1. Motion made and Question proposed:—
That a sum, not exceeding £253,500 be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Salaries and Miscellaneous Charges of the War Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st day of March 1897.
§ * SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston),
, in moving "That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £100, in respect of the Salary of the Secretary of State," said that his intention was to refer to a question that affected very unfairly and unjustly a member of his own profession. The officer was a young man who had for nearly ten years held Her Majesty's Commission. He had won golden opinions wherever he had served, and at the time of his dismissal, he was without any reproach whatever as regarded his military and medical work. After having served between nine and ten years, Dr. Fowler was, early last year, sent down to Sheerness, to do duty there as medical officer in charge of a militia regiment which had been called up for training. He did not in this case propose to enter into the names of regiment or the officers who were concerned in the scandal which led to the dismissal of Surgeon Captain Fowler as he was then. He desired to fight the matter on the broad principle of whether justice had been done or not. On the morning of June 6th Captain Fowler was passing through the camp in search of a brother officer with whom he was engaged to lunch, and as he passed by an officer's tent he heard a great noise going on inside. He went into the tent to ascertain the cause of this riotous proceeding, and discovered no less than eight of these militia officers engaged in certain things which he did not desire to mention, but which certainly constituted conduct absolutely unbecoming of officers and gentlemen. As soon as he recognised and realised what was going on, he did what he thought every gentleman would do. He said they must stop such proceedings or they would get into a terrible disgrace. He saw the proceedings stopped, and left the tent. The whole time he was in the tent was, on the testimony of four of the officers, under half a minute. He afterwards spoke to the senior captain, who was present at these disgraceful proceedings, and that officer undertook to report the matter to the commanding officer. He subsequently saw one of the participators in the scandal and remonstrated with him on his conduct, and warned him, as medical officer, of the danger of going on in such a course of conduct, and of the utter disgrace of it. Surgeon Captain 1449 Fowler heard nothing more about the matter until the 14th of June, when, at half-an-hour's notice, and without any previous warning, he was sent for to a Court of Inquiry. When he got there, he found he had to give evidence in regard to this matter. He never heard that he was in any way implicated. He had done his duty, as he conceived, and he gave his evidence under this idea; and when, an accusation was made against him by the chief offender in this matter, he was able absolutely to deny it. He (the hon. Member) had evidence in his possession which corroborated Surgeon Captain Fowler's denial on the part of four of the eight officers who were in the tent when this thing occurred. The next that he heard in regard to the matter was that he was dismissed from the Service. Under the circumstances he naturally protested against his dismissal, and in a letter he wrote he said he might at least have been given the opportunity of resigning his commission. As an answer to that letter, he found he was gazetted out as having resigned his commission on the 6th of August last. This dismissal from the Service meant to him more than it did to an ordinary officer, because it deprived him, in the first instance, of his means of livelihood. He went out disgraced, and he lost the gratuity of £1,250, which was given to a medical officer as a kind of deferred pay, and which he would have received if he had been ten years in the Service, instead of the nine years and two months he had served. Surgeon Captain Fowler had applied for this gratuity as a matter of justice, but it was denied to him. This was a very hard case, for he had a wife and young family dependent upon him; and it was a particularly hard case when they compared it with the justice meted out to the other offenders in this case. Dismissal for them meant nothing so severe as it did in Captain Fowler's case. The two dismissed incurred no fine by their dismissal as he did. By their dismissal they simply lost their position in the militia regiment, while Captain Fowler lost his position both in his profession and in the army, and incurred this money fine of £1,250. One whose name was not mentioned at all at the Court of Inquiry was so struck with the injustice of the sentence upon Captain Fowler that he 1450 made a full confession of the circumstances and was dismissed. So perfunctorily did the Court of Inquiry go into the case that the senior captain's name was never mentioned, and his implication in the matter only came out when he made his own confession. With reference to the other offenders, one was dismissed, but the culprit who personally engaged in this most abominable and disgraceful proceeding was allowed to retire, and the others who had been present at the whole proceeding were censured. The commanding officer of the district, to whom this inquiry was submitted, made certain recommendations with reference to the treatment of these officers, but he believed he made no recommendation whatever about Surgeon Captain Fowler, his intention, if not his expressed desire, being that Surgeon Fowler's case should be left for consideration by the Army Medical Department. But instead of the matter being referred to the Director General of the Medical Department, Surgeon Fowler was dismissed on the action of the War Office authorities. The treatment of a member of the medical staff without reference to his official head, the Director General, was not likely to make the service popular or to bring members of the medical profession into the service. The War Office did not submit this case to the Director General. If they had done so, they would have received from him either a confirmation of their proposed penalty or such a statement as might have induced them to make it less severe. Surgeon Fowler had never received from the War Office any statement of the ground upon which he had been forced out of the service. Was he dismissed on a charge of being a party to the offence which brought about this scandal, or was it because of inconsistency in his statements and discrepancies in his evidence? As regarded the evidence, he had letters from four of the officers, including the senior military officer, all of whom denied that Surgeon Captain Fowler had any part in the conversation in connection with it or any part in the proceedings, that he stopped them, and was only in the tent half a minute altogether. There was no recommendation for his punishment at the Inquiry, and if he had been one of the principal officers accused, he ought to have 1451 had opportunities for preparation of his defence and for calling witnesses. He might be told there might be some charge founded against him on the evidence he gave at the Inquiry. If that was so it was entirely out of harmony with the "Manual on Military Law," which laid down that—Wherever any Inquiry affects the character of an officer or soldier, full opportunity must be afforded such officer or soldier of being present throughout the Inquiry and for making any statement he may wish to make, and of cross-examining any witness whose evidence in his opinion affects his character, and producing any witnesses in defence of his character.It was perfectly manifest that half-an-hour's notice of an Inquiry of this kind, which ended in the dismissal of a man from Her Majesty's service, was not sufficient opportunity to give him the means of defending himself. The same book from which he had quoted also said that the Court of Inquiry had no power to compel witnesses to attend, and evidence could not be taken on oath. So that this was evidence that was not taken on oath, and one of the witnesses was the accuser and the officer most seriously implicated. The Manual further stated that the Court of Inquiry would give no opinion on the conduct of any officer or soldier, and any information, statement, or answer to questions made or given at the Court of Inquiry should not be admissible against any officer or soldier making or giving it, so that to take the evidence this man gave himself at this inquiry would be to break the law as laid down in the "Manual on Military Law," and to condemn him on evidence which had no right to be used against him. If he was charged with any offence against his character as a gentleman or officer, the four witnesses from whom he (Sir Walter Foster) had letters, and who were present throughout the proceedings, sufficiently exonerated him from that charge. If, on the other hand, the charge against him was that his evidence was inconsistent with other statements he made, and that he did not give full evidence at that court, then he contended that the evidence Surgeon Captain Fowler gave at the Court of Inquiry ought not, according to the "Manual on Military Law," to be used to his injury, and that, called suddenly as he was, he had no time or consideration of 1452 what he was about to say. The real point of the discrepancy that arose with reference to his position came to this. At the Court of Inquiry, Surgeon Captain Fowler said he was a few minutes in the tent, and on that he believed some people supposed he was an accomplice in these disgraceful proceedings. He was about half a minute in the tent, according to the written testimony of the four officers who were present during the proceedings. It had also been alleged that he did not exert sufficient moral reprobation when he found these officers misconducting themselves, but it was difficult to conceive what more he could have done. As a medical man he pointed out to one of the chief offenders the grave nature of his indiscretion, he remonstrated and stopped the proceedings, and having done that, he left the tent and afterwards conferred with the senior military officer present, whose duty it was to report the occurrence and who undertook to do it. If, on the other hand, Surgeon Captain Fowler was engaged in aiding and abetting in this infamy, he was not fit to be a member of the medical profession, and there, was a simple and easy way of taking him off the register. If the Army authorities considered that this gentleman was guilty of such an offence, it was their duty to report the matter to the Medical Council, whose duty it was, as representing the medical profession, to keep the register pure, and had this man been guilty of aiding and abetting the disgraceful conduct which took place in the tent it would have been their bounden duty to remove his name from the register. If, on the other hand, he was not guilty of the offence, but only of some errors or discrepancies in his evidence, then he said the punishment meted out to Dr. Fowler did not fit the crime, that it was totally out of proportion to it, and because of inconsistencies and discrepancies in his statement he had been more severely punished than the men who were actually guilty of the offence. Practically, the War Office, by their action, had admitted that they did riot believe Dr. Fowler was guilty of any offence. He was barely out of the Army Medical Service when, through his friends, he sought employment elsewhere, and, out of 80 applicants, was appointed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies as Colonial Surgeon in 1453 British Guiana. This appointment was not made until after the Colonial Secretary had acquainted himself, through the War Office, with the details and circumstances under which Surgeon Captain Fowler was dismissed from the Army, and until after he had been informed of his efficiency as an officer. The right hon. Gentleman had been good enough to state that to the House in answer to a question, and he knew he would never have appointed to the colonial service any gentleman whom he thought was stained by any disgrace of this kind. This young officer was now placed in the colonies, in British Guiana; he had to take his wife and young child out there, he was to be expatriated and lose the position in the profession for which he had been specially educated in the Aberdeen University. In addition to that expatriation, he was to forego a gratuity of £1,250, and to have the slur resting on his character of the abominable stigma that he had been mixed up with circumstances it was impossible to characterise with any words in decent company. Such a state of things was a great injustice. There was no evidence and no adequate justification to support the mode in which this officer had been treated. Therefore he brought this matter forward, not as a reflection on the character of the distinguished nobleman who filled the post of Secretary of State for War, not as a reflection on the character of the hon. Gentleman who represented the War Office in that House, but as an instance in which justice, somehow or other, had gone astray. He thought some opportunity should have been afforded this officer of vindicating his character before the extreme penalty was resorted to of retiring him from the Army. He frequently demanded a court-martial or an inquiry by a commission of officers, but both requests were refused. That was not the justice which ought to be meted out to a man of exemplary character in any civilised country. Surgeon-Captain Fowler had been abominably treated, and regarding this, not as a party question, but as one of justice between man and man, he appealed to the Committee to assist him in obtaining equitable treatment for this young officer.
§ Dr. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire W.)
, in seconding the Amendment, 1454 said that if the Colonial Secretary had not come to his aid this young man would have been ruined. According to the evidence he saw a discreditable thing going on, he interfered and stopped it. It was said that he ought to have gone further and reported it. He himself was an old Army medical officer, and if he had been in the position of Dr. Fowler, he should have acted just as he did. On all occasions where the purely military element came in, the senior combatant officer of the particular rank had to take responsibility, and although Dr. Fowler held the same rank, and might have been senior in the service, the Captain junior to him was entitled to take command, and it was essentially the duty of the senior combatant officer to have reported these occurrences to the superior commanding officer. A great deal was said about moral responsibility. A distinguished military officer said that Dr. Fowler ought to have knocked the men down. Had he done so the probability was he would have been at the police court with a couple of black eyes. It was said that Dr. Fowler ought to have been guided by the regulations of the Army Act, but he had been unable to find in the Act anything by which Dr. Fowler could be guided. Were medical officers told that they were compelled to take action in the way suggested? He hoped that, after this matter had been decided, some warrant or document would be promulgated which would lay down a medical officer's line of conduct in such circumstances, because it added a new terror to their existence if they were to act on such occasions in a given way without any instructions for their guidance. Dr. Fowler was summoned before a Court of Inquiry without being told that his own conduct was to come up for examination, and gave his evidence without any professional help, without the examination of witnesses on oath. He went home and found he had been dismissed from the service. It was said there were dis-crepencies in his evidence. He was looking on for only half a minute instead of two minutes and a half. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that he committed an error of judgment, the punishment inflicted was too heavy for the offence. For a trifling error of judgment that a man should be deprived of his 1455 living and reputation, seemed punishment much in excess of the crime. Pie was acquainted with Dr Fowler. He had an unblemished record for morality and efficiency in the service. Everyone practically acquainted with his worth bore emphatic testimony that he was a man who did his work well, and was a man whom they were sorry to lose. In the words of the Director General—he is a man we seldom get hold of, and I deeply regret he is no longer serving in the army.A man who was told he was unfitted to serve in the Army Medical Service was at once given a position in the Colonial Service! It might be said that was full compensation. He himself did not think it was. It was suggested that he should be reinstated. If the Secretary for War-could see his way to reinstate him, and he could remain long enough to get his gratuity, he would be satisfied, and a valuable effect would be produced on the Army Medical Department. Knowing a good deal of the tone and temper of the medical profession, and the great medical schools from which candidates were drawn, such a case as this went against them and the service generally. If this man was punished and not reinstated for his services and high character, intending candidates for the Army Medical Service would not be encouraged to enter for it. Though doing so might be thought to depreciate his position out there, Dr. Fowler's friends in the medical profession of the colony where he now was had taken up the case and passed a resolution sympathising with him, and hoping he would get redress. He himself now pleaded earnestly on his behalf. He trusted that his case would be reconsidered. He was sure that any clemency shown him would not be thrown away.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said he made no complaint of the manner in which the two hon. Members had brought this matter before the Committee. Considering the strong feelings they held on behalf of their profession with regard to the treatment of this officer, the Committee would no doubt feel they were justified in availing themselves of this opportunity. Still, he believed it had been a mistake to bring the case into more prominent notice than it had already obtained, and it devolved 1456 upon him to put before the Committee what the circumstances really were of one of the worst cases of the kind that the military authorities had had under their cognisance, and which made it necessary to act severely by all concerned. Every desire had been shown by all concerned to have regard to the good professional service of Dr. Fowler, to which attention had been properly called. But the circumstances of the case were not precisely as they had been brought before the House on the information supplied to the hon. Members opposite. There was this difficulty. Some of the witnesses at the Court of Inquiry, when they found a much more serious view was taken of this occurrence than they expected, went out of their way to retract and modify in important particulars the evidence they had given. The main point on which the hon. Member for Ilkeston had relied was that Dr. Fowler was not the senior officer present, and why he appeared in the first instance to be the senior officer was that all those examined before the Inquiry entered into a conspiracy, to which Dr. Fowler lent himself by his evidence, to conceal the fact that a certain officer had been present because they thought he might suffer severe penalties for so being. But if difficulty was presented owing to the conflicting nature of some of the evidence, the War Office had no difficulty in proceeding on facts on which all were of the same view, and on which all the statements coincided. What were the facts? A certain number of young officers who had been engaged in bullying a particular young officer of the regiment were assembled together at 12 o'clock in the day. Filthy conversation took place, which, as was stated by one officer in the evidence, terminated in a bet, and one of their number performing a very disgusting experiment. There was premeditation in what took place, and it was not done on the spur of the moment. After the conversation, five officers assembled in a tent, the tent was closed, and one was called upon to stand sentry outside. After these precautions, either two officers, or, by the concurrence of all, one officer was compelled or permitted, in the presence of five others all wearing Her Majesty's uniform, to abuse himself. Dr. Fowler, it was alleged, was not present till the end; but that 1457 was not quite in accordance with his own evidence or the evidence of others. The hon. Member said that Dr. Fowler knew nothing of what was going on until he went into the tent, but it was distinctly stated by one witness that he was the originator and author of the bet on which the whole proceeding was taken. [Sir W. FOSTER: "He denies it."] This was not corroborated, and therefore must not be held to be true, but Dr. Fowler did not at the Inquiry deny his presence at the previous conversation. It was maintained that he was not there very long, but he said in his own evidence he was there some minutes, and another witness said he came in at the beginning. There was no evidence whatever that he attempted to stop the occurrence. On the contrary, all he alleged himself was that he said something to the effect: "There will be a great row about, this; you had better stop it." Then he went out, but his connection with the business was not ended. As a medical man he was called upon a few minutes afterwards to enter a tent where a victim of this disgusting occurrence was lying in a state of exhaustion. He examined him and found the heart and the pulse weak and gave him a warning. He then went to his luncheon and did not report the occurrence to the Principal Medical Officer or the Colonel commanding, whom he must have met in a few moments. It was said that Dr. Fowler spoke to the senior Captain, and left it to him to report the proceedings; but one of the things that told largely against him in the minds of the military authorities was that, although that officer was present and walked away with him from the tent, and Dr. Fowler mentioned his name in the course of the evidence, he said he could not remember who was in the tent. Other officers distinctly denied that the senior officer was in the tent. It was now admitted that all had lied about the matter, and the senior Captain, who was represented by the hon. Member as coming forward to clear Captain Fowler, himself stated that he knew nothing about the matter, although he now confessed he was there. There was no doubt that Fowler stood convicted of having endeavoured to hoodwink the authorities as to the presence of the officer. Beyond 1458 that, the military authorities felt they had a right to the assistance of Fowler in endeavouring to deal with this scandal. He was asked at the Court of Inquiry whether the offence was being committed by one officer or by two, and he said, although he was speaking of a bell tent no bigger than the Table of the House, he did not know whether the second officer was misconducting himself or not. All these things went to show that Dr. Fowler did not appreciate the gravity of the occasion; he showed no desire to assist the authorities in discovering the truth, and in marking their sense of the outrage committed. The view of the War Office, therefore, was this: Dr. Fowler had deliberately gone at midday into a tent where were three or four other young officers; he saw a weak-minded individual compelled or permitted to perform a disgraceful act in public; he never reported any portion of the occurrence; and when called upon to explain and give opportunity for the cross-examination of other witnesses, he assisted them in an attempt to hush up the whole affair. It was felt that it was necessary for the sake of others to mark severely the official sense of this disgraceful occurrence. ["Hear, hear!"] He agreed that if it was necessary to break up a regiment to stop these disgraceful occurrences a regiment had better be broken up. [Cheers.] From that point of view the officer commanding was severely censured for having allowed these things to go on in his regiment. The senior Captain and the senior Lieutenant were removed from the Service; the young man who was the subject of the outrage was ordered to resign his Commission; of three other Lieutenants two were severely censured, and one of them would not be allowed to enter the Army. The demand now made was that Dr. Fowler, who was some ten years the senior of any officer except the senior Captain, who had had nine years experience of the regulations, who knew well what his duties were, who was over 30 years of age, who had subsequently to attend the victim professionally, was to be regarded as the only person who was not bound to make a report and was to go scot free. There was no desire to prejudice him unnecessarily. There was no court-martial because it was not 1459 a case calling for one. A court-martial was held in a case of mutiny, or of cowardice before the enemy, or of fraud, or of drunkenness, or when the evidence was decidedly conflicting; but in this case there was no charge of crime and nothing could be made of any conflict of evidence. A court-martial could have been useful only if Dr. Fowler had brought up a direct negative to all his own admissions before the Court of Inquiry, and to all of the admissions affecting him made by the officers. The reason why he was called upon to retire was that he was held to have been wanting in discretion in the performance of military duty, and not to have had a proper conception of public duty, or a sense of what was due from him in his position as an officer. If it should be held that it was not the duty of a medical officer to interfere in such a matter, he must refer the Committee to Sub-section 3 of Section 40 of the Army Act, which said:—An officer may order in to military custody an officer of inferior rank or any soldier, and any non-commissioned officer may order into custody any soldier, and an officer may order into military custody any officer (though he be of higher rank) engaged in a quarrel, fray, or disorder; and any such order shall be obeyed notwithstanding the person giving the order and the person in respect of whom the order is given do not belong to the same corps, arm, or branch of the service.The military authorities distinctly held that this was a case of grave disorder, and that this section of the Act was equally binding on medical officers with others. As to Dr. Fowler being deprived of a gratuity, he had served but nine years and two months, and there was no power to give a gratuity to one who had not served 12 years. The gratuity was asked for on the ground that, it having been found impossible to retain him in the Army, he had been recommended to the Colonial Office for colonial employment. The War Office had desired to temper justice with mercy. There was no imputation on his professional capacity, and there did not seem to the Secretary of State to be any reason why he should not be permitted to earn a livelihood in a position not calling for the qualities required in the Army. ["Hear, hear!"] But it must be clearly understood that to press for his return to the Army would be contrary 1460 to the views of every officer responsible for discipline, and he could hold out no hope whatever of Dr. Fowler's restoration. [Cheers.]
§ SIR GEORGE OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)
said that courts-martial had been held over and over again to decide whether conduct complained of was unbecoming in an officer and a gentleman; and he therefore wished to ask whether Sir Francis Jeune, as Judge Advocate-General, had been consulted as to the holding of a court-martial in this case.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said there had been no reference of the matter to the Judge Advocate. The military authorities did not think it necessary to hold an inquiry when the facts were clear, as in this case. The question whether an officer should resign his commission was a question for the military authorities to decide.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said he was sure they had all listened with the deepest feelings of pain to the statement of his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for War, and that it would be felt that the sooner the Debate was brought to a conclusion the better. He thought nothing further could be said that would redound to the credit, of the gentleman chiefly implicated, and he feared a continuation of the discussion could only bring discredit on the British Army. He hoped, therefore, that the House would agree to bring to a summary termination a subject which, no doubt, was raised in absolutely good faith, and with the best motives by the hon. Gentlemen who had raised it; but he thought they would agree with him that it ought not to be pursued further. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said he knew nothing of this case before, and of course should never vote on such a matter on Party lines; but he did not think the facts had been made quite clear. Two different statements had been made. If he agreed with the facts of his hon. Friend the Member for Ilkeston, he should vote with him; and if he agreed with the Under Secretary's facts he would vote with him; but as the case had been laid before the Committee, it was difficult to know what to do. One thing he could not at all understand, and that was that if Dr. Fowler were; guilty of the malpractices the Under 1461 Secretary for War said he was, how the Secretary for the Colonies could, with the facts before him, have given Dr. Fowler employment in the Colonial Office. If Dr. Fowler were guilty he had been treated too leniently, and if he were innocent he had been treated too harshly. ["Hear, hear!"] The Committee, therefore, should know the facts clearly before they dismissed the matter and passed to something else.
§ SIR HENRY CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
entirely reciprocated the desire of the First Lord of the Treasury that the Debate ought not to be extended beyond limits which were not absolutely necessary. But at the same time he did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking that the sooner it came to a conclusion the better for the good name of the Army. He could not conceive anything much worse in the interest of the Army than that it should go to the public, that there were scenes of a horribly revolting nature, such as had been described, in the Service, and that the less said about them in the House of Commons the better.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
No such inference could be drawn from my remarks. Certainly no such suggestion was intended to be hinted by me, and if I have expressed myself badly I must apologise.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said he thought the interests of the Army were best served by these matters being dealt with not only with due regard to the interests of decency, but with full inquiry and free justice. ["Hear, hear!" from The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY.] His hon. Friend the Member for Ilkeston brought forward with great reserve and great temperateness the case as it was presented to him on behalf of Dr. Fowler. The Under Secretary for War stated the case against Dr. Fowler; but it appeared to him that the weak point of the case was that it was too strong a case, for the hon. Gentleman made it out that Dr. Fowler had been, practically particeps criminis in the affair from first to last. If that were so—if Dr. Fowler was the man the Under Secretary had painted him as being, he deserved no commiseration or sympathy from the House, above all, he 1462 ought not to hold any appointment under the Crown; and, as his hon. Friend had said, he ought not to remain, any longer, a member of a loyal and much respected profession. Therefore, the Committee was put in a little bit of a difficulty by the very strength of the case of the Under Secretary for War. The hon. Member said that Dr. Fowler had been retired from the Army for want of discretion and of a sense of what was due to his position. That was a very small matter, and if Dr. Fowler had been retired for that, he had been over punished. If, on the other hand, what it was implied he was guilty of was what he had been retired for, then the punishment was not enough. But the assertion upon which the statement of the Under Secretary rested were the assertions of witnesses of whom the hon. Gentleman himself said some had lied. He at once admitted, what everyone knew, that perhaps of all tribunals that could be invented for getting at the truth in a matter like this, or for discussing it reasonably, the House of Commons was probably the worst—["hear, hear!"]— but at the same time they were left, some of them with a suspicion on their minds that this man had been hardly dealt with. The House was not in the possession of the facts to form a true judgment in the matter, and as the Debate, therefore, could not come to any good result, it would be better to bring it to a conclusion.
§ * CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
said he knew nothing of this case except from the statement of his hon. Friend the Member for Ilkeston, and from what he knew of his hon. Friend's position in the House and of his position in his profession, which did so much to mitigate the miseries of mankind, he held he was justified in taking his hon. Friend's representations of the case as accurate. The chief reason for the Debate was that it was the duty of the House to strengthen the hands of the military authorities in matters of this kind, inasmuch as if such customs as "bear fighting" and "drawing," were not permitted in the service, scandals of this kind would never have occurred. We were overwhelmed with military scandals. [Cries of "No!"] Did a similar number of cases occur amongst young 1463 barristers or the junior members of any other profession? He said emphatically "No!" Of course, the answer might be given that the members of other professions were not thrown together in the same way as military officers, and that was true in some respects, but he held that these scandals resulted from bullying and bear-fighting being allowed in the Army. It was said that this medical officer ought to have reported the case. What, he would ask, would have been the position of an officer who ventured to report such a case to the commanding officer? It was asked, why did not the military authorities take action? He could tell the Committee why. It was because when a case of this kind came before them they, the Members of this House, were bombarded with letters and the authorities at the Horse Guards overwhelmed by visits, each parent or guardian of an officer concerned representing that his particular son or ward had nothing whatever to do with the occurrence, and that he was drawn into the affair by others. The military authorities being only human, took a lenient view of the case, and the result was that the greatest injustice was sometimes done to an individual, and the custom continued.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
On a point of order, Sir, I wish to ask whether all this is relevant.
* THE CHAIRMAN
I cannot say that the hon. Member is out of order. It would certainly be more convenient for the Committee to discuss this particular case and not to discuss cases generally, as the hon. Member is doing; but as a, Motion is made for the reduction of salaries generally, I do not see how I can stop the hon. Member.
§ * CAPTAIN NORTON
, continuing, pointed out that the Under Secretary for War had said that all were to blame in this case. If so, why were they not all punished? Why should this medical officer alone be mulcted in the sum of £1,250. If he had done anything unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, he might have been tried by court-martial, and certainly, if his conduct was such as was alleged, it was distinctly unbecoming in an officer and a gentleman. Was it just to mulct this officer in the 1464 sum of £1,250, and degrade him in his profession?
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said it had occurred to him that as there was considerable doubt in the minds of all as to the facts of this case, and as the statement of the Under Secretary was based mainly on the statements made by witnesses who did not appear to be very trustworthy, the Government might agree to leave the facts of the case to the Law Officers of the Crown. That would bring them within the judgment of men qualified to deal with intricate and conflicting evidence of this kind, and he thought he might answer for his hon. Friend, and those who supported him, that they would be content if that course were adopted.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said he would be very much averse to rejecting any proposal made by the right hon. Gentleman, but the facts of the case, about which he seemed to be so much in doubt, depended on evidence of two kinds; the evidence of the officer himself, and the general effect of the evidence obtained from others. These did not differ in any material degree. In addition to that, there was the fact that his evidence before the Court of Inquiry was in itself unsatisfactory, that he was present at the affair and that he had shown no desire to do his duty in the matter, or to assist the authorities to do theirs. On these facts a decision had been given against him. He had the opportunity of disputing and had not disputed any of the facts which had been held sufficient to render his resignation necessary, and in the circumstances it was impossible for the military authorities to consent to receive, him back into the service.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Montrose Burghs)
urged that what his right hon. Friend the former Secretary for War had suggested was that the House would feel its conscience cleared if the official statement, which he had no desire whatever to traverse, and the view of the case presented to them was supported by the legal opinion of the legal advisers of the Crown. The House would then feel assured that the proper steps were taken, and he could not see why the War Office or Her Majesty's Government should object to that.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said that in the first place it was months since the occurrence took place, and in the second place there were two views of the case. If the severer view had been taken, about which there was some dispute, the criticisms passed by the other side of the House might possibly have had some foundation. But the War Office had gone on the undisputed facts, as admitted by Dr. Fowler himself, and it was on the more lenient view of the case that the War Office had acted. In these circumstances it did not appear to the Government that there was really any ground for any further inquiry into the facts. He did not think there was any case for the introduction of the Law Officers of the Crown into the matter. He had never heard of a case in which the Law Officers had been asked, 13 months after an occurrence, to survey the decision arrived at by the military authorities, and he thought it would be a very evil precedent for the Government to introduce, and certainly it would not, in this case, conduce to justice.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
said that as the Government had refused to accept the advice tendered to them, he was compelled to go back to one point, and that was, why was there no court-martial in this case? The Under Secretary for War had stated that a court-martial could only be held in the case of the commission of a crime, and that this was not a case of crime. But if Surgeon-Captain Fowler, having been a party to the preliminary stages of the affair, went deliberately to the tent to witness the act which was there committed, he surely was a participator in a crime. But even if no crime was committed, a court-martial could have been held, for Section 16 of the Army Act, on which the hon. Gentleman founded his case, said that every officer subject to military law, who engaged in scandalous acts unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, should be cashiered on conviction by a court-martial.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
explained that what had been said was that there was no necessity to hold a court-martial because the facts were clear; and that the object of a court-martial was to try an officer for a crime.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
did not think that the hon. Member had strengthened his position by his interruption. He no longer disputed that a trial by court-martial would have been an available mode of meeting this very disagreeable case. It was unfortunate that the Committee had not the advantage of the presence of the legal advisers of the Crown. The Committee had been forced into a terrible position. Most dreadful charges had been made against this man, and the Leader of the House asked them to come not only to an immediate but to a unanimous conclusion. For his part he held that they were not proper judges of the facts; and the facts being in dispute, they ought to pause before condemning this absent man.
§ MR. R. B. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)
said that the last thing he should wish to do would be to give a Party vote on a question of this kind, or to interfere in any way with the discipline of the War Office. But there being a conflict of evidence as to the facts, he thought that steps ought to be taken to prevent possible injustice. He did not ask that the Law Officers should be set up as judges over the War Office in this matter, and would be quite content of the Government would undertake to lay the facts before the Law Officers for them to report, not to the House, but to the Executive. If recourse was had to procedure of that kind, the Government, he felt sure, would then act as justice demanded. He was not urging any extraordinary departure from the ordinary course of military procedure; all he wanted was an assurance that the Government would take steps to secure that justice should be done.
MR. J. W. MELLOR (Yorkshire, W. R., Sowerby)
could not understand why the Government should not ask the present Judge Advocate General for his opinion. He was the proper law adviser of the War Office and the Government in cases of this kind. When he himself filled the office of Judge Advocate General, he had to advise upon many matters of this kind. Something had been said in the Debate as to the lapse of time. With regard to that, all he could say was that cases had been referred to him where the alleged offence was said to have occurred 1467 20 years before; and many cases were sent to him where the offence had occurred three, four, and five years before. He did not wish that there should be a Division. The facts were surrounded by some doubt, and the statement made by the hon. Member for the Ilkeston Division was certainly not consistent with the statement of the Under Secretary for War. In those circumstances, if the Under Secretary would assure them that he would consult his proper adviser, the Judge Advocate General, who was a distinguished Judge, he felt sure that the hon. Gentleman would give the Committee great satisfaction.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
thought that the position taken up by the War Office could not be defended. If the Department believed that Surgeon-Captain Fowler was a party, directly or indirectly, to the alleged offence, he ought to have been tried by court-martial, and a secret inquiry ought not to have been held. Had there been a court-martial, the decision would have come finally before the Judge Advocate General for review. It was very important that medical officers should be confident that justice would be done to them. There was great difficulty in inducing competent medical men to enter the Army; and they ought to be very careful not to do anything to increase that difficulty.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON (Manchester, N. E.)
thought that in this matter they ought to put some little confidence in the heads of the Army. Did any hon. Member think that Lord Lansdowne, the Commander-in-Chief, and the Adjutant General did not wish to see full justice done to any officer concerned, or that they were not actuated by a desire to keep up the character of the Army. Could the House of Commons manage the Army as well as those who were responsible for it? It would be an unfortunate course for the Committee to take to overrule the decision of those who were responsible for the discipline and honour of the Army and to interfere in such a matter as this, which ought to be buried out of sight. It was not a question of facts. ["It is."] Did hon. Members suppose that the facts were not fully investigated? ["No!"]
§ SIR G. OSBORNE MORGAN
pointed out that referring this matter to the Judge Advocate General the Under Secretary would only be doing what had been done over and over again in such cases.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
pointed out that the decision arrived at involved not the greater punishment of being dismissed from the Army, but the less punishment of resignation, which must be inflicted in consequence of circumstances which were not challenged. It was not possible for the Government to accede to the request that had been made.
§ * SIR WALTER FOSTER
challenged the statement of the hon. Gentleman, and declared that the position taken up by the War Office on this question compelled him to press his Motion to a Division. He held in his hand letters from the officers concerned. One said that he was—not present at the conversation which took place preceding the occurrence.That was a direct contradiction to the statement of the hon. Member. He continued,—but merely came into the tent, told them to stop, and then left, not remaining in the tent for half a minute.
THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. POWELL-WILLIAMS,) Birmingham, S.
He said just the reverse at the Inquiry.
§ * SIR WALTER FOSTER
said he wanted all these gentlemen to be examined on oath, to be given the opportunity of being examined either before the Law Officers of the Crown, before a Court-martial, a Commission of officers, or before the Judge Advocate General; but the War Office had refused to accede to any of these requests. Another letter said:—I beg to state that Surgeon-Captain Fowler was not present at the conversation which took place outside the ante-room at the Well Marsh, Sheerness, on June 6th 1895, in reference to the occurrence in connection with Sub-Lieutenant——retired; but merely came into the tent, told him to stop, and then left, not remaining in the tent any time.Then the third officer said:—He looked into the tent and told them to stop not remaining in the tent half a minute.1469 Then the senior Captain came forward:—I do not remember seeing Surgeon-Captain Fowler with the group of officers when I joined them outside the mess tent, and he certainly did not in my hearing say anything except beyond telling him to stop.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said this officer stated that he was not present himself at the Inquiry, that he knew nothing of the facts, though he was present and knew the whole of them. His evidence was therefore not entitled to any credibility.
§ * SIR WALTER FOSTER
asked the hon. Gentleman whether he did not see that in making these reflections on these officers he was failing to strengthen his own case? The hon. Gentleman relied on this testimony against Dr. Fowler; he refused it in his favour. For his part he was not bringing an accusation of untruth against British officers, but he was endeavouring to clear the honour of one who was being assailed unjustly and punished unjustly. As long as the hon. Member persisted in his refusal ho should be bound to divide the Committee. Surgeon-Captain Fowler denied that he was a party to any of this conversation, and his word ought to be accepted, because there had been no evidence on oath and no further inquiry into his conduct. There was an Inquiry into a scandal, and he was an accidental witness in the matter.
§ COLONEL HUGHES (Woolwich)
thought in all these cases it would be infinitely better for the War Office to put these offenders on trial in a Criminal Court, and by that means show their moral reprobation. It was the only way to purge the Army of those serious offences.
§ * CAPTAIN PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)
thought that the evidence of the right hon. Gentleman proved the necessity for a Court-martial, as if ever there was a case clearly demanding inquiry by such a court it was such a case as this, and such a court was the only possible way to clear the honour of an 1470 officer. As an officer on the active List of the Army, he felt himself bound to justify his own vote in the decision which it was evident the Committee was to be called upon to give in this painful case, and therefore he should give his vote in favour of Surgeon-Captain Fowler, because no Court-martial had been held.
§ SIR W. WEDDERBURN (Banffshire)
asked whether this gentleman would be reinstated with a view to a Court-martial being held in order that the facts of the case should be elicited
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 93; Noes, 209.—(Division List, No. 252.)
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL (Cavan, W.)
called attention to certain cases of refusal of the War Office to grant pensions to deserving soldiers who had been wounded and incapacitated in the service of their country. In the case of one poor soldier, who had served for a period of 10 years in the Army, during which he took part in the China War in 1859, and who was wounded in action, a pension was indeed granted for 27 months, when it was stopped and had never since been renewed. One of the great reasons why recruiting had become more difficult was that wounded soldiers who had faithfully served their country were left destitute in their disablement. There was the case of Joseph Denison, who joined the 10th Foot in 1859, served for five and a half years with his regiment in South Africa, and having become incapacitated by rheumatism, received a pension of 6d. a day for 15 months only. He was now living in Longford in the direst poverty. Such examples as these were the greatest discouragement to recruiting, especially in Ireland. The workhouse was the fate of nine-tenths of the men incapacitated by wounds or exposure.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
hoped that the War Office would do all that was possible to increase the number of deserving noncommissioned officers employed by it as clerks. They were better than many of the civilians, because they had been admirably trained, and they knew what they were writing about. Another matter to which he wished to call attention was the salary paid to the present Commander-in-Chief. Including all 1471 emoluments, that salary was placed at £4,500 a year, whilst the salary paid to the Duke of Cambridge had been £6,632. The salary received by Lord Wolseley was by some hundreds a year less than the salary which he received as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in Ireland, and it was less than the salary now received by Lord Roberts, his subordinate officer in Ireland. It was absolutely essential that the Commander-in-Chief should be well lodged in the central and most expensive part of London, so that he might be accessible at all times, and he was obliged by his position to entertain very largely—a necessity from which a Royal Commander-in-Chief was in a great measure relieved. He ought to have at least a suitable house provided for him near his work, and the country would be glad to see his emoluments increased in that way, as were those of the Commissioner of Police, and many other public functionaries.
§ * COLONEL F. S. RUSSELL (Cheltenham)
said that in many other countries in Europe which had a large Army there was always a residence provided for the Commander-in-Chief near his work. The present Commander-in-Chief could not be regarded as adequately paid in comparison with the heads of every other great profession, as, for instance, the Lord Chancellor, who had £10,000 a year, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. A certain amount of entertainment was both necessary and expedient, because the Commander-in-Chief must keep in touch with all senior officers. In France, Russia, and Germany, entertainment allowances were made to the Commanders-in-Chief. He had heard it said that the salary was reduced to its present dimensions in order that it might be less than the salary received by the Secretary of State, a most inadequate reason. As to the employment of non-commissioned officers at the War Office, England was the only European country where the War Office clerks were almost entirely civilian. It was much cheaper to employ old soldiers, because on account of their pensions they required smaller salaries; they were accustomed to discipline and military matters, and they took an interest in their work, whereas, the greater proportion of the clerks now in the War 1472 Office had no further knowledge of the Army than what they could gather from looking out of the windows in Pall Mall. He earnestly hoped that the matter would receive the attention of the War Office.
§ MR. GEORGE WYNDHAM (Dover)
rose to invite the attention of the Committee to a rather novel development of the canteen system, which had caused considerable dissatisfaction. He must say in bringing the matter forward he was actuated with no feeling of hostility to the canteen system. He recognised the great service that system had rendered. Neither was he actuated by any feeling of hostility to his hon. Friend or the Government, or those who presided at the War Office. He had, indeed, to thank them for the great courtesy with which they had met his approaches in this matter. Everyone knew that the canteen system was founded in order to supply separate regiments and separate batteries, in the first place, with their various liquors without having to purchase elsewhere. They did much in a variety of ways to alleviate the life of a soldier in barracks. But quite recently certain companies of the Royal Artillery and the Engineers had set up manufactories of mineral waters especially. This had given rise to a great deal of ill-feeling, and it would be well to have it threshed out once for all. The mineral water companies would not object to fair competition, but what they did object to was that men in the pay of the State should drive a roaring trade even to the distance of 25 miles away from the town where the regiment was located. That was the cause of a great deal of the ill-feeling that existed, because this competition had inflicted great loss on mineral water manufacturers who paid Income Tax, and who saw the profit going to one small body of troops. He was convinced that there was a real grievance here; a large amount of capital was invested, and over 200,000 men were employed in the industry. He had been asked to bring the matter forward. Of course at a purely military camp like Aldershot, soldiers might be expected to arrange matters for themselves, but in garrison towns a little more tact and consideration would not be misplaced. He should not urge it further than that, but this 1473 particular industry felt that they were being pressed rather hard by this competition.
§ * GENERAL SIR F. FITZWYGRAM (Hants, Fareham)
said he had never much belief in the employment of Reserve men in Government situations. The number of such places was not sufficient to do much good. The question of employment of Reserve men was mainly one of industrial work and training whilst serving. He had formed this opinion from noticing that 99 per cent. of the loafers came from the infantry, whilst he rarely met a loafer from Royal Engineers, Royal Horse Artillery, Royal Artillery, or Commissariat and Transports, because they had learned a trade whilst serving. He thought it was a scandal that any opposition should be raised to regiments learning any trade which could be carried on in barracks. He thought a soda water factory in barracks ought to meet with every encouragement. He should wish to see all barrack repairs carried out by the troops; in fact, every encouragement should be given to regimental workshops.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said the question as to the canteen and mineral waters had been brought before Lord Lansdowne, who gave it very careful consideration. There was not the slightest intention of allowing the general service of the public which was complained of, and Lord Lansdowne had laid down a principle with which there was little to complain. The limitation laid down, was that a regiment might make mineral waters for itself, and there was nothing to prevent it supplying another regiment in the same garrison with mineral waters, but it was not contemplated that one regiment should supply large garrisons like London or Dublin. ["Hear, hear!"] No supply was to be given to a civilian or to retired officers, even if they lived within the district. The point really was whether or not they were justified in allowing regiments to make articles for themselves. Regiments made their own bread, and he failed to see why canteens should be deprived of the profit which ensued in such cases. Canteens were kept up for the purpose of supplying the soldier with good articles for his consumption, and the profits—which were 1474 considerable when they were well managed—were applied solely to supplying the soldier with luxuries and recreation, which were of the greatest possible advantage to the soldier. Why the, opportunity of providing the soldier with entertainment should be cut off in order that they might hand over the profits made to someone outside he could not understand. He could not consent to the appointment of a Select Committee; indeed, if they once started on such a system, where were they to stop? Provided they kept strictly within the limits laid down by Lord Lansdowne he could not see there was any appreciable injury done to the mineral water manufacturers.
§ * SIR C. DILKE
said it was a little unfortunate that the time to-night had been so exclusively occupied as it had been by matters of comparatively small importance when taken in connection with those which could, and generally were, raised on the Vote. This was the anniversary of the day on which the retirement of the Duke of Cambridge was announced, and of the defeat of the late Government upon the question on which he, for one, thought they had not sinned alone. It would not be right to refer at considerable length to the questions which were the subject of Debate last year, but he thought those questions ought to be glanced at. Lord Wolseley had not been long enough at the War Office to thoroughly watch the working of the new War Office system, and therefore it would be somewhat premature to attempt to raise a general Debate upon the question of the reorganised War Office. But there were some little facts which inspired a certain amount of anxiety in the minds of some persons. What they had seen up to the present of the working of the new system was not altogether calculated to inspire them with any great hope. They had hoped that even before this they might have seen a scheme under which the cavalry might be made more efficient than it was. The House had been told what was the number of horses which was considered sufficient for British cavalry regiments at home. They knew that our cavalry regiments were still quartered in manufacturing towns with only a couple of hundred horses of a military age or fit take the field. They knew the 1475 cavalry had no proper training grounds, and under such circumstances they could not expect that arm of the Service to be efficient. They had heard hints that the first thing that would be taken in hand would be a cavalry scheme, and they had been led to expect that the scheme would be somewhat unpopular, as it would involve the withdrawal of some of the regiments from manufacturing towns. He was certain the Government would be generally backed up if they carried out a system of grouping cavalry regiments, increased the number of horses, and fixed upon stations where there could be proper training. He hoped it would not be long before some such scheme saw the light. There was still the more important matter of the artillery. They had received promises as to an increase of field artillery. It was admitted that our force was extraordinarily weak in proportion to our needs. Those needs increased year by year. Undoubtedly our strength in artillery was calculated upon the number of regular troops. Considering the great number of militia and volunteers unprovided with field artillery, they could not fail to see that the force of artillery ought to be vastly higher in proportion to the regular troops than was the proportion in any other army in the world. Instead of that it was enormously lower, and it was not an increasing force. In England there had been a positive decrease in the number of horses and men. He believed the condition of our artillery was never so deplorable as it had been during the last few months. One word with regard to the infantry. He saw cause for anxiety in the fact that the War Office had not seen their way either to adopt a complete change of system in regard to term of enlistment or to make the present system a workable system. The alternative was either to adopt a double term of service —longer service for India and shorter service at home—such changes as had been recommended by men of great experience, including Lord Roberts. The present system rested upon the linked battalion system—one battalion at home feeding another abroad; but as long as our responsibilities were continually increasing in all parts of the world, the more it would be found that that system failed to work. Statements had been 1476 made to the effect that the Government intended to propose a certain, scheme, but from all he had heard it appeared to him that that scheme would be merely a make-shift as opposed to the adoption of a wholly new scheme in the proposals recommended by Lord Roberts and in some degree by Lord Wolseley. There was one other topic to which he wished to refer—the autumn manœuvres. The importance of those manœuvres to the Army was very great. ["Hear, hear!"] Even, if the Government should find it impossible to pass the Military Manœuvres Bill this year, he hoped that they would remember that they could carry out manœuvres on a large and important scale under the existing law, as was done in 1871. The Government had taken a sum of money in the Estimates for this year's manœuvres in the hope that the Bill would be passed, and he trusted that, though the Bill might not become law this year, the Government would still apply that money for the purpose for which it was intended. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ * MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
said he associated himself with the remarks made by the hon. Member for Cavan in reference to the treatment of pensioners, and complained that that treatment in very many cases, through the obstacles experienced by the men in obtaining their pensions, was the cause of much dissatisfaction both to the pensioners themselves and to all those brought into contact with them. He knew the rules were very strict, but there was more than one way of administering them, and it appeared to him that the very worst way of doing so was now followed. A case of injustice came under his own notice a few days ago. It was that of a man who had served 21 years in the Army—16 years as a sergeant—then 10 years in the Navy, and afterwards 12 more years practically in the employ of the Government on board a training ship. This man had five medals with clasps, and had in every way comported himself as a good soldier and sailor. His grievance was that he had for several years received an inadequate pension, and it was found that the reason was that 40 years ago an officer had made a wrong entry relating to the man's claim to pension. The claim was eventually admitted and the 1477 arrears paid to the man, and then an application was made for interest on the money which had been unjustly withheld. The answer given to this pensioner was nothing short of an insult. He was simply told that the fault was his own and not that of the officer who had made the clerical error, because it was for him to have ascertained that the pension regulations in his case had been carried into effect. [Laughter.] A more important matter, however, for the consideration of the Committee was the unique and peculiar system introduced by the Commander-in-Chief under which battalions were now organised and made up from various depôt battalions for service abroad. He called attention to this matter, because he was certain that if this system was persisted in, while we were continually increasing our national responsibilities, it would sooner or later lead the country into a great calamity. The system was designed to produce a certain result, but it had utterly failed to do so, and must continue to fail. The reason of that failure was the effort to accomplish certain work with inadequate means—in other words, with an insufficient number of men. The system, in fact, was a mad-cap system, and if any hon. Member at all acquainted with military matters went to one of our great camps he would see that his condemnation of the system was not exaggerated. A thing of great value in the Army was regimental feeling, and the present system was calculated to utterly destroy it. He had been told over and over again by officers that the position in which they were placed, and the duties they had to discharge under existing conditions were often extremely difficult and disagreeable, and that their task was heart-breaking, and that those conditions were not only unjust to the officers, but prevented all feeling of esprit de corps among the men, and thus seriously militated against the interest of the Service as a whole. Much the same, if not a worse, condition of things existed in the case of the artillery batteries. We had 13 regiments with both battalions abroad, and something had been heard about 12 new battalions being raised. He only hoped that the House of Commons would not rest until it had a definite pledge from the Government that those new battalions would be 1478 provided. ["Hear, hear!"] But even were they provided, that would not remedy the evils of the existing condition of things arising out of the new system of the Commander-in-Chief. He knew one battalion at home, an example of nearly all others, which would have to get 700 men from various outside sources before it could be brought up to the proper strength for mobilisation, and how could the feeling of regimental unity and esprit de corps exist, or be promoted, under such a system? Over 40,000 men were drawn into the Army every year, and about 16,000 came out. Where did the rest go? The difference was accounted for by the waste, representing desertion, dismissal, dying of enteric fever in India,—all the miserable and unnecessary waste which was the certain complement of their system. It had been said that they were getting greater value for their money in other ways. He denied that. They were always getting into difficulties with their recruiting, which they anticipated they would be free of when they got this short service system. Then there was the subject of the employment of discharged soldiers. They were told over and over again by experienced managers that the great majority of these soldiers were not fit to be employed in civilian positions. The attraction of the Army was of a character so slight that they were getting in shoals men who, on taking their discharge, were found to be incompetent for the ordinary duties of the labourer, or for those posts of trust in which he should like to see them employed. Therefore he did hope they would really look into the system on which they were acting. They were making a gigantic sacrifice, he did not know whether it was to the amour propre or to the just convictions of the Commander-in-Chief. The onus lay upon the Commander-in-Chief to show that the system had not failed, and he could not show that. There was evidence that the system had absolutely broken down, and that the War Office was at its wit's end at this moment to provide material to undertake a war of any kind. It was the misfortune of this country to be constantly engaged in small wars, and it was notorious that they could not move a single battalion constituted as a unit at 1479 the present time. He should like to call the Under Secretary's attention to one matter in connection with the volunteer artillery. He was present a little while ago at a tactical exercise—one of those excellent exercises undertaken by zealous officers of the volunteers under the authority and instruction of an officer of the regular Army—and he heard the order given to load four imaginary batteries of 40-pounders with shrapnel. Shrapnel was one of the most effective weapons of modern, warfare—so effective that they now, at last, had followed the example of other nations and taken all other shell except shrapnel from the limbers of their guns. When he heard this order given, he asked one of the officers, "Does that shell exist? I have never seen or heard of it." The officer replied, "No; it does not exist." So that they were allowing instruction to be given to their volunteer artillery to load with this imaginary shell which never had existed, which, if put into the gun, would break up in it, and which, he undertook to say, there did not exist a single example of a limber in any volunteer gun throughout country. He would ask the hon. Gentleman whether his military advisers could tell him that they could fairly enter into competition with Powers who had 15, 16, and sometimes 18-pounder guns carrying shrapnel projectiles, when they put into the hands of their citizen soldiers a weapon that was not only not provided with, but which could not be provided with, that projectile which the experience of military opinion throughout the world had shown to be the most terribly effective projectile that could be provided. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would be able to give him some satisfaction upon these matters.
§ * CAPTAIN JESSEL (St. Pancras, S.)
said the Under Secretary told them some time ago that it was the intention of the Government to bring forward a loan to enable them to buy land for the cavalry to exercise upon. He should like to know from the hon. Gentleman whether that was still the intention. They were not going to have any manœuvres this year, but a large sum of money had been put down in the Estimates, and they would be glad to hear whether some of that money could be spent upon manœuvres in the various 1480 districts. They had also been promised that something should be done to reorganise their cavalry system. It was admitted on both sides of the House that the present organisation of their cavalry was far behind that of other European Powers, and all who were interested in the matter had read with regret a Report that this subject was again to be shelved. It would give them extreme pleasure to have an assurance from the Under Secretary that the question was to be attended to. There were two or three other points which he would like to bring before the Committee. There was the question of drill-books. Hon. Members who had not experience of these matters could have no idea of the inconvenience and trouble that was put upon young officers and non-commissioned officers and men by the constant change in drill-books. Then when a new drill-book was about to be issued, it took about 18 months to issue it, and they could not, in the meantime, get a copy either of the old or the new book. At the present time there were eight drill-books which could not be obtained. He was told these books took a considerable time to edit and revise, but surely when once a drill-book was approved of steps should be taken to issue copies at once to all concerned. It was absolutely impossible for officers and non-commissioned officers, if they could not get these books, to be efficient in their work. Another matter was the system of reliefs in this country. Very often regiments were moved at a month's or even 10 days' notice. He could not conceive any really good and valid reason for this. It inflicted great inconvenience on the married officers, and on departmental officers, and officers who had risen from the ranks, and though they were the last to complain, they felt the hardship very keenly. Another grievance was the constant changing of a regiment from station to station. The Indian Government had now decided that regiments should stay in one place for a longer period than was formerly the case, and in this, as well as in other matters, he thought they might learn something from the Indian Government. The Government would confer a great boon upon the Army if they took these matters into consideration.
§ * COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, Ince)
suggested the advisability of earmarking soldiers' unclaimed balances with a view to their being applied to the Secretary of State for War to worn-out veterans. He also recommended that the deferred pay of the soldiers who enlisted in future should be an annuity, and that the recipient should only receive the capital after leaving the regiment if he could satisfy a committee of officers in the district in which he lived that he could apply it in a way advantageous to himself. He contended that the Army was short of men, and driven to unfortunate expedients in consequence. When composite regiments were formed it was not, perhaps, the first which suffered so much, but those which were robbed to furnish it. In the Crimean War regiments which had been robbed once or twice to feed other regiments were sent out with any men they could get, to find their own soldiers lying by them in another regiment. He asked the Under Secretary for War to give them the incidence of the cost of the Army on the population and wealth of the country, pointing out that, the incidence was less this year than last owing to the growth of population and wealth. With regard to the Military Manœuvres Bill, he entirely agreed as to the great necessity of the Bill in the interests of the efficiency of the Army. In 1872 there was no difficulty in carrying out the manœuvres, and the same experience would follow from the passing of the Manœuvres Bill of this year. The rights of private people would not be interfered with and no harm could result to anybody. With regard to the organisation of their forces, he thought some greater attempt should be made to group their volunteers and reserve forces than was at present the case. The country required to have its districts marked out so that every district should correspond as nearly as might be with what was called an army corps. He sincerely hoped the Secretary for War would look into this matter.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
called attention to two instances in which, according to the information supplied to him, subaltern officers had been driven out of the 4th Hussars. The first case related to a Mr. Hodge, who was gazetted to the regiment on 1482 January 31, 1894. His father, who was a retired naval officer, made him an allowance of £300 a year, which he was told would be an ample sum. After he had joined his regiment Mr. Hodge was asked at mess where he kept his hunters and racehorses, and on reply that he could not afford to keep either he was met with the remark, "Then what did you join this regiment for?" His reply was that he himself did not make the selection, but was appointed to the 4th Hussars by the War Office. On it becoming clear that Mr. Hodge could not keep racehorses and hunters, it was apparent that his brother officers were determined to get rid of him. They took the most offensive means of effecting this object. On one occasion, after some horse play in which Mr. Hodge managed to hold his ground pretty well, one of the officers said he ought to be thrown out of the window, and the young gentleman was made to feel in every possible way the conspiracy which appeared to have been formed in the regiment against him. He did his utmost to make himself agreeable to the officers of the regiment hut without any success, and about a month after he had joined he was coolly and bluntly informed that it had been decided he must leave the regiment. He asked what he had done, and the reply that was made to him was, "It is not what you do, Hodge, but what you don't do." He presumed what was meant was that he did not keep hunters and racehorses. Not only was his property damaged, but his clothes were torn up and destroyed. Some were burnt, the locks of his drawers were forced open, and in other ways his life was made a misery to him. Mr. Hodge very properly determined that he would not be driven out of the regiment even by such outrageous proceedings, consequently his brother officer's decided to take stronger steps to drive him out. Two months after he had joined the regiment he was dragged out of bed at 2 o'clock one morning into the yard and forced into a trough full of water. The trough was rather long; there were bars across it at intervals of two feet; he was forced under the bars at one end, and dragged out of the trough, bruised and bleeding at the other end. The following night the same thing took place, and at last Mr. Hodge 1483 found himself in such a desperate plight that he telegraphed to his father who came to Aldershot, and reported the affair to the Adjutant of the regiment. After that no further personal violence was offered to Mr. Hodge (he presumed it was in consequence of representations made by the Adjutant) but he was subjected to the most remorseless boycott. This was more difficult to endure than the barbarous treatment to which he had been subjected previously. Under these circumstances he felt himself absolutely obliged to leave the regiment. After leaving the regiment he was under medical treatment for three months. He left, the Army almost broken-hearted and went to the colonies. What was the attitude of the War Office in regard to his case? Mr. Hodge's father laid the facts unofficially before two officers of the War Office, and he was under the impression that the War Office would at once reinstate his son. Some communication appeared to have been made by the War Office to the Colonel of the regiment in consequence of the representations made, but the Committee would judge of the effect of that, communication upon the officers of the regiment when he referred to another case which occurred shortly afterwards. A gentleman named Bruce was gazetted to take Mr. Hodge's place. Before he joined the regiment he was invited to dinner, and asked how much his allowance was. He replied that it was £500 a year. He was told in reply that he could not on such an allowance, "go the pace of the regiment," and before the end of dinner he was plainly informed that it had been decided by the officers that he must not join the regiment. Mr. Bruce appeared to be a man of some spirit, and he determined, in spite of this, to join. It was evidently determined on the other hand that he should not be allowed to remain. Mr. Bruce distinguished himself while in the regiment. He shot second for the Loder prize at Bisley, and coached a team in such a way that it won a prize; but it was evident that the officers of the regiment were determined to give him no credit, and he never received any credit for what he did. One night, at half-past ten, when in charge of the barracks, he was informed by one of the sergeant instructors that a Balaclava veteran 1484 was in the sergeants' mess room. Mr. Bruce went there, and in his presence the Balaclava veteran was asked to drink the health of the mess. For going to the sergeants' mess room, Mr. Bruce was brought before the Colonel of the regiment, very severely reprimanded, and ultimately had to leave the service in consequence. The War Office was appealed to but refused to reinstate him. He thought that occurrences of the kind that he had related afforded some explanation of the number of commissions that were thrown up in cavalry regiments. They were not an inducement for parents to send their sons into the Army, and when public money was spent on the Army, the War Office ought to take good care that scandals of this kind did not occur. A case which occurred a number of years ago might serve as a precedent for their guidance. It was not nearly so flagrant as this. A lieutenant was made the victim of a series of practical jokes. He was pulled out of bed in the middle of the night, his furniture scattered about, and a mixture of salt and cayenne pepper forced into his mouth. Lord Hardinge, the then Commander-in-Chief, commenting on the action of the Colonel in insisting that the ringleaders should leave the regiment, said, in an official memorandum:—The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief approves of the view taken by the Lieutenant-Colonel, and assures the Colonel and every commanding officer that they will on all occasions of a similar nature be supported by him in putting down a practice by which officers have become habituated to take great liberties with and use gross language towards each other which would not be tolerated in any other profession. It is destructive of the social happiness of officers in a regiment, and calculated to lower the high tone of honour by which officers of the Army have ever been distinguished.The hon. Member concluded by saying he had stated the facts of the cases he had brought before the House as supplied to him, and he hoped the explanation of the Under Secretary for War-might put another aspect on the matter.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said there was this difference between the two cases which had been mentioned, that he knew the facts of Mr. Bruce's case, but the allegations respecting Mr. Hodge's were not officially recorded at the War Office. After reading what had been stated in 1485 the Press as to Mr. Hodge's case, he called for papers. He found that two years ago Mr. Hodge sent in his resignation in the usual form, and the only evidence there was at the War Office of any occurrences of which Mr. Hodge had to complain was a letter in which he requested the Duke of Cam-bridge to appoint him to a West India regiment, and stated that the circumstances under which he left the 4th Hussars were well known to the War Department. Under these circumstances it was extremely difficult for him to reply to what the hon. Gentleman had said. The War Office had no official knowledge whatever of the allegations he had made.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said he did not deny the facts, because he had no information one way or the other. The difficulty in which they stood was that the subject was two years old and apparently was never brought to the notice of the late Secretary of State; the colonel who then commanded the regiment had ceased to command it, the Commander-in-Chief had changed, and the Secretary of State had changed, and he had no means of ascertaining the facts. There was no one, he supposed, more anxious than the present Commander-in-Chief and Secretary of State were to put down bullying of any description in the Army, but he confessed he did not see how they could undertake to deal with the proceedings which took two years ago and which had never been brought to the notice of the War Office. With regard to the second case, which had occurred recently, he thought the whole story had not been told. The hon. gentleman had adduced incidents to show that Mr. Bruce had been hustled out of the regiment. He had gone very carefully into this case, which had also received the close attention of Lord Lansdowne, and he did not think the facts bore out what the hon. Gentleman had said. Whether or not any subaltern made a communication of the character stated to Mr. Bruce when he joined the regiment was not known to the War Office or to the colonel of the regiment, but what was certain was this—that throughout his career Mr. Bruce seemed to be unable to understand his 1486 position with regard to non-commissioned officers and men serving under him. He joined in March, and early in his career he had to be reproved by the officer commanding the squadron to which he was attached for using violent and abusive language to non-commissioned officers and men. In July or August a most regrettable incident occurred at Bisley. Mr. Bruce was shooting side by side with a colour-sergeant belonging to another cavalry regiment; the colour-sergeant had occasion to appeal to the umpire with regard to some action of Mr. Bruce not in accordance with the rules, and the umpire directed Mr. Bruce to conform to the rules. Mr. Bruce then lost his temper, and before several officers and men used the most violent and abusive language to the colour-sergeant, the man standing at attention. The officers present, who did not belong to Mr. Bruce's regiment, communicated with the colonel in command of the 4th Hussars. Mr. Bruce was himself so well aware of the breach of discipline that he tendered his resignation. The case, however, was inquired into by the General Commanding the Cavalry at Aldershot, and the young officer was severely reprimanded and told that he must not suppose a second offence would be similarly overlooked. Subsequently the officer commanding the 4th Hussars had to apologise on his behalf to the officer commanding the other regiment. He submitted that, if there was a prejudice against Mr. Bruce, that was not the way for him to set himself right with his comrades. On the Boxing Night referred to it appeared that the young officer went to the sergeants' mess, but was warned by two or three senior sergeants outside the door, who implored him not to go in as it was absolutely against all the regulations and customs of the regiment. In the face of that, however, he was said to have forced his way in and remained there for some time, variously estimated at three-quarters of an hour to an hour. While there he again committed himself, for when the gas man came to turn out the gas at 11 o'clock, according to regulations, Mr. Bruce set the example of breach of discipline by telling the gas man to go away, stating that he would make himself responsible. He thought 1487 these circumstances proved that Mr. Bruce did not understand what was the proper position of an officer towards noncommissioned officers. ["Hear, hear!"] Moreover, it had been brought to their knowledge that directly after Mr. Bruce left the service his father, on his authority, made a statement of the gravest character affecting an officer in the regiment which, if true, might have laid that officer open to a criminal charge, and for this libel he had to pay £500. Taking all the circumstances together, he thought it was clear that Mr. Bruce himself made his position in the regiment impossible, and that he was not a man who kept up that high standard of gentlemanlike feeling and conduct which was essential to a man holding his position in Her Majesty's Service. He would add that nothing was further from Lord Lansdowne's desire than that any officer should be prejudiced by want of means, or by any considerations except those which had reference to military duties.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said the reason why he did not bring forward this case himself was because it appeared in the newspaper with which he was connected, and it, would have been almost improper on his part to do so, because it would look like a means of advertising that newspaper. His hon. Friend told him a little while before that he contemplated bringing the matter before the Committee, and he had said that he would be present. With regard to the case of Mr. Bruce, the hon. Gentleman did not deny that the officers of this regiment did invite him to dinner when he was gazetted to the regiment, and that they told him that as his income did not allow him to "go the pace" with them they would do their best to drive him out of the regiment.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said that as a matter of fact the statement had appeared in the newspaper he had referred to, and did the hon. Gentleman conceive that if the accusation was not true an action for libel would not have been brought against him? He was prepared to prove before any Committee, Departmental or otherwise, that these officers did act as he had stated. 1488 Was this man the only one who had used improper language in the Army? Had not the greatest men, field-marshals and commanders-in-chief used language which would have secured their expulsion from the Army, if this officer was to be got rid of for using improper language towards a subordinate? This could not have been a reason for driving him from the Army, although if he had acted improperly he ought to have been reproved. Having coached some of the sergeants for a shooting match, he went into their mess to meet a Balaclava veteran, took part in drinking healths, and accepted an invitation to dinner. It would have been better that he should not; but it was not a case for turning the young man out of the Army. But the matter assumed a different complexion when you found that this same young man, before he joined the regiment, had dined with the officers and had been told by them that they would manage to get him turned out because he did not happen to have £500 a year. As to the letter written by the father to the officer who was to replace his son, it was written in reference to the buying of some furniture. Undoubtedly a charge was improperly made by the father; but the son was not responsible for the father; and it was very possible he might believe the charge to be true and yet have difficulty in proving it. If it was implied that the general conduct of young Mr. Bruce was ungentlemanly, what was the conduct of the officers? Could anything be conceived more ungentlemanly than for a body of men to ask a young man to dinner, and then to tell him that they would turn him out of the regiment because he did not happen to have £500 a year? For himself he would say he did not believe a more disreputable set of young men existed in the whole army. These highly respectable young officers, these chevaliers had a horse which was called Surefoot. They entered it in a race one day and it won. The next day it was entered in a race; and what happened? Surefoot was changed for another horse which, of course, lost; and those who backed Surefoot lost their money.
§ * COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
rose to order. He said the hon. Member could hardly be in full possession of the facts, and ought to be careful in 1489 the charges he made. He could assure the hon. Member that the statement he had made was founded on a total misapprehension, of the facts of the case.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said his object was to show that the officers by whom these accusations were made had acted in still more ungentlemanly fashion. It was remarkable that in this same regiment a year and a half before, similar things should have happened in the case of Mr. Hodge. So determined were the other officers to drive him out, that on two consecutive nights he was taken down half naked and dragged through a horse trough. The father went to the War Office and communicated the facts to a superior official. It was remarkable they should be told the colonel knew nothing of these proceedings. Was he to understand that this boycott was practised and the colonel knew nothing about it?
§ * MR. BRODRICK
I know nothing with reference to Mr. Hodge, nor have we any record except that Mr. Hodge, senior, states that he called at the War Office, and gave some information.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said he was prepared to produce Mr. Hodge senior. But putting aside the case of Mr. Hodge, he asked whether Mr. Bruce did or did not go to dine with the officers and was told by them they would get him out of the regiment. If this was true, their conduct was most improper, and ought to be censured in some way. Whether Mr. Bruce was fit or unfit had nothing to do with the officers conspiring to get him out of the Army. Would the hon. Gentleman grant a Departmental Inquiry? [Mr. BRODRICK: "No!"] If it could be proved by a hundred witnesses that an officer had been ill-treated by a superior officer, he believed the War Office would discountenance Inquiry. If they were not afraid of investigation in this case, he challenged them to appoint a Departmental Committee to inquire into it and to decide whether the action of the Hussar officers had been right and proper.
§ * COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
said that he desired to point out the inconvenience of the Committee having been occupied since four o'clock 1490 that afternoon in discussing a number of details of what after all appeared to be some horseplay among young officers, which was scarcely to be regarded in a serious light, especially after the matter had already been inquired into by the Commander-in-Chief. The hon. Member for Northampton had asked for the appointment of a Departmental Committee to inquire into the case of these two young men, but the fact was that such a Committee, in the person of the Adjutant General, sat permanently at the War Office, and, if parents believed that their sons had been ill-treated, all they had to do was to go before that Committee and to lay the facts before them. He was satisfied that, if there was any ground for the complaints which had been made in the present case, the officers implicated would be severely punished.
§ MR. LEWIS
said that he rose for the purpose of stating that he had brought forward all the facts of this particular case in all good faith. The charge made against the officers of this regiment alleged that they had been guilty of grave and serious offences which ought not to be lightly passed over. The demand that had been put forward by the hon. Member for Northampton that a Departmental Committee should be appointed to inquire into the circumstances of the case was a very reasonable one. He had no objection to the Inquiry being a military one, provided it was a full and adequate one. The very serious allegations that had been made in this case had remained unanswered, absolutely no reply having been given to them. The circumstances that had occurred in the regiment before those two young men joined it deserved very careful examination. Those circumstances were comparatively recent and would certainly be within the recollection of those who had taken part in them. In his opinion there ought to be an adequate and independent Inquiry into the circumstances of the cases of both Mr. Hodge and Mr. Bruce, in order that the public mind might be reassured in regard to the conduct of the officers of the regiment in question. He did not traverse the facts which the hon. Gentleman had laid before the Committee, but, at all events, there remained a residuum of facts in respect of which no explanation had been 1491 given. In these circumstances he hoped that the hon. Gentleman would consent to the appointment of the Departmental Committee asked for.
§ COLONEL HUGHES
said that he wished to bring a matter under the notice of the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the War Office, not by way of complaint, but for the purpose of obtaining information with regard to it. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House had, in the course of his political address at the late General Election, stated it to be a part of the Unionist political programme that fail-wages should be secured to Government workmen, and he had naturally followed so good a lead and had dealt with the subject in his own political speeches.
* THE CHAIRMAN
pointed out to the hon. and gallant Member that the subject he was dealing with could not be discussed on the Vote then before the Committee.
§ COLONEL HUGHES
asked whether the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary would relieve his anxiety on the subject by giving him some assurance that the matter was under his consideration.
§ MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN (Kilkenny)
said that, unless the hon. Gentleman could give him a satisfactory assurance in reference to the matters he was about to call his attention to, he should feel compelled to move a reduction of the Vote. There was a growing tendency on the part of the Army to enter into competition with Irish manufacturers in the production of mineral waters, and this, in his opinion, was most unfair, seeing that the manufacturers who supplied the Government were compelled to pay fair wages to their men. The tendency to which he referred was spreading to almost every manufactured article. He wished to know whether the hon. Gentleman would give him an assurance that the practice would be checked, at all events in Ireland, because he left England to protect herself in the matter. The same thing occurred in the case of the manufacture of beer and bread. The number of manufacturers in Ireland was very few, and her mineral waters were of a very superior quality. Officers of the Army took to Ireland their own brandy, which they obtained at the Army and Navy Stores, and they would not even buy their mineral waters in the 1492 country. He also wished to know whether the hon. Gentleman would undertake that the Return which had been promised him of the number of discharged Irish soldiers who were sent home to be a burden upon the rates would be laid upon the Table before the Military Votes were disposed of? He wished to protest against soldiers being used in Ireland for the purposes of eviction, when people were turned out of their homes. He was greatly afraid they were in for another time of eviction in Ireland, for the people were not able to pay their rents, and he wanted to know whether the military were to be allowed to help to turn them out of their homes? The people had no ill-feeling towards the military. Their pet aversion in Ireland was the policeman. They rather liked the military, and he thought the military liked them, and he had often heard soldiers say that they loathed the very idea of being brought out to do eviction work.
After the usual interval, Mr. JOHN ELLIS took the Chair.
§ * GENERAL SIR F. FITZWYGRAM
said his experience of the Army told him that these scandals were far more common than generally supposed. He thought that the military authorities were far more to blame than the young officers. If the former were not aware of what went on they ought to be. If a commanding officer was not cognisant of it he was not fit for his place. The military authorities were never sincere in putting down this nuisance. Violent orders were issued from time to time against these practices. But everybody knew that the military authorities were not in earnest, and not the slightest notice was taken of the orders, and the result was these scandals were constantly occurring. In fact they were connived at. If the military authorities desired it, they could stop these scandals with the greatest possible ease. All that was necessary was that one additional question should be asked in the half-yearly confidential report signed by the commanding officer and inspecting General—namely, "Has any practical joking taken place since the last inspection?" and then there would be an end of these discreditable scandals, 1493 It had been said, and said very recently, that an officer who was worthy of his salt was never subjected to this treatment. That statement was absolutely untrue. They might ask here—"Can you furnish any proof of that statement?" Well, it would be very difficult to give any proof, because any young man of spirit or pluck would not like to come forward as an informer —["Hear, hear!"]—but it existed all the same. The military authorities could find it out if they chose. It occurred more frequently than with due care it ought that an unsuitable, some-times most objectionable, young man was gazetted to a regiment. Of course there was a desire, an honest desire, to get rid of him; but that was the duty of the commanding officer and of the military authorities. The character of every young man should be looked into before he was allowed to join the Army. He would be asked what should be done? He thought it a great mistake that these officers should be admitted without their character and competency being reported upon. This should be done every half-year or every year, and then the man should be given a permanent commission if the report was satisfactory. But, to start with, he should be given a provisional commission only. If they gave a permanent commission at once, apart from character, it would be a mistake. They might in the interval find out that he never would make a useful officer. He thought it was better for the service and better for the young man if, when they found out his defects, they got rid of him at once. He remembered the case of a young man who could not learn drill or anything else. When a minor war broke out, the commander was obliged to leave him behind. Then, when orders came to go to another war, they had to leave him behind again. Complaint was made to the military authorities and inquiry was made into why he had been shunted. It would have been far better to have inquired into the matter at first. He held strongly to the belief that it was a mistake to take a young man for life without due trial. It was not done in any office in the country.
§ GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)
said a man might be placed in command of a regi- 1494 ment he had never seen. It might be a regiment going on active service, so that they would know nothing of each other. He asked the right hon. Gentleman how the regulations in this matter were carried out? The answer so far was unsatisfactory. He thought that if the regulations prescribed that the second in command should be appointed to the regiment and take over its command in turn, that regulation should be carried out and should not be left to exceptions in the interest of the Service, and to which he demurred. He hoped, therefore, that these loose regulations would be modified and that something more definite would be laid down.
§ MR. JAMES DALY (Monaghan, S.)
complained of the action of the War Office in regard to two old pensioners in his district. They had received clasps and medals for service, and one of them had been in the Crimea. He was only receiving 6½d. a day, and was now in the workhouse. The other old soldier had been many years in India but his pension was quite inadequate to live on. The question of the manufacture of mineral waters by soldiers also affected the traders of Ireland, because it competed unfairly with the manufacturers there. He also called attention to the supply of oats and hay for the Army principally from foreign sources.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
agreed with what the hon. and gallant Gentleman had said as to the officer system in the regiments. He understood that there were certain young men who were not likely to make good officers. If this was felt to be the case it would be a kindness to let these young men out of the Service, but he objected to this remedy being left in the hands of the officers themselves and according to their fads and fancies. If a colonel thought that a young man was not likely to make an efficient officer this would be a reason for recommending him to seek some other vocation; but let this arrangement be carried out by the authorities after some kind of investigation. Would the Under Secretary for War grant a Departmental Committee in this matter? He thought the hon. Gentleman would admit that there was a prima facie case showing that the conduct of the officers was not precisely 1495 what it ought to be. He knew nothing about the fathers of those young men. They had come to him and stated their case and he thought it was one which ought to be brought before the public; but he did not pledge himself to everything that was told him. Some opportunity therefore should be afforded of dealing with their case by some fair and independent men. The hon. Gentleman had looked only at one side of the case. He was not asking that these young officers should be turned out of the Army for the faults they had committed; it was recognised that they had to sow their wild oats. But Lord Hardinge had broken up a clique that existed in this regiment by separating the officers and sending them to other regiments. This course should be taken if the evidence submitted to the War Office showed that there had been improper conduct on the part of these young men.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
thought that the hon. Member had based his appeal mainly on his original speech wherein he connected closely together the two cases, which from the point of view of the information at his disposal were entirely separate. He had full information with regard to the one case; he had no information, practically, with regard to the other. The War Office had satisfied itself as far as the records could help them, that the sentence which was given in the case of Mr. Bruce was a correct one, and after the explanation he had given of it he had not heard it challenged. He could not admit that the two cases were connected, nor could he admit anything against the 4th Hussars. It was not to be supposed that this regiment lacked distinction in the service. On the contrary, he believed that no cavalry regiment in the service was at this moment in better condition, or more highly esteemed in respect of its duties than the 4th Hussars, and no one doubted that the late colonel had done his work admirably in that capacity. At the same time he realised that there was in the minds of some hon. Members a suspicion that there was some undercurrent of feeling in the 4th Hussars with regard to officers who might be appointed to the regiment, but he could not undertake to say that a Departmental Committee should be ap- 1496 pointed, especially as it would have to inquire first into a case as to which there was no evidence before the War Office and which had not been at the time brought before the responsible officers.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I am not raising the question whether or not Mr. Bruce was properly dismissed from the Army. What I am raising is the fact that those officers did invite him to a dinner and when they had invited their guest to dinner they asked him how much money he had—500 a year; and then they said that he must not join the regiment, and if he did they would force him out of it.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said that in public matters the War Office was bound to go to some extent by what was brought before it in a proper official manner. Mr. Hodge could have occupied a very different position as soon as he received, if he did receive, this wrong or injury. He could have come before the War Office and demanded an inquiry as a right, but he did not take that course. He could not assent to any Committee of Inquiry, but he would undertake that the Commander-in-Chief and Adjutant. General, who were specially charged with the discipline of the Army, would carefully consider the whole of the facts and whether there was anything in connection with recent events in the 4th Hussars which called for their interposition. He was sure they would have nothing more at heart than to see that full justice was done, and that there was no clique in any regiment which might have the effect of prejudicing officers who entered it, and any statement of facts would receive their careful consideration.
§ * CAPTAIN NORTON
considered that the Committee was deeply indebted to the hon. and gallant General the Member for Hants, for the courage with which he had spoken, and heartily supported his suggestion that officers should be provisionally appointed to a regiment as was done in the Prussian Army with very satisfactory results. As was well known, the young Prussian officer was posted for a year, and if he was unable to get on with his brother officers, if he was not in their opinion a suitable comrade, a private court of inquiry was held, they gave their decision to the colonel, and it was acted upon. Hence they never heard of 1497 such cases in continental armies. He knew of several cases where men who were highly desirable as cavalry officers had left of their own free will simply because they objected to interference with their personal liberty and personal habits. Those officers were lost to the Service. By whom were they driven out? By men who, two or three years later, owing to dissipated habits, brought themselves to grief. He maintained that the change suggested would be welcomed on all hands by young men joining the Service, and it would have the result of attaching to cavalry regiments a better and more serious type of man, who at present objected to what he had to go through during the first years of his service.
§ MR. LEWIS,
expressing himself satisfied both with the discussion and the form of Inquiry promised by the Under Secretary, said he would not in the circumstances proceed to a Division. He noted in particular that the fathers of Mr. Bruce and Mr. Hodge would have an opportunity of laying a full statement of their case before the Commander-in-Chief.
§ CAPTAIN PIRIE
held that we got our recruits too young, and that if it was necessary, in the interests of recruiting, to get them at the present age, we must treat them on different principles. In every Continental nation the recruit was taken at a much later age. In Austria, France, Germany, and Russia the age at which he was called to serve his country was 20; in Italy, 21; Denmark, 22; and Belgium, 19, the last-named being the only Continental country which enlist their men under 20. We took our recruits at 18 nominally, but in far too many cases the recruit was really only between 15 and 16. And what did we expect of our recruit? We expected that boy to have all the qualities of a man, both in physique and mind; we exposed him to all the temptations which assail a man in garrison towns. We must treat the recruit differently if we wanted different results; we must accord to him the same protection, and place him under the same restrictions, as were given to cadets at Sandhurst and Woolwich, and to university and public school men. There were four problems which by doing this would be solved. It would solve the problem of 1498 intemperance in the Army. He did not deny that the Army was much more temperate than it used to be, but it was still far too often the case that the soldier left the Army a habitual beer drinker, which very often ended in a ruined life. Next, it would do a great deal to relieve the Army of that which was a curse in England and a scourge in India, if only they would take the common-sense view of treating boys as boys and not as men. He said, also, it would solve——
§ * THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. JOHN ELLIS)
I am reluctant to stop the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but I think some of his remarks are outside the Vote we are discussing, and would more properly be made on Vote 1. The hon. and gallant Member will be kind enough to limit his remarks.
An HON. MEMBER called attention to the dissatisfaction among many of the clerks at the War Office with the arrangements about Saturday half-holidays.
said that he could give the hon. Member for West Cavan no new answer to the question he had raised, not for the first time. When cases of the kind which the hon. Member had brought forward were put before him he invariably gave them his own personal attention, but he was unable to go behind the regulations which governed these pensions. In many cases he unfortunately had to say that nothing more could be done. It was not pleasant to be unable to do anything for these poor old soldiers, but, unless the whole question of pensions were to be reopened, nothing more could be done. At the present moment the charge for the non-effective service was extremely heavy, nearly £2,000,000 a year for the pensions of soldiers belonging to the ranks, and it was impossible to increase that sum at present. As to the questions of the hon. Member for Woolwich, representations had been made to the Secretary of State both as to pensions and as to wages, and both questions had been carefully looked into.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL
said that he did not impute perfunctory conduct to the hon. Member himself, but to the Chelsea authorities. Was there no special fund available for these particular cases?
MR. POWELL - WILLIAMS
said that if a man gave sufficient service he was entitled to a pension, and if he did not he was not entitled to a pension. The hon. Member spoke of men having served in the Crimea. There were many men living who had done so, but whose total service did not amount to two years, and who had never been in action.
§ MR. P. O'BRIEN
asked for an answer to his Question as to whether the competition of the military canteens with civilian trades in Dublin was to be stopped, and as to whether any relief was to be given to the rates, which were overburdened by supporting old soldiers who had spent their lives in the service of the British Army. If no satisfactory answer was given, he should move a reduction of the Vote.
said that the Return as to the number of old soldiers in the Irish workhouses would shortly be completed. As to the other point, the hon. Member failed to appreciate what the canteen really was. It was an institution under which the soldiers clubbed together to buy and make things for their own use and benefit. It was no more possible to prohibit them from doing that than to prohibit the members of a club. If the hon. Member took up the position that a soldier might do nothing for himself because there was someone outside to do it for him, it would mean that the soldier must not black his own boots or shave himself. [Cheers and laughter.] As to whether a canteen which manufactured some article, such as beer, should be allowed to supply another canteen, he could see no earthly reason why that should not be allowed. ["Hear, hear!"] But he could see why a canteen so conducted, and manufacturing things very cheaply, should not be allowed to supply the general public. The canteen regulations laid down by the Secretary of State had properly defined the limits within which sales by canteens could be allowed.
§ In answer to Mr. MCLEOD (Sutherland),
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said that the case of Colonel Stockwell, C.B., had been settled in a way which he believed was 1500 satisfactory to that gentleman. He was an officer of very distinguished service who, from the misfortune of age, had just missed the rank of major-general, and the result was that he retired with the rank of colonel and a pension of £420 a year. The Secretary of State had taken into account the fact that Colonel Stock-well's services in the field were exceptional, and that he had had exceptionally bad luck, and permission had been obtained from the Treasury to raise the pension to the £500 a year to which he would have been entitled had he served a few days longer. As it was a very special case, the ordinary rules had also been departed from to the extent of allowing Colonel Stockwell the honorary rank of major-general, so that his great services should not be unrewarded.
expressed his obligation to the hon. Gentleman, and raised another case—that of Bombardier Smith. Smith asked that he should be supplied with copies of certain orders read out to him, and declared that for the want of these copies he was being kept out of a considerable amount of pay which he ought to receive. Would the hon. Gentleman see that these copies were supplied?
§ MR. P. O'BRIEN
thought that the answer given to him was not at all satisfactory. Clubs did not manufacture what they used, as did the canteens of which he complained, and there was the important difference. If soldiers might manufacture mineral waters and beer, why not everything they used—such as rifles, cordite and clothing? [Ministerial cries of "Why not?"] If that were tried on in England, the English working man who suffered from the competition would soon let hon. Members know why not. The Government which allowed such a thing would not last long. Were the military to compete with the trades of Dublin? According to what the representative of the War Office had said, there was no reason why such competition should not be set up. Another question which he wished to ask was, whether the military authorities sanctioned the use in Ireland of transport waggons as conveyances to race courses and other places of amusements? Was it allowed in England? [Cries of "Yes."] It was unjustifiable, because the interests of car drivers suffered.
§ MR. P. O'BRIEN
said that if that was the case, the hon. Member's predecessor in the Chair was responsible for his transgressions, because when he had referred to this subject previously he had not been called to order.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said that the hon. Member appeared to think that the War Department was taking something from Ireland. That was not the case, but the military authorities preferred the interests of the Irish soldier in Ireland to the interests of the Irish capitalists. ["Hear, hear!"] They could not allow a profit to be made by any capitalists out of the sale of articles which soldiers could provide for themselves in their own canteens.
§ MR. W. ABRAHAM (Cork Co., N.E.)
observed that the Financial Secretary to the War Office had said that he saw no reason why canteens should not extend their operations.
§ * COLONEL RUSSELL
asked whether the reorganisation of the cavalry was to be proceeded with and not deferred for another year?
§ * MR. BRODRICK
replied that this question, to which attention had been drawn earlier in the evening, was engaging the attention of Lord Lansdowne at the present moment.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ 2. £294,800, Medical Establishment, Pay, Etc.—agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
3. "That a sum, not exceeding £548,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Pay and Allowances (exclusive of Supplies, Clothing, &c.) of the Militia (to a number not exceeding 135,355, including 30,000 Militia Reserve), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1897.
§ * MR. CHARLES BILL (Staffordshire, Leek)
said that as compared with the volunteers the militia had received rather scant justice and recognition from the House and the country. According to the hon. Member for West Belfast the militia was a vanishing quantity. No doubt in times past there was considerable absenteeism, but now the state of 1502 things was much better. In Staffordshire, for instance, there were four militia battalions, with a total number of about 3,400 men in the ranks, and in the year 1892 the absentees numbered 202; in 1893, 179; in 1894, 174; and last year only 83. The regiment he had the honour to command had last year the smallest record of absenteeism—namely, four. In his opinion, the militia force was a real force and one fully entitled to the confidence of the country. The late Secretary of State for War had expressed the opinion that the militia force that could be relied upon amounted to something like 90,000 men. At the present moment about 17,000 were required to complete the establishment, and as an old and active militia colonel he thought some measures should be taken to reduce that large number. In Staffordshire they were well off in respect to officers, but in other parts of the country the militia regiments were not as well officered as they ought to be. Having served in the militia for 30 years, he hoped everything that was possible to increase its efficiency would be done.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
could not agree with the eulogistic description of the Militia given by his hon. Friend, neither did he believe that 90,000 militiamen could be put into line. In the Estimates the establishment of the Militia was stated to be 140,000. Forty thousand could not be put into line. From the establishment of 140,000 there must be deducted 32,000 which the establishment was short, and from the remainder there must be deducted the 30,000 who belonged to the Militia Reserve, because they were not militiamen at all, inasmuch as on an outbreak of war they would be put into line regiments. Again, there were, on an average, 22,000 recruits, mere boys just from the plough, and who did not know their right hands from their left. Then there were 12,000 who were transferred from the Militia to the Line, and there were also to be taken into account the men who served in half a dozen regiments. In all there were about 28,000 men who could be put into line and called militiamen. To turn to the question of matériel, it was a singular thing that while the Militia were trained with the Lee-Metford rifle they really fired with the Martini-Henry. Could a 1503 more Chinese arrangement be imagined? As to dress, about two-thirds of the Militia were still supplied with the hideous Glengarry cap, and only about one-third had been served with tunics. The Militia force left a good deal to be desired, and it deserved a good deal of attention from the Secretary of State for War.
§ MR. H. C. RICHARDS (Finsbury, E.)
said he wished to call the attention of the Committee to the grave constitutional question now agitating Englishmen in Guernsey, who were called upon to perform compulsory Militia service. The Committee were asked to vote a large sum of money for what, as the hon. and gallant Member for Essex said, was a paltry force as compared with any Militia regiment in England. He had seen the Guernsey Militia going out for a day's exercise, but it was more like going out on a day's excursion, and naturally Englishmen felt it hard to be called upon to serve in the ranks where non-commissioned officers appeared on parade smoking pipes, and where there was an utter lack of discipline among the rank and file. It was an extraordinary thing that while we were ready to sympathise with the grievances of our brethren in the Transvaal, we allowed this oppression to take place in Guernsey under our own flag. ["Hear, hear!"] The force was not under any proper military command, and offences against the military laws of the Channel Islands were not dealt with by a military tribunal or by court-martial, but by the Royal Courts. He had already asked the Home Secretary to permit the republication of the Reports issued so far back as 1848 describing what these Royal Courts were. Within the last few years the fruit-growing industry had attracted a large number of Englishmen to Guernsey, and it was extraordinary that while the natives of any other European nation who went to the islands were exempt, Englishmen, after living there a year and a day, were compelled by an ordinance of the Royal Courts to perform compulsory service. It was an indignity to Englishmen, who had served as Volunteers at home, to have to serve in the Guernsey Militia under such circumstances. ["Hear, hear!"] He contended that if the nation granted money towards the maintenance of the Channel Islands Militia, 1504 as it was called upon to do year after year, Parliament ought to have some voice in its control. He would ask the Committee to listen to what Her Majesty's Privy Council stated with regard to the Royal Courts in 1848. The last time the Council were asked to listen to an appeal from the Islands on a decision of the Courts, three Lord Chancellors stated that in their opinion a complete change was absolutely necessary in the constitution of the Courts for the welfare of the Islands.
§ * SIR C. DILKE
asked, on a point of order, whether the hon. Member was in order in discussing the opinion of three Lord Chancellors on the constitution of the Royal Courts in Guernsey, and how far a discussion on the state of the Guernsey Militia generally was in order on this Vote?
§ THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. JOHN ELLIS)
said that on the first point the hon. Member was out of order. As to the second point, he found himself in some difficulty, and had waited to see how far the hon. Member would proceed with the subject. Undoubtedly a sum of money was asked for in relation to the Guernsey Militia, but it was a very limited sum for a specific and minor object, and he hoped the hon. Member would bear the fact in mind. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. RICHARDS
said that all he wished to say further was that the Under Secretary for War should inform the Committee whether he had heard of any complaints from Englishmen who were now being summoned for compulsory Militia service, and whether he did not consider it a grave constitutional question that, while men of other countries were exempted, Englishmen alone were compelled to serve in the Militia of the Channel Islands.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said the Channel Islands were no doubt in an exceptional position. They had a right to make their own laws with regard to compulsory military service, and it was obligatory on all natives of the Islands. The hon. Member asked why Englishmen should be subjected to this service more than natives of other countries. No doubt Englishmen who went to the Islands and lived there for a year and a day were liable to what the hon. Member rather strongly called compulsory military service—that was, they were required to do nine drills a year.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said there might be extra drills for firing, but so far as he was aware the actual number of drills was nine, fixed by statute, and occupying about an hour and a half each. Undoubtedly Englishmen had to undergo this service, because they went to live in dominions of the Queen where such service was compulsory. But he would point out that a quid pro quo was given for the service. The Government of this country provided a certain number of artillerymen for the defence of the Channel Islands, and also contributed to the expense of the permanent staff of the Militia. The Militia gave compulsory service to the extent he had named, but had in advantage, on the other hand, in the fact that the islands contributed only £1,800 towards their defence. ["Hear, hear!] He was not aware until his hon. Friend brought the matter before the Home Secretary that there was, as he stated, considerable dissatisfaction. He believed there were many persons who desired to terminate the present system of military service, but it was the regulation of the Channel Islands to tax themselves by service for whatever was necessary for their defence. It had been urged that the Channel Islands Militia was not all that could be desired, and that it would be well if it could be brought under proper discipline. That was the opinion of every military man in this country, and the matter had by no means been lost sight of. Their desire was to bring that Militia into a condition in which they would be able to co-operate with those who might have to stand beside them in case of war. There was only one exception he had to take to the speeches which had been made with regard to the Militia. It was said by one of his hon. and gallant Friends that speeches made from that Bench were always optimistic. He did not think that anything he had said with regard to the Militia could bear that interpretation. Although the numbers of the Militia were fairly maintained, there were considerable gaps to be filled up in the matter of officers, while in the matter of equipment there were still points with which the War Office would have to deal. He hoped that during the autumn many points that had been brought before the Committee with 1506 regard to the Militia might be considered and satisfactorily settled.
§ * CAPTAIN NORTON
said he would be glad to know what steps were being taken to maintain the Militia, which after all was the constitutional force of the country, in a proper state of efficiency. They were generally told that they had an effective force of 140,000 men on which they could rely; but he did not hesitate to say that, if they attempted, in case of necessity, to mobilise that force, they could not put 30,000 effective men into the field. The present system of confining commanding officers to their own counties for choice of men prevented them having their Militia Regiments up to their proper state. If the officers were permitted to take men wherever they could find them, he believed there would be little difficulty in getting the full supply of recruits. It was supposed that in the event of the Militia force being called out they could rely on having a full staff of officers. The contrary was the case. Half the subaltern officers in a Militia regiment entered it for the express purpose of endeavouring to pass into the Army. A large proportion of them did enter the Army, and a still larger proportion tried for appointments in their colonial forces. The result was that practically the Militia was altogether under officered. It was, therefore, absurd to claim that the Militia force was in a proper state of efficiency, and it was advisable that they should let the public know that this was so.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
Is the hon. Gentleman quoting from any official Returns as to the Militia, or is he quoting out of his head?
§ * THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. JOHN ELLIS)
Order, order! I must ask the noble Lord to allow the hon. Member to proceed.
§ * CAPTAIN NORTON
said he regretted the noble Lord should have so far forgotten the class to which he belonged. Whether he was quoting from official Returns or not, he could carry such 1507 figures in his head and vouch for their accuracy. If the noble Lord desired to traverse the statements he had made, he was at liberty to do so after he had resumed his seat. They heard about magnificent schemes of defence, and into all these schemes the Militia entered very materially, and it was absurd for them to believe that they were in a state of perfect security if they were relying on this Militia force. He hoped the Under Secretary, now that they had a new state of affairs at the Horse Guards, would take steps to see that whatever the numbers were on paper they were effective.
§ MR. W. E. M. TOMLINSON (Preston)
urged that steps should be taken by the War Office to bring the Militia up to their proper strength.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
disclaimed any intention of showing the slightest discourtesy to the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, and was extremely sorry that any words of his should have been construed as discourteous. The reason he interposed while the hon. Gentleman was speaking was because the figures came upon him as such a surprise. He took interest in this subject as an officer of the Militia, and he understood the late Secretary for War had assured the House not long ago that there were 90,000 men who were effective belonging to the Militia. In these circumstances, the hon. and gallant Gentleman would, perhaps, forgive him exhibiting considerable surprise at hearing the figures which the hon. Member had given. His experience of the Militia did not coincide with the view the hon. and gallant Gentleman had put forward. He believed that, properly managed, battalions ought to experience no difficulty in obtaining their proper complement of men and officers. He was quite sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman would be the first to rejoice if he found his figures to be incorrect.
§ * CAPTAIN NORTON
fully accepted the courteous reply of the noble Lord. He wished to say that what he had stated might occur without the knowledge of the noble Lord, inasmuch as there was a large number of men who acted as Militia loafers, who went about from one regiment to another, and it was impossible for the officer commanding the regiment to be in possession of the 1508 fact that a man who was counted on the strength of his regiment was also in another regiment.
§ * MR. BROOKFIELD (Sussex, Rye)
thought the Militia, taking the rank-and-file, altogether were worse treated and stood more knocking about than any other branch of the British Army. They bore it cheerfully, and were always available for duty. There were two very serious blots in the present system of the service to which he thought the Secretary for War should give his serious attention. The first was that of fraudulent enlistment. Steps ought to be taken to prevent this, and as one means of doing so, he suggested that wherever practicable the training in the various districts should take place at the same time, which would thus prevent one individual belonging to several regiments. He also thought the commanding officers might very well send a non-commissioned officer from their battalions to visit other battalions to see if there were any of these versatile militiamen serving two or three trainings, and where that was the case exemplary punishment should be inflicted on the offenders. The other point to which he attached importance was that of making the Militia liable for service abroad. He did not think that the most perfect system of mobilisation would be of any use which did not contemplate eventually the sending of Militia, as well as line battalions, out of the country. With reference to what the hon. Member for Finsbury had said about the hardships of the ballot, far from sympathising with him as to the complaint that came from obscure English citizens living in Guernsey about the severity of the ballot, he wished the blessings of the Guernsey system could be immediately extended to this country and every other part of the United Kingdom. He believed that nothing was more needed in this country to stiffen the general moral fibre of the people and improve their military system, than to render everybody liable, for a period, to compulsory military service. He pressed the importance of drawing the non-commissioned officers from the very best class of men in the regiments, and urged that the regimental Sergeant-Major should be a warrant officer as he was in the line battalions. It would greatly improve the efficiency of the 1509 battalion if this officer were given warrant rank. This change could be effected without costing the State a farthing, because the same person who now performed the duty of Depôt Sergeant-Major at the brigade depôt could undertake the duties of the regimental Sergeant-Major to the militia as well.
§ MR. T. A. HARE (Norfolk, S.W.)
urged the desirability of providing modern guns for the practice of the Militia and Volunteers, and wished to know when the Lee-Metford would be substituted for the Martini-Henry rifle.
§ SIR J. COLOMB
said the time had come to consider whether the Militia service should not be extended. Since the establishment of the Volunteer force it had received attention formerly given to the Militia. The Volunteers had reached a point of great efficiency, and holding that our first necessity was the command of the sea, he thought the defence of the Kingdom could be well left to the Volunteers. The Militia being a constitutional force and capable of great development, the time had come to consider the desirability of giving such inducements as would secure the extension of Militia service beyond the shores of the United Kingdom, not for general purposes all over the world, but for the purpose of garrisons abroad. It should be an Imperial rather than a United Kingdom force. He was aware that it was a question of money; but when they remembered how short they were of men for the regular Army for oversea service, the time had come to see whether the Militia could not be applied for the relief of the regular Army locked up in our garrisons abroad.
§ * MR. BRODRICK,
replying on the discussion, said the use of the Militia for Imperial purposes was a large one, on which he could not enter fully at that hour on a casual discussion. But the subject was constantly in the minds of the War Office authorities, and would not be lost sight of. He hoped the Committee would now agree to the Vote.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said, it had been alleged that the officers of the Tower Hamlets Militia could not go on parade with pocket-handkerchiefs in 1510 their pockets ["Oh, oh!"] In Ireland the men were picked up wherever they could got them, and his hon. Friends would endorse what he said. He had lived in front of a prominent railway station in the south of Ireland, and had seen these so called troops come back to be dismissed year after year. They were a nuisance to their officers, to themselves, and to the general public. ["No, no!"] The Irish Militia regiments consisted of the mere dregs of society—["order, order!"]—who spent one-half of their time in the workhouses, and a portion of it in gaol. They were a discredit to any portion of the Service, and they looked upon them as discreditable to Ireland, and the men themselves were ashamed of the coats they were. ["Oh, oh!"] This branch of the Service was a mistake, and if there was any trouble in Ireland they simply sent over the Irish Militia regiment to England, because they dared not trust them with rifles in their hands. ["Order, order!"] He did not believe in the Irish Militia, and he thought these regiments ought to be done away with. A great number of the English regiments were as bad, and it might be of service to send such regiments away to the Soudan. The hon. Member concluded by moving the reduction of the Vote by £100,000.
§ Question, "That a sum, not exceeding £448,000 be granted to the said Service,"—(Dr. Tangier)—put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put.
§ The Committee proceeded to a Division.
§ * THE CHAIRMAN
stated that he thought the Ayes had it; and on his decision being challenged, it appeared to him that the Division was frivolously claimed. He accordingly directed the Noes to stand up in their places, and four Members having stood up, the Chairman declared that the Ayes had it.
§ 4. £73,300, Yeomanry Cavalry, Pay and Allowances,—
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said military authorities had a very high opinion of the value to the country of between 9,000 and 10,000 men who had received a considerable amount of training. Lord Wolseley had attended the inspection of several Yeomanry regiments during the 1511 last few weeks, and he was very favourably impressed with the training they had received. It was possible that in course of time the force might be made still more useful as light cavalry. As matters stood at the present time they held that it was not merely a useful force, but considering the amount of money that was spent upon it, it might be regarded as a cheap force.
§ DR. TANNER
said that he desired to point out to Her Majesty's Government that there was no Yeomanry force in Ireland, although Ireland produced large numbers of the best cavalry horses, It was strange that a country which mounted the cavalry of many other nations should have no Yeomanry force of its own. He should like to have some explanation from Her Majesty's Government on the point. He confessed that he did not think much of the Yeomanry as a cavalry force, in fact, he regarded the force as an absolute fraud. True, it was that they spent their own money upon themselves, and that they provided their own mounts, but that did not constitute them an efficient force. What he had said about the Irish Militia applied with even greater force to the Yeomanry. In his opinion this so called cavalry force was mere child's play as far as military efficiency was concerned. But if the force was to exist at all, they ought to have regiments of Yeomanry in Ireland, where horses were plentiful. If this money had to be spent, instead of wasting it upon the Yeomanry, let it be applied to purposes of education or to some similar object.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 5. £624,500, Volunteer Corps, Pay and Allowances—Agreed to.
§ 6. £660,200, Transport and Remounts—Agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed:—
7. "That a sum, not exceeding £2,519,900, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge for provisions, forage and other supplies, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1897.
§ MR. DALY
said that he wished to call attention to the fact that large quantities of oats and fodder for the use of the cavalry were imported from abroad instead of native produce being purchased. It was not fair that native 1512 produce should be placed in competition with foreign produce in this way in order to save a few pounds on the Estimates. There was no comparison between the quality of English and Irish oats and those which were imported from Russia and Germany. An Agricultural Rating Bill had been introduced to relieve the depression which existed amongst, farmers; but he thought that if the War Office supported the farmers by buying home grown supplies—as it was their duty to do—instead of importing them from abroad—there would not have been so much necessity for the Bill. He asked for an assurance that during the coming year supplies of oats, straw and hay, and other produce for the Army that could be purchased at home would not be obtained from abroad.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL
asked what was the system adopted in regard to the giving of contracts for supplies for the Army in Ireland? He understood from men who had been contractors to large military centres in Ireland that the War Office had recently introduced the custom of entering into large contract on the co-operative or cheap principle which, as Irish firms were unable to compete, went entirely to English traders. Ireland was compelled reluctantly to support an Army of 27,000 and she was besides overtaxed by two millions a year. It was not too much therefore to ask that the two millions odd for the Army in Ireland should be spent in Ireland. He thought it was very bad policy on the part of the War Office to buy Russian oats in preference to Irish or English oats, because they were sixpence a barrel or so cheaper, especially in view of the agricultural depression. It was his duty, however, to give some attention to the Irish side of the question, and he therefore asked whether it was true that the English co-operative system was being introduced into Ireland in connection with supplies for the Army for the purpose of preventing Irish traders from competing for contracts?
assured the Committee that the War Department was anxious to buy in Ireland as much as they possibly could of the produce consumed by the Army in Ireland. There certainly was no disposition to exclude in any way the 1513 forage grown in that country. The system of Army supplies, which had now been in vogue a considerable time, was not, as the hon. Member supposed, the co-operative system, but a system of buying under contract. A certain requirement as to quality was laid down and it had to be fulfilled; and neither foreign nor home grown forage of inferior quality would be accepted. The requirement as to quality being fulfilled, the Department had not been accustomed as a rule to require the forage to be home grown; in fact, no inquiry had been made as to where the forage came from. Lately, however, in consequence of representations made in the House, inquiries had been made with a view to ascertaining whether the supply could be confined to home grown produce without materially increasing the cost to the country. If the cost to the country were increased, he was afraid there were many Members in the House who would say that the Department were dropping into a system of Protection; but if it could be shown that home grown produce was as good and as cheap as that which could be get elsewhere, it did seem reasonable to say that they ought not to go outside the United Kingdom for a supply. Careful inquiry was now being made, especially as to the quality and feeding capacity of foreign as compared with home grown produce, but the inquiry was not yet complete. If it should turn out that the forage produced in this country was as cheap and as good as that which could be obtained elsewhere, he had very little doubt that steps would be taken in the direction of the suggestion of the hon. Member.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL
asked whether the Inquiry was being conducted by experts or simply by the military authorities? Military commanding officers were very often unable to form a correct judgment on such questions, and therefore he did not think it would be proper that the Inquiry should be conducted solely by officers. The hon. Gentleman had not attempted to give him any information as to the amount actually expended in Ireland. From inquiries he had made he could say that a large amount of the money voted for maintaining the Army in Ireland came back to England. If the hon. Gentleman could not give him some information on 1514 that point he would be compelled to move the reduction of the Vote.
§ DR. TANNER
said that the hon. Gentleman had taken very good care to slur over certain fundamental points. The hon. Gentleman had made no attempt to answer the repeated complaints of their trade. The Government were actually introducing German forage to save the Estimates. Any intelligent member of the Committee, if he would look at the Estimates, would find there was a decrease in connection with this Vote in the cost of forage of about £30,000. There was no country in the west of Europe that produced better hay than Ireland, and much of it was upland hay, which was the best sort. At Ballincollig, Cahir, and Newbridge cavalry barracks the officers ought to be instructed to obtain hay from the county in which they were stationed.
§ MR. DALY
expressed himself dissatisfied with the answers of the representatives of the War Office. The Financial Secretary was actually unable to say from what country the forage came that was supplied to the cavalry in Ireland. No better hay was raised anywhere than in Ireland, and he was surprised that the landlords opposite did not rise and try to get for the farmers of Ireland a share of the money to which they were entitled. The Government should buy the supplies for the Army at home and not abroad.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL
said the Irish Members must insist on a definite and clear reply to the question. The superior quality of Irish hay and oats could not be denied, and he should like to know what was the average price paid at the present time by the Government for the hay and oats supplied to the cavalry. This was not a question which military men ought to be left solely to determine; it required some expert knowledge, and practical farmers ought to settle the question. It was disgraceful that large quantities of pressed hay were being imported into London for the use of our cavalry. The hay which was imported from abroad was of a chaffy nature and had no substance in it compared with the oats grown in Ireland. True, they did not grow much grain in Ireland now, but a great deal more would be grown if some encouragement were given to Irish farmers that when 1515 they brought their corn to market they would get a decent price for it. The present system was a penny wise and pound foolish policy. If more was done to encourage the growth of Irish oats and English oats, it would benefit every class of the community. The people of Ireland contributed some £10,000,000 annually to the Imperial Exchequer, and it never finds its way back in any shape or form to the Irish people. The hon. Member was proceeding to refer further to the question of the provisioning of the troops,
And, it being midnight, the CHAIRMAN proceeded to interrupt the business, whereupon,
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
rose in his place, and claimed to move "That the question be now put."
§ DR. TANNER,
who spoke seated and with his hat on, said: On a point of order, Sir, I wish to ask how many of the Gentlemen who shouted "aye" when you put the question are Members of the Army and Navy Stores, and therefore have a direct pecuniary interest.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 126; Noes, 32.—(Division List, No. 254.)
§ Original Question put accordingly.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 133; Noes, 15.—(Division List, No. 255).
§ Whereupon the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.