§ 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.
§ *(7.45.) MR. MONTAGU (Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel)
I feel it my duty to move the reduction of this Vote by the sum of £500, part of the salary of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. My object in doing so is to call attention to a question which I raised last year, namely, the re-admission of the public to the Tower Wharf. I feel quite certain that the people of the East of London will not rest contented until the privilege of using that wharf is restored to them. I do not now intend to make a second speech on this subject, but will content myself with a mere recapitulation of the bare facts. It is not denied by the Government that the public up to the time of the Crimean War had full access to this 556 open space, which was the most enjoy able promenade in the neighbourhood of Whitechapel. I have letters from some of the oldest inhabitants in the district on the subject, and I suppose the Committee are aware that at the time to which those letters refer the river was not in so good a condition as it is at present, and also that the population of Whitechapel, and, indeed, the East of Lendon generally, was very much smaller than it is now. Moreover, at that period there were a good many wealthy residents in the district, whereas at the present day the population consists almost entirely of the working and labouring class. I think—and I have no doubt the Committee will agree—that some consideration is due to that class, and that we ought to afford them, during their dinner hour, and at other times when they are not at work, as many opportunities as we can to enjoy the fresh air of the riverside. The opening of this wharf to the public would be a boon not only to the inhabitants of Whitechapel, but to those of Limehouse and St. George's-in-the-East. I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board is not in his place, because he, as the Representative of the Tower Hamlets, is fully aware how few open spaces there are for the use of the people of the East End, and of the necessity which exists for increasing, as far as possible, the opportunities of open air recreation for the benefit of the people. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War that last year the explanations he offered on this subject were not considered satisfactory, and a Division was taken, and that course will be adopted on the present occasion unless the right hon. Gentleman consents either to restore the privilege of access to the Tower Wharf, or to afford some clear and satisfactory explanation of the reasons why that wharf is not to be devoted to the use of the public, as in former times.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries of the War Office, be reduced by £500."—(Mr. Montagu.)
§ (7.49.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
Of course the Committee is aware that a Motion for the reduction of the salary of the Secretary for War is merely 557 put forward as a medium for discussing a particular grievance, and that it is not at all aimed at the right hon. Gentleman; indeed, if it and the other Motions for the reduction of his salary were to be agreed to the right hon. Gentleman might find that he would be without salary altogether. Of course the public will understand that Motions like this for the reduction of the Secretary's salary are a mere Parliamentary fiction, enabling us to raise certain questions upon which we think discussion is desirable. I may say that I have always taken an interest on matters relating to the Tower. I served on the Committee appointed to consider the question of the Wharf Bridge, and only a week ago I went to look at the place to see what objections could be offered by the Secretary for War to this proposal. The right hon Gentleman stated, on a former occasion, that the opening of the wharf would create difficulty in relation to the landing of stores. I think that that objection is really an insignificant one. There are only about 200,000 rifles stored in the Tower, and I believe that only about five barges a year are unloaded at the Tower Wharf, which affords a large open space between 200 and 300 yards in length. I do not think it would be found that the admission of the public to the wharf would interfere in any way with the unloading of the few barges that go there. I believe that this argument about the unloading of stores is a fiction, and that there must be some other reason behind. If the argument be that the closing of the wharf is necessary for the defence of the Tower, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is so regarded by the Constable of the Tower and the other high Military Authorities. There is a ditch between that wharf and the outside buildings connected with the Tower, and it would be perfectly impossible to attempt to take the Tower from that position. Indeed, if such a thing were attempted, the wharf would be about the worst spot from which any assault could be made. This being so, I can only attribute the objection to opening the wharf to the fact that there are certain officials who, for their own particular objects, desire to exclude the public. I do not suppose the hon. Mem- 558 ber for Whitechapel desires us to pass an Act of Parliament to hand the Tower Wharf over to his constituents. I have no doubt he would be content to see it put on the same footing as the barrack field at Woolwich, where the Commandant can always close that field to the public at any time he may think proper. Indeed, they never hesitate to turn the people out when they want the field for cricket, lawn tennis, or any other purpose, in which no doubt they are quite right, but as it is the public get as much use of the place as they require. So in the case of the Tower Wharf, if barges are coming there to unload it would be very easy to exercise the power of excluding the public, and, of course, in time of war, when the Tower might be used as a real depository of military stores, the Government would be justified in keeping that wharf entirely to themselves. As it is, however, there is no such necesssiaty, and the public are unnecessarily excluded.
§ *(7.58.) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE,) Lincolnshire, Horncastle
I have, since the discussion of last year, again very carefully considered this question of throwing open the Tower Wharf, and I can assure the Committee that I have approached the matter with a desire, as far as possible, to promote the interests of the seething population in the neighbourhood of the Tower. Indeed, the present Government have already demonstrated their desires in this direction by throwing open the gardens on the other side of the Tower, a privilege which has been used without detriment to the Government, and, doubtless, with great advantage to the public. But I am bound to say that the opening of the Tower Wharf is very strongly objected to by the Military Authorities, who have considered the question as well as myself, and have come to the conclusion that it would not be consistent with their duty to throw this wharf open to the public. The hon. and gallant Member opposite has drawn a parallel between this wharf and the barrack field at Woolwich, and, no doubt, the parallel was a very ingenious one, but I am compelled to oppose it on very different grounds from those urged by the hon. and gallant Member. The Tower is, as the hon. and gallant Member said, largely used as a 559 storehouse, and there would be great in convenience, not to say danger, if the Military Authorities were deprived of the fullest and most unrestricted use of the wharf whilst stores are being dealt with. Having made a personal examination of the place, and given the matter the very best consideration I can, I have come to the conclusion that the request made cannot be acceded to.
§ *(8.1.) MR. MONTAGU
The right hon. Gentleman has not specified the danger that would arise from the admission of the public, and there is a very large space available for a promenade. I would urge upon the right hon. Gentleman that the very narrow walk in the Tower gardens is quite insufficient to meet the needs of the population, and would remind him that the terrace at Windsor is thrown open by Her Gracious Majesty to the public on Sundays, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether, in this case, an experimental exception cannot be made on Saturdays and Sundays, when, surely, the admission of the public would not interfere with the landing or embarking of stores?
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I shall be very glad to consider that point, but I cannot give an answer until I have done so.
§ *(8.2.) CAPTAIN VERNEY (Bucks, N.)
We shall be very glad if the right hon. Gentleman is able to tell the Military Authorities what pressure has been put upon him in the House. It may very well be that it is of less importance to use the Tower as a storehouse than to give free access to the riverside to the seething population of the district. A storehouse can easily be found at some spot on the river bank, where it will not interfere so seriously with the enjoyment of the people. The right hon. Gentleman evidently feels himself, as much as we do, the importance of this question, and I believe he will welcome a little pressure being put upon him by the public.
§ (8.4.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
The right hon. Gentleman said there would be danger to the public in opening this walk. Are we to understand that combustibles are stored in the Tower? We know that empty rifles are not objects of danger to the public. 560 If the Tower is used as a storehouse for explosives, I maintain that there will be very serious danger to the seething population on that side of the City. I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to look at the question in a common sense way, and with the object of benefiting the people of the district. It is ridiculous for the Military Authorities to say there is danger in opening the river side walk, when the moat and gardens are open to the public. I insist upon a reply to my question, whether combustibles are stored in the Tower?
§ DR. TANNER
Of course, the public will be able to form their own judgment from the character of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, and I hope the public will take very good care that no such things as lighted pipes are to be seen in the Tower Gardens in future. I have put the question entirely on the ground of public safety, and I sincerely hope the public will take notice of the equivocating reply of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ *(8.9.) MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I wish to bring before the Committee a question affecting the Secretary for War and also the Under Secretary for India. It relates to the charge for military stores made by the War Office upon the Government of India. It appears that a dispute has been going on, I am sorry to say altogether for nearly 20 years. During the past year an attempt has been made to submit it to arbitration, but the Secretary of State for India has refused to let it be so submitted. The allegation made on the part of the Government of India, as far as we can judge from the accounts submitted to this House, is that charges of an exorbitant nature have been made against the Government of India for stores. The Government of India, as I understand it, have never assented to 561 that price, and have paid on account of it, as I understand, only something like 90 per cent., leaving the 10 per cent. in suspense. It surely is most unbusinesslike, even if it be true—and I believe it is not the case that the 90 per cent. represents the real cost—that year after year there should be a discrepancy in the accounts.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
Mr. Courtney, I do not know whether I am right in asking you whether this discussion in regard to the issue of warlike stores should not have taken place on Vote 6, which deals with warlike stores?
§ * MR. BRADLAUGH
On the point of order, Sir, I wish to submit that I am attacking the Secretary for War for having refused to submit the claim to arbitration. It is on that ground that I am basing my statement to the Committee, the facts I am using being merely illustrations used to enable the Committee to understand my complaint. I shall be quite content if the Secretary for War will now say that during the coming year some steps shall be taken to put an end to an undignified dispute between two great Departments of the State, and in which it is alleged that overcharges are made against the Government of India. I was about to appeal to the Under Secretary for India (Sir J. Gorst) on behalf of the starving population of whom he was speaking the other night, to state the facts and the steps taken to try and induce the Secretary for War to submit the question to arbitration.
It seems to be a question of policy as to the mode of settling the dispute. If that be so, it is debatable upon this Vote.
§ * MR. BRADLAUGH
It is a rather long story, and I have no wish to take up the time of the Committee if the Secretary for War will state that the matter shall be dealt with by arbitration during the next six months or something of that kind. There is a real bonâ fide case. The auditor of the India Office has reported directly against the War Office, and I shall have to appeal to the Under Secretary for India to place before the Committee the written opinion of the auditor on the subject. If the Secretary for War will not say that the matter shall be submitted to arbitration it will be my duty to submit 562 the whole case to the Committee, and, if necessary, to move a reduction of the Vote. It is really a rather gross matter, and will entail the production of a large amount of detail.
§ *(8.13.) MR. E. STANHOPE
The hon. Member may or may not be aware that there are a number of outstanding questions between the War Office and the India Office. Some questions of the kind were settled by a tribunal over which Lord Northbrook presided, and which is practically a standing Committee, meeting from time to time. Other questions are settled by the Government as a whole. The Cabinet has perfect competence to decide such questions, and it does decide them as they arise. I cannot give the hon. Member any other answer than that.
§ *(8.15.) MR. BRADLAUGH
That is not sufficient, because it appears that the Under Secretary for India asked the Secretary for War to submit the question to arbitration, and that request was declined by the War Office. I appeal to the leader of the House (Mr. W. H. Smith) to say whether he intends at this period of the Session to force on a Debate which must be lengthy, in which I admit my information must necessarily be incomplete, and in which I must ask the Secretary for War to give me further information. What reason can there be for not submitting this to some tribunal? I do not want to waste the time of the Committee in the matter. We find the Under Secretary for India saying "Lord Cross is unable to withdraw the claim." What is the claim? It is one, rightly or wrongly made, that the War Office have been overcharging the Government of India? I do not wish to ask the Committee to express any opinion on that, but I shall ask them to do so if I do not get an assurance that this matter will be made the subject of an investigation. I ask for an assurance that there will be some kind of arbitration, so that there may be no need for me to ask the Committee for an opinion.
§ *(8.17.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I am anxious at this period of the Session to avoid any unnecessary discussion, but I cannot pass by the observations of the hon. Member. It is utterly impossible for me to admit that anything unjust has taken place.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
If anything we have been too indulgent. All this has arisen because last year the Indian Government were treated very leniently, and were not charged the full value for the stores. As, however, there appears to be a difference between the two Departments, the Government will undertake that it shall be looked into and settled.
§ *(8.18.) MR. BRADLAUGH
And in the event of the two Departments not coming to an agreement will there be some arbitrament between them?
§ *(8.18.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
The Government, of course, are responsible for settling all differences that may arise between two Departments of the Government. I will undertake, on behalf of my right hon. Friend and the Government, that a fair settlement of this case shall be arrived at between the two Departments. There shall be an inquiry and a settlement.
§ *(8.18.) MR. BRADLAUGH
I will be satisfied with that, merely adding that if, unfortunately, no settlement should be arrived at, or no settlement should be in course of being arrived at by some investigation, I will take the earliest opportunity that next Session affords of bringing the subject before the House.
§ (8.19.) MR. HANBURY (Preston)
Before we pass to sub-head "b" I should like to say a word or two as to the Civil Central Department and the Central Military Department. I desire, in reference to the question raised the other night in reference to Lord Hartington's Commission, to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the statement he then made with regard to his intentions expressed his whole view of the steps that should be taken in order to carry out the recommendations of that Commission, because if that is so neither of the two most important objects embodied in those recommendations will be attained. Those two objects were— first, to fix responsibility upon some political person for the administration of 564 the Army, and the other was that an expert officer should be made responsible for the strength of the Army. Under the present system, neither the Secretary for War nor the Commander-in-Chief is really responsible for anything, and it is impossible to punish anybody when anything goes wrong. It is impossible, if things go wrong, to prevent them coming to Parliament, and saying, "Our duties are so immense that, although we assume responsibility for everything, we are only fallible men, and we have more duties thrown upon us than we can attend to ourselves; there is no proper sub-division of duty in the War Office, and though we are nominally responsible our responsibility is a farce." In addition to all this responsibility thrown on these two great offices you have this further fact, that it is impossible to bring home responsibility to the Secretary of State for War. Take, for instance, the failures we have had in our Army lately in regard to our great guns, our swords, our bayonets. Under this system it is impossible to punish anybody. If we attack anyone very low down in the Department, the Secretary for War very chivalrously comes forward and says, "I will bear all the responsibility." That sounds very fine, no doubt, but it means nothing at all, because his responsibility is only a Party one, and if anything goes wrong the Party say, "That may be wrong, but we have to keep the Unionist Party in power—or some other Party in power—and we must back them up." It is the same in the case of the Commander-in-Chief. As long as we have a Royal Duke for a Commander-in-Chief, and a Secretary for War who is backed up by Parliament, that state of things must necessarily continue, and it will be impossible to drive home responsibility. The Commander-in Chief, as an expert, ought to be responsible for maintaining the strength of the Army at a proper point. But in neither the Army nor the Navy is this principle adopted. I was astounded, on the Committee on the Navy Estimates, at the answer I received from Sir Arthur Hood to a question I put to him as First Sea Lord of the Admiralty. I asked—Before these Estimates were framed, did you even take into your calculations what were the requirements of this country, and what 565 the strength of the Fleet ought to be, because if you did not do that as Executive Officer, these Estimates are all illusory, and we do not know whether we have voted too much or too little.He replied—I did not do that, and within my knowledge it has never been done.That is the way we vote this money. In the case of the Duke of Cambridge, in July or August last year His Royal Highness went about the country complaining that we ought to have 9,000 or 10,000 more men to render our Army efficient. Did the noble Duke impress that on the Secretary for War before the Estimates were framed? He did not, and I say, therefore, that such a thing is ridiculous. We ought to have an expert to whom we can look for advice on such a matter as this—a man who, having vast knowledge on the subject, can form a reliable opinion as to what the forces of the country ought to be. We ought not to allow the Military and Naval strength of this country to depend upon mere Party emergency. I hold that the most important recommendation of the Royal Commission has not been dealt with at all. Then, again, the complaint has been made that the Commander-in-Chief, having no definite duties assigned to him, has a roving commission to go about and meddle and muddle everything; not that I wish it to be understood for a moment that the Duke of Cambridge does that, but I say that that is the result of our system of dual control without fixed responsibility. There is no definition of responsibility. There is no reason, if we keep a Commander-in-Chief, why definite duties should not be assigned to him. There is no other Army in the world, so far as I know, where a man who should lead the Army in time of war has a sort of roving commission to deal with all Departments of the War Office. It seems to me that to have Committees and Commissions and Councils to assist the Secretary for War, instead of having a well-defined sub-division of duties, is a step in the wrong direction, because my experience is that Commissions and Committees and Boards are simply things to screen responsibility. The object of any attack I make on this Department is to secure that there shall be one man to whom you shall look for responsibility if anything 566 is wrong, and I hold that the more you depend on Boards and the like the more responsibility is hidden from the public eye, and the more difficult is it to trace it. With reference to the Committee of the Cabinet, I desire to know whether the decisions will be recorded?
Order ! I do not see how that question comes up under the sub-head we are now considering. As the sub-head contains the salaries of the Secretary of State and the Commander-in-Chief, the examination of their functions is quite permissible; but to enter into the question as to what is to be done by the Committee of the Cabinet appears to be out of order.
§ MR. HANBURY
I am anxious to know whether the statement the right hon. Gentleman made with regard to the Committee of the Cabinet applies also to the other Committees and Boards, because our great difficulty in regard to all these Departments and Committees is that we can never get at the facts of the case. Will the records of these Commissions and Councils be accessible to the public, and not only to persons within the War Office and the successors of my right hon. Friend? I now pass to the Board of Promotion, and I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is going to afford the officers an opportunity of testing their qualifications for promotion? At the present moment it is very difficult for anybody to find out who is the officer best fitted for promotion. In the German Army there is every opportunity of knowing who is fitted for promotion, especially in the higher ranks. There there is a school, so to speak, in which the future Generals are trained. The German Generals can be tested by being put in command of Army Corps. We have nothing of the sort here. We have not got an Army Corps to which——
§ MR. HANBURY
I take it that the Board of Promotion will be composed of officers connected with the War Office, and my argument is that this Board will carry us very little further than the present system. Under the present system there is no opportunity afforded to officers of distinguishing themselves, or of showing their qualification for promotion. I do not think it would be possible for my 567 right hon. Friend to go as far as they go in the German Army; but I do think he might throw a little more responsibility upon colonels of regiments and regimental officers, so that we may see how far they are qualified for promotion. I now wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman one or two questions with regard to the difficulties which have arisen within the last two or three weeks in regard to the Guards. I do not desire to say anything which will in any way interfere with the Secretary of State's control. In the first place, I have to ask, in regard to the Guards generally, whether he is going to lay down the rule that in future all the officers shall live in barracks, because what has taken place shows pretty clearly that the privilege the officers of the Guards have hitherto enjoyed ought to be done away with once for all. [Colonel NOLAN: Unmarried officers.] I do not know what is the origin of the outbreak; but I think there is a very strong public opinion that the officers of the Guards have not been in touch with their men as officers ought to be, and as I believe the officers of other regiments generally are. One can judge of this by small things. Coming down to this House I have noticed officers of the Guards going to the Wellington Barracks. I have seen them saluted by men, and yet take no notice of the salute. It makes me indignant to see that. It is not the conduct of officers or gentlemen; and we may depend upon it that things of this sort—
Again I do not see the relevancy of the hon. Member's remarks. These are matters which ought to be entered into on the Vote for men and pay.
§ MR. HANBURY
Do I understand I am not entitled to ask the Secretary of State for War on this Vote the two following questions: Whether there were really any justifiable complaints on this matter—of course, whether they were justifiable or not the punishment of the men was richly deserved, because they took the wrong course to obtain redress —whether there were any justifiable complaints, such as complaints about barracks damages, food and sentry work; and, if so, whether the Secretary of State for War, or some other responsible person, is going to put an end to such a state of things, and whether the Secre- 568 tary of State has provided, or the Regulations of the Army provide, any proper means by which privates, who are complaining of injustice done by their Commanding Officer or anybody else, can report their complaints to the Inspecting Officer when he comes round? It strikes me as a curious fact that, although this regiment was inspected only a few days ago, no complaints were made to the Inspecting Officer. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can give me some information on these points. (8.40.)
§ *(9.12.) MR. CUNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
I do not know how far the rules will pemit me to enter upon a subject the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) has treated, I mean in reference to recent occurrences in the Guards, but I understand, Sir, you have allowed the hon. Member to address one or two queries to the Secretary of State, and I presume I shall be in order in following the same line to a certain extent. I do not take the same view with the hon. Member as to responsibility and control of Parliament over the Army. I hold that Parliament should have absolute control, both in general management and in matters of detail. That being the case, if you will permit me to enlarge, not at great length, on events which have recently taken place, there are two questions I wish to ask. It is inconvenient on a question like this to ask questions of a Minister who is not present, but if in order I will proceed, and perhaps the Financial Secretary can give me answers. I think it may fall within the scope of your ruling if I press the right hon. Gentleman for a clear and definite answer on two points, though I know that clear and definite answers are not particularly pleasant to a Minister, especially in regard to such grave circumstances as these upon which I have to comment. I should like to know whether it is contemplated to hold any sort of inquiry into the conduct of the officers who are responsible, I suppose, for the maintenance of discipline in the regiment. I do not wish to attribute any lack of judgment in dealing with the men to the officers or to any particular officer, but I desire to say that some officer evidently has not known exactly how to deal with the men in this matter, and that owing to that officer's want of tact 569 and judgment a state of things has arisen which the Duke of Cambridge characterised as being almost unparalleled and as reflecting grave discredit on one of the first regiments in the British Army. When the Commander-in-Chief commits himself to a statement of that kind, the House of Commons ought to allow considerable latitude in discussing the question. When we see a regiment of which we are all justly proud ordered away at a moment's notice, and in a way in which it has not hitherto been customary to order a regiment abroad, I do think the Secretary of State for War, now that his salary is under consideration, might vouchsafe to us some slight modicum of information on the grave matters which have been going on in the interior economy of the regiment. I have always thought, in common with other Members, that it is not usual, nor I believe has it been usual, to send the Guards away except in case of war, and the last time they were ordered away I believe it was to Canada, complications existing at that time with the United States Government which it was thought might lead to war. But owing to the misconduct, or the alleged misconduct—for the public are absolutely ignorant of what did transpire —owing to the alleged misconduct of 6 or 7 men, all young men, we have this fine regiment ordered away at the expense of the taxpayers for an uncertain period to a place like Bermuda, which, though it may be an agreeable and healthy place of resort, is not the sort of place to which such a regiment would be sent in this particular juncture. I think we are entitled to know what really occurred at the barracks. So far as we know, and our only knowledge is derived from the Press, five or six men refused to turn out at bugle call and locked themselves in their quarters, and used some foolish and insulting words to their officer. For this, which may have been a harmless freak of very young men, almost boys, a very grave degradation—I think I may call it so— has been inflicted upon the smartest regiment in the Army; and I would ask why such a very severe sentence, ranging over a period of from 18 months to two years, has been inflicted on men for an offence which in other conditions of I life would have merely called for reprimand? When men place themselves 570 voluntarily under military discipline they must, more or less, take the consequences of their own act, but even to men under military discipline some fair measure of justice should be extended; and for a fault of this kind to inflict sentences which on civilians would only be inflicted for aggravated assaults or burglaries, or other crimes of the most serious nature, is a course which will tend to render it difficult to get recruits to enter Her Majesty's Army, and which may in the end prove subversive of that discipline Military Authorities think it will tend to strengthen. I shall not enlarge further upon that, I will merely press upon the Secretary for War that he should give a distinct answer on the point I have placed before him, and especially upon the point whether we may hope for a relaxation of the sentence upon the men, who I think at the very most were misled into a neglect of discipline. There is another matter I hope I may be in order in raising. I have addressed more than one question to the right hon. Gentleman on the grievances of General Mitchell—I do not know whether I shall be in order——
§ * MR. CUNINGHAME GRAHAM
Then I will not now continue my remarks on that subject. I hope, however, that the Secretary of State will give some definite answer to my questions concerning the recent disturbances among the Guards.
§ (9.22.) COLONEL HUGHES (Woolwich)
I desire to move that the salary of the Secretary of State for War should be reduced by the sum of £100, for the purpose of bringing before the House a miscarriage of justice which has happened in connection with the Department over which the right hon. Gentleman, speaking generally, so ably presides. Some two months ago I presented a Petition from certain labourers employed at Woolwich Arsenal, and this was ruled out of order, because it applied for an increase of wages, and 571 thereupon I sent it through the heads of the Department at Woolwich to the War Office. I have a letter from the Commissary General, Colonel Ingram, acknowledging receipt, and this is dated May 14.
§ * THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
As a matter of order, I would point out that the amount for wages was included in Vote 1, and that this has nothing to do with the Vote under discussion.
I was waiting to hear the exact point of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's complaint. If it refers to wages only, then it is relevant to Vote 1.
§ COLONEL HUGHES
At the present moment I am waiting to hear a reply to that Petition, and this has not yet been received, and I take it this involves a complaint of the conduct of public business in the Department of which the right hon. Gentleman is the head. I am desirous of enlarging my remarks and to deal with what the petitioners desire; and, subject to your ruling, Sir, I feel sure I shall have the sympathy of the Committee.
If the hon. Member complains of delay in not attending to a communication from himself to the Department he must confine himself to the facts in relation to that delay.
§ COLONEL HUGHES
Submitting myself to your guidance, Sir, I will confine myself to that. The letter of acknowledgment was dated May 14. The Petition related mainly to labourers in the Ordnance Store Department to the number of nearly 1,000. Colonel Ingram informed me he had forwarded it to the War Office. Yesterday I applied to Colonel Ingram to know what had become of it, and to-day I have received a reply from that officer stating that no answer had been received from the War Office. Now, under these circumstances, no reply having been received, these men being in the employ of a Government Department, having a grievance and having applied to the heads of the Department for redress in a Petition sent under cover of a letter from myself, and two months having elapsed without any reply beyond a bare acknowledgment from the official to whom it was immediately sent, I feel it is a duty to my 572 constituents that I should mention the subject-matter embodied in the Petition.
§ COLONEL HUGHES
On a former occasion, when I endeavoured to move for a Committee of Inquiry, I was told that I should have an opportunity on the Estimates of raising the question on a Motion to reduce the salary of the official immediately concerned, but to my mind it is much better to appeal at once to head quarters. I have no complaint to make against those in charge of the particular Department where the complaint originates. I know they spend all the money they can get from the Treasury for wages; my complaint must be of those responsible for the Estimates.
If the complaint refers to the inadequacy of pay, it ought to be brought forward on the Vote containing the amount for the wages of the men.
§ COLONEL HUGHES
I could only raise the point by moving a reduction, and that would be placing myself in a false position, for my complaint is that the wages are now insufficient. If, by the Rules of discussion, I must place myself in such a ridiculous position, I will do so to secure my object, but I thought that as payment of wages is made under the authority of the Secretary of State, I could raise the subject now. If this is not so, Sir, what Vote do you suggest as relevant to the purpose? This may appear amusing to hon. Members, but it is no laughing matter to those men on whose behalf I am pleading. I desire to do my duty to my constituents, and I think I am entitled to assistance, not only from the Chairman, but from hon. Members around me.
The hon. Member must find out the Vote upon which the question of pay arises, and upon that bring forward his complaint.
§ (9.30.) DR. TANNER
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has addressed several letters to the War Office, and simply because he stood up for poor working men in his own constituency he has been treated in a contemptuous way and has received no proper answer. As far as I can gather from the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member, the War Office have not behaved with courtesy to him, or in a way in which a Public Department 573 should behave. I do think that some explanation is now due from the Secretary for War, because I gather that there must be some fire in the complaint raised, and that it is not all smoke.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I am only too glad of this opportunity of saying a few words in reply to my hon. and gallant Friend. He complains that certain labourers have not received an answer from the War Office. But I may mention that when the Petition was received a letter was written to the hon. and gallant Member who had made certain allegations which were highly misleading, and he was asked to point out what labourers were receiving 25s. or 30s. a week. All this time we have been awaiting a reply to that question. But I do not wish to get rid of this question on that point. No doubt some of the labourers in the Ordnance Store Department have been asking for an increase of wages. I hope that these men will approach me in a proper manner. They must not approach me through the hon. Member.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I hope and believe that the men, if they are well advised, will adopt that course. If they do, they will get an answer in a few days, for I never hesitate for a moment to listen to complaints which reach me in a legitimata manner. I have listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Preston, and I confess I do not recognise in his description any resemblance to the War Office as it now exists. He asks me for certain particulars about the records of the War Office Council. All I can say is that the proceedings referred to are recorded for the benefit of the Government that is and the Governments that are to come, and not to be communicated to the public. I cannot gratify the hon. Member for Preston with the information ho desires, and I believe it would only be an additional means of finding fault with the Estimates.
§ MR. HANBURY
I only desire that in cases where the Secretary for War takes a course contrary to that advised by the Council the fact shall be made known, so that the House in case of necessity may attach the blame in the right quarters.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I am not prepared to do that. With regard to the questions relating to the Guards, the hon. Member for Preston asks me whether I will lay down a rule that all officers of the Guards shall reside in barracks, and he spoke of abolishing what he called the privileges of the Guards. One of those privileges is that they pay for their own lodgings. For my part, I should be exceedingly glad if I could provide that the officers should reside among their men; and although I am not going so far as to require every officer henceforth to reside in barracks, yet I think that a fair proportion of the officers—at any rate, the unmarried officers—should have the means afforded them of living in barracks.
§ MR. HANBURY
Is the right hon. Gentleman going to treat the officers of the Guards in exactly the same way as the officers of other regiments?
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
In other barracks quarters are provided for the officers. I should, indeed, be glad to provide accommodation in the barracks for the officers of the Guards.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
It is easy to say "Why not?" but the hon. Member must know that the space in Wellington Barracks and Chelsea Barracks is limited. Then the hon. Member asked me as to complaints and their nature. He requested me to tell him whether or not they were justifiable, and what I have to say in reply to that is that I do not in-tend to give any information. I do not think it would be in the interest of the Public Service——
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
No, no I shall decline to afford any opportunity either to the hon. Gentleman or the House to discuss this. This is a question on which I do not propose to give any information at all.
§ MR. HANBURY
What I asked was whether there were any justifiable complaints, and whether the complaints are 575 going to be remedied. I ask that purely as a matter of fact and for our future guidance. We have heard a great deal on the subject of rations and as to sentry duty. I only want to know if these complaints are to be gone into.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
Any complaints that are made I am ready to consider. If I find anything in them I shall be happy to remedy them, but I am not prepared to give the House of Commons any further information on the subject. Then the hon. Member asked as to the opportunities the men have of bringing forward their complaints. Well, every soldier in the Army has a book telling him in the plainest way the mode in which, if he has any complaint to make, he can make it. In that book the soldier is told that if he thinks himself wronged he can make complaint to the captain. If he thinks himself wronged by the captain he can complain to his commanding officer, and if he thinks himself wronged by the commanding officer he may complain to the general or other officer commanding the district or station. The officer to whom complaint is made must, in due course, make inquiry. I cannot pass this by without saying one single word. I have tried to deprecate strongly any interference with the discipline of the Guards, and I hope that I carry with me the general sense of Parliament. But I hope the Committee will not run away with the notion that because of this unfortunate occurrence in one single regiment of the Guards, therefore they must look with suspicion on the brigade of Guards as a whole. The Guards have a most honourable record. They have served in all parts of the world with distinction, and at all times when serving in London the Guards have met not only with the approval of those who command them, but the public have had every reason to be satisfied with the conduct and discipline of the Guards. I, therefore, repudiate, in the strongest way, the idea that because one battalion has offended the whole brigade of Guards should be blamed, or held open to censure and criticism. They have hitherto deserved well of their country.
§ DR. TANNER
I rise to order. I wish to ask whether any hon. Member has imputed any blame to any other battalion of the Guards than the 2nd Battalion?
The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly in order in the statement he was making. The hon. Member is under a complete misapprehension as to what constitutes a point of order. The question of order is one of form, and not of substance.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
As this Vote has now been under discussion for two days, and as the hon. Member behind me (the Member for Stockport) has a very important and interesting question in connection with it to bring forward, I hope that the Committee will now proceed in a businesslike manner to dispose of it.
§ (9.46.) COLONEL HUGHES
My right hon. Friend has said that I failed to answer a letter which was sent to me. That letter was an inquiry as to the wages of the labourers in the iron works, whereas the Petition referred to the labourers in the Ordnance Stores Department. That Petition was signed by 900 men, and I wish to know whether that can be sent direct, or whether a fresh Petition must be signed?
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I should recomment that the Petition be withdrawn and sent in in the ordinary manner.
§ (9.48.) MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I propose to deal now with one item on the Vote, i.e. that of the pay of the Commander in Chief. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War is constitutionally the representative of the Army in this House, and he is responsible to Parliament for the general administration of the Army. The Commander in Chief is at the head of the combatant portion of the Army, and is directly responsible to the Sovereign for the discipline and command of the Force. I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is not a proper thing to bring before Parliament questions of internal discipline in connection with any particular regiment unless it becomes a matter urgently requiring the attention of Parliament. This is not a Committee of public safety. If it were, it would probably result in evils as great as those which cropped up in France. But at present we are asked to vote a certain sum of money for the pay of the Commander in Chief. I presume we are to infer from that that it is the intention of the Government to continue the Commander in Chief in his present position, and at his present salary, and 577 yet having regard to what we have learned recently it appears rather strange that that should be so, because we have had a Report of a Committee accepted by the Government with regard to the positions and functions and responsibilities of the Commander in Chief which points in a different direction. The representations of the Committee are of a very serious nature. The Commander in Chief is entrusted now with a variety of functions. He is not only the Commanding Officer in Chief fulfilling duties which attached to the office when it was established in 1793, but he has also since had thrown upon him responsibilities for work previously discharged by officers who were heads of a variety of Departments. The Committee which sat under the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale declared that the present system resulted not only in overloading the Commander-in-Chief, but also in weakening the sense of responsibility in all the officers subordinate to him, but who were responsible to the Secretary of State only indirectly and through the Commander-in-Chief. It has been suggested that on the occurrence of a vacancy certain changes should be carried out, and that in these changes regard should be had to the responsibilities to Parliament of the Secretary of State, the improvement of the consultative functions of the professional advisers of Ministers, and the direct responsibilities to Ministers of officers charged with well-defined duties. What are those duties? Outside the duties proper of the Commander-in-Chief are all the subsidiary services without which an Army could not be worked. There are the Commissariat Department, the Clothing Department, the arrangements for transport and locomotion at home and abroad, the medical treatment of men in peace as well as in war, and last, but not least, the question of fortifications. Now it is impossible for anyone to discharge all these miscellaneous duties without weakening the responsibility of the officer in charge of the subsidiary service. Now, I think we are entitled to an explicit statement by the right hon. Gentleman on the points I am raising, namely, whether it is intended to continue the present Commander-in- 578 Chief in the same position, with the same responsibilities and with the same emoluments, during the whole of the ensuing financial year.
§ (9.57.) MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
I wish to call the attention of the Committee to a subject of considerable importance, namely, the employment of reserve and discharged soldiers in various Government posts, such as clerkships and writerships, and as messengers and porters. This was a very important question, when considered in connection with the difficulties of recruiting. The Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting forms far from satisfactory reading, for it states that although the quality of recruits has been reduced, it is still impossible to get the required quantity of men. Several nostrums have been suggested, among them being the raising of the pay and the bounty, the: better feeding of the men, and the finding of employment for reserve and discharged soldiers. If you do the former the money will only go into the canteen, if you increase the bounty you place a premium on desertion. As to food, I cannot agree with the Report of the Committee, which suggests that the bread should be baked in 2lb. instead of 4lb. loaves, for I think the soldier should have a meal between dinner time and breakfast time the next morning. It is, therefore, to the question of employment that I think we must look for a remedy. I think it would be a distinct advantage to the Public Service that men attached to a regiment should be enabled to keep in contact with their original trade, so as to be fit to resume it when they retire from the Service. During the last five years the Association for the Employment of Discharged Soldiers has procured employment for 5,000 men, and yet it receives but £200 a year from the Government, while the War Office Vote is £250,000. That is but a small quantity of bread to such an intolerable deal of sack. I think the matter is well worthy of consideration.
§ *(10.1.) CAPTAIN VERNEY (Bucks, N.)
I shall move that the Vote be reduced by the salary of the Commander-in-Chief, £4,500, and I do not see how it is possible for the Committee to avoid doing so on that question. I understand 579 that the right hon. Gentleman said in this House that when a vacancy occurred the duties of the Commander-in-Chief would be divided in an entirely different manner, and with great advantage to the Army. Are we to be told that because the Commander-in-Chief does not resign the Army is to remain in its present state? The Government have put off the Army and Navy Estimates until this late period of the Session, and then deprecate any discussion of the Estimates. I hope hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House will sit until the middle of September rather than allow the Vote to be taken without proper discussion, especially after the enunciation distinctly of a sound policy by the right hon. Gentleman himself. I move the reduction of the Vote by £4,500.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries of the War Office, be reduced by £4,500, the Salary of the Commander-in-Chief."—(Captain Verney.)
§ *(10.5.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I rise at once to take up the challenge of the hon. Gentleman. I never heard the reduction of a Vote moved upon more slender or meagre grounds. I can quite understand a Motion for the reduction of the salary of the Secretary of State or anybody else connected with the War Office; but when the hon. Member takes upon himself what is, after all, an immense responsibility, he ought to give some reasonable grounds for it, while the only ground the hon. Gentleman gave was a misquotation from himself. All that I said was that I adopted entirely the language of the Royal Commission, that it was not likely that any successor of the Commander-in-Chief, if there was to be one, could for a long period of years have the same authority. The Commander-in-Chief has been in the service of his country for over 50 years, and he must have greater authority in the administration of the Army than any man who might succeed him for a long period. At any rate, changes which might afterwards be considered could not be adequately considered now. I have taken exactly the ground which the Royal Commission has taken, and I cannot, therefore, believe that the hon. Member is serious in proposing the reduction.
§ (10.7.) DR. TANNER
We know that the Commander-in-Chief cannot live for ever. We all know that he is an old gentleman to whom nobody has imputed any bad conduct or anything wrong. But it has reached the ears of many through the Press that the Commander-in-Chief is about to retire, and that our Royal Duke is to be appointed; and I think it would be a very good thing if we could get some definite and explicit answer from the Secretary for War. But I rose for another purpose. I was passing along by Wellington Barracks early in the morning, and I saw crowds of weeping women there who were not on the strength of the regiment which was going abroad. I would ask whether any provision is going to be made for these poor women, or are they to be left destitute?
§ *(10.10.) CAPTAIN VERNEY
The right hon. Gentleman says I misquoted him, and I consider that is sufficient ground for withdrawing my Motion, because it was only because of what I understood he said that I moved it. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ DR. TANNER
It appears to me that numbers of these poor people will be thrown into the workhouse unless something is going to be done for them. As an Irishman in London, I would ask whether anything can be done to alleviate the suffering caused by sending this regiment abroad?
§ *(10.11.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I am very sorry indeed that such cases should arise as the hon. Member has called attention to. When a regiment is sent abroad, there must necessarily be cases of considerable hardship. But, then, there is a good deal to be said on the other side. It would have been much better if, before marrying, the men had waited until their short period of service had expired. I hope something may be done by the charitably disposed.
§ MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)
Sir, with regard to discharged soldiers. I wish to call attention to the difficulty experienced in finding suitable employment for them, because, though they have served with the colours, they rarely know any trade. I would suggest whether it would not be possible to 581 have technical schools attached to the regiments?
The hon. Gentleman's observations are not in order. The hon. Member for Essex ingeniously connected his remarks with the pay of the Inspector General of Recruiting, but that was rather an evasion of order.
§ *(10.13.) MR. JENNINGS (Stockport)
Mr. Courtney, I desire to draw attention to the expenditure on the Vote, though I am almost disinclined to go on with the discussion on account of the time which has already been consumed on the Vote. The subject is one of very considerable importance to the Public Service. For the organisation of the War Office the Secretary of State is not in any way responsible. It existed long before the time of the Secretary of State, and I doubt whether it is in the power of the right hon. Gentleman entirely to remedy its defects. The organisation is cumbrous, extravagant, and defective. If hon. Members look down the Vote it will be seen that the characteristics of the office are extravagant salaries, a larger number of persons to do the work than are required, and a constant tendency to accumulate high pensions. These are characteristics of other offices besides the War Office, but no other possesses them in greater perfection. In spite of reorganisations and large bonuses paid to persons to go out of office who ought never to have been in, at this moment the office is ludicrously overmanned. There are no fewer than five head accountants, costing £5,800 a year, besides a large number of principal and senior clerks. There is also an elaborate system of reduplication of work going on outside the War Office itself, and it is obvious to all of us that any Secretary of State, with a real eye to business, must sincerely wish that he had it in his power to make a clean sweep of the whole concern, and start afresh on a rational basis. At the present moment the staff of clerks and draftsmen cost £144,812 a year, while the copyists and boy clerks cost an additional sum of £8,800, making nearly £154,000 for clerical labour alone. It would be needless to say anything about this amount if the labour were indispensable, and if the sum paid for it were reasonable. A great part of 582 the labour is, however, entirely superfluous, and it is paid for at an extravagant rate. I find that there are 18 principal clerks receiving salaries of £880 a year; 47 in receipt of £650 a year; and 31 receiving £480 a year. As times go, these are not bad salaries, especially when we remember that there are always pensions accruing upon these salaries, and that the whole of the clerical staff have not only the usual holidays at Christmas and other times, but that they have also a vacation of a month or six weeks during the summer; some of them getting as much as seven weeks off duty in the course of the year. I quote this fact from the evidence given before the Committee, of which I was a Member, by Mr. Knox, and I would point out that this estimate does not include the Saturday half-holiday which continues all the year round. If an advertisement were put in the papers for a clerk on these terms, Westminster Hall would not be large enough to hold the applicants. There is no doubt that the heads of the Departments work much longer and much harder than the clerical staff, and this may apply to some of the principal clerks to the heads of Departments, but these are the rules of the office, and rules of this kind are never wantonly infringed. No doubt it will be said that these clerks perform duties of a very onerous and difficult nature; but when this is the case, I think it is the exception rather than the rule. We are not left in any doubt or to vague conjecture on this subject, because the Royal Commissioners and the Select Committee of this House, who have gone thoroughly into the matter, have ascertained all the facts. They tell us there is a great mass of work at the War Office which only calls for ordinary intelligence, experience, and industry, and not for high intellectual attainments or advanced education. In their Second Report the Commissioners say the duties of the office can be done by clerks who have received an ordinary commercial education; but there are a large number of persons interested in the matter who wish us to believe there is something to do in Government offices which is not done elsewhere, and can only be done by those who have been properly initiated into all the mysteries. The fact is, that 583 the clerks in the War Office are remunerated at a rate more than double that which they would receive for performing similar duties in any commercial establishment of this or any other country. Take the case of a principal clerk at the Receiving House, with 50 clerks under him, and great responsibilities upon his shoulders. His salary is only from £210 to £300 a year. Why should the Government be called upon to pay more than the market value of the labour done? The only reason is that it offers the clerks a fixed position, light hours, easy duties, a certain amount of social prestige, and a pension; but surely these are not reasons for the payment of extravagant salaries. The Committee, of which I was a Member, distinctly explained that a large portion of the work consisted of simple repetition; that the number of clerks employed in the office, especially in the higher grades, far exceeded what was necessary; and that the proportion of supervising clerks to those supervised was far too large. I am afraid we shall be told that this arises from the difficulty placed in the way of re-organisation by the Resolution of the House in 1888. The condition in which we are in at the present moment is this: that notwithstanding the enormous expense of re-organisation in the past, there is a constant demand for new re-organisation. The moment one reorganisation is over the same machinery is set to work, and a new experiment in a few years becomes necessary. It is less than 12 years since a tremendous re-organisation was accomplished which cost the country over £40,000 in pensions and £110,000in bonuses. What the public demand is that these Government offices shall be conducted on the same principles as prevail elsewhere, and that no more hands shall be employed than are needed to do the work. Furthermore, if there is nothing for the clerks to do, they must be called upon to retire on pensions obtained from a fund to which they have themselves contributed. During our investigation at the War Office we obtained a list of clerks retired under the age of 50 and found that there were 39 of them. They were retired at over half their full salaries, and bonuses of from £500 to £1,000 each. The public will not tolerate this operation 584 again. I should like to call attention for a moment to a statement made on the undeniable testimony of a very competent witness. I allude to Sir R. Thompson, the Permanent Under Secretary, who admitted that much of the highly-paid work in the War Office could be dispensed with. Red-tapeism is supreme. Evidence has been given about a pane of glass of the value of 4s. 6d. which was broken. It took six months and an immense mass of correspondence to decide which Vote it should come under. Evidence has been given by a clerk at the War Office as to his daily duties, and that evidence related to a particular day selected by himself. All this Upper Division clerk, receiving a large salary, had to do was to certify that certain work had passed through his hands. He declared that the most important part of his daily duty was to see that the observations of a clerk of a Lower Division upon an account were grammatical—for it seems that an ordinary Lower Division clerk is very shaky in his grammar until he passes to the Upper Division, when increase of knowledge comes with increase of salary. I feel sure that if the Secretary of State for War had to re-construct the Office throughout, he would place it on a very different footing from that on which it stands at present. Another clerk, named Huggett, was called before the Commission and was asked whether there was not a great deal of unnecessary supervision, and he replied that there was. The fact is, that those who are supposed to check, examine, and supervise, leave the duty to clerks below them, thus proving the superfluity of labour in the office. It is a curious fact for the Committee to consider that the Germans get this work done, notwithstanding the immensely greater number of their Army, for £160,000, while the cost with us is £258,000. But in the German War Office military clerks are engaged, and are occupied in useful work, and not in writing elaborate Minutes about a broken pane of glass. The necessary work of the War Office is done by them, and done exceedingly well, and no complaint has ever been made about them. This illustrates the point I have endeavoured to set forth. I see no reason, also, why officers on 585 half-pay cannot be engaged by the War Office, but red-tapeism is against them. I listened very carefully to the evidence of Mr. Knox, the Accountant General, a gentleman of great ability and of conspicuous devotion to the Service, and I was much surprised to hear him declare that the feeling in the Service is against the employment of military clerks. It is unfortunate that he should cherish a superstition against this system, especially as many high authorities in the Army are against him. Lord Wolseley and General Brackenbury, who are officers of high authority, have strongly recommended the employment of military clerks; and Lord Wolseley has stated that it would result in a large saving in civil pensions, in dispensing with highly-paid civil clerks, and in making the Army more popular. That is also the opinion of General Brackenbury, who told the Commission that he had never heard expressed even a suspicion of the military clerks not performing their duties properly. He declared that his own confidential clerk was almost entrusted with State secrets. Mr. Knox took a different view, and said that he would not trust military clerks. But there are already a large number of military clerks engaged at the War Office, and they do their work satisfactorily. In fact, there are 87 on this Vote, costing about £9,300 a year, while there are 394 civilian clerks, who cost £118,000 a year. The only objection, it seems, that is urged against the farther employment of military clerks is that they might fall into collusion with contractors—that is, in short, they are not to be trusted; but that idea is ridiculous, and I deny that there is any force in the objection. Mr. Knox is in favour of the employment of University men in these positions, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer appears to support that view; but I contend that a University training, however desirable in itself, does not necessarily qualify a man to deal with business affairs. No great commercial firm would conduct its business on such principles, and on the same point the Committee may take the testimony of Sir Algernon West, than whom there is no higher authority in the Civil Service, who told the Royal Commission that a University man was of little use for this work without busi- 586 ness experience. My objection to the selection of University men is not, of course, because they have had a University training, but because they receive far higher salaries than the nature of their work justifies the country in paying. It is often stated, in answer to this, that if these men had gone to the Bar they would have earned yet more money. But that is not certain; every barrister does not become a Lord Chancellor, with a purse-bearer. I undertake to say that there are many barristers now in practice who would be very willing to sell their wigs and gowns at half price if they could obtain desks at the War Office with salaries of £700 or £900 a year— salaries very much higher than the nature of the work justifies. But even if there were any foundation for the argument that if these gentleman had gone to the bar they would have made larger incomes, it is no answer to my contention. It is interesting to inquire what these clerks themselves have to say about their work. If it could be contended that this work is such as could not be performed anywhere else for less than £900 a year, I admit that the whole case would fall to the ground. One of the clerks in the War Office—a gentleman named Moir— went before the Royal Commission and told them plainly that there was no work in the Department which required even the mental attainments of a clerk in the Higher Division, and that a University man going into the War Office would, in the course of time, through the simple work he was constantly called on to do, utterly lose his brain power. Surely that is worse than anything I have presented to the House.
§ * MR. JENNINGS
That I cannot say, as I did not make a note of the Department. I did, however, make a note of the number of the question, and I will give him that. It was question No. 4,824. Here we have a gentleman stating that a clerk in the War Office, simply through the performance of his routine duties, loses his brain power. Even Mr. Knox must be struck with remorse when he looks at the University wrecks who have gone to pieces on the rocks of £900 a year and a pension. I would not 587 have brought this case forward on my own responsibility, but I thought that at least the clerks in the office could be trusted to tell the truth about such a matter as this. I will not dwell upon the fact that the amount set down for messengers in the War Office is nearly £9,000. The redeeming feature in this, however, is that the men are old soldiers, who may, it seems, be trusted to carry a letter, but not to copy one. I contend that their services should be much more utilised than at present. I am not so unreasonable as to call on the Secretary for War to make a reduction in the Vote at once, and I do not ask him to do more than that he will in the future facilitate arrangements by which it may be possible to make necessary and useful reforms. No one who has examined the working of this office can fail to come to the conclusion that it is open to a good deal of reasonable reform. The fact that previous attempts at reform have not succeeded is no reason why further efforts in that direction should not be made. I will not, however, in moving the reduction of the Vote, press the Motion to a Division. I only wish to give expression to the opinion, which I believe is held by the public and by the House of Commons, that the expenditure is extravagant and ought to be reduced.
§ *(10.45.) MR. BRODRICK
I am sure that no Member of the Committee can complain of the tone or substance of the hon. Member's speech. My hon. Friend has given great attention to this matter, and he was a valuable Member of the Committee who inquired into this and other War Office Votes. No doubt a considerable amount of evidence was taken on that occasion, and some of it, to which the hon. Member has referred tonight would point to the necessity for some change in the existing system. At the same time, the hon. Member will not expect me to concur altogether in the gruesome picture which he drew of a War Office clerk condemned to short hours and a large salary losing his brain power through routine work, and unable to find any scope for his abilities. My hon. Friend will recollect that the evidence given before the Royal Commission referred to the War Office under the old system, before competitive examinations were introduced, and to the 588 large number of clerks who dated from the old days of nominations. My hon. Friend will have noticed the enormous reduction which has been made in the number of Higher Division clerks receiving high salaries and entitled to large pensions appointed prior to the re-organisation. Originally there were over 200 of that grade, and our authorised establishment is 136, but they have been so reduced that the present number is 113, though I do not say that that number even is necessary for the work. I think that 60 or 70 would be nearer the mark, and proposals have been made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for allowing some such limit to be drawn. The work to be done by responsible clerks is very large, and no man is now promoted to the higher posts except by selection, and when the Higher Divisions gets down to the normal level, the whole of its members will be employed on superintending duties, and we wish to carry on this process as rapidly as possible, as we regard it as to the advantage of the Public Service. My hon. Friend asserts that much of the work of the War Office is superfluous, and I am entirely in accord with my hon. Friend on that point. We have pointed out time after time that the principles upon which the House of Commons, acting through the Treasury, has forced the War Office to proceed in the audit of every single item of expenditure, are extravagant principles which could not possibly be carried out in any commercial enterprise. I must remind the Committee that the House of Commons is entirely responsible for these principles. The House cheers every allusion to the action of the Auditor General, and time after time we have been taken to task because my right hon. Friend the Secretary for War declined to allow the Auditor General to interfere in the practical new working of the department, not excluding such questions as those of contract, for which the Auditor General has no expert knowledge to guide him. With regard to the allegations of overpayment of the staff, we quite recognise that the great majority of the work of the War Office can be performed by men of ordinary intelligence and experience; and my right hon. Friend 589 is filling all vacancies by the appointment of Lower Division clerks—copyists. With regard to military clerks, it is desired that as many shall be employed as is consistent with the work to be done. But it is a question whether we should be wise to take officers of nearly 30 years' service and put them to superintending work now performed by civilian clerks whose numbers were being rapidly reduced. As to the employment of soldiers and non-commissioned officers, this is done now as far as work can be found for them, and it proves to be advantageous. The numbers of military clerks has gone on increasing year by year, and we shall continue to employ them as long as we find it is really economical and labour-saving to do so. As to the messengers of the War Office, the expenditure upon them looks large, although they are entirely old soldiers. The physical conformation of the War Office buildings is extremely difficult to deal with. The War Office, I might almost say, is scattered all over this part of London. There are nine separata buildings, and messengers have to be constantly passing to and fro. The cost of messengers roust continue to look disproportionate until it is thought necessary to re-build the War Office at considerable expense. However, considerable reduction will be made in the Vote, the number of established messengers being diminished, and temporary messengers being employed instead. Proposals in several directions have been submitted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for reducing the expenditure at the War Office. We recognise that a much smaller number of highly-trained men, with a proportionate number of men of ability suited to the work they have to perform, will be sufficient for us in the future. Of course, the number of men has grown enormously, and the work has grown enormously. We have under arms half as many men again as we had in 1860, and the labour of the Department is correspondingly increased. Our desire is to study economy in every particular in the appointments and the administration, and to relieve ourselves, if we can, of some of the superfluous work that is thrown upon us. We adopt the spirit of the suggestions 590 made by my hon. Friend, and we feel grateful to him for the moderate and the practical manner in which he has put them forward.
§ (10.57.) MR. A. O'CONNOR
Anybody who has listened to the explanations of the hon. Gentleman will not be surprised that the administration of the War Office falls sometimes into a muddle. He admits that the staff of the War Office is excessive, and he goes on to say that the amount of work it has to do is very large; that it was imposed on it by the House of Commons, which insists on the work of the Auditor General being carried out to a ridiculous extent. I do not think that is any answer to anyone who knows practically the organisation and administration of the War Office. Three-fourths of the staff of the War Office in its upper grades might be done away with, and I think the continuance of that staff is a very considerable reproach to the existing administration. The hon. Member has stated that the clerks in the Higher Division were to be reduced in number from 113 to 60. Then why are the extra clerks retained at all? If the time of clerks is fully occupied it must be either with necessary or unnecessary work; and if any part of the work done is unnecessary it ought to be got rid of.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
No doubt there is a considerable amount of audit work, but it is not necessary to have it done twice over, and that which is the work of audit proper ought to be transferred to the staff of the Auditor General. No doubt there must be a sufficient clerical staff to enable the Department to know how much money it has expended and how much it has yet available. Having some knowledge of the Department, and having sat on the Royal Commission on Civil Establishments, I have no hesitation in saying that out of 47 senior clerks 30 might be dispensed with immediately; and out of 31 who have salaries of between £150 and £500, 20 might be got rid of. Many of these clerks are what is known as redundant; they were continued in the Department at the time of the last re-organisation. I contend that work might have been found for 591 them in other Departments in which appointments and promotions are being made. The Chancellor of the Exchequer shakes his head; but does the right hon. Gentleman deny that promotions and appointments have been stopped in the Civil Service until redundant clerks have had work found for them?
§ (11.5.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
I can assure the hon. Member that in the War Office, as in other Departments, the greatest difficulty has been found in dealing with redundant clerks; but you cannot stop promotions, for in that case there will be discontented service, and remonstrances will be made in this House by Members who will have their pockets full of complaints that the Government has been guilty of breach of faith.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
The right hon. Gentleman's explanation does not remove what appears to be the great blot on the system. Is it contended that a Civil servant has a vested right of promotion in his own Department irrespective of the public interests?
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
Then if redundant men are transferred from Department A to Department B, and promotion is then stopped, why should there be an outcry in Department B which the Government are bound to recognise?
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
Well, if human nature is to be yielded to, you will have cries from all directions. Human nature must not override the right of the public to obtain work from those whom it is bound to pay. The fact is, this House is, to a large extent, responsible for extravagance in the Civil Service, because both sides bring pressure to bear on a Member who does anything which remotely threatens what are regarded as vested interests. That is one reason why promotions and appointments are being made while there are still redundant clerks. Hard as it may seem to the country if work cannot be found for men, the Government will be justified in putting them on the retired list. It is said the men are over-paid for the work they do. In too many cases this is true. You have got into the Civil Service, if I may use the simile, horses to do asses' 592 work, and having got these highly-paid men in the Public Service on certain conditions, you cannot dismiss them, and are bound to pay them their salaries. I do not propose that any very large, sweeping reductions should be made, but I do say that a very considerable reduction can be effected in the War Office in the higher ranks, and the change can be made without inflicting any great hardship on individuals by extending the system of transfer. Why should not men now in the War Office be transferred to the Treasury or the Colonial Office?
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
No doubt. One man! But a great many men are transferred from the Treasury to other offices, especially if they happen to have been private secretaries. The Treasury is always treated with exceptional favour. If it is so easy to practise the principle of transfer when it is a question of giving Treasury men appointments in other branches of the Civil Service, why should it be so difficult to practise the principle in the case of the War Department? I believe that if the Civil Service were treated as a whole, a great many of the existing difficulties might be got rid of. I know it will be said by the Government that the men who are in charge of the Departments do not like to see strangers brought in from other Departments over the heads of their own men. That difficulty is never allowed to prevail when it is a question of transferring Treasury officers to good situations elsewhere, and a Minister of determination would very soon brush away difficulties of that kind. If a reduction of the Vote had been moved, I should feel it my duty to vote for it, because I believe this is an inflated Vote, a Vote which might, without any personal injustice being inflicted, be reduced.
§ (11.15.) MR. GOSCHEN
The present appears to be one of those occasions when the House of Commons is feverishly in favour of a reduction of establishments and the cheapening of the cost of Public Departments. But these are only spasmodic occasions, because it is often the case that when 593 the Government take in hand any scheme by which a real reduction of the number of Civil servants will be effected, hon. Members, either from compassion or from other motives which I will not characterise, bring pressure to bear upon the Government in resistance to the scheme. I have been asked whether any Civil servant has a vested right to promotion. My reply is emphatically that there is no right of the kind. But although there is no vested right, there is an expectation on the part of persons who have entered the Service that after a certain time they will reach positions of larger emolument, and when such posts are abolished there is naturally disappointment and discontent. I wish I could convince hon. Members of the difficulties which the Government experience when they attempt to reduce the number of the superior appointments in the Service. I have Memorials before me at the present time petitioning the Treasury not to carry out the scheme of reduction which ought to follow as a result of the Royal Commission. The argument put forward by the petitioners are these: they do not exactly claim a vested interest, but they have worked up to a given point; they have done good service, and they have had for many years the expectation to rise to the superior posts; and I am sure it would cause cruel disappointment and dissatisfaction throughout the Civil Service if the Government were to proceed with anything like stringency in the direction of abolishing these superior posts, and a discontented Civil Service would be a great calamity to this country. It would, therefore, be unwise to proceed with any degree of exaggeration on this path, which, nevertheless, the Government ought to follow, as they are most anxious to carry out the views of the Royal Commission. I hail with satisfaction occasions like this when hon. Members declare they are with the Government in the attempt to abolish a certain number of these superior posts which are no longer wanted. At the same time, we must proceed with considerable caution. The hon. Member for East Donegal asked, "Why not transfer to the Treasury and the Colonial Office?" The answer is, that the Treasury and the Colonial Office 594 are full and want no more clerks. The Commission reported that the superior posts in nearly all the offices are unnecessarily numerous, and that vacancies ought not to be filled up. We have not the opportunity of transferring clerks from the War Office to other Departments, because in those other Departments there ought also to be reduction on the same scale.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I only wish I could convince the hon. Gentleman of the difficulties we have had with the Local Government Board and the Board of Trade. We have endeavoured to transfer some clerks from the War Office to the Local Government Board, but we have received most serious remonstrances from my right hon. Friend the President of that Department, who says that it will not be the best, but probably the worst, clerks whom the War Office will wish to send over. No Department ever wishes to transfer its best and most useful clerks, and, therefore, other Departments are afraid of getting bad bargains. The First Lord of the Treasury has taken the greatest pains to effect transfers from one office to another. Sometimes he has been met with what I may call grumbling acquiescence, and at other times the resistance has been so great it has been very difficult to carry out his object. The transfers are still on a small scale, and for the reason that in all the offices where the Government are trying to diminish the number of superior clerks the transfer scheme is fraught with difficulty. I hope the hon. Member and the Committee will not understand we are opposing the desire of the Royal Commission or the Committee on this point. We are anxious to make progress in this direction, but the difficulties are far greater than they appear to the casual observer. A comparison has been drawn between the emoluments received by civilians in the War Office in this country and the salaries given in Germany. Those who made that camparison have not made allowance for the fact that work of all kinds is paid for less highly in Germany than here. I wish the Committee to understand and I wish 595 the public to understand this, that during the last four years fewer new men have been admitted into the Public Service than in any four years previously. The Government are doing all they can to keep down the cost of the Public Service, but, at the same time, they are attempting to do so in a manner which will not create discontent among the Civil servants.
§ (11.25.) SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirk-caldy, &c.)
I have also great experience in these matters, and I acknowledge, to a certain extent, the difficulties to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has alluded. There are great difficulties about the transfer of Civil servants. The disposition always is to transfer the bad bargains, and there is a great unwillingness on the part of offices to accept the bad bargains of other offices. But this is only a question of degree, and it seems to me the hon. Member for East Donegal has raised a question of great width and importance, and has put his finger on a great abuse. If it was the case that the Civil Service was to be reduced all round, I could believe there was a justification for what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, but the Estimates testify that that is not the case. The Civil Service Estimates increase every year, and that increase means the employment of more men. At the same time, the number of redundant pensioned men is increasing. Men are pensioned in the prime of life on one pretext or another, and enormous burdens are thus imposed on the country. The Treasury ought to exercise firmness, and insist, when there are too many clerks in one Department, on transferring some of them to another Department. I admit that as soon as you exercise firmness, you are apt to have hon. Members of this House bringing pressure to bear on the Government on behalf of the Civil servants who think they are injured. That raises a wider question. In my opinion, a very serious and fatal mistake was made in giving votes to Civil servants, and giving them liberty to take part in political agitation. It is most difficult to keep the Public Service within proper bounds when you have public servants exercising great political power. The evil is growing, and I fear we may reach that unhappy state of 596 things which obtains in America, namely, that the Civil servants go in and out with the Government. I respect their Republican system and the advantages it gives; but there is one blot on the system, that their whole Civil Service is political. There are not wanting tendencies towards the same danger in the Civil Service of this country. It is a great evil, and the War Office is an instance of the danger, as I think the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer has indicated. I am not quite sure if I am in order in another point on which I desire to ask a question; it has regard to policy. First, I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is his view that the contributions from our colonies towards the expenses of the Army are adequate?
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I am sure I do not know whom it does depend upon. But, Sir, I replace that question with another, which I think does depend on the Secretary of State, and that is, whether he confirms the view in regard to the distribution of the Army which was stated by the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary for War; whether he maintains the view that it never was intended there should be any real localisation by the regimental quarters being in the district whence the regiment derives its name; whether it was never intended that localisation should be for anything but recruiting purposes? I will not attempt to discuss the merits of such a view, only I wish to know whether it is understood on both Front Benches that it never was intended to localise the Army beyond recruiting purposes. One other question I should like to ask, and it is suggested by a reply given to-day. An hon. Member asked in how many cases the liability of retired officers had been carried into actual service. The answer was that no occasion for their service had arisen; that none had been called upon.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
May I ask what this warrant is? I shall be very glad to understand the answer of the right hon. 597 Gentleman was not of general application, for I have always thought it a very great abuse that comparatively young men, well under the prime of middle life, should be retired from the Army and not be called upon to serve again.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
There is only one more question I wish to ask, and that has relation to promotion from the ranks. I have been given to understand that this principle of promotion from the ranks has been very much abused, and that these promotions are not made as the result of good conduct and long service; but that young men, the sons of wealthy families, are promoted by favour. I should like to be informed whether this is the case; whether the number of the commissions allowed for promotion from the ranks are not considerably reduced by the promotion of young gentlemen who, unable to pass the examinations in the regular way, enter the Army, and are promoted by this back-door system?
§ *(11.35.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I believe there were only two questions of the hon. Gentleman which were in order. First, as to localisation, the main object of this—namely, for recruiting purposes—has been gained. Its full effects in this respect have not yet been realised, but they were being experienced more and more each year. I have no reason to differ from the explanation given by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. As to promotions from the ranks, it is perfectly true that there are different degrees of promotion from the ranks. I am always glad to hear of promotions having been made actually from the ranks, and for good service, as these are an encouragement to soldiers to do their duty.
§ (11.37.) COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
I rise, under peculiar difficulties, to ask the Committee to grant me a few minutes while I make a reference to an attack made, unknown to me and unexpected, from a quarter where I had no reason to expect it, upon a regiment with which I have long been intimately connected. I need hardly appeal to the feelings of the 598 Committee, and I am sure I need not to the feelings of military men, to bear with me while I relate an attack which I am told has been made, unfortunately in my absence, by the hon. Member for Preston, upon a regiment with which I have been very closely connected. I am told that the hon. Member for Preston referred to matters of recent occurrence in the Guards, and used language which is absolutely outside the facts and wholly unauthorised and unjustifiable as coming from an absolutely ignorant and uninformed Member of this House. I am told that the hon. Member stated that there is a strong feeling abroad that the officers of the Guards are not as much in touch with their men as they ought to be, and as the officers of other regiments are. [Sir G. CAMPBELL: Hear, hear.] The hon. Gentleman says, "Hear, hear," but the reports and opinions of general officers under whom the Guards have served are to be preferred to the opinion of an hon. Gentleman whose chief distinction in this House is prolixity in debate. How, then, does it come that in all the experience of the various wars in which the Guards have taken part the Reports from those who have commanded them in the field have, without one exception, been absolutely favourable, absolutely good, and especially strong as to the working of the men under these officers, in which they have formed a favourable contrast with other regiments. I, as a Guardsman, would be the last in the world to draw an invidious comparison between the Household Troops and others; our proudest boast has been that when we have been brought into line with other troops our conduct and efficiency has been proved to be not one bit worse than theirs, and that boast is proved, not by empty words of a partisan, but by the express Reports of all those officers who have had to command them, under the most trying circumstances, and in the most recent experience. Are we to believe the testimony of general officers and brigadiers, those who have had experience in the Service, or are we to accept the expression of opinion of an hon. Member whose sole connection with the Army is that he has made himself somewhat prominent as a critic of contracts? It was injudicious on his part to assume a rôle for which he is 599 absolutely unqualified. I would not venture to touch the hem of the hon. Member's garment in matters on which he is conversant, and the hon. Member would be better advised if he left matters of military efficiency and discipline to those who have, at all events, some slight acquaintance with the subject. I could enlarge on this theme, there is unlimited command of subject, but time is running on. I recollect when the battalion marched out of town——
I have not interrupted the hon. and gallant Member in his reply to an attack made upon the brigade of Guards, but I may point out that the line taken by the hon. and gallant Member is not strictly relevant to the Vote, and that he would do well to confine himself in as few words as possible to repelling the attack made upon the regiment.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
I much regret if I have travelled for one moment from the line I have laid down for myself. With reference to the statement of the hon. Member that he had seen officers of the Guards, when entering Wellington Barracks, fail to return the salute of their men, I can only say that I have served for 20 years in the brigade of Guards, and if there is one thing more absolutely insisted upon than another it is that never upon any occasion should an officer forget to return in the most accurate and direct manner any salute that may be paid to him. It may be that in London, where there are sentries at almost every corner, a young officer going to his club, and possibly thinking of other things, might occasionally forget to put his finger to the peak of his cap; yet upon that temporary forget fulness—which is one I have very seldom in my long experience seen—an hon. Member does not hesitate to rise in the House and criticise the conduct of the officers as being that neither of officers nor gentlemen. You have warned me, Sir, and I do not wish to allow my warmth to cause me to over-run your forbearance. It is a cause I have much at heart. In conclusion, the Guards are willing to bear any criticism which recent events justly call down upon them. They may feel, as they do, most bitterly and terribly what has Colonel Kenyon-Slaney 600 recently occurred, but I think it would have been wiser and in better taste, as well as in greater consonance with the feelings of gentlemen and officers, had the hon. Member, not especially conversant with the subject under discussion, refrained from making those charges, which naturally come with an especial bitterness and an especial sting at a moment such as the present. I have ample proof at my command to rebut any such flippant and frippery attacks. I have proved, I think, that the remarks of the hon. Member were characterised neither by good taste and judgment, or any knowledge of the subject, and I would invite the hon. Member for the future to confine himself to the role of a critic of contracts, and not to criticise either the code of honour or of duty which characterise the officers of the brigade of Guards, and which always has, always must, and emphatically always will iCharacterise them on any duty to which Her Majesty may be pleased to call them.
§ *(11.46.) MR. E. STANHOPE
No one can be surprised that my hon. and gallant Friend should have desired to repel with some warmth attacks which he thought to be unjustly levelled against the brigade with which he has been so long connected. I rise, however, not for the purpose of making any remarks on the subject, but rather in order to deprecate any further discussion. I hope the Committee will now allow the Vote to be taken, after three nights discussion.
§ (11.47.) COLONEL NOLAN
I do not wish to continue the discussion further upon this matter, but I think that it is only fair to the hon. Member for Preston to say that his principal point was that quarters should be provided for unmarried officers, and in that I agree with the hon. Member, As to the point raised by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy about promotion from the ranks, the hon. Member is right in saying that there are 20 in the year, but these commissions are given away to gentlemen who enter the Army for the express purpose of being promoted. I have no objection to a man being promoted who is a gentleman, but I think that these 20 commissions should be the right of deserving non-commissioned officers. The 601 present system, in my opinion, is unfair, and ought to be inquired into by the Secretary of State for War.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum not exceeding £294,800, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the pay of Medical Establishments, and the cost of Medicines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1891.
§ (11.50.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I would make an appeal to the hon. Member for West Aberdeen, who I know desires to raise the question of the position of Army Medical Officers, not to press a discussion at the present time. As the hon. Member is well aware, I have had the advantage of receiving a deputation consisting of representatives of all the great medical bodies in England, Scotland, and Ireland, who have pressed certain matters upon my attention as to which I felt bound, in the face of such an influential deputation, to promise to give serious consideration. This I am now doing, and I would advise the hon. Member that if he brings on a discussion now it will be impossible for me to make any statement upon the representations which have been made to me. That being so, I think the hon. Member will see that in his own interest it is not desirable to raise a discussion now.
§ (11.52.) DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
I quite appreciate the friendly spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman has made the appeal, but I think it will be only satisfactory to professional friends, both inside and outside the House, that I should take the opportunity this Vote offers of making a few observations. I shall discuss the Vote in no unfriendly spirit, and it is in no obstructive sense I move to report Progress. I think, considering the position I have taken upon this question, it is expected that I should take the opportunity to express the views of those I represent. I, therefore, beg to move that you do now report Progress.
§ DR. TANNER
I think we ought to know when this Vote will be taken. I have waited here all night for it, sitting through discussions in which I had not the remotest interest in the expectation of this Vote being reached.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
If the hon. Member had exercised a little more forbearance himself, the Vote might have been reached at a reasonable time, and we might now be in a position to take the Vote.
§ DR. TANNER
As a matter of personal explanation allow me to say that throughout I have only spoken twice, and the record will show that altogether I only spoke for 4½ minutes.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to make progress with his Estimates he must treat us in a different spirit. We might have legitimately continued the discussion on the previous Vote by a Motion for the reduction of his salary because he has taken action contrary to the recommendations of the Committee he himself appointed. My hon. Friend is perfectly justified in taking what opportunity he can for his discussion; such opportunities are now rare.
§ * SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)
May I make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to definitely fix some day for taking the Vote? If not this week, then let him say some day next week. It will be a great convenience to Members, many of whom are much interested in this Vote. I do not wish in any way to obstruct business, but will he, in the interest of the Army medical officers, say on what day the Vote will be taken?
§ * MR. W. H. SMITH
I am most anxious to consult the convenience of Members as far as I possibly can, but, as the hon. Gentleman is, no doubt, aware, the whole of this week is mapped out, and next week must 603 depend upon the results of this. It is impossible for me to upset the whole arrangements for the sake of one specific Vote.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported to-morrow.
§ Committee also report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.