§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ 1. 153,483, Number of Land Forces.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
Before beginning the statement which it is my duty to lay before the Committee I wish to acknowledge the kindness of one or two of my hon. Friends who have abstained from moving the Motion they intended to move on going into Committee. One particular case to which I wish to refer is that of the hon. Member for Barrow, because the subject which he desires to 765 bring forward is one of extreme importance. He desires to invite attention to the lust means of promoting temperance in the Army. I confess I feel very strongly on the question, and I think the Committee will be anxious to cooperate in the object the hon. Member has in view. In deference to the desire that we should be allowed to go into Committee he has now refrained from bringing this Motion forward; but I earnestly hope that he will take an early opportunity of doing so, perhaps when the Bill for providing new barracks for the troops is before the House. And I might here mention that in the scheme for re-building the barracks one end we have had in view is that of promoting temperance in the Army. My hon. Friend may therefore rest assured when the time comes for him to bring forward the question that he will meet with a sympathetic reception at my hands, and he will learn the intentions of the Government with regard to the object he has in view. I will now, with the permission of the Committee, give some further account of our progress in the organisation and re-armament of the military forces of the country; and if, in doing so, it is necessary to go again over some of the ground traversed last year, it will be understood that my object is to enable a comparison to be made between the expectations then held out and the results which have been attained. And, again, I must repudiate the doctrine of those who seem to think that, if only the Government will at once spend a large enough sum of money, our defensive position can be made perfect. Our view is altogether different. Without hesitating to ask for increased grants where the necessity is proved, we, nevertheless, believe that it is to improvements in organisation that we mainly own the great advance in preparation which has recently taken place, and it is to the same means that we must undoubtedly look to perfect our schemes of defence. Nor, on the other hand, while the re-armament of our troops and of our fortresses is going on, is it possible to look forward to the probability of any considerable reduction of expenditure. Every item of expenditure, to which attention was called during the investigation of the Committee on the Army Estimates, has been most 766 carefully scrutinised; and the establishment for the present year, upon which the amount of the Estimates so largely depends, is the least which any Government, bearing in mind its responsibilities in colonial stations, and the necessity of furnishing drafts of mature men for India, would feel justified at present in proposing. And here I would also venture to say when it is urged that we, with our small Army, ought easily to attain to a rapidity and simplicity of mobilisation, which in some foreign countries is accomplished for much larger forces, that it is not possible to institute a fair comparison in respect of the difficulty of the two operations. If we were dealing with a totally new situation, when any mode of enlistment, or of distribution of our forces was open to us, the case would be simple. But the double function of our Regular Army in having to supply the large annual demands for India and the Colonies while acting as our primary defensive force at home, the uncertainties of the system of voluntary enlistment, the distribution of our troops—necessary for civil purposes, and in the existing position of our barracks, but ill-adapted for rapid concentration—and the peculiar constitution of our Auxiliary Forces, necessarily makes the task of arranging in all its details a system for the sudden mobilisation of our whole defensive strength a complicated and a serious one. The plan on which, we are generally proceeding is that indicated by me last year. It was the result of the fullest consideration by my present military advisers, and also of the opinions and criticisms which we obtained from other responsible officers hardly less eminent in their profession. I am satisfied that the reception it obtained last year fully justified us in assuming that upon the lines then explained we might safely proceed with general approval. To working it out in all its details both Lord Wolseley and Sir Redvers Buller have given the close stattention under the supervision of his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, and the result is that very great progress has been made. This plan, of course, assumed that our defensive forces had two main objects to provide for—first, the land defences of all our ports and coaling stations—a task greater in magnitude and importance 767 than any of a similar character undertaken by any European Power; and, secondly, the mobilisation of all our remaining land forces of all descriptions in such a way as to furnish a field army for the first line of defence, and a, great Volunteer army occupying certain strong-defensive positions in the second line. Every one of the steps necessary for carrying out such, a programme with the least possible delay ought to be settled and worked out beforehand. And, indeed, I now hold in my hand three confidential tables of no little interest. The first shows the place to which every unit of our defensive forces is assigned in the event of sudden emergency. The second shows every order which would have to be given at headquarters or by officers in local command in the same event and the degree of preparation made for carrying it out; and the third contains all the regulations for mobilisation in full detail. I do not pretend that every point in it is settled; nor, in these days of constant advance in organisation, in tactics, and in equipment, ought it ever to be allowed to escape constant and minute revision. It is, of course, a paper organisation, and no paper organisation can really be pronounced satisfactory until it has been tested. But in this country a general test of all our arrangements would not only be most costly, but would also be felt as a disturbance in all branches of our national life, quite out of proportion to the advantages to be derived from it. The whole scheme is, however, based upon decentralisation, and upon requiring as little as possible from headquarters at the moment of emergency. Much responsibility is therefore transferred to the commanders of local units, and the confusion which would inevitably have resulted under our old system of centralisation is already to a large extent got rid of. The fact is that the primary condition of an effective and rapid mobilisation is decentralisation, and in no respect is this more essential than in that of stores. The preparations under this head are not as yet complete, but much has already been done to relieve the block formerly existing at Woolwich. At present, for instance, Aldershot is provided with every article of equipment necessary for the force there, marked to the corps to which it is assigned. Some of the other principal 768 storehouses at Southampton, Caterham, Chatham, and in. other places are also practically complete, and I have every reason to know that the work elsewhere will be rapidly advanced during the year. Putting aside questions of armament, with which I propose to deal separately, the preparations for carrying out the defence of our ports and coaling-stations at home and abroad are in a very advanced condition. The state of the submarine mining defence is very satisfactory. I stated last year that the military ports at home and abroad are now all provided with the necessary buildings and stores, and, I might add, with the requisite force of submarine miners. With two or three exceptions only, the same may now be said of all the coaling-stations and commercial, ports, and every year's training and experience will add to the rapidity with which the complete system of mine defence can in each case be laid down. The garrisons required for all these places amount to no fewer than 125,000 men, besides the native levies, which, where practicable, we are raising, or have raised, at certain foreign stations. It is hoped that some of our modern inventions-such as the position finder, which is now in use in many places—will enable this number to be reduced. But the detailed garrison required for every place is arranged, and at certain foreign ports, where considerations of health or other reasons of public policy have prevented the full garrison from being always maintained in peace time, arrangements are in progress for the instant despatch at any moment of the necessary reinforcements. After providing for these necessary garrisons the whole remaining forces of the country are organised in the two lines of defence to which reference has already been made. The first line of defence, consisting of Regular troops and some battalions of Militia, not required for garrisons, constitutes a field army divided into three Army Corps, including some 110,000 men. For this army there is an ample proportion of Artillery and of cavalry and of other arms of the Service generally, with the exception of certain small units purposely left to be organised on mobilisation the places of concentration for every unit are laid down, as well as the stations from which they 769 are to draw every portion of their equipment. By this means the commanding officers of the different units will now know what there is ready for them in the event of rapid mobilisation, and where and how to get it without reference to headquarters. Until certain new storehouses, however, of which mention has been made, are complete, some of these stores cannot yet be said to be in the most convenient positions. 'Die Committee will be pleased, and possibly surprised, to hear that the necessary equipments, such as harness, saddlery, vehicles, and camp equipment for all this force are in existence, with the exception of a few articles which we are certain of obtaining very rapidly. The places of concentration are so arranged as to be in every case in the neighbourhood of an important railway station, so that any portion of the force can be transferred at short notice to the threatened point. And, lastly, a list of all the officers required for the commands and staff posts is being prepared, and will be annually revised. The composition of the whole of this field army has been laid down in detail. Its speedy mobilisation, of course, necessitates the calling out of the Army Reserve and of the Militia: but it depends, also, as is the case in all foreign countries, upon the efficiency of our arrangements for requisitioning the additional horses that are necessary. Upon this subject, also, our position is far more satisfactory than it has ever been hitherto. Under the system established two years ago, we have now upon the register, as available immediately on the occurrence of an emergency, the full number of 14,000 horses, of which more than 3,000 are riding horses, broken to bit and bridle. This is a most encouraging result of the new system, which is being supported by an increasing number of horse-owners throughout the country, and I may mention specially many masters of foxhounds, to whom, as well as to other owners, our thanks are due. In addition to this number, the Remount Establishment, having now a thorough knowledge of the; best sources of supply throughout the United Kingdom, would be able at very short notice, and by means of additional officers, to put in force the power of compulsory requisition with which the Government are now armed. The Remount Establishment, 770 under the able superintendence of General Ravenhill, has worked well in other respects also. Good reports reach us as to the horses supplied to the Army generally. I saw the other day a statement in one of the daily papers, of which much has since been made, that we were short of the number provided in the Estimates by no fewer than 1,200 horses. I am glad to say that that was an entire error. With the exception of one regiment, which was not ready to receive the 80 horses which could easily have been provided for it, the Army was at that time complete up to its establishment, the ages of the horses being also satisfactory. The second line of defence will be occupied solely by Volunteers. To this purpose, after providing for the necessities of purely local defence, we are able to assign at least 18 brigades of infantry and 268 guns. It may be said that this force is not sufficiently mobile to constitute a really efficient field army; to which it may be answered that it is not so intended, and that it may be doubtful whether with the comparatively small amount of time which, the mass of our Volunteers (and the officers, perhaps, in particular) are able to give to their work it would be possible to organise them in the first instance as a field army. But for the purpose for which they are intended they are admirably suited and can be most readily utilised; and the prospect of filling, as every Volunteer now does, a definite place side by side with the Regular Army in the general scheme of defence has undoubtedly exercised a salutary influence on all branches of the force. The place of concentration for each brigade and battery is fixed, and provision is being made for their receiving on arrival at it all such necessaries as tents, waterproof sheets, and entrenching tools. For the concentration of these forces, and for many purposes connected with mobilisation, it is obvious that much must depend upon the speedy organisation of civil transport. This work has been thoroughly taken in hand, and there appears to be no doubt that arrangements can be made for sufficient preparation beforehand to enable ample transport to be ready at short notice. It is well-known that these points of concentration have been most carefully selected at the places most likely to be threatened, not only on the chalk range between London 771 and the sea, but also at other important places. Most of the field work at these points is left to be rapidly carried out when emergency arises. In certain cases the actual contracts will be prepared and arranged for. But it is only in a few stations of primary importance that any works have been undertaken, and even upon these the expenditure will be inconsiderable. It is mainly directed to providing the store-houses from which have to be drawn without a day's delay certain essential articles. With two exceptions, all these necessary sites have been purchased, and in one or two cases reservation rights to prevent building on points of primary importance have been secured. The formation of our second line of defence may, therefore, I think, be fairly said to have made very substantial progress during the year. The success of the 19 Volunteer brigade camps has been one of the most satisfactory features of the year. The brigadiers, who deserve much public recognition for their zeal, patience, and discretion, appear to have been well seconded in almost all cases by the commanding officers. A highly satisfactory spirit of emulation has been aroused between commanding officers, and the assembly of the corps in large numbers under proper supervision and under military discipline has been popular with the force and productive of much public advantage. The experience gained will be valuable in the event of emergency, and nothing connected with the experiments was more satisfactory than the way in which in some cases the whole arrangements were planned and carried out without any assistance from officers of the Regular Army. Nearly 39,000 Volunteers, out of a total of 100,000 who went into camp, were present under the new brigade organisation. I am afraid of trespassing unduly on the time of the Committee, or I would gladly read some portion of the Report of general officers upon the results of this experiment. At headquarters, too, a good deal has been learnt from it, and one or two mistakes discovered last year will be remedied. The success of these brigades is now sufficiently assured to induce me to divide several of those which are at the present time composed of too many battalions. It also gives me great pleasure to say 772 that the state of the newly-formed Volunteer batteries of position is most creditable to all concerned. Officers and men alike show great zeal in the development of this important branch of the Service, and arrangements are therefore now being made to issue guns to 12 more batteries. We shall then have no fewer than 316 guns manned by Volunteer Artillery. We propose to relieve all these batteries of the cost of the necessary harness; and in order still further to promote their efficiency the permanent staff sergeants of all Volunteer (as well as of Militia,) Artillery, some of whom have been long absent from the work of the Royal Artillery, will be required to undergo a further course of instruction at Woolwich. I think, therefore, the Committee will see that much has been done to advance the re-organisation of the Volunteer Force. A good deal of money has been spent, even in the present year, and I certainly do feel hurt that those who represent the Volunteers in this House should have taken this opportunity of passing a vote of censure upon myself. I know that I have done a great deal more for the Volunteers than was ever done by any previous Secretary of State for War. I know that I have added to the Volunteer Vote in a manner far in excess of what has been done, or is likely to be done, in anything like the same time. I believe that at the present moment the Volunteer Force is more ready and able to perform its duties than at any period since its first establishment. I confess, therefore, I was not prepared to find hon. Members who were connected with the Volunteer Force assisting in any way what was obviously a Party manœuvre.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
Yes. I know the right hon. Gentleman did not take part in the Division; but all the right hon. Gentleman's Colleagues who did take part in the Division voted against the Government, although they well knew that after the Division in the late Parliament, when the right hon. Gentleman was placed in a minority, nothing was done, and that the present Government had the inheritance of that vote, and in consequence added £160,000 a year to the expenditure of the Volunteers. But I will now pass from that matter and come 773 to one or two general questions. In one respect I am glad to be able to report a marked improvement in almost all branches of the Service. Shooting is better all round, and with the introduction of the new rifle, almost without recoil, and of remarkable accuracy, yet better results ought to be obtained. In all branches special encouragements have been offered for good shooting, and increased opportunities of practice have been afforded, not only in individual, but also in field firing. In order to give the Committee some idea of this improvement which has resulted, I asked the Commandant of the School of Musketry at Hythe to make a table, comparing the results of the last three years. Speaking, first, of the Regular Infantry, he reports to me that the figures show a very great improvement all round since 1887. The percentage of marksmen has nearly doubled, while that of third-class shots has diminished in the same proportion. In the Cavalry, the improvement is described as "considerable." No regiment is now rated as bad, and the proportion of third-class shots has been reduced by 10 per cent. The shooting of the Militia shows a great advance. Whereas, in 1887, only 17 battalions were classed as "very good," no less than GO are so described in 1889. The percentage of third-class shots has fallen from 38 to 26. With the increased training in musketry now to be given, we may expect to see a vast improvement on these figures. Until quite recently, target practice has been very seriously neglected in the Yeomanry. Steps, however, have recently been taken to introduce a uniform course, and to offer special inducements, and the progress made is described as "fairly satisfactory." In the case of the Volunteers, it is much more difficult to make a comparison with former years, because until 1888 no returns were rendered to the School of Musketry. The performances of that year are described as "fairly satisfactory," in comparison with that of the Regular Army. The percentage of third-class shots is now very small indeed, and the increase of marksmen and first-class shots is considerable. Regulations as to the issue of ammunition have recently been made, with the view of securing that it is devoted to its legitimate purpose of improving the general shooting of the 774 whole force. In order further to improve the shooting of the Volunteers, additional Inspectors of Musketry have been appointed, and a special course has been held at Hythe to enable Volunteer officers to qualify as musketry instructors. The 70 officers who attended showed the greatest zeal, and 87 per cent. of them obtained certificates. It is right also to mention that Colonel Tongue and his entire staff, in a most public-spirited manner, gave up their Christmas holidays to help in this most laudable object. I promised last year to consider further the possibility of calling out for training some portion of the Reserve the difficulties in the way of doing so are, no-doubt, very grave. If the feeling on the part of employers against employing Reserve men, which at one time threatened to be serious, were to be aroused by any step which withdrew the men from their ordinary work, the very existence of an Army Reserve might be endangered. And we had full warning from many large employers of labour that any system of regular annual training would compel them to discontinue the employment of Reserve men. On the other hand, the necessity of giving additional training in some form has been greatly increased and intensified by the introduction of the magazine rifle. It would be highly inconvenient, not to say dangerous, if, upon a sudden mobilisation, men were recalled to their regiments without any knowledge of how to handle the new weapon. Accordingly, we have determined to take a tentative step this year in this direction, and provision has been made in the Estimates for the purpose. By issuing a certain number of magazine rides to all parts of the country we shall be enabled to secure that all men of the infantry passing into the Army Reserve this year will have learnt the new drill, and we propose to call upon men of the Infantry who passed into the Reserve last year to take steps to acquire similar knowledge. But, in doing so, we propose to establish an elastic system, capable of modification, to meet the requirements of employers and employed in all parts of the country. The minimum time which is thought to he required is four whole days, but, when convenient, the drill can be gone through in eight half or even 1G quarter days. Every man will be allowed to choose the 775 time of year most convenient to his employment, and to drill at the nearest depôt, centre, or other convenient place, and he will, of course, be paid for the days which he gives up to drill, besides the usual travelling allowances. It may even be possible, in the event of a large number of men being in the employment of one firm, to minimise the inconvenience by sending instructors to train the men in the vicinity of their work. Our great object will be to try and secure this amount of training without risking the loss of employment for any Reserve man. We are very hopeful that this experiment will, if successful, insure that a large proportion of the Reserve will, if suddenly called upon to take their place in the ranks, be thoroughly acquainted with the now drill; and I think the Committee will admit that if we attain that object we shall have done something very important and desirable for the defence of the country. The new organisation of the Army Service Corps appears to be working as smoothly as could be expected. A crucial re-organisation has been effected without the assistance of increased pensions or special retirements, and it is exceedingly satisfactory to find that never for years has such a desirable class of officers attempted to gain admission to this branch of the Service, although the large number of officers still remaining on the old establishment enabled only a small proportion to be accepted. This re-organisation, for which credit is so largely due to the present Quartermaster General, Sir Redvers Buller, has rendered possible a general concentration of Staff duties, has undoubtedly led to a very considerable economy, and promises further results in the same direction. The Committee are aware that the condition of the Militia has occupied the close attention of the Government during the past year. A conference of commanding officers of Militia, summoned by me, brought to my notice many suggestions, and these have since been threshed out by a Committee, under the presidency of Lord Harris, and amongst the many services rendered to the State by the late Under Secretary of State for War during his term of office, none, I think, is more 776 conspicuous than the compilation, with the assistance of his colleagues, of the admirable and exhaustive Report recently presented to Parliament. I saw the Committee described the other day as a Departmental Committee. There never was one of which such a description was less accurate. Of the seven members, two only were connected with the War Office, one was an officer in. the Army, and four were commanding officers in the Militia. It ought to receive, therefore, as it has received, the full confidence of the Militia. It is most satisfactory to find from that Report that there has been no deterioration of late in the efficiency of the force generally, nor is there any ground for the fear expressed that it has become less popular. The proposals made by the Committee have been fully considered by Her Majesty's Government, and I should like to refer to several of them. Probably the most important of these recommendations refers to preliminary drill. Now the Committee, while pointing out that it was the general wish of commanding officers to revert to the old system of preliminary drill, decline to recommend it. Their proposal, which they stated would, to a large extent, accomplish all the suggestions or complaints that had been made, without injury to the depôt system, was to increase the recruit training, part of the time being spent at the depot and part at the battalion place of assembly. This has been accepted by the Government, and the recruit training will be increased by seven days, three being spent at the depôt. The musketry training of the recruits will be carried out at the Militia headquarters. We have also been able to sanction in great part the proposals made for the better instruction of Militia officers, and for improving the efficiency of the non-commissioned ranks. We propose, further, in continuation of the policy hitherto pursued, to get rid of billeting wherever possible, and to issue tent boards in all cases where necessary. For all these provision has been made, and I have also been able to commence the issue of flannel shirts, in accordance with another recommendation of the Committee. A Memorandum will soon be issued, showing in further details the changes it is proposed to introduce. It will be seen from it that most of the 777 recommendations have been accepted, and I trust that the force generally will acknowledge that we have dealt with them in no grudging spirit, and that even during the present year the changes made may increase its efficiency in all respects. I now come to the question of warlike stores, and here I may say that the work thrown upon the Department at the present time is not only unprecedented in amount, but is unequalled by anything which has been done in other countries under like conditions. I do not allude only to the total amount of the orders for land and sea service which pass through the War Office, and which in 1889–90, reached the value of 4¾ millions sterling, and though, no doubt, a large proportion was given out to contract, yet it will be remembered that the whole of the stores, whether coming from the Ordance factories or from private contract, have to be independently inspected and tested before being passed into the Service. Indeed, the new Naval programme and the great number of guns and rifles coming in for land service during the present year, in addition to the large repayment demands from India and the Colonies (raising the total value of the stores to be inspected to £6,000,000), was likely to cause an excessive strain on the inspection department, for which special provision has been made. The progress being made with the issue of heavy breech-loading guns can at last be spoken of with satisfaction. The first place is due to the Ordnance factories, which, have, in the case of guns, been able to adhere to their promised dates of delivery, and who have just issued three 9.2in. guns for the new Naval programme, completed within six months of the passing of the steel forgings—a highly satisfactory rate of production. The same praise for adherence to promises cannot be given to our contractors. In all cases, however, the increased plant necessary for completing heavy guns has been pushed forward, and the grounds for delay have diminished, and in the case of Sir J. Whitworth and Co., in particular, a. marked improvement in the rapidity of production has taken place during the year. The result has been that we have been able to issue a largo number of heavy guns. In the course of my speech last year I said that we hoped to receive 778 79 guns over 6in. in diameter during the period ending December 31, 1889. As a matter of fact, we have received only 67, though the Ordnance factories exceeded the number expected from them. But compare these figures with those of 1884–5. In that year the whole number of breech-loading guns over 6in. in diameter, either for land or sea service, was six, and one only was a 12in. gun. Since then the War Office called to its assistance some of the great manufacturing firms in this country, and in 1889 there were delivered from all sources, for naval and military purposes, 448 breech-loading guns, ranging in calibre from 4in. to 16 25in., besides machine and quick firing guns of various sizes to the number of between 400 and 500. The improvement in trade and the strikes which have taken place in various quarters tend to delay the delivery of some of our material; but we expect during the present year to obtain a more rapid rate of delivery, especially of big guns. And though I have usually-been cautious in accepting the estimates of time put before me, yet, if our anticipations are realised (and the gradual removal of recent causes of delay enables me to speak with more confidence), we ought to be able to show the following results:—In the first place, at the present moment only one ship of the Royal Navy can be described as waiting for any portion of her armament. All the other new ships, some of which have recently come forward before the date expected, have now been completely armed. And we have already proved and passed some of the guns for the new programme. The exception is Her Majesty's ship Sanspareil, in which ease the delay is due to the transfer of one of her 110½-ton guns to the Victoria, in consequence of the rejection of one of the guns from the latter ship, and the consequent determination to strengthen the other guns of the same calibre. There can be no doubt that the tests to which all our guns are subjected are more severe than in foreign countries. Little is ever heard of any failures or accidents which take place abroad, while the smallest contre-temps—which must, in all conceivable circumstances, sometimes occur—is in this country reported and exaggerated. This, and the discussions which have taken place 779 in Parliament, have naturally led our responsible experts to impose and to enforce tests of exceptional severity; and though no doubt delay is thereby caused, on the other hand the nature of the tests which every gun has to pass enables the War Department to place them or board ship after proof with an absolute confidence which has hitherto been fully justified. Secondly, the armament of the coaling-stations ought at last to be completed, with a few small exceptions. The long delayed guns for Singapore have all been despatched to their destination. Those for Hong Kong are now beginning to go out. The guns still required for Table Bay and Aden (at which places a portion of the armament is already mounted) should soon follow. The issue of the remaining guns to Colombo, which begins almost immediately, will be completed during the year, and soon with the remaining coaling-stations. This portion of our armament is, therefore, drawing to a conclusion. Thirdly, we ought to receive, with few exceptions, all the guns ordered under the Imperial Defence Act for the re-armament with modern guns of our Imperial fortresses at home and abroad. This work is being pushed on in all directions; and though it would not be right for me to enter into particulars, much of it has been completed. The Committee will recollect that this expenditure was authorised in the middle of 1888, and that three years was the time assigned for its completion. More than half the guns contained in this programme have actually been received within 18 months. The most rapid progress has been in the case of Portsmouth, where the great part of the work undertaken has been already completed, and of Harwich. In Malta, Gibraltar, and the Thames, much work has been done; and the emplacements having been generally completed, the next few months will see much more rapid progress in mounting heavy guns. I do not think I am going too far in claiming that this result is satisfactory, and all the more if it is, as it should be, practically completed within the time fixed (in spite of the great additional strain caused by the Naval Defence Act); and I may add also that it is being carried out within the Estimate originally made. The work of the Ordnance factories, to which allusion 780 has already been made, will best be illustrated by the Report of the Director General, which will be circulated to hon. Members, and gives an account of work done in all Departments. Special attention may be called to the steps taken for consolidating some of the services hitherto separately performed in different factories at Woolwich, which ought to tend to economy and efficiency. The issue of the new magazine rifle commenced in December last, and we have every reason to hope that during the present year all, or nearly all, the regular troops in this country and in India will have been supplied with this weapon.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I meant the next financial year. It is being produced at two Government establishments and in the workshops of two contractors in London and in Birmingham; and from the moment of the adoption of the final pattern no hitch of any importance has occurred in manufacture. Greater difficulty has been experienced with the ammunition, as the absolute necessity of issuing a powder capable of withstanding any variations of climate has as yet prevented the adoption into the Service of any nitro-powder; nor can any test except that of time finally decide this matter, as some foreign nations have found to their cost. The ammunition at present in use is filled with compressed pellets of black powder. But the smokeless powder now being issued for experiment is one which is believed to be superior to that in use elsewhere, and it has hitherto withstood the severe tests to which it has been exposed. Arrangements for its manufacture at Waltham are very nearly complete. In order to enable all the troops of the Regular Army to carry only one sort of ammunition, carbines and machine guns of the same calibre are in process of manufacture, The re-armament of the Horse and Field Artillery is progressing favourably, and would have been nearly completed now except for a change in the pattern of the carriage. But in a few months' time the whole of the service batteries on the home establishment, and three of the depôs, will be armed with the new 12-pounder 781 gun, leaving the 13-pounder in the hands of three depôt batteries only. Progress has been made in the manufacture of the Brennan torpedo, and in preparing the necessary appliances for its use: and experience is proving that it constitutes a more formidable addition to our defence than could ever have been anticipated. In the Report of Sir James Fitzjames Stephen's Commission there is a recommendation that some safeguard should be provided against the possibility of an undue depletion of warlike stores at any time. Her Majesty's Government have for some time had this matter under consideration; and although I am far from saying that the statement I am about to make fully satisfies all requirements, yet it will be admitted that it goes a considerable way towards doing so. The last completed store account is, of course, that for the year ending March 31, 1889. The statement giving approximately the valuation of the stock, which is inserted in the Appropriation Account, has been framed upon a new basis. Instead of the old principles of valuation, under which old stores always retained for account purposes the value at which they had been accepted, all warlike stores are now valued as serviceable, repairable, doubtful, and unserviceable. The result has been, of course, to diminish the total estimated value of stores already in stock, and the number and value of the stores at the chief store depots have also been reduced by the decentralisation which has taken place, a certain fixed reserve being held at the points of concentration. I am able to certify that the result of an examination shows that the general stock of reserve stores was fairly maintained during that year. It is easy to show what has happened since, because in the year 1888 the new form of Vote 12 was divided into two columns, the one showing' the amount and value of the stores necessary for the annual maintenance of our stock, the other of the stores prepared for equipment and reserve, or, in other words, for addition to the stock. The amount taken for this purpose will be seen in the Votes, and after deducting-the cost of annual maintenance and of unproductive expenditure the value of the amount estimated to be an addition to our stock is taken at £963.070 in 1889–90. and in 1890–91 at £1,249,242. My attention has been specially called to the 782 importance of establishing such a reserve of clothing as will enable the whole of our forces in the event of sudden mobilisation to receive certain necessary clothing, and of making provision also for the wear and tear of a campaign. After very careful consideration, and taking into account the great producing powers of the country, I have laid down the basis of this reserve, and provision is made upon that basis in the present Estimates for completing it in every respect. The Reports upon the clothing now issued to the various branches of the Service are satisfactory, and in the Reports received from commanding' officers the proportion of serious complaints to the total number of Reports is small, and annually decreasing. Various new patterns are being introduced into the Service, with the object always in view of facilitating rapid mobilisation. And here I should like to say incidentally that every care has been taken to guard against the evils of subcontracting as pointed out by the Committee on the Sweating System. All contracts of ready-made clothing now contain a clause making it necessary for the contractor to post up in his factory the rates to be paid to his workpeople. And so also in the case of accoutrements the Director of Contracts has, during the past year, visited all the workshops in London where Army contracts for accoutrements were being carried out. Generally speaking, the work is done ill factories, but when, to meet the convenience of women workers, leave to employ home hands has been given, care is take that regular wages are paid direct to the workpeople. I hope that the close watch which will continue to be kept will completely prevent the probability of sweating in connection with our contracts. And, lastly, we have examined also the question of providing reserves of food at certain fortresses which, in the event of a great naval war, might he deprived of their ordinary sources of supply, and we have made full provision for this purpose in all cases where present circumstances appear to render it a necessity. During' the past year special attention has been paid to the subject of rations. It will be recollected that an independent Committee, appointed by me, reported that the present meat ration, if properly managed, was sufficient, but recom- 783 mended an improvement in the bread ration. This recommendation has been acted on, and the appointment of Inspectors of rations, specially trained in London, has proved of great value, especially at the smaller stations, and has resulted in a similar improvement in the contract supplies. But I have also great confidence in the general interest in the subject which has been evoked among regimental officers. I have now only to ask pardon of the Committee for the length to which my remarks have extended. There are many subjects which have been necessarily omitted or only lightly touched upon. But some evidence has been offered to show that there never was a time during peace, when in all departments of the Army greater attempts were being made to improve in efficiency and preparation; and if it is not presumptuous in me to express an opinion, which has been formed from hearing the opinions of those best qualified to inform me upon the subject, not the least satisfactory or encouraging feature in the general review which is now submitted to the Committee, is the fact that, for some years past, the military efficiency of our officers has gone on steadily improving, and there is amongst them as keen a desire to learn and make themselves thoroughly qualified as prevails in any Army in the world. But something should be said also for the various departments of the War Office itself, which has been exposed to exceptional labour during the last few years; and the time will come when the great advance which has recently been made in all our preparations will demonstrate that to them also no small share of the credit is to be attributed.
§ (9.47.) MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I do not propose to attempt to follow the right hon. Gentleman over the very wide and interesting field which he has traversed, but, if he will permit me, I will congratulate him upon the singular mastery of his business which he has shown on this occasion, as he always does show. It is perfectly easy to follow and understand the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman, but nevertheless I think it perfectly impossible under the present system that anything like an adequate discussion can be taken on the matter laid before us. 784 I cannot help thinking that the departure from the old system was a mistake. A few years ago the Secretary of State for War made his statement upon the Army Estimates before the House went into Committee, and then each branch of the service was intelligently and intelligibly discussed on the Vote appropriate to it, but early this evening we were told by the First Lord of the Treasury that it is absolutely necessary that the Vote for men and money should be taken to-night—that we must vote six millions sterling to-night, and that any discussion must take place subsequently. To my lay mind that appears a very extraordinary proposition, because when we come to the Vote for stores or clothing, for instance, we shall be told it is perfectly useless to propose a reduction because the House has already passed the Vote which covers the pay of the officials. Now, I desire to make a few remarks upon some of the statements which fell, from the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the system which is now being adopted for mobilising the forces, so as to have a first and then a second line of defence, but he admitted that this was a paper scheme at best, and that it was not intended by the Government to test it in any practical way, because the testing would involve a very large expenditure of public money. [Mr. STANHOPE: Any general test.] Well, I suppose a test must be of some magnitude. But the French Administration did not think it was a waste of public money to mobilise their forces a few years ago in the Southern Departments, and anyone who watched the result of that experiment, who read the reports, and who took the trouble to inquire what was done in consequence of the mobilisation, will see of what immense value some practical test upon a scale of some size has in a matter of this kind. Let me remind the Committee that only a short time ago it was found that, notwithstanding the large sum spent upon sabres, many of them would not stand the test of practical warfare. In these Estimates there is an immense increase for inspection in connection with the stores. But the increase conies rather too late. If the inspection had taken place some years ago yon would not have had all these deplorable revelations to be ashamed of. And so it is with regard to 785 mobilisation; it would be very much better to spend perhaps a substantial sum of money in testing practically your Mobilisation Scheme, so as to find whether it is anything more than a mere paper scheme, than to wait until the hour of trial comes. I doubt very much whether, as a matter of fact, it is necessary to spend a very large amount upon mobilisation. The amount spent by the French was not very great at all compared with the Army expenditure. You have the means within the limits of the figures in these Estimates to economise the sum, which will go a very considerable way towards paying the expenses of, at any rate, a limited test. I heard Lord Wolseley say, before the Royal Commission on Civil Service Establishments, he was satisfied that a very large amount of money was wasted every year in a needless movement of troops—shifting them about from one town to another, and from one set of barracks to another. Why cannot you effect a substantial reduction by diminishing the useless movement of troops, and spend the money upon a movement which need not last more than a week or a fortnight, but which will furnish a good test of the worth of your paper mobilisation? But there is another point of view from which I desire to look at these Estimates. We have been accustomed to see them submitted to the House under a very considerable number of heads. Last year they were submitted in 25 different Votes, then this year the number of Votes has been reduced to 13. Vote 1, for instance, covers general staff, regimental pay, and other charges. There was a separate Vote for the chaplains' department, a separate Vote for military prisons, a separate Vote for the Army Reserve, but now all these are lumped together in one huge sum. The first thing that occurs to me is that under the new system the Government will have the power to utilise the balances under one or more of the Votes I have mentioned by applying them to services to which, before this year, they could not have been applied. The First Lord of the Treasury undertook with regard to the Civil Services that there should be no increase in the free hand of the Government. I should like to ask the Secretary of State for War what he pro- 786 poses to do with regard to Vote 1; whether the old rule as to balances will obtain? Whether the control of Parliament is not substantially affected by the alteration which has been introduced is a matter worthy of consideration. The right hon. Gentleman points out in his Memorandum that the reduction in the number of Votes is made in accordance with the recommendation of the Estimates Committee of two years ago. The Committee recommended that the War Office and the Admiralty should, in connection with the Treasury, submit schemes to the House. [Cries of "Oh!"] I was on the Committee and I remember the recommendation very well, but I don't trust to my memory. I have refreshed it by reference to the printed Report. It is true that certain of the schemes of Votes and Estimates have been referred to the Public Accounts Committee, but that Committee cannot deal with them in, at any rate, one aspect, and that is the Constitutional check which the House of Commons has, or is supposed to have, and ought to have, upon the sums which are appropriated for different branches of the public service. I think the control of Parliament is very materially affected by this unauthorised alteration in the mode in which the Estimates are presented to the House. There is another point on which I should like information. The Ordnance Factory services which have been separated from the other Army-services are henceforth to be managed on commercial principles, but in the Estimates, as now presented, I find a number of different charges, all on account of the ordnance factories. Throughout the Estimates there are charges which ought to be put in the Ordnance Factory Vote, and ought not to appear in these Estimates at all. Again, there is the question of recruiting. Recruiting, however hopeful the Inspector General may be for the present year, compared with past periods, is not all that the War Office may wish it to be. How does the right hon. Gentleman expect recruiting to be satisfactorily carried on when, in some respects at least, the treatment which the War Office gives to soldiers is so unfair, not to say cruel? I do not only refer to the very great distinction which is made between officers and men; all the world knows how marked that distinction is. 787 You have two men equally heroic going into the field. Both are shot. One is an officer, and the other a private soldier. The widow of the officer is placed on the Pension List, the widow of the soldier may go to the wash-tub or the workhouse. But let us take the case of men who are not shot. I have in my hand the discharge documents of a man who served for over a quarter of a century, and he is now 82 years of age. He enlisted in the year 1824, and served for over 16 years without having the least thing recorded against him. He was eventually discharged with a good character; but after he had served 16 years he found himself in Canada, where some of his relatives had emigrated. He went to see them, and, unfortunately for himself, he had a certain amount of conviviality in their company. He drank excessively, and was not fit to go back to barracks that day. On the following day, before he had recovered from the effects of the drink, the picket found him and brought him back to head quarters. What I have stated was the whole of his offence. He was charged and tried by Court Martial as for desertion—a technical offence under the regulations which at that time obtained. What was the result of his conviction? Why, although the man was only away from barracks for 22 hours, and never intended to run away, the sentence was forfeiture, not only of the claims of his 16 years' service, but of all future possible claims for reward or pension. The man served 10 years more, when he received his discharge with a parchment certificate declaring him to be of good character. He was discharged in Western Australia, where he has lived ever since. Although he received a good character on leaving the service, the punishment was strictly enforced and no pension was granted. He is now 82 years of age. The man never contemplated desertion at all, but had merely been out on a booze with some friends who were emigrating to Canada.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
I think it was in 1856, but I will pass the certificate over to the hon. Member. How can men be expected to join the service with such a monument of injustice before them? I shall be glad to know what the right hon. Gentleman has to 788 say with regard to the appropriation of these different Votes.
§ * SIR W. BARTTELOT (Sussex, North-West)
I desire to say a few words on the most interesting statement we have heard from my right hon. Friend. I must say I am surprised he did not mention the alteration made in the Estimates and tell us that there are four Votes now included in the first Vote, namely, General Staff Pay, Chaplains' Department, Staff of Military Prisons, and Army Reserve Corps. It would be as much as Ave could do to discuss one of these Votes properly to-night. I venture to hope, however, that we shall have ample opportunity later on of discussing the questions which have been brought before us to-night. The first question which struck me was one with regard to our Army at home, in connection with our Army in India, and in the Colonies. My right hon. Friend stated clearly and explicitly the difficulty that we have in regard to this particular question. He would not deny for a moment that we deplete our Army at home to keep up our Army in India, and he would not deny, he was pressed closely, that if we wish to send one Army Corps fully furnished and equipped into the field we shall have to send out some of our Army Reserves. I say that the first thing- a nation like this ought to do, having regard to what other countries are doing, should be to dissever its battalions at home from those abroad—to relieve the Army at home of the task of having to fill up gaps in the Army in India. I have stated this over and over again, and am glad to see that some of the recommendations that have been made in various parts of the House have been embodied in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, for there is nothing more important than that we should have an Army at home which is thoroughly efficient, and I have no hesitation in saying that at present that is not the case. What was the next thing the right hon. Gentleman stated? He said—and I was glad to hear it—that the stores have been decentralised, and that is a most important matter, and one deserving of every consideration. I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman did not say that there were sufficient stores for one Army Corps at Aldershot or elsewhere.
§ * SIR W. BARTTELOT
we do not want to know what we have on paper, but we want to see at Aldershot a whole Army Corps fully equipped with its general officer in command, all its other officers and its stores. Until we see such an Army Corps the nation will not believe that we have got it. I was delighted to hear that the defences of our coaling stations are nearly complete. There was nothing more damaging to Governments which preceded Her Majesty's present advisers—I do not mean on one side of the House more than on the other—than the complaints which at one time used to be constantly made as to the defencelessness of our coaling stations. My right hon. Friend said that there were 125,000 men employed in our forts and coaling stations, but f suppose that includes Militia and Volunteers, and also native levies?
§ * SIR W. BARTTELOT
I am afraid that the proportion of regular troops employed at the coaling stations is very small. As to the Army Reserve and Militia, I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend say that the latter branch of the service has been put in a better state than it was, for I consider there is nothing more important than that branch of the Service should be in a proper condition. My opinion is that if the Militia were properly dealt with we should have, not only in name, but in reality, third and fourth battalions ready to fill up vacancies in the Regular Army on emergencies. If you can make your Volunteers more effective of course you can do the same with your Militia, and render them fit for any kind of service. I was also glad to learn that our light works and fortifications are in a forward state, and that 100,000 Volunteers have gone into camp. I regret the defeat of the Government on the question of the Volunteers. I voted with my right hon. Friend, because I believe he has done great and important services to that valuable branch of the Service. I am behind no one in desiring to see the Volunteers efficient and effective and able to take the field at short notice, and I desire to see them 790 assisted in the matter of equipment; but I do not think it is right to throw on the Government the responsibility of providing all that is wanted, when there are so many people in the country who do not assist the Volunteer movement except by offering money subscriptions. I think I should have been wrong if I had not supported the Government, especially as they told us they did not mean to press home unduly the rule laid down in the Circular they have issued, but would deal in a kindly manner with those corps who have done their best under most difficult circumstances. I am more than delighted with what the Secretary of State has done for the Reserves, and I am glad that employers of labour are doing all they can to enable their men who are in the Reserves to carry out what is required of them. I heard from Colonel Ravenhill the same statement that the right hon. Gentleman has made with regard to the number of horses which will be available in future in case of emergency, and I understand that the number is 14,000, and that is a great advance of what we have ever had before in that way. The question of guns and ammunition is equally important, and nothing can be so bad as to have in the field guns of different calibre and different sorts of ammunition for them. I am delighted that the right hon. Gentleman has, in the matter of the depletion of stores, taken the bull by the horns, and that in future stores will not be depleted in times of economy, but that the country will have a full and effective supply, that the stores will be examined, and a correct Report made regarding them year by year. Until we get that statement we shall never know how we stand. I am pleased to hear that the men in the Reserve are to have clothing always ready for them, so that they may join their regiments at a moment's notice. I have not time to go into the Report of the General of Recruiting; but there are many things in that Report which we ought to discuss, and which I hope we shall have an opportunity of discussing. I am glad to see that desertions and fraudulent enlistments have fallen off, but we require 5,000 men this year more than last, and with the improvement in trade the difficulty of obtaining recruits will increase more and more. Looking to the general 791 position of affairs I think I may congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the statement he has made. He has always been very explicit with the House, and the country win read his statement with pleasure and satisfaction.
§ *(10.20.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I entirely concur in the warm congratulations offered to the right hon. Gentleman, not only on the matter, but on the manner of the statement he has submitted. There was only one deficiency that I observed in connection with the statement, and that was the deficiency of an audience. While the right hon. Gentleman was delivering his most important statement—and a more important or more interesting statement I never heard from a Minister of War—where were the military Members? They form a large portion of the House of Commons. A year or two ago I understand they even constituted themselves into an amateur Committee, in order to control the affairs of this House. Where were they when the right hon. Gentleman was delivering his statement a while ago? Further, I say, where are they now, now that the time for dining has elapsed? Where, I may further ask, are the economists, for this is an occasion on which they might have had something to say? These Estimates are in excess of the Estimates of last year by a nominal net increase of £389,000. The Estimates both for the Army and Navy have been increasing year by year, and we must remember the special financial arrangement with regard to Imperial defences, and, last year, the special arrangement in regard to the Navy and the large sum which is now proposed—£4,100,000—outside the ordinary Estimates, to be expended upon the construction of barracks. And still the normal Estimates are increasing. The increase, so far as I can make out, is really greater than £389,000, because one of the decreases taken credit for arises from the removal of charges from these Estimates, which charges are otherwise provided for. This decrease, although technically justifiable, is a thing which we should not leave out of our view. I should like to know what is meant by the increase in contributions from the colonies? How does it arise? It appears to arise principally in connection with the Mauritius, Hong Kong, 792 and the Straits Settlements, and yet the expenditure on the forces in those places has not increased, but seems, in some cases, to have materially diminished. Is this not, as it were, a misleading item, seeing that this expenditure is covered by or belongs to the expenditure that is going on for the defence of coaling stations? I trust the right hon. Gentleman will explain the matter. I have said that the increase is very serious—it does not fall far short of £500,000. Well, I am not going to lead an assault upon that increase, because I well know how claims from all the different services press upon the Minister for War, and I know how many things have all at once come to a state of maturity, with which he has been obliged to deal. But, at the same time, the House of Commons ought not to pass the Estimates without marking its sense of the increase and expressing the hope that in the near future a more permanent equilibrium of expenditure may be found. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman was marred by one little incident. He expressed his regret and even his disappointment, and he said he was much hurt by the Division which took place earlier in the evening. I am disposed to sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman, because I know how much he has done for the Volunteers in the past in the position he now occupies, but in a moment, must I say of petulance? the right hon. Gentleman said the result of the Division was due to a Party manœuvre. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will seriously repeat that suggestion.
§ * MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I am not concerned to defend myself, but to justify my friends. The right hon. Gentleman did allude to me and to my absence. He remarked that I had not taken part in the debate. Well, I can explain my absence by saying that I was so unfortunate as not to agree with either side in the quarrel. I dislike these assaults by Members en masse upon the public funds, but I agree very much with what has been said. If I were to grudge money at all, it would rather be to the Yeomanry, and possibly in some respects to the Militia, than to the Volunteers. 793 and I am not at all enamoured of the method of meeting the difficulty by public subscription, firstly because it is not a worthy method, and secondly because it works unevenly in different places. In places like London, Manchester, and Liverpool, when there is an ebullition of patriotic generosity, you may find people willing to give what is required, but in remoter districts that cannot be expected, and I am afraid, therefore, that we must look to a larger devotion of public money to the purpose. But as to its being a Party manœuvre, the right hon. Gentleman must remember that it was principally his own friends who made the attack upon him, and that one of his own friends was a Teller in the Division. I can certainly assert that there was no concert or agreement so far as any of the Opposition were concerned. The right hon. Gentleman has explained what is being done in the way of organising the forces at home. If the real object is to organise and decentralise the forces for the purpose of home defence, all my misgivings with regard to that policy and scheme cease. The hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. A. O'Connor) spoke about testing the system. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that not only would the test be attended with vast expense, but it would be almost impossible in this country. The Governments of France and Germany have a power over the civil population which the Government of this country does not possess. Even the Autumn Manœuvres, to which in former years we were accustomed in England, and which are carried on upon such an extensive scale on the Continent, have been found almost impossible here for this very reason. The railways and all the means of conveyance in those countries are placed absolutely at the disposal of the Government, and the troops are billeted on the inhabitants. In fact, the authorities deal with the country as they like. But when we have very small and modest autumn manœuvres on Salisbury Plain, the first thing that has to be done is to pass an Act of Parliament constituting a tribunal which is to say what compensation should be given to a farmer if a turnip is stolen from his field, or if one of his fences is damaged. That is the practical difference between the two countries, and the conse- 794 quence is that anything like a mobilisation of the forces in time of peace becomes practically impossible. One of the most satisfactory parts of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was that from which it may be gathered that at last the type and design of guns have in the main been settled, and also that the resources of the country in respect of their manufacture have been so developed that rapid delivery to the full extent of our wants is now attainable. The right hon. Gentleman stated that only one ship was now waiting for its guns, that the armaments for the coaling stations were nearly ready, and that all the guns ordered for Imperial defence as authorised under the Act of 1888 will be shortly provided. That is a most satisfactory condition of things. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the accidents which sometimes happen to guns, and to the way in which these accidents are published and exaggerated, and he pointed out that this led to delay in manufacture, because of the severity of the tests which, in their own defence, the military authorities impose. I wish to add another result of the great publicity given to these accidents. Sometimes trivial accidents happen to guns, which are immediately published in all the newspapers, and the effect exaggerated by interested persons. One of our great objects in this country should be to increase our sources of supply, and to encourage the makers of these large guns, so as to have them in as many parts of the country as possible. What is the effect of these exaggerated stories? They pass from our newspapers into those of foreign countries, and the consequence is that foreign orders cease to come to our manufacturers and go to other countries where just as many mistakes are made and as many accidents happen. This has actually been the result of the publication of these exaggerated stories. It is to foreign orders that private gun makers look to help in maintaining the expensive establishments required for the manufacture of largo guns, yet these orders are, in consequence of the exaggerated reports, transferred to foreign makers, who are guilty of just as many mistakes and with whose guns similar accidents happen, although no one says anything about it. Those who know anything about these matters are aware that precisely the same accidents happen 795 in France and Germany. I think it would be better if a little reticence were exercised by the newspapers and by members of the community at large, not of course to cover up anything which ought to be disclosed, but so as to avoid discrediting our own resources, and thus not only injuring our trade but depriving the Government of the advantage of having those establishments for executing its orders. In a discussion such as this it is impossible to go into details; but I am glad to know that the right hon. Gentleman has made such excellent progress both in the direction of organisation and in the provision of warlike stores and large and small guns. He has had an unusual amount of labour to perform and an unusually large number of questions to settle; but I think he is to be congratulated as also is the House upon his apparent success.
§ *(10.38.) COLONEL BLUNDELL
I would venture to urge that the Secretary for War should not only give the actual expense of the Army, but the cost relatively to the numbers of the population and the wealth that has to be protected. That would show that while the normal expenditure on the Army remains practically stationary, the population of the country is increasing at the rate of a thousand daily, and its wealth is enormously growing. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy thinks that we might reduce the Regular Army, and at the same time increase the efficiency of the Auxiliary Forces. But while we cannot overrate the value of the Auxiliary Forces as an adjunct to the Regular Army, we cannot too much underrate them as a substitute for that Army. The hon. Member also suggested that the territorial system has not worked satisfactorily; but I can say that it has been carried out faithfully and successfully, and it is found that year by year more men are drawn by regiments from that part of the country to which the regiment belongs. The Secretary for War has told us that more places for the concentration of troops are required in this country. I agree with him, because the troops cannot be properly trained to the use of the weapons with which they have to fight un-less they have extensive training grounds, which, be it remembered, would be of great value not only to the Regular Forces 796 but also to the Militia and Volunteers. Ranges also which are much required could be established at these places of concentration. With regard to ammunition, we can never attain finality in a country which is progressive; but I would suggest that the description of the ammunition should be painted legibly on the exterior, so that every one who takes it up should know what it is. I have no doubt that if the improvement in trade continues there will be great difficulty in recruiting. I think it would be very desirable to enlist men for three years, and some six months after enlistment induce as many as possible to enlarge the time for eight or ten years, so that they may be able to complete the full term of service in India. We should thus be in a better position to keep up our battalions on foreign service, and it might be well to consider whether men who thus extended their period of service were not worth a penny per day more pay than is given to those who join the ranks for the shorter period. I will not any longer occupy the time of the House; but, in conclusion, I wish simply to add my hearty congratulations to those already tendered to the Secretary for War on his thoroughly satisfactory statement on the subject of the mobilisation scheme, remarking only that the proportion of men frittered away in the seaports and other places is too large.
(10.45.) MR. MAC NEILL
I hope to occupy the attention of the House for but a very few minutes; but I am sorry the Secretary for War is not in his place, as I wish to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to several important questions. In the first place, it was stated a few mouths ago in the papers, and it has not since been contradicted, that there are 22 known survivors of the Balaclava Charge in Union workhouses. One of these was at Horncastle, in Lincolnshire, and I am informed that he had walked nine miles to the residence the Secretary for War in the hope of seeing him, but was told that there would be no good in his doing so. These incidents certainly do not exhibit the lot of a soldier in a rosy light. The right hon. Gentleman stated that there was nothing to complain of in the matter of the character of the rations issued to common soldier But is it not 797 a fact that soldiers employed on eviction duty in Ireland got better rations than those issued in the ordinary course? I believe it is a fact that the soldiers who were employed at the evictions on the Olphert Estate were billeted in Mr. Olphert's house; but even they have caused it to be known that they hated the employment and regarded it as a degradation to their cloth. Now I come to a question in which I am particularly concerned, that of the employment of Army chaplains, and in this matter I think we have an illustration of the inconvenience of the new system which has been adopted by the Government of jumbling a lot of Votes together, with a view to avoiding discussion on separate items. I am glad now to see that the Secretary for War has returned to his seat, and I hope he will give me a satisfactory answer on this point, or I shall feel it my duty to divide the House by moving the reduction of the Vote by £57,676, the sum allotted for Army Chaplains. Now, I hold that a substantial saving might be effected by merely employing Army Chaplains at foreign stations, and giving the appointments at home to beneficed clergymen of the district in which the troops are stationed, for I believe such clergymen would willingly accept a comparatively small salary. It is only within the last 30 or 40 years that distinct ecclesiastical establishments have been erected for the Army. I see that many of the Army Chaplains now receive about £800 a year, and that there are 88 of them. I believe that in many cases their duties could be performed by rectors of parishes, who would gladly accept £200 or £300 a year, and they would greatly benefit by this addition to their incomes. I believe there are no fewer than eight Army Chaplains stationed in Ireland—seven of them being at Dublin and one at the Curragh. Now that the Church has been disestablished in Ireland a sum of £300 or £400 a year would prove a welcome and substantial addition in the case of rectors where troops are stationed, and I believe that the work would be equally well done, while it would prove more acceptable to the men, who look on the Army Chaplains almost as officers.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
Will the hon. Member allow me to say I do not remem- 798 ber his having brought this matter before me prior to this?
MR. MAC NEILL
Then I should like to refresh the memory of the right hon. Gentleman. If he will refer to Hansard, June 27, 1889, he will find that Mr. Mac Neill, the Member for South Donegal, put this Question—I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether it is the fact that the Catholic parochial clergy invariably minister to Catholic troops stationed in their several parishes and districts in Ireland; why does not the same rule prevail that Irish Protestant clergy should similarly minister to troops of the Protestant faith in their various districts and parishes, and why are English Army Commissioned Protestant Chaplains brought over at great expense to discharge duties which would be quite as efficiently discharged by the local clergy at a small stipend, and which duties the local clergy are ready and willing to discharge; would he have any objection to direct a Return of the number of the various stations in Ireland at which Commissioned Army Protestant Chaplains and Clergymen of the Irish Protestant Church minister to troops, stating in each case the cost of providing for such ministrations; whether it is a fact that six out of the nine barracks in Dublin are ministered to by the local Protestant Clergy at a less expense than the remaining three, which are ministered to by Army Commissioned Chaplains; and will he take any steps to equalise the condition of the Catholic and Protestant Clergy and to save the pubic money?The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War replied to this, and attached to his reply is a little asterisk showing that he carefully examined the answer before it was printed in Hansard. He said—It is the fact that the local clergy minister to the Roman Catholic troops in Ireland at the express wish of the Episcopal Authorities there. The same rule applies as regards Protestant denominations when the number of troops are small; but where the number is largo it is considered more advantageous to have a Commissioned Chaplain, who can give his whole time to the men and their families. There are three stations at which Commissioned Chaplains are serving—Dublin, Cork, and the Curragh. All the Dublin barracks, except Pigeonhouse Fort, are attended by Commissioned Chaplains. Having regard to all the circumstances, the existing arrangements are considered the most efficient and economical.I may say that in a casual conversation with the Archbishop of Dublin I asked if he approved of what I had been doing in this matter. The prelate, as the House may know, is a temporal Peer, and he replied to me that if he had the oppor- 799 tunity he would willingly raise a question in the House of Lords as to the desirability of continuing the appointments of Army Chaplains at Dublin and the Curragh. I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should not be able to give me an answer. I can only emphasise my protest against their being brought over at enormous expense, and that the money should be taken from poor gentlemen to whom every single halfpenny is of importance. I must emphasise my view by dividing the House.
MR. MAC NEILL
The facts I have stated are the result of a conversation between Lord Plunket and myself. The right hon. Gentleman will scarcely doubt my credibility in conveying the conversation accurately. The right hon. Gentleman has had eight months of incubation, and surely the right hon. Gentleman has found some information about this matter. I never, unless it is on a matter of extreme importance, interfere in another Gentleman's constituency. I do not think it right or proper to do so. But stern necessity compels me to interfere in the constituency of the right hon. Gentleman who sits on that Bench, the Member for Dublin University. The constituency of that University comprises two-thirds of the Dublin clergy. The right hon. Gentleman was selected by the Castle for nomination by the Dublin clergy. A clergyman wrote to him this letter—Sir,—Having reference to your Address to the Electors of the University of Dublin in this day's paper, I have been desirous of drawing your attention to an important matter affecting the interests of the clergy of the Church of Ireland, who constitute, I believe, the great majority of the Electors. You are, perhaps, aware that in Ireland wherever Her Majest'ys troops are located the invariable rule is that the Roman Catholic parochial clergy are employed as chaplains to the troops; whereas in many places the presence, the privileges, and the rights of the clergy of the Church of Ireland are entirely ignored. Your predecessor in the representation of the University, though applied to, failed to obtain any justice as 'equality' in this matter, and at the last Election I thought it my duty to propose another Candidate who, if successful, would seek earnestly to remedy this grievance and remove this anomaly. May I ask jour kindness to inform me whether, if elected, you would be glad to do what is in your power to procure an alteration of this 800 state of things, as I should feel very reluctant in the present juncture to cause division in the Conservative ranks, or to put the University to the trouble of, it might be, a protracted electionI remain, dear Sir,Yours faithfully,THOS. MILLS, M.A., Vicar.St. Jude's, Dublin.To this was sent the following reply:—Dear Sir,—In reply to your letter of the 1st inst., I beg to say, that if elected, I should give my immediate attention to the question referred to in your letter. I cannot hope to have much influence in regard to such a matter, but whatever I may possess, I shall most certainly exert.Yours faithfully,D.W. MADDEN.The right hon. Gentleman has been too busy answering questions on behalf of the Chief Secretary, and, in place of the late Colonel King-Harman, to attend to this matter. If necessary, I can promise to get him the support of Lord Plunket. I do not know the Primate of Ireland, Dr. Knox, but I know he will support the truth, for he has written eloquently of the disregard of the constituents by the Gentleman sent to represent the University of Dublin. I represent the most Protestant constituency in the whole Empire, but I believe in trying to do justice to my Protestant brethren, I shall have support. Though I believe these gentlemen would compass heaven and earth to defeat my political views, that does not prevent me trying to get them justice. In spite of their political views, I have a great regard for the members of the Church, of which I was myself a member, and of which my father was one of the ministers.
§ MR. PENROSE FITZGERALD (Cambridge)
The hon. Gentleman has stated that there have been numerous protests from the Church of Ireland. Will he kindly give us the dates of those protests, and whence they came?
MR. MAC NEILL
The hon. Gentleman has rather misunderstood me. But I can state this clearly, that it was on the paper of the Dublin Protestant Synod, and was discussed last November. There was a notice calling attention to the matter by the Rev. Thomas Mills. Many clergymen have spoken about it. I can certainly pledge myself that I have the great authority of my Reverend Friend 801 Lord Plunket to show this has been done.
*(11.7.) GENERAL FITZ WYGRAM (Fareham, Hants)
Sir, I desire to call attention to the state of the cavalry. It appears to be a common idea that a cavalry regiment is inefficient if in peace service it has more men than horses, but the fact is it is far easier, and takes far less time to train a horse than to train the trooper who rides it. It appears to be a common idea that the well-trained horse is the essential item of organisation. Cavalry officers take an entirely different view of that matter, and regard trained dragoons as the essential item in cavalry. Horses trained and broken and used to saddle and bridle can be obtained at the outbreak of war, at an increased cost, or by means of registration. Personally, I prefer the scheme of obtaining horses by registration, because we know that we can get the right quality of horses when we want them. Any number of horses can, if required, be got ready in time for a campaign. It takes a very short time to teach horses, already used to bit and bridle, to stand fire and carry military accoutrements. As a general rule a week or a, fortnight is sufficient for them. As regards trained dragoons, the case is exactly the opposite. Neither for love nor money can you get 1,000 or 2,000 dragoons, and I do not think you could train dragoons in less than nine months, besides which it must take a considerable time to enlist the men. The best cavalry organisation in my view is to have the largest number of men that can be kept efficient sis dragoons on a given number of horses; and conversely the smallest number of horses necessary to keep those men in efficiency. Now, I think it is quite possible to maintain a larger number of men in a state of efficiency than we do. To each of our six cavalry regiments on the higher establishment I should add 100 men—making 700 men; and 75 men added to each of the 12 regiments, on the lower establishment, which would make a total of 1,410 additional dragoons. That would be a large force of trained men, most invaluable at the outbreak of war, and could be obtained, compara- 802 tively speaking, with a very small expenditure, because there would be no increase of expense as regards officers and horses. I may be told that the cavalry could be augmented at the outbreak of war by means of a reserve. I deny that in toto. When our men have been discharged for three or four years, and have not been on a horse in that time, they get stiff and totally unfit to be sent out at once on a campaign. The Germans realise this thoroughly; they have a reserve, but they do not employ them in the first line. They send their reserve to be re-trained at cavalry depots against the possible carrying on of a war into another campaign. The Secretary for War may say:—"I maintain a certain number of men, and if you tell me I can do with fewer horses, I shall be very glad to do so." I do not wish anything I have said to imply that the least in the world. I do not think it is possible to maintain efficiency in field drill with a less establishment of horses than we have now. It may be in the minds of hon. Gentlemen that I have understated the amount of time necessary for the training of horses for military service. Be it remembered that I am speaking of horses used to bridle and saddle, and in hard work. I am not speaking of young horses. When the 15th Hussars were coming home from India, and had got as far as Bombay, they received a message ordering them to go to South Africa. When they were landed at Natal, they were without horses, but the Natal Government provided horses for them; horses that had never been mounted by dragoons, or worn military accoutrements in their lives. It was, however, a matter of urgency, and the hussars mounted on the night of the day on which they landed and rode those horses, which kicked and bucked at first. But they had trained dragoons on their backs—and by the time they reached the front, the horses were well in hand, and there was no regiment in that service which proved more effective than the hussars who had been mounted in that way upon horses which, as far as military training was concerned, were utterly without it. With regard to another subject, the question of musketry instruction, I have a strong feeling that the education 803 given in that direction is utterly and totally on the wrong edge. It is notorious that the improved rifle of recent years, notwithstanding its great range and extreme accuracy, has failed to produce the results which were anticipated from it in war. I believe that our regimental officers do their duty well, and that the men are as well taught as is possible, on the authorised system, but to my mind the whole system is totally wrong. We teach the men to shoot under conditions which never occur in actual war. We teach them to be steady, not to move, to gauge the wind, never to be hurried, and to take calm and deliberate aim, but these are not the conditions of active service. When men have been trained to shoot under such conditions, and then are called upon to fire in the hurry and excitement of actual battle, it is impossible for them to do well that which they have never been taught, and of which they have had no practice. I have nothing whatever to say against the ordinary training of our recruits in regard to musketry; it it as good, perhaps, as it can be under the system adopted. Of course the recruits must be taught to be steady, to take good aim, and learn the theory of musketry. But, in my opinion, when a trained soldier has been dismissed from his musketry drill, he ought never to fire a shot except at unknown distances, and, before firing, he should be required to simulate the bustle of war, by running a hundred yards or so and then made to fire four or five shots in rapid succession. There is, of course, a tendency in all special departments to the haute école. For my part, I should like to see the great bulk of our soldiers made to fire in a rough and ready way; they ought to run about and carry on their musketry practice as nearly as possible under the conditions that would obtain in actual war. I will give an illustration of what I am endeavouring to impress upon the House. There is a class of men known as circus riders, who certainly are most accomplished horsemen in the ring and on the tan, where they are called upon to perform particular feats; but if you were to take them and their horses into the hunting field you would probably find them dropped into the first ditch or thrown at the first hedge, 804 because that is a kind of riding to which they have not been accustomed, and it is not improbable that a farmer's boy on a rough country pony we aid be a long way ahead of them at the end of the run. I am anxious on this musketry question, because I think the instruction now given is a failure, mainly because that instruction is given under circumstances which are totally unlike what would occur under the conditions of war. There is another subject to which I may be allowed to call attention. I think that some limitation ought to be adopted in regard to the period of command enjoyed by a commanding officer in the auxiliary forces. It is quite possible for a young officer retired from the Army to get the command of an auxiliary corps at the age of 30, and he might retain that command for 20 or 30 years. I think there is nothing more heartbreaking for the other officers than to know that those in command have no limit of time and that they may never achieve the object of all military ambition—the command of their own regiment. Again, I think it very undesirable to have the same officer always in command. He may undoubtedly make his regiment a perfect machine, faultless under inspection; but if that regiment were taken into the field, and, as is not at all unlikely, the commanding officer might be shot, or failed in health, or was appointed to a brigade, the machine would cease to work, because its main spring was lost. Therefore, I ask the Government to fix a maximum term of command. It often happens that a man is perfectly fit to command when he obtains it, but as he grows older his habits and customs, and his whole manner, undergoes such a change that he may become absolutely unfitted for the post. I do not suggest that the same limit which obtains in the line, namely, four years, should be applied to auxiliary commands; that is done to give the junior officers a fair chance. I do, however, ask that some limit should be fixed, and I would suggest that eight years would be a fair maximum. That, I feel confident, would give great satisfaction both to the officers and men in the auxiliary forces, and would materially tend to promote the efficiency of those arms of our Service.
§ MR. R. K. CAUSTON (Southwark, West)
I desire to call attention to the grievances of a very deserving class of officers, the quartermasters. They consider they have a genuine grievance in relation to their retired pay and retired rank. Last year I asked the Secretary for War to appoint a Committee to inquire into this question, but that request was refused; and with regard to the Committee known as Lord Randolph Churchill's Committee, it decided not to take up this grievance, which was only looked upon as a matter of detail. I will point out what has happened during the last 16 months with regard to retired pay. The quartermasters complain that whereas they and other officers of the same rank are treated in one way, the officers of the Coast Brigade who, like the quartermasters and ridingmasters, rise from the rank, are treated in a different way, greatly to the prejudice of the quartermasters. A ridingmaster with 10 years' rank service and 29 years' commissioned service was compulsorily retired at the age of 58 on £200 a year, or £102 2s. 6d. less than his pay. A quartermaster with 13 years' rank service and 28 years' commissioned service was compulsorily retired al 58 on £200, or £73 15s. 0d. less than his pay; but, on the other hand, an officer of the Coast Brigade Royal Artillery with 26 years' rank service and 14 years' commissioned service was compulsorily retired at 55 on £292 a year, or the full pay of his rank. It would seem that the quartermasters have very few friends among the regular officers of the Army. It is generally admitted that they are a most efficient body of officers, but when it comes to the discussion of their grievances there is a disposition to think they ought to be satisfied with their position. With regard to another point, namely, retirement with the rank of major, the quartermasters have, I think, a further grievance. Retirement with that rank was a concession granted during the time the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) was at the War Office. It was arranged by him that quartermasters should serve with the honorary rank of captain and retire with the rank of major; but under the new warrant of the Secretary for War that privilege was abolished. The result is, 806 that of the 22 senior quartermasters who have been denied the rank of major, one of them served in commission over 23 years, two over 21 years, one over 19 years, four over 18 years, five over 17 years, and nine over 16 years. After this statement, I think the Committee will agree with me in thinking that these men have a real grievance and that that grievance ought to be remedied. As it is, we have one Secretary for War coming down to this House and stating that these men are to retire with the rank of major; and, notwithstanding this and the fact that these officers have performed faithful and efficient services, another Secretary for War comes here and tells us he intends to take away this privilege. I have always considered that these men were deserving of sympathy; and as long as I have the honour of occupying a seat in this House, and until some remedy for their grievances has been adopted, I shall continue to draw attention to the subject.
§ *(11.28.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I have to thank the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down for the remarks he has offered to the Committee, and I also have to thank the Committee generally for the approval with which my statement has been received. I was particularly pleased with the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman opposite in reference to the supply of guns. That is a subject which has been fraught with much difficulty, and I am glad to think that that difficulty has been largely overcome. One matter to which the right hon. Gentleman has called attention is very important, as it concerns the defence of our colonies. A small Committee composed of Treasury and War Office Officials has inquired into the justice of the contributions made by our colonies, and some of the colonies which have been already dealt with have been called upon to make increased contributions. We have now not only provided a large amount of armament for certain of our colonies, but have also increased their garrisons. We shall carry out that process throughout all the remaining colonies, and where we think the increase 807 ought to be made, we call on the colony to bear an increased burthen.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to point out in regard to the amounts contributed and the amounts included for military purposes that, in the case of Mauritius, its contribution has been raised from £16,000 to £30,000, while the expenditure in Mauritius has been reduced from £51,000 to £47,000.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
The contributions which are now asked have been fixed upon a complete examination of all the circumstances so as to determine the proper proportionate sum that should be paid by each colony. It is difficult to explain all the circumstances briefly, but I shall be glad to show my right hon. Friend the data upon which we have proceeded. Every circumstance has been taken into account. The amount paid before, the financial position of the colony, the assistance rendered by Imperial troops—every circumstance from which to draw a correct deduction has been considered very carefully. And now I will reply to the hon. Member for South Donegal. The hon. Gentleman has recently paid a visit to my constituency, where, I hope, he has enjoyed himself. He brings back with him a story which is not new—of a pensioner who is to be found in the Horncastle Workhouse. It is a story that has also been circulated by the gentleman who is going to stand against me at the next Election. I know as a fact the man is there, and I know also that one of my predecessors in office referred the case to the Chelsea Hospital Commissioners, who examined it and decided against the claim.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I have no doubt he did, but good service does not necessarily entitle him to a pension. At all events, it is not for me to decide. The Commissioners of Chelsea Hospital have 808 decided against him. Then the hon. Member referred to the question of Army Chaplains. I told him last year in relation to this subject that I did not see my way to following the course he suggested, but I said I should be glad to hear any further argument or opinion by which his proposal could be supported. He now tells me that he has obtained the sanction and support of Lord Plunket, and what I would say is this: that if he will bring me, or if Lord Plunket will be good enough to furnish me with the reasons and grounds upon which he supports the proposal, I shall be glad to consider them with all the respect due to one who holds the position Lord Plunket does. I fully accept what the hon. Gentleman says, that Lord Plunket agrees with him; but obviously it is impossible for me without knowing the grounds upon which Lord Plunket expresses that opinion, to adopt his views; but if Lord Plunket will be good enough to furnish me with, the grounds on which he makes the proposal, I will fully consider the matter before coming to a final decision. The hon. Member for Southwark has referred to the question of quartermasters; but I may say that, so far as I am concerned, I have made no alteration in their position. A Committee not long ago sat and considered the whole question, and when everything that could be urged had been put before them, the Committee came to the conclusion that there was nothing to justify a departure from existing regulations.
§ MR. CAUSTON
The right hon. gentleman has not referred to the Royal Warrant taking away the retiring rank of major.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I have issued no such warrant. I think the hon. Gentleman must be referring to the warrant issued at the end of 1886 or early in 1887. One or two points have been raised as to the distribution of items under the Votes; but all I can say 809 is, that if there has been any change, it has been with the desire of putting information more clearly before the Committee and from a desire to meet the wish of the Public Accounts Committee, that the Army and the Navy Estimates should approach each other more closely in form. Then the hon. Member said there was a good deal of needless movement of troops, and he quoted Lord Wolseley for that opinion. Since that time the question of the movement of the troops has been considered, and Sir Redvers Buller, quartermaster-general, has introduced very considerable changes, which will cause considerable economies that may be expected to increase year by year. I do not know that there are any other questions to which I need refer now, and I hope we may now take the Vote.
MR. MAC NEILL
My contention is, that troops in Ireland have been used as landlords' bailiffs practically. Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that henceforth the officers and soldiers employed in evictions should not be allowed to be billeted on the houses of the landlords at the time the evictions are going on? In the House he was forced to confess, in answer to my questions, that at the time the evictions were going on upon the Olphert estate troops were billeted in Mr. Olphert's house and the officers dined at Mr. Olphert's table.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I beg the hon. Member's pardon; it escaped my attention. I cannot give him any assurance as to the use of troops, for I cannot say what the exigencies of the time may require; but I hope there will be no necessity for their use. Every day there is less necessity for the services of troops, and I hope we shall very soon arrive at a condition of things when there will be 810 no necessity whatever to employ them in evictions in Ireland. I will now ask the Committee to allow us to take the Vote. I think our position is quite well understood; we are absolutely obliged to have this Vote within a limited time. From the time at our disposal we have had to give up a considerable period for the important discussion which occupied last week and part of this, and we have now arrived at a time when there can be no further delay. I can give the assurance to hon. Members that there will be an early opportunity of discussing the questions they desire to raise, and with that I hope they will be satisfied.
§ (11.38.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, North)
This is a rather extraordinary appeal that is made to us after the very brief discussion we have had, and I must congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon the interesting character of his statements. He expressed some regret at the little incident in reference to the Volunteers, but I am not sure that he is altogether disappointed that the hard hands of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have been forced by a Vote of the House of Commons so that he may give proper attention to the wants of the Volunteers. The hon. and gallant Baronet opposite told us he considered he had done his duty in voting with his Party, and as a general rule I think a man is right when he goes with his Party. But if the hon. Baronet was right, I think that those Conservatives who placed principle before Party, and voted for the rights of the Volunteers, acted more than rightly—they acted nobly. Against this rapid disposal of this important Vote I must protest most strongly. So far as I know, not a Member who has served in the Army has spoken from this side of the House. I know the time at our disposal is limited, but why did not the Government call us together a week earlier and proceed earlier to the discussion of an important Vote like this? There are some 811 remarks I have to make, and I think they are of some little consequence. The first point I would refer to is with regard to the pensioner who was spoken of as being in the workhouse at Horncastle, or rather an old soldier who ought to be a pensioner. It is very likely, I think, that that is the case, and if there is only one in that constituency I think it is a very fortunate thing, because it is generally not difficult to find several in that unfortunate position in one Workhouse. In fact, the system of pensions is in a disgraceful condition. There is a large expenditure for our officers, and theydeserveit—I am not questioning that at all—but there is every effort made to cut down the pensions of private soldiers who have served their country gallantly, perhaps been wounded, or after several years of service have left in failing health; these unfortunate men are certainly very hardly treated. The Financial Secretary may shake his head, but I can assure him that there is nothing more calculated to set class against class as to see these unfortunate old soldiers going about the country with no means of livelihood, and pensions denied them, while, at the same time, officers are in the fall enjoyment of moderate pensions. I myself have had many letters on behalf of unfortunate private soldiers, who complain that they can get little satisfaction from the Chelsea Hospital Commissioners. I think we ought to take more into our own hands in this matter, and I have good official authority for saying that. The noble Lord the Member for Rossendale actually introduced a Bill to give the Government power to consider some of these hard cases and to override the decisions of the Chelsea Hospital Commissioners. I perfectly well remember that this was four years ago, at the time that the noble Lord was Secretary for War, and if he did not 812 actually introduce it, at least he supported it; but it never passed. I can understand that the Secretary for War has had some difficulty with his finances this year. The new rifle adds some £240,000 to his expenditure, and I suppose that a much larger sum will subsequently be spent—two or three millions, perhaps—and that being so, I think he ought really to give the House of Commons some opportunity of seeing the rifle in use. A great many Members of the House can form a much better judgment from their own observation than they possibly can do from Reports; and I do not think we ought to be called upon to spend what may ultimately be two or three millions upon this rifle without having such an opportunity as this. Some members have referred to the desirability of mobilisation, and there have been complaints that there are not more of such occasions, such as those of Cannock Chase and Salisbury Plain. I quite agree that mobilisation is desirable, but I would recommend the Secretary for War not on this occasion to call out the Reserve men, who thus will lose their civil employment. It is a fatal policy, I think, to call them out unless it is absolutely necessary. Further, I may remark that on these occasions there is always great waste of expenditure in the purchase of horses. Too many horses are bought for these manœuvres, and much loss arises which, I am sure, could be avoided. The hon. and gallant Member opposite has spoken of shooting in the Army. The real fact is, the conditions of practice are such that it is almost impossible that a man can be proficient in shooting with only 1.32 rounds per man. There is one other point I will mention while it is in my mind, and that is in reference to the 12-pounder guns. New carriages are to be provided. Is this because the guns destroy the carriages in the recoil? Of 813 course, if the charge of the 12-pounders were reduced, the recoil would be lessened, but then the value of these arms would be very much diminished. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can give us some explanation on this point. And now I should like to refer to those remarks of Lord Wolseley—which I fully endorse—to which I have referred before in this House. I mean the proposition to raise the pay of the soldier 6d. a day; it is of the greatest importance. The objection is made that it entails a very largo expenditure. It really amounts to only £9 a man, and, taking the rank and file at some 75,000, the total would be something under £700,000. You need not raise the pay of every man. The pay of cavalry and artillery would be raised in proportion, and in any case the expenditure would certainly be under a million. There are very good arguments in favour of this, and you would find that there would be considerable saving in your Prisons Vote; for if a man misbehaved himself, you could turn him out of the Army at once, unless, of course, it were a very grave offence; and you would have much more success in your recruiting departments, because you would enter the labour market with a much better offer than you now can make. Much saving can also be effected under the head of paymasters. But, of course, the great advantage would be that you would get a large number of mature soldiers. At present you get boys of 17 or 18 years of age; they turn out to be good soldiers, perhaps, in two or three years, when they are ready for the Reserve. But raise the pay sixpence, and I feel sure you will get men of the age of 20, which all Continental nations agree is the proper age for a recruit. I hope that on the next occasion when the Estimates are down we shall have more time for reasonable discussion of this and other points.
§ (11.50.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will not pay some attention to the point that has been raised in connection with the payment of Protestant Chaplains in Ireland? I have no intention of opposing the Vote now, but I desire to mention this because it is a matter of considerable interest to many friends of mine. Will he give us some assurance that he will pay attention to this point? It will satisfy a great many people, and there is the possibility of its saving something like £6,000 a year.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
lam glad to give the assurance that I will carefully consider the point; and if the hon. Gentleman will furnish me with any further information than that which the hon. Member for South Donegal has undertaken to give, I shall be exceedingly glad to look into it.
§ Vote ageeed to.
§ 2. £5,643,300, Pay, &c. of the Army (General Staff, Regiments, Reserve, and Departments).