HC Deb 13 March 1890 vol 342 cc727-64
*(4.55.) SIR E. HAMLEY (Birkenhead)

Mr. Speaker, I have always insisted on the necessity for equipping the Volunteers, and I did so at a time when the services they might render to the country were little appreciated, indeed almost unthought of. The value of the force is now fully recognised, and the Government, as well as its military advisers, have seen that the feeling of the country is far in advance of anything that has been done or proposed in this direction. They have seen that the Volunteers form an indispensable element in the national defence, and they have seen also that to rely on the Volunteers without equipping them is an absurdity. They have, therefore, determined to equip them, and I desire to call attention to the method in which this is being done. In May last, a Circular was issued under the sanction of the Secretary of State for War, signed by the Adjutant General, in which were specified certain articles of equipment as necessary in order to enable the Volunteers to take the field, and then followed this passage:— After a date to be hereafter named, the possession of these articles to be made a condition of efficiency, and their production at inspection will be necessary, in order that the capitation grant may be earned. The capitation allowance made by the Government to Volunteer corps is for efficient men, and efficiency, according to the Volunteer Regulations, means efficiency in shooting with the rifle. Hundreds of thousands of Volunteers who have passed through the ranks have rendered themselves efficient and enabled their corps to gain the allowance;. Hundreds of thousands who are now in the ranks have done; the same; and yet, after having spent all this time and labour, they are suddenly told that unless they fulfil a new and totally different requirement, all that time and labour will go for nothing. This intimation might very well startle the Volunteers, and it has startled them. Now the penalty for failing to fulfil this new condition is deprivation of the capitation allowance. This allowance has been always found insufficient, and therefore the great majority of the corps have been forced into debt. In 1887 a Committee was formed to inquire into the matter, and the following points wore referred to it by the War Office:— First, to inquire what were the necessary requirements of the Volunteer Force to be covered by the capitation grant; secondly, whether the present grant was sufficient; and thirdly, if not, in what form any increase should be given. The Report of the Committee stated that the grant was insufficient; it recommended that an increase should be made to enable the force to meet their liabilities for necessary purposes; and it-specified what those necessary purposes were, and equipment was not among them. There exists, therefore, no justification whatever for calling upon the Volunteers to provide their own equipment, and to deprive them of a grant which, is scrupulously proportioned to their necessities must mean financial ruin. The Circular divides the equipment into two classes—the one, that which is to be found by the Volunteers themselves; the other, that which is to be provided in a different way. On mobilisation the State proposes to give two guineas for every efficient man with which to provide the articles of the second class. There is no apparent reason to be found in any statement on the subject why the Volunteers should provide one class of equipment, and tin! State the other. Both are equally indispensable. The inference is that the distinction has been made in order to save the State from paying for a part of the equipment, and to throw tin; cost on the Volunteers. The War Office should have calculated the total expense of the equipment, and have at once said that it would provide it. The Circular with its demand has, however, not been without effect. It procured the co-operation of the Lord Mayor of last year, who, no doubt, was well aware that the Government would be very much obliged to anyone who would spare it the pain of asking for money to provide fur the public safety. In July the Lord Mayor issued an invitation to the public to subscribe to what he called the Patriotic Volunteer Fund, and the letter which accompanied the invitation stated that a Government grant for that purpose would, as many Volunteers felt, change the voluntary character of the force, and greatly diminish its charm. Why "the charm," as the Lord Mayor poetically termed it, should be diminished by that kind of Government grant, any more than by the capitation allowance, or by the grant for the other part of their equipment, or by getting up the Patriotic Fund, no one, probably, except that particular occupant of the Civic Chair, could undertake to explain. Now, to show the inconsiderate way in which this business was entered on, I will mention that the Lord Mayor began by asking for £85,000, and though he only got half of that sum, yet it was more than amply sufficient for its purpose. It is, so far, a success, but a very partial one, for it leaves the enormous majority of the Volunteers—namely, the provincial corps—quite un-provided for. On bringing this matter before the House last Session, the Secretary for War suggested several ways in which this money might be raised. He said the Volunteers might borrow it, the expediency of which counsel may perhaps be open to doubt, or it might be provided by public subscription, as if they were sufferers by flood or fire, or, lastly, they might apply their minds to the problem. We are all of us aware of cases in which persons who cannot get money in ordinary ways apply their minds to the problem, and often display great ingenuity in doing so, but they are not perhaps a class of persons whom it is desirable the Volunteers should imitate. The result is that at present there are some corps who have endeavoured to provide the necessary money, there are others who are still making efforts, while some are tacitly waiting the signal for being declared inefficient. On the 10th of February last a meeting was hold at Newcastle, representing Northumberland, Newcastle, and Berwick, to consider the position of the Volunteers of the country, when a resolution was agreed to that, inasmuch as the members of the force rendered valuable services for which they received no pay, it was unjust and inexpedient that they should be subject to any charge in respect to the equipment necessary to enable the country to secure the benefit of their services. A Committee was formed to consider the subject. So that nine months after the issue of the Circular, that is all they have as yet arrived at. It is really quite pathetic to watch ether efforts that have been made, such, for instance, as where officers endeavour to give dramatic performances to assist the equipment of their men for the Public Service. This can hardly be called a success, but, how- ever successful, I should still have objected to it on account of its unfairness, because it throws on part of the public the task of finding money for national purposes which ought to be borne by the whole of the community which does not render personal service. Now, the problem, we have to face is this: the provincial corps having no ambitious Lord Mayor to appeal for them, and no rich community to respond, remain in great measure unequipped. Will the Circular be thereupon enforced against them; will they be deprived of the grant? If so, they must to that extent cease to exist; and how does the Government propose to replace them? It must be remembered that Volunteers need only give very short notice in order to pass back into the general mass of the population. At the very time we are running this risk the Volunteers are being made every year more and more an indispensable element of national defence. They form by far the greatest force numerically of our defensive Army, and all the schemes of national defence take them into account and assign them to their various posts, and, it may be said, those schemes would fall to pieces without them. I submit, then, that this present step is ill-advised and dangerous. It is another example of the unwise spirit in which, we are dealing with this invaluable force. Instead of finding new, unforeseen, and impossible conditions imposed on them, they should meet with all reasonable encouragement, and every step should be taken consistent with strict discipline to render the Service attractive. What escape is there from the dilemma which the Circular has got us into? I would respectfully venture to suggest for the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman, according to the terms of the Resolution, that after a fixed date all deficiencies of the equipments of Volunteers which are necessary to efficiency, and all debts of corps properly incurred on account of the same, should be made good from the public revenues. I would also suggest that the throat contained in the Circular of deprivation of the Grant should be at once rescinded. I have endeavoured to place this statement before the House in the most simple and unvarnished terms. I think it is very unlikely that many persons, unless they are Volunteers, have made themselves acquainted with the facts which I have stated. It is, however, exceedingly desirable that hon. Members and the public should become acquainted with these facts in their own interest and the interest of our Citizen Army; and this is my reason for bringing the matter before the House.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the question, in order to add the words 'it is expedient that, after a certain fixed date, all deficiencies of the equipments of Volunteers which are necessary to efficiency, and all debts of corps properly incurred on account of the same, be made good from the public revenues,'"—(Sir Edward Hamley,) —instead thereof

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

*(5.15.) MR. HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)

I gladly rise to second the Motion of my hon. and gallant Friend, and I take the opportunity of thanking him on behalf of the Volunteer Force for bringing this matter forward. If the Volunteers are worth anything at all I submit they ought to be equipped properly and maintained at the expense of the State. The House will, I feel sure, admit that the services rendered by the Volunteer Force to the country are incalculable not only in a defensive sense, but in a physical sense, a moral sense, and a patriotic sense. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War has in many ways since he has held office evinced sympathy for the Volunteers, and I am sure the Force will acknowledge the assistance which the right hon. Gentleman has rendered it on many occasions. But I fear that the right hon. Gentleman is not always supported by some of his subordinates as well-wishers of the Volunteer Force would desire and hope. It looks often as if a strict watch was being kept at head quarters upon every Regulation and every allowance that might be beneficial for the development or the training of the Force, and early opportunity taken by some means to check or limit any such order when issued. I am sure that Volunteers as a whole, and especially commanding officers, were very glad indeed of the efforts made to improve the rifle shooting of the force, but no sooner were Regulations issued on that head than we were deprived of 15 rounds of the ammunition we had had for many years. When this was brought to the notice of my right hon. Friend he was good enough to say ho would take this matter into re-consideration, and he says he will allow these 15 rounds again in cases where it can be shown they are absolutely essential. But, I submit, that to have these proposals, these changes and alterations, adopted, often without consideration of the needs of the force, is not only very harassing, but gives rise to a great deal of unnecessary feeling. The Adjutant General of the Forces, in a speech the other day, referred to musketry shooting', and said there was not a battalion of Volunteers who could shoot against any regiment in the Army. Well, that is true, naturally, but I am quite sure that Lord Wolseley, to whom the Volunteer Force is indebted in many ways, had no intention of speaking in a disparaging tone of the fore, but it is certain that comparisons of the kind are not just, and are calculated to give rise to a great deal of needless irritation. In the matter I have mentioned, musketry shooting against the Regular Army, I will only say that the corps I have the honour to command will be ready to shoot against any regiment at any time and under any conditions. My hon. and gallant Friend has referred to the efforts made by Mayors and Civic Authorities to follow the example of the Lord Mayor of London, and raise a fund for the equipment of the Volunteer Force, and I quite agree with what he has said, that it is not fair to the force or to the public. It is absolutely necessary, at any rate, that rifle ranges, drill sheds, parade grounds, and places for exercise should be provided by the State, if the force is worth maintaining at all. I am certain that no Member of this House will contend that the Volunteer Force is not of the greatest national advantage, and thoroughly worth the money to make it in every way efficient. The difficulties of commanding officers on this head are little understood by the public, and are little appreciated by the Authorities. When the Volunteers go out in largo numbers, as they do at Easter, there is the greatest difficulty in finding places where they can be exercised or barrack rooms where they can be located. I do not wish to press this matter at any length on the House, but I do most cordially second the Motion of my hon. and gallant Friend, which I trust will find a favourable reception and consideration by the House and the Government.

MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)

Before the hon. Gentleman replies I should like, if you will allow me, to say a word or two from this side. Perhaps I owe an apology to the House, because I am not a military man, and am not even a Volunteer, and this is the first occasion on which I have taken part in what is usually considered a military debate. But I have a personal interest in the matter, and I am especially interested, because we in Birmingham are in the position which has been indicated by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (General Hamlyn). We have there a very efficient Volunteer Corps, though it is not so large as I should like to see it, and when this Circular was issued, it became a serious matter for us to consider how we should continue that force at all and provide for its necessary equipment. We have no Lord Mayor at Birmingham. It so happens that the last two gentlemen who filled the office of Mayor were worthy and admirable members of the Society of Friends, and, under such circumstances, they naturally declined to take any part in promoting the equipment of the force, and it fell to my lot to do what otherwise would have been done by the Mayor. I believe a meeting is to be arranged shortly after Easter, and large subscriptions, I believe, have been already announced, so that probably we shall find the equipments by voluntary assistance. Our only difficulty in securing this voluntary assistance is the feeling on the part of our liberal citizens that they ought not to be called upon alone to find these funds. They are willing to meet their fair share of the cost, but they do not see why the expense should not fall upon the whole of the community, for it is for the advantage of the whole community that the Volunteer Force is established. They say, and with reason, that the time is come when military authorities should tell us what value they set on the Volunteer Force, and tell us if it is really an essential part of the defensive force of the country, or if it is net. If it is not, and if it is merely an amusement which certain of our citizens are induced to engage in, making some sacrifices for the purpose, then I think it is well that we should have this knowledge at once. If, on the contrary, it is an essential part of our defensive force, then I do maintain that the whole of its necessary equipment ought to be provided from the funds of the country. And even when that is done, let it be clearly understood that those who join this Volunteer Organisation, will have to make considerable sacrifices, not only in time, but in money. There are a number of things that naturally the State cannot be asked to do—prizes, for instance, at shooting competitions. In this and in other ways officers are already making large contributions. The point I desire to urge on the Government, and which I should like to press in the terms of the Motion, is that the Department should withdraw that part of the circular which involves a withdrawal of the efficiency grant if certain equipments are not provided. That is really a proposal that cannot be justified. It amounts to a breach of faith with the existing Volunteer Organisation. Unless this is done the position will be this—that in a few places, such as the Metropolis and in our large and populous centres, the liberality of citizens will provide what is necessary; but in other parts of the country there will be corps left in a position in which they are unfit to take the field, and cannot be considered part of our defensive force, and in the event of war breaking out you will have deprived yourself of the advantage of these forces by your own parsimony, a most undesirable state of things.


I do not think we can complain of the tone of the speeches made, but it is necessary that the House should follow the advice of my hon. and gallant Friend, and investigate the facts before proceeding to give a strong vote upon the Resolution brought before us. Nothing is further from the intention of the Government, or would be at so much variance with actual facts and our action since we have been in office, than any idea either of parsimony in dealing with the Volunteers or want of appreciation of the services they have rendered to the country. But if a balance is to be struck between what the public has done and what the Government has done, I think we may fairly take this opportunity of putting forward what has been done towards rendering the force efficient. Special attention has been called to the Volunteer Force in consequence of their being included in the general scheme of mobilisation. Its existence has been a great moral benefit to the country, no doubt, since its establishment. Up to 1886 the Volunteer Force might have been said to be something like a haphazard collection of units, but there has, however, been a change in position, and the military advisers of my right hon. Friend have advised him as to the exact position Volunteers may be expected to take. Immediately the question arose of mobilising the Volunteers, there also arose the question of expense. Reference has been made to the Report of a Committee which assembled under the presidency of Lord Harris. My hon. and gallant Friend has rather skimmed over the pages of that Report, and has not looked thoroughly into the conclusions at which the Committee arrived and the methods by which they reached those conclusions. If he had done so, he would have found that the greater part of his Motion falls to the ground. The Committee, which had upon it not merely members of the War Office, but two very distinguished Volunteer officers, went seriatim into the amount which the capitation grant would be expected to provide, and considering it, item by item, they proposed an increase of that grant and of other allowances. What was that proposed increase intended to cover? My hon. and gallant Friend said that clothing and equipment was not one of the items. Surely lie has not read page 9 of the Report, in which the words "clothing at so much per head" are specially included. If lie had looked into the Report a little more closely ho would have found that the clothing included the tunic, trousers, shako, gaiters, belt and pouch, and the great coat, to be given by a separate allowance. When we have taken these items, what remain, and what increase has been asked in the circular of the Adjutant General? Every single thing alluded to in that circular is provided tinder the capitation grant according to the estimate of the Committee, with the exception of the havresack, water bottle, and me t s tin, the whole of which cost 3s. 6d., and one pouch now likely to he added in consequence of the new rifle. On the other hand, if hon. Gentlemen will look a little more closely into the Report of the Committee they will see that the estimate is for only about 90 per cent, of the Volunteers to become efficient and earn the 35s. apiece. Bat, in point of fact, it is between 97 and 98 percent., and the difference in the capitation grant in consequence of the extra 7 par cent, is more than equivalent to the cost of the extra equipment demanded by the circular. So far as the Committee represent the facts, they prove satisfactorily and conclusively that nothing is asked for in the circular which cannot be paid for out of the capitation grant if properly administered. I do not wish for a moment to give any opinion as a civilian, but I must be allowed to refer to the fact that we had the advantage on that Committee of the presence of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Colonel pyre), who was able to show, by his own regiment, which he has commanded so many years, not merely that the capitation grant is enough, but that it has been sufficient to provide those equipments which the Committee consider to be necessary. The hon. and gallant Gentleman will be able to explain to other commanding officers how he has got those satisfactory results, and I hope he will also confer privately, with the same object, with the hon. Member for Sheffield, who has spoken in rather a disparaging way of the amount which has been granted to the Volunteers. I would like to say one word as to a remark of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain), that the Government ought to state what value they attach to the Volunteer Force. The best proof of the value we attach to that force is what we have accomplished since 1886. In the first place, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War thought it necessary for a time to check the increase of the infantry companies in order to encourage the enlistment of artillery and engineer Volunteers. That has had a most satisfactory result. In 1886 we had only five submarine mining engineer companies; now we have 31. The number of efficient engineers had risen to 9,900 in 1886, and has reached 12,500 in the present year. That is a, substantial advance. Every one of these companies has a definite place in which to servo and in which to carry on mobilisation. There is also an increase in the artillery, and, despite the demand for the qualifying courses of musketry for the efficiency grant in infantry, the reduction in infantry Volunteers from all causes is only 3½ per cent, of efficient Volunteers. During this period the artillery Volunteers have received 284 guns of position' ranging from 16 to 40 pounders. That is an enormous advance, as every artilleryman knows, in providing the infantry with a proper complement of artillery service. Moreover, in consequence of the scheme of mobilisation money is taken in the Estimates, and sites are already bought for the special massing of Volunteers in positions where they will effectively support the field army. The regulation sunder which the Brigadiers conduct their own brigades into camp, have been framed with excellent results, but with considerable additional cost to the country. Something has been said about the equipment of great coats. The 2s. which was offered towards inducing Volunteers to get great coats has certainly resulted most satisfactorily. In 1887 there were only 40,000 great coats among 220,000 men; in 1888 there were 67.000; and last year 94,000, an increase in two years of more than 100 per cent. It is really necessary that I should state the sums which the Government have asked Parliament to vote for the use of the Volunteers during the last four-years. When the Government came into office the Volunteer Estimates, including Volunteer Services and other Votes, amounted to.£807.000. In 1887 they rose to £841,000; in 1888 to £930,000; in 1889 to £961.000; and in the present year to £967,000. We have, therefore, had an advance of £ 1 60,000 in four years, which is equivalent to 15s. for every Volunteer: and that advance has been given although there has been no increase in the number of efficient Volunteers. It is an increase from £3 10s. to £4 5s., without any increase in the number of Volunteers, but solely in order to get them to attain to greater efficiency. I must say that, under the circumstances, it is a little hard that a Member of this House in the position of the hon. and gallant Gentleman for Birkenhead, should talk of the unwise way in which the Government has dealt with the force. He apparently imputed to us that we I have been backward in recognising our responsibility in this matter; whereas, we submit that no Government has ever seriously organised the Volunteer Force before, or coped with the demands upon it. I will put before the Committee one or two considerations as to the Motion, which I think ought to be taken into account before it is too hastily resolved, that the Government ought to pay the whole expenses of equipping the Volunteers where they have not been able to equip themselves. Up to 1862 no capitation grant was given at all, but all expenses were met by private subscription. Although the Government then assumed certain responsibilities, it should be clearly understood that at that time, and at each successive advance, only sufficient money has been given to meet actual out-of-pocket expenses. I do not wish to say a word that might be deemed offensive to any commanding officer of the Volunteer Force, but it stands to reason that the administration of some Volunteer corps has not been so economical as that of others. In some cases it has even been exceedingly extravagant. The hon. Member for Sheffield said that the Government should pay for ranges and drill halls, but the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows that there are corps who have spent as much as £10,000 on buildings, to which are attached baths, reading rooms, tennis courts, and almost every kind of luxury. Are the Government to undertake those debts, and are they to do nothing for those corps which have exercised due economy and prudence? We must consider whether it would be dealing fairly with those corps that have been economical to pay the whole of the demands of those corps which have not been economical, and whether, by doing so, we will not create profound discontent among those corps which, in consequence of their providence and foresight, are not obliged to make any claim upon the Government at all. It has been laid down broadly that it is the duty of the Government to place upon the whole community the cost of maintaining a force which is of advantage to the entire country. But there is another way of looking at that. We are asking 225,000 men to give their services for nothing, while 20 times that number of their fellow-countrymen are equally able to give their services, but do not do so. Why should not these men contribute, and why should we by general taxation make both the men who serve and those who do not contribute equally? It is only fair that they who cannot or do not give their personal services should contribute something towards the cost of the force. Commanding officers already complain that since the rise of the capitation grant subscriptions for prizes have fallen off. I can conceive nothing which is more certain to check the flow of private subscriptions than a Resolution calling upon the Government to pay for all the necessities of the Volunteers when it is certain that the State cannot possibly assume all the liabilities at present met from private subscription. The hon. and gallant Member has, I think, meted out somewhat harsh treatment to the Lord Mayor, and has complained that my hon. Friend threw on the Lord Mayor the task of providing for the safety of the country. I know no man against whom such a charge is so groundless as my right hon. Friend (Mr. Stanhope) who has not hesitated to bring before the House what no previous Minister has ever done, namely, a loan for fortifications for coaling-stations and commercial ports, and a loan for barracks, besides considerable additions to the Estimates. In the county county with which I am connected the idea of a Volunteer Equipment Fund has been taken up with the greatest interest and liberality. I believe there is every prospect in that county that the money necessary will be subscribed. I know that a similar result is going on in other counties, and I hope that my hon. and gallant Friend, and those who think with him, seeing the great progress which is going on, will not check it by pressing the Resolution now before the House. Reference has been made to the circular issued by the Adjutant General. There is no intention to press hardly on any corps. The utmost consideration will be given to all the circumstances in the case of a corps which, when the time comes, may not find itself in possession of a full equipment. There is no intention whatever of using this circular with the view of decreasing the Volunteer Force, or in any way putting difficulties in the way of a corps, otherwise efficient, which may find itself, owing to the circumstances of the past, in financial difficulty.' There are persons who support the authorities in thinking that the present capitation grant and allowances may be made equal to the present seeds. I am certain that no one who looks into the matter, and views all the facts surrounding the immense progress made in the last three years and the better position of Volunteer regiments, can have any ground of fear from the Government in regard to the circular. In these circumstances I ask my hon. Friend to consider whether it is necessary to give any stimulus to the Government either by the Resolution or by dividing the House.

*(5.40.) SIR H. HAVELOCK-ALLAN (Durham, S.E.)

Mr. Speaker, I think that Volunteers have every reason to be grateful to the Secretary of State for War for the great efforts which he has made in the past. I believe it is the general feeling that there never was a period when Volunteers were treated more generously than they have been by the present Secretary for War. We have heard all the great efforts which have been made to provide the Volunteers with a moveable artillery, and to provide a larger number of submarine miners and additional engineer companies, both steps in the right direction; but they do not in any way touch the present difficulties alluded to by my hon. and gallant Friend, and which I see no other means, whatsoever, of getting over. Either the Volunteer Force are liable to be called into operation for the defence of the country, or they are not. If they are, it is a necessity that they should be so equipped that they can fulfil the purpose for which as a force they were called into existence. As to our obtaining voluntary subscriptions. I have great reluctance to say anything that may check that movement. Of course it is a desirable thing that a movement in the direction of giving voluntary assistance should not be checked. But I think I am justified in saying that, with the exception of London, where the Lord Mayor had a large field, and perhaps Birmingham, there is no place where the example of those two vast centres is likely to be followed. In Durham and Northumberland, where I have the honour to be in charge of a very large and excellent brigade of something like 6,000 men, it has been my duty within the last few months to endeavour to feel the pulse of this counties on the subject of obtaining assistance, and I am bound to say that I would be deceiving the public and inflicting injury on the Volunteer Force if I allowed the impression to prevail that voluntary subscriptions are likely to be obtained. On the contrary, these two counties of Durham and Northumberland, which are now in a state of exceptional prosperity, show a disinclination to give subscriptions, the reason which the leading men invariably give being that the opinion is becoming day by day more prevalent in the country that this is a matter which ought to be taken up by the Government, and by the Government alone. I do not go entirely with all the words of the Resolution. I think that a wise discrimination ought to be exercised in respect of the debts of corps. Many of the debts have been incurred in a way which will not bear examination, because of the imprudence with which they have been incurred. I do not suggest there has been malversation, but imprudence, and the greatest possible care, therefore, should be taken that the public purse is not called upon to pay debts other than those for equipments. With that exception I entirely agree with the Resolution. You may narrow the equipment down as much as you possibly can, but there is a limit beyond which you cannot go, for there are certain articles without which the bulk of Volunteers are not able to take the field—greatcoat, straps for carrying it, water-botttle, havresack, and another pouch. They cannot supply themselves in any way whatever except by an extra Government allowance. I have felt it necessary to make these remarks, though I have the greatest reluctance to do anything which would check the How of public subscriptions to provide equipments. But I am persuaded, from inquiries I have made not only in Northumberland and Durham but adjoining counties, that the extent to which voluntary sources are available is entirely exaggerated, illusory, and delusive. In the county of Durham, Lord Ripon has, for more than a year, been endeavouring to obtain the sum of £1,200. He has only succeeded in obtaining £250, of which he subscribed £150 himself. I believe that is an indication of the extent to which aid may be obtained from private sources. The liberality of officers in assisting the maintenance of their corps is a source which cannot be further relied upon. I trust, therefore, that the Secretary of State for War will add to the other services which he has rendered the Volunteer Force by making strict inquiry sis to the articles which are absolutely necessary if or the Volunteer Force, and devising some means by which to supply them at the earliest possible period, if not by way of vote by way of loan, to be gradually paid off. I am perfectly certain by giving attention in this direction you will find the effort and cost more than counterbalanced by the increased efficiency which the Volunteers will exhibit.

*(5.49.) COLONEL BLUNDELL (Ince, S.W., Lancashire)

Sir, I concur in a great deal that has fallen from the hon. and gallant General. Though the Manchester regiments, with which I have the honour to be connected, are endeavouring to equip themselves, I am quite certain, taking the country as a whole, that there will be a great difficulty in obtaining the equipment of the Volunteers from private sources. Rightly or wrongly, there is a feeling that the Government should take up the work of properly equipping the Volunteers with all that is necessary. I would urge on the Secretary of State for War, while thanking him for what he has done in the past, that he should make these changes when the magazine rifle is issued to the Volunteers. The amount of the capitation grant should be then re-considered, arms, accoutrements, and equipments should be supplied, leaving the Volunteers to provide clothing only. The question of ranges is also one which it is absolutely necessary for the War Office to take into its special consideration, whether from the point of view of the safety of Her Majesty's subjects or the efficiency not only of the Volunteer, but of every other branch of the Service. For instance, at Manchester, a range is much needed, and I do think the Government should endeavour to provide ranges within an easy distance of all large centres of population.


I think the Volunteers of the country owe a deep debt of gratitude to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Birkenhead for the Motion which he has brought forward. The time has now arrived when the cases of, at any rate, the poorer corps should be taken into consideration. In my own county it has been found absolutely impossible to call public meetings to consider this question, because people will not attend; they say—and I confess that I think there is much force in it—that the Volunteers are a body recognised as a part of the military force of the country, and that so far as equipment is concerned the Government should see for it. But, on the other hand, the Volunteer officers are told that they must beg, borrow, or do what they can to obtain the necessary funds. For my own part, I have the strongest objection to any of these courses; I think it a degrading thing for officers to be obliged to get up bazaars, &c, in order to provide funds for the purchase of equipments which are essential to the force. I was very glad to hear from the Secretary for War that this circular is not to be pressed, because if it were, as far as many provincial corps are concerned, it would absolutely put an end to them. I hope and trust that the Government will take into consideration all the views which they have heard, and that they will find some means to assist the Volunteer Force in a greater degree than has yet been done—though I do not deny that much has been done—and that, so far as equipments are concerned, the Government will take the matter in hand.

(6.6.) COLONEL E. S. HILL (Bristol, S.)

I wish to re-echo every word that has been said with regard to the consideration which has been shown to the. Volunteer Service by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. Prior to 1886, many thousands of men passed through the regiment I had the honour of commanding for 26 years, and I do not think it right that the Financial Secretary should have described a force such as this as a mere hap-hazard collection of boys.


I did not say that. I said the Volunteer Force was, up to a certain date, a hap-hazard collection of units. The numbers of the different branches of the force had not been considered in connection with each other, and wherever companies or battalions of a particular arm of the force could be raised, such a formation was encouraged.


I am glad that I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman. I entirely agree with the position in which the Volunteer force as described by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham, and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Birkenhead. Either the Volunteers are a necessary portion of the defence of this country or they are not. If they are not they should be disbanded, but if they are, they should be supplied by the Government with everything they want for military service, and the Volunteers themselves should be asked simply to give their spare time. If the country wishes to have more than that, and to encroach upon the wage-earning time of the men, they ought to pay for it. I do not think it is right that a Volunteer should be put to any further expenditure of any sort. Notwithstanding what my hon. and gallant Friend has said with reference to the sufficiency of the capitation grant, I should ask leave to say that circumstances alter cases very materially, and it very much depends upon the position of a regiment whether or not its expenditure is heavy. I am very glad to hear him say that in his case they are able a have a little surplus, and, if he wishes to dispose of it, I should be happy to communicate to him the names of several corps by which that surplus could be advantageously expended. But as regards the question of equipment, I think it is unfair to ask Volunteers either to go about the country begging for subscriptions to provide military equipments for themselves, which seems to indicate a want of appreciation of their services on the part of the Government, or to ask officers to pledge their private credit at their bankers in order to provide the equipments. There is considerable difficulty in many regiments in obtaining the services of officers at the present moment, and if you put additional financial burdens upon the force that difficulty will be increased. I feel extremely grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Birkenhead for having brought this matter forward, because he has, at any rate, elicited in regard to the circular a very satisfactory statement on the part of the Government. I trust he may see his way to rest satisfied with this statement and the discussion, and to withdraw his Amendment.

* THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE,) Lincolnshire, Horncastle

I hope I may be allowed to put it to the House whether this particular discussion should not come to a close. With regard to the Amendment, I think it is obviously impossible for the Government either to accept it or to say anything in encouragement of it. If I were to say a single word in support of it' it is obvious that not one further penny would be subscribed by the public, but all expenses would devolve on the Imperial Exchequer. It is undesirable, therefore, on behalf of the Volunteers themselves that the Motion should be pressed. I am obliged for the kind words which have been used about myself, and I am only sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has left the House, because I should have liked to address a special appeal to him. In Birmingham the number of Volunteers is utterly out of proportion to the population, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman in what he said as to the inability of the town to provide for the equipment of even this small body has pressed the matter beyond what was reasonable. Some hon. Members have stated, with great truth, that these articles were pressing and indispensable articles for Volunteers when they took the field. But they have been so for the last 30 years, and this formed no new argument in favour of taking the increase of the capitation grant again into consideration. I am strongly in favour of the principle of local subscription. I sympathise with the undue pressure which is put upon officers of Volunteer corps, who I think are put in an exceedingly unfair position by being called on for subscriptions, and that is, in my opinion, one of the main reasons why it is difficult to get officers. But the effect of increasing the capitation grant would not be to spare the Volunteer officers; it would simply relieve their wealthy fellow townsmen of the payment of the subscriptions they have given in the past. I think that there ought to be some local subscription in all cases, and that a Volunteer corps is much more valued in a locality if the locality itself has a pecuniary interest in it. No one will doubt that I highly value the Volunteer Force, and I assure the House that my desire in this matter is to increase and not in any way diminish the value and utility of the Volunteers. I will take care that no undue pressure is put upon thorn. Having made that statement, and looking to the fact that during my term of office the capitation grant have been increased by £160,000 a year, I think the House may rest satisfied that I did not desire in any way to injure the Volunteer force. I hope that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Birkenhead will rest satisfied with the discussion that has taken place and allow us to pass on to the other Motions of great importance which we have to consider this evening.

*(6.17.) MR. C. S. PARKER (Perth)

As no Scotch Member has spoken in the course of this debate, I should like to say briefly that there is no class of expenditure more favourably viewed in Scotland than that which goes to support the Volunteers, and the Scotch Volunteers are very thankful to the right hon. Gentleman for the increased grant and the corresponding increase in efficiency which he has brought about. I well remember how different were the conditions when the force was first started. The aid then given by the Government was niggardly, very little regard was paid to efficiency, and Volunteers found scanty favour with the authorities at the War Office. Since then great advances have been made. But more is needed, and it is in vain at this time to look for much increase in local subscriptions. There are certain things which will always have to be provided by local subscriptions, such as the prize and band funds; but I think it a mistake to suppose that voluntary subscriptions could be largely increased. On the contrary, I believe they will remain very much as they are at present, and it will therefore be wise for the Government while insisting on efficiency to provide for anything necessary to secure it in the Estimates.

*(6.19.) SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)

After the appeal made by the Secretary of State for War I have no wish to prolong the debate for more than a moment. I hope that the Amendment will be withdrawn. But I desire to impress upon the Government that there is a strong feeling in the country in favour of something more liberal being done for the Volunteers. In passing, I should like, as a member of the Mansion House Equipment Committee, to acknowledge the liberality with which the appeal for funds to provide equipments for the Metropolitan Volunteers has been responded to, but I am of opinion that there is not in the country generally a feeling in favour of securing equipments by these means. If the Volunteers are, as I hold them to be, an essential part of the forces of the country, it is the duty of the State to see that they are properly equipped. I desire to acknowledge the great interest taken by the Secretary of State for War in that branch of the force with which I have the honour to be connected—the submarine miners, who have a capitation grant of £5. I admit that in this particular branch there is exceptional need for the increased grant, but I confess it strikes me that the disproportion between that and the ordinary grant is more than the difference in the nature of the services warrants. I hope the Government will therefore take the grant to the mining engineers as a precedent and an example to be followed in the case of the other Volunteers.

*(6.22.) MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)

I think it must be admitted that every branch of the Volunteer Service owes much to the present Government for its increased efficiency. There are many cases of financial difficulty in the Volunteer Force, and in some corps the equipment will only be provided in time by increasing those difficulties. I would suggest that the Government should provide at least the water bottles and pouches of the Government pattern; otherwise there may be risk of unserviceable articles being introduced. The dread of financial responsibility, I believe, prevents suitable young men from accepting commissions. But the greatest difficulty the Volunteers have to contend with just now is the provision of ranges. My own corps has had its range closed in consequence of the increased danger from the Martini-Henry rifle, and how the men will be able to complete their musketry instruction this year I do not know. We are at present dependent upon the courtesy of another corps at whose ranges we are able only to carry out a portion of the tiring. I do hope that during the discussion on the Army Estimates we shall have some statement of the views of the Government as to procuring ranges, and some indications that a little more assistance, not necessarily pecuniary, will be given to enable the force to obtain proper ranges.

(6.23.) MR. P. A. MUNTZ (Warwickshire, Tarnworth)

I have never taken any active part in the Volunteer movement, but I have always entertained a strong opinion that the expenses of the Volunteers should be borne by the Imperial Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman has made some observations with regard to the Volunteer Force in Birmingham. No doubt there is a great disproportion between the strength of the Volunteer Force there and the population of that great city, bat I should like to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the people, and especially the Volunteers of Birmingham, hold strong views on this subject, and I have no doubt that if the present system were changed and the expenses borne by the Imperial Exchequer the force in Birmingham would be very largely increased. The people of Birmingham comprise a very hard-headed body of citizens, and their attitude towards the force will be very largely influenced by the course adopted by the Government on this matter.

(6.26.) MR. de LISLE (Leicestershire, Mid.)

Before the Amendment is withdrawn I should like to say a word or two on the subject. I am certain that the policy embodied in the Motion is one very strongly approved in the country, but might I suggest a slight amendment. I would recommend the hon. and gallant Gentleman to insert in his Amendment the words, "Outside the City and County of London." London is the wealthiest part of the nation; large sums of money are contributed out of the National Fund for the maintenance of its Parks and Museums, and public buildings, and, therefore, I think it ought to be treated differently in this matter from the rest of the country. Speaking for the Volunteers of the neighbourhood which I have the honour to represent in this House, I would soy that the best way to secure their thorough efficiency would be to adopt the policy suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend. I may add that, through the patriotic exertions of the Mayor of Loughborough, funds have been raised to secure proper equipments for local corps.

(6.29.) MR. S. D. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)

I wish to join with the hon. and gallant Member in pressing this Motion on the attention of the Government. I believe that no sufficient attention is at present paid to the great difference which exists with regard to the pecuniary resources of corps in different parts of the country, and, so far as I can see, the only remedy for it would be to place the force under a central authority. If the spirit which gave rise to the Volunteer Force is to be maintained, there must be such an equal distribution of their resources as we can only have through one hand. As to the merits of this Amendment, everybody seems to be agreed. It is only when the House of Commons speaks authoritatively that the Secretary of War is entitled to spend such amounts of money as I believe he is really yearning and almost burning with anxiety to expend at this moment. I hope the Amendment will be pressed to a Division.

(6.31.) MR. GROTRIAN (Hull, E.)

This question of Volunteer grant is in itself a very important matter, and it is one which has engaged the serious attention of the country. If I understand rightly the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War and the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary, I think they rather misapprehend the feeling of the country with regard to the subscription question. In the borough which I have the honour to represent a subscription has been got up which will provide the funds necessary for the equipment of the Volunteer forces in that borough, but many of the subscribers gave somewhat reluctantly. They felt they were doing that which it was actually incumbent on the Government to do, and they did it because their sense of patriotism rose superior to the sense of injustice which they thought they were suffering. I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Waddy) rightly interprets the feeling which permeates the mind of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, when he attributes to him a burning desire to make up the deficiency. After all, what is it that is asked for? Simply that the equipment absolutely necessary for the Volunteer Forces should be supplied by the Government. Well, I think it is the least which can be; reasonably asked. The right hon. Gentleman took credit, and rightly so, for the largo increase of money which, under his auspices, has been granted to the Volunteer Forces, namely, I believe £160,000. If the addition of the £160,000 to the grant is sufficient to provide so much I am afraid it will furnish a very strong argument later on for hon. Members to vote in favour of a reduction of the very large sum which the right hon. Gentleman is going to ask for later on. The main reason why I rose was to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the importance, so far as possible, of conciliating the somewhat ruffled feelings of those who have conducted for many years the Volunteer organization under circumstances of very great difficulty and at enormous sacrifice, and of granting those who are less favoured than many situated in wealthy districts some additional assistance.

(6.35.) COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary for War appears to have objected to this proposal mainly on the ground that it would have the effect of damming up the tide of voluntary contributions towards the equipment of the Volunteers. I think, Sir, that the Government would encourage that generosity if they adopted the system of proportional grants. This is done, I believe, in other matters, and I believe that if my suggestion wore adopted instead of damming up the generosity of the public it would still further increase it.

(6.36.) MR. E. HARDCASTLE (Salford, N.)

I would urge my hon. and gallant Friend to press his Amendment to a Division. Within the last week or two a deputation from the part of the country I represent waited upon the right hon. Gentleman in reference to the circumstances affecting no less than 6,000 Volunteers. Their range, which they had occupied for several years, had been taken from them for purposes of cultivation, and after very great labour the Volunteers succeeded in finding what they believed to be the only place in which they can have a satisfactory range. All they wanted the Government to do was to advance£12,000, upon the security of the grants they were earning, to enable them to purchase this range. It has been intimated to them, however, although we hear so much of the expected surplus, that the finances of the country are not equal to the grant of a loan of £12,000 for a great public purpose of this kind, although the security for that loan is the Government grant. I certainly hope the Amendment-will be pressed to a Division.

(6.38) MR. SALT (Stafford)

If this Motion, is not to be pressed to a Division I think we ought to have a more definite expression of opinion from the Government. I have watched this discussion carefully, and I believe on both sides of-the House every man present is anxious to vote for the Motion. I will not ask my hon. and gallant Friend to divide because I do not wish to see the business of the House checked or interrupted: but I do not think that the assurance given by the Government is satisfactory. Not a single Member has spoken against the proposal. We are told that the Government approve of the principle which the whole House has condemned, namely, the raising, by means of subscriptions, of money which ought to be defrayed by the Government. Then we are told that a certain Order which has been issued will not be pressed. Nothing, to my mind, can be more unsatisfactory than to have it declared by the Government that an inconvenient Order which has been issued to the Volunteers throughout the country will not be pressed. If the recent Order cannot be enforced it ought to be at once withdrawn. What we all want to secure is that the Volunteer Force shall be really efficient in time of war. Whenever that force conies to be used it will be on a sudden emergency, and probably it will be employed against some of the best troops in Europe. We ought to be assured by the Government that the force is fit for service, and, if it! is not, that they will either give it up altogether or make it fit for service.

*(6.41.) MR. E. STANHOPE

Might I say one word by the indulgence of the House? If my hon. Friend will allow us to get into Committee he will be able to hear the statement I intend to make about the Volunteer Force. I have told the House perfectly distinctly that I do not want to press anything unfairly against the Volunteers, and that I am perfectly prepared to make every allowance for the difficulty experienced in particular localities, and to do my utmost, as I have always done in the past, to increase their efficiency.


I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.


I object to the withdrawal.

(6.45.) The House divided:—Ayes 102; Noes 135.—(Div. List, No. 26.)

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put. Resolved, "That it is expedient that, after a certain fixed date, all deficiencies of the equipments of Volunteers which are necessary to efficiency, and all debts of corps properly incurred on account of the same, be made good from the public revenues.


I now move that the House immediately resolve itself into Committee of Supply.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into the Committee of Supply."—(Mr. W. H. Smith).

*(6.57.) SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy)

I have a Motion on the Paper in the following terms:— That this House regrets that the efforts of Her Majesty's Government are mainly devoted to concentrating and improving the Regular Army as such, rather than to localising and popularising the Forces of the Crown for defensive purposes. The Government have resisted a Motion which only required that they should find the necessary equipment for Volunteers, and they have been defeated by the House. I take a somewhat broader view of the matter than the Mover of the last Amendment, and I think I am justified in submitting, at any rate in the form of remarks, the view I entertain. What has just occurred justifies my action in putting my Motion on the Paper, and shows that, in the opinion of the House, Her Majesty's Government are not suffi- ciently alive to the Auxiliary Forces, that they have hitherto too much taken the Regular Army point of view in considering the matter. This country nowadays cannot rely on its Fleet alone. Modern changes have put us much more n the position of Continental countries ihan we used to be, and with our enormous accumulation of wealth we are bound to take efficient means to repel aggression. The Government, however, whilst they are doing the best they can for the Regular Army, have neglected the Auxiliary Forces. They have refused to meet the just requirements of the Volunteers. Then there is the Militia which has declined by no less than 15,000 men in a few years—the number being now only 103,000, whereas it was formerly 118,000. This, to me, is a matter for very serious regret. I am aware that Her Majesty's Government have appointed a Committee to inquire into the subject, but I cannot trace in the Estimates or the arrangements they are making with regard to barracks any indication that they have resolved to deal with the matter in a radical fashion. I find that almost all the fresh expenditure contemplated is devoted to the Regular Army. In the matter of barracks their proposal is to concentrate the Regular Forces of the Crown in great camps. I see nothing whatever proposed, for providing new barrack accommodation for the Auxiliary Forces, and having watched the matter with considerable interest, I must say that the arrangement made for territorialising the Forces of the Crown is not genuine. The Line Battalion never serve in their territorial districts. It is really a sham. It is not complete National territorialising. You have a large surplus of officers in the Army. You say that in order to provide for a proper flow of promotion you must have officers retire in the prime of life, and you give them a considerable pension to retire, while at the same time you cannot get officers for your Militia. It seems to me there is great inconsistency in this, and that certainly officers who retire with considerable life pensions should be required to serve in the Auxiliary Forces. I recently read an article in a military paper in which this view was taken, and I think it is a view that cannot be controverted. Not only the officers, but the men and the Reserve Forces should be made part and parcel of our Militia Force and should not be kept separate as a mere adjunct to the regular Army. I want to see a large proportion, if not the whole, of the population armed for the defence of the country. Same people are afraid that if we encourage volunteering we shall encourage a military and Jingo spirit. That is not my view. The experience of France and other countries shows that the more popular the Army is the less inclined the country is to engage in foreign expeditions and aggressions. France was formerly the most military and aggressive country in the world, but it is not so now. What has brought about the change? Nothing, I believe, but the system of universal service, for that system has brought home to the minds of the people the fact that if they must tight abroad they must fight themselves. The French Parliament would not allow their troops to go to Egypt to commit the aggressions we have committed, and the occupation of Tonquin was the most unpopular—


The rule is that the remarks of the Mover of an Amendment must be relative to the Amendment. The hon. Gentleman is entering upon a very wide field.


My only suggestion is, that it is very desirable that we should have a popular Army, that a popular Army is not likely to be an aggressive Army. I think that if we increase our Auxiliary Forces, oven at some expense to the Regular Forces, we should reap considerable advantage. We should make this great country much more secure than it is, and repress the spirit of Jingoism, which prevails amongst certain portions of the community. I admit the popular feeling of the country is not ripe for compulsory military service; but, on the other hand, I think it is the duty of the Government and of the House to do all they can to encourage a popular force of the people for defensive purposes. I would contract the expenditure on the Army, in order to increase the expenditure on the Auxiliary Forces, to do that justice to the Volunteers which the House has demanded we should do, and to restore the Militia to the efficiency from which it has fallen in recent years. Looking at the matter merely from the point of view of the efficiency of the Regular Army, concentration in the great centres where great barracks are to be erected by the Government is good; but it is on these grounds better that the Forces should be localised rather than concentrated. I should like to imitate, to some extent, that admirable country Switzerland. That is a small but an industrious and democratic country, and the people submit to be called upon to serve in the Army for the benefit of their country. I have seen barracks there built not for the Regular Army, but as centres for local recruiting and local popular military exercising. I think that we might localise our Army and induce the people in the different localities to take a pride in their local Auxiliary Forces. It may seem a far cry from the Army to the eight hours' movement; but I come from a country where miners abound, and I find that the miners there, instead of going in strongly for eight hours, go in for taking a holiday with the Militia in the summer time. Then I think the Scotch fishermen might be made available for coast defence. I have received a paper to-day, in which it is stated by a Committee for the Defence of the Forth that the excellent materials on the east coast are not utilised as they might be for the defence of the country. No doubt the Admiralty do invite fishermen to join the second class of the Royal Naval Reserve; but the statistics which have been compiled show that Scotch fishermen are practically shut out, as the drill is unsuitable and interferes too much with their ordinary work. Therefore, there is ground for thinking that the Government have not given that attention and money for the development of our Auxiliary Forces which it is right and proper they should give. I admit we are not in the same position as a country like France. We are bound to keep up a Regular Army which shall retain possession of India and our other great colonies; but my belief is, while I am not in favour of a separate Army in India, that we might achieve the object the Government desire to obtain by a system of volunteering for long service instead of by an ordinary short service Army. There is another source from which I think a good deal of money might be derived for making the Auxiliary Service more efficient. It seems to me that the colonies do not contribute in anything like a just proportion to the cost of the troops furnished for their protection. The net cost of our Army is about £113 per head, not including the expense of sea transport. I find that 35,000 men are employed in the colonies and Egypt. The cost of those troops is given at £2,237,000, which amounts to just about £64 per head. It is perfectly clear that the troops employed abroad cost not less, but a great deal more than the troops at home, and, therefore, I should put down the real cost of these troops at £150 per head. Why do we not get more for these troops employed abroad? I am aware that in the present year the Government are making an effort to get more, but I want to know why the demands made on the colonies are so unequal. I find that India pays the whole cost of the troops employed there, and the Straits Settlements are called upon to pay £100,000, which is a good deal less than the real cost of the troops. Ceylon pays no more than it has paid for some time-namely, £34,500. Why should that be, and why should the prosperous colony of Natal, which has a largo revenue and surplus, pay only £4,000 a year? Why should the Cape Colony pay nothing at all? It seems to me that by making an alteration in this matter we might save a good deal of money which could be devoted to the Auxiliary Forces.

*(7.20.) DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

Now that the Motions on the Paper have been disposed of, I presume I shall be in order in making a few remarks on a different subject. My text will be the present condition of the Army Medical Department. I quite admit that it is a great deal more convenient to raise matters of this sort on the Vote relating to them, and I will not deal with any point of detail; but I think it well that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. E. Stanhope) should know at this early stage of the proceedings the great dissatisfaction and disappointment which has been expressed not only in the Army Medical Department, but in the medical profession outside at the decision he has arrived at in regard to the recommendations of the Departmental Committee. I think the right hon. Gentleman has missed a very valuable and, perhaps, unique opportunity of settling these questions once and for all. If he had adopted the Report of the Committee he would have entirely settled all the dissatisfaction which has been seething around the Army Medical Department for years—dissatisfaction arising from the unsettled state in which medical officers have been left, and from the condition of perpetual change to which they are subjected. One reason why the right hon. Gentleman was unable to adopt the Report was the expense it would have involved. He has stated that that expense would be £100,000 a year. I should have thought that a heavy estimate; but, of course, I must admit that on a question of this sort he is better informed than I. I think it unfortunate that he could not have put an end to the perpetual changes in the duties of the Army Medical Officers, and that he has been unable to sec his way to make some return to the old regimental system with the destruction of which has disappeared so much of the domestic comfort, peace, and happiness of the Army Medical Officers. I think it also a pity that he could not have consented to proposals which would cost nothing. It is a common thing to say that doctors in these days do not want titles. That is all very well for civilians, but in military life there are a great many questions such as that of the choice of quarters in which some kind of rank is absolutely necessary. The Army Medical Department, by a very largo majority, have said that they want some kind of compound title. I know that a few of the old military officers do not desire to have such a title, but they have had no experience of the rank-and-file life of the doctor of to-day, I do not know why the Government should be so much afraid of giving some kind of title to the doctor if he wants it —it cannot do them any harm, and it may do him some good. You have something of the kind in the title of surgeon general and surgeon major. I do not know why, when the medical officers want these titles, they cannot have them. Two or three countries have already adopted them—notably America—and I think that feeling in France is now tending-in that direction. In America the system works uncommonly well, and has placed the Army Medical Department on a firm and satisfactory basis. I am afraid there is still too much jealousy on the part of the combatant branch of the Service towards doctors. The hostility of the right hon. Gentleman's advisers to the Medical Department seems to be so great that I believe he has not ventured to place on the Table 'the evidence on which the Report of the Committee was based.

*(7.28.) MR. E. STANHOPE

I think it better that I should reserve my remarks until the hon. Gentleman raises the question in Committee. I may, however, just refer to one point. He says I have not put the evidence on the Table. Anyone can have the evidence, and I believe the hon. Member himself has got it; but I did not think it necessary to put the House to the expense of printing it.


The right hon. Gentleman has kindly given me the evidence, but it has been given to me in strict confidence. The information on which my remarks were based was derived from other sources.

(7.29.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I think my hon. Friend has been well advised in treating us to this preliminary skirmish, and I trust that when we come to the main battle we shall hear the right hon. Gentleman's views about the Report. I suppose my hon. Friend will move the reduction of the right hon. Gentleman's salary, because the right hon. Gentleman himself is responsible for what has occurred. It seems to me quite plain that the medical officers are unjustly used, inasmuch as they have a longer time of foreign service than military officers, and are obliged to have a greater amount of sick leave. As the result of that you have got no efficiency in the Medical Service; as a result you have the mortality among the medical officers 33 per cent. higher than among other officers, a result, I think, very serious. It arises from not giving these officers the same leave, and from giving them longer foreign service than other officers, and so you are killing off your medical officers at the rate of a third more than others. Surely it is time this loss of life should cease. With the other matter to which I wish to allude, there is no doubt sentiment associated, though it is not that entirely. The right hon. Gentleman has abolished relative rank and has degraded the position of medical officers in the Army. This is not merely a sentimental grievance, because when you abolish relative rank you abolish certain privileges and advantages that attended that rank in quarters. Perhaps if we give him sufficient evidence the right hon. Gentleman may be induced to change his mind if it is desired, and that medical officers do desire it is unquestioned. In the Departmental Committee of eight there were five of them in favour of granting the rank, only one medical expert being on the other side with the hon. Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley), and a gallant Admiral. If there is no such desire in the Navy that is no reason why it should not exist in the Army. I hope we shall be able to get something more satisfactory from the right hon. Gentleman. We have got this Committee, and witnesses have proved to the hilt all the statements of my hon. Friend; the Committee have reported in our favour, and still the right hon. Gentleman persists in his course. We shall want good reasons why he does this. You will not get the same class of men as heretofore; you will have the Service boycotted by the profession; you will only get the riff-raff of the profession to enter the Army Medical Service. I trust the right hon. Gentleman may be induced to re-consider his position and not persist in defiance of the feeling of the profession.

(7.32.) MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)

I am well aware that discussion at this moment is deprecated by the Front Bench; and I will occupy only a few moments on a subject to which I would direct the right hon. Gentleman's attention, and perhaps he will give some reply when the particular Vote comes on in Committee. I refer to the rations allowed to the private soldier. On joining the Service the recruit is informed that his rations will be provided free, but he soon discovers that his free rations are limited to one pound of bread and three-quarters of a pound— which is, practically, half a pound—of meat a day. Now, the work of a private soldier in a cavalry regiment is severe. He is up at half-past 5 in the morning, and with stable work, dull gymnasium, and school, there is an amount of work for which the rations supplied are quite insufficient. It may be as I have asid, heard it said before, that the rations a soldier gets are more than, as a rule, the agricultural labourer gets; and to a certain extent that is true, but the agricultural labourers gets quantity if he does not get quality. Bacon and. broad, it may be said, he gets to any quantity he requires. But the soldier does not get sufficient for the work lie has to do. A recruit in good working condition, by the time he has had his breakfast and his dinner, has got through his rations, and so has nothing to eat from 2 o'clock in the day until 7.30 the next morning. The result is, he goes to the canteen and fills himself with indifferent beer; presently he gets drunk, is put into the guard-room, and returned inefficient for a certain number of days. I commend this to the notice of hon. Gentlemen opposite anxious to encourage temperance—that the best way to decrease drinking among the soldiers is to feed them better, and, in the end, you will find it cheaper. You have now, while you half starve a soldier, to offer every inducement to recruits in the way of bounty, pay, and pensions; but make the men more comfortable, and you will find tin; aggregate cost will be less. I am the more tempted to bring this matter under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman, because since he has been in office the right hon. Gentleman has done his best to improve the position and to add to the comfort of the private soldier.

(7.35.) MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)

Perhaps I may offer the hon. and gallant Gentleman a statement of a Minister that has some bearing on the point lie has raised. The British soldier is underfed, according to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and may be that is so, for I may remind him that it is considered necessary to increase his rations when he is engaged in battering down the houses of the Irish tenantry. Here is a question that was put to the Secretary for War by the Tory Member for East Antrim (Captain M'Calmont) on May 17 last year, whether he (the Secretary for War) would be prepared to sanction the granting of special allowances to the troops employed for months in aid of the Civil Power in the County of Donegal. This is the answer of the Financial Secretary— The troops in question have had an additional meat ration. No further special allowance is contemplated. It seems, therefore, that the claim to additional rations is admitted when the troops are engaged upon the duty of stirring up civil strife. But I will defer more specific remarks upon this point until we reach the Vote in Committee. What I now wish to do is to turn attention to the position and status of Army Chaplains, and though, through being away, I have not been able to give notice of my intention, the right hon. Gentleman opposite will have had some intimation that the matter would be raised from the questions I have on previous occasions addressed to him. I have pointed out how a great diminution of expenditure would be effected by giving to the parochial clergy, both here and in Ireland, some small addition to their incomes if they undertake the spiritual care of soldiers in their parish. If he has studied the question the right hon. Gentleman will recollect that Army Chaplains for home camps and garrisons are comparatively a new invention. The institution of Army Chaplains was for the purpose of providing for soldiers going abroad that spiritual advice which otherwise they might be unable to have. But the system has been developed, and we now have Army Chaplains at home. I believe there are 88 Army Chaplaincies on the Estimates now; and my suggestion is that these Army Chaplains should— having regard, of course, to vested interest?—be superseded by parochial clergy wherever the latter are ready and willing to do duty. By this means you will effect an enormous saving in expenditure under this head. Moreover, as I am informed by officers, and I can well understand that it should be so, soldiers will derive more advantage from the ministrations of the local clergy than from the official Chaplains, who have, more or less, the status of officers, and between whom and the men there cannot be that easy, respectful familiarity which should exist between a pastor and his flock. I speak in the interest of a body of men with whom personally, perhaps, I have little favour, but whom I respect and esteem —the Irish Protestant, clergy. The right hon. Gentleman will I remember that, as regards the Catholic clergy, the Bishops declined to entertain the idea. On a former occasion the right hon. Gentleman said that if I could show him that, in my view, I had the approval of the heads of the Established Church he would consider whether he could not make this arrangement for Army Chaplaincies at, of course, a reduced expenditure, availing himself of the services of the parochial clergy of the Church of Ireland. I am now happy to tell him that, having met the Archbishop of Dublin, his Grace, in the course of conversation, said that he also had had his attention directed to this subject and that he cordially approved of the proposal. His Grace is, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, a temporal Peer, and he said he would do his best by his influence in another place to facilitate any efforts here. Without going into particulars, I may state that out of those 88 chaplaincies I have mentioned, and which entail an expenditure of £57,000 a year, there are eight in Ireland costing £9,500 a year. They have large pay and retiring allowances. The Irish clergy now in possession of cures would do the work of these chaplains, and consider themselves well paid for £2,000 a year. It happens that all the stations to which these eight chaplains are appointed are in the diocese of Dublin, and under the jurisdiction of the Prelate whose sanction I have referred to. Of all persons in Ireland the clergy, who are supporters of the present Administration, least deserve to suffer under any sense of wrong from the action of the present Government. It is strange that they should find an advocate in a political opponent like myself; but I have the greater pleasure in supporting their case, because the two Members who may be considered as specially representatives of their interests —the two Members for Dublin University, —owing to their position on the Treasury Bench, are debarred from taking action. It is a question of long standing. It was brought before the present Attorney General for Ireland by his constituents in the University, and it was threatened that if he would not give a pledge to look after the interests of the Protestant clergy they would start a candidate of their own against the Government candidate. On July 2, 1887, a letter was addressed to the present Attorney General for Ireland by one of his constituents, in which it was remarked that up to that time their Representative had done nothing for the Irish clergy who elected him— too busy, I suppose, in preparing legal answers for his chief—and that this would be a proper subject for comment at the next Election. On the same day the right hon. Gentleman replied, saying he would give immediate attention to the questions referred to if elected; and, though he could not hope to have much influence, such as he had should be exercised. Has he exercised any influence? Is it not a deplorable position for the Irish clergy when they have to accept aid, willingly given, from a political opponent? I certainly think Trinity College, Dublin, has a strong claim upon the Government. They should recollect that two-thirds of the electorate are members of the Irish Church, and that they provide a ready means by which the Government are supplied with a constant succession of Law Officers in this House. I may ask, I think, for the redemption of the pledge, that if I can show the consent and approval of the heads of the Church, my proposition should be favour ably considered. I have that approval. I can show that there would be a saving of some £6,000 a year, that a material benefit would be conferred on the clergy, and that the change would be in accordance with a strong feeling in the Army.


My right hon. Friend cannot respond now, he having exhausted his right to speak, but he will refer to this question when the Vote is reached in Committee.

Question put, and agreed to.

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