§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
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.
§ (7.47.) SIR G. TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I want to say one or two words about the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War yesterday. I do not propose to speak except with extreme brevity, or to go into the Report of the Commission, presided over by the noble Marquess (Lord Hartington). I prefer, as this is an extremely practical matter, to apply myself to the practical business that is before the House, namely, that part of the Report that has been adopted by the Secretary of State and the alterations that have been proposed. As far as I can see, the right hon. Gentleman has proposed to make two very important alterations in the organisation of the War 849 Office, and I most gladly testify that they are both, of tliem—one of them being very important—steps in the right direction. I have no desire to say anything on the subject of the abolition of the office of Commander-in-Chief or as to whether the office of that high functionary ought to be continued or not, because I understand that the Secretary of State has postponed the consideration of that question entirely on personal grounds, to which I need not refer; and the right hon. Gentleman has stated that when that question comes before the House, if the present Government are that time in Office, he will then state what are the opinions of the Government with regard to the recommendations if the Commission. When that time arrives I shall express my opinion on the point, and it will be the same as that which I expressed 20 years ago, namely, that the appointment to the office of Commander-in-Chief should be for five years only. At present, however, I wish to express no opinion on the subject. The recommendations of the Secretary of State are three. In the first place, in obedience to the recommendations of the Commission, the right hon. Gentleman proposes to adopt the idea of having a 'Council of War within the Cabinet. I must say I very much prefer the practical proposal of the Secretary of State on this point to the proposal, as far as I can gather it, of the Commission, Every one who knows from actual experience, or can guess from analogy derived from outside, how matters are conducted in the Cabinet, must know that a Council of War must always exist in the Cabinet if war is in prospect or is being actually waged, and that in a well-ordered Cabinet that Council must consist if the high officials in charge of the Army, the Navy, and the colonies, and also of every other Cabinet Minister who has any special aptitude for the direction of military operations. I think it a matter of great importance that no one else should have a right to sit upon that Council and to advise the Cabinet 11 would be a most unfortunate thing if military or naval men, however eminent, were to sit on the Council as a matter of right. The greatest military man of this century was not ashamed to always consider it the highest honour to be called upon to give his opinion to the Cabinet 850 in reference to military matters. The most glorious war we were ever engaged in was carried on successfully under those conditions, when Lord Chatham used freely to ask for the opinions of emiment military men. If the Government intend to adopt a similar course, I think that they will be giving effect to just as much of the recommendation of the Commission on this point as they ought to do. I now come to deal with two other propositions which have been made by the right hon. Gentleman. First of all, he proposes to have a somewhat more systematised and authoritative Council of War. In this, and in other proposals, the right hon. Gentleman has paid a very great tribute to the manner in which the Admiralty has been governed for some generations continuously in this country, it having been governed under a system to which, I believe, we owe the admirable condition in which the British Navy has been maintained for a number of years, and the immense and almost continuous success it has enjoyed. That system requires that there shall be a certain number of eminent professional men, each of whom is responsible for some particular work at the Admiralty, who shall meet at certain stated times for the purpose of freely interchanging their ideas, and thus keep in touch and in mutual confidence with each other. That I understand to be exactly the proposal of the Government with regard to the suggested Council of War. I now come to the last of the suggestions of the right hon. Gentleman, which I believe to be of very vast importance. The very essence of a well-ordered Service is that promotion shall be properly regulated. It was in order to regain the right of regulating promotion in the Army that the country paid £7,000,000 sterling for the abolition of purchase. The question then was. What was the best system of promotion to adopt, so as to insure that our Forces were commanded by the best men? The system that has prevailed in the Admiralty is that the First Lord of the Admiralty is surrounded by three, four, or five experienced officers, who have served all over the world, and who hare watched young men growing up around them, who no doubt have their prot°g°s, but who, by consulting together and exchanging opinions, are prevented 851 from giving too much advantage even to prot°g°s. I am now about to say something which, perhaps, may be considered somewhat rude, but I find that Admiralty promotion is conducted in this way. I find that when a great number of promotions are going to be made the political and civil members of the Board are prepared with a certain number of names for promotion. Amongst those names are, I suppose, a number which were put upon the list from a feeling in favour of the relatives of those members of the Board. ["Oh!"] Let hon. Members permit me to finish my story before they cry "Oh" Then the Naval Lords of the Admiralty have each his own list of names for promotion. The whole body then consult together, and, in the end, the names are cut out of the list of all those who have not earned their promotion fairly and honourably by service. The result is that no inefficient person is promoted, and no efficient man is passed over for long. I believe from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that he has endeavoured to provide a Board of that nature at the War Office. Such a Board already exists, but the right hon. Gentleman sees what immense issues will depend upon its decisions, and has determined that it shall be thoroughly efficient. He hopes its decisions will be authoritative, and, as far as possible, final. If the right hon. Gentleman makes his Board large enough and able enough, and, above all, if he takes care that neither he, nor any one else, shall correct the decisions of the Board, except upon evidence which is of immense importance, then I believe that the principle which General Trochu called the corner-stone of an army will be established in our own Army—namely, that the right man shall be in the right place.
*(8.0.) GENERAL SIR E. B. HAMLET (Birkenhead)
The chief value of this Report, and I estimate it very highly, is that, in view of a most important change that may occur at any time in the administration of the Army, it endeavours to provide a military system which shall be suited to the needs of the time. I need not remind the House that for generations we have been lamenting the cumbersome, inefficient character of our military system. It has never satisfied, or come near satisfy- 852 ing, the House, or the public, or the Army. There has never occurred a crisis in our military affairs without the exposure of a breakdown in our military system, most wasteful in men, money, and material. Now, for the first time since we have had a War Office we have had an opportunity offered to us by the Report of putting this right—of establishing a system, which shall work well and put our military affairs on a sound basis. If we neglect this we shall deserve any military misfortune which may happen to us in the future, and I doubt not that all the evils we have so long laboured under will be perpetuated and intensified. Now, I do not pretend to think that the Report can be adopted as it stands. The Commission itself did not I imagine, expect that. But it contains excellent materials on which a sound system may be established, and I will endeavour to point out in what particulars it may be accepted, and in what it may be advantageously modified. And I will deal mainly with the Report itself, for the departure from it which has been formulated in the statement of the Secretary for War, and which the Government reserves to itself to decide on I would leave out so essential a condition that, without it, the scheme we fall to pieces, and we shall have little left to consider or to found new schemes on. The most important proposals for reform in the Report are those which deal with the military part of the-system, and its relation to the Parliamentary chief. Prominent among the defects of that part of the system is said to be the excessive accumulation of power and responsibility in a singleofficial—the Commander-in-Chief—on whom, the Report says, the whole executive command, administration, and supply of the Army now devolves, besides the duties formerly those of the-Surveyor General of the Ordnance -After detailing these duties, the Report draws attention to the immense range of subjects, all large and onerous, here brought together, and the extremely various ability which alone could deal with them. And it is not merely intellectual power; other qualities are needed—practical ability, experience, the faculty of keeping touch with the time; and also, in these days, when science has so much to do with war, 853 when Von Moltke has shown us what effect a scientific chief can exercise, it is necessary that large and diverse military scientific knowledge should enter into the control of the Army. It is vain to expect to find all these qualifications united in one person. Therefore, supposing the recommendation of the Committee to take effect, and the work to be placed in the hands of several military officials, properly chosen, these functions would, by being divided and distributed, be infinitely better performed than is possible when they are concentrated in a single chief, even if he should possess the rarest acquisitions and endowments. Can it be doubted that this division of duties among several able men is a most essential step for those interests which we are engaged in considering—the interests of the Army and the country? But this is the very proposal which we learn may, perhaps, not be adopted. The Report proceeds to -consider how the duties of administration should be re-assignedOn the occurrence of a vacancy in the office of a Commander-in-Chief or on any favourable opportunity.It proposes to create a chief of the staff; whose duties shall be to prepare plans of military operations, collect information, and advise on matters of organisation and the preparation of the Army for war. His Department is to include the present Intelligence Department, which deals with the collection of information and the defence of the Empire outside the United Kingdom, and such part of the Adjutant General's business as deals with the mobilisation of troops and the interior defence of the Kingdom. His Department will be, in fact, the culmination of the military system—the preparation of the Army for war, and the defence of the Kingdom and the Empire; what are these but the very end and object of all branches of military administration? and if they do not each and all bear their part in it they have no meaning whatever. Therefore, that such a Department should be formed and placed under a qualified officer is a matter of urgent necessity. That this officer should superintend the duty of collecting information, of preparing and revising general schemes of defence, and possible plans of action, and deal with questions of military 854 policy, and make an annual Report of our military requirements—all these duties which are assigned to him in the Report may be regarded with complete approval. But there is another duty attributed to him, which is much more questionable—he is to advise the Secretary of State on all matters of general military policy, and other important questions. To this I venture altogether to demur, for this would place a single individual behind the Secretary of State, the one wire-puller, whom it would be very difficult to make amenable to public criticism; and, moreover, our military policy would be controlled to an unknown extent by the views and opinions of one particular person, whether they happened to be sound or unsound. Now, I venture to say that there is no sort of administration more open to objection than that which makes an official personage, like a civilian Secretary for War, responsible for measures which he admittedly does not possess the experience to enable him to devise for himself, and who depends on inspiration received from another person in the background. It is evident that this person in the background would possess more influence, and use it more freely, than if he stood forward as a recognised adviser, responsible not only to the Minister, but to the public, for his own counsels. The Army ought not to be governed from the background. This, then, would form a most serious objection. But, happily, the Report contains another provision which could be so applied as exactly to meet the difficulty. For it proposes that there should be a War Office Council presided over by the Secretary for War, the first military member of which is to be the Chief of the Staff; the other military members being the Adjutant General, the Quartermaster General, the Director of Artillery, and the Director of Fortifications. But these officers are the very persons who would form a Council exactly fitted to deal with the matters which are specially assigned to the Department of the Chief of the Staff. I would suggest, therefore, that it should be part of the duties of this Council to deal with those matters. The initiation of measures in his own Department would, of course, rest with the Chief of the Staff; and when he desired to bring 855 forward a measure, it would be for him to describe it to the Council, to give them necessary information on which to form a judgment, and to set forth his own view of it. It would then be discussed, and the proceedings and opinions recorded. After that it would be perfectly right and expedient that the Chief of the Staff should, apart from the Council, give advice to the Secretary for War in the form of necessary explanation and comment, when, if his views were at variance with those already expressed in Council by others, reference might be made to these, or, in case of serious difference, the Council might again be brought together. In this way the Chief of the Staff would no longer be that most objectionable person, an adviser in the background, but would be the public and recognised adviser, as the chief military member of the Council and exponent of its views. Here, then, we should at last have what we have so long been vainly seeking—the means of giving to the Secretary for War the best military advice obtainable in the most responsible and unimpeachable form, always provided it were accompanied by one most essential modification, to which I will now advert, and which is in some measure anticipated by the decision of the Government—that promotion should be placed in the hands of a Board. Now, this proposal I would modify in two ways. I would propose to place the recommendation, not only for promotion, but also for appointments, honours, and rewards, in the hands of a Board of officers, who should be absolutely independent. And to insure their independence they should be beyond the sphere of favour, having nothing to hope for, nothing to apprehend. To that end they should be retired officers. They must also be men of well-known character for fairness, of considerable experience, and of recognised ability, I could, at this moment, name more than one retired officer who would be very generally recognised, in and out of the Service, as to be depended on as a member of such a Board. And I would ask the Committee to consider what an inestimable advantage it would be to the Army that its members should feel that their destinies were in the hands of such a body. How different this from having to submit to an irresponsible decree inspired by we do 856 not know what! And what an advantage it would be to the nation that its military servants shall neither be pushed forward nor suppressed except for reasons not only avowable, but arrived at upon due impartial inquiry and in the face of the world ! Now, I said that the future Adjutant General is to be a member of this War Office Council; the second military member. But this is the officer* who, according to the Report, is to have-the patronage of the Army. Does anyone suppose that, in that case, he would be the second military member? He would (if he so desired it, and were a self-assertive man) be the first—very far the first. But deprive him of the patronage by placing it under a Board, and he would fall into his proper place and exercise only that weight in Council which may fairly be due to his knowledge and ability. I now come to a passage in the Report, a very unobtrusive passage, easily escaping particular notice, which I view with great satisfaction, where it is said—That the proceedings and decisions of the War Office Council should be formally recorded.Recorded, and therefore, I presume, accessible, and capable of being subjected, if need be, to inquiry. Here, then, we should have a pledge that what I have so often ventured to descant upon as a necessity of the time would be accomplished—that our military business should not be transacted in secret conclave, but by persons known to all the world, and justly possessing confidence. Here, again, what an immense improvement this would be in our system How often has the right hon. Gentleman, in laying some proposal before the House, told us that he did so after consulting his military advisers, and how often has the result left him but too much reason to doubt the wisdom of those mysterious oracles? But in dealing with the proposed Council, he would receive from his recognised advisers-opinions not hasty, partial, or prejudiced, but matured and tested, and delivered under the sense that they will be recorded, and, if necessary, scrutinised. Under such conditions, the proposals which a Secretary for War may bring forward will be entitled to a degree of respect which can never attach to the secret inspirations of unknown advisers— 857 no, these can only awaken distrust. Now there is one point in the Report which does not seem to have been quite appreciated by the Commission, and which has received from them only a partial recognition. It is this—after measures shall have been finally decided on by the Secretary for War, with the advice of the Council, there must be an executive officer to put them in practice; and the question is, Who should he be? Should he be one of those who are members of the Council, or a separate officer? Now, it will be observed that a certain part of the executive duties is provided for in the Report. It proposes that there should be a "general officer commanding the forces in Great Britain," who should perform the executive duties of the command and inspection of troops in Great Britain. But I know not why his functions should be thus limited. Why should not the functions of this officer be exactly commensurate with the functions of command which are now exercised by the Commander-in-Chief, extending so far as at present outside Great Britain, and including not only routine ordres, but those necessary to give effect to measures newly decided on in the War Office Council? This would of itself form a large amount of business; it should not, therefore, I think, be given to an ordinary member of the Council, because it would be too great an addition to his duties, and because it would make him much too superior in importance to the rest. He should, therefore, be a separate functionary, and his title might be General Officer commanding the Forces. As he would be able to give valuable and necessary information to the Council, especially as to whether measures proposed by them would be feasible with the means at his disposal, he should be a member of the Council; but as he would represent no Department and ought not, in the absence of the President, to preside over those who did, he should be an extraordinary member, when his position would exactly correspond to that of the Commander-in-Chief in India on the Governor General's Council, to which Council, indeed, this that we are discussing would be in many respects analogous. I have now endeavoured to set before the Com- 858 mittee a broad and general scheme easy to understand, and which, I believe, would thoroughly answer our purpose. It will be seen that I have dealt only with that part of the Report relating to the division of the duties of Commander-in-Chief among various officers, and the formation of those officers into a Council to advise and assist the Secretary for War. It is said in some quarters that the Report has fallen flat on the public. It may be so; but why? Because it cannot be supposed that many members of the public or of this House are able to give the time or have the technical knowledge necessary to examine the mass of details in this Report or to arrive at an appreciation of its value. Now, I hope the present discussion will supply this knowledge, that it will cause the House and the people to understand thoroughly that we have come to a crisis in our military affairs, and how vitally important that crisis is. If the Government should seek to evade the true bearings of this great question, they will incur the gravest responsibility. I trust that the House and the country will resolutely take the matter in hand, thoroughly inquire into it, and press it to a right conclusion. If we neglect this, if we suffer this opportunity which has come to us so unexpectedly, out of the clouds as it were, to slip, then, whatever we may have to lament in military enterprises of the future, extravagant expenditure, failure of men and supplies, the collapse of our military establishments, or even graver disasters, and the consequent decline of England in the scale of nations—we shall have only ourselves to thank for it. (8.30.)
§ (9.0.) SIR E. REED (Cardiff)
The object I have in view is to call attention to what appears to me to be a singular oversight in regard to the first recommendation contained in the preliminary Report of the Royal Commission. That Royal I Commission, among other things, and, indeed, before any other thing, dealt with the question of the mutual relation and the co-operation of the Army and Navy. They state in several paragraphs 859 that great deficiencies exist in that respect in our present system, and they point out that no combined plan of operations for the defence of the Empire in any given contingency has ever been worked out or decided upon by the two Departments. They state that there does not appear to exist sufficient provision for the consideration by either Service of the wants of the other, and, after making other statements of a similar character, they go on to speak of the remedy for this unsatisfactory and dangerous condition of affairs. Now, Sir, when it is found by a Member of this House, who feels some interest in, and some concern for, the well-being of the country that such a Commission as this—a Commission which the Minister for War last night extolled in the highest terms, and certainly did not extol too highly—I say that when such a Commission as this points out that this country is in an unsatisfactory and dangerous condition from the want of the means of co-operation between the Army and Navy, it is very natural that we should give our closest attention to the consequences to be anticipated from such a conclusion. After reviewing certain proposals which had been made before, and had been laid before the Commission for correcting this state of things, to which I will make no further reference at this moment, the Royal Commission go on to make one, and only one, important recommendation expressly designed to remedy the dangers they point out, and the remarkable thing about it is that when one reads paragraph 20 of the preliminary Report of the Commission, and then, in the light of that paragraph, listens to a speech such as that made by the Secretary for War last night, and the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow to-night, he will find the total absence of every 860 indication of the nature of the recommendation of the Royal Commission being, to the last degree, understood or appreciated. In the first place, the Secretary for War passed over altogether the first half of paragraph 20, and took no account of it at all. I am bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman has a slight and shadowy justification for this course, because the Royal Commissioners themselves, although adverting to the grave question, spoke of it only as one which the Council recommend they ought to consider. The Secretary for War went on to deal with the second part of that paragraph, but only did so in part. He referred to the unsettled questions which exist between the different Departments of the War Office, and before I deal with the conclusion which the Government appear to have drawn on this subject and the decision they appear to have come to regarding this recommendation. I will refer to what the Royal Commission originally proposed. And I think the Committee will see that no kind of recognition has been given to what the Royal Commission did actually recommend. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton spoke of the Council within the Cabinet as if it were a Council of War, and lie had no difficulty, as no one else would have, in suggesting that a Council of War of the highest class should be a Cabinet Council. But a Council of War was not at all contemplated, and certainly nothing was said about a Council of War. in the recommendations of the Royal Commission. They first speak of the constitution of the Council which they recommend. It is to be a Council presided over by the Prime Minister, and to consist of the Parliamentary heads of the two Services, with their professional advisers. They go on to state, and I do not consider it to be a very wise opinion, that in this Council might also be included one or two officer so great reputation and experience, who might not happen to hold official appointments either at the Admiralty or at the War Office for the time being. On that point I am bound to say I 861 agree entirely with the Government in dropping that part of the recommendation. I think that, looking at the constitution of the great Services of the country, it would be a very doubtful thing indeed to import into a Council of this character outside persons, not holding office, and therefore not bearing the responsibility which rests on public officers. But, leaving out of consideration these outside persons, and taking the Council as being constituted, the Committee will observe that the Council proposed by the Royal Commission is eminently adapted for the purposes to which it is proposed it should be applied. Now, what are these purposes? They are first that of reviewing the naval and military Estimates of the year, examining and ascertaining whether the proper relations exist between the Estimates of the two Departments with a view to the efficient service of the coming year, and advising the Government upon these Estimates before they go to the Cabinet. This is obviously a piece of work lying wholly below the level of Cabinet work. The next thing the Council is to do is to consider and authoritatively decide unsettled questions between the two Departments. Its third duty would be to decide as to any matters of joint naval and military policy. It must be obvious to the Committee that not one of these objects has any thing whatever to do with the work of the Cabinet, except in a very subordinate manner. The object is to get both the Ministers of the Army and Navy, with their professional heads of Departments, to come together, and consider whether the proposed Estimates for the year have due regard to the relations between the two Departments, and to deal with any unsettled questions in connection with them; also to consider any questions of general or joint policy which might require to be dealt with. That is the recommendation of the Royal Commission, and I am bound to say that to me it seems to be a very wise recommendation indeed, and one which, if adopted by the Government, would lead to great public good. At present this House when in Committee of Supply has no guarantee that sufficient care has been taken to suitably distribute the expenditure as between the Army and Navy. The manifest object of the Commission 862 was that before the Estimates went up to the Cabinet and the Government became committed to them, not only the two Ministers, but their chief professional advisers, should meet together to make suggestions, leaving, of course, untouched the responsibility of the two Ministers themselves, and not at all compromising or interfering with the Cabinet authority, because those Estimates are not to be sent to the Cabinet until after the proposed consultation and revision has taken place. Well, Sir, how do the Government deal with this proposal? I do not know what my right hon. Friends on this Bench may think about the matter, and of course the Committee will perfectly understand that anything I may say on the subject is said purely on my own personal responsibility, and that I have no authority whatever to speak on behalf of my friends on this Bench. I claim, however, the right of one who is deeply interested in the Public Service of the country to consider what effect the Government have given to this wise and valuable recommendation. In the first place, the Secretary for War has dropped out of consideration the primary question of the revision of the Estimates before-sending them to the Government. Having done that he went on to say that with regard to the other questions, namely, the unsettled questions remaining as between the two Departments and also the question of joint policy, he did not think the Royal Commission had taken a sufficiently broad ground. He said that upon such a Council the Colonial Office, the India Office, and the Foreign Office might have to be represented, and because, under certain contingencies and for certain purposes, all those Departments might have to be Represented on the Council, he threw overboard altogether the recommendation of the Commission concerning the bringing together of these two great Departments. The right hon. Gentleman did not say in explicit terms, but he implied it, that as far as the Government were concerned they would take no steps even on the advice of this friendly Commission to bring the Army and Navy7 into closer relations, unless in a method which will bring the Colonial, the India, and the Foreign Office into 863 consort with them. I know not what may be thought by others on this point, but the position taken up by the Secretary for War seems to me to strike a fatal blow to the Council recommended by the Royal Commission under head A of their Report. At this point I would refer to what the Royal Commission say their object was—to remedy what they regarded as an unsatisfactory and dangerous condition of affairs. To remedy this unsatisfactory condition of affairs, they say that the Army and Navy should be brought closer together. The Government say now that the Army and Navy shall not be brought closer together. The Secretary for War does not deny the dangerous state of things, and, therefore, admitting that they exist, he says no remedy shall be applied by the closer bringing together of the Army and Navy. Look at the next step the Government take. They say—"Well, but if we have the Admiralty, the War, Colonial, Foreign, and India Offices represented on the Council, everyone of those Departments is already represented in the Cabinet, and all you have got to do is to put the Prime Minister in the chair, to remove the other Cabinet Ministers around him, and there you have the Council of the Royal Commission." That was the position assumed by the Secretary of State last night. It seems to me to distinctly overthrow the recommendation of the Royal Commission, that before the Estimates reach the Cabinet they shall be considered by professional officers of both the Army and Navy. If the Committee will consider what the proposal of the Government really means, they will see that it amounts to this. The Royal Commission recommended that these Estimates of the Services should be revised by a Council consisting of the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Secretary for War, and a Board which could consider questions between the Departments. That recommendation is thrown over, and a Committee of the Cabinet is chosen. Does it not come to this. You appoint a Royal Commission of the greatest authority. That Commission, among other questions, goes with the greatest fulness into the question of whether the Army and the Navy are sufficiently brought together for the safety of the country. That 864 Royal Commission decides that for want of proper concert between the two Services the condition of affairs is unsatisfactory and dangerous. And they recommend the appointment of a Council, far different from a Committee of the Cabinet, which shall perform preliminary investigations before going to the Cabinet. The Government say: "No", you must take a few Members of the Cabinet and put them out of the door, and leave the rest to consider the matter." That is the outcome of the Government proposal. I ask the Secretary for War to say in what respect I misrepresent the case. In my humble opinion, it is a most unsatisfactory conclusion to the labours of the Royal Commission. I hope it will not be supposed for a single moment that I object to a Committee of the Cabinet taking into their consideration these naval and military matters. But I object to the positive recommendation of the Royal Commission being set aside and spoiled, and having substituted for it a proposal of very small value. How can it be suggested for a single moment that a Committee of the Cabinet can perform the work contemplated by the Royal Commission, and as set forth in paragraph 20 of the preliminary Report? Is it possible for such a Committee to ascertain, before sending the Estimates to the Cabinet, whether a proper relation has been set up between the charges for the Naval and Military Services of the country for the ensuing year? It is preposterous to suppose that a Committee of the Cabinet could go into that question in the manner contemplated by the Royal Commission. I think Members will agree that the recommendation of the Commission, if adopted, would have rendered services to the country which cannot be rendered by a Committee of the Cabinet. Valuable services will be rendered by that Committee, no doubt; but I think the country will be disposed to ask, "Is it true that there is an unsatisfactory and dangerous condition of affairs arising from the neglect of work which a Cabinet Committee could have done?" That is the inference to be drawn. I do not know why the Cabinet should suggest such a proposition as that. I do not believe there is any truth in the statement that the Cabinet have neglected 865 their work. But what I believe is that there is a want of proper concert between the Army and the Navy; it must be duo to the fact that the heads of the Departments, and the Ministers themselves have not been sufficiently brought together. The Commission say—There does not appear to us to exist sufficient provision for the consideration by either Service of the wants of the other.How are the Government going to meet that want? By adding to the Secretary of State for War and the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Colonial, Indian, and Foreign Ministers. How are they going to perform this operation? Why, Sir, they cannot touch this operation. They have no means of doing it. It is only by bringing professional heads and officers of the Services and Ministers into communication that the object can be accomplished. It appears to me as a technical man—I hope the Committee will forgive me if I speak somewhat in that capacity—that, owing to the enormous transformation in the Naval and Military Services due to the progress of mechanics and military engineering, you require co-operation not only between Ministers, heads of Departments, and officers of the Services, but between the Fleets and the Army. It is the idlest thing in the world for a set of politicians and officers to say, "We are so closely possessed of ail the information that is necessary to regulate the Fleets and Army in these days that we do not want the advice and assistance of any engineer. We can do it off our own bat." That absurdity is one degree less than the absurdity of supposing that the Government could perform the operation which the Royal Commission desires to be discharged by a Council. I believe that paragraph 20 contains recommendations of the greatest value to the State, and that it has been completely ignored by the Government, who have substituted a proposal which is not in any satisfactory degree qualified to remove the unsatisfactory and dangerous state of things referred to by a most powerful Royal Commission. The Government have set at naught that recommendation. They have thrown aside the sole practical suggestion of the Royal Commission, 866 which was designed to remedy this dangerous state of things.
§ (9.31.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
A very definite recommendation has been made by the Royal Commission—and I may say that the Commission itself was a very important one, having upon it either three or four ex-Secretaries for War. The recommendation to which I refer was that there should be a Council, which should be composed of heads of Departments, and one or two leading Generals and Admirals. Such a Council would be of the greatest value, as I think it would lead to a healthy competition between the Admiralty and the War Office for money, which would mean efficient Estimates. For instance, if the Military Departments were spending too much money, the Naval Departments would take note of it, and draw attention to it, in the hope of getting some of the money for the Navy, and vice versá I think that suggestion an excellent one, and it could not but be extremely usefu1 to have the heads of the various branches of both Services meeting together under proper control. But what is the proposal of Lord Salisbury and Her Majesty's Cabinet? It is a proposition which, if carried out, would effect an. innovation in the Constitution. It should be borne in mind that such a Committee of the Cabinet as is proposed, can at present be appointed at the will of the Prime Minister, and I do not see that it is the business of the House of Commons, or of the public, to interfere with the matter in any way. As to the selection of the Departments to serve on the Committee, I do not think it is a very happy one. No doubt the Secretary for War and the First Lord of the Admiralty should be on such Committee. The Prime Minister should be on it, and, at the present moment, if you have the Prime Minister on a Committee, you cannot exclude from that Committee the 867 Foreign Secretary. But it seems to me that the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the Secretary of State for India, have only a very indirect interest in the matter. The Secretary for India is directed by the Military Authorities in India. He would only appear in the Cabinet Committee as the Representative of the Commander-in-Chief in India, and would be unable to bring technical knowledge to bear on any subject under discussion. The same thing might be said in regard to the Secretary for the Colonies. The colonies of Australia, in case of necessity, would only be able to put some 3,000 or 4,000 men in the field, so that their military resources would hardly be sufficient to entitle the colonies to be represented on the Committee. It is a great change in the Constitution which is proposed. As the matter at present stands, every Member of the Cabinet is responsible for advising Her Majesty on subjects which are made Cabinet matters.
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE,) Lincolnshire, Horncastle
I said most distinctly that the proposal of the Government was that the new arrangement should not take effect until it had been discussed by the Cabinet as a whole.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
Yes, but I would point out that if a Committee of the Cabinet is appointed, and a disaster occurs. Ministers will be relieved from the responsibility which they have hitherto borne. It certainly seems to me desirable to make the whole Cabinet responsible for any important step which may have to be taken, but the appointment of the Committee suggested by the Government will have an opposite effect. I will now pass on to my second point. Last night the Secretary of War made two proposals. One of them was that a Board of Officers should be appointed to regulate promotion in the Army. On the whole, I think that is an absolutely inevitable step since the country departed from the system of purchase. 868 It becomes necessary that there should be some power of selection. The responsibility of making promotions is at present too heavy for those who have to bear it. The responsibility is too great to be in the hands of one man. The hon. Member for Birkenhead found fault with the constitution of the proposed Board, and suggested that it should be reinforced by having upon it some General Officers not associated with the War Office. That is, no doubt, a good suggestion. I do not say that all General Officers will be free from jobbery, but any Board which you may appoint will have to be closely watched by the House of Commons. Valuable and important appointments will have to be made, and every influence which London contains—Court, social, and political—will be brought to bear on those exercising patronage. The Board of Promotion, therefore, will have to be very narrowly watched. It would not do for a Minister, in defending the action of the Board, to get up and say, "Oh! but the Board has been appointed by the House of Commons." There is always an amount of influence brought to bear on these selections, and always a certain amount of jobbery, watch the matter as closely as you can. It will be the duty of the House to sec that we get full value for our money. As this country gets more and more Democratic, we find that Conservative Members become more and more anxious to secure the control of the Army. They desire to have that control exclusively in the hands of the upper classes; therefore, it will be necessary to see that the Board is fairly constituted, and is not likely to go in favour of one particular class. I think care should be taken that no officer should be passed over by the Board without the reasons for passing him over being set forth. There is no use in getting the old stereotyped declaration that you do not wish to hurt the feelings of officers. The Board will have power to pass over officers, and if we be satisfied to give a Board such power, I certainly think that the grounds on which a man is passed over should be stated. The right hon. Gentleman has not stated how the Board of Promotion is to act. 869 Under the new rules the number of Generals is to be very greatly reduced, and in a very few years there will be very few more Generals than there are appointments in the Army. Is the Board to promote Generals to such a position that it will be inevitable that they will have a command in the field? The way in which Generals are appointed in the field is this: The Secretary for War is responsible for the appointment of command of an expedition or a force, and he appoints the Generals of Divisions on the recommendation of the Commander-in-Chief. Of course, this is a matter of the very greatest constitutional and political significance. At present the Secretary for War and the Cabinet bear responsibility for the success or failure of an expedition or a war. If, however, the Secretary for War is able to throw the onus of the choice of officers on any Board of Promotion, or on anyone else not responsible to the House of Commons, he will be able to say that the failure of an expedition is no fault of his. In my opinion, everything should be done by this country to prevent a minority entering into a great war without being ready to take the responsibility for it.
§ *MR. E. STANHOPE
There is no question that the Secretary of State will continue to have full responsibility.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
Then I understand that in the event of a campaign the choice of the General Officers will be left unaffected by any direct action on the part of the new authority. But what the right hon. Gentleman says does not altogether invalidate my argument, except as far as the Commanding General is concerned. With regard to the officers commanding divisions the Board of Promotion will have selected them, so that the choice of the Secretary for War will be considerably circumscribed, and, in the event of failure, he will be able to say, "There were only a certain number of Generals I could select from, and, consequently, I had very little choice." I do not find fault with the right hon. Gentleman, but I think the whole of the 870 matter should be laid before the House of Commons before we sanction it. I have only to say a few words as to what the Government have not done. It seems to me they have not attempted to face the principal question that was laid before the Royal Commission, and on which the Commission reported. That question was how the Army should be managed after the present Commander-in-Chief ceased to hold the office. The Duke of Cambridge has created a position for himself—not perhaps a constitutional one. He has paid a considerable amount of respect for the House of Commons. It would be an extremely dangerous thing to put any man we do not thoroughly know, who may be a good General, but a man who may not have sufficient respect for the institutions of the country, in the position of Commander-in-Chief. I think it would be far better to confine that position as proposed by the Royal Commission. It would be well to follow the precedent of Continental countries, and have a Chief of the Staff. The Chief of the Staff would regulate the Staff and superintend the Intelligence Department; but the Government have entirely failed to pay any attention to this part of the Report of the Royal Commission. By having a Chief of the Staff to take charge of the Staff and Intelligence Department, by having a Board of Promotion, and an Adjutant General to attend to the Manufacturing Departments, you would cut up and divide the duties which are at present discharged by the Commander-in-Chief, and for which he is more or less nominally responsible. It is quite impossible to make the Commander-in-Chief responsible for all practical details. Again, there is a political aspect to the question. It is a most unconstitutional thing to have any man, unless he is absolutely the Sovereign, or next to the Sovereign—the Prince of Wales—Commander-in-Chief f or 25years. I am sorry to have trespassed so long on the time of the Committee; my only excuse for doing so is that the question is one of vast constitutional and military importance.
§ (10.3.) GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
I must congratulate the Government on adopting the course 871 they have, but I hope they will go a little further still for the good of the country in promoting harmonious action between the two Services. I do not agree with the proposal that the office of Commander-in-Chief should be abolished, but I think it should be relieved of many duties which now attach to it. It is impossible for any one man to perform the duties required to be discharged by the Commander-in-Chief. With reference to the Board of Promotion, let me Say it will be very necessary to exercise great care in the selection of officers who are to form the Board. The whole future of every man in the Army will depend upon the recommendations of the Board, and everything must be done to prevent injustice being done. There are immense numbers of officers in the Army; many are serving in India, Canada, and elsewhere, and it is possible to conceive that these men will be unknown to the members of the Board, and, therefore, will have their claims to promotion overlooked. I hope the Secretary for War will pay particular attention to the recommendations of the Royal Commission with reference to the Ordnance Department, for that is one of the most important matters to be dealt with. It is important to the Army and Navy alike, and nothing will more contribute to the efficiency and confidence of both than full and careful attention in this direction.
§ *(10.9.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling, &c)
Perhaps the Committee will allow me, as a member of the Royal Commission, to say a few words on this question. I do not desire to go over the whole ground of the question, but I cannot help expressing some regret that the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord R. Churchill) has not been in the House during the Debate. The noble Lord has recently developed a faculty of being absent when he is expected to be present, though on some occasions when he is present in the 872 country he does not appear to be present with much good effect. His Memorandum, which is included in the Report of the Royal Commission, has attracted attention no less than the more elaborate provisions contained in the Report, and I, for one, should have been very glad if the noble Lord had been here to explain his scheme and hear the reasons which some of us have for dissenting from it. Failing that, we have to deal with the steps which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War has stated the Government propose to take in the matter. The first point I will refer to is the important question of a Naval and Military Council proposed in paragraph 20 of the Report. I signed the Report, but I am bound in frankness to tell the Committee that I should have appended to my signature an expression of dissent in respect to this particular paragraph if it had not been that my attention was called to the exceedingly vague and indefinite way in which the recommendations of the paragraph are put. If the Committee will look at the Report they will see that, after rehearsing at some length what the Royal Commission found to be the want of harmony between the two Departments and the evils which may result from it, it proceeds, not in paragraph 20, but in paragraph 19, to disclose the remedy which the Commissioners propose for that want of harmony. Paragraph 19 says—We think that means might be devised for bringing about more regular and constant communications between the Admiralty and the War Office. These might be found in Departmental changes, the nature of which we shall hereafter indicate, which might provide for very constant communication and consultation between two highly-placed responsible naval and military officers on all questions where common action and preparation on the part of the Departments is required.Now, that appears to me to cover the whole ground, and the subsequent recommendation referred to consists in the sug- 873 gestion that the First Naval Lord at the Admiralty should have the duty imposed on him of communicating with the War Office on all occasions where the interests and duties of the two Departments overlap, and that, correspondingly, the Chief of the Staff at the War Office should perform the same duty with respect to the Admiralty. And then, as it were by an afterthought, and as a subsidiary and almost superfluous suggestion, the Commission go on in paragraph 20 to say:—"There might be some advantage in the formation of a Naval and Military Council," and that in this Council might be included one or two officers of great reputation and experience, and so forth. The very conditional tone and mood in which this recommendation is expressed conveys my frame of mind towards it. I am no believer in the establishment of any such Council if it is in any respect to supersede or interfere with the direct responsibility either of the Minister or of the Cabinet. I am altogether opposed to the introduction of outsiders. It is no doubt suggested that certain Generals and Admirals of distinction and experience should be added to the Council to assist in its deliberations. I entirely object to put in so important a position officers, however distinguished, who have no direct or recognised responsibility in administration. Let the responsible officers of the two Departments, who ought to be the best that can be secured, give their advice, and let that advice be acted upon, modified, or rejected by the Minister responsible for it, but do not expose them to have their views set aside or their decisions overruled by an amateur Council composed of men who may themselves have no direct knowledge of the facts, and, at all events, will not have the responsibility of carrying into action the decisions which may be arrived at. I am therefore, glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that the Council which he proposes is practically to be little more than a Committee of the Cabinet. But if merely a Committee of the Cabinet, we could have had that without all this trouble about it. On the point of want of harmony between 874 the two Departments, I am one of those who think that it has, after all, been greatly exaggerated, and I believe that most of those instances of friction of which we heard could have been overcome by a little goodwill on the part of the two Departments respectively. We all know that the two Departments overlap and intertwine to a very great extent. Take the case of a maritime fort. The construction and maintenance of it, the manning and supply of guns for it, would seem to belong exclusively to the War Office, and yet, as a part of the defence of the fortress, they run very closely into the question of Naval support and submarine mines and torpedo vessels, and so forth. The limits of responsibility are thus difficult to define. It is no wonder, therefore, and no ground of blame to either of the two Departments, that there may have been misunderstanding or difficulty in coming to a unanimous conclusion on points affecting such a case as this, and I speak after considerable experience of both Departments. As to the second point, the Board of Promotion, if I remember rightly, there has been a Board of Promotion at the War Office for some years; but I am opposed to any Promotion Board which will be formed by the nomination of individual officers for that special purpose. I quite admit there ought to be placed on such a Board officers totally unconnected with the War Office itself and with the Headquarters Staff of the Army, but this should be done by making a place upon that Board the appanage of some high position of command in the country, and we should thus secure that it will not be the individual who will be appointed, but the occupant of a particular post. In that way we should escape the danger of some personal appointment which would be objected to; and if such a Board is made large enough so that it may include officers of varied experience, I believe it will be a great source of strength to the responsible officers at the head of the Army who are responsible for promotion. But I would not go so far as to make the recommendations of this Board supersede the responsibility of the officers at the head of the Army and the Secretary of State. Then I come 875 to the third step, and that is the establishment of a War Office Council. The principle which the Royal Commission proposes both for the Admiralty and the War Office is identical. In the first place, they recommend the recognition of the absolute responsibility of the Minister who at once represents the Department in Parliament, and Parliament in the Department. It is too often forgotten what the form of Government under which we live really is. We live under a Parliamentary form of Government. Every Department of the State is governed in the same manner, and it implies that the Representative Chamber shall have the real governing power. We are told very often that a civilian Minister, selected because of some supposed Parliamentary pre-eminence which he has gained, can know nothing of the Army or the Navy, and therefore must be an incompetent Minister. I deny that altogether. That is not the principle upon which the whole of our Government is founded. An Indian Minister may never have been in India; an Education Minister may never have been an Inspector of Schools. Every Minister may be ignorant of the technical details of the Department he administers, but he is presumed to have capacity for administration and public experience, and he knows, or ought to know, represents, or ought to represent, the tone of thought and feeling on the subject of his Department of those whom this House represents, namely, the body of the people for whose benefit the Public Services really exist. One of the great objections I should have urged to the scheme of the Member for Paddington, if he had been here, is that it failed to recognise this principle, because it reduced the Minister of State to a mere financial Minister who was to be responsible for the Estimates, and for the making of good bargains in the purchase of material, and for the proper auditing of the accounts. If we insist with pertinacity on the exclusive right of this House to control finance, it is in order that, through the medium and by the instrument of finance, we control policy. I hold that it is constitutionally necessary, especially in the present day, when some strange theories are afloat, to assert the absolute necessity 876 of Parliamentary control over each of those two great Departments of the State. The next recommendation the Commission makes is this: that the Minister should have the assistance of' competent professional officers, each responsible directly to him for his own department of duty, but all available on equal terms for consultation and information. Now, I am afraid such a Council as the right hon. Gentleman has described does not, in the least, fulfil this condition. I do not speak of the Admiralty just now, as that Vote is not before the Committee; but as to the War Office, if I were to express in plain terms my opinion of the present organisation of Army administration, I would say that the hierarchy of officers at the head of the Army is arranged perpendicularly, whereas it ought to be arranged horizontally. Every matter requiring decision, every suggestion or idea originated among the capable military officers on the Headquarters Staff, has to pass upwards from grade to grade, and to pass through the Adjutant General and Commander-in-Chief before it reaches the Secretary of State. The consequence is waste of time, circumlocution, a discouragement of independent initiative, and a slackening of the sense of direct responsibility. There is another evil which, if it does not actually exist, is always threatening to occur at any particular time, the tendency towards that which is certainly the least conducive to the harmonious working of the administration of the Army, namely, that the officer who is nominally responsible for particular matters to the Commander-in-Chief is passed over, and that advice is offered by or sought from subordinate officers without the official knowledge of the head of the Army, and in a more or less irregular way, I believe that no more certain cause of friction and loose administration can exist than this. I make no assertion that it exists now, but the right hon. Gentleman will admit that there is a standing danger of it, and tendency to it. I think that is one of the most grave reasons for change. But the main fact is that the affairs of the Army are much too complicated and diffused in area to be treated in this way—namely, by forcing any idea up through this long channel before it reaches the Minister 877 whose duty it is to consider it. A more natural and wholesome mode of proceeding would be for the administration of the Army to be concentrated into large departments, the high military heads of which, being equal, would form a consultative council, whose advice should be sought by the Secretary of State. Of course, that suggestion involves the abolition of the office of Commander-in-Chief, at least in its present supreme and centralised form, a step upon which Her Majesty's Government gives no decision, and which no one would propose to take as long as the present Commander-in-Chief holds that office. I trust that there will be no misapprehension on this matter, but the subject is of such huge and enormous importance to the country that every one who is called upon to discuss this question is bound to express his opinion freely and frankly and without reserve, and to put aside altogether all personal considerations. We are bound to look at the matter from a purely impersonal point of view. I re-echo all that has been said by the Secretary of State with regard to His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, whose claims upon the gratitude of the Army and of the country are so great, and whose public services during the last 30 years have been so conspicuous, that surely in any recommendation which may be made we need not be afraid of being accused or misunderstood as casting any slight upon him. I agree with the Secretary of State in saying that precisely in the proportion as persons have had an opportunity of intimately observing the way in which the Duke of Cambridge has discharged the duties of his high office, must be their appreciation and admiration of his unequalled knowledge of all the affairs of the Army, the untiring energy he has displayed, and his devoted attachment to the Service of which he is the head. But this is not a question of persons, but of system, and I am satisfied that until we adopt what I have called the horizontal instead of the perpendicular arrangement of duties and responsibilities, we shall not obtain the advantage of a frank and independent expression of opinion given to the Secretary of State by those 878 who have a full and direct sense of responsibility, not only to him, but to the country for the opinion which they give. Up to this point I go with my Colleagues on the Royal Commission; but here, I am sorry to say, I part company with them, because they have proposed to set up in the place of the Commander-in-Chief a Chief of the Staff; a proposal which, if adopted, would really re-produce all the evils of the present system without any corresponding advantages that I can see. If you create a Chief of the Staff, who is to be the intimate adviser, above all his colleagues, of the Secretary of State, you will destroy that sense of equality which is absolutely essential to a free and loyal expression of opinion. I also attach great importance to the condition that whoever advises the Secretary of State should himself be daily concerned in the administration of the Army. If a Chief of the Staff were to be appointed he would remain shut up in his room, by himself, and he would feel bound to justify his existence by inventing magnificent schemes, which, most probably, would do more harm than good to the country. Therefore a Chief of the Staff would be not only superfluous, but absolutely mischievous and dangerous to the State. If we are not to have a Council of officers of equal position, such as I have advocated, if there is to be one officer above all the others who is to be the confidential adviser of the Secretary of State—then let him be the Commander-in-Chief, and if we retain the Commander-in-Chief let us relieve him from some part of his duties involving the consideration of details, and let the condition of the appointment be that it is for five years only. I believe that a great and serious evil to the administration of the Army arises from the knowledge that the power of promotion and of patronage in the Army is vested in the Commander-in-Chief, and that he is the permanent fountain of honour, and that, therefore, it is thought, wrongly but naturally, that the best way to obtain advancement is to seek his friendship. I believe that a great change for the better in the efficiency of the administration of the Army would be brought about by the knowledge that the Commander-in-Chief only held his office for a term of five 879 years. Though for special reasons he might be appointed for another term of five years, there would be no permanent appointment. If these conditions are attached to it, I greatly prefer the retention of the office of Commander-in-Chief to the creation of a Chief of the Staff. I have thought it right to give these explanations of the sense in which I agree with the recommendations of the Commission, and in that sense I hope that those recommendations will ultimately, if not immediately, be adopted by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ *(10.40.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I think it will be convenient, after the various speeches we have had, to take this opportunity of replying to some of the points raised in the course of this discussion. In the first place, I should like to say that upon the whole I am very glad to hear the generally favourable reception that the proposal of the Government for the constitution of a Naval and Military Council has received. I think that the proposal is one that is desirable in the interest of the Empire. With reference to the deliberations of the Committee of the Cabinet, we desire that any decision come to shall be placed on permanent record, and in a form in which it may be presented to any Government that may follow us. Other speakers who have addressed the House to-night take a wholly inadequate view of the objects of the Council. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the main function of the Council will not be to reconcile the differences that exist between the Army and Navy. That there are differences I admit, but it will not be the main object of the Council to reconcile them. There are many questions connected with the defence of this great Empire in connection with which, after their full consideration by the Departments, the Council could promote common action. The hon. Member for Cardiff expressed 880 a strong opinion that professional advisers should be present at the deliberations of the Council. I have had a good deal to do with technical advisers in other walks of life, and my conclusion is that they are the worst judges, but the best witnesses, and the Council, desiring to do its duty and to lay down the best course of action, would call before it the best technical advice it could get, and would then arrive at the best conclusion it could form as to the line of action to be taken.
§ SIR E. REED
I never suggested that technical advisers should attend a meeting of the Cabinet Council, but I did suggest that they should take part in deliberations on a level with the heads of Departments.
§ *MR. E. STANHOPE
For my own part I think it very desirable that the Council itself should be on the highest level. If the defence of the country is to be authoritatively laid down it ought to be laid down by the highest authorities, who are responsible to the country. Of course, I entirely accept what the right hon. Gentleman said—that it is not intended for a moment by the appointment of a Promotion Board to divest the Secretary of State of his responsibility. He is absolutely responsible, both in time of war and in time of peace, and no Board ought to be allowed to divest him of that responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman argued that the Council ought to be worked upon a lateral rather than a vertical system; and in the Council I am establishing that principle is, in many respects, carried out. Every one in the Council has an equal right of bringing forward questions for discussion, and of discussing them in the Council. Having had the discussion, it remains for the Secretary of State to form his decision as to the action to be taken. I cannot help thinking the right hon. Gentleman leaves out of view what is one of the main considerations in this matter. I am going to say a thing which may seem rather severe. My experience of the 881 War Office includes a time when, in consequence of there being no one Military Authority able to harmonise sill Parties, the result was chaos. We know well that we had defences put up without the smallest reference to the garrisons who were to man them, and without the consideration of many other essential questions. There ought to be some Military Authority responsible to the country, taking care that all these branches of defence are considered at the same time, so that when this House believes that a particular fortress is going to be put in a perfect state of defence they will know that not only the works and the guns but also the garrison have been thought of, and they will know that the construction and armament of the fortress are part of a well-considered plan. This was what was desired and aimed at by the noble Lord and his Colleagues. I am not going to discuss their proposal now. The Government have decided to put it aside for more careful and complete consideration. I will only say that in my time I have felt the want of one military head. At the present time there is first of all the Commander-in-Chief, who is responsible to me and to the country for seeing that all branches of defence are adequately looked after. There is also the chief Staff officer, the Adjutant General, who, under him, is responsible for all military branches. I do not say that the new scheme is at all perfect, but I do claim that it is a great improvement upon any system which preceded it. I am quite sure that if the right hon. Gentleman were to consult Military Authorities he would find that, in their opinion, considerable advantage has been gained from the fact that all the branches of defence have been brought completely and entirely under the consideration of Military Authorities. Other points it is not necessary for me to go into tonight. I would only now suggest that, sis there is no substantial difference of opinion as to the steps the Government propose to take with regard to the organisation of the War Office, we might be allowed to proceed to the discussion of one or two special questions with regard to which Notices of Motion have been given.
(10.50.) THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON (Lancashire, Rossendale)
It may, perhaps, be desirable before the discussion concludes that I should say a few words as Chairman of the Commission whose Report has formed the subject of this discussion. On the whole, I have no reason to complain of the reception which has been given to the Report of the Commission, either by the Government or by hon. Members who have discussed it. It is quite true, as was said yesterday by the Secretary of State, we have touched upon, without deciding, several questions which go to the root of military organisation. We have recommended some important, extensive, and far-reaching changes, and it is true that very few of these recommendations have been adopted in their entirety by the Government. I quite admit that the more important and far-reaching the changes are that are suggested, the more necessary it is that they should receive full and ample consideration before they are finally decided upon. I should be sorry, indeed, if the present Government, or any Government, were to accept the recommendations contained in that Report as in any degree absolving them from the duty of considering for themselves all the questions of organisation, and if they treated our recommendations as forming a plan which they might safely adopt throughout. Looking at the composition of the Commission, and at the very small military element it contained, it was thought desirable that we should abstain, as far as possible, from proposing anything in the nature of a plan, and that we should confine ourselves, if we could, to the laying down of certain principles which we thought ought to be kept in view in any re-organisation. But as we proceeded we found that it was impossible for us to adopt that method.
The mere enunciation of general prin- 883 ciples unaccompanied by something in the nature of definite recommendations, even if those recommendations were only for the purpose of illustration, would, I think, have been scarcely intelligible. We have, therefore, endeavoured to bring before the Government and Parliament a sketch of War Office administration as it exists now, to point out what we consider to be defects of principle in that administration, and to sketch what, in our judgment, might be a scheme of War Department organisation if founded upon sounder principle. It did not occur to us in the limited time at our disposal, and especially considering the military element in the composition of the Commission, that we were capable of producing a scheme which this or any Government could adopt without more consideration than it was possible for us to give. We have also been assured, in the course of our inquiry, that very considerable progress is being made in solving a good many practical questions. I quite admit that the adoption of many of the recommendations we have made would lead to a considerable amount of temporary dislocation and disorganisation. If it be the case that progress is being made in work of a practical character at the War Office, I should consider it would be a very great misfortune that that practical work should be interrupted by a desire to place the administration of the Office upon a more perfect footing theoretically. What I consider to be the value of the discussion on the subject by the Royal Commission is this: It is not reasonable to suppose that the administration of the War Office under the present Commander-in-Chief can continue for an indefinite period, and some changes will probably have to be made shortly. I do not think any one would say that when the office is vacated it will be possible or desirable to appoint a successor to the 884 actual position the present Commander-in-Chief occupies. Therefore, it is desirable that the subject should undergo thorough examination, in order that the Government may be in a position to say what the future organisation of the Office should be when the time comes to effect some considerable alteration. There has been a good deal of discussion of our recommendation as to the appointment of a Naval and Military Council. The Secretary of State has informed us of the steps he has taken in the direction of that suggestion. Certainly I admit that the recommendation of the Commission has not been adopted by the Government, and their proposal is open to the criticism which has teen made upon it—that the proposed Naval and Military Council is to be little more than the Cabinet itself, minus some of its members. I very much doubt whether the inclusion of the Representatives of so many Departments will not make the Council somewhat unwieldy and weaken the sense of responsibility of its members. Certainly it was the intention of the Commission to recommend a Council of a rather different kind—a Council on which the principal professional advisers of the Secretary of State for War and the First Lord of the Admiralty should sit as ordinary members. I do not, however, attach the greatest importance to the exact form which this Council should take, and I quite admit that, as I understand, the proposal of the Government, the Council will be something more than an ordinary Committee of the Cabinet. I understand that it is intended that professional advisers, naval and military officers, should be invited to assist at the deliberations of the Council, although they will not be members of the Committee of the Cabinet; and, further, it is intended that permanent records of the proceedings of the Council shall be kept for the advantage and information of their successors. But the main point which I had in view was that the principle of joint consideration of matters of common importance to both Services 885 should be established, that matters affecting the naval and military establishments in ensuing years should be discussed, not behind the back of, but in the presence of Representatives of both Services, and that naval and military matters of equal importance, relating to the settlement of the amount of the establishments, should be decided in the same way in the presence of the responsible Representatives of the Services. Something has been said as to the exaggeration which is indulged in with respect to the friction that occurs between the two Departments. I think the right hon. Gentleman opposite himself said last night that, in his opinion, the amount of misunderstanding between the War Office and the Admiralty had been very much exaggerated. Now, I do not look upon the desirability of establishing this Council as in any way dependent upon the amount of friction or misunderstanding between the two Departments. If the members of the Committee will refer to the paragraphs of our Report which lead up to this re commendation, they will find that the establishment of a Naval and Military Council, or of some other better method of communication between the two Departments, is not at all solely recommended in consequence of the existence of unsettled questions between the Departments, or questions giving rise to controversy. It may, indeed, be the fact that sometimes there is too little controversy and misunderstanding between the Departments, because, as I think, the real evil to be redressed is that there is a want of communication between the two Departments; that each Department goes its own way, without reference to the wants or necessities of the other, and it is too much taken for granted that each Department will be able, in time of emergency, to do that which is absolutely essential for the efficiency of the other. The evil is not so much the disagreement between the Departments as that questions of the highest importance are never thoroughly considered, never thoroughly debated, never thoroughly decided between them. It may be found that the Naval and Military Council, the Committee of the Cabinet proposed by the Government, will not entirely meet all the necessities of the case, but I admit 886 that it is a step in the direction suggested by the Commission. It is a recognition of the principle that every important question affecting one Service ought to be decided with the full knowledge of and in the presence of Representatives of the other Service. As to the permanent retention of the office of Commander-in-Chief, I desire to say that I cordially join in all that has been said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite and my right hon. Friend near me as to the personal services which have been rendered by His Royal Highness the present Commander-in-Chief. The paragraphs in the Report of the Commission which bear testimony to those services I believe express as fully the convictions of every member of the Commission as any other paragraphs which are found in the Report. I may go further, and add the expression of my own opinion that it is only due to the tact and discretion of His Royal Highness, to the superiority to any personal or petty interest, which his exalted position has enabled him to show, that what I conceive to be the radically defective system of administration at the War Office has been worked during his tenure of office with the amount of success that has attended it. But what we have to look to is the future, and I certainly entertain very strongly the conviction expressed in our Report that the retention of the office of Commander-in-Chief in its present form is not a desirable basis upon which to rest the future constitution of the office. Our conception of the future organisation of the War Office has been very well described by my right hon. Friend near me. We have felt that the Secretary of State must be the Minister responsible to the House, must be the Minister who shall be all powerful in the Office itself. We have felt that under our Constitution it is impossible to place any direct control over the Army, over Army organisation, in the hands of any man except one who shall be directly responsible to the House of Commons. That being so, the question is narrowed to this: whether it is desirable to place between the Parliamentary chief and the heads of the various Departments into which the office must be divided one great military officer to whom all other departmental officers shall be subordinate, and in whom all the 887 lines of administration shall centre. In my opinion that is not a desirable link in the chain of War Office administration. I think that the existence of such an office tends to weaken the sense of responsibility of each of the officers at the heads of the Departments. It also tends to diminish the efficiency of the War Office Council. I do not think it is possible, if you have an officer of the weight and influence of the Commander-in Chief, however much you may modify his functions, that you will have that freedom of discussion in the War Office Council which will alone enable a civilian Minister adequately to decide, rightly and justly, the question of War Office administration. There is one other point I would urge. It is said that the creation of an office in the nature of Chief of the Staff is not a matter pressing for immediate consideration. My right hon. Friend who has just spoken has given, in a note which he appended to the Report, his reasons why he does not concur in this recommendation of the Commission. I fail, however, to see why in our system of military administration a Department should be unnecessary which has been found so essential in every other system of military organisation in Europe. My right hon. Friend says that the conditions of our military administration are very different from those of Germany or France. They are very different, I admit, but that merely proves that the work of the Department of the Chief of the Staff would be of a different character, and it does not prove at all that such Department would have no work whatever to do. Although our Army is not so great, or likely to play so large and prominent a part in great wars, as the Armies of foreign nations, yet I do believe that the questions of military administration which have to be considered, or which ought to be considered, by a Secretary of State for War, are problems of as difficult and complex a character as those which come up for decision by the War Minister of any other country. The new organisation of the more or less efficient, but still numerous, bodies of armed men who exist in this country for defence against invasion, is alone a subject which ought to be considered by the Department of the 888 Chief of the Staff. And we have not only protection to consider. We may be involved in hostilities with a foreign; Power at some future time, and although the brunt of the conflict may be borne by the Navy, yet, as has been pointed' out, the Navy depends to a very large extent upon military co-operation; and what the amount of that co-operation should be, and in what mode the Army could best assist the Navy, are matters which, it seems to me, afford just as much consideration for a Department of the Chief of the Staff as do the military operations which may be undertaken by any other Power. My right hon. Friend1 suggests that these questions could be better dealt with by the executive officers who are in touch with the Army, and who are better able to give opinions than the officer who, as my right hon. Friend says, has simply to sit and cogitate. I think it is extremely dangerous that we should leave the consideration of these questions to men whose time is, or ought to be, fully taken up by the executive duties of their offices. I believe that there is sound reason for the principle, which has been adopted by every other nation, of placing the consideration of these matters under a Department which shall be absolutely free from every administrative and executive duty; I think it is, at all events, to take a very great responsibility upon ourselves to absolutely disregard the experience of every other great military nation, and to say that we alone can dispense with those duties of forethought, study, and mature judgment which have been found necessary by every other nation. I hope, therefore, that when Her Majesty's Government have had time for a fuller and more mature consideration of the recommendations contained in the Report, they will, above all, take into consideration the necessity of there being some such Department. I do not say that it need' be a servile imitation of the General Staff Departments of foreign countries, but I beg them to consider the propriety, and the necessity, and the urgency of the formation of a Department, the duty of which shall be to work out, study, and give judgment upon some of the most difficult questions of military policy which can be presented to any country.
§ (11.15.) ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
I desire to offer a few words in regard to the Naval and Military Council; and I wish to emphasise what the noble Lord has just said, and to express a hope that the Government will re-consider their determination on this point. I am assured that a Sub-Committee of the Cabinet would be totally inadequate for dealing with these questions. The Royal Commission have made a decided recommendation, after very careful consideration; and if any value is to attach to their Report some weight should be given to this particular recommendation, and it should be loyally accepted. Naval and military men should be allowed to discuss the important question of fortifications on a Council of this description, before the country is allowed to embark on an enormous expenditure. If such assistance had been sought and acted on a few years ago the Government of the day would not have advised the country to enter upon an outlay of many millions, nine-tenths of which, in the opinion of naval and military men, was unnecessary. Money was wasted on land defences which never could be brought into requisition, unless we were prepared to part with the supremacy of our naval power. I hope the Government will re-consider their decision on this point. Unless you have naval and military men on this Council there will never be any possibility of defending at its meetings the views of the authorities on the questions discussed. I have great respect for Cabinets, but it will not be sufficient to allow a meeting of a Sub-Committee of the Cabinet to be attended by naval and military men without power to vote. That is not what the Royal Commission recommends. It recommends a Naval and Military Council for an entirely different purpose. I am aware that the discussion of naval questions would be out of order on 890 this Vote, and therefore I must defer my observations on the naval aspect of the case until we reach the Navy Vote. But I want to know from the Secretary for War if the Government have come to any decision on that part of the Report which deals with the question of ordnance. Have the Government consulted naval and military opinion on that point? We have heard strong complaints from the noble Lord, and from other sources, that the naval and military element on the Royal Commission was very small indeed. We, as naval men. did our best to get another naval officer put upon it, and I believe that the Army asked to have another military officer on it, but these efforts failed. Now, the Report shows that the organisation of the Ordnance Department is altogether unsuited to the magnitude, variety, and vast importance of the duties which have to be administered. Naval men are not at all satisfied with the present system of administering the Vote for naval ordnance. I do not presume to say what is the proper remedy, but, at any rate, the Royal Commission have spoken with no uncertain voice upon it, and I do trust the Secretary for War will tell us that the Government are willing to consider this point in all its bearings. I am well aware that great reforms have been initiated and carried out by the War Office, and probably things are now working more smoothly, but still it is desirable the state of the ordnance Department should have attention. I trust I shall, ou another occasion, have an opportunity of dealing with matters affecting naval administration, on which I have very burning convictions.
§ (11.25.) MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, S.)
Two observations of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale were so interesting. One was that the Commission over which he presided was so very inadequately supplied with professional assistance, that there had been no time to elaborate any big scheme of administrative reform; and the other was that the only alteration of existing arrangements adopted by the Government was not that which the Commission 891 itself recommended. A good deal of the discussion which has taken place on the present Vote appears to me to have turned on matters which are of comparatively slight importance. The mere proposal to establish a Board; of Promotion in lieu of the existing arrangement, though it may be very interesting to officers who are now in the Service is, after all, a comparatively small portion of a very large question which this Vote covers. What is now before us is a proposal to recast the whole of the superior Administration of the War Office, and, in connection with it, to modify the organisation of the Admiralty Administrative Department. It is a large problem put into the simple form—How to make the most of the Forces of the country for purposes of defence and aggression, having regard to the Parliamentary Institutions of the country, and the Parliamentary responsibilities of the Secretaries of State. As a matter of fact, the military history of this country is remarkable for the proofs which it affords of the behaviour of the two Services, not in co-operation with each other. This is not merely a question of co-operation; it is also a question of administration. We are now dealing with the Army Vote. The Army is a weapon placed in the hands of the authorities for public services. It consists of a fighting force of organised and disciplined men, which is necessarily under the Commander-in-Chief, but which for its efficiency is entirely dependent on a number of administrative services, which are necessarily controlled by a series of officers of importance, and yet of secondary rank. The whole history of the campaigns carried out by this country in the present century, except, I believe, in the case of Wellington's campaign in the Peninsula, is remarkable for the proof of the want of administrative combination, which, indeed, has been seldom attained to any Large extent in any Armies. I believe it was obtained 892 by the first Napoleon, by Sherman in one of his remarkable marches, and by the German Army in their last great war with France, but beyond these cases I do not think it possible to find a single instance in which an Army has been brought into the field with all its administrative services ready for co-ordination and co-operation. The result has been a great deal of unnecessary expenditure, and a great waste of power and of efficiency, and into this want of co-operation between the Naval and Military Forces, the Royal Commission was appointed to inquire. It was directed to inquire and report upon both the civil and professional administration of the Military and Naval Services, their relations to the Treasury, and the possibility of making any alterations in the existing system, to secure efficiency and economy. The Report has been received with a chorus of approval, in which I do not see my way to join, and I think, in some respects, the conclusions and recommendations of the Commission are of the most illogical and unconsequential kind. The Commissioners make some observations upon the Reports of other bodies which have preceded them in inquiry, and upon the action the War Office took on these Reports. The Commissioners dwell with great emphasis on the fact that in single year, 1887, there were three different Reports furnished to the War Office. First there was the Departmental Committee under Lord Morley, which Committee reported in favour of the Ordnance Factory and the inspection of stores being placed under the control of the Surveyor General. In the same year there was the Report from the Royal Commission under Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, which recommended the appointment of an officer whose duties should be, in some respects, those which fell to the share of the Surveyor General of Ordnance. Again, in the same year, Sir Matthew White Ridley's Committee on the Civil Services recommended the appointment of a military officer not in Parliament to the post of Surveyor General of the Ordnance. So there were three Reports of independent bodies, all concurring in the recommendation that the office of Surveyor General should, under some 893 name, be retained, and going to the extent of adding to the existing powers and authority of the office. What was the result? In December of that very same year the office of Surveyor General of Ordnance was abolished by Order in Council, and by that same Order in Council the duties, or the most important of them, were transferred to the Commander-in-Chief, but the control of the Manufacturing Department was transferred to the Financial Secretary. That is to say, the Commander-in-Chief, already overburdened with multitudinous duties, was further burdened with duties which have at all times been found exceptionally heavy in connection with the Supply Service. The Commissioners point out what is perfectly true—that it is impossible for any single officer fully and adequately to discharge such a number of miscellaneous duties, and what is their conclusion? Why, just as the War Office in 1887, after repeated recognitions of the importance of the post of Surveyor General, got that post abolished by Order in Council, so do these Commissioners, after recognising the over-burdened condition of the office of Commander-in-Chief, go on topropose—what? Not that he should be relieved; not that some of his duties should be transferred to other officers, but that the post of Commander-in-Chief should be abolished. Well, I fail to see any logical connection between the premises and the conclusion. I invite anybody who approaches the matter dispassionately, without any connection officially with the Naval or Military Services, to read this Report and say whether he does not detect in it, in every page, the inspiration of a mind, or of minds, not of or among the Commissioners themselves. We are not furnished with the evidence upon which this conclusion has been arrived at; the evidence is not to be published. We do not even know who the witnesses were, but it is not very difficult to gather from the Report what kind of witnesses they were. It is a very important proposal this, to abolish the post of Commander-in-Chief. This, at any rate, can be said for the illustrious Duke, that he is not a member of any ring; this, at least, can be said of him, that he: is looked upon, and has been for a long 894 time looked upon, by the great mass of the officers in the Army as not open to the suspicion of favouritism or jobbery, and it will be very difficult to replace him in that respect by any officer who may be appointed to the high post which presently may be vacant. The Commissioners recommend that the duties of the Commander-in-Chief shall be distributed among other officers, and that the officer in command of the troops in this country shall be placed in a position practically the same as though nominally a little higher, perhaps, than that of the officer commanding the troops in Ireland, or on some foreign station; in fact, he is only to be in command of the combative forces in Great Britain, and then there is to be established a Chief of the Staff with a separate Department. Well, I should like to ask, to whom is he to be Chief of the Staff? The Commander-in-Chief is gone; is he to be Chief of the Staff to the officer commanding the Forces in Great Britain? Is he to be Chief of the Staff to the Department generally? Is he to be Chief of the Staff to the War Minister? Well, if that is to be the proposal, it is an entire departure from existing arrangements—a departure of a very novel kind. It cannot possibly be that he is to be Chief of the Staff of the Army. No; he is not to be Chief of the Staff at all; he is to be a permanent War Minister in uniform, behind the Parliamentary Civil War Minister who represents the Department in this House. Well, that is again a very extraordinary change, a change not to be summarily discussed in a very short Debate in Committee upon a Vote in the Army Estimates; it is a matter which comes very near an important constitutional question. But whether it be constitutional, or unconstitutional, I venture to say it is against the elementary principle of our Army administration in this country which is governed by Parliamentary institutions. What is your Chief of the Staff to do? He is to advise the Secretary of State in general matters of military policy; on the strength and distribution, and employment of the Forces; in collecting military information; in preparing schemes for military operations; to examine military estimates as drafted; to consult with the First Naval Lord of the Admiralty on 895 inter-Departmental questions; to examine correspondence with other Departments; to conduct correspondence with General Officers commanding on all questions of military policy, and to report to the Secretary of State on all military requirements. Well, what are these but the duties of a kind of permanent Secretary of State in uniform? He is not to be Commander-in-Chief; he is not to be Chief of the Staff to the Commander-in-Chief, but a novel creation occupying a post never before filled, perfectly new to the Army and to the Constitution. It is not adopted yet, I am glad to say, by the Secretary of State for War, but I have no doubt that, in spite of his retirement, in a very short time we shall see Lord Wolseley occupying the post of Chief of the Staff. That, I presume, is the whole secret of this long discussion and re-arrangement. The appointment of General Buller as Adjutant General is, no doubt, A good one; but however eminent the abilities of Lord Wolseley, however distinguished and heroic his services, I do trust before this business is completed the Cabinet will pause, and Parliament will be allowed the opportunity of more fully discussing this question, and the country at large will be allowed the opportunity of realising the character and scope of the proposal before us. There is one point upon which I think the Secretary of State will have clearly gathered the minds, not only of the Commissioners, but of the House as expressed on both sides, and that is, that any arrangement by Cabinet Ministers for the consideration of high questions of general policy connected with military or naval matters cannot possibly furnish that working arrangement between the Services which has to deal with matters of a purely technical description very often. If it is a question of manning marine fortifications, or of the transport of troops by the Navy, what on earth is the use of bringing the Secretary of State for India, or the Secretary of State for the Colonies into consultation? It is because there has been a want of inter-communication in the past that there has been a great deal of money wasted, and valuable opportunities have been allowed to escape. I will not take up any further time, although there are a great many features in the present 896 administration of the Army which might be usefully discussed if time allowed, and there is much, also, besides what has been mentioned in the Report of the Commission that ought to receive more consideration than has yet been given to it.
§ *(11.45.) MR. MONTAGU (Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel)
I may be allowed a few words on a matter of local importance pertinent to this Vote. Last year upon this Vote I moved a reduction as a protest against the refusal of the Secretary for War to re-admit the public to the river-side walk at the Tower of London. If the right hon. Gentleman will intimate that he is prepared to give a more favourable response to the request now I need not trouble the Committee, or perhaps I had better move to report Progress, for there are friends of mine now absent who desire to take part in the discussion. Well, I I will proceed, and if the right hon. Gentleman does not yield our request I may move the reduction. I need scarcely remind the Committee that the East End of London is ill-provided with open spaces for public recreation, and there are exceedingly few in my constituency of Whitechapel, in which the Tower is situated. No part of the Tower Hamlets Division is more crowded, and the conditions of life are a source of danger not only to the inhabitants there, but in the whole Metropolis. From the crowded state of dwellings and the absence of fresh air and open spaces, fevers are engendered, which are not confined to the places where they originate, but frequently spread into other districts. If from selfish motives only there should be an inducement to provide breathing spaces for the East End of London, and the necessity of open spaces all over this crowded City has been universally recognised. The action of the London County Council is checked by the cost of providing such open spaces, but here is an open space of great public utility which 897 might be availed of without any cost to the ratepayers. Really the space is not required for Government purposes. For a considerable distance in the neighbourhood of the Tower there are no open spaces worthy of the name except the Tower Gardens of an acre and a half. I am not ungrateful for the boon conferred upon the inhabitants by the opening of these gardens three years ago in response to a Petition signed by nearly 5,000of my constituents; but we want the right hon. Gentleman to complete the good work, and give the people access to the fresh air of the pleasant riverside walk. There is no doubt of the right hon. Gentleman's ability to do this; but he is influenced, I fear, by the residents in the Tower, and has persistently refused to grant this, which would be a great benefit to the working-classes of the East End of London. The admission of the public to the Tower Gardens has been a great success. People resort to that narrow strip of land to the average in summer of 3,000 daily, and they are most orderly. Formerly people were admitted to the riverside wharf, and it was considered the most enjoyable promenade in the district, and if this was so before the improvements in our sewage system how much more must it be so now. The population has vastly increased, and the river has been greatly purified. We can appreciate our riverside walk outside this House, and the people of West London have miles of such provided at the cost of millions. Why refuse to the toilers of the East this small benefit, which will entail absolutely no cost whatever? The Secretary for War, before throwing open the Tower Gardens, required and obtained a formal guarantee that no expense should fall upon the Government, and that engagement has been kept to the letter. The cost of laying out the gardens and the maintenance of the place for public recreation has been met from private sources, and the same guarantee will be given in regard to the river wharf. The objections made by the right hon. Gentleman last year were, I must say, trivial. There might, he said, be danger to the public. I suppose he means danger of tumbling into the river, but no one tumbled into the river in former times. We will, however, 898 relieve him from any anxiety by putting up a railing, as we did round the moat, where a fall would be much more dangerous and more likely to occur. Then the right hon. Gentleman said the people might get into danger when stores were being landed at the wharf. There are several ways of obviating such danger. In the first place, do not land stores there; let them come by land. But the right hon. Gentleman says the stores come from Woolwich and water carriage is much cheaper, but I do not think the difference would be very great. The Committee might imagine that stores were being landed every day and all day; but no such thing; barges are not alongside the wharf once a week. The right hon. Gentleman, in answer to a question last year, said that 47 barges were moored at the wharf in 12 months, and doubtless they could be unloaded immediately they arrived. (I am quite prepared to stop and let the Vote pass if the right hon. Gentleman will give me a favourable reply.) If the Government will not send stores by land on account of expense, then let the landing be carried on before the public are admitted. It is a simple matter of arrangement; a chain might be stretched during the landing to keep the people at a distance, and they could still enjoy three-fourths of the promenade. The new Tower Bridge, erected at a cost of over £;1,000,000, will soon be completed, and throwing open this wharf would save people making a long detour round the Tower when they want to cross the bridge. In reply to a Petition signed by 7,000 or 8,000 of the inhabitants of Whitechapel, and the right hon. Gentleman wrote to me on June 17 expressing sympathy with the object of the petitioners, but he said the wharf was required for numerous and important military purposes; but what are these purposes which prevent the public from using the wharf as they did in former times? I am informed the wharf is rarely used; infants and not infantry are sometimes found there; the walk is used by a few privileged persons. Does the right hon. Gentleman think there is any danger to the Crown jewels? A wide moat, thick walls and sentries on duty ought to be security enough; but if there is still apprehension, let the jewels be re- 899 moved elsewhere, or replace them with paste imitations which will give equal satisfaction to visitors. I think assurances are not wanting that the working classes always respect national property. Let the Government enjoy the novel pleasure of restoring a privilege of which a former Government deprived the people. I do not think we ought to wait for a change of Government for this little act of justice.
§ It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
§ (12.0.) MR. DUFF (Banffshire)
When do the Government intend to go into the naval part of this question?
§ *THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON, Leeds, N.)
I cannot say at this moment. The Leader of the House has promised to make a statement with regard to Public Business in the course of the week.
§ MR. JENNINGS (Stockport)
When will Vote 10 be taken, upon which we have been promised a discussion?
§ *MR. E. STANHOPE
I sympathise with my hon. Friend on this question, he having for 12 months endeavoured to bring this important subject before the House. I would ask him to repeat his question on some other occasion.