Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 153,696, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at Home and Abroad, excluding Her Majesty's Indian Possessions, during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1892.
§ (4.37.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I do not wish to continue my criticism of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, in which I was interrupted by the adjournment of the Debate the other night, but I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that there are 7,000 men less in the ranks than are to be voted, and 12,000 men less in the Reserve than are to be voted. I attribute that deficiency chiefly to administration. I think the right hon. Gentleman is holding out false promises to the men who are thinking of enlisting, and the false promise I will particularly draw attention to—that a private soldier will receive 15s. I maintain that a private soldier only gets about 13s. a week. In order that the question of pay might be properly discussed tonight, I addressed a private note to the Secretary of State for War, so that if he thought proper he might be prepared with figures, and might be able to make a statement on the subject. The way I estimate that a private soldier gets only 13s. a week is this: As actual pay he receives 7s. a week. 1s. 2d. a week is put down to his credit for deferred pay, but 1s. 2d. a week deferred for seven years or three years is not worth more than 1s. a week. So that altogether he gets 8s.pay. From a statement once made by a Financial Secretary to the War Office, I know that a private soldier gets 3frac14;d. worth of meat a day. The value of bread supplied him may be estimated at 1d. per day; so that in rations he gets 4frac14;d. a day. I see the Secretary of State shakes his head. The soldier's rations were formerly valued at 4frac12;d., but there is no doubt that the price of meat and bread has declined. In pay and rations a soldier receives 10s. 6d. a week. Lodging I put down at 2d. a day. Barrack accommodation, fuel, lighting, and bedding cannot be put down at more than 2d. a day. Soldiers sleep 14 in a room, and it is evident that under such circumstances there is great economy. The clothing of a soldier I value at £2 12s. a year, or 1s. per week. That is the extreme outside price. The Secretary of State will say a soldier's clothing costs more than £2 12s. a year, but if so the soldier does not get greater value than 1384 that. You wish a soldier to look smart, and yet you wish him to sleep in the guard room in his good clothes. When all these items are added together they come to 12s. 8d. I allow 4d. for contingencies, making in all 13s. It is said the soldier receives medical attendance, but I believe that in England for 3d. a week a man cannot only get attended to by a doctor, but can obtain attendance for his family and also get an allowance when he is sick. Therefore, medical attendance I really put down as little or nothing. I want the Secretary for War to point out where I am wrong in my figures. The stoppages from a soldier's pay are very considerable. The fines alone form large deductions. The soldier gets fined not only when he is drunk at his work, but when he is drunk, although not on duty. Of course it is not a proper thing to have drunken men in barracks, but an ordinary workman does not get fined for returning home drunk at night as a soldier does. The Secretary for War says a soldier gets as much as 15s. a week; and I would ask him to enter into such details as will prove that he is right and I am wrong.
§ (4.49.) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE, Horncastle, Lincolnshire)
I am afraid I cannot agree with my hon. and gallant Friend that this Committee is the best body to ascertain exactly what are the facts of such a case. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, of course, has large technical knowledge on this subject, but I am bound to tell him that those whom I have consulted also have very large technical knowledge with reference to it. I admit that there must always be a difference of opinion as to the precise amount received by the soldier, but the statement we put in the placards is founded on the best information we could obtain. It was first published before I was responsible for it, but I have seen nothing, to lead me to modify it. The 15s. a week is based upon a general estimate. The rations are taken at 3s. 6d.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
Well, it is a matter of opinion, and I am afraid we must agree to differ. The lodgings in which we include fire, lighting, and bedding we place at 2s. 6d., and the 1385 clothing we place at 2s. The 15s. does not include the deferred pay, the uncertain amounts which a soldier may receive according to his conduct, or any valuation for the amount of medical attendance or casual earnings. Although. I am afraid it is impossible to satisfy the hon. and gallant Member, all I can say is that other people have formed a totally different estimate from his, and I can see no reason whatever for differing from their opinion.
§ (4.52.) COLONEL NOLAN
I am very glad I have drawn this statement from the right hon. Gentleman. I may point out that, whilst I have expressed my own opinion, the right hon. Gentleman has not said he has gone into the question himself, nor has he named one of the advisers upon whose opinions he relies. I think he should state who those authorities are. I am glad that the matter has not been reduced to such a small compass that I can say positively that the right hon. Gentleman overestimates the rations by something over 1s. a week. As regards the lodging, it must be a matter of opinion on the part of the soldiers and of ordinary workmen whether a bed in a room which is occupied by 14 men is worth more than 1s. 2d. a week. I certainly say that a bed of such a kind could be easily procured by contract for 2d. per night. As regards the clothing, the greater part of the clothes served out are of no use to the soldier, and an ordinary workman would be able to get as good and warm and very nearly as smart clothes for £2 12s. a year.
§ (4.56.) SIR J. COLOMB (Tower Hamlets, Bow, &c.)
There are one or two very broad observations I wish to make with regard to this Vote. I am sure we all listened with great pleasure to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War in introducing the discussion. With regard to the point alluded to by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Nolan), the right hon. Gentleman gave the most explicit information the other night from the point of view of the interests of the private soldier. As to the special Vote before us for 153,696 men, I confess I always feel a considerable amount of sympathy with any Secretary for War. I think his difficulties are enormous. 1386 He is suddenly put at the head of a great spending Department which has many ramifications; his responsibilities are great, and it is obvious it must be a long time before he can master the details of his work. By the time he has mastered the details of his Department I think it will be found that the officials of his Department have mastered him. I wish to point out once more that the form of the Estimates and the procedure of this House render it quite impossible to discuss, adequately, the question before us. We can only take it in bits. The actual number of soldiers of sorts on the Estimates is 707,242; but as 553,546 are distributed under other Votes, we are forbidden to deal with them now, so that we are only dealing with a very small proportion of the total Military Force on the Estimates. We are asked to vote 153,696 men when the Estimates actually provide for a number of soldiers amounting to nearly three-quarters of a million. They are supposed to be for the defence of the Empire. We are further precluded from taking into account the 150,000 native troops in India, and the regular and auxiliary troops scattered throughout the Colonial Empire. So really we are taking the Vote for a small fragment of the Military Forces of the Empire. Further, let me say that the Army as a purely Military Force is intended to defend British territory against the possibility of purely military attack; and with the exception of the frontiers of India and Canada, there is no part of the Empire open to military attack except by sea, and thus the possibility of attack and amount of force required to resist it, becomes a naval question which we are not allowed to discuss, and, therefore, we have to vote this number of men absolutely in the dark. We are not allowed to refer to those reasons which would fix the military standard of required strength, and so I think this stage of Committee on the Army Estimates should either be enlarged in the scope of its discussion, or it might very well be dispensed with altogether. We have to look on this Vote wearing Parliamentary blinkers; we must not look to the right, where lies the naval question, nor to the left, where are the Indian, and other Forces. Some of the statements of the right hon. Gentleman on introducing these Estimates are germane to the 1387 observations I have ventured to offer. I find the right hon. Gentleman said—We have taken stock of all our available resources, and after making full provision for the garrisons of our ports and coaling stations at home and abroad, we are organising the remainder of our Force into an Army of defence.Well, so long as I have been able to follow military and naval Debates in this House, it has been the usual statement from the Minister that "we are organising," and so long as we have to approach the discussion of military and naval policy by bits, so long we shall go on organising, so long will it be impossible for a Ministerever to say, "We are organised." With regard to this, I will ask the right hon. Gentleman to say when he replies later, are we to understand from his statement, that before taking stock of our military resources the question was not asked: What are the existing resources for purely local defence, and are they or are they not in excess of our requirements? I think that so long as our first line of defence, the Navy, is sufficient to protect commerce in the Channel no great attempt at invasion can possibly take place. That is the determining factor as to the nature, number, and amount of our Military Force, and that over 500,000 men in England for nothing else than resisting a military invasion is scarcely necessary. Our method of procedure has been upon these lines. First you take the available military resources and say these have been created, they exist, and then, without inquiring how they came into existence, or whether they are wanted, we provide for real military necessities and then find a remainder of 500,000 men, un appropriated, so they are organised into an Army of defence. There is another passage in the right hon. Gentleman's statement to which I must refer. He said—On the occurrence of an emergency, troops mainly drawn from the Regular Army, forming the first line of defence (that is the first line of defence against invasion), will concentrate at the appointed stations all situated at important rail way junctions enabling them to be transported with the least possible delay to the threatened districts.Now, I do wish humbly to protest against a phrase which may come to be generally adopted when applied to the Army in the United Kingdom, that it 1388 is the first line of defence against invasion. We have always considered the Navy the first line of defence for this Kingdom.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
Really, I think I made my meaning perfectly clear; what I meant, of course, was the first line of military defence—of Army defence.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB
I take this explanation that the Regular Army is, according to the passage in the right hon. Gentleman's speech, the first line of defence supposing the Navy broken down. But then I think we are adopting an entirely new principle in our military policy. The Regular Army is for the general service of the Empire. You cannot limit it and tie it down to be the first line of military defence at home, and observing that it is only in India and Canada that there can be a great military attack delivered, so long as your Navy is sufficient, then the Regular Army should be available as hitherto for service abroad. I have felt it incumbent upon me to make this protest. The more I consider the whole matter the more am I satisfied that until the House is placed in a position by the alteration of its forms to discuss the principles upon which the strength of the Army is to be founded, at all events for one night in the Session, so long shall we have waste and inefficiency, and so long will we be without that safety the Empire demands.
(5.10.) THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON (Lancashire, Rossendale)
I do not propose to follow the various statements made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War on Thursday. I will only add the expression of my opinion to that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman as to the extreme clearness and ability which marked those statements, and the important nature of some of the information laid before the Committee. But I think, perhaps, it would be convenient on this occasion, if I were to ask the right hon. Gentleman to take this, or some other opportunity he may consider more desirable, for giving to the Committee some further information as 1389 to the steps taken by himself and other Members of the Government, to carry out suggestions made by the Royal Commission appointed to examine the organisation of the Military and Naval Departments, of which I had the honour to be Chairman. The right hon. Gentleman told us last year that upon some of the recommendations contained in that Report the Government would take further time for consideration, and I do not think that any member of the Commission objected to that, considering the extreme importance of the matter; but we should be glad to know whether that further consideration has now been given, and in what conclusion, if any, that consideration has resulted? There were, however, certain of the recommendations of the Commission which the right hon. Gentleman said were to be acted upon at once. The Commission recommended the constitution of a Naval and Military Council of a certain composition. The right hon. Gentleman made some criticisms upon the precise form of their recommendation, and stated that the Government had come to the determination to constitute within the Cabinet itself a Naval and Military Council, the decisions of which were to be kept on record for the information, not only of themselves, but also of their successors. I think it is desirable that we should know whether that Council within the Cabinet has been appointed, whether it has met, and, as far as the right hon. Gentleman is able to tell us, whether any progress has been made in the consideration of the questions which induced the Commission to recommend the appointment of such a Council. Perhaps it is desirable that I should once more recall the nature of the questions in view of which we recommended the appointment of a joint Naval and Military Council. In the seventh paragraph of our Report we say—The first point which strikes us in the consideration of the organisation of these two great Departments is, that while in action they must be to a large extent dependent on each other, and while in some of the arrangements necessary, as a preparation for war, they are absolutely dependent on the assistance of each other, little or no attempt has ever been made to establish settled and regular inter-communication or relations between them, or to secure that the establishment of one Service should be determined with any reference to the requirements of the other.1390 Further we state—It has been stated in evidence before us that no combined plan of operations for the defence of the Empire in any given contingency has ever been worked out or decided upon by the two Departments; that some of the questions connected with the defence of military ports abroad, and even of those at home, are still, after much Departmental correspondence, in an unsettled condition, and that the best mode of garrisoning some of the distant coaling stations is also unsettled.My right hon. Friend stated last year that in his opinion the amount of friction to which reference has been made has been very much exaggerated, and that there was no cause for serious misunderstanding in the working of the two Departments. Now I have explained that the result of the investigation we had had to make, was that the friction actually existing in the operation of the existing system of the Departments was not the main defect to be guarded against. I quite agree that the amount of friction which actually occurs may not be serious, but the question which arises is whether that friction is not avoided by leaving some of the most vital questions in abeyance in the unfounded confidence that every difficulty that might become serious will resolve itself when necessity arises. As we say in our Report—There does not appear to us to exist sufficient provision for the consideration by either Service of the wants of the other. It seems to be assumed, without adequate ground, that each will be, in time of need, prepared to give the assistance essential to, or highly necessary for, the efficiency of the other; and there is a want of such definite and established relations between the Admiralty and the War Office as would give the opportunity to either Department of calling the attention of the other to the condition of the establishments and preparations in which it is Vitally interested.If that is a correct statement of the state of affairs, it is quite possible for there to be very little friction in the action of the two Departments, and yet some of the most vital questions essential to the efficiency of both, but which it is nobody's business to raise, might be left in a most uncertain condition, and cause, in time of trial, friction of a very dangerous character. What I think the Committee have a right to know is whether the appointment of this Naval and Military Council has been made, and whether any progress has been made towards a satisfactory solution of what is 1391 described in the Report of the Commission—and I know it was the unanimous opinion of the Commissioners—as an "unsatisfactory and dangerous condition of affairs." If any consideration has been given to these matters, it is not, I am bound to say, apparent on the face of the Army Estimates. The Navy Estimates have not, I believe, yet been presented to the House. Very few changes in the Establishments seem to be made in the present Estimates, either in the whole or in relation to the various branches of the Service. If that is due to the fact that the examination of the questions I have referred to has resulted in the opinion being formed that our Military Establishment is adequate to the wants of the Empire, and that the Army is efficient in itself and capable of giving the Navy support in time of war, and that the same statement can be made with regard to the Navy, that no doubt will be a highly satisfactory statement for the Committee to hear; but in the absence of a positive assurance to that effect, I hardly think we can assume so much, and I think the Committee require further information. I am bound to say that in my opinion this thorough and harmonious communication between the two Departments will never be established by the constitution of any Naval and Military Council, within or without the Cabinet. I believe it can only be practically attained by certain administrative changes which the Commission recommended. I believe it is necessary that in each Department highly-trained professional officers should be appointed, who would be free from all administrative or technical work to a very great extent, whose chief duty would be to give responsible advice to their respective Ministers on questions of policy. I believe that the appointment of the officers recommended by the Commission, the First Naval Lord and the officer whom we designated the Chief of the Staff, would be the means of establishing that thorough and free communication between the two Departments which I think does not at present exist. These officers would, from the nature of their duties, be in constant communication with each other, through them all questions of common interest and importance to each Department 1392 would be presented to their respective chiefs, and those questions, would be raised and decided in a manner that would prevent the possibility of that misunderstanding which I fear now exists. That, in my opinion, affords the only true solution of the difficulty. But I fully admit that, until the Government are in a position to give further consideration to the carrying out of the recommendations of the Commission in this respect, a good deal might be done by the Naval and Military Council, which we have been informed is to be appointed. I wish also to ask my right hon. Friend whether any progress, has been made towards the adoption, of the recommendations of the Commission for the re-organisation of the Department over which he himself presides—the War Office. The Secretary of State last year very properly took time to consider what he described as the far-reaching and drastic recommendations of the Commission, and I think the time has arrived when we may ask if any progress has been made in that direction. But one of those recommendations my right hon. Friend said he was prepared to carry out at once, and he undertook to constitute a War Office Council in a more formal manner. He undertook to secure freedom of discussion in that Council, with a formal record of its proceedings. We are, I think, entitled to ask whether that Council has, been formally constituted, and whether any practical benefit has resulted from it, whether there has been any result as affecting the Estimates, and whether any responsibility for advice has been placed on that Council; or whether still, as in times past, the Commander-in-Chief is the only official in the War Office to whom the Secretary of State is entitled to look for advice on questions of magnitude and importance. In the 73rd paragraph of our Report it is pointed out that all responsibility for administration is practically, under the present system, concentrated upon the person of the Commander-in-Chief, and we suggest that a definite and direct responsibility to the Secretary of State should be placed upon the heads of Departments. We have pointed out in the Report that the only responsible adviser of the Secretary of State is the Commander-in-Chief, who has a multitude of other duties to perform. 1393 I think an instance will show better than anything else the state of things to which we were endeavouring to call attention when we made that recommendation. The Commission considered that there was no real power and responsibility placed upon any of the so-called heads of Departments in the War Office, except upon the Commander-in-Chief. For instance, with regard to the magazine rifle, my right hon. Friend, in the course of the Debate the other night, made two statements which appear to me to be, to a great extent, of a conflicting character. My right hon. Friend's first statement was that up to recent times—Soldiers have had too little control over the weapons placed in their hands, but now the primary responsibility for the weapons of the Army rests with the Army itself.The statement seems to me to require a little examination. What is the exact meaning my right hon. Friend attaches to his words? The Staff and regimental officers have nothing more to do with their weapons now than formerly. The statement must be taken to mean that there is at the War Office some representative of the combatant branches of the Army, presumably the Commander-in-Chief or the Adjutant General, who has a voice in the selection of weapons. In that way it might be said that the Army has a primary responsibility for its weapons. But my right hon. Friend went on to say that the Director of Artillery is the officer primarily responsible for recommending the new rifle. In my opinion, the Director of Artillery is not a representative of the Army at all. He is chosen, I believe, and I think he ought to be chosen, not as the representative of the combatant forces of the Army, but because of his special and scientific knowledge of questions relating to that arm of the Service. It therefore seems to me that the two statements of my right hon. Friend are not easily reconciled. If the choice of the new rifle really rested with the Commander-in-Chief or the Adjutant General, then it might be said, in some sense, that the Army, through its representatives, was responsible for the new weapon; but if, as we were further informed, the primary responsibility rested upon the Director of Artillery, 1394 then I am unable to see that the Army has anything more to do with the choice of the new weapon than it ever had in former times. That view seems to me to be somewhat confirmed by the rest of the speech of my right hon. Friend. He said, in the course of his speech, as to the rifle, a great deal about the recommendations of Committees, and the opinion of the weapon given by certain experts, even by certain members of the Volunteer Force, and he quoted the opinion of the Director of the Ordnance Factory. He went very fully into the merits of the rifle and the cost of it. He made the statement which I have read as to the responsibility of the Director of Artillery for recommending the rifle, but in the whole course of his observations I do not find reference to the opinion of the Commander-in-Chief or the Adjutant General, who alone—so far as I can see—of the officials of the War Office can be said to represent the combatant Forces, or the opinion of the combatant Forces in the choice of the weapon. The Director of Artillery is appointed, and no doubt ought to be appointed, for his practical and scientific knowledge on questions of armaments. But what the members of the Commission felt, and what I desire to point out, is, that under the present system no real and direct responsibility rests on the Director of Artillery or any other so-called heads of a Department. The Director of Artillery is, under the present system, merely a subordinate member of the Military Department under the Commander-in-Chief. In estimating the relative positions of the members of the War Office administration some regard must be had to the importance of those positions as measured by the amount of salary attached to them. A slight examination of the Estimates will show that the Director of Artillery is not only not in an independent position as the head of the Department, but that, relatively, he is not a highly placed member of the Department of the Commander-in-Chief. In the Military Department, the head of which is the Commander-in-Chief with £6,000 a year, there are a Military Secretary with £2,100 a year, an Adjutant General with £2,700, four Deputy Adjutants General at from £1,700 to £1,500 a year, an Inspector 1395 General of Fortifications with £2,100, a Deputy Inspector General of Fortifications with £1,700, and, finally, the Director of Artillery, with a salary of £1,500; so that the position of the Director of Artillery in the official hierarchy appears to be on a level with that of a Deputy Adjutant General, and below that of the Deputy Inspector General of Fortifications. In my opinion nothing is gained by placing the man who is really responsible for a decision of this kind under a military chief whose scientific knowledge must, presumably, be inferior to his own. I might say the same thing with regard to the Inspector General of Fortifications, the officer in charge of the Commissariat, and others. I say I think it is a false principle that these officers should not be made directly responsible to the Secretary of State for the discharge of the important functions with which they are entrusted, but should be, nominally, placed under the control of a single military head. Referring, again, to the case of the selection of the new magazine rifle, it appears to me that it would be infinitely preferable that the duty of primarily and finally recommending the adoption of a particular arm should rest upon the Director of Artillery without the interposition of the responsibility of any other authority between him and the Secretary of State. Let the Military Authorities by all means examine the arm placed in their hands, let them conduct any series of experiments, let them test their new weapon, let them make any Reports they consider necessary, and let those Reports and any remonstrances they may have to offer be referred to the Director of Artillery; but let him be the person who has the final word with the Secretary of State, and who, having considered the whole matter, shall, on his sole and undivided responsibility, make his recommendation to the Secretary of State, so that the public may know who there is in the Department, under the Secretary of State, who will bear the whole responsibility for the efficiency or inefficiency of a weapon served out to the troops. The present system seems to me to lead to a confusion of duties and devolution of responsibility. If the Director of Artillery has anything to do with the trials and tests to which a new arm is subjected, the responsibility of 1396 the Director of Artillery for passing whet may be a defective weapon is diminished. And if the combatant officers take any part in recommending mechanical alteration in a new arm, so far, in my opinion, the responsibility of the Director of Artillery for that which ought to be his business is weakened and diminished. In addition to the present system of accumumulating a vast amount of duties upon the Commander-in-Chief and the Adjutant General, it is impossible for any man to cope with a distribution of duties which is unsound in itself. Take the case of the administration of a great railway. The engineers and directors of the rolling stock occupy a position analagous in military administration to those who occupy themselves with fortifications and guns in the Army; but I do not think any Railway Board would dream of placing the management of the factories or workshops, nominally in the hands of the traffic manager, though undoubtedly he is the person—like the combatant branches of the Army—who is most interested in the efficiency of the rolling stock. I do not think a Railway Company would be of opinion that it would get the best result by giving to a traffic manager either the real or nominal responsibility for the management of their factories or workshops. I do not wish to detain the House, but I think I must point to another instance of the inconvenience of the present system of apportioning duties. The right hon. Gentleman the other night made an important statement as to the progress made with the scheme for the mobilization of the Army. Now, I should like to ask who does the right hon. Gentleman hold responsible to himself for that scheme, upon which the safety of the Empire may, in a possible contingency, depend? It is, of course, impossible for the Secretary of State or any civilian to make himself personally responsible. But there ought to be some individual at the War Office whom he can hold personally responsible. I doubt very much whether, under the existing system, there is any individual who is directly responsible. If I am not mistaken, the head of the Intelligence Department is, jointly with the Commander-in-Chief, responsible; but it is impossible for the Commander-in-Chief, with his many other duties relating to 1397 drill, discipline, recruiting, instruction, and training of the Army, the selection of officers, and other such matters—it is absolutely impossible for the Commander-in-Chief to be held personally responsible for the details of any such scheme as this. It is also extremely improbable that the Adjutant General, with his many other duties, gives any real detailed examination to the mobilization scheme. This is a matter which ought to be confided to some officer who would be rightly described as Chief of the Staff. If such an officer were appointed he would then be absolutely and personally responsible, and his professional prospects and reputation would be at stake. There are several distinct departments of the War Office—such as the men, armaments for fortifications, the weapons placed in the hands of the troops, the commissariat, supplies, transport and finance—all these are administered under the Secretary of State, and have broad divisions. I think there is nothing gained by placing all these matters, between which there are broad and distinct divisions, under the nominal charge and supreme control of a military officer whose position and duties are such as to not unnaturally lead him to devote his time and attention to the more personal branch of the Service. I hope that the Secretary of State will state his views on these important points with regard to military organisation. Possibly a more convenient opportunity than the present may be found on the Vote for the War Office itself, but as it is uncertain when that Vote will be reached, I have thought it desirable to make this statement now and to call attention to certain matters which appear to me to be of very great importance.
§ (5.50.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I think the noble Lord opposite must have forgotten a good deal of the Report of the Commission over which he himself presided. The noble Lord appears suddenly to attach extreme importance to this Naval and Military Council, but in the Report for which he is responsible the utmost which he could bring himself to say was that there might be some advantage in the formation of a Naval and Military Council. The Report says how the Council should be formed and what it should be summoned for. The recommendations of the Commission on this subject have not been overlooked by the Government. In the 1398 first place, the opportunity has been taken in the Cabinet of assembling together in Committee for the consideration of questions affecting the Army and Navy, not only those who are responsible for the two Departments, but those connected with other Departments of the State who may be indirectly interested. The decisions which have been come to are very important. Certain out-standing questions between the Army and Navy have been settled, and much has been done to facilitate the working of both Departments. Something has also been done with regard to matters of detail, which could not well be brought before a Committee like that to which I have referred, composed of very busy heads of Departments. We have felt it necessary to have a better system of inter-communication, between the Army and the Navy, especially with reference to questions of defence. Accordingly, the old Defence Committee—which my noble Friend will remember, having himself been at the head of the War Office—has been abolished. That Committee only met on rare occasions, and was a very unsatisfactory body for deciding outstanding questions between the two Departments. Instead of that Committee we have established a much smaller body, consisting of some of the highest military officers under the Commander-in-Chief, and of some of the highest naval officers, who have already met together on several occasions, and who consider from the point of view both of the Army and Navy all questions of defence. Primarily they take, of course, the view of the Navy with regard to the points of defence and the amount of defence required, and then they discuss together the best manner in which that defence can be carried out. In this Committee, therefore, we have a permanent means of communication between the Army and Navy upon questions of defence. If in the course of the Committee's discussions questions arise involving some great principle, they are, of course, referred to the Committee of the Cabinet to be dealt with. Thus the consideration both of questions of principle and of questions of detail is provided for, and we hope that all the larger questions that involve points for argument between the Army and Navy will gradually be settled satisfactorily. The noble Lord has pointed out that the 1399 Commission over which he presided, recommended very great changes at the War Office, but he has failed to draw attention to the qualifications to that recommendation. My noble Friend will remember that the Commissioners, while recommending certain changes in the War Office administration, stated that they were not prepared to say when would be the proper time for carrying out those changes. There was no recommendation by the Commission that the office of Commander-in-Chief should be abolished during the tenure of the present occupant of that post. They did recommend, there being one dissentient, that upon the occurrence of a vacancy the office should be abolished, and the organisation which they proposed should be substituted for it; but they frankly recognised the unique position of the present Commander-in-Chief, the long services which he has rendered to his country, and his great experience. I have already told the Committee that we are not prepared to state what changes we propose to make upon the occurrence of a vacancy in the office of Commander-in-Chief. We do not think we should be justified in throwing down into the arena of public discussion any proposals on the subject. I have been censured by the noble Lord in somewhat severe terms because I have not intimated that the changes suggested by the Committee can be carried out. I have only to say that when the Report of the Commission was brought before the country the Government were, I think, perfectly justified in waiting for some little time to see the general drift of opinion with reference to the changes proposed. As the noble Lord will admit, the public took no notice whatever of the Report, with the exception of one influential newspaper, to whose opinions no doubt great weight must be attached. With that exception, no notice was taken of the Report by the public, and I think the explanation is to be found in the recommendation of the Commission that the changes should not be introduced until a vacancy occurred in the office of Commander-in-Chief. We certainly have not been encouraged to believe that public opinion would have been with us if we had favoured the retirement of the Commander-in-Chief, and the immediate introduction of the 1400 changes recommended. We knew, at any rate, that there would have been enormous opposition to any such proposal from the Army generally, and until they knew that they would be supported by the great mass of public opinion outside the ranks of the Army, I am sure no Government could possibly have moved in the direction indicated. It was not recommended that we should call for the retirement of the Commander-in-Chief, who has, I believe, done great service to the country, and is worthy of retaining the high place he fills. We accept the Report of the Commission with the most perfect good faith, and when the fitting occasion arrives we shall be perfectly prepared to communicate the nature of the changes which we think it will be well to introduce. With regard to the observations made by the noble Lord as to the position of the Adjutant General, I may say we have found it absolutely necessary that the Adjutant General, who is the chief Staff officer of the Commander-in-Chief, shall be as far as possible relieved of some of his routine duties in order that he may be enabled to devote a greater portion of his energy and ability to the larger question of Military administration. My hon. Friend also asked, with reference to the mobilization scheme, the person who is responsible for it. The person mainly responsible is the Adjutant General, who selects officers to work under him. The Adjutant General is responsible to the Commander-in-Chief, and he is the man I look to as primarily responsible for the scheme of mobilization and everything connected with it. And he, of course, calls upon the officers he has selected to accept their share of the responsibility. My hon. Friend has also asked what we have done in other respects. We have established a War Office Council in pursuance of an undertaking which I gave in a former speech. It consists of Civil and Military officers, and meets at the War Office. The fullest freedom of discussion is allowed every member of the Council, who is absolutely entitled to bring forward with notice anything he thinks necessary. There is perfect latitude of discussion, and, as President, I call on every member to express his opinion; and having heard the views of the 1401 various members, I am in a position to form an opinion, for which I am responsible to this House. I look to every member of the Council for individual responsibility for the opinion he gives; and it is from these responsible opinions I am able to form the judgment which I present to the House. Then my noble Friend spoke, in connection with the new rifle, as to the position of the Director of Artillery, who, he said, was insufficiently paid, relatively to other officers. That, I dare say, is so. I should be very glad to provide a larger amount of renumeration for an officer who is doing his work so admirably as the present Director of Artillery. But I would remind my noble Friend that no change of that description ought to be made without giving full consideration to the remuneration attaching to all the other officers in the War Office. I am quite confident I would not be justified in simply asking the Treasury to raise the salary of a particular officer without asking that the salaries of other important officers at the War Office should be re-considered as a whole. My noble Friend said a great deal on the subject of the Director of Artillery. That officer in his time was under purely civilian control. What was said by the heads of the Army was that they had no responsibility whatever with regard to the weapons issued to the Army. I said—and I believe now that the country is entirely in agreement with what I said—that this was a most unsatisfactory proceeding. The Director of Artillery, purely subject to civilian control, was the person who chose the weapons issued to the Army. For my part, I think that although you continued to place on the Director of Artillery the primary responsibility for the choice of weapons, the Secretary of State ought to be fortified by obtaining the opinion upon the Director of Artillery's recommendations, of the heads of the Army, of the Adjutant General and of the Commander-in-Chief, so that the Army may know, before the weapon is chosen, that the heads of the Army had been allowed the fullest opportunity of expressing their opinions to the Secretary of State, before he decides to adopt any recommendation of any subordinate officer. I believe that change is satisfactory to the Army, and, so far as I can 1402 judge, from what I hear in all directions, it is already appreciated to a very large extent. The noble Lord has asked me with regard to other changes which we have been able to introduce into our administration. The other evening I brought before the House a most important change, though for some reason, perhaps that I had spoken so often that the reporters were tired, an adequate Report was not given of that portion of my speech. I refer to the establishment of a Promotion Board. I explained to the Committee the position in which we are now placed. Officers will not be promoted in future to the rank of colonel except by selection. I also explained that under the New Warrant no colonel, after a certain interval, could be promoted to the rank of general except by selection. Now, the position would be this: take the case of a lieutenant-colonel: Officers who have completed the term of regimental command or Service on the Staff could be placed on half pay, unless they elected retired pay; but as we recognise the injustice of retaining such officers on retired pay unless, in the opinion of the authorities, they had a reasonable prospect of obtaining employment on promotion, we only thought it right that they should be informed, as soon as they reasonably can be informed, that they are not likely again to be offered employment. It was for this purpose in the first instance that the Promotion Board was constituted, and it was decided after full consideration that the Promotion Board should be altogether independent of the War Office or of the officials of the War Office—I mean, of course, the Adjutant General, the Military Secretary and the Commander-in-Chief and his Staff, who will, of course, have to exercise the highest functions in cases of difficulty, and when considering the recommendations of the Promotion Board. In some cases they will have to act as a sort of Court of Appeal against some of the recommendations of the Promotion Board. But we thought it would command confidence if the primary recommendation came from the Promotion Board, and if the promotion could be made by officers who had nothing whatever to do with the War Office itself, and who were in close touch with the 1403 officers from among whom selections were to be made. The Board of Promotion, therefore, is constituted of five general officers. Three of them will be the senior officers in command in the United Kingdom, and the other two will be general officers taken from the particular arm of the Service from which the selection is to be made. That is to say, if you are going to select Cavalry officers or Infantry officers you will have general officers of Cavalry or general officers of Infantry, as the case may be. By that means every arm of the Service will have thoroughly fair play, and the Board will consist of officers of the largest experience, and who are in intimate touch with officers in all parts of the country. We have laid down as an absolute condition that the General commanding at Aldershot, who is in touch with so large a portion of the Army, and through whose hands so many officers pass, should have a seat on the Board. With regard to the proposed working of the Board, we desire that it should not decide hastily upon the rejection of any officer; and if among the members of the Board there is inadequate information with regard to any particular officer, they are especially directed to adjourn the meeting and to call for any information they may think necessary—for any confidential Report—in order to enable them to arrive at a fair conclusion with regard to that officer. I may also add that it is our desire, so far as selections are going to be made for the rank of colonel, that seniority shall be considered in order to avoid supersession. Though the special requirements of the Service may occasionally necessitate supersession, I think that the establishment of the Promotion Board amply meets the pledge already given to the House on the subject, and I think it is an arrangement which will have the confidence of the Army. It is one devised with the sole desire of ensuring that the selections shall be fair, and that every officer, whether he has been on foreign Service, or whether he has not, shall be considered fully on his merits, and not be rejected or debarred from future promotion, except after his whole acquirements and merits have been thoroughly investigated by a competent tribunal.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB
Do the right hon. Gentleman's observations apply to officers of Artillery and Engineers as well as to Infantry and Cavalry?
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
Certainly, Sir. Of course, two extra officers of Artillery or Engineers would be appointed where officers in those branches of the Service were to be considered for selection. I think I have dealt, though inadequately, I feel, with the points raised by my noble Friend. I am perfectly conscious, of course, that the scheme of Army administration sketched out by the Commission has not been carried out, but I have explained the circumstances which have withheld me from making any further recommendation. I certainly for the present am not prepared, and the Government are not prepared, to make further recommendations upon the substantial points to which the noble Lord has referred, and which may hereafter form the main basis of a re-organisation of the War Office. Before sitting down I will reply to some of the criticisms of my hon. and gallant Friend (Sir J. Colomb); who I think has done some injustice to me in reference to the statement I made on Thursday last. I then endeavoured to explain to the House the reasons why we asked for the number of men named in this vote. I told the House in a somewhat unusual, but I hope perfectly frank way, why we asked for so many men for the Artillery, so many for the Infantry, and so forth, and if my hon. and gallant Friend had any criticism to offer on the statement I then made, and the reasons I gave as to why we came to those decisions, I am surprised that he did not take advantage of his opportunity. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has told us that we are always organising, and that it is impossible to say when we shall cease to organise. Well, Sir, I hope we never shall cease to organise; but that we shall go on making improvements from year to year. In fact I cannot imagine when the time is likely to arrive when we in this country, would be wise in saying, with regard to the Army, we think we should go no further. No foreign country stands still. Why, therefore, should we do so? What we have done has been to lay down to the 1405 best of our power the functions which the Army ought to perform in time of War, and we have also to the best of our power allotted to their several stations and functions the different arms of the Service, which we deem suitable for those stations and functions. When my hon. Friend says we have not taken sufficient account of the Navy, I would point out to him that the very foundation of what we are doing, is that we have organised our defensive forces on the idea, and under the supposition that our Navy has been defeated, and that the invasion of this country has been rendered possible. If we did not regard invasion as possible what would be the good of keeping up our Volunteer Force? We might in that case get rid of them altogether and undoubtedly we might otherwise largely diminish our military expenditure. But that is not my view at all, and I am sure it is not the view which prevails throughout the country. The people of this country are not at all disposed to get rid of the Volunteers, and for my own part I regard them as constituting a most valuable auxiliary body which it is very desirable to retain in case its services should ever be needed. I cannot, therefore, concede what appears to be the view of my hon. Friend that it is to be assumed as a self-evident proposition that the defeat of the Navy of this country is absolutely and entirely impossible. My hon. and gallant Friend has asked whether we are satisfied that our present military resources for the purposes of purely local defence are not in excess of our requirements. That I may say is a matter to which we have given the most careful consideration. I presume my hon. Friend refers in particular to garrisons of ports, and I think that in this respect it may be that we have provided too large a force in former years. We have, however, carefully gone over every garrison required for defensive purposes in every part of the world, and in doing so we have assigned so many men to every gun; and I am bound to say, that in the statement I have made, instead of making any excessive provision we have, if anything, provided for rather less than would be absolutely needed for the purpose of defending every gun in position, and what is more, for every 1406 gun that may be required. I do not think much more need be said as to the criticism of my hon. Friend with regard to my speaking of the first line of defence. Everybody knows that in what I have been talking of I have not been alluding to the Navy. After the Navy is defeated the first line of defence is the Regular Army. With regard to the scheme of mobilisation of which I spoke but briefly the other day—and as to which one of the main criticisms passed on what I then said, was that I spoke too briefly and did not enter sufficiently into detail—I should like to say that during the last two years I have spent a great deal of time in this House in trying to explain fully the principles on which we mobilise our Forces. I have not yet heard one word of criticism as to the principles we have adopted. Indeed, those principles have been generally accepted by the House, and we are encouraged to persevere in them. I am not going to explain those principles to the House at any great length, but rather to tell the House very shortly the extent to which we have advanced in their application. The scheme that has so far been carried out is not absolutely complete, inasmuch as we have not yet completed the scheme for the decentralisation of stores, which we regard as a matter of the most vital importance for mobilisation. There are a good many minor matters that are still in progress, but which are not yet absolutely complete; but the result is that up to the present time we have got into a position in which we are able to mobilise not only our regular Army for the defence of the country, but all our other defensive Forces, in a much shorter space of time than has ever before been possible in the whole history of the country. I think I have now answered the criticisms of my hon. Friend, who seems to think that we should discuss the matter not only as it affects the Army, but also as it affects the Navy. Of course, he is perfectly right in saying you ought not to fix on your system of organisation for the Army without fully considering the relative duties of the Army and Navy, and assigning to each the functions they have to perform. Well, we have considered what both the Army and Navy can do. I know that there are two or three moot points which my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke 1407 (Admiral Mayne) and my hon. Friend Sir J. Colomb entertain strong opinions upon, and that one of them is the question of fortifications, the control and responsibility for which they think ought to be taken away from the Army and transferred to the Navy.
§ MR. E STANHOPE
My hon. Friend says he confines his remarks to Naval forts and garrisons, and he thinks they ought to be transferred from the Army to the Navy. Speaking as one who is responsible for Army administration, and for that only, I say without the slightest hesitation that there could be no possible solution of the question that would personally be more agreeable to me, and I think I may also say to those who may be my successors, than the transfer of an enormous part of the duty entrusted to me—a duty which is exceedingly difficult to discharge—from my shoulders to the shoulders of the Minister who is responsible for the Navy. But the Committee will probably recollect that some years ago, when the question was raised in this House by the noble Lord who used to represent the Borough of Mary-lebone (Lord Charles Beresford), it was proposed by the noble Lord that the question of garrisoning some of the distant coaling stations with Marines, instead of the Forces belonging to the Army, should be fully considered. Well, I may state that we have given to that question our very earnest and careful consideration. It is a question which everbody knows is one of enormous practical difficulty, and the result of the examination which my noble Friend and myself have given to it is that to transfer the Forces in the way proposed for the purposes referred to would, under the existing organisation, involve a largely increased charge on the financial resources of the country. And here I may say I do not wish it to be supposed that I am laying down the proposition that we should not take any steps in this direction; but when my hon. Friends talk of striking out of these Votes the whole of the charges for fortifications, and transferring them to the Navy, they must surely have forgotten the detailed difficulties of such a transfer which, even if the House were to say the 1408 transfer should be made, could not be carried out except after the lapse of a considerable number of years, which would necessarily go to the very root of the whole question of Army organisation, and be the means of handing over to the Navy a responsibility which a large and enormous number of naval officers do not desire to have thrown upon their shoulders. To undertake at once to carry out such a proposition would be the height of rashness for any Government; but, at the same time, I think it right to say that my noble Friend and myself have the question under our consideration, and if we think we can make such a proposal to the Committee, and that it would add to the strength of the country and simplify its defence without adding unduly to the charges on the public purse of the country, we shall make it without the slightest hesitation, in the full confidence that it will meet with the approval of Parliament. I do not think my hon. and gallant Friend will expect from me any further assurances at the present moment than I have already given; at any rate I am not prepared to say that I can see my way to divesting myself of the responsibility which is at the present moment vested in me. This, however, does not prevent our realising that there is often danger arising from differences of opinion in matters of this kind, and that it is a very great thing to secure, as far as possible, unity of action in all matters regarding our defences, and that the Army and Navy respectively should thoroughly understand their different functions, and be fully prepared in time of need to do all that is necessary for the discharge of those functions without complication and without confusion. We are confident that should we continue to hold office for a short time longer, we shall see our way to a practical solution of all the difficulties that have arisen, and to place on a satisfactory basis both the military and naval organsation of our Forces.
(6.30.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNER-MAN (Stirling, &c.)
I do not imagine that the amour propre of my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale is greatly concerned with his position as Chairman of the Royal Commission, but I think that he and the other Members 1409 of that Royal Commission have at least some reason to feel surprised and almost hurt at the somewhat slighting terms in which the right hon. Gontleman the Secretary of State has spoken of the Report which was the result of our labours. He said that the country did not care about it, and he showed that the Government did not care either; at all events, he put off the consideration of most of its principal recommendations for an indefinite time; and that was not the way to show a true appreciation of the labours of the Commission, and of the recommendations which after much labour and voluminous inquiry it ventured to make. Although the right hon. Gentleman might not have introduced at once all the changes which have been suggested, yet it was hoped that he would in some way have shown a disposition to move in the direction which the Commission indicated. I will deal briefly with only three of these points. The first point is the reponsibility of the military officers who constitute our headquarters Staff and their relations to each other and to the Secretary of State. No doubt it is perfectly true the Commission did not recommend that a fundamental change should be made in the organisation of the Military Department at the War Office as long as the present Commander-in-Chief held office; but the Commission pointed out very strongly the evils of the present system by which one officer is placed above another, and very few officers indeed—and only one in the last resort—come into direct relations of personal responsibility to the Secretary of State. The Director of Artillery has not long occupied the position he now holds in the hierarchy of the War Office. Formerly he had a separate existence under the Surveyor General. I quite admit that that was an arrangement open to great objection; but what the right hon. Gentleman has done whilst he has been Minister of War has been actually to aggravate the evil of which the Commission complained, and to put the officer who really has the control of the enormous business of supplying the materiel of war for the Army and the Navy under the Quartermaster General. Is not that so?
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Well, under the Adjutant General, who is under the Commander-in-Chief, who is responsible to the Secretary for War. It is essential to good administration that an officer with such enormous responsibilities as General Alderson should be in-more direct relations with the Secretary for War, who is responsible to Parliament and to the country. On the recommendation with regard to the Naval and Military Council, I separated myself from my colleagues on the Commission, and only signed the Report owing to the employment of the word "may." I am sceptical of the advantage of any Council of that sort, but I do think there would be advantage in a Council within the Cabinet—a Council of responsible Ministers. One of the ends supposed to be gained by this Naval and Military Council would be the prevention of friction between the two Departments of the Army and Navy, and, above all, the settlement of many outstanding questions between them with regard to which there is an undecided limit of authority. The cases of alleged friction brought before the Royal Commission as calling for the proposed Council were no doubt serious; but the arguments founded upon them have been greatly exaggerated; and with proper feeling between the two Departments there ought not to be much friction. There will necessarily be a certain amount of friction as long as there is any confusion with respect to the duties of the two Departments in providing for the sea defences of fortified places. With regard to such important places as Malta and Gibraltar I believe that until lately there has been great diversity of opinion as to how far the defence should be undertaken by the Navy and how far by the military forces, and the same difficulty has arisen with regard to harbours and other duties which are obviously of an amphibious kind. This overlapping of responsibility leads one to look with a more friendly eye than one otherwise would upon the transference suggested by the right hon. Gentleman to the Naval Authorities of the greater part, if not the whole of this work. No doubt it would involve fundamental changes, but it would unify the coast defence 1411 of this country, and the sea defence of the coaling stations and fortified places all over the world. I pronounce no very strong opinion on that point. The right hon. Gentleman will no doubt tell us that a great expenditure of time and money would be caused; but these would not be insuperable objections if there were any real prospect of an increase of efficiency and simplicity in the arrangements for the defence of our Empire. It is by settling these points one way or the other, once for all, rather than by the establishment of a Naval and Military Council, that difficulties hitherto experiencd will be got rid of. The third point I have to deal with is the question of the establishment of a Board of Promotion. I entirely agree with a considerable part of this proposal, and especially with the formation of the Board and the appointment to it of the three senior general officers commanding districts, thus making it an impersonal appointment, and avoiding the danger of select any particular officer to exercise a somewhat invidious duty. I would urge the right hon. Gentleman to apply that principle to the other two officers. I do not regard with very much satisfaction the prospect of a general officer of Cavalry, Artillery, or Engineers being selected for the purpose of discharging this difficult duty; you might name the officer in command of the School of Military Engineering or the officer commanding at Woolwich, without fixing upon a particular man to exercise this delicate function. The right hon. Gentleman says the first duty of the Board will be to deal with the lieutenant-colonels. Now, when an officer of this rank has served his time he has the option either of retiring or of going on half-pay with a view to further employment in the future. The right hon. Gentleman says the Board might at once tell him there is no chance of further employment, so that he might as well retire at once. I think there is a certain amount of cruelty in at once telling him that there is no chance of his being again employed, and I am afraid the Board would be tender-hearted and hesitate to do it. I have always favoured the principle of making the decision rest upon actual employment. If a man is merely to be told of a prospect of 1412 being employed, there will be room for the play of over-indulgence or prejudice as between one officer and another. It may be that to limit promotion in this way would limit the chance of promotion to the whole body of officers in the Army; but if the appointments at the head of the Army are not sufficient to cause an adequate flow of promotion from below, the sounder remedy is to lessen the number in the ranks below rather than to artificially increase the higher' posts. Officers should only be promoted to discharge the active duties of the higher ranks. There is another point on which I wish to say a word or two, and it somewhat affects a matter with which I was dealing a few minutes ago, namely, the relations between the Army and Navy. The right hon. Gentleman announced, or rather corroborated the announcement previously made, that the recent transfer of the Stores Vote from the Army Estimates to the Navy Estimates had been followed by a determination to divide the naval from the military stores. The separation of the military from the naval stores is, no doubt, the logical consequence of the transfer of the votes from one estimate to another; but the Treasury Rule of May 1887 will still be infringed; for whatever arrangement is made, the Admiralty will still get its stores by or through the War Office. I should like to know whether the Treasury and the Admiralty have both fully concurred in the change, and whether they are satisfied that it will lead to no large increase of expense. The question of an increase of the Staff to look after the stores is a comparatively small matter, but at foreign stations there may be danger arising through the duplication and confusion of the patterns, and there may be a necessity to keep a larger reserve of stores than under the old system. I do not mean to say that these fire evils which must not be faced, but I should like to know if the authorities are completely satisfied that they will not exist to an unreasonable and pernicious extent. So long as there are two distinct stores and two competing authorities in the matter, I fear the country will be liable to the evil which has been experienced in foreign countries—namely, that for the Army to adopt any particular 1413 arm or weapon is sufficient to insure that the Navy will not adopt that arm or weapon, with the result that, owing to rivalry and jealousy, the country is deprived of the advantage we have hitherto enjoyed of having one reserve of stores at all our foreign stations as well as at home, equally applicable to the Army and the Navy.
§ (6.51.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I will at once reply to the special question put by the right hon. Gentleman, relative to the division of stores. The right hon. Gentleman said quite truly that it is the logical result of the division of responsibility and I am glad to say that the course which we have now decided upon has been absolutely approved by the Admiralty, Treasury, and War Office. That I think will satisfy the right hon. Gentleman. The purchase of warlike stores, however, has not been removed from the War Office, but the moment the stores pass into the custody of the Army or the Navy then that particular Department becomes solely responsible for their care. The Treasury is satisfied that no great increase of expense will be entailed by the new arrangement; though in some matters of detail there may be a slight increase. The absolute condition has been laid down that divergent patterns for arms used in common by the Army and Navy are not to be adopted unless it has been shown to the satisfaction of the Secretary for War and of the First Lord of the Admiralty that such divergence is absolutely unavoidable. The right hon. Gentleman has alluded to the undesirability of adding to the aggregate quantity of stores, but I may say that the principle of the separation of naval from military stores has not been applied outside the United Kingdom; and no such principle will be adopted on foreign stations, and particularly on coaling stations, until after full examination of any difficulties which present themselves. The right hon. Gentleman, in dealing with the question of the Promotion Board, said the danger was that such a Board would be too tenderhearted. I agree it may be so, but even though the Promotion Board is inclined to be tender-hearted, it may simplify the work that has to be done if the Board goes carefully through the whole list of officers who may be selected for promotion. I trust that before long 1414 we shall be able to put before the House in a definite and accurate form rules for the working of the Promotion Board, which will show we have carefully guarded against the dangers which have been pointed out.
§ (6.57.) GENERAL FRASER (Lambeth, N.)
As there is a great and paramount question coming before the House with regard to the position of purchase officers——
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I rise to order. I have to call attention to the fact that my hon. and gallant Friend has put a Motion on the Paper dealing with the case of these officers and that it would therefore be out of order now to discuss it.
§ GENERAL FRASER
I will not trespass on the time of the Committee on this occasion, as a momentous subject of paramount importance will shortly be brought prominently before the House of Lords and House of Commons, namely, the position of the purchase officers of the Army. The interests of these officers, recognised by Royal Warrants and honourable pledges given on the abolition of the purchase system, cannot be set aside. I say that the proposal with regard to the Board of Promotion made by the Secretary of State for War will be looked upon as a flagrant breach of faith.
§ (6.58.) MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
I desire to call attention to the question of the employment of Reserve and discharged soldiers, and I should not do so had the Secretary for War alluded to the subject in his speech the other night. Since the introduction of the short-service system about 450,000 men have been discharged from the Army, or about 32,000 a year. No effort has been made in behalf of these men, except by the Association for the Employment of Discharged and Reserve Soldiers, which, when it was started, was promised the warmest support and assistance of the Government. The only assistance given, has been a pittance of £200 a year, and therefore the platonic sympathy of the right hon. Gentleman, though gratifying, is absolutely valueless. As the right hon. Gentleman will not advise an increase of the grant, or grant an office to the Association at the War Office, will he include in the scope of the Committee to which he referred the other 1415 day the question of the employment of discharged and Reserve soldiers?
§ (7.0.) THE FINANCIAL SECERTARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. BRODRICK, Surrey, Guildford)
I am sure every Member of the Committee will be equally anxious with the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the War Office should give every assistance in their power towards an institution that has been established for the purpose of providing employment for old soldiers, but the difficulty we have had about this Society is one which, I think, the hon. and gallant Gentleman will appreciate. It is not possible for the Government to undertake the responsibility of finding employment for discharged soldiers, and if the War Office were to set up a bureau the Government would be responsible. We have met the question by subscribing for the last five years £200 a year towards the expenses of the Society. The total expenses of the Society last year were £532. I have not the figures before me at this moment, but speaking from recollection I may say that, whereas at the time the Government commenced to subscribe the whole expenses of the Society were defrayed by private subscriptions, the funds have now suffered to more than the extent to which the Government have subscribed. I think, therefore, it is not an unfair deduction that if we were to subscribe a larger sum, there would be a larger reduction in the private subscriptions. Our object in subscribing at all is to increase the sum available for the work. My right hon. Friend is not at all unwilling to see whether some further negotiation cannot be carried on with a view to meeting the private subscriptions, and we are at this moment in consultation with the Treasury about it.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I think it would be beyond the scope of the Committee, which has already got very important subjects before it.
§ (7.4.) MR. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)
I desire in a few words to accentuate one portion of the speech of the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) which was passed over lightly by the 1416 Secretary of State for War—that portion in which the noble Marquess referred to the adoption of the new rifle, and to the place in which the responsibility might properly be allocated. The other night it was urged from more than one quarter that owing to the censure that had been passed on the War Office by the Report of the Commission it was impossible to accept the doings of the War Office with simple and pure confidence. The right hon. Gentleman took great exception to this line of argument, and said he could not see what sort of connection the Report of the Commission, presided over by the noble Marquess, had with the adoption of the new rifle. I was very glad to see the noble Lord thought it had a very close connection indeed. The noble Lord was as much puzzled as other Members of the House, and people outside, as to the real place in the War Office where the responsibility for the selection of the rifle is properly to be allocated. The Secretary of State for War himself has given very contradictory accounts. The other night he said that the primary responsibility for the adoption of the weapon rested, in the first instance, with the Army itself, and then he said that the Director of Artillery was responsible. He now appears to think that the Commander-in-Chief and the Adjutant General are responsible. I have not in any speech seen the expressed public opinion of the Commander-in-Chief on the subject, but I have read a speech which the Adjutant General delivered at Devon-port in December last, in which he stated that he knew very little indeed about rifles, but that he still thought that we had a good rifle, in view of the fact that the new rifle has been adopted by the Government of Roumania.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I am sorry to be obliged to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but I wish to point out to him that the speech of the Adjutant General was very briefly, and, indeed, most imperfectly reported.
§ MR. BRODRICK
The Adjutant General made a much more distinct and 1417 definite statement in reply to the Secretary of State's letter.
§ MR. MARJORIBANKS
I accept the contradiction of the Adjutant General, and I am sorry I imputed to him a want of knowledge that he really possesses. However, the Adjutant General has evidently arrived at the incorrect conclusion that the weapon has been adopted by the Roumanian Government. Even had it been so adopted, it would not be any great recommendation of the rifle. It is an extraordinary fact that, if the Army itself is primarily responsible for the adoption of the rifle, so little attention should have been paid to the Report of the body of instructors at Hythe, which Sir R. Buller has said amounts to a general condemnation of the weapon. I only rise on this occasion in order not to pass by any opportunity of bringing this subject before the House, because there are a great number of people, both inside and outside of Parliament, who believe that in adopting this rifle we have adopted a thoroughly bad weapon, and one that it is a shame to the country the War Office should have forced on the Army.
§ (7.11.) GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
I and others do not entirely agree with the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan) in respect to the Committee appointed to inquire into the administration of the civil and professional depôts. There was only one military gentleman on the Committee, and I do not believe the Committee represented the sentiments of the officers of the Army. I am in hopes that in the end the War Office will be a thoroughly business-like Department. Personally, I believe that it would be a very good thing if we had a Minister for Defence, The Secretary of State has done wisely in appointing a Board of Selection, because there are several officers whose claims have been ignored. With reference to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Stirling Burghs, I would like to point out that very often officers, on vacating one appointment, apply for another. I think that when there is no intention of appointing them it is well to tell them so at once. I trust that the time will soon come when the coaling stations 1418 will be handed over to the Navy. As to the Society for the Employment of Discharged Soldiers, I should like to see the Government finding the whole of the necessary funds, so that officers would not have to provide for their old soldiers.
(7.15.) SIR H. HAVELOCK ALLAN (Durham, S.E.)
Before this Vote is I taken I should like to draw the attention of the Secretary of State to what appears to me to be a most important subject. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Birkenhead (Sir E. Hamley) did not at all exaggerate the case when he said we had touched bottom in the matter of the unsatisfactory nature of the bulk of the men who we are obliged now to take into the Army. If I criticised at all the remark of the hon. and gallant gentleman, I should say it did not go far enough. I venture, with all deference, to suggest to the Secretary of State two modes by which he may, at all events, stay the enormous waste going on. The one is by enabling all men who desire to prolong their service to seven or nine years to do so. Such a power would, I believe, even in the next 12 months, have a most appreciable effect in retaining a large and valuable body of men under the colours. The other point has reference to the useless and totally unnecessary waste so strongly pointed out by the Inspector General of Recruiting, namely, that under the present conditions only about 20 per cent, of those who complete their original 12 years' engagement enter the Supplemental Reserve, and that, by the discharge of the remaining 80 per cent, the State has, during the last five years, lost the services of upwards of 38,000 men. If these men were allowed to extend their time from 12 to 16 years the result would be most beneficial by retaining for the Army a large number of trained soldiers who would form the most valuable of all the different classes of men in the Service. The cost of this would be extremely small, and I hope the Secretary of State for War will devise some means of placing an arrest upon the great and wanton waste now going on.
(7.20.) SIR F. FITZ-WYGRAM (Hants, Fareham)
I, with others, feel most grateful to the Secretary of State for 1419 the many advantages, in the future, he has held out to the soldiers. Almost every class in the Army will derive some advantages through his proposals except one, and that is the non-commissioned officers, the most valuable part of the Army, the strength and the backbone of our regiments. I have never asked for an increase in the pay of the private soldier. I think his pay and the advantages he derives are fully equal to the wages paid unskilled labour in the country; but the case of non-commissioned officers stands on a different footing altogether. We want, as noncommissioned officers, men of good character and connection, and fitted for the responsibilities of the position. The Secretary of State for War has said that the regiments can get as many noncommissioned officers as they want. I know the roll is full, and always will be full, because you will always find in the Army a certain number of men glad to accept 8d. or 1s. a day more for performing the duties of non-commissioned officers. But such a class do not furnish the men we want, nor do they give the service we want. I live in a district which furnishes a very large number of recruits, both to the Army and to the Navy, but the complaint that is made in the district is that there are not a sufficient number of good and well-paid places for good men. Commissions are given away occasionally, but they are of no use in regard to recruiting. If you had good places for good men, fathers and mothers would be glad to see their sons go into the Army, especially in these days of short service, when there was some chance of returning home at no distant date. My belief is that if you were to pay your corporal 2s. 6d. a day, your sergeant 3s. 6d., your troop sergeant-major and colour-sergeant 4s. 6d., the good news would very soon spread throughout our villages, and an impetus would thus be given to recruiting. Such a step would be much more effective than the increase in the pay of the private soldier advocated by the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) and others. I hope the Secretary of State for War will lend a kindly ear to this proposal, which would not result in a large expenditure, but which, I believe, would be most effectual in increasing recruiting. There is another subject on 1420 which I wish to say a few words. In all Infantry regiments there is great complaint as to the guards which have to be kept. I believe that complaint is thoroughly well founded. Take the case of an ordinary Line regiment. In many Infantry barracks I find a number of sentries which are perfectly unnecessary. I find a sentry at the officers' quarters, at the quartermaster's store, at the hospital, at the magazine, and, in some barracks, at the officers' latrine. In many cases there are sentries at the front and rear of the barracks. It may be necessary to have a guard at the magazine, where it is distant or where the circumstances of the place renders it necessary, but as a general rule the amount of ammunition stored in the regimental magazine is very small, and not likely to create a very dangerous explosion if anyone got in and fired it. I assume that the reason for posting a sentry at the hospital is to prevent the introduction of spirits; but in view of the responsible Staff engaged in the hospital I cannot believe there is any fear of spirits being introduced. I fancy that in the case of regiments the conduct of whose men is not very satisfactory, sentries are placed at the rear and front of the barracks to prevent men breaking out after hours; but the idea that a sentry checks breaking out after hours has no foundation. If men want to break out they can always evade a sentry. Everybody who knows the Army knows that there are only two hours in which men ever break out of barracks, and they are the two hours between watch-setting and the closing of the public houses. I think the best way of preventing breaking out is to occasionally call the check rolls. If you put sentries on, men break out without being found out, and they break in without being found out; and, of course, where there is a great chance of getting off scot free you find the practice of breaking out prevails much more largely than would otherwise be the case. I come from a Cavalry regiment, and we have a good deal for our men to do during the day, and we do not want to keep them up all night. For years past we have found that a corporal's guard of three men and a sentry is quite sufficient to maintain the security of the barracks. I think that if the Secretary of State for War would call the attention of the 1421 Commander-in-Chief to the unnecessary number of sentries, and obtain their abolition, he would do good service to the soldier, and remove a great source of grievance. The soldiers know that all this sentry duty is unnecessary, and anything which is unnecessary is always felt very much more than that which is necessary. I should have been glad to have heard from the right hon. Gentleman a proposal to set up workshops at the barracks. I have always advocated this, and it may be said it is rather a hobby of mine, and I used to carry it out in India. I think the Secretary of State could, if he chose, undertake the whole of the barrack repairs by this means, and road-making, draining, paving, plastering, and almost everything else. In every regiment there are a considerable number of men more or less artizans by trade, and though, no doubt a good many are little more than apprentices to the trade they left early, yet with a little training and teaching they could do the work. My object in this suggestion is to assist men to find employment when they enter the Reserve or leave the Army. Of all the Reserve men who go loafing about, 99 per cent. come from Infantry regiments; rarely do we find among them men from the Cavalry, Artillery, or Engineers. In the latter branches of Service the men have an opportunity of fitting themselves for civil employment—they learn the management of horses and the routine of stable-work, and they pretty readily find employment in civil life. I often see them engaged as drivers, and though I hope men from my regiment do come to me when they find themselves in distress, I have not once in the year an application that I will assist a man to find employment. In Cavalry, Artillery and Engineer regiments we keep the men employed during the day, and the consequence is that when they do go into civil life they do not find the hours of labour irksome. I see the noble Lord the Member for Peters field (Lord Wolmer) looking at me, and I know he takes an opposite view. In my establishment it is the rule to find, as far as possible, employment for Reserve men; but what I should like to see done would be the training of a certain number of men, say 10 per cent. in every Infantry regiment, 1422 in those trades which are useful both in peace and war. There are trades particularly useful in war in which the British soldier is certainly not instructed. Now I live at Portsmouth, and there is about the fortifications a good deal of work in connection with the raising and turfing of earthworks, and upon such work I often see civilian labourers employed when it would be very much better if the men of the garrison were employed upon it. As regards barrack repairs, there would be great saving of expense. The soldier is paid his daily pay as a soldier and, therefore, would, I imagine, do the work at half the rate of payment to the civilian labourer. You may say, this would only afford employment for a very small number of the Reserve men, and I am aware of that, but still it would be better than nothing, and I think it might be carried out to some extent.
(7.35.) VISCOUNT WOLMER (Hants, Petersfield)
I put a question to-day to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War as to sentry duty, and if he will give me his attention I should like to put one or two further questions on the subject which it may not be necessary for him to answer now, but he may think the matter deserving attention. I understood him to say that his information was that the excessive amount of sentry duty did not prejudicially affect recruiting for the brigade of Guards.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I said if it was excessive it would affect recruiting. The question is whether it is excessive.
§ VISCOUNT WOLMER
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he has consulted the officers engaged in recruiting as to whether the amount of sentry duty has an effect on recruiting? I would further ask him whether the opinion of the commanding officers of the battalions of Guards, which have to find the men for this duty, is that it is good training for the men? I have the greatest respect for the right hon. Gentleman's opinions, and do not like to speak slightingly of his remarks, but there was one sentence in his answer to my question which I cannot, if he will permit me to say so, reconcile with common sense. He said the training in sentry-go around St. James's Palace might be useful in time of war. Now, I cannot consider any two occupations more dissimilar than walking round the walls of the Palace and the 1423 actual military occupation; and, indeed, on active service there might be some danger of a man not remembering that he was not engaged in the duty he had hitherto been practising. On that point I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to take the opinions of the colonels responsible for finding the men for this duty. I could not help being a little disappointed with the answer of the Financial Secretary to the question whether the employment of Army Reserve men would be submitted to the Committee which is going to be appointed. I was under the impression that it was going to be analogous to the Committee presided over by Lord Airey. Now, this question of the employment of Reserve men is most important in relation to the question of recruiting, and I cannot understand why it should be withdrawn from the consideration of the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman has made a great many speeches, and we have trespassed much upon his time and attention, but the right hon. Gentleman did not deal with the question raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Birkenhead (General Hamley) as to whether it was worth while for the sake of 2d. a day to restrict the Supplementary Reserve to 20 per cent. of the men who leave the ordinary Army Reserve. At a moment when recruiting is actually short, when a great percentage of the recruits are specially enlisted and are admittedly unfit for immediate duty as soldiers, is it wise to lose from 5,000 to 9,000 men a year, the very pick in point of physique of the men in the country, the best men that can possibly be had for soldiers? No doubt many of them would not re-enlist under any terms, but it seems to be the opinion of Members well qualified like the hon. and gallant Member for Birkenhead to give an opinion, that the great majority of them could be secured on slightly improved terms. Surely this and all other questions connected with recruiting and the state of the Reserves deserves attention.
§ (7.43.) COLONEL NOLAN
I hope the Financial Secretary will be able to give me an answer in respect to the value of rations.
§ (7.43.) DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
With reference to what has been said by the noble Lord 1424 count wolmer) may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to be kind enough to inquire of the Military Authorities whether I am not right in the assumption upon which I put my supplementary question this afternoon, that while musketry practice is going on at Alder shot the men engaged on sentry-go in London during that period have only four or five nights in bed. I quite admit that during the rest of the year they have plenty of rest. I would also ask him to inquire whether it is not the fact that last year 50 men of the Coldstream Guards were invalided in one year, and whether this was due to excessive exposure to severe weather while on sentry duty. If there is any idea that such duty is useful as hardening the men, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consult the medical officers of the Guards as to whether it is not prejudicial to the health of the men that they should be exposed to long hours on night duty during the inclement periods of the year.
§ (7.45.) MR. BRODRICK
With regard to the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Nolan) it is possible to give the average cost of rations over three or four years, and I believe it is about 5d.or 5.25d. We must, in considering the cost, bear in mind that it does not represent the cost to the man himself if he found his rations, because we have the advantage of buying in large quantities.
§ MR. BRODRICK
Practically, we may call it 5d. The smallest rise may bring it to 5½ and within a short time we have had it as high as 7d., and a bad harvest might send it up again.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I can give the hon. and gallant Gentleman the average over a series of years, if he likes to have it. For the last three or four years it has been 5d., and before that it averaged considerably higher. With regard to the Reservists my right hon. Friend will consider whether it is possible in any way to bring that subject within the scope of the Committee, but if the noble Lord looks at it he will see that it is part of a very large question, and that it is concerned with the large question of the labour of the country. The suggestions of my hon. and gallant Friend (Sir 1425 Fitz-Wygram) are no doubt of value, and my right hon. Friend will carefully consider them.
§ (7.47.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
In common with other Members I have listened with the deepest interest to this Debate on military matters, and I gather from it that in all probability, if this country is attacked by the smallest force, we shall sustain a disastrous defeat. As far as I can make out from what has been said in the Debate by military gentlemen who, of Course, know more about these matters than I do, our soldiers are stunted in size, they live in barracks which are unfit for pigs, they have very much too little to eat and hardly any pay, and they are put to sentry and other duties which destroy the little health that is left to them for their miserable existence. But then I am somewhat comforted by the fact that I have heard all this before, in fact, I think I have never heard a Debate on going into the Army Estimates or oil the first Vote in which all the military gentlemen did not come forward with these complaints. It is surprising to me that nothing is done to remedy them. I am sure I have for some dozen consecutive years heard one military gentleman after another prove conclusively that he would make an infinitely better Secretary for War than the right hon. Gentleman who at the time happened to hold that office, and yet the Secretary for War, for the time being, has invariably treated this military wisdom with the greatest contempt, and in default of remedy the same thing goes on year after year. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War will give us an Army that will please the military critics in this House, without spending one farthing more than we spend now. Generally these Gentlemen add to their strictures the suggestion that more money should be spent on the Army. I am one of those who consider that we have much too large an Army at the present time, and the number of men is always going up under every Government. I am not surprised, for, unfortunately, there is still a great deal of "Jingoism" in existence, and every Government—but especially the present 1426 Government— undertakes new obligations, annexes new territories, and then comes to us saying the Army is not sufficient to defend the perpetually expanding British Empire. I have put down a proposal to reduce the number by 3,320 men, that being the number at present in Egypt, according to the Estimates that have been submitted to us. We are told that the Egyptian Government pay £87,000 a year, and I suppose our establishment in that country costs us about £300,000, at the rate of about £100 a man. Putting it at the lowest estimate, the cost to this country is about £200,000. But this is not the only ground of my objection to our Army there. I consider that the very worst use to which a man can be given up is to put him in uniform and give him a gun and make him a soldier. It takes him away from the labouring class and encourages in him a military spirit. I consider that our Army ought to be reduced to the lowest number that does not involve danger to the Empire. I am not going to bring forward the whole of this question. I will only allude to one or two points. I have spoken and perhaps divided the House a couple of hundred times on this question of the occupation of Egypt when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was in power, so it cannot be said that I am bringing it up as a Party question. What has been the origin of this occupation? Certain persons in the City, known as the Egyptian bondholders, had lent money to Egypt, and as Egypt did not seem likely to pay, therefore we established what was called a "dual control" with France. When we did that Egypt was under a sort of general tutelage of Europe, though it forms part of the dominions of the Sultan. We obtained the consent of the Sultan and a species of mandate from Europe, and with France went to Egypt and established there the dual control. The Egyptians objected to the incursion of English and French officials to squeeze out the money for the bondholders. They protested; they had some sort of Representative Assembly and ventured to suggest that the salaries of these officials should be submitted to them. At once we declared this was contrary to all justice, a riot developed into a rebellion, and, in 1427 consequence, we bombarded Alexandria. The French were more sensible, more honourable, more honest, I am sorry to say, than my own countrymen. They refused to take part in that nefarious transaction—the bombardment of Alexandria. We, however, did so. Then followed the battle of Tel-el-Kebir. A number of Egyptian fellaheen were killed. We called it a victory, and marched to Cairo, and since 1882 we have occupied Egypt. We obtained the assent of Europe to all this by the fact that we were always giving pledges that our occupation was only temporary. Why, the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale in 1883 said that we should evacuate Egypt in six months. I believe that the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had really every intention of making it temporary, but something always occurred to make it impossible to withdraw the troops, as they said. I remember at one time they were very nearly withdrawing them. They had the troops in Alexandria when sickness broke out; and then, again, there was the war in the Soudan, and the intention of withdrawing was not carried out. I confess that I began to doubt whether they would ever withdraw, these circumstances always recurred so frequently, and I divided against every Vote for expenses connected with the occupation. The present Government inherited that position of affairs. The troops were in Egypt, and I have not seen the present Government evince the slightest vestige of an intention to make the occupation a temporary one. On the contrary, it appears to me that they intend that the troops shall remain there as long as the Government remain in office; and I presume they hope that their tenure of office is a long one. Indeed, judging from what is said in their organs and in their speeches, it seems to be almost assumed that Egypt practically belongs to this country—the idea of temporary occupation gradually fading. During the Ministry of my right hon. Friend a plea for remaining was that Egypt had no efficient Army of her own, but now it seems that the fellahs are making pretty good soldiers, while there are also the black troops under British officers, who, judging from 1428 the laudations of their recent action at Tokar, give Egypt as good an Army as she is ever likely to have. Now, the question is whether our conduct under these circumstances is legitimate or expedient, putting the question of legality aside. I consider that, in view of the pledges we have given to Europe and the suzerain of Egypt that our occupation would be but temporary, it is a base betrayal of our pledges that we should practically make this occupation permanent. It may be said that it is, necessary, and that salus populi suprema lex est, but I contend that by remaining in Egypt we are putting ourselves in an. entirely false position with the rest of Europe. It is true that Germany has been induced to give a sort of tacit con sent to our occupation, but that has been, to put us in a wrong position with France. I believe that there has been some tacit agreement with regard to this between Lord Salisbury and Germany in connection with the Triple Alliance, that Lord Salisbury should do his best, as he did, to induce Italy to join the Triple Alliance. But look at the consequences, see the position we are in in other parts of the world. A little while ago there was a difficulty in Samoa, and Germany behaved improperly in regard to our interest and the interest of the United States. But we dared not do anything, we were under the influence of Germany, and Prince Bismarck has, indeed, said that it is worth while to secure Lord Salisbury's assistance by yielding in Africa. It is surprising that Lord Salisbury should be content to occupy such a position, but this is an example of the consequences of our action in Egypt; in the Samoan difficulty we had to leave everything to the United States Government. Then again, in Newfoundland the French have certain rights; they are not particularly anxious to exercise these, but they say, "We are there by Treaty, and we take advantage of our position, while you, in violation of engagements, remain in occupation of Egypt." It may be said that there are military reasons, and that it is absolutely necessary for the safety of the Suez Canal that we should maintain our occupation. I entirely deny that; I think that the Suez Canal ought to be neutralised, and that such water-ways 1429 should be under international guardianship and control. But, as a matter of fact, by happy hazard we have a position in regard to the Suez Canal possessed by no other country. No ships could come through the Canal and get into the Red Sea, because you would hold the gates. If you happened to be at war with a Foreign Power the probability is—though I do not suggest that you would pay him to do it, or that you would propose that he should do it—that some neutral would sink a ship in the Canal. Knowing the possibility of a neutral sinking a ship, and of keeping both ends of the Canal so as to prevent an enemy from passing through, and knowing the impossibility of an enemy going down the Red Sea, you would send everything round the Cape of Good Hope; if we were at war with a European power, we should not use the Suez Canal, so that Egypt would be as useless to us as the Crimea. Then India is exceedingly distant, and that is a great advantage in retaining our hold upon that Empire. I cannot conceive any policy more absurd than reducing the distance between England and India by bringing troops to Egypt. By that policy, if we are at war, and any nation wants to attack us in the East, we do not wait for them in India, going round by the Cape of Good Hope, but leave an Army in Egypt for them to snap up. We have there 3,320 men. They are nothing—a mere compromising guard. If we were at war we should have to increase the number enormously, and even if we did increase the number enormously, we should be in an extremely false position. If we were at war with France, for instance, France could much more easily throw troops into Egypt than we could—provided she could pass the sea; and if she could not pass the sea the possession of troops in Egypt would be immaterial to us. Looking at it from all points of view, I maintain that we gain nothing and really lose a great deal by this occupation of Egypt. But that is not all. Egypt has no troops on her southern frontier. She there meets the barbarism of Africa, and you will probably continue to have troops pressing on that frontier, and you will, probably, be continually getting into difficulties with 1430 those tribes, and, so long as you are there, you will be forced into military operations at a very great cost to the British Treasury and of British blood, and that, too, in regard to matters as to which we have no real concern. And is our action to the advantage of Egypt? It is immaterial to me whether it is or not. I can conceive that some province of China might be better governed if we sent out Commissioners and an Army and highly-paid officials to occupy it and govern it; but that would not be our business. Our business is to see that the people are protected and properly governed in our own Empire, and I have no belief in this universal philanthropy, which usually means a scheme to take money out of the pockets of the British taxpayer, and put it into the pockets of somebody else who lives on the British taxpayer. That is what took place in Egypt. I admit that the administration there is better than it was in the time of Ismail Pacha, but you are destroying the patriotism of the country. [Laughter]. An hon. Member opposite sneers at what he thinks the poor Egyptian's want of patriotism. I admit that the Egyptian has not much now, owing to your efforts to destroy it, but you are aware as well as I that in the time of Arabi Pacha there was some little patriotism in the Egyptian. Well, what have you done with him? Have you given him Constitutional Government? Have you trained him in representative institutions? No! You have placed him more and more under tutelage and made him more of a child than he was before, and if yon went away to-morrow there would be less chance of his having sound Constitutional Government now than before your arrival. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was at the head of the Government, Minister after Minister used to rise up and speak about training the Egyptian and making him a free and independent and constitutional being. But did they so train him? Not they! The first thing a person so trained would do, would be to turn out an alien race attempting to rule over him. Why do we remain in Egypt? We are acting in the basest manner in doing so. We are violating all our pledges; we are putting 1431 ourselves in a false position. I take it there are two reasons why we remain there. One is that the old Jingo feeling still lives. The Secretary for War, I have no doubt, agrees with what I am saying, but he has not the moral courage to say we are going to evacuate Egypt. The other reason is that, if the occupation ceases, Egyptian bonds will come down, and every one knows perfectly well that there is a very powerful representative of the bond holders, who once was not a Conservative, but has gone over to the Conservatives, and has, no doubt, made his terms with them—every labourer is worthy of his hire. The Government have taken over this gentleman, and they insist on his bond holding policy being pursued. The bonds might go down, and that is the only reason, except this general love of Jingoism, which leads us to remain in Egypt. These troops are not only employed in Egypt proper. When we went to Egypt we entered into an engagement—I do not know with whom, but I suppose with ourselves—to defend certain ports of the Red Sea; and there have been during the last five years three or four most outrageous and wicked massacres in the neighbourhood of Suakin. I never understood myself why we should defend Suakin. It is not really a part of Egypt. It is part of the Soudan, and when we gave up the Soudan—and it will be remembered that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian spoke about the Soudanese being men who were "rightly struggling to be free"—I do not know why we should remain at the port of Suakin. The slave trade has been trotted out as an excuse, but there is nothing to be gained in that direction by maintaining the Egyptians in the Red Sea ports. The fact is, it is a case of J'y suis, J'y reste. Two years ago a deputation waited on Lord Salisbury, and they were assured that no attempt would be made to get beyond Suakin. When the noble Lord the Member for Paddington moved the adjournment of the House on the occasion of the last battle, or whatever it is called, the House was assured that the operations were only undertaken in order to prevent an attack on Suakin; but from the newspapers this morning we find that 1432 Tokar has been attacked—a place 40 miles from Suakin. The position was this: The tribes in the neighbourhood of Suakin were at one time fed through the merchants in that place. These people were mainly porters, their principle business being to carry goods between Suakin and Kassala and interior places. When you interfered with their trade, and tried to starve out the whole of the Soudanese, you deprived these people of their occupation. The Protection of Aborigines Society sent £1,500 to feed these people, but they were told that they could not feed the people. That I understand was done by the desire of General Kitchener, when both Sir E. Barry and Sir F. Grenfell were absent from Egypt. At any rate the thing was done. Dr. Harper, the Missionary, has told us how the distressed people were put outside the forts on the plea that cholera had broken out, and General Haig has described the suffering these people have had to endure through being driven outside the Egyptian military cordon. You turned the people out and insisted that no goods were to be allowed to enter the Soudan, and then because they turned to the dervishes for protection—as they could do nothing else—you slaughter them. The recent fight at Tokar is spoken of as "a glorious victory," but to my mind it was a cruel massacre. On the side of the Egyptians there were 12 men killed, whereas on the other side 700 corpses were left behind, and as the dead were in many cases carried away, the killed may be put down at 1,000. And what was all this slaughter for? Because Osman Digna is in occupation of Tokar, and Tokar is 40 miles from Suakin. But no doubt Osman Digna will collect his forces and occupy some place 40 miles or less from Tokar. Will that be considered a reason for attacking him there? There is no doubt it will, and I point to this as showing what must be the inevitable consequences of our maintaining this garrison in Egypt. We encourage the Egyptians—in fact, I think the Egyptian Government is a dummy, and that when we talk of the Egyptians we are talking of Her Majesty's Government. But, be that as it may, we are no doubt responsible 1433 for what I can only call most scandalous atrocities. We seem to think that English morality and justice can be quite different in different parts of the world. What would be said of the Russian, or any other European, Government if it were to cause a massacre of this sort with the loss of only a dozen men? There would be an outcry in every newspaper of the country. Now, I want a clear understanding on this matter. If the right hon. Gentleman will give us a definite assurance that within six months the last English soldier will leave Egypt, or that he will at once enter into negotiations with Europe in order to promote that neutrality of Egypt which ought to exist when we withdraw from it, I shall not ask the House to divide. But if we are to be simply told that this permanent occupation of Egypt is a temporary occupation, and that we are to go on year after year encouraging these raids in the Soudan, it will be my duty to divide against the Vote.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 150,376, all ranks, be maintained for the said Service."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ (8.21.) SIR J. PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)
I am sure the Committee must have listened with great attention to the speech of my hon. Friend. I was one of those who from the first took great objection to the manner in which we proceeded in Egypt. Although I was a supporter of the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), I felt that it committed a great and fundamental error in the bombardment of Alexandria, and during the war in the Soudan I was one of those who constantly objected to the proceedings of the Government. I quite feel with my hon. Friend that the time has come when we ought to know what our liabilities are in Egypt. There is one point to which my hon. Friend did not allude. I should like to ask what would have been the result if the Egyptian troops had been defeated at Tokar, instead of having gained a victory? Would the English troops have had to be sent down from Egypt to reinforce them? Are the English troops to do all the dirty work of the slaughtering 1434 of the poor people of the Soudan when the Egyptians are defeated, as they did before? We had to give up the idea of conquering the Soudan for Egypt, and we made Egypt adopt a policy which seemed to be a sound national policy, namely, that of treating Wady Halfa as the southern boundary of the country she desired to defend. We departed from that policy, however, when we sent a small garrison to Suakin.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir J. FERGUSSON, Manchester, N.E.)
We have no English soldiers at Suakin.
§ SIR J. PEASE
Well, I think that makes the matter worse; because whilst we are doing all we can for Egypt proper we allow her troops to run wild in the Soudan, and to run the risk of involving us again in all the loss of money and credit which we have experienced in past times. I hope Her Majesty's Government are not so absurd as to wish, like the Government which preceded them, to go from Suakin to Berber. If we can now leave Egypt to its own resources, we shall have done a great deal for it, without getting any other benefit than we obtain from other civilised countries; but if we are going to remain in Egypt in order to allow Egyptian soldiers to fight in the Soudan, I must enter my protest against such a course. I should like to say one word on another point. During the last few years, under both Administrations, the Army Estimates have gone on steadily increasing. We seem to have had lately a very quiet and peaceable foreign policy. No one can accuse Lord Salisbury, during the present Administration, of having rushed blindly into war, but the Army Estimates continue to increase. The Reserves have mounted up; the Militia has been strengthened; and the Volunteers have become a larger and a better Force than was the case when I first began to study these Estimates, and the cost of the Army has grown larger and larger. Of course, I shall be told by the right hon. Gentleman opposite that Europe is filled with armed men. It is perfectly true that Russia, Germany, and France are filled with enormous Armies; but I want to know which of these Powers we are afraid of. Do you expect that Germany, 1435 or France, or Russia are going to invade us? We are surely not going to take part in quarrels between Germany and France or Germany and Russia. We adopted a policy of peace when Germany and France were at war, and the country profited morally as well as pecuniarily during that period. The policy of Lord Salisbury has been one of non-interference with other countries; and surely a policy of peace and good neighbourhood with our neighbours in Europe is one which does not require large standing armies in addition to large fleets. During a time of peace the present Administration has had its hands full of the question of pestilential barracks, and of the difficulties of raising and dealing with large numbers of soldiers. At the present moment our Army, irrespective of our Indian troops, with the Militia and Volunteers, numbers between 500,000 and 600,000 men. The use of so large an Army I am quite unable to conceive. (8.30.)
§ (9.3.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
It may appear some what surprising that I should be called upon to intervene in a Debate on the Army Estimates, and especially in the case of so small a reduction as has been moved by the hon. Member for Northampton; but I freely admit that it is not unreasonable to connect with it the question of our occupation in Egypt, of our influence there, and of the duration and object of that occupation. The hon. Member has not brought forward his criticisms on the policy which underlay our occupation of Egypt for the first time. The House has been favoured before with many of the arguments which have been used to-night. The hon. Member, no doubt, has been a consistent opponent of the policy which Her Majesty's Government inherited—they certainly did not initiate it—and from which they have not swerved. The hon. Member referred to our position in Egypt as a false position. I do not wish to enter into more detail than the subject requires; but some few remarks I must make in defence of our position in answer to the attacks which have been made upon it. The hon. Member says that we do not act independently in any part of the world, and that questions in which other nations are involved enter everywhere into our relations. But that is the penalty we 1436 pay for having a worldwide Empire. Undoubtedly, owing to the enterprise of our people, we have possessions in every part of the world; but we do not aspire to exclusive possession; we must have neighbours, and we desire to live in harmony with them. Nevertheless, there must be rivalry, and it is our duty as politicians to deal with such rivalries, to avoid friction, and occasions of collision, and to come to honourable agreements and understandings with them. With regard to Newfoundland, I hope we shall be able to arrive at a solution of the difficulties which have arisen, without reference to the duties which our position impose upon us in other parts of the world. The hon. Member asks why the Suez Canal has not been neutralised. The Powers of Europe have entered into a Conference on the freedom of passage of the Canal, and arrangements were made by which not only mercantile ships, but the ships of war of all nations were secured a right of passage. And as to concentrating our attention upon our own Empire, I take it that we never interfere elsewhere unless British interests require it. Were so narrow a policy followed as that which the hon. Member advocates I am afraid our interests would greatly suffer, as we should have no friends. The hon. Gentleman asks what we have done for Egypt. We have done a great deal. Papers were laid before the House in the beginning of last Session which showed what we have done, and which gave a graphic picture of the improvements which have been effected in Egypt during the last seven years. The year 1889 was stated to have been the most satisfactory year in the history of Egypt, and Sir Evelyn Baring, commenting on that statement in the Memorandum, pointed out that an equilibrium had been attained, that the struggle for years past between solvency and insolvency had resulted in a condition of affairs which we never could have hoped for a few years before and that there was a surplus of £200,000, and he expressed great hopes for the future. In the interval since then these hopes have been fully realised, for the surplus which in the beginning of 1890 was £200,000 has been succeeded by one of more than £600,000 when the transactions of last year were closed. I venture to think 1437 that that is a proof, not only of the extraordinary elasticity of Egypt's resources, but also of the results of British influence upon the government of that country. When we remember that only six years ago Egypt was unable to meet her engagements, and that now she has not only resumed full payments, but has paid the interest which had been suspended, and is beyond the reach of financial embarrassment without increasing, but, on the contrary, having largely diminished, the burdens of the people, I think the results must be considered highly satisfactory. There has been a vast increase in the extent of land brought under irrigation, and peasantry pay their land assessments with greater ease, and the prosperity of the people has been advanced in very many material respects. The hon. Member has touched upon the subject of the recent advance upon Tokar, with respect to which I answered a question early in the evening. Indeed, it also formed the chief subject of the speech of the hon. Member for the Barnard Castle Division, who objects to the "whole of oar policy in Egypt, and particularly to the military operations, which far too often have been rendered imperative. The hon. Member asked what would have happened if the Egyptian troops had been defeated at Tokar. That is a question which might be asked in regard to any military operations. When it is necessary to undertake operations with a moderate force which is deemed to be sufficient by the military advisers, and when the expedition results in a conspicuous success and in the complete fulfilment of its object, it is rather too late to ask what would have happened if the troops had been unsuccessful. The fact is success was ensured by the prudence of the arrangements and gallantry of the troops. When we remember what has occurred in our own times, and how stubborn a foe our own troops have met in those regions, it must be admitted that the expedition could not have been brought to such a successful conclusion without good tactics and valour on the part of those employed. The hon. Member expressed regret for the loss of life that occurred in the action. General regret will be felt for the sufferings of a gallant enemy, as well as for the valuable 1438 lives which have been lost on our side; but if the necessities of the situation require warlike operations such losses cannot be avoided. I cannot allow the operations which have been carried on to be spoken of as if they were gratuitous. This movement on Tokar has been advocated by all Egyption authorities. While there has been a difference of opinion as to the policy to be pursued on the Red Sea littoral, as to opening or closing of trade, there has been no difference of opinion as to the occupation of Handoub and Tokar. It has been pointed out by those most anxious to open up the trade of the country that it is necessary to take possession of those places, which furnish I he supplies that enable the enemy to make a fresh descent, when they are disposed; to do so, on the outposts of Suakin. All agreed that this expedition to Tokar and the occupation of Tokar and Handoub were absolutely necessary, and for a long time past it has been pointed out. [Mr. J. MORLEY: How long?] For more than a year past. It has been pointed out for a long time past that this oasis of Tokar furnished a most convenient base for the operating Dervish forces, not only against Suakin, but for keeping up a constant system of persecution and raiding the inhabitants, while Handoub was also a source of annoyance, and was used as a base of operations for the Slave Trade. Within the last month a large cargo of slaves at Handoub was only prevented from being embarked by the active proceedings taken by one of Her Majesty's commanders, who, having notice of the intention, slipped across the Red Sea and prevented the embarcation, and the occupation of Handoub caused the attempt to be abandoned altogether. The hon. Member for Durham asked whether, having now occupied Tokar, the troops will not go on and occupy some further point. I am very glad he has given me an opportunity of answering him on that point. Tokar is so situated that it forms a very convenient place for an attack on Suakin, as well as a more convenient outpost for Suakin, because it is situated 200 miles from any other place of the same character—Kassala on the one hand, and Berber on the other. It is an extremely good outpost, and does not tempt the 1439 force that occupies it to attempt to go further. More than that, Tokar is a district which is peculiarly calculated to revive trade and industry in the Eastern Soudan. In fact, it has been described by those advocating its occupation as being the key to the Eastern Soudan. Only eight years ago the region of Tokar furnished about 175,000 cwt. annually of cotton of the finest staple, and superior to that of Egypt proper. It is also rich in the production of the food grains of the country; so that at the time when the population of Suakin was 12,000, not only did it easily provide for the sustenance of that population, but it also supplied a great deal for export. The region in the neighbourhood of Suakin will now be capable of being cultivated instead of being constantly exposed to the ravages of the Dervishes, which rendered it unsafe even for the poor man to cut wood in the bush. Those are the chief reasons why Her Majesty's Government did not object to the occupation of Tokar. No doubt the publicity which is so often given to military operations in this country, and where British influence extends, gave the Dervishes time to collect in greater numbers than those which had occupied Tokar for some time past; but there is no doubt that the military commanders rightly estimated the force required for the purpose, and if they gained the action by the timely and active occupation of certain cover, all military actions are gained by the skilful use of the ground. The larger part of the question upon which the hon. Member for Northampton has based his Amendment has been the occupation of Egypt by British troops, and the continuation of British influence there. He has spoken as if that occupation is to be permanent, and he has expressed incredulity of the professions made from time to time by Her Majesty's Government on that head. If that be seriously said, it may be necessary once more to assert the converse proposition, and to state what the policy of the Government has been, and what it is to be. I say they have given ample proofs of their intention that their occupation and their direct influence in Egypt shall not be permanent. When in the Wolff Convention they reluctantly agreed to set a term to this occupation, it was not 1440 without misgiving that their present mission would be thereby endangered; but with a sincere desire to remove the natural objections of the Sultan, and probably the susceptibilities of other Powers, they fixed a date to that occupation, but attaching to the undertaking a distinct condition that in case Egypt was exposed to internal disorders or external dangers they should be free to resume their occupation. I do not think it requires much to show that that was a most necessary condition. The Government have always been opposed to the policy of fixing a final date to the influence exercised by them in Egypt, and to their power of watching over the development and restoration of Egypt's prosperity. We have never maintained that it is necessary for the stability and strength of Egypt that the occupation shall be permanent, nor that it is necessary that, if British troops and agents are withdrawn from it, they shall return there. We hope that the measures, which have so far been successful in strengthening the improvement in Egypt, will be so increased that Egypt will be in the truest sense independent, that good government will prevail there, and the country be no longer in danger of foreign occupation. We have consistently expressed ourselves as desirous of withdrawing from Egypt whenever the condition of things, administrative, financial, and military, is such that a withdrawal can be safely performed. But there is a great difference between intimating an intention to withdraw and withdrawing before all the world when the state of things justifies it, and giving an undertaking to withdraw—an undertaking which would probably defeat its own object in checking the restoration of Egypt, and in drying up the springs of improvement that have so freely begun to flow. I ask the Committee to consider whether the undertaking to abandon Egypt at a fixed date, in whatever form it might be couched, would not have checked every investment, every measure of improvement, and would have encouraged those who were interested in the anarchy of the country to lay their plans for the future, to wait their opportunity to undo the good that has been done, and possibly necessitate further interference. 1441 What chance would Egypt have had of converting her debt and reducing her interest had the financiers of Europe not had confidence that the occupation by this country would be prolonged?
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
It might also be said that "base is the slave who pays." This country has taught Egypt better things; it has enabled her to bear her onerous responsibilities, and to place herself in a sound financial position. The burden of her debt has been reduced owing to the confidence entertained in the continued guardianship of Her Majesty's Government. These considerations, I think, will probably not be seriously disputed. Her Majesty's Government remain, as they have been hitherto, looking forward to their ultimate withdrawal from the country. But a mission has fallen to them, not of their own seeking, but by the accident of their position. It was not undertaken by Her Majesty's present advisers; it fell to their predecessors partly from the force of circumstances and partly from the inaction of others, from whom cooperation might have been expected. That mission has been pursued eminently to the advantage of the people of Egypt, with full consideration for the rights of other nations. That mission will be pursued until its objects have been accomplished, and then we may withdraw in the hope that we have conferred permanent good on the country, have given liberty to its people, stability to its Government, prosperity to its finances, and security against occupation in the future.
§ (9.30.) MR. J. MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
I think those who remember the speech the right hon. Gentleman made in December last must feel some amount of commiseration for him to-night, because he has practically, so far as Suakin is concerned, unsaid all he and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War said at that time. I should like to contrast the position of Her Majesty's Government today with the position they held at the time the last expedition was undertaken to Suakin. On December 17, 1888, the right hon. Gentleman who has just 1442 spoken in favour of advancing to Tokar, which is 40 miles or more from Suakin, assured the Committee there was no intention of doing more then than to defend Suakin. It is quite clear that the House was led into approving those operations on the emphatic assurances given by the right hon. Gentleman, and also by the First Lord of the Treasury, that nothing more was meant than a defensive operation. Lord Salisbury about the same time gave public assurances that nothing was intended beyond the gates of Suakin. What has become of that policy? Then as to our objects in Suakin. The House, the country, and foreign observers were assured that the retention and defence of Suakin were intended to prevent the Slave Trade. Now, the right hon. Gentleman has completely transformed the situation. To-night, instead of talking about preventing the Slave Trade, the right hon. Gentleman talks about opening up avenues to inland trade, and of protecting the population. Formerly we were asked only to look seaward. To-night we are told only to look inland. This is a completely new view, and it confirms me and others in the suspicion that we are slipping—not delibe rately driving—into the old position of making an inward move into the Soudan. We are allowing the Egyptian troops to push into the Soudan, and we shall have to send our own troops, as we have sent them, before, to rescue the Egyptian troops. The right hon. Gentleman has used two inconsistent terms. He has spoken of Tokar as a suitable "outpost" for Suakin, and also as the" key of the Eastern Soudan. "Now, which is it to be? Have you taken Tokar in order to protect Suakin, or have you taken it, and are you going to advise the Egyptian Government permanently to retain Tokar, in order to open up new avenues for trade? What the right hon. Gentleman has said is truly alarming. We know very well that at Cairo there is a military party which proclaims that it is indispensable for the safety of Egypt that the frontier of Egypt should not be, as Her Majesty's Government promised in 1888 it should be, namely, at Wady Halfa, but at Khartoum. All though the issue is not raised to-night in the most advantageous form, or in one 1443 corresponding with its importance, we are raising a protest now because we believe the present course is inevitably destined to land us in disasters as great as those from which we escaped, not very triumphantly, in 1885. As to the considerably larger question raised by the hon. Member for Northampton, I think it will be agreed by lion. Gentlemen opposite that since 1886 the Opposition have never cavilled at any step in the foreign policy of Lord Salisbury. We did not make the Anglo-German Agreement an occasion for attack, and did not offer obstacles to the carrying out of the policy of the Prime Minister in Africa or elsewhere. Therefore, we shall not be suspected of Party motives to-night in calling attention to the position with reference to Egypt which is taken up by the right hon. Gentleman and by Her Majesty's Government. This is a very serious question, and no words ought to be spoken by any of us without the fullest sense of responsibility. But I confess I am by no means satisfied. I ventured to oppose in this House the Egyptian, find especially the Soudanese, policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and I am not disposed to press Her Majesty's Government any more hardly now. I am well aware of all the difficulties by which they are surrounded. Still, I do not find the language of the right hon. Gentleman very satisfactory. Although I am afraid the language used has been heard in the time of the preceding Administration, yet it has been used more frequently by the present Administration. The right hon. Gentleman now tells us we must remain in Egypt until our work is done. When will our work be done? In this part of his speech the right hon. Gentleman took two different lines. He first of all said that financially, militarily, and administratively, and in every other respect, everything in Egypt has gone on admirably. And having made that declaration the right hon. Gentleman went on to argue as if our work was hardly begun. That is a most serious inconsistency. If we are to remain in Egypt until our work is done, in the opinion of every English official and of every English officer at the head of an 1444 Egyptian regiment, we should have to stay there till the crack of doom. The arguments which are used in favour of an occupation of Egypt have been entirely undermined by the course of events. It used to be argued that we could not leave Egypt because she had a weak, undisciplined, and dangerous military force, such as, under Arabi, had caused the disorder in 1881–2. Now, the Committee are given to understand—and even those painful and detestable events which we have just been discussing shows—that at the present time the Egyptian Army is in good order under British officers, and, therefore, that old argument is, by the admission, and almost boast, of Her Majesty's Government, at an end. Another argument used to turn on the Suez Canal. But the right hon. Gentleman has told the Committee that the state of affairs with regard to the Canal is completely satisfactory. We have the right of transit through it not only for merchant vessels, but also for vessels of war. What more do you want? If there has been an internationalization of the Canal, how are you going to improve the position in that respect? Everybody now believes that if we had trouble in India we should send our material and men round by the Cape, and not through the Canal at all. But be that as it may, we have done all we can in the direction of the neutralisation and internationalisation of the Canal. The right hon. Gentleman talks of the narrow policy of the Opposition, and says we have no friends. It is the Government policy of undefined occupation I call narrow. When you speak of the good we are doing in Egypt, I am not concerned to deny that English administration in Egypt has undoubtedly procured certain advantages for the population of Egypt. The Government have pledged themselves that they will one day come out of Egypt I am proud to think that Englishmen, wherever they go, do procure certain advantages of good order and honest administration. But do not suppose that your position in Egypt costs nothing. Let those who desire a permanent occupation of Egypt ask themselves whether we, as a nation, would be playing a right part before Europe if we deliberately broke the 1445 pledges we have given. I advise the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. N. Fowler), who naturally looks at commercial interests, to count up how much it has cost us.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
If so, I can, with a still clearer conscience than before, vote for the Amendment of my hon. Friend. Either these 3,200 men are wanted or not; if they are not wanted, I shall vote all the more readily for the Amendment. But that is not what I mean. I think we are playing a bad part before Europe in evading our solemn obligations. We are hampered at every turn by our position in Egypt. Does not everyone know that difficulties in Newfoundland may be created by our position in Egypt, and does not everyone believe it is that position also which gave Germany a hold over us with regard to Zanzibar? Do not let us forget that England with Egypt is a very different Power from England without Egypt, and a far weaker Power. I want to take advantage of this occasion, as I shall of every other that offers, to beg Her Majesty's Government to consider carefully, and with a desire to fulfil the pledges they and their predecessors have given, whether it is not possible to resort to the expedient which was referred to by the right hon. Gentleman himself as being part of an arrangement suggested some time ago, and fix some date at which British troops may be withdrawn from Egypt, and so lessen those very grave responsibilities in Europe to which the presence of the troops conduce. I would ask them to consider whether their present responsibilities are not felt by them to hamper them in most important transactions; and whether the moment when we prudently, wisely, and in conformity with our own pledges leave Egypt, is not a moment which, instead of weakening us and lowering our prestige before Europe, will greatly strengthen our material power and enlarge our diplomatic influence in Europe.
§ (9.55.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I am bound to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that we are discussing Army Estimates, and that there is not a 1446 single penny in the Army Estimates which affects the main subject of the discussion—the expedition to Tokar. As regards the cost of the troops maintained in Egypt, we are paying the actual cost of the troops if maintained in this country, where they would have to be maintained in any case, and any extra cost incurred is paid by the Government of Egypt. I am, therefore, not going to waste the time of the Committee in following hon. Members through a great many of the topics on which they have spoken. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) said he had made 200 speeches on the question before. There must have been 200 replies to those speeches, and those replies seem to have pretty well exhausted the subject. His complaint was that since Her Majesty's Government came into office in 1886 they have taken no steps towards withdrawing from Egypt. Well, at the beginning of 1886 there were 18,000 British soldiers in Egypt; when we came into office there were 10,000; when I myself came into office at the beginning of the next year there were 8,000, and they have since been reduced to 3,000. That, I think, is an earnest of our desire at the earliest moment, consistently with our pledges and obligations, to withdraw our forces. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle has said the speech of my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs constituted a remarkable departure from the pledges we have given on this subject. I altogether fail to see any such departure. He has said, in the most explicit terms, that when our work was done we should withdraw from Egypt. My right hon. Friend gave instances of the manner in which we have improved the finances of Egypt, When my right hon. Friend gave instances of how the administration and condition of Egypt are improved he was showing the progress our work was making, and that we were so much nearer the time when that work would be done and our troops could be withdrawn. The right hon. Gentleman has declared that the operations in the neighbourhood of Tokar are inconsistent with the statements I made in December, 1888, when we defined the limits of 1447 our operations and said that it was not intended to advance beyond Suakin but the fact is, that it became necessary to drive away the Dervishes from the immediate vicinity of Suakin, and that could only be accomplished by attacking their strongholds in the neighbourhood. I fail to see that there is the smallest difference between my declarations of 1888 and the policy that has just been so successfully carried out for the purpose of freeing Suakin from the presence of the hostile Dervishes, and to enable us to assist most effectually in putting down the Slave Trade, which the right hon. Gentleman himself some years ago explained was one of the main objects of our occupying Suakin.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I have not the quotation before me. However, I say in addition to the suppression of the Slave Trade this advance was rendered necessary in order to prevent the friendly tribes in the neighbourhood of Suakin suffering from starvation, and to enable the trade in the district to be thrown open through that port. The Committee are perfectly aware that Her Majesty's Government have done their best to open up the trade of the interior through Suakin. I remember that in the discussion that took place on this subject in 1888 the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian said, "What I want you to do is to bring the local tribes within the circle of your movement. "That is exactly what Her Majesty's Government have been endeavouring to do. For instance, two of these tribes who had formerly been most hostile to us—the Hadendowas and the Amaras—are now in the most friendly relations with the British Government, and actually assisted us against the Dervishes who came from a distance to attack the town, whilst none of the local tribes took any part against us. The steps that have been recently taken are therefore for the interest of both Egypt and Great Britain. The right hon. Gentleman said that the forward movement had been undertaken to satisfy the ambition of the military party at Cairo, but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that that is not the case. It is true that the military advisers of the Egyptian Government 1448 were in favour of these operations being undertaken, but so were the civil advisers. There was no difference of opinion among the advisers of the Khedive, because they recognised that it was absolutely impossible to leave Suakin in the position it occupied with hostile tribes swarming up to its gates and scoffing at the defenders without making an effort to clear the neighbourhood from marauders in the interest of permanent peace. If it should be necessary that the occupation of any of these advanced posts should become permanent, that occupation can be carried out without any strain being thrown upon the British troops, seeing that the Egyptian Army is capable of doing all the work that would be required. I do not think that Her Majesty's Government would have been at all disposed to sanction any operations in the Soudan unless they believed that the Egyptian Army is equal to the strain. After the lessons of 1885, which Her Majesty's present Government remember well, they would be guilty of the most culpable folly if they were to repeat the errors of their predecessors. We hope that we are avoiding that policy, but the steps which have been recently taken have been suggested by a desire to protect Suakin and to put a stop to the constant attacks upon peaceable traders, and it is intended that they shall be strictly limited to accomplishing those two objects. I believe that the operations that have been carried out will be for the advantage of Egypt and will tend to secure the peace of the district.
§ (10.20.) SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
I mean to vote for the Motion of my hon. Friend, to reduce the number of men in Egypt. I am not one of those who think that the British Army is too large; on the contrary, I think it is probably not large enough to defend the Empire. Therefore, I very much object to the employment of our troops where they are not necessary. I will not go into the original question of the occupation. Successive Governments resisted the desire of the Egyptian Government to occupy the Soudan, but at last the Government yielded to the desire with disastrous consequences. It seems to me that if the Egyptian 1449 Army is now so efficient that it can indulge in the luxury, if I may call it so, of re-occupying districts in the Soudan, then the time has come when the British troops are no longer necessary for the protection of Egypt, and they might safely be withdrawn. On the other hand, while I am glad to believe there is a considerable and efficient Egyptian Army, if the Egyptian troops are pushed forward into the Soudan the result will be that we shall retain the British troops in Egypt at the expense of the British taxpayer for an indefinite period. I know the Financial Secretary has declared across the Table that the troops in Egypt do not cost the taxpayers anything; but though the Egyptian Government do pay some £25 a head for additional expenses, yet still a heavy expense falls upon the British taxpayer in connection with this Force. The gross amount of the expenditure on these troops falling upon the Exchequer reaches, I should think, £500,000 at least. It is said that if the troops were not in Egypt they would be elsewhere, but I deny this. Being so many this number of troops have to be added to the numbers of the British Army; and should there be defeat of Egyptian troops in the Soudan, or an invasion of the country, these troops would have to be reinforced. The British Army is the reserve of these troops, and I protest against the British Army being turned at the cost of the taxpayers of this country into a reserve for the British troops that are employed in Egypt. I know there has been a continued hankering on the part of British officers engaged in Egypt after a reconquest of the Soudan, and there has also been that hankering on the part of Egyptian Ministers. But up to the present successive Governments have resisted that policy. In the last Debate Her Majesty's Government expressly declared that their policy in regard to the Soudan was to confine operations to Suakin. I extracted a promise that the troops should not be permitted to go to Handoub, seven miles from Suakin, and yet now they have gone to Tokar, 60 miles, I believe, from Suakin, for this advance, and the consequence is this country is practically responsible. It is said that this policy was forced upon us 1450 because Suakin was the subject of continual attack, but I deny that altogether. I have followed this policy throughout, and it has invariably happened, when raids were made in the neighbourhood of Suakin, that those raids had been provoked and egged on by English officers in Suakin. I assert it is so, and that is probably equally the history of the present expedition. I refuse to believe that the tribes formerly hostile are now friendly, and I ask for the evidence of the allegation. I cannot help connecting this policy with another very different part of Egyptian policy, for I suspect that the advance on Tokar has been thrown out as a sop to overcome the resistance offered by the Egyptian Minister to the scheme for the improved administration of justice. The Committee are told that we are gradually retiring from Egypt, but I do not think that is really so. The whole British Army is still at the back of the British troops there, ready in case they should be wanted. Not one step is being taken in the way of withdrawing from Egypt; on the contrary, there is a great deal of truth in the assertion of the French that every step taken is towards Anglicising the Administration. I maintain that the Egyptian Army, having now reached such a point of efficiency, is quite equal to the protection of Egypt proper. By taking the aggressive they are postponing sine die the period when the British troops can be withdrawn. With this view I shall vote for the Motion of my hon. Friend.
§ (10.24.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH, Strand, Westminster)
I think we have had a full discussion, and I now make an appeal to the Committee to allow the Vote to be taken now. There has been a very full discussion of a very important question, and there will be many other opportunities during the course of the present Session, when we shall hear the same speeches from right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. I trust the Committee will allow a Division to be taken now upon the Amendment, believing that the discussion on the present occasion has been sufficient to justify that request.
§ (10.25.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman has 1451 not heard much of the Debate, and is not aware of its importance.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I have heard a great part of the Debate, and I am quite aware of the importance of the subject.
§ DR. CLARK
I have given notice of an Amendment, which has been drawn by the Under Secretary into this discussion. My Amendment raises the question who should pay for the troops, while the Amendment of my hon. Friend asserts that the troops are not necessary. For my own part, I did not think that two Debates would be necessary, but I consulted my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, who thought the wisest step was to put down both Amendments, the one affirming that the men were not required, and the other, in the event of the former being negatived, raising the question as to who should pay for them. From a European standpoint our honour is engaged to leave Egypt. Nine years ago Lord Dufferin gave the solemn pledge that we were only going to Egypt to restore order, and seven years ago the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale in this House indicated six months as the period for our withdrawal. But tonight we have had a statement from the Under Secretary which, truly interpreted, comes to this: that British troops will remain in Egypt till the millennium. Their prolonged stay there is in flagrant contradiction of former declarations of Her Majesty's Government. I expected to hear from the leaders of the Opposition some statement of policy in reference to Egypt, because they were responsible for our going to that country in the first instance, which I believed to be the greatest crime against liberty during the last quarter of a century. What might have been done was to neutralise Egypt precisely as Belgium has been neutralised by the Great Powers of Europe; and though I do not approve of the policy as applied to Belgium, still it is better than this we are pursuing in Egypt, remaining in occupation because we choose to think that if we withdraw some other Power will enter into occupation. We have been told of the benefit our presence in Egypt has caused, but we have not been told of the harm we have done. We have intervened on behalf of the bondholders, the Egyptian 1452 people having no more responsibility for the loan than the people of Great Britain would be responsible for a loan raised by the Prince of Wales. There was a portion of the loan which the Egyptians were responsible for, and to get sanction for borrowing that money this man Ismail had to call together the Egyptian Parliament. The Egyptian Chamber never proposed to interfere with the money under the Controllers; all they asked for was the right of voting that portion of the Budget relating to their own country. Nevertheless, this country intervened, saying that if this attempt at controlling the money so raised were persisted in we should be compelled to resort to armed interference. Have we done anything to bring about self-government in Egypt? We know what Lord Dufferin did. He went there and wanted to re-constitute the Chamber, but even that reform has not been carried out by the Khedive and his advisers. Then, again, you are to-night attempting to defend the policy of going outside Egypt; I refer to the action now being taken in the Eastern Soudan. I do not know what you are doing there at all. I suppose it is the old story which we have always heard in these cases—you are putting down the Slave Trade. I never knew any proposal to grind anybody's axe, or to grab anybody's territory, without hearing the same pretext put forward. You want to put a stop to slavery and prevent slaves from entering the Egyptian and Turkish harems. You can easily do this by preventing the slaves from entering Egyptian territory; but it would seem that the main supporters of the Slave Trade are those who are now voting in the Councils of the Khedive. We have just succeeded in murdering a thousand or so of the unfortunate Soudanese on this pretext. We have always been told, how easily Suakin was defended; but now we are urged to remain there for the purpose of crippling the Slave Trade, because Suakin is so defenceless. Then we are advised to take Tokar, Handoub, Trinkitat, and the whole of that section of the Eastern Soudan. But there is another pretext besides that of the Slave Trade, and it will, perhaps, be more popular with some Members on this side of the House 1453 because it relates to the development of a trade in which their constituents are engaged. Tokar is the key of the Eastern Soudan, and we are occupying Tokar to strengthen Suakin and open the door of the Soudan to our trade. We are told also that the frontier tribes, who used to be our most bitter enemies, are now assisting us against the Dervishes. Whither does this argument lead? The result will be that you will have to go on, step by step, into the interior of the country, ever advancing to put down the resisting Dervishes until, in the end, you will be again obliged to occupy equatorial Africa. This is what those in Cairo want. They say that without Khartoum Cairo cannot be controlled, nor Egypt rendered safe, and the result will be that you will end by replacing on the people of the Soudan the horrible Turkish and Egyptian yoke. The best policy you can pursue would be to direct the Egyptians to retire from Suakin altogether, and come to terms with the de facto rulers of the district. Hand over Suakin to Osman Digna, and withdraw the Egyptian troops altogether. What are you occupying the district for? It is said that Italy wants Kassala and Berber, and is afraid it may lose its hold on that district. It is, therefore, preferring a claim against that of Egypt; but as to ourselves, I say that our policy is to retire altogether. We have no business there. The Suakin district is no portion of Egypt; and if we want to develop our trade there, we ought to do it in the only practical way—by coming to terms with the de facto rulers. We have no right to attempt to prosecute our trade by bringing back the Soudanese under Egyptian and Turkish rule. There is one question which the right hon. Gentleman has omitted. I will put that question, and will answer it myself. What, I ask, would have occurred if the Egyptians had been defeated? Why, you would have sent troops from Cairo to Suakin, from Malta to Cairo, from Great Britain to Malta and Gibraltar. The right hon. Gentleman who has charge of the Estimates takes credit for reducing the amount from 10,000 to 3,300 men but while you have a corporal's guard at Suakin you will send men from your nearest ports if the life of one of that guard should be endangered. ["Hear hear" from the Ministerial Benches.] 1454 Hon. Members cheer that statement; that is honest; but why do you take credit on the other side? You tell us you are going away, and yet if one man is imperilled you are ready to send any number of men to assist him. We gave his pledge nine years ago: We said hat when we had accomplished the work we went there to do we should leave the country. We have done that work; why, then, do we remain? You lave put down anarchy in Egypt, and you have re-constructed Egyptian credit on what you regard as satisfactory lines; your Administration is now perfect, if we are to believe the statements of the Under Secretary for India, who so strongly eulogises our Egyptian Administration. Anarchy has ceased, the Army is thoroughly under control, being well developed and thoroughly capable of coping with the Soudanese, and yet we remain. I have been amused with the claims made as to the good we have done n Egypt. A great deal is said about the neutralisation of the Suez Canal. The only real way of neutralising the Canal would be to prevent ships of war from passing through it at all. The only Power which has broken the neutrality of the Canal is England. At the time of the so-called Arabi insurrection we sent troops through the Canal, and yet Turkey and Egypt, who recognise the neutrality of the Canal, allowed those ships to pass through. I am not at all satisfied with the explanation the right hon. Gentleman has given the Committee to-night. If you think France or any other country would come there, then probably you would remain.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
The hon. Member has misunderstood me. What I said was that we should claim to return if there were any attempt to annex the territory.
§ DR. CLARK
You would claim the right to return if there were any intention on the part of any other Power to invade Egypt. But once you leave that country you will not find it easy to get back. The only things that made it possible for us to go there at all were the name and fame of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, though it was said at the time that such action was a sin against God and man. 1455 You have placed a burden on Britain and a burden on Egypt, though by irrigation works you have done something to make the burden easier, and you have now a revenue of £650,000. Having got the sanction of Europe to go into Egypt, and having now done your work, you can leave, obtaining a guarantee from Europe that no one will undo that work, and that the independence and neutrality of Egypt will be observed just as in the case of Belgium.
§ (10.48.) MR. LABOUCHERE
Mr. Courtney, I have always been anxious to pursue a conciliatory policy towards Her Majesty's Government. The Committee will, therefore, remember that in moving this reduction I said that if I received satisfactory assurances from Her Majesty's Government I should not press it to a Division. One assurance I asked for was, that Her Majesty's Government would evacuate Egypt within six months, or, if they could not evacuate it in that time, that they would inaugurate negotiations with Foreign Governments in order to make a Treaty placing Egypt under an European neutrality, and thus enable them to leave Egypt. I cannot say that the assurances which have been given to me are satisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs went further than any Government has gone before in telling us that this temporary occupation would be a permanent one. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that the Government of Egypt was a permanent one; that the British Army was permanent; and that Egypt was able, without extra taxation, to pay the expenses of her Administration, besides the huge interest upon the bonds. But he went further, and gave as his reason for staying in Egypt that we should remain there until she was no longer in danger of foreign occupation. [Sir J. FERGUSSON indicated assent.] Well, the right hon. Gentleman admits that. He says that we are to remain in Egypt until, in the estimation of the Government, Egypt is in no danger of foreign occupation. Why, I never heard such reckless words in my life from a Minister of the Crown. By whom is Egypt in danger of foreign occupation beyond us? Neither the Germans nor Russians are going there. No; this is a distinct insult to France. 1456 I have observed that the right hon. Gentleman, following in the steps of his respected Chief, never loses in this House an opportunity of indirectly insulting France. Will the right hon. Gentleman withdraw from Egypt if France assures Her Majesty's Government that she has no intention of going to Egypt? No; the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues will not believe France. They say, "We shall remain in Egypt so long as it is likely that some other Power will occupy Egypt, in order to prevent that contingency." Can you interpret the right hon. Gentleman's words in any other way? With regard to the occupation of Tokar, the Government would have no locus standi for the occupation of Egypt unless they started this new idea of further occupation. There are plenty of persons in Cairo and in London who are exceedingly anxious that we should remain in Egypt, and, perceiving the difficulty of Her Majesty's Government, who undertook to leave when our work was done, they pushed on this project of the occupation of Tokar, and, as that place cannot be protected by the guns of the Fleet, a considerable force will be required. They will say, "There are not sufficient Egyptian troops; you must remain here to maintain order." And it would not in the least surprise me if we had troubles in Cairo and Alexandria promoted by these speculators, in order to prevent our coming away. It is gratifying to me to think who will have to vote with me to-night. You, Mr. Courtney, will remember that I brought forward a Resolution in 1880, on the occasion of one of these abominable massacres near Suakin. Who voted with me? All the Conservative Party. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby called it "a dirty trick." I protested at the time; I protest now. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Morley) was one of those dirty tricksters. We here are true to our opinions. Who are going to vote with us to-night? Are hon. Gentlemen opposite going to free themselves from this allegation that they are dirty tricksters? Is my hon. Friend (Mr. Jesse Collings), who voted with me in 1880, going with me to-night? Oh, he is not here; he has already gone to the Lobby. The hon. Member for 1457 Bordesley Division voted again and again against Her Majesty's Government. Will he stand to his guns to-night? You know he is a man who never changes his side; he is a man of principle. I hope I shall see hon. Gentlemen opposite go into the Lobby with me. In any case, instead of having received the assurance for which I asked, I have elicited from Her Majesty's Government that they intend, so far as I can see, to remain until Doomsday in Egypt; and, having found that their sly hints that they might some day come away under certain impossible conditions were ill received by their supporters in different parts of the House, I shall certainly press my Amendment to a Division.
§ (11.0.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 52; Noes 124.—(Div. List, No. 61.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (11.12.) MR. MORTON (Peterborough)
I desire to move the reduction of the Vote by 30,000 men, and I have three reasons why I wish to urge this on the Committee, one of them being what I consider a very special reason: In the first place, I object to the cost of the Army, and think that the money might be more usefully spent in other directions. I do not desire to reduce the pay of the men; on the contrary, I would vote for their receiving more money. My next reason is that this country is doing practically nothing to abolish war and to promote arbitration. [Ironical cheers.] Hon. Members may laugh, but that is one of the points I want to go into. We have a class of men in this country called a West End class, who live by this sort of thing. They live an idle life, and I think we should be doing away with them by promoting arbitration. [Cries of "Divide!"] I hope I may not be interrupted—it should not be forgotten that this Debate has been mainly taken up by hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. I do not mean to say I desire to altogether destroy this West End class, but I want to see them doing useful work instead of spending their time in betting and baccarat playing, which seems to be peculiar to them. The late John Bright, who knew a great deal about 1458 this sort of thing—[Loud laughter]—I do not mean to say he knew a great deal about fighting—the late John Bright told us that war was brought about by Imperial and Royal Families. Royal Families learn nothing but the art of fighting. That seems to me to be the most detestable work we as a nation can have to do, and I would like to see them better employed. The American people have set us a good example in this matter. They have said to their Ministers, "We will not have an Army," their ground for that being that experience has taught that if a Government has a large Army they themselves or the officers will find work for it to do. Therefore, though some people hold a contrary opinion, my belief is that if you want to put an end to war you should put an end to the Army. Let those gentlemen from the West End of London go out and fight themselves, and then perhaps they will not be so ready to go to war. My second point, as I have said, is that this country has done nothing towards promoting arbitration. I know we accepted arbitration with the American Government, but that was because we were afraid to go to war with a big Power. We bully little Powers, and do not talk about arbitration with them, but we are prepared to arbitrate in the case of a big Power like the United States. I desire to see this country declare itself in favour of arbitration as an example to other Powers. Arbitration is a matter on which something ought to be done, and until the Government do something in that direction, they will not, in my opinion, be doing their duty. Let them throw overboard these titled classes at the West End of London; they are no good to anyone. Let them, instead of fighting, emigrate these people to the backwoods of Canada, or to Australia. My third point, and one upon which I shall dwell a little longer, is the question of keeping soldiers in Ireland. I have no objection to quartering soldiers in Ireland. What I object to is their occupation. We were told in 1885 by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) that there are 30,000 soldiers in Ireland permanently encamped as in a hostile country. I object to the 30,000 1459 soldiers in Ireland on that ground. I also object to soldiers being employed to assist in the collection of rents. That is undoubtedly why these men are kept there. They cannot get soldiers to collect rents in England. If I asked for soldiers to collect my rents, the Secretary for War would tell me he had none to lend me. Then, I say, we have no right to employ them for that purpose in Ireland. It may be said that if these men are not kept in Ireland, they must be kept somewhere else, and that, as a matter of fact, these men are sent to Ireland as a matter of convenience. But that is not correct; for everyone knows the soldiers are kept in Ireland for the purpose of overaweing the people and for the sake of governing the country as a conquered country. That I object to; and I say that these soldiers are absolutely lost to us, and should be removed. I object to soldiers being employed in carrying out cruel and wicked evictions, and assisting landlords to collect their rents. That is most degrading work, and must be very hateful to the soldiers themselves. Then the soldiers are used for the purpose of interfering with the rights and liberties of the people—for stopping public meetings, for instance. That, also, I object to; and taking all these things together, I say I have good ground for moving a reduction in the Army. I may not carry my Motion now. [Cheers.] It is all very well to cheer that; but the time is coming when I shall carry it.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 123,696, all ranks, be maintained for the said Service."— (Mr. Morton.)
§ (11.25.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 25; Noes 142.—(Div. List, No. 62.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £5,632,700, be granted to Her Majesty to defray the Charge of the Pay, Allowances, and other Charges of Her Majesty's Army at Home and Abroad (exclusive of India) (General Staff, Regiments, Reserve, and Departments), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1892.
§ (11.35.) DR. CLARK
In moving the Amendment which stands in my 1460 name, I should like to point out why the British taxpayer ought not to pay for the occupation of Egypt. My contention is that the bondholders should pay for the useful work which is being done by the British troops in Egypt, for good interest is being secured to them. Were the Egyptian people wealthy no doubt they ought to be called upon to pay. But we know that this occupation took place in the interests and for the benefit of the bondholders, whose case was taken in hand by Messrs. Fruhling and Goschen, and I say that that firm ought to pay for the man in possession. We are now told that the Egyptians in their last financial year had a surplus of £650,000. We know that they are saving £300,000 a year by the conversion of their debt, and that this is one of the results of British intervention. Surely the people who are benefiting by it should pay the cost, and not the unfortunate British taxpayer. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War has said, somewhat irregularly, that we pay nothing at all in respect of the occupation of Egypt, but may I draw his attention to a Return, signed by " Edward Stanhope," and presented to Parliament, which shows in the amount included in the Army Estimates for military purposes in the colonies there is a sum of£135,000 for the pay of the General Staff and other expenses in connection with Egypt. If you look at the final total you will find you are going to spend over £300,000 this year in Egypt. The last Return given to this House set the cost per man maintained there at about £105, and of this Egypt pays only£25, the other£80 being defrayed by the British taxpayer. The Secretary for War suggested that we required these men, and that it was immaterial whether they were stationed in Egypt or in Cork or in Scotland. But that is not the case. How do we treat our colonies? If we look at the Return we find that the Mauritius pays us£30,000 for troops; and if you take the case of the Straits Settlements, where we maintain a very considerable force, we compel them to pay a sum of£100,000 to cover the cost. In Ceylon, as in the Straits Settlements, the cost under Vote 1 is£52,000, and Ceylon is called upon to pay£72,500. 1461 Even Malta, where we keep a garrison for Imperial purposes, has to pay a sum of £5,000. Now, apart from the charge for arms, barracks, hospitals, and various stores, we spend on men in Egypt a sum of £227,122, and, including the charges above referred to, over £330,000, and the only portion paid by Egypt is £87,000. It has been decided by the House that 3,320 men shall remain in Egypt. A majority of hon. Members have voted in favour of that. If the Egyptians were not so prosperous—if they had not got a surplus of £650,000, with a prospect of doubling it in the forthcoming year—I, perhaps, should not object to the Vote; but this being the state of the case, I feel bound, on behalf of the taxpayers whom I represent, to object to this country being taxed for the benefit of the Egyptians, who are so prosperous. Therefore I move a reduction of the Vote. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian some years ago said he regretted the course he had taken when he permitted troops to be sent to Egypt for the benefit of the bondholders. The bondholder has got his pound of flesh from the Egyptians already. The people of that country are very much better off than they were before, and therefore, as I said before, I object to the British taxpayer being taxed under the circumstances. Take the case of India. That is a poorer country than Egypt, yet you do not treat it in the same fashion as you treat Egypt. If you did, there would be a considerable burden thrown on the British, taxpayer for the benefit of the Indian ryot. If you were making Egypt pay on the same basis as you make India pay, she would have to contribute at least £500,000 a year towards the Imperial Finance. But you do not; and, therefore, I repeat that I am against this organised philanthropy. I beg to move, consequently, the reduction of the Vote.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £5,532,700, be granted for the said Service."—[Dr. Clark.)
§ (11.48.) MR. BRODRICK
The hon. Member is mistaken in supposing that this country pays any money for the benefit of the Egyptian bondholder or any other person. 1462 For everything connected with the troops in Egypt beyond the establishment Egypt pays. I assure the hon. Member that we have carried out a pledge given to the House that the Army of Occupation in Egypt will be brought within the sum necessary for its defence. Every single item of expense has been duly discussed between the two Governments.
§ MR. BRODRICK
They are on an entirely different system. We have only done our duty in asking for the contributions we have received from the colonies. I repeat we have thoroughly carried out the pledges we gave four years ago. I hope we may now be allowed to take the Vote.
§ (11.51.) MR. LABOUCHERE
Here is a Vote of £5,000,000, and we are asked to take it after one or two remarks from a Member of the Government. I hardly think we should be doing our duty to our constituents if we allowed this Vote to be taken. I perfectly admit that the Government are following up the assurances they gave to the House of Commons, but we contest the whole principle upon which this Vote is estimated. It is not a mere question of money. We say that for the last nine years there have been, more or less, 3,000 or 4,000 men in Egypt, and if we were not occupying Egypt we should not require those 3,000 or 4,000 men for the protection of this Empire. My hon. Friend has shown, by his references to Ceylon and to the Straits Settlements, that we are taxing our own countrymen for the benefit of Egypt, while we make the colonies pay for the British troops which are stationed there. If you make Ceylon and the Mauritius pay on the basis you now do, surely you ought to insist on the Egyptian Government paying for the troops there on a similar basis. Seeing that the troops are sent to Egypt to maintain order and to defend the Egyptian frontier against attacks, I suggest that we should demand from Egypt neither more nor less than we obtain from our own colonies, and, speaking as the Representative of the tax-payers 1463 of Northampton, I say that they join in the protest against paying 1s, in order that the Southern Frontier of Egypt may be defended against the Soudanese. I think we ought to have some sort of reply from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. I cannot think that any hon. Member would say that Egypt ought not to pay these expanses. We have British officers there, and I suspect that even if we are not paying them they are qualifying for pensions. Again, we keep more troops in Malta than are really necessary, in order that we may have a force within easy reach of Egypt in case of necessity. An hon. Member opposite just now said there are at the present time fewer British troops in Egypt than ever before; but if he will carry his mind back to the time the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was in power he will remember that at one time the troops were reduced to a corporal's guard at Alexandria, and they were only retained there in consequence of sickness.
§ It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported to-morrow.
§ Committee also report Progress; to sit again upon Wednesday.