MR. JAMES WILLIAM LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)
, upon the Motion of 513 Mr. Balfour, took the Chair as Chairman of Ways and Means.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
I confess I feel a certain measure of disquietude that, upon this the first occasion upon which I am called upon to address the House in my present position, I should have to ask for so large a Supplementary Estimate as that which we have before us to-night. I have had considerable experience in moving Supplementary Estimates, but I have never diverged from the feeling that it is the business of a Department, and the duty of the responsible Ministers, in ordinary times so to take stock of the position that in presenting Estimates they should endeavour to obtain a fair measure of the requirements for the year, and to avoid further demands upon Parliament at doubtful and uncertain periods of the session, rather endeavouring to leave the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the public in the first instance in possession of the full demands. But it will be recognised by every member of the Committee that this is not an ordinary year, that circumstances have been exceptional from first to last. It would have been as grave an error on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the War Office to have come here previously and asked for sixteen millions too much as to ask for sixteen millions too little. We have had one Supplementary Estimate already this year, and I may be asked why in July was it not possible to form a more accurate estimate of our war liabilities. Perhaps I may be pardoned if to-night I ask the Committee briefly to consider what the position was last July and what it is now, marking the close of what may be termed the second period of the war. The first period was comprised in the three months ending with December last year—three months, to a large extent, of miscalculations and disappointments; miscalculation of the strength required and the work for our troops, disappointment at the manner in which some of the operations were carried out. These three months ending with December were succeeded by a period of six months and the Estimates of last July. During that period of six months this country made a great effort and embarked 150,000 troops for South Africa, and this great effort, 514 which was seconded by the strategy and decision of Lord Roberts, resulted in a complete change in the whole position of affairs in South Africa. In the first six months of this year Ladysmith, Kimberley, and Mafeking were relieved, Pretoria and Bloemfontein were occupied, and the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal were annexed to the Queen's dominions. The early expectations which might well have been legitimately held by those responsible for making our Estimates up to the close of the year have been disappointed. I think that anybody who knew of the dispersal of the Boer troops, and who was aware of the opinion which our own generals entertained as to the probable course of the war last July, would have said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and my predecessor, Lord Lansdowne, were justified in the basis they took for the probable cost of the provision for the war. That basis was of this description: They estimated that during the quarter which began last, July the war would proceed on the normal highest level it had reached, of about 230,000 men in South Africa; but that from October to December, the month in which we now are, that provision might be legitimately reduced to half, and that for the last quarter of the year, on which we are now entering, we might probably hope that the war would be run at about a quarter of the enormous cost entailed when the full body of troops, were assembled in South Africa. In one respect a complete account of what has occurred shows that those expectations, were too sanguine. The war has had to be maintained up to the present date at the full level, the same number of troops practically are there, the same number of supplies are being shipped week by week, the strength of our forces cannot immediately, at all events, be decreased, and, unpalatable as it may be to all of us, unexpected as it is to most of us, we must look forward until 31st March next to an expenditure little short of that which we have been incurring during the whole of the present financial year. Now, I think it is very natural that even in this House of Parliament, in which, with hardly a dissentient voice, every Member is prepared to say that as long as the war goes on it must be sustained in a manner which is worthy of those of us who have to provide for those who are fighting on our behalf, we should be asked whether 515 there is any prospect, and at what period, that the troops may be reduced, whether there are any changes in military policy in the Transvaal which may cause us to carry on the war at a less expenditure, and whether we can form any estimate of its probable duration. In one respect, as I have said, in our expectations we were too sanguine. And yet I think that if we go closely into this war and the form which it has now assumed, and compare it with other wars which have assumed the same form under similar conditions, we shall not find that the cost of the war, as far as it has gone in the last six months, reflects discredit in any way on those who have had to undertake it. The organised resistance of our adversaries in the Transvaal and Orange River Colony has been changed to guerilla warfare, which has proved exceedingly harassing to our troops, and which has occupied, with the long lines of communication we have had to hold, the whole body of troops which has been landed in South Africa. Our experience in that respect is not in the least different from that of other nations who have undertaken a similar task. Anybody who has studied history is perfectly aware that when men are determined enough, or are desperate enough, to abandon the ordinary course of war, and, without any belief possibly, probably without any hope, of ultimate success, are willing to put their country to the extreme trouble of devastation, and to put their adversaries to the extreme harassment which is caused by guerilla warfare, they are able to prolong this trouble for a great number of months. There is this that is common, I believe, to those examples which have taken place in the present century, and we know it must be the result in this case, that such a policy on the part of the adventurers, though it may prolong the war for a great period, cannot—and never has without external aid—ultimately prove successful. If I remind the Committee of cases that have occurred in the present century, I do so simply in order to justify the retention of this large body of troops for so comparatively small a number of men in arms against us. At the beginning of the century the French troops occupied Spain for five years with a body of troops nearly amounting to 400,000 men. They had against them an enemy miserably equipped, inexpert 516 in the field, but expert in all the arts of guerilla warfare. During the course of those five years the French army, I believe, lost more than in any campaign, except the retreat from Moscow and the campaign of 1813. I was only going to point out what is the power of men who are determined to carry on this particular warfare. I will mention one single point. It is on record that no despatch could be carried from one French general to another without an escort of 200 men. In the course of a single year 200 French officers, or an average of four a week, who carried despatches, were cut off and slaughtered. What was the experience of the French in Spain was also the experience of the Spaniards in Cuba. Recently, there have been two insurrections in Cuba—one lasted for ten years, from 1868 to 1878; the other three years from 1895 to 1898. In May, 1898, the Spaniards had 227,000 men in Cuba. The number of the Cubans was from about 30,000 to 50,000. The American general, General Lawton, who on coming over with a rescuing force reported upon them, explained that they were useless as soldiers. And yet that small body of troops stretched over an island only covering 42,000 square miles, with arms of all patterns and without artillery, were able to keep 227,000 Spanish soldiers from conquering the island for over three years. What the experience of the Spaniards was in Cuba is going on at this moment in the case of the Americans in the Philippines. The revolution against the Americans in the Philippines broke out on 4th February, 1899; it is not yet over. They had at first 50,000 troops, and we are told that 150,000 men will be required before the business can be completed. In a despatch General Otis said he believed 25,000 rifles, with but little ammunition, was all the insurgents could boast of. Nobody supposes that the insurgents in the Philippines will succeed in face of the spirit shown by the American troops. Nobody doubts what the result must be, but that result has been delayed much longer than I hope will be the case in the Transvaal. I hope I have not wearied the Committee; I have only stated these points in order to draw this comparison. What it took 400,000 Frenchmen to do in Spain and 227,000 Spaniards in Cuba, what it is taking 100,000 Americans to do in the Philippines against troops ill-equipped, badly 517 armed, badly officered, and in every respect badly found, it is not surprising that we should find some difficulty in doing in the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal, over a country as large as Spain, Cuba, and the Philippines put together, with immense lines of communication, against an enemy whose bravery none of us will deny, whose equipment leaves nothing, for that country, to be desired, and who have shown an extraordinary power of using strategic means to make the best of their country. Therefore, I think that if our expectations were too favourable they were formed because those engaged on the spot who were best qualified to speak, were convinced that the collapse of the Boer army would end in the submission of the Boer leaders. Now we are face to face with the difficulty of carrying on this warfare under different conditions. I do not propose to justify this Estimate in detail, because as far as it goes it allows for no change of policy or procedure on the part of our generals from that which we have had to provide for in the last six months. It consists of £16,000,000. Of that £500,000 is taken for the operations in China, which have not got to do with the Transvaal. Then £1,000,000 is taken for the provision of the police, which we believe will be a more useful force for the purposes which have to be carried out than even the Regular soldiers.
§ MR. BRODRICK
It is shown under the general charges. I should perhaps say that the larger part of the charge for these police is for their outfit, transport, and for their provisions. Of course, the force is not yet ready; it has only just begun to be started. We have to enlist them, as well as equip and transport them, and the matter is one of account between us and the Colonial Department. Ultimately a considerable share of this burden will, we trust, be borne by the colony.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Will the right hon. Gentleman say how many of them have enlisted at the Cape?
§ MR. BRODRICK
I telegraphed to the Cape for that information, and I have not yet got it. I hope to get it before many hours are over. I cannot say what has been the enlistment here, but a very large number of men have come forward. One million more we estimate is taken for the repairs of railways. That is a reproductive expenditure, and the question of the incidence of that charge will have to be settled as between Her Majesty's Government and these railway companies. But as regards the remainder of the charge, £13,500,000 is simply, if I might so term it, continuation of service. It is for continuing to provide practically unstinted supplies as far as the generals call upon us for the active prosecution of the war. I am not going to say a single word to-night either in vindication of the policy of the war or the administration of the war, or the future conduct of the war. I am ready to answer, to the best of my ability, any points which may be raised with regard to any of these questions; but I take it that this subject has been to a large extent tried out in the past, and if it is to be tried again it must be tried as a whole. But I should like to say this: that so far as I can ascertain—and the Committee, I am sure, will admit that I have no responsibility, and can only speak from what I have been told—although we have paid enormous sums, and although we have had to call upon this House to provide on a scale on which provision has never hitherto been made for any force that has left these shores, yet we may lay one thing to our satisfaction. A great many hard things have been said about the War Office, a great many insinuations which I could rebut have been made about their administration, but I will not touch those. It is worth saying this: whatever may have been the sufferings of our troops in the Transvaal, whatever deficiencies may have been found at one place or another, owing to the difficulties of transport over enormous distances, to the rapid movements of troops and to the necessity of a strategy conducted on a scale which has not been hitherto usual in the art of war, there has been no case, so far as I know, during which, in these twelve months of 519 strain, a single man in the army of South Africa has gone hungry, or a single column has been stopped for want of supplies, or a single operation of any general has had to be checked for want of material which has not been delivered in Cape Town, or Durban, or wherever it was desired, by those responsible at home. I feel at least that if they had to pay largely it is not due to any remissness on this side that our troops have had to suffer from shortness of supplies. Having said that I do not propose to justify the items of the Estimate any further. Perhaps I may be allowed to take this opportunity of saying one word as to the nature of the troops whom it is proposed to keep in South Africa under this Supplementary Estimate. Since I have been in office I have been inundated with letters asking me whether there is no possibility of releasing those who came forward as Volunteers to serve the Queen and who are now engaged in hostilities in South Africa. I should like to say in the first instance that, as will be found from the return which, on the motion of the right lion. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire, I had prepared for him and have laid on the Table of the House, we had not been remiss in using the Regular troops of the Queen before calling upon others to volunteer. When the war broke out we had in South Africa in round figures 10,000 men, all Regular troops. We have in the fourteen months which have since elapsed sent from this country and landed in South Africa 175,000 Regular soldiers, a number which exceeds by far any number which any Minister from this bench or any gentleman sitting behind these benches or in front of them ever suggested that this country ought to be in a position to ship to any part of the world, and a number far in excess of that which, during any period that I have sat in the House any Member of the House, except an official, would have been willing to believe that the War Office could find to dispose of. But they are not the only troops. We have called on them, I will not say to the extreme limit of our power, but, at all events, with an unsparing hand. But you have in addition, as this return will show, some 40,000 Volunteers of various descriptions from the United Kingdom—40,000 including the Imperial Yeomanry, whose service is spoken of by every officer under whom they have 520 served with such satisfaction; thirty Militia regiments, who are also Volunteers, since their term of service was only for the United Kingdom, and who have gone abroad at great personal sacrifice to themselves; and the Volunteer companies who have joined the Regular battalions. You have also got 40,000 colonial troops, to a large extent, no doubt, men raised in the colonies affected, and, as everybody knows, to a still larger extent consisting of men who have gone for a year from Australia, Canada, and other places. I want, with the indulgence of the Committee, to say one word about these men. All of these men are suffering from the natural desire to return home. They all of them have left their homes for a much longer period than they believed they would; many of them left their business; some, perhaps, may have lost largely in pocket by the transaction; some have sacrificed their health; some of their comrades have lost their lives; and I believe that without exception, these men who came I forward believed that the overwhelming force which it was in our power to put into the field would cause the emergency for which they were summoned to be but a temporary emergency, and they were fired with the idea of sharing with the Regular Army in the fatigues and also in the glory of a great battle, and then probably returning to their homes. That expectation has been disappointed. They have had long marches to march and wet bivouacs, they have often had insufficient food, and the course of events has tended terribly to increase the labour of the troops involved. The service of most of them exceeded one year, and instead of brilliant engagements they have had, to a large extent, for the last three months to serve on police duty, from which the glamour of war is absent, in which the danger of war remains. I take this opportunity, if I may, of replying to correspondents who are far too numerous for me personally to answer. Conscious as we are of the strain that has been imposed upon them, and well as we are aware of the desire to return home, we must for the present ask them to make a further sacrifice and remain at the post which they have undertaken to fill. I do so not from any feeling that they need lose patience or confidence as to the early issue of the result of their labours in the war. As everybody knows, the moment when you feel the strain yourself most is 521 the moment when your adversary is usually feeling the same strain to the snapping point. That, I believe, is the position at the present moment. There may be weariness, but there is no ground for discouragement. Our policy must be not merely in the interests of this country, whose honour is at stake, but in the interests of the new colonies, whoso future existence and whose prosperity in the near future will be measured by the prompt ending of this devastating war; also in the interests of the Boers themselves who are still in arms and to whom Lord Roberts has held out the opportunity of surrendering and settling down as peaceful citizens; our policy can only be this—to pursue the war with the strongest possible force, with a continuous stream of military supplies, and with absolutely unrelenting forces in respect of the numbers with which we will overwhelm resistance, in order that we may the more quickly bring back that country to peace. I believe that is the only humane policy we can undertake at this moment. For that we must ask, not only our Regular troops, whom we have a right to call upon, but our Volunteer troops to second our efforts, and not to relax their spirit at the moment when we believe we are near reaching the climax. Before the House meets in February I trust we may be able at all events to give much more satisfactory assurances than we are in a position to make now. Anything I could say to the Committee at this moment would be thrown away. I have only had three or four weeks of office. Though I have not been inactive during that period, I have not had the opportunity, the Government has not had the opportunity, of communicating personally with Lord Roberts, which we shall enjoy, I trust, before February. We have not been able yet to hear from Lord Kitchener his views on the suggestions we have made to him and on the policy which, now that the war has assumed a different phase, it will be natural for us in the present circumstances to a adopt. Though I can make no definite pronouncement, I would ask the Committee to have confidence. We are not drifting, we are not deceiving ourselves, either as to the magnitude of the demands which we are compelled to make, or as to the necessity, as far as is possible, of bringing them to a close. We are closely watch- 522 ing the future. Our generals in South Africa naturally feel that their honour is concerned in bringing, within the recognised rules of warfare, the war to a speedy conclusion, and I think that this Committee will feel that any Government which is worthy of the name must also feel, as we do, that our credit as Ministers is concerned, not merely in bringing the war to an early conclusion, but in establishing on the foundation of it a peaceful and prosperous South Africa.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £16,000,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st day of March, 1901, for Additional Expenditure, due to the War in South Africa and to Affairs in China, in respect of the following Army Services, viz:—
|Vote 6. Transport and Remounts||5,300,000|
|Vote 7. Provisions, Forage and other Supplies||4,250,000|
|Vote 8. Clothing Establishments and Services||750,000|
|Vote 9. Warlike and other stores||4,700,000|
|Vote 10. Works, etc.: Cost (including Staff for Engineer Services)||1,000,000|
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
My first object in rising is to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon the statement he has laid before the Committee. I congratulate him upon the frankness of his statement as to the condition in which we now find ourselves. This is the first time we have really had made to us an admission and a confession not only of the errors of the past but of the prospects of the future. We on this side of the House have sometimes been accused of being pessimists, but a more discouraging statement than that which has just been made I have never heard. I believe it to be a true statement; indeed, a great deal of what I proposed to say to the House has been already said by the Secretary of State for War. If he will allow me, I will endeavour to expand the prospects the right hon. Gentleman has held out. I must also congratulate the right hon. 523 Gentleman that he at least has seen the propriety of submitting to the House of Commons the Estimates for the expenditure, though they were expunged from their proper place in the Queen's Speech. The First Lord of the Treasury was good enough to ask me to express my opinion upon that subject. He was good enough to say I had a constitutional mind. It sounded like a compliment, but I do not think it was intended as one. I never recriminate, and therefore I should be the last person in the world to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman has a constitutional mind. I have long sat opposite to him, and I have always observed he has what I may call a philosophical disdain for constitutional principles, and, above all, for constitutional formulae. He regards them as matters of indifference. The other night he said so long as you get the money, what does it signify how you get it? I really believe from what I have seen of the right hon. Gentleman that he would think it perfectly immaterial in which House of Parliament Estimates were presented so long as the Government came in possession of money. For one moment I, with my constitutional mind, may be allowed to say what I think about it. The Constitution of this country is not a written Constitution; it depends upon tradition and practice, and that tradition and practice are declared in certain solemn and well-established formulae, one of which is that the Crown comes for money to the House of Commons, and the House of Commons alone. The right hon. Gentleman calls that constitutional etiquette. I think our ancestors would have been rather surprised to hear that called "etiquette." He says it is antiquated. Of course it is antiquated. The British Constitution is antiquated. The Crown is antiquated, and many matters connected with the Crown are antiquated. The right hon. Gentleman is Leader of the House of Commons and the guardian of its privileges. He is more than that; he is the head of what is called the Constitutional party. If these are his views, they are not mine. In a Cabinet of twenty, where there are a few old Whigs who have gone astray, I should have thought there might have been one or two to say a word for the Constitution. I hope the light hon. Gentleman will excuse me for having expressed my constitutional mind upon his treatment of this particular matter. At 524 last we have got these Estimates here, and I think it would have been better if, instead of defending the procedure adopted upon this occasion, so that it might be regarded as a precedent in the future, he had admitted that there had been an unfortunate blunder which belonged to the slipshod manner of conducting public affairs with which we have of late been made too familiar, and that it must not be taken as a precedent. Well, now, as to the Estimates which have been placed before us. I have never altered, and I do not alter, the opinion I have expressed in former times of the circumstances which have led to what the Secretary of State for War has most properly called this unhappy war. But I have upon all occasions since the war was declared felt it my duty to support the demands which were made on behalf of the country for the proper carrying on of the war. Whatever may be our opinion of the origin of the war, I think we are all agreed that from every consideration of humanity and policy everything should be done to bring it to the earliest conclusion. Therefore, I do not rise to oppose this Estimate; but there are some things which have to be said, and a good many of them have been already said by the right hon. Gentleman, before the Estimate is voted. I took occasion last July to criticise the practice which has arisen in this case, no doubt, as the right hon. Gentleman said, from the exceptional circumstances of these successive Estimates. We have heard a great deal lately of what are called cumulative poisons, which are very dangerous in their operations. Cumulative Estimates are very injurious to the financial system, and we were told last July, indeed, we knew last July, that there had been four Estimates given during the course of the present war. This is the fifth. The right hon. Gentleman, with great frankness, has admitted what everybody knows to be the fact, that these successive Estimates were due to miscalculation. Yes, what we have charged against the Government and what I charge now is that from the very first they utterly misunderstood and misapprehended the character of the occasion and the spirit of the people against whom they were waging war. Let us look a little at what took place. It has been well said that you conducted your negotiations when you broke off in September 525 as if war was certain, and that you conducted your military operations as if there never would be war at all. It should have been the very reverse. The great authority who inspires and dominates the councils of the Cape—I need not say Mr. Rhodes —assured everybody that President Kruger would never fight. Then you took £10,000,000 to dispose of this war of which we have heard a description given by the Secretary of State for War. You apparently thought you had only to blow your blast and that the walls of Pretoria would fall. Then you found that that was not the case, and you sent out a very able general in Sir Redvers Buller. What Sir Redvers Puller's position was when he arrived at the end of October he has told you in that very remarkable speech he made in Natal on his departure. He said that when he arrived he found that British territory had been invaded, that Mafeking and Kimberley were besieged, that Ladysmith had just been surrounded, and that the passes into the Cape Colony were occupied. He added that he had only at his disposal a handful of men, that an advance was impossible until more troops arrived, and that they were not in a position to advance for twelve weeks after his arrival. Then came the disasters of last winter, on which I will not dwell —they are too sadly burned into our memories; and then you sent out, and not an hour too soon, those distinguished men, Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener. The right hon. Gentleman has rightly described the course of the campaign. You thought at first the war was over with your 10,000 men. It was not over. You thought your war was over when you sent out Sir Redvers Puller and his troops. It was not over—it was very nearly over in another sense. And then you poured into South Africa your reinforcements by thousands, by hundreds of thousands, and by the strategy of your generals and the bravery of your troops you defeated the main forces of the enemy. You relieved Mafeking and Kimberley, and you raised the siege of Ladysmith. And then you thought the war was over. You proceeded on that calculation, and now it is four or five months since you came to this House and told us that practically the war was over. You asked for an Estimate of £11,000,000 sterling, which was to wind up the war and to bring back the troops. The statement of the right 526 hon. Gentleman who is now Chief Secretary for Ireland was that you were to bring back 135,000 men, that you were to leave in the Cape 45,000 men, of whom 30,000 were to be a permanent garrison and 15,000 settlers. I shall have something to say about those settlers presently. That was the expectation held out to us, and we were told that the war was over. You had broken down, no doubt, the main forces of the enemy, you had overthrown the Governments of both Republics, and you had nobody left with whom you could make peace. Then the right hon. Gentleman, with historical recollections, comes and tells us what a terrible thing guerilla warfare is. Have the Government been reading up the history of guerilla warfare since last July? One would suppose that among the twenty members of the Cabinet there was not a copy of Napier's "Peninsular War." What did you expect? The right hon. Gentleman said that because they had overthrown the Governments therefore the war was over. It is because you have never understood that there is no truth in the statement made the other day by Mr Rhodes that this was not a war against the Dutch, but a war against President Kruger. It was never anything of the kind, and you ought to have known it. You were told by people who knew the matter better and had no interest in deluding the public that from the first this has been, and it is now, a racial war. That is the secret of the whole transaction. That is the secret of your miscalculations. You thought that when President Kruger was deprived and left the Cape there was nothing to be met with but this guerilla warfare. Why did this guerilla warefare come on? Because, as I say, it is not a war of Governments, but a conflict of races. That is the history of it, and it is practically confessed by the Secretary of State to-day, and it is a very serious matter indeed. We have come, therefore, to a new departure. At all events, it will be a new revelation to those in this country who have been induced to take a very different view of the matter. Let us see what it is that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War holds out to us. The right hon. Gentleman was good enough, at my request, to have a table made out of the troops that are there now, and it is very important, because he tells us that there they are to remain. That is a thing 527 which to-morrow will be learnt with dismay in the country. In July last you were told that they were all to come home, with the exception of a small garrison. In thinking that you can garrison a country which is a big as Cuba and Spain put together with 30,000 men, you are making for yourselves another delusion. You will be greatly mistaken if you think you can garrison the people of that country who are so formidable in guerilla warfare with 30,000 men. You talk of a police force. It is a very good idea, but what is the force? I was astounded at the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that he had taken £1,000,000 for this purpose. Police are an extremely expensive force. They will cost twice, I believe nearly three times, as much as Regular troops. They are to be men of a very high class, as they ought to be; they are to have all sorts of accomplishments; they are to be mounted men, and are to have higher pay than anything like that given to such men in this country. I have seen a very careful and reasonable estimate which puts the cost of 6,000 men at £1,500,000, and I believe that is a low estimate. If you think you are going to police the Transvaal and the Free State with 6,000 men you are greatly mistaken. How many men have you in Ireland in the Royal Constabulary? To talk of 6,000 police in a country like this is to talk of nothing at all. To my mind, 20,000 men would be nearer the mark than 6,000. I should like to have from the Chancellor of the Exchequer a little more accurate estimate as to the cost of the 15,000 men left as settlers in South Africa. I have mot a good many men of all classes who have come back from South Africa recently, but I do not happen to have encountered the man who desires to settle in South Africa. We were told that we had the advantage at the General Election of the absence of 200,000 voters who were kept out there. I am not quite sure that they would all have voted against us. There they are, and there they are to remain. Now just let us look at this table. By some accident it only gives the rank and file and non-commissioned officers. It is a very terrible Return, and I think it is worthy of the attention of the men who delight in war, of whom, I am afraid, there are unhappily not a few. I have made a short analysis of the paper. It shows that the garrison at the Cape before the war was 9,600. 528 Reinforcements of 6,300 men were sent out in October last year, and from India 5,600, which, with the former garrison, made up 21,000 in all when the war broke out. Up to August—that is, after the last Estimate for 1900—according to this table 267,000 men had been in arms in South Africa—that is without the officers. Therefore I will call it 270,000 men in round numbers. I think the right hon. Gentleman made a mistake when he said that the colonial troops were more numerous from beyond the seas than they were in the Cape. That is a mistake. This return shows that the men raised in South Africa were 30,000, and, apart from them, the colonials from beyond the seas were 11,000.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
According to the last Return there were 210,000 men in South Africa. You will observe that there is a balance of some 60,000 or 70,000 men. What has become of those men? You would find from this Return, one would suppose, that a good many of these have returned safe and sound to England. No, Sir; the men who have returned to England according to this paper, not invalids, are 7,500, and to the colonies 3,000 more. That makes 10,000 men, or with the officers about 11,000 men. But since July you have sent out 13,000 men to South Africa, more, in fact, than you have been bringing home, and yet you have only 210,000 men there. Now, Sir, how is this accounted for? First of all you have the heading, "killed or died of wounds," 11,000 men. You have "wounded" 13,000, you have "in hospital in South Africa," 12,000, and you have "returned to England, sick, wounded, or died on passage," 36,000 men. That is the balance. Seventy thousand men have been killed, wounded, or disabled, or have died in this war. And now what is the prospect that is held before us with this force, once 270,000 men, and now 210,000, in South Africa? Lord Roberts has declared that the war is over, yet you hold out to us no prospect of diminishing the force you have in South Africa of 210,000 men. That is the picture presented by the right hon. Gentle man to us to-day. The right hon. Gentle- 529 man has said, and honestly said, that he cannot predict when the situation will be altered. No wonder you require an additional Estimate. What prospect is there that even this Estimate will be the last presented to the House of Commons on account of this war? We were told at the commencement by the highest authority that this would be a long, terrible, and costly war, and that it would leave behind it bitter memories, which it would take generations to efface. That is the situation in which, having called this House together before Christmas, you leave us and those we represent to meditate upon the future. No doubt we ought to give you the money. But the House of Commons and the country will think that the time has come when, having to deal not with Governments that you may overthrow with overwhelming forces, but with a race, a brave race living in a country which is their own, they will see that it is not by accumulating forces, not by perpetually increasing expenditure of money and armed men, but by a different policy that this matter will have to be settled. And here I am glad to recognise the speech that was made on Friday night by the Secretary of State for the Colonies—a speech which was couched in a different tone from the Vœ victis of the Prime Minister in the House of Lords, and from the gentler Non possumus of the First Lord of the Treasury. If you address yourself to this question with a view to the reconcilement of the races, then you will have money to put an end to this guerilla warfare. Then you may hope that this expenditure of blood and treasure, this devastation of what only a few months ago was a happy and a prosperous country, will cease, and you will have done something to relieve us from the terrible responsibility which this war brings in its train. As to the expenditure of the money, I may, perhaps, have something more to say on a later occasion, but that is a less important matter. You may depend upon it that on your future dealing with these people whom you have conquered will depend your reputation in the civilised world. As to the money part of the question, do not deceive yourselves upon it. Even when the war, the guerilla war as well as the regular war, has come to an end, you will find, as I believe, that your peace expenditure amidst a hostile race will not be less than the successive Estimates of 530 expenditure which you have already laid before the House of Commons.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
The Secretary of State for War, of all Job's comforters I ever heard, has proved himself to-night the most absolutely disheartening. The only word of comfort which the right hon. Gentleman vouchsafed to us in his speech was that guerilla warfare, however prolonged and terrible, was never successful without foreign intervention. He, however, omitted from his category the classical case in recent years, and the one which must have been present to the mind of all. That was the case where the army of France was destroyed in Mexico by guerilla warfare, and where no foreign armed intervention took place. The French troops were withdrawn to Vera Cruz and to the ports on the Pacific Coast before the Americans addressed their first Note to France. In that case the army of France was destroyed, and those who know anything of military history are aware of what was the effect on the French Army for years, what was the effect in 1866 and 1870, and they also know what Moltke and the Germans have told us on that subject. The right hon. Gentleman has put a worse face on the military state of the war to-night than has ever been done before; and unless he has overpainted his picture in black—if he has drawn an accurate picture, and given a serious and accurate forecast—then the situation is more deplorable than has been realized by us up to the present time. My right hon. friend the Member for West Monmouthshire has made a weighty and powerful speech on the; general question of the miscalculation in these Estimates from first to last. He has, however, not gone into detail, and I would ask the Committee to consider a little in detail these miscalculations of the War Office. To begin with, the belief of the Government that there would be no guerilla warfare, that the war would come suddenly to an end, was not shared by many competent observers. At the very commencement of the war one of the most distinguished foreign Ambassadors in the world said in the presence of a large number of Members of this House—You will reach Bloemfontein and Pretoria; you will succeed in the long run, but you will have three years of guerilla warfare.531 This miscalculation of the War Office has run through all the Estimates placed before the House. I see the Chief Secretary for Ireland present. I congratulate him, as the whole House does, on the important position he has won for himself by his eloquence and statesmanship when Under Secretary for War. My right hon. friend on 27th July last, in presenting the former Supplementary Estimates made a very definite statement to the House in regard to China, which shows how lax the Government have now been in their finance. I ask the House to consider what he said to us about China, because if there seemed to be some excuse for the military miscalculations on account of the size of the country and ignorance of its topography and resources when dealing with South Africa, and as to the gigantic and prolonged resistance of the Boers, that could not be said about China. Last year we voted a million and a half for China that was known to be needed; then half a million more, which the then Under Secretary said was reserve, and a million behind that, which he said was a second reserve, and which he explained was most unlikely to be needed. That was to carry us on to April next. But on 27th of July he said it was impossible to give an accurate forecast either in the case of South Africa or China beyond the end of February. He pledged himself up to the end of February. Well now, what has happened in the case of China, which, by the way, has only been brought before us by the accident of the necessity of making the further African provision? What has happened to vitiate the whole calculation as to the cost of the operations in China? We voted then a million and a half which he could account for, then half a million as reserve, and a third million as a second line of reserve which was infinitely more than the War Office seemed to think they would need up to the end of the financial year. Yet here they are already coming to the House and asking for half a million more for China. I give that as a case free from all the disturbing elements which existed in South Africa, for there have been no developments in China that were not foreseen in July last. Now, then, in regard to the South African portion of this Estimate; there has been an enormous amount of money voted which has not been spent; 532 yet we are asked here for sixteen millions more. Eleven millions of money we voted in July last have not been wholly spent, and therefore have gone to swell the items now before us. The Under-Secretary for War went into a great deal more detail on that than on this occasion. He told us in regard to sea transport, which is the largest single item on the Estimate, that we were voting money enough for the return of the troops; that we were paying also for the return of the Indian troops, and for the whole charge of returning the various colonial contingents. The Vote also included the cost of returning 135,000 troops to their home stations. Now all these millions of money have not been spent, and no statement has been made to the House as to how they have been wasted, or if not wasted, to what other heads of expenditure they have been tranferred under Treasury powers. The money was voted lavishly enough for sea transport, but I am afraid that great sums of money have been wasted or paid unnecessarily, as I am informed, for demurrage. And so with regard to pay and gratuities not a quarter of the sum voted has been spent up to the present time, and I believe little is likely to be spent on these down to the end of the financial year. Another point of importance is the question of the police. That force is paid for from Army Estimates. Why are the men not voted? In every case hitherto that I know of, where a new force has been raised, to be borne and paid for on the Army Estimates, the men have been voted, or there has been a note to a similar effect showing the number of men who were to be raised. There is no such note in the present case. There is another item on this account to which I wish to call the attention of the Committee for a moment. It is a matter to which we shall have to allude when the Chancellor of the Exchequer submits his proposals to the Committee. Another million is to be spent on South African Railway repairs. I assume that this description includes the Netherlands Railway in the Transvaal. 1s that so or not?
* SIR CHARLES DLILKE
I may point out that the House debated this question 533 once before; but the use of the railways has been peculiar as they affect the colonies. As a general rule in war the military seize the railways and make use of them without payment. That is one of the usages of war; but we have paid for every horse and every man moved by the railways during the war. We have also voted a large sum for supplementing the supply of rolling stock for these railways. We should not run the risk of paying three times over for the same thing. The Committee should not forget that the Netherlands Railway Company have taken part in this war. I have read with care the concessions and the instructions of the Transvaal Government to their representative in Holland, and the company have undoubtedly violated their terms. The concessions will be found in the report of the famous Commission of Inquiry held by the Transvaal Government at the Rand in 1897. Now to whom is this money to; be paid; who accounts for it to the Treasury; and who is administering this Transvaal Netherlands Railway at the present time? Ata later stage I shall ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer a few questions in regard to the people who are holding office on that line. Now, generally speaking, the Government appear upon this occasion to have, as my right hon. friend said, miscalculated again. They have admitted miscalculations in the past, but the right hon. the Secretary for War has postponed once more till February all that he has to tell us in regard to the reorganisation of the War Office. I should not be in order if, on this occasion, I were to enter on that question; but the right hon. Gentleman has taken credit to the War Office that no British troops were starved during the war. The House cheered ironically when he explained that no British troops had suffered hunger or hardship on account of the action of the War Office. After these ironical cheers the right hon. Gentleman finished his sentence and explained that the War Office took credit for having plumped down at Cape Town and Durban everything that was necessary for provisioning the Army—implying that it was the fault of the generals if their troops were starved.
§ MR. BRODRICK
The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. I made no reflec- 534 tion on the generals. What I said was that all that the War Office could do was to transport the stores to places whence they could be forwarded to the front.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
We take a larger view of the War Office than the right hon. Gentleman. We believe that the War Office is responsible to the country for the whole preparation of the Army for war. And with the exception of a few appointments made by the Cabinet, and on which the Secretary for War was consulted, they are responsible for the whole officers in command of the Army, and therefore for every deficiency that has taken place. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by saying that no one in this country had previously thought the War Office would be able to send out 175,000 troops to South Africa. But does that mean that we failed to know the number of men—Regulars, Militia, Reservists, Volunteers? We know the number of the Regular Army, and that we can send, them out if we choose. What we do-say is, that they did not form an army supplied with horses, guns, and transport; and when we come to discuss these matters in February, fully and without the reserve imposed upon us in this session, we shall have to protest that the right hon. Gentleman's view of planting down 175,000 troops at Cape Town is not a performance of which the War Office ought to be proud.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
The Committee must have heard, with the greatest regret the pessimistic view taken by the Secretary for War as to the duration of the campaign. It is very doubtful whether a great deal of this guerilla warfare has not arisen from the fact that there was no civil administration to take the place of the military occupation in those districts occupied by our troops. There was not a sufficient police force in the occupied areas, and when the Boer prisoners, released on parole, found themselves in their homes not under necessary surveillance, they discovered that they were able to meet together, and the result was the re-assembling of these guerilla bands. I hope that the ideas of the Secretary of State for War will not be realised, and that Lord Kitchener will soon be able to put an end to this, guerilla warfare. I am very much interested in the Volunteers and Yeo- 535 manry who are out in South Africa, and I heard with very great regret indeed that the right lion. Gentleman was not able to hold out any hope of their early return to this country. I do hope that if they should find it necessary they will appeal to the Volunteers, and the forces at home who have been added to the Imperial Yeomanry, so that those men serving in South Africa and who wish to be relieved may be sent home. There can be no doubt that owing to the recent return of some Volunteers, and also some Regular troops who came back last week or the week before last, there is considerable unrest among the Volunteer companies attached to the Regular battalions and the Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa at present. I am not anxious to labour this point to any considerable extent, but I am speaking from absolute knowledge of the facts. I have received many letters from members of the Imperial Yeomanry and members of the Volunteer companies giving proof of what I say. I have already had an opportunity of calling the attention of the Secretary of State to that, and I ventured to urge him last session to enable them to return home when the opportunity should offer, I know one company which has three times been ordered home and three times been stopped. It is natural that a considerable amount of dissatisfaction should be the result. Then as regards the Transvaal Police, the hope of everybody was that a considerable body of the Volunteers and members of the Imperial Yeomanry would elect either to settle in the country or accept the conditions offered them in the new South African constabulary. At first I think the pay of 10s. per day was offered to the members of that force. Anybody who knows the great cost of living in South Africa in some of these districts will appreciate that, although it seems a large pay to offer, it is not excessive. But when the amount was suddenly reduced to 5s. a considerable number of the members of the Imperial Yeomanry who had elected to join the South African constabulary at once gave in their resignations, and I believe that some of the men now in the force are not of the character which the commandant, General Baden-Powell, would wish to have under his control. This matter of the pay of the South African constabulary is a very serious one indeed. The pay 536 and allowances are not sufficient to attract the best class of men to that force, and I am sure that any false economy in this respect will be a mistake.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
You say "all found. "Many of these men will be on very detached duty indeed in lonely places— a bridge to watch, or a line of railway to protect. It will be extremely difficult to get supplies of any sort or kind, and it will be extremely hard to live, and the luxuries "found" will not be of an extensive character. I do not want to say that 5s. per day and rations is a considerable rate of pay. It is, a question entirely of the expense to, which the men are put, and the proof that the men of the Imperial Yeomanry do not consider it sufficient is to be found in the number of resignations sent in. I have received information on this subject from many men who have come back from South Africa, and I myself have been in communication with General Baden-Powell. I have tried to persuade many men to go out, but they say that the pay in their opinion—they may be right or wrong—is not sufficient to attract them to the South African Constabulary. I only hope that the Secretary of State may be right and that he will get us as many men as he wants, but they are not, to be found in the ranks of the Volunteers in South Africa. There is one other matter I wish to call attention to. I have no doubt the matter has been before the Secretary of State. I refer to the magnificent services of the 11,000 Volunteers from the colonies. I hope there is no truth in the statements which have been made, but one regrets to see that some of the colonists have had to complain of the treatment they have received in this country, and of the comforts provided for them on their return journey to their respective countries. I am sure the Secretary of State is anxious to do everything he possibly can to recognise the magnificent services of the colonies and the colonial troops, that he will take care that every charge of that, kind is carefully gone into, and that he will give an immediate answer to them. The reception given in London last week to the Canadian Volunteers showed that the country is most anxious that nothing 537 should be spared in order to show our gratitude, not only to Canada, but also to the troops from Australia and the other colonies. The Secretary of State is hopeful that a considerable contribution will eventually come from the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal Colony to recoup the expense of the war. I trust this will be so, but I would ask him not to be too sanguine on this matter. A country which has been traversed by 200,000 troops is in a very different condition to what it was before the war. A very serious matter will have to be faced by this country, and that is the repatriation of the 16,000 prisoners. That will entail an enormous addition to the expense of the country. I do not myself see—and I have some knowledge of it— how for a considerable period these prisoners can be otherwise than dependent on British funds for their support Considerable contributions will have to be made for the re-erection of farms and homesteads. [An Hon. Member: They are not all destroyed.] Of course they have not been all destroyed. Who ever said they had been all destroyed? If my hon. friend will only have patience he will see how many have been destroyed, but lam not exceeding my duty in calling the attention of the Secretary of State to the state of affairs which undoubtedly exists, and in saying that a serious burden will be thrown upon the country in this matter of the repatriation of the prisoners. If their condition can be alleviated in any way by a grant of money I think it would be an exceedingly good thing. I can only hope that when the House of Commons meets in February next we may hear of a very different state of affairs, and a very different speech from the Secretary of State from that which we have heard to-night, and that he will be able not only to announce the complete termination of the war, but also that the Volunteers and Yeomanry have fulfilled the full term of their engagements. The Secretary of State certainly has said nothing to-night in that direction, and nothing to give rise to any false hopes, but when the House meets in February I hope he will be able to say that the great, mass of the troops are on the way home.
§ * MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)
said he desired to call the attention of the Committee to the way in which 538 our soldiers were treated not merely on the field, where hardships were necessarily to be expected, but on board ship, where surely better provision might be made. He referred to an instance which he had already made public — complaints from some of our men who had been conveyed from Capo Town to Hong Kong in July and August this year. He should preface what he was about to say by stating that a letter which he received, and which was published in The Times on the 2nd of November, was signed by three soldiers of the Welsh Fusiliers, for whose bona fides he could vouch. He had known two of them for many years, and they were not men who were given to grumbling unnecessarily or making complaints without cause. The troopship on which they were being conveyed from Cape Town to Hong Kong was the "Antillean, "and the complaints referred chiefly to matters of food. This was what they wrote—The food given us was bad and insufficient. We had bread and biscuits every alternate day—these were issued in the morning, and were used for breakfast and tea (or supper)— dry bread, and tea without milk, as usual. The bread was black, sour, and heavy, the biscuits bore date 1870; consequently they were thirty years old, and some of them bore even an earlier date. Well, for dinner we had a few changes of meat; nearly twice each week we had fresh meat. Our fare on other days was either salt pork, tinned meat, or salt beef. The latter was simply abominable. It is kept in rough-looking tubs, and was dated 1873. This then was twenty-seven years old. Perhaps three or four times per week we would have a tablespoonful of rice to dinner, or the same quantity of preserved potatoes, and a very few times during the voyage we had only ordinary potatoes.Such was the statement as it reached him concerning the food supply of these men, and he desired to call the attention of the Secretary of State for War in particular to their statements in connection with the complaints which they made. It was a most difficult matter at any time for a private to make his complaints known in the proper quarter, and when it could be shown that any party whose duty it was to receive complaints and transmit them had failed in that duty, stringent action ought at once to be taken. This was their statement—The officer came round as usual and asked if there were any complaints about food. The messes all made complaints. I took notice of one mess in particular, where the following dialogue took place:—Officer: Any complaints?539N.C.O.: Yes, sir.Officer: What's the matter?N.C.O.: This meat is in a state of decomposition.Officer (sniffing): It's good enough.N.C.O.: Why, the smell of it is enough for anyone without ever attempting to eat it.Officer (sulkily): It strikes me you know nothing about it.The steward, purser, doctor, and captain of the day were then brought down to examine it. The steward sniffed it and pronounced it good, as did also the purser. Then the doctor, after some hesitation, suggested cutting parts of it off, and said it would then be eatable. One gunner, a mess orderly, replies, 'You say it's good. Well, I have been on the march in South Africa on a biscuit a day and even at the worst if I was starving I would have lain down in a ditch and died rather than attempt to eat it if you had offered it to me.' However, it was thrown overboard, and we did not receive anything in lieu thereof.After the voyage from Cape Town to Hong Kong one of the regiments at the latter place had arranged a reception for their comrades returning from South Africa and obtained permission to give them a supper. That permission was granted, but when the men on the "Antillean" asked leave to attend it, it was refused. No one would rejoice more than he if all British subjects refused to become soldiers, but pending that time, it was men of spirit and independence that made the best, and such treatment as that was not calculated to attract men of that class to the colours. Another grave complaint was the accommodation provided for soldiers in transports; in the case under notice 500 soldiers were allotted one-third of the space on the ship, whilst fifty officers absorbed the other two-thirds. Passing to another matter, he hoped that the Government, in the negotiations which were now proceeding for a settlement, would not create in the Transvaal any financial prejudice against the Uitlanders who were in a far more dangerous frame of mind than that in which the war found them fourteen or fifteen months ago. In Cape Town and other parts of South Africa where these Uitlander refugees were congregated a very serious agitation was developing itself, not against the Dutch Government at Pretoria, but against the British officials and their methods of administration at Johannesburg. When war was about to be declared the Transvaal Republic passed an ordinance under which no rents or taxes were collectable in any district which was placed under martial law. Almost the first act of our 540 civil administration was to appoint a committee to inquire what acts which the Transvaal Governments had passed could be repealed and which should be upheld. That committee recommended the repeal of the ordinance of law to which he had referred, with the result that thousands of Uitlanders, British subjects, who had partly acquired rights either to a claim or a plot of land or a house would, on their return to the Rand, find themselves face to face with a demand for either twelve months rent or taxes, or interest on the money which they had borrowed to enable them to develop their property or build their house. And it might be that hundreds or even thousands of these people would, on their return, find that they were ruined, and compelled to start life afresh. He trusted the Government would take measures to prevent such a state of things occurring.
* THE CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is now travelling outside the scope of the Supplementary Estimate, and must confine himself strictly to the item in the Estimate.
§ * MR. KEIR HARDIE
said he bowed to the ruling of the Chair; but at the same time ventured to point out that so far as ho had been able to ascertain the speeches previously made on this Estimate had traversed all the ground which he had at present covered. This Estimate was not intended merely to provide funds for the continuance of the war, but also to provide funds for the civil administration of the conquered territories, and that being so hoped he would be allowed to continue his line of argument.
* THE CHAIRMAN
The only money which is asked for under the civil establishment is that which is asked for the purposes of the constabulary of South Africa. The hon. Gentleman would be quite in order in going into that point, but he would not be in order in entering into the question of the whole civil government of South Africa.
§ * MR. KEIR HARDIE
said that a great many of those to whom he had referred would probably become members of the constabulary. They had already been invited to enroll themselves in that body, but he would not pursue that subject further. He would pass to another matter 541 which he admitted also partook rather of the character of civil administration than military operations. He referred to the attempts which were being made by certain interested parties to engage the Government and its agents in South Africa as collectors of coloured labour for mines on the Rand.
§ * MR. KEIR HARDIE
submitted to the ruling of the Chair, as ho thought he should probably find a better opportunity in the course of the present or ensuing session to call attention to that matter. His next point was the burning of farms. He quite admitted that the war now being waged was in no sense the war which Lord Roberts expected to find, and therefore the Commander-in-Chief had to discover some term by which he might cover the miscalculations which he had made when he marched so rapidly to Pretoria, in the hope that his occupation of the capital would bring the war to an immediate conclusion. His calculations wore founded on a false assumption; he had declared the war over and could not go back from his word, and it therefore became necessary for him to find an expression to explain the position in which he found himself, and he hit upon the word "guerilla. "The war was very far from being over. Members of the House been pleased with the assurance given that the policy of farm-burning was to be modified; he hoped that that policy except in the most urgent cases would be abolished. Nothing had more embittered the strife in which we were engaged than this policy of burning farms without excuse and without justification, burning the farms of men who were prisoners in our hands, and burning the farms of those who were dead and turning their widows and orphans on to the veldt. He submitted that the proclamation under which property had been destroyed and farms burnt was illegal inasmuch as it was a violation of the laws of war laid down by the Hague Convention. Property of prisoners was specifically protected under that convention, as was also the property of all non-combatants. He referred to that because of the statement made from the Government Bench, and not contradicted from any quarter of the House, 542 that only those farms had been destroyed which military necessity required or from which firing on our troops under a flag of truce had been indulged in. In his hand he held a copy of a letter from a trooper, a Scotch Yeoman, which did not bear out that statement. In that letter he said the work on the march was not of the grandest, that it consisted chiefly of burning down farmhouses; that ho did not care very much for it, as it was very hard lines on the women and kids to be shoved out on the veldt, and watch their homos burning; that they were allowed to take out their furniture, and then the place was fired. He had also other letters containing similar statements, but they contained no mention of anyone being fired on from the farms, or of their being destroyed for reasons of military necessity. These troops were evidently sent on farm-burning expeditions. It was one of the stupid blunders of our generals in the conduct of this war. They thought that as they were unable to conquer these Boor farmers in a fair manner, they might compel them to surrender out of pity for their wives and children, and the way they attempted to do that was by burning down their farms and destroying their stores. He did not profess to belong to the ruling classes of England, but he yielded to none in his respect for the honour and traditions of his native land. That being so, if he were the Government, he would seek some way of conquering the land other than by making war upon the women and children. He could only express the hope that the new policy of the Government would not encourage the reckless destruction of property, but would, on the other hand, prevent it except where absolutely necessary. It was not work fit for soldiers or men. Our men protested against it, and felt the degradation and humiliation of it. One reason why General Baden-Powell was finding it so difficult to obtain recruits was because of the fact that they were expected to carry on this work. He trusted we would hear no more from our soldiers of this discreditable and dishonourable work, and that so long as the war lasted it would be carried on in accordance with the traditions of England in the past.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
congratulated his hon. 543 friend the Member for Central Sheffield on having introduced a subject of real importance and value to the House— namely, the troubles and difficulties in which many Uitlanders would find themselves; but as that question had been ruled out of order at the present time he would not be able to refer to it now. The statements made by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil with regard to the burning of farms undoubtedly gave a very exaggerated view of what had occurred. He would not venture to say that there had been no cases of unjustifiable burning of farms. War was a very very difficult and a very terrible process, and it was not easy always to draw the line between this farm and that, but the misery and suffering necessarily inflicted on the population had undoubtedly been largely mitigated owing to the great consideration and kindness of our troops. Everyone must have been struck with the consideration shown to women and children. The women and children might congratulate themselves that they had not fallen into the hand so Russians or French.[An HON. MEMBER: Or Turks.] Or even Turks. The Turk had been very much maligned. He wondered, if the other side of the shield were exposed, what tales some of our gallant troops would tell of the disaster inflicted on them by the treachery of the inhabitants of those parts. It was only two days ago that he read an account of two British soldiers who went to a farm and treated the inmates well. They were paying for what they got, but the women went out and encouraged their male friends to steal up and shoot the men. They practically murdered them. There were cases in which farms had raised white flags, and when the troops went there they were treated treacherously.
§ * MR. KEIR HARDIE
Can the hon. Gentleman give any official confirmation of the statements he is now making?
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said he could not foresee the speech of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, and he had not come down with his pocket stuffed full of quotations, but he would undertake I to give a dozen instances or more—fifty instances—of cases in which gross treachery had been shown towards our troops. The hon. Member took another aspect of the burning of farms, which was grossly 544 exaggerated—an aspect in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire had been guilty of great exaggeration. The right hon Gentleman drew an appalling picture of a devastated country through which 200,000 troops had marched, destroying-right and loft. He should like to take I the right hon Gentleman over the veldt I and let him see what there was to destroy. Why, there was absolutely nothing to destroy. There was bare ground, but very little grass and very few crops to be I seen anywhere.
§ SIR. WILLIAM HARCOURT
I would refer the hon. Member to what the Colonial Secretary said on the subject
§ SIR. E. ASHMEAD - BARTLETT
There had been undoubtedly failure to cultivate a certain amount of land in the Transvaal. If the right hon. Gentleman were better acquainted with the subject he would know that an enormous quantity of mealies and corn had to be imported, and it was owing to this fact that our troops very often found themselves in great want of food. This question of the burning of farms had been exaggerated in every way. He very much doubted if the farms which had been burned, taking them on the average, could not be replaced for £50 each. If after the war was over the Government proposed judiciously to expend money in rebuilding or re-roofing these farms, he, for one, would be most glad to support such an expenditure. He did not believe it would be a large expenditure, but he believed it would be a wise one. He was certain that the charges of cruelty and barbarity practised by our troops in connection with the burning of farms were wholly baseless and unwarranted. The question of repatriating the Boer prisoners had been referred to by his hon. friend and colleague the Member for Central Sheffield, from whom he should have expected better things. It would be as easy to repatriate the Boer prisoners in St Helena and Ceylon as to send back to their homes and farms the prisoners who were now in South Africa.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said I there had been a question of want of pro- 545 visions in the Transvaal, and he would tell his hon. friend how it could he met. It would be met by putting down the guerilla warfare, own the guerilla warfare, clearing the railway lines, and enabling provisions to be sent into the Transvaal. There would be a certain number of paupers who would have to be fed, but the great body of the population of the Transvaal would undoubtedly be able to buy the mealies and wheat necessary for their food. The difficulty had been greatly exaggerated. He rose for the purpose of relieving the debate from the lugubrious aspect it had assumed. He thought that injustice had been done to his right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War. He did not blame his right hon. friend for the lugubrious aspect of the debate so much as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire, who was a hardened pessimist.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said the House would judge of the optimism by the speech the right hon. Gentleman had made that night. The right hon. Gentleman beamed with delight during his excursus into the history of guerilla warfare. He saw his opportunity and seized it. He did not derive the same impression from the speech of the Secretary of State for War as that derived by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire, by the hon. Member for Central Sheffield, and others who had spoken. The right hon. Gentleman's rather gloomy excursus into the history of guerilla warfare conduced, as was intended, greatly to the entertainment of the House. He thought the right hon. Gentleman and some other Members of the House had failed to notice a rather significant remark of the Secretary of State for War upon which he placed more importance than on the right hon. Gentleman's guerilla excursus. He believed, with the Secretary of State for War, that that right hon. Gentleman would have a more cheerful state of things to announce when the House met again in February, and that we were not so far from the termination of the serious part of this guerilla warfare as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire appeared to think. It was serious at the 546 moment, but this warfare was now being conducted as it ought to be. It was being conducted with all the resources of the British Army. They had an able and determined Commander-in-Chief who had a thoroughly good working staff under him. The hon. Member did not believe the guerilla warfare was going to be of a very protracted character. When the leaders, were captured he believed the majority of the Boers would lay down their arms. It was perfectly true that the Boers were a. stubborn race, and, on the defensive, good fighters. It was also true that the majority of the Boer people were a domestic people, and not fond of remaining out in the veldt for a very long time.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said that when the Boers had had experience of the English administration they would feel happier and hope that it would always continue. The Member for West Monmouthshire told them that they were mistaken in supposing that this was a war against Kruger and Krugerism. The majority of the Boer population at the present moment were as much opposed to Kruger and Krugerism as we were. It would be absolutely impossible for Kruger to go back to the Transvaal, and retain his life. The majority of the people of the Transvaal, and especially those in the field, were extremely ignorant and uninformed, and there were some who had played with their ignorance. General De Wet was one whom we most admire, as a heroic and skilful leader. The leaders had kept their men going by the most ridiculous stories of the British forces. He did not believe we would find the resistance of the Boers so protracted, or that they would be so irreconcilable as some seemed to think. A good deal of reference had been made to the miscalculation of the cost of the war. No doubt there had been a miscalculation, but he did not think that the War Office was so responsible as it was sometimes supposed to be. He thought this was as much a Cabinet question as a War Office question. Troops were not sent to South Africa before the war began. The advice of those on the spot was not taken, and therefore reverses occurred owing to the insufficiency of the troops in the early stages of the war. That was not a War 547 Office question. It was thought at the beginning that infantry should be employed rather than cavalry. That was a most serious mistake, and someone at the War Office blundered. We were unfortunate in the choice of generals in the early stages of the campaign. He thought that the defence made by the War Office with respect to mobilisation and transport was very effective.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
We must all of us have discovered how difficult it is to get at the truth with regard to anything in South Africa. But look at the condition we are in now. Two of our most distinguished authorities on this subject thorougly acquainted with the whole matter from personal inspection and experience have in the face of the House of Commons begun to quarrel with each other as to the state of things in South Africa. I do not know whether Central Sheffield or Ecclesall, Sheffield, will obtain the mastery. I should be inclined to put my money upon the Member for Ecclesall.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
He is at all events louder and more confident in his assertions than my hon. friend who sits behind him. But whichever of them succeeds in silencing the other, we may be allowed to form our own opinions as to the nature and the quality of the speech made by the Secretary for War. I am disposed to recognise in it a frank and manly statement as to what the right hon. Gentleman believes to be the real state of the case, and a successful attempt to place the real state of the case before the country in a clearer and fuller way than has been done on any other previous occasion. The right hon. Gentleman announced many things which will startle the country when they become known. One of the most significant statements he made—and it is to it I wish particularly to refer—and one which I think will cause the most feeling in the country, is the statement that there would be no considerable relief in the way of being allowed to come home for the large force we have in South Africa.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I am in sympathy with my hon. and gallant friend the Member for Sheffield on this subject. I am aware that there is a very strong feeling of uneasiness—I do not say discontent—on the part of the Yeomanry and Volunteers, on finding that they are to be detained in South Africa very much longer than they ever expected to be. Of course they are manly fellows and will do their duty whatever happens. There is no question about that. But the authorities ought to bear in mind the peculiar circumstances under which these men went out to South Africa. They were not under any obligation to go out, not being members of the Regular forces of the Queen, but they obeyed a patriotic impulse and offered themselves for service there at a time when a great emergency existed in the affairs of the Empire. That great emergency at least is surely over, and I should have thought they would be the very first to be relieved, because many of them left appointments, situations, and careers which they ought to have the opportunity of resuming at the earliest possible moment. I would therefore strongly urge on the Government to impress on the War authorities on the spot that as much consideration should be paid to the circumstances of these men as the interests; of the situation may admit. I do not put it higher than that. They ought not to be snubbed, and told to do their duty and say nothing about it, because they are in a different category from the other branches of the forces. I need not refer at any length to the picture that the right hon. Gentleman has drawn. I observe in this Return which has been given that the total expenditure of the war seems now to be recognised at £85,000,000. The right hon. Gentleman held out no hope of any immediate diminution of the forces at the front, and we know there remains the heavy responsibility of maintaining order and restoring the former conditions of life after actual warfare, whether regular or irregular, has ceased. All those are heavy charges to look forward to. I feel sure that the country will contemplate them with due courage, but it will be with oppressed minds and sore hearts that they will be informed of the statement of the right, hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. SEELY (Lincoln)
I think the Government ought really to take seriously into consideration this question with respect to the men coming home. I am sure there are many people in this country who would be very glad if the Secretary of State for War could add something to what he has said with regard to the arrangements the Government are making to enable the Yeomanry to come homo. The hon. Member for Central Sheffield suggested that reinforcements should be sent. I think we must look forward to the possibility of the war continuing for some time. There was a very special appeal made for the Imperial Yeomanry, and that appeal was made not entirely by the War Office. It was made partly independently of the War Office by people in the country. There were meetings held by every lord lieutenant in every county asking men to come forward for this force. In the case of the Volunteers I think it can hardly be said that they included any married men or others to whom it was a great inconvenience to go, but a very considerable number of the men of the Imperial Yeomanry went at the greatest inconvenience entirely from patriotic motives. I think arrangements should be made to enable them to come home. They might have come home within a short time from now without any diminution of the mounted force in South Africa but for the fact that someone out there made a mistake. An offer of ten shillings per day was first made to get men to join the police force, and a large number accepted. It was found that this was too much, and the men were offered seven shillings. If you had offered seven shillings at first you would probably have got as many as you wanted, but when you first offered ten shillings and afterwards seven shillings the men naturally thought that you had changed your mind, and they changed theirs. By taking such a course you naturally stopped the whole of the recruiting. It was a perfectly right and proper thing for the Government in that country to do. There is no reason why they should pay more for their police than is necessary, but they ought not to make use of men who went out as a matter of patriotism at 1s. 2d. per day, in order to be able to discuss and argue and wrangle with a lot of other men as to whether they should receive 7s. or 10s. per day. That seems to be what is happening. There are 550 married men who went out, and there are men who left businesses which are now suffering from their absence, and there are barristers and solicitors who are losing-touch with their profession; these men never expected to be away for so long, and I do press upon the Government the desirability of giving some assurance that they thoroughly and fully realise what they are doing, and that they will try to make some arrangement by which these men may be allowed to come home. One simple arrangement is that they should do as they are doing with some of the colonial forces — that they should discharge the men who wish to be discharged, and offer such terms to those who do not wish to come home as would induce them to stay out there. The right hon. Gentleman asks them to make a further sacrifice. Very well; if he asked them to make a further sacrifice, and offered to pay them what he considers reasonable for the class of work which he himself admits they are doing, namely, that of police duty, I have no doubt he would get a very large number of them to stop—quite as many as he requires—and then the married and those that cannot reasonably remain could come home. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider that point; to consider also the desirability of pushing on the formation of this police force and of giving some assurance that if the war lasts for three or five years the men to whom I have referred will not be kept out there for anything like that period, but that even if in February next he is unable to give us a more satisfactory account of the war he will be able to say that ho is making arrangements to relieve these men of the obligation they took up in so patriotic a manner to the enormous benefit of this country.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I rise because my hon. friend has put a question to me on a matter which is, no doubt, of great importance, and also because of the speech which was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition a few moments ago. My hon. friend has put one expression into my mouth which I certainly never used and did not intend to use. Be has assumed that, because I gave some statistics of the periods of warfare in the past in other parts of the world, therefore I assumed that these men for whom he pleads would be 551 detained for three or five years. I never suggested anything of the kind.
§ MR. BRODRICK
Nobody had in their mind any period of that kind for the detention of these troops. May I say one word as to one or two misapprehensions which might prevail in regard to the employment of the Yeomanry, and also the employment of the Regular troops engaged? The hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield has spoken of the withdrawal of Regular and other troops, and suggested that the Volunteers now serving in the Yeomanry have some cause for complaint. It is perfectly true that the moment Lord Roberts thought it was possible to dispense with them he released the City Imperial Volunteers, who have done an enormous amount of very hard work, and that he has also released the composite regiment of the Household Cavalry, and I think, one battery of Horse Artillery. But I do not think the case of the composite regiment is quite the same as that of any other regiment out there. In the first place, the composite regiment of Household Cavalry was drawn from three different regiments; secondly, it belonged to Her Majesty's bodyguard, and, unquestionably, so long as this country is to be defended you must have a certain number of mounted troops, and those whom it is least desirable to employ away for a long period are Household troops, whether horse or foot. In the third place, although that particular distinguished regiment itself asked to be sent out, and desired that they might share in the labours of the campaign, and came forward and asked as a privilege that they might do so, it must be recognised that very heavy cavalry regiments are the least fitted to perform the sort of work now being carried on in South Africa. From all points of view, therefore, it was desirable to withdraw them as early as possible, and they have borne their full share in the labours of the campaign. Therefore, there is no question of any general withdrawal, or any withdrawal, of the Regular troops before the 552 claims of those who are less regular have been considered, and I might add that, though it had been intended that the battalion of Grenadier Guards should accompany Lord Roberts on board the ship in which he starts to-day, they are remaining in South Africa.
§ MR. BRODRICK
That battalion is I now to remain in South Africa. My hon. friend said that a mistake has been made as regards the enlistment of the police in South Africa. I believe that some terms that were not dictated by the Government at home were originally named, or were believed to be about to be offered, but 5s. a day and all found were the terms ultimately adopted. It is not, of course, for us here to give an opinion as to the terms on which you can induce men to serve in South Africa; those who are there are, and must be, the best judges on the subject. But if my hon. friend thinks that we have not acted liberally in this matter I will tell him that, considering the enormous cost of provisions, considering that 5s. a day is itself high pay, and considering the provision of horses, the estimate for this force of police is that it will represent a cost of £250 per man a year.
§ MR. BRODRICK
Lot it not be supposed for one moment that it is a light matter. I believe that, on the terms proposed, this force would be paid on a very exceptional scale, considering that the climate in which it is to serve is a good climate and that it will serve side by side with troops who are much less liberally paid. I can only say, in regard to this subject, that it is impossible for me at this moment, or for the Government, to give any pledge about dates. Our first and foremost consideration must be to provide Lord Kitchener with the mounted troops which he requires. Subject to that, I will undertake that we will not sit down and say these men have made an engagement and they shall fulfil it—we will not say that no doubt these men, as Englishmen, will do their duty and will not complain, and therefore we can keep 553 them. I have taken it upon myself during the last few weeks to give the strongest possible consideration to as early a return as we can possibly give to those who have given us voluntary service, and we have not, as I have pointed out, favoured our Regular troops. Let me say one word on another subject in regard to which an appeal was made by my lion, and gallant friend. He spoke on a subject of which mention was made in another place lastnight—namely, the treatment accorded to some of our colonial troops who have been sent home from this country either as invalids or recovering invalids. An allegation has been made in one or two instances, and the fear has been repeated by my lion, and gallant friend that, after accepting the service of our colonial troops, we have sent them home in a niggardly fashion. This has been the arrangement. All soldiers who have enlisted, whether they belong to the British Regular service, to the Imperial Yeomanry and Volunteers from England, or to the Volunteers from our colonies, have been treated according to the rank in which they undertook to serve. That is, I believe, the absolutely universal military practice among all the countries of the world, and it certainly has been accepted without a murmur both by our own Volunteers and by our Colonial troops. Therefore I think the House will not ask me to make any change in the ordinary treatment of those who have undertaken to serve under those conditions; though I do not believe, apart from invalids, that the accommodation which has been provided for those who have gone back to Australia has been accommodation of which any complaint can be made by a private soldier. There were five grades of accommodation by which a passage could be booked on any boat going to Australia, and the class adopted by the military authorities was the intermediate—there were two above and two below—and, I believe, no complaint whatever was made with regard to the accommodation. As regards dietary, I have received, in the course of the last few hours, serious complaint. But for breakfast there was everything provided that I have ever seen on a first-class table on board ship—porridge, fish, chops, sausages, Irish stew, ham, bread, butter, jam, tea, coffee, etc. For dinner there was soup, fish, roast meat, fresh vegetables, stewed fruits, cheese, and so on. 554 For tea—cold meat, various pickles or salad, cake, jams, etc.
§ MR. BRODRICK
Various complaints have been made, but I do not think it can be said that we treated our Colonial troops illiberally. I have given instructions with regard to the sick and wounded that as many as possible should be returned in troopships and not have to mix with other passengers, and be entirely under the control of an officer who would attend to their comfort, and that in any case of a man who is ill he should be sent second class at a superior rate, and that there should be careful selection of ships in which the troops were sent. I have heard of cases in which some officer has not been careful enough and has sent men recently recovered from enteric fever or from wounds by a lower accommodation, and I have given instructions that all the sick and wounded, whether partially recovered or not, who have to be returned in mail steamers should have a higher rate of accommodation. With reference to several speeches which have been made this evening, if hon. Members will only send me any serious case of grievance I will under take that it shall be investigated, and if it involve remissness on the part of any individual of whatever rank, it shall be visited upon him. More than that I cannot say. Several hon. Members opposite have said I gave the House a lugubrious picture of the present position of the war. I do not think that was a fair description of my remarks. I do not take, in the slightest degree, a pessimistic view of the prospects of the war, but I thought it my duty to put before the House, clearly and frankly, what the position was, not to hold out false hopes which, in January or February next, would be brought up against me and lose for me, at all events, the confidence of the House of Commons. I certainly tell my hon. friends that there is no ground for any anxiety whatever as to the result, but the result cannot be achieved quite so rapidly as was assumed when the Estimates were brought forward in July. I hope that, when I speak in February, I may be able to give a very different picture, and I shall be astonished if that picture is not much more satisfactory.
§ * MR. T. M. HEALY
The Committee are indebted to the Secretary of State for War for the frankness and candour with which he has spoken; I think he has commenced his task well by taking the Committee into his confidence, by practically confessing that the war may be indefinitely prolonged. At the same time what a blighting reflection he has made upon his predecessors in office, and how strongly inferentially he has condemned that very potent member of the Administration, the Colonial Secretary. In March last, when the Government asked for a large Vote, I was howled at for feebly suggesting that the money was entirely inadequate and that the war might probably last another year or eighteen months, although Bloemfontein had been occupied and Pretoria was on the point of capture. But the general election was then pending. You can afford to be frank now. Every member of the Government who has spoken since the House met has told a different tale. Lord Salisbury says it may be generations before local self-government is established; the Secretary for War can give no date even for the conclusion of the war; but the Colonial Secretary says, "By February next I shall have established three great municipalities, "and he promises the House that we shall yet see the Lord Mayor of Potchefstroom waving his wand of office over a pacified and contented people. No date, however, can be given for the return of the soldiers. The only troops who have been brought home are those belonging to the Household Cavalry or the Guards, who can dance and who would be useful at society functions, and the other heavy military swells that have been mentioned. But the poor men who belong to the Yeomanry, who went out at the call of patriotism—a patriotism which seems to be regulated by the clock, and lasts only about eight months apparently —leaving wife and children, are to be told to uphold the flag of England in the Transvaal, while the Guards and the Household cavalry and other far-famed regiments are to be brought home to enjoy the plaudits of the multitude and the kisses of the duchesses. Look also at the contrast in the scale of pay. The Colonials all along have been receiving five shillings a day. They were told "What magnificent fellows you are, coming from the waving fields of Australia, the pines of Canada, and the ice- 556 bergs of Labrador"—flocking like a Sanger's circus at the call of the Empire. But the poor men of the Dublin Fusiliers, the Inniskillings, and the English Yeomanry, got only one shilling. My gorge rose to-night when I heard the menu read by the right hon. Gentleman — I will not say my teeth watered. We are asked for £16,000,000,some of which will come out of the pockets of the most wretched people of these kingdoms—from the Irish tenants whose only food is potatoes and salt—in order to provide money to give the Australians on board ship after their picnic in South Africa, quails on toast, aspic jelly, and all the other delightful condiments which the right hon. Gentleman read out with so much virtuous indignation. But the Colonials, he says, turn up their noses oven at that. If Ireland had retained her Parliament her soldiers would be getting 5s. a day now like the Colonials, not to speak of salvoes of applause, Queen's messages, and the gratitude of the Empire! It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman after all these mistakes to say that he, at any rate, as a newcomer in the War Department, will make no mistakes. He is like a doctor who, when he sees a patient with whom there is very little the matter, tells him he is very bad, but that with a long course of treatment he will be cured—and so ho gets bigger fees. I should not be surprised if the right hon. Gentleman's speech is taken as the manual for De Wet's horse. What is the meaning of the long dismal tale he has given us? Was it intended to brace your nerves or to unbutton your pockets? What pleasant reading for the poorer and more discontented citizen of this Empire to know that the war which has cost £100,000,000 in twelve months may go on for one, two, or three years more! The Uitlanders have cost you rather much. You went to war to give the franchise to a number of German Jews, and it has cost you 50,000 lives—and this by a Tory Government, which is usually not anxious to extend the franchise, and all for the sake of a set of the most undeserving foreigners that ever cursed any portion of the earth's surface. Future generations will buy the picture of the members of the existing Ministry to put them as curiosities into a sort of political Madame Tussaud's Chamber of Horrors. Take the case of Sir William 557 Butler; at this time last year, there was no name so execrated. He had to give up his command at the Bristol Volunteer show, to which Her Majesty went down. I hope there will be an inquiry into the whole business, for every advice that Sir William Butler gave you, was trampled upon by Sir Alfred Milner.["Hear, hear, "and "No, no."] This gentleman, who was nothing but a soldier, because he was an Irishman, was practically told by Sir Alfred Milner that he was a traitor to his country. Hence you were involved in the Natal campaign, the "entanglement of Ladysmith, "and the siege of Mafeking. Every one of the military dispositions from which you suffered was made with a view to a political design or an electoral manœuvre.The strategists had learned their lessons not from Germany, but from the Birmingham caucus. It was due to that plan that this war was commenced, and the real soldiers, the men who had fought the Boers before, and who know every inch of the country, were sent almost without their swords home to England to be received with the execrations of the mob if they dared to show them selves; while the ignorant proconsuls engaged in embruing their hands in the blood of those innocent people became the honoured names in your press, on your platforms. After your long series of engagements with the Boers, there is not a single victory to which you can point with pride, because I could not call the pouring in of a quarter of a million of men upon 50,000, and smothering men under a crash of sabres, anything but a battue. The right hon. Gentleman said the Boers were now reduced to mere guerilla warfare, but that he could fix no date for its termination. Whom were you fighting all along? You were lighting men with muskets, without uniforms, and who had never been drilled; a handful of farmers ignorant of the science of war. Yet they won scores of victories. At one moment they were called ignorant, stupid, brutal men, firing on the white flag when they got the chance, and the next moment De Wet is praised—I gather that Dc Wet must have got through igain—and you now spoke of the magnificent way in which the Boers treated the wounded. The right hon. Gentleman says that whatever we may say of the past, and however gallant has been the conduct of these men, at all events now we must only condemn them 558 because they are assisting in the devastation of their country, that their cause is hopeless and they could no longer fight any effective fight. But the spirit of freedom remained within the Boer heart. They have been promised freedom by yourselves, and they prefer to die as freemen than to live as slaves. The jargon about their being responsible instead of you for the misery and destruction of their country is always part of the cant of the conqueror. In every parallel case in history, the deeds of so-called guerillas who held out to the last are enshrined in the hearts of mankind. Englishmen love their Bible, and in Ireland we are particularly fond of the "Book of Machabees, "with its tales of death and glory by a people resisting invaders. You naturally place this book amongst the Apocrypha, as befits an Imperial race. When I heard the Secretary for War proclaiming the hopelessness of the Boer cause, and how patriotic Dutchmen ought to come in and surrender, and kiss the hem of the Union Jack, my mind recurred to the story of Judas Machabeus, and how misguided he and his brethren must have been. So, for the information of the Committee, to show the way in which brave men fighting for their lives behave, I went out to the Library and asked for a copy of the Catholic Bible. Of course I found it was not kept in stock in this Imperial Legislature, so I quote from "Wace's Apocrypha, "which you keep. It appears when Nicanor threatened to level the Temple, and set up a statue of Bacchus on its ruins, unless the Jews surrendered the arch - rebel Judas Machabeus, the priests told them to hold out, and trust in God. This was very improvident on their part, no doubt, considering how prosperous and civilised Judea might become under foreign rule. So Nicanor sent 500 soldiers to take one Razias, who was called "the Father of the Jews, "to break open his tower and set fire to it. He appears to have been the De Wet of that period, and it must be gratifying to the English to note the house-burning precedent of the conquerors. Then the sacred record narrates—When he was ready to be taken, lie struck himself with his sword, choosing to die nobly rather than to fall into the hands of the wicked and to suffer abuses unbecoming his noble birth.How foolish this of Razias, when if he 559 surrendered he might have got some slavish office or title, a pension or an army contract, or have even become a concessionaire under Nicanor! But worse remains—Whereas, through haste, he missed of giving himself a sure wound, and the crowd was breaking into the doors, he ran boldly to the wall, and manfully threw himself down to the crowd, and as he had yet breath in him, being inflamed in mind, he arose, and standing upon a steep rock, grasping his bowels with both hands, he cast them upon the throng, calling upon the Lord of life and spirit to restore these to him again, and so he died.Such is the spirit that survives in the Boers, to the admiration of all brave men, and it is idle to try to charm them with any promises short of liberty. Scrutinise your relations with them throughout the century, and what a story of wrong and fraud on the part of England, and of tragic determination on their side! In the present crisis, all through your dealings with the Boers the Government have never even cared to understand the nature of the problem which they had to face. At one moment, before you were ready for the conflict, before Milner was sent out, and before the false and fraudulent despatches were sent home, we were told that any war would be a long and dangerous war, and that we could not interfere with the Boers on any domestic questions or any question concerning the franchise because of the danger of the war, and because it must leave behind it bitter and bloody memories. When deceived by the proconsuls, when you had refused to take the advice of valorous fighting men on the spot who understood the situation, when you had embrued your hands in these men's blood, then the story instantly changes. The Boers have fought long and valorously, and now when the war is over and when the men in Ceylon come back from its spicy breezes and its contracted - for prisons—when they come from the temperate zone of St. Helena their hearts will be embittered with indignation not merely at their captivity, with the war and the horrors of it, but at the sight of their charred homos and ruined dwellings. It is said that under Sir Alfred Milner an arch of peace will extend over the land, and there will be a rainbow from Bloemfontein to Potchefstroom. The Government pretend to believe all this, but men of business will not be content to be hoodwinked for one moment with 560 such In this morning's very significant despatch which says that the women are bitterer than ever. We were told a year ago that the Boers were sick of the war, and that they had to be sjamboked into the trenches, but to-day you admit that it is the women who are keeping the men continuing this bitter fight. What man can return to his home when the women of the household will regard him as a coward if he dares to desert his commando? Another item in this morning's paper tells how an old Boer named Joubert, who had taken the oath of neutrality, has had his farm raided by a troop of English soldiers, and has had all his cattle and horses taken from him without cause assigned. This is the benign result of Lord Roberts's proclamation The man was taken prisoner, and perhaps he will now be sent to St. Helena. Those proclamations which were to drop like the gentle dew from heaven, result in the destruction of the land, the taking away of all the cattle and the destroying of the homes of these wretched men. Yet history shows that when a country is invaded, although people may forgive death and wounds, they will never forgive the destruction and confiscation of their property. If a man is hanged he is dead, and there is no more to be said, but when you take away a man's property, his children, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren will remember it as long as they live. Yet the English Government have now left this region under the command of a man like Lord Kitchener, whose boast it is that in Northern Africa he excluded after Omdurman every pressman from that region. [Ministerial cries of "Hear, hear."] He is going to exclude them from South Africa as well. You are the great council of the nation, and you boast of establishing peace in South Africa; but there will not be a Boer from St. Helena and Ceylon, from the Free State to the Transvaal, who will not have an account of every farm that has been burnt, and the value of it, for it will be a common story. You hear about the establishment of a municipality at Potchefstroom and in Pretoria, the franchise that will be extended to all white men from the Cape to the Zambesi, and probably that in Pretoria some five gentlemen (four of whom have been contractors to the Army) will be heard singing "God save the Queen." Can you 561 allow yourselves to be deceived by shutting up all genuine channels of information?
The first thing essential to the successful ruling of any people is to get hold of their point of view, and the English Government has deliberately refrained from doing that—just as in a theatre, in case of fire, there is let down what you call an iron curtain—so that an opaque medium might be interposed between your eyes and the tragedy in South Africa. Yes, but in spite of Boer disaffection you hope to out populate and outnumber them, and thus dominate their territories. Well, if the climate of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State is so good, and the country so rich and fertile and teeming with milk and honey, how is it that the demand is that these poor Yeomanry men should be sent homo to their wives instead of desiring to stop in South Africa to settle there? The C.I.V.'s, who were mostly young unmarried men, have returned to this country, and I have not heard that many of these men were anxious to stay in the latitude of Potchefstroom. The men who told you all these tarradiddles before the war you are prepared now, after every promise they made has been falsified and none of their statements have been verified, to give afresh vote of confidence to. The strength of party ties enmeshes you in this African jungle, but you are only laying up fresh troubles by refusing to face the truth. I would like to state the view of my own country in connection with this Vote. When you were kind enough to join us to John Bull our contribution in 1817, when the Irish National Debt was fraudulently consolidated with yours—the utmost that you could squeeze out of us—was, £5,000,000, and our population at that time was about six or seven millions. To-day our population is little more than four millions, and what was our contribution in the last two years?—£9,250,000 per annum. Since this war began the emissaries of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer are proceeding through the country with a rigidity and exactitude which certainly can leave nothing to be desired, and you ask us, apart altogether from the humanity of the war, to join in voting a sum of money out of our pockets for a war from which except a few horse dealers, not one man, woman, or child in Ireland has anything to gain or benefit. While Irish soldiers have been 562 amongst the bravest of your regiments, many of their wives and children are in the poor-house in Ireland. I should have thought that the policy of England, seeing that the Transvaal and all these other countries are at such a long distance from you, would be to hold out some hope of amity and future contentment by pointing out the splendid manner in which you had managed Ireland. But how are the "guerillos" of the Transvaal to be tempted towards you by any Irish examples of your rule? "Come in, "you say to De Wet, "and surrender. "Come into what? To a burned home, and I suppose to treble taxes, and the pleasure of having a nigger as a magistrate, and certainly a nigger as a policeman, an English official where there used to be a Dutchman, and a band in Potchefstroom garrison playing "God save the Queen" to remind them of old times. These are tempting prospects to hold out to these men to surrender their liberties. Would it not be reasonable, if Irish soldiers have fought as bravely as you admit, to deal with our country in some other fashion than to load them with extra taxation to enable your army to burn Boer homes and chase childing women across the veldt in mid-winter? By this Vote alone you extract several millions from Ireland. It is a Vote which is odious to us, and I do not believe that there is anywhere a whole-souled feeling in favour of this war. The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary told us the other night that there must be an ad interim period after peace was restored before fall rights could be given to the Dutch. I do not know whether any of you have followed the reconstruction period in America. The Americans were all one people, and the Southerns in the Civil War had fought gallantly, as the Boers have done, yet with every desire, as there was, in the minds of men like Grant to re-establish peace in that country, it was nut accomplished for ten years, nor until, as the result of a profitable bargain, the Hayes Administration got rid of the carpet-bagger. If that was the action and conduct in that country, what will it be in South Africa? Therefore, I applaud the right hon. the Secretary for War for his candour. He has not deceived the House of Commons. He has told the people of England that they need not expect this surrender and 563 arrangement to which the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary pointed. But there is one thing which we must lament while welcoming these tardy confessions, namely, that they have reached the House of Commons at a session in December instead of reaching the English people at the polls in October. We were told that it did not matter whether the elections took place in October or January. These were really mere matters of detail, and all the while the right hon. Gentleman is engaged in belying the action of his chiefs because he, is engaged in telling the truth to the House of Commons. I have no gift of prophecy, and I know nothing of the war except what read of it in the newspapers. I do not know whether the Boers are going to be ultimately put down or not. I have no reason to speculate on matters of that kind, but we do know and we do feel assured that this war, begun in braggadocio, begun in hypocrisy, begun I in want of preparation, and begun, as I believe, in greed, has now brought the English people before the tribunal of mankind in a position, so far as the judgment of the world is concerned, of more humiliation than at any time in their history. How do you make up to yourselves for loss of prestige? You say you have placed 250,000 men in the field, and sent them long distances over sea. Why, the Spaniards did that in Cuba—poor, feeble, impoverished, bankrupt Spain was able to put 200,000 or 300,000 men in the field in that war. The one consolation of the greatest maritime nation and the greatest Empire the world has ever seen lay in being able to put a quarter of a million men in line of battle in the course of six months. Spain, with a tithe of your marine, did quite as much. Yet I do not think the War Office was deserving of all the blame heaped upon it. I think the true culprits were the Colonial Office. How could Lord Wolseley have known what Lord Chamberlain was thinking about? How could the War Office have supposed that the Gentleman who declared that a war with the Transvaal would be long, costly, and bloody, would fly in the face of Sir William Butler and commence those curious negotiations in the style and manner he did? In any other country in Europe diplomacy would keep in touch with the War Office and the despatches would beat a rhythmic 564 movement in accord with a knowledge of the equipment and strength of the force which the War Office was able to send forth. That is what is vulgarly called statesmanship. It is not the new diplomacy, and therefore, I think that on the whole this much - attacked War Office, if the truth were known, suffered from a want of loyalty towards it of other departments; just as certain members of this Administration have been accused, of course falsely, of treachery to their fellows. We are asked for sixteen millions to-day, and we will meet again in February, when sixteen millions more may be needed. It would not be well to put it at much more because a the Budget will be coming on. I suppose there will be an early Budget, and we do not know whether Do Wet will be captured then or not. But the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer will once more declare that he had based his Estimates on an unknown quantity, and that he has not been able to calculate the exact amount. The only man able to calculate is the Colonial Secretary. And then when the Budget is over we shall be asked for another sixteen or twenty millions; and so this miserable tale of desolation will proceed, without any one of the three kingdoms gaining either honour or benefit in consequence. I therefore cannot help voicing the universal sentiment of my fellow countrymen, and protesting anew against a war which has not only lost your honour, your credit, your reputation, but I believe will yet lose you South Africa.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, Chelmsford)
said he was not acquainted with the historical character alluded to by the hon. Gentleman opposite. His education in that respect had been neglected. It seemed to him rather like what was sung of in the celebrated ballad of "Chevy Chase, "when—The Witherington I needs must wail,Like one in doleful dumps,Who, when his legs were smitten off,He fought upon his stumps.He had heard the Secretary of State for War make a good many speeches, but he did not think he had ever heard him make such an extraordinary speech as he had done that night. All of his speeches hitherto had been of the most optimistic description. Everything was for the best 565 in the best of all possible War Offices. They had not discovered the loss of stores anywhere; everything was ready for every emergency. When the right hon. Gentleman was Under Secretary of State for War his tone was entirely different. There was nothing to induce him to criticise the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, for whom he had the utmost respect and admiration, but he would like to allude to one matter on which a great fallacy was founded. The Secretary of State for War congratulated himself and the War Office upon the fact that so many ships, of such-and-such a tonnage, had conveyed 175,000 troops 6,000 miles by sea. The hon. Member for the Ecclesall Division of Sheffield had also congratulated the Government on their transport organisation. Well, that was only an echo of the speeches of almost every Cabinet Minister for the last three months. They declared that people might say there were not enough guns or horses or transport, but, after all, they had shipped off 200,000 men across 6,000 miles of sea without accident. But the War Office and the Government were taking credit for what they did not do. Whether 200,000 men were shipped across the Atlantic 6,000 miles or six miles across Southampton Water, that was no credit to them. That was done by the mercantile marine and by the Navy, and they had no right to take credit for it. The hon. Member for the Ecclesall Division said that the War Office was not to blame for any laches that had occurred, but the civil side of the organisation was to blame, because they did not send out to the Transvaal the requisite troops in time. The War Office did not send out the troops in time, because of their extraordinary futile organisation. It was because, although the country was paying more than twenty millions for the Army, they had not the troops to send. The only troops they sent were one weak battalion of infantry, and three batteries of artillery which had to be scraped together from other batteries and sent out short of horses and guns. He had often said in the House that he was not astonished at anything the War Office did; but he confessed that he was amazed that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War should say that he hoped he would have something better to tell the House when it met in February. 566 He hoped he would, for he could not have anything worse to lay before them than the exceedingly lugubrious and Cassandralike speech that he had made that evening.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
said that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had expressed the view that he never was surprised at anything that the War Office did; but on that side of the House they might say with truth that they could not be surprised at anything the Government did. The extraordinary change of front that had taken place within the last few weeks in regard to their opinion as to the length of the campaign was one of the most curious things in history. The last speech which the Chief Secretary for Ireland made when he was Under Secretary for War was in regard to the Army Estimates in July last. He then said that he thought the war would be over in a few weeks. That was before the General Election. He thought, considering the speech they had heard that night from the Secretary for War, how ill-informed the War Office had been as to what was actually taking place in the Transvaal. He wished to ask one or two questions which he believed worthy of an answer. In the first place, he thought it was to be deeply regretted that two documents which would have been of the utmost service in the debate were not forth coming. The first was the report of the Intelligence Department, which had been in the pigeonholes of the War Office for a year past. He meant the report as to the strength of the Transvaal forces, previous to the outbreak of the war, by Sir John Ardagh. Surely it was of some importance, and would have at all events assisted them in arriving at an estimate as to how much the Government were, or ought to have been, prepared for the war.
§ MR. BRODRICK
The report is a very bulky one, and I propose to lay it on the Library table, because it could not be sent to everybody in time for the debate. As a matter of fact, I believe the late Under Secretary in introducing the Army Estimates in February last gave all the material parts of the Intelligence Department's estimate as to the number of the Boer forces.
§ MR. DALZIEL
That is a matter of opinion. At any rate, it ought not to be after the debate has commenced that we are told that we could see the report on the table of the Library.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said he was not suggesting that the right hon. Gentleman ought to publish confidential reports. But it was a fact that several very curious extracts from the report had been published, and hon. Members ought to have the whole of the document. However, as they were going to have it on the table of the Library, he had nothing more to say on that point. But there was another report which ought to have been in the possession of hon. Members at the present time—namely, the Report of the Hospitals Commission The evidence was closed some months ago, and why was the Report delayed? It seemed to him that when they were asked to vote some millions more for the war they ought to have had that Report before them.
§ MR. BRODRICK
The Report has not yet been received. It is entirely in the province of the learned judge who is at the head of the Commission and his colleagues to decide how soon they will be able to make their Report.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said it was very customary for the Department against whom very serious reflection had been made to suggest to the Commission that they would be glad to have their Report as soon as possible, especially in view of the meeting of the House. The evidence had been closed some months ago, and he thought that it was to be regretted that the Report of the Commission was not yet in the hands of hon. Members. He was sure the hon. Member for Westminster would have been interested to hear what the right hon. Gentleman had to say about the delay in presenting the Report. There was another matter to which he wished to refer, and that was as to the rules issued by the American Government in regard of troops in the field. Gentleman the Leader to the conduct The right hon. of the House 568 quoted the other night from the rules alleged to have been adopted by the American Government in regard to the war in the Philippines. Since then he saw that the American Government had repudiated that document, and denied that they had issued any such rules in the Philippines. He was anxious to know whether the right hon. Gentleman had seen that semi-official denial that they had issued such rules, and whether any rides had been laid down for our army in South Africa. He thought it would give satisfaction to many Members of the House if there was a definite statement on the point.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
I wish to ask the Secretary of State for War a question in regard to a paragraph as to the proposed Army Constabulary in South Africa. It is whether any effort is being made to secure the services of time-expired men in the army from South Africa. There are a considerable number of time-expired men who will be released at an early date as soon as convenient to the military commanders. Many of them are no doubt highly trained and efficient soldiers, and would make most efficient policemen for the work demanded of them in the annexed States. If these men have refused to-stay on in South Africa, can the Secretary for War ascribe that refusal to any sufficient and good reason; and, if so, will there be an attempt to remove these reasons? It is notorious that during the last year great numbers of men in South Africa have been offered promotion in the service, and have absolutely refused to accept it. Men, whom I personally know to be as respectable citizens as any in this country, have refused promotion in the Army because they consider that the ordinary soldier is frequently not treated as well as ho ought to be; and this attempt to bribe them with promotion is only an after-thought, and made under the stress of necessity. I think that if there is any delusion in that direction it should be remedied, and if there is any misunderstanding as to the fair treatment of the rank and file of our soldiers, better treatment should be provided, and more consideration shown to them. I was exceedingly pained at the tone of the reply made to a question on the subject by the Financial Secretary to the War Office. It was a perfectly legitimate question about 569 a matter on which many men in South Africa have felt deeply and keenly. I asked whether all those poor men who suffered all the pains and agony of hunger and labour during the three months in which they were besieged in Ladysmith, had not yet received the Queen's box of chocolate, and if it would be presented to them before they left South Africa. It may have been unconscious, but the manner and tone of the Financial Secretary to the War Office was wanting, in my judgment, in every consideration for the sentiment and for the minds of the common soldier. I hope I was mistaken, and I should lie very willing to believe that the Financial Secretary did not answer in the tone and manner I have described with any intention of indifference as to the welfare of these men. At any rate that impression was made upon my mind, and I have no doubt it was also made on the minds of others. I hope it will not occur again, because when men who suffered as they suffered, and sacrificed as they sacrificed, have their cause mentioned in this House it should be received with the greatest consideration, and any reply necessary should be made in a sympathetic tone. If complete and full satisfaction is prevalent in the Army I cannot but think that you may be able to obtain the services of many troopers for this arduous work of policing in the annexed colonies, If the best class are approached in the right manner and proper terms are offered them, there may be many who would join this police force, and who would prove most valuable because of their training, discipline and capacity. As I understand it a million is to be taken in this Vote to meet the expenses of the proposed constabulary and for railway repairs. A mistake was made in starting by offering a high salary and then reducing it by a hundred per cent., and progress in forming this constabulary force has been seriously interrupted. I can quite understand that the right hon. Gentleman laughs at wages of 10s. a day to each constable in the new force. A million of money is of no good whatever for an efficient police force for the two colonies and for the repairs of the railways. I think it should be known that this is a ridiculous sum—a mere flea-bite —which will have no effect whatever in the establishment of this force. The taxpayers of this country ought to know 570 that this is an infinitely small instalment of the sums that will have to be provided. We have to raise money every week or two, and have had to do this ever since this miserable struggle commenced; and to-day we are voting a sum which, if the truth were known, is totally inadequate for the necessities of the case. And so it will go on until the nation is steeped to the lips in taxation and other liabilities. This is a serious matter for the taxpayers of the country. Already the wages of working men are of far less value to-day than a year ago. A sovereign a year back was worth twenty shillings for purchasing purposes; to-day it is not worth eighteen shillings. [Hon. Members: Oh, oh!] Hon. Members opposite do not know what that means. Let them try and live on a pound a week on the quantities working men have to buy, and they would find I am above the mark and not below it. I have not voted against the Government on a single occasion in matters of Supply. On the contrary, with one or two exceptions, I have given them my vote when they came for money. But there is a limit to human endurance and human patience, and if the Government are going to ask every fortnight or month for five, ten, or fifteen millions of money I shall have to consider another course of action and oppose these drafts on account. If we could have any approximate estimate when there would be an end to these demands, when you were beginning to tax the gold and diamond mines for the cost of this war, then my anxiety would be lessened. The Member for the Ecclesall Division of Sheffield drew a picture to-night of the marvellous anxiety of the Boers to return to the domestic life to which they are so deeply attached. I have heard that tale before. We have heard it all the past year. I heard it last year from a distinguished member of the Conservative party who has spent years of his life in South Africa, and who was regularly accepted as an authority. He said that after the first conflict with a British organised force the Boers would repudiate their leaders and return to their farms. I do not believe anything of the kind. You have been engaged in operations the end of which you could not foresee. The only true prophet in this matter has been the right lion. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary in a reply which he gave to this House in1896, and as long as this 571 war lasts the opinion he gave in 1896 will count for truth against the statements or prophecies of any other right hon. and hon. Member on that side of the House. He pointed out its probable distress, its immoral nature, the length and bitterness of the conflict, and the wars for generations that must issue before the two races came together again in peace. All that, unhappily, is only too true, and the further we go on in this war the more true and the more alarming this prophecy becomes. I certainly trust when we have another demand from the Government for more money we shall have some better explanation than we have had on this occasion. And I do not think there can be a better so long as the present High Commissioner governs South Africa.
* THE CHAIRMAN
The question of the future civil administration of South Africa does not arise on this Vote.
§ MR. BROADHURST
expressed regret that he should have trespassed on questions which had no connection with the Vote, and resumed his seat.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. Balfour,) Manchester, E.
I would not detain the House on the general question, but the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy asked me a definite question about the extract which I read on the first night of the session from the United States Regulations. I need not remind the hon. Gentleman that I did not read the extract with a view to criticising its contents or raising any question upon it. The actual volume from which I read was the official publication dated 1898, but the particular rules dated from 1863. If I am right it will be found among the regulations for a very long period, and has no connection with recent events in the United States. While I am on my legs might I ask the Committee to remember that it will certainly be to our advantage, and will not have any effect on the debate, if we take this Vote shortly, as the same question can be raised to-morrow.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
There is one question I forgot to ask the Secretary of State for War. How long does he intend to keep the Indian troops in South Africa? This, of course, raises a most serious question. You cannot maintain an army in 572 India and charge it on the Indian people if it is to lie used as a mere reserve for our armies for any purpose, as it has been used in South Africa and in China. If 10,000 men are to be kept away from the Indian Army, the whole financial relations between the Exchequer hero and the Indian Exchequer must be altered. It is intolerable at a time when the Indian people are suffering so severely from famine that they should be charged with an army which is merely a reserve for our own purposes. It ought to be known in India as well as here how much longer it is intended to keep these troops away from India.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I quite recognise the gravity of the question raised by the right hon. Gentleman, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman himself will recognise that the present circumstances are entirely abnormal. Obviously the Indian regiments will only be retained for the briefest possible period of time. The War Office do not look and have never looked upon the Indian Army as simply a reserve; but on this occasion, no doubt, when a larger number of troops have been employed than ever have been employed before, the services of the regiments from India have been retained for a longer time than was contemplated. It is, however, clearly impossible for us at this moment to determine the extent of their service.
§ MR. SAMUEL SMITH (Flintshire)
said he desired to draw attention to the question of burning of farms in South Africa. He had heard from various sources that at least one-third of the farms in South Africa were burned down. He believed that in resorting to such practices we were storing up for ourselves a heritage of hatred which would last for generations. Future historians would look upon our present action as one of the most deplorable blunders that this country had ever made. During his late visit to America he had made a study of the history of the War of Independence as taught in the schools. The history books used in the schools were full of the same thing; they spoke of the burning of farms and the doings of British officers and so on, and there was no doubt that a very great portion of the difficulties that we have had with the United States had come from the histories from which the children were taught in the schools. 573 Being interested in education ho had done his best to show how much fairer the mother country had been in the history of her dealings with the colonies, and he hoped he had done some good. But we were now doing in South Africa precisely the same as we had done in America, and every Boer child would, in the future, be taught how the women and children were turned out upon the veldt, where very often their nearest neighbour was far away, and how some had in consequence died. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War was a man of broad views, and he had a free hand in the matter. That was a fact of immense importance, and he asked him to use his influence and his power to stop such things as soon as possible, and bring the war to an end. The only possible policy which could succeed with the Dutch was to overcome them with kindness. He feared that that policy was not possible, but if it were it ought to be tried. As soon as negotiations could be started with De Wet, as they must be sooner or later, we should attempt to atone for our mistakes, and hold out a promise to rebuild the farmhouses and re-stock the land. It would have to be done eventually, and it would be much better to bring the war to an end by great acts of generosity of this character. The insurrection of Cuba against Spain was carried on for twenty years until the cruelties of General Weyler compelled America to intervene. We also should have our General Weyler if the war was allowed to continue. The House and country were both being misled. We had been pursuing a wrong course in many ways, and it was now our duty to turn back and try and win the affections of these people. It was no doubt a hard matter for us to admit our mistakes and retrace our steps, but it would have to be done, and he appealed, therefore, to the Secretary of State for War, who came to his office with an open mind, to use his influence in this direction. If he did so he would find himself very strongly supported throughout the country, in which there had been a wonderful reaction dining the last few weeks. He spoke for a very large section of the people who at the commencement of the war were furious against the Boers, but who now found that they had been deluded and misled from the very beginning.
§ MR. BRODRICK
In responding to the appeal made to me by the hon. Gentleman, I may say I yield to no man in the desire to see the war carried on with the utmost humanity, and I believe full expression was given to the views of the Government on this subject by the Secretary for the Colonies on Friday night. I am in communication with Lord Kitchener, whose views entirely coincide with those of the Government. The hon. Gentleman may rest assured that Lord Kitchener is as anxious as the Government that, subject to very exceptional cases causing loss of life, farm-burning should be limited as much as possible, and that every opportunity should be given to the country to settle down.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said he did not intend to discuss whether the war had been properly conducted or not. All he desired to do was to ask a few questions as to the details which had not been drawn to the attention of the Committee, although a discussion concerning a wide area had taken place. One thing with which the Secretary of State for War had seemed to agree was the statement that the war had gone on so long that the conditions had ceased to be abnornal, and were rapidly becoming normal. The first item he wished to call attention to was the land transport carriage commissariat. There were carts supplied from Woolwich which were quite useless in South Africa. Had anything better been supplied since? Did we still send out the old pattern carts, or had the pattern been improved? The Cape cart, of course, was in use, but something no doubt was still being built at Woolwich, and now that we had had time to consider the matter were we improving the patterns? With regard to the question of remounts, was the same mistake going on? Were we still employing too much infantry and too little cavalry? We had been told that our great want of success arose from the want of mounted troops. We only needed a few horses and a little training to provide them. He therefore desired to know whether the permanent mounted infantry in South Africa was being increased, because the sooner that was done the sooner the Yeomanry could be sent home, and so reduce our expenditure by the amount of 575 their cost. Another Vote which he should not question if it had been a Vote for a matter of three or oven six months was the Clothing Vote. There was in that Vote one very important item as to making clothes by contract, and manufactured articles of clothing. In the old days it was discovered that a good deal of sweating had occurred under this system of purchasing ready-made clothing and of giving clothing out to be made, and the condition of things was largely improved, and careful supervision of factories was provided; but in view of the enormous amount of clothing-required now he desired an assurance from the Secretary for War that a very rigorous supervision should continue to be exercised in this matter. It was most important while these large contracts were going on that there should be a very much greater supervision to see that sweating was prevented in the making of army clothing. The price given for the clothing was very low of a necessity, and the greatest care should be taken to prevent sweating. These things were not now being done in the dash and hurry of the war, and they ought to be done carefully and deliberately, according to a regular system which would be likely to prevent such a thing. With regard to the warmer clothing which he believed had been supplied to the Indian troops in China, he wished to know whether the white troops also had been supplied with the fur-lined overcoats such as were supplied to the Canadian troops, seeing that, although the white troops would not feel the rigours of the climate of Peking so much as the Indian troops, there could be no doubt whatever they would suffer to a large extent. He would also like to ask whether in the case of the hospitals greater care had been taken to supply better tents and better stores; whether the bell tent had been done away with altogether as a hospital tent, and larger tents were being used. With regard to the £1,000,000 which was to be voted for repairing the destruction caused to the railways, lie failed to see how that could be treated as capital, seeing that it was to be used for repairing not the general decay of the railway, or wear and tear, but destruction through acts of war. He was not complaining that the railway companies had been improperly paid for their services. 576 He thought they had probably been paid too much.
§ MR. BAYLEY (Derbyshire, Chesterfield)
said he should like the right hon. Gentleman to explain what the £200,000 set down as colonial allowances was for. What was the bargain that was made by the Colonial Office with the colonies? What colonies were they, and in what proportions were the payments to be made? According to the last Return 23,000 soldiers had come back to this country suffering from fever and dysentery. Did the Government propose to make any allowance to the common soldiers who were disabled from disease? He had not in this debate heard a word as to what the Government were going to do with regard to the wounded soldiers who had come back. They heard a great deal about this matter during the elections. He was hopeful until the last moment that they should have heard of some scheme to which the First Lord of the Treasury referred in his speeches in his division of Manchester. He understood that it was a scheme for giving Her Majesty's servants—soldiers and sailors—some provision similar to that afforded to workmen under the Employers' Liability Act.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I think almost every Member of the House is aware that any soldier who suffers permanently from wounds or disease is entitled to a pension.
§ MR. BAYLEY
All I can say is that in a great many cases that have come to my knowledge the War Office has not carried out that principle. I have not for many weeks seen a Return of the killed, wounded, and disabled by disease, but in August last the total was close upon 50,000. I asked for a Return showing the number of soldiers who were in hospital in South Africa, but we have never received it.
§ * MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
Her Majesty's Government have thought it advisable to ask this House to vote £16,000,000 to enable them to carry on the war in South Africa. As probably not more than a handful of Members will consider it their solemn duty to vote against the grant, I think it is advisable that at least one of them should state his reasons 577 for going into the lobby against the motion before the Committee. I have always regarded this war as not only unjust but unnecessary, a war which might easily have been avoided if there had been a disposition on the part of the Government to avoid it. It is said that Her Majesty's Government are no longer responsible for the war, that the nation, by its verdict, has endorsed the policy and action of the Government, and that it is now a national war. I wish to try and dispel that illusion by quoting figures to show that our countrymen have not by their votes endorsed the war, that, indeed, they had no opportunity of doing so. I take the last census. It is true it is nine years old, but probably my case would be strengthened if we had the figures up to date. According to that census there were 8,141,152 male adults in the United Kingdom. The total on the register of Parliamentary voters on the 1st January, 1900, was 6,600,283. The total number of votes recorded at the recent election was 5,034,010. If we analyse these figures we shall find that the number of those who voted Tory, and by so doing endorsed the war, was 2,578,492. But that leaves 5,562,652 male adults who either had no votes to record, or were practically disfranchised by the election being fought on a stale register, or voted against the Government.
* THE CHAIRMAN
Order, order! The hon. Member must confine himself to the subject under discussion. We cannot go back on an analysis of the late General Election.
§ * MR. CREMER
My point has been practically gained. It has been stated over and over again that the recent verdict was a national verdict. I deny that the small minority of the nation to whom I have alluded justifies such a statement, and I am trying to assign that as a reason for my opposition to this Vote. Mention has been made of the feeling of other nations towards Her Majesty's Government in regard to the war they are still waging against the Boers, although we have been told over and over again that the struggle is ended. What are the Boers doing? In the national school in which it was my privilege to receive the little education I got in my youth, we were taught that if a foreign 578 Power invaded our shores it was the duty of every man and, if you like, every woman to take up arms and defend the country against the invader, and that it was our solemn duty as good patriots to-defend our land to the last man. That is exactly what the Boers are doing to-day, and I do not think we have any right to complain because they are pursuing the practice which we are daily taught to look upon as our solemn duty. I am in a position to know the feeling of foreign nations in reference to the course we are pursuing in South Africa. At the Inter-parliamentary Union, which every year holds in the various capitals of Europe a conference, composed exclusively of members of European Parliaments, we are able to gather the opinion entertained in those assemblies. The last conference was held in the Senate Chamber at Paris on the; 1st August last, when upwards of 400 representatives were present, and there could only be found in that body one; member from any of the eighteen Parliaments represented who endorsed the policy of Her Majesty's Government. I have also received from two speakers representing two of the Scandinavian States——
* THE CHAIRMAN
Order, order! The topics upon which the hon. Member is now speaking do not seem to be relevant, to the Vote before the Committee. The rule of the House is that upon Supplementary Estimates the debate must be confined strictly to the items contained in those Estimates.
§ * MR. CREMER
I was only going to quote those communications as supporting my statement, but if the Committee are satisfied with my word and the evidence I have already adduced, I do not desire to waste their time by fortifying my statements with further evidence. As far as I can judge, there is no feeling of sympathy on the part——
* THE CHAIRMAN
Order, order! The hon. Member is now contravening my ruling. I have twice pointed out clearly to him that he must confine himself to the matters now before the Committee, and not indulge in this historical retrospect with regard to the opinions of foreign nations.
MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)
On a point of order, may I ask whether, when £16,000,000 are asked to be voted for a particular purpose, it is not in order to say that that purpose is one strongly disapproved of in foreign countries?
* THE CHAIRMAN
It does not seem to be relevant what the view of foreign countries is upon the matter. The question is, what is the opinion of the British House of Commons. If the hon. Member can bring any argument to persuade the House of Commons not to pass this resolution, of course he will be in order, but the matters with which the hon. Member was dealing when I interrupted him did not seem to be relevant.
§ * MR. CREMER
I was labouring to prove the very point which you have placed before the Committee. I am certain that I can prove that the sympathy of every Government in Europe has been alienated from the British Government in consequence of the course which is being pursued, and I think that in itself is a conclusive reason why this House should pause before it voted £16,000,000 more for the continuance of the war. If you rule otherwise, of course I submit without hesitation.
* THE CHAIRMAN
We must take it that Parliament has decided in favour of the war being continued up to this point. The only question now to consider is whether Parliament will decide to go on with the war. If the hon. Member can show good reason for breaking the war off at the present point he is entitled to bring that reason forward. But he must assume that Parliament has already decided in favour of the war, and that it considers it right that it should have been undertaken.
MR. BRYN ROBERTS
This Parliament has never decided it. The last Parliament did, but that does not bind us.
* THE CHAIRMAN
We cannot go back on all the decisions of the last Parliament. The hon. Member will see that the discussions of this House would be perfectly interminable.
§ * MR. CREMER
Of course I bow to your decision. I have only to say in conclusion that I for one shall have no hesitation in voting against this motion; whether there be one or a dozen or twenty with me. I remember what took place during the war in the Crimea. There was then the same difficulty in expressing one's earnest convictions against that war as there has been in reference to the present struggle. But I console myself with the reflection that the verdict of history is always with the friends of peace. There is not a man to be found in this House who will now declare that the Crimean war was a just one, or one that could not have been easily avoided. I am perfectly certain that a rude awakening will come with regard to the South African war, and that before many years have passed we shall have the same kind of feeling expressed by the masses of the people who have been purposely deluded in regard to the objects of the war as was expressed after the war in the Crimea, and that it will be difficult to find a man who will stand up and justify the course which has been pursued in South Africa.
* SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
We must all deplore the some-what sombre picture we have had placed before us in reference to the military position in South Africa. That picture is a sad one, and I am afraid when one looks at it in reference to the amount of disease among our troops it becomes a still sadder one. The war has been dragging on for month after month, and to-day we have had the grave news that it may last much longer after the manner of other guerilla wars. I only hope that if the war is still further prolonged, at all events energetic, effective, and more complete steps than in the past will be taken to protect the health and lives of our soldiers as regards disease. The Financial Secretary to the War Office has to-day given me some information with reference to the continuance of the pest of this campaign, viz., typhoid fever, up to the end of September. Soon after the last session of Parliament the late Under Secretary of State for War gave me the figures up to the end of June from the beginning of war. At that time there had been 13,057 cases of fever among the troops, and since then there have been 2,600 other cases, making a total of 15,655 cases, with 3,642 deaths. That is an enormous 581 amount of this kind of disease to exist in an army in the field in a climate like that of South Africa. The conditions, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, from before the beginning of the campaign were favourable to this disease if suitable precautions were not taken. Those precautions were not taken, in some cases could not be taken, but in many cases much more might have been done to protect the troops from this pest. The disease still goes on playing havoc with our soldiers, sending many of them back to this country, invalided and unfitted for service for months. Moreover, the amount of mortality from it does not seem to lessen. When this question was brought before the House in the middle of last session, we were told that the mortality was about 21 per cent. That was not a very high mortality considering the bad conditions which prevailed, and it said a good deal for the generally good effect of the climate on such cases. I was sorry to observe, however, from the total figures up to the end of September, that the death-rate had risen to nearly 24 per cent. That is a much higher rate than we had under the terrible conditions which existed at Bloemfontein, so that it appears that even more terrible conditions must have obtained elsewhere. I think this high mortality requires some explanation, and I hope before the House separates the Secretary of State will be able to tell us what has been done in the direction of trying to lessen the prevalence of this pest, and co reduce the rate of mortality among our gallant soldiers. This matter has to be considered from several points of view. It must be considered from the point of view that the disease is endemic in South Africa, and that wherever you settle in a town under conditions of insanitation, bad water supply, and so forth, the disease may be produced, and therefore extra precautions should be taken. I have seen some eminent surgeons who have returned from the front, where they have been giving their services, and they have told me that the one thing wanted is proper sanitation. I want to know whether the Secretary of State is prepared to do anything for improving the sanitation of the places where our soldiers are camped. I have had some horrible descriptions given me of the conditions that existed with our forces when they were trying to relieve 582 Ladysmith, for the camp followers were camped in a donga under the most primitive sanitary arrangements. The excreta from these camp followers found its way into the stream which supplied the troops with water, and that is not a condition of things which ought to be allowed to exist. I hope sufficient money will be devoted to providing appliances to protect the health of our men when they are fighting for their country. The right hon. Gentleman will, I hope, take into his serious consideration the advantage of having attached to our Army, as other great Continental armies have, some kind of sanitary corps which would prevent the repetition of the mistakes that have been made in South Africa with, regard to the sanitation in the camps. I have heard of camps being pitched where another camp has been, and of cooking for the troops being done in a most undesirable position where the latrines of a previous camp had existed. You should have attached to each Army corps an efficient sanitary corps of skilled officers whose business it would be to see that the soldiers were camped under the best possible conditions. The conditions I have mentioned in regard to the camp followers would not occur if proper sanitary supervision existed on the field where the camp was placed. I hope that, whatever may be done in the direction of strengthening the Army Medical Corps, some steps will be taken, in the higher interests of humanity, to add to our Army an efficient corps of sanitary officers, who will prevent these things occurring in future campaigns in which we may, unfortunately, be engaged. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us, if he can, the number of Army medical officers who are now engaged in South Africa. As far as I am informed, the Army Medical Corps, even at the present time, is sadly below the numbers which it ought to possess, considering the large force which we have in the field in South Africa. I dare say the right hon. Gentleman has great difficulty in getting good medical officers, but I hope he will take steps to attract a large number of good men into the Army Medical Service.
* SIR WALTER FOSTER
That is a question of administration which the 583 right hon. Gentleman will have to find out for himself. I have not been called into consultation in the matter, and when I am I shall be happy to write a prescription. With reference to this matter, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take it into his serious consideration, because I believe it is necessary, not only with regard to the present condition of things, but with regard to the future efficiency of our Army, that we should have a much larger Army Medical Corps than we have. I believe that it is bad policy and bad economy to be relying too much upon civil surgeons either for home or foreign service. By this system you do not always get the most desirable men, and when a war is dragging on many of them are anxious to return to their civil duties. There is another point which I should like to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to, and it is in reference to the men who are sent home. There are thousands of invalids coming home who have had typhoid fever. I think all these men should be looked after very carefully before they are sent home. It is very dangerous to send patients home in whom the disease may lurk, and they should not be sent to this country too soon, because they may start epidemics in this country. I want, therefore, more care taken in seeing that these men have thoroughly recovered before they are sent home. Some very grave cases have come to my knowledge of men who have been very seriously ill after returning home through a continuance of the symptoms of this enteric fever. That is not desirable, and we should do the strength of the Army more justice if we kept these patients a little longer under more suitable conditions in Cape Colony before they are sent home. I believe that many of them, if they had been kept there, would have been able to return to their duties without coming home at all. I want more care taken in this matter. I was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman give us his description of the care taken with regard to the treatment of the soldiers and invalids returning home on board ship. I was pleased to hear that all invalids were having second class accommodation, and that an excellent diet was being provided for them. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take care that there is an officer with all these bodies of men sent home under these conditions, who will see that what is 584 put down on the paper as the list for the diet is actually supplied to the men. You are apt to have all this stated upon a programme, and yet the men may not get it, and sometimes the food is not of the quality which it ought to be. I hope that in all these detachments of discharged soldiers and invalids sent home due care will be taken to see that all the provisions supplied are of the quality put down upon the prospectus in order that we may have none of those complaints which, after all, are bad for the country, bad because they tend to damp the patriotism of the men who have volunteered, and bad as tending to lessen the attachment of our colonial brethren. I was glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman was willing to consider very seriously the advisability of letting the men who volunteered in the Yeomanry have a chance of returning home at the earliest opportunity. Many of them are very young men who have given up good prospects in business and professions simply for the love of their country and a desire to do their duty in a great national crisis. I think those are the men whom we should think of first of all, not only as a reward for the loyalty which they have displayed, but because we want to foster a similar spirit in other young men, to secure, in case of future need, the same excellent spirit of love of country. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to answer some of these points.
§ MR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)
There are two statements which have been made in the House to which I desire to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. The first is the statement made by the hon. Member for North Louth, who stated that at the present time a number of the wives and children of Irish soldiers who have fought in South Africa are in Irish workhouses. I want to know whether it is within the knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman that that statement is true. If it is true, there is not a man in this House who would not hear of it with extreme regret. If it is true, I want to know what is to be done with regard to them, because we cannot allow them to remain in the workhouse, which would be a great discredit to us. I am sure 585 that I shall not appeal to the right hon. Gentleman in vain for some consideration of that kind. Then there is the statement made by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, that soldiers in the field have had served out to them biscuits thirty years old, and beef which had been in casks for twenty-seven years. Does the right hon. Gentleman know whether these statements are true or not, because I want to hear them denied.
§ MR. MACNAMARA
Then I will ask the right hon. Gentleman whether soldiers going out on transports have been supplied with biscuits thirty years old, and with beef which has been in casks twenty-seven years. I do not think these things are creditable to us as a nation if they are true.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
My hon. friend who has just sat down has called attention to a statement made by the hon. Member for North Louth, that a considerable number of the wives and children of Irish soldiers are at present in the workhouse, and he has asked the Secretary of State to tell him whether that is true or not. I will somewhat supplement that question. I believe that the State gives a certain allowance to the wives and children of Reservists, but that amount is not sufficient to enable them to live in decent comfort, and the right hon. Gentleman knows that in almost every town and in every county where subscriptions have been collected, sums of money have been given to these women and children not for comforts, but for necessaries. It is perfectly true that in these cases they have some work, but these Reservists often have a house on their hands where they want their family to live, and if you take the amount given by the State it is absolutely impossible for the family to live and keep the home together. I think it is the duty of the Government to place the families of Reservists, while the husbands are away, in the same 586 position of comfort, or as near as possible, as they were in before their husbands went out to the war. And then there is another point. My hon. friend the Member for the Ilkeston Division said that he possessed in his own mind a scheme for inducing men to enter the medical profession in the Army, but he would not state what that scheme was unless he was called in for consultation. I know that my hon. friend is a gentleman connected with the medical profession, but I am sure that my right hon. friend the Secretary for War would find him of so generous a character that he would not exact a fee for the consultation. The Minister for War has stated that there is some difficulty in finding some scheme, and I confess that there seems to me to be a very great difficulty. Therefore, I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should call in my hon. friend for a consultation some morning, and that he should get out of him what this scheme is. It may be good or it may be bad, but it is worth knowing. My hon. friend appears to possess a sort of patent in this matter, and I think the country should have the benefit of it. I feel a very great deal of gratitude to the right hon. Gentleman for the candour he has shown during his exposition at the commencement of this discussion in regard to the period that he thought the war would last. The Colonial Secretary told us that it would be over in less than three months before the election. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War now says that it may be finished before we meet in February, when he entertains a hope that the war will be over. The Secretary for War is therefore a little more cautious, and he says that he cannot say that it will last three months longer, but the Colonial Secretary says that other wars have lasted three or five years, and the inference is that this may last the same period. I believe that this war is costing the country £1,500,000 per week. Therefore, putting it at two years more, that will be a sum of £150,000,000 more for the cost of this war. I am not going to complain of the horrors in the Transvaal. If you intend to destroy a nationality, and it resists, and makes a national resistance, you can only crush out that nationality by depopulation, etc. What I complain of is that you are trying to destroy a nation- 587 ality, and not that you are using the only means which is possible to attain your ends. We do not believe that your present methods will bring this war to an end very quickly, because we believe that these men are conscientiously fighting for what they believe to be the holiest of causes. We throw the responsibility of carrying on the war entirely upon the shoulders of the Government. We are now called upon to vote a sum of money which I believe has already been spent. Of course, we cannot refuse to give them arms, ammunition, and pay for the soldiers, and that is the only reason why I do not vote against this proposal. Another question which I wish to raise is that I do think that pressure ought to be brought to bear upon the Judge at the head of the Hospitals Inquiry Commission to issue his Report as soon as possible, for, having sent a Commission to South Africa to report upon the complaints of the hon. Member for Westminster, we certainly ought to have that Report before us when we vote this money. It is a great pity that we have not, and if the right hon. Gentleman could use his influence with the Judge to give the Report as soon as possible, I think it would be a very desirable thing. The right hon. Gentleman rather surprised me with some remarks he made with regard to the Household Cavalry. I allude to the composite regiment which was sent out at the commencement of the war. They demanded to come home, and they have been brought back, while the Yeomanry are kept there still. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Household Cavalry was a privileged corps, but I object to privileged corps altogether. Privileges in the Army and the system which allows only rich men to become officers has done the greatest harm to the Army. All such privileges in the Army, whether connected with officers or men, should be abolished. There ought to be equality between man and man, and I object to the promotion of certain officers merely because they are the pets of society, and to the sons of rich men being given advantages over the sons of those who, although gentlemen and men of education, are not rich. I have great hopes of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War as a reformer of the Army, but I do hope that this is not a sample of the reforms which the right 588 hon. Gentleman is going to make. He tells us that his reason for bringing this regiment back was that they were heavy men and the horses were small, and that we want light cavalry in South Africa rather than heavy cavalry. But surely that was a reason for not sending them out at all. He told us that they were sent out because they claimed to go out as a privilege. I suppose that every soldier is anxious, as a privilege, to take part in the war, as he knows it is his only chance of distinction, and if you give these privileges to special corps it will prevent your getting proper officers for the Army. I see there is something down about the colonies. I should like to know what this amount is for. I am one of those who have not been in such a wild state of elation at the noble conduct of the colonies. I want the colonies to pay their share. When they talk about being so Imperialistic, and want us to go to war, it is very easy for them to send men—you can always find men who love adventure—but let them pay their full share, and then I shall respect them in their desire.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I have just said that you can always find in every country a large number of men of an adventurous spirit. The difficulty is to get the money, and I want us to have an understanding with the colonies that they shall pay their share. I do not know why we should be called upon to pay one shilling towards the cost of this colonial force. I see no earthly reason why the colonies should call upon us to pay this amount. There is just one other question. I wish to know whether due precautions are taken to prevent "sweating" in connection with the articles that are ready-made for the troops and those which are ordered.
§ MR. BRODRICK
The hon. Member for Northampton has asked me two or three questions, which I will reply to at once. In regard to "sweating," I can assure hon. Members that a careful watch will be kept to see that no "sweating" goes on in connection with the making of 589 clothes for the troops, and to see that they are made under thoroughly sanitary conditions. The hon. Member for Northampton gave me a good many pieces of advice, and I am grateful to him for them. One of them was that I should call m for consultation the hon. Member for Ilkeston, and take his prescription with regard to the inducing of medical men to join the Army Medical Corps. Now I have the greatest respect for the hon. Member for Ilkeston, and I should like to hear his views upon this subject. I may say that upon one occasion I took his prescription, and, politically speaking, I was very unwell the next morning, and that was on this point of how to increase the number of these medical officers. If be has got another prescription I should like to know what it is. The hon. Member has made some extremely valuable observations about the state of the medical service in South Africa. I hope I shall be allowed to say one or two words upon this subject to the House, and I trust that it will not be supposed that I am either temporising or endeavouring to put aside a decision upon an important matter. It is absolutely impossible for me, at this moment, to enter into the question of what requires to be done for the medical service in South Africa. I believe that every Member of the House takes the deepest interest in this subject. We have a Commission sitting, and if anything I can do will induce the Com-1 mission to report at an earlier date than it I otherwise would I shall do it, and I can only say that I am the first man in the House who desires to see the Report. It is obviously impossible that this question of the medical service can be dealt with now, and it should be put aside until we have got the decision of this body of men who have been out to South Africa in regard to it. When the decision of the Commission reaches the War Office the action of the Department will be prompt, and no preconceived ideas will prevent the taking of measures necessary, however drastic, to put it into operation, and place the service on a proper footing. There is no desire to prejudge the matter. In a campaign over an area of such magnitude there must be occasions when medical service leaves much to be desired, and it would be an ideal state of things by which every body of troops arriving at night should have medical inspection of the camping ground, and over the 590 whole area we should require a sanitary corps, perhaps, as large as half the Army. A variety of questions have been asked, and I ask the Committee to allow me to defer my replies. As to the statement that wives and children of solders have been supported in Irish workhouses, I will be glad to make inquiry into any special case. If such cases have occurred they probably have arisen from the number of soldiers who married off the strength of the regiment, and the families of these were never recognised as having to be supported by the State. It will be impossible in a young army like ours to recognise all those. As to the supplies provided on a troopship, the voyage occurred before I entered office, but I understand that after careful investigation steps were taken to effectually prevent a recurrence of such an incident. The supply of horses and mules to South Africa is being continued at the rate of 6,000 per month, and in the past thirteen months nearly 200,000 horses and mules have been sent out, so that the necessity for mounted troops is fully recognised. I think that may be taken as evidence that we are not neglecting the matter.
§ MR. BRODRICK
As to the provision for the wives and families of Reservists, some of them earn between thirty shillings and forty shillings a week, but I do not think the Government allowance is illiberal, and it is true this has been supplemented from private funds. I am quite ready to approach the question with an open mind, but, looking at the provision made for the men's families and that about to be made for widows, it will be seen the Government are undertaking a very heavy charge indeed. I may say that we have now 80,000 families on pay, and I may say that my sympathies are for liberality in this respect.
§ MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
I think we ought to get some more definite assurance from the right hon. Gentleman as to the treatment meted out to those who are serving us in South Africa. This afternoon, by a question to the Leader of 591 the House, I asked whether he was prepared to tell us the details of the scheme which he promised some months ago for making adequate provision for the widows and families of those men who had fallen in the war. He told me to-day, what he said six months ago, that a scheme is maturing; but while the scheme is maturing many of the widows of these men, not merely those married off the strength of the regiment, are in the workhouse. Twelve months ago, when these men were going out to the war, we were told that under no circumstances whatever would their widows suffer. The right hon. Gentleman now lightly dismisses the question by saying that probably those women who are receiving parochial relief were married off the strength of the regiment. That is not the case at all. The widows of men who lost their lives in the campaign are now in receipt of parochial relief, or, what is quite as bad, a pittance of 2s. 6d. per week from the Patriotic Commissioners. I drew attention to this particular subject at the commencement of the year, and I pointed out that the body to whom the administration of the Patriotic Fund is committed is a body in whom no confidence could be reposed, and the Government appointed a committee of inquiry.
* THE CHAIRMAN
ruled that the hon. Member was not in order in discussing the administration of the Patriotic Fund.
§ MR. KEARLEY
I will content myself by asking the Leader of the House if he can give us any assurance of a definite character that the Government grant to the widows of the soldiers who have lost their lives in the war will be paid at once, and that there will be no delay in giving them that to which they are entitled and which the country expects they will receive.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I hope the Committee will take the assurauce from me that I am quite as desirous as is the hon. Gentleman of seeing the whole of this business brought to a satisfactory conclusion as soon as possible. May I respectfully appeal to the House to conclude the debate, as there will be other opportunities for discussion on the two following days?
§ * MR. H. J. WILSON (Yorkshire, W.R., Holmfirth)
said he had opposed the war as much as he possibly could, but he did not vote against supplies in the war session of 1899. But things had changed since that day. The House had been misguided and misled several times. They had been told that this country sought no goldfields or territories, but that view had been abandoned, and no adequate explanation of the change had been given. They had been told that the war was inevitable, then that annexation was inevitable, and now that the farm-burning and other cruelties perpetrated were inevitable. He did not believe in this doctrine of inevitability. These horrors were reported in letters from soldiers, and by newspaper correspondents. He did not know why the statements of some correspondents in South Africa were accepted, and those made by a very large number of other correspondents were discredited. There could not be a great conspiracy among the men out there to say what was not true. He, however, rested his case of cruelty in carrying on the war on Lord Roberts's own proclamations, his own despatches, and his own correspondence. In one Lord Methuen was reported as having "denuded" the country in certain localities. Then in a correspondence with General Botha, Lord Roberts told him that he had already given orders that whenever there was an attack on the railway the farm buildings in the vicinity were to be burned, and within a radius of ten miles all the farms were to be depleted of their cattle, stock, and things of that kind. He was not a military authority, but Lord Wolseley was; and the late Commander-in-Chief, in his "Soldiers' Pocket Book," gave minute instructions as to the destruction of railways, and in no way suggested that that was a crime to be punished in the barbarous way laid down by Lord Roberts. It should be remembered that, a radius of ten miles meant 314 square miles, or more than two hundred thousand acres. He had objected to the war from the first, that it was needless and unjust. It was now carried on in a specially barbarous manner. He felt now bound to vote against any money wanted for such an evil purpose.
§ * MR. WEIR
desired to thank the right hon. the Secretary for War for the candid statement he had made that night. He only wished the Colonial Secretary had made a similar statement before the last election. He had gone down to his constituents and told them that the war was over, because he had accepted in good faith the assurance to that effect of the War Office and the Government. But he had been deceived, and his constituents had been deceived. He was going to vote for supplies to bring this war to a satisfactory conclusion, but he wanted the money to be expended wisely and well. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that the Government had annexed the Transvaal; but what about the responsibilities of annexation? Were they aware that numbers of the creditors of the Transvaal were growling for their rights? The right hon. Gentleman had told them that the Volunteers must make a further sacrifice, and that they would be required to stay in South Africa some time longer. He had a letter from a young man who was out fighting in South Africa, dated 4th November, in which he said that he feared the war would not be over for another year, and that some of the Volunteers were almost rebelling against being kept so long, and went on to say that recently some had to be arrested for insubordination, but the Press Censorship prevented that being published. That was a very serious matter, and at any rate it showed that a good many Volunteers would be glad to get home again. He would like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman was having an inquiry made into the disaster to the Highland Brigade at Magersfontein.
§ be spent in South Africa and how much in China.
§ * MR. WEIR
was glad to know that, but the right hon. Gentleman should have stated that before, and he would have been saved all anxiety on the subject. They knew that large sums of money had been spent in chartering slow-going boats, and he trusted the authorities would charter in future more satisfactory vessels. There was a sum of three-quarters of a million for the purchase of horses. He hoped the system of paying for tram and omnibus horses double their value had ceased, and that the Government would get their horses henceforth at first hand. Then there was a sum of £650,000 for barracks. He hoped that the barracks would be of such a character that the soldiers would be able to live in them in decency. He had visited the Piers Hill barracks with two medical men recently, and found that the men's sleeping accommodation above the stables was most unsatisfactory.
§ * MR. WEIR
said he trusted the stores would be of a satisfactory character, and not consist of meat twenty-seven years old or biscuits made thirty years ago. Then he found there was a sum of a million for the repair of railways in South Africa. He hoped some of this would be used for the repair of the ruined farmhouses of which we had heard so much.
§ Question put—
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 284; Noes, 8. (Division List No. 8.)597
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Bain, Colonel James Robert|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Arkwright, John Stanhope||Baird, John George Alexander|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Arrol, Sir William||Balfour, Rt. Hn. A.J.(Manch'r)|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Asher, Alexander||Balfour, Rt. Hn. G.W. (Leeds)|
|Allen, C.P.(Gloucest'r, Stroud)||Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Balfour, Maj K. R. (Christch'ch)|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry E.||Atkinson, lit. Hon. John||Banbury, Frederick George|
|Barker John||Gordon, Maj. W.(T'er H'ml'ts)||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Goschen, George Joachim||Marshall-Hall, Edward|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M.H.(Bristol||Grant, Corrie||Maxwell, W. J (Dumfriesshire|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Greene, Sir EW(B'rySEdm'nds||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Bigwood, James||Gretton, John||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Black, Alexander William||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Mitchell, William|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Groves, James Grimble||Molesworth, Sir Lewis|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Hain, Edward||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G(Mid'x||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)|
|Brassey, Albert||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.||More, R. Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Billiard, Sir Harry||Harris, F. Leverton(Tynem'uth||Morris, Hn. Martin Henry F.|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Harwood, George||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Mount, William Arthur|
|Caldwell, James||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Heath, James(Staffords, N. W.||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Helder, Augustus||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Helme, Norval Watson||Norman, Henry|
|Cawley, Frederick||Higginbottom, S. W.||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Hoare, Edw. Brodie(Hampst'd)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J.(Birm.)||Holland, William Henry||Parker, Gilbert|
|Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r||Hope, J.E(Sheffield Brightside||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hoult, Joseph||Partington, Oswald|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A.E.||Howard, Capt J(Kent, Faversh.||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darl'ton|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Peel, Hn. W. B. Wellesley|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Pemberton, John S. G.|
|Colville, John||Joicey, Sir James||Percy, Earl|
|Cook, Frederick Lucas||Jones, David Brynmor(Swans'a||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Kearley, Hudson E.||Pilkington, Richard|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh)||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Kenyon, James (Lanes., Bury||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Keswick, William||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edw.|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Purvis, Robert|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Knowles, Lees||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Lambert, George||Radcliffe, R. F.|
|Dewar, John A.(Inverness-sh.)||Langley, Batty||Randies, John S.|
|Dewar, TR (T'rH'mlets, S. Geo.||Laurie, Lieut. -General||Rankin, Sir James|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Law, Andrew Bonar||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Lawson, John Grant||Rea, Russell|
|Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lecky, Rt. Hn. Wm. Edw. H.||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lee, Capt A. H. (Hants, Fareh'm||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Legge, Col. Heneage||Renwick, George|
|Duke, Edward Henry||Leigh, Sir Joseph (Stockport)||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Edwards, Frank||Leng, Sir John||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.||Ridley, Matthew W(Stalybr'ge|
|Elibank, Master of||Levy, Maurice||Rigg, Richard|
|Emmott, Alfred||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Bristol, S.)||Ritchie, Rt Hon Chas. Thomson|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Lough, Thomas||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lowe, Francis William||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Finch, George H.||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Bound, James|
|Fison, Frederick William||Lucas, Col. Francis(Lowestoft)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmo'th)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Macdona, John Cumming||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon||Maclver, David (Liverpool)||Saunderson, Rt. Hon. Col. Ed. J.|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Maclure, Sir John William||Seely, Charles Hilton(Lincoln)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Maconochie, A. W.||Shipman, Dr. John|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Simeon, Sir Harrington|
|Galloway, William Johnson||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Sinclair, Capt. John(Forfarsh.|
|Garfit, William||M'Crae, George||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Gibbs, Hon. Vicary(St. Albans||M'Iver, Sir Lewis(Edinburgh W||Spear, John Ward|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||M'Kenna, Reginald||Spencer, Rt Hn CR(Northants|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E(Elgin&Nairn||Majendie, James A. H.||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Manners, Lord Cecil||Stewart, Sir Mark JM'Taggart|
|Stone, Sir Benjamin||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Strachey, Edward||Wason, Eugene(Clackmannan)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Stroyan, John||Weir, James Galloway||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts)||Wodehouse, Hon. A. (Essex)|
|Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G(Oxf'd Univ.||Wentworth, Brace C. Vernon-||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Thomas, F. F-. (Hastings)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Thorburn, Sir Walter||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Tomkinson, James||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.||Wylie, Alexander|
|Tomlinson, James||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Williams, Rt HnJ. Powell-Birm||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Tufnell, Col. Edward||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Tuke, Sir John Batty||Willox, Sir John Archibald||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Valentia, Viscount||Wills, Sir Frederick||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)||Wilson, Arthur S. (York, E.R.|
|Walker, Col. William Hall||Wilson, F. W. (Norfolk, Mid)|
|Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E.||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Brigg, John||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Hardie, J. Keir(Merthyr Tydvil||Thomas, J. A.(Glm'rg'n, Gower||Mr. Cremer and Mr. John Burns.|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Lloyd-George, David||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to he reported To-morrow.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."