HC Deb 31 August 1895 vol 36 cc1379-414

On the Vote of £177,300, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge for the Salaries and Miscellaneous Charges of the War Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1896,


said: We have put forward the Vote for the War Office first because it was thought desirable to take the Debate on the organisation of the War Office after the statement made by Lord Lansdowne on the re-organisation of the Army and the War Office. This statement was, I think, very clear. It was reported with great accuracy, especially in the Times, and must have been the means of enabling hon. Members to study at leisure the general nature of the changes proposed, so as to discuss them in Committee. The Committee will hardly desire that I should recapitulate what was said to Parliament in another place. But one or two points have arisen on which there appears to be some little doubt in the mind of the public as to what exactly was intended, and I now propose, with the permission of the Committee, to say a few words upon them. In the first place, notice has been taken of the fact that the Secretary of State made no allusion in his statement to the establishment of a Council of National Defence. The subject was raised by the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean in the Debate on the Address. The Secretary of State did not deal with the subject because the question was outside the actual departmental organisation of the War Office, to which alone reference was made by the Secretary for War. But it is not to be taken, because the Secretary of State admitted this, that there is no intention of appointing such a committee. It is intended that such a committee shall be formed, under the Lord President of the Council, and any questions with regard to it should be addressed to the First Lord of the Treasury when he is in a position to answer them. But two or three questions have arisen as regards which the explanations given on Monday last do not appear to have been fully understood. With regard to the title and status of the successor to the Duke of Cambridge, it is intended to preserve to him the title of Commander-in-Chief as the most convenient appellation, but he will not hold his position under patent, and his tenure will be for five years—the ordinary tenure of a Staff appointment. Even if he be styled "General Officer Commanding-in-Chief" in his letters of appointment, he would be commonly spoken of as "Commander-in-Chief of the Army." The Duke of Cambridge was so called before his patent was given him, and in Article 1,200 of the Pay Warrant it is laid down that "Commander-in-Chief" shall be held to mean "the Field-Marshal or General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of our forces for the time being." This is a technical point, but it is desirable to clear it up, as some doubts have arisen. Another point on which confusion exists is as to the responsibility respectively assigned to the Army Board and the War Office Council. It has been asked:—"Why have two bodies inside the War Office? Why not have one council to discuss all subjects?" The Army Board, which will be presided over by the Commander-in-Chief, will consist, beside himself as president, of the Adjutant-General, the Quartermaster-General, the Director of Artillery, and the Inspector-General of Fortifications, all of whom will be directly responsible for their departments to the Secretary of State, and the Accountant-General will attend the Board to supply information. The object of this Board is to discuss such questions as may be from time to time referred to it by the Secretary of State. It will consider and advise on all promotions and appointments above the rank of major; it will secure the co-ordination of departmental work in its initial stage, and the due discussion of questions in which more than one department is concerned; and will ensure that these five great military heads shall not act in ignorance of each other's operations and intentions. It will, moreover, consider the Estimates and weigh the relative importance of the proposals by the different heads of departments. The Board will call in any other officer whom it may desire to consult. Minutes will be kept of the proceedings, and dissents will be recorded. The War Office Council, on the other hand, over which the Secretary of State will preside, and of which the Under Secretaries and Financial Secretary will be members, besides the military heads of the War Office named above, will deal with more matured proposals when they become ripe for the Secretary of State's decision. It will have nothing to say to promotions. This Council will secure the blending of civil and military opinion, which is so essential for the effective working of the War Office under its constitution. One further question of doubt has arisen—namely, as to the functions of the two officers who will assist the Commander-in-Chief in questions affecting the personnel of the Army and mobilisation. It has been suggested that this work would fall on the Adjutant-General, and he would then be in the dual position of administering his own department and being responsible for the personnel of the Army and other departments. That is not the intention of the scheme. Without pledging myself too closely as to the exact duties and titles of these officers, their duties will largely correspond with those of the Military Secretary and Director of Military Intelligence. These are the only questions on which, so far as I know, doubts have arisen. The main principle of the change is the separate responsibility of the military heads of departments to the Secretary of State for their departments and the focussing of military opinion by means of the Army Board, presided over by the Commander-in-Chief. I do not propose to say any more in relation to the scheme, but of course I shall be glad to answer questions if doubt exists in the mind of any hon. Member with regard to the nature of the changes proposed, which we hope will be discussed and considered. ["Hear, hear!"]

SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

said, he had listened to the hon. Member's statement with something like dismay, for some of the changes made had been, in his view, entirely in the wrong direction, and he regretted that it should be left to the extreme end of the Session and a jaded House to consider a matter so vital to the future of the country as the statement just made. There certainly had not been, during the many years he had been in the House, any Debate in which the issues presented to the House had been so momentous as this, and it was a pity that the interests of the country should be represented by the presence of a handful of Members instead of by the entire House. He should not be in order if he followed at length the observations of the Under Secretary for War as to the position of the Duke of Devonshire in relation to Imperial defence, because, as he had said, it was outside the departmental organisation of the War Office. To that portion of the Government scheme he was fully favourable. He had expressed his opinion on the subject frequently. He believed he was the original suggester of the proposal in 1888, and in various forms it had come up since that date. When the Government was formed a paragraph appeared in The Times, and in no other, newspaper, stating that the Lord President would be given a special duty in connection with the War Office and the Admiralty, and he certainly gathered from that paragraph—it appeared to be an inspired paragraph—that the position would be one of more authority than that of the mere Chairman of a Committee of the Cabinet. What had been said to-day by the Under Secretary went to suggest the creation of a Committee of the Cabinet only, which they had understood from the previous Debate was already in existence—had been formed, they were told, by the late Government. If so, the matter was minimised, and there was less security given to the country than they had hoped was the case. The first thing to be secured was that there should be the individual responsibility of one great Member of the Cabinet, rather than the collective responsibility of a considerable number. The hon. Member, in making his statement, said that further information on the subject must be asked of the First Lord of the Treasury when he was in a position to give it. If next week, before the House rose, the right hon. Gentleman was in a position to give further details, a statement ought to be made. Up to this time nothing had been said in Parliament in regard to it; not one syllable in another place. And yet the change, as it appeared in the newspaper at the time of the formation of the Government, would have been a very great and beneficial change indeed; but, as it had today been minimised, Parliament ought to be further informed on the subject at the earliest possible date. In regard to the reorganisation of the War Office itself, he viewed with dismay the further explanations given to-day by the Under Secretary. What had been the main objection to the past management of the Army in this country? It had been that responsibility had been frittered away among a great number of different Boards—a collective authority rather than an individual responsible authority. Of course they had above all, and they still should have above all, the responsibility of the Secretary of State, but the recent Debate on cordite showed what kind of responsibility that was. It was a responsibility which must, by the necessity of the case, upon many questions be pushed off ultimately upon somebody else, whereas the country wanted to be able to fix responsibility on some individual. He was afraid this scheme would present us with a succession of Boards. Of course there must be consultation, especially when there were differences of opinion, but the formal recognition of those differences by the creation, first of an Army Board, and then of a War Office Council, was, in his opinion, a step in the wrong direction. He hoped the practice of the new system might be better than its theory. He hoped the new man chosen to be the head of the Army would be, in practice, the real head of the Army and the real adviser of the Secretary of State. But the explanation given to-day rather weakened that hope than strengthened it. Of course there must be Boards for certain purposes. He made no objection to the Army Board so far as promotions were concerned, although he still thought the Commander-in-Chief ought to be the person directly responsible to the Secretary of State for War for promotions. But what he feared they were doing was to create a copy of the Admiralty in those particular points in which the Admiralty system had itself been subject to some criticism. He might have his doubts as to whether Lord Wolseley was the best man to choose; he had seen political speeches of Lord Wolseley which he thought foolish speeches, and which he believed Lord Wolseley himself regretted. But, putting aside mere individual views and accepting the choice which had been made of Lord Wolseley as their best man, he said, let them trust him and back him up. That was the only way in which they were likely to produce a satisfactory state of things. Lord Wolseley, if he was fit for his position, if he was worth his salt, would cut and carve his way through the new arrangements. The War Office would have to do what he told them, and if he told them the new arrangements were not workable they would have to modify them. Take a concrete instance. Suppose the late Secretary of State for War in office, and suppose Lord Wolseley as Commander-in-Chief. Suppose that the Quartermaster-General and the Adjutant-General were Sir E. Wood and the Duke of Connaught, or Sir E. Wood and Sir R. Buller was it an arrangement likely to avoid friction that Sir Evelyn Wood and the Duke of Connaught, or Sir Evelyn Wood and Sir Redvers Buller, should report to the right hon. Member for the Stirling Burghs, instead of to the Commander-in-Chief? The Government ought, he contended, to recommend the one man, the Commander-in-Chief, and, in the first instance, take his opinion and regard him as ultimately responsible. Having picked out the most competent man, he hoped the Government would put the arrangement under that man, and not under the Civilian Secretary of State. Just as in the Admiralty it had been found necessary of late years considerably to increase the position of the First Naval Lord, so he believed here the position of Commander-in-Chief must be increased as compared with the four other officers; and he hoped that would be the case. It was a mistake to give the Commander-in-Chief a department; he ought to be above the departments, and the departments ought to report to him. He had ventured for many years to ask, in the first place, that the Cabinet should consider the whole problem of Imperial defence, and, in the second place, that they should pick out the best man and trust him. As regarded the first of those points, the Cabinet seemed to have accepted that view; but as to the second the theory they were setting up was not, in his opinion, a good one, though in practice he hoped it might be more successful than he anticipated.


The right hon. Gentleman has made a direct appeal to me, and I propose to make a brief rejoinder. I suppose that Lord Hartington's Commission cannot be wholly excluded from this Debate, though it is not strictly relevant to the Vote now before us. The Committee will, therefore, forgive me if I say a word about that Commission. I am always one of those who take special interest in any organisation which shall concentrate and co-ordinate the administration of the forces of the Admiralty and the War Office. What the right hon. Gentleman, as I understand him, says ought to be aimed at any new departure in this direction is to make the Cabinet responsibility more direct and more continuous. I entirely agree with him: and I think that is done by the permanent Committee of the Cabinet which has now been for the first time set up. There has been in existence since the Commission a joint defence Committee of the Admiralty and the War Office, and I believe that the work which they have done has been of the most admirable description. But, undoubtedly, it lacked the authority which can come—and come only—from the fact that the Cabinet are, as it were, seized of the work of this joint Committee, and that the eyes of the Committee are directed continuously and ardently towards the problem before them. That will be done quite as effectually by the permanent Committee as by setting up any particular Member of the Cabinet in place of that Committee. The right hon. Gentleman says that he would desire that greater executive authority should be given to the President of the Council, or whatever Member of the Cabinet might be selected to fill the post that has been described, I believe, as that of Minister of Defence. But it would be impossible, without shattering our administrative system from top to bottom, to have any Cabinet Minister who should possess, as it were, behind the backs of the Secretary of State for War or the First Lord of the Admiralty power to order the officers of the departments presided over by those Ministers, and to give them directions which they were to obey rather than the directions of the chief of the department. It was quite clear that for the Navy the First Lord, and he alone, must lie responsible to this House; and, similarly, for the Army that the Secretary of State for War, and he alone, must be responsible to Parliament; and I do not think it would be possible to carry out or further develop the plan put forward without shattering the responsibility which now we rightly repose in the great officer of State who presides over our Navy and over our Army respectively. But, in the joint Committee of the Cabinet, the Secretary of State for War and the First Lord of the Admiralty are permanent Members, and I do say that all the objects which the right hon. Gentleman has striven for will be attained by the organisation which we have initiated. I pass from that to a very brief comment on the remarks which the right hon. Gentleman has made upon the statement of the Secretary of State for War, and to emphasise the very lucid remarks of the Under-Secretary. As far as I gather the purport of the right hon. Gentleman, he desires, not the reform of the old system, but a petrifaction of that system, which I thought all were agreed should be done away with. What is the substance and essence of the criticisms passed by the Hartington Commission upon the War Office system, which has now been in force in this country for many years? The essence of the criticisms of the Commissioners was that by having a single Commander-in-Chief, through whom, and through whom alone, Army opinion, Army matters, and Army advice would come to the Secretary of State for War, you were, in the first place, throwing upon the Commander-in-Chief a burden which no single individual could possibly support, and, secondly, you were practically destroying the responsibility of the Secretary of State for War, who nominally is the head of the Department. If you put the Secretary of State for War in direct communication with the Commander-in-Chief alone I do not see how the Secretary of State for War can be anything less than the great soldier who is at the head of the Army. He may come down to the House and express the views of that great officer, but if he is to take official advice from the Commander-in-Chief alone it is absolutely impossible that the Secretary of State should be really responsible, and in this House the Secretary of State will be no more than the mouthpiece of the Commander-in-Chief. That I always thought the essence of the reform of the Hartington Commission. A strong and effective Commander-in-Chief, under the now system, will have an immense and just influence in the councils of the Secretary of State for War; but I may say that if the Secretary of State for War is to be the real, ultimate authority in Army matters he must be brought into direct relations with all the military heads of all the departments. Therefore, it seem; to me that the differences in this branch of the subject between the right hon. Gentleman and the Government are of a more fundamental character than anticipated. We have attempted, as our predecessors attempted, to carry out all necessary modifications on the broad principle laid down in the report of the Hartington Commission. The right hon. Gentleman, on the other hand, is disposed to retain the old system practically unchanged. I cannot believe that in this respect he represents the great body of Army reformers in this country, and, though I am hardly qualified to speak on the subject with great authority, I think the policy which the late Government adopted, and which we have adopted, is really more calculated to make the Army at once effective and economical than the plan of the right hon. Gentleman, which at the same time would remove the effectual responsibility of the Army from this House to a quarter not brought into practical relations with this House and throws upon that great officer an enormous mass of work which no individual can be expected adequately to perform. [Cheers.]

MR. BROOKFIELD (Sussex, Rye)

said, that everything that could be done to lessen the excessive centralisation which had always been complained of, and to lessen the personal responsibility hitherto concentrated in the office of Commander-in-Chief, ought to have the support of every one interested in our great reform. In making any observations on this subject one was confronted with the difficulty that the scheme had not yet been elaborated in all its details, and therefore any criticism must be rather of a general than of a particular character. He desired to express his own opinion that this attempt at decentralisation would have better accomplished its objects had the system recommended by the Hartington Commission been adopted, of establishing what was called a grand or great general staff with the most efficient and brilliant general officer of the day, whoever he might be, at its head. He believed that nothing would so emancipate all military questions from the difficulties with which they had hitherto been surrounded than the establishment of a General Staff of the kind recommended, which would deliberate and work separated from the War Office, in a separate building, and untrammelled by the influence which had so long paralysed the Military Executive in the War Office; and he had not gathered from the speeches of the Secretary for War, or of the Leader of the House, that there was any sufficient explanation why the Government had disregarded this recommendation, which ho had always looked upon as of great importance. The Secretary for War, in his speech in another place, stated, as the main objection to a Chief of the Staff, that he might be out of touch with the Army. That was perfectly true, to a certain extent; but so was every Staff Officer out of touch with the Army to the same extent. The danger he feared in the new arrangements was that they might be wanting in reality; that the devolution of responsibility might be more apparent than real; and that, with regard to general decentralisation, those new Consultative Boards or Councils it was proposed to create, might possibly be recognised as some very old friends in disguise. All depended on the sincerity with which those new institutions were created, and on their being really new, and not old institutions in another form. The Secretary of State, the President of the Council, and the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, would, of course, form a very formidable triumvirate; and there; was hardly any limit to the good they might do for the Army and the forces of the Crown in general, if it were only certain that they would try to agree with one another, and that one would not be overborne by the other two without the country knowing anything about it. The Leader of the House spoke about the danger of making the Secretary of State an "administrative puppet" in the hands of the Commander-in-Chief. He submitted that in the present arrangement there was a danger of the Commander-in-Chief being made an executive puppet under the Secretary of State; and if that turned out to be the case, he did not think they would have made much progress. He could imagine a very serious state of things arising. Supposing the new Commander-in-Chief took a large view of military affairs; that he thought extensive reforms were necessary; that he considered the numbers of the Army were at present wholly insufficient; that the discipline was not all that could be desired; and that, at the same time, the cost of maintaining this system was preposterously large. Supposing he recommended that the Militia ought to be kept at a high state of efficiency, instead of being allowed to dwindle away through the neglect of the War Office; that the Yeomanry, owing to the continuous agricultural depression, ran the chance of becoming obliterated, but that nothing was being done to put something in its place; and supposing he held the view that the Volunteers were really only a cloak to hide, without obviating, the necessity for universal service. Those, very likely, might be the opinions of the new Commander-in-Chief, or principal Military Executive Officer. Was it probable that such views would prevail? Was it not more likely that the Secretary of State would say: "I know there is a great deal of truth in all this, but it is quite impossible to put such a scheme before Parliament." To whom could the Commander-in-Chief have recourse in the case of such a disagreement? One of those Consultative Boards or Councils might assemble to discuss the matter; but was it not almost certain that the view of the Secretary of State—taken for political or electoral reasons—would prevail? With regard to the possibility of an unreality in the attempts to decentralise the work of the War Office, it did not seem to be generally known that the War Office was, in theory, one of the most highly and beautifully decentralised institutions in this country. The Times and other newspapers had written with great enthusiasm about creating new departments, as if giving the Adjutant-General a different class of work from that of the Quartermaster-General were something new. Why, the War Office at the present time was arranged into a number of distinct divisions. There was one under the Adjutant-General, with exclusive work trusted to it, which had eight sub-divisions. The Quartermaster-General had his division, with five sub-divisions. And, besides those theoretically subdivided duties, there was what was called the Central Office, which was specially charged with superintending the whole and preventing confusion. He believed that, in theory, also there was at the War Office at present more than one Council or Board like those it was proposed to create under the new arrangements. He did not know that the country had ever heard of those Boards having done anything important in the interest of the Army or country or of Imperial or Colonial defence. If the new bodies were to do no more than the old had been in the habit of doing, he did not think that any of the supposed benefits would accrue from the proposed reform; as the existence of all those sub-divisions and this theoretical decentralisation had not prevented War Office methods from becoming identified with circumlocution, delay, and official pedantry of every kind. He had been glad to hear the Secretary of State speak the other day of a still further devolution of the duties of the Commander-in-Chief upon General Officers commanding districts. But the noble Lord also said that a great deal had been done in that direction already, and he was afraid the reforms already accomplished must have been more apparent than real, because every Commanding Officer knew that the amount of delay and red tape that still surrounded the attainment of the simplest point was something scandalous. The Leader of the House spoke of the immense burden the Commander-in-Chief would have to bear if he were given the responsibility that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean had suggested. But he would point out also that he might have those burdens very materially lightened, and irritating little details removed by devolving on the officers commanding districts work which they might perform, but which, to the best of his knowledge, they did not now perform. One or two questions he would venture to address to the Government in connection with these new changes. The Secretary of State in another place, and others who had taken part in this Debate, spoke of the new Chief of the Army by the title of "Commander-in-Chief." He wanted to know whether that was the name by which he would be called. If it was so, would the necessary warrant or patent set forth the significance of this name—Cominander-in-Chief—and explain the new attributes connected with it. Would he be a Member of the Ministry? His Royal Highness, he believed, was a Member of the Ministry, though he did not go in and out with Ministers. Would this be the position of the new Chief? He should like also to ask as to the period of his office. He hoped he would not necessarily retire at the end of five years, and he trusted steps would be taken to retain his services for a longer period in the event of any emergency, or of its appearing to be desirable in the public interest. Then, with regard to the new office of President of the Council, was that appointment one which was conferred upon the Duke of Devonshire individually, or was to be conferred in future on the holder of the office of Lord President? He should like the Commander-in-Chief at the end of his active period to have a chance of aspiring to some such position as President of the Council, and any hard and fast rule as to the retirement of the Chief at the end of the five years might be a source of danger. He could only repeat his fear that the military element had not been sufficiently emancipated from the old trammels of civilian control at the War Office, and he thought the creation of a General Staff and a Chief of the Staff would have obviated this difficulty. He hoped that some day might not arrive when this plan would have to be adopted under the stress of circumstances—it might be some national panic. Meanwhile he hoped the House would give its support to the Government as far as they went.

COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, Ince)

said, there was one feature about the Army which was not always kept in mind. It was no doubt for the defence of the nation, and it shared that duty with the Navy. But the Army did more than that. It was the support of the civil power. ["Hear, hear!"] and it was therefore a great factor in the stability of the country. The Navy did not share in that duty, and that was why he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean that the same rule does not necessarily apply to the Navy and the Army. The system which was suggested was not one that would have occurred to him. He should have preferred a simpler system. He should have preferred to take a distinguished General, whose hand was made up past the age to be sent into the field, to command the Army and give away the appointments, while all the departments would be under the Secretary of State for War, who would be assisted by the best soldier they could get to act as Chief of the Staff. If Lord Wolseley was appointed Commander-in-Chief he would urge that there ought to be a Lieutenant-General to take the routine work of the Army. It was only an accident which made one man fill both those posts. Their position was peculiar, it was owing to a number of expeditions and colonial wars that they had a number of able officers at the head of the Army at a comparatively early age. They could not count upon that in the future. The reason why the Army was such a strong support to the State was because the appointments had not been political, and he would urge strongly on the Secretary of State to be very careful that there was no political character given to the appointments. ["Hear, hear!"] He did not like the Boards and Councils. Let the Secretary of State give every support and power which he can to the Commander-in-Chief, but let him keep the reins in his own hands. The Secretary of State must be able to get at the truth. He must be able to rely upon heads of Departments giving him unmodified reports.


thought the general principles of the proposals were excellent, and it was greatly to the credit of the Secretary of State that after such a short time he was able to work out to the extent he had done general principles for the future regulation of the Army and its greater efficiency. Might he be permitted to say a word or two as to what fell from the First Lord of the Treasury, and alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean? As one who, with the late Sir Walter Bartelott, initiated a Debate in 1888 on the subject of forming a great Council for Imperial Defence, which should harmonise the working of the Army and Navy, he was glad to hear the statement made by the First Lord of the Treasury. Prominence had been given in the papers to the idea that it was intended to confer on the President of the Council some powers which should enable him to supervise the action of the Secretary of State for War as regards the Army and the First Lord of the Admiralty as regards the Navy. There was no such suggestion in the Debate which he initiated. Their idea was, that the National Council for Imperial Defence should be constituted of the Premier, the Secretary of State for War, and the First Lord of the Admiralty with the addition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on financial questions. They did not contemplate the intervention between the Premier and the heads of the great Departments of any other official, however high he might be. Therefore the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury just made had given him great relief, and, he believed, indicated a step in the right direction. He trusted that early in the coming Session some indication would be given of the constitution and work of the Committee on Imperial Defence. When they came to examine the details of the proposals now made, he feared that, in endeavouring to obtain decentralisation, some greater troubles might lie created by the way in which these details were worked out. For the future the Commander-in-Chief was not to occupy the position hitherto held by the Duke of Cambridge, but was to be, as it were, the head of a department, having in some way co-ordinate with him the heads of four other departments. That was a departure from the principle of decentralisation, and he could conceive no worse state of things than that the Secretary of State for War should have to take the opinion separately of five heads of departments. For his own sake, if for no other reason, the first essential was that each head of a department should be independent as regards his own department. He entirely approved of the suggestion of the Secretary of State for War that each department should have the preparation of and should be responsible for its own Estimates, but in order to their being submitted to the Secretary of State they ought to be brought together under one head, and he could conceive no better head for that purpose than the General Commanding-in-Chief. They were going to place at the head of the Army, Lord Wolseley, unquestionably the most able soldier at present in this country, and a man who, both as regards his knowledge of war and his extraordinary and intimate acquaintance with details of organisation, was thoroughly competent to fill the new post. And he thought it was a happy augury for the future that they should have for Secretary for War, when these changes were being carried out, a noble Lord whose administrative talents had already had free scope in the greatest dependency of the Crown and who would find equal scope and difficulty in the task now assigned to him. He did not agree with the view that the Adjutant-General and the Quartermaster-General should be independent of the Commander-in-Chief. It was impossible for the Commander-in-Chief to undertake the responsibility for the efficiency of the Army, as regards its discipline, its drill, and all matters relating to its preparedness for war, unless these officers were subordinate to him for executive purposes. He thought that in the Minute of Council, which the Secretary of State was formulating, the position of the Adjutant-General and the Quarter-master-General might be defined to as not only to secure their entire responsibility to the Secretary of State for all details of their respective departments, but, at the same time, to ensure that they should be subordinate to the Commander-in-Chief by providing that the details of their departments should be submitted to the Secretary of State through the Commander-in-Chief. But there should be reserved a right of appeal on the part of these officers direct to the Secretary of State on any question where the opinion of the Commander-in-Chief might conflict with theirs in a way that, in their opinion, would interfere with the efficiency of the departments. He would detail how the inspections of the Commander-in-Chief were carried out at the present time. When he visited any of the great centres he was accompanied by the Adjutant-General and the Quartermaster-General. Any defects, in regard to drill, discipline, armament, or clothing, were noticed on the spot, and the corrections were made subsequently by the Adjutant-General under the authority of the Commander-in-Chief. In the same way questions as to the quartering of the troops were noticed and corrected by the Quartermaster-General, under the authority of the Commander-in-Chief. If the chain of responsibility was not preserved the Commander-in-Chief would not be able to fulfil his functions, and if he knew anything at all of the spirit that was likely to animate Lord Wolseley, he should think that was one of the first things on which he would insist. It was true that the Hartington Commission recommended the creation of a Chief of the Staff, but he thought both the late Government and the present Government did well in eliminating that recommendation from their Scheme. If they knew the secret history of that recommendation, they would probably find that it arose from the peculiar circumstances of one distinguished officer, who gave evidence before the Commission, and whose legitimate ambition might not unjustly have led him to think that the position was one that would fit him entirely. That officer had been provided for in another part of the world, and, therefore, the difficulty was got rid of. The office of Chief of the Staff had been created in time of war, and it worked with great efficiency during the Crimean War and the Egyptian Expedition. In time of war the Commander-in-Chief should have the whole of his time left free to be devoted to the formation and execution of plans of campaign, and the details should be left, under his supervision, entirely to the Chief of the Staff, who would concentrate in himself the threads of all the other military departments, and would issue to them and see carried out by them in detail, orders, the general principles of which alone emanated from the Commander-in-Chief. Therefore, the Chief of the Staff would be useful in time of war, but the office was one that would be entirely out of place in time of peace. He agreed with the Secretary for War in thinking that there should be, under the Commander-in-Chief, an officer who,—like General Moltke, in the German Army; or like Carnot, who was said to be the "organiser of victory" in the time of the old French Republic—should have as his sole function the preparation of plans of defence, and plans of campaign beyond the seas if the necessity for them should unfortunately arise. Those functions alone were quite sufficient to occupy the whole time of a separate officer, who should be in immediate relation to the Commander-in-Chief. His plans should be submitted from time to time to the Commander-in-Chief and drawn up in concurrence with him, and subsequently handed over to the executive officers to be carried out in detail. He should be the Director of Imperial Defence, and be quite distinct from the director of military intelligence, who had quite enough to do in his own sphere. The appointment of such an officer was, in his mind, the thing of all others that was required, and would be a great step towards the decentralisation which was aimed at. It would be the duty of such an officer to examine every possible contingency of invasion, and to have a plan to meet it; and also to examine into every possible contingency of the employment of the Army beyond the seas, and thus he would fulfil a most useful function. Such an appointment was indicated in the speech of the Secretary of State, though no details were given, and he hoped the idea would be carried out. He thought this was a fitting occasion on which to say a word or two on the matter of the retirement of his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief. In his opinion it was a question whether, while these great changes were being effected, the Government would not have done better to have retained for the present, or, at all events, until the end of the financial year, or until the changes had been put into shape, the unrivalled knowledge on Army matters and military detail possessed by His Royal Highness. Whatever might be the character or position of his successor, this country would never have a Commander-in-Chief more thoroughly devoted to his duties, more intimately acquainted with every detail connected with the Army, than His Royal Highness, who had ever been animated by a spirit of inflexible justice and fair play in every appointment he had made, and who had always been the firm and consistent friend of the soldier, as would be felt and acknowledged by every soldier in the Army. ["Hear, hear!"] He would only add that he looked forward with hope and confidence to the result of the changes the Secretary of State was about to introduce. He did not know that there was very much to complain of at present. We undoubtedly had in our officers a body of men as thoroughly efficient and practised as those of any Army in the world, and we had in the ranks of, the Army men who, though young, were thoroughly competent to perform all the duties required of them. We had also an unlimited power of supplying them with arms and equipment, and he hoped that the result of the coming changes would be that the Army would be supplied with the best arms and equipment. With the modifications he had suggested, he believed that the propositions of the Secretary of State contained the elements of great future success in Army reform, and that our Army might become the most perfect fighting machine of any in the world. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. WOODALL (Hanley)

said, he thought with the last speaker that the Committee were indebted to Lord Lansdowne for having so quickly given his attention to this subject and formulated his scheme sufficiently clearly for the Committee to have the advantage of discussing it on the Estimates that day. Lord Lansdowne had undoubtedly had the advantage of the scheme which was prepared by his predecessors, and he was perfectly sure that everybody in the House would regret the absence of his right hon. Friend the late Secretary of State—["hear, hear!"]—who might fairly claim the paternity of it, but who was detained at a distance by an unfortunate and sudden attack of serious illness. Having followed as closely as he could the statement made by Lord Lansdowne, which had now been materially amplified by the Under Secretary, he thought he was justified in saying that the scheme was substantially in accord with that of his right hon. Friend; and here, surely, the country must feel that, however great might be the differences of opinion in regard to certain details, and however serious and grave might be the apprehension of difficulty and friction in. working out the scheme, they had substantial cause for congratulation in that there was a continuity of policy in which the two political parties of the State were agreed, and that their action was based on the recommendations of a Commission so weighty as that presided over by one of the most experienced statesmen of the age—he referred to the Duke of Devonshire. ["Hear, hear!"] He thought it was only fair to his right hon. Friend the late Secretary of State to say that, although the sketch he gave to the House was communicated so very near to the termination of his official career, it was really the result of many long years of practical experience and thought directed to the subject, and that, while he formulated the scheme, he very naturally left to himself, if called upon, or to his successor, as it turned out, the determination of certain details. He should think that in the preparation of the Orders in Council which were to give effect to the scheme of Lord Lansdowne the Government would derive no inconsiderable advantage from the discussion that was taking place in Committee that day; and he doubted not that the various suggestions, coming as they did with so much weight from experienced soldiers, would receive due attention. There was one point he thought worthy of the attention of the Committee. He found that Lord Lansdowne, in the course of his statement, repeatedly used the word "board," and he also observed that the council of the five heads of departments had been called a board that day. Naturally the term "board" suggested the system of administration which prevailed at the Admiralty. The late Secretary of State had distinctly stated to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Forest of Dean that nothing was further from his mind than anything like an executive board. The term had, perhaps unfortunately, but possibly inadvertently, been used, and he was sure he might assume it was not intended to convey the idea of any executive power to be used by the board as such. He supposed they might take it that there was no difference of opinion upon that which might be regarded as the fundamental element of the Scheme. The relieving the Commander-in-Chief of the very largely increased responsibility which had been imposed on him in recent years was held by Lord Hartington's Commission and by successive Secretaries of State to be essential to the efficiency of the War Department. Of course they had to recognise that the very office of Secretary of State was of comparatively recent creation, and that the drift of all recent changes had been to increase his responsibility, not merely to Parliament, but his practical administrative responsibility for the control of the Army itself. Anyone who had gained experience at the War Office would realise how very important it was that the heads of the great subordinate departments should have a very high sense of their responsibility. He observed that there was to be an alteration of the title of the Director of Artillery, who was to be called in future the Inspector-General of Ordnance, and he supposed the intention of the Government was to give fuller recognition to the ever-increasing importance of the duties which this officer had to discharge. In the Report of the Royal Commission, attention was called to the fact that at no period previous to 1888 had the Commander-in-Chief any responsibility in connection with commissariat supply or warlike stores, and it was only in 1888 that there was added to the duties of the Commander-in-Chief the control of such matters as appertained to the duties of the Inspector-General of Fortifications. The Government were now retracing in some degree the course of policy by which Mr. Stanhope—acting, no doubt, after full consideration— added considerably to the burdens and responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief. In restoring the separate responsibility of these heads of departments they were, therefore, returning as far as the Commander-in-Chief was concerned, to the practice that prevailed as recently as 1888. As it appeared that the separate responsibility of such officers as the Inspector-General of Fortifications and the Director of Artillery was to be increased and intensified, it became of extreme importance that they should only act after consultation, and that the deliberations of the board should be presided over by the Commander-in-Chief. Whether, when a minority recorded a protest against the decision of the majority of the members of the board, they should communicate separately to the Secretary of State for War, or whether they should communicate through the Commander-in-Chief, was a matter worth considering, but one which did not affect the fundamental principles of change. What was very important was that the orders to the Army were not to go out in the name of the board, but in the name and with the authority of the Commander-in-Chief. He believed it would be found that these changes were not really so very novel as they appeared at first sight. It was at present no uncommon thing for the heads of the departments to meet together at what was called the Ordnance Council, in order to consider matters of importance in which they were all concerned, and upon which it was desirable to have their separate opinions. There was also the council which was summoned by the Secretary of State and presided over by him in his room, and which was known as the War Office Council; and, thirdly, there was the Committee of the Cabinet. What the Committee had heard with satisfaction, was that it was now intended to have regular and periodical meetings, instead of intermittent and casual ones as hitherto. The Government had been very fortunate in finding so distinguished an officer as Lord Wolseley ready to accept the responsibility involved. He trusted that it was not derogatory to the position, claims and services of other distinguished soldiers to say that the career of Lord Wolseley had greatly impressed the country. The large experience which he had gained in all parts of the world, his services at headquarters, and his ardour and energy in the performance of his duties, rendered him conspicuously competent to fill this position. Nor should one overlook the fact that he had always been most eager to recognise high professional qualities in soldiers, and had always taken marked interest in the welfare of the men of all ranks. He could not but think that, in concert with Lord Wolsoley, the Government would be able to elaborate the skeleton scheme now put forward in such a way as would secure to the country the great advantages anticipated by the Hartington Commission.

SIR F. FITZWYGRAM (Hants, Fareham)

regretted the decision arrived at respecting the Chief of the Staff. The existence of a Chief of the Staff was, in his opinion, very disadvantageous to an army. Where there was an officer of this kind, the general officer in command of a force saw through another man's spectacles instead of using his own eyes independently. A Chief of the Staff might be a most able man, and, if he was, let him be Commander-in-Chief, and not Chief of the Staff. His belief was that the quickest way to ruin an army was to substitute the action of a Chief of the Staff for the direct action of the officer commanding. He wished to say a few words with reference to the military staff at Aldershot. That camp was of course our best training school, but brigade commands ought not to be held there for three years. The Commander-in-Chief at Aldershot held his appointment for five years, and to that he did not object, because that officer was or ought to be a man of great and tried experience. The brigade commands, however, were necessarily experimental, and the officers holding them might or might not be good men. One year was quite long enough for them to retain their position. One of the chief objects of the system was to enable the Commander-in-Chief, by visiting Aldershot, to obtain a knowledge of the capacity of the brigadier-generals, so that, when the time came for appointing them to commands in the field, he might know who were the really competent men. Now, as regarded the brigadiers they were appointed for three years. The officer so appointed might be a very good man, or he might not, and in the latter case—and he had known such cases to occur—the officer, though totally incompetent, was retained for three years. That was a very great evil. The greatest evil of the three years' tenure, however, was that, at the end of the term, the Commander-in-Chief had only had the opportunity of obtaining a knowledge of the capabilities of four brigadier-generals, whereas, if they had only a year each he would have an opportunity of gauging the capabilities of four brigadier-generals, or 12 men in three years. They had about 50 general officers' commands abroad, and in his opinion it would be of the greatest possible advantage if the brigadiers were appointed for one year each, because it would give the Commander-in-Chief increased opportunities of gauging the capacity of those he had to appoint to commands abroad.

COLONEL SANDYS (Lancashire, Bootle),

said the practicability of the re-organisation scheme turned on whether decentralisation was or was not a reality, and he trusted there would be an explicit and detailed assurance that such would be the case. It was essential that responsibility should not be the shuttlecock it had hitherto been made, to be played with by one board or another so that it was impossible to bring home responsibity to anyone. What they wanted in the revised scheme was centralised responsibility with decentralised administration, and as one practical application of this principle, he was convinced that it was of the highest military importance that a General commanding a Division or District, should not only have command of the troops in his Division or District, but that he should have the control of every detail of the force and of all departments attached to it, and be responsible for their efficiency and readiness at all times. [Cheers.]


said the discussion had been of very great advantage, both as regarded the illustration of many points and also as affording the Secretary of State an opportunity of ascertaining the views of many gentlemen who took an interest in the subject and of officers of great distinction in the Army before he issued the Order in Council. Now the remark of his hon. and gallant Friend behind him very fairly represented the policy of the Government in this matter, and also of the late Secretary of State, whose absence they were all sorry for. They aimed at establishing centralised responsibility with decentralised administration. He quite concurred, too, in the statement that there was a great deal of red-tape in Army administration, and that the evil was considerable. Members of this House might assist them in some degree by not enforcing on the Secretary of State the necessity of personally considering matters of merely local importance, on which the Officer Commanding was well qualified to decide. He hoped the House would give the War Office all the assistance it could in carrying out a system of decentralisation, and his hon. Friend (Mr. Brookfield) might be assured that, under the new system and an officer of Lord Wolseley's activity, decentralisation would be carried out in a practical spirit. With regard to the Army Board, he should say that every member of it would have a right, and in some cases the duty of appealing from any decision affecting his own department which might be arrived at by the Army Board to the Secretary of State. As the Leader of the House had stated, the whole details of the constitution of the Council of National Defence were not yet arrived at, but the principle of it was that a Member of the Cabinet, who was not the Secretary of State or the First Lord, would be its president. It was not the intention that the Army Board should settle questions of promotion. The intention was that promotions and appointments above the rank of major should be brought before the Board, who would advise upon them, but the responsibility of putting forward that promotion or appointment by the Secretary of State would rest on the Commander-in-Chief. The object was to bring the experience of other officers to bear on the qualifications of an individual, and so to give the Commander-in-Chief and Secretary of State an opportunity of knowing what has been known of such officer in the course of his military career. He thought the Government might be congratulated that, on the whole, they had received from hon. Members a favourable consideration of the plan put forward. He could not sit down without alluding to what had fallen from the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Durham with regard to the Duke of Cambridge. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, and the cheers of the Committee, had referred to the unrivalled knowledge of Army matters and details which the Duke of Cambridge possessed, to his devotion to his duties, and to the confidence with which he was regarded by all sections of the Army. ["Hear, hear!"] He believed that those expressions would be endorsed by everyone who, in any capacity, had served, or come in contact with, the Duke of Cambridge. ["Hear, hear!"] For himself he should like to say that since he became a Member of the House he had several times had the opportunity of serving upon committees before which the Duke had had to undergo long cross-examinations, and Members who had not previously come into contact with His Royal Highness, and were not aware of the extraordinary command he had of the details of every department in the Army, had been greatly struck by the knowledge and mastery of detail which he displayed upon all subjects connected with the Army. He took the opportunity of adding these few observations because he felt that the tribute which had been paid by the hon. and gallant Gentleman to the Duke of Cambridge, who had served the Army for nearly 40 years as Commander-in-Chief, was one that would be re-echoed by all sections of the House. ["Hear, hear!"] He had answered the various questions that had been raised on this particular Vote, which he now appealed to the Committee to allow to be taken.

On the return of the CHAIRMAN after the usual interval,

MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)

said, he desired to draw attention to the financial aspect of the reorganisation of the Department of the Commander-in-Chief. Some questions on the subject were put to the First Lord of the Treasury yesterday. From the replies as published in the newspapers it would appear that under the new regulations the retiring allowance of a Field-Marshal would be £1,300; but that, in addition to this allowance, His Royal Highness the present Commander-in-Chief was entitled under the old regulations to unattached pay at the higher rate of £2,200 as Honorary Colonel of the Grenadier Guards. He then asked the right hon. Gentleman whether the principle which had been adopted in regard to the abolition of offices, and invariably in cases of long service—namely, that the holder of the abolished office continued in the receipt of his full salary for life—would be applied to the case of the Commander-in-Chief; and to this, according to the newspaper reports, the First Lord replied:— I am told that a Staff appointment cannot be regarded as coming within the ordinary category of those posts in regard to which special terms arc given to the holders on abolition. He had since been informed that the reports in the newspapers did not adequately represent the decision of the Government in the matter. He hoped that if any mistake had been made it was in the direction of having minimised the, intention of the Government in respect "to what he must describe as the very inadequate allowance proposed to be given to the Commander-in-Chief after the many years he had been in the service of the country. No doubt many people thought that those who held for many years posts of distinction to which adequate remuneration was attached had no claim on the public purse when the time came for them to surrender their offices. But that view had never been the view of Parliament. Parliament had always been extremely jealous of interference with individual claims and rights, and it distinctly laid down the rule, which was applied in the Civil Service, that the abolition of an office carried with it the enjoyment by the holder of his full pay as a pension for life. He thought that this rule should be applied to the case of the Commander-in-Chief. The paragraphs which had appeared in the newspapers on the subject showed that the general feeling was that, if changes were required in the interests of the country, suitable provision should be made for the retiring Commander-in-Chief. The taxpayers of this country had always displayed a desire to see justice done to those whose position was affected in the interests of the country. If public opinion erred in this matter it was on the side of generosity rather than on that of technical adherence to supposed precedents. He hoped the Government would not allow themselves to be strangled with red-tape, but would take a broad and generous view of the question. It might be argued that the office of Commander-in-Chief had not been abolished, and that the precedents applicable to abolition were not therefore to the point. If the Great Seal were thrown into the Thames, and the duties of the Lord High Chancellor, together with the title, were allocated to a County Court Judge, it would be equally true to say that the office of the Lord High Chancellor had not been abolished. Whatever the formula employed, everyone knew that the Commander-in-Chief was practically abolished. Again, it might be argued that a Staff Officer only held his post during pleasure, and that no retiring allowance had ever been claimed or granted in connection with a staff appointment. But even then it was to be remembered that the present Commander-in-Chief was appointed to what was practically his present office 39 years ago, long before those bewildering warrants, which succeeded one another so rapidly, were issued by the War Office. The post had always been held to be altogether exempt from the operation of these warrants and general orders. Some of the predecessors of the present Commander-in-Chief held office even later in life than he. The Duke of Wellington was older by some years; and he could find no precedent for retirement without any recognition whatever of the claims of long service. What were the financial provisions proposed to be made on the retirement of the present Commander-in-Chief? He would not dwell on the personal claims of His Royal Highness; they had been fully and cordially recognised on all hands. He approached this question from the point of view of the public, and he desired to see fair-play and justice done. The particular honorary colonelcy which the Duke of Cambridge held carried with it £2,200 a year; but the post of colonel could be held without any military service whatever being rendered by the holder. Therefore it was no retiring allowance in respect of the office of Commander-in-Chief. The pay of this honorary command was quite beside the question, for it was not in any case withdrawn, except for gross misconduct. The general feeling of the country was that no public servant who had served his country with fidelity for nearly 40 years, be his rank what it might, should be dismissed without any recognition in the shape of an allowance, and simply with the assurance that he should not be deprived of that which he might have held all his life without any service at all. ["Hear, hear!"]


My right hon. Friend has called the attention of the House to a statement of mine which, though reported with perfect accuracy in the newspapers, appears to have given rise to some misconception. I have looked over my answer, and it still seems to me to convey my views; but those are not the views with which I have been credited. The very few words which I shall say I wish to dissociate from any special reference to the present Commander-in-Chief. I wish simply to explain the principles on which, as I understand the matter, the War Office and the Treasury have always acted in connection with this question of pensions. I am anxious to dissociate the statement from the personal question connected with the present Commander-in-Chief, because the very warm regard in which he is held in all parts of the House, and the great sense of what the Army owes to him, introduce elements which really may be left on one side in what ought to be a bare statement of the principles hitherto accepted. My right hon. Friend thinks that what has recently occurred—the recent changes announced in connection with Army organisation—amounts to the abolition of the office of Commander-in-Chief, and that, in consequence of that abolition, abolition terms should be given to the present holder of the office. I think my right hon. Friend has fallen into two errors. His first error is to suppose that the office is abolished. It was, indeed, recommended by the Hartington Commission that abolition should take place, but in that important particular the present Government differ from the recommendations of that Report, and we have decided that the office of Commander-in-Chief, though modified in important particulars, should still remain. In the second place, abolition terms are only given to the holder of an office who is turned out in order that the office may be abolished. That certainly is not at all the case in regard to His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, who relinquished the office, and the relinquishment having been determined on, the late Government took the opportunity of making those changes in. the constitution of the War Office which a large number of Army reformers had for a great many years been pressing. But," says my right hon. Friend, "it is a case in which there ought to be a pension, because the service as Commander-in-Chief has been extended over many years, and in every such case a pension is given. My right hon. Friend appears to confuse pensioned services and unpensioned services. A pension is practically deferred pay. But in dealing with unpensionable service we are bound to consider that the full remuneration is given year by year for services rendered, and therefore the accumulation of many years of service does not obviously set up any claim to a pension. Such is the general arrangement. And then I come to the last point in my right hon. Friend's criticism. He says that my answer given yesterday implied that the £2,200 which His Royal Highness is entitled to as honorary colonel of the regiment of Guards ought to be sufficient for any pension he would derive from what is a pensionable office—that is, the office of Field-Marshal. I think my right hon. Friend has fallen into some confusion, owing to the extreme brevity with which I answered the question put to me yesterday, and, if the Committee will bear with me, I will endeavour to explain exactly how the matter stands. Field-Marshals, with other officers in the Army, may either hold their positions under the old system or the new system—that is to say, they may either have a claim to a retiring allowance or something equivalent to that under the system which prevailed before the introduction of those Army reforms which were initiated about a quarter of a century ago, or they may hold their appointments under the new system of retiring allowances which, under Mr. Childers, was sanctioned in 1881. If the officer holds his appointment under the new system, a Field-Marshal would be entitled, as a retiring allowance, to £1,300 a year, but His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge does not hold his position under the new but under the old system, and therefore it is necessary for me to explain a little what that old system is. As I am informed, under the old system an officer has the right to make choice of one of two alternatives, whichever he may think best for him. He may either retire on half pay or he may retire upon the pay of one of the honorary colonelcies, of which there was a certain number given to distinguished officers. He might do either, but he could not do both. Therefore it will be observed that my right hon. Friend is not strictly accurate when he draws a very sharp distinction between the pay of an honorary colonelcy and a retiring allowance. My right hon. Friend said, and said perfectly truly, that if His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge had never been Commander-in-Chief at all and if he had not done one stroke of work for the public during all these long years, still he would have the £2,200 a year as honorary colonel of the regiment of Guards ; that is perfectly accurate and should not be forgotten by the Committee. On the other hand, if I have made it clear to hon. Members exactly what the old system of retiring allowances was, they will see that these honorary colonelcies and the remuneration attaching to them were considered, under the old system, as to be taken account of in dealing with the retiring allowances of officers in the Army. Therefore it is not quite accurate to say that we may put this £2,200 entirely on one side and regard it as a source of emolument to the Duke wholly distinct from anything in the nature of a retiring allowance. I admit this is a technical and rather difficult question, but I hope in these few words I have explained what the practice of the War Office has been in regard to every officer, and that I have made clear by adequate supplement my answer of yesterday, which, however correctly given, has perhaps through my own method of statement led to some misapprehension.


said, when he remembered that a Lord Chancellor after a few years in office received an allowance of £5,000 a year he could not but contrast it with the very different position of the retiring head of our Army, and he thought the latter was very unfairly treated. Of His Royal Highness he could only say that he remembered him long ago in the "sixties," when the Duke was admitted to be the best leader of a mixed force that we then had, and the best commander of a cavalry brigade. Many men now living could well remember the Duke at Wimbledon. The day would come when the country would feel disgraced by what had appeared in the papers in reference to this subject. The Duke of Cambridge had ever done his duty to the best of his power, and during his administration the army had done great work. Tel-el-Kebir was a historical campaign and reflected the greatest credit on the officers concerned. It was a stroke of genius to carry the Army across the desert in the dark, and the rush on Cairo showed that the Commanding General knew how to reap the fruits of victory.


The hon. and gallant Member will see that Tel-el-Kebir is rather wide of the Vote.


contended that if the younger officers in the Army who had not served in the light regiments had had their way, the power of performing simple movements accurately would have been lost, and the Army could not have been carried across the Desert. The Duke insisted on a firm drill being maintained.


said he joined in support of the appeal to the Leader of the House that he would see if something could be done to show adequate recognition of the services of the Commander-in-Chief. There could be no doubt that the officers of the Army were underpaid. Their necessary expenses for uniforms and equipment were very heavy, and in comparison with civil employment it could not be said that the Army was fairly treated. He hoped the Government would rise above "red-tape" considerations, and see that adequate recognition was forthcoming of the services of His Royal Highness. He congratulated the Government on the general desire shown during the discussion to help forward the changes about to take place, and as an old soldier he expressed the hope that the country would succeed in getting as good a Commander-in-Chief as His Royal Highness had been.

MR. LUTTRELL (Devon, Tavistock)

said, he had intended, when this Vote was last before the House, to mention two subjects of local interest, but had not found the opportunity. The first of these questions had reference to artillery firing on Dartmoor. The Artillery now practise over a large portion of the moor, and in connection with this practice very serious inconvenience resulted to small farmers and cotters whose holdings adjoined the moor, and also to tourists and others who used the moor for health and recreation. There was no wish that the Artillery should be removed from their present position; the advantages of that position were recognised; all that was desired was that the firing should be regulated in some way, so as not to interfere altogether with the public enjoyment and usage of the moor. At present the firing could be carried on for six days in the week, and the request he had to make on behalf of the inhabitants of the locality was that the firing should be confined to five days in the week—that one day should be free from firing, and the suggestion was that that day should be Saturday. In favour of that suggestion it could be said that, from a military point of view, Saturday was almost a dies non, work being seldom done after mid-day. It would not greatly interfere with artillery practice if it were laid down that there should be no firing on that day. He laid stress on the importance of having this clearly laid down, for if it remained possible for the firing to take place on Saturday people could not make arrangements without the risk of danger. Farmers often had to drive cattle from long distances, and it was important to them to know when the moor would be free from firing. It was also important for arrangements to be made for the tourist season. The other question he desired to bring under notice had already been the subject of correspondence with the Military Authorities and of enquiries in the House. It related to the use of land for allotments in the village of Egg-Buckland, some three miles from Plymouth. There was a large muster of artisans and men employed in the dockyard who desired to have allotments. To no men could allotments be more useful than to these men, whose daily work lay in the towns and often within doors. To them they would be useful, both for growing vegetables and also for the purposes of health. These men naturally and rightly desired to have allotments; but they found themselves unable to get them. The principal landowner was the War Office, which owned 300 acres; they had applied to the War Office and had been refused. They had applied to all owners who had land within a reasonable distance, and each landowner said, and not unreasonably— I am willing to let you have land, but you must pay for it at its prospective value as building land. The State was the only owner of land that was at agricultural value. For the State land being adjacent to a fort, unlike the surrounding land, had no prospective building value, and consequently had only an agricultural value. He brought the matter before the last Government and got nothing more than sympathy. One answer was that the Adjutant General would go down and make enquiry, and ascertain whether it would be possible to make any concession consistent with military requirements. He contended that it would be quite possible to make the concession which was asked for; land could be spared without involving any interferance with military requirements. The War Office would not have to deal with a number of individuals, because they would let the land to the Parish Council. He could prove that the allotment seekers could not get land from private owners, and that the satisfaction of their wants would not interfere with the requirements of the Military Authorities. He therefore appealed to the Under Secretary to let the matter remain an open question until he had given it full consideration.


said, that the War Office would give very careful consideration to the request of the hon. Member for Tavistock. It was obvious that there might be serious objections to allowing land which was in the hands of the War Office for military purposes to be taken for allotments. If the persons to whom they had been granted should have to be afterwards disturbed, then blame would be thrown upon the War Office. As the hon. Member knew, the question was not without its difficulties, and it should have careful consideration. With regard to the Artillery practice on Dartmoor and the request that it should be discontinued on Saturdays, he might state that it was only occasionally that the Artillery was at Dartmoor. Of course, it was well known that Dartmoor was used on Saturdays by large numbers for holiday purposes. The request made that their enjoyment should not be interfered with by artillery practice was a reasonable one, and on behalf of the War Office he would promise that the matter should have full consideration with a view to the request being granted.

DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

desired to call attention to a grievance attending the appropriation of land for military purposes at Ballincolly in his constituency, where eight or nine labourers had been evicted on the advice of Lord Wolseley. The annexation of this land for military purposes was strongly objected to, and it had thrown on the rates a number of poor men who had been deprived of their holdings.

THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY moved "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 123; Noes, 18.—(Division List No. 35.)

Question put accordingly, and agreed to.