§ "That a further number of Land Forces, not exceeding 120,000, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at Home and Abroad, during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900."
§ Resolution read a second time.
§ Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND () Clare, E.
When this Vote was before the Committee I opposed it on the ground that I had done the same thing last session when a similar Vote was proposed to Parliament, and I considered it only consistent that I should continue and repeat the protest I then made. The speech made by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War in outlining the plan of Army reform was an exceedingly interesting one, and evoked much attention all through the country. I ventured, however, to point out in Committee, and I think this is worthy the attention both of the House and the country, that the measure proposed by the War Office is largely of a permanent character. We are told by the Under Secretary for War that the proposals with regard to the Militia and Volunteers are only for this year, and that they are not in any way of a permanent character. That being so the proposals have not met with much opposition. But what I think does and will attract more opposition is 397 the proposition in the scheme of the Government very considerably to increase the permanent army of the country. We are to add something like 30,000 additional troops to the Regular Army—cavalry, infantry, and artillery; and it would lie exceedingly interesting to know what the Hon. Gentleman has left us in complete ignorance of, and that is, how much will be added to the permanent cost of the Army. I have no doubt that, in view of the enthusiasm which now exists by reason of the war, any temporary expenditure for the purposes of it will be endorsed and even welcomed by the people at large. What I think most people who go beyond the needs of the moment want to know is, by how much the Army Estimates are to be permanently increased through the addition of 30,000 men to the Army. I do not know whether the calculation that I have made is correct, but my estimate is that this addition to the Regular Army will mean at least a million of money a year on the Army Estimates of the future. That, I think, is an exceedingly serious matter. I ventured to criticise during the Committee stage the proposals of the Government with reference to the Volunteers and the Militia, and I am bound to say the opinion I then expressed with regard to them is the opinion I have seen in the public press, and one which I have heard in this House over and over again. Several hon. and gallant Gentlemen, the name of whose constituency I do not remember for the moment, spoke on this subject, and expressed the opinion that it would not be possible to get the Volunteers of this country to leave their business and their work to come out under canvas for a month. I believe that is true, and I think tills scheme will break down. The Under Secretary of State for War said that before these proposals were made a great number of commanding officers of the Volunteer regiments had been communicated with, and they supported the scheme of bringing their battalions under canvas for a month in each year. Well, I have no doubt that a great many of the officers would lie prepared to go out for a month with their men, but I do not think there is a man present in this House now who would fail to agree with me that it would be absolutely impossible to get anything like a large proportion of the rank and file of the Volunteers in this 398 country to leave their employment for a whole month in order to devote themselves exclusively to military training. Such a condition distinctly alters the terms upon which they volunteered. It is one thing for a man to join a volunteer corps and go away for a few days at Easter, and to come up for a few hours every Saturday and drill and go for a short march; but when you tell those men that they are expected to go out not for a day or two at Easter and a few hours on a Saturday, but for a solid month under canvas, they will tell you that it is absolutely impossible. We may be told that the men who employ Volunteers will do everything they can to enable these men to come out for a month; but no matter how willing-they may be, it will be impossible for them to allow their employees to come under canvas for a month, first of all; and, in the second place, if they do, it will be impossible to keep open their position for the month they are away. It is a thing that cannot be done, and will not be done. With regard to the Militia the objections appear to me to be very: much the same, but in a more aggravated form. In the country the men who enter the Militia are agricultural labourers or men in small positions-connected with farming operations; in the towns they are engaged in factories and workshops and so on. Then how is it to be expected that these men are to come out for three or four months and learn to do the actual work of a soldier? Who is to do their work while they train; and who is to guarantee that their places shall be kept for them? Both the schemes in my opinion are foredoomed to failure, and neither of them is in any sense calculated to meet the difficulties with which the Government are confronted at the present time. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for War appeared to me to make his case so much the worse when, in answer to an objection made by a greater man than myself, he said the proposals for the three or four months continuous drill for the Militia and the one month for the Volunteers were for this year only. That does not appear to me to meet the objection at all. The fact that they have to go out and so throw themselves, for a time, out of employment, and the fact that it is a scheme for only this year makes the proposal still worse; and the proposal itself almost touches the 399 fringe of conscription. I am not interested to speak of this from a military point of view, because I have no regard to the military institutions of this country; but I venture to say that on the day you start conscription in this country you will have an uprising of the people which will surprise you. If you do not have a revolution you will have something very like it. If the Government introduces conscription, they will do what no other: Government has ever dared to do—but they dare not do it. This Government: says "We will ask the Volunteers to come out for a month and the Militia for three or four months," but, on the other hand, they put the request in such a way that the men are bound to accede to it. From our point of view this scheme is a miserable and a makeshift scheme. And so far as the Regular Army is concerned, when the people of this country realise that this war has landed them into a large expenditure of money, and the loss of a great many of their best soldiers, and a large increase in the strength of the British Army, they will condemn the war in the strongest possible terms, and the Government which led them into it. If the policy of this Government and of this country, in the future, is to be to send hundreds of thousands of men from one end of the world to the other, to enforce on the inhabitants of one part of the Empire the will of this country for the time being, the proposals now put forward are altogether inadequate. You will have to have an army three times as large as at present. You will have to have a far greater number of men than the 30,000 you have put down. I have put down a question to be asked of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for War, but perhaps he may be able to give the answer to night and save further trouble. I want to know from him if ho will give the House the exact number of the Imperial and colonial troops under arms in Smith Africa at the present moment, the troops that are under orders for South Africa, and the troops that are on their way to South Africa, as well as those it is intended to send out. I want to get at the exact figure, and I would like to have the number of the colonial troops and the number of the Imperial troops separately given. It will be found, I believe, that there are considerably over 200,000 troops under arms at the present 400 time in South Africa. Twelve months ago, or even six months ago, would any man hi the United Kingdom have ventured to predict, even in his wildest moments, that at this time close on a quarter of a million of British troops would have been poured into South Africa to engage in a war with these two small Republics? Such a thing has never occurred in the whole history of the British Empire before. I venture to say—and those who are so much in favour of Imperial expansion should take it to heart—that the British Empire will never be maintained by the policy which is now being practised in South Africa of sending hundred of thousands of troops across the sea. I say that in this present proposal to increase your Army, there is an ominous indication that the old policy of self-government as a means of keeping your Empire together is to be abandoned, and that instead of the goodwill of the people throughout the Empire being maintained by the spirit of fair play and consideration and conciliation, you are going to try and build your Empire up in every part of the world by the sword. So surely as you continue that policy, so surely it will fail. From the point of view even of your own Imperialistic ideas, I say this policy is altogether futile and altogether bad. The First Lord of the Treasury the other day, in the course of a speech dealing with the question as to whether these men are necessary, and as to whether the circumstances in South Africa warrant an increase in the Army, said that no question of Imperial expansion had led to the present troubles in South Africa, and he challenged any Member of the House to point out—outside the case of Egypt—where anything had been done by the Government in the nature of expanding the British Empire. I was utterly astonished when I heard that speech of the right hon. Gentleman. Why, who for a moment can deny that but for the wild and reckless expansion of the British Empire incurred by the schemes of Mr. Rhodes you would never have had these troubles in South Africa? The right hon. Gentleman said that if Rhodesia had never been heard of the Dutch and the English might have had differences and come into collision. No doubt that is possible, because all the century the Dutch and the English have been more or less in collision in South Africa. What immediately led to this wretched war was 401 the organisation from Rhodesia of the raid by Dr. Jameson, which failed. If you had had no Rhodesia you would have had no buccaneering expedition under Dr. Jameson from Mafeking; and if you had had no expedition from Mafeking you would never have had this war; or if you did come into collision with the Dutch in South Africa you would not have been let in for a war of a serious nature, because everybody knows that until the date of the raid the Boers, from a military point of view, were only a power that you could have easily overcome with 10,000 or 15,000 men, or, at the outside, 20,000 men. It is perfectly established that it was only from that date that the Transvaal became a military Power. So weak, so badly prepared was the Transvaal as a military Power at the date of the raid that Dr. Jameson rode in with 600 men thinking that was a sufficient force. Would that have been done if the Transvaal was a strong military Power—if they had had the armaments they now have? From the date of the raid they commenced arming. From then down to the declaration of war absolutely nothing was done by the Transvaal except to pour arms and ammunition into their territory, and to build fortifications round Pretoria and everywhere else. But for the raid, the chances are there never would have been a war. I do not know really what the object of the Government in this matter was, but their policy was either extremely stupid or else most extraordinarily generous. It reminds me of two people going to have a duel with swords. One man for some reason or another has not got a suitable weapon, and his opponent turns to him and says, "I will wait until you are ready; get as good a weapon as mine; make preparations to be on level terms with me, and then I will fight." That is what the Government seem to have done with the Transvaal. For four years they waited until the Transvaal armed itself, and when that had been done they brought about this war. And yet nobody can claim that the grievances which existed at the time of the Jameson raid had become more accentuated afterwards. Every grievance existed just as markedly at the time of the Jameson raid, and yet at the time the Government took no action to redress those grievances or to compel the Transvaal to come to terms. If these grievances 402 were genuine, that is the time the Government should have acted. The Government would have had some reason for objecting to the Transvaal arming themselves. It allowed them to arm. The Prime Minister said in another place, how was he to know what the Transvaal was doing when the cases containing the ammunition were concealed and the guns were smuggled in as agricultural machinery? Was anything so ridiculously silly ever heard from any man in the position of the Prime Minister of England? Was it not common knowledge that the Transvaal was arming to the teeth? Did not we know that for the twelve months succeeding the Jameson raid—that is, the whole of the year 1896—the great armoury factories of Birmingham were pouring millions upon millions of cartridges into the Transvaal? What for? Why was that allowed? If you thought the Transvaal was not treating your subjects fairly why did not you make representations at that time before the Transvaal was fully armed? You made no representations then, and I say that what you are criminally responsible for is for allowing the Boers to arm themselves as they did. These Birmingham firms were challenged as to whether it was not the fact that they were supplying millions of cartridges to the Boers, and they admitted it their only defence was that they did not supply cartridges after 1896. I believe that was true. But this went on for the whole of 1896. It was only at the end of that year that alarm was taken at this extensive arming and at these Birmingham firms exporting the enormous quantities of ammunition they did. The whole course of events which has led up to this disastrous war displays an amount of criminal stupidity on the part of members of the Government which has never been equalled in this country or in the world. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, of course, does not agree with that. I do not wish to be discourteous in any way to him personally, but I will say the feeling towards the whole Cabinet, and more particularly towards him, is one of profound pity and sadness that men of his class have allowed themselves to be dragged into the present wretched state of affairs by the Colonial Secretary, who, whatever else he may be or may have been, is certainly not 403 in any sense fit to he the legitimate leader of the Unionists, much less of the Conservative party of this country. I say the conduct of the Government in not taking action to redress the grievances at the time of the raid, or—if they did not think that an opportune time—their action in allowing the Transvaal four years to arm, has rarely been equalled in the matter of stupidity by any Government in the history of the world. If action had been taken at that time trouble would have been saved. The Boers might have met you more generously. But even if they had not met you, then, with a comparatively small force of men, you would have been able to do what it is doubtful whether you are able to do now, although you have put such an enormous force into the field. These circumstances arise in the mind of every hon. Member when he is asked to vote for an increase of 120,000 men to the British Army. The other night when £13,000,000 of money were voted in a very few hours towards the expenses of this war, and towards the expenses of this increase of the Army, I could hardly help reflecting how strange it was that there did not seem to be a single British representative with sufficient public spirit to get up and suggest even remotely that this money might be better spent. I read in this morning's newspaper a case in the City of Dublin where a young man was picked up in a fainting condition, and on being conveyed to the hospital expired, and a post-mortem examination which was subsequently held showed that he died of sheer starvation. Cases of that kind occur in Dublin frequently, and it is impossible for any man to walk through the length and breadth of this great city without seeing the wretched misery and heart-breaking poverty which is everywhere exhibited, and without seeing how much suffering is endured on every hand, simply for the want of a judicious expenditure of small sums of money. Hon. Members come down to this House at three o'clock, and in the course of five hours they vote away millions upon millions of the money of the people of this country, not to forward any scheme to better the condition of the masses and alleviate the misery and sorrow that is everywhere apparent throughout all our large cities, and every part of the country, but simply to vote this money to continue the 404 shedding of the blood of brave men, English, Irish, and Scotch alike; this money is being spent to bring untold misery to their friends and relations throughout the length and breadth of South Africa and the British Isles; and to me there is something so utterly revolting in the expenditure of money like this under the circumstances in which we live, that if I were by myself in the House of Commons, and mine was the only voice to be raised against it, I would speak and vote against this proposal even if I did not get a single Member of the House to follow me. We are told that public opinion is on the side of the war. We are told that whenever a meeting is organised to protest against this expenditure the meeting is always broken up. No doubt it is: no doubt the supporters of the Government can always command sufficient influence upon a question of this character to interfere with those who express their opinions against the war. But whatever may take place in this country, in Ireland at least public opinion is free. The people of Ireland are against this war, and they have no sympathy with the objects of the war, and it makes them indignant to think that they may be called upon to bear a large proportion of the cost of this war, when they are already so unfairly taxed, and when in Ireland so much is neglected that might be done there. The Under Secretary for War, deep down in his heart, must see that whether he considers we are right or wrong, the protest made from Ireland is not unnatural. I know districts in my own constituency where I the people for the want of that help which the Government should give, and for the want of that money which is freely given in other portions of the Empire, are suffering considerably. In my own district we had to complain of what was done in regard to the fisheries, and we asked for the presence of one of your small cruisers to protect this industry, but the First Lord of the Admiralty said we could not use warships for such a purpose. We cannot get a penny for anything in Ireland, we cannot get even the university which the First Lord of the Treasury is in favour of, because the money to endow it will not be given. We are asked to vote this money for the prosecution of a war which we detest. If English Members are so sensible to the feelings of their constituencies that 405 they won't protest against this war, then I say that, for the time being, the Irish representatives are giving voice to the opinions of large masses of the working people of this country who are against this war. I believe when this miserable war is over that the masses of the English people will honour the Irish Members for being practically the only considerable body of men in this House who, in the face of the misery and suffering that exists throughout the country, object to this wanton, wretched, and extravagant expenditure of public treasure upon an unworthy object. Here we are at the end of the nineteenth century, which has seen such mighty advances in regard to humanity and inventions in every direction, engaged in as ferocious, as bloody, and as un-Christian a war as ever this country, or any other country, engaged in. It is an outrage in a Christian land and an outrage upon a Christian country; and what makes it more sad to contemplate is that your forces and your guns are turned against a people who are as strictly, if not more strictly, attached to the word of God and the Christian Church than you are yourselves. What effect can this spectacle of two great Christian countries attacking each other have upon the Native races? If there was no other consideration to be urged, I say that the example you are setting to the Native races would be consideration enough to make you pause. What do you think the Native races will think of these proceedings? Do you not think that they will not, sooner or later, break from the bonds which now hold them, and probably overrun not only your own possessions but the Transvaal as well?—and then you will have a Christian race fighting for their lives against the savages whose cause you now pretend to be fighting for. I feel that it is almost useless to speak any further on this subject. I have never spoken in this House with more sincerity and with more pleasure than I have done in my protest against this war. I say this war could have been avoided with ordinary conciliation and diplomacy, and above all it could have been avoided if you had adhered to the doctrine which you preached at the Hague where you agreed to arbitration. What a farce and mockery of international good faith that was! You agree to arbitration, and when these two 406 small Republics offer it you refuse it. Does it mean you are never to arbitrate unless the Power you arbitrate with is stronger than yourselves? If the Uitlanders in the Transvaal have suffered grievances the Uitlanders of other countries have suffered as well. Any court of arbitration would have done justice between you and your subjects there, and yet you refused arbitration and drove those two unfortunate countries into a position in which they were obliged to fight for their lives, and you have led this country to sacrifices and losses which are irreparable—because no victories can atone for the enormous amount of suffering that has been caused all over the country. With regard to the conduct of Irish Members we sometimes hear—the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War himself said it, although I am sure that he did not intend to be personally offensive to us—that there are other Irishmen who do more than talk. The hon. Gentleman said there are Irishmen in South Africa who are giving their lives and shedding their blood for this country. It is perfectly true that there are Irishmen in South Africa fighting as gallantly as Irishmen always have done in ever part of the world. These men we consider are in the wrong. We consider that it is a cruel shame to see such magnificent gallantly wasted in such a war. We believe that these men, under better circumstances, would never lend their sanction to this war; but being engaged in it we hold that their gallantry and bravery ought not to be made a matter of taunt to us, because we are as proud of it as any other people. That is no reason why we should not object to the war, and to the circumstances which have led to the loss of their blood. Who are these Irish soldiers who comprise the Connaught Rangers, the Dublin Fusiliers, and the rest of the Irish regiments? They come mostly from the South of Ireland; the)' are Catholics by religion, and in politics they are Nationalists and Homo Rulers like we are. I have myself heard these gallant and brave men cheering at Irish meetings and demonstrations, and cheering Members sitting upon these benches in the towns which they have visited. You must not imagine because these men have entered your Army that they are not in sympathy with us, because they are, and we have the sympathy also of the classes in 407 Ireland who supply these men, for if we had not we should never have the right to come here and speak against this war and the system under which our country is governed. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War is a Minister in this House who commands universal respect for the way in which he conducts public business. He is always very courteous and kind to those who, like myself, pitch into him occasionally, but even if the hon. Gentleman opposite was not so courteous to us as he is, even if he treated us badly, I do not think there is any Member on these benches who would not entertain for him what we call in Ireland "gra," which betokens a good; deal of respect. The hon. Gentleman's grandfather was one of the noblest Irish rebels who ever lived, for he was a man whose name is honoured in Ireland by the masses of the people, and his portrait is to be found in every cabin home in Ireland, for he fought bravely against the foes of his country. He sacrificed his life fighting against what he believed to be an unjust war, and he died from wounds in Dublin separated from his friends and kindred relations. Lord Edward Fitzgerald held the opinions we hold to-day with regard to the government of Ireland. It is from the life and sentiment of the grandfather of the hon. Gentleman opposite that we and the young generation of Irishmen who follow us have received our inspiration and our determination to object to the present system of rule in Ireland. The hon. Gentleman does not take the same view as his ancestor, but at least he will extend to those who are true to the teaching and life of his illustrious ancestor the respect which I am sure he feels himself for the memory of that ancestor. I will say no more upon this subject except to protest from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of Ireland and also on behalf of those in England who seem to have few statesmen here to represent their views, that the object of this war is cruel, unnecessary, and unjust, and I object to the wanton expenditure of millions of money as un-Christian and infamous when we see around us so much misery and suffering amongst our own countrymen which ought to be relieved and alleviated before we spend these vast treasures in trying to bring into subjection a people who are not of our own race or blood, but who are worthy of our respect and esteem, be- 408 cause whether you beat them or do not beat them, they are fine fighting men and you must respect them.
§ MR. LOUIS SINCLAIR () Essex, Romford
I wish to record the hearty appreciation I feel at the excellent plans which the Under Secretary for War has put before the House. I feel sure that the provisions made will encourage the Volunteers, and I am confident will induce many others to join that admirable force so well calculated to defend our country. So far as I can see, the dissatisfaction of the nation and the wrath which consumed it has been appeased by the knowledge that the War Office has done far more than the people knew. It has proved itself to be an efficient machine, and far better handled than any of us imagined. There is one point, however, to which I should like to draw the attention of the House, and that is, the delay which appears to take place in getting our troops away on board ship. Surely it cannot be a question of getting ships, having regard to the loyalty displayed by all shipowners—surely it would not have been difficult to commandeer any ships in the Thames or Mersey to transport any number of men and horses in a fortnight. But I take it that it was not the want of ships which has hampered us. We naturally know-that guns and the thousand and one things which are necessary to make an army an offensive and defensive factor must be taken into account. Now, having heard what the Secretary of War has stated, I think we are satisfied that the War Office has done its utmost to meet the severe strain put upon it. Having read of the difficulties of transport in the field, it has occurred to me that it is a pity that more traction engines are not used; and when we read of the capture of our guns by the enemy, owing, admittedly, to the fact that they were lost in consequence of the mules and other classes of teams being shot down, it appears to me that if these guns had been drawn by their own motors or traction engines, duly armoured, this mishap might perhaps have been avoided. Besides, I often notice the immense difficulties our officers have in mounting guns on steep hills and in difficult places. It will be conceded that, by means of strong steel rope and a large pulley fastened and secured by anchor at the top of a hill, a 409 traction engine could be used, either by winding up or going backwards, to haul up the largest of guns into positions where no teams or manual labour would have a chance; and it would not expose the men or the animals to be picked off, thereby endangering the success of the attempt. No rock, however precipitous, could not thereby be mounted by the gun; and, having regard to the difficulties of this campaign, I hold that we must be ready by every ingenuity at our command to deal with the exigencies. It will be found that Continental Powers are using a number of motor cars, traction engines, and the like, and it will be seen that an enormous economy of fodder and the like is accomplished, and that a greater propelling power is generated by crude petroleum or petrol than by any other means. I certainly think that an experiment on these lines might well commend itself to the Under Secretary for War. It is generally conceded that conscription would lie inadvisable in this country, and that the feelings of the nation would be outraged if men were compelled to serve in our colonies to defend the homes of others; whereas on the Continent conscription is really meant to be a force to defend the individual homes of those who take up arms. But no one who has travelled can help noticing the amount of physical development and good which service in the army imparts to those who have served—the muscles are developed, the form improved, and an erect carriage is ensured in future life. Well, Sir, this is a desirable result, and I think from that point of view that conscription is good. Now, I trust that physical training (if some kind will be introduced in this country, and that the Education Department will introduce into all the elementary schools a system of drill, in which all boys will be compelled to take part, and that these exercises should lie under the control of proper drill sergeants appointed for the purpose; that cadet corps should be encouraged; and if found necessary, that even shooting galleries might be introduced, in order to enable the youths of this country to shoot, and to know how to drill whenever they should be called upon to do so. I know from personal experience how splendid these exercises are. They are not easily forgotten, and I feel sure they would be the 410 means of developing the physique of the nation, and would foster a feeling of ardour, patriotism, and enthusiasm which would be evoked whenever the country was menaced and in danger; and I feel sure would be the moans of sowing seeds of a martial character which would be the best recruiting factor ever introduced. In conclusion, Sir, I wish to say that I hold that this war is not actuated, as depicted on the other side, by a feeling of greed or annexation, but that the true factor is that this is a fight for freedom and liberty.
§ MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire,) Eifion
There is one matter in the speech of the Secretary for War in which I entirely agree, and that is where he expressed a firm intention on the part of the Government that our Army should be converted into a purely business Army. That has been the greatest defect in the past. The courage of our soldiers, particularly of our officers, has been unquestionable; but this war has demonstrated that the military knowledge possessed by many of our officers is very deficient indeed, and that is more noticeable in connection with what are called our "crack" regiments, and especially our cavalry regiments. The complaint is a reasonable one, for, as has already been pointed out, these regiments appeal to be the appanage of a few wealthy men who put their sons in those regiments with the view of improving their social status. That seems to me to be an absolutely false view to take of the Army, and I have been informed on good authority that with respect to regiments of this kind, commanding officers have difficulty in getting their officers to devote the proper time to the duties of their profession. Practically the spare time of those officers, instead of being devoted to their duties, is given up to polo and such games. That ought not to be the case, and officers who have attempted to remedy this defect have not received the support from headquarters that they ought to have done. I submit that in all regiments the standard of living should be within the means of the soldier who has only his pay to depend upon, but the complaint is that in several regiments the officers are mostly men with private means amounting to about £600 a year. The course of this war indicates very strongly the need for this 411 reform. As an illustration, I may mention the first disaster that befell our arms, by which a large number of the 18th Hussars were taken prisoners at the battle of Glencoe. I have seen published in the newspapers last week a letter from a Boer soldier, who was one of a number that effected that capture. I cannot help believing that the account given by him must be to some extent exaggerated, because if it is anything like true it exhibits the most deplorable ignorance on the part of the officers who allowed themselves to be captured. The account this Boer gives is that a regiment of 300 Hussars were turned by him and one other man; that these two were afterwards reinforced by fifteen others, and the whole of the Hussars were brought to a standstill; that reinforcements to the number of eighty and one gun afterwards came up, when the Hussars hoisted the white flag. The writer assorts that fifteen Boers kept these Hussars at a standstill for an hour. Of course the courage of our officers generally is unquestionable, but they have shown a great lack of militant knowledge. I would urge on the hon. Gentleman if he desires that our Army should be a business army and not an army of pleasure, that the rule which obtains on the Continent that officers as well as privates should wear their uniforms at all times should be adopted. It should be the invariable rule in the Army that, whether on or off duty, in public or in private, all officers should be obliged to wear their uniforms. That would bring home to them that their first duty, and not only their first but their main and principal duty, is to the Army and not to pleasure. I cannot myself approve of the action of the Government in respect to the Volunteers and the Militia. I think it is a deplorable precedent to set to obtain by means of pressure—and I think rather unworthy pressure—enlistments from the Volunteers and Militia for foreign service. These branches of the service—more particularly the Volunteers—were enrolled for homo defence, and pressure should not have been put upon them to induce them to enlist for foreign service. It will have a tendency to dissuade a most valuable class of recruit from joining these branches, which, as a result, will have to depend on the idle and loafing class, who have the time and the inclination to go abroad. What is 412 wanted, in my view, to strengthen the Volunteers and the Militia is a different class altogether, viz., well-to-do artisans and clerks in permanent employment, not a floating population of ne'er-do-weels who merely enlist for a change. If whenever a war breaks out in any part of the world pressure is to be brought to. bear on Volunteers to induce them to go abroad it will have a strong tendency to prevent a suitable class from enlisting. I wish to direct the attention of the hon. Gentleman to the kind of pressure which is being put on Volunteers in this country. Here is a notice published by Captain Allard, the officer commanding the loyal Welsh Fusiliers, calling his corps together for the purpose of ascertaining how many would volunteer for the war—Special Orders.—War! War!—The authorities have called upon the 3rd Volunteer Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers for voluntary service in South Africa or for garrison national defence duty. With reference to above be it notified to all members of the G Company, 3rd Volunteer Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers that a parade will be held in the Drill Hall on Wednesday night, at nine o'clock, in plain clothes, when it is hoped that every man will be present whose name is on the roll to signify which of the above services he is willing to perform. It must be borne in mind that a man absenting himself from this parade must be branded as a coward. Every man must answer to the call to arms for national defence. Fall in, every man—95 in. strength—to answer this call, and let Llanrwst be to the front in this emergency. Remember, this is trusting our citizen army to the backbone.I say that if men who have duties in I connection with their own occupations to attend to are to be branded as cowards, as these men would be branded if they did not volunteer for the purpose of national defence, then respectable steady working men, artisans and clerks, will not join the Volunteers. I thought at the time that the sudden call on the Volunteers and Militia was really an indication of panic on the part of the I Government, because it was made on the Monday following the news of the defeat i at Colenso, the third of a series of defeats that occurred in one deplorable week. It seemed to me that the Government had to some extent lost their heads, but I am afraid there was a political motive behind that summons to the Volunteers and Militia. It had at any rate a political effect, and I am not sure that it was not a design on the part of the Government to 413 distract the attention of the country from the grave disasters which had occurred by starting a new excitement in every district and town and almost in every village throughout the country. That excitement did distract the attention of the country, but sending a large number of half or quarter-trained men from the Militia, the Volunteers, and the Yeomanry to South Africa cannot really assist the troops there. You have to face the ablest enemy England has faced for generations, an enemy which has tested the strength and ability of our ablest and most experienced troops, and to send out half-trained troops to our army is really rather an encumbrance than otherwise. I noticed also that a similar opinion was expressed in the press by several military critics, evidently military men, shortly after the order was issued. But I do not base my opposition to the Vote on these matters. My opposition is based on the fundamental ground that the continuance of the war is absolutely unjust, that the war was unjust ab initio, and that to continue it is unjust. I am unable to appreciate the position taken up by many of my hon. friends on these benches. A great number of Liberals admit that the war is unjust, and in its origin absolutely indefensible, not only through the bad diplomacy which led to it, bat also in the prosecution of objects which we had only the right to proscute by friendly representations. That is the opinion almost universally entertained by the Liberal party, with perhaps the exception of about a dozen members. But if the war were unjust at the beginning, it seems to me to be unjust to continue it. The suggestion is that having started the war, we must go through with it because of the necessity of maintaining our prestige. I say if this war is to be continued for the purpose of maintaining our prestige, it is absolutely immoral, and that it is a crime to sacrifice a single life for the purpose of maintaining our prestige. It is now impossible to maintain it: it is gone so far as our military prestige is concerned, and your only object now is to attempt to recover it. You may succeed—indeed, I have no doubt that you will ultimately succeed—in this war; but you will not recover your prestige. The resources of the Transvaal and the Free State are limited; you have unlimited resources in your overwhelming 414 numbers and unlimited wealth, in the command of the sea and in your ability to buy your stores in Australia, South America, Germany, and other parts of the world—although you get into a fever of excitement if you hear of a gun being introduced in a piano case into Lorenzo Marques—and it is out by crashing the Transvaal that you can recover your prestige. You have lost something more than your military prestige; you have lost something more valuable from a purely utilitarian point of view to this country, and that is your moral prestige. You may recover your military prestige but you cannot recover your moral prestige. This war is the result of a breach of faith; it is because we have broken our word, and every war England has waged for the last ton years has arisen from the same cause. Are all remember the gross breach of faith in connection with the Terai campaign.
§ MR. BRYN ROBERTS
I do not intend to argue it, Sir, but I merely quote it as an illustration. It is unquestionable that the war arose entirely from a breach of faith. Then with regard to Egypt, no less than four Ministries—Liberal as well as Conservative—pledged themselves to retire from Egypt. The breach of the pledge was followed by the recent war in the Soudan, and it is a breach of faith that has also led to the present war. If the Government would only realise that it is more important that the word of England should always be regarded as reliable and not to be altered with circumstances, and would endeavour to recover our moral rather than our military prestige, I believe they would do more for the security of this country and our colonies than by any plan of reorganisation they can ever accomplish. We know and admit that the condemnation of England's breach of faith in respect of this war is universal among other nations. Hon. Gentlemen opposite endeavour to console themselves with the idea that that condemnation arises only from envy. I quite recognise that there is on the Continent a low, base opinion similar to that which exists in England, and that the jingo, whether in this country or in Berlin or Paris, is always actuated by the lowest and basest 415 motives. As far as the Berlin and the Parisian jingoes are concerned I am quite willing to acknowledge that their condemnation of England is based solely and entirely on envy, but neither in this country nor in any other civilised country are the jingoes representative of the nation. They form a minority, but the professional and educated men and the honest working men, who are in a majority in every nation, universally condemn your policy in connection with this war. The only support given to this country on the Continent comes from Hungary, Greece, and Italy. When you examine the basis of that claim it comes to this, that the Hungarians have a feeling of gratitude to England, because through the influence of the Liberals, not the jingo Conservative party, we supported them in their struggles for liberty. The Italians have a feeling of gratitude, but that is also given to that section of the Liberal party which is opposed to this war. And so it is in the case of Greece. We are still taunted on this side of the House because a hundred of our Members sent an address of sympathy with the Greeks. Yes, but the sympathy of the Greeks with England at the present moment is due to those hundred Members of the Liberal party who supported them in their day of trial. These are the only sections of the civilised world who support you, but they do so under the misapprehension that it was you who supported them; so that, tried on your own merits, you have not a single friend in the civilised world. It has often been said that this war is due to the Majuba policy. It is not due to that policy, but to the abandonment of it. No sooner had Mr. Gladstone retired, at any rate no sooner was he dead, than certain leading members of the Liberal party turned their backs on the whole teaching of that great Liberal statesman's life, and cheered the jingo Conservative party to the echo. They took the credit of the Soudan War, and if this war turns out successful they will be equally ready to take credit for it. If Mr. Gladstone had been in office, or had been living with his faculties unimpaired, there is not a man living who believes for a moment that this war would have been entered upon, or that there would have been the slightest danger to our position in South Africa. But when that policy is reversed do you expect to recover the 416 fruits of that policy? If you plant a tree and cut it down, do you expect togather fruit from it? The plan you have adopted has only brought maleficent fruit. The policy that resulted in this war is on the shoulders of the Government and particularly on those of the Colonial Secretary. I do not believe that if the Colonial Secretary had been in any other position in the Government, and if Colonial questions, particularly the Transvaal question, had been under the control of the Foreign Office, we would have had war. But unfortunately the Colonial Secretary has allied himself with astute capitalists in South Africa, and under some mysterious influence they were able to control him. That is why we are at war. It is due to the introduction of the capitalist element and the Tammany system into politics in this country. It is a curious thing that it is to the aristocracy of England that we are indebted for the introduction here of the cursed Tammany system, and the sooner the better nature of Great Britain reasserts itself and vomits this evil out of the conduct of the affairs of this country the better it will be.
§ *MR. H. P. PEASE () Darlington
I wish to say a few words in regard to this Vote. I have little knowledge in regard to military matters, but I may, perhaps, crave the indulgence of the House as I have a considerable amount of knowledge of the working men of the country, having been in touch with them for a number of years. There appear to me to be three classes in this House who criticise adversely this Vote—those who-believe that all war is wrong, who believe that this Vote will increase the spirit of militarism in the country, and believe that war is opposed to Christianity. With these honourable Members I think everyone must feel some sympathy, but they sometimes forget that there comes from the same source as Christianity itself the assurance that "when the strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace." The second class are those who believe the proposals of the Government are either inadequate or impossible. It was suggested the other day that it would be right for us to hold an inquiry into the conduct of the war, but it surely would not be wise to institute such an inquiry at the present moment.
417 During the Crimean War an inquiry was I hold while the fighting was proceeding, but it was of no use whatever, because a great many of the witnesses whose evidence was material to the Commission were absent. In regard to the proposals of the Government for men and money, I should like to say a word or two. The policy of conscription, in my opinion, ought not to receive any support. The money question is very difficult, for in many cases the people of this country will not lie inclined to give very large sums towards increasing the military; armaments at the present moment. Some hon. Members suggested that it would I not be a difficult matter to get the men, but I beg to differ. I venture to think there will be considerable difficulty in getting a large number of men by invitation. I believe, however, as has been suggested to me by friends in the north of England, that a large number of men could be procured who are able to fight and shoot in the interests of England, if rifle clubs were encouraged; and I hope that the Government will do something material in that direction. I propose that a considerable number of medals should be given every year by which the best class of men might be attracted into the rifle clubs, and that a retaining fee should be given to the best shots. The other class of opponents of the Government proposals is composed of the Irish Members, it seems to me perfectly absurd that we should listen to talk from these hon. Members about increasing the efficiency of the Army when we know that they wish it to be inefficient. It makes us ridiculous in the eyes of the world that we should have to listen to an hon. Member telling us what we should do to make our Army efficient, when only throe days before the same hon. Member said he hoped that we should be beaten in every war we should engage in, in every part of the globe. And then he talked to us about Majuba Hill—that incident which everybody admits cast a shadow on a page of our military history, and about which we do not care to hear from hon. Members from Ireland in this House. I venture to think they would not be able to express these views in any village hall in England or in any hall in London. We know what these hon. Members mean when they ask us to make an immediate peace. What they desire is that the}' should see the end of the British Empire.
§ MR. AUSTIN () Limerick, W.
said that the Irish Members were glad of the opportunity of raising their voices against this Vote, but he did so on different grounds from some of his hon. friends. He looked upon this question from a civil point of view, and ho asked himself what was to be produced by the war. The answer was a permanent tax on the country. What was the policy which had caused that permanent tax? They were told that the war had been brought about by the Boers not paying attention to the grievances of the Uitlandors. The Boers, were an ignorant people, but at least it was recognised that they were a Christian people, and professed the same religion as the people in this country. Everyone acquainted by correspondence with the Boer population knew that ever since the war commenced they had shown themselves an intelligent race, and that England had all its work cut out if she hoped to suppress the independence they were fighting for. It would be strange indeed if the voices of the Irish Members were not raised on behalf of a people whose only crime was fighting for liberty. The hon. Member who had just sat down had invited the Irish Members to London and the English villages. They did not want to go to English villages or to London; they wanted to remain at home; but if they were compelled to come to London, they wished to plead for the cause of Ireland. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that if he came to Ireland Irish hospitality and generosity would be extended towards him, although he would refuse that to the Trish Members in England; he would have ample scope to express his opinions and would go back without any bodily injury, and therefore he need not be a bit afraid. He desired as a civilian to inquire what was to lie gained by this large increase in the military forces of this country. An increase of 120,000 men meant a very large permanent tax. Those who searched the history of the country would find that it was not by great armaments that England gained her greatest victories. It was due largely to the causes she had been engaged in. Today she had departed from her traditions and was engaged in a conflict with two small Republics which had earned the sympathy of the civilised world. The war had been the work of one gentleman of world-wide notoriety, and looking 419 back over the last twenty years he wondered whether Mr. Chamberlain and the Secretary for the Colonies were the same person. Inasmuch as Ireland would have to pay a large proportion of the cost for the increased armament, he protested against that increase. Irish representatives had been taunted with the number of Irish who were now at the front, but that was easy to explain. Taking advantage of Ireland's poverty, English recruiting sergeants had gone through the towns and through the country, and with their seductive tongues had persuaded the poor to enlist, and when once they enlisted the Irish did their duty. He joined with his colleagues in protesting against the Vote, as it was one with which the Irish people had no sympathy and did not desire to support.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
(Lynn Regis) congratulated the hon. Member who had just resumed his seat upon the concession he had made to the Government by his remark that the Irish soldiers at the front did their duty. It was a great concession, Although he did not suppose, whatever views might be expressed in the House by hon. Gentlemen representing Irish constituencies, that Irish soldiers at the front would do anything else. A great deal had been said as to the origin of the war, but it was idle at this date to go into that subject. The war was due entirely to the policy of vacillation and the determination of Mr. Gladstone to obtain votes. He also congratulated the Under Secretary of State for War upon his not having fallen into the trap of compulsory service or conscription, and he trusted that he would in future always avoid it. No form of compulsory service or conscription was necessary in this country, and that was proved by the fact that whenever there was a prospect of war or we were engaged in war the Government had many thousands of men more than they required. The spirit which animated the people of this country was directly opposite to that which animated any nation in the world except the Irish, who always came forward if there was fighting to be done, and in times of peace devoted their time to their farms and their landlords. Conscription gave a country the very worst army in the world. Under that system were obtained a certain number of average men who for the most part 420 were not fighting men at all, and if conscription were established in this country the Government would obtain a large number of peaceably disposed persons and men not physically so fit as they obtained under the present system. Under the voluntary system now in vogue they got men who could fight or who thought they could, and those were the right men to secure. He had seen Continental armies weeping in battalions, he might say, on being ordered to the front. Such a thing was never seen in this country; the men who come forward like fighting. Therefore he hoped that the Under Secretary of State for War and his noble chief would continue to resist the insidious temptation to establish a compulsory service. The Under Secretary of State for War seemed to divide the necessities of the case under three heads—first, the defence of these islands; secondly, the necessities under our foreign policy; and, thirdly, South Africa. Of the three the one requiring the least attention was the defence of these islands. He did not think it was necessary to call out the reserves for that purpose; nor did he think there was any necessity for those measures of defence which, to quote the hon. Gentleman's own words, were "required not as a defence against attack, but as an insurance against the fear that might spring from a threat of attack." There was no present threat of attack and no present ground for any fear at all in connection with the safety of these islands, which were amply protected as long as the English Fleet remained in its present condition. Although the Army might have looked a little better than it was, the English Fleet looked a great deal worse than it was; it was his conviction that it was, in fact, immeasurably superior to any other navy that existed. There was no necessity to consider the future of these islands so far as the people themselves were concerned, in as much as these islands must always be protected by the Fleet, and it was hardly necessary for the hon. Gentleman to put that consideration in the forefront of his policy. The question of the future of the Empire would, he thought, demand the serious attention of the Government. The Empire was about to pass through a period of menace. Movements were taking place on the Indian frontier on the part of Russia, and also in the heart of Persia, but perhaps the most serious 421 menace of all was the suggested making of Holland an integral part of the German Empire. In that event the German fleet would be almost, if not quite, as good as our own. The Germans had ships and guns, but still they had no navy. They had; no naval traditions, but if they succeeded in obtaining Dutch sailors with Dutch naval traditions, and put them into German ships to work German guns, the whole face of Europe would, by such an evolution, be entirely changed. That was a thing for which the Hon. Gentleman's scheme did not provide, but that was a thing to which he should give his serious attention. The most pressing consideration was no doubt the conduct of the present war. The faults, if faults there had been, arose from the conviction of the War Office that one officer was just as good as another, and that when it was a question of choosing a general any general would do. In the Navy, when a man lost a ship or a gun, he was immediately court-martialled, but in South Africa we had had generals who apparently could not find the enemy without losing a thousand men and having the heads of their columns blown away; yet there had been no hint or suggestion that the generals should be called to account. It was the immediate inquiry or court-martial in the Navy which made that service so efficient, and it was the exactly contrary system which in the Army constituted one of its most disastrous defects. In South Africa we wanted probably, first of all more troops, and then a better method of choosing the generals, and more responsibility fixed on the generals when they were chosen. He had no desire to blame our generals, although they were not beyond blaming their subordinates. He blamed nobody. All he desired to say was, if such a system was enforced of fixing responsibility on the heads of the Army as obtained in the Navy, we might expect greater success.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON () Cumberland, Cockermouth
Those who vote for the men who are now asked for, vote for the policy of this war, and as I object to that policy I object to vote for the men. We have already lost a vast number of men and a great deal of money. We cannot get any glory after what has taken place, and I cannot see that we can gain any profit; and when we look a little abroad, after we have ceased 422 to be proud of what we are now doing, we shall know that nations of the civilised world will condemn us. I know that the people at large think that something may be gained by this war, and, that being so, it behoves us to see what we are fighting for. Upon that I will just quote one sentence which appeared in The Times newspaper in September last. The writer of the article said—There is no price which the people of this country are not prepared to pay in order to vindicate their position as the paramount power in South Africa.[Cheers.] I am glad to hoar those cheers, because it shows that the object of this war is paramountey in South Africa. Now what does paramountey mean? I should say, without looking at the dictionary, forcing upon a country a government it does not want. In other words it is tyranny. It may be that the quotation I have given is so ancient as to cease to lie interesting, therefore let me give one taken from a speech of my right Hon, friend the Member for Wolverhampton last Friday. Everybody knows that there is no more enthusiastic supporter of the war than my right hon. friend. He had been dining with a lot of soldiers and made an after-dinner speech. He said—We must dismiss us unworthy of notice the ridiculous allegations that we are contending merely for a five or seven years franchise, or the redress of certain grievances, or for some point in the negotiations which diplomacy might have adjusted. The Army, which their quests that night were to join, was fighting neither for gold nor territory, but to resist and defeat a supremacy which would be a standing menace and a ceaseless danger to Great Britain.And he concluded with those words—We bid you god-speed, and with you and the vast and overwhelming majority of the British people, we reverently add, 'May God defend the right!'It is therefore a question simply of supremacy, and nothing else: an instance of the good old jingo phrase of—The good old rule the simple plan, That they should take who have the power, And they should keep who can.But I say that when he calls upon God in this matter it rather gives me a turn, because I do not think the Supreme Being ought to be called upon to become an accomplice in our crime and cruelty in 423 this matter. The new diplomacy is dangerous and disgusting, and the new religion is detestable. I will not give my vote in support of a policy like this. I know the argument at the present moment is that we must go on fighting because the Boers have got our territory. Technically that seems to be correct, But it is defiance, not defence—it is the spirit of Imperialism which is urging on this enterprise, so fraught with guilt and danger to the Empire. Lord Rosebery, who certainly ought to be an authority, says at present it is a question of life and death. I agree with him humbly. I think we are in peril. But we are not in peril from the Boers, or from those nations to which he alluded. The peril, Mr. Speaker, is in the spirit of pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy which we pray against in church every Sunday so ineffectually, and which has taken possession of the people of this country. The Colonial Secretary is the most perfect representative of that state of feeling we have ever had in this country. That state of feeling has already led to the most disastrous proceeding of modern times in this country, and if it is not checked it will lead to further disaster. I know those who are carrying on this war, the Colonial Secretary and his colleagues or accomplices, say they are supported by the vast majority of this House and by the majority of the country. If that were not so, I would not speak. I feel sure there are many men on this side of the House who condemn the war as much as I do, and yet they honestly and conscientiously think the only thing is to see it through. With all deference to those hon. friends of mine, I say to take that course is to obliterate the distinction between right and wrong. I am sorry to differ from many of my friends who take this line, but I cannot take it. I know that opposition to this war is unpopular. Wars are always popular. What is popularity? In a few years it will matter very little to any of us whether we are popular or not. It may matter to us whether we were right, and I am sure it will matter to us whether we tried to be right or not. In that view I hold it to be our duty on every occasion, by our voice and by our vote, to protest against the policy which has already involved this country in deep disgrace, and which, if persisted in, will, I am sure, end in a serious national disaster.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
(Donegal, S.) said he felt it utterly impossible to discuss this question with anything bordering on heat or passion. His views with reference to this war were well known, but like the majority of Members, he had very dear relatives and friends at the front, and their jeopardy compelled him to speak with as much temperance and forbearance as he could. There was scarcely a man in the House who had not some relatives or connections at the front; but the right hon. Gentleman who made the war (the Colonial Secretary) had his relatives and connections not at the front but on the Treasury Bench. He was not displeased with the references to the Irish soldiers of the hon. Member for King's Lynn. The Irish soldiers in the Army were largely Catholic and Nationalist peasants. They were intensely national. They entered the Army partly from the spirit of fighting and partly through the necessities of their case. They did not interfere with politics. They recognised that their absolute duty as soldiers was to obey commands and not interfere in politics. But he wondered what their feelings would be when they learned they had been praised by enemies of Ireland on the Tory benches to point an attack on the Nationalist Members.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
said the hon. Member was not a conscious enemy of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman did not forget that the reason Wellington and Peel were compelled to grant Catholic emancipation was because Irish Catholic soldiers cheered for O'Connell in the streets of Limerick. The resentment of Irish soldiers would be very great when they learned and found out that they were used as the instruments of a political party in that House. The more it was instilled into the minds of Irish soldiers that they were not merely doing their duty, but that they were political agents, and had to take part in a political battle, the better for those who wished to see the restoration of Ireland's legislative independence. On Friday night he asked the Under Secretary of State for War to give him the number of the Irish Militia regiments that had been since this war began transferred from Ireland to England, and the 425 number of regiments which had taken their place. The numbers were given, and he then asked why the Irish Militia regiments who stayed at home were not allowed with arms in their hands. No answer was given, but the hon. Member for South Belfast said it was because they were rebels. The explanations given by the Under Secretary of State for War on Friday night wore, if he might use the expression, "fudge." At the time of the Union, the English Government sent ten Irish Militia regiments to England and sent English regiments in their place. The reason for that was that the Government was afraid—as it was afraid now—to have Irish regiments in Ireland with arms in their hands. It was a reversal of the whole spirit of the Militia that they should be taken away from Ireland to England, and it showed that the Government were afraid to trust these Irish regiments. The hon. Member hail given most elaborate details of the various provisions ho intended to make with reference to the English Volunteers, and referred especially to the improvement of their rifle ranges. He wished to ask the Under Secretary for War whether he would allow them to have Volunteer rifle clubs in Ireland. There were no Volunteers in Ireland, and such was the dread and the horror the hon. Gentleman had of allowing Irish regiments to have arms in their hands in their own country, that even the Militia were deported. This was not a Christian war, but one which was supported by a great many people who were practically enemies of the Christian religion. He believed it to be a war simply for the purpose of raiding the gold mines, and that it was one of the blackest and foulest transactions m the history of the world. The last time he spoke on the subject of the war in that House, he felt sure that the war would be a "walk over," that the British would be in Pretoria in ten days. He protested against it then. How much more did he protest against it now, when no fewer than 10,000 of our flesh and blood had been destroyed, or were prisoners. [An HON. MEMBER: No, no!] There was not much exaggeration in that statement. He scarcely knew one man who was not mourning the loss of some relative through the war, and when it was recollected that the war was not for the expansion of the Empire, but was simply to get gold for a set of jobbers on the 426 Stock Exchange, the thing became intolerable. He never subscribed to the doctrine of O'Connell that all political movements were not worth the shedding, of one drop of human blood, but he did say that one drop of human blood ought not to have been sacrificed at the bidding of any Birmingham Mars.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER () Staffordshire, Lichfield
Like many Liberals on this side of the House, I disagree with most of the speeches made by my hon. friends around me. Though some-of us may agree that the Government may have mismanaged the negotiations and the war at the outset, and may express that opinion in our votes, yet we are determined to help the Government in every way we can to carry the war to successful issue. I utterly disagree with the hon. Member for the Eifion Division, who said he believed most of us on this side of the House were anxious for peace at once. Yes, we are anxious for peace, but only for peace on honourable terms, when the war has been brought to a successful issue. A great deal of this scheme is good. But the unauthorised part of the programme, the unpublished part of the programme, is coming out bit by bit. The additions which have been made to the comfort of the troops, such as the flannel shirts which have been asked for, the small extra pay for the Militia—all these things are good and will encourage recruiting for the Army and Militia. But there are one-or two things which I think it has been agreed by most Members who speak on the subject will not be very satisfactory in their results. One is taking out the Volunteers for a whole month. I think the Under Secretary for War will find that a large proportion of the Volunteer battalions are not likely to come out for a whole month. I suggest that the officers of many of them might be attached to our Militia or Line regiments. It would immensely benefit the Volunteer force if the officers had a month's such training every year or for one year. The great need, I believe, on the part of Volunteer officers, is the want of technical knowledge. If the young men who have just joined, or who have done a year or two, were taken out for a month with a regular regiment, they would at least learn their drill. I further want to ask that some encouragement should be given to 427 non-commissioned officers. It would encourage non-commissioned officers immensely if they were sometimes made warrant officers. I know there are objections to that promotion, but they can be easily got over. Another difficulty in connection with the Militia and the Yeomanry is that their instructors have gone out to South Africa, and the troops in many cases have been left with nobody to instruct them. I hope that a part of this scheme will be to supply suitable instructors. Another thing I object to, in an important part of the scheme, is the way the Militia is to be embodied. What we want is that there should be a force available almost at once, or as soon as possible. I have pressed that some Militia regiments should be embodied at once. The answer is, where is the barrack accommodation I Surely it would be better to hire a building somewhere and put the troops in, or to put them into your artillery or cavalry barracks, than to wait until after the time they arc wanted before they are embodied. I think the scheme for embodying the whole of the Militia for three months during the summer, will be a very heavy tax on the country, and will be bad for the recruiting of the Militia, because it will take men away from their work for three months, and will in no way conduce to the present defence of the country. By the time they have done their training it will be getting on towards the end of the summer, when I hope many of the troops will be coming home from South Africa. I propose that instead of embodying the whole 50,000 for three months in the summer, 5,000 or 6,000 should be embodied at once; that would be more conducive to the efficiency of the Militia and the present protection of the country, which is the great object of the scheme. Many things are done in this scheme for the improvement of the Reserve forces, but I do not think it can be for the permanent improvement of the Reserve forces if you take out the Militia for three months when work is most plentiful. I hope that part of the scheme will be modified, so that we may have more troops out at once and the men called out for a shorter period at a time when they have plenty of work.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES () Durham, N.W.
I feel impelled to rise because of 428 the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for the Cockermouth Division. He seemed to suggest that it is impossible for anyone who does not agree with the policy on which this war is founded to vote in favour of the necessary force to enable the Government to carry it to a successful conclusion. I venture entirely to differ from that. We have had this war thrust upon us much against our own will, and under the conviction that it would have been perfectly possible to avoid it. But having entered on this war, we of the Liberal party feel that to withdraw from the war at the present time—except upon terms consistent at least with the dignity of this country—would be to lay up in future a still greater disaster for the country. That is sufficient justification for us, who take the view that there I was no necessity for this war being entered upon, in supporting the Government. This I will say, that from the commencement of this war, or perhaps from the commencement of the disasters, the efforts which have been made by the Government have, in my judgment, and I think in the judgment of the masses of the people of this country, been more; than commensurate with the necessities of the case. I do not blame the Government for this, because if you err it is well to err on the safe side; but it is a matter of profound regret we have had to listen to such a speech as that which fell from the lips of the hon. Member for King's Lynn. We may be sitting comfortably in our quiet homes, reading in The Times newspaper the vivid descriptions of the war correspondents, and we may be inclined to criticise our generals somewhat harshly, but if a general is to have the terror of a court martial hanging over his head all the while he is conducting his operations it would be little short of an absurdity, and would be ludicrous if it were not so offensive. But it matters a great deal more when a gentleman holding a high position under the Crown, and on the responsibility of a Foreign Minister, shrugs his shoulders and indulges in language of panic and terror, which in itself constitutes the strongest possible condemnation of the Government. I cannot help thinking that there is nothing to render us apprehensive of the future condition of our country. I said a minute or two ago that the Government's measures for 429 the defence of this country were more than commensurate with the necessities of the case, and I do ask the Under Secretary for War why he has not given us some explanation of this permanent increase in the Army. I do not mean of the skeleton machinery for the artillery and Army service, because that is perfectly justified, but I do not understand why there should be a permanent increase of twelve battalions of infantry. I venture to remind the House that the land forces of the British Empire amount to something like 950,000 men—I think that is the grand total. We know that—apart from the defensive forces, which are more than adequate—the demand for colonial defences has been, in accordance with the considered policy of the Government, steadily decreasing. So far as Canada is concerned it is defended, to all intents and purposes—I believe that in Halifax there is a small Imperial garrison, but that is not in Canada—by colonial forces; and if I am not wrong, I believe it was contemplated in 1896 that all Imperial troops should be withdrawn from Natal, and the whole tendency of our colonial policy for many years past has been to decrease the number of our Imperial forces. Therefore, assuming this war is brought to an end, and supposing that we should bring about a settlement of the war upon honourable and durable terms of peace, then I would ask the Under Secretary of State for War this question—Why is there to be this increase of 130,000 men? And why do I press this question? Because, in my opinion, there is nothing in the condition of the Empire which indicates any necessity for an increase of our land forces. I think in saying this that I am stating what is common knowledge; but I would venture to remind the House that there is practically no land frontier to any portion of the British Empire except the northern frontier of India and, to judge by recent events, the frontiers in South Africa. But a comparatively small force would be sufficient to hold our Indian Empire in safety against the attacks of any foreign Power. If, then, with the exception of the Soudan and South Africa, the northern frontier of India is the only land frontier which it is necessary to protect, I would ask the hon. Gentleman this question—Is it for the purpose of contingencies in the Soudan or in South Africa, or is it for the purpose of contingencies anywhere else, that this permanent 430 increase of land forces by twelve battalions is required? I recognise the admirable spirit in which the Government have responded to the feelings of the country in respect to the preparations for bringing this war to a successful conclusion. It is not, however, the duty of this country to maintain a great military force, and I think you can rely for the most part upon the spirit which has been shown by all classes of the community in responding to the appeal of the Government. I think that this money, if it is to be spent at all, should be spent in further developing the defences of the Empire, and it would be spent with much more justice, reason, and permanent good if it were employed in further strengthening the naval forces of this country.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB () Great Yarmouth
With reference to the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I should like to make one or two observations. He says that he docs not see what necessity there is for any addition to the land forces of the country at all. I hope he will pardon me if I just bring before the House as shortly as I can some reason why this addition should be made. The hon. Member has said that we have a limited land frontier, and that, therefore, the necessity for the military defence of this Empire is a small one. I think the House, and the country generally, realise now that it is a primary condition of our existence as an Empire or as a country that we should rule the sea. But suppose that we have a force sufficient and necessary to do that in face of any considerable or reasonable combination. What would be the position of the Empire then? It would be this—that while on the other hand, the possession of an adequate sea force to meet the naval conditions then in existence would unquestionably secure us against invasion, what would be the condition of our commerce and our trade under these circumstances? While naval supremacy can secure the paralysis of the effective war power of the enemy in any bulk on the sea, in these days of steam naval supremacy cannot guarantee our trade and commerce against a certain amount of predatory attack. What that amount would be we do not know—in any 431 case it may not be very much, but in the case of a great, commercial Empire like ours it is not actually necessary for great physical damage to be done to merchant shipping to produce commercial paralysis, and for this reason: it is the moral effect upon your business or trade and commerce that is your real danger, and a very real danger it is, although you have naval supremacy. I will take up that position, and I am not going to detain the House long. What would be the effect upon freights and insurance?
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must really confine himself to the Army Vote. What he is discussing would apply more to the Navy Vote.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB
It is one of the difficulties of this House that we have before us a Vote to meet the danger of war, and we are told that part of this money is to go for military forces to resist an invasion. But the possibility of invasion is a naval matter. I quite recognise the justice of your decision, Mr. Speaker, but perhaps I can put myself right in this way. Without going into the naval and commercial question, I think I am in order in is being inflicted upon your commerce and your trade, obviously it must be of the first necessity to terminate that war; that is my position, I am trying to keep within the rules of order. I will take the position that it is necessary for the commercial interests of this country to terminate a state of things that would be injurious to our commerce and our trade. Our first necessity will be some ready means to terminate the war, and by what means can you terminate it I Your Fleet cannot do it; it cannot inflict very much damage upon the fortified portions of your: enemy's country. Your Fleet is your shield, and your Army is the spear which strikes. If the proposals of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down were carried out we should have a strong Fleet, but I want to know under those conditions, if you have no army, how long would this country submit to that of things. The cost of the insurance of freights would rise and you could not compete in foreign markets. If you have no military force to strike and terminate a war, then I think the commercial down fall of this Empire would be close at 432 hand. I respectfully call the attention of this House to one point, at all events, that has been elicited by my getting up. It is a peculiar and ordinary nature of the procedure in this House that while the principles of the defence of this Empire is a complex question and can only be dealt with properly by considering the Army and Navy together, the rules of this House put me practically in a position in which I cannot deal with the question at all. We have had, as a recommendation to pass this Vote, references made to certain permanent military arrangements, some of which are based upon the supposition of an impending invasion. Under these circumstances perhaps I shall be in order in following my hon, friend upon that. My hon. friend says we are to provide some extra forces to replace garrisons and troops which have gone out of the country in order to secure ourselves from an impending invasion. Whether invasion is possible or not is a naval question, and I am debarred by the rules of the House from dealing with it. But perhaps I may be in order in dealing with the references of the hon. Member with regard to this matter. He says that you must provide this military force, and spend this money to secure yourselves from invasion while which, your Fleet is away. I ventured when he said that to interject the query "where?" To that he answered that your Fleet will be off your enemy's coasts or facing the enemy's fleet. But does my hon. friend realise what that means? Does ho realize that it would be impossible for the enemy; under such circumstances, to even contemplate the sending of a great military expedition across the water? In explaining to this House how it was that he could not send more troops suddenly to South Africa, my hon. friend very properly reminded the House that you could only send a limited number of troops out of the country in a week on account of the difficulties of embarkation. He pointed out that there are not quays enough or harbours or facilities enough to send more than a limited number on this account. I really do ask, when the Government is beginning to make for further local defences in this country, my hon. friend to reconcile his position. His position is that we are to spend money on garrisons, and add to our local garrisons and means of military defence, because the Fleet in a time of war will be 433 off the enemy's coasts and facing enemy, and how on earth under those conditions the enemy is a large army over here to invade us I must ask my hon. friend to explain. My own impression is that there is an infinite waste of the resources of the State being spent on a supposed condition of things which in war can have no real existence. I agree with what fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition when he said that if your Fleet cannot defend you from invasion you are lost, because when the maritime conditions are such that there might be a huge military expedition sent across the seas to attack us we should be in a position that would hardly be worth defending. Our Empire is locked out—our commerce and trade is gone. I will repeat the question which I have put: Given a state of things pictured by himself—that is, a state of war—our Fleet off the enemy's coast and facing the enemy's fleet, I ask him to explain to this House why under those circumstances we must be prepared with a great military defensive army? I say, in conclusion, that this question has been approached too much in the hon. Gentleman's speech, and in this House, from the point of view of this home part of the Empire only in relation to war. If we cannot be master of the sea we are not master of our own Empire. If we are masters of the sea we cannot be invaded. The great necessity of our Empire is the keeping open of our water communications, and when my hon. friend tells us that we must have this great military expenditure and this great military force to resist a probable invasion at home, does he not see that he supposes the rest of the Empire is entirely isolated? His whole hypothesis is to defend the United Kingdom, because we cannot rely upon our Fleet to prevent an attack upon the United Kingdom by a huge military force. Such a proposal is really an intimation to our colonies that we are looking to ourselves, and that they must shift for themselves. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that recently we have had an awakener in this respect which I hope the Government realises, and we are looking forward to the future in the hope that the true policy of this country will be to come to some arrangement with the outlying portion of the Empire to help to provide a Fleet sufficiently strong to maintain our sea supremacy in the face of all the world, and that having done that the next stage, 434 and the one which concerns the War Office, is that we shall maintain an adequate Army of sufficient mobility, composed perhaps of men furnished by the mother country and the colonies alike, which would be capable of offence and of terminating any war the continuation of which might be disastrous to our commercial position and to our Empire. We do not want an army to sit down behind fortifications and take part in local defence only, but we want an army in a position to be able by striking to terminate a war if our trade and commerce are threatened, and the only weapon in our hands capable of doing this is a mobile military force.
§ *MR. TULLY () Leitrim, S.
I think we who represent Irish constituencies, and who are sent here by Irish votes, would not be doing our duty if we did not avail ourselves of every opportunity to protest against this war. The people who sent us here are, as far as we can gather from personal association with them, almost unanimous against this war. They think it is an iniquitous and unjust war, and one which is being waged from the basest of human motives. I have seen the statement in the papers that this war has been promoted by the greed for gold. We in Ireland object to having to pay the extra expense for troops and munitions of war which you require to carry on this struggle. It has been stated that there is in the Transvaal an enormous quantity of gold. I think it was stated in one instance that there was £200,000,000 worth of gold in the Transvaal. You are waging this war to get hold of and control that enormous quantity of gold, and with that object you carry on this war and make great sacrifices and an enormous loss of blood and treasure in order that you may succeed in beating down the resistance of those two Republics. But when you have succeeded, after a desperate struggle, in defeating the two Boer Republics in the field I think you will have to reckon with the nations of Europe, who are jealous of your power, and who will not quietly submit to your getting hold of this enormous quantity of gold. It must be remembered that in fighting the Boers you are fighting not only the troops of President Kruger and President Steyn, but you are fighting the picked officers of Europe, who have boon sent out by European nations to oppose your getting control of the enormous quantities of gold which are to be found in the Trans- 435 vaal. We in Ireland object to having to pay for this raid for gold mines in the Transvaal, and as long as we are Members of this House we shall use every means in our power to protest against this war, and the means you have adopted to carry it out. One hon. Gentleman on the opposite side of the House stated the other day that English Members should not tolerate Irish Members speaking in this House on the question of the war. It is a curious state of things that, after you go to war in the Transvaal for the purpose of enfranchising the Uitlanders, Members of this House should wish that Irish Members in this Parliament should not be allowed to speak on this subject. It seems to me that that is not showing any remarkable consistency, especially when it comes from the hon. Member for Darlington, who is a strong advocate for war, and who is a monument of inconsistency himself; as he is a member of a well-known Peace family.
§ *MR. H. P. PEASE
I did not say that at all. What I said was that the remarks made by Irishmen with regard to the Majuba incident would not lie listened to in any other place in England except in this House.
§ *MR. TULLY
Why are we brought here to this House, for we do not come here of our own free will? You have had this war going on for nearly five months, and you are always claiming that you are winning victories. After being told of a victory, Napoleon once said—"If you have won a victory, where are your prisoners." I ask, after all the victories you have won, where are your prisoners? The prisoners seem to have all been taken by the other side. The hon. Gentleman opposite says that we should go through the villages of England and express our views against this war. I might extend a similar invitation to him, and ask him to come over to Ireland and ask the people there if they are willing to give their consent to spending money in order to grab the gold mines of the Transvaal. I do not think the hon. Member opposite would be inclined to accept that invitation. We know very well how the soldiers that you recruit in Ireland are treated both during the war 436 and after the war. We know how our Crimean veterans have been treated, and we know how they have been left to live on the rates in Ireland at the expense of the ratepayers. It was only to-day that the case of an Irishwoman who had seven sons serving in the British Army, and who is an inmate of a workhouse in Derbyshire, was brought under the notice of this House. That is the way you treat the people who allow their relatives to go and fight for your supremacy. The scandalous way in which you treated the men; who fought for you in the Crimea is without parallel. I remember two years ago ago, when on a cycling trip in France, I came across a man who was occupying a very good position, who said he had served as a private in the French Army in the Crimean War, and he showed me a medal he got from Queen Victoria. I told him: that he was in a very fortunate position, I because in Ireland the privates who fought in the Crimea were mostly to be found in the workhouses. The Irishmen who have gone out to this war will be treated when they come back just in the same way as the soldiers who went out and fought for you against Russia during the Crimean War. You have treated the Militiamen in Ireland very badly. You have sent them to the front, although a Militiaman always believed when he joined that he could not be sent out of these islands. And yet you sent out two or three months ago to South Africa very early in this business a number of these: men to the front who never believed that I they would have to go to South Africa to fight as Regular troops. They have gone to the front and left many of their relatives penniless, and we have to maintain and feed in my parish out of the rates many of the families who were dependent on these Militiamen. I say that it is a monstrous state of things that these people are now a charge upon the rates in Ireland, and that is sufficient to make them hostile to this war. As long as you have this state of things you are not likely to get many recruits in Ireland under your new scheme. We are told that this scheme is the only alternative to conscription, and hon. Members on the opposite benches have been denouncing conscription. In regard to this war, up to quite recently this House was almost as gloomy as a graveyard, but since the news arrived on Friday night that Kimberley had been relieved hon.
437 Members have been restored to the use of their speech. A lot of them were advocating conscription, and we were told that if the Under Secretary's proposals did not bring in the necessary number of men, there was no alternative except conscription. But if you adopt that policy will you extend conscription to Ireland? What is the message that we must take to our constituencies? Of course conscription is not always objected to by the middle or the lower classes, but it is usually objected to by the small oligarchies that are in power. In France when they had conscription it led to the over throw of the tyranny of the French kings. A great reformer once said that the reason why the French were so enthusiastic in the defence of their country was that every man had not only got a rifle, but had also got the land. It is only when the peasants have got the land that you can get them to fight as they do in the countries where they have conscription. You are sending out a large number of Irishmen who are placed at the mercy of some of the generals whom we have heard so severely criticized in this debate. I object to having Irish men sent out as mere bullocks to the shambles to be butchered at the instance of generals who have very little idea of the rudiments of modern warfare. We have heard here to-night a statement as to how the officers spend their time at polo and lawn tennis and other games of that description instead of attending to the ordinary duties of war. We have seen in the press the complaints which have been made about the want of good maps of the country between the Tugela and Ladysmith. General Buller has gone across the Tugela several times, and he has come back several times, and the trouble was that there were no good military maps—
§ *MR. TULLY
The officers have spent many months in that country before the Boers invested Ladysmith, and they have not made any maps. I suppose they spent their time playing polo. I say that Irishmen have been put under officers who will show the same lack of intelligence in military matters. I heard the statement here the other night made by the hon. Member for Battersea that you do not recognise in the Army the brains 438 among the non-commissioned officers. You run your Army recruiting from two classes, the aristocrats and the labourers, and therefore you do not recognise any brains in the non-commissioned officers by giving them commissions, and there is no promotion from the ranks. This is a proof to my mind that your army is rotten as a social institution, and you are running it to keep up the present state of things, and the present distribution of wealth in England. If you had conscription, and if every man could use a rifle, do you think the people would tolerate for one moment the present distribution of wealth? When we go home at night we find poor wretches sleeping under the archways and the bridges—
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I must again ask the hon. Member to confine his remarks to the question before the House.
§ *MR. TULLY
I apologise for travelling away from the point before me, but the interruptions of hon. Members opposite caused it. I think this point about the officers is one of considerable importance, especially when Irish soldiers are sent out to be put under the command of officers who are absolutely unacquainted with the details of their business in time of war. I remember reading in The Times two days after the ultimatum was delivered several letters written by a Dutch Cape Colonist. Surprise was then expressed that these two small Republics should be filled with the idea that they could resist for a month the great resources of this Empire. That was published in The Times to show how much they derided the Boers, and this writer wrote some very remarkable letters which have been absolutely borne out by what has taken place between that date up to the present. He stated that a few weeks after the war England would find herself reduced in the estimation of the world to a position almost like that of Spain from a military point of view. These letters were published by The Times as a matter of derision, and they were replied to by one of the generals now commanding in South Africa. He wrote a very short letter replying to this Dutchman, in which he referred to the want of brains and intelligence in the Dutch who dared to make the assertion that the Boer Republics would not be wiped out in the month. This very general was sent to the front 439 and was put in command of our Connaught Rangers at Colenso, where our men were absolutely decimated; and I remember a statement made by Mr. Bennett Burleigh, in which he said these men while under fire were sent out to mark the regular distances of the men from each other. Upon this Vote I believe I cannot refer to your defective arms, but upon the other Vote I intend to refer to the matter of inferior rifles, artillery, and powder—
§ *MR. TULLY
Upon the next Vote I shall strive to offer some remarks on that aspect of the case. At present I will confine myself to just one or two brief remarks in conclusion as to why we Irish men are opposing this Vote, and why we should take every possible opportunity of doing so. We object to this Vote because the people in Ireland are entirely against it. The people who have placed us in this House by an overwhelming majority are entirely opposed to this war, and they object to paying any extra taxation for it, and as long as we are sent here we should not be discharging our duty if we did not raise our voices upon every possible occasion to object to this expenditure. We further object to this war and to the proposals before the House because we consider they are not put before us in a manner which should render them acceptable. We are told in one breath that these are the last proposals that will be made, and if they are not a success that we must have conscription. They will not be a success as far as Ireland is concerned in getting any more men. The way you have treated the men you have got will be no inducement to Irishmen to come forward. I think the proposals of the Government will be inadequate, and will not serve the purpose in view. We also complain that when you get the men from Ireland and send them to the front you put the Irish regiments in the most dangerous positions, and they arc generally exposed to the brunt of the fighting. The percentage of Irishmen killed in this war far exceeds the percentage of either Englishmen or men of other nationalities, and so long as that is the case you will not get recruits in Ire- 440 land when they know that they will be treated in this manner. After the way some of your officers have acted, you need not expect that you will get any further recruits from Ireland. On these grounds I desire to again raise my protest and object in every possible way to this Vote.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL () Cavan, W.
I rise for the purpose of associating myself with the hon. Members on this side of the House who have protested against the passing of the resolution now before us. I believe we are now in the twenty-fourth week of the war, which has been undertaken, we contend, entirely against the wishes of the Irish people. It has been undertaken unjustly, and, so far at least, it has turned out unprofitable to the fair fame and good name of this country. We have a constitutional right to express our opinion upon every subject which comes before the House. Some hon. Gentlemen on the other side appear to think that we should not interfere at very great length in what arc treated from time to time as purely Imperial questions. I must express my personal regret that we have, so far, fallen in with the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite, for we have not interfered very much in matters affecting other portions of this great Empire. But on the present occasion the situation presents itself entirely in a different light, because, apart from the question of the financial aspect of the war, or the financial burden which will be cast upon us, a great number of our kith and kin have gone to the front, and the House contemplates a further call upon the men from Ireland to supply the deficiencies which the Boer marksmen have made in your great Army. Therefore I contend, in the first place, that we are amply justified, notwithstanding anything that has been said by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, who object to our interference in taking part in this debate. The hon. Gentleman in charge of this motion has endeavoured to explain away the objections we have raised both in regard to the men and the money. It will be very hard for gentlemen opposite to explain the blundering, the incapacity, the want of foresight, and the want of judgment which have characterised the Department of which the hon. Gentleman in this House is the representative. During the debate we had in Committee last week the hon.
441 Member was literally bombarded from his own side of the House with suggestions, some of them in favour of his motion, some modifying it and some criticising it most sharply; and I certainly felt a considerable amount of sympathy with him in the difficulty he must have had to explain the different points brought under his notice by hon. Gentlemen on his own side. I regret to say that the hon. Gentleman seemed to receive a good deal more practical assistance from the Liberal Members than he did from many of his own followers and friends, and in this connection I would like to say, as a Nationalist, that I regret extremely that the great Liberal party of England has not had the courage to stand up for the rights and freedom of a gallant people. We object to the passing of this motion because it is almost certain that it contemplates the enlistment of more Irishmen in the British Array. We think that you have, in the past, treated Irishmen who have joined your Army very badly. Time after time I have brought under the notice of this House the ease of men who have served you in the past, and who had sacrificed their health and strength, and almost their very lives, in the service of this great Empire, and the hon. Gentleman's replies, on all occasions, were entirely unsympathetic. In the mature of things, if these examples are held up in the small towns and villages of Ireland they will not tend to induce Irishmen to join your ranks. Of course, the hon. Gentleman is not personally to blame for these, for there are a great many demands made upon the War Office; but despite that, the solid fact remains that in the small towns and villages in Ireland and in your workhouses we have instances of the niggardliness and meanness of the War Office.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL
I will endeavour, Sir, not to transgress the rules of order, and if I am told that I am not in order in mentioning these cases, I will not persist for a moment in contravening your ruling. I think the hon. Gentleman's department would be well advised if it acted more generously in cases of this kind in the future than in the past. Now I come to another branch of this discussion. The Vote before us 442 contemplates increasing the Militia and the Volunteers. First as to the Militia. In Ireland we have different Militia battalions throughout the country which are embodied for a few weeks every year for the purposes of training. I observe that the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Vote made it part of his excuse for transferring Militia battalions from Ireland to England that there was not sufficient barrack accommodation in Ireland. That is an argument which is absolutely untenable. I have personal knowledge of three country towns—the headquarters of Militia regiments—and I say that the barrack accommodation in these towns is ample for battalions three times the size of the battalions transferred to this country. Take Longford, formerly the headquarters of an entire regiment, always the headquarters of a cavalry brigade. There was no reason on the ground of barrack accommodation for sending the local Militia regiment away from their native town to the South of England. The same may be said of Mullingar, which is considered one of the largest outlying military stations, apart from the Curragh, and the same may also be said of Cavan, which I have the honour to represent. The excuse that these regiments had to be transferred for want of sufficient barrack accommodation is absolutely untenable. On the contrary, the real reason is because you would not trust the Irish Militia with arms in their own country. English regiments have been sent to Ireland, and it is perfectly idle for the hon. Gentleman to contend that we have not ample room for all the needs of the case. If these Irish regiments were left at home a great many of the charges of kidnapping Militia regiments for active service would have been avoided, and as for any danger to the Empire occurring by reason of a few Militia regiments being embodied the idea is grotesque and absurd. We are also asked under this Vote to provide for an increase in the Volunteer force. In Ireland we have no Volunteer force at all, and we are asked to provide for an increase in a force which does not exist in our country. In 1782 we had a Volunteer force, and we secured a large measure of local independence, and ever since you have been afraid to trust young Irishmen with the opportunity to learn the use of fireams or a knowledge of drill, unless they join your recruits from 443 Whitechapel and other places in regiments of the Line, or join the Militia, or take other means equally objectionable to them. It is a perfect scandal to ask Irish Members to assent to raising the status of your Volunteers, while you brand their countrymen with inferiority, and will not give them facilities to be trained or allow arms in their hands. How can you expect that we will look with favour on this proposal to turn your Volunteers from a civil into a military force? The whole objection to this Vote on our part is, however, a national objection. We believe that the war in which you are engaged is unholy and unjust; that it has undertaken, not for freedom liberty, but that it is the direct outcome of a secret plan and conspiracy on the part of capitalists in the City of London to take away under the pretext of obtaining freedom for the Uitlanders of Johannesburg the liberties of a people in order that they themselves may grab the 100 tons of gold which underlie the environs of that city. We protest against this war, if I may so, without any intention of being profane, on more holy grounds. We maintain that a war such as this, which could have been avoided by friendly negotiation, is a crime against the laws of God and man. Look at the danger of letting loose the passions of war on a now country such as South Africa. You have three races—.British, Dutch, and Native. What would be the terrible and awful consequences if by your thirst for gold the savage races were let loose on the white settlers. We protest against this war as unrighteous and unjust. I do not say there may not have been some justification for a feeling of dissatisfaction on the part of particular white men in the Transvaal, but it was not sufficient to lead to the sacrifice of two thousand of your soldiers and the maiming of five or six thousand more. I pass by the prestige of this Empire—that is no concern of mine. I have no feeling of Imperialism. I only wish for the good of the country of which I am one of the representatives, and from this war no good can come to our country. We are a small part of the United Kingdom, as you call it, we are in a minority in this House and are unable to affect the course of Imperial events; but if we cannot affect that course and bring this war to a speedy and correct con- 444 clusion we will at all events have cleaned from our hands and put from our doors the allegation that we have been any party to this unholy and unjust war, and when the historian of the future deals with the matter from a broader point of view I sincerely believe and trust he will pay a tribute of grateful recognition to the efforts a few Irishmen have made in this House to put before this great Empire and the world the fact that we believe the war to be unjust and improper and that as such it ought to be put a stop to at the earliest possible moment.
§ MR. FLAVIN () Kerry, N.
said he wished to move the motion standing in his name to reduce the Vote by £12,000,000. He thought it his duty to call the attention of the Financial Secretary to the War Office to several answers the right hon. Gentleman had given to questions he put to him in connection with War Office finance. The first of the series related to a man who had served in South Africa, had been invalided home, and had there been treated in the most scandalous fashion— Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present (Mr. J. P. FARRELL). House counted, and forty Members being found present,
§ MR. FLAVIN (continuing)
said he was much in the same dilemma as ho was before, because there was no representative of the War Office present; but he would address his remarks generally to the House. He protested against the Vote of an increase of 120,000 men to the Army because a large proportion of the men would be drawn from Ireland, just as a large proportion of the 200,000 men at present in South Africa wore drawn from the Irish people. What was very strange about the whole of this question was that great temptations were offered to. induce men to join the Army, but when they were-invalided home after service they were-treated with no consideration. Within the last week an Irish Militia reservist was invalided home. He fought in two of the principal battles. In the first engagement a bullet went through his helmet, and in the second he was very badly wounded in the leg. This man, being of no further use to Her Majesty, was sent home, and, if his information 445 was correct, he was only allowed six-pence a day pension. But before going to South Africa he was entitled to sixpence a day pension, so that he was now, though invalided for life, only in the same position as before he volunteered to go to the front. He held that that was absolutely a shame. The man was married too, and that made the case forty thousand times worse. The Financial Secretary to the War Office said the other day that no father, mother, sister or brother of a Reservist could get any benefit if he were killed or injured, but that provision would be made for the wife of a married man. He (the hon. Member) could not see where the difference came in, and why provision should not be made for an aged father or mother.
§ MR. FLAVIN
Yes, but when they were asked to vote 120,000 men and when they saw that inducements were offered to men to go to the front, that some provision was to be made for their representatives, he wanted to protest against these men being thrown into Irish workhouses when they came home invalided. He would ask the War Office did they consider in common justice and humanity that a man invalided for life, whether he was unmarried or not, was sufficiently rewarded with a pension of 6d. a day, while in the same week a much higher pension was given to a policeman who happened to get his head broken.
§ MR. FLAVIN
said he did not wish to continue the discussion, but only wanted to show how the money levied on the public was given away in excess in one case and niggardly in another. Here was a poor Irish soldier who went to the front and sacrificed his life, and when he returned to this country he was starved
§ by the War Office authorities with a pension of 6d. a day! That was a policy they would not fall into in Ireland. If the Government thought that a bed in a workhouse, with workhouse fare, was good enough for a man who sacrificed his life in South Africa, then it was the duty of the Irish representatives to expose the case in the House of Commons. But there was a broader question. He maintained that it was absolutely unnecessary to call out the 120,000 men asked for in this Vote. The British population in the Transvaal was said to be 120,000, as against 125,000 Boers: and in the Orange Free State 6,000 or 7,000 against 70,000 Boers. In the two Republics, roughly speaking, the Boer fighting men would only be one-fourth of the total population, or about 50,000 men: while owing to the few women and children, the men of fighting age amongst the Uitlanders in the two Republics would be one half, or, say 60,000 men. If that was the case, there would be 10,000 more British fighting men in the two Republics than Boers. But there was a British Army there of 200,000, and he thought it was most unfair, unjust, and inhuman to pit 260,000 men against 50,000 farmers. It was a most unequal struggle, and the surprise was to him that the Boers had not been wiped out of South Africa two mouths hence. But, instead of that, the Boers would be two months hence as strong as they were today, although the British had had a nominal victory. It was very difficult for hon. Members to imagine what war meant. It was impossible for them, sitting upon their easy seats on the floor of the House of Commons, to imagine its horrors. The hardships which the rank and file had to endure bordered on the inhuman. He always had protested and should continue to protest against the war, and that being so he should vote against the Government upon this motion.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 164; Noes, 32. (Division List No. 22.)447
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r.)||Blundell, Colonel Henry|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Barry, Rt. Hn. A.H.S.-(Hunts.)||Bowles, Capt. H. F.(Middlesex)|
|Arnold, Alfred||Hartley, George C. T.||Bowles, T. G. (Kind's Lynn)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon John||Bethell, Commander||Broadhurst, Henry|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Billson, Alfred||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Blakiston-Houston, John||Brookfield, A. Montagu|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Caldwell, James||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Carlile, William Walter||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Pilkington, Sir G. A. (Lanes.)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Harwood, George||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Bir.)||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Plunkett, Rt. Hn. H. Curzon|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wor.)||Heaton, John Henniker||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H.||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Helder, Augustus||Purvis, Robert|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Henderson, Alexander||Pym, C. Guy|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hoare, Edw Brodie (Hampstead||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Richardson, Sir Thos. (Hartlep'l|
|Colomb, Sir J. C. Ready||Holland, William Henry||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Horniman, Frederick John||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Houston, R. P.||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Howard, Joseph||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Curzon, Viscount||Howell, William Tudor||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Hozier, Hon. James H. Cecil||Rutherford, John|
|Davies, Sir Horatio D.(Chathm||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Denny, Colonel||Kenyon, James||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. Myles|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Kimber, Henry||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Lafone, Alfred||Shaw Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Langley, Batty||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks|
|Drucker. A.||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Dunn, Sir William||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Leng, Sir John||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Llewelyn, Sir D.-(Swansea)||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Faber, George Denison||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Thomas, Sir Walter|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edwd.||Lorne, Marquess of||Tomlinson, Wm. Ed. Murray|
|Finch, George H.||Lowe, Francis William||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Macdona, John Cumming||Webster, Sir Richard E.|
|Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||M'Crae, George||Wharton, Rt. Hn. J. Lloyd|
|Galloway, William Johnson||M'Kenna, Reginald||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Gariit, William||Malcolm, Ian||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Gedge, Sydney||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Monekton, Edward Philip||Wilson, Fredk. W. (Norfolk)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||More, Robt. J. (Shropshire)||Woods, Samuel|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fred.||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmthn.)||Wyndham, George|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Wyvil, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Young Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Gosehem, Rt Hn G. J. (St George's||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Myers, William Henry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Greene, H. D. Shrewsbury)||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Parnell, John Howard|
|Ambrose, Robert||Farrell, James P. (Cavan, W.)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)|
|Blake, Edward||Hayden, John Patrick||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Kilbride, Denis||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Crean, Eugene||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Crilly, Daniel||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Tully, Jasper|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||M'Dermott, Patrick||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||M'Ghee, Richard|
|Dillon, John||Maudeville, J. Francis||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|Doogan, P. C.||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Kngledew, Charles John||O'Malley, William|
Resolution agreed to.