Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 184,853, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at Home and Abroad, excluding Her Majesty's Indian Possessions, during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900.
Motion made, and Question put—
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 180,153, all ranks, be maintained for the said Service."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I beg to move, on Vote A (Regiments), the reduction of the number of all ranks by 4,340. Anyone who has not had the advantage of a Military education will find it extremely difficult to get at facts, because the figures in the Estimates, in Lord Lansdowne's preliminary statement, and in the return of the Inspector-General of Recruiting all differ from each other. One reason for this is that a number of men are voted, and 1233 the assumption is that that number of men are under the colours. That, however, is not the ease. In point of fact, the British Army is Falstaff's men in buckram; they are voted by this House, but they do not appear. One year we are asked to vote 100,000 men, and the next year we are asked to vote an additional number, but we find at the end of the second year that we have not even the 100,000 men originally voted. In these circumstances it is a little difficult to get at the facts. I should like to ask, what becomes of the money that is voted for these men who are not under the colours? Assuming that the pay is voted for 100,000 men and there are only 95,000 under the colours, the pay for the other 5,000 ought to have been paid to the Commissioners for the deduction of the National Debt; but, looking at the accounts, I never see that any such payments are made. I therefore presume that while each year we are called upon to vote money for the payment of a certain number of men some portion of that money is used for purposes connected with the War Office management. I think that is a wrong thing to do. Now, Sir, the clearest account is contained in Lord Lansdowne's preliminary statement, and therefore I take my figures from that. I would point out in the first place that the Estimates have gone up enormously during the last few years. In 1838 the Estimates for the Army were £7,800,000. In 1898–9 they were £19,986,200, including the Supplementary Estimates, and for this next year the Estimates are £20,979,200, or an increase of£l,000,000 over the current year and of £6,500,000 over 1878. It must be remembered, too, that these Estimates do not include the Barracks, the troops in India, nor the Forces under the Colonial and Foreign Offices. I cannot help thinking that the present system is an exceedingly bad one. The whole of the Estimates should be put down in one vote, and there should not be a certain amount put down in the Foreign Vote and a certain amount in the Colonial Vote. My right honourable Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir Charles Dilke) yesterday stated that the cost of our Home Army, of our Indian Army, of our Foreign Office Army, and of our Colonial Army is £40,000,000, and that the cost of the Army and Navy together, including the Indian Army, is £70,000,000. We have been told that as 1234 the population increases the Army must be increased. That is an absurd proposition, as I think I shall be able to show. In 1870 our total armaments cost £24,000,000, and our population was 31.4 millions. At the present moment the cost of the Army to the British tax-payer is in round figures £50,000,000 and our population is 39.4 millions. In other words, our Army and Navy Estimates have more than doubled since 1870, while our population has only gone up one-fifth. Now I come to the men, and here there is a good deal of difficulty to get at the precise figures, because, as I have said, the Estimates do not contain the whole of the men who ought to be there. According to the Estimates before us, however, there has been an increase of about 17,000 men in two years. This, however, does not include our Foreign and Colonial Office Armies, nor the Indian Native Army. I think it is a most dangerous thing to recruit these native populations. The events which have taken place in the Soudan show that the native troops are perfect savages, and white troops have always to be sent out to look after them. In India we have to keep a white Army of between 73,000 and 74,000 men, besides the native troops. That, to my mind, is a perfect scandal. I was surprised to hear the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury state that the increase in our Army was not due to our Foreign policy. It was, he said, due to the Military and Naval policy pursued by foreign nations. Sir, I know it is stated that as foreigners build ships we must build ships, and that we must have as many ships built as any two or three nations, but this contention has never been used before with regard to the Army. It has never been suggested for a moment that our Army was to be dependent upon the same principle. It represents a very terrible view of the future if that is to be the policy pursued. We do not, however, and never have, based the strength of our Army upon the number of troops placed in the field by Foreign nations. We are told, however, that we must in the future. If that is the case I think it shows how very faulty our system is to get us into the present position. We have been saved the expense of a large army in Great Britain because it is an island, and does not require a large land power. I remember when Volunteers were first proposed we were told that we ought to vote 1235 money for that particular force because we should in consequence be spared the expense of increasing the Army. We voted that money. Then the vote for an increased Navy was proposed, and we were told that we must vote large sums of money for the Navy because we had not got a large Army. And now, because we have voted large sums for the Navy, we are told that as a matter of justice we ought to vote large sums for the Army. In the very nature of things, the more you increase your territories the more you must increase the number of your troops. The right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary, in addressing his constituents, or some other meeting, a few days ago, remarked that our mission was to perpetually expand. Well, if our mission is to perpetually expand we must be prepared for the perpetual expansion of the Army and Navy; and if in addition to this we are to have a "spirited foreign policy" and a policy of "ultimatums," and so on, it is impossible to know how far this increase in the Army will be carried. If we have to continually increase the strength of the Army, we shall have to fall back upon conscription. This is evidently the view of the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, for he said he did not know what would happen unless the people responded to the calls made upon them; and as it is admitted that the people do not respond, it seems to me certain that the honourable and gallant Gentleman will have to introduce a policy of conscription in the near future. Let me for a moment see what has happened according to the report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting. He tells us that 33 per cent, of those who offered themselves as recruits were poor creatures who could not fulfil the requirements of the Army. Besides, we have been obliged to fall back on what I call "specials," that is to say, men who have enlisted for a, short period, who feed and train for three years, and then leave because their constitutions break down and they are not in a condition to go abroad. Now, the honourable and gallant Gentleman seemed to think that it was the duty of labourers to enlist in the Army. I presume the honourable and gallant Gentleman means artisans. Well, for my part I am bound to say that if a good, respectable artisan can carry on his trade he would be very foolish to enlist. Where the honourable and gallant Gentleman 1236 thinks we are going to get the men from if we go on expanding our territories and expanding the Army I do not know. If he really hopes to get the artisan who is earning a good wage he is very much mistaken. I say that the present system of voluntary enlistment has almost entirely broken down, and it must break down absolutely if you try to expand the Army farther. Now, Sir, look at the financial result of all this expansion. It has been pointed out very clearly by my right honourable Friend the Leader of the Opposition, the Member for the Stirling Burghs (Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman). The right honourable Gentleman, speaking of the huge Estimates, said: "The only way to prevent such an increase is to modify the general policy of the country." I am very glad that my right honourable Friend is opposed to the continuity of this Tory-Jingo policy, and is prepared to fall back upon the old policy of Mr. Gladstone. Now, Sir, what was that policy? I hold in my hand a copy of a letter addressed by Mr. Gladstone to that eminent Liberal, Dr. Spence Watson. This is what Mr. Gladstone said—Dear Dr. Watson,—No words could be too strong to convey the warmth of my sympathy with you in the protest you are manfully lodging against the wild, wanton, and most perilous expenditure in which the country has thought proper to engage. Let us pray for an early awakening to common sense and the ideas of our fathers and grandfathers.I am very glad that the successor of Mr. Gladstone, the present Leader of the Opposition, has taken the same view, and has distinctly declared that he will oppose this reckless expenditure upon the Army. In doing so he is following in the footsteps of Mr. Gladstone, and also of Sir Robert Peel, that eminent Tory Statesman, who declared that "heavy military expenditure means heavy taxation, heavy disturbance, and revolution." Now what has happened since the present Government has been in Office? We have had an expanding revenue. The Government have been able to lay hold of the millions which have been obtained from those excellent death duties of the last Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer. They have made inroads on the Sinking Fund and they have had the advantage of the reduction in the National Debt, but all this, with the exception of certain doles to their friends, has been absorbed in armaments. Last 1237 year the only tax of which anything was taken off by the Government was the Tobacco Tax; and that is an utter miscalculation, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have the greatest difficulty in the world to make ends meet this year. The only way in which he will be able to find money in order to continue with these armaments will be by imposing fresh and heavy taxation upon the country. I am not against our having a Navy, but what I say is let us have a moderate Navy; do not let us build a. Navy against all the Navies of the world. I want a moderate Army. I do not want such an Army that it will be able at a moment's notice to annex any country upon which the right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary may have set his mind on. I want a decent, respectable Army, and nothing more.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
My honourable Friend the Member for Gateshead asks me the question, and I will answer him. I should think it would be handsome if I said 100,000 men. Now really we are troubled, and the cause of our increase in the Army is the mania—and, I think it is admitted on all hands—we have for annexing profitable regions in Africa. We know perfectly well that there is a very largo number of men in Africa at the present time. We have 4,000 odd in, Egypt, and we must not suppose that with regard to Egypt that is all we have, because we have 10,000 men in the garrison of Malta. Now, it is not necessary to keep 10,000 men there for the purpose of warding off any attack that may be made against Malta. Malta is simply used as a "Place D'Armes" from which we may in, case of necessity increase our Garrison in Egypt. We have 8,000 men at the Cape of Good Hope; what, are we doing with those 8,000 men? What is it that Ave are going to annex there? These 8,000 men are distributed over Natal and Cape Colony. There is a large Camp at a place, I believe, called Lady Town, and there 1238 are a great many of the men at Port Elizabeth. The House will recollect that when we withdrew our men from there before, we, handed the Barracks over to the Colony, and now when we want, more room they propose: to sell us the very Barracks we gave to them. I suspect that we are going to have some trouble in South Africa. We have had one unauthorised raid in the Transvaal, and sooner or later, when we have got enough troops in Africa, we shall find some reason I have no doubt to have an authorised raid, otherwise I can see no reason for these troops being at the Cape and Natal. I see no reason why we should now be called upon to vote for more soldiers while we have this 8,000 men there, and I mean, to vote against this increase in the Army. I am not putting it on the ground of the honourable Gentlemen opposite who have advocated from the Military point, of view. I take this broad fact that the Estimates have gone up enormously in recent years, and we are going to be asked to vote more men and more money in the present year. Now, if we are in earnest in protesting against the armaments being increased, in the manner in which they are, we ought to begin by voting against any increase in men. We shall find hereafter when the Chancellor of the Exchequer comes to discuss his Budget that we shall be asked to vote more money. But how can we protest against such an expenditure then if we do not vote against the increase of men now? We shall be told by the right honourable Gentleman that we voted for the men and that when he comes and asks us to vote the money we have no light to tell him that he ought not to levy a higher tax upon the country. Let us put ourselves upon a firm basis. Let us protest against these measures which are now brought forward, and then we shall be in a, position to protest against the increased taxes which may be imposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in order to meet this expenditure. I saw the other day that in the United States a. Vote had been taken for an increase in the Army of a hundred thousand men. We know that just now at the present moment that there is some idea in that country of an expansion of territory; but when the Senate asked for an increase in the Army of a hundred thousand men the people of the United States, who are a 1239 sensible people, very properly, in my opinion, out down the vote to 30,000 men. Now I read out the letter of Mr. Gladstone, and what I want is for the House to act upon it. Mr. Gladstone goes much further than I go. It was in 1896 that he complained of the wanton and perilous expenditure that was going on. I shall vote against it, and shall be glad if others will also vote against it also. I am only doing this because it goes one step in the policy of Mr. Gladstone, and I am urging what he said, that our expenditure is wanton and perilous, and the least that we can do is not to increase it by voting for the suggested increase in the Army which the honourable Gentleman the Under-Secretary for War now asks for. I beg to move that the number of all ranks be reduced by 4,340 men.
§ *MR. JOHN ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
I have always recognised that it is almost impossible for Members like myself, who are entirely unacquainted with Military matters, to go into the matters of detail that come up in these Estimates. The discussion on this Vote is, however, always allowed to range into general policy, and we are not lost in what I might almost cal) the bewildering labyrinth of tehnical and material detail. Therefore I should like to say a few words upon the Motion that has been made, which I intend to support by my vote. One fact stares us in the face at the present moment, and that is that this country is spending on its armaments now an alarming sum of money; that that amount is growing by leaps and bounds. If you take a comparison, not of any individual year, go back fifteen years and take an average of five years, and you will find that we are spending about £12,000,000 sterling more now than we were doing at that time on armaments. I am not going for a moment into the manner in which this money has Leon spent on the Military Vote; much less am I going to discuss the manner in which it has been spent on the Naval Vote, but the first thing which strikes one is this vast and enormous increase in the expenditure. I always understood that the expenditure on armaments was an indication of Policy, and that the manner in which the Government of this country is conducted is almost, immediately reflected in our Army and Navy 1240 Vote. I was extremely glad to hear the observation of the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition yesterday. He placed his finger immediately upon the sore spot B. The right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, following him, declared that he was entirely mistaken when he supposed that the policy of the Government had anything whatever to do with the increase of expenditure. I heard the right honourable Gentleman with surprise, because he must admit, though it is many years since1, that his distinguished predecessor, Mr. Disraeli, declared from that very bench that our expenditure depended on the Foreign Policy. If your Foreign Policy is restless and agressive you will want more men for your Army and more money, and unless the right honourable Gentleman is now going to throw over all the doctrines that we have been accustomed to, ho cannot admit but what that is so. Lord Rosebery also made the same1 statement only two years ago. He made the same statement when he formally resigned whatever position of leadership in the Liberal Party he had at that time. He gave a calculation which had been made of the millions of square miles of territory which had been added to the British Empire, and pointed out the amount of increased expenditure and the increased attention to the affairs of those countries which would be required in consequence. I do not see how that can be disposed of. The right honourable Gentleman said that an area of a few square miles more or less did not necessitate the sum of money which was being asked for. But we do not realise the number of square miles of territory that we have added to the Empire during the last twelve years and the consequences that entails. I do not cure whether Liberal or Conservative Governments adopt this policy; I only know that my constituents say in regard to this matter that they object to it altogether. Our expenditure is going up, as I have said before, by leaps and bounds, and we do not know and cannot imagine from what source the right honourable Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to obtain the necessary funds with which to meet it. I oppose this policy, not only because of the burden of taxation, but because, as has been already pointed 1241 out, you cannot go into these more or less savage countries and maintain that standard of warfare which in recent years has happily obtained in Europe. We shall see something when the Votes come up on the Question of the Soudan, and we shall then no doubt hear a good deal about the matter. In this semi-savage, or savage, warfare we cannot maintain the chivalry and the higher aspects of war such as is maintained in European Wars. You cannot do this when you go into these districts and have to be accompanied by these levies of more or less savage tribes. I am utterly opposed to such a method of conducting our Foreign Policy, and I take this early opportunity of protesting against it, and heartily support the Amendment which has been moved by the honourable Gentleman the Member for Northampton.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I desire to support the Amendment of the honourable Member for Northampton, and I cannot understand how any Liberal Politician could refrain from supporting him and then go down into the country and criticise the methods which it may be necessary for the right honourable Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to adopt in order to meet the expenditure which is entailed. I say that because I noticed that the right honourable Baronet the Member for Berwick, a Gentleman whose speeches I always read because I consider them of great interest, delivered a speech the other day heartily approving of the expedition of the Soudan. Indeed, he and other Liberal Members have found fault with Lord Salisbury for being too pacific in. China. Yet I saw that the right honourable Baronet, fresh from that speech of approval of the policy of re-conquering the Soudan, and therefore of the expenses connected with it, went down to Oxford and declared in justifying that speech that the question of questions which would engage the attention of the public to the exclusion of almost every other in the immediate future would be the Question of Finance. You cannot have your cake and eat it, and the honourable gentlemen who support the Foreign Policy of the Government have; no right to quarrel with the necessities in which that Policy places them, and if the Government are right in conquering the Soudan, in occupying Egypt, and in asserting the commercial rights of the people of this 1242 country in China and elsewhere, and if you feel justified in entertaining schemes, dark and designing schemes, against the -Transvaal which have brought you to the necessity of sending 8,000 men to Cape Colony and maintaining them there, you cannot, with any show of consistency or honesty, go and criticise the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he is called upon to find the money for all these operations. Now, I have been for twelve years one of a small minority led by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Montrose, who opposed the Egyptian Policy of the Government, and I recollect ten or twelve years ago Lord Wolseley made a speech in which he criticised the efficiency of the British Army. No General ever does think his Army is efficient; but he criticised the condition of the British Army, and he warned the people of this country that if they were determined to go on with the Policy of the Occupation and Maintenance of Egypt they should have, at least 25,000 more men in the Army. You are criticising the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the. Minister for Foreign Affairs has given the figures with regard to the occupation of Egypt and the conquering of the Soudan. I say those figures are entirely fallacious, because you must add to those the increase in the permanent force, in the country. Because there are only 5,000 men in Egypt that does not represent, as we know perfectly well, the amount required for the Military occupation of Egypt. In this country we have to have, in addition, a great increase in the Military, so that if need be we can throw a very great force into Egypt. When the conquest of the Soudan was talked of, I referred to the Debate of 1896, because that Debate is much referred to, and the right honourable Gentleman was called a false prophet. He drew a lurid picture of what might happen, but we all know that the Battle of Omdurman was a very ticklish affair after all, and if the attack had taken place during the night, or under other circumstances, the battle might have ended with a, different result. Nobody could say that I was a false prophet in the matter, because what I said was that in my judgment in was perfectly clear so far as the expedition to Dongola was concerned, it would be successful, and the taking of Khartoum would not offer any difficulties; but the danger that I did see 1243 would be the setting up of a large Army in Africa which would necessitate the maintenance of a large number of British Troops there. That is what we are suffering from now, and is the reason for the voting for a further payment to the Army of one million a year. I say it is idle for honourable Gentlemen in this House to support a Policy of expansion of this character and then go to the country and say we condemn the Policy of the Government because of the expense attached to it. If you are going to increase the Empire in this enormous, and in my opinion, outrageous, indefensible fashion, you must pay for it. We are called upon to pay for an increase of men to the extent of 25,000, that is the increase that has always been spoken of, but we shall not stop there; there is not the least chance of our stepping there, because when the Soudan is occupied it must be dealt with upon the same principle as Egypt. You might no doubt raise an immense Native Army from the Soudan, but does anybody pretend to believe that that Army can be led or will be led without a large proportion of the British Army to watch it? Where is that Army to come from I If you have got to supply 10,000 British Troops to strengthen and to give backbone to1 and to watch the Soudanese Army which is to be levied—if you have to have that to guard a country which is three times the size of France., then you will have to go on. What I rise to' say is, that I, as an Irish Member, have always protested against the increase of expenditure', but I do think English. Radicals ought to protest a great deal more than they do against it also. I was astonished the other day when I heard the honourable Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton say that lie thought too much time was being devoted to the Army and Navy Estimates. I think that far too little time is given to them. They are now only debated by the Service Members, while others remain silent. The Members who used to get up and defend the taxpayer from this enormous and growing burden have not spoken for the last two or three years. A Policy has been, supported by all the sides of this House which inevitably draws into' its train this enormous increase of expenditure. So long as you approve of the Policy, so long you will have to bear the expense; but if you are going to oppose the Policy you must come down 1244 to the House and oppose it, as well as opposing the expenditure.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I entirely agree with what has fallen from the honourable Member for Mayo, though it is not often my good fortune to do so in the Debates which take place in this House. I believe that it is true that the House has got in relation to' its expenditure to consider its Policy; and nothing that I said last night taken in its context could, in my opinion, be properly urged against that view. But I do think there is some confusion of thought in the minds of some of those who have spoken upon this matter. Undoubtedly there has been a very large increase of cost, in the Military and Navy Votes; and it does appear to me to be a mania with honourable Gentlemen opposite to add the increase of our Navy Estimate to' that of our Army Estimate and say that this is the result of the Foreign Policy of this or that Government. I believe that to be the most fallacious way of dealing with the question. I do not deny that the expense of our territories and out-responsibilities in. Africa has caused an increase in our Military Armaments—that it has been, one of the causes, perhaps the main cause, that has rendered the increase in our Military Estimate necessary. If anybody objects to these Estimates they must do what the honourable Member who has just sat down has just done, and the honourable Member who preceded did, object to this expenditure at the time. I am not aware that in the country they have raised their voices against, the Leaders of the Party to which they belong or against such Leaders of their own Party as Lord Rosebery and the right honourable Baronet the Member for Berwick-on-Tweed.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
It appears to me that their chief occupation has been denouncing their Leaders. It will be admitted I think that the Foreign Policy has advanced very much; and if we have been criticised by our opponents, we have been criticised not for having done too much but for doing too little. And if we consider that, I think I am not wrong in saying that on this fundamental point that if 1245 we are sinners in the eyes of the honourable Gentleman opposite, their own Leaders of the Front Opposition Bench here and in another place are sinners greater than ourselves. But for my part I have no fear whatever of the issue being put clearly before the country. Are you prepared to see Africa, divided up among other Nations with all the consequential Tariff arrangements that will follow such a division, or are you prepared to add about £1,500,000 a year to your Estimates? That is a, clear issue, and I shall always be prepared to discuss the problem either here, in this House, or elsewhere. But though I admit that the expansions—for which we are not in the main responsible, but for which this Government and preceding Governments have been responsible—in Africa is one of the main causes of the increase of our Military Estimates, do not let honourable Gentlemen run away with the idea that the great augmentation that has taken place in our Military and Naval Estimates, taking them together, has any but the remotest connection with the expansions of which honourable Gentlemen opposite' complain. The great increase is Naval and not Military; and the Naval increase is not in any manner due to the responsibilities which may attach to our Policy in. Africa. As I said last night, the great augmentation of our Fleet has not been rendered necessary by the Foreign, Policy of this Government or the Government that preceded it, but by the Naval and Military Policy of other countries, and until the Naval Policy of Foreign. Nations undergoes some modification, I do not see how it is possible for our Naval Policy to' undergo any modification. Hut that is a, matter, Sir, which it is not necessary for me now to discuss; that is a problem, with, which my right honourable Friend the First. Lord of the Admiralty will have to' deal; but I am ready to discuss the other. The two problems are quite distinct; the cause of the expansion and our responsibilities in. Africa, is one problem; the amount of Naval resources that we must possess to protect our Colonies, our Trade Routes, and our interests in China and elsewhere is quite another. Do not confuse the two, and above all do not pretend that, the great and regrettable expansion of our National Expenditure, which is so largely due to the second of these causes, is really to be' attributed to the first. This. Debate has rather left, I 1246 should say entirely left, the details of the Army Estimates., and has proceeded more upon general lines, or I should not have intervened between my honourable Friend and the House. But the honourable Gentleman, initiated it, and though I do not think this is a convenient occasion to discuss problems of such enormous magnitude, still he having initiated it I thought it necessary that I should explain what I regard as the true elements of the problems which I think this country has to face, and which, if necessary, this House has to solve.
§ SIR W. LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
Honourable Members have rather complained against this enormous expenditure. I can only say that I have-spent the whole of my Parliamentary career in raising the same complaint, and so long as I remain, in this House I shall continue1 to raise; my voice in protest against this enormous and appalling increase in our National Expenditure. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs said in his speech that it was the duty of the Tory Party to go up and down the country and explain that Imperialism could not be run on the cheap. I do not think that he need trouble himself to make any such explanation because the people have already discovered that for themselves. What my honourable Friend behind me said is perfectly true. As Mr. Disraeli once said, "Expenditure depends on Policy," and it is all very well for the right honourable Gentleman to get up and say that this expenditure' is caused by one thing and not another, but that only shows that he differs from my honourable Friend. Whatever it may be caused by, there it is, and whatever Policy may be responsible for it, it is a very bad Policy; that is all I can say. Now, there is one thing which strikes me in this Debate, and that is that when you ask for this enormous increase of men for the Army you pass a, vote of censure upon, the Volunteers; what is the use of the Volunteers if you spend such a large sum upon the Army? I remember very well when the Volunteer movement was started, and I remember that it was stated that the motto of the Volunteers was "Defence, not Defiance," and that seems to me to be a reflection upon the Army, whose motto appears to be "Defiance, not Defence." What do we want such a large increase in the expenditure of 1247 our Army for, when we have these 264,000 Volunteers, and when we haw our Navy, which we are told over and over again is equal to any two other Navies in the world? It appears, to me that, with all these means of defence at our disposal, this increase in our Army is not for the purposes, of defence, but defiance. The honourable Gentleman the Member for Shropshire made it clear last night when he said thatthe Army should be available not only for Home Defence, but also for dealing a swift stroke and an effective blowin distant countries with which we have no concern and against weak people. Because it seems to me that the only improvement is that as the century goes on we have the sense not to fight strong people. Sir William, Gateacre once said that although he supported, in a small way, a great number of societies, whose objects were to promote peace and prosperity, he would support any society that was formed with the object of keeping fighting going on all over the world, and to resuscitate it whenever it stopped. He did not believe in a country which only touched its sword to turn it into a ploughshare. Now I will tell the House what, all these forces are kept up for. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget, speech a year ago used these words. He said—In the British Empire we spend on our Army and Navy about 63 millions and a half. The real object of our Military and Naval expenditure is to push and promote our trade throughout the world.I, for one, object to the policy. The man in the play said, "Be my brother, or I will kill you," and we go to a man living in a distant country and say, "Be my customer, or I will kill you." And if any of us object to this and say that though we are willing to trade, that trade must be conducted in a proper way, we are all called Little Engenders. And because we are honest and peaceful and take that view, we are said to be in favour of peace at any price. I say that to have these large Armies for a purpose of promoting our trade is a very cruel thing indeed. I do not understand very well how things can go on in this way. It almost makes one despair when one thinks of these armaments. Why, what did the Shah say when he was here some years 1248 ago? And we were not as bad then. Ha wrote in his diary—This is a wonderful people. I see hospitals and asylums and other institutions to relieve suffering humanity, and at the same time they devote their whole energy and power to providing for the slaughter and destruction of their fellow-creatures.That is the way it strikes a stranger. I know that it is not a popular view, and it is not the view of the Christians of this country. I do not know whether honourable Gentlemen have read the Thirty-nine Articles, but if they have they have read in the Thirty-seventh Article—It is lawful for Christian men at the command of the Magistrate to wear weapons and to serve in the wars.I do not suppose honourable Members know how that comes about. What it was originally is—It is lawful for Christian men at the command of the Magistrate to wear weapons and serve in just wars."Just" is left out now. We are getting on. That has the support of the Church and of the Nonconformist conscience—I do not say that it has the active support, but it has sleeping support, at any rate. Nonconformists are just as eager for war preparations as are members of the Established Church. Nothing delighted the country so much, I think, and Christians especially, as the Soudan massacre. They thanked God for it, over and over again. I say such a state of things at the end of the so-called 19th Century is disheartening, and distressing, and depressing. And in this House we are doing nothing to improve matters. They are getting worse every day by these enormous sums we spend upon these armaments, and for my part, I will, on every occasion, oppose this Policy of Militarism, which seems to me to be a canker which is eating into all that is best and noblest in the national life.
SIR E. ASHMEAD-BAKTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
The last two speakers on the other side have assumed that all the increased Naval and 31ilitary expenditure is due to these expeditions in the Soudan, and other places.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
Then as far as the honourable Gentleman who has just interrupted me is concerned, I limit my criticism to what he says on the military expenditure. I have here one or two figures which may be an answer to the argument of the honourable Gentleman. I take it that ho wishes to infer that this expedition has been unprofitable, unnecessary, and undesirable. Well, Sir, as far as the unnecessary and unprofitable go, and in connection with its undesirableness also, I think I am able to answer the honourable Gentleman by these figures. Sir, the increase in the population of the Empire since 1871 has been 125,000,000. The increase' in the area, of the Empire has been nearly 3,000,000 miles.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
I am going to give the honourable Member for Northampton another figure or two which he will perhaps not greet in the same way. The increase in the value of the exports and imports of the Empire during that period, from 1871 down to the present time, has been no less than £428,000,000. I want to hear the epithet which the honourable Gentleman applies to that. I do not hear the word "Shame" Well, the increase in the exports and imports, that is in the trade value of the Empire, during that period has been £128,000,000, and the increased revenue of the Empire has been 10 per cent, during that period. Well, Sir, I say that those figures furnish a complete answer on the ground of policy to the attacks which have been made upon the military expenditure and the naval expenditure of this country. But, Sir, referring in slight detail to what the honourable Member for Mayo has said with regard to the Soudan Expedition, I must say that it astonished me to listen to the audacious lubrications of the honourable Member upon this subject. I have had the honour of sitting in the House for nearly 20 years, and I remember what was done by the honourable Gentleman and the honourable Baronet when this expenditure was initiated and rendered necessary. I remember, Sir, that it was the Party to which they belonged, and the Leaders of that Party, who began the expenditure in Egypt, who rendered it necessary, and who caused all that has been done in the Soudan.
§ MR. DILLON
We were opposing that Party then, and fighting them night after night, and all night long.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
Do I understand from the honourable Gentleman that he opposed the policy of the Gladstone Government?
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
Well, Sir, I at once confess that, as regards the honourable Gentleman, that particular point fails—as regards the honourable Gentleman. But, Sir, it does not fail as regards the Party, and it does not fail as regards the great body of honourable and light honourable Gentlemen opposite. They were responsible for the original Egyptian Expedition, and their policy with regard to the Soudan in 1881–85—one of the most injurious and wicked policies which this country has ever carried out—is responsible for everything that is happening now, and every pound that is now being expended in restoring the Soudan to order and civilisation. Sir, we had some extraordinary figures the other night from the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs as regards what the abandonment of the Soudan cost—cost to the Soudan. The loss of three-fourths of its population, the destruction, that is to say, of nearly twelve millions of people in thirteen years; that is what the policy of the other side cost the Soudan. Sir, the honourable Gentleman has talked about our military expenditure in consequence of it. I say that all our military expenditure in regard to the Soudan has been the result, not of the recapture of the Soudan, but of the abandonment of the Soudan, of the futile expenditure of ten or twelve years ago, which was begun too late and ended too soon; and for this the. Party on the other side are entirely responsible. The expenditure which is involved in this undoing of one of the greatest crimes that 1251 has ever been committed by a British Government—tho expenditure which has been involved in the last two years in the re-occupation of the Soudan, and the restoration of the Soudan to order and good government—is but a drop in the bucket compared to the expenditure which the abandonment of the Soudan entailed. What is a quarter of a million—which I believe is the cost so far: it may be £350,000—what is that, Sir, compared to the £10,000,000 which the abandonment of the Soudan cost Egypt, and the mistake made by that Government cost Egypt, and, I believe, the similar £10,000,000 which it cost this country in the futile expeditions of 1884–85? These are the facts which this House should bear in mind in considering the demand made by the honourable Gentleman the Member for Mayo. Now I come to what he said just now. He endeavoured to prove to this House that we gain nothing by our occupation of Egypt, and by the re-conquest of the Soudan. He assumes, Sir, that this has involved enormous military responsibilities for this country, and therefore the great increase in the army expenditure of this country. Well, Sir, as a matter of fact the cost of the occupation of Egypt in times of peace has been very slight. I think the total force has been 5,000 men, and the extra expenditure which this country has been put to has been very small indeed. Sir, does the honourable Gentleman say that the occupation of Egypt and the preservation of Egypt from foreign control, or from anarchy, which are the only alternatives to our occupation—does the honourable Gentleman mean to say that that is no advantage to this country? Does he lose sight altogether of the increase in trade of this country which the connection with Egypt brings about, the increase which our occupation brings to the country, and the general increase which the prosperity of Egypt has brought about? Does ho leave out of sight altogether the enormous advantages to the people of Egypt which have followed our occupation—the reduction of taxation, security, increased population, better justice, better education, all these benefits which our occupation has undoubtedly conferred on the Egyptian people? What are the dangers to which our occupation of Egypt exposes us? I should like to know where they come from. The occupation of Egypt has led to the restoration 1252 of the Soudan, and the restoration of the Soudan has led to our gaining paramount influence over the whole of that great and famous river, the Nile. And in time, as order is restored, as trade increases, our control over the Nile is bound to be of enormous advantage to this country, as well as to the people who live in those regions.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
Order, order I The honourable Member is now dealing with the subject from rather a general point of view.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
Well, Mr. Lowther, I am sorry that you consider that I have not followed the honourable Member, but I thought I was following exactly in his argument, and the arguments of other Members who preceded him.
§ MR. DILLON
I never said one single word as to- whether the occupation of Egypt was good for this country or not.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
I distinctly heard the honourable Member say so—(Mr. DILLON rose). Perhaps the honourable Member will wait until I finish my sentence—argue that the occupation of Egypt and the Soudan was likely to lead this country into great danger, military and political, and greatly increased expenditure, and I am simply trying to put the other side of the shield. That may be beyond the bounds of this Debate, but it is not beyond the bounds of argument, as referring to the honourable Member. I do not wish to press that point. I only say that the benefit to Egypt and the Soudan, the enormous opening it has prepared for British trade and British influence, not only through the whole valley of the Nile, but also1, of course, Africa, do constitute a sufficient answer to the contention of those honourable Gentlemen.
*MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)
The honourable Member who has just sat down has attempted to deny that this increase in expenditure is due in any way to the occupation of the Soudan or Egypt. Is there anything in Australia that causes the increase in our military expenditure, anything in New Zealand, anything in Canada, or anywhere else that has caused such an increase of our armaments? It is obvious that the reason 1253 that we are obliged to increase our Army is because we have taken upon ourselves responsibilities in Northern Africa, and also because there is a section of the people: of this country who seem to have an uncontrollable desire to meddle in affairs in the Transvaal. I am afraid the Colonial Secretary is also desirous of endeavouring to retrieve his diplomatic defeat by President Kruger by taking some step that will bring on a war between us and the Transvaal. Anyhow, there seems to be in the massing of troops in South Africa something of that kind in view, rather than the protection of the country of which we are now in occupation. The First Lord of the Treasury made it a taunt that we Radicals never, in the country, advocate the views that we preach here. Sir, the taunt, as far as I am concerned, at any rate, is altogether misapplied. I have spoken frequently and loudly in opposition to the Policy of Militarism, and I, myself, have been no respecter of persons in the matter. I can say honestly, for myself, that my desire in Parliament is not so much to put any one set of men in office, not to keep any other set of men out of office, but rather to make the political principles which I believe, prevail. If my opponents upon any particular occasion defend or carry out those principles, I am perfectly prepared to support them, both in the country and in Parliament. In my own constituency I have advocated and praised the policy of Lord Salisbury in foreign affairs, because I believed it to be a peaceable policy, and one strongly opposed to the militarism that is, unfortunately popular, to some extent, among a few Liberal Leaders. I, myself, do protest, and always have protested, against any increase of Military expenditure which is totally unnecessary; and if we only confine ourselves to our own affairs, and let the world know that we have not the slightest intention to commit any aggression upon any other country, that we simply claim the possessions that are properly ours, and that nothing further will be attempted by us, then I am perfectly certain that an Army of far less dimensions than what we possess now—an Army of 100,000 men—would be amply sufficient for our wants. The real reason why the expenditure, both on the Army and the Navy, has increased is because we have rushed into enterprises in Egypt and the 1254 Soudan which we had no business to do. We know perfectly well, that in the event of European complications1, in the event of this country unhappily being involved in a war with a great Power in Europe, the validity of our occupation of Egypt and the Soudan will be at once brought into the domain of practical politics. Everybody knows that 'if we were involved in a war with Russia or Germany, on the moment of the declaration of war we should probably receive an ultimatum from France to clear out of Egypt and the Soudan. And it is because of the apprehension of anything of that kind occurring that we are called upon to increase our Navy and Army, and not because of the necessities of our home defence.
§ *MR. ALLAN
If I thought for a moment that the country or the Ministry was aggressive I would certainly support the motion of the honourable Member for Northampton. But, when we look around us, and when we see the responsibilities of this country, and knowing those responsibilities, and knowing also that there are more ways of making war than by gunnery and by men, I think that the number of men as given in the paper by the Secretary for War is not out of place. There are many things that run up Military and Naval expenditure. Many Members who have spoken in the Debate have forgotten the fact that higher wages are being paid in almost every department of manufacture. The cost of goods, the cost of production, is higher; the cost of your ships and guns, the coat of your clothing, the cost of every button that you put on the soldier's uniform to-day, is higher than it used to be. A natural result of that, as I said in this House five years ago, is that you have' a growing expenditure both in Army and Navy matters, simply on account of the increased cost of labour and the increased cost of material. Now, the honourable Member for Northampton spoke about 25,000 troops. Well, I would like to ask the honourable Member what kind of troops he would use if we did not have these Colonial troops? Would they be British troops? British troops cannot stand the climate. What do we see in the West Indies? We have a West India Regiment there. And why? Because they are practically immuned from yellow fever. Send a British regiment out there, 1255 and beneath yellow fever they die like flies in a winter blast. Send your white troops to the West Coast of Africa, and what happens? And what are you to do? The colonies are there. Are you prepared to give them up, or are you prepared to enlist colonists to work them? That is the point with me. I also noticed the point by the honourable Member for Northampton, when ho said we were not a land Power. Well, Great Britain has always been a land Power—always has been. From the nature of things, and from the extension of our commerce', I do not see how Great Britain can be anything else than a land Power. For this reason: Wherever there is a port that we can sell our goods at we send our goods there, and our influence naturally extends for the benefit of that commerce. I hold also that a nation which does not extend is moribund. I heard the phrase to-night, "a Jingo policy." I do not know what that policy is at all. I cannot explain the word "Jingo" at all. I heard also a quotation of some remarks of Mr. Gladstone's. Very well, I am old enough to remember not so many years ago there was a little incident that happened on the North-West frontier of India, commonly known in history as the Penjdeh incident. What took place then? Mr. Gladstone came down to this House and demanded £11,000,000, and got it. Was that Jingoism? Would you call that Jingoism? I say that was a defensive action, needed to defend our frontier of India. And I should think that so long as this country does not pursue an aggressive policy I shall always give the Ministry my support in such matters. I come now to another phase of the question. A Jingo policy! Why, it is not so long since I was denouncing Lord Salisbury on every platform I was on. For what? For his weak, vacillating, and childish policy, as I called it, on China, in the Gulf of Pe-Chi-Li, Neuchwang, Port Arthur, Talienwan. It is not so long since I was on the platform with some of the ex-Ministers who sit on our Front Bench, denouncing the Government for not interfering in Armenia, and Crete. Is that Jingo policy? It is not so long since the honourable Member said: "Tour Jingo policy is selfish."
§ *MR. ALLAN
I myself wanted to go to war to help the Cretans and Armenians to gain their independence and liberty; and, forsooth, am I to be dubbed selfish, and taunted on that account with Jingoism? I stand up for liberty for all races, and I stood on the platform with Members of the late Government denouncing the weakness of our Government in not going: to assist the Armenians, and the Cretans. You had better give us a better definition of Jingoism. We speak about land long added to the Empire. Certainly lands have been added to our Empire, I believe in Africa and elsewhere; but let us look at the thing honestly. What took place in Africa? It was partitioned. Now, we must look at the thing as sensible, practical men. Germany had a tremendous slice, Franco a tremendous slice', Italy a tremendous slice, and Great Britain, well—. I want to put this to the House as practical men. If you have a nation or two surrounding you, be it in Africa or elsewhere, where there are exclusive tariffs, what are JOVL to do to get your goods in? That is my point. I do not like all that small talk and parochialism. I stand here on the same ground that the men who built up this great Empire stood upon hundreds of years ago. I hold that it will be a bad day for Great Britain whenever she pitches her colonies or pitches her possessions to one side', and refuses to defend them. When she is unable to do that, the very same results that happened with Carthage, and that happened with Rome, will come upon the old and grand country of Great Britain.
§ MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W. R.,) Holmfirth
The views that I hold on the question of this system of militarism have been so well expressed by my honourable Friends near me—I am not referring to the last speaker—that I should not have felt it necessary to say anything were it not for a certain taunt thrown at us by the First Lord of the Treasury when he spoke just now and said that we did not express these opinions in the country. I want to associate myself with my honourable Friend who claimed to have done so. I have been speaking over and over again on this subject. It is not my good fortune to have had my speeches reported in newspapers read by the Leader of the House, and I am afraid he does not read the provincial papers on his side that 1257 criticise them, or he would find that I have been the subject of a good deal of criticism for what I have said. I only want to say that the views which have been expressed hero by my honourable Friends are those that I have been expressing during the last winter at a great many meetings, and if it is any satisfaction to him to know it, I have actually been on some occasions defending Lord Salisbury, and thanking him for keeping us out of war, into which we would have been precipitated if he had taken the advice of the honourable Member for Sheffield or some more excited Gentlemen on his own side of the House. That is nearly all that I desire to say upon that particular point. As to the speech we have heard from the honourable Member who has last spoken, I have no doubt it was very gratifying to him to receive cheers from the other side of the
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Holland, W. H. (York, W.R.)||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Roberts, John H.(Denbighs.)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Jones, DavidBrynmor(Swansea)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Birrell, Augustine||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Blake, Edward||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Burns, John||Lambert, George||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Caldwell, James||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cmbrlnd)||Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)|
|Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow)||Leng, Sir John||Wallace, Robert (Perth)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Macaleese, Daniel||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Whittakcr, Thomas Palmer|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||M'Dermott, Patrick||Williams, John Carvell (Notts)|
|Duckworth, James||M'Ewan, William||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Dunn, Sir William||M'Ghee, Richard||Wilson, Henry J. (York,W.R.)|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts)||M'Kenna, Reginald||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||M'Leod, John|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmrthn.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Moulton, John Fletcher||Mr. Labouchere and Mr. Dillon.|
|Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H.||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H||Oldroyd, Mark|
|Hogan, James Francis||Reid, Sir Robert Threshie|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Bigwood, James||Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)|
|Allen, W. (Newc.under-Lyme)||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cooke, C.W.Radcliffe (Heref'd)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Boscawen, Arthur Griftith-||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Boulnois, Edmund||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bowles,T.Gibson (King's Lynn)||Cruddas, Wm. Donaldson|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Cubitt, Hon. Henry|
|Balcarres, Lord||Butcher, John George||Curzon, Viscount|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Cavendish, R. F. (Lancs., N.)||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn.A.J.(Manch'r)||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon|
|Balfour,Rt HnGeraldW. (Leeds)||Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Donkin, Richard Sim|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wor.)||Drucker, A.|
|Barry,RtHnAH.Smith-(Hunts)||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Charrington, Spencer||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Chelsea, Viscount||Fergusson,Rt.Hn.SirJ.(Manc'r)|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)|
|Bathurst, Hn. Allen Benjamin||Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Beach,Rt.Hn.SirM.H. (Bristol)||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Firbank, Joseph Thomas|
|Beckett Ernest William||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose-|
|Bethell, Commander||Colston, Chas. E. H. Athole||FitzWygram, General Sir F.|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
§ House; but I may tell him this, that whatever it is in his constituency, in my constituency and in the district around me—I do not live in my constituency—in Yorkshire, the feeling is very strong indeed in the direction of the speeches that we have heard from this side of the House; there is a very strong feeling that we have gone a good deal too far with this expansion, that we are going a good deal too far with this military spirit, and that we shall have to go a good deal too far in paying for it.
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 180,153, all ranks, be maintained for the said Service."—(Mr. Labouchcre.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 54; Noes, 188.—(Division List No. 28.)
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Folkestone, Viscount||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesh'm)||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (L'pool)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Garfit, William||Lowe, Francis William||Seely, Charbs Hilton|
|Gedge, Sydney||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Gilliat, John Saunders||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Shaw-Stewart, M. H.(Renfrew)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbyshire)|
|Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Macdona, John Cumming||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Goschen,Rt HnG.J.(St.G'rge's)||Maclure, Sir John William||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Spencer, Ernest|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth)|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Gull, Sir Cameron||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Strauss, Arthur|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Geo.||Middlemore, Jno. Throgmorton||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.||Milner, Sir Frederick George||Thorburn, Walter|
|Hardy, Laurence||Monk, Charles James||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Moore, Count (Londonderry)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monmouths.)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Morrell, George Herbert||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E.Howard|
|Henderson, Alexander||Morton, Arthur H. A.(Deptf'd)||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter||Murray,Rt.Hn A.Graham(Bute)||Ward, Hon. Robert A. (Crewe).|
|Hoare, Ed. Brodie (Hampstd)||Myers, William Henry||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Howell, William Tudor||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Whiteley, H.(Ashton-under-L.)|
|Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Pease, Herbert Pike (Drlngtn.)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Penn, John||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Hutton, John (Yorks., N.R.)||Pilkington, Richard||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Powell, Sir Francis Sharpe||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Wodehouse, Rt.Hn.E.R.(Bath)|
|Kemp, George||Richards, Henry Charles||Wortley, Rt.Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlepool)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Knowles, Lees||Ritchie, Rt.Hn. Chas. Thomson||Wyndham, George|
|Laurie, Lieut.-General||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Wyndnam-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Lawrence,SirE.Durning-(Corn)||Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Round, James|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Royds, Clement Molyneux||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset)||Russell, Gen. F.S.(Cheltenham)||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Rutherford, John|
§ Original Question again proposed.
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 184,273, all ranks, be maintained for the said Service."—(Colonel Welby.)
§ COLONEL WELBY (Taunton)
In moving the Amendment which stands in my name I do1 not intend to weary the Committee by going over the same ground that I covered on the last occasion, but as many Members who are here now were not present then I trust the Committee will permit me to give a brief summary of what I said. Some years ago different regiments were put into groups. Two years ago there was a large reorganisation, and these groups of regiments were rearranged and equalised, leaving groups of Lancers, Dragoons, and Hussars. The War Office, by straining the word "corps," as applied to these groups, have instituted a policy since that time of transferring men from one regiment to another within these 1260 groups, and it is my contention that this transference without the consent of the men is very detrimental to the Service. The honourable Member for West Belfast has most ably shown that this extended definition of the word "corps" with reference to the Army Act of 1881 is in all probability an illegality, and the only solid reason which the Under Secretary has given for this strange change in the organisation of the Cavalry, which goes back on the promises made in this House, is that it is necessary because of the burdens of Empire. That phrase is used to shield a great many unpopular policies at the present time. It seems to be a large umbrella, under which unpopular policies creep whenever a storm of indignation is rising up against them. The late Under Secretary of State for War, in bringing forward this reorganisation two years ago, distinctly gave it to be understood that it would have no deleterious effect upon the regimental system. Changes have taken place since then, and 1261 these changes made by the War Office are, I contend, breaches of the promises made in this House. What I would ask the Under Secretary to do is to make a distinct promise that in future no man shall be transferred from one regiment to another within these corps except by his own free will. Last year a promise was given that men would be allowed to enlist in any regiment they liked, but I do not know at the present time whether that order has ever been actually instituted. Unless the Under Secretary gives the distinct promise for which I ask I will be compelled to go to a division. I beg to move the Amendment that stands in my name.
§ CAPTAIN JESSEL (St. Pancras, S.)
My honourable and gallant Friend who has just sat down has not of course any desire to really see the Cavalry reduced by any number of men. I merely wish to add my protest to his and to object to the manner in which the Cavalry Service is at present organised and the manner in which recruits are dealt with. At the same time I must confess that the Cavalry ought to be grateful in some respects to the War Office for its programme this year, as it includes extra, clothes, such as a pair of trousers and frocks. We must also be pleased to note that it is part of the programme to allow the regiments on the higher establishment to have complete immunity from furnishing supplies of men and horses to regiments abroad. I must also add that since the Government has been in office the number of men as increased by nearly a thousand and the number of horses by over 1,200. I was rather struck by the remark of my honourable and gallant Friend the Member for the Eastern Division of Lancashire last night. He said he thought the reason for this change in the system of recruiting arose from the fact that those responsible for the Cavalry knew that if they insisted on any other conditions the number of the regiments would be cut down. Now if the Committee will allow me to deal with this question very briefly I think I can prove that it would be impossible under present conditions to cut down the Cavalry by a single regiment. In the last 25 years France has increased its squadrons by 103 and Russia by 170. But there is another point to which I wish to direct the attention of the Committee. In the foreign squadrons the number of effectives 1262 ranges from 143 to 150, whereas the number in regiments on the higher establishment, according to the figures given by the late Under Secretary, is only 126. I would further point out that in reorganising a, regiment we have only three squadrons as compared with four squadrons in most armies abroad and six squadrons in the Austrian Army. The Committee will therefore see that the effective strength of regiments abroad ranges from 668 men to as much as 935 men in the Austrian Army, whereas the number of effectives-per regiment on the higher establishment only amounts to 378 in our Army. Indeed, an Austrian regiment with 935 men is only 200 short of a British brigade with 1,134 men. The Under Secretary last night stated that we were only a little short now of the War Office ideal, and we know that that ideal is very high, but at the same time I do think, considering the number of Volunteers in this country and the Auxiliary Forces, that we should not for a moment imagine that any attempt would be made to reduce the Cavalry regiments. The two main objections to' the present system are: firstly that it is a fraud on the recruits; and secondly, that it makes the eight regiments on the higher establishment practically non-effective. Last year the War Office gave a pledge that in each regiment there should be a nucleus left of 360 men. I asked my right honourable Friend the late Under Secretary for War whether that pledge would be carried out, and he informed me that that was his intention. Now I should like to ask if it were carried out, and, if not, is there any chance of its being fulfilled this year, and whether in view of the unpopularity of the present system any change will be made? May I direct the attention of the Committee to an Army Order of September 1898, which states—Recruits desirous of serving in a Cavalry regiment at home will be posted to the regiment in which they are desirous of serving provided they fulfil the requirements of that regiment as laid down in Appendix VII. of the Recruiting Regulations, and that the regiment is open to recruiting in the area in which the recruit enlists.Then it goes on to say—Recruits should be warned as to their liability to be posted to other Cavalry units of the same corps, but at the same time they should be given to understand that such postings will be exercised only when there are urgent and exceptional reasons.1263 As far as I can make out there always seem to be urgent and exceptional reasons. I think it is a fraud on the recruits, and in my opinion it is scandalous that the War Office should take advantage of the popularity of certain regiments and ask men to join them only to be transferred to other regiments of which they know nothing. It may be said that the same thing is done in the case of the Infantry, but the Infantry have two battalions dressed in the same way and with interchangeable officers. In the Cavalry-there is no' more connection between the regiments than between the Royal Marines and the Royal Artillery. There is another little fraud of which the Under Secretary may be unaware, but which is constantly practised. A man wishes to join a particular regiment. He is told that that regiment is at present closed for recruiting, but that if he joins another regiment he will be allowed a little later to join the regiment he originally desired to enter. After ho joins he finds he cannot be transferred, and he is obliged to serve in the regiment he first joined whether he likes it or not. That is being constantly practised, and if the honourable Gentleman takes the trouble to inquire he will find that it is the case. With reference to the consent of the men being obtained before they are drafted, I will only say that in the last draft which came under my notice, out of 36 men only 10 were volunteers, and two of these men paid £18 to get out of going to India. Then I come to what the Inspector-General of Recruiting says. I confess I cannot understand the figures. He says that the change in the system of supplying drafts for Cavalry, which throws upon home regiments the duty of preparing drafts for the Cavalry regiments abroad, has not affected the popularity of the Cavalry from a recruiting point of view, and that in 1897 2,426 recruits enlisted and in 1898, 3,778. We are told that over 40,000 recruits enlisted for the Army, but we are not told, and cannot discover from the figures, what waste there has been in Cavalry recruits. It is all very well to show your recruits, but I cannot make out what becomes of them. In Lord Lansdowne's memorandum we find an actual decrease of 49 men, and I would be very glad if the Under Secretary would explain it. To show how wrong the system must be in one regiment alone—the 17th Lancers—out of 626 recruits, in 1264 eighteen months no less than 72 men were discharged on payment. They wished to get out of the system by paying their money. That showed they were a good class of men, and that they were willing to serve if only they were allowed to serve in the regiment they desired. Then 27 men deserted, and from what I know of the regiment that is an enormous number of deserters in such a short time. We have heard a good deal of esprit de corps. Military spirit is made up of trifles; a rose by any other name smells differently to military nostrils. The Guardsman reduced to a Linesman is not the fine gentleman any longer. Take the best rifle battalion and clothe it in red and it would soon cease to be the dashing body it is now. The soldier is a peculiar animal that can alone be brought to the highest efficiency by inducing him to believe that he belongs to a regiment which is infinitely superior to the others around him. I cannot understand a system which taken a man from a Scotch regiment and makes him into an Irishman by transferring him to an Irish regiment. Forty-two men were taken out of the Scots Greys and transferred into the Irish Dragoon Guards and 25 into the 5th Dragoon Guards. But a more extraordinary thing happened. Two of these unfortunate Scots Greys who had been converted into Royal Irish Dragoons, were passed into the 17th Lancers, and afterwards reconverted into, I think, 16th Lancers. I cannot see how the War Office can defend this principle of taking men from one regiment, or one corps, and putting them into another. It seems to me that the real difficulty is to get recruits for certain regiments which are not so popular as the others. It might be invidious for mo to draw any distinction just now between them. But I would humbly suggest that the War Office might devise a prettier uniform for these unpopular regiments; they might even take a little trouble to ask the President of the Royal Academy to invent a beautiful uniform by means of which the difficulty of lack of recruits could be got over! I wish to show, very briefly, how it is that some of these regiments are so low in point of efficiency. I ask this Committee how a regiment with 626 recruits and 337 remounts can possibly be efficient. There is another regiment—a regiment of Lancers—which has altogether 415 men of under two years' service, and only 45 of 1265 over two years' service. But when you come to take off the sergeants, the bandsmen, and the clerks, the number of effective men of over two years' service is reduced to something like 10. I come to a better authority than myself—"The Times" correspondent at the Wiltshire manœuvres. He praises the men of the regiments on the higher establishment, and then goes on to say:—"No account was given of the residue, the eight regiments on the lower establishment. Nor would the subject be mentioned here were it not that three of them, the 2nd, 3rd, and 7th Dragoon. Guards, will take part in the manoeuvres, the first two as Corps Cavalry in the Northern and Southern Armies respectively, the last named as Divisional Cavalry in the Southern Army; and it is most desirable that they should not be mistaken for the same class of regiment as those in the Cavalry brigades. The three regiments, like the rest of the eight on the lower establishment, are the milch-cows of the Cavalry of the British Army in India, and in some cases are mainly young soldiers and remounts. It is doubtful whether any one of the squadrons at the manoeuvres will muster much more than 50 sabres." Well, Sir, I think that these figures will show that the efficiency of the eight regiments on the lower establishment is very low indeed. We have got to consider also the terrible burden cast on the squadron commanders who have got 60 or 70 recruits in the squadron, and the squadron training under these circumstances becomes a perfect farce. I would also draw attention to the fact that young officers cannot possibly be trained or learn anything of their special work. But it is not only the squadron commanders whose hearts are broken, the non-commissioned officers become soured because there is no chance of promotion or of showing what they really can do under such circumstances. We are told that the Cavalry Depôt at Canterbury was abolished because it was a failure. But that was not the fault of the Depot, but of the manner in which it was worked. Twenty-seven horses were given to 127 men, and no facilities whatever were given for proper training. I would ask the Under Secretary for War how he proposes to work the new Depot. There seems to be a considerable increase, for while last year there were 351 men to 81 horses, there are this year 469 men to 200 horses. I cannot see how this is 1266 going to be worked, especially with so many extra men who do not belong to the regiment. I think it is a humiliating confession for the War Office to make, that after abolishing the Cavalry Depot, they must come down to the House only two years after to make a proposal to reestablish it, or a modified form of it. That is the way in which all these things are done, and in which these schemes are carried through without details having been properly worked out. I will give an example which, in a small way, illustrates what the War Office does frequently in a larger way. My regiment was stationed at York, and was ordered to Ireland. We had four wretched carts. They were not allowed to take the horses on the ground of expense, but would you believe it, they took these four wretched carts by rail and steamer all the way to1 Ireland, in order that the regiment might have the same carts in Ireland as it had in York. But carts could easily have been obtained in Ireland, and all the cost of the transport of the old carts saved. I do not wish to detain the Committee any longer, but I hope the Under Secretary for War will give the assurance demanded by my honourable Friend, and that we shall before next year have a much better system introduced.
THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. G. WYOTHAM,) Dover
Before I answer the arguments that have been put forward by my honourable and gallant Friend, let me thank him for the very kind manner in which he introduced his original Motion. I can assure him I have very pleasant recollections of the weeks I spent with him as my Commanding-Officer. That makes the tragedy of the present situation all the greater, because my honourable and gallant Friend has dealt with this matter under a misapprehension. Before I come to that I should like to deal with the charge of breach of faith he has made against the Government, for if I am able to dispose of that shot he may take another view. His view is that the Government gave a bond (I am standing in the place of my right honourable Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs), that the bond has been broken, and that he means to have his pound of flesh in the shape of a Motion for the reduction of the Cavalry Vote.
§ COLONEL WELBY
I did not base it entirely on that; that was only used as 1267 an argument. I base it on the promise of a change in the system.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I shall first deal with the breach of faith. It is a very grave charge to say that my right honourable Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs led the Cavalry to expect one thing, and that we have done another, and that really for economy's sake. I should not like to weary the House by reading at length from the speeches made by my right honourable Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs last year and in 1897, but if the honourable and gallant Member refreshes his memory he will find that the then Under Secretary for War never did hold out that the system of corps of Guards, of Dragoons, or Hussars, was to be abolished. The honourable and gallant Member has quoted from a speech made by my right honourable Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs in 1897, but in that speech my right honourable Friend speaks of ensuring a proportion of representative regiments of each corps being tit home at the same time. And he also spoke in 1897 of the abolition of the Canterbury Depot, which trained the recruits for India.
§ COLONEL WELBY
May I explain? I did not say that he promised to abolish the system of corps, but I said that he did promise that the men were not to be transferred from regiment to regiment within the corps.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
But if the Depot at Canterbury was to be abolished altogether, and if the men were to be trained in regiments, it is obvious that the men in the regiments at home were to be transferred to the regiments in India.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I am trying to point out that my right honourable Friend never said anything that led my honourable and gallant Friend and this House to believe, either in 1897 or in 1898, that the men would not be transferred against their will under certain circumstances. Then again, I would point out that although my right honourable Friend held out hopes, which I believe will not fail, that the changes which he 1268 introduced would soon diminish the demands made on men in some regiments to join other regiments, still he distinctly said, in so many words, at the end of his speech, that these reforms would not mature for three years, and that the House must not expect the full results before that time. The promise which was made has not matured yet. The promise made was not that no men, under any circumstances whatever, would be moved from one regiment to another. That could not be done without, making a change in the law, and a change in the policy. It is said that in the question of transferring the men against their will from one regiment to another regiment, there is some illegality in using the word "corps" as we use it when applied to a corps of Dragoons, a corps of Hussars, or a corps of Lancers. Well, there is an Act enabling the Secretary of State for War to call a regiment a corps. He had power to do so under that Act or under Royal Warrant. The Royal Warrant was issued accordingly to that effect in 1893. So that the policy is certainly a legal policy, and in regard to Cavalry recruits it was the law of the land both last year and the year before. Now I admit that in this House expectations are held out which are not fulfilled. When that is the case nobody is more disappointed than those who hoped that things would be better than, as a matter of fact, they proved to be. But again, I would point out that my right honourable Friend held out no expectation that his promise would be realised before the end of three years. Still the fact that he held out the prospect that things would be better naturally induced honourable and gallant Members to expect that things-would be appreciably better before the whole of the three years had elapsed. And it is because the rule which led to numbers of men being transferred from one regiment, to another was enforced last year, that so much and so natural irritation has been caused. But we are doing our best to get these promises performed before the end of the three years. We are taking absolute steps this year to more than fulfil them in respect to the eight regiments, on the higher establishment. Last year, I regret to say that the eight regiments on the higher establishment, in the course of the trooping season between December 1898 and March 1899, did find 472 men for the regiments in India, and of that 1269 number I know that 59 were ordered to join other regiments against their will. There is another batch of 106, of which I have no information. But 307 volunteered, and 59 were sent against their will. I imagine that the same proportion would hold good regarding the 106 men, and therefore the total number ordered to join other regiments against their will would not be more than 70 or 80. This year no man will be ordered to go, and no man will be invited to volunteer from the eight regiments on the higher establishment to other regiments. Now we come to the question of the lower establishment regiments. A promise was made that, if we could, we would preserve a nucleus in each regiment, which would not be drawn upon in any case. I think that the fact that the promise was made shows that we might have to draw them. My right honourable Friend promised an increase to the lower establishment regiments which brought them up, rank and file, from 372 to 480. This year we are bringing them up to practically 490. I give these latter figures in round numbers, for I have some figures without officers, and some with rank and file'. I think I am right in saying that before my light honourable Friend introduced1 his scheme the rank and file numbered 372, but afterwards they were getting on for 500, and we are now making the total 560. I do not mind making another prophecy. The honourable and gallant Member will see that we are in a very much better position to expect that our prophecy will come true when we have made such a large increase in the lower establishment regiments. The demand is that we should go against the deliberate advice of all our military advisers, who say that they prefer men trained in regiments to men trained at the Depot. It would be a very heavy responsibility to discard counsels of that sort, coming from such a quarter, just now, when we have twelve regiments abroad instead of nine as formerly. It would need besides the establishment of a very large Depot, far larger than for the Indian Line. On these grounds the Government is not able to say that no men will ever be drafted from one regiment to another. But the Government has done a great deal in adding to these regiments, has done something to increase the Depot, and to make it almost certain that next year there will not be the causes of complaint made this year, which, I 1270 admit, existed last year. I put it to my honourable and gallant Friend that he ought not to worry us when we are trying to meet his wishes and the wishes of other honourable and gallant Members in this matter. We have done a great deal to prevent that occurring which I admit did occur last year. I therefore think that we deserve a little encouragement. As there is no rebuff so great as a division taken on the Estimates, I hope my honourable and gallant Friend will not push his Amendment to a division.
§ MAJOR JAMESON (Clare, W.)
As an old Cavalry officer I have much pleasure in supporting the Amendment of the honourable and gallant Gentleman the Member for Taunton. We have just heard from the Under Secretary of State for War a clever speech, and we all know how delightfully honeyed and sweet his words at all times are; but, Mr. Lowther, I will appeal to the honourable and gallant Member for Taunton not to put any faith in any promise whatever made by any official of the War Office. They know very well themselves, and nobody knows better than the Under Secretary for War, that they have no more intention of acceding to any request of the honourable and gallant Member than they have of turning the whole of the Cavalry into Highlanders. But, Mr. Lowther, I was somewhat amused at the honourable and gallant member for St. Pancras. In the first place he says that he is grateful, and that the British Army is grateful, for some of the small mercies given them this year by the War Office. I would really like to know what some of these mercies are. He speaks of certain clothing. Now I should like to know the honourable and gallant Member's opinion of the most extraordinary cap they have issued to the Cavalry. It is the most extraordinary cap I have ever seen in my life, and it is a disgrace to any Cavalry soldier to wear it. If I were asked to describe it I would say that it is an old woman's slipper turned inside out. They call it a Service cap. A Service cap indeed! The soldiers are perfectly ashamed to walk down the High Street with their sweethearts on their arms and wearing this abominable invention on their heads. I trust that the honourable the Under Secretary for War, if he goes off tailoring, will pay some attention to this hideous article of clothing, which is hated by the 1271 men, and has reduced some of the best recruits to the verge of desperation. I do not believe that the finest General in the world would be a soldier if he had this abominable cap on his head. There was another thing brought before the House by the honourable and gallant member for St. Pancras, and that was the question of turning Scotchmen into Irishmen and Irishmen into Scotchmen or Englishmen, and then back into Irishmen a second time. It may be interesting to the House if I tell a little anecdote of what happened during the time Lord Spencer was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The very regiment that the honourable and gallant Member was talking about—the Scots Greys—was paraded in the Phoenix Park, and they had the honour of being inspected by Lord Spencer. The Lord Lieutenant stopped before the tallest and handsomest and finest man in that regiment, and ho said to him: "My good man, what nationality do you belong to?" "I'm a Scotchman, Sir," was the reply. "What part of Scotland were you born in?" asked the Lord Lieutenant. "Tipperary, your Honour." I take it that that is a first-rate specimen of an answer to what you have heard in reply to the honourable and gallant Member for St. Pancras. I can say that if the War Office is going to inveigle recruits into regiments in which they do not wish to serve you will soon stop recruiting alto gether. Yet get Irishmen into the 8th Hussars, and then put them into the Scots Greys. These frauds are done every day of the week both by the recruiting sergeants and by the people who preside at the recruiting depôts. I say that the proper way is to ask a recruit where he wishes to serve, and if you don't want him for that regiment he can go about his business, Depend upon it, if you put a recruit in the regiment in which he wishes to serve he will be a better soldier. If he is an Irishman he will go into an Irish regiment, and if a Scotchman into a Scotch regiment—although the Scotch are very partial to having Irishmen amongst them. We must get rid of that abominable cap, I tell the honourable the Under Secretary for War, and then he will have a better Army, better soldiers, above all, better Cavalry soldiers. Because the essence of a Cavalry soldier is that he must think himself invincible, and if he is not the best-dressed man you can find, if he has not one of those dainty little forage caps that we all used to love, in- 1272 stead of the dirty-looking night-cap you have now given him, he will cease to have a pride in his appearance'—which is the essence of a Cavalry soldier. As regards the Depôt; well, how about a Depôt for training horses? What a nice fracas there was in Egypt the other day when the 21st Lancers had to be provided with remounts within twenty-four hours before they went to the front. Is the Government never going to make arrangements for having a proper Depôt for horses? I say that the way the Government has treated the Army is scandalous; they have never kept their promises, and I only hope that the honourable and gallant Member for Taunton will go to a division on this question unless he gets an absolute "Yes" or "No" to his demand.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
I feel that it is most ungracious in dealing with this question to ignore the great things that have been done for the Army of late years by the present Government. The Leader of the Opposition when Secretary of State for War had good claims to recognition for the improvements he introduced, and if he did not accomplish as much as he wished that was because of difficulties at the Treasury. But, nevertheless, while we are sensible of the great improvements that have been carried out by the present Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and of the zeal and ability of the present Under Secretary for War, I cannot refrain from joining my honourable and gallant Friends in deprecating the practice now complained of. It is easy for my honourable Friend the Under Secretary for War to say that these changes are perfectly legal under the Army Act of 1881. When that Act was passed it was never so construed as to authorise the compulsory transfer of men from one Cavalry regiment to another. I am quite sure that when the House passed the clause of the Army Act adopting the title of "corps" for the purposes of the Act no mortal man ever imagined that it would ever be interpreted to mean that nine Cavalry regiments, without any cohesion or common commander, should be called a corps. This is not a very small question. It has always been recognised by soldiers of high standing that the feeling of esprit de corps is the greatest incentive to devotion to duty and the strongest motive for good conduct 1273 that our soldiers have. Our soldiers in any part of the world engaged in service in the most deadly climates, suffering great hardships and being subjected to the most exhaustive labour, all think of the credit of their corps, and it was only the other day that an officer of the Grenadier Guards spoke of seeing private soldiers going through most exhausting marches, with mouths blackened with thirst, and yet struggling for the credit of the corps to avoid falling out of the ranks. You destroy that spirit if you transfer a man arbitrarily from one regiment to another with which he can have no possible connection and with which he never intended to serve. If you do this, men when they join the Army will never know what regiment they will be liable to serve in. Is it likely that men joining the Scottish Highland regiments, regiments which, because of their records, Englishmen and Irishmen as well as Scotchmen are naturally ambitious to serve in, would like to be transferred to a totally different regiment? Is it not the fact that this system has brought about a decrease in the number of men joining?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
But figures based on comparisons with 1st January 1897 are most misleading, especially in the case of the Cavalry.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
Well, I am sorry I touched on that point; it is not very important. My honourable Friend tells us that the military advisers of the War Office say it is impossible to dispense with this system of transferring men from one regiment to another. But the advisers of the War Office told us not long ago it was absolutely impossible to bring men back from the Reserve and to allow them to prolong their service with the colours; yet these are some of the changes which, within the last two years, the War Office have been forced to adopt. Year after year we impressed upon the Government the necessity of resorting to these expedients. To revert to the system of forcible transfers, I desire to associate myself with what has been said by my honourable and 1274 gallant Friend on this matter. I believe it is a, most ill-advised and mischievous practice; that it destroys confidence in the promises held out to the recruit, and that it militates in an opposite direction to that spirit which we ought to be most desirous to maintain.
§ *MR.ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
The Under Secretary has made one serious statement which I think ought not to be allowed to go unnoticed. He has told us that the change brought about with regard to corps was made by a Royal Warrant as late as 1893, and I want to point out what the consequence of that declaration is. This House deliberately gave a certain privilege to soldiers, namely, that after three months' enlistment they should not be transferred. In the Army Act of 1881 the word "corps" was used, and the definition of it was that it was the title given to a certain number of units, including Cavalry regiments. Now all this has been upset, and by a mere stroke of the pen a statutory right given to the soldier by Parliament is obliterated. If this be right and proper to be done in the case of the Cavalry, there is no reason why it should not be done in the case of the Infantry, and the security which the soldiers believe they possess of being allowed to serve in a given branch of the Army will be taken away. 15,000 men have been deprived of that privilege already so far as the Cavalry are concerned. I know that this is not an imaginary danger. I believe some not undistinguished Members of the War Office believe that the institution of a Royal Corps of Infantry would be an advantage. If that be so, I think we ought to be told whether it is feasible or not. But I particularly wish the House to take note that a privilege given to soldiers by Parliament has been taken away. I wish also to ask the Under Secretary what it is proposed to do in respect to Cavalry Depots. I understand something is to be done to reestablish the one at Canterbury. The substitution of Regimental Depots was recommended by certain authorities, but since then there seems to have been a modification in the system, which has not proved altogether satisfactory. Perhaps the honourable Gentleman will also tell us what it is proposed to do for maintaining the efficiency of the eight lower establishment regiments upon which is put the 1275 brunt of finding drafts. I am particularly glad that that unpleasant duty has been taken away from the higher establishment regiments, but it aggravates the situation very much for the eight remaining regiments. We ought to be very careful to see that the full promised addition is made to the lower establishment regiments. The men taken away from them, whether they volunteer or are ordered, are the most qualified and trained men, and I should like to know if there is any reason to suppose that the efficiency of these regiments which are depleted of 100 of their best men every year is likely to be maintained. That is a matter of very great importance to the regiments themselves. I do not agree with the honourable Member for West flare that there is no particular mischief in mixing up men of all nationalities in regiments, I think the Scots Greys, which he quoted, is perhaps an exceptional case. But, speaking generally, if you want to bring a man inside the regimental feeling, if you want to induce him and encourage him to become attached to it, you will not succeed in your object, by telling him that his regiment is merely a temporary resting place, and that his future service may be with some other regiment. I know-wounds are inflicted upon regiments by taking away from them considerable numbers of men who have entered into the spirit of particular regiments and have no desire to be parted from them.
§ GENERAL RUSSELL (Cheltenham)
I must certainly say that the impression left on my mind by the debate of last year was that some sort of promise was given by the Government that recruits should not be moved from one regiment to another against their will, and, what is more, if the Under Secretary will give us such a pledge at the present moment I am certain that it can be carried into effect. I happen to have had some experience in this matter, and I can speak very strongly indeed of the great detriment caused to regiments, and of the injury done to the feelings of the men, by compulsorily transferring them from one regiment to another. Further, I have had recently an opportunity of talking to many Cavalry officers, who possibly have expressed their views to me more freely than they would to the officials of the War Office, or perhaps even to the Under Secretary of 1276 State for War, and they have assured me that there is a way out of this difficulty. Of course, a re-organisation of our Cavalry system is absolutely essential. The present scheme is the incubation of the War Office, or at least it is generally credited with being so. I believe it was originally incubated on the Civil side of the War Office. The system was adopted of abolishing the Depot at Canterbury and sending the recruits to be trained with their regiments at home. That was tried in 1871 and 1872, and the Adjutant-General of the day told me it was the idea of Mr. Knox, of the War Office, to whom it occurred that he could save the pay of the establishment in Canterbury by making the regimental adjutants do double duty. The system was tried for several years, but it failed. The most serious objection against Cavalry Depots was that there were not sufficient horses for the proper training of the men, and no doubt the fact that recruits were sent out to India untrained caused great dissatisfaction to the Cavalry regiments there. It has been suggested that the Depôts should be re-established simply for the training of recruits in their foot drill and in the riding school. Two or three years must elapse between their joining the Depot and their being drafted to India, and it is thought it would be well for them to obtain practical training in the meantime with the regiments with which they are affiliated; that they should wear their own uniform and be drafted to the regiment to which they will eventually go when they are sent to India. This has been approved very strongly by a number of the officials at the War Office to whom I have spoken, and I am confident that if the authorities wished they could find means of carrying out this reform without impairing the efficiency of the service. There is another point to which I wish to call attention. The Under Secretary, in his most lucid statement on the Army Estimates, said that, when possible, men ought to be allowed to enlist for service in one particular regiment. I want to ask him if he means they ought to be allowed to select their own regiments? That is important. The circumstance may occur that one regiment is closed for recruiting, and that it is very desirable to fill up another regiment to its full strength, and I should like to know if the Under Secretary is prepared to devise means by which any man who wishes to enter a particular 1277 regiment shall, by some means or other, be allowed to do so. There are cases I know in which men are not allowed to enlist in special regiments.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The regulation is this. A man who enlists in the Cavalry at home is sent to the regiment with which he is desirous of serving, but there is power, under exceptional circumstances, to draft him to some other regiment in the corps. He is, however, on enlistment to be warned of that liability.
§ GENERAL RUSSELL
The saving clause entirely does away with the other clause, as it leaves the man liable to be transferred to some other regiment. I hope the Under Secretary will do something to get rid of that liability.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfar)
I wish to say one word in this discussion. I sympathise most heartily with what has been said by the last speaker and by the honourable Member for West Belfast, and I am sure that anyone who has served in the Army must entirely sympathise with it. But I cannot help thinking that the criticisms are rather hard on the Under Secretary, for I am inclined to believe that tie has gone as far as the War Office can go in meeting the sentiment which is undoubtedly strong in this regard. As to any pledge having been given last year, I cannot, recollect that any distinct one was made, but I do think that the War Office1 have since then done all they could to meet what the Government, undertook to do last year. I must point out that honourable Gentlemen who criticise the present system of allowing men to be drafted from one regiment to another have strained at a gnat but will have to swallow a camel. This system, though it may not tend to the efficiency of regiments as units, does undoubtedly tend to the efficiency of the Cavalry as an effective branch of the Service. If honourable Gentlemen discuss this question absolutely without regard to expense you can hare as many perfect regiments as you like, whatever branch of the Service they may belong to. But if you are to have some regard to expenditure and to the bounden duty which rests upon every Government to do the most it can with the money at its command, then, although I have every sympathy with the regimental officers, I feel that the War Office have 1278 gone as far as they can to meet their views, while keeping in sight the exigencies of the Service as a whole. While no one would wish to underrate the value of esprit de corps, you must distinguish between what is possible now under the short service system, and you cannot identify it so closely with the historical traditions and feeling which obtained in long service corps.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Perhaps my honourable Friend the Member for West Belfast will allow me to correct what was rather an emphasis than a word in his speech.—he said the privileges conferred by Act of Parliament on soldiers were now being taken away. But if those privileges were taken away they were taken in 1893.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
This policy is not a policy of ours at all. I am now asked to give a pledge in terms so wide that I really believe honourable and gallant Members do not see how wide it is. I am asked to say that no soldier is ever to be transferred against his will from one regiment to another. Nobody can possibly give that pledge. During the Egyptian campaign of 1882 three Cavalry regiments were laid under contribution, and these exceptional powers were exercised in every case.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
But what is to be done if men will not volunteer? The whole point of the question is that when volunteers are not forthcoming we should be allowed to transfer men from one regiment to another in case of emergency. I cannot give the pledge asked for. Most people in my position would tell the honourable and gallant Members that the drafts will be arranged next year without using compulsion, but I will not say even that, as I do not want to hold out expectations which may not be fulfilled. But there are good grounds to lead me to think that I am justified in going to that extent. During last year the number of men who had been ordered to join other regiments was 161. There are 267 men of whom I have no knowledge, but the great majority of this number would have been obtained by volunteering, because 1279 the proportion in the other case was 850 who volunteered to 164 who did not volunteer. Probably only 30 or 40 out of the 267 were ordered abroad, but I will add to the 164 the whole of the 267 of whom I know nothing, which will give a maximum possible number of 431 men. To1 prevent that risk occurring again we are adding to the Army 693 Cavalry. We are doing that at a cost to the country of £35,000. The number of Cavalry soldiers at the depots will be 464, and adding 60 men to each of the eight Cavalry regiments there will be 944 men from which drafts may be drawn.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
What is going to be done in regard to a fourth Depot for Cavalry at Canterbury?
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H.||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Hogan, James Francis||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Bowles,T.Gibson (King's Lynn)||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Caldwell, James||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Spicer, Albert|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Leng, Sir John||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Davies, M.Vaughan- (Cardgn.)||Macaleese, Daniel||Weir, James Galloway|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Dillon, John||M'Dermott, Patrick||Williams, John Carvell(Notts)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||M'Ghee, Richard||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Duckworth, James||M'Leod, John||Wilson, Jos. H. (Middlesbro')|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Ellis, Thos. Ed. (Merionethsh.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Fergusson,Rt.Hn. SirJ. (Manc'r)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Oldroyd, Mark||Colonel Welby and Captain Jessel.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Gourley, Sir Edwd. Temperley||Philipps, John Wynford|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Hutton, John (Yorks., N.R.)|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Bailie, James E. B. (Inverness)||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Knowles, Lees|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lawrence, SirE. Durning-(Corn)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manc'r)||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)|
|Balfour,Rt HnGeraldW.(Leeds)||Fisher, William Hayes||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.||Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset)|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Flannery, Sir Fortescae||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (L'pooi)|
|Beach,Rt.Hn.SirM.H.(Bristol)||Flower, Ernest||Lowe, Francis William|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Folkestone, Viscount||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Bigwood, James||Garfit, William||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Bill, Charles||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Maelure, Sir John William|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbysh.)||Goschen,RtHnG.J (St.G'rge's)||Middlemore, Jno. Throgmorton|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Monk, Charles James|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wor.)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Graham, Henry Robert||Morton, Arthur H. A.(Deptfd)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Gull, Sir Cameron||Murray,RtHn A.Graham(Bute)|
|Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Hamilton, Rt. Hn Lord Geo.||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. Wm.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Brlngtn.)|
|Colston, Chas. E. H. Athole||Hardy, Laurence||Pilkington, Richard|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Priestley, Sir W. Overend (Edin.)|
|Cook, Fred Lucas (Lambeth)||Heaton, John Henniker||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Cruddas, William Donaldson||Henderson, Alexander||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Curzon, Viscount||Hoare, Ed. Brodie (Hampst'd)||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlepool)|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Howell, William Tudor||Ritchie, Rt.Hn. Chas. Thomson|
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I think it would be interfering with the position of the Army chiefs were I to1 state that. We have obtained from them certain pledges and undertaken to add a certain number of men in order to avoid certain things to which honourable Members have adverted. I am not an expert, and I do not think I can go into further details.
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 184,273, all ranks, be maintained for the said Service."—(Colonel Welby.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 52; Noes, 110.—(Division List No. 29.)
|Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Strauss, Arthur||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Rothschild Hn. Lionel Walter||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Wilson, J. W. (W'cestersh, N.)|
|Royds, Clement Molyneux||Thorburn, Walter||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Rutherford, John||Thornton, Percy M.||Wodehouse, Rt.Hn.E.R.(Bath)|
|Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Tritton, Charles Ernest||Wylie, Alexander|
|Sharpe, William Edward T.||Valentia, Viscount||Wyndham, George|
|Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbyshire)||Wanklyn, James Leslie||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Spencer, Ernest||Whitmore, Charles Algernon||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther|
|Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)|
§ Original question again proposed.
§ SIR C. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
Can the honourable Member make any clearer statement than has yet been made as to what is to be the future of the Artillery Depôt system? Last year we understood the Government condemned the abolition of the Depots by the previous Government; but this year, we rather gather, the Government are completely reversing the policy of the late Government. We should like a clearer explanation as to the extent to which that policy is to be retained.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I will try to give the right honourable Gentleman the explanation he desires. The Government last year said that they would revert to the Depôt system, in one sense, because they found that to abolish the Depots at the very time in which they were attempting to raise a large number of batteries was an impossibility. I must draw a distinction between "training" and "preliminary drill." The present policy of the Government with regard to the Artillery Depôt at Woolwich is that all recruits are to go there for preliminary drill and for gymnastic exercise, for the proper performance of which there are facilities at that Depot which do not exist elsewhere. It would be quite impossible to do more than that at Woolwich, and it is not quite possible to do even that as things are at present.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
I have some questions to ask on the report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting, and I also wish to raise the question of the civil employment of discharged soldiers, which is one of great importance.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Cannot the honourable Member raise them on Vote I instead of on Vote A? We have been discussing the general question for nearly the whole of two Parliamentary days, and it is important that we should get some 1282 money soon for the Army. I therefore appeal to the honourable Member to postpone the discussion of these matters.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
I do not wish to stand in the way of this Vote being passed, but the points I wish to raise are deserving of consideration.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
As a matter of order, if the honourable and gallant Member has some special points to raise they should be raised in the particular place in the Estimates where they can be dealt with. If he wishes to discuss the general position of the Army, now is the proper time.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
I wish to discuss the whole question of recruiting as far as it affects the condition of the Army and the scheme of the Government for increasing the Army. It seems to me these are questions of general policy which properly come on for discussion now. I do not wish to hinder the progress of business, but I should like—
§ On the return of the CHAIRMAN, after the usual interval—
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
I will mention the small points first and consider the larger ones afterwards. Now what I desire to call to the attention of the House is the position of the recruiting for the Army as a whole. I mean, exclusive of the Colonial and other forces, which, as was observed last night, are considerable. The Foreign Office has 21,000 men under it, and the Colonial Office 10,000. But this Estimate has little or nothing to do with those because they are under those particular departments. I want to call the attention of the House to the question of recruiting, because after all that is the whole test and criterion by which we must judge the popularity of the Army system. 1283 Is it, or is it not, likely to appeal to and draw from the country the necessary number of men to maintain the Army in a state of efficiency. Now I notice that the number of recruits to the Army last year is 38,413, whereas the number in 1897 was 33,000; and it is very noticeable that though there are fluctuations, 33,000 is practically the same number as was obtained in 1894. Therefore we see that in 1898 we have a normal year of 33,000 recruits and that 5,000 odd is the extra increase owing to the record of the Army in that year. Now the Inspector-General's report is interesting upon this particular point. I do not wish to delay the House and therefore I will not allude to the question of drafts; but from the Inspector-General's report it seems to me that out of all the recruits in the country 14,000 odd were enlisted in London itself. The report itself throws no light upon the fact as to whether they wore London men or not, but it does affect very largely the question of draft and change from one regiment to another to remember that out of 38,000 the net total of recruits enlisted last year, 14,000 came1 from London itself. When we1 go further and see in what territorial districts the remainder of the 38,000 were enlisted, we find that the larger half were enlisted not from Territorial regiments, but other corps. That has a very important bearing upon the matter we were discussing before dinner. Then as to the sources of recruiting. It is rather interesting to watch where the extra, effort to obtain recruits has been most effective. I again turn to the report and I find that so far as that is concerned, while there has been a total increase of 5,000 or 6,000 men, only 400 came from Scotland, and 50, above the usual supply of 900, from Ireland; but no less than 4,000 out of 5,500 came from various parts of England. Now it seems to me that these are not very encouraging figures for the future. That is to say, they do not point to, and the Inspector-General admits that you cannot expect, next year, the same addition, of men to the Army Reserve as he gives this year. It is rather a fallacious view to take to imagine that we can strengthen the Army itself from the Army Reserve and still leave the Army Reserve efficient. It does seem to me difficult for an outsider to criticise and to weigh the advantages and disadvantages on all sides of departure 1284 at a given moment. It does seem to me to be rather a vain, hope to expect that this policy, adversely criticised last year, which the authorities seem to hope will yield the full addition to the Army, will do anything of the kind. This year there have been special inducements offered for those who desired to enlist. In the first place there was the success of our arms abroad. In the second place there have been extraordinary and special efforts made on behalf of recruiting throughout the country. Anybody who reads the Inspector-General's reports of this year and last cannot fail to see how admirably the authorities have been manipulating this matter. They mean obviously to give the present system a full and fair trial. Nothing that could be done has been left, undone to give them every prospect, hope, and chance of success. But I do think it is time to consider whether there are not other methods, and resources from which we might perhaps draw some strength hereafter. I have been considering the question from the point of view of the class of recruits that have been drawn; and I regard with some little disappointment the fact that the discussion which took place last year, and which was so favourably received by the War Office has not been taken more notice of throughout the country. There is one feature that is bad; it is not an extravagantly large feature, but it is bad in the character of the recruits which we have got, which is that they are a less educated class. That is very evident if you look at it from the point of view of the Inspector-General, who makes four divisions of them. There are those who are able to read and write, and there are those who can only write their name and there are those who are well educated. I forget the fourth class, but though the other classes remain fairly constant so far as the number of recruits they produce is concerned, the one class which is reduced is the well-educated, and that is reduced from 62 per cent. to 49 per cent. That is the only remarkable illustration on this question of recruits which is shown in the Inspector-General's report. It will be within the recollection of the Committee that last year some suggestions were thrown out as to whether it would not be a very advisable thing to raise in the estimation of the civil community the class of men from which we draw recruits 1285 and to try some way whether, by certificate or recommendation, the recruit could not come with some such credentials as these, and whether some further assurance should not be given to parents and those interested in young men that when they join the Army they would not be lost sight of. When we look abroad at other countries, where they have the system of conscription, and where they are of an entirely different character, which cannot be taken without qualification in this country, we find that the whole question of popularity in the Army arises out of the benefits which the men in civil life are supposed to derive from the Army. That is not the system of this country. So far as we must have an Army, let it be esteemed and respected. It is very noticeable that in foreign countries they are particularly tender as to their social and educational status. That is a question upon which history is more instructive than upon any other point. In Prussia for many years what they relied on was the high esteem in which the Army was held in the country and the population going through its ranks. It is quite evident that the class that we are now tapping for our recruits does not give us skilled men; they are not competent to enter the ranks of skilled labour. And I certainly do feel disappointed after all the care that has been taken and all the wise expenditure that has been incurred in improving the food and the shelter and other matters during the last few years that there should be this falling off of the well-educated recruits. It is a source of discouragement in the country, and to those who take an interest in the Service, that you have practically done away with the second-class Reserve, and that your Militia is not in an efficient state for home defence. I want the Committee to consider this question in another light. There is a new departure on the subject of civil employment for time-expired men. As a matter of fact, men of good character have no difficulty when they leave the Service in getting situations. I have made very careful inquiries during the twelve years that I have left the Service, and I say without the slightest hesitation that there is not the slightest difficulty, oven without skilled training, in good men getting employment. I do not say that they get the employment that they wish for, or 1286 that they ought to have; men of high position in their regiments have often to put up, through the accidents of fortune, with situations far below those which they are qualified to fill; but I do maintain that men with an undoubtedly good character in the Army have very little difficulty when they leave in finding employment. The illustration that we have upon that point is very interesting; this year, as the Committee knows, the experiment has been tried of bringing back from the reserve, to swell the Army, a certain number of men, and Ave have very interesting details as to those men. Of 3,370 who rejoined the Colours 2,596 stated that they were in employment. Now let me mention the new departure—the change which is taking place. I want to draw the attention of the Committee to this fact that hitherto all the efforts of the War Office have been directed towards obtaining a proportion of the civil appointments for the time-expired men; no Committee has ever gone further than, that messenger-ships and other subordinate appointments in Government departments should be given to ex-soldiers, men leaving the Service. The new demand is this, the Inspector-General urges that they should appropriate the whole of these appointments to> ex-soldiers. He says, let Government give all the posts that they can to these men, because until they do private employers will not employ them either. Now if we go to foreign countries—and there is a most interesting report upon the subject from our Military Attachés to the various countries in Europe—we shall see that only in one country, even of those where conscription is in existence, do they go so far as the Inspector-General wishes us to go now. In Italy alone do they give all these appointments to ex-soldiers. I admit that in other countries ex-soldiers with a certain certificate have the preference.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
I am open to correction, but I think that in France they do not do so without some qualification. But the system adopted in France is not necessarily good for this country. There is a radical difference in the esteem in which the Army is held in this country and that in which it is held in Italy and other countries, just as in the case of the recruit; the service in the Army is supposed 1287 to confer benefit upon the population; in this country there is an impression, I assume I am correct in saying so though there are a great many who find an explanation for it, that employers are morally bound to stretch a point and to employ ex-soldiers. The point which I wish to emphasise is this, that the first thing to do is not to1 ear-mark certain appointments, but to take means to insure that those men who do, on leaving the Service, secure civil appointments, shall be better fitted to take them. It does seem to me that it is most unfair that you should make the test the fact that the man has served in the Army; you should make the test good character. By all means give a preference in a certain proportion of these appointments to ex-soldiers, but make the primary test good character. At this point I must take the Committee back to what the class of employment was in which these 2,600 men were engaged who left the Reserve and came back to the Army. You will find that 2,000 out of 2,596 were engaged in employment which requires no training or special fitness whatever; 46 were attendants, 47 were carters, 66 were clerks, 133 were grooms, 1,243 were labourers, which means unskilled labourers with no1 possible chance of ever obtaining higher employment, and 171 were porters and railway porters. I might add a great many more, but I do not wish to weary the Committee; but all these figures go to show that those who leave the Army in this way are men who are to a certain extent incapacitated from earning higher wages in civil employment. They go back to civil life unfitted to engage in civil occupation. Now there are two ways in which we may do something in that regard; in the first place we can push them forward, and instead of ear-marking these places and giving them irrespective of character—I do not say for a moment that the men are not of good character—we should make the test good character rather than military service. Take for instance what has happened in the Post Office. The report says—Arrangements were concluded in 1897 under which one-half of the appointments as postmen would ultimately fall to ex-soldiers. The claims of telegraph messengers who were 16 years of age or upwards on the 1st of September, 1897, prevented the new arrangement from at once coming into full operation; but the numbers of that class with priority over soldiers are diminishing 1288 rapidly, and it is hoped that the army candidates will soon obtain the full 50 per cent. of the situations intended to be reserved for them.Thus they are coming into competition with another set of people, who are certainly as deserving of consideration from this House as the other class to which I have referred. The report goes on to say—As regards the class of situations offered to ex-soldiers, it has been arranged with the General Post Office that no posts of less value than 14s. a week (except in London) are to be offered to ex-soldiers. As a rule they cannot take situations at a lower rate, as they find it almost impossible to maintain themselves on such a wage.That means that other people are to do the same work for a less wage. Here you are admitting that the soldier's standard of comfort is lower when he goes back into civil life. Here is something which we ought to try and remove, and the way to do it is to adopt some such remedies as I have suggested to the Committee. The Postmaster-General has suggested that the wages of an assistant postman should be increased by two shillings a week when such situations are given to ex-soldiers, but I think that, would be likely to cause jealousy and friction between ex-soldiers and other sections of the population. It is not because I do not wish to see ex-soldiers well treated, but I do not think that you can strike a more deadly blow at the popularity of the Army than by adopting an arrangement which makes distinctions between ex-soldiers and other classes of the population which cannot reasonably and fairly be maintained. Then we have another point to consider. The report says—On the 28th of April, 1898, the General Post Office applied to the Treasury asking either that the rule giving one-half of the vacancies to ex-soldiers might be suspended or higher wages given to telegraph messengers, as the inability to assure the latter of permanent employment had caused the supply of suitable boys to fall below Post Office requirements. The War Office, on being consulted, urged the Treasury not to abandon the scheme under which one-half the vacancies as postmen are given to ex-soldiers until it had had a fair trial.Now I must ask the Under Secretary not to understand me as wishing to deprive ex-soldiers of an advantage, or of anything that will tend to increase their earning. The next paragraph says—A further scheme has been since put forward under which all boys entering the postal service as telegraph messengers will be requested 1289 to enter the army on reaching 18 years of age, the Postmaster-General reserving To himself the right of selecting as many as he may require to keep up the establishment of postmen, viz., 50 per cent. of the total number.I am inclined to view that with considerable favour, because it seems to mo to be adapting or adopting a system which has proved so successful in getting our boys while they are young and training them to be useful in the Service. Now a very large number of our recruits come from London, and therefore I think it would be very unwise to centralise the employment of ex-soldiers in London. Stated very briefly, there are two things winch I think might possibly be worth while discussing. Looking at the example of other countries, there are two matters which I should like the Committee to consider in order to give a better trial to the system, in the hope of fitting and enabling men more easily to obtain employment after they leave the Army and return to civil life. In the first place, there is the adoption of some special standard certificate of conduct and character similar to that which is adopted in Germany and other countries, and as soon as a soldier gets that certificate he is eligible for civil employment. Then there is another plan which has been tried with success in our own Army, and that is endeavouring to equip these men with some technical knowledge before they leave the Army. In India and other countries abroad it has been tried with our own Army, not without advantage, to employ them in handicrafts and give them various kinds of technical instruction, and it might be possible to devise some plan whereby this kind of instruction might be increased. It has been said that this is impossible, but I should like to hear why it is impossible, and whether it is entirely condemned by the War Office authorities. I do think it is a very bad thing to adapt your policy and your schemes in such a way as will centre in London all your ex-soldiers. It means decreasing to a very large extent the opportunities of employment in London, and at the same time it means preventing your ex-soldiers from going back to their own districts to their wives and families, and it must have a bad influence on the recruiting. It is impossible to separate this question of recruiting from that of civil employment, and I do hope that, before we close this Debate, we may hear a little from the 1290 Under Secretary as to these very important questions, and as to this new departure in the recommendation put forward as to general employment in these posts which are to be given to ex-soldiers. Before I sit down I wish to ask two questions for information. In the first place, will the right honourable Gentleman give us some information in regard to the active service section mentioned in the Secretary of State's memorandum? There is a special section for active service, and I should like to know if that means active service abroad. Then there is the question of railway service, and perhaps the Under Secretary will give us a little explanation on that point.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
It is very difficult to understand what the honourable and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down means. He alluded to civil employment for soldiers, but I fail to remember that when we were fighting the battle of civil employment for the soldiers on the other side of the House, and the honourable and gallant Member sat on this side of the House, he did very much to help us. My object, in rising, however, is to say half-a-dozen words germane to the question, and that is the return asked for by the honourable Member for West Belfast last night, and which was refused by the War Office through the Under Secretary for War. That return deals with men under age and the men wanted to complete, and it shows the difference between the paper strength and the real strength of the infantry battalions at home. That is a painful subject to the War Office, and I am not very much surprised at the tight honourable Gentleman refusing to give that return, because it would show that out of 64 battalions at home, 63 of them were short of from 500 to 850 men of their full complement for war service. I do not wish to enlarge upon that point, or to keep the Committee more than a moment, but I should like to call attention to the answer given by the Under Secretary for War. Now what does he say? He says that his noble Friend, Lord Lansdowne, decline's to give this return because it would give military bureaux abroad an opportunity of discovering what the strength of our battalions were on foreign service. Now the Committee will be surprised to learn that not a single battalion in this return is on 1291 foreign service at all, and it applies solely and entirely to the battalions at home. I venture to call the attention of the Committee to these facts, and as the right honourable Gentleman has not given us the information we want, and as he refuses to give us the return which we think 18 necessary, I beg to move the reduction of this Vote by £100.
§ *MR. ALBERT SPICER (Monmouth Boroughs)
Upon this question of recruiting I desire to say a few words from another standpoint, that of the employer of labour, which I think is worthy of the attention of the Committee and the War Office. Speaking broadly, I should not be accused of exaggeration if I said that nine out of every ten people, if they were to hear to-morrow morning that the son of any family in which they were interested had joined the Navy, they would congratulate him, and would feel sure that the young man had got a perfectly clean sheet, and they would wish him well in his future career. But if, on the other hand, they were told that the boy had joined the Army, nine out of every ten would at once think that he was a bit of a scapegrace. ("No, no.") I am only speaking as a civilian, and I think nine out of every ten civilians would think so too. Now I believe there is a cause very largely responsible for this state of things, and that is in relation to the system of enlisting. Now what happens to ordinary employers of labour, especially those who try to train their own staffs, and have in their employ a comparatively large number of young men. Well, we all know that, from time to time, with a number of young men, a restless spirit will come over them, and they desire to enter the Army. It is a perfectly proper spirit, and one which would have the support of all respectable well-wishers of their country who are employers of labour. But what happens? The young men leave at night in the usual way and then do not appear in the morning; you send to their homes to make inquiries, but you find that nothing is known at all of their whereabouts, but in a few days after you hear that they have enlisted. From that very moment you are not allowed to see anything more of them, and they are not allowed even to go home to hid farewell to their parents, and they are not even allowed to come back to their employers and finish their time. What is the re- 1292 sult of this? There is a loss of self-respect in the men themselves, and there is from that moment a black mark put upon the young men in question by their own fellow employees, and I maintain that it is not a good system for the Army that men entering into it should do so with a loss of self-respect from the beginning, and it is also very unjust to the employers of labour. Why should the Army authorities assume a different position in this matter than any other honourable employer of labour, who would, naturally, not engage a man upon whom another employer had a claim. Supposing an ordinary employee left, or wished to leave, his employment, and enter into the service of another, no other employer would take him until he had either given the requisite notice and worked it out, or paid a sum of money in proportion. But the Army authorities take on a man, and from that moment they treat him as a sort of prisoner, and do not allow him to come back or even show himself. I maintain that this is a sort of remnant of the old press-gang system, and if you want the Army to be looked at in a different way by the rank and file of civilians, the Army authorities should see to it that this old-fashioned—and what I think is a very improper system—should be got rid of. The other day I happened to be in a coal mine in South Wales, and I spoke to the manager with regard to this question. He told me that, from time to time, a comparatively large number of men went away in this way; and then it appears that the War Office authorities send down in these cases, and ask for, from the masters, the balance of wages due to the men. I said to one of the managers, "Have you no contract with the men. Are they not bound to give you a certain notice?" He replied, "Yes, fourteen days' notice." Then I said, "Why don't you ask for that as against the wages due to them?" and he replied that they had never thought of that. I am not in any way saying this as an enemy of the Army. We must have an Army, and I believe that anything we can do to improve the general tone of that Army is for the benefit of the country, and it is for that reason alone that I have ventured to call the attention of the Committee to this subject. I believe the whole system of enlistment needs a radical re-organisation, and it would be infinitely better for the Army itself, and 1293 for the Army authorities, if some arrangement could be made by which, if a young man wished to join the Army, ho could enlist and come back and work out his time, and then go back to the Army afterwards. I am quite sure, if this were permitted, you would not find the employers of labour working against the authorities if there was the same sort of arrangement as there would be with any other employer. I venture to say that this is a reform to which the Army authorities should give their careful consideration.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
I am sure we are always glad to see an interest taken in this subject by employers of labour, and therefore I have listened with interest to the remarks of the honourable Member who spoke as an employer of labour. I think it is only fair, however, to remind the honourable Member who has just spoken that if, as an employer of labour, he has any cause of complaint against any man who has shirked his duty by joining the Army, he has the same remedy, and he can proceed against him in the same way as he can against anyone else who has behaved equally badly towards him. I do not think that there is very much cause for his argument that the employers of labour are specially hurt in this respect. I think, however, that the honourable Member was in grievous error—in sad error—when ho spoke so disparagingly of the condition of the Army, and he is quite mistaken in thinking that, that is the general opinion entertained of the Army. He has made a contrast with the Navy, but it is not very long ago when the fool of the family was supposed to find refuge in the Navy, and I absolutely protest against the inference that it is the knave and the waster of the family who goes into the Army. I think what the Army has done in the past ought to prevent it from taunts such as those which have been levelled against it by the honourable Member, and I enter my protest against it.
§ *MR. SPICER
I did not use that phrase. What I said was, that that was the impression of nine out of every ten people, and that I believe is true.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
Then I can only say that the honourable Gentleman's experience is unlike that of other people, and I hope ho will correct his opinion. I 1294 do respect the opinion of employers of labour, but if the honourable Member labours the point of what is owing to the employer, he must also remember what is owing to the nation. I should like to refer to the speech of the honourable and gallant Member who spoke before him, and whom it was my pleasure to criticise only very lately. I listened to that speech again, and I must confess that I had some difficulty in understanding what the point was at which he was driving. But, of course, we soldiers may be a little slack at understanding one another. I gather from the whole length of his speech that, there are about four points of cardinal importance, and one was that he laid down as a particular point that character, and more especially military qualifications, should be considered in apportioning these appointments made by the Recruiting Inspector. I think my honourable and gallant Friend overlooked the fact that the War Office have a register for the purpose of supplying pensioners of approved character, and that is one of the cardinal points laid down by the Inspector. It is provided that—It is very desirable that all such appointments should be filled from the War Office Registry in order to prevent men whose characters have not been sufficiently, enquired into being accepted, because discredit is cast upon the whole body.Therefore, the Inspector has laid great stress upon the points of my honourable and gallant Friend, and it is perfectly right that character should be considered. I think the military element ought to be considered too, and I think when we can get good character, plus military service, we have a better character than without military service. I can only repeat what has often been said, that the employment of men in this direction is justified by the experience of foreign countries, and therefore we are justified in urging it upon the Government. The honourable and gallant Member suggested a special standard for a certificate of character. I may say that there is already a special standard of certificate of character, and the character of a man is very accurately designated when it is put upon his discharge paper on leaving the Army, and they do differentiate between the man who has given good service and the man who has not. I do not see how there could be any special certificate of character.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
My argument is that, as a matter of fact, a large number of men who leave the Army with a good character find no difficulty in securing employment in civil life, but when you come to deal with all the cases you find a considerable margin of those who are not able to get employment in civil life.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
Of course this has been an exceptional year, and we cannot calculate upon getting the same amount of employment every year.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
I do not wish to interrupt the honourable and gallant Gentleman, but I wish to point out that the concluding words of the report state that the employment provided is not of a sufficiently remunerative character.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
Then that is all the more reason for reserving these positions for them. The other point referred to by the honourable Member was that of technical education. Under the present system we take our men off for a short time only, many of them for three years, and during that time they have to learn their duties as a soldier, and therefore we cannot spend too much time over technical education. Now in former days, with long service, it was possible to spend that time, but with short service it is not possible. I earnestly hope that on all these questions we shall have the support of the honourable and gallant Member himself in doing as much as we possibly can to urge on the Government that old soldiers, when they have done their work well, deserve employment, and the Government should do the best they can for them.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
When I heard the statement of the right honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary, I could hardly realise that he would offer us such a defence of the action by which the conditions under which men serve have been varied, and an Act of Parliament passed by this House had been set aside. I feel sure such a proceeding would have been decided by any Court of Law in the country to be fraudulent with regard to the soldier, and no defence at all. Now what was my right honourable Friend's 1296 defence? What was he instructed to say? He said, "We did not do this thing at all, for it was done in 1893." But what on earth has that got to do with it? If the soldier has been defrauded, what does it matter whether the right honourable Gentleman opposite be responsible or anybody else? I may be totally wrong, and it may be an absurdity on my part to say it, but it appears to me to be a clear ease of defrauding a soldier of his right; and whether I am right or wrong it is no answer to say that this thing was done by somebody else, and was done in 1893. We learn as we grow older that though the less changes are made through outside pressure the better, few changes are in fact made in any other way. I confess that an answer of that kind is calculated to make one absolutely despair. I want to say a word or two with regard to the remarks made by my honourable and gallant Friend the Member for Essex. I want to go back to this return which has been refused, and I wish to be perfectly clear and explicit on the point. What we want is the return which was given last year by the War Office about the condition of our battalions at home, a return which contained facts which every single army of Europe gives to the public as a matter of absolute routine. I can really recognise in this refusal nothing but a mere discourtesy to the House of Commons. The suggestion that these facts are held back because they would give information to foreign countries which would be disadvantageous to this country for them to possess is merely trivial and childish, and I venture to say that there is not a single person at the War Office who would seriously defend such an absurd proposition. These returns are made up weekly in every orderly room throughout the United Kingdom, and when the Under Secretary of State said, in what I might call a rash moment, that I was asking for information about which there would be any danger in giving, I beg to say that I was asking for nothing of the kind. What I am asking for is a true statement of the condition of the battalions at home. That true statement was given us last year, and it gave us more information than we have ever had for many years about those battalions. Why have we not had this information, for it is not divulging our war strength, it is telling our peace strength? If these battalions are emas- 1297 culated, why not tell us so. Last year we welcomed an addition of 80 men to these battalions, and we want to see now if they have got these 80 extra men, and this is a perfectly reasonable request. The House of Commons voted that these 80 men should be added to each battalion, and we want to know what strength they have actually got now, and that is one reason why we want this return. My honourable Friend made a reply which I confess startled me. He simply said that his noble chief, the Secretary of State, declared that we could not have this return. Well, after all, the British House of Commons has some status in the world. No doubt Sic volo sic jubeo is all very well as a motto for the Pope, but I have yet to learn that it is a motto for the Secretary of State for War. I admit that the Secretary of State can use his discretion, but I entirely deny that the House ought to lie satisfied as an explanation with a statement made by the Under Secretary that the Secretary of State in his wisdom declines to give it us, for if we were to accept this—which is what I might call a "snub"—I draw a rather remarkable picture of what our Debates will be reduced to. If the Minister for Education were to say "No" on every subject brought before him, we should get no information at all with regard to educational matters; and if the Secretary for War is going to say "No to every question about the Army, we shall get no information. I think it would be absurd to accept the explanation of the right honourable Gentleman, which I am sure was well meant, but I think we are entitled to a more reasonable explanation. I want the public to understand, and I want the House to understand, what this means. We are paying so many millions a year for a certain number of battalions in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and including the Cape of Good Hope, Malta, and other places, which, according to War Office make-believe, are in the Home District, and the public are under the impression that we have 800 or 770 men in each of these battalions. Last year we found out that we had not got this number, and it does seem to me, as a matter of common sense, that 1298 we, who have got to pay the bill, should know exactly what we have got for the money. No doubt the right honourable Gentleman is most anxious for the cause we have at heart, but it is not a question of this kind, for I say that the refusal of this information is disrespectful to the House of Commons, and it is not in the interests of the country that it should be withheld. There is one question which I venture to point out that I have not yet had an answer to, and it is a question in which I am deeply interested, and that is the position of the 100th Regiment of Royal Canadians. I want to give an example of how the War Office fail to use great opportunities, and how, year after year, they have inflicted on this regiment the greatest indignity. The 100th Regiment has an absolutely unique history. In 1812 this country was at war, and the loyal people of Canada raised a regiment for the service of the Crown in any part of the world, and they fought with great success against the United States, in defence of their country. It was called the 100th Regiment, and in 1817 that regiment was disbanded. In 1857, when this country was in the stress of the Indian Mutiny, the Canadian people a second time did what no other Colony ever yet has done, for they raised again the 100th Regiment. The descendants of that old regiment joined, and the badges of Canada was given as distinguishing badges to that regiment, and the noncommissioned officers and officers were made honourable members of the Canadian Regiment, But in 1881 the War Office, in their passion for reform, sent out a telegram to the 100th Regiment Royal Canadians, asking if they would give up the title of their regiment. Well, it took the regiment about half-an-hour to consider, and then they replied that they would not. But the War Office rose in their might, and said they would arrange matters. They amalgamated with the offending 100th an old Indian Regiment belonging to the East India Company's service, which had a fame of its own. They took the 109th Regiment, which was a Bombay regiment, and they stuck this on to the 100th Regiment of Royal Canadians, and they called them the first and second battalions of the 1299 Leinster (Prince of Wales's) Regiment of Royal Canadians. I say that neither of these regiments had any connection whatever with each other, for one of them had a noble record in India and the other in Canada. The War Office was next asked to meet the demand of the Canadian people by sending out the 100th Regiment to Canada, but what did the War Office do? Why, it sent out the 109th Bombay Regiment to Halifax, and left the 100th Regiment at Burmah. Soon afterwards they moved the 109th Regiment to the West Indies, and sent out the 100th Regiment to Halifax, where it is now. Ever since then the Canadian people have been making demands on the War Office to allow the regiment to re-assume its ancient title. With regard to the repatriation, of this regiment, I asked last year whether the War Office would allow this regiment to take its old name, but the Under Secretary replied that the War Office could not allow it to take back its old name until they were satisfied that they could raise sufficient recruits for it in Canada. This, however, is the policy of putting the cart before the horse, for if the regiment were called by its old title they would display more interest in it. I hope the constant representations of the Canadian people will be acceded to in this respect. I have had hopes held out to me, and I trust that they will be realised. I hope the Under Secretary of State will be able to tell us that he is willing to meet the wishes of the Canadian people; that he is satisfied that they will be able to find recruits; and that he is able to fall in with their view that the Canadian Regiment should have a second battalion. I hope we shall get an answer to this question, and I have gone into this case at length because it will show how, for a long series of years, the War Office, in its dealings with this regiment, has been going against some of the wisest, best, and most happily inspired ideas of our race and of our people. There is one other question upon which he has not given mo any answer up to the present, and that is about the Artillery Depôts, As I under stand it, the Artillery Depot strength is now about 1,100 men, of whom some 300 were invalids or time-expired men; that is, there is a net available total of 800 men 1300 at the Artillery Depôt at Woolwich. Now I want to know whether it is proposed to keep that Depot at any fixed strength, or to send men direct from the Depot to the foreign service battery? I wish to know whether the Depôt is to be reconstituted, or whether it is not, and whether the pledge which was given by the Secretary of State for War is to be carried out and the efficiency of the Artillery battery is to be restored by the re-constitution of the Depôt. And lastly, I would like to ask whether the omission, in reference to the Manœuvres, which has hitherto been extraordinarily conspicuous in the statement of the Under Secretary, is to be repaired? I want to know whether we shall hear anything at all about the Manœuvres during the present year. This is a most extraordinary omission from the statement of the right honourable Gentleman. We have heard a good deal about the paper mobilisation of our forces, and I know a great many people who are better entitled to form an opinion upon this subject than myself, and they say that we shall not know how matters really stand until we do mobilise our forces. It has never been tried, and while opinions are as divided as they are about the efficiency of our forces, I think it would be reasonable to follow the example of other civilised countries, and make a trial of the mobilisation of our troops, however small the portion of the Army may be which we mobilise. I would suggest to the right honourable Gentleman that it might not be an undesirable method of testing this to take a section of England or Scotland and mobilise the troops there, and then call in the co-operation of the Navy, and transport them to Ireland. By doing this you would do a great deal of good to Ireland, where the expenditure of the troops would be welcome, and you would really test the efficiency of our Service. You would then put the Navy on their mettle, and compel the Naval authorities to prove whether they are right or wrong in their contention that they can bring the ships up ready before the Army can bring the men. You might send the troops to Galway, Clare, or Limerick, and you can there exercise those men under conditions ab- 1301 solutely different and far more practical than the conditions under which, we exercised them last year. During the Session I have put a number of questions to the right honourable Gentleman upon subjects in which I feel a deep interest, and up to the present I have not got an answer to one of them. No doubt there were excellent reasons for withholding the answers. He was good enough to promise me an answer when the Army Estimate came on. The Army Estimate has now been introduced, and I do desire that the opportunity should not go by without our learning, in the first place, what is the real reason for the refusal of the return which was given last year; in the second place, what is to be done to keep these battalions up to their proper strength; in the third place, what is to be done in the matter of the 100th Regiment; fourthly, what is to be done in regard to experimental mobilisation; and in the fifth place, what is to be done with regard to the Artillery Depot at Woolwich?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I think it will be for the convenience of the Committee if I now clear up a number of the points which have been raised before we go any further. The honourable and gallant Member for Forfar expressed some concern at the fact that so many of our recruits were drawn from London. A good deal, however, is being done to extend the recruiting area, and, by the special consent of Her Majesty, recruits for her own Guards are being drawn from Ireland. Then, again, the honourable and gallant Member, when ho was considering the chances of recruiting, must have overlooked—and I am not surprised at this—the full importance of the last paragraph, No. 96, in the Inspector-General for Recruiting's report. That paragraph states very shortly what I believe to be a very important change. It states that in the future the whole of the permanent staff of Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers in any military district are to be employed more zealously for the advancement of recruiting than has hitherto been the case. I may also add that in the Estimate we are taking additional money, which will be placed at the 1302 disposition of the general officers commanding the Military districts for the purpose of increasing recruiting. So this, I think, is a practical step in the direction of obtaining recruits, and also in the direction of decentralisation. Then the honourable Member asked what were the conditions under which the special section of the Militia are to serve? I think I stated last night—in very general terms, I admit—that the demands upon them would be heavier than upon those in the first-class Army Reserve, and I do not think that I put it too high. The Special Service section of the Militia may be engaged in two ways, either by units or by individuals. When they are engaged by the former, if 75 per cent. of the battalion accept the special obligation, then the whole of that battalion would be subject to it, and in that case they would be liable to serve abroad if called upon. But where they are engaged by individuals, where the whole regiment does not accept the responsibility, but where there are men in the battalion who wish to accept that responsibility, any individual Militiaman may volunteer to serve abroad with a Regular battalion of the same regiment when both battalions are abroad.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (Yorkshire, Holderness)
Can the War Office compel the 25 per cent. of a battalion who do not accept the obligation to serve against their will?
§ GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)
In spite of the engagements which have been entered into with them?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
That is in the Act of Parliament, and I do not think that we can open a Debate now on an Act which was passed by the House last year. Now the honourable and gallant Member for Essex drew my attention to a certain return which was granted last year, and he was backed up in that matter by the arguments of my honourable Friend the Member for West Belfast, who has spoken very strongly upon this point. The honourable Member for West Belfast said 1303 he was startled by the statement which I made last night, and seemed to impute some discourtesy to the War Office for having refused the return, and he used very strong language in stating his objection to that refusal. Well, if he was startled because he understood that when I stated to this House that we refused this return that I did not concur and associate myself with the reasons which led us to make that refusal, then the honourable Member had just cause to be startled. I associate myself entirely with the reasons which have been given for refusing this return. My honourable Friend said that we had not given any reason for this refusal, but that is not so; but I am afraid that my honourable Friend will not accept anything as a reason which does not commend itself to his judgment. But I have given reasons and he has dismissed them, and therefore, that is not quite the same thing. The reasons I gave are these, and I repeat them: We do not think it advisable to inform foreign countries of the exact state of the battalions named in a public return, for we may desire to send them abroad within nine or ten days. Are we to divulge to the whole world that our battalions are greater in some cases than they would be at other times? We are not at all anxious to hamper the honourable Gentleman in the work of vigorous criticism which he applies to our methods. I have conferred with my noble Friend, and we are perfectly prepared to give him, or any other honourable Member, all the information they may require as to any particular battalion, provided that they will not break through the rule which led the War Office to refuse this return, and provided that, in drawing conclusions, they will not name any particular battalion. I take my stand upon this—that the return was given last year for exceptional reasons, because we were embarking upon a very large reform, but it was next our intention to make that return annually, and I think we are acting wisely in not giving it two years together.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
Does that mean that he will give returns of battalions kept at a certain strength?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
It means that if the honourable Member will apply to me I will give him all the information he requires.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Yes, I will give him the particulars of the whole of them if he asks for them. The honourable Member for West Belfast says that I have answered none of his questions. Well, there again I say that he will not accept any answers which do not quite fit in with his own views. I did answer to the best of my ability his questions yesterday as to the facings, and also about the Cavalry Depôts, and I have told them all I know about them as to the amount of money, the number of men, and the limitations under which we shall use that money and those men. Then he asks me about the 100th Regiment, or the Leinster (Prince of Wales) Regiment of Royal Canadians. Well, that is printed under its name in the Army List. He has, no doubt, read the paragraph in the Auxiliary Forces, Report on page 6, but here again I doubt whether I shall be able to' satisfy the honourable Member. That paragraph, tells him what has been done, namely, that recruiting stations have been opened, although it does not give him any information as to any great results having followed.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The results are of such a character that I prefer not to discuss this experiment at large at this stage, because I hope for much more from it in the future. I believe that if you try hard to bring a certain result about, and your first attempt is not quite up to the mark, it is better to exercise a little patience, and not discuss your experiment until you have something more to show, and when we have I shall be delighted to give the information.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The honourable Member is asking me to discuss something which is in the experimental stage. The honourable Gentleman must understand that, though he and those who are responsible for the Army have many objects in common, they have not all their objects in common. I do not know whether I am doing him an injustice when I suggest that the honourable Member will not view with much regret the breaking up of battalions which have been linked together as one regiment. But those responsible for the Army are not prepared to do away with that fundamental principle which has been accepted by several Secretaries of State. We both of us wish that recruiting should go on in Canada, and that the aspirations of the Canadian Government to help in Imperial defence shall be met more than half-way; but because we desire all this, and at the same time are unable to break up one of the linked regiments of the Line Service, the Department think it is wise to proceed slowly and tentatively to see if we cannot find some common ground with Canada, and of that I do not despair. Then the honourable Member has asked what it is proposed to do with respect to Manœuvres this year. It is not proposed to have Manœuvres on such a large scale as last year, but as a large sum of money has been received from the taxpayers for the purchase of land on Salisbury Plain, and as the Department are asking for another large sum of money for the purpose of making it possible to train units together there—brigades of Cavalry and large forces of Artillery—it is proposed this year to have divisional drills on a large scale. I believe the plan will be something of this kind. There will be a large force of Regular troops there during a comparatively long period, and the Militia regiments will come out in two batches, so that they will each take part with the Regulars in large divisional drills. We think that is a very useful way of giving the public a return for the money they have spent. There has been an alternative suggestion referred to, namely, that we should have some experimental mobilisation. That is a very good suggestion, but we cannot do both this year. We are going to do the one, as I have explained, and I really hope we shall be able 1306 to do something towards the other next year. I have done my best to answer honourable Gentlemen, and hope I have satisfied them.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
Mr. Lowther, it was not my intention to trouble the Committee again to-night, but at the time I spoke yesterday I had not had an opportunity of perusing the report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting. I had only read a summary of that document, but I am prepared to say that every word I said with reference to the great subject of recruiting is proved up to the hilt by this report. I think it is a matter for congratulation to Service Members in this House to find that there are at least a few other Members sprinkled about the benches on this occasion, and one or two reporters in the Gallery. As a rule we speak to empty benches and receive next to no report in the papers on the following day. The questions relating to the defences of the Empire are practically neglected so far as giving information to the public is concerned. As was pointed out by an honourable Member yesterday, magnificent as our Navy may be, and useful as it is for the defence and the maintenance of our world-wide Empire, that Navy would practically be useless without the Army as a supplementary fighting force. Now, Sir, I desire to return to the subject I mentioned yesterday, viz., coaling stations and Naval bases. These are of the very first importance to us as the greatest of Naval powers, but, as I have frequently stated, we have frittered upon these Naval bases and coaling stations large numbers of troops. Fighting units are broken up to supply them, and, as every honourable Member who is a soldier knows, when a well-drilled and well-disciplined unit is broken up for one or two years it is months before that regiment, brought together again at Aldershot, can be made an effective fighting force. And yet we dribble away regiment after regiment on these outlying stations where it is almost impossible to keep up a high state of discipline and absolutely impossible to keep up a high standard of drill. I ventured to suggest on some former occasion that the increase in the Marine force would meet this diffi- 1307 culty. If many of our Colonial stations and Naval bases were manned by detachments from the Royal Marines several battalions would be saved for other purposes. Now, Sir, the question of mobilisation has been touched upon by my honourable Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Arnold-Forster), and in connection with that I should like to say one or two words about the Manœuvres which took place on Salisbury Plain last year. I will not say that it was a disgraceful performance, but I will say that as far as the transport was concerned it left very much to be desired. Now, would it not be possible, with very little extra expense—and, as I pointed out in speaking upon this subject yesterday, this seems to be at the bottom of the whole question—to follow out the suggestions of my honourable Friend the Member for West Belfast? Because, after all, the probability of our having to mobilise troops in this country to oppose the landing of a foreign Power is a very remote contingency indeed, whereas there is a possibility, nay, a probability, of our having to mobilise an army corps in this country for shipment abroad. Then I would save the money which is spent in connection with these Manœuvres for the purpose of giving experience not only to our Militia but to our Naval forces. It would pay the Government much better to go to a larger expenditure in that direction, and to have operations that would give a certain amount of experience to both these forces. As regards the return which the honourable Member for Belfast asked for, I understand that it was given last year. Well, if the return was given last year why should it not be given this year? It is said that foreign nations would become possessed of the information. Why, every honourable Member in this House who has travelled abroad, certainly who has lived abroad and has been brought into contact with foreign Military Attachés, knows perfectly well that this information is fully possessed by all nations who take an interest in the Naval and Military affairs of their neighbours. Besides, Sir, the principle of throwing dust in the eyes of the public is not a good one, though that is the principle which has been pursued in this country as re- 1308 gards the Army. We do not pursue this system with reference to our trade. Our Consular reports give the state of our trade in every quarter of the world. But in the matter of the Army all these facts are kept secret, and the public know nothing of them. The public have the greatest confidence in the Army; but what would have been said if some two or three months ago we had had the misfortune to have been engaged in war with a neighbouring nation? What would have happened if the Service Members had not sent in the Memorandum they did last year to the Secretary of State for War? It would have been asserted by the people of this country that, in spite of the fact that they had sent 56 Service Members to the House of Commons, men who must have known the real state of the Army, those 56 Service Members permitted the people to live in a fool's paradise. Every one of us would have been driven from public life. I wish, therefore, to protest against the present state of affairs. I say this return is by no means satisfactory, and that the present system must cease to exist. I will presently show that all through the report it is stamped with failure. You are endeavouring in a half-hearted way to fall back upon the Reserves on the one hand and to reduce your Reserves on the other. If this expenditure goes on we shall have to adopt the system of a long-service Army for India, with one army corps or so in this country for small expeditions, and the adequate equipment of the Militia, and Volunteers. I am not going to say one word against either the Militia or the Volunteer forces, but I shall shortly show that they are not so effective as the people of this country think. Well, Sir, as regards the return. I understand the honourable and gallant Gentleman has agreed to give it to the honourable Member for West Belfast, but I really cannot see why the honourable Member for West Belfast should be specially favoured with this return and not other Members of this House. I maintain that we all ought to have it, and I do not think the honourable and gallant Gentleman need have any hesitation in giving it, because I can assure him the whole of the details will be well known to foreign Powers, who 1309 make it their business to obtain that information. As regards the question of special regiments, I very much sympathise with my honourable and gallant Friend the Member for Forfarshire (Captain Sinclair). I frankly admit that there may be circumstances under which military authorities may be constrained to transfer men from one regiment to another, but it should only be done in exceptional cases. Now, it is not at the present moment the exception; it is the rule, or rather, I should say, has been the rule, to enlist a number of men for a particular regiment, and then, after they have done a short service in that regiment—sometimes even before—to transfer them to another regiment in which they do not wish to serve in another part of the world. There is nothing worse for recruiting than that, and there: is nothing worse for the esprit de corps of the Army. I know the honourable and gallant Member appreciates as much as I do, and as much as every soldier does, the immense value of esprit de corps. I fear, however, honourable Members scarcely realise the feeling which exists among the men who go soldiering with reference to this particular point. Men have very strong reasons sometimes for wishing to join a particular regiment and very strong reasons for not wishing to join another, and I therefore hope that the honourable and gallant Member will see that the existing practice is modified as far as possible. Of course, under great strain, when some particular regiment requires a draft for India, it may be necessary to draft men compulsorily into that regiment, but in a voluntary Army there should certainly be in that particular respect as little compulsion as possible. I now come to the suggestion of my honourable and gallant Friend the Member for Forfarshire, with reference to Colonial troops. Well, Sir, I think it would be a very good beginning to carry out the suggestion of the honourable and gallant Member for West Belfast. But I think that suggestion might be carried a little farther, and that there would be no objection to extending it to Australia, New Zealand, the Cape, and many other Colonies. I make this suggestion in order that we may give the present system, which I believe is bound to fail in the next 1310 few years, every possible chance, because I am aware that the people of this country would hesitate to adopt some system of general liability to serve in the Militia or Volunteers until the present system has completely broken clown or until the expense which necessarily attaches to a large voluntary Army has become an intolerable, burden. Now, Sir, there are several points in this report to which I should like to refer. I am glad to note the abolition of deferred pay, but I am sorry to observe a substitute in the form of a gratuity on discharge. Of course, a man in the Service could very well make use of a small sum of money in starting in some private venture, and to such a man a gratuity on discharge is a great boon. But nine soldiers out of ten who obtain their money, whether as deferred pay or as a gratuity, are like children, who, never having had any money before, find when they get possession of it that it burns a hole in their pockets. The consequence is that they generally dissipate it in one or two days not greatly to their advantage. I do not believe one single recruit would find the benefit of this gratuity. I notice with regard to the 20,000 men who are to be added to the Service that the increased expenditure is to' be spread over a series of years. When we were told last year that it was absolutely necessary for the defence of the Empire that this increase should be made we naturally thought that we should have the troops asked for as a quid pro quo, and that there would be an end of the matter. But we are going to have nothing of the kind. The augmentations are to be carried out gradually, and the increase on the Estimates of £1,500,000 is to be spread over a series of years, the consequence being that there will be a constant increase in the expenditure. Now, Sir, I notice that special inducements have been offered to soldiers of the Infantry of the Line serving at home, whose Colour service would expire before the close of the past year, and also to soldiers returning from abroad during the year for transfer to the Reserve, to extend their service for two years. Does not that bear out exactly what I said? You are making every possible shift to get men by hook or by crook. You are robbing the Reserves of 1311 two years' men, in order that you may extend their service in the Line two years, because, forsooth, you cannot get men to fill up the ranks. Then, men serving in the Foot Guards are also offered a special bounty to extend their period of Colour service, which proves that you cannot get men in the Foot Guards. Then, according to paragraph 15, the warrants previously in force allowed previous service in the Army only to reckon, and required, as conditions of the grant, that the soldiers should have had two good-conduct badges on former discharge, and should refund any deferred pay received in respect of their previous service. The revised Warrant alters this rule and allows the former service to re-enlisted soldiers who, on prior discharge, were in possession of as many good conduct badges as were obtainable by their length of service. The condition as to refunding deferred pay is also withdrawn. Here, again, are further inducements in order to get back men into the Service. It seems to me that you are always drawing on the old material. There appears to be a certain floating population of recruits, and you keep moving these recruits about from the Reserves to the Regular Forces and from the Regular Forces to the Reserves. It is like a man who keeps four or five servants and an odd man to do a little bit of each of the other's work because he is under-handed. Now, Sir, I have already dealt with the question of the recruiting of the Canadian Regiment. I notice that the very proposal which I made is being carried out to a limited extent. The recruits who select regiments in India are, in the first instance, posted to regiments at home, and then on to India, and, in the case of recruits in regiments in the Colonies, the same thing is to be done as well as in Egypt. In other words, you are attempting to establish a long-service Army in India, the Colonies, and Egypt. This is the very thing which my right honourable Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean, the honourable Member for West Belfast, and those of us who believe that the present system is breaking down, have been advocating. We have already taken the first step. You are obliged to have recourse 1312 to it. Then I notice, furthermore, as regards the class of recruits, that for lads from 17 to 18 years of age joining the Militia the minimum standard of chest measurement is fixed at 32½ inches in the Militia Artillery, Militia Engineers, and Militia Medical Staff Corps. Well now. Sir, 32½ inches is certainly 2 or 3 or 4 inches less than that of the average mechanic or the average working man in the country. But in a large number of battalions of Infantry Militia, which are considerably under the authorised establishment, recruits of 18 years of age and upwards are allowed to be taken at 31½ inches. I hope some honourable Member connected with the medical profession will tell us what he thinks of a recruit of 31½ inches chest measurement. Now, Sir, I come to the recruits who joined during 1898, and I find that out of these 9,980 no fewer than 4,479 are men who by special inducements as Reservists have rejoined the Colours. But in spite of all these make-shifts you are still 1,169 men short of completing the establishment for the present year. Then I observe that as regards those specially enlisted during 1898 only 43 per cent. reached the full standard. In 1895 the percentage was 90; in other words, the quality of those specially enlisted is gradually becoming worse and worse, and is not half so good as it was a few years ago. And yet we are told that this is a bumper year as regards recruiting! The same remark holds good with reference to the number of Militiamen joining the Regular forces. The number of Militiamen who joined the Regular forces in 1896 was 12,643. And now in 1898 you have 16,000 all but 70—that is to say, you have drawn almost 4,000 men away from your Militia into your Regular Army. I must congratulate the military authorities, and more especially those who have to deal with the recruiting department, on the wonderful shifts which they have invented to procure troops, and to endeavour to make the people of this country believe that they actually have got the Army that they are supposed to have—the Army which they believe they have when they read about it on paper. I do not believe that the great showman, Mr. Barnum, 1313 could vie with the War Office in this particular respect. I do not think there is anything more left to the Government than to offer the men free drinks and smoking concerts. Now, Sir, I notice that among boys under 17 years of age in 1894 there were 27 per 1,000 rejected, whereas in 1898 you have 31 per 1,000 rejected, showing again that you are getting a distinctly poorer class. Then as regards the extension of service and re-engagement, I find that in 1894 you had 4,500 men re-engaged, whereas in 1897 you were reduced to 3,800; so that in every instance there is a distinct falling off. Sir, my honourable Friend the Member for Monmouth, who is himself an employer of labour, made some remarks which may not have been very congenial to us Service Members, nevertheless we must frankly admit there is a vast amount of truth in what he said. Many honourable and gallant Members here remember the state of the Services when they joined, and the class of men we got. Why, Sir, in the agricultural districts and in the small villages, it was looked upon as a positive disgrace for a man to wear Her Majesty's uniform. It was generally the scapegrace of the village, it was some young man who had got into trouble on some account who, as the expression was, "went, for a soldier." I gladly admit that the state of affairs has mended, that we are getting a higher and better class of men, but I think the suggestion thrown out by the honourable Member for Monmouth is well worthy of consideration. The Military authorities should not attempt to do what they are even now doing, that is to say, bagging their men, catching men young, enlisting them under false pretences by taking them into one regiment and then drafting them to another. The authorities ought not to take a man without communicating with his employer, and if his employer gives that man a distinctly bad character that man ought not to be allowed to join Her Majesty's Service. How comes it about that the men who serve in the Household Brigade, in the 1st and 2nd Life Guards, are such an eminently respectable class of men? Why, Sir, for this reason, that the officer com- 1314 manding the regiment, if he gets an undesirable man into the regiment, has the privilege of being able to dismiss that man without any further to do—he has the privilege, or at least some years ago, when I was soldiering, I know he had the privilege, of calling up a man and dispensing with his services. I think it would be an eminently desirable thing that recruits should not be allowed to be of the kind called run-aways from their employers, so that the respectable recruit might, not be ashamed to tell his family and his village friends that he is going to join the Army, but that he should do it openly, in the light of day, and that he should know and feel that when he joined the Army he would not be looked down upon by his fellows. Why, Sir, let me draw a contrast as regards the Navy. The Navy have no difficulty whatever in obtaining boys. They obtain excellent boys of good family and good characters, and with what result? Why, that all the men—or, at least, a large majority of men—who are rejected for the Navy present themselves and are accepted for the Army. Of course, I shall be told that a man for the Navy requires a better physique than a man for the Army. Of that I am well aware, but in all respects the recruit in the Army is distinctly inferior to the recruit in the Navy. I now come to a question in, which I have taken a very special interest, and that is the question of the discharge of invalids. I made some statements in this House last year which went to show that no small number of men who had served Her Majesty in different, parts of the world actually died in workhouses. That was disputed, but there are too many cases, alas! for it to be disputed in sober earnest; and what cannot be disputed is that there are between five and six thousand men constantly roving about this country, without work, who have been in the Army, and whose constitutions have been shattered by foreign climates, and these men counteract recruiting in every part of the world. I am grateful to the authorities, and I thank them most cordially, for having in some measure met my suggestion of establishing convalescent homes for these men. But, Sir, they are about to establish these convalescent 1315 homes on what I may call a Military system. They are dotting these homes about the country, and the men who are to enter these homes—so I am given to understand; I shall be glad to hear it is otherwise—simply get a change of air. They are to be on Government rations and under Military discipline. Well, Sir, I maintain that a man who is suffering from enteric or typhoid fever, or any of the low types, of fever which men frequently suffer from on their return from Mediterranean stations, not to speak of India, will derive little benefit from such convalescent homes. A suggestion which I threw out, and which I hope will yet be followed as regards the more severe cases, was that the men should be billeted on some of the various convalescent homes which now exist throughout the country. I mentioned at the time that there were several of these homes which were prepared to take men at, I believe, a nominal charge—a charge which would be much less than that which it will cost the Government to keep these men in hospital. I think I showed—I do not wish to repeat my argument—that the men can be kept in some of the best convalescent homes throughout the country at a charge of 5s. per head less than that which they cost the Government when kept in hospitals. The honourable Member admitted my contention that they had not a sufficient medical establishment for two army corps. Last year it was distinctly stated, I think in this House, that we had two army corps fit to take the field in every respect. I tried to prove by questions and otherwise in this House that so far as the Medical Department is concerned, even if they drew upon their reserves, that this was certainly not the case. Now the honourable Member admits that I was right, and tells me that he has put down a sum in the Estimates for providing, I think, some 50 medical officers. Well, I am glad to hear that, and I certainly hope he may get them. There is a very distinct prejudice in the medical schools against service in the Army, and if I may be permitted to say so—I know that numbers of honourable and gallant Members opposite are not in sympathy with me—I do not think that the treatment of the Army Medical Department, or of the medical officers who 1316 serve in the Army, has been altogether what it ought to be. I do not think they have been shown sufficient consideration of recent years, and more especially in connection with their leave and in connection with their foreign service. Owing to the fact that there has been a dearth of medical officers, the medical officers are called upon to take such frequent terms of foreign service that the moment a man can obtain a civil employment of anything like a remunerative kind he clears out of the Army. That is not as it ought to be. With leave, I will bring a case before the notice of the House. A medical officer applied for the privilege leave to which he was entitled. Although he had a sick wife the man was unable to obtain that leave, and when he did obtain that leave he had to pay for another medical officer to take his place. If medical officers are treated in this inconsiderate way it cannot be expected that they will flock to the service. I only hope that the honourable Gentleman will be successful in obtaining the supply which he desires. I do not wish to refer again to the question which I brought before the House in connection with the sick and wounded in Egypt. I dealt with that very fully the other day, but I would just like the honourable Gentleman to give me an answer to one particular question. If he remembers, he stated that there were so many nurses, male and female. Now, I contend that these male nurses were nothing more than hospital orderlies, and that the total number of trained nurses for the whole of the division that went to Egypt consisted of two. I pointed out that 60 or 70 persons suffering from enteric fever were left to the tender mercies of some two nurses—
§ CAPTAIN NORTON
Well, Mr. Lowther, I will not deal with that question any further, but I thought I was in order, as it is a question touching the general welfare of the Army. I pass on to the question of the Militia and the Militia Reserve. I notice that the percentage of absentees without leave from training averages some seven or eight per cent. Now, Sir, to what does that point? That points to 1317 the very conclusion at which I arrived yesterday, namely, that a large proportion, practically seven or eight per cent., of these Militiamen are Militiamen who are soldiering in different regiments; they do not come up to the training because they have enlisted. Then we come to the gradual falling off in the total strength of the Militia and in the numbers present at the annual trainings. Those who join the regular forces number 14,000, and then there are deserters and absentees, so that the total annual loss of the Militia is some^ thing like 40,000. Well, Sir, that seems to me to be a monstrous state of affairs. We have a Militia consisting of some 200,000 men on paper, and we find that the annual loss of that arm alone is 40,000. We find in this same force a percentage of absentees which was in 1895 only 11.4, in 1898 has risen to 14.2, which again goes to prove my contention that, as a matter of fact, if you were to try and mobilise the regiments tomorrow you could only bring up 75 per cent. of the men—and I think then I have over-stated the mark; I have grave doubts whether you could bring up anything like 50 per cent. Now, there is the question of the civil employment of discharged soldiers. It has been stated that some technical education might be given to soldiers while they are in the Service. Now, I frankly admit that some technical training might be given to long-service men for India and the Colonies, but I entirely concur with what has been stated by the honourable and gallant Member, that when you have a man for three years you cannot possibly afford any time to give him more than the necessary military and naval training. The military training and the naval training have both become highly technical during recent years. It requires three years to give a man anything like an efficient training after he has joined the Colours, and therefore to fit a short-service soldier to compete in the struggle for life with civilians who have never left their calling is to my mind out of the question. I then come to the question of the character which is given to the men on discharge. I fully concur with what the honourable and gallant Member has said as to the benefit of discharge sheets; but my con 1318 tention is that these discharge sheets are not sufficiently ample, that in addition to the man's present character there should be stated what employment he was in before entering the Service, what employment he had in the Service apart from his purely military duties, and what class of employment in civil life he would be most suited for. This would give employers of labour some chance of knowing what kind of labour the old soldier would be most likely to suit. Furthermore, the mere fact of a man having been a soldier should be a sort of guarantee that he would be a better man than a man picked up haphazard in civil life. The percentage of old soldiers in police employment is, I am sorry to say, very small indeed. Now, I think that the Army authorities ought to take steps to insist that, at any rate, a small proportion of the men who have served in the Army, with first-rate characters, and who are admirably adapted for police duties, should be employed in the police force. They ought to put pressure on municipal authorities and others in order to increase, as far as possible, the number of posts open to men from the Army in the police. As regards railway employment I admit there is some difficulty. In the Select Committee on this question we found more than one railway manager who said he was prepared to take as much as an eighth of the staff from Army men, but that he did not get anything like that proportion. And for this reason: that you have this miserable system of a cross between long-service men and short-time men. You take a comparatively immature man and say that you do not work him till he is 20 years of age and fit to go out to India. But as a fact he is sent to India when he is physically 20 years of age, and then comes back with shattered health. When such a man goes into railway employment he speedily becomes a "break-down." The Government ought to put pressure on railway companies to take into their employment a fair proportion of discharged soldiers, but then the right and proper men should be sent. If you encourage the posting of the best class of men on the railways and the police you will raise the standard of the recruits and you will get men to come into the Service who never 1319 thought of it before. It is well known that men of first-class character enter the Foot Guards because it is recognised that if they remain three years in the Guards with a good character there are many positions in London open to them. I think I have very nearly gone over all the points I wish to notice in this report.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON
Oh, but I am not at all exhausted; if honourable Gentlemen challenge me I shall go on. I do not desire to deal with other matters than are contained in this report, which only came into my hands an hour before I entered the House. I wish to deal with the question as to the effect early training may have on the supply of recruits. It is of great importance that you should endeavour to enlist the sympathy and cooperation of all great public bodies, and that you should more especially enlist the sympathy of the scholars in our elementary schools. This is done in Germany, France, and other Continental countries. I do not argue that you should inculcate a Military spirit. That is another question. But you should place the Army in such a position that it may be looked up to with respect, and that children may not be taught to believe that if they join Her Majesty's Service it will lower them in the social scale. The honourable and gallant Member referred to the large number of recruits who are rejected on account of decayed teeth. That may seem a small matter, but it is really of great importance. That is obviated in Continental countries by the simple system of employing dentists to go round the primary schools and give some slight attention to the teeth of the scholars. This is a matter in which we might well follow the example of Germany, and thus obviate the very prolific cause of rejection of recruits which the gallant and honourable Member spoke of. It has been said that we have a great Empire to defend, and that the maintaining and perhaps the expansion of the Empire necessitates a vast expenditure. That I frankly admit; but there are things of even more importance than that. What, after all, the greatness of this nation 1320 is based on is the character of the nation, the character of the children of the nation, the character of the manhood of the nation? Therefore, I say, it is of the utmost importance to take care of those children in our schools in order that they may later on in life be able to choose the Army as a profession and be capable of defending this great Empire.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I hope that the Committee will be able to take the Vote now, and also the Vote for men which is next on the Paper and which has been very commonly granted after the amount of discussion we have had on this occasion.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
The two Votes generally go together, and I think after the speech which the honourable and gallant Gentleman has favoured us with you cannot say that this Vote has not been sufficiently discussed. I do not make this appeal so much in the interest of the Government as in the interest of private Members. I hope I shall be able to reach Easter without trenching on the time of private Members. I do not know whether that prospect will in any case be realised—I think it will—but it cannot be fulfilled if honourable Gentlemen insist on discussing the well-known details of the Army Estimates at the length to which the honourable and gallant Gentleman has just done. I hope the Committee will pass this Vote and also that for the men.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
I do not know that anything has happened to justify the tone taken by the honourable Gentleman. He appears to think some crime has been committed against the order or practice of the House in the discussion of these Estimates.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
The right honourable Gentleman 1321 said that he would be obliged to take strong measures.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I said nothing of the kind. What I said was that I hoped to be able to carry on the business of the country without taking private Members time. I am afraid that that will not be possible if honourable Members insist on discussing the Votes at this length.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
If the right honourable Gentleman sees himself compelled to take a certain course that is his affair and not ours, Our duty in the meantime is to adequately discuss, according to our rights, the Votes which he has submitted to us. A great part of the discussion to-night has, in fact, been carried on by the right honourable Gentleman's own supporters. The honourable Member for Belfast West, for instance, I heard making a very long and sustained speech, repeating a great many things which I think he said yesterday when the Estimates were under discussion. I think it is very natural for men who take so much interest in the Army as that honourable Gentleman does to discuss these subjects at considerable length. I do not think that on this occasion there has been any excess beyond the usual practice of the House. Last year the Votes went through with astonishing and unusual facility and rapidity; and I do not think that on this occasion there is any ground whatever to complain of the way in which the discussion has been conducted. I know of no ground whatever for, I do not say the threats, but the veiled threats in which the honourable Gentleman has indulged. Certainly from all I can learn I do not expect there will be any indisposition to allow Vote A to be taken, but not Vote I.
That the Chairman do report Progress; and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. MacNeul.)
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
I have a grievance. I have been looking since the First Lord of the Treasury came into the House, and I think he 1322 is a perfect terror to-night. He comes down and asks for a second Vote to be taken, and he says the second Vote is not much different from the first. Without violating any confidence I may say I have some questions to discuss in connection with that second Vote which are quite unlike anything you have heard to-night. I content myself with saying just now that I will not say one word about Irish grievances, nor will I sing "Rule Britannia," I wish to do everything decently and in order, and I went to the table and asked the right honourable Gentleman what time it would be best to bring on my discussion, and I learned from the highest authority that I could not bring this particular matter for discussion except on this particular Vote. What is my astonishment then to see the right honourable Gentleman coming airily in and saying "that the second Vote must be taken." In order to bring the right honourable Gentleman to a sense of the dignity of the House I move, Mr. Lowther, that you report progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I hope the honourable Member will not press his Motion. The honourable Gentleman has a novelty to unfold to the House as to which I can assure him I am burning with curiosity. I therefore feel that it would be quite impossible to ask the House to take the Vote for money to-night. A was not aware the honourable Gentleman was preparing these agreeable surprises for us. Had I been aware of it I should not probably have made the appeal I have just made, but perhaps the honourable Member will now consent to withdraw his Motion.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
Having considered all the circumstances of the case, as I am strong I will be generous.
§ Motion by leave withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. WARNER (Stafford, Lichfield)
I am very pleased that the Leader of the-House has given way on the question which has been just raised, for I think, with the exception of last year, Vote A has always been taken on the first night 1323 after getting the Speaker out of the chair. I am very glad to hear that the Debate is to be carried over, especially as most of the time has been taken up by honourable Members on the other side of the House. The two questions raised by the honourable and gallant Members for Taunton and St. Pancras occupied most of the afternoon and evening, but we on this side are not so much interested in them as soldiers on the other side. I rise now for the purpose of getting an absolute definition of the return which the Under Secretary offered us instead of the return which was refused.
§ MR. WARNER
I ought to have said information, or rather an unofficial return, which is not to be public in any way, and every Member receiving it is to guarantee not to publish it. It is, as I understand it, a return of all regiments of Cavalry, battalions of Infantry, and batteries of Artillery within the United Kingdom. That is the information we want, and, of course, any Member will understand that it has been issued only for the purpose of debate in this House.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I do not want to be misunderstood, but I think the honourable Member is going very far from what I said. In order to meet honourable Members as far as possible, when a question is asked about a battalion I will give them information. I hope they will put some bounds to their curiosity, but if they twist what I have said into a pledge it will make it very difficult for me to comply with their requests.
§ MR. WARNER
I am not in the least pressing the honourable Gentleman to give information which he thinks ought to be refused. The argument, against giving this return is that foreign nations might know the strength of the battalions ordered abroad. I do not want the particular strength of any regiment, battalion, or battery, or their names or any other means of identifying them, but a general statement giving the number of battalions, regiments, and batteries which are up to a certain standard, and so on, right down. The battalions likely to be sent abroad need not be given, nor the 1324 garrison in any particular place, but information as to the strength stated to exist all over the country. I think, accordingly, that this information would not at all interfere with the argument used against giving the return in the form in which it was originally issued. What we want to know is the actual strength of the fighting material we have got in this country, not in any particular place, or with regard to regiments ordered abroad. We want to know whether we have been deceived as to the actual fighting strength we posses in battalions of Infantry, regiments of Cavalry, and batteries of Artillery. I hope the Under Secretary will be able to give us that. It is not beyond what he might do. I understand the War Office wants to be as reticent as possible on these matters. One other question I want to ask—I am leaving out the small matters.—(A laugh.)—One of the questions is not very important, but as honourable Gentlemen laugh I will put it. It is in reference to the special section of Militia that is to have 75 per cent. as volunteers for foreign service. I want to know what the remaining 25 per cent. will do. I believe that that is illegal. I see many colonels of Militia, including the noble Lord the Member for Rochester, sitting on the other side of the House, and I am sure they will all agree that men who enlisted under conditions of not going abroad should not be sent abroad unless they volunteer. These 25 per cent. will not volunteer, and are they to be sent abroad with the other 75 per cent. who will volunteer.—(A laugh.)—Honourable Members may laugh, but it is a point perhaps of more interest to Military men than to honourable Members who do not take any interest in Military matters. There is one other question I want to ask, and that is with reference to the Manœuvres. I understand there are to be large divisional drills, in which the Regular troops are to be kept out for the whole time, but that the Militia battalions, for which, apparently, these large drills have been instituted, are to take it in turns. I am acquainted with the work of Militia battalions perfectly well, and if Militia regiments are taken out before their three weeks training on these large Manœuvres and are to join in large divisional field days with Regular troops for one, two, or three weeks—if only for one week it would 1325 be an excellent plan—Imt if they have only one week of preliminary drill and then four weeks of manœuvres, it will be distinctly detrimental to them. I should like to know what is the meaning of taking one lot of militia regiments and then another to co-operate with the regular troops?
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid.)
I have a very particular objection to the carrying of the vote for the men. I waited here for about four hours, and though I rose repeatedly I was not called. The question I am about to bring forward can practically be only raised on this vote. I refer to the manner in which the Government are treating what may be considered the most important recruiting ground in the country—I mean the Highlands of Scotland. I quite admit that if we have got a foreign policy which may involve this country in war, or which may expand the Empire, we may require a large addition to the Army. Although I am not in favour of increasing the Army, and have voted against it, on the other band I quite admit that it may be essential that it should be increased. Now,
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Davenport, W. Bromley-||Kemp, George|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Lawrence, SirE.Durning-(Corn)|
|Baillie, James E. B.(Inverness)||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Dougla||Lawson, John Grans (Yorks.)|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Fergusson,Rt Hn.SirJ(Manc'r)||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Balcarres, Lord||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn.A.J.(Manch'r)||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.|
|Balfour,RtHnGeraldW. (Leeds)||Fisher, William Hayes||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Banbury, Frederick George||FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose-||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (L'pool)|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||FitzWygram, General Sir F.||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Folkestone, Viscount||Lowe, Francis William|
|Bathurst, Hn. Allen Benjamin||Gedge, Sydney||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. SirM. H. (Bristol)||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Lucas-Shadwell, William|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Bethell, Commander||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Bigwood, James||Goschen,RtHnG.J (St.G'rge's)||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Blandell, Colonel Henry||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||M'Calmont, H. L. B. (Cambs.)|
|Bond, Edward||Graham, Henry Robert||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Middlemore, Jno. Throgmorton|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gull, Sir Cameron||Milner, Sir Frederick George|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Geo.||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)|
|Cavendish, B F. (Lancs., N.)||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert W.||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Hardy, Laurence||Morton, Arthur H. A.(Deptf'd)|
|Cecil, Evelyn, (Hertford, E.)||Helder, Augustus||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Henderson, Alexander||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wor.)||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter||Northcote, Hn. Sir H. Stafford|
|Charrington, Spencer||Holland, Hn. Lionel R. (Bow)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Howell, William Tudor||Pease, Herbert Pike (Drlngtn.)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hutchinson, Capt. G.W. Grice-||Pilkington, Richard|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Jeffrey, Arthur Frederick||Plunkett,Rt.Hn.HoraceCurzon|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Priestley,SirW. Overend(Edin.)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Pryce Jones, Lt. Col. Edward|
|Curzon, Viscount||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
§ so far as Scotland is concerned, it bears more than its fair share according to population in the defence of the country, and, as the Committee is aware, there is no part of Scotland which bears a greater proportion than the Highlands, and no part of the English Army, as you are pleased to call it, has greater supporters than the Scotch Highland regiments, who are always in the forefront of the battle. Reference has been made to the decreasing stature of soldiers. Why is that? Last vear there was an increase in recruiting to the extent of 5,000 to 6,000 men, of whom only 400 men are due to Scotland and 50 to Ireland.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 132; Noes 35.—(Division List No. 30.)
|Rentoul, James Alexander||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlepool)||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)||Wilson Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Ritchie, Rt.Hn. Chas. Thomson||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Wodehouse, Rt.Hn E.R.(Bath|
|Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter||Talbot,Rt Hn J.G.(Oxf'dUniv.)||Wyndham, George|
|Royds, Clement Molyneux||Thornton, Percy M.||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Russell,Gen. F. S.(Cheltenham)||Valentia, Viscount||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Rutherford, John||Ward, Hon Robert A. (Crewe)|
|Ryder, John Herbert Dudley||Webster, Sir R. E. (I.of W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Allen, W. (Newc-under-Lyme)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Edw.||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert H.||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Lambert, George||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cmbrlnd.)||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Macaleese, Daniel||Strachey, Edward|
|Channing, Francis Allston||M'Ghee, Richard||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Morgan,W. Pritchard (Mrthyr.)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T|
|Davies, M.Vaughan-(Cardgn.)||Morton, Ed. J. C. (Devonport)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Oldroyd, Mark||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Mr. Caldwell and Mr. Hedderwick|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ And, it being after Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.
§ House resumed.