a barrel organ? Do not we know that when we see private soldiers going about London their dress is so tight that "to bend their backs is to rend their rags." We have done away with the pigtail and the stock, and I hope the time will come when our soldiers will be clothed a little more rationally than they are at present. We know very well—we were told it in the Committee on Army Estimates—what is the reason for the peculiar dress our 736 men wear: it is not to repel an enemy, but it is to attract the nursery maids. It is used for recruiting purposes. I am afraid the dress our soldiers wear is, to a great extent, of the same character as much of the drill they go through—the goose steps, the barrack square parade, and the march past—which seems to satisfiy the genius of our military chiefs, I certainly think we should get a much better class of recruits if we saved money on dress and added it to the pay of the soldier. This question of dress has exercised the minds of many of our leading military men. What does it cost to clothe the German soldier, who does some fighting? The clothing of the English cavalry soldier costs £4 17s. 11d.; the clothing of the German cavalry soldier costs £2 15s. The clothing of the English infantry soldier costs £3 3s. 8d.; that of the German £2 10s. 8d. Will anyone tell me that the German uniform, is not fit for war? The German uniform which costs a great deal less, lasts much longer than ours. A greatcoat lasts the English soldier only five years: it lasts the German soldier eight. A helmet lasts the English soldier four years; it lasts the German soldier 10. A pair of trousers lasts the English soldier only three months; it lasts the German soldier 15. As an instance of what we spend on articles of mere show, let me point out that the bearskins of our Foot Guards cost no less than £7 5s. a piece. If there is one thing which ought to be carefully looked to, it is that our soldiers should be well shod. Will it be believed the boots of our soldiers are machine made. The country cannot be too careful to see that our soldiers are thoroughly well shod. But even the showy dress is, to a large extent, made up of bad material. The proof of it is that it lasts such a short time, and an unimpeachable witness is Lord Wolseley, who stated in evidence—I have seen the French Army, and the soldiers of the German and Italian Armies, and, looking at the clothing, I should say their clothing is made of a decidedly superior quality to what ours is. The quality of ours is not as good as it ought to he very often. I attribute it to exactly the same cause that I do the fact that we have occasionally given to us very bad stores, and implements and boots—that is the small price we pay for it.That is hardly flattering to the Director of Contracts, who carries on negotiations 737 for all his contracts in secrecy. But Lord Wolseley is not quite correct, because the clothes are not cheap. Where have we to look for the cause of the clearness on the one hand and the badness of the material on the other? Why, to the muddle-headed organisation which runs throughout the length and breadth of our War Office. [a laugh.] My right hon. Friend (Mr. Stanhope) laughs, but what has he to say for the organisation of the Clothing Department? Is it organised for war? Would the present organisation be of any use whatever for war? Distinctly not. The Director of Stores has almost every conceivable class of stores under his control, except the clothing stores. They are kept entirely distinct. What would be the case in the time of war? Would not clothing be treated along with all other stores? And if that would be the case in time of war, why have we not got our organisation ready in time of peace? I do not know why the Clothing Department should be specially centralised. The result is enormous circumlocution. A large number of civilian clerks have to be employed to carry on the correspondence between the War Office and the regiments, on every paltry detail. Let me give an instance recorded in the Parliamentary Paper, which shows what is the result of this distinction and separation. On the 15th of December, 1887, an undress jacket was sent to Woolwich. It was examined by the Board of Clothing, which consisted of a Major and two Lieutenants, and they found that the jacket required repairs, the cost of which was estimated at 2d. The Report of the Board and the jacket was then passed on from office to office, and in the long run the Report showed no less than eight separate signatures, three initials, and eight different stamps. This is why we have so many civilian clerks in the War Office; that is the way in which the time of these gentlemen is spent. We cannot entrust any responsibility whatever to the officers of the different regiments; we cannot trust them to repair a jacket at the cost of 2d., and that is why our officers in the different regiments almost tremble at their own shadow. And what is this precious Central Department to which everything is sacrificed in this way? It 738 is situate at Pimlico—of all places in the Metropolis about the worst for such an establishment—an extravagant place as regards site—I should like to know how much is paid per foot for it—and an awkward place for workpeople, looking at the high rents for lodgings in the neighbourhood. I am sorry to say the wages paid are by no means in proportion to the high price the people have to pay for lodgings. I find the girls at this factory only make 8s. or 9s. per week. Who is at the head of this factory? Not a soldier, who might know something about Army clothing, nor an expert, but a War Office clerk, appointed a good many years ago by a relation of Lord Panmure, then Secretary of State for War. There are too many relations of officials filling posts of this sort. The head of the factory is a mere War Office clerk, who knows nothing of the subject, and he is assisted by another War Office clerk, with no practical experience, either from the soldier's point of view or the export's point of view. And if they had knowledge they would not have any time to supervise this Department, for I am told these men are hardly ever allowed to leave their offices, so many documents have they to sign, documents of the kind I have described. Who are the experts? Of experts, who cannot practically be supervised by those above them, there are only two—far too few for the work. It is proved that they are only able to test 10 per cent. of the clothing passed into the factory. These viewers, or Inspectors, are not only too few, but they are too badly paid. The mere War Office clerk gets £1,500 a year, and the experts, on whom the whole responsibility rests, get £400 a year. There is no check upon these men, and I find that, by a most peculiar arrangement, the men who have the testing of the clothing brought in also have a large voice in saying who shall be the contractor to supply it. Who are these two men? We had a question asked in the House this very afternoon about one of them. He was a most meritorious public servant, who was for 15 years a chief Inspector of clothing; but for two years before that unfortunate man left Pimlico he was practically blind. That is the man to whom we intrusted all the responsibility with regard to our soldiers' cloth- 739 ing. Of the man below him I do not want to say anything; he has redeemed his character, but it will not be denied that he was retained in Pimlico factory on condition that he was never to be promoted. An advertisement was issued for the post of Inspector of clothing, and it stated that no man above a certain age should apply. There were 50 applications for the position, every one of which was rejected, and the appointment was given to a man above the advertised age, without any competition whatever. There was no competition, but if it had been known that men of that age would be allowed to compete there would have been many applications. Now I come to the way in which contracts are given in this Department. Here I have not official evidence, but I wish to place some statements fully before the right hon. Gentleman, in order that he may inquire into them and find whether they are accurate or not. In the supply of clothing for the factory there is one pet contractor who, whether he tenders the highest or the lowest prices, always gets the bulk of the orders. For the scarlet cloth infantry, tunics, this man, who quoted the highest price, got nearly the whole order in 1880, and again in 1882 and in 1883, though smaller orders were given to those who made the lower tenders to keep them quiet. In 1884, 1885, 1886, and 1887 the same thing happened again. The same principle was observed with regard to scarlet jerseys, blue tweed, and the grey cloth for greatcoats. Upon this, I say, I have not official evidence, but I will place before my right hon. Friends the facts I have, that he may inquire into them thoroughly. Then I find a very important official giving evidence on these matters—the Auditor and Controller General. If there is one official whose inquiries ought to be encouraged by the House it is the Auditor and Controller General, for he is the only check on this secret system. As to contracts we know nothing of these, the people who tender know nothing of the results, all is done in darkness and secrecy, and known only to the Auditor and Controller General; and how does the War Office treat him? The Auditor and Controller General complained bitterly to the Public Accounts Committee about this, but the War 740 Office answered that it was purely a question of administration, that it was not a matter of accounts, and was no duty of his. That is not the line that official takes as to his duty, and if there is any doubt about it I think the War Office would do better to encourage the Auditor General to protect them than to try and stop his mouth. Passing from that I should like to know how this wonderful Department is manned. I should have thought that if there is one Department where employment could be found for old soldiers, it would be here; but no; it is a perfect rabbit-warren for Civil officials, and the few soldiers who in times past were employed there are diminishing day by day. The reason given shows how fearfully and wonderfully made must be the minds of some of the officials of the Department. Mr. Ramsden, the head of the clothing establishment, had, until four or five years ago, excellent discharged soldiers who did duty as clerks, and he complains that he has now to give £250 a year for clerks to do mechanical work that was done better by soldiers who had bad experience in these things. After a time the War Office took it into its head that instead of letting the head of the Department make his selection among old soldiers there should be a roster, and men should take up the work in turn, but Mr. Ramsden soon found that he did not get the men he wanted, and he dropped the system. He was asked did he not make complaint to the Adjutant General, but that did not occur to him; he did not do that, it was not worth his while; he said not a word on the subject. Then, again, we had some light thrown upon the way in which the accounts of the Department are kept. We had practical men to examine them and report, and these practical men, Messrs. Winny and Waterhouse, reported that the books, as far as they related to the cash expenditure, were virtually not books at all, and that no private establishment could possibly be conducted with such accounts. And yet the Clothing Department is not content with doing its own work, but works for many other Departments of the State, for the General Post Office and Telegraph Service, the London and Dublin Police, the Irish Constabulary, the Customs House, the Board of 741 Trade, the Convict Service, the Prisons Board, Colonial Governments, India, the Office of Works, the Courts of Justice, Trinity House, and other Departments. Of these the Post Office and Police pay for the work done, but the Treasury has laid down the rule that payment should not be demanded from other Departments. But why should these Departments have the work done for nothing, and the amount go to swell the War Office Vote? Surely we ought to know what the Defensive Services cost us. But this Department, which is so anxious to go beyond its scope and do work for ether Departments, does not do its own work. It was set up to stop sweating in the manufacture of clothing for the Army. The Department, we have been told, could employ 1,600 hands, but actually employs only 1,200. But surely, I should think, having all the expenses of staff and plant, the Department should be worked to its full extent, and extend its employment over as large an area as it can. Here I come to by far the most grave charge against the Department. It was originally intended to stop sweating, and to manufacture the clothing of the Army, but it has been the direct cause and encouragement of sweating. This is not my statement alone; it is the statement of the Director of Army Contracts himself, given before the Sweating Committee. He says evidence has tended to show that Army Contracts have been used for years as a vehicle for sweating, and that the sweating business has been carried on under War Office provisions. This is not merely in reference to accoutrements, as has been stated from the Treasury Bench, but in the more important clothing for the Army, and other Departments of the State. Sweating under the Rules of Pimlico, the Director of Contracts says, has extended to every Department of State that has anything to do with clothing. Then he goes on to compare the prices paid for work inside and outside the factory. A large number of women are employed, and I do not object to that, but the girls only get 8s. or 9s. a week. Lord Dunraven refers to an instance in which a man, having taken a contract for supplying greatcoats at an exceedingly low rate, was asked by the Director of 742 Contracts how he could do the work at the price, and he replied that he knew his wages were not high, but at all events they were double what were received at the factory and for shirt-making. There is a direct contradiction between the evidence of Mr. Nepean, the Director of Contracts, and Mr. Ramsay, the head of the Clothing Department. Mr. Nepean said that the wages were higher outside the Department than inside, while Mr. Ramsay stated the direct contrary. I will leave them to settle their differences, but I should have thought it was a thing they could have made their minds clear about. What prices are paid outside? Take the case of Post Office overcoats. We find the price formerly paid was 2s. 9d. a piece. In 1887 it was reduced to 2s., and then further reduced to 1s. 8d., or a third less than two years previously, and the same witness who gave this evidence went on to say that some of these coats had been made in the same room where a child was lying ill, and there is universal testimony that these contracts are sub-let. When the evidence came out before the Sweating Committee what happened? Mr. Ramsay and Mr. Nepean proposed that a factory clause should be inserted in all contracts, binding the contractor not to sub-let. Mr. Nepean also promised that he would fix a scale of prices; but it appears he only promised it with regard to accoutrements, and no promise was made with regard to clothing. He also said he would negotiate between the masters and the men, in order to get fair wages for the latter. It is a scandal to the Government that sweating should be encouraged in one of its own Departments. The men have never been approached; Mr. Nepean has not seen them, and nothing has been done in the way of getting the wages raised. Again, how far has the factory clause been made use of? Mr. Ramsay said the Department had never taken any step to ascertain whether contractors had complied with the factory clause or not. The Director of Contracts also stated that at present no one is responsible for the discharge of that duty. There is a penalty imposed in the contracts, and yet the factory clause is not carried out. There is no inspection at the present 743 time. The only attempt that has been made has been on the part of the Director of Contracts, who has endeavoured to see that in the East End of London the factory clause is complied with, but we do not pay him for such work; the man who gives out the contracts is the last man to do it; it should be left to an authorised Inspector. Indeed, I doubt whether there is more than one solitary instance in which the penalty has been inflicted, and yet there is evidence that this rule as to the factory clause is broken day after day. It is in time of war that the stress will come. What are the precautions taken against that emergency? We have practically no reserve of clothing in Pimlico at all. The German and the French Armies have large reserves of clothing for time of war, whereas we have clothing for 50,000 men, and nothing more, except, I believe, an additional quantity of warm-climate clothing for 30,000 men. What would happen if a war suddenly broke out? Mr. Ramsay said—I am afraid that, during a pressure of that kind, we should not be inclined to be very particular as to the enforcement of the factory clause. We should be glad to get the clothing wherever it is made.What is the report of the Sweating Committee on the whole system, and the way in which contracts are given out? I wonder if any public official ever smarted under such a Report, and received no censure but rather praise. Not in Lord Dunraven's Report, but in the mild and watered-down Report of Lord Thring, an opinion is expressed that there are grave irregularities in the system of giving out contracts, that greater diligence should be exercised, that the staff of viewers is too small and their wages too low, and often the men who are called on to report are taken from the works of the contractors. I said a good deal about this last year. It was then treated as "rank blasphemy;" but now it is justified by the Report of the Lords' Committee on Sweating. What, after all, is the justification or necessity for all this waste of money, and the possible waste of life, if, when a war comes, our soldiers are badly clothed and badly armed? I can see no reason for all this complicated machinery. The cavalry make all their own clothes in the 744 regiment by their own tailors, and why cannot the same principle be applied to the infantry? The one branch does not move about more than the other. They all wander about the country, like a travelling circus, in what seems to me a most unnecessary fashion. If there is an Army in the world in which the manufacture of clothing by the regiments on the spot should be encouraged it is the English Army. Our Army contains proportionately more women on the establishment than any other Army in the world, and they might be advantageously employed in making clothing. The system of having ready-made clothing from Pimlico sent down to the regiments is one of the most ridiculous systems that can possibly be imagined. A clothing roll is made out every year, and the men are measured in a rough-and-ready fashion, but the clothing comes down in assorted sizes, and when many of the men are no longer in the regiment, and every set of clothing practically has to be re-made by the master tailors on the spot, thus adding to the original cost. Sir Redvers Buller admitted that the system of the distribution of the clothing to the troops is a ridiculous one, and that he had often tried to get it altered. From the top to the bottom there is nobody, either in the War Office or in the regiment, or any individual whatever, who has any distinct or personal interest in seeing that these clothes are properly made, or that when they reach the soldiers they are made to last as long as they might last. In every other Army in Europe the soldier has a distinct inducement offered to him to make his clothing last as long as he can. In our Army no such inducement is held out. My hon. Friend shakes his head. Well, I know there are certain regulations as to compensation, but they are for the most part absurd. No soldier is allowed compensation at the end of a year unless the commanding officer can say that the whole of the clothing, with the exception of boots, will last during the whole of another year. If a soldier has satisfied the commanding officer on this point, he still has to go to the general officer commanding the district, and get his assent to the arrangement for keeping his clothes. That is the way colonels of 745 regiments are treated by the War Office. The result is endless restrictions and distinctions, and the occupation of clerks in long correspondence. When a soldier is made chargeable for loss of, or damage to, any portion of his uniform, the commanding officer has to work out an intricate arithmetical problem, in order to ascertain how much wear and tear of the article the country was deprived of. The thing is ridiculous, and it becomes the more so when it is borne in mind what ultimately becomes of the clothing. How do the Government dispose of the clothing to which, in the case of a single article being damaged by the soldier, they attach so much importance? Why, the whole of the disused clothing of the whole Army, with the exception occasionally of great coats, is disposed of in one lot to one single contractor. Moreover, it is not disposed of when the clothes actually come into disuse, so that the War Office know what they are selling and the contractor what he is buying, but a great number of the articles thus sold have never been used at all. Last year the contract entered into for the sale of the clothing for the entire Army was actually for three years in advance, at the rate of £50,000 a year, so that the War Office did not know what they sold or the contractor what he bought. The whole thing is a gross speculation. And as to the applications for tenders sent out in connection with this sale, only two were sent out in 1885. That is the way in which the contracting is done. You do not even get public competition. I contend that in this direction, also, a great reform might be made. I hold that the sale of the disused clothes should be intrusted to commanding officers of districts; and I believe if that system were adopted, and the clothes were sold in smaller lots, a much larger sum would be realised for them. Another evil connected with the system is this—and I mentioned it last year—that much of the clothing thus sold has never been in use. I am aware that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has made some improvement in this respect; but it is not worth much if the commanding officers cannot be intrusted with selling anything of more value than 6d. I fully agree with Sir Redvers 746 Buller that this contract system of disposing of the disused clothing of the Army is monstrous. But the evil runs throughout the whole system of Army administration. Nearly every other Department is in as bad a condition as this one, and I propose to show when other Votes are discussed that the Clothing Department is no exception. I recognise fully the great pains which my right hon. Friend has taken since he had been at the head of the Department in order to improve it; for few Secretaries of State have worked harder than he has done. Yet, at the same time, I think it would be well if my right hon. Friend would take all advantage he can of the criticisms and facts that are brought before him. If, therefore, I have exposed any blots in the present system, and have shown the existence of abuses that ought to be remedied—and I have brought forward facts and official documents in support of what I have said—I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not think I have been actuated by any hostile feeling towards him. I know that much of his time is taken up with schemes of military organisation and mobilisation which too often end in smoke, but these are matters which a civilian War Minister might well take in hand. In these days when our territory is extending, when we are taking upon ourselves obligations which it may require the whole Force of the Empire to defend—when our frontier is no longer the sea, and we are becoming a great land power in Africa, Asia, and America, our Army will be a much more important element of defence than it has been in the past; and if the people of the country are to be brought to believe, as I believe, that the Army should be great and strong, the very first duty that the War Office owes to the nation is to let it feel that the money spent on it is thoroughly well spent. In that case I am certain that the people of this country will never grudge the money given for the defence of the Empire; whilst, on the other hand, if the present system of maladministration continues, we shall discover that, however great our necessities, we may some day find the people of this country unwilling to spend money which will be wasted away under this chaotic and idiotic system. (8.45.)
§ *(9.12.) THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
My hon. Friend the Member for Preston has pronounced a strong indictment against the Army Clothing System, and has put before the Committee in very clear language his objections to this Vote. He has complained generally of the system, and his charges are definite, but they are unsupported by facts, and contrary to the experience and opinions of those who are best qualified to speak on the subject. He has told us that not only is the system defective in itself, but that the factory at Pimlico is in the wrong place, and that the wrong men are at the head of that factory. With regard, however, to the results of the system, my hon. Friend has told the Committee very little in support of the strong indictment he has drawn up. He has stated that the clothing of the Army is shoddy clothing, but he did not bring before the Committee a single fact, argument, or suggestion, to fortify that statement.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
The utmost my hon. Friend attributed to Lord Wolseley was that some foreign Armies had clothing decidedly superior to ours. I do not desire to detract in any way from the authority of Lord Wolseley; but I must say that that was a somewhat haphazard statement on which to found an assertion as to the value of the whole of our Army clothing. If my hon. Friend were to turn to the Report of the Committee which investigated this subject with the utmost care and attention, and was presided over by the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord R. Churchill), he would find that that Report does not contain a single word by way of attack of the quality of the clothing. When the hon. Member for Preston supports himself by citing Lord Wolseley, I must refer the hon. Member to the answers Lord Wolseley had given to the Committee.
§ MR. HANBURY
Lord Wolseley distinctly stated that the clothing of the Army was in most cases too dear, and in some cases extravagantly so.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I do not remember that Lord Wolseley has used such language in speaking of clothing 748 generally. It is possible he might have applied the term "extravagant" to some detail, such as the bearskins of the Guards; but the possession of these is more a question of prestige and sentiment than anything else, and it is not fair to take a remark made upon some item and use it as if it had been a condemnation of the whole clothing of the Army. On the other hand, in reply to questions respecting the German Army, Lord Wolseley said the material of the clothing was good, but the clothing was poor, and the German soldiers fought under great, difficulties on account of their clothing. Lord Wolseley also stated how much longer certain articles were worn in the German Army than in the English Army; but in this connection the noble Lord remembered that ours was a Volunteer Army, for which recruits would not be obtained unless it were a well-dressed Army. My hon. Friend referred to the fact that, in the German Army, one pair of trousers is issued every 15 months, but I am certain that if we were to adopt such a system, complaints would very soon be made in the House of Commons. The hon. Member laboured somewhat ungenerously the question of the quality of the boots supplied, because, in consequence of complaints made formerly, the quality of the boots have been greatly improved, and there have been scarcely any complaints during the last two or three years. In fact, it is well-known that rejected Army hoots fetch a good price in the general market, and if the boots that were rejected were good, it may be fairly inferred that those which passed the Inspector were better. The whole question lies in discovering what is the feeling of the military officials themselves? The Military Authorities have no reason to be specially prejudiced in favour of Pimlico for this reason, that a civilian takes the responsibility of manufacture, and that soldiers have the responsibility of inspection. What is the result of the Reports on the clothing in this last year? There were 3,995 Reports received from the various regiments and various, establishments. Of these, there were no complaints at all from 3,219 cases. Of minor complaints, more in the form of suggestions than anything else, there 749 were 603. Of serious complaints there were 173. But 60 of these related to the great coat cloths, which had been, already condemned, and which I informed the House some time ago is to be improved.
§ MR. HANBURY
The great coat cloth was raised from 3s. 9d. to 5s. 6d. four years ago. Is that cloth still complained of?
§ *MR. BRODRICK
My hon. Friend is aware that we have some reserve at Pimlico, and so everything does not go out at once to the soldier, and I think he will find that the cloth complained of is that which has been superseded. It is very important that this House should not be under any sort of misunderstanding as to the organisation of the Pimlico Establishment itself. Now, my hon. Friend has fallen foul of the whole of it. He has referred in strong terms to its location. Well, we found it there when we came. It is a large factory, and a very good factory. It certainly would be an enormous expense to remove it. It has great advantages of locality, which I am afraid my hon. Friend does not sufficiently appreciate. I think he will find that it is not so much the case as he generally supposes, that the work-people are not living adjacent to the factory, and he will find also that it is au excellent store house and centre of distribution.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
I cannot at this moment state the rent. It is impossible to answer every question off-hand, though I could do so if time were given me. My hon. Friend, I think, has directed his whole mind to criticism, so that he has not realised the advantages of the situation of the factory. He asked why in the time of war the distribution of clothing was not under the Director of Stores and not under the Director of Clothing.
§ MR. HANBURY
I said nothing of the sort. I said the way in which clothing is administered in time of peace is totally different from what it is in time of war.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
The hon. Gentleman has not correctly stated his case. What he complained of was that the Director of 750 Stores is not given the custody of the clothing already made up. You cannot have it both ways. If the Director of Stores is to have the custody he must have the distribution also. My hon. Friend has expressed himself in favour of decentralisation, and here you have a factory which is close to all the large railway stations, so that within 24 hours, the whole of the arrangements being already mapped out, we can supply every article of clothing that is necessary for the whole of the troops. My hon. Friend has made a very severe attack on the whole of the officials administering the Department. He spoke in a tone unnecessarily condemnatory and contemptuous. He spoke of the Head of the Department as a mere War Office clerk, appointed by his relative some 30 years ago.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
My hon. Friend constantly reiterated that he was a mere War Office clerk A public official has no power of reply save through the Minister. Here is a man who has long served his country, against whom there is no suggestion that he has not properly discharged his duties, who has not been censured either by the Committee of this House or the Royal Commission before whom he gave evidence—a man thoroughly conversant with his duty, and a man, if he is to be attacked, should only be attacked on definite grounds.
§ MR. HANBURY
What I said was this. Of course, Mr. Ramsay has had over 30 years' experience. No one denies that. But I entirely object to the principle of appointing as the head of the Clothing Department a War Office clerk who can have had no experience. I say you ought to have experts at the head of this Department.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
I wish my hon. Friend had stated that as clearly before as he has now. That conveys an entirely different impression. I am entirely in accord with him as to appointing experts, but it is not always possible to secure them. Well, then my hon. Friend pointed out our difficulties with regard to the inspection of clothing. I really think the public will sympathise 751 with us to some extent in the difficulties in which we found ourselves. Mr. Burnard was a most valuable public servant and he was suffering from a most trying calamity—the loss of his eyesight. His doctors assured him that it was very probable that he would regain his sight. We were anxious not to be deprived of his services, nor did we wish to penalise him because of his misfortune. His duties were discharged for him for a period. His touch was still of value, although his eyesight was deficient; and when we were satisfied that there was no longer reasonable hope of his recovering his capacity of viewing he was pensioned. Then, my hon. Friend says there were a large number of competitors, and that, in spite of that fact, Mr. Wrigley was engaged, though he was over the proper age. It is true that we laid it down that 40 years of age should be the limit, and it was equally true that Mr. Wrigley was above that age, but we were in this position, that although Mr. Wrigley was past 40 years of age his testimonials led us to believe that he was undoubtedly a better man than any of the other applicants. His papers, together with those of the other applicants were submitted to two experts, and these gentlemen unhesitatingly gave it as their opinion that Mr. Wrigley was the person who should be appointed. Under the circumstances we felt that it was absolutely necessary to take the best man, who, I may remind the Committee, was in the very prime of life, with 20 or 25 years of good work in him. He was content to come to us, and, for our part, we considered ourselves lucky in being able to secure his services. The hon. Member brought forward a most serious charge in the matter of sweating. In regard to that, we have been placed in a position of extreme difficulty at the War Office. Contractors of all kinds are willing to compete against one another, on terms which are barely remunerative, if, indeed, they are remunerative at all, for some contracts have been undertaken at an unremunerative price, in order to prevent the establishments of the contractors from being broken up. My hon. Friend holds that we ought to fix the rate of wages, but no Government has been able to do so successfully since the days of the early Edwards.
§ MR. HANBURY
That was not my suggestion. I only referred to a suggestion made by the Director of Contracts in evidence.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
What the Director of Contracts undertook to do was to ask the contractor at the time a contract was made for the rate of wages he was paying. It would then be possible for us to have regard to that rate of wages in giving out contracts, and, if necessary, to pass over those contractors who were not paying fair wages.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS) (Finsbury, E.
Had the Director of Contracts seen the list of prices in the accoutrement trade—the wages paid to the men?
§ *MR. BRODRICK
I am not referring to that. We bound the contractors to put up the rate of wages paid to their workmen, but that does not arise under this Vote. Most unhesitatingly I say I shrink from adopting the recommendations of my hon. Friend. The hon. Gentleman attacked us for not doing that which it is extremely difficult to do, namely, to settle the rate of wages amongst those who tender against each other. He complains that we have not properly administered the factory clause. In point of fact, we have imposed a fine in certain cases, but there are other cases in which it is extremely hard to carry out the factory clause. I thoroughly recognise the value of my hon. Friend's suggestion that the wives of the soldiers should be employed in making clothing for the Army. About 4,400 women are so employed at present, and there can be no objection whatever to extending the system, if possible. With regard to what has been said about pet contractors, I may make this remark. The Director of Contracts may accept the lowest tender without reference to a higher authority, but he cannot give the bulk of an order, or any part of it, to a higher tender without the consent of the Financial Secretary or the Secretary of State. If the lowest tender is recommended to him he has power to accept it, but if he desires to give to the man who has tendered at 4s. 6d., 10,000 out of 90,000 yards, and the remainder to a man who has tendered at 5s., he is bound to refer the matter to the Financial Secretary, It is impossible to give the bulk of an order to the highest 753 tender without referring to a superior authority. The system on which we have endeavoured to administer tenders is clear. We do not pay anything over the lowest tender if we can avoid it. If a man has previously tendered for the supply of a large amount of cloth, and has carried out his contract satisfactorily, no doubt the facts are in his favour, but ever since I have been at the War Office, our desire has been to give to the lowest tender every yard of cloth we think the contractor can supply, unless the reports against him and the rejections in the case of previous contracts have been so large as to render it necessary to be careful—for we cannot spend the whole of our time in inspecting and throwing away cloth. I can assure my hon. Friend, who has so little confidence in the present administrators of the War Office, that these contracts are given out with the greatest care—as he will find if over he sets foot in the office himself. My hon. Friend was carried a little too far by his animus against the Director of Contracts when he cited a portion of the Report of the Lord's Committee on Sweating. The Report of that Committee says that grave irregularities have doubtless occurred in the "furnishing" of Government contracts. The paragraph reflects, not on the Director of Contracts, but upon those who ought to have inspected goods in times past. I fully admit the unfortunate results of such enormous orders having been given out in 1885, and the Departments are fully alive to those unfortunate results, and have taken them to heart. The Committee was strongly of opinion that greater vigilance should be exercised in placing the contracts; but the experience the Committee was working on was of the enormous orders given out much too precipitately in 1885, the unfortunate results of which we have seen. The hon. Member alluded to the insufficiency of the staff of viewers for the work they have to discharge, and cited the Report as to the small salaries which they receive, which throws great temptation in their way, but my answer is that the staff of viewers is not under the control of the Director of the Contracts. It must be remembered that if it is suddenly determined to spend eleven millions and to 754 give out orders in every direction, great difficulty must be experienced in seeing that those orders are properly carried out. The hon. Member has attacked the Department very severely on the subject of the system we adopt in selling disused clothing, and has maintained that such clothing should be sold piecemeal and locally. I must say we differ from him in that respect. The advice we received from a great many quarters has since been confirmed by experience that a much better price is obtained for disused clothing when it is sold in large quantities than when it is sold locally in small parcels. My hon. Friend makes a comparison between our Army and other Armies. But Lord Wolseley pointed out that under the practice in Germany the troops never move. The soldier has a large box in which he keeps his clothing, so that he can use it to the very last. "We, on the contrary, shuffle our men out of their old clothing the moment it is done for," says my hon. Friend; but there he makes a mistake. Every commanding officer keeps that clothing as long as he likes. We, on our part, have no desire to hand over a single garment to the contractor that the officer commanding a regiment desires to keep. But our commanding officers have this difficulty to face, that they have to take these men on foreign service, and be prepared to move with them from place to place, and they will not hamper themselves with a large quantity of clothing, so that what occurs is not the fault of the officers, but of the system. My hon. Friend contended that we should effect a saving if we did not sell in such large quantities. Well, in deference to his views and those of others, we called for tenders, either for part or the whole, for any garments separately and in any numbers, and the result of that system is that tenders for the whole are infinitely higher, relatively, than tenders for a part of the same articles. My hon. Friend (Mr. Hanbury) calls us to account for having a large establishment at Pimlico, and for not using it up to its full capacity. That is really a question of policy. We think we should need a very great expansion in time of war, and we cannot provide for that expansion solely by 755 means of contractors. In our opinion, we should do well not to work our factory above 50 or 60 per cent, of its capabilities. We consider it a wise policy to maintain factories of such producing power that there will be no necessity for running to contractors all over the country in case of any sudden emergency arising. The hon, Member was, I think, a little hard upon the Department when he complained that work was done at the Pimlico factory for the colonies and the Post Office. If other Public Departments want their work done at Pimlico that shows that, in their opinion, the work done there is efficient and of a highly satisfactory character. Complaint has been made that we have not a sufficient reserve of clothing. I hope my hon. Friend will not mind if I say that on that point he based his complaint on an isolated answer of the Director of Clothing. We thought it desirable at the time that not too much information should be given. I do not wish to say at what period of the year we had an enormous reserve and at what period we had the least reserve, but I may tell the Committee that the figures given related to by far the smallest reserve in that year. What my hon. Friend said about the discussion as to small expenditure on repairs was extremely amusing, but I am sure he will admit that these are not things of every day occurrence, and it is obvious such repairs should be and are executed at the regiment. With regard to the clothing for which the soldier is charged we cannot, I think, make too accurate a calculation when we are stopping the amount from the man's pay. Now, I trust I have shown that the Department does not deserve all the hard things my hon. Friend has said of it. We feel as strongly as he does the necessity of having the clothing of the Army in a thoroughly practical and efficient condition, and we are very far from shutting our eyes to any improvement that may be suggested. The Quartermaster General, who has been cited, has full opportunity of representing his opinions very strongly, and his views have immense weight with the Department. We desire to preserve the factory at Pimlico, as at present, so as to be capable of expansion and to keep up the trade all over the country, so as to 756 ensure the high quality of the garments supplied. I do not think anything has fallen from my hon. Friend which would justify the Committee in assuming that the country has lost anything by the system that has been pursued during the last two or three years. I admit that there have been times of pressure, when the supply has not been as satisfactory as it might have been, but we are always ready to recognise the efforts of those who, like my hon. Friend, do their best to show us where we can remedy defects. We shall use every effort to provide that contractors who get a fair price from us give a fair price to their workmen. In this respect, the advice of any Member of the House who is interested in trade will be valuable, and I would invite suggestions from any Member on either side of the House, and information as to any case of sweating under a Government contract.
§ (9.58.) MR. HANBURY
One practical question. My hon. Friend invites suggestions. Will he see that proper Inspectors are appointed to see that the Factory Acts are put into operation, so as to prevent sweating?
§ (9.59.) MR. J. ROWLANDS
I was very glad to hear the hon. Gentleman say the War Office would do everything they could to put down sweating. I do not think the hon. Gentleman can read the Report of the Lords Committee on sweating with keen satisfaction. The Government Departments have not come out of that investigation at all well. If there is one body more than another which can and ought to keep its contracts free from all kinds of sweating, it is a Government Department. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think there was nothing to complain of in connection with the strictures of the Lords Committee. I think the very paragraph he quoted, as far as it relates to the placing of contracts, taken in connection with the other comments of the Committee on Government contracts, is something which the representatives of the War Office ought to look into. I would point out that the one; thing which has been told all through is that, wherever possible, the factory clause has been introduced into contracts. The evidence of the Director of Contracts himself, however, and the strong state- 757 ments which appear in the Lords' Report, show that the factory clause, as put into contracts, is simply a delusion and a snare. If the factory clause is put into contracts, why do not the Government see that it is carried out? You had better by half leave it out of contracts altogether than delude Members of the House with the idea that it is having a great effect in doing away with sweating when it is doing nothing of the kind. The Director General, in the course of his evidence before the Committee, stated that all the clothing contracts now contained the factory clause, but said he had no means of inspecting the factories during the execution of the contracts. Asked whether anybody had a right to check the contractors, he said the Home Office Inspectors visited them for the purpose of the Factory Act. He was asked, "Is it nobody's duty to find out whether the factory clause is carried out in Government contracts?" and his reply was "Not at present." He said he trusted to the bonâ fides of the contractor and that in large contracts it was more economical for contractors to do the work themselves than to get it done outside. Now, Sir, I do think that before this Vote is passed we ought to have a distinct statement from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. E. Stanhope) that machinery will be created for the purpose of putting the factory clause into force. I do not intend now to go into the questions so ably dealt with by the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury). I would merely say that, after trying as an outside Member to get the knowledge that is necessary to protect the working people, I have arrived at the conclusion, which I think is also the conclusion of the Lords Committee, that the best thing we can do, at all events for a start, is to get the factory clause put into all contracts and thoroughly carried out. It is because we believe this would tend to suppress the sweating that has undoubtedly gone on, and full evidence of which will be found in the Report of the Lords Committee, that we press the right hon. Gentleman for some statement as to the action the War Department is going to take to provide that the operation of the factory clause is not a sham but a reality.
§ (10.8.) COLONEL NOLAN) (Galway, N.
I think this Debate shows that it is 758 a doubtful question whether the Government ought to have a clothing factory or not. The maintenance of such a factory cannot bring them directly in contact with all questions affecting labour and capital. It a different thing at Woolwich and Enfield, where the best classes of labour are employed, and the men are highly paid. In a clothing factory you have to deal with a class of people who get about the lowest wages in the country, and the question at once arises whether the Government should take upon itself the settlement of any of the problems of work and labour. I believe private manufacturers could supply clothing quite as well as any Government factory. It is very necessary we should have a Government factory for warlike stores; but I cannot think it is necessary to have a Government factory for clothing. Soldiers like Members of this House do not want the best material. They like to have new clothes on; after a time they get absolutely sick of old clothes and desire to cast them aside. They therefore do not require the best material. Soldiers do not care for a great coat that lasts for ever. On the whole, I think the clothing is tolerably fair. There are some regiments that are very expensive. The Financial Secretary instanced the Guards. There are also Highland regiments, and several of the Cavalry regiments, whose clothing is expensive, something like £6 per head. There is one point which lays the Government open to suspicion, and it is that the contracts are not published. No one knows whether the lowest tender is accepted or not. The non-publication of the, tenders is a system which may lead to corruption. Of course, I do not mean to say that the person who at present is in authority is at all dishonest; but the only way to get rid of the possibility of corruption is to publish the winning tender. Again, I think the troops ought to be localised more than they are at present. We should save a great deal of money, and add greatly to the comfort of the soldier. On the Continent there is considerably less movement; but here regiments are moved from Aldershot to Dublin, from Dublin to York, and hack again to Aldershot, and all in the space of a very short time. Another point the Secretary of State 759 ought to turn his attention to is the food of the soldier. I think the soldier is sufficiently well-dressed to attract recruits, but I think he ought to get more food or more pay. I do not think he should get a larger ration of meat or bread, but at present the soldier has to find his sugar and butter. The least we could do would be to give the soldier a free breakfast. Again, I have found lately that the Infantry soldiers are very small and young; you are taking them about a year younger than you used to do. They, of course, grow into fine men, but I think it is bad policy to take men who are too young for their work. The result is that you are practically paying 1,000 men when only 600 or 700 are available. I have no doubt it is very difficult to find recruits. The soldier is beginning to thoroughly realise that he does not get a pension, and that he does not get his food free: all he gets is ¾ lb. of meat and 1lb. of bread. I should like to know what is the price paid for meat.
§ (10.23.) GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
I quite admit the time has arrived when the rations ought to be increased. At the present time there is difficulty in recruiting, and the difficulties increase as the wages of civilians increase.
§ *(10.24.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I wish to interpose at this point to remind the Committee that there is a general desire on the part of hon. Members to reach the discussion of a matter of great importance to the Army. Although I cannot suppose it will conclude to-night, I understand there is a general desire to begin the discussion to-night. With regard to what has fallen from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Galway, he seems to suggest a doubt as to whether the clothing factories should exist at all. The idea is that we should hand over to each regiment the duty of providing their own clothes. That system was tried, and it broke down. There is one important matter to which I should like to draw attention. We are always liable to strikes, and I can well believe the Army might be placed in a most dangerous and difficult position in a time of crisis when we required garments on the 760 shortest notice if we were not able to control the supply. I am quite ready to admit that the clothing factory may not be established in the best place, but still it is of great advantage to the Army. The hon. Member for Preston asks what is the rent of the ground. It is £3,500 a year; we hold the ground on leasehold tenure. Then my hon. Friend asks a question with regard to the wages paid at the clothing factory. I am glad to be able to inform the House that the rate of wages in the clothing factory compares not unfavourably with that in any other establishment. Machinists get from. 23s. 6d. to 24s., and sewers from 14s. a week. The hon. Member says the clothing supplied is not cheap clothing, and he goes on further to advocate very strongly the principle of open contracts. I have always told him that I feel very strongly that the system of open contracts is the better system; but surely the hon. Member will see that the system of absolutely open contracts is impossible of application at the same time that you are trying to abolish the system of sweating. If you allow complete competition between contractors you cannot ensure that they will not resort to sweating.
§ *MR. E. STANHOPE
My hon. Friend, says we need not take the lowest. I thought it was the very point of the discussion, that if one thing was more desirable than another it was that we should take the lowest tender.
§ *MR. E. STANHOPE
An hon. Member also suggested, I think, that we should quote the prices at which the contracts are obtained. So far as I am concerned, I have a perfectly open mind on the question of making tenders public. My hon. Friend at the head of the Admiralty is equally disposed to adopt that system which, upon the whole, seems the best in the interests of the country. We have directed inquiries to be made to contractors in all parts of the country, and to bodies perfectly well able to gauge what is the best course to be adopted, and we find the preponderance of opinion not only among contractors, but Chambers of 761 Commerce was that it is not desirable to make those tenders public. And two responsible officers, to myself and to my hon. Friend, reported that after the most careful consideration, they did not think it in the public interests to make tenders public. I have considered the matter, and speaking for myself, after considering that Report, I came to the conclusion that it was founded on sound principles, and that it is not expedient that tenders should be made public. Then the hon. and gallant Member spoke of the movement of troops, and I entirely agree with him that economy should be consulted in moving the troops as little as is consistent with efficiency and comfort. But you cannot always keep the troops in one quarter. There are only a certain number of pleasant billets in the United Kingdom, and if, when you bring troops from foreign parts, you were to put them in uncomfortable quarters—I will not say in what part of the United Kingdom—where they have discomforts, and where they have not the society of their friends, you may depend upon it the system of voluntary enlistment would be seriously endangered. Therefore, we are obliged, in the interests of the Service, to give all our troops a share of pleasant quarters; otherwise, the Service could not be carried on satisfactorily. My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary calls my attention to the fact that as regards the cost of transit in the present year we are enabled to show a saving of £10,000. Then, also, the hon. Member referred to the question of inspection. I think both hon. Members will admit that the responsibility of factory inspection does not lie with the War Office, but with the Home Office. Factories in which goods are produced for the War Office must be inspected just as much as any other factories by the Home Office. But we do accept special responsibility with regard to certain particular points; and I told my hon. Friend, in answer to a question which he addressed to me some weeks ago as regards clothing, that the Director of Clothing has taken care that certain officials from the Clothing Department should visit the factories. But my hon. Friend suggests that we should appoint one Inspector. For my part, I think very considerable advantage is derived 762 from the existing system of having, instead of one Inspector, a change of Inspectors who are not known to the contractors. I have dealt with the various points that have been raised, and I only want to refer to two other points. My hon. Friend has talked of the Clothing Department, and he has attributed all sorts of evils to the system which is pursued there, and he told us in language very minatory that this Department was only typical of what was going on in the various Departments of the War Office, and when the time comes he will show that to be the case. If he can only show that the other Departments of the War Office are conducted as well as the Clothing Department, I will be very glad. I believe, for my own part, that the Department is conducted in a manner which reflects the utmost credit upon its managers. I am very certain that every inquiry that has been instituted has only resulted in showing that it is one of the best conducted Departments in the Public Service. I will go very much further. I invite any hon. Member of this House to visit that factory. He shall have access to every branch of it; he may see the books, and every facility will be given him to ascertain the system of management, and I am perfectly confident he will come back to this House filled with the belief that there, at all events, is a Public Department conducted on sound principles of economy, combined with efficiency. One other point my hon. Friend talked about, the reserve of clothing, and he quoted from a Report now several years old. What I have to say to the House now is practically only a repetition of what I said when I made my speech on the Vote for the Army Estimates. We have given our closest attention to the question of the reserve of clothing. It has been insufficiently attended to. I do not want to blame one official or another, but it has not been fully attended to until recently. We have given our utmost attention to the reserve of clothing, and at this moment I am happy to be able to say that we have not only a satisfactory reserve of clothing, but we have such arrangements as will enable us, in the event of the mobilisation of all the Forces of this 763 country for the purposes of defending the United Kingdom, to supply within a reasonable period, calculated according to the probabilities of the notice we should expect, within a perfectly reasonable and a very short period, all the troops of the regular Army, the Reserves, and the Militia, with the further clothing that they would require properly to take their places in the defence of the country. I hope that statement, broad as it is, will be satisfactory to the House. One step further. My hon. Friend talks of the necessity of decentralisation with regard to clothing, and he points out that we have decentralised other stores. Why, ha asks—and perfectly reasonably—do we not decentralise the clothing? I will tell him why. Supposing the troops in a particular dep6t centre were called out for service at this moment. There may be a regiment of Highlanders, and, you may have had in the year before a regiment of a totally different character, and for which the clothing would be absolutely useless. Nor can you tell the size of the men for whom you are called upon to provide clothing. On the whole, considering the necessary changes that take place and the different sorts of troops which are found at any given station from year to year, we feel that an absolute economy of time is produced by keeping the main portion of the clothing in one centre, so that when the occasion arises for the issue of it for the purposes of mobilisation, it can be despatched, as we are absolutely able to do within a very few days, to the quarters where it is required, and according to the needs of the particular place. I hope the House will think that the War Office has made reasonable provision, and that it will now allow the discussion of the further Vote, in connection with which there are questions to be raised in which a very large number of Members are specially interested.
§ (10.43.) MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the inspection of factories. The Factory Inspector has no right to interfere with what is intended to be interfered with under the Factory Clause. In the present position of the labour market, the outcry against sweating in all parts of the country, and the 764 very severe condemnation of the Government system in the Report so recently issued, I do think that the right hon. Gentleman should take special care to enforce the Factory Clause. I quite agree that the present system of inspection is better than having one man to go from place to place, and I do urge upon him to see that the Factory Clause is absolutely carried out.
(10.45.) MR. W.REDMOND) (Fermanagh, N.
The right hon. Gentleman has stated, as I understood him, that 14s. 6d. is paid for a week's hard work. I should like to know how that compares with wages paid in other factories. I think that in matters of this kind the Government ought to set a good example, and I trust the right hon. Gentleman will be able to hold out some hope that these people will be paid in the future something like a fair amount of wages.
§ MR. HANBURY
My right hon. Friend has spoken of this Department as being of great use in case of a strike. May I ask him whether these persons are entitled to anything in the shape of pension? because, if not, I cannot see in what way the Pimlico factory can be regarded as a protection against strikes.
§ *MR. E. STANHOPE
I believe it will be found that the amount of wages paid compares favourably with what is paid elsewhere for the same kind of work. I may add that we are very careful in the selection of those who are employed in this work, and that we have made admirable arrangements for providing them with excellent food at an exceedingly low rate.
§ Vote agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £258,400, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Salaries and Miscellaneous Charges of the War Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1891.
§ *(10.48.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I am under a pledge to the House to state what are the views the Government entertain with regard to the Report of the Commission presided over by the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale. And I do not think I should properly be discharging my duty if I did not ask the Committee to allow me to express to the 765 noble Lord and his Colleagues my very hearty thanks and the thanks of the Government for the manner in which they discharged the very arduous labours they undertook. That Commission was a very strong one indeed. It contained no less than three ex-Secretaries of State. It contained, also, two or three men who have had a large experience in the administration of other Services, as well as men of business habits, and altogether nobody can deny that they formed a very strong Commission. There is one thing on which I desire to say a preliminary word. There was an exceedingly able article in the Times newspaper describing the recommendations of the Report in a manner to which I do not desire to raise the smallest objection, but it did me the honour to include me as one of the members of the Commission. I am bound to say I can claim no such honour. I was not a member of the Commission, and I am rather sorry that in the otherwise very accurate Report that statement should have been made. Now, the Commission over which the noble Lord presided went to the very root of the matter and discussed principles of the most vital importance, and laid before us a State Paper which we read now with great interest, and which I venture to say will remain on record as one which those who have to administer, either the Army or the Navy, for many years to come will undoubtedly require to have recourse to. I propose to deal, first, with the preliminary Report of the Commission. And here I may say that, with the exception of one particular recommendation in the preliminary Report bearing on the Admiralty, I do not propose to refer to the recommendations in relation to the Admiralty. That is for my noble Friend; but the particular proposal to which I am about to call attention is one that affects not only the War Office, but also the Admiralty. There is a proposal in the preliminary Report that there should be established a Naval and Military Council for the purpose of considering questions affecting the War Office and the Admiralty. Now, I ought to say that I think the actual differences between the War Office and the Admiralty have been very much exaggerated. The experience of my noble Friend the First Lord 766 of the Admiralty, as well as my own, leads me to the belief that there is no necessity for any friction or serious difference between the two Departments. Of course, my noble Friend and myself have had differences of opinion on many questions affecting the two Departments; but those differences have never assumed any acute form, or one likely to endanger the efficiency either of the one Department or the other. But there are matters between the two Departments in connection with which the work must necessarily overlap. The more they desire to do their work well the more is the work likely to overlap; and I think, for my own part, there is nothing more important as regards the proposal of a Military and Naval Council than a paragraph which I will now read, and which shows the particular points it is most desirable should be referred to such a Council if It should be established. The Report of the Commission says that the Council should be summoned from time to timeTo consider and authoritatively decide upon unsettled questions between the two Departments, or any matters of joint naval and military policy, which, in the opinion of the heads of the Services, required discussion and decision. It would he essential to the useful ness of such a Council and to the interests of the country that the proceedings and decisions should be duly recorded, instances having occurred in which Cabinet decisions have been differently understood by the two Departments."—Now, the criticism which I have to offer on the part of the Government upon that proposal is this—we do not think that it covers ground enough. We think that questions affecting the Army and the Navy also in many respects affect the Colonial Office, the India Office, and sometimes even the Foreign Office, arid the Government think, therefore, that any scheme that might be adopted dealing with these matters will be essentially incomplete if it do not take into consideration the wants and wishes of those two great Departments. Having, therefore, taken into consideration the recommendations of the noble Lord and his Colleagues, and bearing in mind that criticism which I have mentioned to the Committee, we think that a Naval and Military Council might be formed within 767 the Cabinet under the presidency of the Prime Minister. I do not at the present moment desire to lay down any basis limiting either the functions or the constitution of the Committee, but we think it is essential for the naval and military policy of the country being conducted in relation to and in concord with the other great Departments to which I have alluded that such a Committee should, in some form or another, be constituted. We agree also with the recommendation of the Commission that the Resolutions of that Committee should be formally recorded. We think they should be submitted to the Government for approval, and that after they receive the approval of the Cabinet they should be recorded not only for the benefit of all the Departments concerned, but also for the benefit of our successors in office. Now, Sir, I proceed to deal with the further Report of the Commission; and, first of all, I should like—dealing, I will not say with minor questions, but with questions not of the first importance—to invite the attention of the Committee to the recommendations in paragraph 100 of the Report. Paragraph 100 recommends the establishment of a permanent War Office Council, under the presidency of the Secretary of State, and the object to be atained is "securing unity of administration and strengthening the consultativn element in the War Office." Most Members of the House are aware that in former times there existed at the War Office a Council to which various officers were summoned to give their advice to the Secretary of State on important questions that might arise. But we perfectly agree that meetings of that sort require to be placed upon a more definite, permanent, and secure basis than that on which they now stand, and we are of opinion that in future there should be a formal War Office Council meeting under the presidency of the Secretary of State, not in any way derogating from or depriving him of complete and sole responsibility for all that goes on within the walls of the War Office, but, nevertheless, assisting him in a more formal manner than hitherto in arriving at decisions of primary importance to the country. We have said that that Council should be 768 composed of civil and military officers, and we have taken steps to provide for freedom of discussion in the Council, and for recording the decisions at which it may arrive. Closely connected with this is the question of the establishment of a Promotion Board. The question of promotion, especially to the higher ranks of the Army, acquires very great importance from the fact that promotion by seniority to the higher ranks will be abolished, and that selection becomes the rule for the rank of colonel and also of general. We take this opportuaity of securing that promotion to the higher ranks which, I believe, for the most part in times past has been satisfactory, shall be not only satisfactory in itself, but shall recommend itself to the general opinion of the Army. We think that can best be done by the establishment of a Promotion Board connected with the War Office, which shall recommend to the heads of the Department men who ought to be selected for promotion to the higher grades. In this way we believe that a better choice would be made than has hitherto been the case. I now come to the much larger and graver question—the great crucial question—which I may sum up in the proposal for the abolition of the office of Commander-in-Chief of the Army. I do not think I can better state what I want to say than by quoting from the Report of the Royal Commission. The Royal Commission, while acknowledging to the full the services rendered by the present Commander-in-Chief, go on to recommend that when a vacancy occurs certain great changes should take place. In paragraph 67 they say—While we have considered it necessary to indicate the defects in principle which exist in the present organisation of the War Office, we recognise that the unique position so long hold by the present Commander-in-Chief may have rendered it undesirable to adopt any other system in making the recent changes, and that his great experience may have enabled the existing system to work with the success claimed for it during the short period for which it has been in operation. His Royal Highness has on all occasions accepted with the greatest loyalty the changes which successive Secretaries of State have thought it right to introduce, and he has brought to bear upon the work at the War Office a personal popularity with the Army in general which cannot fail to be of public advantage.And they go on to say— 769But it is clear that no possible successor could enjoy a position and influence which years of service to the State are alone capable of establishing. We therefore proceed to indicate the general lines upon which we think the administration of the War Office should he based, and towards which, on the occurrence of a vacancy in the office of Commander-in-Chief, or at any favourable opportunity, future changes should be directed.Nobody can deny that the recommendations which follow are far reaching. They are to the effect that the office of Commander-in-Chief as it at present exists should be abolished, and that there should be established a Chief of the Staff, who should be responsible to the Secretary of State, and who would promote unity of administration at the War Office. I say again that these are very far-reaching recommendations indeed. They affect almost every branch of military administration, and they raise questions as complicated and perplexing as any Government has ever had to face. It is quite clear from the discussion which has taken place that some of these questions excite opposition of the most varied character. And they affect not only the working of the War Office, but also the position and relations of the War Office to the general government of the country and to the Crown. These recommendations, supported as they are by high authority and contained in a State Paper of extraordinary importance, have engaged, and are engaging, the most serious attention of the Government. We feel that it is not a question to be disposed of off-hand nor without the fullest investigation and consideration, and, while we are fully aware that no decision of ours upon this great question can bind any successors of ours who may happen to be in office at the time when the vacancy in the office of Commander-in-Chief occurs, we reserve to ourselves the right to announce at the time of our own choosing our definite opinion upon the recommendation of the Royal Commission. I desire, on the part of the Government, to express our concurrence in the terms of the paragraph in which the Royal Commission state their views as to His Royal Highness. I think I am entitled to speak with some little authority as to what His Royal Highness has done, and this, at least, I will say—and I am sure right 770 hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have had similar experience will agree with me—that I believe there can be no doubt that, whether in the occasional differences that happen between the Secretary of State and the Commander-in-Chief the Commander-in-Chief is wrong or right, he is always actuated by a feeling of devotion to the Service to which so long a period of his life has been given, and by a keen desire to maintain its honour and promote its interests. While I have no desire to express a final decision upon the main principle, we think that there is no reason why, at the present time, we should not fill up the office of Adjutant General, which is shortly about to become vacant. I have seen it stated in some of the newspapers that Lord Wolseley was retiring because of personal differences with myself. I am very glad to say, in spite of the newspaper paragraphs, that my relations have been always uniformly of an extremely friendly character with Lord Wolseley. He is retiring from the War Office now, having exceeded the term of office for which he was appointed. He will retire on the 1st of October next, and I cannot allow that to pass without saying that I think he may rest satisfied that the work he has done for the War Office during the seven years that he has been connected with it as Adjutant General will undoubtedly leave a permanent mark. He may be perfectly satisfied the foundation has been laid of an organisation which I believe will be satisfactory, and likely to remain the permanent organisation of the Army. We have also had to consider his successor. Our desire, our feeling of responsibility leads us to say that two conditions ought to be fulfilled, first, that we ought to have the strongest man that it was possible to draw from the ranks of the Army; and, second, that we ought to have a man not only acceptable to ourselves, and to me personally, but also acceptable to the Army generally. Of course, there is a name which naturally springs to the minds of a good many of us—I mean the name of Sir Frederick Roberts. It is the desire of the Government that the great services of Sir F. Roberts should be utilised in the best way and in a manner which will result in the greatest advantage to the Public Service, and lam quite certain, speaking 771 as I do at a great distance from Sir F. Roberts, that if he were here to-night he would cordially share that opinion. He has never been desirous of pushing any claim. He has always been desirous of trying to serve his country in that post in which he finds himself, and after very careful consideration of the whole position of affairs the Government has come to the conclusion that in the excellent work which Sir Frederick Roberts has done and is doing in India he ought not to be disturbed or interrupted. We have, therefore, with his consent, decided that he is to remain in India for the next two years. The successor, therefore, of Lord Wolseley will be Sir Redvers Buller. I think that in choosing him for this important post we are choosing a man who, as far as we can judge, will deserve and obtain the confidence of the Army. Personally, I deeply regret to remove him from the post which he has filled with so much advantage to the Public Service. The position of Quartermaster General is one of great importance. Not only must the man there be one of great ability and of first-rate industry, but we know that at certain critical times it is a post on which the very efficiency of the Army largely depends. That leads me to make one further remark. My experience is that in certain critical times the War Office has been nearly denuded of officers, who are appointed to the field. I am the last person to deny to them the opportunity of gratifying their legitimate ambition of going to the front when they can. If we denied it to them I am sure we would have difficulty in filling the posts, but it is not right that both the principal Staff Officers of the Commander-in-Chief should leave the country and go to the front. I think it is necessary to lay down the complete understanding that, so far as we are concerned, it will not be possible for both these officers to go to the front. Perhaps the Committee will forgive me if I say one word personally of myself. These questions of Army administration are—I am sure the Committee will admit it, though I think they hardly know the fact to the full extent to which I myself can speak of it—of the utmost difficulty and complexity. I think I may say that I have had more than my fair share of them. Over and over again I have had the forbearance and the con- 772 sideration of the House of Commons when I have had to make known to it the views of the Government with regard to these important questions; and, without that regard and consideration, no Secretary of State would wish to administer, or could satisfactorily administer, the important Department of the War Office.
§ *(11.25.) SIR W. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N. W.)
I had hoped that the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale or some occupant of the Front Opposition Bench would have risen to debate the extremely important question which has been raised by my right hon. Friend, who has so well acquitted himself in a very difficult position indeed. He has not stated quite as much as I could have wished, and I hope on some future occasion to hear more with regard to the Commander-in-Chief. He commenced his speech this evening with a very important statement indeed with regard to the Naval and Military Council which it is proposed to create. Now, I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to paragraphs 7, 8, 9, and 10 of the Report, because I think it is virtually important we should have them before us. The first point which strikes me in the consideration of the organisation of the two great Departments is that while in action they must be, to a large extent, dependent on each other, and while in preparation for war they ore absolutely dependent on each other, yet little or no attempt has ever been made to establish regular intercommunication or relations between them or to secure that the establishment of one Service shall be determined with reference to the requirements of the other. Now, in time of war it would be the duty of the Army to defend our distant possessions, such as India and the Colonies, and no perfect military organisation would enable the Army to do that effectually unless backed up by the Navy, which would be called upon to transport the troops. On the other hand, while the efficiency and power of the Navy is perhaps less absolutely dependent on the Army, yet the latter is necessary to give security to our military ports at home and abroad. Now, my right hon. Friend has said nothing about the preparations 773 for action by the Army and Navy in the case of certain contingencies arising.
§ *SIR W. BARTTELOT
I wish to know whether schemes are already prepared to be put in operation in certain cases of eventualities—such as an attack on Constantinople, or India, or the Colonies? My right hon. Friend has, indeed, said that there is to be a Committee of the Cabinet; but unless experienced Military and Naval Officers outside the Cabinet are taken into the Committee, or into direct consultation with the Committee, its schemes for the defence of the Empire will not be satisfactory. I look on the gravity of this question as exceedingly great. I think the Naval and Military Members of this House may congratulate themselves on having brought this question prominently forward. They did me the honour two years ago to ask me to propose the Motion which resulted in the formation of a Committee of the Cabinet, and that Committee has increased greatly the strength of the Navy and arranged for the defence of our Colonies. This was followed by the appointment of the Royal Commission, presided over by the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, whose Report constitutes a valuable contribution in the interests of the country. I know the difficulty of coming to a conclusion on this point suddenly; but I understand my right hon. Friend has agreed that a Council shall be appointed at the War Office to assist him in carrying out all these great objects which come under his consideration. It is very well to have a Council, but we should like to know how that Council is to be constituted, and how it is going to act in regard to the Commander-in-Chief, for that is a very important thing. The Commission, presided over by the noble Lord, has suggested that there should be a Chief of the Staff. I infinitely prefer a Commander-in-Chief or a General Commanding-in-Chief. Such an officer ought not to be subservient to the Government that appoints him. What the Army want is an independent man, so independent that he will not be subservient to any particular Party. The Army feel that if 774 the Commander-in-Chief or the Chief of the Staff is independent of the Secretary of State for War, so far as constitutionally he can be independent, their services will meet with that fair consideration which they deserve. Soldiers will feel aggrieved if the question of promotion is intrusted entirely to an Adjutant General, or any man who is not in the highest military position. These things have been pressed upon us strongly, but I will not, until we have had time to consider the statement of my right hon. Friend, go into details. The Secretary for War has been silent about the subject of ordnance. If there is one subject which deserves consideration more than another, if there is one subject in respect of which we have allowed foreign nations to get in front of us, it is the subject of ordnance. In old days we refused to begin making breechloading guns and allowed other nations to outstrip us, and now we are paying the penalty, and have not, even now, anything like the quantity of guns we require. The same may be said with regard to shot and shell; and some of our guns are so nearly the same size of bore that shot has been sent by mistake for one class of gun which was intended for another. Difficulties of the kind have, in fact, occurred very recently. Then, are we certain that we have yet got the best rifle? It would be wise to re-organise thoroughly the Ordnance Department, and the expediency of doing so ought to be gravely considered by the Cabinet, but especially by the Secretary of State for War and the First Lord of the Admiralty.
§ (11.35.) COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, S. W., Ince)
I believe the arguments against putting the Army and Navy administration under a Ministry of Defence or a single Department are perfectly sound. I think the financing of each Service requires the full attention of a Cabinet Minister. As to the constitution of a Council under the Presidency of the Prime Minister I am glad to hear that my right hon. Friend proposes that course, and I certainly agree with the view that it is most undesirable that there should be a member of that Council who is not under a sense of 775 responsibility. I think the club utterances of men competent to form an opinion, but who are imperfectly informed of facts and have no sense of responsibility is one of the great difficulties of the present day. With regard to the protection of our military ports, I agree with the view held in the Navy that the military should be responsible. They should—assisted by torpedoes and by floating batteries, which might be fashioned out of old line of-battle ships, and strengthened for the purpose, our fleet proper being kept free to act abroad. The internal administration of the War Office is a matter of far-reaching importance. It is not a mere question of the best arrangement for the organisation of a Government Department; it involves the entire relation of the military to the civil power in this country. The object of the country in establishing and maintaining the present quasi-dual system has been that the military power should never be the rival of the civil power, and that the Army should be kept free of politics. And whatever shortcomings may be urged against our military system, it must be admitted that this object has hitherto been successfully achieved. We have no Boulangism as in France, we have no meddling in political demonstrations by military students, we have no "pronunciamentos," as in Spain. Our military system has also been successful in maintaining a uniform system of discipline; and I fear that if there is not a general commanding-in-chief, a military head to the Army to enforce that advantage, the system of discipline will soon be found to vary under every command. I hold, therefore, that the office of general commanding-in-chief should be retained. Officers at the head of Departments at the Horse Guards are too much absorbed in matters of routine to give sufficient attention to, and to keep up with, military progress and invention abroad, and a military officer as chief of the Staff is also most necessary. Mechanical invention has made wonderful progress in recent years, and woe to that country that does not keep abreast of that progress. Mechanical invention as applied to war had little existence through the campaigns of Frederick the Great and the First Napoleon, it had some effect on the 776 Crimean War, and in the years since has made rapid progress. For instance, in 1866, the Austro-Hungarian Army entered on a campaign with muzzle loaders against breech loaders, with a result that might have led to the collapse of the Empire, and no generalship or courage could avert it. A complete change in armament was necessary, and even a change of uniform. In 1870 the Prussian Guard attacked at St. Privat in a formation for infantry, which had been condemned by Von Moltke in 1865, and lost in a very short time nearly 8,000 men, almost as many men as the British used at Inkerman. It is most necessary, therefore, that there should be a Department which is not entirely absorbed by routine and personal questions, but which will have time and opportunity to study these matters. I am very glad to hear from the Secretary of State that it is proposed to have a Board of Promotion, for this is a question of much importance to the efficiency and welfare of the Army with the reduced list of Generals. It will, I think, be found desirable, also, to re-organise the Ordnance Department with a view to the complete and efficient arming of both the Army and the Navy; but I believe that if the office of general commanding-in-chief is abolished, and the Secretary of State made the head of the Army, the Army will not be kept free of politics, while the only excuse for a civilian being War Minister will cease. This is a grave question, which should be very carefully considered by those who propose to abolish the office. I am very glad to see it is proposed to increase the position, the consultative position, of the First Naval Lord of the Admiralty. In the next naval war we may have the misfortune to be engaged in, it will be found that squadrons on the Baltic, Mediterranean, and Channel, and even the American stations, will be within supporting distance of each other, and may have to act in combined operations, they will be in telegraphic communication through the Admiralty, and practically the First Naval Lord will control movements over this vast area.
(11.50.) ADMIRAL MAYNE (Pembroke)
I beg to move that you do now report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Admiral Mayne.)
§ *MR. E. STANHOPE
As there are evidently several Members who desire to speak on this important question the Government will offer no opposition to that Motion.
§ *MR. E. STANHOPE
I am afraid I cannot answer that with certainty. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will repeat the question to the leader of the House, who will be here in a moment.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
The right hon. Gentleman says there are obviously many Members who desire to speak, and this is such an unusual reason that it should be noticed. I am glad to find the right hon. Gentleman say on that account he will offer no opposition to the Motion to report Progress. I only wish the Government would occasionally extend the same consideration to Motions of the same kind from this side of the House.
§ *MR. E. STANHOPE
When there is any genuine desire for Debate the Government are always ready to meet it. When such Motions are made for obstructive purposes, they feel it their duty to oppose them.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to give an instance of such obstruction on this side. [Cries of "Order!"]
§ *DR. FARQUHARSON) (Aberdeenshire, W.
Suppose the Debate upon Vote 10 should conclude to-morrrow evening, will the right hon. Gentleman then go on with Vote 2?
§ *MR. E. STANHOPE
After this Vote it is proposed that my noble Friend (Lord G. Hamilton) shall submit the Naval Vote, which has relation to the same subject, and which it is desirable to take next. After that we shall proceed with Vote 2 in the Army Votes.
§ *DR. FARQUHARSON
I trust the right hon. Gentleman will give notice of 778 the intention and allow adequate time for a discussion upon that Vote, in which much interest is felt.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB (Tower Hamlets, Bow, &c.)
I would ask the Secretary for War whether he means that the determination of the Government with regard to the formation of the Council of Defence is that it shall consist of a Committee of the Cabinet composed of the Prime Minister, the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Secretary of State for War, the Secretary of State for India, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies?
§ *MR. E. STANHOPE
I think my hon. Friend will see it would be exceedingly inconvenient to attempt to answer that question on a Motion to report Progress. If the hon. Gentleman will raise that question in Debate I will endeavour to answer him fully.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR) (Donegal, E.
This is a question of first-class magnitude, but it is unfortunately distributed over two different Votes. If it is also to be discussed at the fag end of different sittings and at uncertain intervals that will be in no way satisfactory. I therefore ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, when again before the Committee, the Vote will be taken at such an hour as to enable the Committee to have something like an exhaustive discussion on the whole matter?
§ *THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
The Government are exceedingly anxious that ample opportunity should be afforded for the discussion of this important question. We had hoped that sufficient time would have been obtained to-night; but, as the hon. Gentleman is aware, we are not responsible for the interruption which has prevented the full discussion of the Vote. The Vote will be put down for tomorrow in the hope that it may be reached at a reasonable hour. If it is not reached at a reasonable hour, other Votes will be proceeded with.
§ It being Midnight the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported to-morrow.
§ Committee also report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.