§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER, Cumberland, Penrith, in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:—
CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfarshire), said that upon the Amendment which was down on the Paper in his name it was not necessary to reiterate the arguments that were adduced against the Bill on the Second Reading. He had hoped that the hon. Gentleman would have seen his way not to have proceeded with this Bill at all this session. He had no desire to impede any measure which could be shown to be useful to the Volunteer or military forces of the country, but the change which was proposed in this clause was far greater than any which had on the two previous occasions been suggested, in principle if not in words. On both those occasions the matter had
been considered and the proposal was not pressed. Upon the present occasion the suggestion was that the same words should be used in the case of the Volunteer Act as were used in the Militia and the Reserve Forces Acts which regulate the calling out of those forces. But the Volunteer force was upon an entirely different footing. The Volunteers were entirely for home defence, and the Militia and Army Reserve, whose duty it was to supplement and strengthen the first line of defence of the. country, could not be considered in any way to be in the same category as the Volunteers. The object of the clause was to apply the words which were used in the Acts governing those forces to the use of the Volunteer Act. The words "actual or apprehended invasion" covered every possible emergency for which it might be necessary to call out the Volunteers, at least there was no evidence to the contrary. There was evidence that the words were considered from that point of view when the Volunteer Act of 1863 was brought in, and evidence had been adduced in the debate upon the National Defence Act of 1888, and also in the discussion which took place in 1895, in the direction of showing that after full consideration it was decided and determined that those
words which it was now proposed to change were the most appropriate words for the Volunteer Act, and therefore should never be changed. The first attempt to alter the position of the Volunteer force in recent years was in the National Defence Bill of 1888. That contained a clause which practically applied to the Volunteer force the Militia Act. Any one referring to the discussion upon the measure would find that the wishes of the Government then were precisely the same as they were now—namely, to apply the Militia Act to the Volunteers. The proposals received considerable discussion in this House, and exception to those words was taken by the late Sir E. Hamlin, who pointed out that there was no utility in suggesting that there might be other circumstances in which the Volunteers might be required, because those were not circumstances which were applicable to the Volunteers, though they might be to the Militia and Army Reserve forces. It was necessary to recollect that the Volunteers were for home defence, and it was only for that purpose that that force was to be regarded. He pointed out the great danger which might arise as to the efficiency, strength and popularity of the Volunteers if without very deliberate and careful consideration the burden of liability upon them was increased. It could not be too strongly emphasised that the Volunteer force depended for its strength upon its popularity, consisting as it did of civilians who had to depend for their living upon their daily work, and an irreparable injury might be done to the force if the great burden of the Militia service was laid upon them. The result of the discussion in 1888 was that the proposal was dropped because it received so little encouragement in this House. The next occasion on which this matter came before the House was in connection with the Bill of 1895. That Bill was one of the consequences of the Committee to which the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War alluded on the Second Reading of this Bill. The Committee sat in 1894, under the presidency of the Financial Secretary of the War Office of the late Government, and considered a number of matters in connection with the Volunteers. To make a long story short, just as the Government of 1888 refused to proceed in the direction contemplated by this Bill, so did the
Government of 1895, even after consideration of the subject by the Committee which sat in the previous year. There was every evidence to show that the Government of that day and the Financial Secretary had considered what steps they should take, and how far they should go in regard to laying further liabilities on the Volunteer force. On that subject the then Under Secretary for War said—
The Secretary of State, after consulting his advisers, especially those responsible for the administration of the reserve forces, came to the conclusion that it would be inexpedient to render the Volunteers liable to be called upon except in the most urgent circumstances.
He went on to say that it appeared very important to the Government that they should preserve the voluntary character of the Volunteer force, and that the conditions under which they should be required to render military service should be restricted. The Government of 1895 proposed that the Secretary of State for War should be empowered to accept service on the part of individuals or any part of a corps "in case of imminent national danger or emergency." That was the extent to which they were prepared to go. On that occasion the Liberal Government received the support of more than one distinguished Volunteer officer on the other side of the House. The hon. Member for Lewes cordially supported his right hon. friend the Financial Secretary in the action that the Government then took in this most important matter, and the hon. Member for Hereford, who took part in the debate, heartily endorsed the policy of the Government in proceeding cautiously and tentatively in regard to the laying of further liabilities on the Volunteers. He did not know what might be the opinion of those hon. Gentlemen at the present time. He was perfectly certain there would be very little difficulty on either side in proceeding to the consideration of any careful scheme that might render the Volunteer service more efficient, but he thought it was greatly to be regretted, at this time of the session, that this proposal should be brought forward, especially when they remembered that it was a proposal which had not been definitely made in terms before, and the tendency of which had been rejected, not by one, but by two Governments. He hoped that even now it might seem to the Government un-
desirable to proceed with this particular measure. What he wanted to point out on this occasion was that in a matter dealing with the Volunteer force— changing its whole position and status, and increasing the liability to service—in his humble judgment the Bill was not lightened by the dropping of the latter part. It was quite natural that the Government should decide to drop that part, considering the welcome it received last week The first clause was a proposal to increase the obligations of the Volunteer force. If that were wise, he was sure that the Committee on a future occasion would be quite ready to consider it; but it seemed to him, seeing that proposals having a similar tendency had been rejected before, undesirable on this occasion that they should proceed any further with this measure. He moved to leave out Clause 1.
§ Question proposed, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."
SIR HOWARD VINCENT
For my own part I can say, as one who has been connected for many years with the Volunteers, and as representing my own regiment, that I think this change suggested by the Government is absolutely necessary in the interests of the country. The Volunteer Act of 1863 only provided for the calling out of the Volunteers in case of actual invasion. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the rejection of the clause has served for a considerable period in the Army, and must know that if the Government delay calling out the Volunteers—230,000 men— to repel invasion until a hostile fleet is actually off the coast, or the enemy has actually set foot on our shores, it will be too late to render any effective service; and it has been long felt not only by the Volunteers and their commanding officers, but by the great mass of the force, that they will be prevented from giving effective service to the country, which it is their desire to give, not only in the event of the country being in grave difficulty, but especially in the event of invasion, if their services are not utilised until actual invasion has occurred. The hon. Gentleman opposite is correct in a certain part of the historical retrospect which he gave. It is true that Mr. Stanhope was much impressed with the necessity for something being done, and a 930 Bill was brought forward in the session of 1888. There was a certain amount of opposition. There was a great deal of business remaining undischarged, and in the circumstances it seemed desirable that the Bill should be dropped, but there was no serious opposition to it on the part of the great mass of the Volunteer force. I have the clearest recollection of what took place. In 1894 the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, then Secretary of State for War, assented to the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the working of the Volunteer Acts and the legal condition and status of Volunteers serving under those Acts. The Financial Secretary of the War Office, the Member for Hanley, was chairman of that Committee. The recommendation of the Committee upon this particular matter was in consonance with the unanimous agreement as to the great desirability of these words being altered. For my own part, I think if the Government is to blame it is to blame for not introducing a measure of this sort before. I regret that Mr. Stanhope did not press the measure forward. It is no use introducing these measures unless the Government intends to use its majority to give effect to them. I earnestly hope that my hon. friend will not be deterred by any sign of opposition, but will persevere with this measure. I have got up to give the views of the Volunteers. The hon. Gentleman opposite affected to speak for the Volunteers It is desirable that those who speak for the Volunteers should qualify themselves by going through the service. My hon. friend who proposed the elimination of the clause said he greatly feared it would have a prejudicial effect on the recruiting for the Volunteer force. He will admit, I think, that I am very largely interested in the welfare of the force, and that it is not at all likely I should advocate a change which would entail an extra burden on those with whom I am so closely associated. I can assure you that the Volunteers thoroughly understand the meaning of the section, and the great mass of them—although among such a body as 230,000 men some may fear it will impose increased liability upon them—think the proposed change absolutely necessary in the interests of national defence. That being so, I earnestly hope that the Government having seen fit to introduce this measure, will place it this year upon the Statute-book.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I cannot speak, as my hon. friend does, in the name of all the Volunteers. Let us hope that he will not regard with superior contempt, which he does not always display, those who happen to differ from him. He spoke with something like contempt of hon. Members in some parts of this House who ventured to contest his doctrine as to what the Volunteers throughout the country desire. We all know that my hon. and gallant friend is a distinguished Volunteer, but I know many cases where Volunteers differ in opinion, and where he is in a minority, On this occasion I cannot accept his pontifical assertion as absolutely conclusive in the matter. This is a clause we all thought, and I in the innocence of my heart thought, was a comparatively harmless clause; but I have since looked a little more closely into the matter, and I find that although on the first blush it may seem to be very much the same thing to talk of "actual or apprehended invasion of any part of the United Kingdom" and "imminent national danger or great emergency," yet there has been found in these words a difference which deserves to be maintained. The hon. Gentleman referred to the speech made in the discussion in 1887 by the late Sir Edward Hamley. He was a distinguished soldier, and one of the greatest authorities on military questions from the constitutional point of view we have had in my time in the House, and he was emphatically of opinion that it would be almost fatal to the character of the Volunteer force if you were to alter these words. The Volunteer force is purely raised and maintained for domestic defence.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Not as Volunteers. They have entered into a new engagement. There is not a single Volunteer serving out of the country, and such a thing has never been contemplated, and you can see the confusion we would got into if you did not keep up a distinction between the forces. What would be the distinction between the Militia and the Volunteers if you abolished the present distinction? Here I am reminded of a pamphlet or paper which I read at the time. It was called, "A Discussion held by a Body of Volunteer Officers," whom I think my hon. and gallant 932 friend will consider of some authority. I do not think the Queen's Edinburgh Volunteers a very bad corps among all the distinguished corps in the Volunteer service, and I do not think that the present Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Kings-burgh, formerly Mr. Macdonald, is a mean authority on the subject. At a discussion in connection with the East of Scotland Tactical Society on the Report of the Committee to which reference has been made, they scouted the proposal to substitute a vague term for an exact term. Colonel J. B. Sutherland said—Under these conditions, and with the proposed altered phraseology, the Volunteer forces might conceivably be called upon to perform garrison duties at home when there was no prospect of either actual or apprehended invasion. I venture to think that this is no part of the duties of the Volunteer force. If garrison duties are to be performed in order to relieve the Regular forces, these duties should be performed by the Militia, and if the Militia is not strong enough for the purpose, the authorities have the remedy in their own hands by enforcing compulsory service in the Militia.
SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNEEMAN
It was 1895. This distinction that the Volunteers are not to be called upon for actual military service except under the threat of immediate invasion is not a mere fancy, not a mere phantasmal case to make a distinction between one and another. It rests upon this—What would happen if there was an actual or immediately impending invasion? All the business of the country would come to a standstill, and those men who are Volunteers would be free, without loss of professional or commercial position, to take part in the discharge of their duties. At this same symposium which I have quoted, Captain Hunter said—The main difficulty of the question lies in this double individuality which each Volunteer possesses. A regular soldier, no matter what his rank, has one individuality and one only; and it is in his military capacity that he earns his livelihood. I, on the other hand, am two distinct and separate individuals; I am Mr. Hunter, chartered accountant, and I am also Captain Hunter, but Mr. Hunter is of vastly greater importance to me than Captain Hunter is. It is in my civil capacity that I earn my livelihood, and I have only engaged to undertake military service when, by 'actual or apprehended invasion ' the country shall have been reduced to such a state that it will be impossible for me to carry on my profession. If the Com- 933 mittee's proposals are carried out, I shall find myself liable to military service under conditions where there is nothing to prevent me from carrying on my civil occupation.That is a view which will no doubt occur to many Volunteers. That is the ground on which it is urged that a change of this sort, although my hon. and gallant friend the Member for Central Sheffield does not believe it, may prejudicially affect the recruiting for the Volunteers. Here are the words used by one of the greatest authorities on the subject—Brigadier-General Macdonald, C.B., in closing the discussion, said that he was strongly of opinion that the liability for service, as at present provided for, was quite sufficient, and that the proposal to alter the words ' actual or apprehended invasion' to ' imminent national danger or great emergency,' was in all respects an unwise one. If the words suggested were inserted there might be rashness on the part of military authorities at any time in calling out the Volunteers. His feeling arose mainly from this, that they were substituting for phrases which had certain and definite meanings, words which had uncertain and indefinite meanings. 'Imminent national danger' and 'grave emergency' were phrases of very uncertain import, under which the Volunteers might be called upon to do duties differing very materially from those contemplated under the constitution of the force.He went on to say that it might prejudicially affect the position of the force. I do not think these are opinions of Volunteers deserving to be cast aside, even on the high authority of my hon. and gallant friend. When I heard him lay down the law in so peremptory a manner I thought that the sooner I addressed the Committee the better. One point which the hon. Gentleman urged in commending this clause to the House the other day on the Second Heading was that we got rid of the awkward and inconvenient necessity for a proclamation. But a proclamation is required for calling out the Reserves or embodying the Militia; so that one more will not matter. I do not think there is much force in that. I would urge on the Committee not to make the change now—a change which has been repudiated by the House on more than one occasion, which has been condemned by high authorities, although, of course, not so high as my hon. and gallant friend—a change of which we cannot at present quite fathom and measure the ultimate effect. What is the necessity for the Bill?
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
My hon. friend the Member for Hanley, who was Chairman of the Committee, was only the bottle-holder to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, who inspired it with energy and enthusiasm, and at whose suggestion it was appointed. He deserves all the credit, and I hope he will receive none of the blame, for what it has done. The words which it is proposed to alter maintain the old character of the Volunteer force, on which all the legislation with regard to them is founded, and they ought not to be altered even under the influence of the captivating arguments of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I confess that I have listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition with amazement. On Wednesday last the right hon. Gentleman welcomed this proposal amid unanimous cheers from all parts of the House.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
"Welcomed" is a strong word. I was directing my fire against another proposal, and I said of this one some words to the effect that it was comparatively acceptable. But I have since looked into the Bill.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The right hon. Gentleman's acceptance was so warm that I, at all events, mistook it for welcome. The right hon. Gentleman has since come upon a debate of a somewhat academic character which took place in 1895, and he now presents his own Financial Secretary, not as chairman of the Committee on this subject, but as bottle-holder to the hon. Member for Central Sheffield. That may be enough excuse for the right hon. Gentleman's right-about turn, but the Government, who are responsible for this Bill, which they believe to be of the greatest importance to Volunteers, and to be generally welcomed by them, will do their best to see it passed this session. All are agreed that the Volunteers exist to repel invasion. The only point is whether Her Majesty is bound to declare to the whole world by proclamation that she appre- 935 hends invasion, at a time when diplomacy is at its last gasp. What I said the other day—and I am bound to repeat my argument—was that when a foreign ambassador accredited to this Court was in daily and hourly conference with our own Foreign Secretary, was not the time Her Majesty should be made to proclaim with her own mouth that she apprehends invasion. Of course it will not be done. Everybody knows that no Government would issue that proclamation, which is so different from other proclamations, precisely because it contains these words, which would be so inopportune. That is why we propose that the terms should be amended. If that be true—and I think it was generally said the other day—it follows that no step could be taken to put the Volunteers into a position to repel invasion until invasion had taken place. I say again, as I said on Wednesday last, that no War Office, after any amount of re-organisation, could turn the Volunteers into a, field Army, with transport and supplies, in the course of twenty-four or forty-eight hours. It could not be done in less than two or three weeks. If this change should be refused, then all the money spent on the Volunteers is wasted, and the Volunteers are being made fools of. We have heard it said that the military authorities will call out the Volunteers rashly. The military authorities will not call them out at all unless it is the policy of the Government. To call them out would cost for the first month £2,500,000 in pay and allowances alone, while each ensuing month would cost £1,570,000. If the cost of transport and provisions and equipment is added, the first month would cost £4,000,000. I have no fear that any Government will rashly authorise that expenditure. I believe that if this alteration is made other Governments will follow in the steps of all Governments who have presided over the destinies of this country, and will not incur that charge until it is absolutely necessary.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE (Hereford)
I agree to some extent that this Bill is a useful measure, but the importance of it has been exaggerated. I am sure if we were in the peculiar position of being on the verge of invasion it would make very little difference whether the Volunteers were called out in consequence of "imminent national danger "or" appre 936 hended invasion." The nation would be perfectly well aware of the reason why they were called out. I do not, myself, think very much of the argument that the character of the Volunteer force would be changed if the Bill passed into law. As a matter of fact the force has changed considerably during the last few years. When it was first established the greater part of the force were in the position described by Captain Hunter in the speech which was quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition; but within the last few years a great number of the men who have joined the force really belong to the Militia. They have joined the Volunteer force because it is the easier force—because more amusement can be obtained out of it, and they are taken away from their work less. What is really wanted is not so much a measure of this kind—although I shall vote for it—as such a training of the whole Volunteer force that when a national emergency does arise those who volunteer for that force will be of immediate use. The first object of the War Office ought to be to furnish us with a Volunteer force that is thoroughly effective, so that when men volunteer for active service they may be of use at once. If some system of that kind is adopted—
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE
What I meant to imply was that in a case of national emergency the Government of the day would have at hand, voluntarily offering themselves for the Volunteer force, the class of men whom they would require to meet that particular emergency. I shall vote for this measure, because I think to some extent it may be useful, but I should not vote for it if I thought the intention of the Government was to mislead the people by making them suppose that this measure would to any large extent render the Volunteer force more effective than at present, or that by it something was done really to organise the military forces of the Empire.
§ * MR. C. P. SCOTT (Lancashire, Leigh)
I think it is important clearly to understand from the Government what is intended to be the practical effect of the change of words here suggested. I 937 know quite well that no intention can bind the successors of, or even the present Government, but we ought to be told clearly what the practical effect will be of changing these well-known definite words for other words less definite. The Under Secretary for War gives us to understand that no change was intended, that the Volunteers would be called out under the new form as under the old form, only when the Government apprehended invasion, and that the Government did not wish to put the fact in a Proclamation for fear it should interfere with the course of diplomacy and precipitate that which they wished to avoid. If it were clearly understood that that was the intention of the Government it would make a great difference; and I hope the Under Secretary will be able to assure us on that point.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I have already made two speeches in which I endeavoured to convey that idea, and I doubt whether I should be more successful if I made a third.
§ * MR. C. P. SCOTT
I read the Second Reading speech of the hon. Gentleman very carefully, but I do not think he made it so clear as he has now done. If that is the case, and that intention is acted upon, it will make the clause practically innocuous and also inoperative. But the House had an apprehension that that was not the whole object of the Government. It is obvious that within the last few months the country has passed through circumstances which might fairly be called "a great emergency." I think after the battle of Colenso we were certainly in a position which might be so described, and the Government would have been perfectly within their rights — if the law had been as they are now proposing to make it—in calling out the Volunteers.
§ * MR. C. P. SCOTT
The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. That means, I suppose, that the Government would not have done it. I am glad of that, but they would have been at perfect liberty to have done so. The effect of this change will be that instead of depending on the definite words of the Act we shall depend upon the good will of the Government, which is somewhat changeable, 938 and the Volunteers themselves will never know exactly what are the obligations they undertake. If the change is applied in the manner suggested, I do not think it will make much difference; but if at any time the Government were in a tight place and called on the Volunteers —it would be then, after the Volunteers and the employers of Volunteers had had experience of the new condition under which these men would be called out for service—that the force must suffer in popularity, and this change be found to be a very grave one.
§ * MR. WYLIE (Dumbartonshire)
As an old Scottish Volunteer, and still in close touch with the force, and with some of the most eminent and practical commanding officers, I wish to say a few words in support of this clause, the object of which is to render the volunteers more promptly available as an important portion of the great defensive forces of our country in any time of imminent national danger or great emergency, even if that emergency or danger does not amount to actual or apprehended invasion. I believe that recent events have proved the desirability of this measure. It is argued that the introduction of such a Bill is not opportune, and that if brought forward at all it should be in conjunction with some more important measure. But I think it is a most opportune, useful, and necessary measure, and one which will form a very valuable instalment of any complete scheme of reorganisation and reform, which I hope will be undertaken immediately after the present war, and with the light of the experience which that war has afforded us. Seeing that increased duties and responsibilities are to be placed on the Volunteers, it is natural that they and their friends should be anxious to know what increased encouragement and support the Government propose to give them. My opinion is that if the Government support the Volunteers, as we hope they will do, not only would the efficiency of the force be increased, but its numbers would be doubled, so that there might easily be a force of half a million ready to be promptly availed of in case of imminent national danger or great emergency, a large portion of whom would volunteer to serve in any part of the world, still leaving in this country for the legitimate purposes of home defence a very much larger number of Volunteers 939 than are at present in existence. I give my cordial support to the clause now before the Committee.
§ MR. MADDISON (Sheffield, Brightside)
I shall certainly support the omission of the clause. When the Under Secretary for War stated a few months ago the effect of the alteration of these words upon the course of any delicate diplomacy which might be in progress, I admit he struck a note which, if it had been a sound one, would have compelled me to vote against my hon. and gallant friend. The whole purport of the hon. Gentleman's remarks was that the effect of the alteration of these words would be to prevent something being regarded by a foreign Power as an act of war. I am quite unable to see that the difference in these words could possibly have that effect. If we were engaged in such delicate diplomacy I should be the last to turn that diplomacy into provocation; we have had quite enough of that. But what would be the actual effect? Under the present law, if the Volunteers were called out, a foreign Power would know it was because of an actual or apprehended invasion of some part of the United Kingdom. And if these words were deleted, and for them were substituted the words, "imminent national danger or great emergency," what difference could it possibly have upon the course of diplomatic negotiations with any foreign Power? Does the hon. Member mean to tell the Committee that trained diplomatists would be so ignorant of the state of affairs that it would make the slightest difference to them what the words were which formed the basis on which the Volunteers were called out, so long as the words indicated national danger? We who are not regarded as being at all advocates of militarism have always differentiated between a force which, as the law stands, is a purely homo defence force, a body of citizen soldiers, and the regular Army; and I confess that, much as I detest war, and militarism generally, anything in reason to make that voluntary arm more effective would have my support.
§ MR. MADDISON
The hon. and gallant Gentleman's dogmatism is so 940 common that it really has no market price now. The Under Secretary for War needs to be very cautious of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield, because he represents the jingo section of the Volunteers of this country. That section is a very small portion of that great force; there are very few who have such great ambitions. The majority are mere citizens, and do not want to be anything else; they have no desire to become soldiers in all but name, they simply want to belong to a force whose one call upon them is the defence of their native land. I say, deliberately, that if the Under Secretary of State for War wants really to encourage volunteering, instead of tampering with the force, he should make it more and more clear that the members belong to a home defence force and that alone. The hon. and gallant Gentleman shakes his head; he, at any rate, is candid. But I am speaking of the great mass of the rank and file, the poor men—the Volunteers with wives and families—who are quite content to serve their country, and believe they are serving their country, although not treading a foreign strand, by making themselves effective, so that should occasion arise they may be prepared to defend their native land against invasion. But you do not even say "great national emergency." What do you mean by "great emergency"? I can conceive a state of affairs in which you might have an emergency which was not an emergency from outside at all, and I say deliberately, I will be no party to giving to a Minister, when Parliament is not sitting, the great power here proposed, and the duty of interpreting these words, seeing that the result might be of such serious moment to the working classes of this country. There is no need for this Bill so far as the effectiveness of the Volunteers is concerned. We who vote against this clause are not voting in any way against making the Volunteer force effective; we are voting to maintain the original and true character of the force, and to prevent it being placed in the hands of any foolish or possibly unscrupulous Minister, who might use it for a purpose foreign to that for which it was formed.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
May I correct a misapprehension under which the hon. Member has spoken? By the law of the 941 land we cannot move Volunteers out of the country at all.
§ MR. MADDISON
I did not say otherwise. I can assure the hon. Gentleman I had no such thought in my mind.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Then the hon. Member seemed to think that some great emergency of a social character might arise. We cannot use a Volunteer against the civil power.
I should like to congratulate my hon. friend the Under Secretary—
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted, and forty Members being found present.
* COLONEL PILKLNGTON
I should very much like to say how much I congratulate the Government and my hon. friend the Under Secretary for War on the introduction of this Bill. It seems to me that Clause 1 is a clause which makes a valuable change which will be welcomed by the Volunteers. This is the opinion not only of Volunteer officers, but also of many men of business throughout the country who are not connected with Volunteers at all. They feel that these words are wanted in order to improve the scope of the Bill. Now, Sir, with regard to the new words, it seems to me that they are very much better than the old words, and may cover the old words, and as for supposing that they would be wrongly used by the Government, I think that any such remark or objection, when looked into carefully, entirely falls to the ground. It is not the War Office, but the Government of the day, and the Government of the day is the Cabinet which represents the majority of the House of Commons, and is it likely any Cabinet or Government that has behind it the House of Commons would be so foolish or rash as to do anything which in any way would be dangerous? What we find so generally in this kind of thing is that the Government, instead of being precipitate and rash, and instead of acting with great speed, the danger is that they generally act too slowly. With regard to almost all the military movements of whatever kind which have taken place for many years past, we have moved with very great care 942 and very, great wisdom, and very often with too much hesitation. I do not believe that there is any danger in the words proposed. On the contrary, I believe there is very great safety in them. In my opinion they have been long wanted, and I believe that no business man, Volunteer or otherwise, would object to the insertion of these words. I have for many years past believed that in Volunteer circles it was the opinion that some such words should be inserted. It has been urged that the insertion of such words would be distasteful to the Volunteers, and that they would not increase their number. I do not believe that for a moment. I think this will meet the views of Volunteers in great measure, and they will see something hero is done which will make their force much more effective, and I will explain to the House why I think so in a few moments. The South African War must have added 50,000 at least new members to the force. In a regiment I know very well I know that the battalion has increased very much. I think that is a proof that the Volunteers, if they see danger to the country, will immediately rally to the country's cause, and come forward in greater numbers. I will give another instance of the effect on Volunteers. It was at one time said that fourteen days camping of Volunteers would create a great deal of enthusiasm.
* THE CHAIRMAN
Order, order! The hon. Member is travelling beyond the limits of this clause. He must confine himself strictly to this clause.
* COLONEL PILKLNGTON
I accept your ruling, Mr. Chairman. I see the old words are "Actual or apprehended invasion." If the Government wait until an actual invasion begins before they call out the Volunteers, I say distinctly—knowing something of the Volunteers, and being a Volunteer officer—I think we should go simply to the shambles. I believe there would be confusion, and we should not know where we were or what we were doing. The foreign forces would be actually on our soil, probably in great numbers, and although it is very likely they would not get very much further because of the Line and Militia, we as a force should be no good at all. That is my opinion, and I will explain why I think so. We now find when we go into 943 camp that it is only after a week's or a fortnight's drill that different battalions, as it were, begin to feel at home. After a few days or a fortnight we find ourselves far better than we were at the end of the first week. Wherever we are sent, at first we should be all at sea; we should not know the ground or the town. By degrees we should get accustomed to the surroundings, and it would be found then whether we were short of transport or not. In the camp in which I was this year for fourteen days, there were many things wanted. Perhaps the ammunition cart had got no horse, and—
* THE CHAIRMAN
Order, order! I must ask the hon. Member to resume his seat when I rise. The hon. Member is now discussing the general training of Volunteers, which cannot now be raised.
* COLONEL PILKINGTON
I am trying to show that at least a month or six weeks training would be required to ensure some amount of efficiency among the Volunteers. But it does seem to me that it is too much to expect good results if the Volunteers were called out forty-eight hours after the invasion has begun. They could not be an efficient force under those circumstances, and it seems to me that if the War Office and the Government and the country are to rely upon the Volunteers for the home defence force—looking at the great numbers and the great part they fill in the forces—it is absolutely necessary that they should be afforded every opportunity for making themselves efficient, and be put in a position so that they may become acquainted with the position and be furnished with all the requisites and transport equipment, so that if the enemy comes up they may be well prepared to give a good account of themselves. It seems to me that the changes it is proposed to make are in the right direction. They would enable the Government to take time by the forelock and get the Volunteers in that position in which they might have to make a stand eventually. What the Volunteers wish is to be sufficiently efficient to be called out at the proper time and be ready for an invasion if it should come. I hope this change will be made, and that the clause at it stands, without Amendment, will be passed. I trust that the measure will become law this session.
§ MR. CAWLEY (Lancashire, Prestwich)
said he was afraid this clause, if passed, would have a very bad effect upon the Volunteers. He had listened to the remarks of several hon. Members, and he preferred the opinion of his hon. friend the Member for the Leigh Division in regard to the rank and file of Volunteers to that of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield, who was an officer in the Volunteer service. He doubted whether the opinion of the Volunteers was so much in favour of the measure as it had been represented to be. For a commanding officer to merely summon the Volunteers before him and ask them whether they liked this change or not was not the correct way to arrive at their real opinions. He thought it was far more likely that the Volunteers would not be in favour of a change like this. A great many Volunteers came from small employers, and he could understand such employers not liking their clerks to be liable to be called out except in case of apprehended invasion. It seemed to him that this clause was placing a very great power in the hands of the particular Minister at any particular time. There was no doubt that the phrase "imminent national danger or great emergency" allowed a great deal of latitude, and it might be interpreted very differently by different Ministers at different times. On the other hand, the terms on which the Volunteers wore elected at the present time were not at all ambiguous, for they all knew that they were only going to be called upon for active service in case their country was invaded. When the ordinary Volunteer came to read the terms of this clause which it was proposed to substitute, an ambiguity would be found about it which was not at all desirable, and which he thought would prevent a great many men enlisting in the service. Perhaps at the present moment this provision would not deter any men from joining, but when the war was over, and the people came to pay the bills which they would be called upon to pay, he thought it would discourage people from joining the Volunteers. He had not had the practical experience of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield, although he had once had the privilege of being a full private, and he might say that his own experience did not coincide with the experience of the hon. and gallant Member 945 opposite who was a colonel in the Volunteers. He thought this provision was a very undesirable one, and unless the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill could give them a more practical and satisfactory explanation why this change was wanted he should certainly vote against the clause.
§ * MR. JOHN WILSON (Falkirk Burghs)
believed that this Bill would increase the martial spirit amongst their Volunteers, Personally, when the Bill for the war came to be paid he had no fear of the result, and in case of an apprehended invasion or imminent national danger he believed that a large number of their Volunteers would be found ready to join not only in the defence of their country, but to go anywhere in the interests of their country. What had they found in the case of the invasion of British territory in South Africa? There a horde of undrilled peasants, fifty of whom could not march in line together, but who could shoot straight, had been able to oppose successfully the finest forces in the world. He thought this South African war had shown very forcibly the necessity of having a Volunteer force which would be ready to go anywhere and do anything at the call of duty. He heartily supported this measure, and he sincerely hoped that there would be appointed some person who would have charge of the Volunteer forces, for he should not like to hear of another mistake being made like the unfortunate instance of which the House was already aware.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
The speech just delivered by the hon. Member does not help the Government very much, because practically what he says is wanted is a condition of things that will enable the Volunteers to be called out, and in his own words, "to go anywhere and do anything."
§ * MR. JOHN WILSON
I did not say I wanted such a state of things to arise. What I said was that if such a condition of things arose the Volunteers would be found ready and willing to go anywhere and do anything.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
But if these men are so anxious to defend their country, they only need to go down to the 946 recruiting sergeant, and then they can share the honour and distinction of going to South Africa by enlisting like the ordinary soldier, who at this moment is so pluckily doing his work. I have been out just now to the Vote Office, and what do I find? I find that we have five Bills, all of which are significant of the spirit of militarism that is being introduced into this country at this particular moment. We have a Bill for the Volunteers, one for the Reserve Forces, one on the Military Manœuvres, the Military Lands Bill, and the Naval Reserve Bill, and every one of these Bills seeks to extend the power which the Government now has for giving more men to the Reserve, and calling them out at the discretion of the Admiralty. These measures give the Government more latitude and discretion in mobilising the Naval Reserves than they have hitherto had. With regard to the Military Lands Bill, we see a military spirit pervading that measure, and military lands are to be placed at the discretion of the War Office, and it is proposed to give commanding officers Dower to close roads and to do other things. Then we have the Reserve Forces Bill, which gives the War Office similar powers in relation to the Reserve forces. I think the whole of these Bills are symptomatic of an attempt to rush through the House of Commons in the emergency of the war with South Africa a series of measures to convert the Volunteer force into the Militia force or some-thing like a conscript force under conscript conditions. I object to this Volunteers Bill, notwithstanding the fact that the Under Secretary for War has deleted Sub-section (b) of Clause 2, and I do so on the ground that if you allow the War Office to determine without confirmation of this House what an imminent national danger or a great emergency is, we shall probably see a further development of what we have quite recently witnessed—namely, the Volunteers being moved forward to the Militia stage, the Militia moved to the Army Reserve stage, the Army Reserves moved forward to the Regular Army, and the Indian Army again brought into Europe, and the Regular Army depleted at home to go abroad. The Volunteers, under the phrase "imminent national danger or great emergency," could be called upon to strengthen the depleted garrisons of the Regular Army, and they could be called 947 out for purposes which under the present law would not be legal. I protest against that. I object by a side wind or by any other patriotic subterfuge to convert what is a voluntary force into what is a more or less compulsory force at the discretion of the War Office. If this Bill is passed with this phrase, "imminent national danger or great emergency," you will change the character of the Volunteer army, which is at present well understood by the Volunteers, who joined under well-known conditions, and who do not object to be summoned when there is actual or apprehended invasion. You will damage the Volunteers as part of our national defence, and will convert that force into a more or less compulsory force, probably for service abroad. What is a "great emergency"? The Emperor of Germany, a few years ago, made his celebrated "mailed fist" speech. This country seemed to have lost its head over it. They took a great deal too much notice of the German Emperor, and more notice of him on that occasion than I would take of his utterances on any occasion. They called out the Flying Squadron, which was not out as soon as it ought to have been, and not quite as efficient as it ought to have been, considering the money spent on the Navy. It was called out in answer to the "mailed fist" speech of the Emperor. Under the Volunteer Act you could not have construed that speech as an imminent national danger or great emergency. But if this Bill is passed and the German Emperor makes another "mailed fist" speech, you will have the Flying Squadron called out again, supplemented by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield calling the Queen's Westminsters together and saying, "Here is the German Emperor making another ' mailed fiat' speech. Let us under the new Act appeal to the War Office to interpret it as an imminent national danger or great emergency, and then the Act may be put into operation." That is to happen whenever a tinpot European monarch makes a speech which cannot possibly harm England, and who has not a Navy equal to a tenth of our Navy. The whale and the elephant rarely come into collision. Under this Bill gentlemen like the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield will be petitioning the War Office to call out the Volunteers. I do not think 948 this Bill is wanted. What is more, you will let the Volunteers think, by the passing of this Bill, that they are to be subject to the discretion of the War Office. I would not trust much to the discretion of the War Office. They have bungled in South Africa; they make a mess of nearly everything they take in hand, and if they have this Bill they will have power to do with the Volunteers what they did with the whole military arrangements in South Africa. I am not prepared to give a War Office such as ours the discretionary power of calling out the Volunteers when in its opinion a great emergency has arisen. If the War Office had done their duty, the necessity of discussing this Bill would not have arisen at all. If the Army had been in a state of efficiency, as it ought to have been considering the amount of money voted for it, we should not be called upon to discuss this Bill at all. Then we are asked to spoil the Volunteer force—for that is what it means—because the War Office have not acted efficiently. Immediately the Volunteers recognise you are tampering with free voluntary enlistment, and that they are to be put under the discretionary powers of Lord Lansdowne, then the Volunteer army will disappear like butter in the sun. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite says that the Volunteers like it. Where is the proof? What Volunteer corps has been brought together and had the terms of this Bill submitted to them? Has a plebiscite been taken of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's own regiment? I have ten times as many of the Queen's Westminsters living in my constituency as the hon. Member has.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
I will not take the trouble to meet the hon. and gallant Gentleman. The Queen's Westminster are efficient Volunteers, and they want to remain Volunteers. They do not want to listen to a lot of prancing patriots, whose idea of the Volunteer force is that every man in England who is not a soldier or a sailor should be a marine. I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that in his zeal to improve the Volunteers as a defensive force he is going the wrong way about it, and that if the Volunteers are placed under the discretion of the War Office, men will refuse 949 to join, and the Volunteers will suffer in number, in esprit de corps, and in efficiency, and they will refuse to be converted from a practically voluntary force into a more or less conscriptive force. It is because this Bill is one of a series of militarizing enactments, which has for its object a conscript Militia, and the making of a free Volunteer Army into a more or less conscriptive force, and because the Volunteers will be sadly damaged in efficiency and numbers, that I protest against it. I come to one of my last points. The political atmosphere just now is charged with everything of a military character. We see hon. and gallant Gentlemen like the Member for Central Sheffield and the members of town councils asking, in a fever of panic, that the police should be armed. They want rifle ranges here, there, and everywhere, and they want the Volunteers converted into a conscriptive force. The militarization of English public life is going on to an extent that would be absolutely unnecessary if the War Office did its work properly, and if the Army and Navy were looked after to the extent they should be. It is because this Bill is one more link in the chain of jingoising England that I protest against it. If the Volunteers in my own constituency are in favour of this Bill, I have received no evidence of it. I do not believe that there is one Volunteer in a thousand who knows of the existence of this measure, or who has considered its terms with his comrades. It is because I believe the Bill is intended to place the Volunteers under the discretion of the War Office, and to enable them to be called up at any time for service both at home and abroad, that I am opposed to it. I oppose it also because I have a greater regard for the Volunteer force than the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield, who has the most unfortunate knack of doing the right thing in the wrong way, and of going about a good thing in a way which ultimately defeats his purpose. I intend challenging a division upon this Bill, which I believe to be unnecessary.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
There is one point which does not seem to have been cleared up in the discussion. It is most difficult to get the critics and the advocates of this particular clause together. My hon. friend who has just spoken has referred to the increased liability 950 of service which the Bill undoubtedly imposes on the Volunteer force. The reply made to that is that the Volunteers are patriotic, that the present emergency has shown there is need for their services and that therefore this Bill is justified. It seems to me that that does not meet the point at all. If it is said that the present emergency has shown that the Volunteers have come forward, that is in itself a condemnation of this measure, because it is perfectly clear that there is now an ample outlet for the patriotic spirit of the Volunteers. My contention is that the present law is sufficient. The Under Secretary for War has referred to the undesirability of issuing a proclamation while negotiations are going on, but does anybody mean to contend that no steps would be taken for the defence of this country or the assertion of its power until we found it necessary to call out the Volunteers? Under the present law, whenever an order is in force for the embodiment of the Militia the Government can accept the services of the Volunteers. At the present time such an order is in force, and the argument that the issue of a proclamation would render the negotiations difficult seems to have no weight whatever. For instance, a proclamation is necessary to call out the Army Reserve, and another to call out the Militia, and in such a case Parliament must meet, if it is not sitting, ten days after the proclamation is issued, and it cannot be supposed that the situation would be rendered more intense by calling out the Volunteers. That is an argument that will not hold water. The second argument of the Under Secretary is that it might be necessary- that certain particular garrisons should be manned on certain particular occasions, but surely the present situation has shown there would not be the slightest difficulty in appealing, to the patriotic spirit of the Volunteers in order to obtain a sufficient number. I should like to ask the Under Secretary for War if he would state explicitly how far the present powers fall short of the powers proposed in this Bill. This Bill really means a good deal, or it means nothing at all. If it means nothing at all except a mere change of words, then I think it is a great pity that the Government should have put us to the inconvenience of discussing it at this period of 951 the session. If it means a great deal, the Committee have a right to know all it does mean.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: — Ayes, 127; Noes, 62. (Division List No. 231.)951
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W (Leeds)||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Pilkington, R. (Lancs, Newton)|
|Banbury, Frederic George||Gourley, Sir Edward Temperley||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Barnes, Frederick Gorell||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Plunkett, Rt. Hn. Hor. Curzon|
|Barry, Rt. Hn. A. H. S- (Hunts)||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert W.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Hartley, George C. T.||Hardy, Laurence||Purvis, Robert|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Pym, C. Guy|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Henderson, Alexander||Rankin, Sir James|
|Bethell, Commander||Holland, William Henry||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Bill, Charles||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Howell, William Tudor||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Kimber, Henry||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W(Derbyshire)||Lafone, Alfred||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Lawrence, Sir E Durning-(Corn.)||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos Myles|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen, Wore'r||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Charrington, Spencer||Lockwood, Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Smith, Hon. W. F.D.(Strand)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Lowles, John||Strachey, Edward|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd)||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Tomlinson, Wm. E. Murray|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Macdona, John Gumming||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes S. W.||Maclure, Sir John William||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H (Sheffield)|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinb'rgh, W)||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taunton)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)|
|Curzon, Viscount||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Monckton, Edward Philip||Willonghby de Eresby, Lord|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Monk, Charles James||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R (Bath)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William H.||Morrison, James, A. (Wilts. S.)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Finch, George H.||Muntz, Philip A.||Wyndham, George|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)|
|Young, Commander (Berks, E.)||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Myers, William' Henry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Flannery. Sir Fortescue||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Sir William Walrond and|
|Flower, Ernest||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Garfit, William||Pease, Herbt. Pike (Darlingt'n)|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Philipps, John Wynford|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Hazell, Walter||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Billson, Alfred||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Healy, Timothy M. (N. Louth)||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Horniman, Frederick John||Reid. Sir Robert Threshie|
|Burns, John||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Scott, Charles P. (Leigh)|
|Caldwell, James||Joicey, Sir James||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Cawley, Frederick||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Steadman, William Charles|
|Charming, Francis Allston||Lewis, John Herbert||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan. T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||MacDonnell, Dr. M. A. (Qu'n's C)||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Doogan, P. C.||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Tennant, Harold John|
|Duckworth, James||M'Ghee, Richard||Ure, Alexander|
|Evans, Sir Francis H.(South'p'n)||M'Leod, John||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Fenwick, Charles||Maddison, Fred.||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herb. John||Molloy, Bernard Charles||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Morgan, J. L. (Cannarthen)|
|Gurdon, Sir William Brampton||Nussey, Thomas Willans||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Hammond, John (Carlow)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Captain Sinclair and|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||Mr. Humphreys-Owen.|
§ Clause 2:—
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
said that there was nothing definite in the clause. What was urged with regard to this particular provision was that before "actual or apprehended invasion" was the condition of things the Government might call upon Volunteer artillery to garrison certain forts or outlying places, but it was not definitely stated. Therefore he wished, in order to limit the clause, to insert after the word "Volunteer" the words "garrison artillery."
In page 1, line 10, after ' Volunteer,' to insert ' garrison artillery.'"—(Captain Sinclair.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'garrison artillery' be there inserted."
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
said before the Under Secretary replied he would like to know by what method these men were to be paid for their services. He put the question for the reason that he did not want a Volunteer to be coerced, or, to use a more expressive phrase, to be bluffed by his colonel into consenting to enlistment—
* THE CHAIRMAN
Order, order! The only question now before the Committee is whether this clause shall be limited to garrison artillery or not.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I am afraid that the hon. and gallant Member for Forfar has not quite correctly apprehended what I said the other day, although what he has just said does very nearly cover the whole purpose we contemplate. I think the language I used was that we only contemplated putting garrisons into forts in any estuary leading up to a harbour. Those garrisons, or 99 per cent. of them, are composed of garrison artillery, but there are some other Volunteers required— three or four bicyclists, for instance—to carry on communications between the fort and the rear. Under the scheme of defence as it at present exists, we require about 7,500 men in order to give requisite garrisons to the forts which have been constructed in the Mersey, at Bristol, in the Tyne and the Clyde. These garrisons are almost all composed of garrison artillery, but there must necessarily be some submarine miners and engineers. These garrisons would only go to their 954 posts for drill on frequent occasions, but these things cannot be left to mere chance. The very worst preparation for war is to issue an appeal at the last moment. It is far better that a force of 7,500 men out of a force of 250,000 who are prepared to qualify for these posts should be allowed to register their names in times of peace. I cannot go back from that view. There is no danger of any sort or kind, and the fears with which hon. Members are haunted are so illusory that I find it hard to believe their arguments are serious. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to play at the game, that we are living in the eighteenth century instead of in the dawn of the twentieth. Those forts have been built and armed, and these men ask to be allowed to form part of the garrisons, and we ask that they shall be allowed to do so. The proposition is so reasonable that I do not think I am justified in further occupying the time of the House by labouring the point.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
When this matter was before the House on the Second Reading, it was pointed out, and I thought there was a great deal in the proposition made, that instead of extending this to the whole 250,000 men it should be confined to the 7,500 you require. Supposing you are going to man the forts on the Tyne, surely you are not going to Cornwall to get men?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The object of the clause is to make it definite instead of allowing it to remain indefinite. We should only take the men from the immediate districts.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Then I have no objection to it myself. I think that is a reasonable suggestion. These men would be in a very much better position to discharge their duties if they knew them some time in advance; but if this is to make it definite I cannot conceive anything more indefinite than the words in the Bill.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
The Amendment of the hon. Member does meet it to some extent, but I should 955 have thought some method might be adopted by which the liability should not be put upon the whole force, but on that smaller part consisting of artillery and submarine miners and engineers who are concerned in the matter. I should have thought it better to define it than have it in this indefinite form.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
Then, I suppose, when a new fort was built we should have to have a fresh Bill.
§ SIR JOHN BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
did not consider the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman was at all unreasonable, and he hoped that the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary would see his way to adopt it. He did not think that this liability should extend to the whole of the Volunteers. This Bill had created a great deal of alarm on account of the extreme ambiguity of its language. He merely mentioned the fact in the hope that the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary would bring forward an Amendment limiting the total number of those who should be asked to offer themselves.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The difference between us is not wide, and it appears the difficulty of the situation is to define the intentions of the Government without introducing definitions which might be inconvenient. If I were expected to put all the places in the Bill, I should have to say where all the forts are. If I were asked to put down the number of garrisons, I could say exactly how many met we should require; but a new improvement in the next six months might so alter the conditions that we should have to come here again for more. There is really no danger of any Government being so insane as to try and place all the Volunteers under an obligation of this character. All we ask is that, when money has been spent on the forts, and when there are corps who are to man these forts in time of war in the neighbourhood of these various forts, we should be allowed to select them in time of peace. Unless the Leader of the Opposition thinks that some benefit could be achieved by putting a limit on the 956 number, that is the only way the object could be achieved. But as all these fears are illusory, there is no reason for doing so. I think the House and the country in this matter might well trust this and successive Governments.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
It is not a question of trust or distrust of the Government. It is a question of the disturbing effect this wide suggestion has on the Volunteer force generally. The words are "to accept the offer of any member of a Volunteer corps to subject himself." I do not know whether it would not be better to say, accept the offer of a certain number of the Volunteer forces, and to then accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Forfarshire. We are both aiming at the same thing.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
It means from certain corps; but I should be very sorry if a Bill in Parliament named the whole of those corps. Nobody has suggested that, and I was only trying to meet the hon. Gentleman by indicating a manner in which the question might be supervised and so safeguarded.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN (Montgomeryshire)
suggested that as all were agreed upon the principle, instead of taking the discussion on the words now before the House, they should substitute the words "to be called out for coast defence and garrison duty."
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
asked whether the hon. Gentleman could not accept an Amendment to the effect that those called up "shall not exceed 10,000 in all."
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I could not accept that Amendment. If any hon. Gentleman desires to limit the clause I will try and meet him, but any attempt to try and extract the name of a corps or fort I cannot consent to.
§ MR. MADDISON
did not think there was any Bill in which the intentions of the Government were disclosed so little as in this clause. As there was a perfect agreement as to the principle of the clause, 957 he suggested that the obligation lay upon the hon. Gentleman to add words that should carry out what the House intended. If the clause could be restricted in the manner suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition there would be no objection to the clause. But he was not prepared to support the doctrine of a sort of Ministerial infallibility.
§ MAJOR JAMESON (Clare, W.)
agreed with the Amendment. The Under-Secretary had intimated that if the clause was limited in this way it was not business; but garrison artillery were quite different to other branches of Volunteers. He had been ten years in the Regulars and twelve in the Volunteer forces, and if a vote of the Volunteers was taken upon this proposal, which was distinctly contrary to the rules in force, it would be seen that they did not approve of the action of the Government. The artilleryman took a much longer time to train than the infantryman, and if there was anything unbusinesslike in this business, it was the proceedings of the Government. Had the Government reflected for a moment what this proposal meant to the Volunteer forces? What did the Government propose to give in return? Did they propose to exempt them from certain taxes, or sitting on juries, or some other unpleasant duty of a citizen?—
§ MAJOR JAMESON
said that with regard to the artillery, the men should know what obligations they took upon themselves when they joined; but in any case the Government had no right to go to the whole Volunteer force and say it was necessary for them, if they came forward, to come within the operation of this clause, for the reason that, like soldiers, the Volunteers did not care to see one man going and another left behind because of his home or business ties.
§ * COLONEL SANDYS (Lancashire, Bootle)
was of opinion that the Amendment for the provision of the Volunteers who were to garrison certain forts was a good one, but the men who should undertake that duty should be garrison artillery, and he hoped that the hon. Gentleman the Under 958 Secretary would see his way to accept the Amendment to that effect proposed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, which he (Colonel Sandys) intended to support.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said the majority would be garrison artillery. He did not trust his own judgment in this matter, and though the majority would be garrison artillery, still there necessarily would have to be others. It might be necessary, for instance, to have fifteen men on Brighton pier for the purposes of communications, and it was in matters of that kind that the Government ought not to be called upon to specify their requirements. They ought not to specify the particular composition of the garrisons. The only limitation could be a limitation of numbers; if that was pressed, he saw no means of resisting it.
§ SIR. H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
expressed a fear that he had not been clearly apprehended. He objected to a limited number, as he did not see that it would be of any service, because the only result would be that another Bill might have to be introduced in a very short time. What he desired to see was the clause restricted to the particular class of Volunteers who would be invited to undertake these duties. If the words "garrison artillery, submarine miners, and others necessary for coast defence," were incorporated, they would very nearly meet the objections raised.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
desired to supplement the words of the right hon. Gentleman. He moved after the words "garrison artillery" in the proposed Amendment to add the words "submarine miners, engineers, and other forces for coast defence." That would include telegraphists, cyclists, and other people whom the Government desired to have; he thought such an Amendment as that would emphasise what was intended to be carried out.
§ * COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, Ince)
said he wished to keep the Volunteer force as it was, and was glad that the Under Secretary had withdrawn the registration for service in the field and abroad. He thought the Amendment would cripple our power at a time when 959 we most wanted the use of force. He should like to see steps taken to prevent regimental pressure from being brought to bear on the Volunteers—even with regard to service at home.
§ MAJOR JAMESON
said he thoroughly agreed with the Amendment. The hon. Member opposite proposed this limit in order that those who volunteered might not appear in a different light from their comrades.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN
said there was an agreement in principle on both sides, and they were only now discussing how they could give effect to the general consensus of the House. He had handed in an Amendment, and he hoped that it might not be displaying undue partiality to say he thought it was better than that of his hon. friend the Member for Forfarshire. It was to add to sub-section (a), after the words, "military service," the words, "for coast defence duty." He hoped that the Under Secretary for War would adhere to the understanding that the whole body of Volunteers would not be called out for military duty at any time, but only those men intended to garrison forts.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
asked leave to withdraw his Amendment. He could bring it up again on the Amendment of his hon. friend after the Under Secretary had had time to consider the proposal.
§ SIR JOHN BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
said he hoped the Under Secretary would undertake to satisfy the scruples of hon. Members on that side of the House by introducing either now or later words which would limit the clause.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
hoped that the Committee would be induced to advance a little further in the direction he had indicated in his Amendment. The Committee appeared to be on the eve of arriving at an agreement. He would undertake to amend his subsequent Amendment before Report by specifying the places more 960 clearly—not by enumeration, but by some description, or whatever might be possible.
§ Mr. Buchanan's Amendment to the Amendment was, by leave, withdrawn, and the Amendment was, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
moved to amend Clause 2 so that it should read as follows—It shall be lawful for Her Majesty to accept the offer of any member of a Volunteer corps to subject himself to the liability to be called out for actual military service at any time at such places in Great Britain as may be specified in his agreement.He undertook before Report to bring up words which would specify the nature of those places more clearly than was now apparent from the words, and to make clear what had been their intention all along.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (Yorkshire, E.R., Holderness)
said his hon. friend had altered his position so much since the Second Reading that the whole character of the Bill was altered. He had given notice of an Amendment to carry out the view that they should take advantage of the services of Volunteers who were willing to take upon themselves active military service generally and for all purposes. As the hon. Gentleman had accepted the limitation imposed on him by the other side of the House, he would not press his Amendment.
In page 1, line 10, to leave out from second ' to' to end of line 14, and insert ' the liability to be called out for actual military service at any time at such places in Great Britain as may be specified in his agreement.'"—(Mr. Wyndham.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said it was necessary to amend Clause 2 in order to ensure that officers should obtain the pensions and allowances which were provided for in the Volunteer Act of 1863.
In page 1, lines 17 and 18, to leave out ' and eighteen,' and insert ' to twenty.'
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Consequential Amendment made.961
§ MR. BUCHANAN
moved a proviso to the effect that regulations made under this section should not come into effect until they had lain four weeks upon the Table. The alterations of the law which would be effected by the Bill were of such a substantial character that the regulations should not become legally binding unless they were laid on the Table of the House and submitted to the judgment of Parliament.
In page 1, line 19, at the end, to add the word, 'Provided always that regulations made under this section shall not come into effect until they have lain four weeks upon the Table of each House of Parliament whilst that House is sitting.'"—(Mr. Buchanan.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said the hon. Member was labouring under a misapprehension. Nothing was being proposed which was beyond present powers.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said the sub-section simply enabled the Secretary of State to adapt Part 2 of the Volunteer Act of 1863 to the new conditions. That was not a matter which would be laid before the House. With all respect, the hon. Member was not Parliamentary draftsman to the War Office.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
said it was a. reasonable thing to suggest that if the Secretary for War was to have the power of varying the regulations applicable to the Volunteer force, the House should have some opportunity of expressing an opinion on them.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 60; Noes, 143. (Division List No. 232.)963
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Hayden, John Patrick||Nussey, Thomas Williams|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Philipps, John Wynford|
|Billson, Alfred||Healy, Timothy M. (N. Louth)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Burns, John||Horniman, Frederick John||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Scott, Charles P. (Leigh)|
|Caldwell, James||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Campbell-Bannennan, Sir H.||Joicey, Sir James||Sinclair, Capt. John(Forfarsh.)|
|Carvill, P. Geo. Hamilton||Jones, William(Carnarvonsh.)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Cawley, Frederick||Lawson Sir W. (Cumberland)||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lewis, John Herbert||Steadman, William Charles|
|Clark, Dr. G. B.||Lough, Thomas||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Crilly, Daniel||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, T.D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Doogan, P. C.||MacDonnell, Dr M A (Queen's C||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Evans, Sir Francis H (South'ton)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Ure, Alexander|
|Fenwick, Charles||M'Ghee, Richard||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||M'Leod, John||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Maddison, Fred||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Gurdon, Sir William Brampton||Molloy, Bernard Charles||Mr. Buchanan and|
|Hammond, John (Carlow)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Sir John Brunner.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cavendish, V. C.W. (Derbys.)||Curzon, Viscount|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Baillie, James E. B.(Inverness)||Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W (Leeds)||Chamberlain, J Austen (Wore'r)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart|
|Barry, Rt. Hn A H Smith-(Hunts)||Charrington, Spencer||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir. M H (Bristol)||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Finch, George H.|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-|
|Bethell, Commander||Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.|
|Bill, Charles||Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd)||Fletcher, Sir Henry|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Flower, Ernest|
|Brassey, Albert||Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Fry, Lewis|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Cross, Herb. Shepherd(Bolton)||Garfit, William|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Gedge, Sydney|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Manners, Lord Edward W. J.||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Goschen, Rt Hn G. J. (St George's)||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Monckton, Edward Philip||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Gourley, Sir Edward Temperley||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||More, R. Jasper (Shropshire)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D.(Strand)|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George||Morgan, Hn. Fred (Monm'thsh.)||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert W.||Morrison, James A. (Wilts., S.)||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)|
|Hardy, Laurence||Morton, Arthur H. A.(Deptford)||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Henderson, Alexander||Muntz, Philip A.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Talbot. Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxford U.)|
|Howell, William Tudor||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Jackson, Rt. Hn. W. Lawies||Myers, William Henry||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Keswick, William||Pease, Herbert Pike(Darlingt'n)||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Lafone, Alfred||Phillpotts Captain Arthur||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E (Taunton)|
|Lawrence, Sir E Durning-(Corn)||Pilkington, R. (Lanes, Newton)||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Plunkett, Rt Hn Horace Curzon||Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm)|
|Lea, Sir Thomas (Londonderry)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Purvis, Robert||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Swnsea)||Pym, C. Guy||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Rankin, Sir James||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Rentoul, James Alexander||Wylie, Alexander|
|Lowles, John||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartle'pl)||Wyndham, George|
|Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir Matthew W||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Macdona, John Gumming||Ritchie, Rt. Hon Chas. Thomson|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Maclure, Sir John William||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Sir William Walrond and|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehonse)||Mr. Anstruther|
Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.
§ Question proposed, "That Clause 2, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
If anything could justify the opposition we have offered to this Bill as a whole, it is the present condition of this clause. As a matter of fact, as originally introduced, the clause gave the Government power to accept the services of all Volunteers who agreed to serve in any part of the world. That meant imposing an additional liability of a very serious character on the whole of the Volunteer service. The result of the criticism to which the Bill has been subjected is that the character of the Bill has been completely changed. There is now no question of foreign service, and the application of the Bill, instead of being general with the whole Volunteer service, is to be limited. It is not too much to say that the case for the Bill has entirely broken down, and the opposition to the measure has served a most useful purpose and justified itself by the result. I regret that the Government, seeing that the limits of the Bill are so small, has not consented to acquiesce in the very general desire that any increase in the liabilities cast on the Volunteers should be deferred until the matter could be considered more dispassionately and under normal conditions.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
I wish to emphasise the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Ince with regard to the method in which Volunteers offer their services. I would submit to the Under Secretary for War that in the regulations putting this Bill into operation the same conditions should apply as in the case of transfers from one regiment to another in the Regular Army. The hon. Gentleman knows that when Volunteers are asked for from, say, the 3rd Buffs, to enlist into, say, the East Surrey Regiment for the purpose of going, say, to India, what happens is that the colonel neither of the 3rd Buffs nor of the East Surrey, but of some other regiment, sits upon a day specified to receive the enlistments from the one regiment to the other. By that means you get impartiality, and the men volunteer of their own volition and without any pressure from their own colonel. What is good enough for the regular army ought to be good enough for the Volunteer regiments, and if the method adopted in the regular army is resorted to, we should not find Volunteers subjected to the invidious distinction to which many have been in connection with the South African war. I appeal to the hon. Gentleman that in the regulations which are issued he will follow the method laid down in the regular army.
§ Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
§ On the question that the Bill, as amended, be reported,
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
asked that the point he had just raised might be replied to by the Undersecretary of State for War, as it was a matter of vital importance to the successful working of the Bill.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I think I have given the hon. Member a general assurance not only that there will be no pressure, but that no need for pressure can possibly arise. I will, however, consider whether any specified course can be taken, but I cannot pledge myself to apply to the one force a method which may not be applicable to that force, while it may be to the other.
§ Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.