§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair:"—
To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'the military appropriations in aid paid by India, in addition to the payment by that Country of the cost of the British Army in India, and of its transport to and from India, are excessive and unjust to India."—(Mr. Harbury)
§ Instead thereof.
§ The hon. MEMBER said he rose to call attention to the large appropriations in aid contributed out of the Indian Exchequer, and to move that the military appropriations in aid paid by India, in addition to the payment by that country of the cost of the British Army in India, and of its transport to and from India, are excessive and unjust to India. The home military charges appearing on these Estimates consisted of two classes. First, matériel—that was to say, stores supplied to India; and secondly, personnel, troops actually paid for by India to this country. From the manner in which the Estimates were presented, it was impossible to find out to which I Army the charges ought to be apportioned, whether to the British troops in India or to the native troops in India, but, after making all proper allowances, there remained upon the Estimates for men alone the large appropriation in aid of £1,350,000, which was actually 1081 expended by India on account of troops actually in England. That sum was increased by the loss on exchange to the extent of about three-fifths, and, of course, in tens of rupees amounted to a very considerable sum indeed. In the next place, it had to be remembered that the whole of this sum was spent in England—that was to say, it was a sum going out of India and wholly spent in England, and that, too, without India having any control whatever over it. For the expenditure of this money even the Secretary of State for India, sitting in this House, was in no sense responsible. That was a very serious state of things; and the mischief was increased when one recollected that this sum, over a million and a quarter sterling a year, was exclusive of what India paid for the troops when they were in India itself. The amount might be divided into two portions—one for the non-effective and the other for the effective services. India paid £548,000 a year for effective, services and over £800,000 for non-effective services in this country. Both those charges had been bitterly complained of, not only by the people of India, but by long successions of Viceroys and Commanders-in-Chief in India, and even Secretaries of State in this country. In the Cabinet, however strong a Secretary of State might be, there were two men whom he had to fight persistently, whose interests were diametrically opposed to his, and who represented a different class of taxpayers—the Secretary of State for War and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And, in addition, it was a difficult matter for the Secretary of State even to fight the House of Commons itself, because every penny the House of Commons could throw on the Indian Exchequer was money saved to this country. Altogether he was bound to say it was a very bad system. It was a system opposed to anything that went on in this country. Not only did they not contribute a single penny of this money, but the House of Commons, on the contrary, seemed to endeavour to shift as much of the burden as was possible upon India. He had not brought forward the Motion from philanthropic motives, but his attention had been directed to this Vote entirely by his constituents, who represented that it was, to a great extent, a Lancashire question.1082
The people of Lancashire felt that a great number of these appropriations-in-aid and charges which fell upon India were charges which might fairly be borne by the Imperial Government, and the result of the Imperial Government not bearing them was that a deficit was created in the Indian Exchequer which was supplied by import duties, which Lancashire had to pay. The non-effective Vote amounted to £810,000. Roughly speaking, that sum might be divided into £300,000 to officers, which was almost entirely for retired pay and compensation on the abolition of purchase, and the remaining £500,000 was in connection with out pensions to men. With regard to the latter, he had been able to get no information whatever as to how this large amount fell upon India. It struck him that in these days of short service, when pensions were becoming rarer, it was a peculiar thing that the pensions which India had to pay should be increasing in number each year. He would also observe that no non-effective charge had ever been placed upon any country connected with England, except India itself. Then again, there had been a most enormous increase in the non-effective charges. Up to the year 1822, although India maintained 20,000 British troops, the non-effective charge in respect of those troops in England was absolutely nothing whatever. Then in 1822 no charge was effected, and the British East India Company made an arrangement with the Government at home, by which the non-effective charge was to be fixed at £60,000. That arrangement continued up to the, time when the Crown took over India from the East India Company, since when the charges had grown from year to year, by leaps and bounds. Not only had there been this enormous increase, but they found an Ex-Viceroy like Lord Northbrook, speaking in another place, only two years ago, declaring that although since 1861 endeavours had been made almost every year to arrive at some fair and permanent settlement between this country and India as to what those charges ought to be, no such settlement had yet been arrived at. In 1861, soon after the Crown took over India from the East India Company, another arrangement was made in respect to the non-effective charges, which had hitherto
been £60,000 a year, but which were then fixed at £3 10s. per head. He was not quite sure whether the £3 10s. was on the one-third of the whole non-effective service, which would be a fair proportion for India, or whether it was on the whole non-effective services. If it was on the whole the charge formerly would be £315,000, but if on one-third, which was his contention, it meant that the non-effective Vote was formerly only £105,000, as against £810,000 in the present year. Then came further changes. They had, in the first place, the abolition of purchase, which very slightly affected the Indian Army, but of course India had to pay for that. Then they had the compulsory retirement of officers at an early age, which was a purely English matter, but India had to bear its share of that. In addition, in 1870 an alteration was made in the mode of assessing India's fair share of these pensions. Speaking on this latter subject, Lord Northbrook said:
In 1870 a most complicated and extraordinary plan was imposed upon India under which, year by year, the actual pensions India was supposed to be called upon to pay in India in consequence of the abolition of purchase in the British Army was capitalised, and the capital value year by year was charged upon India by the British Exchequer.
The result of that was that by 1884 the charges had reached the very large sum at which they stood at the present moment. Lord Northbrook, in 1892, stated that, though the arrangement for the capitalisation of the purchase pensions ceased in 1884, he had no materials in his possession (though he had acted as Chairman of the Committee which had been appointed on the subject in 1872), as to what had happened since then. He (Mr. Hanbury), without going into any question of arithmetic as as to these charges, argued that they ought to listen to the views of Ex-Viceroys, Commanders-in-Chief, and Indian Secretaries, who had persistently stated that it was absolutely unjust that India should have to bear so very large a proportion of pensions and charges as were thrown upon her Exchequer simply and solely in connection with such changes as the abolition of purchase and the compulsory retirement of officers, which did not affect the interests of India at all, but were entirely and
absolutely English matters. He would call attention to what had been said on the question by Members of the present Government, and others who were entitled to speak with authority. Lord Ripon said:—
The argument as regards the abolition of the purchase system appears to be particularly strong. It certainly appears to me exceedingly unjust that the Indian Revenue should be called upon to hear any charge in order to get rid of this peculiarly English matter.
Lord Kimberley, speaking on the same subject, said:—
Part of the increase was incurred owing to measures carried into effect by the English Government for purposes unconnected with India, such as the abolition of the purchase system, and the compulory retirement of officers.
Lord Northbrook stated that, after sitting for 14 years upon this Committee, he had found it utterly impossible for that Committee, hampered as it was by the Treasury, to go into the real questions that were at the bottom of these payments, and, because of this, he threw up his appointment in disgust. The result, as Lord Northbrook said, was—
that after 14 years' work the main contention had not been considered, but was altogether put on one side; the main question after 20 years had been utterly and entirely ignored, and the difficulty remained.
That was a strong statement for such a man as Lord Northbrook to make. He now wished to refer to the effective vote, which amounted to £548,000. And here again he had in the first place to complain of the way in which the Estimates were presented. It was most misleading. The vote was described as—
payment by the Indian Government in respect of home effective charges (other than deferred pay), for the regular forces serving in India.
Any one reading this would suppose that the money was for forces serving in India; but the fact was, that the charge had nothing whatever to do with such service. This money thus charged upon India was actually expended upon our home garrisons, upon troops actually serving in England and available at any moment for the defence of England. The charges were placed under different votes, and the Estimates were presented in such a way that it was difficult to
understand them and to ascertain what the charges really were. How was the charge for the effective service arrived at? It was the payment for the Indian drafts, for troops going out to India every year. He did not know what the amount of the Indian drafts was, but as the troops in India were, roughly speaking, something like 70,000, and they stayed out in India fur five years, the average number of the drafts was probably about 14,000 or 15,000. It was upon that that the Estimate ought to be based, but if they based it upon the number of troops going out to India every year, they would get a payment in this country of £40 per man per year, for men who had never been out in India at all, and were actually serving in the garrisons of this country. At present the Estimate was presented in a most misleading form, but he did not blame his right hon. Friend, the Secretary for War, because the system had gone on for years, and one Minister was as responsible for it as another. How was this shown in the Estimates? Not as a charge of £40 for every man connected with the drafts which would ultimately go to India, but, as Lord Northbrook had said, from the moment every man was recruited in England; and India paid his passage out and we paid it home. Although India paid for every-thing connected with him in India, yet we forced upon the Indian Government all the expenses of a man forming a draft from the time he was recruited. Such a thing was monstrous. They were told that it was a capitation grant of £7 10s. per head oil the 73,000 troops serving in India, but what could be the connection between the payment of these men serving in England, and the capitation grant in respect of the 73,000 men serving in India? Most of these men formed important portions of our home garrisons, and a large number of them were at Aldershot before they went out to India. Not only did we lay those heavy charges upon India, but we were so interfering in the Legislation of India at the present moment with regard to troops which she had to maintain at her own cost, that if they accepted the statement of Sir George White, the Commander-in-Chief in India, the charges upon India in respect of her troops would be very largely increased, and
larger drafts would have to be sent out. He wished to refer to something which one did not like to dwell upon, and it was the forcing of this something by that House upon India that would necessitate an addition of thousands of troops to those now serving in India, and the fact that one-third of the troops were invalided had led the Commander-in-Chief to point out how dangerous it would be in case of war if we had to depend upon these troops, decimated by disease as they were. Not only did we place these charges upon India, but fads too, and the result would be larger drafts, perhaps of 20,000 men or more from England, and he wished to know whether, in the event of such an increase the Government would still continue the iniquitous system of which he was complaining. It must be recollected that the troops only served five years in India. In that case England profited by seven years out of their 12 years, service. It had also been said that we had the recruiting and the training of these men, but if we came to the question of training, the balance was on the side of India. We certainly owed a great deal to India for the training of our troops received in India, and for the experience our generals derived there from moving troops upon a large scale, which was much more beneficial than any mere barrack drill we could teach in England. It was further said that the troops in this country acted as a reserve for India, but, looking at all the facts, he ventured to think that the balance was again on the side of India. If our troops went out to India, India paid for them; and for cases of emergency outside India not only had we drawn upon them, but also upon the Native Indian army to fight our battles, and in that case India had to bear the whole burden. The more they looked at these Indian military charges the more unjust they appeared to be. The injustice was all the greater when we compared the treatment of India with the treatment which our Colonies received. He referred to non- effective charges, and did not think that any other dependency of England had ever been called upon to bear them. India received distinctive treatment in this respect. In Halifax, for instance, 1,487 troops were stationed, costing £126,000 a year, but not one penny was that Colony asked to pay towards the
cost. Then again, there was the case of the Cape, which occupied a somewhat different position from Natal. We had always had troops at the Cape and at Natal, and up to two years ago Natal was not a self-governing Colony to the extent it was now. There were 3,679 troops at the Cape and Natal, the larger proportion being at the Cape. What happened? Not one farthing was charged to Cape Colony, because it was self-governing and would have resisted the charge; but £4,000 was charged on Natal, because it was not a self-governing Colony and had not the same power of resistance. They ought to apply the same principle to India. What were the facts with-regard to the Crown Colonies? The troops in Ceylon cost £109,453, and Ceylon paid £81,750; in Hong Kong they cost £167,484, and the colony contributed £40,000; in Maritius they cost £66,212, and the Colony paid £14,700. Again, take the case of Egypt. We had spent large sums of British money upon barracks in Egypt, while in India, our own possession, we had spent something like ten or fifteen millions out of the revenues of that country on barracks for British troops. But, apart from that question, the cost of the troops in Egypt was £283,000, and all that Egypt paid over was £87,000. India had to pay for arms, accoutrements, barrack, hospital, and other stores, recruiting expenses at home, headquarters, administration expenses, the cost of sea transport, and non-effective charges; but not one of these charges was placed on Egypt or the Colonies. Lord Northbrook had stated that the very largest amount that ought to be paid by India was £5 a head, but whether the charge was £5 or £7 10s. some definite arrangement ought to be come to; it was not fair to India that we should go on in this haphazard way. He had raised the question in spite of the fact that a Committee had been promised by the Secretary of State for India for dealing with the whole question of the Indian home charges, because if the facts of the last 30 or 50 years proved anything, they proved that these Commissions and Committees were of no use whatever to India. The history of these Commissions and Committees formed a very curious chapter in the history of our national life. In 1874
a Committee, of which Mr. Fawcett was a member, reported that charges had been imposed upon India which ought to be borne by England, and agreed with Lord Salisbury's statement that the most effectual way of securing financial justice to India was for the House of Commons to be constantly watchful on her behalf. How could they be watchful when the facts presented were so utterly misleading, that no one, unless he went very carefully into the matter, could judge of their real character? In 1875, another Committee was appointed, over which Mr. Bouverie presided. That Committee made certain recommendations as to the cost of the troops; but, although they felt strongly upon the question of policy, they could say nothing, because their hands were tied by the terms of reference. No agreement on these charges was come to until the Public Accounts' Committee intervened in 1878, and declared that some definite arrangement must be made. In that year the present Lord Derby, then Secretary to the Treasury, admitted that India had been charged a great deal too much in respect of these military charges. The Commission of which Lord Northbrook was chairman was appointed in 1879. But it was not until 1886 that they could get any accounts. A long despatch was received from the Government of India, in which they took up the position that, while on the mere question of arithmetic the charges were too high, this matter ought to be treated as one of policy. This despatch was handed to the Commission by the Secretary to the Treasury with an intimation that the Government had already considered the question, and had made up its mind with regard to the question of policy. Two or three years afterwards, Lord Northbrook, finding it impossible to effect any real financial alteration, threw up his position as chairman of the Committee in disgust. This case had been admitted by a long succession of Viceroys, Commanders-in-Chief, and Secretaries of State. The present Secretary of State the other evening said that, although he would not admit that in regard to the ordinary home charges, he must admit that in regard to these military home charges there was a case. This view had been endorsed by Committee after Committee, and Commission after Commission, and
now they had the same offer made—that the matter should be again referred to a Commission. If this were a question of policy, the Members representing the India Office, the War Office, and the Treasury, were perfectly able to deal with it; if it was a question of administration, and of detail, then the staff of these departments could cope with it. But Committees and Commissions were too often appointed to drive off the real issue and avoid a decision. That had gone on a great deal too long. Indeed, it had been our practice ever since India was taken over by the Crown. He was quite sure the people of this country did not want to levy any undue charges upon India. He had confined himself entirely to the military charges actually appearing upon the Estimates, and had said nothing about the large appropriations in aid outside of these Estimates; but he thought he had been, able to show that the charges made upon India in respect of them were most scandalous and unjustifiable. He could not understand upon what principle of justice, India, after having defrayed the cost of the troops going out and coming home, should be called upon to pay the additional sum of £600,000. It was time for Government to face this question and to run away from it proposing a Commission. It was the interests of his Lancashire constituents in this question which first induced him to bring it forward, and he was quite sure that if Lancashire and India worked together every English and Scotch Member, feeling that the question touched their purses or their honour, would unite in seeing that this long-standing evil was put an end to, and would set to work to remedy it.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
in rising to second the Motion, complimented the Member for Preston upon his interesting argument. About two years ago he had himself drawn the attention of the right hon. Minister to the injustice of placing upon India the Army purchase charges and the retirement charges. He first remembered it when sitting at Calcutta on a Military and Finance Commission in conjunction with Sir George Balfour. Ever since that time the subject had been urged by almost every European and Native authority throughout India; and, although 1090 something had been done, there still remained a very heavy residue of charge against India. He thought that his hon. Friend the Member for Preston deserved well of the people of India for bringing the subject forward in this authoritative way. As his hon. Friend had never served in the East, no suggestion of prejudice could be made in regard to his action. The real gist of the matter lay in the effective charge. It was a question of recruits. The English argument, as he understood it in former days in India, was this:—We are sending yon out a made soldier; we have spent a good deal of money upon his training, of which you in India get the advantage. Therefore, we in England are entitled to some compensation from India.That was the English Army view, to which the Indian reply was as follows:No doubt we get a made soldier who has been trained at some cost to you; but, while he has been training, he has been borne on the regiment and has served as an effective portion of the garrison in England, and, if war had broken out, would have formed an effective portion of the forces for England's national defence. During that time he has been of use and value to England, and England has received the value of her outlay upon him.That had always been, and always would be, India's argument until this matter was redressed. The grievance was increased by the absurd way in which the charge was disguised in the Estimates. Nobody, who could not read between the lines or see behind the scenes, could understand the manner in which the charge was made. Instead of stating the charge as £40 or £50 a head on the men sent out, it was put down as a capitation grant on the whole 70,000 or 80,000 men in India, and in this form it did not look so much. In regard to the transport charges for the reliefs, no complaint could, perhaps, be made on account of the cost of taking the men out being charged to India, but that country was also saddled with the entire cost of bringing the men home. India had always contended that the men coming back were valuable to the English Army—coming back, as they did in many cases, to service in their own country, and that the cost of bringing them back, ought, therefore, to be borne by England. Another growing grievance, which was becoming most seriously 1091 noticed in India, was in relation to the new cantonment Regulations, the result of which had been an enormous increase in disease. These men, who were our own flesh and blood, were being decimated by disease. The new Regulations were entirely owing to the action of the House, and he would not be doing his duty as a Member of that House if he did not call attention to the fact, though he was thankful that he and some other hon. Members had purged themselves from responsibility for this awful result. The return of Sir George White mentioned one-third, but he was afraid that one-half of the men were suffering from disease, which might easily have been made preventable, and which was effectually prevented until the House interfered from a false sense of morality. If war broke out in India it might be necessary to send out a whole fresh army corps to repair the ravages caused by the disease. Morality had benefited not at all. India was placed under heavy additional charges in deference to Lord Roberts and other authorities, and yet all that was entirely nullified by having 30,000 or 40,000 man diseased, owing to the new Regulations. Every military officer in India was dead against these Regulations, which had also received the protests of the Council and others. They should not be doing their duty to their fellow-subjects in India if they hesitated to speak out. Their speaking out might possibly give offence to some, but they had acted under a grievous misapprehension. They had been the means of inflicting great evils on their fellow-countrymen—evils which would last not for a year or two, but probably for a lifetime. Now, if the House chose to interfere they ought to pay the bill, and not cast on others the cost of these moral vagaries, He hoped he might be excused for having spoken so earnestly on this question. He had spoken from the bottom of his heart, because he knew exactly how this evil had come about. The House should look favourably upon these financial questions, because he could assure them that the feelings of the natives of India were very keen on this subject. He urged hon. Members opposite, who had shown so much generous consideration towards the feelings and sentiments and the wishes of the 1092 natives of India, to try and get a reduction of these charges. It would be a most gracious thing if the Government saw their way to take these charges in hand, and thus extend a helping hand to India in the hour of her financial difficulties.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
said, he had a very strong sympathy with the two speeches to which they had just listened. He thoroughly agreed that every consideration ought to be shown to the interests of India, and, above all, that that House should be most careful that, sometimes without intending it, it did not infringe upon those interests. They all knew how apt the House was sometimes to be carried away by most praiseworthy, philanthropic, and excellent motives, but he agreed with his hon. Friend that there had been occasions when the House, acting under the influence of these motives, had placed burdens of one sort or another on India which that country ought not to bear. Having listened to the very strong repudiation of his hon. Friend who had just sat down of any desire to interfere with the wishes and feelings of the people of India in an unnecessary way, he might assume, though his memory did not enable him to be confident, that he was one of those who voted for the retention of the Cotton Duties. He was so fastidious that he was sure his hon. Friend would never have countenanced for a moment any action on the part of the Government which would have even the appearance of injuring Indian interests. He presumed his hon. Friend voted for the retention of the Cotton Duties in accordance with the desire of the people of India.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
admitted his mistake. They had listened to a very strong speech from the Member for Preston, but his speech was stronger than the foundation on which it was built. He did not think that his hon. Friend, who had just awoke somewhat tardily to the circumstances, could have informed himself very well of the facts. One of his strong points—and here he was joined by the Member for Richmond—was that it was a monstrous thing they should make the people of India pay for the abolition of purchase 1093 in the Army. They were told that, from the British point of view, the abolition of purchase might have been a good thing, but the Indian people cared nothing about it. How monstrous to make them pay? Would the House believe that from first to last India did not pay a single penny in respect of the abolition of purchase?
§ MR. HANBURY
referred to Vote 14:—Retired pay and gratuities, including compensation awarded by the Army Purchase Commissioners;" "sum to be received in aid of Army Estimates to meet the non-effective charges for the Regular Forces serving in India.''
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, that was very true, and he admitted that was a misleading heading and ought not to be there; but the House might take it from him, with regard to the abolition of purchase, none of the charge had ever been placed on the revenue of India. Then his hon. Friend quoted from the speech of Lord Northbrook in the other House. Ho was not going to attack or defend Lord Northbrook. He was an old friend of his; but of all people entitled to complain of delay Lord Northbrook was the last, because he was at the head of the Committee which had investigated these home charges. Then his hon. Friend said that Lord Northbrook threw the post up in disgust. Ft was the first he had heard of it, and it was the first those who sat on the Committee had heard of it. His hon. Friend also found a great grievance in the arrangement with regard to the non-effective charges. The Committee had nothing to do with the non-effective charges; and let him tell the House that the Government of India never raised any objection to the manner in which the non-effective charges had been settled. His hon. Friend said as to pensions he could not understand how the figure was arrived at; all he knew was it was going up by leaps and by bounds. Why, the method was a very simple and, in his view, a very just one. When a soldier went to pension his services were examined, and India paid its share of that pension for the proportion of his service spent in India. This country paid for the portion of time which the soldier spent at home, which included the earliest days of his infancy. 1094 That could not be considered an injurious arrangement. Some time ago his prospective pension was capitalised, and that sum was divided between the two Governments on the terms he had stated. But now a still more exact method was adopted. When a soldier was to be pensioned, there was taken what might be called his "horoscope"—that was to say, they estimated how long he ought to live, and, having found the time he ought to live, they charged his pension. The proportion for the years spent in India was charged to the Indian Government. If the man died too soon India lost; if he lived too long this country lost; but, on the whole, the "horoscope," being calculated on undoubted tables, there was a perfectly equitable distribution of this charge. This was an instance of one of those terrible evils which the hon. Member for Preston was so apt to discover—where some person in one of the offices was endeavouring to mislead him and everyone else who looked into the Estimates; and he could not understand where this mystery arose. The hon. Member said that pensions had increased. They had increased because the whole system of pensions had increased. One of the principal reasons for the introduction 25 years ago of the Short Service system was the intolerable amount of pensions which Long Service had in prospect for this country. The pension list had gone up in the same way as the other, because the Government could not break faith with those who served under the old Long Service system, and so long as these men retired on pension the Government must fulfil their engagements to them; this was the sole reason why there was this great increase in pensions. He had seen it stated, as one of the grievances of India, that she had suffered so much by the introduction of Short Service. According to an actuarial calculation, it was shown that under Short Service the decrease on the home charges to India was no less than £390,000 a year. The main point, however, was, what was called home charges for training and preparing. Not only as a Member of Parliament, but as Head of the War Office, he said that this country ought to behave generously to India. His contention was, that we did behave generously to India, and it would be an evil day for India if her 1095 short-sighted advocates were to come forward and to urge her to claim her pound of flesh: because, if India did so, then this country would be obliged to claim its pound of flesh; and he thought our pound of flesh would be considerably heavier than that of India. He had some familiarity with these subjects, because more than 20 years ago he sat for two or three years on a Committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Ayrton—Mr. Fawcett being one of the members. The same thing was discussed then, and the point they differed upon was—what were to be the relations between the two countries? If they once settled that point, then the whole matter became comparatively easy. In those days they were always told how cheaply the Indian Government had managed its military affairs in the old days before the Mutiny. They were also told that India in those days got its recruits with great ease, that they cost India very little, that there was an admirable supply, and that India maintained its own troops in a state of great efficiency. But those were the Presidency troops, which were very few in number; and the system pursued then was to send out from the depôt 800 or 1,000 men yearly. There was not, however, much consideration shown to a recruit in those days. A recruit was captured, perhaps, within two or three months of embarkation, and he was packed off with others to take a voyage round the Cape—untrained men for the most part, though learning a little of the goose step in the course of their long voyage. The Government had been advised many years ago by the Sanitary Commission that it ought not, in justice to the soldiers, to send a young man out to India until he was at least 20 years of age and trained. What happened to the men who were sent out in this manner? The best medical authorities agreed in saying that after eight years the soldier deteriorated in health in India. Therefore the Government had fixed eight years as the extreme time that a soldier was to be kept in India. But the poor men who went out from the depôt at home to the little Presidency armies were kept there until they either died or were sent home in an exhausted state to die in 1096 this country. The Government preferred to send or their health, and to bring them back in a sound condition of health, and that was why the expense of the recruits for Indian purposes was so much greater that it was in those earlier days. Then there were the Queen's troops. Every battalion in India had a depôt company for each battalion at home. It was on the Indian establishment; it was paid by India; it was at one time not even voted in the numbers of the Estimates in this House. If hon. Members could conceive that system being applied to the 70,000 men that India now had, was it likely that there would be very much gain in the cost that India would incur? The hon. Member quoted the fact that £10 was allowed about 30 years ago for all arms per man. In order to show the concession that involved in India—a concession far beyond what was equitable to this country—he drew the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that the Committee of Investigation presided over by Sir Alexander Tulloch recommended a capitation rate to keep up the forces in India at the rate. For an infantry soldier £11 1s. 6d; cavalry soldier, £15 16s.; artillery soldier, £23 13s. Yet the Government, out of consideration for the circumstances of India, accepted £10. He thought that this fact showed that there had not been on the part of this country any desire to deal in the unfair way sometimes represented with India. But that was not quite a scientific basis on which to base the arrangement, and their efforts had been since directed to attain that. There was, first, an inquiry held under the auspices of the late Mr. Sclater-Booth, and then Lord Northbrook; and finally a provisional settlement was made of £7 10s. on the strength of the forces in India. This sum had been taken, and it had been continued from year to year. It was built up on a certain calculation of the expenses, and the point which the House would have to consider and to ask was, whether this £7 10s. for a man in India was necessary. He would state the War Office view of what ought to be paid equitably by this country. India should pay the extra cost of the numbers on the establishment, which would not be maintained if the Indian Army had 1097 not to be kept up. It might be said on the one hand—Oh! morally to set off against that you should look at the advantage you get from the experience in India of the officers and men—the reservoir of force you have in that country.On the other hand, he put this question, which he thought would involve a much larger sum—Supposing we had not to maintain the forces in India, what would be the effect on our arms at home?If England had not this great duty of maintaining the garrison of India, it would be possible to adopt an organisation for our Army which would be adequate for all purposes of home defence and yet effect an enormous saving on the present establishment. He set that fact off as at least equal to the supposed benefit derived by this country from the existence of a portion of the Army under excellent conditions for training and experience in India. The War Office had to obtain its recruits young, and the recruit, who was only drafted in the autumn of the year, could not be sent out under 21 years of age. Therefore, the home establishment had to keep the recruit for 18 months or two years before he could be sent to India, and during that time he was not of much service for Army purposes. In case of war he would not be used; the War Office would make use of the Reserve; and the hon. Member had not mentioned that India did not pay one penny of the existing Reserve. In respect of these infantry recruits, whom the War Office kept for 18 months, India was charged only for six months' pay and maintenance at the depôt and with the regiment. Then India was charged with only one-fifth of the staff of the depôt. The depôts were maintained for Militia, Volunteer, home Army, and training purposes, and the expense of the staff was divided into five parts, with one of which India was charged. That was certainly not too much, and in the old days India would have had to pay, instead of one fifth, the whole of one company. India was charged nothing for the staff of the regiment, although, if it were conceivable that any other system should be adopted, India would have to maintain a separate staff of her 1098 own. Something was charged for educational establishments; but why not? India received the benefit of the educated officer, and she ought to pay a share, not too great, but in proportion to the services of the officers. Some of these educational establishments were very costly. India, again, paid a share of the hospitals and discharge depôts, some of which were maintained almost entirely for herself, and there were some other smaller charges. If the total cost, which equitably enough, could be charged in respect of these recruits were assessed, it would not be the £600,000 asked for now, but over a million. The Home, Government gladly and cheerfully remitted nearly one-half of that million. But as partners in this great undertaking surely India and the Home Government should each bear their own share. Neither the present Government nor any Minister at the War Office or the Treasury ever wanted India to pay one sou more then it was right to ask of her. But, on the other hand, it was not right that the Home Government should calmly endure the imposition upon the taxpayers of this country of a greatly increased payment in those matters where the cost could be actually earmarked and charged to Indian purposes alone. Lord Northbrook was a consenting party to this payment. He was the chairman of the Committee who recommended it. This £7 10s. rate was not the choice of the Home Government. The Indian Government themselves stated that they preferred it. The War Office would, for many purposes, have rather had a fixed sum independent of the strength of India. It was necessary to explain that this was not a plot and scheme to defraud India by imposing on her expenditure what she ought not to pay. Some of the charges which he had mentioned might be too extravagant, while others might be inadequate. He should have thought that, this matter having dragged along for some years under the Northbrook Committee, the proposal which the Secretary of State for India made was a reasonable one—namely, that there should be an inquiry into these charges in order to have some sort of a settlement and understanding as to the proper sum to be charged. He believed such an inquiry would be most useful; 1099 but he was satisfied that it would not be very favourable, at all events, to Indian finance. The whole position was governed by this consideration—that while the Government were anxious to save India from any expense of which she could with any justice complain, they were not prepared to make what would be practically a contribution in aid of Indian revenues, on the ground of these charges, which they believed, and which had been proved to be, just and equitable.
§ SIR GEORGE CHESNEY (Oxford)
said, that on both sides the canon had been laid down that in dealing with India in this matter—in which we were the final arbiter—our stand should be taken on the ground of generosity. It was admitted that it was very hard to define and fix an absolute rule on which these charges should be based, and it was urged that, wherever there was a doubt, generosity should be exercised to the benefit of India. [Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN: "Hear, hear"] He would mention one case in illustration of the application of this principle of generosity. It had been accurately stated, that when troops were sent to India every possible charge which could be made out in respect of those troops was debited to India.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
My hon. and gallant Friend misrepresents me. I distinctly implied that it was not every possible charge which could be made out. I mentioned the charges which were included, but there are many others which could be made.
§ SIR G. CHESNEY
said that he would take the responsibility for the statement himself. He believed that every possible charge which could in propriety be made was made in India. From the day the soldier left England his pay was borne by the Indian Government.
§ SIR G. CHESNEY
said that, on the other hand, the soldier's pay was borne by the Indian Government on his return; and if he went into hospital on reaching England, he, was charged on the Indian Government till he recovered. But when India lent troops to England a very different system of accounts was adopted. Frequently of late years 1100 India had been called upon to assist, by her forces and establishment, the Imperial forces in expeditions to various parts of the world—such as Abyssinia, he Straits Malta, and Cyprus. Was the pay of the troops employed on these expeditions charged to the Home Government? Not at all. It was argued with a certain degree of plausibility that the Indian troops were only temporarily employed by the Home Government, and that they would have to be maintained by India in any case; and, therefore, while England paid the extra expenses of transport and clothing, the allowances and pay of the officers and men was still borne by India. There might be some reason for this, but he failed to see where the generosity came in. As we were the final authority, and as the system had been frequently protested against by the Indian Government, it would be seen that the high canon of practice laid down by the right, hon. Gentleman was not always very carefully observed. It was, perhaps, a small matter in the long run; but undoubtedly it rankled in the minds of the Indian people as a piece of high-handed injustice.
§ MR. PHILIP J. STANHOPE (Burnley)
said that he must accept the reproach of the Secretary for War for having been but tardily awakened to the importance of this subject. The hon. Member for Preston, the right hon. Baronet who sat by his side, and himself, were Members of a Committee which sat regularly upon those accounts, and they had failed unfortunately to discover the points which the right hon. Gentleman said they ought to have discovered. These Estimates were extremely difficult to understand. One of the very headings in the Estimates, which dealt with the compensation for purchase in India, the right hon. Gentleman himself admitted to be a misleading heading, and therefore it was extremely difficult for an unfortunate private Member like himself to arrive at the real facts.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
pointed out that if it was misleading, it was against themselves, and not in the other direction.
§ MR. STANHOPE
said, they had been told the other day by the Secretary of State for India that they were, one and 1101 all of them, Members for India, and he would add that they were anxious to do justice to the people of India. They had had occasion the other day to give a vote by which they wished to do justice to the people of India. Successive Viceroys of India had called attention to what they thought were the extremely inequitable charges thrown upon the people of India by these votes; and, although it was impossible for anyone not in possession of War Office secrets to follow all the details of the non-effective charges, when they came to the effective home charges he thought they must admit that the right hon. Gentleman entirely failed to establish his case on behalf of the Government. It had been stated, and it could not be denied, that we dealt out different measures to India and to the great colonies. When the responsible Government of a colony was able to make the desires of the people of that colony felt, then they did not find the War Office entering into small questions of pounds, shillings, and pence; they were glad to take what they could get; but when it came to India, then they began to consider every farthing of expenditure, and to see how much could be thrown on India and how little could be paid by the ratepayers of Great Britain. Evidently, in order to square the Army Estimates, it had been the successive practice of our Secretaries of State to endeavour to apportion to the Indian taxpayer as large a proportion as possible of these effective and non-effective charges. They were told that a Commission was about to be appointed to inquire into these matters, but his hon. Friend told him in the same breath he did not think it would, on the whole, result in much advantage to the Indian people. What, then, was the good of appointing it? He hoped the result of the Debate would be to awaken the War Office to the importance of this question. If they had not, before these questions of expenditure were discussed again, taken every possible opportunity of examining into them, they would be deserving of reproach.
§ MR. SAMUEL SMITH (Flintshire),
as one who had for many years taken a great interest in the affairs of India, thanked the hon. Member for Preston for raising this question. He did not think the House sufficiently realised how 1102 strong was the feeling in India that in the adjustment of the home charges justice had not been done to that country. It was not altogether a disadvantage, he thought, that the people of Lancashire, and through them the people of England, where beginning to feel the effects of the financial unsoundness of India. The amount India paid for pensions and retiring allowances to officers actually came to as much as the entire pay to the native army in India. One of the strongest points raised by his hon. Friend was the very heavy charge for non-effective services placed upon the Indian Exchequer. The Statistical Abstract of India for last year showed that the amount charged for these services was no less than 4,700,000 tens of rupees, almost all of which, he believed, was spent in England. He did not think this included allowances for furlough. The total sum charged for civil and military pensions and furloughs was 8 millions of tens of rupees, the military part, including furlough, coming to more than 5 millions. This was a monstrous charge, and no army in the world bore so heavy a non-effective charge. It had arisen, he believed, from the conditions consequent on the abolition of purchase. The Indian military expenditure had been growing by leaps and bounds, and in ten years it had increased, in round numbers, from 18 million tens of rupees to 24 millions, and, no doubt, this enormous increase was not a little caused by the unfair apportionment of expenses between England and India. As India was an excessively poor country, the average income of the people being not more than £2 per head per annum, as against £36 per head in this country, he would rather, in case of doubt, turn the scale in favour of India than in favour of this country. He felt bound to say, after the evidence of the futility of previous inquiry, he had not very much hope from the promised inquiry. If a Committee, presided over by such a distinguished expert as Lord Northbrook, ended in nothing, what could be expected from another inquiry? It seemed hopeless, unless a totally different principle were adopted. He did not believe that any good at all would come from the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into Indian 1103 matters, unless, placed on that Commission, were Indian representatives, who would be advocates of Indian interests just as other members of the Commission would represent British interests. Two or three capable men, his hon. Friend (Mr. Naoroji) and others, would deal with the subject from an Indian point of view, and then there would be some hope of the conclusions of the Commission being satisfactory. One very painful subject had been alluded to by the hon. Members who moved and seconded the Motion, upon which he could not be altogether silent. He took quite an opposite view as to the policy of the Indian Cantonments Acts, but no humane man could be otherwise than distressed at the outbreaks of disease among our troops in India. Upon this subject we could not stand still, and certainly some great change was called for. He would only throw out a suggestion which occurred to him, and that was that we should change our whole system of recruiting for India, and go back to long service, allowing men to marry and settle in the country giving them inducement to make homes for themselves. In old days, the long term Army did admirable service, and we might go back to a system of 20 years' service, allow men to marry, keeping them as much as possible at the hill stations, and giving them handsome retiring allowances. The native troops were allowed to marry and were mostly married men, and among them there were not those lamentable outbreaks of disease to which Europeans were exposed. Permission to marry should be given, and those who availed themselves of it would lead wholesome natural lives. He hoped the result of the Debate would lead to the constitution of a Committee or Commission, on lines that would secure an honest handling of difficult Indian questions. If the India office brought down on the heads of the Commission endless accounts and a confusing mass of figures, the result would be nugatory, and the inquiry had better not be entered upon. Let another plan be adopted—let a small Commission equally represent England and India, and he hoped some good would result.
§ SIR A. D. HAYTER (Walsall)
said, the idea was conveyed by several speakers in support of the Amendment that India, was called upon to pay for soldiers 1104 serving in this country. That was liable to great misapprehension. The arrangement made between the India Office and the War Department was that the expenses of the first six months' training of infantry soldiers and the first nine months' training of artillery and cavalry soldiers in this country were charged to India. That was always considered a fair charge, because those recruits were not doing regular and effective duty in this country, but were being trained for regular and effective duty in India. India paid a proportion of the charges for training Artillery officers at Shoeburyness, and Engineer officers at Chatham. She paid some of the charge of the Military Hospital at Netley, for the Discharge Depôt at Gosport, and she repaid the money advanced to pay to soldiers proceeding to India. But the principal charge was for young soldiers training in this country. He thought these were fair charges. However, he congratulated his hon. friend, the Member for Preston, on the fact that he had induced the authorities of the War Office to appoint a Committee to go into the matter. But he warned his hon. friend that it was extremely probable that the result of the Committee's investigation would be against him unless the principle on which the contribution was made by India was altered. He had taken the opportunity of consulting one of the best authorities on this point, namely, the Accountant General of the Army, who was examined upon it by the Committee on Public Accounts in March 1893. The following was part of the Examination:—Is the War Office satisfied with this Capitation rate, as adequate to cover the expenses they are put to?" "We have accepted something about that sum now for some years past; but speaking my personal opinion, I do not think it represents the expense to us of the Indian Depôts." "You think the arrangement leaves the Army Vote a loser?" "I do certainly.Later on the examination was continued by the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir J. Hibbert):—The Treasury apparently is not satisfied with the existing arrangement by which the amount is settled from year to year?" "The Treasury is disposed, I think, to agree with the War Department, the £7 10s. apart from deferred pay does not quite cover the cost.By arrangement with the Treasury, the 1105 sum had been accepted up to March 1894; and he did not know what had been done in the year that had since elapsed. But if there was any belief in the minds of the natives of India that too much was charged to India, then the whole basis of the charge ought to be gone into, item by item, until a Committee was satisfied what the proper charge would be.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
said, no one could fail to understand why these charges were regarded with serious dissatisfaction. He had always understood that the reason why these charges were made was, that the British Army was considered to be to a certain extent kept up for the sake of the Indian Empire; that it was considered as a reserve of the Indian Army, and that in these circumstances the natives of India had no ground of complaint. But a few facts would disprove that hypothesis. The military history of the last 90 years would show that, so far from the English Army being a reserve for the Anglo-Indian forces, the reverse was practically the truth. In the campaigns in the Sutlej and the Punjab, and in the Mutiny, the English Army was held as a reserve for the Indian Army; but the Indian Army was a reserve for the British Army in pretty nearly every war of this century, as in Sir James Beard's Expedition in Egypt in 1801, in the Java Expedition in 1810, in Persia in 1842, in China in I860, in Abyssinia in 1867, and in the Soudan in 1882. This list successfully disposed of the theory on which these Estimates were framed, that the English Army was kept up as a reserve for the Indian forces. He should like to add how glad he was that the whole charge for the Opium Commission had been placed upon England, and he should have been better pleased if the cost could have been thrown upon the faddists and philosophers, who induced the Government to appoint the Commission.
§ MR. D. NAOROJI (Finsbury Central)
wished to offer his most hearty thanks to the Mover and Seconder of the Motion, and to all who had spoken. The Secretary for War ought to be glad that he had had the opportunity of explaining what he thought the majority of the House did not know. This Debate had given him very great gratification; it would do a 1106 great deal of good, not only in India, but in England itself; and it made him glad that Lancashire was waking up. He had been disposed at times, by the proceeedings of the House, to give way to feelings of despair; but this Debate had given him new hope, that this House would be true to its better instincts, to its love of fair play, and would do justice to India. In the account with India, England must remember the immense glory she derived from India. After all, it was a question of large policy; it was whether the natives of India were to be treated as helpless subjects, or whether they were to be regarded as part and parcel of the British Empire, with the rights of British citizenship.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 25; Noes, 88.—(Division List, No. 25).
§ MAJOR DARWIN (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
believed that this occasion was one on which remarks might be made on Military policy, and he wished to crave the indulgence of the House while he made a few remarks on War Office reform. It appeared to him that it was quite as important to consider in what direction we should not advance as in what direction we should advance. The Secretary of State for War declared last year that he considered that consolidating and confirming reforms that had already taken place was the true direction in which military reform should proceed. With that view he most thoroughly agreed, and it was in order to express his concurrence with the right hon. Gentleman's attitude that he had risen. He did not think that many hon. Members of the House agreed with that view. He had looked through the speeches made on the Army Estimates during the past few years, and he found that hon. Members generally began by abusing the War Office and by a general vague declaration that the amount of the expenditure on the Army was excessive when compared with the good to be got out of it. No Minister could give a satisfactory reply to statements so vague. The next stage was to give certain definite instances of inefficiency. One hon. Member alluded to the fact that the reserve was inefficient, another 1107 to the fact that the cavalry was under-horsed; but, in order to put these details right, great expenditure was invariably necessary. These hon. Gentlemen declared that they were not prepared to spend sixpence more on the Army, and, in order to get themselves out of the difficulty, spoke loudly of War Office administration and War Office responsibility. Was there any use in this kind of oratory? In every single one of these stages failures were to be found, and he would like briefly to point out where, as it seemed to him, the chief errors of this kind of declamation were to be found. Hon. Members, when they spoke like this, always had in their minds some reference to foreign armies; but to compare foreign armies, under a system of conscription and with no Colonial service, to our Army, in which more than half the men were abroad, and in which the voluntary system held, was perfectly useless. If an hon. Member would bring forward a resolution in favour of conscription he ought to have a fair hearing; but until that was done all comparisons with foreign armies were useless. What other proof was there in favour of these sweeping declarations as to the inefficiency of the Army. He confessed he knew of none whatever. If one looked carefully through the Army Estimates, he would come to the conclusion that the only possible way in which we could get a greater number of men would be by reducing the pay either of officers or men. The pay of the man was little more than 22s. a week, including his housing, his military education, his clothes, and transport all over the world. Therefore, it was impossible to make any economy in the pay of the soldier. Neither could any reduction be made in the pay of the officers, inasmuch as the greater number of officers were of junior rank, and their pay was very small. Of course, under the Estimates they might, here and there, get a few thousand pounds saved, but that would not be enough to remove the charge of excessive expenditure; and the only logical conclusion those hon. Members who called out for a reduction in expenditure could come to was, that the number of men should be reduced. They failed, however, to recognise that England was little more than a huge depot for foreign service. The only 1108 way in which to reduce the Army was by adopting some great change in foreign policy. We might, for instance, abandon Malta. That was a policy he should object to; but it was the only kind of proposal that could be made if an economy in military expenditure was to be effected. Another common thing was to compare the expenditure on the Army with that on the Navy. The expenditure on the Army was some 30 millions, and on the Navy about 19 millions, and it was said that, inasmuch as the Navy was the far more important of the two, these figures must be wrong. The value of a service, however, could not be compared to its cost. He supposed that a good many hon. Members would declare that Education was far more important than the Army and Navy together; but no one would propose to reduce the Military and Naval Votes on that account. Relative importance could not be compared with relative expenditure. Again, the Army and the Navy, although parts of our defensive system, were separate parts, arid an increase in Naval expenditure would not bring about a decrease in Military expenditure. The Army was absolutely necessary for the defence of the British Empire, however powerful the Navy was made. He, for one, believed that if there was any increased expenditure it should be for the Navy rather than for the Army; but that must not be pushed too far. Although we were content to remain a Military nonentity in Europe, we still remained the greatest Military Power in Asia. It might be true that there were not enough manœuvres, that the cavalry was under-forced, that our recruits were too young. But in considering these matters, they must weigh against the advantages to be gained by an increased military expenditure, the disadvantages of increased civil taxation. Then if they were to spend 10 millions more upon the Army the same complaints that were heard now would before very long be heard again, and the Army would demand more and more, expenditure. He was not convinced that a much greater military expenditure would be justifiable; but, on the other hand, he did not think that they ought to reduce the existing force in the least. Could they find a panacea for their existing troubles in 1109 some form of War Office reorganization? He had come to the conclusion that they could not. That was not the means by which to make, an advance. He had served, himself, in a military capacity in the War Office, and at first he shared the belief that that institution was a mass of stupidity. But the longer he remained there the more he became convinced that it was the inherent difficulties of the problems that presented themselves that prevented their solution. The blunders that occurred did not occur in consequence of exceptional stupidity, but in consequence of the exceptional difficulties of the problems that had to be faced. There had been a number of eminent soldiers and civilians at the War Office, and it was absurd to suppose that they could have left it in the state in which it was often represented to be. The system at the War Office was fairly good. They would probably find it impossible to devise a system of War Office administration which should be much superior to that perfected by the late Mr. Stanhope, who hardly received the credit that was due for the work which he did in the Department. Several gentlemen who had served at the War Office considered that many of the main proposals of the Hartington Commission pointed in the wrong direction. The Commission was wrong, for example, in proposing to group the different military departments in the Office under a civil head, for the departments were kept together better under a military head. He did not think that much would be gained by adopting the recommendations of the Commission, and he congratulated the Secretary of State for War on his fearless determination not to effect any of these changes in the system of administration at the War Office. He should like, however, to indicate two or three directions in which reform could be pushed. They ought to peg away at minor reforms in the army, and, in order that they might be effected, public attention ought to be fixed on military affairs. The suggestion of the leader of the Opposition that there should be a Committee of the Cabinet associated with military officers, and having permanent records, was an excellent suggestion, which would, he hoped, be adopted. Then there ought to be more publicity in connection with military affairs. 1110 When he was at the Intelligence Department certain maps were kept secret in the most absurd way, and they would have been useful to the civil population. The love of secrecy was a little weakness of the Authorities. He also urged that the Secretary of State for War would do well to publish the signed Reports of the heads of the Military Departments, in order that the public might know what was their real opinion as to the efficiency of the Army. It would also be advantageous if the right hon. Gentleman could proceed with his policy of decentralisation. If they were ever to reduce the non-effective vote so as to increase the effective vote, it must be done by diminishing pensions. The only way to diminish pensions was by reducing the proportion of junior officers in the Army, and the only way to do that was by introducing the 4 company system in our battalions. He had always thought that we ought to maintain one battalion permanently abroad and one permanently at home, with a draft going out every year, the home battalion being kept at one uniform strength. He mentioned these possible reforms to show that in many directions they ought to advance, and could do so. He wished in conclusion to point out that by discussing the question of War Office reform, they were merely drawing a red herring across the trail of military reforms.
§ LORD STANLEY (Lancashire, S.E., Westhoughton)
called attention to the bad drainage of the Tower barracks and Wellington barracks. In consequence of the present defective drainage system at these places, the health and lives of the men with whom he served were endangered. Before 1891 the drainage at the Tower was found to be about as bad as it could be. A very good scheme was then prepared by a Mr. Tyndall, and it was ordered to be undertaken by the engineers. The work was done and it was passed by the engineer officers as perfect. But some 18 months ago some slight defects were discovered near the Quartermaster's house, and the drains were taken up and found to be in nearly as bad a state as the old drains were a year previously. They were ordered to be repaired, and the Secretary for War had told him the other day 1111 in answer to a question, that the defects discovered had been remedied.
§ LORD STANLEY
At the rate they were going on, at the end of the century they would still be being remedied ("Yes."). He did not want to abuse any officer in particular, but some notice ought to be taken of the conduct of the engineer officer who in 1891 and 1892 supervised the laying down of the drains and afterwards reported them to be in a perfect condition, and who, by his carelessness or inability, had endangered the health of those living in those barracks. In Wellington barracks the sanitary condition of the officers' quarters was infinitely worse than the men's, for the reason that in the former the drains were close to the building, whereas in the men's barracks the drains coming from the latrines were some distance away. In answer to a question put in the House, the Secretary of State informed him that the plans of the drains at Wellington barracks, and the others, were sufficiently good for the purpose. He should be inclined to say the plans were absolutely useless. He knew, himself, there was in Wellington barracks, in the officers' quarters, a drain found the other day of which the engineers had no knowledge whatever, and no tracing of it on their plans. The Financial Secretary, in answer to a question, informed him that the usual quarterly inspection of drains was made, and that no further examination was thought to be necessary. Probably the hon. Gentleman did not know what the usual inspection of the engineer officer was. He tapped the pipe, said that it was perfectly sound, asked if there was any smell about, and walked out of the barracks. On the last occasion, however, the usual quarterly inspection was a little more careful than usual. The smoke-test was applied, with a signally successful result, for it prevented at least three officers from going into their rooms for several hours afterwards. [Laughter.] The smoke poured in. This was no laughing matter for the officers who had to live in them. Two officers within the last year had had typhoid fever, one of them in his own regiment. [Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN dissented). Oh yes! he would give the name—Second- 1112 Lieutenant Cochrane, of the First Battalion Grenadier Guards. Of course the medical officers would say he did not contract it there. They always did. He had had typhoid fever in one of the barracks in Dublin, Undoubtedly he contracted it there, but the Medical Gfficers thought differently. And they always did. The fact was they put to supervise the drainage system of our barracks men who could not—and it was not to be expected of them—have the sanitary knowledge which they ought to have for such a special and arduous duty. They should allow the sanitary inspectors of the district to have equal power inside the barracks to what they had outside. He observed the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State make rather a face at that. He knew perfectly well he would be told they ought not to have civilian interference with the military authorities, but why should they not enable the sanitary inspector of the district to come in and see the state of the barracks? He had known cases where the officers had themselves reported things were bad, but the answer to every demand was, "There is no money. The Treasury won't let us have any." If the sanitary inspector came into his house and said, "Your house is in a bad sanitary condition," and he replied, "I have no money," that would not absolve him. He was still serving in the regiment whose case he had brought forward. They felt very much indeed the neglect with which their case had been met, though not by the right hon. Gentleman, but he would beg him to ask some of the lower authorities to give their reports, and he would see that the state of the barracks was not what he was given to understand it was.
§ MAJOR RASCH
agreed that they ought not to be too hard on the engineer officers, who, after all, were their fellow-creatures. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on his re-appearance, and also on the more or less satisfactory character of the report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting. It was germane to that report to allude to the subject of the employment of discharged and reserve soldiers. There were 35,000 men required annually for the Army, but the Inspector-General had only been able to obtain 1113 27,000 of the regulation height or chest measurement. The inspector-General also reported that 25 per cent. of the total number of recruits for the past year were specials, and not men who came up to the regulation standard The Government wanted to get an article, but they did not desire to pay the proper price for it. In obtaining recruits it was unnecessary to give them an extra quarter-pound of meat, or a full shilling per day, but what was necessary was that young men should have some guarantee that on leaving the ranks they would be able to obtain employment. That was precisely what they did not got in the British Army, but what they did get in the Continental armies and also in America. But when a man was discharged from the British Army he was sent from his business to starve on sixpence a day, he drifted into the ranks of the unemployed, and he became a standing terror to recruiting all over the country. There were several methods by which this state of things might be improved. He had, on previous occasions, suggested that there should be a bureau at the War Office charged with finding employment for discharged and Reserve soldiers, in addition to the two associations—one civilian and the other connected with the Army—which already existed for this purpose. These two associations were supported by voluntary contributions; last year they found employment for 1,400 men, but considering the fact that something like 30,000 were discharged from the Army in one year, there seemed ample scope for such a bureau as he had indicated. Then there was the Post Office. The Member for Manchester, who was Postmaster-General in the late Government, very wisely suggested that the Post Office should, wherever possible, give employment, in preference, to discharged and Reserve soldiers. He very much regretted that the present Postmaster-General seemed to have allowed that very good practice to lapse Again, many soldiers were employed as clerks, military police, officers' servants, and cooks. Why could not the right hon. Gentleman adopt a plan by which all work of this character might be performed by men belonging to the Reserves, so that efficient soldiers should not be deducted from the strength of the Army? 1114 He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the suggestion he had made in his statement about the increase in the Royal Artillery. He thought the most foolish and effete step the late Unionist Government ever took was that of reducing the Royal Artillery, and taking their horses to form a military train. He was glad to see that the Royal Artillery were to be increased. He also congratulated the right hon. Gentleman upon putting his foot down on the absurd frequent movement of troops from one and of the country to the other, which seemed to him a stupid practice that was only carried out to justify the existence of clerks in the Quartermaster-General's department. The Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day, in the Debate upon, agricultural matters said he thanked God that prices were so low. In that case why could not the Secretary for War take advantage of the cheapness of food to increase the soldier's rations to the extent of ¼ lb. per meat and ½ lb. of bread additional each day? By so doing he would greatly add to his popularity with the Army. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give his best attention to the points he had ventured to place before him.
§ MR. BROOKFIELD (Sussex, Rye)
observed that the right hon. Gentleman, in answering any possible criticism, upon the present organisation of the Army, occupied an unusually strong position. It could not be said against him, for instance, that when he was in opposition he ever advocated any decentralisation, or indeed any reform of the present military system, and afterwards, when in Office, adopted a different policy. The right hon. Gentleman had always been a champion of two perfectly consistent views—that no great change was desirable in their present military system, and that the home Army was not meant for fighting purposes, but only to supply Indian drafts and to furnish occasional expeditionary forces in times of warfare. With regard to the question of War-Office administration it was generally admitted that in most matters of administration, decentralisation, as far as possible, was a desirable aid. He thought it was expedient to leave people and things to take care of themselves so far as it was prudent and safe to do so, and not to harass the central authority 1115 with a number of petty, irritating details. At the present moment the War Office was conspicuous amongst all other Departments of the State as being the most congested, over-centralised institution that they had, while there were special reasons why decentralisation was more desirable there than in any other Department of the State. They had in the War Office, the Parliamentary, the Financial and the Military Executive all crowded together under one roof. Personal experience with regard to the War Office showed that if a small matter had to be decided it was invariably submitted to a great person, and if a great matter had to be decided it was apt to be submitted to a very little person. In other words, they had such a confused assemblage of very great and very small administrators there, that the duties were transacted in a very confusing and irritating manner. The Military Department was undoubtedly that which was the most over-centralised, and he wondered, year after year, what justification the right hon. Gentleman found not only for ignoring the recommendations of the Hartington Commission but what must also have been conveyed to him by his advisers on military subjects as to the great need of effective reform at headquarters. One reform most needed at the War Office should take place at the top, and constitutional and loyal, but effectual, means should be found to put in force the system of old age retirement as regarded the highest, as well as the lowest ranks in the Army. It was rather curious that it should have been left to an humble private Member on his side of the House to advocate this reform. One would have thought it would naturally have occurred to the mind of the right hon. Gentleman many years ago. But he remembered that in 1890 the right hon. Gentleman, in a Memorandum he appended to the Report of the Hartington Commission, took up an attitude of dogged resistance to any effective reform of the kind to which he referred.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon, I took up no attitude of resistance, dogged or otherwise, to anything of the kind. The one thing I objected to was the particular proposal as to the creation of a Chief of the Staff.
§ MR. BROOKFIELD
said, he would withdraw the word "dogged," but he was under the impression that, at all events, the right hon. Gentleman dissented in the Memorandum to the view he was endeavouring now to indicate. He remembered that the right hon. Gentleman first said that the kernel of the Report was the recommendation as to Counsel and expert advisers, but when it came to the point of appointing a Chief of the Staff—in other words, of making a great change in the office of the Commander-in-chief, he did take up an attitude of absolute resistance—a Tory attitude, and he could pay the right hon. Gentleman no higher compliment than that. Well, five years had passed since then; men sometimes in that period grew wiser as well as older, and he should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he adhered to the opinions he expressed in 1890—opinions which were in opposition to those of the leading military authorities of the present day. There was a minor point intimately connected with the other, in that same Memorandum, in regard to which the right hon. Gentleman seemed to show a more open mind. It was as to the desirability of appointing a general officer to command the English Army at home, in the same way as a general officer commanded the two Armies in India and Ireland respectively—that was to say, free from the perpetual intervention of the War Office. He was not aware that the Indian Army or the Army in Ireland, was less efficient than the one administered from Pall Mall, which was the constant subject of criticism. He would suggest that a very large devolution of duties might take place, by which this general officer might be made independent, so far as any officer might be said to be independent, of the War Office especially, in minor details of executive duty. Furthermore, he thought that a great deal of devolution of duties might take place to the general officers commanding the different military districts, and he believed that the result of such a step in efficiency would be very considerable. In the Memorandum to which he had already referred, the right hon. Gentleman said, although we had no military policy, that it was our duty to consider some of those minor problems of Army 1117 administration, which could alone constitute our military policy. It was his desire that those minor problems should be considered. The right hon. Gentleman had been congratulated on having reduced the number of moves. But that policy should be carried out in its entirety, and if the right hon. Gentleman would agree to make the Army a great deal more stationary than at present, it would not only affect a very great saving to the taxpayer, but it would conduce very much to the general efficiency of our Military system. He suggested that the home battalions should be confined a great deal more to the territorial centres to which they belonged, and that the large sums voted for transport should, in some cases, at least, as an experiment, he spent in adapting the existing barracks at the different depôt centres to the accommodation of the whole battalion belonging to the district. One very strong reason in favour of this somewhat novel proposal, was that it would be very popular with the rank and file of the Army. The Royal Marines was probably the most popular corps with that class from which recruits were drawn; and he believed the reason was, because the men knew that, at the end of their term of foreign service, they would return to what had become their home, where they would find their friends and relations, and where their chances of obtaining civil employment would be proportionately increased. Again, in connection with the territorial system, he would express his astonishment that no definite steps were taken for connecting the officers of the different regiments with the localities to which they belonged by birth and sentiment. The officers of the Militia were still invariably thus connected with the men whom they have to command. With regard to the Secretary of State's Memorandum, he expressed his sincere regret that, in a document which purported being only a compendium for handy reference, the right hon. Gentleman should have gone out of his way to refer to the possible withdrawal of troops from Egypt. He thought the moment chosen for this reference was particularly inopportune, and, taken side by side with another extraordinary utterance of a 1118 Member of the Government on the subject of Cyprus, the statement would create an erroneous impression abroad. It would encourage the French and the Khedive in a policy which he did not think this country would tolerate, and would raise hopes which, he believed, the country would take care were never fulfilled. Turning to a more pleasant matter, he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman very sincerely on the enormous increase that had taken place in the Army Reserve, and upon our having a force of 85,000 men on whom to depend. He would ask hon. Members who conscientiously disliked the Short Service system, and who were most severe on "attenuated home battalions," to lay to heart this result of the Short Service system, and realise that each of these poor battalions had some 700 or 800 old soldiers on whom to depend. His only difficulty was as to what the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Lichfield would make of this large force—this respectable nucleus for even a European army. The existence of this large reserve itself furnished the best answer to any suggestion as to our never having the will or the p[...]r to take part in any European dispute. However decided the right hon. Gentleman and his friends might be upon making the Home Army only a nursery for the supply of the Indian Army, it could not be disputed that circumstances might arise at any time which would necessitate our resuming the rôle that we had always filled in the past. He had desired to go into some other questions of military policy, especially relating to the Militia and Volunteers; but, remembering the circumstances under which the Secretary for War appeared in the House that evening after a considerable interval, he would only say that he would defer those observations until another opportunity. He had made these remarks in the interest of the Army and of the country, which would look to that Army in the time of need.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
thought there was a great deal of truth in the remarks of the last speaker on the subject of sanitation. He took a great interest in the subject of sanitation of barracks. He thought they heard very little of the sufferings of men afflicted with 1119 blood-poisoning diseases, through having to inhabit insanitary barracks. The Royal Engineers had, he thought, a very difficult office to perform, and he thought that the permanent works in connection with barracks at home should be placed under some Board competent to deal with questions relating to them. It would, in his opinion, be as absurd to expect the officers of the Royal Engineers to control contractors and contractors' foremen in questions of sanitation, as to expect Army medical officers to be specialists in eyesight or some special branch of the medical profession. He thought that it would be in the interest of the Army at large if the particular branch of the War-Office to which he had alluded were to have the advice of some special Board to inspect the barracks throughout the country in order to make certain that the drainage was up to that in well-regulated private houses in this country.
§ SIR G. CHESNEY,
in supporting the Motion, said he was in favour of Army decentralisation, and wished to press it upon Her Majesty's Government. He thought the time was not inappropriate to press the question of Army organisation, although it had been said that the British people were not able to think of more than one subject at a time, and he quite admitted that the Navy was much the more important question at the present. At any rate, the country was spending about an equally immense sum on the Army as on the Navy. But there was remarkable difference between the two cases. A warship—whether in peace or war time—was always what it was called—a man-of-war. Wherever it went, it-was complete in every respect. It was a complete unit in itself, and was ready at all times, whether by it-self, or in company with other warships, to go into battle at a few hours' notice. So far as it went they had in the Navy a complete and perfect war machine, but in regard to the Army, the facts were quite different, and the first impression gained from the perusal of the interesting statements accompanying the Army Estimates was that the Army was designed for purposes of peace. They were told, with pardonable gratification, that it might be found possible to withdraw one battalion of Infantry from Egypt, and that in consequence 1120 they would be able to reinforce certain small stations on the West Coast of Africa. What would they think of a Memorandum in the German Army, pointing out, as an important operation, that it was found possible to transfer a battalion of Infantry from the Baltic to the Rhine? The Estimates, as a whole, were redolent of peace, and he thought the country had a right to ask, what did they get for the —18,000,000? The backbone of the Army was the Infantry. If they left out the Army in India, which was not included in the Estimates, they had an Establishment of 89,000. But of that number a very considerable portion was stationed abroad, at various ports, which would require to be reinforced on the outbreak of war. These posts, therefore were not a source of strength, but of weakness. It was also stated that, of the Infantry at home, most of the battalions had between 300 and 400 men in them over 20 years of age. This meant in fact that the effective strength of men who could take the field, was about 25,000. That, then, was the element for offensive purposes of the British Army, irrespective of the Cavalry and Artillery. He was speaking quite within the mark when he said that they could not collect, in the event of war, and put into the field, more than 25,000 men. Then, what had they for defensive purposes? They had the Militia, the Yeomanry, and the Volunteers. Therefore, if this country desired to embark in offensive operations, they might assume that they would have to create an Army de, novo wherewith to do it. That, he thought, was a very accurate statement. Some one had asked: "What about the Reserves?" Yes, they had 80,000 men there, and he heartily congratulated the War Minister on this force having reached such a large number. The total, he believed, was 85,000; but do not let it be supposed that these 85,000 men were available in the mass to strengthen these attenuated Home battalions. Nothing of the kind. In the first place, on the outbreak of war, they would have to strengthen their garrisons in different parts of the world, to avoid their being captured by the enemy. It might be said that it was the duty of the Fleet to guard these outlying stations. ["Hear, hear! "] Not withstanding that 1121 cheer, he ventured to say that if the business of the Fleet was diverted from its proper purpose— namely, to find out the enemy and defeat it—and frittered away in guarding the Colonies, the colonies the whole object of the Navy, and all chance of vigorous action, would be lost. A great many men would, therefore, have to be sent at once abroad. Then they had to consider the case India. They had a fine Army in India, perfectly equipped and ready for service, but it was an Army entirely on a peace footing, It had no Reserves on the spot, neither native, nor British. Nor could they strengthen the native portion materially unless the British Army was strengthened simultaneously. The present establishment of the Indian Army was so small that, whenever they had in send a moderate force on a frontier expedition, they had to set in motion the whole Indian Army. If they had opposed to them, not Afghans or Burmese, but a European foe on the frontier, they would have to largely reinforce the Indian Army, so that any portion of the Reserves not required for Home service would, unquestionably, be required for India. Therefore, he came back to this, that, on the outbreak of war, they would have available an Army of about 25,000 men. This was the outcome of an annual expenditure of 18 millions sterling. Was the country going to be satisfied, in the case of invasion, or of threatened invasion, with its defence by Volunteers and Militia? It was said that we possessed in the fleet the means of defending our shores; but if the fleet was occupied on the outbreak of war defending our shores against invasion it would not be fulfilling the proper duty for which it was designed—namely, to search for the enemy, to pursue it, and to defeat it wherever found. It was monstrous that this country should even tolerate the idea of the possibility of invasion, but he was afraid that they would have to familiarise themselves with the idea 1122 owing to the defective character of our present military establishment. It was the knowlege of the weakness of England as a military Power, both for offence and defence, that in his belief was the one disquieting element in the military situation of the world. This country was so rich; it had so many weak points in its armour that attack would inflict upon it an enormous amount of damage. No doubt they all felt gratitude to and pride in our Volunteer force, but he had heard this point raised, which was worthy of consideration. He had heard it said—how unfair, how unjust to the Volunteers during peace time that those men, who are undertaking at their own cost and time the business of volunteering, should be called upon to take upon themselves also in war time the defence of the country. Why should the Volunteers be called upon to undertake this duty more than other persons? When that question was asked there was only one answer. It was a discredit to the country that our defence should depend on the voluntary services of those who were patriotic enough to come forward, while all those who were too selfish to do so should escape a share in the burden of defence. With our Army in its present condition the first necessary step was that every able-bodied citizen should be required to take his share in the defence of the country, either by joining the Militia or the Volunteers. If this step was taken then there would be an end to the discreditable scares which arose at intervals. The additional cost would be small, and the Government might largely reduce the expenditure on the regular Army. Until some such policy as this was adopted the country would not be in a position either of safety or of credit. Some persons spoke is if war was never likely to come, that by some happy chance we were always to be free from the risks and Complications of European war. But we were living in perhaps the most 1123 warlike period that the world had ever seen. He remembered being in Paris just before the outbreak of the war of 1870; and if anyone had listened at that time not only to "the man in the street,'' but to the most qualified persons occupying the highest military positions, the idea of invasion or of disaster was completely scouted. The French looked upon their army as a perfect machine, capable of meeting and of overcoming any enemy Everyone now knew what was tin result of that confident feeling. Because the event had not yet happened, there fore, were we to be more justified than the unfortunate French people in our belief? France recovered from that great catastrophe which overtook her by reason of her homogeneous people and her rich soil to fall back upon. On the other hand, our wealth depended on much more complicated, delicate, and varied circumstances. If a blow such as France reeled under was inflicted upon us, the greatness of England and its prosperity might pass away for ever. Therefore, it was surely incumbent on the House and on the Government seriously to consider those possibilities, and not to pass them as the mere outpourings of agitation. He did not advocate the spending of one penny more on the Army; he would much rather prefer to cut down the unnecessary, wasteful expenditure at present going on. He maintained that the Army at present was conducted on most extravagant lines. All over the world they found costly establishments of Generals and Staffs without any troops, while at Head-quarters there was an enormously overgrown. Establishment, which was the creation of a monstrously over-centralised system. If they could get rid of this, there would be more money than at present to develop the Volunteer and the Militia forces. When proposals of this kind were made they would, no doubt, be resisted, and plausible reasons advanced why no action should be taken; but, as a practical way of dealing with 1124 the question, he advocated as the first step, the giving of greater publicity to the business of the War Department. If the Estimates were referred, for example, to a select and well-chosen Committee, who could consult the principal officers concerned, and ascertain their way of doing business, they would find, among other things, that no one was really responsible at present for economy in military expenditure. The evidence given before the Commission of 1888, of which Lord R. Churchill was chairman, showed that there was only one person at the War Office who was deemed to be responsible for keeping down expenditure, and that was the Accountant General, who admitted that he had no particular knowledge of the military organisation of the Continental Armies, and that he acted on the principle of objecting to expenditure generally, rather than by pressing for administrative reform. The. military officers consulted seemed to think that all they could get was so much to the good, and that it was not their business to suggest economy. If the Estimates were carefully examined by those competent to deal with them, and able to call for the opinions of those concerned in framing the Estimates, the House would find that large economies would result, and that a much more efficient system might be adopted. He did not blame present or past Ministers for the state of affairs. The truth was, that, overworked as Ministers were, and elaborate as was the business of a great Department, it would require almost a superhuman effort to undertake a great administrative reform. But if the Ministers were supported by public opinion, and the publicity which would attend such an inquiry as he had suggested, then he would be encouraged to re-organise, the War Office on principles of efficiency and economy.
§ MR. W. E. M. TOMLINSON (Preston)
called attention to the question of 1125 the employment of Reserve men. He referred to a passage in the Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting, which stated that the best way of opening out State employment to ex-soldiers was to give the assurance that a certain percentage of vacancies in each Department should be reserved for Army men. This plan, he thought, was wholly insufficient to deal with the case. It would not be too much to say that in every public Department all the offices which could be filled by Army or Navy men ought to be open to them. Why should these places be filled by the coachmen and butlers of Ministers and politicians? Unfortunately at the present time the Post Office seemed not to be doing as much in making provision for old Army and Navy men as might be. More thorough dealing with the question was necessary. He gathered from the summary which the Secretary of State for War had issued that it was intended during the present year to serve out the Lee-Metford rifle to the Militia. What provision in that event was to be made for ranges on which the Militia could receive proper instructions in firing the rifle? Next, as to the regulations of canteens in temporary Volunteer camps. There were three modes of providing this requisite. Originally the general method was to arrange for a week with some licensed victualler to lend his licence; but that plan had its objections, because it generally happened that the Volunteers went into camp at the time of some public holiday, when the best licensed victuallers had enough to do without going into camp. The second method was to take out a temporary licence; but many Volunteer Corps thought it was better to establish a canteen on what was called the "club" system. The corps to which he belonged went into camp last year, and established a canteen, on that footing, and a summons for infringement, of the Licensing Laws followed, in which doubt was 1126 thrown upon the legality of a club canteen. What happened on these occasions was that the astute excise officer did not scruple to act as an agent provocateur. He disguised himself as a bona-fide traveller, and tried to get a drink on the strength of that assurance. If he failed, he hung about the camp, and having got hold of some recruit, described himself as tired and thirsty, and perhaps succeeded in inducing the recruit to get him a glass of beer. He thought some distinct regulation should be laid down, and he believed the best plan would be to have a clause put into the Army Annual Act. If that could not be done he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether the law on the subject was perfectly clear. He had read a statement made by the Solicitor to the War Office, which did not favour the view that it was perfectly clear. He thought they had a right to ask the War Office to issue some directions to enable officers to know in what way they could safely and satisfactorily establish a canteen.
§ SIR J. GORST (Cambridge University)
said, the Short Service System and the deferred pay might be an excellent thing for the Army, but it was inflicting a very serious evil on the civil population of the country. At present they turned a man out of the Army at 25 years of age and did not teach him any trade. The discipline and the barrack life, which were good enough as long as he remained under the colours, very much unfitted a man for civil employment, and, worst of all, when he was turned out thus, without a trade, he was given about £20, which he had an opportunity of immediately spending. The effect, there was no doubt whatever, was that a very undue proportion of the inmates of the casual wards were discharged soldiers. There was some remarkable testimony to that effect in a report made on the Whitechapel casual ward, which would be very shortly made public. The effect of the evidence which 1127 was taken by an individual examination of all those who frequented the casual ward for two months was that no less than 22 per cent, of all the men who frequented it this winter admitted themselves to be discharged soldiers. A longer period than two months was not taken, because, it was found that at the end of that time the same men came over again. In the opinion of the experienced officers and those who were qualified experts the proportion was really much greater than even 22 per cent. He had heard exactly the same testimony given before the Labour Commission by the officer who had charge of the Chelsea labour registry, who stated that a very undue proportion of the persons out of work in Chelsea, and who were seeking work, were discharged soldiers; and he said it was extremely difficult to get men of that class anything to do, because they had learnt no trade in the Army. These men were not like discharged sailors—handy men—and it was almost impossible for them to get employment. This was really a very grave and growing evil, and he thought the Secretary of State for War was very much indebted to the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Essex for pressing this matter on his attention, because it was one with which the War Office in some way or other ought to deal. Many of the men, he dared say, were very respectable, am used the sum of money given them to settle themselves in life, but a very considerable proportion, there was no doubt, squandered the money in a very short time, and were then utterly disqualified for taking their place in civil life. Could not the Secretary of State for War invent some other mode of giving this deferred pay? It might be given in instalments, or it might be applied to the purchase of an old-age pension, or given in such a manner as would not pauperise the recipient.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said the right hon. Gentleman did no often take part in these Debates, or he 1128 would know that this question had been often discussed, though he did not think it had frequently been mentioned with more clearness, sympathy, and good sense. So far as concerned the number of old soldiers and others out of employment, he was rather under the impression that the great majority were not Reserve men, but men who had completed their 12 years' service with the Colours and in the Reserve, because, so far as investigation went by paying officers and others who had knowledge of Reservists, information, did not confirm the fact that the actual number of men who were in workhouses, or in demoralising and degrading circumstances, was such as was sometimes asserted. Of course as soon as a man completed his 12 years' service trace of him was lost, and there was no knowledge of what became of him. But one answer to all that had been said by the hon. and gallant Member for South-east Essex (Major Rasch), the right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Gorst), and others, was that a Committee of the House was sitting to consider this subject, a Committee to inquire into the question of Employment for Reserve and Discharged Soldiers, which sat for a short time last Session, and had been re-appointed. So really discussion had been very much in the nature of a waste of time, because, from the labours of that Committee, might be expected much fuller information. Fie might add that, being himself, and to his own discomfort to some extent, ' Chairman of a Committee in relation to Distress arising from Non-employment, he had been told there would be evidence forthcoming before the Committee on this subject, and he hoped the House and the Department would soon be better qualified to come to some conclusion on the matter. A good deal of misapprehension had been expressed by hon. Gentlemen who had complained of a practice of appointing butlers and foot men as messengers in Government Departments. He could assure hon. Members 1129 no such appointments were made at the War Office or the Admiralty now. There was no particular objection to butlers, but they were generally men who had, at all events, opportunity for providing for themselves in an honest way, and it seemed unnecessary to pass over in their favour men who, in one way or other, had served their country. Then it had been said that less was being done by the Post Office for Reserve men than formerly, but that was an entire mistake. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Arnold Morley) assured him that rather more was being done, and his desire was to do all that could be done in that direction. Before this question was raised, there was a long speech by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford. He, coming back to his country, looked around him, and everything was the "abomination of desolation;'' everything was wrong. Not to undervalue his hon. and gallant Friend's great experience, and, least of all, his great acuteness, was he not really a little too summary in his condemnation? The present system had not, been put together in a hap-hazard manner by stupid or ill-informed people, but the best minds, civil and military, had, during the last 20 years, been brought to bear upon it. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, for instance, alluded to Mr. Knox, the Accountant General for the War Office, and put him aside, as of little consequence, an advocate of economy perhaps; but he knew nothing of the matter, and he thought the hon. and gallant Gentleman said, Mr. Knox was not a reformer.
§ SIR G. CHESNEY
said, the right hon. Gentleman rather misrepresented him. He spoke, not from his own knowledge of Mr. Knox, but quoted from Mr. Knox's own evidence, in which he said he had not studied the systems of foreign armies.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Mr. Knox was a modest man, and he had to be careful what he said when he came before a Committee, because he 1130 was not altogether his own master. He was responsible to others and must not make observations reflecting on them. But to know him, as many Members could say, was to know one of the most intelligent, one of the best informed men, one of the most reforming spirits in the Service. He (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) had known very distinguished gallant officers of high position when asked some question, of some detail of military organisation or discipline, and being a little at a loss say, "Wait a minute, ring the bell, we'll get it from Knox." This gentleman must not suffer in estimation because with characteristic modesty he spoke of himself in a deprecatory manner. The hon. and gallant Member said we had no home Army and no foreign Army, that the Army in India was good enough, but that it had no reserves for India or Home. He did not know whether the hon. and gallant Gentleman would locate a large reserve force for the British Army in India; there would be some difficulty about it. But really the hon. and gallant Gentleman seemed to wish to renew the old, old story of Army reform, but he must at his time of life decline to follow his hon. and gallant Friend into that maze. These things were settled. His hon. and gallant Friend fell back on their old friend Conscription. But he would have to wait a little before such a proposal was introduced or accepted. Nothing was more easy than to find fault with or pick holes in a system like ours. Decentralisation, said his hon. and gallant Friend, would put an end to wasteful expenditure; let them "combine efficiency with economy"—as if anybody had ever thought of doing any-thing else. His hon. and gallant Friend behind him had spoken of this as being like "that blessed word, Mesopotamia"—so grateful to the feelings of those who used it. When an hon. Member talked about sound common-sense and business like arrangements and a statesmanlike policy, these were mere words and meant 1131 nothing. What they wanted was that they should point to anything necessary to be done, and the War Department would see whether it could be done. Take decentralisation. He frankly and boldly stated that he was as much in favour of it as anyone, but everything could not be decentralised; there must be a limit somewhere. A pretty strict control could be exercised even with greater centralisation than now existed. The hon. and gallant Member for Essex had referred to his postscript to the report of the Hartington Commission. He could not accept his description of that postscript, or the inferences he drew from that erroneous description. His views were plain. He entirely agreed with his colleagues on the Commission in all the main points of their recommendations. The main thing he disagreed with them about was the appointment of an officer apart from the ordinary military executive, to be shut up in a room by himself in order that he might think, and there he was to manufacture a military policy for the country; and he said they did not want a military policy if it meant aggression or opposition to our neighbours. We were a peaceful country, and our military policy was on a humble scale. The hon. and gallant Member spoke of "leading military authorities" condemning something or other. The great difficulty was to get a body of opinion in favour of one thing more than another. So phrases like that, though they might sound very awful, had no terrors for him. The hon. Member for Preston alluded to the subject of canteens. He himself had nothing to add to what he said earlier in the day. But he would give it his best consideration. Then the hon. Member deplored the fact that there was a great deficiency of officers in the Volunteers. All sorts of suggestions were made to overcome this—that they should cover them with medals, give them commissions in the Army, raise their pay, and give them equipment. 1132 Coming to the noble Lord opposite, he was a remarkable instance of heredity. While he was speaking he closed his eyes, and almost thought his father, who was so well known and popular in the House, was addressing them. He complained of the state of the drains at the Tower and the Wellington Barracks. If there was anything he himself had served an apprenticeship in, it was drains. He served that apprenticeship when he had the honour of being Chief Secretary for Ireland, and the locality of his service and knowledge was the Ph—oelig;nix Park, Dublin. He was certain that whatever the drains and cesspools in the Tower or the Wellington Barracks might be, they were a mere trifle compared with what existed, in his time, in the Chief Secretary's lodge. But the noble Lord's complaint about the Tower was reasonable. The drains there were of the oldest type of construction. The drains of the Tower, as might be expected, were of the very oldest description, but they were reconstructed two years ago. It was believed that the main drains were well laid, but the communications were imperfectly laid, which, as every one knew from private experience, was often the case, and accordingly some mischief arose from them. A thorough inspection of them was made, and they were now in process of being restored. He would answer for it that those drains would not be passed as right until they were proved to be right to the satisfaction of a sanitary engineer. A good deal had been said about the Royal Engineers; but, apart from the skill, the knowledge, the capacity, and the training of the Royal Engineers themselves, there was at the headquarters of the Service Mr. Tyndall, one of the best sanitary experts he had ever come across. They could have a sanitary expert who would lead them into every sort of expense, and that for a public department like the War Office would be a very awkward thing. On the, other hand, a sanitary expert, if he were a sensible and reasonable man, would be 1133 invaluable in such a department; and he could say that Mr. Tyndall had been given a somewhat improved position in the department, and was in charge of the question of barrack sanitation. All that he had said on a former occasion about plans was that in certain barracks the plans were believed to be good, and that, in the older barracks they were sufficient for practical purposes. ''Sufficient" was his own word. The word presented to him was "reliable," but he thought it well to use "sufficient" instead. What was meant was that in the case of old barracks, as in the case of old country or old town houses, they were never sure that they knew all about the drains, because, they would be occasionally finding disused cesspools in the most unlikely places. But, subject to that qualification, the War Office had no reason to believe that their knowledge of the drains of Wellington Barracks was not good for the purpose. There had been one case, and not two cases, of typhoid amongst officers; but they had to be guided to a certain extent by this medical report, which declared that the health of the men and officers had been excellent. The noble Lord was aware that if evil smells were discovered, or if drains were found to be faulty, the matter ought to be reported by the Commanding Officer to the General Officer commanding in the district. and if it were reported there was no question of insufficiency of funds, for the orders of the War Office were that sanitary matters should take precedence of all other matters.
§ MAJOR RASCH
said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman would find that the condition of Wellington Barracks was reported, and that no notice was taken of it.
§ MR. CAMPBELL BANNERMAN
said, he was surprised to hear that, for it was not according to his idea of what should be done. However, he would look into the matter. As to the suggestions for the formation of a Central 1134 Board, the Army Sanitary Committee was, perhaps, sufficient for the purpose. He could assure the noble Lord that for his part no pedantic question would be allowed to stand in the way of anything of the sort that might be found possible. He had listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Lichfield with very much pleasure, for his hon. Friend had actually spoken in defence of the War Office. And why? Because his hon. Friend knew something about the War Office, having been himself in the War Office, not as a member of the Executive Staff, but as an officer of the Intelligence Department; and he, therefore, took a more favourable view of that department than was sometimes taken of it in the House. He should be glad to consider many points that had been suggested by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. As to his ideas about double companies, it was a question about which there was strong opinions on both sides; and if the War Department had not adopted an organisation of that kind it was not for want of full consideration. He had now answered all the points that had been raised, and he ventured to hope the House might be allowed to go into Committee.