Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum not exceeding £6,509,000 be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Pay, Allowances, and other Charges of Her Majesty's Army at Home and Abroad (exclusive of India) (General Staff, Regiments, Reserve, and Departments), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1900.
That Item I (Recruiting Expenses) be reduced by £100." (Mr. Weir.)
§ *MR. WEIR
The Motion which stands in my name, is with regard to the recruiting expenses on the Army Estimates, Vote 1, Sub-head 1. I desire to call attention to the increased sum which is to be expended this year in connection with the recruiting expenses. Last year the amount for this purpose was £22,100, and this year—1899—it is to be £28,000, which is an increase upon the amount of last year of £5,900. Now, I say that this is an excessive increase, and I only regret that I did not put a Motion down to reduce the whole amount. This would have been better than to propose, as I have done, to reduce the Vote by £100. I 791 have no desire to put the House through the Division Lobbies upon this question. Therefore I hope the honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary to the War Office will be able to give some satisfactory reply to the two questions which I shall put to him. The first point to which I wish to draw attention is the system of marching. The cost of obtaining recruits in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland a few years ago was nearly £100 each recruit, the result of marching detachments of Highland regiments through these districts. Now it does seem to me to be the greatest piece of absurdity that could ever be conceived to send 60 or 70 men through the Highland glens of Scotland, where there is little or no population. I consider it is a wicked waste of public money, and that the system is one which ought to be stopped. Send your recruiting officers to places where there is population, but do not send them where there is not a single shieling. Shielings exist no more in the Highlands, because the people have been cleared out, and the glens are in. the possession of deer and sheep. Recruiting in Scotland for the Militia is going down; last year the decrease was 1,285. In 1897 the number of recruits obtained was 13,281; in 1898 the number of recruits obtained was 11,996; and yet you continue to spend large sums of money, as was pointed out the other night. Then I see that the recruiting officers presented 65,501 recruits for medical inspection, and out of that number 23,287 were rejected. The honourable Gentleman will find that on page 4 of the Recruiting Officers' Report. When they were brought before the medical officer he rejected that number. Now, there must have been very great incompetence on the part of the recruiting officers, and there ought to be some arrangement to give them fuller instructions. It is a very serious matter indeed to bring these men forward at such a great expense, and then to find this large number rejected. The other point to which I wish to call the attention of the House is the want of consideration for the Ross-shire Militia, a very fine body of men, who have been for years past drilled in the month of April. Now, the majority of these men go to the fishing industry in the summer time, and I am informed that the commanding 792 officer of the Militia, who lives in London, and who goes down to Scotland presumably to enjoy himself during the fine weather, has so arranged that the training of these men shall take place in the month of July this year. I am also informed that this commanding officer has only one more year to remain in service, and then he will have to retire. Is he to be allowed to arrange matters to suit his own convenience in fixing the time of the training of these Militiamen, drawn from the fishing population? I have already communicated privately with the honourable Gentleman.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
Order, order! I have no desire to interrupt the honourable Gentleman, but he cannot go into that question on this Vote.
§ *MR. WEIR
If by your ruling, Sir, I am not to be allowed to deal with that question upon this Vote, I must find some other opportunity for bringing it before the attention of the House. The honourable Gentleman knows the facts, and I still hope that I shall have some opportunity of going into the matter. With regard to the Vote itself, there is the recruiting rewards, for which a sum of £8,000 is set aside in the list for recruiting officers. Now, are these recruiting officers paid by commission? Are they paid so much for each recruit they obtain, or how are they paid? Then there is contingent allowances for recruiting, £1,150. What is that for? Is it for beer, or whisky, or what? I submit that we are entitled to have full information upon this subject. If it is for beer and whisky, I, for one,, object to it very strongly. Then there are gratuities to men on transfer, etc. £3,050. 1s that an extra? Then, paid to 180 non-commissioned recruiting officers £9,950. It does appear to me that there should not be this large number of men presented for medical inspection, and that these immense sums should not be paid for bringing them up. If the officers are paid by commission for all the men whom they bring along, then I can perfectly well understand that they will bring along as many as possible, whether suitable or unsuitable. Since I am not able to deal with the question of the Ross-shire Militia at the present stage, I should like to know from 793 the right honourable Gentleman what steps he intends to take to stop this great cost of marching detachments of Highland soldiers through depopulated Highland glens. I do hope that he will stop this wilful, wicked waste of public money, and with that hope I beg to move the Motion which stands in my name.
THE DEPUTE CHAIRMAN
The question that I had to put was that £6,509,000 be granted to Her Majesty to defray the expenses of the pay allowances, etc., of the Army (general staff, regiments, reserves, and departments). Since then an Amendment has been moved to reduce the amount for recruiting expenses by £100. The question which I have to put now is, that that Vote be reduced by £100.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
There can be no doubt that the expense of the Queen's Army mainly depends upon the requirements of the Government. Now, there are certain facts with regard to the recruiting of the Army which admit of no difference of opinion whatever. There is, first of all, a deficiency in the number of recruits; then the Army has to be kept up to a certain standard of men, but lately it has been found necessary, in order to keep the Army up to that standard, to draw on the reserves, and we can plainly see that there is a deficiency in number so far as the recruits are concerned, to keep the Army up to a state which is efficient. Another fact connected with recruiting is that the physique of the recruits that are selected are very much under the proper standard. For instance I find that in 1896 the number of men under the standard—under the standard of height and measurement—amounted to 18 per thousand. That number had largely increased in 1898. There has undoubtedly been a great diminution in the physique and standard of the recruits in the Army. Another point in which the recruits are deficient is the number of men who are returned as well-educated. I find that the number of men returned as well-educated has fallen from 69 per thousand in 1896 to 49 per thousand in 1898. Therefore we have a deficiency in number, we have a deficiency in physique, and we have a deficiency in well-educated recruits. All that is a matter of very considerable 794 importance in the way in which it affects the efficiency of the Army. Then, to account for how this arises, I find there was an extraordinary effort to obtain recruits in the year 1898. The extra number of recruits obtained by that effort was 5,000. Of that extra number, I find that England produced 4,000, Scotland produced 400, and Ireland produced 296. Now, curiously enough, the greater number of recruits from England has been the cause of the lowering of the standard so far as physique is concerned, and so far as the number of well-educated recruits are concerned. Now, everyone knows perfectly well that Scotch recruits, as a rule, especially those who come from the Highlands of Scotland, have a very much finer physique than any other persons in the United Kingdom; but, singularly enough, the Scotch recruit is a particularly well-educated man. There is one remark which I should like to make about the Highlands of Scotland. There is a great deal of poverty about them, but there is this very important feature: I venture to say that, as a class, they are better educated, as a whole, taking Scotland all over, than any other of their countrymen, and they are certainly very much better educated than anyone in England, taking England all over. Now, recruiting is always considerably stimulated and promoted when, as recently, you add some glory to the Army. It has the effect of stimulating recruiting to a very great extent. Well, it did not seem to have so much effect in Scotland or Ireland; the great effect was more in England, and particularly in London; and the class of men you get principally in England—in London and elsewhere—are a class of men who are driven into the Army by dullness in trade. There are men driven into the Army from two causes: in the one case they are stimulated by the glory of the Army, but there are a certain amount who are driven to the Army on account of the dullness in trade. So far as Scotland and Ireland are concerned, there has not been any dullness in trade. There is shipbuilding going on in Scotland, and there is shipbuilding and other industries going on in the North of Ireland, and that accounts probably for the proportion of the recruits which have been obtained from those two countries being rather small: and it is also probably the 795 reason why you have had to draw on London and England for the greater number of the recruits that you have got. Now, I do not wish in any way to make any invidious comparisons between the population of different portions of the United Kingdom, but it is an undoubted fact that, so far as the Highlands of Scotland are concerned, as everyone knows, you are dealing with a population who are a particularly warlike population, and who take to the Army as to a profession. The military enterprises that this country has engaged in are matters of peculiar interest to the population of the Highlands; because wherever there is a hard piece of work to do, whether it is in a small or a great war, you generally find that that hard piece of work is entrusted to a Highland regiment—with the result, of course, that you can hardly have any enterprise going on, whether in Africa, or in India, without it becomes a matter of special interest to the people of the Highlands, because they have some connections or acquaintances who are naturally engaged in all the different enterprises. The result of that is that you have got a military race, as it were—the Highand race—who are not tempted by profit, and who are not driven by idleness of trade into the Army, but who, from choice, being a military race, take to the British Army as a profession. Now, of course, the Scotch recruit is everything that you want as regards recruits. You want a man of a certain standard with a certain physique, and you get him, and anyone who goes to Scotland and goes through Glasgow will find that the policemen of Glasgow are a particularly handsome body of men as regards their physique; they are tall and strong, and 75 per cent, of those men come from the Highlands. It is an undoubted fact, and every officer in the Army will admit it, that in the case of the Highlanders you have got men of grand physique, men who take to the Army as a profession, men loyal to serve for their Queen and country, and reliable when you want any piece of hard work to be done; and as I have also pointed out, educated men. I remember on one occasion a gentleman, when he was in the Highlands, found men there among the gillies who were very well educated, one in particular that he could 796 talk Greek to. If you know anything about the Highlands you will know that they have got secondary education in every Board school in the Highlands, so that as a rule you have a well-educated man in place of an illiterate one. Now, obviously the Highlands of Scotland is the very best recruiting ground that you have. If there is one thing we stand in need of now more than anything it is having a strong Army. The strength of your Army depends very much upon your policy. If you are going to have a policy which means a forward policy in India; which means a policy of expansion of the Empire in Africa, and which means an active policy in China, and if you are going to dangle your Fleet before the eyes of other nations, you may depend upon it that those other nations will meet you upon your weak point. That weak point will be your Army. Now, given that policy, it is absolutely essential, as the result of that policy, that you should have a strong Army, and have it as efficient as possible. Given a different kind of policy, a less forward and less expansive policy, the necessity for a strong Army does not in the same way arise. Now what has been the policy of the Unionist Government heretofore as regards cultivating the Highlander as a recruit for the Army. Your policy has always been an adverse policy in that direction so far as these Highlanders are concerned. It is not so long ago that it was thought that the best kind of way to deal with the destitution of these men was to emigrate them, to send them away to Canada, and a great amount of money was expended on that scheme, to emigrate these very men who form the backbone of the nation and of the Army. And what is your policy now; what do you do to encourage these men up in the Highlands to enlist in your Army. Why, by nature these men live on the land and the fishing, and they are a race who are naturally attached to their native soil. They wish to remain in their native glens, and they wish the population of their native glens to go forward and join in every undertaking in which this country may be engaged. For instance, there is a man in the Highlands just now; he is a surgeon who has retired from the Army himself, but he has produced six sons who will all join the Army in their turn. Obviously, then, 797 this is a race of men who are not only willing but anxious to take to military enterprise, and, from your own selfish point of view, it is surely to your interest to take as much care of these men as you possibly can. It is quite another question whether these men are right in joining your Army and fighting your battles or not, but in your own selfish interests it is to your own advantage to take care of them. But you do not give these men any opportunity for living and developing in the Highlands, in their native lands. They are of great importance; their physique is kept up because they are living in the open, and they are certainly much better for recruits for the Army than men who are taken from the large towns, who have not the same amount of education, and who have not the same physique. Now, when you want to induce recruits to join the Army you hold out certain inducements to do so. Grants may be given not exceeding £12, that is one mode of inducement. Another inducement that you hold out to the recruits is that these men, after they have retired from the Army, may occupy certain positions. You offer certain posts to them in the Civil Service, and otherwise give them a preferential claim to Civil Service employment over the civil population. Now, that suits, and suits very well, the man who has been recruited from the town, and who, when his period of service is over, wishes to be employed in the town; but obviously an inducement of that kind is no inducement to men from the Highlands who do not live in the town, who do not wish to be employed in the town, but who wish for some occupation in their own glens, and who go back for the purpose of ending their days in agricultural and fishing pursuits. They wish to live upon their native land and breathe their native air, and to rear up families to go into the Army in their turn. Obviously the inducements which you hold out are not inducements to appeal to these men; and if you take the case of the Highlander—we hear a good deal of what the Highlanders did at Dargai—these men having done their work in India, having served their country and fought their battles, naturally wish to go back to their native homes; they find their parents there, and wish to assist them in their old age, and wish in their native 798 air to recover that constitution which has been wasted and destroyed in India, and Africa, and other places, where these soldiers have served their country. They return to their Highland homes, and what do they find? They find they have no opportunity of settling down there, and they are forced against their inclinations and their wishes to migrate to the towns. They have no opportunity of settling down in their native place. Look at the position. These men are asked to go all over the world to keep an open door so far as trade and commerce are concerned, and they return to the Highlands to find a closed door to their native lands, and that they cannot get a single acre which they can till, and upon which they can peacefully end their days. They find there is a man there who never did anything for his country and who never would, who refuses to give them a single acre of land, notwithstanding the fact that these men have served their country and fought her battles, and are come back home to receive the gratitude of their country. One advantage of having these men settled upon the land, to a certain extent, is this—these men will not desert the Army, because they do not wish to go anywhere else except to their native land, and the result is that if you want to find a man for your Reserve you would always be able to find him on the land. So far as these Highlanders are concerned, we have appealed on various occasions to the Government on economical grounds. We have appealed on the plea of humanity that this population should be given some means of earning their own living. We now give this opportunity which presents itself to the Government, who have not been moved by any plea of humanity, and we ask—will they move in the case of their own selfish interest when your Army is becoming a more important matter for the welfare and prestige of this country? Will a consideration, of this kind not move you to do that which you ought to do, and settle these men upon the land? I sec from a Return made to this House that you have 1,750,000 acres of land available which might be utilised for the purposes of these men who retire from the Army. I think they should have an opportunity of living in their 799 own native land, following some peaceable pursuit, and if you wish to make the Army popular the best popularity you can give it is, that when these men return from Africa, with enfeebled constitutions, a grateful country should enable them to have an opportunity of living upon the land. We do not ask for doles and charity, for you give that to the landlords. You insist upon an open door for your trade and commerce, but you have a closed door for the land, and it is in the interests of these men that this door should be opened.
§ GENERAL RUSSELL (Cheltenham)
I desire to say that I fully appreciate the immense strides which have been made in the efficiency of the Army under the present Government. From a very careful study of the Annual Report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting for the year 1898, and of the very clear and lucid statement made by his able deputy in this House when he introduced the Army Estimates, I feel that all those who have the efficiency of the Army at heart must fully appreciate the labours of Lord Lansdowne and the comparative success which has so far attended them. There is, however, one point to which I think it only right to call the attention of the Committee and the public—the weak point, if I may say so, of the whole Report—and that is the subject of recruiting, which is, after all, the ground-work on which our system is based, and which always has been the great difficulty in connection with the British Army. We may vote money for fortifications, and soldiers, and ammunition, and we may educate our officers up to the higher point of proficiency and excellency, but without the men we are absolutely powerless. Without efficient and healthy men, and without men of intelligence, if ever we have to meet the forces of a Continental army, we shall be at a fearful disadvantage. We have a very serious fact to consider, and it is this—that no less than 23,287 men who desired to enter the Army were rejected for various ailments and want of development. As far as I can gather, from what has been said in this Debate, some honourable Members appear to imagine that each recruiting agent gets a certain reward for every man he brings up to the recruiting officer. 800 That, however, is an entire misapprehension, because no "smart" money is given unless a man is accepted and passed by the recruiting officer, and therefore the honourable Gentleman opposite cannot base his argument upon that. Then, the honourable Member for Lanarkshire fell into a still more extraordinary error, for he stated that only 34 per 1,000 of these men this year were under the standard. Well, he stated the case far too favourably, for the Returns for the recruiting this year show that the total was 34 per cent., and not 34 per 1,000; therefore, the honourable Member for Lanarkshire could not have read that Report. I think, Sir, that this matter of recruiting is a national question entirely, and I am glad to see an addition to the recruiting expenses of the Army of £5,900 this year. I hope I shall not be accused of throwing stones at the Administration if I call the attention of the Committee to some statistics in connection with recruiting. It appears that, although in 1898 we had 40,729 recruits as compared with 35,015 in 1897, there were 34 per cent. under the standard in 1898, and only 29 per cent. in 1897. There is another still more serious matter which the honourable Member for Caithness referred to, and that is the fact that 23,287 men out of a total of 66,000 men who offered themselves as recruits were rejected. I think that shows very clearly that there is something radically wrong in our system of education, and it points clearly and distinctly to the fact that some system of physical training ought to be given to our school children. It is a very serious matter that out of a total of 66,000 men and boys who offered themselves as recruits, even at a very low standard, 34 per cent. of them will never be fit for the Army. It will be remembered that the honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for War stated that a great many of these rejections were in consequence of bad teeth. There is another point, which is also a national question, and that is that according to the Report only 49 per thousand of the men were well educated. This shows clearly and distinctly how-desirable it is that the Government should carry out the recommendations of the two Committees of this House as to the throwing open of more ap- 801 pointments in civil life for discharged soldiers. If you will turn to the Report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting you will find he speaks very strongly on the question of Government employment for discharged soldiers. The Postmaster-General has done his best to assist the Government by stating that he hopesthat the Army candidates will soon obtain the full 50 per cent. of the situations intended to be reserved for them.It also states that—The Postmaster-General has also suggested to the Treasury that the wages attached to the position of assistant postman be increased by 2s. a week when such situations are given to ex-soldiers, and, on reference to the War Office, the Treasury were urged to sanction the request.I have put down a Question for next Friday upon this subject, and perhaps the honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for War will have obtained by that time the information, and then we shall know what answer the Treasury will give on this point. Then, again, it is strongly recommended—That all boys entering the Postal Service as telegraph messengers will be required 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—namely, 50 per cent. of the total number, and, of the remainder, those who enlist to have places as postmen reserved for them on completing their colour service, provided their characters in the Army have been satisfactory. It has been decided to assemble a Committee to consider this proposal.I have also put down a Question asking whether this Committee has assembled yet, and who will be on it. Then it appears in this Report—which I hope honourable Members will read and study, for it is a very important one— that there were a large number of Government offices that have not yet given employment to ex-soldiers—namely, the British Museum. Charity Commission, House of Commons, Foreign Office, Home Office, Friendly Societies' Registry, Inland Revenue, Land Registry Office, Local Government Board, London University, House of Lords, Lunacy Commission, National Debt Office, Pub-Patent Office, Privy Council Office, Public Works Loan Board, Science and 802 Art Department, and Supreme Court of Judicature. There is scarcely any Government Office in Scotland that has given any employment for soldiers, and scarcely any in Ireland. This is a distinct disregard of the recommendations of the Committee of this House. I should like very much to know what steps the Government intend to take to carry out these recommendations, and to hold out to the Army the prospect of future employment in after-life. I maintain that, unless we can hold out some inducement as to permanent employment to ex-soldiers as a sufficient competency after they are discharged from the Army, we shall never induce intelligent men of high character to enter the Army, for 49 per 1,000 of educated men is a very small percentage. The Government have done much in this way to promote the efficiency of the Army, but if regret that they have not done more in this direction. They have established a registry at the War Office to supply pensioners of good character with employment. This is the first time that such a register has been established at the War Office, and I am informed on credible authority that the greatest possible care is taken to inquire into the character of the men, and no soldier of bad character is recommended. I am very glad, also, to see that another Memorandum has been issued from the War Office, decentralising the system of recruiting all over the country. I earnestly hope that the Secretary of State will be able to give us before the end of this Debate some assurances that the recommendations that these Committees of the House of Commons have made will not in future be neglected, and that we may look forward to more men of a good stamp and better education being drafted into the Service. With regard to the suggestion of the honourable Member for Lanarkshire, of planting down these men in the Highlands, no doubt his idea is a most benevolent one, but he must remember when a man comes back from the Army he has not much capital, and if he is planted down on a farm we should have to supply him with capital, or otherwise he would be an absolute pauper. Therefore, with all due respect to the good intentions of the honourable Member, I scarcely think the proposal is a 803 practical one. In conclusion, I congratulate the Government upon what they have already done. I had hoped that they would have been able to do more, and I trust the Under Secretary of State will be able to tell us that these old soldiers will be put on a more satisfactory basis.
§ SIR A. ACLAND-HOOD (Somerset, Wellington)
I am surprised to find that the honourable Member for Lanark has advocated a system of military colonisation such as that which I believe was the ruin of the Roman Empire. I am glad to find that we have in the Under Secretary of State for War a man who knows a soldier from a recruit. He does not, like many Ministers, look upon everybody with a red coat and a rifle, which he may or may not be able to handle, as a soldier. From his training in the Army he knows the difference between a soldier and a recruit. There are two questions which I have risen for the purpose of putting to my honourable and gallant Friend. In the first place, I should like to know whether it is, or is not, the fact that any Reserve men who, under the Act of Parliament passed by this House last year, would have been re-enlisted in the new battalions of the line, were rejected as medically unfit for service, but are still drawing pay as members of the Reserve. If that is the case I think some change should be made. If a Reserve man is not fit for active service, he is not fit for service in the Reserve. He should be paid a lump sum down, discharged from the Reserve, and sent back to civil life. The other question I desire to put is with regard to recruiting. I do not wish to raise the question of the Guards over again, but I do not think that my honourable and gallant Friend the Under Secretary can view with satisfaction the state of that regiment of which he was once so smart and efficient an officer, nor the fact that of the battalion now at Gibraltar more than one half is under two years' service. It was also stated last week that in the second battalion at home there are about 300 under two years' service. This is a matter which should not be allowed to pass unobserved.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
There are one or two points in connection with 804 this question of recruiting to which I am very anxious to draw the attention of the Committee. It appears to me that we ought to have some more detailed information as to the class from which the recruits are drawn. I see from page 11 of the Annual Report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting that during the past year the number of recruits whose occupations are described as labourers, servants, husbandmen, etc., was 657; the number of manufacturing artisans, 139; of mechanics, 92; of shopmen and clerks, 72; and I should like to know what proportion of the 657 are the sons of labourers in this country and what proportion are the sons of small farmers. That is an extremely important question. I think we ought to be informed as to what proportion of these classes is drawn from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales respectively. It seems to me that by far the most momentous fact contained in the Report is that alluded to by the honourable Gentleman who has just spoken. He pointed out that 66,500 recruits had been medically inspected, 23,287 of whom were rejected as medically unfit. When we remember that that rejection is determined upon a lower standard— a standard which really reduces the British Army to a ridiculous point—it is a most striking and formidable fact that such a large number should have been rejected as radically and hopelessly unfit for service. Of the 23,000 rejected, 13,900 were rejected for various ailments, and 9,318 for want of physical development. The physical development required by the British Army is, according to this Report, exceedingly slight, and the rejection of such a formidable number discloses a terrible falling off in the physique of the people of the country. In the second place, I should like very much to know—and I have been looking over this Report from the general point of view, as apart from the military point of view—to what class of the population this terrible falling off is to be traced. Now, I see on page 16 of the Report that the recruits are classified according to nationalities. I am not quite clear whether this classification has reference to active service or to the Militia—I think it must only refer to the Militia— but I have not been able to find from the Report which part of the United 805 Kingdom shows the greatest deterioration. This is a matter I have brought before the House previously, because, although I am not an enthusiastic lover of the British Army, I hold that everyone is interested in putting an end to whatever causes are responsible for the ills which are wearing down the class of small agriculturists who are really the material upon which in times past the Government had to rely for tilling up the gaps in the Army. Sir, I maintain that this terrible deterioration of physique will be found to be traceable to the deterioration in the physique of the British agriculturist. It is only within the last 10 years that I have travelled through the country districts in England, and for the first time I have had the opportunity of seeing the children of British agriculturists and labourers. I confess that I have been accustomed from my youth up to go about the country parts of Ireland, and to see the more healthy children and young people of the poor in the West of Ireland; and nothing has struck me more forcibly than to see the offspring of those who are described in the Report as "agriculturists, labourers, and husbandmen," in England, and to observe how unfavourably they compare with the children of five and ten-acre farmers in Ireland. I venture to say that regiments composed of such material as it seems is most available, cannot be expected to stand against such men as formerly filled the Army, and it is incumbent on the country to see what are the causes in operation which are destroying the agricultural population in physique, and driving you to resort either to the class of poor agricultural labourers or to the population of the towns for your recruits, with the consequence that the physique of the Army has steadily but irresistibly degenerated. And, now, Sir, in view of the enormous development of Empire, which in spite of the feeble protests of the small minority in this House, Her Majesty's Government, and, I am bound to say, the majority of the people of this country, seem to be committed to, you are obliged to increase your Army. But you are only beginning to increase it at the present moment. You will have to make great additions to the Army to garrison those vast possessions which 806 have been recently added to the Empire. Where are you going to look for these recruits? Do you expect the poor recruits now enlisted to stand the hardships of garrisoning your possessions in the Soudan, or West Africa, or East Africa] Sir, the fact is, you have allowed to be crushed out of existence that population upon which, from their physique, and the hardihood arising from the circumstances of their life, you had been accustomed to rely. I would venture to ask the Under Secretary for War to allow the further classification I have suggested to be given in the Report next year, so that we may know how many recruits are the sons of small farmers; secondly, I would ask him to give us a fuller classification of the different nationalities which the recruits represent; and, thirdly and lastly, I would ask him—and to this I attach special importance—to let us know the percentage of recruits rejected in England, Scotland, and Ireland respectively, on account of physical disability. By doing that he will be giving us some valuable data with regard to a question which is now engaging the attention of medical and scientific men, namely, the extent to which the population has deteriorated by the destruction of the class of small farmers and by the creation of populations in towns. Now, there are a few other points which I desire to mention. First of all, I desire to say a word on the question of reserving Government posts for discharged soldiers. I hold a strong opinion that this growing practice is an injustice and outrage upon the civil population. Let the soldier be dealt with as he deserves, let the Service be made attractive by favourable conditions, but not at the expense of the ordinary population seeking to earn a living. Reserving posts in the Post Office and other Departments for discharged soldiers is unjust to civilians, and has created the greatest possible discontent amongst men who have a right to expect promotion. These posts are all reserved for discharged soldiers, and you will find in time that the system will inevitably result in a very strong feeling against the spirit of militarism. I should like also to have some explanation from the right honourable Gentleman of how recruiting money is expended. I see that during the past year there has been a very con- 807 siderable increase in this amount. I should like to know whether it is the fact, as I have heard it stated—I have no knowledge of my own on the subject —that money is spent in drink. If any of this money is spent in giving men drinks at public-houses in order to induce them to recruit, it is a state of things against which we ought to set our faces, and I should be inclined to vote for a reduction in the Vote. There is one other point that is mentioned in the Report to which I desire to refer. An allusion is made to the enlistment of a Chinese force at Wei-hai-Wei. Now, Sir, I think we are entitled to a full explanation from the Secretary of State as to the nature of this force. The Chancellor of the Exchequer some time ago, in a very remarkable speech, which we all read with great interest, warned this country against any expansion of the system of buttressing up the Empire by the employment of mercenary troops. He pointed out the great evil of that system, and said he thought it would be a most dangerous one to embark in. Soudanese and Hausas have, of course, been employed, but this is a totally new departure. We have had mercenaries of various kinds, but, as far as I am aware, those mercenaries have up to the present been mainly subjects of Her Majesty or claim to be subjects of Her Majesty. Under what military law are these Chinese troops to be kept at Wei-hai-Wei? Are they to be subjects of the Chinese Empire or of the British Empire? I understood from the statements made in this House that the people at Wei-hai-Wei and the Chinese generally in the neighbourhood are to remain subjects of the Empire of China, and that there is no sovereignty given by the lease to Her Majesty the Queen. Are you now going to start a Chinese Army, composed of men who are not subjects of the Queen, and, if so, under what law, and where is this kind of enterprise going to stop. It is not amiss to remind the House that when the conduct of black troops was recently criticised, the reply was made that it was not always possible to control troops of semi-savage races; and we know perfectly well that savage races in the heat of victory will revert to customs which are peculiar to them. The Chinese are not savages, but they are one of the 808 cruellest races which the world has ever seen.
§ *MR. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)
I think the most important subject which the Committee has discussed in connection with the Army is that of recruiting. I agree with a great number of the points which have been emphasised by the gallant Members on the other side, but in view of this I cannot quite come to the same conclusion, namely, that the Report is eminently satisfactory. I would draw attention to the last paragraph but one in the Report, in which the Inspector says that—Considering the prosperous condition of the labour market and the large demands of the Navy the results of recruiting during the year may be deemed satisfactory.The Inspector fails to mention the increased advantages which he has had during the same year in being able to offer greater attractions to recruits, as well as the increased means at his disposal to obtain them. But what is the result? You have the most serious results which this country has yet had to face. The percentage of the well-educated recruit, the enlistment of whom this country was trying to obtain, and made immense sacrifice to secure, has fallen off as it has never fallen off before. The physique qualification has diminished to an enormous extent, whilst desertion has not yet diminished to an appreciable extent, if at all, and the increase of purchase of discharge is likewise on the upward grade. Therefore I cannot see that the Report can be deemed satisfactory. To my mind, it is really a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and of painting the whole thing in unfairly favourable colours. I think it would have been much more satisfactory if the Inspector-General of Recruiting had placed the plain facts of the case before the country and allowed the Committee to know what they had to deal with. Most important points have been already touched upon, and I will therefore only allude to a point about which I asked a question of the Under Secretary of State for War yesterday, namely, the marching tours for the purpose of getting recruits. As to the extra expense incurred upon the country by these marching experiments I learn from the Return that an additional ex- 809 pense of £600 was incurred by marching a detachment of the Northumberland Fusiliers through Northumberland, and that the number of recruits enlisted through that inarch was only five. I also asked for the number of recruits during a period of four weeks, and I got a total of 30, thus giving an expenditure of £20 a head. Take the next case. The march of the King's Own Borderers cost an additional £310 for 19 recruits, giving an average of £16 a man. But most striking of all was the march of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders through Argyllshire and the West Highlands, which cost £250 for an addition to the strength of the Army of one man obtained during the march. From my own point of view, I told the House last year that I did not consider the nation was getting its money's worth for what it spent on the Army, but that as I could not take upon myself the responsibility of voting against the sums which the Government, who are responsible to the country for its Army, deemed necessary to ask, I should abstain from voting either for or against the grant. This year, however, matters have gone further forward; more money than ever is being asked for, and, in my opinion, less value is being obtained for it by the country, and I would not be doing my duty to my constituents if I refrained from protesting and voting against the enormously increased expenditure on the Army. There is one other point on which I wish to dwell for a moment. Those who have the interests of the Army at heart want to obtain some information as to the actual age of the recruits enlisted. We were told last year that that would be shown to a certain extent satisfactorily when the men became entitled to the extra threepence a day on attaining 19 years of age. The predecessor of the honourable and gallant Gentleman the Under Secretary for War distinctly stated that we, who are interested in the age of recruits, would have our demand somewhat satisfied by the new arrangements that were to be made; and yet the honourable and gallant Gentleman who answered my Question on this matter said that no birth certificate could be taken, and no 810 statement could be given as to the age of the recruits In addition to the further details which the honourable Member for East Mayo asked for as to the nationalities of the recruits, I do hope that the Returns next year will contain a table stating the real, proved age of the recruits, so that the system which prevails— I hope prevails less than formerly, by which boys of 14 or 15 years of age can be enlisted as of 18 or 19 years of age, will be no longer possible, or, if it is possible, that its evils can be exposed.
§ *THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. GKORGE WYNDHAM,) Dover
We have listened to a good many speeches on recruiting, and it may not be inconvenient for me to reply before we pass to another topic. The honourable and gallant Member for Cheltenham begged all of us to "read, learn, and inwardly digest" the report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting. I am bound to say that everyone seems to have taken that advice, for nearly all the speeches that have been made—and I myself am an offender—have, been based very largely on that very interesting and full report That very fact makes it difficult for me to add anything material to the information which has been given upon the subject of recruiting. And, if I may be permitted to say so, I think honourable Members of the Committee have found the same difficulty, for although they have quoted long extracts from the Report, and followed the lines of thought suggested by that Report, very few have been able to make practical suggestions which go beyond the practical suggestions made by the Inspector-General of Recruiting. And therefore, though this Report is most interesting, I doubt very much whether, as the result of all that has been said, we are likely to make any material advance towards securing more recruits. The last honourable Member who spoke —the Member for North Aberdeen—referred to a subject which has already been brought before the notice of the Committee by the honourable Member for Ross and Cromarty—namely, the 811 apparently disappointing results of certain recruiting marches through various districts of Scotland. He takes the Inspector-General to task for having given' a somewhat rosy picture throughout the whole of the Report of the result of these marches. The honourable and gallant Member for Aberdeen North based his speech on the information which I gave him yesterday, but I am afraid that that only bears out the view I took before, that the more information we give honourable Members, the longer we talk without adding anything material to the subject matter of debate. I can add very little to the information I gave the honourable and gallant Gentleman yesterday; but I can say this, that I do not think the four weeks' limit which he gave is sufficient. I do not think that you can judge of the result of a march through a district by the number of recruits who join the regiment within four weeks of that inarch. I have in my hand a Report from one of the districts in Scotland— Berwick-on-Tweed—dealing with the inarch of the 1st Battalion Scottish Borderers through that district. It states that—The march has been a great success, and has helped to break down many of the prejudices against a soldier's life. Recruiting was very brisk two months afterwards.And then he goes on to state that certain economic causes led to a slackening of recruiting after these two months, but he confidently anticipates that when the economic causes are removed, and when less work is being done, the breaking down of the prejudices would lead again to more men joining. I am afraid I cannot add any more to that subject. The honourable Member who spoke first in the Debate did recommend that we should discontinue these marches.
§ *MR. WYNDHAM
That is the only negative criticism that has been passed during this Debate. So far as I recollect, the only positive advice we received in the course of the Debate came 812 from the honourable Member for Lanarkshire, who suggested that we should plant out all Highlanders who leave the colours upon crofts in the Highlands, and that, therefore, we should return to the policy of ancient Rome. I do not think that that is a suggestion which this or any other Government is likely to entertain. The honourable Member for East Mayo asked for a good deal of information to be added to the next Report on recruits. He wishes to know the proportion of the recruits which comes from the several nationalities in the United Kingdom. That is information I am unable to give him. I think the proportion of men serving in the Army will probably give us a fair indication of the proportion of the recruits. The proportion this year of the troops in the British Army, excluding those in the Colonial forces, was 77.7 per cent. English, 13 per cent. Irish, 8 per cent. Scottish, and 1.5 per cent. of other nationalities. I am bound to say that from these figures I gather that Ireland does rather better than honourable Members who have spoken for Scotland led me to believe; and no case has been made out for giving preferential treatment to recruits who come from Scotland as against those who come from Ireland.
§ MR. DILLON
The point I asked for information on was this—not the number of recruits of the various nationalities, but how many of the recruits who were medically examined were rejected, and also what proportion of the recruits of each country belong to the class of small farmers.
§ *MR. WYNDHAM
The first point is in the Report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting. As to the second, I really must deprecate the practice of turning the War Office into an office of statistical investigation. That kind of work can only be undertaken by special statisticians. It is hardly part of our duty, while discussing the Army 813 Estimates, to go into the recondite and abstruse investigations as to the physical characteristics of the various races represented in the British Army. My honourable and gallant Friend the Member for Somerset West said that some of the Reserve men who rejoined the colours were rejected as being medically unfit. I have no official information on that point; but I happen to know, unofficially, that certain numbers were rejected in one district as being medically unfit. That is a matter which is well deserving of consideration. Then, he touched on the question of recruiting for the Guards, and he held out to me the prospect of giving me longer rope in order to the dislocation of my official neck next year. Perhaps I shall take advantage of it when next year conies. I really think, Mr. O'Connor, that it is impossible for me to add further information to that contained in this Report.
§ MR. DILLON
Another Question which I asked the honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary for War was, whether any of the money to be voted for recruiting in Ireland is now spent in drink? I also asked another Question about the Chinese regiment which is being recruited at Wei-hai-Wei. Under which law are these Chinese troops to be raised? And I desire to know whether they are subjects of Her Majesty's Government or subjects of the Emperor of China?
§ *MR. WYNDHAM
AS to the first Question of the honourable Gentleman the Member for East Mayo, broadly speaking, that is certainly not the case. I cannot undertake to say that nobody ever drinks a glass of beer in making a bargain. I often observe that honourable Members themselves, after retiring from the business of the House, partake of some refreshment. But I maintain that our system of recruiting is in no sense based on the practice of inveigling men to join the Service by means of treats of drink. It would be quite untrue to say that this House votes money which is spent in treating. To that I give my most unqualified denial. The honourable Member asked me as to the 814 new Chinese corps which is being raised Wei-hai-Wei. That is a matter which, I think, has less relation to the War Office than to some other Department of State. So far as I know, there is no objection to our recruiting at Wei-hai-Wei, but I have really no further information to give on the point.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfar)
I cannot understand the difficulty of giving particulars in regard to recruiting of this regiment for Wei-hai-Wei. That regiment is to be paid for by the War Office, and is on the Army Estimates. And why should we not also reasonably ask the honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary for War for information in regard to other regiments raised under the Foreign Office? The fact is that, in discussing this question of recruiting and the increase of our military forces, we have to consider not only the raising of the new regiment at Wei-hai-Wei, but regiments in East Africa, Central Africa, West Africa, and five or six different portions of the globe. I would point out the great disadvantage we re under in discussing military expenditure from year to year, that we have not all the military expenditure grouped under one head. Some troops are under the War Office, some are under the Foreign Office, and some are under the Colonial Office; and it is extremely misleading not to be able to see at one glance or one comprehensive survey the whole of the military expenditure which the policy of the Government has brought on the country. I ask the honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary of War whether he has not somewhat mistaken the purport of the Question which the honourable Member for East Mayo has put in regard to the return for recruiting, and as to the physical condition of recruits of different nationalities I cannot conceive why that information, were it afforded, might not be used most beneficially. The honourable Member for East Mayo pointed out that if the recruits for the Army in every district of the country were analysed, a very valuable test of the physical progress of the population of the country in various dis- 815 tricts would be afforded. These statistics were, no doubt, at the disposal of the War Office, and should be divulged. Every recruit, when he joins his regiment, must state his occupation, where he comes from, and what kind of life he has led; and in country districts especially it is quite easy to identify the life history of these recruits. We ought, therefore, to obtain these statistics which have been asked for. On another point I wish to press for information from the Under Secretary for War. It was brought before him by the honourable Member for East Mayo on the last occasion we discussed this matter. In his last Report the Inspector-General of Recruiting touched upon the question of the civil employment of soldiers after leaving the Army, and he pressed it to a greater degree than had ever been done by any of his predecessors. That is an important departure from former policy; and I ask the honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary for War to make us some reply on this point. The Inspector-General of Recruiting recommends that all posts under the Government should be ear-marked for discharged soldiers. I ask the honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary for War whether the War Office endorses that recommendation. For myself, I agree with the honourable Member for East Mayo, that it is a very serious policy, and that it is likely to provoke a reaction, and to strike a blow at the popularity of the Army. You may overdo it in your zeal for recruits. The Report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting shows that soldiers when they leave the Army have no difficulty, so long as they have a good character, in obtaining civil employment. This was illustrated by the fact that the men who were recently brought back from the Reserve— so far as three-fourths were concerned — were in civil employment. Everything goes to show that if these Army men have a good character, their liability to serve in the Reserve is no bar to civil employment. That is a very important fact. But this Report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting goes further than any previous Report on the subject. The 816 Inspector-General proposes that every subordinate post for which these discharged Army men are qualified, in the Government service, shall be ear-marked for them. I object most strongly to this, both in the interest of the Army and in the interest of the civil population generally. It is not desirable to make such a distinction between the Army and the civil population; and I think that the Inspector-General of Recruiting, as well as others, has shown a very unwise zeal in this matter.
§ COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
I only want to say a few words to the Under Secretary for War in regard to the question of recruiting, and the position in which officers commanding Volunteer battalions are placed. It may not be quite within the knowledge of the honourable Gentleman that regulations have been made by the War Office and directions issued requiring the permanent staffs of the Volunteer regiments to expend a large portion of their time in obtaining recruits for the Army. I, as a commanding officer of a Volunteer battalion, strongly object to my permanent staff being diverted from their proper work. When I find my staff working in terror of their lives to secure recruits for the regular Army I think a stop ought to be put to it. I find this is by direction of the War Office. The general commanding the district, when appealed to, has no option in the matter; and the colonel commanding under him has no option. I know one or two eases which have been brought under my notice in which an extension of the terms of service of the permanent staff has been refused because, unhappily, they have not obtained a proper complement of recruits for the regular Army. In scattered battalions, like my own, where we have many detachments 40 or 50 miles from headquarters, it is impossible for the sergeant-instructors to do their duty by the Volunteer battalions and to look after recruits for the regular Army. This duty laid upon the permanent Volunteer staff has also 817 a bad effect on the strength of the Volunteer corps, because parents will not permit their sons to join the Volunteer corps when they know that the permanent staff are employed in recruiting for the Army. That is a consideration for me, because the financial soundness of my corps depends on the number of men in my regiment. There is ample work for the sergeant-instructors and the adjutant to do in connection with our Volunteer regiments; and if you have recruiting sergeants and recruiting depots to take up this work of recruiting for the Army, there is no necessity for placing recruiting duty on the shoulders of the permanent staff of Volunteer battalions. I hope the rule will soon be relaxed.
§ MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, N.)
I take a great interest in discharged soldiers and sailors, and am glad to know that the Post Office authorities have offered places in the Post Office to be given to these men. That is very liberal on the part of the Post Office authorities. But I would-urge on the Under Secretary for War that lists of the various posts in the Post Office which old soldiers and sailors can fill should be kept at the various branch post offices throughout the kingdom. I feel quite sure that the majority of old soldiers who reside in the country know nothing about these posts which are open to them; and it would be convenient if the lists I have referred to were posted up at each post office so that old soldiers might find what they are entitled to. I also think that some more technical education should be given to soldiers while they are with the Colours. In an ordinary Line regiment the men are not taught anything at all; and therefore when they leave the service and come into the country they are unable to obtain employment. I have often heard employers, especially in the agricultural districts, say that they could not take into their employment old soldiers because they were not suited for any particular line of work. The honourable Member for East Mayo asked why it is that the sons of small farmers do not join the Army. I live in the county of 818 Hampshire, and I know that farmers' sons do not join the Army because they somehow think and believe, truly enough sometimes, that the recruits who join the regiments are generally not of a sufficiently good character for them to mix with. I think that if the honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary for War were to inquire into this matter he would find that, in a general way, no question is asked by recruiting officers as to the character of the men whom they are enlisting. All that the recruiting officer cares for is as to the height of the recruit and his chest measurement. I have often thought that it is a great mistake of the recruiting officer to do so. I know of many instances where fathers' have bought their sons out of the Army because they thought their sons had degraded themselves by joining it. I am sure we should like to see changes made in recruiting, so that a better class of men may be induced to join our Army; and I believe if recruiting officers were more careful they would get a better class of men.
§ COLONEL WELBY (Taunton)
I do not know that there is any more natural centre round which our discussions can take place in regard to recruiting for the Army than the Report which has been placed in our hands. That Report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting may be said to focus the facts regarding recruiting at the present time. There are two matters mentioned in that Report to which I hope the House will give some consideration. One of these is, that although we have enlisted a greater number of recruits last year than in any year since 1892, we have 1,169 men below our establishment, and at the same time the new battalions have not been raised to anything like their proper numbers. There are two points connected with this matter. There is the very great number of men who purchase their discharge at the present time. It will be seen that the number of men who purchase their discharge for £10, which represents men who have been less than three months in the Service, has very greatly increased. The percentage of those who purchase at 819 £18 has decreased, but I am afraid the moral to be drawn from that is that the, men who enlist in the Army find out sooner than they used to do that it is not the Service that they wished to be in. Another point is the number of; desertions which have taken place; and; I would ask the Under Secretary if he would say whether the desertions which appear in this Return are the desertions of recruits only, and if they are the desertions of recruits, whether he would: say what his definition in these Returns of a recruit is—whether it is the man who has served for one year who is technically known as a recruit—it is on page 13, the last table. All these facts which are shown in this Report go to prove that there is something radically wrong with regard to the recruiting of our Army. We have not got men enough, and I do not think we have got the right stamp of men. The cause: which. I believe underlies this difficulty in obtaining recruits for the Army is that men on entering the Army see that it will not be a life-long profession, that it will not lead to steady employment in the after years of their life. I am not one of those who wish to see long service returned to in the Army, but there is this to be said for long service, that men who enlisted in the Army looked upon it as a life-long profession, with a pension at the end of it; and there is no doubt that made the Army much more popular in those days than it is at the present time. But the difficulty of making it a life-long profession is this, that during the time that a man serves in the Army it is very difficult for him to learn a trade. The honourable Member has referred to technical instruction in the Army, but everybody acquainted with the inner working of the Army knows how little time there really is for a man to take advantage of increased technical education. The regular duties in garrison, and especially in regiments where there are a great number of recruits and very few long-service men, affords very little time indeed for a man to devote to technical instruction of his kind. The result of that is 820 that, although a man learns a smattering of a trade, when he goes back to civil life he finds that he is in no way a worthy competitor with the man who has been able to give up the whole of his time to learning any particular trade. Not only is that a difficulty in the way, but in spite of what has been said this evening I believe there is a very great prejudice in the minds of many employers of labour against employing men who belong to the Army Reserve. They have got a feeling that these men may be called out at any time and taken away from their employment. Not only is there that difficulty, but I know from my experience in East London that there is a prejudice among his fellow workmen against an Army Reservist, because they believe that these men of the Army Reserve, who are drawing Government pay, can undersell them in the labour market, and they can, if they choose, do this same work for less money than what the others who have not Reserve money to fall back upon can do. Whatever may be the cause of it, there is no doubt at the present time that we are very much in want of recruits, and in want of the right sort. I do not believe for a moment that it is the want of martial spirit in the country, because the moment that there is active service, whether it be for the regular Army or for irregular forces such as those which are raised by the Chartered Company in South Africa, or similar forces in other parts of this great Empire, there are always men to come forward and enlist. Therefore the difficulty seems to be that the men who enlist merely to make it a peace-time profession, with the possibility of going to war, find that they cannot learn during their service the technical instruction which they require, and when they leave the Army and go into civilian life they find that they are handicapped. The honourable and gallant Member for Chelmsford has drawn attention to the employment of men in Government Departments. I am sure that point cannot be too strongly urged upon the Committee and upon the House. I am very 821 sorry to see in the Report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting that the House of Commons has employed no old soldiers during the past year. It may have been that there were no vacancies to fill; but there is a way in which a certain amount of employment could be provided in these Houses of Parliament. We know that the police guard us with the greatest attention and care, but would it not have been more in conformity with the dignity of this Imperial Parliament that we should be protected by a corps of our own? A corps might be composed of men who have served in the Army and the Navy. The police have to deal with the criminal class. Why should we be put under their protection? Why should we not have our own corps, and let it be, as I said, composed entirely of those who have served their country in the Army and Navy? The honourable Member for Mayo has referred to the possibility of keeping so many appointments open to the Army and the Navy. I do not think that, if it is placed before the civilians of this country that the men who belong to the Army and Navy are the protectors of the country, that they are liable at a moment's notice to be placed in the forefront in a campaign in any battle that may be fought, they would for a moment grudge the inducements that are being held out to enlist in the Army by giving employment in large works. It is simply misrepresentation when this is called the spirit of militarism—which, I am afraid, is a phase which is very popular on the other side of the House. That is misleading. It is not a question of militarism. We must have a certain number of soldiers and a certain number of sailors to protect this Empire. Then we have to consider as long as we have a voluntary Army how we are going to enlist them, and how we are going to get numbers enough. If honourable Members opposite are prepared to see a compulsory Army such as exists on the Continent of Europe, then there is no difficulty about it, no necessity to keep these places open for men, but if they are in favour, as I am myself, of voluntary service, then 822 they must hold out to these men some career which they can look forward to when they leave the Army. There are plenty of public authorities here in Lon-don; and I am afraid that the House of Commons is not the only great public place which has not employed any men during the past year: there has been the Home Office, the Local Government Board Office and a number of others. I say that I think in all Government Departments these places ought to be wholly or very nearly wholly reserved for the Army and the Navy. I know what the difficulty is. I know that the difficulty is not altogether, as the honourable Member for East Mayo says, one of prejudice, but there is a question of patronage. Reference has been made to the Post Office, and to the objections to the boys being compelled to go into the Army and serve their time before they can become men. Surely that all points to the argument that men going into the Army cannot look forward to a private career, a career in after years, and the result of it is that parents in the country look upon the Army simply as a refuge for ne'er-do-wells, and not as a career, as they ought to do. Unless you can open these employments in the great public Departments, in these Departments over which this House has control, direct or indirect, you never will set that standard so necessary to our great employers of labour throughout the country. The railways are employing these men, and a great many employers of labour also employ old soldiers. We want that ex-tended, to get rid of this system of eulisting every man into the Army whatever his character may be, and making it a refuge for the men who have come down in the social scale. We want to get rid of them, to get the civilian element all through the country to see that the Army is an honourable profession for men as well as for officers; and not only that, but in these practical days, when a young man who is entering upon life looks forward to the days which are coming, when he is getting towards middle age, we must be able to show him that if he conducts himself and does well 823 in the Army and serves his country well, he will be looked after and, as far as possible, employed after he leaves the Service.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
The discussion on the Army Estimates, Vote A and Vote 1, has now gone over a considerable time— has gone on longer this year than for many years past, and though it is very interesting, I think that honourable and gallant Gentlemen ought to remember that there is work which is put down for Committee of Supply. I venture to make an earnest appeal to them to let us have this Vote, and the uncontentious Vote which is also put down, and I base that appeal upon this fact: A certain number of Votes have actually to be got before we can start on the Vote on Account next Monday. I should be reluctant—and I think honourable Gentlemen themselves would feel the incon-Tenience—that we should have to sit late on Thursday and Friday, with the possibility of a Saturday sitting. But the work has to be done, and I think it would be for the general convenience of the House if honourable Members would maintain some proportion in the length of time devoted to the topics under discussion. I hope honourable Gentlemen will feel that we have discussed this enough, or nearly enough, that we have surveyed the ground—
§ SEVERAL HONOURABLE MEMBERS: No.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
Seven of your friends have been speaking upon this Motion, against four on this side.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
My appeal is not specially to the honourable Gentleman, nor is it especially to honourable Gentlemen on either side of the House. I appeal to the House as a whole. I make no accusation against the Opposition, nor against my honourable Friends upon this side of the House. I make an appeal to the House as a whole to maintain some proportion in the length of time they 824 give to the various topics that are to be dealt with by the House before next Monday, and as the inconvenience is not only to the Government, but to private Members as well, I would ask them to give us this Vote to-night, and to enable us to get the uncontroversial Votes which we hope to get before we start the Naval Estimates on Thursday.
§ *MR. WEIR
Who has occupied the time? It has been occupied by honourable and gallant Gentlemen sitting behind the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House, and not by Members on this side of the House; and instead of the First Lord addressing himself to this side of the House, he should address himself to the other side. I am always anxious to facilitate the business of the House. I got up to ask for some information with regard to the increase of £5,900, and I am still without it. Whose fault is that? It is the fault of the Under Secretary of State for War. If he had furnished that information, I should be in a position to withdraw my Amendment, and the Debate would have dropped on this item. I protest against the silence of honourable and right honourable Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench. My honourable Friend the Member for East Mayo asked whether beer and whisky were supplied, and the Under Secretary said, "Broadly, no." What does he mean by "Broadly, no"? My honourable Friend the Member for East Mayo also asked whether the nationality of recruits would be given in future. The Return gives a great number of figures, but we want the figure asked for by the honourable Member for East Mayo in addition. I want to know whether the Under Secretary for War is prepared to give that information? I also asked whether recruiting officers are paid by commission on the number of recruits they secure, but I have got no information If replies were given to Questions, what an immense amount of time would be saved, and we would not have the First Lord getting up and talking to us as he has 825 done to-night. Again, detachments of Scottish Highlanders have been marched through the Highlands and islands of Scotland, and, as the result of an expenditure of nearly £250, only one recruit was enrolled. The Under Secretary called attention to the Report of the Registrar-General for Recruiting, with reference to Berwickshire, but that is a very thickly populated district as compared with the Highlands and islands of Scotland. I want to know whether the system of spending money by sending detachments of soldiers through the Highlands, where there are only deer and sheep to listen to the skirl of the pipes, is to be stopped in the future?
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
I feel loath to add to the extensive catechism of the honourable Member who has just sat down, but there is one question I would ask. Perhaps the most interesting point in the Estimates is that they represent an entirely new departure. White, brown, and black troops have worn the Queen's uniform, but this is the first time Her Majesty's forces are to be added to by a regiment of yellow troops. The Under Secretary said the question on this subject should be addressed to another Department. I think it is to his Department it should be addressed, because his Department asks for the money for this Chinese regiment. I understood him to say it was a legal question as to whether these troops became subjects of the Queen. That is not the point. What I want to know is this: What is the purpose of those troops? Are they to be employed in the defence of Wei-hai-Wei, or in the general services of the Queen? If for the service of Wei-hai-Wei, I think they will be inadequate for the purpose. We know that Wei-hai-Wei, according to the First Lord of the Admiralty, is to be made what is known as a second-class naval station. We also know that without troops it cannot be maintained, for there are the remains of four Chinese ironclads lying in the harbour, and there is testimony that some of them were sunk from the land, though no doubt some of them were sunk by torpedoes also. It is therefore clear that what is required is a 826 land force, and there is no doubt why this regiment has been enrolled. But will one regiment suffice? I imagine not. One of the questions I wish to ask is this: Is this the beginning of a large Chinese force, or is it to be the first and final regiment, or are we to have 10, or 20, or 100 regiments? If there is only to be this one alone, I am afraid it will have to be supplemented by English troops. One other point. I rather gather from the Under Secretary that he did not think his Department was concerned with this. I wish to ask whether those troops are to be under the War Office or under the Navy? At any rate, they are not to be under the Foreign Office. These are the questions I wish to ask: Whether there is to be one final Chinese regiment, or whether it is proposed to extend it? Is it to be employed in the defence of Wei-hai-Wei, or whether it can be withdrawn from Wei-hai-Wei for the general Services of the Queen?
§ MR. DILLON
The Under Secretary has distinctly refused to give me any information in regard to these Chinese troops. I asked him a number of very simple questions, to which I think the Committee are entitled to have an answer. He said those questions should be addressed to another Department. I asked to what Department they should be addressed, and received no answer. If he will turn to Appendix No. 2, page 159, of the Army Estimates, he will find that there is a Vote of £21,000 asked for these troops, and I insist that the Under Secretary for War, on behalf of the War Office, is bound to explain and defend that Vote. We are entitled to know what the character of the force will be, the laws under which it is going to be enrolled, whether the Chinese soldiers will be subjects of the Queen or subjects of the Emperor of China, whether they will have to take the oath of allegiance to the Queen, and under what law is discipline to be maintained. The honourable Gentleman is not entitled to refer me to another Department for an answer. This is a question of military law.
§ SIR J. COLOMB
I rise to ask a question with regard to Wei-hai-Wei, and which refers to the distribution of the 827 British regiments, and the system under which they are distributed.
§ *MR. WYNDHAM
I should like to answer the questions put by the honourable Member for East Mayo. He seems to think I was wanting in courtesy towards him in not having previously answered his question. I can assure him that it was not my intention to be discourteous, and if I did not give him the information he asked for it was because I misapprehended his question. The honourable Member for East Mayo asked me whether the Chinese troop that were being raised at Wei-hai-Wei were subjects of the Queen. In asking that question I think the honourable Member has raised a legal point which is not really germane to the Vote. There is no novelty, for we have other troops—the Goorkhas and the Soudanese, for instance—in the same situation. As to their exact status in the eyes of international law, I do not venture to express an opinion which would be worth the while of the Committee to listen to. When I am asked what the policy is to be in respect of this Chinese regiment, I have to say, on behalf of the War Office, that we draw no distinction between it and either of the other Colonial corps we are raising in Central and West Africa, Three Colonial corps are being raised. We are going en raising them where we can most conveniently do so, in order to relieve the strain which is otherwise thrown on the British battalions. As things are, 79 battalions are abroad, and only 66 battalions at home. Every position is being occupied which can be occupied conveniently and economically with an efficient force, and wherever we thus relieve one British battalion it gives us a gain, so to speak, of two battalions at home. I would repeat that there is no novelty in this policy. Already there are 6,000 troops under the Foreign Office. In these Estimates we are asking for a sum of £83,000 in order to raise about 3,000 men; we are asking for £20.000 for the Chinese battalion; £42,000 for the West African regiment, and £21,000 for raising a Central African regiment. No distinc- 828 tion is drawn as to the three regiments which are raised for similar purposes.
§ *MR. J. WILSON (Durham, Mid)
I have not much to say, Mr. O'Connor, about the recruiting of troops, because I am one of those who believe that recruiting should be abolished, and some other means adopted. If anyone will go to Trafalgar Square, on any day of the week, he will see young men about 18 or 20 years of age annoyed by a troop of recruiting sergeants, and approached with an eagerness which, if devoted to establishing peace between the nations, would, I think, be better for the country. I have not risen for the purpose of questioning the character of the recruits, although I may say that, in my opinion, very few men who enter our Army do so from the impulse of patriotism; they do it as a means of earning a living. I rise to enter my protest as a working man against preference being given to soldiers for civil offices under the Government, and I want to ask why these preferences should be given. If anyone in authority will give an answer I shall be obliged. Why should soldiers have this preference? Is it on account of their usefulness? Will anyone assert that a soldier—I do not say this disparagingly—is more useful than a working man. Some honourable Members say "Yes," but I should like them to show me how they are more useful. There is not a single working man in the industries of this country who is not as useful to the prestige of this country as a soldier. Then as to the danger; there is more danger and more lives lost in the mines than on the battle-field. Whether this provision will assist recruiting or not, I submit that the Civil offices of this country should be left open to artisans as well as soldiers. Take the case of a young man of 16 or 17 years of age, who enters one of our Civil Departments. When he arrives at the age of 21 or 22 he will find his occupation gone, and a man who has served for five years in the Army engaged in preference, and the young man is thrown out of work. I speak here for the working men, and I claim that the country should know why this preference is given. I am sure there are very few honourable Members in this House who would advocate 829 on a public platform, at election time, that this preference should be given. I am afraid if they did they would not be returned again. I would suggest to the honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary for War that ho should give us some authoritative statement on this subject.
§ *MR. PIRIE
I must ask the Under Secretary for an answer to my question as to why recruits are often taken when they are not of full age.
§ *MR. WYNDHAM
The fact is, the ages are not always known, and you cannot get birth certificates from all recruits.
CAPTAIN PHILLPOTTS (Devon, Torquay)
I do not desire to detain the Committee, but I rise to tell the honourable Member for Durham why a preference should be given to soldiers and seamen. It is because they have been trained under discipline and under those who have the interests of the country at heart, and have not taken their tone from demagogues. I hear sounds of dissent. Well, I have heard sounds in the tropical forests of Africa very similar and just as coherent. The policy which has been adopted of giving a preference to our soldiers and sailors for oivil employment after they retire from the Service, is a thoroughly sound one, and one which should be followed up.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
I must ask for an answer to the question I put to the Under Secretary with regard to the appointment of ex-soldiers to civil positions.
§ *MR. WYNDHAM
I have gives my views upon the question at great length. I understand perfectly well that the honourable Member does not agree with me, but my view is that the more civil employment we can give to retired soldiers, the better. The honourable Member does not think so, but I cannot alter my conviction in order to please the honourable Member.
§ MR. MADDISON (Sheffield, Brightside)
I desire to ask the Under Secre- 830 tary whether the War Office is going to carry out the recommendation of the Inspector-General of Recruiting, that in future all civil posts should be given to retired soldiers. Surely that question is worthy of a definite reply, and one which does not begin with "Broadly speaking." We want something definite. The statement of the Inspector-General is definite. We know exactly; what he means, and I should like to ask the Under Secretary whether his Department is going to carry out that recommendation. Are the working men of England to understand distinctly that this Government is going to carry out. a recommendation of that kind, and that in future, in order that a man may serve the State in civil employment, he-must go through the Army? My honourable Friend the Member for Mid Durham gave some reasons, which I thought very fair, why this should not be, and he was replied to by the honourable Member—I think I have to call him gallant as well—for Torquay, who compared some of us to animals whom he discovered in the tropical forests of Africa. Well, that remark may be Parliamentary, but it is not gentlemanly, and I think we should receive some-answer on that point from the Government. It must not be thought that you are going to increase the number of recruits by holding out inducements that if a man joins the Army he is sure of promotion to some position under the State when he leaves the Army. The great mass of the working men of this country, who contribute to its wealth, have a perfect right to receive consideration in this matter. I wish to be-candid. I do not wish to exclude soldiers because they are soldiers. What I do contend is that no preference should be given. How is it that private employers are not so ready to employ your old soldiers? The explanation is that you take little, if any, care to test the character of the men you enlist. You are very wise in not doing so, otherwise you would not have half the men you now possess. I think I am entitled to a definite reply to my question.
§ *MR. WYNDHAM
I think honourable Members are labouring under a misapprehension. They seem to think that 831 the Inspector-General of Recruiting recommends that the War Office should fill up all the posts in all other Departments with old soldiers. That, I need hardly, say, is not the recommendation of General Kenny. The Inspector-General specifies Departments which have not offered any appointments as messengers to soldiers through the War Office. He says—In some of these offices, particularly those with small establishments, there may have been no vacancies, and, in others, employment may have been given to soldiers without reference to the War Office. It is, however, very desirable that all such appointments should be filled by the War Office register, as they are elsewhere through the Regimental District or other authorised agencies, as if men whose character have not been sufficiently inquired into are accepted, and subsequently prove unworthy, discredit is cast upon the whole body, and much harm done to the prospects of really good pensioners who are desirous of employment.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
That was the general recommendation, but there are four specific recommendations in the Report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting on which I think the House are entitled to have some information from the War Office. The Inspector-General says that as regards the class of situations offered to ex-soldiers, it had been arranged with the General Post Office that no posts of less value than 14s. a week (except in London) were to be offered to ex-soldiers, whereas they are to be offered to civilians. The second recommendation is that the wages attached to the position of assistant postman be increased by 2s. a week when such situations are given to ex-soldiers. The third recommendation is 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. In the Report of the Inspector-General it is stated that a further scheme has been since put forward, under which all boys entering the Postal Service as telegraph messengers will be required to enter the Army on reaching 18 years of age, the Postmaster-General reserving to himself the right of select- 832 ing as many as he may require to keep up the establishment of postmen, namely, 50 per cent. of the total number, and, of the remainder, those who enlist to have places as postmen reserved for them on completing their Colour service, provided their characters in the Army have been satisfactory. I do not think it is asking too much to suggest that the Committee should have some information as to the present position of these important recommendations.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I can tell the honourable Gentleman that the recommendations as to the Post Office have nothing to do with the administration of the War Office. Certain recommendations of the Postmaster-General are mentioned in the Report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting, but the recommendations of the Post Office are not under consideration now, and cannot be dealt with by the War Office alone.
§ MR. MADDISON
AS the First Lord of the Treasury has so kindly spoken on behalf of the Government, which is exactly what we wanted, may I refer him to the latter half of paragraph 93 of the Report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting? The paragraph says—These are among the reasons which urged me to impress upon the Government the necessity of reserving its own employment for those who have already served it as soldiers, and thereby to raise the profession in the estimation of private employers.paragraphs, seems to make it quite clear paragraphs, seem to make it quite clear that the Inspector-General of Recruiting means to recommend that all State posts should be reserved for soldiers. I ask the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury if he will say definitely whether the Government intend to carry that recommendation out?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
What has been laid before the House are the personal views, as I understand it, of the general who has charge of recruiting. With the general principles of those views we may have sym- 833 pathy or we may not, but I am certainly not in a position to say that the Government are prepared to carry out the views which have been expressed by the general in question.
§ *MR. PIRIE
I wish to ask why it is impossible to require birth certificates from recruits; how is it possible that recruits must be taken without definite proof of age, when definite proof of age must be produced by every child in a factory, every postal and telegraph employee, and every workman in a Government Dockyard or Arsenal?
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
The honourable Member has repeated over and over again the same arguments. The Minister has answered—whether sufficiently or not is not for me to say. But I would remind the honourable Member that the constant repetition of the same arguments is out of order, and that there is a rule on that point.
That Item 1 (Recruiting Expenses) be-reduced by £100."—(Mr. Weir.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 56; Noes 161.—(Division List No. 42.)835
|Allen, W. (Newe.-under-Lyme)||Gourley, Sir Edw.Temperley||Richardson, J. (Durham)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herb.Henry||Hedderwick, Thos. Chas. H.||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Beaumont, Wentworth, C. B.||Kilbride, Denis||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Billson, Alfred||Langley, Batty||Souttar, Robinson|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Lawson.Sir Wilfrid(Cumb'ld.)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Lough, Thomas||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Burt, Thomas||Macaleese, Daniel||Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr)|
|Caldwell, James||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Maddison, Fred.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Morgan,W. Pritchard(Merthyr)||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Moulton, John Fletcher||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Colville, John||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Williams, Jno. Carvell (Notts)|
|Douglas, Chas. M. (Lanark)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilson, Henry J. (York.W.R.)|
|Duckworth, James||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, J. (Durham, Mid)|
|Ellis. Thos. Edw. (Merionethsh.)||O' Malley, William|
|Ffrench, Peter||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Foster, Sir Walter(Derby Co.)||Pirie, Duncan V.||Mr. Weir and Mr. Dillon.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Acland-Hood,Capt.Sir Alex.F.||Bond, Edward||Coghill, Douglas Harry|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Cohen, Benjamin Louis|
|Arrol, Sir William||Brassey, Albert||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Butcher, John George||Compton, Lord Alwyne|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Carlile, William Walter||Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)|
|Balfour,Rt.Hn.A.J.(Manch'r)||Cavendish, V. C.W. (Derbysh.)||Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.|
|Balfour.RtHnGeraldW.(Leeds)||Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Cotton-Jodrell, Col. Ed. T. D.|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.J. (Birm.)||Curzon, Viscount|
|Beach.RtHnSir M.H. (Bristol)||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wor.)||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Charrington, Spencer||Davenport, W. Bromley-|
|Bethell, Commander||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Denny, Colonel|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Lecky, Rt. Hn. William Ed. H.||Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Russell, Gen.F.S. (Cheltenham)|
|Fergusson,Rt HnSir J.(Manc'r)||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (L'pool)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|FitzWygram, General Sir F.||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Folkestone, Viscount||Macdona, John Cumming||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||M 'Calmont, H. L. B. (Cambs.)||Stanley, Edwd. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Gedge, Sydney||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edin., W.)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||M'Killop, James||Stewart, Sir M. J. M ' Taggart|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Malcolm, Ian||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn.W. F.||Stock, James Henry|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Middlemore,JohnThrogmorton||Strauss, Arthur|
|Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants)||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Green,WalfordD.(Wednesbury)||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropsh.)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Gretton, John||Morrell, George Herbert||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptf'd)||Ure, Alexander|
|Gull, Sir Cameron||Murray, Rt HnA.Graham(Bute)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Gunter, Colonel||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George||Myers, William Henry||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.||Newdigate, Francis Aexander||Webster, SirR. E. (I. of W.)|
|Hardy, Laurence||Nicholson, William Graham||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C.E.|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Parkes, Ebenezer||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Jenkins, Sir John Jones||Pease, Herbert Pike (Dringtn.)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Jessel, Capt. Herbt. Merton||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wilson, J.W. (Worcestersh.N.)|
|Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Wylie, Alexander|
|Kemp, George||Purvis, Robert||Wyndham, George|
|Kennaway, Rt.Hn. Sir John H.||Rankin, Sir James||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Kenyon, James||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Keswick, William||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Lafone, Alfred||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlepool)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Lawrence,SirE.Durning-(Corn)||Rickett, J. Compton||Sir William Walrond and|
|Lea, Sir Thos. (Londonderry)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas.Thomson||Mr. Anstruther.|
§ Original Question again proposed—
That Vote 1 be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Courteuay Warner.)
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
I regret that it has been impossible to move this reduction at an earlier period. This is, I think, one of the largest Votes we have to make, and it is specially important. We have an enormous increase in the expenditure on armaments, and although most of us, on both sides of the House, are quite agreed that it is absolutely impossible to reduce the Naval Estimates, many of us feel that something must be done to reduce the general expenditure of armaments. I do not wish to see the Army reduced by one man, but I do wish to see some reform in the extravagant expenditure and the means that have been taken to keep up the Army as it is. I do not wish to ask the War Office to tie them- 836 selves down to any one method of reducing expenditure. There are many ways in which the present extravagance can be reduced by the War Office, and they have been advocated both inside the House and outside. The present expenditure is very considerable, and is bound, in a year or two, to further increase. Everybody is aware of the fact that these large annexations which the Empire is making throughout the world will require additional troops to garrison them. The Army will have to be increased, but this country will never be able to stand a further increase in the Army Estimates. Therefore, I protest against the present system, and I hope that something will be done in the direction of economy. I will only deal with the one Department with which I am most acquainted, namely, the Line Regiments at home. I believe there are other Members who will speak of the great waste which takes place in the War Office administration generally. Line Regiments at home are put down 837 in these Estimates as if they were going to have 800 privates in them. If they had this strength the present number of officers and sergeants would not be too great. But, as a matter of fact, Line Regiments nominally of this strength are actually a strength of half that number, yet, by an extravagant system of having more officers than are necessary, officers and sergeants are only reduced one-sixth. The necessary part of the battalion for fighting power, however, is reduced by one-half. The answer will be given, no doubt, that this is a skeleton which will be filled up by Reserve men. Yes, but you have Reserve officers. There is an obvious reason for reducing subalterns. They will not be of very much use, because, by the time war breaks out, they will have grown up to a higher grade. I note, also, that we have a large Reserve of senior officers to draw from, so that there is no question of having any difficulty in filling the requisite strength so far as officers are concerned. I should like to know why this extravagant system of keeping more officers than are necessary is continued when the number can be reduced. You practically have twice as many officers to the same number of men as you would have on war strength, and it must be remembered that even on war strength the number of our officers in comparison with the number of men exceeds those of any other Army in the world. German battalions, either in war time or peace, have nearly twice as many men to each officer as we have, even if our battalions are up to their full strength. At the depth you have practically one sergeant for every private, and one officer for every six privates.
§ And, it being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again this day.