§ (5.40.) MR. HANBURY (Preston)
, in calling attention to the Army Estimates and the efficiency of the Army in relation to its cost, said: I express no opinion as to whether our total force is adequate or inadequate, because no ordinary Member of the House has any information whatever on the subject. But a question which this House will have a right to have answered when these Estimates are presented is, how is this Estimate arrived at? This information is, perhaps, more than ever necessary just now, but I do not blame the Secretary of State for War for his action in this matter, because I know he is under the advice of the Military Authorities in this matter. But we are approaching consideration of these Votes even at shorter notice and with less information than we ever did before. The Estimates have been out a very short time. I, for one, have not seen even the Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting, and the very important evidence taken before the Wantage Committee has not been submitted to the House. But there are two subjects on which we never get any information when these Votes are submitted, and which are very important. Lord Charles Beresford, who, I suppose, knows as much about the Navy as any man in the country, has lately said, addressing a letter to what might have been a future constituency of his, that he will return to the House with the most important questions, and that the first he will raise will be on the consideration of these Estimates, and whether, in the Government Estimates for the Army and Navy, due consideration is given to the requirements of each Service for the sister Service in framing the Estimates for the other Service. But I will confine myself wholly to the Army. What evidence have we ever had submitted to us that the total cost 185 which we have to vote is adequate to the real responsibility of the country? There lately appeared an article in the Fortnightly Review of a very friendly nature under the signature "B," which might have come from an official source. That article says—One of the most important matters is whether, when these Votes are submitted, they have been framed with a due regard to the responsibilities which this country has to face.We have undoubtedly only this fact before us: these Votes are submitted to us on the word of politicians, whatever Party may be power, and we put implicit confidence in their word. But I think, at the same time, we ought to have the evidence of experts, and we ought to be quite sure that they are experts who are able to form an opinion as to the real responsibility of the country, and that the Estimates which are placed before us are adequate to our responsibilities; also that those Estimates have been framed in accordance with the permanent interest of the country, and not merely for the passing purposes of a Party. There are three points on which I do not think anyone will differ. Lord Wolseley says that if the Army must be small it must be also the most perfect fighting machine in the world. If it is to be made so, preparation must be made in time of peace, and we have now had a long interval of peace: but I am afraid that by neither one Party nor the other has that peace been made sufficient use of to turn the Army into a perfect fighting machine. Nearly everybody will agree with me in saying that for what we spend upon the Army we ought to get a perfect fighting machine. This is not merely the opinion of civilians alone. Civilians sometimes get warned off any discussion of military questions by officers of a certain type. But is not this a subject which concerns the taxpayers of this country, and on which they are capable of forming an opinion? Is organisation not a thing with which civilians can deal as well as any military officer? Sometimes those officers speak as if the restoration of numbers, the rights of purchase officers, and the Divine right of officers of the Guards to live out of barracks, were the only things to keep the British lion on his legs. But that is 186 not the opinion of most civilians, and it is not the opinion of Lord Wolseley. Lord Wolseley says:—The country pays for an inferior article a price which should be ample to give it a most effective fighting machine.I am sure he adopted a wise policy when, he denounced the War Office for not taking the country into its confidence and not telling the whole truth. If you do not tell the truth the people of this country will become more and more suspicious when they know the facts as to the scandals that occur every year. In those circumstances it becomes much more dangerous for the War Office to keep back from the English people the truth of the case. The only remedy, as a rule, is more money. I believe if the English people were taken into the confidence of the War Office—if they were told that money was absolutely necessary, and were convinced that the money was well spent—I believe the War Office would get any amount of money at once. But Lord Wolseley says that we are spending too much upon the Army as it is. What is the price we have to pay? We spend over £50,000,000 a year, of which the smaller half goes to the Navy and the much larger half to an inefficient Army. On that Army we spend more than Germany, more than France, and almost half as much again as Russia. The article in the Fortnightly Review, to which I have referred, states that in the years between 1881 and 1888 France spent annually £28,000,000 upon her Army, Germany £28,250,000, and Russia £33,000,000; but there has been a miscalculation with reference to the rouble. I shall say little about Russia, because we have no means of making any accurate calculation as to what her expenditure is. I will confine myself almost entirely to Germany and France. In 1891 the expenditure of France was £28,500,000, and of Germany £20,250,000. Sir Charles Dilke has calculated that these figures are too low, and that, in fact, the ordinary average cost of the Armies of Germany and France is something like £31,000,000. But then, with reference to the Army of Great Britain in India, the Estimates amount to £17,750,000, of which India pays £14,250,000 Then we have £1,500,000 for barracks, giving a 187 total of £33,500,000, or two and a-half millions more than either Germany or France. There is this remarkable fact—that provided Germany spends 31 millions a year now and we spend 33½ millions, Germany during the last ten years has actually gone up 53 per cent., whereas our expenditure has been pretty much the same for the last twenty years. And when we know the Army that Germany could put into the field only ten years ago, with its expenditure 53 per cent. below what it is at the present moment, and when we compare that Army with ours, we can see that we should have an efficient Army. I am not now speaking of the Indian Army, but before passing from this subject I should say that from all we can hear the 74,000 British troops we have in India and the body of native troops are about the finest set of men in arms that any country can show. We have shown on the Estimates a sum of £20,645,000, and it must be remembered that there is in addition a loan of one and a half millions, as well as the enormous work of defence which is done by our Navy, to an extent, perhaps, that the Navy of no other country in the world does for its defence. Of course, that is only the gross sum, but anybody looking at the Army Estimates would suppose that, after the Appropriations in Aid have been allowed for, all we spend on the Army at home is 17½ millions. But that is not the case. Looking at the Vote we find a sum of £87,000 contributed by Egypt put down as an Appropriation in Aid.
§ MR. HANBURY
I should like to know how it is an extra expense. I should like to know how that is worked out. There are two items which certainly do not mean extra expense. I find, for instance, £250,000 contributed by the Colonies. That, surely, is an ordinary expense of the Home and Colonial Army. Then there is £850,000 contributed by India towards the Home Army, not towards the passage of our troops going to or returning from India, but wholly and solely for the cost of training Home battalions. I think that is an enormous sum to charge upon the people of India, when they really get no return for it whatever. There are other Appropriations in Aid, some of which, I think, are liable to dispute. There is 188 something like a quarter of a million which goes for stoppage of soldiers upon their clothing. That is an Appropriation in Aid which will not form an Appropriation in Aid in any further Vote. That leaves, practically, a sum of £19,000 charged upon the Estimates, of which £17,500 goes more to the Home Service than the Estimates would lead us to believe. What do we get in return for this money? Nobody can say we have got a very fine Army. The establishment of efficient troops only amounts to 627,000 men, and by some remarkable process that 627,000 includes 74,000 on the Indian establishment, actually serving in India, not one penny for which is paid for in the Home Estimates. Therefore, practically, all the troops we get for this £19,000,000 are 544,000, to which have to be added 3,000 for miscellaneous staff, giving us a total of every conceivable man of only 557,000 compared with this £19,000,000. Those are simply the numbers of men; the Estimate says nothing about the number of horses or guns, or organisation. These are simply the men, and if we are content with such an Army, then we shall be content with what Lord Wolseley calls "a fuss and feathers Army, led by bow and arrow Generals." Then, of course, the mere numbers of the men is not all we have to look to. Those numbers have the unfortunate effect of deluding the ratepayers into the belief that they are getting a return for their money, and that the country is getting a good Army. We ought not to be content merely with counting heads, but should go a little further than that even in numbers. Russia can show an army of 1,800,000, besides Cossacks; France can show an Army of 2,800,000; Germany can show an Army of 2,301,000 under 12 years' service, corresponding to our own men and the Reserves. And she has 445,000 horses and 3,982 guns. This is simply the Army on active service, and does not include the Landwehr. More than that, the troops I have mentioned in Germany and France are homogeneous; they form an Army highly organised and properly mobilised for war. I believe our own men are equally brave, and, if properly organised, just as efficient as any men we ever had before. I believe, so far as bravery is concerned, there is nothing amiss in the British Army. But, unfortunately, the troops are not homo- 189 geneous; they are not in proportion; they are not armed alike; they are not divided into Army Corps; and they could not be rapidly mobilised. This is a scratch Army, which includes the Volunteers, who are 42,000 short, the Yeomanry are 30 per cent. short, and the Militia 20 per cent. short, of their numbers; and with them the Corps serving in the Channel Islands, in Malta, St. Helena, and in Bermuda. It also includes 138,000 regulars, of whom 90,000 are declared by the Report of the Wantage Committee to be inefficient. I should like to see the evidence before accepting that statement. If these troops are inefficient without the Reserves, then you might say the same thing of the battalions of the German Army also. Then we are told with regard to the cost, "No doubt it is a miscellaneous Army, but it is a paid Army, and your cost is enormous as compared with that of the German and French Armies." After all the officers of the German and French Armies are paid, and the non-commissioned officers very highly indeed. Germany spends £8,000,000 a year upon them, and France a little over £7,000,000. But ours is by no means a wholly paid Army. In two-fifths of the whole force—the Volunteers—neither officers nor men are paid, and in another fifth—the Militia and Yeomanry—the officers and men are only paid for a very short period in the year, 28 and 12 days respectively, I think, and the cost is charged to Vote I. Therefore, as a matter of fact, only two-fifths of the Army are paid daily. I have taken the trouble to find out what is the actual pay of privates in the British Army, so that a fair comparison can be drawn between the British Army and the German and French Armies. I find that the regimental pay of the warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and privates is £3,355,000, and I do not think it an unfair reduction if I take the £335,000 as the pay of the warrant and non-commissioned officers. That leaves £3,000,000 as the pay of the privates. I add the deferred pay of the men on the whole Service £335,000, the good conduct pay £110,000, soldiers' pensions £750,000, which gives a total of £4,195,000. I add to that the cost of the Reserve £605,000—beyond their pay the cost is nothing at all—this makes the total pay of the privates in the Army and Reserve £4,800,000. 190 Then I have to consider the pay of privates in the Yeomanry and Militia, and I think I am taking a low estimate when I take for the Militia £250,000 and for the Yeomanry £25,000, which added to the previous total gives a little over £5,000,000 a year as the pay of the privates in the regular Army and Reserve. Deducting that £5,000,000 from the £19,000,000 I have mentioned it leaves £14,000,000 as being the cost of the British Army after deducting the pay of the privates. In order to be quite fair, however, I will add another £1,000,000 to the deduction, taking only £13,000,000 as the cost. That gives a cost per head in the Armyand Reserve—after deducting the pay of the privates—of £23 10s. How does this compare with France and Germany? Germany pays £13 10s. per head, and France £11 10s. per head, the cost, therefore, being in one case a little more than half, and in the other considerably less than half that of our own troops. I shall be told that it is making too great a concession on the side of the British Army to take in all these heterogeneous troops, and that the homogeneous troops only of three countries should be taken for the purposes of comparison. The comparison is then much fairer. Deducting the cost of Militia, Yeomanry and Volunteers, £2,200,000, leaves £16,800,000 for the Regulars and Reserve. From that you have to deduct the pay, £4,800,000, which leaves £12,000,000 to be divided among the 210,000 men who form our Regulars and Reserve. That gives the total cost per head in the Regulars and Reserve, after all these deductions, at £60, as against £13 10s. in Germany and £11 10s. in France for the corresponding troops. That is an enormous difference, and I want to know where the leakage is. Somewhere in these Army Estimates we must spend money wastefully and foolishly. I shall be told, probably, that the comparison is unfair, because we have a small Reserve and France and Germany have large Reserves. I should like to see our Home Army smaller than it is and a much larger Reserve; we should have a more efficient Army, which might be better organised than at present. That is the recommendation of no less distinguished a person than General Roberts himself, to which I shall have to refer later on. The German Army on a peace footing 191 consists of 468,000 various forces and one year Volunteers, making at least 500,000; but I am unable to get the relative cost of the men on a peace footing and the enormous Reserve. Therefore, to avoid any exaggeration I am prepared to throw in the whole of the Reserve of the German Army as though they cost nothing at all, and to put the whole cost on to the 500,000 forming the standing Army, and then to draw comparisons between it and our regulars. I find that we have to divide £11,500,000 amongst 140,000—having deducted our Reserve—which gives an expenditure of £83 per head as against £60 per head for the German Army, after the cost of the whole Reserve is credited as costing nothing whatever. That shows that somewhere or other we are paying a good deal more for this Army than we ought to do. There is also this point to consider—that the German Army has a great deal more to do with the defence of the German Empire than our Army has to do with the defence of our Empire. A considerable part of the defence of our Empire is thrown on the troops in India, but most of all it is thrown on the Navy, so that we have to consider that with these large sums spent, and inadequate results, a large portion of the defence of the Empire is thrown elsewhere. We have also to consider the fact that we are undoubtedly short of horses and of guns, and that even some of the guns we have which have been praised most highly—the 12-pounder guns, supposed to be the best in the Service, of which 282 have been served out already—are shown by Colonel Tylers' Report to be by no means the good arm we have hitherto supposed them. Yet, that is the arm with which the greater portion of the British Army is furnished. We have not the same rifle in the whole of our regiments, and in India there are two or three different kinds in use—the Snider, the Martini-Henry, and the Magazine—which might lead to serious complications in case of war. After saying all this, I have left out a most important consideration—more important even than personnel, than materiel of war—that is organisation for war. The great curse of the British Army is that it is too much a peace Army; it is not an Army fully equipped and prepared for war. The best personnel and materiel 192 for war would be almost useless without organisation. In these days war breaks out suddenly, and we cannot rely, as in the old days, merely on the courage of our soldiers; we must see that those who direct our Army in time of peace give us good organisation, so that the courage of our men shall not be thrown away when the time comes. Why did the French Army—brave as it was—succumb before the German Army in 1870? You have only to read the official account of the Prussian Staff to see why it was defeated. That account tells us three things. First, it was the centralisation of the French Army which caused its defeat. Is not our Army centralised at the present moment? Is not the whole organisation centred in London? Are not the manufacture and supply of materiel too much centred in one spot, as at Woolwich? Is not the training too much centralised in one Army Corps at Aldershot? Another cause of the failure of the French Army was that it was not properly divided into Army Corps. How many Army Corps have we out of our 550,000 men at home? I am told that we have certainly not got two Army Corps, and I doubt if we have even one without borrowing men from other regiments. That is not a creditable state of things. Another cause of the failure of the French Army was that it had no efficient manœuvres. Look at the constant manœuvres of the German Army, in which the men are trained for war every year, not in Army Corps—that would probably be too expensive—but in divisions. If we could do the same thing how much it would add to the efficiency of our Army. I am glad to say that my right hon. Friend, the present Secretary for War, has done something towards instituting manœuvres for the Army, and I wish the people would back him up more. If our Army is to be efficient we must have manœuvres on a larger scale, so that the various arms can work together, and the men be commanded by the officers who would lead them in time of war. There is another point I should like to refer to. The safety of this country is even more important than the preservation of the rights of common, and I hope my right hon. Friend will hold himself stiffly and firmly—in face of the opposition growing up—in what he is patriotically 193 doing in the New Forest, and provide this country with manœuvring grounds and proper rifle ranges at which our soldiers can be properly trained. My right hon. Friend sometimes thinks I am attacking him, but nothing is further from my intention, for I believe he is one of the most efficient of War Ministers—I do not say that from a Party point of view, for Party ought to have no place in these questions. I should attack anybody whom I did not think was doing his duty patriotically; but the more one studies these matters the more one realises the enormous difficulties with which the Secretary of State for War has to contend, and especially so in the case of my right hon. Friend. I wish to refer to a very serious point. We have had a system on which our Army ought to have been organised. That system has been in existence for 20 years, and yet, forsooth, we have a Report from the Official Committee of the War Office, which tells us that our Army is in its present inefficient condition because that system has never been carried into practice, though the people of this country believed that it was being carried out. The most important parts of the system have been neglected, and Secretaries of State have never had the backbone to insist that it should be rigidly carried out. How is this? I know the weakness of War Ministers, due to remaining in office for but a short time, and excuses must be made for that, but there is some strong body of men opposed to all reform Lord Wolseley pointed to them pretty plainly when he said that we have plenty of officers willing to see our Army fitted to meet modern requirements, but that we have a body of generals and others who sit on these men. We have a right to know who are the men who for 20 years have been thwarting this system, and I hope my right hon. Friend will be able to throw some light on the point. He told us another difficulty himself when he spoke at Hammersmith two or three months ago. He said that when he came into office five or six years ago he found that there was practically no organisation of the British Army, and that hardly a stop had been taken in that direction. That is a startling statement to come from the responsible Secretary for War, it is almost incredible, and I hope we shall have some explanation 194 to weaken that statement. The important point for our consideration at this moment is, have we an efficient Army? My right hon. Friend has without doubt made great steps forward, but I should like to have that organisation tested, because I read in the article, favourable to the War Office, already quoted, that the writer has grave suspicion as to whether a great deal of this improvement in organisation is not merely an improvement on paper, and he suggests that the country should have not merely the statement of my right hon. Friend, who as a civilian cannot speak with authority on the matter, but the expert opinion of the highest and most reliable officers that can be found, as to how far this improvement is real. Sir Arthur Haliburton, the representative of the War Office, tells us we have no organisation even for sending a couple of Army Corps abroad for our small wars. He says it would take a good time to organise them, but fortunately it would take still longer to get the ships to carry them, so that perhaps, after all, it does not very much matter. I should not think that explanation will be satisfactory to those interested in the matter. There is another point. Is it possible that at this hour of the day, when we have heard so much about organisation, that we have nothing corresponding to what is called abroad Chief of the Staff. I have read a most valuable work by Mr. Spencer Wilkinson, and he makes out clearly that we have no Department in this country which makes a constant duty, not to attend to routine, but to see that our Army is thoroughly efficient and in a state of preparation for war. We have an Intelligence Department, but the Head of that Department has not even a seat on the General Council at the War Office, and has no independent authority. What would the Germans have said if Count Moltke, the Chief of the Staff, had had no voice in the administration of their Army? I have seen a series of letters on the German Army, and one of them points out that if there is one thing which makes that Army the perfect fighting machine it is, it is the sense of responsibility from the top to the lowest private soldier. There is no piling all the responsibility on one man, as on the Secretary for War or the Commander-in-Chief in the case of the British Army. The result of this 195 graduated responsibility is that, if anything goes wrong, somebody is able to put his finger on the man who is responsible for it. How is it possible that an Army, organised in the way in which ours is, can be anything but a gross muddle of an Army, and an Army which, if war should unhappily break out, would launch us again in some of the cruel incidents which happened at the beginning of the Crimean War? I have only one word more to add, and it is that I believe the whole cause—or, at all events, a large portion of the cause—of this mischief is the way in which our Army is constantly moving about between England and India, and between England and the Colonies, and, even when it is at home, constantly moving from one barracks to another. If our Army is kept in a state of perpetual motion how can you ever have any greater unit than the battalion, which is our present condition? How are we to remedy that state of things? What is the suggestion of Lord Roberts on the point? No less than eight years ago Lord Roberts, writing an article in the Nineteenth Century, says the only way is to do away with the seven years' service. He says that seven years is neither a short nor a long service, and it has a most mischievous effect on the Army. He suggests that we should go in for a long service Army for foreign service, and a short service Army at home; or, in other words, a twelve years' service for India and the Colonies, and three years at home. Then you would be able to carry out the territorial system which, up to the present, you have never been able to do. The opinion of Lord Roberts on this subject is of immense value; and if the long service system were adopted, you would get out of the difficulty of constantly shifting your soldiers to India. Why should the men be so constantly shifted between England and the Colonies? Admirals have got up over and over again in this House and declared that the Marines were the proper men to garrison the Colonies, and common sense seems to point in that direction. If you get your long service Army for India, your short service for England, and have the Colonies garrisoned by Marines, you have only got your short service Army in England to deal with. Many men would join the Army for three 196 years who would not join for seven; and there are many men who would like to join for foreign service again, but will not join to spend part of the time at home and part abroad, and be separated from comrades whom they know and officers whom they trust. That is the only way to carry out the territorial system which Lord Wantage's Committee declares you ought to carry out. The advantages of the system are numerous, and the result will be to turn our Army from a "fuss-and-feathers army" into an effective Force. Under this system you would throw upon commanding officers a great deal of work which is now badly done by the War Office. You would get a much cheaper Army, and you would get not only a larger Reserve, but a trained Preserve. At present your Reserve is not trained, and I know the difficulties that the Secretary for War has to contend with in this respect. I know that the managers of some of our large Railway Companies—the Midland was one, I believe—have refused to take Reserve men into their service, and I think these large companies which have had large concessions granted to them by this House ought to show more patriotism. But the fact is our Reserve is so small that employers fear, should a war break out, that the particular Reserve man to whom they might give employment would be selected. If your Reserve were larger, the chances of any individual man being taken would diminish. I hope I have persuaded the House that my figures are not exaggerated, and I hope that the Secretary for War, whatever he may say about my opinion, will not allege any exaggeration. I admit the to enormous difficulties that the right hon. Gentleman has to contend with, and I know that the present Secretary for War has done much for the matériel and personnel of the Army, and for the organisation of the Army, but I am quite certain that much remains to be done. It is not enough to get the men; it is not enough to get the money. The taxpayers of the country will not grudge the money for an efficient Army, and the working classes will not grudge the lives and the blood of their brothers and of their sons if they are sure that those lives will be protected by proper organisation. It is no good sending these men to the shambles, as you would send them, if that organisation is not full and complete. 197 This is not the day of soldiers' battles, and I am quite sure that no more popular thing could be done by any Secretary of State for War than to put his shoulder manfully to the wheel and resolve that, whether the system be long or whether it be short, he will do his utmost to see that the Army works upon a regular system, and that that system is fairly and completely carried out and that the organisation is placed upon a sound and permanent footing. If no other considerations will induce the Secretary of State for War to struggle to that end, I hope political considerations will induce him; and I would have him know that the men whose daily bread depends upon the defence of our home and Empire—the working classes — still recollect the disastrous history of 1853 and 1854. They will soon be reading, in the Report of Lord Wantage's Committee, that the state of our organisation is almost as bad as it was in 1853; that the short service system has made no progress, and that we are halting between two systems. These are the men who now cast the balance between the Parties. They are Party men, and their Party is dear to them; but their country is nearer and dearer to them, and the lives of their relations are even nearer and dearer, and a heavy retribution will fall upon any War Minister who does not supplement the bravery of the soldiers by a full and efficient organisation, and by supplying them with ample materials of war of the best character.
§ (6.43.) MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
I have great pleasure in supporting the Motion of the hon. Member for Preston. He has shown the difference in the cost of our Army and the Armies of France and Germany, and I venture to say that the utmost that we can do for our expenditure is to put two, or perhaps three, Army Corps into the field with an insufficient transport and short of horses. All we can do in India is to put 70,000 men on the North-Western Frontier. I know it can be said in answer to this that our Army depends entirely on voluntary enlistment, and that half of it, or more than half of it, is always serving abroad on the other side of the world or in the tropics. I do not suggest that it is the fault of any particular Department, or of any particular Minister, that such a state of things has obtained; and 198 I should like to express my belief that never since the days of Mr. Cardwell, never for 20 years, have we had a more efficient Secretary of State for War than we now have in my right hon. Friend (Mr. Stanhope.) He has removed many grievances which existed. He has given the Magazine rifle into the hands of our troops, and he has increased the comfort of the private soldiers. He had the courage to ask the House to devote a very large sum of money to the improvement of the barracks, and he has put an end to the régime under which we had guns that burst, swords that broke, and bayonets that would not pierce through butter. He has given us a most efficient Indian Army, but in doing that I think he has rather sacrificed the Home Army, which costs £17,500,000, and is practically inefficient. The Report of Lord Wantage's Committee is practically to that effect. The Commander-in-Chief has stated that a number of battalions are inefficient; the Adjutant General says the same. Sir Evelyn Wood declared that the Home battalions were nothing but a nursery. There has been a Minority Report in connection with the Wantage Committee. It certainly appeared to me, that whereas the War Office expected that Committee to bless them, the Committee turned round and cursed them, and in order not to allow the Report of the Committee to have a single day start, the War Office rushed out the Report to which the name of Sir Arthur Haliburton is appended. One of the principal motives of the Army manœuvres was to give general officers an opportunity of dealing with large bodies of men, and it is in this respect that I represent that the Secretary for War and the War Office have not achieved what is required. Last summer at Aldershot the biggest number of men we could turn out was 14,000 and these were cut up into four divisions. No general officer has a chance of manœuvring more than 5,000 men with 13 guns and a weak squadron of Cavalry, and this has to be compared with the 120,000 men manœuvred by General Saussier in Champagne, and with the five Army Corps which paraded before the Emperor William on the Saar. The troops at Aldershot were not only deficient in numbers but they were deficient in physique. In one regiment which had a march of 13 miles 100 men 199 had to fall out on account of weakness. Last year 19,500 men were enlisted to the Infantry, and 11,500 of them were under 5 ft. 5 in. The Times correspondent, writing of the Autumn Manœuvres at Aldershot last year, said that the regiments were composed not of boys but of young children. Going more into detail with respect to the Militia, there is no mystery made of the fact that of a force of 67,500 men something like 40,000 are under the ago of 20, and therefore unfit, according to the Regulations, to go to India. The official view of the Army of course is that it is liable at any moment to be sent abroad on foreign service, to garrison our possessions, or to do anything that is required of it. But it may be worth while for hon. Members to ask what is the actual condition of these soldiers who are to be sent abroad on foreign service, and to that end I have taken some figures with respect to these battalions. In one battalion I find the regulation strength is 1,100 men, and the actual strength 914. Out of these 458 are forbidden to go to India on account of being under age, and as a matter of fact only 226 are fit to go abroad. In another battalion of 1,040 men, 800 are unfit to go abroad because they are under age, and in a third, with a Regulation strength of 800 and an actual strength of 600, the number unfit for foreign service was 300. That is not a satisfactory state of things. The position of the Cavalry is not much better. Each of the large regiments is supposed to turn out between 180 and 320 horses—I know one which turned out only 117—and I see the numbers now stand at 11,000 men and 5,600 horses, or about one horse for every two men. The Yeomanry, I think, can hardly be treated seriously as a fighting force, and the Militia has been described as a patent and recognised fraud. Although I do not go quite so far, perhaps, as that, I must admit that there is a very considerable basis for the criticism. The established strength of the Militia is 135,000 men, and the number accounted for last year was 113,000. Of that number 4,000 were on leave, 8,000 were deserters, 12,000 had volunteered for the Line, and should not be counted twice, for you cannot count one man as belonging both to the Army Reserve and to the Militia. When you make these deductions from the numbers of men 200 at the annual training, and remember that they have no musketry exercise whatever, I think you will possibly come to the conclusion that the writer in the Times was not very far wrong in describing them as a patent and recognised fraud. Then with respect to the Artillery: foreign nations allow about five guns to 1,000 men, but the allowance in the British Army appears to be about half a gun to 1,000 men. I have taken three batteries haphazard for statistical purposes, and I find that in one battery of an established strength of 157 men 57 are unfit to go abroad. In one of 151 men, 109 are unfit on account of age, and the third battery which I selected had to wait for some time to go to India until the men had grown up; that was until they had passed the age of 20 years. Next with regard to the Reserve: that has increased, and I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the fact that the Reserve this year will number 78,000 men, but I cannot help thinking that this will do no more than fill up the gaps in our First Army Corps, and in our Army in India and in other directions, and bring the Army up to a proper war footing. The Committee has made certain recommendations in reference to the increased efficiency of our Army. One is that the soldier should get his free kit and free rations, and another is that employment should be found for the Reservists. I am not going to trouble the House with my ideas upon these questions, because I have often stated them before; and I only desire to say that if hon. Members wish any information in reference to the status of the Reservists, I would advise them to read Mr. Arnold White's book, which will show them the number of Reservists lying out at night in Trafalgar Square and in other places of the kind. Of this I am certain, that we shall never find an efficient home Army until the War Office establishes a bureau for the purpose of finding employment for discharged and Reserve soldiers.
§ (7.5.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling, &c)
My hon. Friend the Member for Preston, in supporting the Amendment standing in his name, has instituted a comparison between the costs of the British and foreign armies—an old task which has been again and again undertaken, and always, I am afraid, with indifferent 201 results. But those of us who have followed this matter for many years know how difficult it is to arrive at any accurate result by such a method. In his estimate of the cost of our Army, my hon. Friend was reduced to conjectural figures; that one Service cost so much and the other so much, and then he compared them with the cost of a foreign Army.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Yes; but my hon. Friend, in making out a very interesting analysis of the pay of several branches of the Army, was obliged to jump at conclusions with regard to a great many items. The real position is this: that our Estimates have the advantage of exposing to the country, on the face of them, the whole of the expenditure of the country for the military service; whereas, in foreign countries with which comparison is instituted—in France, and in Germany especially—the so-called public expenditure does not include anything like the real cost of the Army. What you have to remember is that the foreign Army—the German Army, for example—takes away from the community an enormous mass of useful and money-creating labour; and you have to recollect the fact that the whole civil necessities and interests of the community are subordinated to the Army of such a country; and if you come to reckon up between us and them the cost of the Services, this fact will make a material difference. Take an instance. If the German Government wish to carry out manœuvres on a large scale, there is, in the first place, an open country, with no enclosures. There is nothing to injure. They can move their troops wherever they please at small cost, and the civil trade and the railway traffic are at a standstill until troops are moved. The troops are billeted on the inhabitants, and in every respect the country is placed at the disposal of the Military Authorities for this purpose. But in this country, if large manœuvres took place, the first thing which we would have to undertake would be the introduction of a Bill, setting up a Committee or a Commission to assess the damages that would be inflicted on the farmer, landowner, or other inhabitant in the district. The railways would make a good bargain with the War Office, and the country 202 would have to pay for everything at high prices. Therefore, hon. Members can understand how different is the position of a foreign country and ours in undertaking the same work. This is, of course, only a simple instance; but it is a good instance, as showing how different are the relations which subsist between the civil interests and the military interests in the two countries. It can hardly be estimated in figures, but it enormously affects the annual expenditure. On the general question of Army organisation, I would venture to advise hon. Members of the House to exercise great caution in accepting views on so complicated and difficult a subject as this, unless those views are the result of actual experience in the endeavour to reconcile the conflicting and apparently irreconcilable conditions of the problem. Let me remind hon. Members that we cannot in this country indulge a desire for theoretical perfection in our Army organisation. There is no tabula rasa on which we can proceed. We are tied on the one hand, by traditions and prejudices and habits which it is hopeless to overcome, and to ignore which would be fatal to success. We have to humour the feelings of those classes from which the Army is supplied. We have to fulfil obligations and to discharge duties which are not in the least recognised by any other Army in the world. It must be also remembered that when appeal is made to the opinion of those who, in the jargon of the times, are called "experts," that they have too often only seen one of the many sides of the question. An officer who has passed most of his service on the Staff does not appreciate sufficiently and allow for the laborious duties of the regimental officer, and the close insight which those duties gave into the character and feelings of the soldier. The regimental officer, again, is apt to be chiefly interested in the success and efficiency of his battalion; and he regards the whole question from that point of view. The Indian officer, on the other hand, however exalted and distinguished, may have lived long in India and lost touch with the ideas prevalent in this country; he may have very little idea of the task involved in the supply of an adequate Indian Army. These authorities may thus fail to grasp fully the scope of the problem, and are therefore misled. I 203 am sure that I shall be borne out when I say that those who know the most, and who have thought the most, of this multifarious and complex question will be the least disposed to give any dogmatic opinion upon it; and, on the other hand, when we hear a sweeping condemnation expressed of this or of that, we may safely set it down as the outcome of a casual visit to Aldershot, or of the acquisition and assimilation of the views of some individual officer who, however intelligent and capable in his duties, after all takes only a partial view of the case. Speaking for myself, as my fortune has led me to follow these matters for some years, I would say that I am not one of those who think our Army system by any means perfect, whether in regard to civil administration or military organisation; but I wish to give some reasons why we should not rush into some of the changes which in recent months have been strongly pressed upon the public, changes which are many of them reactionary in their nature, and which I think would not have the good effect that is expected from them. The whole subject has three separate branches. First of all, there is the question of the administration of the Army and the distribution of duties among the high officials at its head; secondly, the question of organisation, especially of the Infantry, with reference to efficiency; and, thirdly, the question of recruiting, and the relations between the Army and the recruiting classes. As the first of these branches has been reported upon by a Royal Commission, of which I was a Member, and as that Report has been discussed in the House, I think I need not now refer to it. But with regard to the second and third points—the organisation of the Army and recruiting—I am extremely sorry that we have to speak of the Report of Lord Wantage's Committee without seeing the evidence upon which the Report was based, and I confess myself that I am still more anxious to see not the evidence but the Appendices, which may contain the facts and figures upon which the conclusion was based; because the Report makes very startling and extensive recommendations without any attempt to estimate the financial effect of these recommendations. Nor is there an analysis of the facts which would show us to what really the evils 204 complained of are due and how the recommendations would remove them. This is, in fact, a very good instance of the evil which arises from the appointment of such Committees, composed of gentlemen who, however able and patriotic, have no responsibility, and would never have anything to do with the business of finding the money to pay for what they recommend. The only estimate, I believe, that was made was made by Sir A. Haliburton, who dissented from the Report, and he puts it at £1,500,000; and, in addition, there is a corresponding cost to the Indian Government which would have to pay its share; and also, in consequence of some of the recommendations, there would be a large increase in the Non-Effective Vote. In some journals of great importance I observe it was said that these recommendations should be adopted, even though they were costly, and that the money should be found by decreasing the Non-Effective Votes. But that is precisely one of those things which lets us see the state of mind of some of the persons who write upon military subjects. The Non-Effective Votes are precisely those which are the least susceptible of being arbitrarily reduced, because they merely embody the result of obligations long since incurred, and of promises made to officers and men which cannot possibly be broken. As a matter of fact, we might adopt a policy which, in 15 or 30 years, might effect a decrease in those Votes; but, at the present, we are bound by obligation not to meddle with them. I regard it as satisfactory that, at least, this Committee has authoritatively acknowledged, once for all, that there are three systems to be accepted as essential—first, short service, with a Reserve; second, the territorial system; and, third, the system of twin battalions—the system which does not allow one battalion to remain helpless without any assistance from another. First, as to organisation, we hear a good deal of the non-efficiency of the territorial battalions. But before we talk so, we ought to determine for what purpose these battalions are maintained. We differ entirely from other European countries which have to defend their own frontiers in times of war and invade the enemy's frontier. Their enemies in war will be in a co-terminous country with railways 205 reaching to and through the country; and they must be ready at short notice to embark in what may be a great European war. But what have we to do with a great European war? I venture to say that there is no man in this country who can contemplate our taking part in a large European war. What we have to do is to garrison India, to protect our Colonies, and to defend our own shores from invasion; but as to taking part in a great European war, we have neither the amount of force, nor have we the intention to do it. We are not justified by the amount of our Army, and we do not wish to have an Army sufficient for the purpose. The hon. Member for Preston has talked about our having two Army Corps ready for small wars. But those small wars occur mostly in other climates among uncivilised peoples, and what is wanted generally for our small wars is not a force on the European footing, or with the European proportions of horse, foot, and artillery, but a specially-organised force adapted to the country in which the fighting is to take place. The complaint, however, is that the battalions in the Home Army are exhausted by men constantly passing out of them, either as drafts or to the Reserve; but that is the very purpose for which they exist. It is not intended that our Home battalions should be always fit to take the field, and it is clearly shown by Sir A. Haliburton, not by an ex cathedrâ statement of his own, but by figures which cannot be disputed, that, comparing the average foreign battalion with an English one, if we were called on to mobilise one of these despised battalions, it would be in a better condition than a German battalion in similar circumstances. Lord Wolseley has said that the battalion, after the drafts had left it, was "like a squeezed lemon"; hardly an accurate metaphor, for a squeezed lemon is fit for no further use, while the battalion might be better likened to a tree from which fruit may be taken year after year, and which is every year bearing fresh fruit. No doubt this system imposes upon regimental officers and noncommissioned officers most irksome and thankless duties. It was much more pleasant for these officers in the old days, when the battalion was made up of well-trained soldiers of long service, and always presented a good appearance; 206 but they must be governed by the sense of patriotism and duty, and with the knowledge that by their labours the defensive forces of the Empire are being supplied in a more effective way than has ever been the case before. My hon. Friend the Member for Preston has alluded to the organisation of the Infantry in twin battalions, and has said that this organisation has never been carried out. He speaks, in fact, of there being no organisation; but the truth is, that this disturbance of the system to which he refers only affects a few battalions. It cannot be perfectly worked while we have more battalions abroad than at home, but it has always been expected year after year that some of those battalions might be brought home. Proposals have been made that we should alter our organisation or raise battalions at home in order to reestablish the equality. I should be very sorry to see that done, unless it was absolutely necessary. If the organisation were to be altered at all, it must be not by unlinking battalions, but, on the contrary, by doubling up still further, so as to give us such elasticity as we find in the Guards, the Rifle Brigade, and the Royal Artillery. If the battalions in the Colonies could possibly be brought home, that would meet the case better than any other way. A word or two I shall say with regard to recruiting. I have already said I am not prepared, for my part, to give any countenance to the adoption of these large proposals of the Committee, unless on very strong evidence. But there is one thing which I do think there ought to be no mistake about at all, and that is that, whatever the money terms of a soldier's enlistment may be, they should be made perfectly plain to him; there should be no suspicion, no ground for doubt. I do not say there is; but if it is asserted there is—if there is any word, any phrase used which in the mind of the stupidest of men would give rise to the idea that he was entitled to more than he ultimately gets—I think that this should certainly be remedied; but I do not see that any case has been made out for increasing the total emoluments of a soldier. His emoluments now are greater than they have been within the memory of any living man; he is better housed, better fed, and better attended to in every way, and everything has 207 been done that could be done to make his position reasonably comfortable, and also to make his life as similar to the life he would lead as a civilian as it possibly can be. The men we get now into the Army are men of education, and therefore men who will not put up with the old treatment which was too common in former days. As to the terms, the duration of time for which he is to serve, which is a most important point, the hon. Member for Preston quoted from General Roberts, who has given an opinion in favour of dividing the Army into parts, one of short service for Home purposes, the other of longer service for India. That is, again, a thing we have heard proposed times without number, but there have always been alleged the most serious objections to them; the objection that an Army serving solely in India would inevitably deteriorate, and the objection of want of variety and experience for the Home Army. The present system may have its inconveniences; but in consequence of these strong objections I do not think that that alternative proposal is very likely to be adopted. And, although I quite agree with my hon. Friend that seven years with the Colours is a long time, and that we should get a much larger Reserve more rapidly by having a shorter service, yet I think that the great object must be to make the terms of service thoroughly elastic. We have a voluntary Army, and I should like to have a man to think of himself as a Volunteer all through his military life; and, with that view, that he should have the opportunity of staying in the Service or leaving it at as many intervals as possible. And if we can accomplish that, I think it would be better than laying down any rigid rules. So far as pay is concerned, I do not see any evidence that the pay is insufficient—there is no evidence at all in the Report offered of it, except the mere opinion of the Committee. On the other hand, we have every reason to believe, from the Reports of the Inspector General of Recruiting, that we are able to get as many recruits as we want. As to the objection that these recruits are too young, I do not think that is made out. It is an old objection, and it has been considered so long that it is hardly worth while going over it again. If you aim at a higher age—over 18—you will get in this country as recruits men who have tried some other calling and have 208 failed—men who have more or less broken down; and I think that most military men will agree that it is better to capture a recruit at 18, and train him up as a soldier, than to take him at a greater age. The extreme youth which is undoubtedly manifest in any ordinary battalion seen in a garrison town is at once counteracted when the battalion is required for actual service by the presence of the men from the Reserve. Another proposal, but one which is not likely to be adopted, and which I hope never will be adopted or even favourably looked upon, is the idea of inducing the men in the Reserve to come back to the Colours; because, after being at infinite pains and trouble to create a Reserve, to proceed practically to bribe the men to come back to the Colours in order to increase the strength of the battalions at the expense of the Reserve—I think no one can justify that as a reasonable or sensible course. I trust, therefore, there will be little support given to the main proposals of this Committee—at any rate, from this side of the House, which is supposed to be the side where economists mostly dwell. There is no doubt that the cost of the Army, as my hon. Friend said, is great—almost appalling; but all the circumstances of our Army go to increase its cost. It is the imperative duty of Ministers and those who advise them to keep the cost down and prevent its growth, but there has not been great opportunity for this of late years. The right hon. Gentleman has lived and had his responsibility cast upon him in times when we know great calls were made upon him; especially the discoveries of science and the invention of new arms have necessitated enormous expenditure both in guns and ammunition. There has also been a great improvement in the soldier's condition. We have seen the consequent increase in Military Estimates that has taken place in recent years. We must all lament it. At the same time I cannot but hope that, at all events, this flow upwards may soon be checked. I am prepared to support any reduction of expenditure which is reasonable, and where the expenditure is not absolutely necessary for efficiency — wherever, in our elaborate system, it is possible to introduce any reduction. And let us hope, when a reduction is proposed by any Minister, the opposition will not 209 come from those traditions and vested interests I have spoken of, through Members of the House of Commons, because I am bound to say my experience of the interference of Members of the House of Commons, shows that it is in the direction of increased expenditure rather than In the direction of diminishing it. I am, at all events, not prepared to urge upon the responsible authorities a large expenditure, which is not proved to be necessary, and which, in my opinion, so far from augmenting, would actually diminish, the efficiency and fighting strength of the Army.
§ (7.40.) COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, S.W., Ince)
The fact that our Army is a voluntary Army and all other Armies forced Armies makes not only a difference in the cost of clothing, but in the cost of housing, and everything else with which the soldier is provided. I venture to say it is too late in the day to make speeches comparing the cost of our Army en bloc with the cost of the Armies of Germany, France, and other nations. Since the date of the Committee on which the noble Lord the Member for Paddington sat six or seven years ago, anyone who finds fault with the expense of the Army is bound to put his finger on the specific point to which he objects and explain that it is not wanted, or that it costs too much. How should we reckon the expense of our Army? It is the insurance of the country, and should be reckoned with reference to expenditure in byegone years, and with reference to the population and wealth of those days and the population and wealth of these days, and with reference to the work the Army had to do in those days and the work it has to do in these days; and we should also allow for the great increase in the cost of providing, whether men or guns, or pay, or anything else. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers), whom I regret not to see here, made a speech at Pontefract in 1883, in which he contrasted the expenditure of the Army and Navy together with what it had been 15 years before per head of the population; and he arrived at the conclusion that it cost 2s. 11d. per head of the population less than it did 15 years before. The right hon. Gentleman, with pardonable pride, attributed all this saving to his Party's economy, and, no doubt, economies 210 had been very carefully considered; but he forgot the growth of the back that had to bear the burden—that is, that the population had increased about 3,000,000 in the course of that time. And when you come to consider the Army, you must consider the growth of our nation—its growth both in wealth and population. There have been letters appearing in the papers with reference to the Army, some with and some without justice; but I may say this: that our present system passes through the different arms of the country a number of men—I should say, 50,000 men per year—who are, to a certain extent, trained to bear arms. These men, for many years after their service, would many of them be available for an emergency, and you may trust something to the spirit of the country. I must say that I certainly believe we must continue to get the men young, or we shall not catch good men at all, and that it would be a fatal mistake to attempt to take no men unless they are 19 years of age. The Report of Lord Wantage's Committee does disclose very serious questions. Like other nations which have had an extended Empire, we are sacrificing the Home Army to that in our distant provinces. I think that the establishment of the regiments in India is too large, and that the establishment of the regiments at home is too small; and I think that the Home battalions are most certainly not efficient—I mean not efficient for a small war in which a Reserve is not available, except such men of the Reserve as may volunteer. With reference to the system of two battalions—one at home and one in India—the Committee recommended the formation of several battalions so as to complete that system. I recollect, when that system was formed, it was felt that there was no elasticity in it, and that the smallest thing must upset it; and the smallest thing has upset it. I agree entirely with the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) in saying that any change of system ought to be in the direction of further grouping. I do not blame the War Office Authorities of the day; the difficulties they had to contend with were enormous. But the grouping of more regiments would undoubtedly have been better had it been possible. In the recommendation 211 of the Duke of Wellington to the War Minister of Spain in 1814, he says, referring to the Spanish Army, and to a previous recommendation of his that it should be formed in regiments of two battalions, that it would be a more economical arrangement if the Spanish Infantry regiments were formed into three or four battalions. I do not suppose that it is possible to alter the organisation of the Army, and as it has undoubtedly given a military framework to the Reserve Forces in the districts, it has, to a great extent, succeeded. But I should like very much, if possible, that the War Office should be able to determine the direction of recruits to a greater extent than at present, so as to put them in the battalion in which they are wanted. It has always seemed to me that the trained soldier fit to go to India should receive a penny a day extra provided he engaged for general service. I think we are much indebted to the present War Minister for the manner in which he has decentralised the stores and made preparations for the unseen Army—the Reserve—of this country to be ready for mobilisation and available for service if, unfortunately, it should ever be required.
§ (7.53.) GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
Although, during the administration of the present Secretary for War, there has been an immense improvement effected in the way of organisation, still I think that a great deal yet remains to be done. Referring to what Lord Wolseley had said, just now the hon. Member for Preston spoke about bow-and-arrow Generals. I should like to say that if you do not give your Generals plenty of troops to exercise, you will probably have them bow - and - arrow Generals. Arrangements should be made so that we may have practically in time of peace experiments such as are carried out in time of war. But there is always a difficulty raised in this country about obtaining land for carrying out these experiments, because you cannot carry them out without interfering, to a certain extent, with the rights of property and the rights of individuals; but I think myself people ought to show a little more patriotism than they have done, especially in the case of the New Forest. The Report of Lord Wantage's Committee, which has just been referred to, is a very valuable one, inasmuch as it 212 points out the defects which exist in the Service. I do not think it matters a bit whether you have long service or short service; but whatever service is adopted you ought to take all the steps necessary to make your regiments efficient. At the same time, it is admitted by even the War Office Authorities themselves, that the regiments are not efficient. I am not blaming the Secretary for War however. There has been an immense amount of money spent on the Army. I do not think there is much more money wanted to be spent; but if there is, I think it should be spent in another direction. We want devolution of responsibility, rather than concentration of it. I have very great pleasure in bearing testimony to the good the present War Office Authorities have done. I only hope they will go on in the right way, and I hope that we may have some results from Lord Wantage's Committee.
SIR H. FLETCHER (Sussex, Lewes)
I beg to call attention to that portion of the Report of Lord Wantage's Committee which has reference to the pay and position of the soldier. As one who entered the Army about 40 years ago, during the Crimean War, I wish to support the recommendation that the private soldier of the Infantry should receive 1s. a day, free from all compulsory stoppages which are not due to his own negligence or misconduct, for I am quite sure it would be a great benefit to the private soldier if he could obtain these advantages. When I first entered the Service the conditions were very different from what they are now, and I think the time has arrived, seeing what difficulties there are in getting recruits, when a recommendation of this sort should be taken advantage of, and I hope the Secretary of State for War will give it his best consideration. One matter has occupied my mind for many years, not only as a soldier, but as Member of Parliament, and it has reference to the stoppages for a sea-kit. When soldiers are ordered to India or to a foreign clime, I know it is a very great hardship upon them to have to provide themselves with a sea-kit, and I hope attention will also be paid to that matter. Another recommendation of the Report of which I approve is that which recommends that men of good character who have left the Colours for not less than six months, but not more than twelve, may be allowed to 213 return. As an old soldier, I think it would be a very good thing if they were allowed to do so. They cannot often obtain the employment they expected, and it would be wise to allow them to come back and serve towards earning their pension, as many of them are anxious to do. Many soldiers find that civil life is not what they would desire, because, owing to the short service system, their places have been filled up as soon as they left their employment, and the masters tell them they want them no longer. The short service system is a system which I, as an old soldier, cannot and will not support. Another part of the Report refers to deferred pay, and what is stated in the Report is based on evidence, some of which is not altogether satisfactory. It is a subject which many of us, not only in this House, but out of it, are very much interested in. From my own experience as a country gentleman, many old soldiers have come to me asking for relief, and they tell me that the deferred pay is a mere sham, and no good to them. They receive the money at one time, and when the soldier, who is open to various influences, gets a certain amount of money in his hands, he is likely to spend it as many others are; and, therefore, I believe the deferred pay question is one which ought to be seriously considered by the Authorities. With regard to the Guards—a regiment I had the honour to serve in for a number of years—I trust the Secretary of State will do all he can to accede to the recommendations of this Committee. The Guards are a body of men who have done good and honest service, not only in London, but in foreign countries when called upon to do so, and I am sure my hon. and gallant Friends near me will agree with me that old Guardsmen and present Guardsmen are very much indebted to the non-commissioned officers and men in the Service, who have done their duty so bravely and honourably. The recommendations with regard to the Guards are that—The number of non-commissioned officers specially detailed for recruiting duties should be increased, and made supernumerary to the establishment of regiments";and that—the Guards' duties in London, especially at night, should be reduced as much as possible, compatible with the proper performance of functions of State and the military training of the men.214 The duties of the Guards at night have been considerable, and I believe medical officers have stated that those night duties have been very detrimental to the health of the men. Another recommendation of the Committee is that—efforts should be made to increase the proportion of old soldiers in the ranks of the Guards, by encouraging smart men of good character to extend their service with the Colours, and re-engage for pension.It is owing to the short service system that we have not been able to get men of these ranks, as we were formerly, to carry out the onerous duties which may be imposed upon them, for we depended on the non-commissioned officers—not only the sergeants, but the corporals—for the maintenance of discipline and order in the barrack room. There is one recommendation with regard to Line regiments which I strongly advocated while in Opposition from 1880 to 1885, when I objected to his old clothing being taken away from the British soldier. I wish to impress upon my right hon. Friend the commendation that the old clothing shall no longer be taken away from the private soldier, for I believe the adoption of the suggestion of the Report will be very much more for the benefit of the British soldier than the arrangement which exists at the present time.
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.