§ Order for Committee read.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. WYNDHAM,) Dover
Before moving that you, Sir, do now leave the chair, I feel that I owe to this House some account of the objects to be covered by the Army Estimates, and some explanation of the form in which these Estimates are presented this year. The Estimates are altogether exceptional—in the first place, of course, in respect of their magnitude, but also because they present some features which are novel in our procedure, and the nature and the necessity of which demand some words from me. These Estimates have been framed for the purpose of effecting four principal objects. Hon. Members who have in their hands a copy of the Estimates will find on page 6, under four columns lettered a, b, c, and d, a discrimination between the totals which are set apart for each one of those four principal objects. The first principal object is the further prosecution of this war. I feel that I should be hardly justified in enlarging at any great length this afternoon on that section of the subjects covered by the Estimates. The sum set apart for the further prosecution of the war stands at a little more than £31,500,000. The Leader of the Opposition has more than once most patriotically assured us that, speaking for those who follow his lead, he will not stint the Government in any provision, for which they may ask for the prosecution of the war. He leaves to us the responsibility, and reserves to himself and his friends the right of subsequent inquiry and criticism. That being so, and seeing that during the debate on the Address I had occasion to speak at some length about the war proper,* I feel thatSee The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol, lxxviii., page 316.603 this afternoon I am not called upon to repeat that speech, because it would be mere repetition. I should cover the same ground, but in place of the amounts which I then gave I should be able to give a higher total for the men, the horses, the stores, and the transports which have been concentrated in South Africa. I am very loth to parade those totals. When I have given these mere enumerations, I have done so under the sincere belief that they were the subjects of legitimate curiosity. But I find that my action has been misconstrued in quarters outside; and that when I give figures I am accused of endeavouring to snap a bolt in favour of the War Office administration. Nothing has ever been further from my mind. I believe that many lessons are to be learnt from the war, and I hope as ardently as anyone that lessons will be learnt from the war and turned to the best possible account. These figures generally provide for the pay, subsistence, clothing, transport, and stores of the forces actually in South Africa, and I can only this afternoon reply by anticipation to some of the questions which have appeared on the Paper. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean has put down a somewhat long and detailed question in respect of the colonial forces in South Africa. Now I am not able to answer this except in an approximate manner. What I said the other day is still true. These forces, both the force raised in South Africa and the other forces offered to us by our self-governing colonies are still increasing factors, and therefore it is not possible to give the exact total. In this Estimate, in order to cover all the numbers which might possibly come in, we are setting the total down at 35,000, and the numbers up to the latest I have—February 26—are—Of South African forces, 21,240; from other colonies already in South Africa, 4,829; and on passage or under orders, 3,204, or 8,033 from our other self-governing colonies, making a grand total in South Africa, or under orders, of 29,273. The House will see that we have left ourselves a margin of something more than another 5,000 in case those forces increase, as probably they will. The right hon. Baronet has also put a number of questions as to the rate of pay and conditions upon which the services of these forces have been accepted. With regard to the South African forces I need 604 not repeat what I have already told the House as to the original terms. With regard to the other self-governing colonies they were to put the men down at their own charge in South Africa, and from the date of disembarkation the Imperial Government take them over at Imperial rates, pay, allowance, and pension, and undertook to take them back. But our colonies have behaved with so much patriotism in this respect that a time came when it was felt that we might increases largely those terms; and in respect of those under orders and future contingents we propose to undertake the whole burden of transport from the day they set forth. Then I come to the local South African forces raised there. Here the question is very complicated, and I do not believe that a detailed statement can be made. There were in South Africa a number of constitutional forces receiving traditional rates of pay. Some were raised on these lines at an early date; some were raised at the instance of Sir Alfred Milner and Sir George White. When I was speaking during the debate I found myself confronted with this criticism, that we had not been ready or prompt enough in responding to such appeals. But I was able to prove to the House that we only lost a week in the attempt to grapple with this very difficult problem of the different rates of pay. What would have been said if, in response to Sir Alfred Milner, who was under the apprehension of a rebellion, and what would have been said if, in response to the appeal of Sir George White, who was repelling the invasion of Natal, we had haggled over those details as to rates of pay? In my judgment—I do not know whether I am right or wrong—that would not have been the only, or the most mischievous, consequence of such action on our part. We might have throttled with, red tape the new birth of a force which we may live to see revolutionise the problem of Imperial defence; and that is why I deprecate any detailed discussion in this House of questions arising out of the terms of these offers which were made and the rates of pay accorded. The Dominion of Canada, the self-governing colonies of Australia, New Zealand, and many other dependencies of the Crown came forward, not under an obligation but of their own free will, to assist us when we went to the assistance of their sister colonies in the 605 Cape and Natal. They did not fulfil a contract; they obeyed the instinct of an Imperial race; and that being so we must wait for the development of years before we can hope to grapple in detail with the very interesting question which will arise out of this employment of the colonial forces side by side with Regulars at different rates of pay. I may be sanguine, but I think it is public possible that our colonies, discovering and rejoicing in their new-found strength and welcoming the opportunity which is theirs, may play a very great part in the future evolution of this Empire, and will seek, not indeed to perpetuate these splendid efforts they have made from year to year, but to render their repetition more easy by adopting some kind of organisation on prearranged lines. If that be so, if it be true, we may look forward almost with hope to a time when in Canada, Australasia, and I will add in South Africa also, we may see forces akin to our own—Militia and Volunteers—rising up where they do not now exist, and being perfected where, as in the case of Canada, they already exist in large numbers. If we may look forward to that time, to the time when the colonies see fit to select and test the military merits in time of peace of those among the colonial subjects of the Queen to whom, and to whom only, they will accord the coveted post of honour in times of Imperial danger—if that be not too visionary, I can appeal to the House whether we, the representative Assembly of this country, are not likely to be guilty of a want of tact if we discuss too fully what are after all the affairs of other self-governing dependencies of the Crown. It is for them to act and not for us, in my opinion, with our vast accumulated wealth, even to solicit too earnestly any assistance from our colonies in view of their voluntary offers during the last few months. Under this first column there are many other subjects on which it is difficult to speak, but harder not to speak at all. In introducing these Estimates I must be allowed to pay my passing tribute to the heroism of our troops, to the stoical tenacity of Sir George White at Ladysmith, to the promptitude and versatility of the Naval Brigade, to the dogged determination of Sir Redvers Buller, to the swift precision of the cavalry movements which have been directed by General French, and to the 606 yeomen service of the African colonial division, which, has been put to such a good purpose by that veteran of colonial and border warfare, General Brabant. All have won laurels, but of all who have won them the Irish regiments by their dash and valour and the price they have paid are entitled to the post of honour; all have won laurels, and all nave co-operated to crown with success the deep-laid strategy of Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener. These successes have been so welcome that they may no doubt—and we believe and hope they will—accelerate the happy issue of this campaign; but they do not, in the opinion of the Government, justify any diminution of provision at present for the future conduct of the campaign. The financial course of this war—and it is that with which we have to deal—although it may ultimately, does not immediately alter with the fluctuations of failure and of success. It depends upon the difficulty and the cost of maintaining a huge army in the field in a distant country which is destitute of surplus supplies; and the Government feel that it would be rash, at all events at present, to think that the months during which that army may have to remain there are likely to be materially shortened. We are taking in this War Estimate what we believe to be enough money to prosecute our efforts at what I may call full pressure for another full period of six months. One need not necessarily believe that there will be fighting going on all that time, but as we think there may be a possibility of large numbers of troops being in the field we are making provision for carrying on our efforts, if I may say so put it, at half-pressure for a further period of six months. The House will see that such an estimate must be highly speculative. There will be no abrupt transition between the war at full pressure and the war at half-pressure, and the Estimate has been difficult to frame. The only fact we have to go upon is the fact that the Estimate of £23,000,000 for the conduct of this war up to the end of March will be, we think, very closely realised. Basing our calculations on that we have to take two considerations into account. These charges, including the £23,000,000, have been increasing charges on a scale which has ascended in proportion to the greater efforts we have had to make. On the other hand, that £23,000,000 includes the prime charges, the heavy cost of transport 607 in this country. Calculated in that way we think that this sum of 31½ millions will prove sufficient for everything except what I may call the final charges. We are not asking for one penny in this Estimate for winding up and liquidating the transaction, bringing the troops home, and giving them gratuities at the end of the war. Then turning to the conduct of the war, I will ask hon. Members to follow me by turning to the third column "Temporary increases." There is a sum set down of £6,228,000. That is for the emergency scheme of the Government to meet the needs of defence which have arisen owing to the fact that so large a part of the home Army is no longer in this country. Upon that point the hon. and gallant Member for Taunton has asked me in a question to explain the additional numbers of this estimate of 217,551 men. I think this is a convenient opportunity to deal with that question because these additional numbers are due in part to the subject with which I have just, dealt—namely, the war, and in part also to the subject which I propose to deal with now—namely, the emergency scheme of home defence. The numbers are made up as follows:—For calling up the Reserves to the colours, 80,000; for Royal Reserve battalions—that is to say, soldiers who have served their time with the colours and in the Reserve, and who have now been invited for one year—we have taken in this Estimate, 50,000. But, as every one knows, the Vote for men is more of a constitutional safeguard than as an accurate forecast of what is likely to happen, and although we hope we shall get 50,000, we do not claim we shall get that figure, and I believe my right hon. friend has, in his memorandum, taken a lower figure than that for men who come back to the colours. Then, for soldiers transferred from the Indian to the home establishments, 10,000. That covers all those who have been borrowed for the purposes of the war, and it also covers—I wish to make it quite clear to the House—two battalions of native infantry who have been borrowed from the Indian establishment to take the place of British battalions at Ceylon and Singapore. Then, for the colonial troops I have given the number of 35,000; for the Imperial Yeomanry, 10,000; for the Imperial Volunteers who have been placed on the establishment of the Regular 608 Army, including not only the companies who have gone to South Africa, but the companies who are waiting in readiness at home, 15,000; and for the gain from recruiting—not the total gain from recruiting, but the gain from recruiting which arises from the fact that discharges have been stopped, and which, therefore, may justly be put down as due to the war—17,000. And then there is a small figure, 551, for staff and departmental additions, and those, figures added together will give a total of 217,551 men who are voted to the establishment additionally in consequence of the war. Having disposed of that question that was put to me, I come back to the figure for our emergency scheme, and again, as the Leader of the Opposition has assured me that that he will not stint the Government in any demand which they may make for putting our home defence during this year upon a satisfactory basis, I may remind the House that in introducing the Supplementary Estimate* I dwelt on this point at some length, in fact I think I made six speeches in eight days on the subject. But I have something now to add to what I then said, as our scheme has been worked out in greater detail. The amount of money which is being taken for the Royal Reserve battalions is £1,262,000. This is a very interesting experiment which we are making. We have often been told by certain Members of the House and by those outside who take an interest in our military system, that we have not in this country what they call a proper Reserve, that the Army Reserve is really part of our first line. I quite agree; I have always taken that view; but if we have no organised second Reserve, no Landwehr, in this country of men who have been through the Regular Army, at any rate we now find we have an unorganised material to draw upon for such a force. Invitation was our only course. Many critics tell us the time has come to command, and not to ask, people to serve. Of course it is said you can do anything by Act of Parliament, but there is one thing you cannot do in a free country by Act of Parliament, and that is to impose ex post facto a fresh obligation on a man who has faithfully discharged the original contract, and, therefore, we have to* See The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol. lxxviii., p. 1257.609 invite these ex-soldiers of the Queen to return to the colours. We have only in such a case to consider two things—the sufficiency and the fitness of the inducement you extend and the loyalty of those who, having once had the honour of serving the country, are likely to covet that honour once more. The response has been magnificent. We asked the men to notify their desire to serve by letter and to enrol on the 7th of March. On Friday, the 9th of March, 16,097 had responded, and on Saturday, the day before yesterday, the number had risen to 17,480 men. Of those 12,637 are for infantry and 2,222 artillery. The question of Landwehr has been so often discussed that, perhaps, I may say a word or two about it. It is quite clear, as I have said, that we had no claim on these men, there was no obligation upon them, they had had no retainer; and I am not quite convinced it would have been wise to put such an obligation upon men extending to so late a period of life. Our military system and our Army Act only contemplate a total engagement of twelve years. That engagement is entered upon, as a rule, at eighteen or nineteen years of age, but the men whom we have invited back are to be up to forty-five years of age. Now would it be wise, even if it were possible, to invite a young man of eighteen or nineteen to bind himself to make this tremendous sacrifice when he reaches mature manhood? I am not at all sure such a plan would be a sound one. But if that is not done, if you do not invite a youth to enter into this obligation, if you do not give him some compensation for undertaking it or give him some retaining fee, then it is quite clear that when you ask him to make such a great sacrifice you must give him, not merely pay, but what I may call compensation for disturbance; and that is why we feel, without being in the least unfair to soldiers who are serving with the colours at 1s. 3d., we can and we ought to give to these men who come back at their own free will the bounties which are proposed—namely, £12 on returning and £10 at the end of their term of service. That is an emergency scheme, and it is, if you like, a makeshift scheme; we call our scheme an emergency scheme, our critics call it a makeshift scheme. Of course, it is indefinite; but it is very difficult, we find, to satisfy all our critics in this House, and our critics who are so numerous, and in a 610 certain degree so authoritative, in the press outside. I do not attack those critics. They are in earnest in discussing a problem of national importance. We welcome this new and deep interest in the problem of interior defence; but my case is that the scheme ought to be an emergency scheme, that we ought not to attempt at such a period any final and complete and symmetrical plan for making the whole of the Empire safe until the crack of doom. Why, supposing we had made this Landwehr part of our regular scheme, final, complete, and all embracing, we should have left quite out of account other forces at home, the Militia and Volunteers, which are obviously and admittedly capable of much further development, and which we propose to develop under another portion of this scheme. Now I come to that part of the scheme, and I am able to give details in addition to those I gave, the other day. In the first place, as to the improvement of organisation. We intend to divide into two that gentleman who is two gentlemen rolled into one, the Inspector-General of the Auxiliary Forces and the Inspector-General of Recruiting. We mean to have one officer at the War Office in future specially charged with the Auxiliary forces, and we mean to give him a staff—two deputy assistant adjutant-generals, one of whom will be for the Militia and the other for the Volunteers, in fact there will be a separate branch of the War Office to deal with our Auxiliary forces, men who are personœ gratœ with them and who are specially qualified to understand their interests. Part of our scheme with respect to the Militia and the Volunteers is an emergency scheme, but we also have some permanent proposals of which this is one. I think it will be clear to the House that we ought not to prejudge too deeply our permanent proposals for the Auxiliary forces until we have the advantage of the new organisation which we are about to create. It would be absurd to prejudice any question upon which we have not the material to judge rightly and properly. Taking the Militia and outlining our permanent proposals first, I have already announced that we shall give a separate messing in future. That will be permanent. I am not going into great detail as to our permanent proposals, but as far as I do go the House may accept it as permanent, It will be a separate 611 messing in perpetuity during training. We intend to consolidate, and to increase the bounties which are given to the Militia. For that some additional obligation will have to be undertaken, but I cannot put it too clearly that in asking the Militia to undertake the additional obligation to serve abroad there is no intention, or shadow or intention, on the part of the Government that the Militia shall do garrison duty, or that the Militia shall go during small, or even comparatively large wars. The intention is that in return for the additional bounty the Militia shall be bound to do precisely what they have done during the last few months—namely, come forward during a period of grave Imperial emergency. Then we think that the training of the recruit should be for a longer period than at present—that he should train for six months; and we propose to create a reserve for the Militia, which is a very different thing to the Militia reserve. The Militia Reserve consists in taking away part of the Militia in order to add it to the Army Reserve. We propose to create a Reserve for the Militia by still allowing a Militiaman to purchase his discharge at a very low fee, but by only allowing him to do that if he will undertake the obligation to come back under such circumstances as those I have described. Then we hope to raise some of the disbanded battalions in order that every line battalion should have its proper complement of Militia battalions. We intend to give the Militia full regimental transport, and we shall encourage the Militia, and more especially the officers of Militia, to associate themselves as closely as possible with their linked battalions in the line. We shall give the officers further facilities for instruction, that being one of the means by which we shall bring them into closer touch with their brother officers of the line. That is our permanent proposal for the Militia. Now I come to the emergency part of the scheme. I need not go into it in detail. But the whole Militia is to be embodied; and for that it is to be given better terms this year. The main feature of the scheme is that we offer a bounty of £5 to every ex-Militiaman who re-enlists for this year, and an extra grant to every Volunteer of three years' efficiency who goes into the Militia. We can estimate the cost of the emergency part of the 612 Militia scheme closely; we know the number of men that will be embodied, and so we will say that will account for £3,307,000. I now come to the Volunteers. I will deal first with the emergency part of the Volunteer scheme which, as the House knows, is enabling and not mandatory. I wish the House to understand distinctly that this is an emergency scheme for this year and this year only, and that we adopt it in pursuance of the line laid down in the second section of the Volunteer Act, which provides that Volunteers may, of their own accord, offer what is known as actual military service when the Militia is embodied. I wish the House to keep it in mind that it is because we are in a year of emergency; and it is because the Militia are embodied, that we make these emergency proposals with regard to the Volunteers. What are they? We still think that the period of training in camp to be aimed at should be twenty-eight days but in order to give that latitude which we have promised, the pay and capitation grants will be earned by any Volunteer corps of which half the strength does fourteen days in camp. Is that clear? That is, if there is a corps of 800 men and if 400 do fourteen days in camp, that corps will come inside our emergency scheme; and all the members of the corps—officers, non-commissioned officers, and men—will be paid at Army rates of pay and allowances, and will have a capitation grant of two guineas. But in the case of those corps who do not see their way to come into our emergency scheme, we shall not suspend the ordinary Easter camping. They will be able to camp under the current provisions at Easter if they so desire.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
In addition to the present Volunteer capitation, but not in addition to the present camping allowance.
§ GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)
Will the capitation 613 grant be given to the 800 men if only 400 go into camp?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
No, I do not think that that will be so, but I do not want to go into too great detail now.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Surely, what is more important is the principle that if half the men do the time in camp, they will come in upon the higher scale. Beyond that I am not prepared to go at this moment. The sum of money which we are taking for the Volunteers will be £409,000 for this emergency scheme. Then as to the permanent proposals for the Volunteers, we have, on the Estimates, in addition to the £40,000 for ranges last year, a sum of £100,000. We are sending some officers to Switzerland in order to study the Swiss system on the spot. We propose to encourage the scheme associated with the name of Lord Wemyss of Volunteer Reserves to this extent, that we shall give them free ammunition; and although we do not discourage the formation of mounted infantry by Volunteers, more particularly where they do not trench upon the preserves of the Yeomanry, yet, having consulted many Volunteers, we feel that, except in the case of a few corps, the Volunteers will be putting their money on the wrong horse if they go in for mounted infantry. Therefore we propose to encourage them to put their money on bicycles, or rather to put our money on their bicycles, because we shall encourage every Volunteer regiment to form one company of mounted infantry on bicycles. To do that we will give an extra capitation of £2, which will amount to about £50,000 a year. Then we are instituting a Committee of Musketry to deal with this question in connection with the Volunteers. We think that if we can devise a plan of graduated capitation for different degrees of efficiency in musketry the Volunteer might, if I may borrow a phrase from the Universities, pass his "smalls" in musketry at local ranges, and his "greats" at Salisbury Plain or Altcar. 614 To do that we need to co-operate not only with Volunteer corps, but with public bodies. Again, we intend to give the Volunteers transport upon the same scale as the Militia. We also intend to rearm the Volunteers with modern artillery. But that again is a question I cannot enter into in detail, because it will have to be settled almost battery by battery in accordance with whether a corps is now field artillery or position artillery. But in this £6,228,000 we are taking £750,000 for semi-mobile guns and £50,000 for hutting, for we must take into account the contingency that some of the Army may come back while the Militia are still embodied. I think this is all I have to say upon this point of the emergency scheme. It is a makeshift scheme, if you like to call it that; it is a voluntary scheme, and it is an indefinite scheme; but I think I have defended it from the criticism that has been launched against it upon those scores. I said at the outset, when dealing with the Royal Reserve battalions, that we must not attempt a final scheme of Imperial defence and leave out of account the Militia and Volunteers. But I will go much further, and I will add you can no longer afford to concentrate the whole of your attention upon home defence and home forces alone. If we fall into that error at the instance of some of our critics outside this House who dwell upon conscription, the Militia ballot, and other such new devices, shall we not run the risk of creating a most unfortunate misapprehension in our colonies? May they not think that we care only for our home defence? This is not the moment for a final scheme. We cannot leave out of account forces that may be further developed. We ought not, if I may so put it, to dictate to our home Auxiliary forces; and we ought not to solicit in too pressing a manner our colonies to come to our assistance. What we want are patience and time. We must await the gradual evolution of these forces. If we do that, I for one believe the moment will come for some far-reaching co-ordination of voluntary and reciprocal defence in all parts of our Empire. Some say that our scheme is too small and too voluntary. Others say that our scheme is too large; that we are inviting the auxiliary forces of this country to make too great a sacrifice, and that if they respond to our invitation we shall 615 dislocate the industry of the country. I think we may set that fear aside. We based this proposal upon some offers which were made to us before we submitted the proposals in the first instance to the House. One Volunteer officer, Colonel Wallace, of the Monmouth Artillery, volunteered three whole batteries of field artillery to train for three months at Aldershot. We accepted that offer, and therefore we were emboldened to proceed with the scheme I have laid before the House. As to the dislocation of industry, we have withdrawn for this war some 75,000 Reservists from their civil avocations, and, judging from the Budget speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day, the machinery for the creation of the wealth of this country has not thereby been seriously impeded. Then, again, we know that many Volunteer battalions at the outset of the war volunteered for an indefinite period to take the place of the Regular battalions as garrisons of some of our towns. So we are constantly assured that we can rely upon the patriotism of the Auxiliary forces and upon the patriotism of the employers of labour in this year, which is a year of emergency. I think the House will see that I have throughout these debates avoided everything in the nature of an alarmist tone. But some of our critics outside misconstrue that attitude altogether. Surely they cannot suppose or believe that a Government which finds itself already obliged to pile up taxation for war would not, in sheer gaiety of spirits, come to this House and ask for £6,228,000 unless they were impressed with the gravity of the situation, and unless they thought there was good reason for asking the taxpayers of the country to make this contribution. Indeed, there is no middle course for those who criticise our scheme. They ought to censure the Government for inviting the House to embark upon a wanton and wasteful expenditure of public money, or else co-operate most earnestly with the Government in order to assist in reaching that measure of preparation which we think it our duty to attain. What is that measure of preparation? We think we ought to organise in the course of the spring and the summer in addition to the Auxiliary forces, who, as I have already pointed out, would keep certain positions 616 around London, a trained, organised, and mobile force of three army corps and three cavalry brigades. Nearly everyone agrees that we ought to have a force of about that size and that organisation—but for different reasons. I see that my hon. and gallant friend the Member for Great Yarmouth is taking notes, in order to reply to me this evening—at any rate, I mean to evade him. And I will tell the House why. Some think (I do not include my hon. and gallant friend in these) we ought to have this strength available so as to be able to resist actual invasion, others to ensure that any threat of invasion shall never be turned into actual invasion, and others again so that all honest fellows should be able to go about their business without troubling their heads about invasion at all. And others, amongst whom I include my hon. and gallant friend, think that both the fact and the fear of invasion are alike chimerical, but that we ought to have this force to deal a counter-stroke at the enemy, when the Navy is humbled in the dust—or rather in the sea. I am glad it is no part of my duty to convince any three of these four schools of thought that they are wrong and that the fourth is in the right. It is quite sufficient for my purpose that they all desire the same thing, and the thing they desire is the scheme which the Government propose. There can be only two questions affecting the Government in this matter. The first is—Are we to blame for not having a force, so organised, ready in our hand? I confidently say we are not. Since the Government has been in office it has submitted certain increases in the Army from year to year. When my right hon. friend the present Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs occupied the place which I now hold he had to employ strenuous arguments to prove to the House that those increases were necessary. But the House voted them, and altogether, apart from any addition in the Estimates of this year, in the programmes from 1897 to last year, an addition was made to the permanent establishment of this country of 28,763 men. Because the Government has made these additions to the Army, we are now reaping the harvest of those efforts. We are able to do all that the Government had ever undertaken to do—that is to say, we were able to send out from this country to South Africa a force of two army corps, troops for the 617 lines of communications, and a division of cavalry. We did more than that, for we sent to South Africa two additional brigades of cavalry, five additional batteries of artillery, and one additional battalion of infantry. That being so, they are no longer here. On the 1st of August last there were six and a half battalions of infantry in South Africa and 75 at home. Now there are 78 battalions in South Africa and only seven at home. How could anything else occur? That is the whole of the story. I have said often that I invite suggestions and criticism of our proposals, but I do hold that attacks on the Government for the absence of troops are neither critical nor suggestive. They are lamentations, they are jeremiads, they are the voice of Rachel weeping for her children because they are not. Of course they are not; they have been sent out to South Africa. The only other question which can be suggested is whether we have some reasonable prospect of organising such a force during the spring and summer by the methods which we propose. I think if the House will recollect the response we have already had for the Royal Reserve battalions; if they will consider that there are 88 battalions of Militia in this country and the facilities we are going to give them and the patriotism they have already displayed; if they will consider what may be done with the Volunteers with the new facilities which we offer, I think they will agree with me that out of so wide an area of selection it will go hard with us if the Adjutant-General is not able to work up to a proper state of efficiency 75 battalions of infantry. I do not propose to deal with the artillery, the cavalry, the Royal Engineers, the Army Service Corps, or the Army Ordnance Corps, which are permanent additions to the Army, because, as I understand, there is a very general assent to those additions. I come now to the permanent part of our scheme. That is the hardest part of my task, not, as I think, in order to justify the additions, but because it is rather difficult to explain to the House the way in which they are presented in the Estimates. If hon. Members will take the first column marked A "Normal" they will see a sum of £21,777,700. That is an increase of £1,160,500 upon the Estimates of last year. My first fear is that the House may think that we are, by some insidious means, add- 618 ing yet another and a surreptitious augmentation to the Army under this column, while we have put the ostentatious permanent additions in the column which stands next. But I assure the House that that is not so. Of this increase £424,000 is accounted for by the portion of the whole scheme which has been voted and which falls to be completed this year—the programmes of 1897–98, 1898–99, 1899–1900. These mean the necessity of there being an increase of 6,539 additional men this year at the cost of £424,000. The men have all been raised, but they come upon the Estimates for the first time now. Then every year it is the duty of the Adjutant-General to present some changes in the establishment to the Secretary of State. These changes, which show a balance on the side of augmentation, account for another £203,000 of this addition to the normal Estimate. Perhaps the House will take it from me that there are only two items which really demand any explanation. One is the increase of 912 engineers. I cannot really distinguish between these 912 engineers and a further number of engineers which we are asking for as a permanent addition to the Army, except in this way, that in any case the Adjutant-General would have asked for that 912 even if there had been no new scheme of increase for the Army. They were complementary to the numbers of the Army as they already existed, and they have been rendered necessary because of the great increase in the use of searchlights about our harbours and even in the field. There is one other proposal which I ought not to keep back from the House. That is that the garrison of Mauritius will in future consist of one British battalion and of two battalions of the native Indian infantry. We are not borrowing those battalions from India. They will provide, for the first time, a very small foreign-service roster for the native Indian army. India will raise two more native battalions than she would otherwise do, and we will take them from her, just as India takes from us the 52 white battalions. To account for the remainder of this increase on the normal estimates there is a sum of £533,500 which is really for automatic and miscellaneous services. All that money, with one exception, is due solely to the fluctuations in prices or to a change in the date of payment. For example, so large a sum 619 as £275,000 arises from the fact that this year we are paying the whole of the Volunteer capitation grant out of the Estimates for the year, and not one-half of it by a Supplementary Estimate—a course which has frequently been urged on the Government and which we have now decided to take. The only item in this large demand which imposes a new obligation which is in any sense a point of policy is covered by a sum of £48,000, but I must tell the House that this is the first instalment of what will prove to be a much larger sum. It is for increasing and distributing the store accommodation for clothing and munitions of war. We have been going very carefully into that question, we have been sitting from day to day, in fact, upon that question. We are determined that the outbreak of war shall never again find this country with such a small reserve of stores and munitions of war. But if you increase that reserve you have to increase the storehouses in which it would be placed, and since it would be folly, and indeed impossible, to pile up such reserve in Pimlico, it will be conveniently distributed in various parts of the United Kingdom. That is a question of policy which will involve a great deal of expenditure. This accounts for the whole of this increase on the normal estimate. There is nothing in it which need engage the attention of the House, except the borrowing of the two battalions from India for colonial stations, and this determination on our part to increase the reserves of stores and munitions of war.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
No part of the cost of those two battalions will fall on India, I suppose?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Oh, no. I now come to the permanent additions which are set forth in column B. There is a sum of £1,925,000 for permanent additions to the British Army. I may say that £900,000 of that is for prime charges, and though there will be some further prime charges next year, that will be a diminishing sum in the future. If these additions are made we shall have in this country, when the whole Army is at home, the artillery for five army corps. There is an addition, as the House knows, of twelve infantry battalions. I do not know whether I am right or wrong, but I have gathered the belief that there is a general, though not a universal, consensus 620 of opinion that all these additions might be sanctioned with the possible exception of these infantry battalions. I will then confine myself to this point. Why twelve battalions? I may be asked; and, in the second place, I may be asked, is this addition due to a recent policy of Imperial expansion? I remember a number of hon. Members in this House saying that these Estimates would mount up and that we would have to make this increase because of our jingoism and adventurous policy in all parts of the earth. If that were so it would be a very serious state of affairs; but I believe it is possible utterly to demolish the figment, for it is no more than a figment, that these increases in the Army are in any way due to any recent policy. Let us first see what is agreed. I think it is agreed that, dealing with the infantry of the Regular Army, we ought to have as many battalions at home as there are abroad. That has been the idea aimed at by this and preceding Governments for more than thirty years. If that is so we have only to agree, if we can, upon the number of battalions abroad and the necessity for them, and then by doubling that number we shall arrive at the proper figure of the infantry battalions of the Regular British Army. India first claims our attention. Is it true that our presence in India is due to a recent policy of Imperial expansion? Of course not. The battalions of the army of occupation in India account for fifty-two infantry battalions. Will anybody say there is any prospect of reducing the garrison in India? Then there is Egypt. Is our presence there due to recent Imperial escapades? It was the predecessors of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite who went to Egypt in 1882, and no one has ever been able to find the time or the occasion for withdrawing—and no one ever will. And what is the infantry garrison of Egypt? Three battalions. Will anybody say there is any prospect of, or that there would be any wisdom in, attempting to reduce that microscopic force? That makes fifty-five infantry battalions which must always be abroad in the armies of occupation in India and Egypt. Now we come to our colonial stations—purely naval stations. First there is Gibraltar. We are not in Gibraltar in consequence of any recent Imperial tendencies. We went there as long ago as 1704, and we are not likely to abandon Gibraltar. We have recently been 621 full of elation over the siege and relief of Ladysmith. Why, the siege of Gibraltar lasted for three years and seven months, and because it happened over a hundred years ago is that any reason why we should not vibrate with patriotism over the courage of the men who sustained that siege? The garrison of Gibraltar is but three infantry battalions. Then there is Malta. Is the occupation of Malta due to a jingo policy of recent birth and development? We became responsible for Malta in 1800 after a blockade which lasted for two years, during which we co-operated with the people of that island to oust the troops of the First Napoleon, and a monument commemorating that event stands in the square of Valetta to this day, on which is inscribed their gratitude to this country. The garrison of Malta is seven infantry battalions. Does anybody say that we ought to or can safely diminish that force when you consider the vast stores of guns and other material there? Why, Sir, seven battalions is but a corporal's guard. Then there is Mauritius. We went there is 1810, when there was an expedition under Lord Minto from India. Mauritius accounts for only one battalion. Will anybody say that we should abandon that station which is on the route to the Cape, India, and Australia? Then there is Halifax. There is not much recent Imperialism about our occupation of Halifax. We first went there in 1447, and after it had been lost and re-taken, and ceded and receded several times, it has finally been ours ever since the Peace of Utrecht in 1713. I mean to go on if I may, because hon. Members think it enough to get up and say that these garrisons and increases are due to our recent policy of Imperial expansion. I find them due to the adventurers of Elizabeth, to the empire of adventure, or to the prophetic instinct which has given us the very cornerstone of our present Empire. Then there is Bermuda. The first Englishman went there in 1593, and it was finally colonised in 1620 as an offshoot from Virginia, and in these days when we are criticised, and properly criticised, for not having a sufficient reserve of stores, may I remind hon. Members that Bermuda was once defended by Henry Moore against two Spanish ships with three cannon balls. Two of them were fired and the Spanish ships retired, the station being left with one cannon ball as a reserve of ammunition. That is 622 the way we muddled through in the old days. Then there is Jamaica. That jingo Oliver Cromwell went there in 1655. Then there are Barbados and St. Lucia. The latter was taken four times. Are we to give up these islands, with which such historic names as Rodney, Abercrombie, and Sir John Moore are associated? For those three stations the garrison is but one battalion of infantry. St. Lucia is one of the most important cable stations, and day by day we are directing our attention more closely to cables and cable stations. Then there is Ceylon. It was taken in 1796, Singapore was taken in 1819, and the occupation of Hong Kong dates from 1841. Each of these places has one battalion. In the whole of this chain can anyone discover any trace of a recent policy of expansion and Imperialism? Some of these places were captured in the hot heat of our contest against Napoleon, and perhaps those who took them did not know at the time how useful and of what practical import they would be; for they are the nerve centres of that network of naval stations and cables which is the only thing which binds together our vast Empire and gives it unity and strength. If hon. Members will add the strength of those garrisons up they will find it amounts to 17 battalions, which, added to the 55 in India and Egypt, make 72 battalions abroad. It appears from the memorandum issued by my noble friend that on June 1 last, instead of 17 battalions there were only 13½ at those colonial stations. We had to borrow one-fifth, because whereas South Africa, which so far has been left out of the account, was only entitled to two battalions for naval stations, we had at that time 6½ battalions there. But will anybody seriously contend that it is any longer right or safe to shuffle or borrow on this narrow margin of 17 battalions for those naval stations? I am prepared to admit that these 6½ battalions scraped together were not enough in South Africa. I believe that in the opinion of many men it was the fact that the garrisons stood so low that, led to the growth of a misconception in the minds of the Dutch inhabitants of South Africa as to our real strength. We must measure the size of our garrisons by our interests, obligations, and risks. You cannot be put off by the argument that South Africa is composed of self-governing colonies, and that we were never to give garrisons to self- 623 governing colonies. You must consider the situation; and where the colonies are continental and contiguous to the domain of a military Power, then a fresh element comes in, and that is why in these Estimates we propose to put down the normal garrison of South Africa at 12 infantry battalions. If you will add that number to 72 you will arrive at 84 infantry battalions. Three of these can be under our existing arrangements provided by the Guards. That leaves 81, and, therefore, the proper figure should be 162 battalions of British infantry altogether. But we must have regard to the difficulties of recruiting, and we may cherish the hope that when the idea of the creation of auxiliary forces in our colonies is fulfilled, it may be possible to diminish that garrison of 12 battalions. I heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouth greet that announcement with an ironical cheer. Will he say that we are in South Africa in consequence of recent Imperial expansion? We have undertaken no new obligations, but no matter what Government may be in office, the nation are determined that the old obligation shall be fulfilled. They are determined to act in the manner which is due to the sacrifices made by their forefathers, which is due to themselves, and due, above all, to our fellow-subjects in the colonies. The fabric of this Empire is only held together by the ocean courses of our warships. They are, as it were, the invisible girders supporting the Empire, and these naval stations are the points on which the girders rest, and it is the duty of this country to hold them until the young nations growing up in our colonial dependencies can relieve the mother country of some portion of that duty. That is my answer given in anticipation of any criticism of this permanent addition to the British infantry. It is also my answer to those critics who outside the House urge upon us to embark on a course of conscription or Militia ballot. Can you simply the garrison we require by any other than a voluntary system, which gives you comparatively young men enlisted for a short term of service? Yours must be a voluntary system. Take the figures for last January, before this increase was contemplated—you will find that, while you had 107,000 Regulars at home, you had 118,000 abroad. No tyrant since the days of Nebuchadnezzar has ever thought it possible to deport such 624 a population as that except of their own free will. Your system must also be one of comparatively short service. I speak after being profoundly impressed as an ex officio member of the board of the commissioners of Chelsea Hospital, and having read the melancholy returns which are brought up each month of men whose health has been ruined for ever, I am profoundly convinced that five years is long enough for any man to serve in such places. If you keep him there longer he ceases to be a good and therefore an economical soldier, and he becomes a burden in the future. If you are tempted to embark upon any long service system you will burden yourselves with a whole army of pensioners and invalids. Those are the conditions upon which the whole of our Regular system hinges. You have got to bear it. We are obliged to have eighty-four Regular Battalions of infantry, twelve Cavalry Regiments, and fifty-two Batteries of Artillery abroad. That is the position we have to face, and we shall not be able to face it unless we make up our minds to adhere to our present system. Even if it were possible to divide the two problems and consider the home question apart from the foreign question, would it be wise to depart from our present system of short service and Reserves? The Reserves stand, as the normal figure to be aimed at, at 90,000 men. To give barrack accommodation to one soldier costs you £120. Now, I do ask the House and our critics outside to consider this. Can they think any reasonable Government would invite the taxpayers of this country to sink £10,800,000 in providing barrack accommodation for trained men who wish to live at home, who wish to marry, who wish to enter into civic avocations, and who yet, as the experience of the last three months has shown, have all, with an infinitesimal exception of one per cent, responded at a moment's notice to the call to take part in a sanguinary war, 7,000 miles away from these shores? That is the defence I humbly submit of our present system. Let us perfect that system by all means. Let us search out its failings without fear or favour, but do not let us, in a moment of exasperation, such as was experienced some weeks ago, or in a moment of excitement which seems to have overtaken some of our critics outside, throw away the ripe fruit of thirty years' endeavour and of steady approximation 625 towards success. I dare to put it as high as that. But I do not put it higher. I never have said everything is perfect. When we enumerate what is called the credit side of the ledger, we are accused of ignoring the debit side altogether. No, I say even the most sanguine may have to wait for years before they can say all is satisfactory; but when, by finding adequate inducements and by reforms in the methods of recruiting, the changed attitude of the people towards the career of the soldier is maintained, when the wrongs of South Africa are righted and the soldier is not slighted, when, in consequence of these changes, we can have a backing of some 60,000 recruits in each year for the Regular Army, when from the home Army we can send at a moment's notice two army corps fully equipped, with reserves, stores, and munitions, so that they may be maintained indefinitely without effort in the field, and when from the four corners of the Empire, which lie wholly or mainly within the temperate zone, at home, in Canada, in South Africa, and in Australia, we see Auxiliary forces growing up and being trained to take their place beside our Regulars—then, and then only, can we rest content. But the road to that goal is the one upon which our feet are set; we cannot miss it if we only persevere. Sir, I beg to move.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
The Under Secretary of State for War, in a speech of extraordinary charm and ability, such as he always makes to this House, has answered criticisms which have not been made and critics who do not exist. He passed over all those questions which are most dangerous, and which those in this House who take most interest in this subject most desired to hear about. The right hon. Gentleman has been skating on thin ice during the whole of his speech, and I shall now have to discharge the painful duty of drawing attention to what we consider are the doubtful parts of his proposals, and of trying to elicit a reply to the criticisms which he has not touched at all. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by pointing out the fourfold nature of the proposals he was making, and he told the House that the Leader of the Opposition has announced his inten- 626 tion of not contesting the war proposals of the Government. He made allusion to the most doubtful of the items, and deprecated all discussion upon them. But there is one item in the first Vote to which I must draw attention—an item of £3,000,000 for the pay of the South African Volunteers. That is an enormous item, so great that we do not know how it could possibly be incurred. That is for pay alone, there is no provision for anything else, and we are told to-night that the number of South African Volunteers is 21,000, and that a margin has been allowed up to 25,000. This is an enormous cost for such a force compared with the cost of the home troops; and to this matter I must call attention, because the home soldier is fighting side by side with these men; and of all the incentives to discontent there is none greater than the feeling on the part of the home soldier that he is not paid so well as the men along with whom he is fighting. That item of £3,000,000 is one which we shall be able to consider when we come to the Vote, but it is impossible to consider an item upon which discussion has been deprecated, without taking into account its effect upon recruiting, which is an effect the difficulty of which we shall see in time to come. The Under Secretary has again avoided, as on all former occasions, telling the House of Commons what are the conditions of service of the Royal Reserve battalions which constitute so large a portion of the Government's temporary or emergency proposals. Although I think the right hon. Gentleman spoke six times in eight days earlier in the session, he did not tell us anything with regard to this in any of his speeches. The Secretary of State for War in another place made a statement to the effect that these men were to be confined to home service, but some of us who have a strong objection to military measures being taken, for home defence as contrasted with other purposes strongly deprecate the formation of a military force which is to be confined to home service, and which cannot be conveyed abroad It is, in our opinion, a retrograde proposal which ought to be opposed. There is not the smallest sign in the Estimates that the Government has taken into consideration the real problem of the defence of the country—the question whether it is not wiser or more expedient for defence purposes to spend money on the Fleet or 627 upon measures of the kind that is now proposed. There are many of us here who believe that, if it is in fact necessary, which we doubt, to take local steps in order to protect the country from the danger of invasion, it would be better to spend this money on shallow-water ships—torpedo destroyers, and the like. That is an arguable contention, but to tell us that the country is obliged to spend a million and a half a year for a force which cannot go abroad only goes to show that panic really exists. This proposal was described by the Under Secretary for War as a makeshift proposal. It is more; it is an extravagant makeshift proposal, and one which is calculated to damage the Militia, which the Government say is a force which they desire to develop and improve, because a great many of these men will go into the Reserve regiments and get there £22 bounty, while the men who have joined the Militia will receive no bounty at all. These are proposals which the House will have a further opportunity in Committee of dealing with, and the first observation I have to make is that the permanent increase charge will be far greater than we are at present willing to allow. Stores and fortress armament will be greatly increased, and in the future there will have to be a greater increase of infantry for South Africa, or else of Australian and Canadian forces. The Under Secretary for War defended his increase of twelve battalions of infantry. The increase of twelve battalions of infantry means under the linked battalion system an increase of six battalions which could be sent abroad in time of peace. We are already four battalions in excess abroad in peace; the net increase over previous needs is therefore only two, and does anybody suppose that South Africa will only require an increase of two battalion of the Regular Army? But there is a solution of that which has been hinted at, which is that the new Australian force—not the original force, but the one which is now being asked for by the Government—is intended ultimately for garrison work in South Africa. Such a force would be enormously costly—much more so than home battalions would be, and the House will be living in a fool's paradise if it accepts this increase of twelve battalions which in reality only means two for the purposes of sending abroad. No one who has followed these figures can say that the future permanent 628 charge is shown in these Estimates at all, and it is evident that we must be prepared for greater sacrifices in the future. The Under Secretary has not indulged in the somewhat grandiloquent phrases as to War Office management of the present war which have been used by some members of the Government. On the contrary, his account differed from the accounts given outside the House and given in the House during the course of our debates. That was when the existing system was defended, and the right hon. Gentleman defended it. In the conclusion of his speech he said it was necessary to consider what the present system has given us in the present War. The Leader of the House in his Manchester speech* over and over again stated that the present system could give us three army corps, and over and over again he boasted that it had given us not only two army corps but three "without a hitch." On that ground I say the speech of the Under Secretary differs from the speeches delivered outside this House. Of course, it is certain that that number of men were sent out, but how were those army corps made up? They were made up partly by drawing troops from India, and partly by drawing troops from the colonies. There never was a doubt as to our power to find a great number of infantry. That was never disputed for a moment, but an army corps is not composed exclusively of infantry. Some time ago the Secretary of State drew up a scheme in which there were eight army corps, but the scheme was afterwards ridiculed even by the War Office. The First Lord of the Treasury, in his speech at Manchester, said that the critics had failed because three army corps had been sent to South Africa fully equipped with munitions and stores, but the statement differs very widely from what we have now heard; and indeed, the First Lord's declarations will not stand the test of examination for a moment. The House will remember the main case of the reformers in this House against the War Office for the last two years has been on the point of the mounted branches, and both in 1897 and 1899 Amendments were moved in respect of those matters. Has the war shown that those criticisms were wrong or right? Have they been proved or disproved? They have been* Speech of Mr. A. J. Balfour at Conservative Club, Manchester, 10th January, 1900.629 proved in every particular. As late as the 21st of July last year, just previous to the outbreak of the war, we went into the question of the Government supply of cavalry, artillery, and the auxiliary branches for the purpose of making up army corps in detail in this House,* and we showed that the establishment as regarded the horses had been starved; that it contained about 12,500 horses over five years of age of which the artillery horses numbered about 4,500. Nearly 1,000 fewer than there were in 1878, twenty-one years ago. How does it work out under the test of war? We are short of cavalry and artillery. The army of Sir George White was supplied from India, and the command of Sir Redvers Buller was short of guns. Everyone in the House knows what that means; and the brilliant moves of General French shows the value of horses in the field. The right hon. Gentleman laughs, but this is a serious matter, and should be considered both in its present and future bearing in order that what has occurred on this occasion shall not be allowed to occur again. Then, as to guns, the case which has been put forward is capable of conclusive proof. The critics of the War Office year after year have said that we were short of guns, and the War Office, bit by bit, has been drawn on to admit the truth of the statements. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury should have been advised to say, as he did at Manchester, that the Government had sent out at the time sufficient artillery for three army corps of Regular troops. Here are the words he used. Speaking equipment, the right hon. Gentleman said—So long as you are determined [to have a voluntary army alone] you cannot expect to put into the field a much larger or a better equipped force.And on another occasion, on the 8th of January, he said†—We have at this moment in South Africa the infantry, cavalry, and artillery of three army corps of Regular soldiers.Now what is the necessary amount of guns for three army corps? I asked a question as to how many guns at the date named were in South Africa in British hands, and the reply was 186 guns—but three*See The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol. lxxiv., commencing at p. 1614.†Speech of Mr. A. J. Balfour, at Drill Hall, Ardwick, Manchester, 8th January, 1900.630 army corps need 360 guns. We had nothing like the number of guns which, under even the low scale, ought to have accompanied the troops. When the First Lord of the Treasury said on January 8—"We have at this moment in South Africa the infantry, cavalry, and artillery of three army corps" he made an entirely misleading statement, for which, however, I do not hold the right hon. Gentleman responsible, but whoever at the war Office furnished the right hon. Gentleman with that information was attempting to mislead the country. The facts are entirely different. It is alleged by the War Office that we could not be expected to put into the field a better equipped force. Now, what is the most essential part of the equipment of a force? I should say the ammunition columns. As to the equipment of the troops, the ammunition columns, after those of the First Army Corps, were not equipped as they ought to have been, and the result of the way in which the troops were sent out was that not until February was Lord Roberts able to begin his northward movement. The greater the credit that is given to the Army the less credit must be given to the War Office, which has always expected the Army to do the impossible. It has been alleged that the War Office has every reason to be proud, because some part of its system has turned out better than one could reasonably expect. It was said that the critics were afraid the reserves would not come up, but they came up in 1882 and 1885. There does not exist a single Member of the House who is opposed to the reserve system as it is, though most of us are opposed to the system by which it is desired that the men should be increased without increasing the equipment. Most of our troubles in the present war have been directly attributable to inefficient equipment and supply of horses. As to the part borne by our colonies, is it not a reflection on our Government that no preparation has ever been made in time of peace for a system on which the colonies could join us in time of war? The Under Secretary expressed the hope that some system would be arranged far the future.
I said that it was for the colonies to make suggestions. It is wholly for them to make suggestions, and I feel strongly that suggestions made in this House are the most mischievous that could be made.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
As it is now certain that the colonies would join us in any great war in the future, would it not be well to arrange for such co-operation in time of peace? But the Government has taken steps in the opposite direction by cutting down in 1896 the contributions from the tropical colonies in the East towards defence. It is impossible to consider the present system apart from the question of its cost, and the system is condemned by its cost, present and prospective, and by the difficulty of obtaining recruits. In 1897 the cost of the defence of the British Empire was 63 millions sterling, even when the rupee is reckoned at its selling value. In the present year the cost of the peace defence of the Empire is 75 millions and a half. But if, according to the Treasury's view, the rupee is to be reckoned as having the full purchasing power in the East of 2s., then the cost for the year in peace—that is apart from war expenditure—is 81 millions and a half. And that enormous expenditure, so vastly greater than that of any other Power in the world, is not complete, for it does not allow for a future increase of the garrison in South Africa and for a necessary rearmament. As to the system of recruiting, the Government professes to be extending the three-years system, but the Under-Secretary has systematically avoided the point in his speeches, although he knows the anxiety of this House on the subject. But it is impossible to say that the three-years system is being given a fair chance as long as the extra 3d. a day given to the ordinary recruits and to the Militia is denied to the three-years men. The Under Secretary of State defended more strongly than I think necessary, even for him, the existing system of the War Office. Many of us had great hopes of the right hon. Gentleman, because he came into office with an open mind, but I am afraid now that his eyes have been closed to reform. I have a recollection of a speech he made in July last, when he spoke of the system as an antiquated one, but he said there was no alternative which gave us a better system unless it were a system like that of the Swiss militia. I am glad that the Government are not proposing to-night any general reform of our military system at a time when war is pending, and while they have avoided an appeal from this House to some of those Commissions and Committees who would only tell us what 632 we know already, yet I regret that the Under Secretary should have shown so strong and continued an adherence to what he calls the existing system.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
I need not say that I have no desire to throw difficulties in the way of the Government, or to criticise in an unfair spirit the statement so admirably made by my hon. friend the Under Secretary of State for War. I should not like at the present time to say anything to embarrass the Government, nor am I likely to do so. It would be most ungracious to be wanting in admiration of the ability the hon. Gentleman has shown, and of the grasp he has taken of the subject. I have said on former occasions that the proposals of the Government are makeshift proposals. Well, others have said so, and my hon. friend has taken that remark not in very good part. I do not quarrel with the Government for not having submitted a comprehensive and permanent scheme. They had to get through the war into which they were suddenly hurled with the existing machinery, and that existing machinery has turned out better than many expected of it. It has produced magnificent results; it has accomplished far more than was claimed for it by its authors. We have been able to place division after division of magnificent troops in the field, and the reserves on which we have had to rely for making up our regiments and units for war service have come up almost in full force, with hearty readiness and self-devotion on the part of the men who belong to them. Some of us may have seen in the last few days two battalions who are about to leave these shores as part of the Eighth Division, following the masses of men who have been sent to South Africa. It must have been a great pleasure and pride to those who witnessed those magnificent battalions to know that in no sense did those battalions fall behind those who have preceded them. In fact, I make bold to say that those battalions are worthy units of the corps d'élite of the Army. We know that there is a large unexpended reserve of the same corps at the back of these battalions, with which even fresh reinforcements could be fitted out. Certainly no one has ever suggested as expedient for the defence of this country, and still less for foreign service, anything like 633 Conscription. I have heard words wasted by some of the Government speakers in disclaiming all ideas conscription. Who, I should like to know, has ever advocated conscription for foreign service? It is not the time to discuss any alternative system, but there are many who, like myself, are desirous of supporting the Government in carrying out the measures which they consider best in the circumstances, yet who would have been glad to have seen some more comprehensive and national plan. There is no doubt that the present war has strained our resources. We have not only sent very nearly all our regular army into the field, but we have had to supplement for subsidiary service men whom the right hon. Baronet opposite not too harshly described as being little prepared for war. It cannot but be a great mistake and an absolute cruelty to send into the field against an able enemy men who had received so little military training that they cannot even be regarded as half soldiers. The devotion of our people is unlimited; their readiness to face death and suffering in any degree is to be found among all classes, and has been largely relied upon, and I think it would be the greatest misfortune to this country if it supposed it could improvise an army in case of national danger. Your citizens may be trained and drilled so that they could form an army for national defence, but training and drill are absolutely necessary. You cannot call up men from peaceful avocations who have no military training, and place them in the field. That would mean disaster and disgrace to our arms, and the disgrace would not be upon those who failed in the country's cause, but upon those who relied on unprepared forces to maintain the honour of the country. I trust that no great emergency may find us so little prepared, and that the measures which the Government have proposed may lead to a more efficient preparation of our Auxiliary forces, so that in time to come we may rely upon them to take their place in the second line and support the Regular Army of the country. The present is not the time for details, but nevertheless I cannot but call attention to the measures which are being taken by the War Office for the provision of young officers for the Army—measures which are unfair and unsatisfactory. When I think of the exertions that have been 634 made by the War Office, and, I am sure, the unsparing efforts which those at the head of the Army have made to carry on this war, I regret to criticise it in any particular, but I think in the matter to which I call the attention of the House they have made a mistake. I have put some questions to the representatives of the War Office lately upon the intention of the Government to give commissions to University men, public school boys, and young men from the colonies in super session of the cadets of the Royal Military Academy and the Royal Military College. We have for a long time been endeavouring to officer the Army by scientific and educated men, requiring them to enter our military colleges by severe competition, which has necessitated a long, careful, and expensive preparation. Only a portion of those who get the qualifying number of marks enter these institutions. I think it is unfair and unjust that young men who have entered those institutions should be superseded by others who have had no military education whatever. It is a disadvantage to the Army that men should receive commissions by favour or by selection who had no military training, and supersede those cadets who have all their life been preparing for the Army. After the war there will be a certain reduction in the number of officers employed. Promotion is always slower after a war, and those young cadets who have entered a military college by competition will find themselves possibly prevented from ever attaining the higher ranks through their having been superseded by men who have received no military training whatever. I think that is unfair, and it is not calculated to keep up that improvement in the service which has been sought for so many years in our system of military education. What appears to be the worst feature of this system is that men are actually, I am assured, being admitted into direct commissions in the Army who have failed in the entrance examinations of those institutions in the last few years, and they are superseding the cadets, actually for all time, and going above those who have defeated them in open competition in the military colleges. I cannot conceive anything more unjust and inexpedient. I have put questions on the subject which have been answered by the Financial Secretary to the War Office. I venture to think that the hon. Member had better be a little more 635 candid, and not so facetious in his replies. The other evening* I asked him if it was a case that direct commissions were being given to university men, colonists, and boys from the public schools, and whether they could supersede the cadets in the military colleges. The hon. Gentleman replied that those who received commissions from the universities and the colonists would be really older than the cadets in the military colleges, but he dropped out of his answer any reference to the boys in the public schools. I have had to answer questions in the House, and if at any time I was unable to give a full answer, I have always told the House so. I do not know whether the answer I have received is ingenuous. To-night I asked him whether if the candidates from the universities and the colonies are over twenty years of age, the boys in the public schools to whom commissions are being offered would also be older than the cadets of the military colleges. I do not think the hon. Member answered the question. It is not fair that cadets who have received expensive military preparation should be superseded by boys from public schools who have no military education at all. It is perfectly easy for the War Office to extend the means of preparation, and I put it whether it would not be expedient to give a short military course to the numbers of young men who are anxious to serve either in the Army, the Militia, or the Volunteers. I have also asked why commissions have not been offered to men who have qualified though not succeeded in recent examinations, and finally, whether this difficulty had not been met in the Crimean War by allowing cadets in the Royal Military Academy to pass the examinations in a year and a-half instead of three years, probably requiring a little more exertion on their part. The hon. Gentleman replied that he could not go into matters of history. I think that in the case of the War Office, which is guided very much by precedent, it certainly was not a very proper reply, and I would suggest that it was far better to let these young men enter the Army with shorter preparation than to take young men from the universities and the colonies without any military preparation whatever. It is extremely hard upon parents,* See page 376 of this volume.636 many of whom have strained their private means to prepare their sons for the competitions in these institutions, to find their sons superseded by young men who get their commissions nobody knows how—by favour in many instances and good luck perhaps in others, but certainly not on any principle of fairness or for the advantage of the service which they proposed to enter. I think the matter ought to be considered and ought to be properly understood, and ought not to be approved of either in the House or the country. I trust the objectors to it will not be put off by flippant or evasive answers.
§ *MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
I wish to say a few words on the unpopular subject of £ s. d. and on the proposals for the permanent increase of the Army. The hon. Gentleman has made, a she always does, a most attractive speech, and he has dealt with the various topics with which he had to deal in a most lucid and artistic way. There was one subject to which he did not devote his attention, and that was the question of the cost of those beautiful schemes which he and the Department he represents are continually laying before this House. I would ask the House to consider what all this is really going to cost the country. We don't really get set before us the full cost of the military expenditure of this country. We had this year laid before us in the Estimates a charge amounting to £60,000,000 for the war. But the ordinary expenditure showed an increase of £3,000,000, so that the ordinary expenditure amounts to nearly £24,000,000. That is not all, for we will find in another page of the Estimates military expenditure borne on the Civil Service Estimates amounting to £300,000 or £400,000. There is also an expenditure of a million of money under the Military Works Act, these two items making together a total of nearly a million and a half of money. This is not all, for the House will remember, for it was mentioned in the debate last year, that this by no means embraces the whole of the military expenditure for which the taxpayers of this country have to pay. There is a large amount of military expenditure under the Colonial Office. There are no less than 20,000 troops under the Foreign Office and Colonial Office, paid by this country at a charge of something like a million per annum. 637 The normal military expenditure, therefore, of this year, excluding war charges, is something like £26,000,000, and it is an increasing charge. I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman's attention to this point—thatin the statement he has laid before us he does not state the full charges he is placing upon the country. In the memorandum which the Secretary of State laid before the House, he tells us that there are a good many of the Estimates which are not completeEstimates—that, is to say that they do not really forecast the total charge. There is an incompleteness in regard to the Volunteer charges, but there is a much more important want which was referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean with respect to the charge for warlike stores, The hon. Gentleman said the sum stated in the Estimates represented a small part of the expenditure to be incurred on this account. I do not think he pointed out how enormously in times past this item has increased. Two years ago it amounted to £2,000,000, last year it was £2,500,000, and this year it is 3,250,000. This is likely to increase in time to come at a still more rapid rate. There is a further expenditure not accounted for in the Estimates, and that is referred to at page 7 of the memorandum, where the Secretary of State tells us that no provision is made for barrack accommodation for the additional forces the Government intend to raise. We know very well the great expense of barrack accommodation, and we know from past experience how very serious an item it forms in our expenditure. I do not intend to say anything about the charges for the war itself. We have discussed them before, and we are perfectly prepared to grant to the Government any increase of money they want, and to hold them responsible for making proper use of it. I think the hon. Gentleman has shown a desire to meet the reasonable views of Members in all quarters of the House in giving us more particulars regarding the war expenditure than he has hitherto done. I think that he might go further. The actual pay for the colonial forces amounts to £3,300,000, while the ordinary pay of the British Army is only £5,000,000. Here we are asked to vote, without any knowledge whatever of the 638 details, over three millions of money for these most excellent forces. No doubt they are comparatively small in numbers as compared with the Regular forces. I hope the hon. Gentleman will give us some further particulars with respect to this item in the Estimates. I want to say something about the permanent increase of the Army—that is to say, the proposals included in column B, upon which the hon. Gentleman dwelt in the last half of his speech. What are they going to cost? We are told in the table at the beginning of the Estimates that they are going to entail an additional cost of £1,995,000. They are actually going to cost in this first year, which is practically one of preparation, an extra sum of nearly two millions of money, and as I have endeavoured to point out already, it does not represent the whole cost, for in this column B of the Army Estimates the War Office enter nothing for works. Now the work will include barracks, and will eventually be a considerable item of expenditure in this matter of cost. Another matter refers to the non-effective charges, and these also will involve a considerable increase of cost.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
That charge could not possibly come into the Estimates this year, and it therefore cannot be dealt with.
§ *MR. BUCHANAN
It might have been pointed out to us in the memorandum of the Secretary of State for War, the object of which is to set forth in full the consequences likely to ensue upon the adoption of the system he is putting before the country. I only put this before the House because the House is rather apt to believe that an increase of £2,000,000 would represent the whole extra charge involved in the adoption of this scheme. There will be a very much larger charge than that when it comes into operation.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Perhaps the hon. Member would rather that I did not interrupt, but reserved my remarks till I reply, but these are merely estimates, and therefore it is impossible to say the exact charge.
§ *MR. BUCHANAN
That is perfectly true; I did not express myself sufficiently clearly. This House has a right to know, when it is asked to commit itself to an expansion and enlargement of the military forces of the country, what charge will be entailed, not merely this 639 year, but permanently. It is absurd for the hon. Gentleman speaking for the War Office, where there are such excellent permanent officials, to say—
§ *MR. BUCHANAN
It has been shown in the memorandum of the Secretary of State in previous years, and there can be no reason whatever why it should not be shown this year. The final charge upon the taxpayers may be £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 per annum, and we should have to look forward in a very few years to Army Estimates not of £22,000,000 or £23,000,000 as at present, but of £25,000,000 or £26,000,000, or even of not far short of £30,000,000, when the whole of this scheme is carried into operation. In addition to that, I should like to ask—Is this the time at which the Government should ask the House and the country to sanction a scheme of this sort? Everyone is aware that at this moment the country has special financial burdens imposed upon it for the purpose of carrying through this war, and it is not the time for imposing extra burdens which are not absolutely necessary. Still more would I demur to it being a proper time at which to commit the House to a permanent alteration in our Army system, seeing that as long as the war is progressing we really do not know what our future Imperial responsibilities may be. Various expedients are being and have been resorted to by the Government during the progress of the war which are perfectly justifiable in war time, but which I am by no means prepared to admit are justifiable for adoption into the permanent military system of the country. There is the totally new proposal to take over two native Indian regiments on to the British establishment, while the hon. Gentleman appeared to be going even further than that, for he stated the Government were going to establish a foreign roster in the Indian native army, and that two of the extra native regiments raised by India were to be taken over by Her Majesty's Government. That is a perfectly justifiable expedient in time of war, but we ought not to be asked now to sanction it as a permanent institution in our future military organisation. With regard to the colonial contingents, I entirely agree with what has been said 640 as to the very valuable and important aid they have been able to render in the present war, but I submit that we ought not to be expected to commit ourselves to-night, not for this present year only, but for all futurity, to the assumption that the organisation of the military forces of the colonies is part of the regular military organisation of this country. There were one or two observations of the hon. Gentleman which rather aroused my suspicion, such as when he spoke of the possible remodelling of our system of Imperial defence, and when he referred to the evolution of various schemes of colonial defence. Those remarks justify my suspicion that there is an intention on the part of the Government when this war is ended to make these colonial forces a part of the regular military organisation of the Empire, to help in home defence as well as in colonial defence.
§ *MR. BUCHANAN
The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. All I wish to say is that we ought not to be asked now to commit ourselves to any final decision as to what is to be done with this aid which the Colonial Governments have so spontaneously and generously offered. We ought not to be expected to commit ourselves to any organised or unorganised she me of Imperial defence, which rests upon the aid of the self-governing colonies. All these schemes of military consolidation between the colonies and the mother country, if the Government intend to go to that length, are, I think, a mistake. The stability of our colonial empire rests upon our self-governing colonies being left free and independent as regards military administration and military control in the future as they have been in the past. If you endeavour to tighten the reins over them and to make demands upon them for military aid, they will expect, in the first place, a quid pro quo, and, in the second place, they will be exceedingly jealous of anything which savours of Downing Street interference with the management of the military or any other part of their affairs. At the present time the House is not in a condition to express a settled and reasoned judgment on this subject. We all hope that we are now beginning to see the end of this war, and 641 that soon the troops will be coining home victorious from that campaign, and this is not a moment to embark upon schemes of permanent reorganisation. Whatever the hon. Gentleman opposite may say, the whole of this large increase of military expenditure depends upon the policy of her Majesty's Government. He asked whether it was due to the recent policy of Imperial expansion. He might have answered the question from the Memorandum of the Secretary of State, for on page 2 of that document we are told that it is the growth of our Imperial responsibilities that renders necessary this increased expenditure, and therefore I agree with the Secretary of State rather than with the hon. Gentleman. I am bound to say, however, that the hon. Gentleman did not go so far as the Leader of the House. The Leader of the House is the only person who has maintained or is capable of maintaining the extraordinary paradox that expenditure in no degree depends upon policy. The Under Secretary of State for War gave us, however, a very amusing and interesting history of the acquisition of the various parts of the Empire in which we have forces established at present. That was taken from a table at the end of the Army Estimates, but there were one or two stations which the hon. Gentleman omitted to mention.
§ *MR. BUCHANAN
I daresay not, but I cannot distinguish from the particulars given here which are British regiments and which are native.
§ *MR. BUCHANAN
The hon. Gentleman confined himself to British infantry battalions, but he will be the first to allow that the expansion of the Empire may be carried through with other arms of our military forces than British infantry battalions. I observed in this appendix that, leaving out South Africa and Egypt altogether, you have an increase in money charge upon the various places mentioned by the hon. Gentleman of no less than £185,000 in the present year, and the charge has been a steadily growing charge for the last three years. But 642 there were two important places which the hon. Gentleman did not mention, namely, the West Coast of Africa and Wei-hai-wei. The Under Secretary for War acknowledged last year that though the expenditure on the latter place was then a small one, a vast amount of expenditure would be involved in the future, and we find that wei-hai-wei is included in this table for the first time this year, but it is certainly not the last time it will appear. That is certainly one of the simple cases in which expansion of the Empire and increased Imperial responsibilities have directly led to increased military expenditure. The hon. Gentleman passed glibly by South Africa. In his limited view to-night South Africa included only Cape Colony, which was taken from the Dutch in the beginning of the century, and Natal, which was taken about fifty years ago. But when was it we got Bechuanaland, Rhodesia, and Northern Rhodesia beyond the Zambesi? When was it we annexed British Central Africa, British East Africa, Uganda? We have been annexing, in the past ten years, millions of square miles in Eastern, Central, and Southern Africa. As to the West Coast of Africa, we find actually entered in this table the number of troops there, and the increasing charge coming year after year on the Estimates in consequence of the expansion of territory there and the increase of our obligations. It will be remembered, too, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget statements of 1897 and 1898, I think, when deploring the increase of expenditure, mentioned as one of the causes of that increased expenditure our expansions in Africa, the annual cost of which he reckoned at £1,000,000 a year. It is beyond all question that this large increase of our military expenditure is distinctly due to the recent expansions of the Empire, and the hon. Gentleman cannot shift from the shoulders of his Government the responsibility which lies upon them for the expansions which have been undertaken under their auspices during the past five years. I have ventured to call the attention of the House to these particular matters, because the full liabilities to be imposed upon the country have not been properly and fully stated, and I also desire to protest against the House, being committed by the discussion to-night to an approval of a scheme for the perma- 643 nent reorganisation of our military system, and increase of our military expenditure.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
While I venture to congratulate the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War upon his return to the House. I am bound to say that I thought his remarks more eloquent than convincing. I concur with every word spoken by the right hon. Baronet opposite, whom I consider to be an expert in all matters connected with military organisation, and I wish to support his remarks in reference to the speech made by the Leader of the House at Manchester three months ago. The right hon. Gentleman then said that three army corps had been sent to South Africa. There is not a single military expert who does not know perfectly well that three army corps were not sent. What was sent was a heterogeneous collection of regiments, pitch-forked together, without the necessary complement of guns, staff, or transport. I also concur in the remarks of the right hon. Baronet in reference to the statement of the Leader of the House that the military critics here boasted that they did not believe in an Army Reserve. It is not we who do not believe in an Army Reserve, but the right hon. Gentleman's own nominee. Lord Wolseley, a most distinguished soldier, who said in his examination before the Royal Commission that the Reserve was somewhat of a sham and that the people liked to have it so. The speeches of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for War, in connection with home defence, seem to show a considerable amount of intellectual detachment. I also think it rather suspicious when there is a general agreement between the right hon. Gentlemen on the two front benches; such a state of things is not in the interests of either the Navy or the Army. The remarks of the hon. Gentleman were of the old character; that is to say "Take a million of money, put it in the slot, and take out 20,000 men." The hon. Gentleman said a month ago that we had 109,000 Regulars at home, while the Secretary of State for War went one better in another place, and said we had 110,000. He also stated that the Volunteers were to be put on a better footing; that they were to have ranges and guns; that the Yeomanry to be called out for a month's training; that the Militia would be encouraged and given transport and guns; that seven reserve battalions were to be called up; that four regiments of cavalry, twelve 644 battalions of infantry, and some batteries of artillery were to be raised. With regard to the raising of those new battalions and regiments, I remember that in Shakespeare's Henry IV., Glendower says. "I can call spirits from the, vasty deep," to which Hotspur replies. "Why, so can I; or so can any man; But will they come, when you do call for them?" I do not think the War Office have very much chance of getting the battalions of infantry or the batteries of artillery they propose to raise. As to 109,000 or 110,000 Regulars supposed to be at home, of what is that number composed? There were seventeen battalions of infantry, seven regiments of cavalry, and twenty-one batteries of artillery, making in the aggregate about 24,500 men. The rest of the 109,000 were recruits, Army Reserve men, Army Service Corps, Engineers, Royal Medical Corps, and servants and clerks. That is not a mobile army that you could send abroad. If those 109,000 were capable soldiers, it is not in barracks at Chelsea or Hounslow they should be, but under the Southern Cross. With regard to the Volunteers, it is a very good thing to increase the capitation grant, but there is hardly a man in this House who has shouldered a rifle in a Volunteer corps who does not know that it is a counsel of perfection to say you are going to put the Volunteers under canvas for a month or even fourteen days. You may get them for three or possibly six days, but there is not the slightest chance of getting them for fourteen. We all agree that it is a good thing that the War Office are going to give the Volunteers mobile guns, but what is the War Office idea of a mobile gun? A little while ago, when the present Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was Under Secretary of State for War, we were told that the Volunteers had mobile guns, while we know perfectly well that what they had then were 40-pounders, without any horses—about as mobile as the table there or the Clock Tower outside. As to the Yeomanry, anyone with any knowledge of the subject knows that it is absolutely impossible to get them out for a month's training, not because the Yeomen would not be anxious to do a bit of soldiering, but because perhaps one-third of them are not mounted on their own horses. With regard to the four new cavalry regiments, I understand the idea was to take the reserve squadrons, turn them into service squadrons, and 645 out of them compose cavalry regiments. The War Office can do a good deal. I know that in my own regiment when they wanted to send it to India, as it was not usual to send heavy cavalry regiments to India then, the War Office conceived the brilliant idea of making it a light cavalry regiment by giving the men blue coats instead of red. I cannot, see, however, how they are going to change a reserve squadron into a service squadron by a mere stroke of the pen. The hon. Gentleman spoke the other day of a reserve squadron being 600 strong. I know of one at Hounslow 900 strong. But those reserve squadrons are composed almost entirely of recruits. This one at Hounslow has two cavalry officers who had had any soldiering and five other officers. How you are going to turn reserve squadrons which are subsidiary and auxiliary to the troops at the front into service squadrons, and make them regular regiments, I absolutely fail to understand. As to the Militia, it used to be the glory and pride of a Militia battalion in the old days that it could put 1,000 men into the line, but that is not the case now. Under these circumstances some hon. friends and myself prepared a Bill which would have given what we call the ballot system for the Militia. We did not introduce it because of a speech made by an eminent politician who said that the ballot for the Militia meant conscription, that conscription would bring consternation and misery to every home, and that the very idea of conscription was driving a number of young men to America. That was a very extraordinary statement. The Boers between the ages of fourteen and sixty are enlisting to fight those whom they believe to be the enemies of their country, and yet we are told that men are running away from England rather than stand the chance of having to serve in the Militia at home. The hon. Gentleman referred to stores. That is a rather sore subject. The Secretary of State for War was "struck," as he calls it, the other day with the fact that stores were insufficient. That is rather an odd expression to use. I remember when hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House were struck with the insufficiency of stores, and when the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who was then Secretary of State for War, had apparently omitted to take note of the fact, with a result not very fortunate to the Government then in office. I should also like to refer to 646 the question of the number of battalions at home and the number abroad alluded to in the rescript of Lord Lansdowne. The noble Lord said that the number of battalions abroad was seventy-six and the number at home sixty-nine. They have proposed to equalise them, and they have proposed it in this way; they take three battalions which have not been raised and which have no practical existence, and add them to the number of battalions at home. The hon. Member then proposed to take a battalion at Gibraltar and said it was on the home strength, although it is hundreds of miles from London, and this battalion, as we should say in this House, would count twice upon a division. Then he says that our battalions abroad are all right and that they are only two battalions below the strength of the battalions at home I do not think I ever heard such an argument, for it is like trying to justify the following calculation: the hon. Member would count the Members of this House at 670; you then multiply the clerks' table twice over, take two thirds, count the Chairman twice over and deduct him; there you have the proportions and there you are. I think that calculation is quite as good as that of the War Office. I am afraid I have trespassed upon the time of the House, but this is a subject in which I take considerable interest, and that is my excuse for having done so.
§ MR. WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
I should like to express my concurrence in the views of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean in almost all the points he put forward. There is one thing which has not been mentioned, however, and that is that the foremost thing about the Army that wants reforming is the War Office Perhaps the most serious part of their behaviour is the answers they put into the hands of hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen who have to give answers in this House. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War gave an answer the other day to a question saying that the troops were waiting for the transports. He said they were all ready and would go as soon as the transports were available. From another question answered by the First Lord of the Admiralty it turned out that the Admiralty did not get the application for the transports till the Wednesday after this answer had been 647 given.* That is one of the cases in which the War Office has sent out an answer which is misleading. I do not say it is absolutely incorrect, but everyone in this House and out of it generally understood by the answer that the transports had been commissioned.
§ MR. WARNER
Then I will withdraw my expression "misleading," and say these ambiguous answers are leading people to think something which is not the case and which has not happened. That is not the only case, for there are lots of other answers which lead people to think that something has happened which has not happened, and it is very annoying to find out that they have got some answer which means something ambiguous. There is another point which is rather important, and this question emphasises it. All through this great stress there has been a want of cohesion between the War Office and the Admiralty. It is a very small matter, but it has shown that they do not work completely in unison. People are very fond of going to see their friends off to the war, and ladies, and the wives and sisters and relatives of the soldiers especially, were anxious to do so. They applied for orders to see them off on the ship. The War Office telegraphs that the orders will be all right, and the embarking officer receives instructions to pass them. But the Admiralty interferes because the ship is part of their business, and the Admiralty issue orders that ladies and those who come to see the soldiers off cannot go on board. That shows the want of cohesion between the two Departments. I do not wish to detain the House, but there are a great many more points of the same sort that one could give. For instance, it is clear that there has been some friction between the War Office and the Admiralty with regard to contracts for the feeding of the troops on the transports.* See Questions relating to the transport of the Eighth Division, The Parliamentary Debates, Vol. lxxix., February 27, page 1205; March 1, page 1413; March 2, page 1519.
§ MR. WARNER
The hon. Gentleman says there was no friction, but probably there was a certain amount of correspondence. There was some correspondence as to the transports to be used, and as to the way they were to be used. One day the War Office applied for a transport to carry munitions, and then they would say the munitions were not wanted on that ship. On another occasion they would ask for a ship to carry so many horses, and then a week or so after they would say it was not so many men but more horses. These things were continually going on. I know they are not the fault of the Under Secretary for War in his capacity as the representative of the Government, but they are the inherent faults of the War Office system, which I am very sorry to say there has been no attempt to remedy at all, except in the one case of appointing another officer to superintend the embarkation of the Reserve forces. I should like to say a word on the question of the cavalry, which has been raised by the hon. and gallant Member for South-east Essex. The proposal may be a real increase for all we know, but there is a very curious position. A squadron is to be added to each of the Household Cavalry regiments, and that turns out to be a squadron of men without officers. There are no officers to be added, but it is merely an increase of the squadrons that already exist by so many men. I hope that the four regiments to be added are not to be all regiments without officers. There are one or two things about the Militia which I should like to have pressed. The first thing is that the bounty, which is to be increased and consolidated, ought to be published as soon as possible, because you will not get the recruits until you publish what increase you are going to make. I asked for it some time ago, and I hope this matter will not be delayed any longer. It is a very important question, and the sooner you state what the bounty is the better, Just now is the time of the year to get the recruits, for later on they will be much scarcer when there is plenty of work in the country. I should like the Under Secretary for War to state what the bounty is for this extra six months training. There is another bounty besides the usual one that is to be a permanent consolidation. He mentioned one thing I should like to understand better. He 649 said that the Militia was to be increased, and that the battalions were to be raised so as to equalise the Regular battalions. Are the existing battalions to be brought up to the full battalion strength, or only those companies in the Militia battalions? That is a point which makes some difference. Last year two or three were reduced to six company battalions, and are they to be raised again to the same strength as the Regular and ordinary battalions would be? I hope something will be done in the case of the Militiaman who is an old soldier, and who is forbidden, in consequence of having served his country in the Militia, from taking this £22. I suppose he is not going to be debarred, because he has served his country in the Militia, altogether from having some reward which any other old soldier who has not served his country in the past few years will receive for serving for one year. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean upon the plea he has made against this Royal Reserve being tied up at home. I do not think there should be any difficulty about it as to the years service being added, and I think it is a great pity that that should have been put into their conditions of service. With regard to the rifle ranges I understand that most of them are not in this Vote at all, but that they come under the Works Vote, and are not in the Army Estimates at all.
§ MR. WARNER
what is in this Estimate is an extra £100,000 to assist Volunteer regiments to get rifle ranges. I only wish to make it quite clear that this £100,000 does not in any way represent what is to be spent on ranges this year. Everybody has realised now that ranges are one of the most important things we could possibly spend the money upon, and I hope the War Office is by this time fully alive to the necessity of having a great many more ranges than at the present moment. The War Office takes a long time after it has realised anything to put it into execution, but I hope that the pressure which the country is putting upon them in regard to new ranges will make the War Office fully alive to the necessities of the case. I hope everything will be done not only to raise more artillery, but also to increase the efficiency of our batteries, and everything 650 that is possible should be done to bring them up to the proper standard.
*SIR HENRY FLETCHER (Sussex, Lewes)
I propose to limit my observations solely to the Volunteer scheme put forward by my hon. friend. As one of the senior officers in the Volunteer force who has served in that force from its very earliest commencement, I may say that I heartily agree with the scheme which has been put forward to meet the present emergency. We have for a very long time hardly been recognised as a force. We have had our ups and downs, but now I think it is a happy moment for all of us who have endeavoured to make this force to find that we are now recognised as an important portion of the forces that are to be used for the defence of this country. Many hon. Members may think, and others outside this House may also think, that calling upon the Volunteers to serve in this emergency this year for twenty-eight days in camp will be a hardship upon them. As one who has had a great deal to do with the Volunteer forces, may I say that I believe the Volunteers will cheerfully accept the proposition laid down by the War Office, and will do everything in their power to carry it out. We must recollect that when the Militia is embodied and when the defence of the country is considered of paramount, importance, the Government and the War Office can call upon us compulsorily to take our share in the defence of the country. But they have met us on this occasion and in this emergency in a different way. They have asked us to come forward voluntarily, and they have proposed what are, in my opinion, most liberal terms to the force for this emergency. I hope that all commanding officers will take the word from me and say that it shall be done. There is, however, one point I do not quite grasp in my hon. friends scheme, and that is whether camps will be found for the Volunteers by the Government free of expense to commanding officers; and whether another important item, that of water, will also be found free, or whether we shall have to find that ourselves. I think there was another matter which probably may not come under the head of allowances. The hon. Gentleman told us that the Volunteers, when in camp, would receive, in all ranks, the daily pay of Regular soldiers. Does that 651 mean as well the ordinary soldiers' allowances, and would the War Office allow free ration to be given to the Volunteer forces when in camp? I also wish to know whether the separation allowances granted to Regular soldiers in camp will also be afforded to the Volunteers while in camp. When my hon. friend has an opportunity of replying I think it will be a gratification to all connected with the force if these two or three points could be cleared up. I hope that this year camp instruction will be devoted mainly to the practice of musketry, because that is no doubt the most important portion of the Volunteers' drill at this time. We have endeavoured to make ourselves more efficient in musketry, and if this year when these camps are formed—and are formed in the vicinity of ranges, which I hope they will be—with an officer appointed from one of the musketry staffs to carry out instruction in musketry it will be of the greatest value to commanding officers and to those taking part in the camp. Although I have had my battalion and brigade in camp for the past twenty-six consecutive years, it has been impossible, owing to the short period we have been in camp, to carry out the musketry drill which is required for the efficiency of the Volunteers, and that is a question of the greatest importance. If the War Office can make arrangements for carrying out this instruction in musketry I am sure it will be a benefit to all. I beg to differ from one remark made by my hon. and gallant friend the Member for South East Essex. He has told us that he has been in almost every portion of Her Majesty's forces except the Volunteers, and he doubts very much whether the Volunteers could be found who would come out into camp for a period longer than three or six days. I beg to differ from that opinion, for my experience in camp with the Volunteers is far greater than his, and I feel satisfied that this year all of them will put their shoulders to the wheel and will accept the orders of the War Office with regard to this lengthened period in camp, and I feel sure the War Office will not regret having asked them to do it. We have been told that the employers of labour will find great difficulty in allowing their men to go away, but I believe that employers of labour are patriotic, and they will come to the rescue of the Volunteer force and allow 652 their men to go into camp for as long a period as possible. One thing I think is of great importance, and it is this: that it will possibly be the means, by lengthening the period of camping out, of eliminating from the force a great many of the men who never come to camp, and who hardly do any drills except just sufficient to make themselves efficient for shooting purposes. Those men possibly this year may go, and I can say, as one who knows the force well, that we shall not regret their absence. I think that the proposals of the Government are most satisfactory with regard to the Volunteers. We will all do what we can, and I am sure the Volunteers will do their best to prove themselves to be a real force with nothing sham about them.
§ *MAJOR JAMESON (Clare, W.)
I should like to make a few remarks upon the subject of the memorandum, in the hope that the hon. Gentleman will answer fully several deductions which I think can be drawn from them. On page 3 I notice seven battalions of horse artillery and thirty-six batteries of field artillery are about to be raised. Then there comes the extraordinary statement that in time of peace the new horse and field artillery batteries will be retained on the reduced establishment. I would like to ask the Under Secretary to compare that with his statement in the following paragraph, namely, that the growth of our Imperial responsibilities, and in particular the course of events in South Africa, renders it necessary to increase this force. Nothing was said about putting the infantry on a reduced establishment, and here the very first time that the Government come to Parliament to put their artillery on a proper footing they tell you on the same page that they are about to reduce those batteries to the same skeleton form in which they were before. I say if they approach this question logically, more particularly on the subject of artillery, and say that as soon as this war is over we will reduce these batteries to a skeleton form, if that is the intention they might just as well save themselves the trouble of forming these, new batteries. You cannot make an artillery soldier in one year, and in my opinion you cannot make a cavalry or an artillery soldier under three years, but you may make an infantry soldier in one year. What are the War Office going to do? They are going to keep the infantry force at the strength which they think is necessary, and the moment 653 the war is over they say they are going to reduce their batteries to the old skeleton form. The same old story will happen again; you have found yourselves very short of artillery. I heard the hon. and gallant Member for Newington ask a question about the guns at present supplied to the artillery with our forces in South Africa.* I have personal knowledge of many of the guns supplied to the field and horse artillery, and you have no reserve of guns at the present moment to replace those guns which may be put out of action. In this Estimate you say nothing about creating a reserve of guns. It is the absence of such a reserve that you are suffering from now, and which has been the cause of your reverses in South Africa. And yet you are still coming up with the old War Office story which has led our Army into all its trials and troubles. If you are going to root out the evil you will have to clear out the War Office from the top to the bottom, and until you do that you will never have an effective Army, and certainly you will never have an effective artillery. I think I have made it plain to the House that there is practically no idea of forming a reserve of guns. The only thing we are told is that as soon as the war is finished the artillery will be put upon the reduced establishment. There are no finer men in the world than our artillery officers, and they have not had fair play nor a proper chance to show their abilities. There is another matter which I think has not been properly treated, and that is the question of the War Office itself. There is no mention made at all here of any inquiry into the War Office or of any alterations in it. I am perfectly certain of this, that every member of Her Majesty's service and every Member of this House who has been in Her Majesty's service will allow that absolutely the whole of the failures that we have had in the present war are owing to the present system adopted by the War Office. It amuses me day by day to hear gentlemen who are very amiable and excellent civilians speaking to hon. Members, who bring before them what are absolutely just criticisms, and they instantly get a War Office clerk's answer, and with this the country will never be satisfied. We have seventy-five Members of this House who have been in Her Majesty's Army, and I ask them to band themselves together and* See page 26 of this Volume.654 assist in forcing the hands of Her Majesty's Government as regards this question. I ask them to have this Augean stable, the War Office, cleansed from the top attic to the bottom cellar. Then, and then alone, the economies of the War Department can be carried out. There is another question which I think this House will not be satisfied with, and that is the question of promotion and selection and secret reports. I am in a position to tell Members of this House that a secret report made a very short timeago—for such reports do get out sometimes—would have absolutely get rid of the officer who is now commanding the cavalry brigade in South Africa—I mean General French. Another such report was made against, two of the ablest officers we have at present in South Africa. General French would not be the hero he is to-day if General Luck's secret report regarding him had been acted on. All these matters should be adjudicated on by a board of officers serving as a committee of the War Office. As long as the Army is governed by cliques at the War Office, so long will it be inefficient and unsatisfactory. Sir Redvers Buller was recommended by the War Office, as were also General Gatacre and Lord Methuen, but when these when superseded by the Council of Defence, Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener were sent out. The system of cliqueism which has reigned at the War Office for so many years has been the curse of our Army, and will be as long as it is allowed to continue. Therefore, I ask old officers who are Members of this House not to be afraid of the consequences of free speech. Our hearts should be in the work of endeavouring to redress the grievances of the Army, and to put it into a proper and efficient condition. We should see that an adequate service of guns should be given to the Army, and that men's lives should not be sacrificed in an unnecessary manner, and further that good men should not be turned out of the Army by secret reports. That I strongly object to, and as long as I have the honour of being a Member of the House of Commons I will continue to urge hon. Members who have been in the Army to see that the War Office is not dominated by cliques. The recommendations of old officers are sneered at by hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury bench. Only the other night the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Yarmouth was 655 sat upon for bringing forward what he knew was in the interests of the force in which he is interested. We are answered with sneers and jeers. We are told we know nothing and that the Army must be ruled by War Office clerks who form a mutual adulation society. Take the secret report on General French, the man who to-day is lauded by every old cavalry officer like myself. It is to gross abuses such as that that I would direct the attention of hon. and gallant Members. I look to them with confidence, for I believe that, on whichever side of the House they may sit, they are not afraid of War Office cliques. I ask them to stand shoulder to shoulder and to insist that soldiers shall be ruled by soldiers, and that soldiers must be first among those who advise Her Majesty's Councillors as to what is best for the Army.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present (Dr. Tanner, Cork County, Mid). House counted, and forty Members being found present,
§ *MR. LOUIS SINCLAIR (Essex, Romford)
We have all listened to the speech of the Under Secretary for War with attention and with admiration, and although it has introduced sweeping changes in the character of reform and improvement in the War Office, I feel sure that it will tend to better the service and to render it both efficient and capable of performing the duties which will be put upon it in the future. My object in rising is to endorse the sentiment that the Under Secretary for War has uttered, inasmuch that conscription would be distasteful and impossible in this country, But in order to make this contingency as remote as possible, it would be well if the War Office considered the possibility of introducing company and squad drill in our elementary schools. I think that a capitation grant might be given to cadet corps, that they might wear some uniform, and that the ranges might be put at their service for practice on certain days; and it might be considered by the War Office whether all schools which obtain aid from the Government should not be able to produce every year a certain number of efficiently drilled boys—
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The line of argument pursued by the hon. Member is rather relevant to the Education Vote than to a discussion on the Army Estimates.
§ *MR. LOUIS SINCLAIR
I only wanted to refer to the subject cursorily, but of course, Mr. Speaker, after your ruling I will not pursue it further except to say that it is absolutely necessary in order to make the Volunteer force at all efficient that boys at school should be taught to obey the word of command in numbers. In regard to the capitation grant that is to be given to the Volunteers, nothing has been said to encourage Volunteers in our colonies. We all know how patriotic the colonies have been, and what they have done for us at a critical time, but I see nothing in these Estimates which would encourage the Volunteers in our colonies to do for us again what they have done for this country. I am confident that if the same proportion of funds was allotted to the Volunteers in our colonies as at home, a large force might be embodied for the defence of these colonies without any call on the mother country. Now, Sir, there is another point which I think might commend itself also to the War Office, and that is for them to encourage; rifle clubs. It is to be deplored that in this country, where sportsmen abound, the rifle is not more practised with, and that men generally shoot with a sporting gun at game; that all interest is lost when it comes to proficiency in shooting with such a much more useful and more important weapon as our rifle. I think that on certain days the ranges—for which we are voting so much money—might be put at the disposal of these rifle clubs, and that ammunition might either be supplied at cost price or given free, and that old guns might be given out to those who, in these clubs, would make use of them for the purpose of becoming efficient shots. I note with interest that a fortnight only in camp is to be demanded from our Volunteers in order to meet the requirements of efficiency. I cannot help asking again that this fortnight should be divided into two parts to meet the convenience of both men and of employers of labour; that efficiency might be granted to men who could and would serve for a week at a time at different periods. I certainly think that we ought not unnecessarily to impose difficulties and restrictions on the patriotism of our Auxiliary forces, and we should not exact more contribution from them in the way of giving time and service than we can possibly help. At the same time, I am 657 confident that the Volunteers in my division—several of whom are at the present moment fighting at the front—would give any time that might be asked from them in order to make themselves efficient, and to be able to defend their country. Sir, there is no panic, because the country knows that the War Office has completely vindicated itself as an efficient machine, and the country knows that we have able administrators to direct and to supply the magnificient army we have sent to the front; and I am confident that, having regard to the generals, to the heroism of the men whom they lead, success must eventually crown the efforts which are now being made by all who have anything to do with this great and what I may consider just war.
§ MR. CAWLEY (Lancashire, prestwich)
I do not think that the Volunteer Mounted Infantry have received the encouragement as to the increase in numbers and efficiency which the corps deserve. No grant is given to the mounted infantry companies other than that to the ordinary Volunteers, and they are left to face all the extra expenditure as best they can. They have large expenses at the annual camp and in upkeep, equal to £7 or £8 per man, while the mere cost of carriage of horses to camp averages £1. I think an annual grant should be given to the mounted infantry for equipment, clothing, repayment of railway fares, and for stabling and forage during camp. I shall be very glad if the Under Secretary of State for War could inform me and others deeply interested in the subject that the mounted infantry are going to receive that consideration which is their due.
§ *COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, Ince)
I congratulate the War Office upon the large number of troops they have sent out to South Africa, which, I believe, is double the number which expected to be sent out under Lord Cardwell's scheme. I am one of those who always supported Mr. Cardwell's principle as a true principle; but, at the same time, one grievous defect in it has been shown during this war. I mean that it is a terrible inconvenience to have to declare that there is a great national emergency before calling out the Reserves. It must be recollected that, having a Volunteer army, we have to enlist boys, and when a regiment is sent to the front we have to fill the ranks with Reservists. I 658 firmly believe that had an army corps, with its transport complete, been collected in the summer, so as to be available at any moment, complete in every respect, a great deal of loss both in blood and treasure would have been saved. For many weeks our soldiers were sent out to South Africa in fractions, and we had to collect mules all over the world; and then these mules had to be broken in. The result was that our advance was tied to the railway line. I hold that our ordinary field guns should be made so mobile that they could be marched with either mounted infantry or cavalry, and that some guns of position should be made mobile. I entirely approve of what the War Office has done in regard to compulsory service. This is not the time for compulsory service; but if ever we were to be involved in a war with a great Power, which I humbly trust will never be the case, we should require to have recourse to compulsory service, just as the Americans had at the end of their war. But the Americans incurred a debt of one thousand million pounds sterling—we must not incur such a debt. I think manœuvres in different districts throughout the country are absolutely necessary in order to teach officers and men the best methods of reconnoitring.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfarshire)
I wish to offer a few remarks of a general character before we proceed to the discussion of the details of the Estimates. I cannot help agreeing practically with the hon. Member for East Aberdeen, that the yearly Estimates are presented in a form which prevents us obtaining a full sense of the responsibilities, even with the small extra addition to our Army organisation, we are incurring this year. Inevitably the continued refusal of this, as of all former Governments, to adopt any form of compulsory service, drives us into the other alternative of facing a very large additional expenditure. I cannot help thinking, however, that it would have been singularly inappropriate and untimely if the Government had at this date—in the face of so much enthusiasm and the readiness evinced by all classes in the United Kingdom to serve the country—chosen to introduce any form of compulsion. The present time would have been most inappropriate for anything more than the scheme of invitation which the War Office has put forward. Every suggestion made to-night, as on many former 659 occasions, involves some increase in expenditure. No voice has been raised in the direction of retrenchment and economy, or even a greater vigilance over the expenditure entrusted to the Army. It is very difficult to attempt anything of that kind, because under the Army Estimates we deal with only a part of the forces of the Crown. The Foreign Office has considerable forces which are available for operations outside the territories where they are permanently stationed. The same is true of the Colonial Office, and until we have a full view of the whole forces in the different parts of the possessions of the Queen, it is impossible to look at this question comprehensively. While it is true that our growing Imperial responsibilities force upon us additional expenditure, it is very difficult to separate altogether the duties of the Army and Navy when we come to consider the larger question of defence. Inevitably we must face a very large increase in capital expenditure on the part of the Army for barrack accommodation. married men's quarters, rifle ranges, etc. It has been pointed out to us by the Under Secretary for War, and the Secretary for War in the other House, that we are taking considerable steps to increase our military forces. It is very natural that any Government should take advantage of the existing military ardour of the nation to achieve measures for which, in more peaceful times, it would be difficult to obtain permission. I think the changes proposed in the present scheme of Army organisation have not been sufficiently emphasised. Our Army organisation was last radically changed in 1887, and since then our demands for military defence and Army organisation have very much grown. In the memorandum attached to the Army Estimates in 1887 it is stated that—The preparations for mobilisation made by Mr. Childers (in 1881) only extended to providing one army corps, which it was intended to be ready to take the field at any time in any of the small wars in which we are so often engaged. It was to consist entirely of Regulars, and to furnish it, and at the same time meet considerations of expense, the establishments of our battalions were carefully graduated, so that those first for foreign service stood at the highest strength. Twelve of these, together with six battalions from the Mediterranean and three battalions of Guards, were to form the infantry of the army corps, which it was considered we should be able to put into the field at any moment.660 Then, after referring to subsequent changes and additions to the scheme, the memorandum went on to say—Subject to these changes and additions, our present forces might be so arranged that they would be sufficient to provide men for all our home and colonial garrisons, and also to furnish two army corps of Regular troops, each stronger by four battalions than those contemplated in 1875, together with a strong cavalry division, and the necessary troops to guard their line of communication. After doing this there would still remain a balance of disciplined troops, which would form a nucleus round which a further army might be collected.In the following year in a most interesting memorandum we find the Secretary for War carried the scheme a little further. We have gone on twelve years since that time, and although nominally our objects and aims are not very different from what they were then, we seem every year to be committed to a larger and larger expenditure. The naval defence expenditure of the country has grown up in the last fifteen years from 13¾ millions to 30 millions, and the total defence expenditure has mounted from 27 to nearly 54 millions. The point I want to urge is, if we are going to complete our arrangements and avoid any risk whatever, if we are to have everything perfect—mobilisation depôts, in which to maintain complete stores of ammunition, clothing, saddlery, and so forth, for every possible eventuality then we have got to face a very much greater increased expenditure than at the present time. In my opinion we have gone as far as we need go in regard to Naval expenditure, I mean so far as the safety of the country requires. What has happened in the Navy leads me to fear that the same will continue in the Army. We are going to provide for a large and permanent increase in our Army expenditure which may lead us to impose an unnecessary burden on the country. There is no difference of opinion in any quarter of the House as to the necessity not only of carrying this war to a successful conclusion, but of taking every necessary step to put our home defence into a proper and effective condition; but I am apprehensive that we are going a little too far, and if is the duty of those who think as I do to draw attention to these facts. When we hear of the number of mounted infantry we cannot help reflecting that our Army may be called upon for other service, and that in the continental armies cavalry has been increased, which shows 661 that under certain conditions cavalry has not altogether gone out of use. We have three climates in which our men may be called upon to serve, and that shows into what a bottomless pit of expenditure we may fall if we are to have stores, clothing, equipment, saddlery, etc., suitable for all climates, and have our depôts complete. That is a fair illustration of the obligations we are undertaking, subject to the wider obligation of being ready for every eventuality. Nobody can do otherwise than agree with what the Under Secretary said as to the loyal feelings and military strength throughout the Empire, but, at the same time, there is another side, and if one reflects on the main argument of this South African war, an argument which appeals to a great number of people is that this assumption of great military power may lead to the development of sentiments from which as an insular Power we have hitherto been free. We must remember that, while we have been protected from the responsibilities of continental nations who have long frontiers to guard, that freedom has safeguarded us from entering into competition with them as a military Power, and we have never interfered in dynastic disputes with Continental Powers. Our pursuits hitherto have been industrial and peaceful pursuits, free from the burden of large military expenditure. With regard to our colonies, they are not rich communities, and there was considerable difficulty at the time of the Cardwell scheme in getting them to undertake the obligation of their own self-defence, and it appears to me we are rather attempting to impose a military policy upon our colonies. It is very desirable that no action of ours, or display of our power, should provoke such actions in others, and thus put an end to the industrial evolution winch is going on. It may have been inevitable, but it is none the less true, that our naval expenditure has been followed by increased naval expenditure by other Powers, and if we increase the Army expenditure, and provoke others to take similar measures, we incur a very great responsibility. We have to-night heard of a new departure in the Indian Army, namely, the raising of two Indian regiments for service, not in India but elsewhere. It is perfectly true that we have an inexhaustible supply to draw upon in a large and warlike population, but the raising of those regiments is a thing which will be 662 noted by other Powers and may be followed. As to the colonial contingents, it is no doubt perfectly right that we should take advantage of and reward the desire of the colonies to take part in the defence of the Empire, but if we impose on the colonies the responsibility of taking sides in our party struggles at home we shall interfere with their free and unfettered development, and that is a danger which, in my opinion, should be carefully avoided. It is a legitimate question for discussion in this House whether we should not do that cautiously and gradually, and not at once plunge into large expenditure. I do not yield to any Gentleman in this House as to the responsibility of this country, not only in regard to our colonial subjects but also to the native races, in whatever part of the world they may be, but we would do well to carefully scrutinise all those increases of expenditure. We shall also do well to go carefully into any of these colonial defence questions, and we are well within our right in this House when we venture on various occasions to criticise the proposals the Government lay before us.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
I think it fortunate for the War Office that they have such a representative in the House just now, of the ability and persuasive eloquence as the Under Secretary. His manner is so delightful that one is inclined to overlook unpleasant facts. His policy is a policy of allurement, and he leads us away from the War Office nest so that we should not too closely examine what is in it. I do not think, however, that the House or the country has given sufficient credit to the War Office with regard to the supply of food and stores, and the arrangements for the proper care of the sick and wounded. I venture to say that if anybody had told us at this time last year that we should have to supply food and attend to the wants of 200,000 men 6,000 miles away, and do it without a hitch, we should not have believed it. I think it is only right that some one should call attention to that aspect of the question. Those officials of the War Office are not much heard of, and their photographs are not seen in the shop windows, but an occasion like this should be seized to let them know that the House of Commons at least recognises their worth. I am not going to be 663 controversial, but I cannot help making one or two general observations. I cannot understand why it is that because we have a war 6,000 miles away, it is necessary to provide for emergencies apart from that war. I cannot understand the policy of the War Office in submitting a new and enlarged permanent programme in connection with the services. In 1897 when I submitted a motion with reference to the Army it was contemplated we should have to send a larger force across the sea. We have sent, I suppose, 100,000 men. Then why propose a new policy and a new arrangement for home defence now, when in 1897 the conditions were considered by the War Office good enough, and sufficient even if we had to send 167,000 regulars over the sea? What had happened to make it so imperative now to add to the numbers provided for home defence? I am not saying anything in regard to the efficiency of the forces you already have. So far as the Volunteers and the Militia go, I am extremely glad the Government are taking the opportunity of improving these services. My objection is in regard to the increase in the numbers available for home defence. I wish to know why it is that the War Office propose to spend more money on mere numbers for the special purpose of increasing the means of military local defence. One thing that has happened since 1897 is that you have increased your Fleet. There is another thing that has happened, and that is that you have had experience of the enormous difficulty of sending any great military force over sea. You are at peace on the sea, and everybody is extremely proud that you have been able to send 85,000 men out of this country and convey them safely to South Africa.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
These are not my figures. There are 107,000 Regulars now. That leaves out of account the Militia.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
I hope I shall be clear about this. I think it is extremely important to be absolutely clear in our minds as to the influence of our sea power on military arrangements. If I take the figure at 107,000 I must extend the time from October to March. I ask if anyone in his senses, knowing our unrivalled mercantile marine, ports and wharf age, would get up and say that our sending of 100,000 men with stores, horses, 664 and all complete over sea from this country in six months was not satisfactory work, though recollect you have been drawing supplies and animals from every part of the world. You could not attempt to send these transports unless you were masters of the sea. Do you expect other nations, without any experience in the embarkation and flotation of large bodies of troops, to do it in one, two, or six weeks? Although you have not lost confidence in the Fleet, you do not think the naval power is sufficient to prevent great expeditions crossing the sea. What does that mean to the colonies? You are at this moment on the one hand asking money for an increase of military local protection at home against over sea military expeditions, and you are at the same time asking men to be sent from colonies to South Africa in the belief that your naval power is sufficient to protect them from attack. It is a position I altogether protest against. If your sea power is not equal to the task of paralysing any attempt at a great military expedition over sea, then I say your sea power is not able to guarantee colonies against attack abroad. You cannot expect, and you must not expect, ever by voluntary efforts any arrangements under such conditions for consolidating the military power of the Empire. You cannot expect it except on the basis of absolute sea security, and if you have got absolute sea security what becomes of your spending money in building up a force against military invasion? As far as I understand, the policy of the Government is really to ignore the influence of sea power in our military arrangements. I say it is piling up local military expenditure which cannot easily be pulled down again for political reasons. You never can reduce it I feel that above all you must provide at any cost for the safety of your Empire, but I protest against spending a penny wrongly, and I protest against taking advantage of a war fever to pile up the permanent expenses for local military defence of the country. By and by a reaction must come. There will be bad times and bad trade, and there will be nothing of that warlike spirit which prevails just now. Let the efficiency of the existing local forces be increased to the utmost. I am speaking against the increasing of numbers, and exaggerating the proportions of any possible sea attack. I agree with the Under 665 Secretary that the expansion of our military force was due to the expansion of the Empire, but I think for his purpose he was unfortunate in his illustrations, for not one of the places he mentioned can be secured by local defence alone. They are retained by sea power. St. Lucia, which was three times taken and lost, was an instance. Every place dependent upon the sea must be defended by the influence of the Navy, pile up fortifications and the Army as you like. I say distinctly that a military force may delay the capture, but it never can secure any place dependent, on the sea by any means whatever. I protest very humbly against the principle upon which we go year after year, of building up a military policy while ignoring the influence of sea power, which rules, and must rule, your military policy.
§ *MR. SETON-KARR (St. Helens)
I have listened with a very great deal of interest to what has been said by hon. Members, and especially to the speech of the Under Secretary this evening. I think the part of that speech which interested me most was that in which he cited historical precedents, going back I think to 1400, in favour of what was described as the Jingo policy of the present Government. I can only say that is a policy in which I am entirely in favour. But the particular part of the speech I wish to criticise is that in reference to rifle ranges, and included in that question is the question of rifle training of the military, the Militia, and the Volunteers. I admit that I have a considerable deal of diffidence in speaking on this subject. I am not, like my hon. and gallant friend the Member for Essex, with a great deal of military experience. I have served in the Inns of Court Rifle Volunteer Corps, but I cannot claim to have a very large military experience. I do think this question of military rifle ranges important, and it has been a great deal lost sight of by the military authorities and my hon. friend. What is the lesson of the war now going on in South Africa? The lesson we have had there is the lesson of the modern magazine rifle. I think by far the larger portion of the casualties have been caused by rifle fire. The issue of that war and of every other modern war will, so far as the arms are concerned, depend first on rifle fire and the proper use of the rifle, and, speaking as a civilian, it 666 seems to me that the military authorities are held down to a particular system of rifle training. In the days of the old "Brown Bess" it was not a matter of importance if you gave the soldiers a great deal of practice. I am a great believer in the British soldier whether he is English, Welsh, Scotch, or Irish, though, speaking as a Scotchman, I am perhaps prejudiced in favour of the Scotch. But I do believe that the shooting of the average British soldier is bad. I think the general average shooting of the British Army is bad, and not half so good as it ought to be. This question is of enormous importance at the present moment. We have a splendid weapon, and I believe the modern Lee-Metford rifle is as good as you can place in the hands of any soldier, but I think the military authorities have not realised the importance of training. I do not want to enlarge too much on this subject, but there is only one road, one known method by which you can produce a good body of really expert riflemen, and that method is constant and continuous rifle practice. I know something about rifle shooting. You can teach a man to ride comparatively easily. You can teach him the qualities of discipline and courage, and you can teach him drill comparatively easily, but if you want to make him a good rifle shot you must give him constant practice. Take the ordinary Tommy Atkins. I am told that the utmost amount of practice he gets is sixteen days in the year, and the ammunition he fires on these sixteen days out of the 365 days in the year is something like 250 rounds, including the company competitions, sighting shots and everything else. There are only sixteen days in the year on which he looks along the sight of a rifle, and with that amount of practice you cannot produce a good rifleman. The Boers are always shooting. On the west coast of America the men are always shooting, but they are not a bit better in nerve or physique than our own soldiers. The reason why they are better shots is that they are always practising, and that they are accustomed to handling the rifle almost every day in the year; therefore, the result is if you have half a regiment of these men in an African kopje I believe they would do as much execution and would be as difficult to approach and encounter as ten times the number of British soldiers, for the simple reason that 667 they are very much better marksmen with their rifles. I believe it costs £100 to send a soldier from here to the front. If that man is a bad shot I say he is not worth the money, and he is not worth sending out. These are some of the considerations I wish to offer to the House. We all know that the British soldier is not a good shot because he is not given sufficient facilities. They do not pay strict attention to the question of continuous rifle practice; and what has my hon. friend done? He has not gone into detail, but he has indicated one or two slight alterations. He is going to allow the Volunteers certain special allowances, and with regard to the question of musketry he is going to send an officer over to Switzerland to find out something about their system of rifle ranges. It is also proposed to devote £140,000 to acquiring more ranges. The hon. Gentleman has not told us, however, how he is going to spend it. I submit that in every one of those particulars the proposals of the War Office are inadequate, and the important principle which I have outlined to the House has not been observed. In none of these methods shall we be giving facilities for the continuous rifle practice which I submit is so absolutely necessary. I may be leading up to a somewhat extravagant suggestion, but granted that that is the only way to gain this continuous practice, I submit that it is absolutely necessary to spend a very much larger sum of money to provide rifle ranges all over the country. Take the case of the Volunteer or Militiaman who has to go and practise on the range. If he has to spend half a day in getting there and back he is taken a whole day away from his duty to have perhaps twenty or thirty shots. He looks upon it as a nuisance, and so does his commanding officer. He is a long way from his range, and sufficient money has not been found to provide these ranges. They are too far off, and the Volunteers cannot go close by to constantly practise. I submit that in order to meet the importance of this question my hon. friend ought to have allocated a very much larger sum of money to be spent in acquiring ranges all over the country. Instead of £140,000 in a War Vote of nearly £61,000,000, we ought to contemplate either £2,000,000, or £3,000,000, or £4,000,000—I do not care to a million or two—in acquiring ranges close to every military 668 centre, Volunteer headquarters, and camping grounds, so that our Volunteers should be made as good shots as any body of men in the world. If the country is not prepared to do something in this direction it will be because we do not sufficiently appreciate the full value of these modern weapons. It may be asked, how can such a scheme as that be carried out? I should like to indicate that compulsory powers might be granted in this House to the Imperial authority to obtain land for rifle ranges wherever it was required, and wherever it was possible to get it. I believe there are powers already, but they are not strong enough. I believe there are many cases in which a small landowner can interfere and prevent rifle ranges being provided. If we have the powers now, why are they not exercised? It has sometimes been suggested that local authorities should be given this power, and I believe that Nottingham, for example, has patriotically established a local rifle range. I do not, however, believe in the action of local authorities in matters of this kind, for I think it is far too large a thing to give to any local authorities, and it ought to be done by the Imperial authorities. Rifle ranges should be placed all over the country under direct military control. I believe the present military authorities would be quite prepared to do it, only they have not got the powers nor the money. This House should be prepared to open the purse-strings of the Imperial Exchequer in order to give the sum required. We talk of £140,000 upon a question of this kind, but that is a more bagatelle if the subject is of sufficient importance. I submit that this is a national matter, and that the proposals of the hon. Gentleman are altogether inadequate. I have always listened with interest to his proposals, but in this one respect I say they are altogether inadequate, and I hope he will be able to convince me that I am wrong. I should like to hear him talk boldly of a large sum of money being spent on this question, for there is a strong feeling upon it in the country. Correspondence has taken place in the London daily papers on this subject, and anyone who has read it along with the leading articles in those papers will conclude that the people of this country are deeply impressed with the importance of the question of providing military rifle ranges, and of getting out of the old rut we have been in for so many years, when our rifles were such 669 inferior weapons. The public are deeply impressed with that, and I believe they will force the hand of the Government belong long, and compel them to spend money upon this subject. Many of my hon. friends have been dealing with military considerations of which I confess I have no knowledge. I am talking as a civilian, and I should like to see some of those military considerations subordinated to this question of rifle ranges. We want to raise our standard of rifle shooting, for the day may come when it is of enormous importance to possess a body of expert riflemen. The day may come when we want riflemen ready trained to repel an aggressive foe, and I do not believe we are doing justice to the material we have got under our present system. I do not believe we are doing our men justice unless we spend more money in giving them facilities to acquire an expert use of the weapon we have provided them with. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us some assurance that the scheme going to be a little larger than that which has been indicated in his statement.
SIR H. CAMPELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
I am sure that almost everyone in the House will share the desire that has been so freely expressed by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, that there should be better opportunities for rifle practice in this country, not only for the Army, but for the subsidiary branches of the national defence, and also oven for civilians who wish to acquire the art of shooting. At the same time the hon. Gentleman, I think, somewhat exaggerated the prospect of hostilities that may come. To begin with, he threw about millions with a magnificence that we can all admire, but which would not be very convenient when the time came to find the millions. And the prospect for the country is not altogether pleasing. I remember a friend of mine, as patriotic as anyone in this House, a Member of this House, and an ardent supporter of the system of allotments, declared to me that if allotments went much further he would emigrate, because he would have lost sight of England—it would have, been cut up into rather unsightly little patches of cultivable land. The hon. Member suggests another possibility—that we should hardly be able to get our heads out of the door or window without trespassing 670 on somebody s rifle range. Let us keep our patriotic zeal within bounds, and I think the hon. Gentleman will find that what he desires may be effected very much short of the adoption of all the schemes he has propounded. But on one point, and that is the main point, I entirely agree with him—that full power should be obtained, such as may be necessary for acquiring the ground for the purpose, if the legislative powers to that effect are at present insufficient. We are engaged practically on the second debate upon the same subject, and while I join most fully in the compliments which the hon. Gentleman deserves for the manner in which he introduced the subject to-night, I must say that, though in details he gave us a great deal of new matter, his statement was in substance necessarily a repetition of what he told us a few weeks ago, and this debate partakes of the same nature also; therefore I have no desire, for my part, to occupy the time of the House at any length. With regard to the war itself, it is a war, I think, we ought not to exaggerate, and at the same time let us not belittle it. I believe it has been a great achievement. It is an achievement such as this country never could have accomplished before, and such as no other country at the present moment could undertake. If faults and defects have been disclosed, it there have been mistakes here and omissions there, let us hope that they have not been on such a scale as to deserve any severe censure, and let us hope they will serve as lessons for us in the future, and that those who are responsible will find out means of avoiding them. With regard to the new proposals for the addition to the strength of the Army, I said on a previous occasion that, for my part, I accept them. The additions to the strength of the artillery and of the cavalry are undoubtedly desirable. That has not only been disclosed by our experience in this war, but it was known before. Let me candidly say, as I have often said, that I am not, and never have been, a devotee of the army corps system. We have got into the way in this country of talking about army corps—that we must have four army corps, or five army corps. An army corps, for our purposes, may be a convenient enough limit up to which we can organise our military forces. But an army corps, borrowed from Continental nations, and 671 with a proper and full complement of the different arms which those nations find to be necessary for their kind of warfare, is very seldom the kind of force we require for our kind of warfare. Even in the present instance, what was the use of disputing whether the First Lord of the Treasury was right or not when he said there were three army corps in South Africa? As a matter of fact, no part of them moved or fought as an army corps. They were a large number of men in organised bodies. The moment it embarked or disembarked the army corps ceased to exist in that form, even if it had that, form before it started. It is a totally different thing with continental nations, who have open country over which they can proceed in all directions and move and fight an army corps. That is very seldom the case with us, and if we were to use troops in that formation and organisation it would only be if we were to take part in a great European war and vie with our neighbours on the Continent—an enterprise from which, I should have thought, we had long since made up our minds to refrain. But I accept the additions that are being made, and I accept especially the additional battalions of infantry, because we must have a certain number of additional battalions of infantry, owing to the number of battalions which are in garrison abroad. The hon. Gentleman went over all the stations abroad, and he triumphantly pointed to the fact that they had been long in the occupation of this country. In fact, I am not sure that he did not claim that an American station was occupied by the English before the discovery of America. I will not go so far as that.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Halifax. Though some people throw doubt upon it, I believe Bristol made the discovery of America.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
If it is established, I am very glad to accept that. But the truth is, a single battalion that may be stationed in each of these colonies is sufficient for the ordinary garrison, for garrison purposes. It altogether depends on what your policy is in connection with these colonies; for each of these stations may be made the base for some ambitious enterprise. I will take the case of South Africa. Until quite recently there were only two battalions there. And why? Because 672 the universal belief was that we had no need for any military force there at all except for the purpose, partly of representing the dignity of the Empire and partly to make sure the naval station at Simons Bay. As to their being required for internal purposes, that never entered into the mind of man; and that is a case from which one can see how a particular policy may make demands on the Army which are not contemplated by those who have regard to a peace garrison. The hon. Gentleman talked of the necessity for a great force being maintained in different parts of the Empire. I yield to no one in my desire to secure the defence of the Empire in every part, but at the same time let me make this criticism on what he said. With great eloquence the hon. Gentleman said that the Navy was, as it were, the girders that bind the Empire together, and that the coaling stations were the resting places for the ends of those girders. I venture to think that that illustration is rather significant of what I am afraid may be a misunderstanding of the true state of the case. It is not the Navy routes we have to look to. It is the trade routes; the constant commercial intercommunication and the good feeling developed by commercial intercourse. That is what produces the strength and the binding force of the Empire, for the protection of which we require the Navy. But do not let us get into the way of thinking that the Empire exists for the Navy or the Army. Let us remember that the great strength both of this country itself and of the Empire at large consists in its being an Empire of peace and commerce, and good relations and good feeling between communities which are independent, so far as their own affairs are concerned. But now I come to a question which, I think, is one of great delicacy and difficulty. The Government have, at any rate, in their time and under their auspices apparently initiated a system of mutual defence by the different colonies. That is a very fine thing in spirit, and we recognise it and treasure it as an indication of the thoroughly affectionate feeling between the different branches of the Empire; but I am not sure that we are on safe ground when we proceed to bring volunteers, or soldiers of one kind or another, from one set of colonies for the purpose of garrisoning and policing others. I look, I will not say with suspicion, but with some timidity and 673 alarm on any such proposal. I do not think that, if adopted as a system, it would be popular, and it tends to interfere with that thorough independence of those self-governing communities which I think we ought to do our best to preserve, and any interference with which we ought to avoid. What we want in military matters in this country is to put the defence of these islands beyond doubt, and to secure our coaling stations throughout the world. Whether that necessarily involves the retention abroad of the number of battalions to which the hon. Gentleman has referred is again a matter of doubt; and whether the marine force could not be used for that purpose with great convenience to a much greater extent is another point. We ought to have a mobile force of sufficient strength for any emergency that is likely to arise. The present occasion is quite an exceptional one. The present war has imposed upon us the necessity for the employment of a force which may not be required again for years and years, and which has never been required before; and I deprecate the tendency to make the necessities and the experience of this war altogether the test or gauge of what the true naval and military policy of this country ought to be. I was glad to hear the hon. Gentleman bear testimony to the general efficiency of the present system of enlistment, and the terms of service by which the Army is maintained. I was particularly interested by what he said of his own experience as a Commissioner of Chelsea Hospital. This is a matter which has been discussed again and again in this House during the last thirty years, and I am afraid most people have not been sufficiently impressed by the great fact that has impressed the hon. Gentleman—namely, that where we have to garrison tropical countries we cannot do it with long-service men. We know, of course, that it used to be done to some extent in the old East India Company days, that the Presidency troops were sent out and kept there until they were worn out by disease and the effect of the climate; but it was a cruel system, for those who did come home were only a miserable remnant. I say it was a cruel and inhuman system, and it could not be done on so large a scale as we require. The same consideration applies to those ingenious 674 persons who argue in favour of the short-service system for home purposes, with some sort of special long-service enlistment for India. Let them go, as the hon. Member has gone, to the Chelsea Hospital and see the cases that come before the commissioners there. A man may remain in India for some such period as five or seven years, and yet come home a good man; but if he is kept longer he is a man who is lost for all practical purposes, either to his friends or to his country. I was glad to recognise the ability with which the hon. Gentleman spoke on that subject, and I was pleased that he bore testimony to the general excellence of the present system. Looking back, as very few of us in this House now can, for thirty years, to the days when Lord Cardwell carried his great measure through the House, it is a perfect marvel to us how much he was able to do in the course of a very few years against the very strongest opposition, and how satisfactory it is to find that although, of course, mistakes were made and exaggerations were committed no doubt, still in the main it was a beneficial agent in maintaining the security and therefore the prosperity of the Empire.
§ GENERAL RUSSELL (Cheltenham)
said that a very able statement had been made by the Under Secretary in this House, and also by the Secretary of State for War in another place. The Prime Minister had spoken upon the question of secret service money. He wished to remind the Government that the Boers had spent £800,000 in secret service money in one year. We all knew what the result had been of their small expenditure upon this head in England. The consequence was that Her Majesty's Government formed most inadequate ideas of the military strength of the Boers, and their fighting capacity. If we looked back in history, we would find that the Intelligence Department in this country had nearly always been defective. At the time of the Crimean War we were utterly ignorant of the landing places in the Crimea and of the rivers and geography of that country. Anything more disgraceful than the ignorance of the condition of things in the Crimea it was impossible to conceive. Then there was the Abyssinian campaign. There, again, the Intelligence Department were entirely ignorant of the condition of Abyssinia, and of the fighting 675 power of the enemy, or of the requirements of the country in which our soldiers had to operate. The result was that that expedition cost £20,000,000, whereas, had we possessed proper information, it would have only cost about £3,000,000 or £4,000,000. Take the Ashanti War, where similar ignorance again prevailed. Then there was the expedition to Suakim, attended by the surrender of Khartoum and the loss of General Gordon. In a great hurry the Government then in power sent out an expedition to Suakim, and what did they do? They afterwards commenced building a railway, and after laying three or four miles of it, it was found absolutely unsuitable and utterly impracticable, and the material was brought back and allowed to lie at Woolwich for many years, as a monument, to the ignorance of the Government and the Intelligence Department who sent it out. That Intelligence Department was made and established by the Secretary of State for War, Lord Cardwell. It might, perhaps, be of interest to the House if he contrasted the strength of the Intelligence Departments of foreign countries with that of the English Intelligence Department, and he would give a few statistics. In France the general Military Staff Department contained 245 military officers who employed 459 clerks, making a total of 704 officers, and the country spent upon them £137,166. In Germany the military staff was 310, with 666 civilians, making a total of 976officers, and they spent no less than £270,212. In Austria the military staff contained 206 military men, 119 civilians, making a total of 325, costing £35,450. The Russian staff of the Intelligence Department contained 704 military men and 867 civilians, making a total of 1,571, and they spent the sum of £410,000. Italy had a military staff and civilians numbering 532, and they expended £64,376. Comparing that with the British intelligence Department he found that England had only eighteen military officers and thirty-four clerks, making a total of fifty-two, and they spent £16,500 upon it. When they considered their enormous interests all over the world he thought they would conclude that the British Intelligence Department was very much under-manned and overworked. The present chief of that Department was a very able officer of great experience, but he had not the pro- 676 per support and assistance, nor sufficient money to do his duty properly. For the efficiency of the Army it was absolutely essential that their intelligence Department should be put on a wider and more generous footing. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary had stated that he was going to send out an officer to Switzerland to report about ranges. Of course it did not follow that the reports made upon that question would be adopted. Twenty years ago he was sent out to report upon the Swiss army, and no doubt he reported upon the same matter, but what attention had been paid to that report? Two other reports had been since made, but there had not been the slightest attention paid to them by the War Office. During the time he was in Germany it was his duty to send in long reports upon the ranges there, which were carried out under conditions which we had not got in England, for they managed to practise shooting with greater facility, ease, and safety. Whether those reports were read or not he did not know. One local authority in Gloucestershire had offered to make a range themselves, provided they received some assistance, and this they were refused by the War Office. He would not further detain the House, but he earnestly trusted in the scheme which the hon. Gentleman would place before the House he would fully recognise the absolute necessity of increasing the Intelligence Department. There, was no doubt that an utterly inadequate idea of the power of the Boers was entertained before they entered upon the present war. Whether that was the fault of the Intelligence Department or not he would not say; but, at all events, he thought he had made out a case that the number of officers employed in the Intelligence Department by this country was not nearly so large as in foreign countries, and the money expended upon it was considerably less. He ventured to say that he had made out a case for the serious consideration of the War Office and the Government for improving their Intelligence Department and placing it upon a more efficient footing.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I believe I have no right of reply at this stage of our proceedings, and that I can only speak at this stage with the indulgence of the House. I rise now, when other Members. 677 wish to speak, in order to point out to the House that the whole trend and tenour of this debate has consisted, with few exceptions, of a series of categorical questions addressed to myself upon points of detail and points of fact, and that it is impossible for me to reply to such questions at this stage of the debate, whereas when we get into Committee it will be easy for me to rise again and again to answer the points as they are raised. That is what I rose to say by the indulgence of the House. I feel that I must acknowledge the spirit in which the Leader of the Opposition has met the scheme which we have had to lay before Parliament this year. The right hon. Gentleman has touched upon one or two points, and he is agreed that we ought to give greater facilities for rifle shooting, and he has pointed out that this is not a land of magnificent distances, that we are not living in the Wild West; and that even the millions to be expended on ranges, as suggested by my hon. friend the Member for St. Helens, was not even practicable in this country. The Government are very anxious indeed to extend the facilities for rifle shooting. As to the new proposals, the Leader of the Opposition has accepted en bloc our proposals for engineers, artillery, army service corps and so forth; and even in respect to the proposal for twelve additional battalions of the Line he has really not criticised our scheme. Of course the right hon. Gentleman could not refrain from taking some exception to the arguments which I laid before the House earlier in the evening, but I really do not think that we ought to go into the historical question of Nova Scotia. We have one battalion at Halifax, and in 1627 it was upon the historical claim that the colonies based their case that it belonged to us. That, at any rate, is the historical basis of our position in that part of the world. I do not think that I need labour this argument any further, because there is practically no difference between the Government and the Opposition. When the right hon. Gentleman came to South Africa he reminded us of garrisons there with only two battalions, but my contention is that none of these were needed in consequence of Imperial expansion. I differ from him in toto as to that. He used the phrase that those two battalions were there partly for representing the dignity of the Empire. That is a fallacy which I should like to allude to. You cannot 678 put forms or symbols down to represent the dignity of the Empire. What you mean in each part of the Empire is that force which is required by the obligations and the risks of the Empire in that part of the world; and two battalions were not a sufficient garrison for South Africa last year or the year before, or since the raid, or at any time within the last twenty years. The right hon. Gentleman was a member of the Government in the year 1884, which had to send a large expedition under Sir Charles Warren into South Africa in order to impress upon the inhabitants of that country the dignity of the Empire, of which they were not properly conscious in consequence of the presence on their shores of two battalions and no more. I speak only with the indulgence of the House, and as the House generally is in accord with the broad features of the policy which I have laid down this afternoon, and as there are other speakers, I will not continue the debate further. In reply to all the points raised by my hon. and gallant friend the Member for Lewes, my reply is in the affirmative, but when we get into Committee I will elaborate my reply at a later date, when I can deal with these details and questions of fact which have been raised.
§ Question put, and agreed to.