§ 1. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £555,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to 1078 defray the Charge for the Pay, etc., of the Medical Establishment, and for Medicines, etc., which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901."
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
said that some critics had brought the War Office under review as to the conduct of operations in South Africa, and some had reviewed the Generals in the field; but he maintained that not a single word of censure had been directed against the Department for which this Vote was asked. The Army Medical Department had been the real success of the war. The more we heard and the more we read the reports from high authoritative sources, giving an account of what had been done at the front, the more we were filled with admiration for the pluck, devotion, and skill which had been displayed, and the hard work carried on by the officers of the Royal Army Medical Corps under actual danger and peril, resulting in many cases in sad loss of life. When we considered the work they had been called upon to perform, our admiration was increased. At Ladysmith alone there were 800 cases of typhoid fever, and when we considered the results of the treatment of these, and of the wounded, amounting to 95 per cent. of cures, we were still further struck by the admirable skill of the officers of the corps. Two or three factors should be taken into consideration in regard to these satisfactory results. The Mauser bullet was a swift and humane missile. It had not the smashing properties of some expanding bullets. From a medical point of view he could not do other than refer in terms of severe condemnation of the Boers for using soft-nosed bullets, the wounds from which, if he were to give details, would simply appal the Committee. The wounds caused by that description of bullet were filled with sand and pebbles and every kind of external abomination, which rendered the treatment of the wounds almost impossible. The hospitals had been well found, the organisation excellent, and the nursing complete. Every convenience of modern science had been provided, and he wished to render his tribute of admiration to the War Office for the way in which they had performed that part of their duty. A very interesting report had appeared in 1079 the British Medical Journal two or three weeks ago, by Mr. Treves, the eminent surgeon, who gave a well-earned tribute to the heroism of the British soldier. We had heard a great deal of the heroism of the troops in the attacks on Spion Kopje, and other places, where their endurance and pluck were sorely tried. It was one thing to do these deeds of daring in moments of excitement in battle, but when the poor fellows were brought back sorely wounded, possibly maimed for life, their patient endurance was marvellous, and still further excited admiration. Mr. Treves said, in his report—In spite of all their hardships the wounded men behaved as splendidly as they have always done. They never complained. They were quite touching in their unselfishness, and in their anxiety 'not to give trouble.' The English soldier is a man of whom the country may well be proud, and in these two terrible engagements on the Tugela they behaved from first to last in a manner worthy of the splendid traditions of the British Army. A finer, hardier, and more heroic set of men could hardly have been gathered together. They were very much depressed at the reverse.Then Mr. Treves went on to give an account of a poor fellow shot in the face by a piece of shell, in a way which he would not like to describe to the House.He had been lying hours on the hill. He was unable to speak, and as soon as he was landed at the hospital he made signs that he wanted to write. Pencil and paper were given him, and it was supposed he wished to ask for something; but he merely wrote, 'Did we win?' No one had the heart to tell him the truth.Reports had been received from the surgeons in the field explaining how the new system for the Royal Army Medical Corps, organised a few years ago, had worked in the field. It was found that the definite rank given to the officers of the corps was a great boon. Having to take command of large bodies of men, it was formerly found that without rank they could not carry on their work effectually. Things now, however, worked admirably and smoothly, and he hoped to hear from the Under Secretary that the medical schools had carried out the pledge which they gave some years ago to Lord Lansdowne to provide a full and continuous flow of good candidates to fill up the ranks in the service. His information was, that although the number of recruits had not been so very great, yet there was 1080 a fair competition of first-class men, and that the Department would now get practically a sufficient number of officers to carry on the work. He hoped that the War Office would afford opportunity to medical officers coming home from service abroad to attend medical schools, where they could rub off the rust which they had acquired during their service abroad. He maintained that the Medical Department was still undermanned. There had been an increase in the Army of 2,000 Engineers, seven batteries of Royal Horse Artillery, thirty-six field batteries, and twelve Line battalions, and the increase of medical officers for all this great number of men was only six. That was not enough. We ought not, in his opinion, to rely on the hand to mouth system of employing civilian practitioners who really did not understand the soldier and his ways. One result, he believed, of employing civilians was that a large number of bad recruits had been passed, both for the Militia and Reserve forces, and sent out to South Africa, from which they were sent back again. No doubt, at a time of stress and strain and emergency like the present, it was necessary to engage some civil practitioners, and while it was quite right to have such men as Sir W. MacCormac and Mr. Treves giving the Army Medical Staff the benefit of their consultations, still the poor medical officer living on 10s. a day must look with an envious eye on the large salaries given to the distinguished surgeons. Probably one day, before long—and he did not see why it should not be done now—if the number of candidates for admission to the Royal Army Medical Corps did not increase, it would be necessary to increase the rate of pay in that Department. In the case of the ordinary recruit we had to compete with the ordinary labour market, and in the case of the medical recruit we had to compete with the medical market. There were now better opportunities and facilities for the practice of the profession in civil life, and he did not know that we would be able much longer to get a stock of excellent and efficient candidates on the present somewhat meagre pittance paid to men who had gone through six years of a laborious and expensive curriculum. He was not quite satisfied with the answer given about the ambulances the other day. On reading the remarks from the surgeons in the field it seemed 1081 to him that we ought to have another class of wagon. He hoped the Department would take into serious consideration whether we could not take a lesson on this point, as well as on many others, from the campaign we were passing through. It would not be at all a bad idea to cut down some of the excessive demands made on the Army Medical Department in connection with the medical examination. We got men from the medical schools, and he did not see the object of examining them all along the line of medical study. The candidate should be examined on matters relating to military surgery and the emergencies of the service in which he would be afterwards engaged. The hon. Gentleman expressed his admiration of the skill, heroism, and devotion with which the Medical Department had carried out their work during this war.
§ MR. PRICE (Norfolk, E.)
associated himself with his hon. and scientific friend in his praise of the medical staff during the war. He had good reason privately for knowing that the accounts which had appeared in the newspapers were not overstated. The medical service had done honour to itself and the country. On one or two occasions he had prognosticated rather evil things for the medical service if it was put to any great strain. There had been for many years difficulty in filling up the number required for the medical service in the Army, and although various methods had been tried to increase the candidates, and presumably to raise the standard those measures up to now had failed. He was glad to hear from the hon. Gentleman who had spoken just now that there had been more competition recently for admission into the medical ranks of the Army. At the same time it was perfectly obvious that unless something was done very soon to meet the views of the medical officers of the Army, we could only expect things to go from bad to worse, because at the present moment one of the things that stopped a medical man from going into the medical service was the enormous amount of foreign service they had to undertake during their career, and the smaller the number we had of military medical men, the larger the number of civilians we had to employ, the more would necessarily be the foreign service of those who did join the Army Medical Corps. He had some 1082 difficulty in discussing this Medical Vote because we had not had the benefit of seeing a Medical Report since that of 1897. It was not a satisfactory state of things that this Vote should come up for discussion in a House which had not had a Report since 1897. These Reports had always been very late, and it was extremely difficult, of course, to discuss general questions in connection with the Army medical service unless the Reports were better up to date than that. The Report of 1897 was an extremely interesting one. There were several experiments being tried, and it was essential to ascertain how those experiments had been carried out. He had reason to believe, from articles that had appeared in the British Medical Journal, that the experiments had been most successful. It was a matter of the greatest importance to the Army that these questions should be properly dealt with in the most scientific manner.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
said he should like to ask some information as to the medical condition of the troops sent to the front. His hon. friend had referred to the condition in which the troops arrived at Cape Town. He had in his hand an extract from an article which appeared in one of the medical journals, and that article made statements which, if they were facts, were really very serious. It was from the special correspondent at Cape Town of the British Medical Journal. He stated that a great number of the troops arriving there ought never to have been despatched, and that after spending a time in the hospital there they had to be returned to this country. The writer said—It is perfectly true that the average Reservist is a better developed man than his comrade with the colours, but it is unfortunately true that both Reservists and Militiamen contain a very large number of "lame ducks, "hopelessly incapable of going to the front. This is not the case to any appreciable extent with the colours men, who are obviously under such continual observation as to render it very unlikely that any obviously unfit men could be drafted for foreign service. But the percentage of others who are being landed here, and sent to the station hospital with the immediate result of being marked for redrafting to England, is far greater than would have been the case had an efficient system of inspection been adopted on your side. I am inclined to connect the number of lame ducks with the deficient personnel of the R.A.M.C. From the object lessons one is seeing here it is quite evident that the examinations at home have been conducted either by men who do not understand 1083 military requirements, or by men who were so pressed for time that they had to run through the work at a speed which does not permit thorough investigation. On no other supposition could one explain the fact that cases of distinct phthisis, of renal disease, of well marked tertiary syphilis, of ulcer of leg, of large varicose veins, of varicocele, of inguinal hernia (old), of chronic gonorrhœa, of pretty distinct valvular disease of the heart, and similar ailments have been landed here, and can only be sent back again; and this not in ones or twos, but in a very fair proportion.That pointed to an imperfection in the arrangements in connection with the medical examination of the troops sent out, and he thought the time had come for a change of procedure in that matter. Another subject which called for attention was the report that on board transports adequate arrangements had not been made by which men suffering from infectious diseases could be separated from the rest. That was indeed a painful matter, and as it had been adverted to in a prominent medical journal it ought to receive some attention.
§ *SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
said the facts mentioned by the hon. Member constituted one of the most serious charges which had been made with reference to the efficiency of the medical examination of the troops. The number of invalids arriving for whom accommodation had to be provided had become so great that a pavilion or temporary building had had to be put up in order to receive the decrepit persons sent out to South Africa for active service. There was no doubt whatever of the fact that a large number of cases of chronic disease had been sent out to South Africa, and these ought to have been recognised at home. These men had become a burden rather than an aid to the Army. He wished to know whether the Under Secretary would inquire into this matter. The Royal Army Medical Corps had done their duty splendidly, and shown great courage and devotion, but it had notoriously been weakened in numbers in recent years, and the pick of the corps having been sent to South Africa, it was necessary to supplement those left at home by civilians. It was possible that the errors that had been made in sending men to South Africa who were not physically fit for duty might be due not to the Royal Army Medical Corps but to the temporary civilian substitutes who 1084 had examined them before passing them as fit for foreign service. It was desirable to have a stronger Army Medical Corps than we had, and he regretted that a larger increase was not contemplated than that proposed. We wanted a larger number of men, and if there was any difficulty in getting them we should offer greater inducements to men to join the service. We had given them what was required so far as rank was concerned, and we should probably have to give them an increase of pay. There had been in this respect a somewhat lavish generosity, if he might put it in those terms, on the part of the War Office with reference to the civilian officers who had gone to do duty at the front. The War Office did very good service in sending out the two distinguished surgeons who first proceeded to help their army medical brethren in the care of the wounded. It was a very fine piece of work to send Sir William MacCormac and Mr. Treves to the front. Reports had reached us of the valuable services they had done, but it was not necessary that every consulting surgeon sent to the front should be treated as the most distinguished gentleman in the profession. He wished to know whether it was a fact that one of those distinguished surgeons wished to take an assistant out with him, and that the War Office, in agreeing to this, rated the assistant at the same rate as his principal, giving him £5,000 a year. When a man was taken out as an assistant by a senior it was wrong to give a salary absolutely unnecessary and extravagant to the gentleman selected for the purpose. By all means let us select the best men we could get and pay them handsomely, but if the War Office could not make a difference in such a case as this, and proceeded on the old red tape system of which the Department had been accused, there was not a proper use of the public funds of the country in this particular matter. He also called attention to the great prevalence which had been noticed, and especially at Ladysmith, of typhoid fever. He thought that in the debates last year it was pointed out that Ladysmith was not a healthy place, that it was likely to be ravaged more or less by fever, and that its water was not altogether satisfactory. These criticisms had been amply verified by the terrible experience we had had in that beleaguered position. That was a condition of things which 1085 would have been avoided if a larger amount of care had been taken in selecting Ladysmith as a place for the collection of supplies. Similar conditions had been going on in various camps in connection with the operations on the Modder River and other places, and he hoped that the War Office would see that attention was paid not only to the surgical aspects of the war, but also to the sanitary aspects of the administration of the Army Medical Department. The responsibility was thrown upon them not only of selecting suitable stations for occupation by the troops, but also of taking all the precautions which were requisite with the view of stamping out disease. These diseases were nearly all preventable, and the most vigorous efforts should be taken to prevent enteric fever, which had prevailed among the troops. He believed our ambulances had not been found to be as useful as the ambulances of our enemies, who had lighter carts. He was told by people of great experience in these matters that we made a great mistake in having our ambulance wagons too heavy. The rule that ought to be followed was to have the lightest possible wagon for the roughest country, but that was a rule on which we had not proceeded in the building of ambulance carts. He hoped that, whatever might be the outcome of the criticisms now offered, one effect of the debate would be a greater number of candidates for the Royal Army Medical Service. The last examination for the Royal Army Medical Corps was not so satisfactory as it should have been in regard to the number of applicants, and he hoped the medical schools throughout the country would take this matter up. He thought that a modification of the examination such as his hon. friend suggested might be useful. We ought to have the examination more in a special direction, and not in a general direction. That, if followed up, as it was usually, under present conditions, with experience at Netley six months before the men were attached to any barracks or medical service, would give the complete medical education necessary. We should give inducements to the highest class of men who entered the profession to enter the Army. It was an object of ambition which ought to attract the highest class of men, for it was a service not only carrying out the beneficent aims of the 1086 profession generally, but when the suffering was incurred for their country's sake.
§ *COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, Ince)
said the system by which the Army Medical Department was separated from the regiment had failed in some respects. They had behaved admirably in the Egyptian campaign, and also in this, yet when they were at home there was a severance between the services which ought not to exist. He wished to impress on the Under Secretary that a medical officer should be attached to a regiment for a certain period of time, and in the Army List the regiment to which he was attached should be notified, to show whether he had served with a mounted corps or not. He sincerely trusted that much consideration would be given to this subject, for he felt sure that it would have a very marked effect upon getting young gentlemen to join the Medical Corps.
§ MR. WASON (Clackmannan and Kinross)
asked whether any statistics could be given as to the number of deaths of those who had been inoculated by toxin against typhoid fever.
§ MR. GALLOWAY (Manchester, S.W.)
drew attention to the delay that had occurred in the payments to the wives of the men who had been called out. There had been considerable delay in the paymasters' department, and he concluded that must have been caused by some fault on the part of the paymasters. He wished the Under Secretary to give particular attention to this point, and to see that this department of the War Office was not in future so remiss as it had been.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. Wyndham,) Dover
We all know how keen an interest the hon. Member for South-west Manchester has taken in this question of payments to the wives of Reservists. In reply to the hon. Member, I wish to make it quite clear that the charge is not against the Army Medical Department at all, but against the paymasters. The delay complained of has not been due to any fault on the part of the paymasters, but to the fact that under the present system of various districts the Army 1087 Medical Corps is located for this purpose in the Home District of the other corps, and, therefore, the paymasters of one district have much more work to do on such an occasion as the present than the paymasters of other districts. It is a case of the weakest link in the chain; but it is a question whether the different departments ought not to be strengthened in that and similar districts, owing to the greater pressure put upon them when mobilisation takes place. It is true that the Committee cannot pay too high a tribute to the fortitude, courage, and efficiency of the medical officers which have been displayed. They were not exalted by the joy and intoxication of battle; they were sustained alone by their devotion to suffering humanity, and this rendered their services, in my opinion, all the more heroic. The medical schools, in supplying candidates, had fulfilled their part of the bargain, to which the Department was the other party. The result has been, I hope, satisfactory to them, as it has been to the Army; but the Department does not reap the whole results of such a change in the first or second year. The next point raised was that the present numbers of the Royal Army Medical Corps were not adequate to the size of the Army. We may expect that the inducements which have been offered will, in the course of the next few years, give us numbers even more satisfactory than those which have been forthcoming recently. It would be impossible to keep up at all times an establishment of the Royal Army Medical Corps which would be adequate to a time when we were mobilising the whole of the Army for an expedition. Before the war we had 107,000 Regular troops in this country; at this moment we have, or will have very soon, 180,000 troops in South Africa alone, who have to look for assistance either to the Army Medical Corps or to the civilian doctors who have been given salaries. In addition there are 100,000 troops in this country, and if the Army Medical Corps were to be sufficient to deal with the present number, it would have to be three times as large as would be necessary one year in twenty—certainly one year in ten. Reference has been made to the great services of Sir William MacCormac and Mr. Treves, but I am very sorry that the opinion was expressed by some hon. Gentlemen that the services of the other five 1088 consulting surgeons had been too generously recognised. A surgeon, of the standing these gentlemen have achieved, who goes out to South Africa, not only risks his life, but makes a great financial sacrifice. His income is to be told in thousands, and to leave a clientèle of that size in order to proceed to South Africa, with the possibility of not returning for five, six, or seven months, is really, in addition to the personal sacrifice, making a present of £5,000 or £6,000, or perhaps £10,000, to the taxpayers of this country. Therefore I do not think that £5,000 a year is a shilling too much to pay for the war services of these gentlemen. Then my hon. friend suggested that we should offer such inducements to the Royal Army Medical Corps as would enable us to obtain the heads of the medical profession. Why, we should like for the fighting branches of the service to be given a call on the ablest brains in this country, but when they command anything from £5,000 to £50,000 in the market we cannot have them in any profusion. We are, however, anxious to secure the best we can, and we hope, with respect to the Army Medical Corps, as with respect to every other branch of the service, that gradually we may be able to improve the conditions under which the men serve, and thereby secure the best material within our reach. The hon. Members for West Belfast and East Norfolk drew my attention to some reports in the British Medical Journal, in which it is alleged that a number of men had been landed in South Africa who were at once invalided home or sent into hospital. We ought to be given an opportunity to examine into those allegations, as they deserve and shall receive examination, but I think the passage quoted by my hon. friend points exclusively to reservists and militiamen. Do not let it go abroad that there has been a great amount of sickness in South Africa. There is no comparison between this expedition and any other expedition of which we have any record in this or any other country. The percentage of sickness has been far lower than in any other case of which we have any record, but in respect of particular corps there have been some preventable cases. By all means let us examine into them, but do not let us do it in such a way as to create an erroneous impression in the outside world. As the hon. Baronet has 1089 said, it may be that some civilian practitioners have not their eyes trained to detect certain chronic complaints which are injurious to the soldier. That may be so, but I think I have proved that when we are despatching a force of the size now in South Africa we must bring to our aid a certain amount—indeed a great amount—of civilian assistance, and it may be that the special attention usually paid has not been paid to those chronic complaints with which military officers are now acquainted in their bearing on soldiers. As to Ladysmith, I did not quite follow the argument of the hon. Baronet. It is quite true that enteric fever was prevalent in Ladysmith, and the hon. Baronet says it was also prevalent in other camps. It is so in every camp where men are encamped for a lengthy period on one spot. But the Royal Army Medical Corps have made an enormous advance in sanitary matters in recent years. Great attention has been bestowed upon the conditions which enable us to fight with this disease, and, taking it all round, I believe that the amount of enteric fever in this campaign is very much lower than it was, for instance, in the Soudan. That I attribute partly, no doubt, to the climate in South Africa, but also largely to the progress made in the sanitation of camps. As to inoculation, the first experiments did not cover any great number of men, and I think the Committee will agree with me that what we have done is prudent, namely, to wait for the experience of the campaign generally before drawing up statistics. That applies also to the Medical Report My hon. and gallant friend the Member for the Ince Division invited us to return to the system of each regiment having its own doctor. There is much to be said for it. Anyone who has served in a regiment with its own doctor knows what a friend and counsellor he becomes to officers and men, but I do not know that I can hold out any hope that that will be done, even in the modified form advocated by my hon. and gallant friend, in the immediate future. I doubt whether it is possible. The Royal Army Medical Corps is treated as a part of the Army, and it must stand on all fours with the Royal Engineers or any other branch of the service.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
I am very glad to have heard the words of the hon. 1090 Gentleman in reference to the services, rendered by the Army Medical Corps, and they will be welcomed by every member of that distinguished body. With reference to the distinguished surgeons sent out to South Africa, I do not think £5,000 is an excessive salary. I agree with every word which the hon. Gentleman has said as to that, with this exception, that when one of these gentlemen took an assistant with him the assistant was placed on the same rank as himself. That was unnecessary generosity on the part of the War Office, and if followed generally it is likely to lead to the abuse of the whole system. That is the point I wish to press on the attention of the War Office. It was an unnecessary step to place all these surgeons on the same rank, when they had not the same rank either in the profession or in the hospitals with which they were connected. It was placing juniors on a level with seniors, and putting the country to unnecessary expense. Some of the surgeons were, among other duties, to report on the organisation of the hospitals, and I wish to know whether these Reports will be published as Parliamentary Papers.
§ MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
The Army Medical Corps has been strengthened, and very materially helped by the great self-sacrifice and devotion of the members of local ambulance corps who have volunteered. In my own county, where these ambulance corps are very strong, the members have volunteered, and have taken dangerous and difficult service at the front, or are rendering service in tending the wounded on the way home. I wish to place on record the appreciation, which I am sure the Committee feel, of the self-sacrifice and devotion of these men.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
The question which I desire to raise comes, I think, within the province of the Financial Secretary to the War Office. It is the question of the supply of medical stores to the Army. I do not wish to anticipate any discussion which may be raised on a specific Vote with 1091 reference to complaints as to Army stores, but I apprehend that the system, or want of system, by which defective stores are passed by officers whose duty it is to guard against fraud, cannot have a more serious result than in the Medical Department. A large sum is included in this Vote for medical stores, and I should like to ask what precautions are taken with regard to them to prevent fraudulent transactions such as have recently been brought before the public. I am bound to say that the complaints I have heard with respect to the medical stores arose from their being kept too long in stock before use, which I think is unavoidable. When stores have to be laid by in advance in large quantities, it is almost impossible in some instances to prevent their efficacy being impaired. It is to a much more serious question, however, that I wish to direct attention. What are the precautions taken by the Government to prevent defective medical stores being palmed off by contractors? What the War Office chiefly relies on is the terrible penalty of striking such contractors off the Government list. That is of course a very proper penalty with which to visit all those guilty of the serious crime of not only committing deliberate fraud but of rendering the efficiency of Her Majesty's service in war ineffective. But that is a penalty which is viewed with equanimity by contractors. Only the other day a case was mentioned in this House in which a contractor who had been caught red-handed and struck off the list for malpractice reappeared under a new name and was able to continue to perpetrate the fraud of which he had been already convicted. I do not blame the Financial Secretary to the War Office, whose sense of public duty would prompt him to do his utmost to guard against any illegalities of any kind; but I do not hesitate to say that among subordinate officials there is a deliberate attempt to screen these offenders and to hush up flagrant and glaring scandals. I asked for a Return showing the Christian names, surnames, and addresses of all contractors, including partners in firms and directors of companies, struck off the Government list in connection with the supply of defective stores used by Her Majesty's forces during the current financial year, the names and rank of the officers responsible for the acceptance of such defective 1092 stores, and the description of the said stores. My hon. friend would not give me that Return, but he would grant a Return showing the names of contractors struck off the list in connection with the supply of stores to the field force in South Africa. I want to have the names of the malefactors who supply defective stores at home, and I want to show them up. When I asked my hon. friend a question on the subject he said there was no necessity for such a Return, because only two individuals had been guilty of these offences. It now turns out that my hon. friend was misinformed. [Mr. Powell-Williams dissented.] Well, if he were not misinformed, he did not give the House the facts. I conclude he was informed. One of these firms, Bennett and Son—
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman would be entitled to discuss the cases of Underwood and Bennett on this Vote unless he can show that they attempted to pass off defective medical stores on the War Office.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
I will confine myself to the vendors of bad physic and pills, and I say that precautions should be taken against the supply of castor oil by a contractor who had been previously struck off the list under another name. Any firm struck off for supplying bad medical stores should not be again allowed to supply any goods to Government agents. If such a firm reappears under another name and is taken on again, the impression created in the public mind is that someone in a responsible position desires to screen those guilty of so great a crime. The Return I desire is not confined to any one commodity. I refer to all contracts, including medical contracts, and I wish to know whether my hon. friend will give the Return in the form I ask for. It is most important that it should go forth clearly that no attempt, however influenced, will permit this House from insisting on a true and complete exposure of all transactions of this kind. To put the matter in order I will move the reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item E (Cost of Medicines) be reduced by £100."—(Mr. James Lowther.)
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
There are at 1093 least two hon. Members interested in this matter, and I wish to know whether the question of the supply of stores is to be taken on this Vote or not.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
It would be very inconvenient to discuss this great and important question on the Medical Vote. It has not been suggested that there have been any malpractices in connection with the supply of medical stores.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
Will the hon. Gentleman give us a fixed time for the discussion? I am quite ready to meet his views, but if we have to look through the Votes to be taken day by day it is not good enough.
It seems to me that it would be more convenient to take it in its proper place, because if it is discussed now hon. Gentlemen will have to submit hypothetical arguments and assume that matters have occurred which have not occurred.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
If the Vote on which it can properly be discussed is not reached to-night, I will consult with the Leader of the House as to time being given for the discussion.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON
There is one point which the hon. Gentleman did not answer. Under the favourable conditions which I hope will exist after the termination of the war, will the medical officers in the Army be allowed "study leave," to be devoted to rubbing off the rust of absence from the hospitals?
§ DR. TANNER (Cork County, Mid)
The Naval authorities have taken this matter up, and it would be well to extend it also to the Army.
§ MR. JEFFREYS (Hampshire, N.)
May I ask what steps are being taken to inoculate against fever the troops now going out to South Africa? Inoculation 1094 is now known to be a great preventative against fever. I would also wish to know whether the subject matter used for inoculation is perfectly pure.
§ CAPTAIN JESSEL (St. Pancras, S.)
The hon. Gentleman has not answered the point raised about the ambulances. It has been contended that our ambulances are not as good as those of the Boers. The other day the Financial Secretary to the War Office told us that the War Office were satisfied that our ambulances were as good as the ambulances of any foreign Power.
§ *GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke)
desired before the Vote was passed to draw attention to the apparently large sum that had been voted for civilian and retired medical officers. In times of war we might well have to fall back on civilian and retired medical officers, but it was only reasonable to assume that in times of peace the active establishment should be sufficiently strong to do all the work which was imposed upon the department. To have to fall back in peace times upon civilian and retired medical officers seemed to him to be both unreasonable and unjust.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
wished to put a question with regard to the nurses who, when they were obliged to leave Johannesburg in the early stages of the war, had come to Cape Town and had been refused work, although the Cape Town hospitals were very full and the hospital staff was overworked. Forty nurses came down to Cape Town, and all were fully qualified and anxious to work, but their services were not accepted owing to some technical red tape rule that they were not under military regulations. He would be glad to have some information on the subject.
§ *COLONEL WELBY (Taunton)
asked the Under Secretary if his attention had been drawn to a peculiar form of hospital cart, carrying the Geneva Red Cross, used by the Boers. When it was opened it contained apparently nothing but medical jars and bottles, but when the sides were hinged back it was found to be full of Krupp ammunition.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I have no information as to the ingenious appliance referred to by my hon. and gallant friend. 1095 I have taken great interest in the matter of ambulance wagons, and they seem to the eye of one who is not an expert admirably constructed for the purpose. But no doubt the peculiar conditions of South Africa might render it desirable to have lighter wagons. That is one of the many lessons we shall have to learn from this war, but I should like to point out that we can never hope to have ambulance wagons or other military appliances which will be suitable to every climate and all the conditions under which the British Army may be called upon to take the field. The question will, of course, engage our most serious attention. As to inoculation, the whole system is voluntary. Every soldier proceeding to South Africa is given the opportunity, if he wishes, of being inoculated, and a very large number—nearly 60 per cent. in some regiments—have availed themselves of that opportunity. The time for drawing conclusions from the experiment will be when we have the whole results before us at the end of the campaign. In reply to my hon. and gallant friend the Member for Pembroke, I have to say that we have offered inducements to the medical colleges to give them more officers. They are giving us more from year to year, and we hope that the stream will increase. I think I can hardly reply to the question of his hon. friėnd the Member for Islington. The question whether nurses should or should not be employed must be within the discretion of the medical officer in charge at the Cape, and I have no information upon which I can criticise his acts. I am surprised to hear that he should have left on one side the services of the admirable kind referred to by my hon. friend.
§ MR. BARTLEY
The matter was commented upon very considerably at the Cape, where they failed to understand why the services of the nurses were refused.
§ GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
pointed out that it was very desirable that the soldiers should have medical attendance until they had quite recovered, and that could not be given if the staff was not sufficiently strong by reason of the medical officers being constantly moved from one place to another. It would be impossible to make such arrangements as would benefit the soldiers unless some 1096 scheme was adopted of having medical officers permanently told off to take charge of particular places, and not removed so continuously as they were at present.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ 2. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £2,288,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Pay, Bounty, etc., of the Militia (to a number not exceeding 134,571, including 30,000 Militia Reserve), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901."
§ *SIR HERBERT MAXWELL (Wigtonshire)
desired to put one or two points with regard to the Militia recruits. His first point was with regard to the bounty which it was proposed this year to increase. It was not clearly shown why there was a decrease of £102,000 under the sub-head. The second point was the treatment of Militia recruits on enlistment. He thought the recruits were entitled to expect to receive from the authorities more consideration than was given them at present. There was one grievance in particular, and that was the way in which the recruits were clothed. It was at the present time the practice to put them into what was called half-worn clothing, and a more disgusting practice could not be conceived than to take a cleanly lad from the country and put him into clothes which had been already worn for one or two trainings, by Heaven knew whom. By imposing a degrading and disgusting condition like that they did all in their power to deter self-respecting lads from joining the Militia. He had already ventured to urge that the term "Militia" was obsolete, and no longer had any real meaning whatever. All the Militia regiments had now become the third or fourth battalions of regiments of the line. There was not a single Militia regiment in the country at this moment, and he would like to see the term abolished altogether. Owing to the embodiment of the Militia and the employment of a large number of Militia officers abroad, and the absence of a considerable number of young officers who would, under the ordinary 1097 condition of things, have been preparing at home with crammers for the examinations, it would be very reassuring to these young men and to their parents if something could be said to show what would be their position when the Militia came to be disembodied again. Supposing the conditions to be similar to those in operation before the embodiment of the Militia, the position of these young men would be very much impaired by the interruption of their studies.
§ MR. WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
drew attention to the position of sergeant-majors of the Militia. Now that the Militia regiments had been embodied they would receive exactly the same pay as sergeant-majors of the Regular regiments, but for some unknown reason they were not allowed the rank of warrant officers. We wanted to encourage non-commissioned officers to enter the Militia, but if they were not allowed warrant officers rank the consequence would be that we should lose a great many men. If the hon. Gentleman would grant that small concession, and give them the rank of warrant officers, we should get a number of the best non-commissioned officers to join. The next question to which he wished to refer was that of bounties, and that was really a very serious one. Most people who took an interest in the Army Estimates thought that the Militia was the most defective of all parts of the service, and yet nothing was ever being done to encourage the Militia. This year something was being done which certainly would discourage men from going into the Militia. An old soldier not in the Militia was offered £22 to serve one year, but if this old soldier had been patriotic enough to join the Militia some time past he was not to be allowed a penny more bounty than he would receive by joining for this year. The result was that we were putting a premium on old soldiers not going into the Militia. That was distinctly a way of doing away with the Militia. We had taken a long time to give the Militia the same advantages as other branches of the Reserve forces. We had reduced that branch to one-half the strength it ought to be, but in this case we were actually telling men that they would suffer by joining the Militia. What he wanted was that some extra bounty should be given to old 1098 soldiers who had been patriotic enough to be in the Militia. About £3 or £5 would make all the difference. He referred also to the question of publishing what the bounties to Militiamen were to be. The result of not giving a statement of what the bounties were to be was that we were losing the advantage of so many months, and that so many fewer recruits would be obtained. If we waited till the summer time before publishing the bounties we should not get the same number of recruits as we should if they were published now. He wished a satisfactory answer on that point, and in order to get an answer he moved the reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £2,287,900 be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Warner.)
§ *MR. BILL (Staffordshire, Leek)
observed that hitherto there had been no difficulty in inducing old soldiers to enlist in the Militia. He remembered three years ago that in the regiment to which he had the honour to belong he had a strict examination made of the number of old Army men who were serving in the regiment at that time. That number was no less than 250. He quite agreed with the hon. Member who said that those men ought to look to the Militia as their ultimate military course of action. They were the backbone of the Militia. They came in at a time when they had a dozen or fifteen years good work in them, and anything that could be done to bring them into the Militia ought to be done. With reference to what the Government were going to do for the Militia in the coming year, he wished to draw attention to one or two points. In the case of the 4th Somerset Light Infantry, which sailed last week for the Cape, he stated that they went out to South Africa only 390 men strong. What was the reason of that? He was told by the hon. Member for North Somerset, who was a major in that battalion, that no less than 150 men had been taken away from that regiment and sent to the Cape to fill up the Line regiment to which they belonged. It was absolutely impossible to make the Militia a useful force for foreign service when they were emasculated in that battalion way. It was absolutely impossible that the Militia could serve two masters. It 1099 ought to be a unit complete in itself. Another matter he wished to refer to had reference to musketry training. In his own regiment there were no less than seventy-six recruits of last year who had never had a rifle in their hands. It was perfectly possible that these men, recruited during the latter part of the year, could have had some sort of preliminary training, but instead of that, he supposed for economical reasons, they had been told that their musketry drill would be postponed till this year. The consequence was that they went out on foreign service absolutely ignorant of the first principles of their work. That was a matter which ought to be seriously considered by the War Office. In regard to the suggestion as to doing away with the title of Militia altogether, he expressed the hope that that would never be entertained by the Government, as it would be certain to stop recruiting. The Militia was a well known and thoroughly understood force, and he trusted the Government would do their best to bring it up in every way to the level of the Line.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
said the Government plan with reference to the soldiers and the Militia appeared to be "the way not to do it." He did not wish to elaborate this point, which had been so thoroughly well brought before the House by the right hon. Baronet opposite. The strength of the Militia was nominally 130,000, but we could only put 45,000 men in the field. They had no staff, no transport, and no guns, and it seemed to him that a good deal was required to place them on a proper footing. Surely, if their services were of any value while with the Militia Battalion, the Government ought to consider that, and remit the examination in September. He trusted the Under Secretary for War would give the Committee a more definite understanding with reference to that matter.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON
did not see much magic in the different name proposed to be applied. He had taken a great interest in this question on account of the condition into which the Aberdeen Militia had unfortunately fallen, that body having decreased in numbers from 800 strong to about 250. He was informed that it was all a question of 1100 bounties, and therefore he was glad to have the definite statement of the War Office on that point. Would the hon. Gentleman state whether the War Office had yet issued the order superseding the recruiting instruction of April, 1897? It would give a great impulse to the recruiting for the territorial regiments if that order could be issued at once.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
thought the decision of the authorities with regard to the bounties was a step in the right direction. An important part of the policy, however, was to make the Militia more efficient, and to induce them to extend their service abroad. How could that be reconciled with a policy of offering a large bounty to old regular soldiers to return to the service to stay at home? Would the Under Secretary state whether the advantage of improvements the Government proposed to extend to the Militia would be given to the Militia in the colonies, or were they to be limited to the United Kingdom?
COLONEL LONG (Worcestershire, Evesham)
asked what was proposed to be done with the case of Militia regiments embodied next May which were deficient in officers. It would immensely relieve the anxiety of zealous colonels to know what course would be taken, as it was perfectly evident that battalions could not become efficient in six months if they were without company officers and without musketry instructors.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
My attention has been drawn to the fact that a decrease is shown under Sub-head D. "Bounties," and I am asked to reconcile that with the fact that, on two occasions, I have stated our intention to increase the bounties to the Militia. I thought I had made it clear, but I may remind the Committee that everything I have said about consolidating the bounties referred not to this year of emergency, but to the future. And necessarily so, because when the Militia are embodied, as hon. Members are well aware, a great number of the bounties drop—in fact, all the bounties drop with the exception of the bounty for re-engagement of the Militia Reserve and for the Special Reserve, Therefore it is impossible in this year when the whole of the Militia is embodied to deal 1101 with the permanent scheme in connection with the Militia bounties. This year we are retaining one bounty, which lapses if we take no action—namely, the 10s. bounty for ordinary enlistment, but we are giving a bounty of £5 for re-enlistment and re-engagement. That bounty of £5 will be given to ex-Militiamen, ex-Volunteers, and ex-soldiers of the regular Army. That, in part, deals with some of the objections which have been raised on the score of the old soldier who can get £22 by joining the Royal Reserve battalions. But he gets a good deal by going into the Militia. He gets his pay and allowances, amounting to 1s. 9d. a day, all the time he is embodied. By the law as it stands he gets forty-two days more over that as a gratuity, and 30s. in addition to that. So that he gets a bounty of considerably over £5 in addition to the pay during the whole period. He also gets his £5 on re-enlistment or re-engagement, and if he is embodied for more than six months we propose to give him seven days pay and allowances for each month or part of a month in addition. Therefore, altogether, the old soldier who goes into the Militia will in any case get in gratuities more than £10, while if he is embodied for a longer period than six months he will get a much larger amount in addition to his pay. So that although a man in the Royal Reserve battalions would undoubtedly get more, the discrepancy is not nearly so large as might be naturally supposed. I think I have indicated pretty fully what our terms are for the Militia this year. I regret that the Army Order has not yet been published. I have the proof here, and as far as I know it will now come out without further delay. These Army Orders have to be compiled very carefully, as, although it is easy to convey in popular terms the upshot of them, they are legal instruments having to be drawn out with a number of cross references to existing regulations, and, like all legal work, cannot be rushed through. As to the hon. Baronet who urged that all Militiamen should have new clothes, I think he rather exaggerated the point. Unless I am misinformed there is no discrimination as against Militiamen in this matter. My belief is that recruits of the Line also have partly used clothing in which to do their drill during the first few weeks. I can, however, promise the hon. Baronet that we will go into the 1102 question very carefully, as it might possibly act as a discouragement to a good many.
§ *SIR HERBERT MAXWELL
I have been informed that the practice still continues which prevailed when I was in the service, of issuing clothing which has to serve a certain number, not of years, but of trainings. I think the period is five trainings, and the clothing has to serve for three years as dress clothing, and two years as undress clothing. If the recipient terminates his service before the expiration of that period the clothing has to put in the balance of the time on the back and legs of somebody else.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The subject should be considered. In ordinary times when the Militia train for only one month there is a much greater loss to the public in the case of a man who wears the clothing for only one training, and then leaves the Militia, than where the clothing is worn by a regular soldier. However, the matter deserves attention. The hon. Baronet suggested that we should drop the title of Militia, but at once another hon. Member equally devoted to the force thought we should do nothing of the kind. I am bound to say that of all the gratuitous ways of provoking public opprobrium and abuse none is more successful than the attempt to change the name of anything connected with the Army. It is a desperate remedy, and one to be taken only in the last resort. I hope we shall see a still closer connection between the Militia and the Line battalions. I am sure the Militia would like it, and I am perfectly certain that after the experience they have had of the Militia in South Africa the Line would welcome such an association. The hon. Baronet has raised the question as to what we propose to do for young officers in the Militia whose battalions have proceeded to South Africa, who are desirous of passing from the Militia into the Line, who have completed some part of their qualification as to training, and who, under normal circumstances, would go up for examination. I may say that the War Office mean to see that they shall suffer no drawback whatever from having proceeded to the theatre of operations. As to those who go up for examination in September, we shall act upon the lines suggested, and we are acting upon them 1103 in regard to those who go up to a nearer examination than September. They will, moreover, be really relieved from all examination, and steps will certainly be taken to see that no injustice is done. As to the number of commissions which we have to give to the Militia, it is so large that there will be no examination, because the number of vacancies is in excess of the number of candidates. The case put by my hon. and gallant friend of an officer in the Militia in training last year, but who, being embodied all this year, cannot prosecute his studies, will undoubtedly be considered. With regard to the question raised by the hon. Member for Lichfield, I cannot give any promise beyond a personal one to look into the matter. The hon. Member for the Leek Division brought up the question of the Militia Reserve, and he pointed out that one battalion had proceeded to South Africa with less than 400 men. That is so, but as I pointed out to the House the other day, we have made very much smaller inroad upon the Militia Reserve than has ever been known before or than has ever been generally anticipated. We have done our best not to encroach upon the Militia Reserve, but in certain cases—with both their Line battalions in South Africa, which have been subject to very heavy losses and misfortunes, we have had to fall back upon the Militia Reserve. But as the Army Reserve increases the necessity for having a Militia Reserve at all, will, I hope, lapse and lapse soon. We have always regarded it as a makeshift and temporary arrangement to tide over the period during which we were building up the Army Reserve. I think that replies to all the questions. With regard to my hon. and gallant friend's question I may say that I have had most encouraging reports. As to his statement that boys who have never done a day's drill will be useless, what does the hon. Member propose?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Clearly we should make use of all the available sources we have got. Everyone knows the tax which has been placed upon the commissioned ranks during the war, for we have been short of officers, and I do not know of 1104 any feat of legerdemain which will produce officers at a moment's notice.
§ *GENERAL LAURIE
asked whether the Militia Reserve which the Under Secretary for War had stated was only a temporary measure could not be dealt with in the meantime as supernumerary to the establishment of the regiment, which would not be weakened by the deduction of these men. Passing to another point, he inferred from the proposals of the Government that the provision of artillery as a portion of the Militia force applied purely to garrison artillery. He desired to ask if it was not possible to add to our field artillery force by drawing on the Militia. It had been said in the House and outside by officers who had served in the Royal Artillery that it took two years to make a driver. It did if we obtained a raw recruit who had never handled a horse, and introduced him to a pair of horses which had never seen him or one another before and which he had never seen; but if we brought in a driver with his own horses it did not take two years. Indeed, he had known drivers with their own horses who had been very efficient in fourteen days. What was wanted in a field battery on service was the ability to get the most work out of a pair of horses, and to make them work with the others in the gun team. That was a thing which any young farmer, having his own horses, was able to do, and there was no difficulty in the matter. The Canadian Militia artillery were only in camp sixteen days, and were a very efficient body, so efficient indeed that three batteries of them had been sent to South Africa, and he hoped we should have reports of their work there which would enable the War Office authorities to verify whether the Militia artillery might be made so efficient as to be able to take the field. He had seen them working alongside the infantry battalions, and they were thoroughly suited to take their places in the line of battle. If the Canadian artillery could do this, he thought the British Militiamen were equally able to do it, and short as we were of field guns for our large force of Militia and Volunteer infantry, and short as we should be even under the proposals of the Government to increase them, he suggested that this 1105 was a subject that might be advantageously considered and worked out.
§ MR. WARNER
I cannot quite accept the argument of the hon. Gentleman upon this point. The class of men who joined the Militia this year and get this sum of money are not the people I have spoken of. They will not take £10, as he makes out, instead of taking £20 for one year. There is the case of the old soldier who is already in the Militia. He has joined the Militia, and we want to encourage him to join in the future. He will get no sort of bounty beyond the forty-two days pay, and that comes to £5 14s. Every Militiaman will get this amount, but the old soldier gets nothing because he has joined the Militia. If he was not in the Militia he would get this £22, and he ought to have some compensation for being shut out from earning this extra sum. The hon. Gentleman said he got his pay, but so do the Royal Reserves. The old soldier who has joined the Militia is debarred from getting this £22, and he gets instead £5, if he serves for a year. That £5 is a gratuity that you give to every Militiaman, and what I am pleading for is that the old soldier in the Militia should get something as compensation for what he would have got if he had not joined the Militia. If the hon. Gentleman cannot give me some hope of doing something for these old soldiers I must press for a division upon this Amendment.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said that several times last session references had been made to the Channel Islands Militia. Upon one occasion recently attention was drawn to this question, and in consequence the War Office decided to reorganise the Channel Islands Militia, and they had stated, from time to time, what the general lines of reorganisation of a portion of this Militia must be. He noticed that in the Estimates there was a reduced number of men taken for the Channel Islands, consequent upon the disbanding of one regiment of the Guernsey Militia, and he wished to know why nothing was contemplated in the Estimates in regard to the reorganisation of the system
§ SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
said he desired to know whether it was the intention of the Government to embody with the rest of the Militia the Engineer Militia, and the submarine mining division attached to commercial harbours.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
In reply to the right hon. Baronet opposite I cannot give any further information in reference to the Channel Islands Militia. The Channel Islands have representative institutions, and we have been in constant communication with their representative assemblies, but the discussion of these matters takes a very long time. Constitutional as well as military questions have arisen, and we have pointed out what we consider is desirable, in the absence of which the Militia will scarcely be a useful addition to the defensive force of the Empire. We have been met with objections, but I hope that ultimately a satisfactory basis for an argument will be arrived at, and I trust that it will not be impossible for my Department to come to an understanding with the representatives of the Channel Islands. In regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for South Islington, I may say that the terms of the Order will certainly apply to Militia Engineers, and as regards the other corps I will ascertain.
§ MAJOR RASCH
Supposing a boy is not serving in South Africa, but serving with his Militia battalion at home, and is thus precluded from prosecuting his studies, will he be placed at a disadvantage?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
My answer is that I have not got a decision upon that specific point, but that is the decision which has been arrived at in respect of boys in February, and I cannot imagine that we shall alter that decision. I cannot see that we shall have any difficulty in following it out, because I imagine that in September we shall require a great number of officers, probably in excess of those coming from the Militia.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ 3. £144,000, Yeomanry Cavalry, Pay and Allowances.1107
§ *MR. W. F. D. SMITH (Strand, Westminster)
I should like to ask a few questions with regard to these extra grants. Some of these questions have been referred to a Committee of Yeomanry officers, and I can quite understand that my hon. friend is not able to reply until they have reported. I should like to draw attention to the fact that the Yeomanry will be going into training again shortly, and it is important that we should have some information in regard to the grants. The Secretary of State for War said the Government were going to grant yeomen a sum of £5, and I should like to know from the hon. Member what the requirements from the yeomen will be in order to earn that grant. May I also be allowed to suggest that it is of the utmost importance that Yeomen, like the Volunteers, should have opportunities afforded them for more musketry training, and that in addition they should have facilities for training with other arms? It may be extremely hard for some regiments to go into camp at great distances from home all at the same time, and perhaps arrangements could be made for them joining with other forces camping in their own localities; and then, if possible, train some of them at a later period of the year by going in camp with the Militia, or Volunteers, or the Artillery, and give the men an extra grant for such training. I can quite understand that this proposal might be convenient to some regiments and not to others, but the importance of training Yeomen, whether for cavalry or not, with other arms is one which the War Office would do well to consider. I know that there has been a meeting of Yeomanry commanding officers, who I believe have appointed a committee to consider the question, and though I do not myself presume to express any opinion as to drill, I do think the War Office and the Government should give their careful consideration to the suggestions of their military advisers upon this point. For my part—and I think I am expressing the opinion of a large number of Yeomanry officers—I think it would be far better if you so trained the Yeomanry as to ensure that those who are members of the force shall be made thoroughly efficient and thoroughly competent to do any work which they may be called upon to do in the future. If the War Office are ready to take up a strong line upon 1108 this subject, I am certain that the whole of the officers and the men in the Yeomanry force will loyally do their best to make themselves efficient.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
It will be convenient for me to reply now to the points which have been raised. With regard to the suggestion thrown out by my hon. friend I may say that camps will be established to last for twenty-eight days in close proximity to rifle ranges, and conditions upon which men will receive grants for passing a special course of musketry will be drawn up. Special grants will be made as follows: The contingent allowance will be raised from £3 to £5, and another £5 will be given to every Yeoman who produces a horse at the camp. Travelling expenses will be given to and from the camp. The pay will be seven shillings a day, and these allowances will follow the procedure which has been adopted in connection with the Volunteers, and will be given to those who are present during fourteen days. Out of the twenty-eight days, eight days leave may be granted by the commanding officer without any deduction of pay, but if any leave is granted in addition to the eight days it will entail a loss of pay. To earn the increased contingent allowances they must serve fourteen working days in camp out of the twenty-eight, and out of the twenty-eight days the commanding officer can give a yeoman eight days leave without loss, but any leave in addition to that will be deducted. As the hon. Member knows, it is occasionally necessary to give a man leave beyond this eight days, in order that he may not lose a great deal of money, and in such cases there would be a loss of pay. I hope I have made that point quite clear. My hon. friend referred to the Yeomanry cavalry, but in regard to that force we cannot this year attempt to make any drastic change. I have heard the Commander-in Chief himself say that the Yeomanry Cavalry have always done as much as can be expected considering the limited facilities afforded them, but under present conditions it is impossible to convert them into a first-rate cavalry force. With the limited opportunities given them they have always done their best. I think the Committee will agree with me that there are very good reasons for not making any violent changes at this 1109 moment. We will await the return of some of the most experienced officers now serving in South Africa, when they may be able to tell us a great deal about mounted infantry work, and how they can best co-operate with cavalry. But even in this year I feel that all interested in the Yeomanry, and I claim to be one of them, will approve of the changes that have been introduced, especially in view of the fact that the experience of the war shows that great mobility is likely to be a very important factor in all future wars.
§ *COLONEL WELBY
said he was very glad to hear that there were to be no drastic changes in the Yeomanry in the present year. He hoped that the opinion of Yeomanry commanding officers would not only be asked for, but taken into consideration before any drastic changes in the Yeomanry were made. One difficulty was to get men for the Yeomanry, but if they did not make the dress smart enough they would not get the men. Men could be got for cavalry when they could not be got for infantry, partly because of the dress and partly because of having a horse to ride, and having the pleasure of wearing spurs. He hoped that regard would be had for these considerations before any further changes were made. His own experience was that if a commanding officer agreed with the War Office, and if anything went wrong, the responsibility was put on him, but if everything went right the War Office with modest pleasure accepted it as their own work. If the commanding officer gave an opinion contrary to the fixed mind of the War Office, and anything went wrong, that opinion was forgotten and the whole responsibility was thrown on him. He hoped that as regarded the Yeomanry the opinions of the commanding officers, the result of their practical experience, would have more weight than the merely theoretical advice of the War Office. He did not know what kind of carbine the Yeomanry were now armed with, but his own experience was that cavalry carbines were very imperfectly sighted, and he hoped the matter would be inquired into. He believed it was true of the Yeomanry as it was of the Regulars, that every carbine with which a man was able to make good practice had been specially sighted. He had tried cavalry carbines over and over again, and he defied any 1110 man to make good practice with many of them. He should like to direct the attention of the Under Secretary to the pay of the regimental sergeant-majors of Yeomanry regiments. At present it was 3s. 10d. per day. Most of them had been squadron sergeant-majors in the Regulars at 4s. 2d. a day, and their present duties were more onerous and responsible. As a result of recent changes far more work now fell on regimental sergeant-majors than formerly. In addition, when a regimental sergeant-major in the Volunteers retired he was entitled to a first-class pension, whereas a regimental sergeant-major in the Yeomanry was only entitled to a second-class pension, the difference being threepence per day. There was now an opportunity of considering the pay and the pension of these men, and he hoped that the inequalities he had mentioned would be adjusted, and a real injustice removed.
§ *MR. HERMON-HODGE (Oxfordshire, Henley)
said he desired to join in the appeal for better pay and better pensions for regimental sergeant-majors in the Yeomanry, whose work in connection with the formation of the Imperial Yeomanry had been very great; and he hoped that they would be allowed to return to the troop instead of the squadron system, as many places could produce a troop which could not raise a squadron. There were six troops in his regiment, and they were only allowed three sergeant-majors, and three officers were now paying £100 a year apiece in order to maintain permanent staff-sergeants. He did not think that Yeomanry captains should be called on to pay to make good the defective organisation forced on them by the War Office. The troop system should be restored and officers should be provided with trained soldiers. It was only on such conditions that the Yeomanry, which had proved itself a good friend to England, would be able to retain its efficiency.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
It seems to me, if I may venture to intervene in a technical matter, that there is one consideration above all others which governs this question. When a Yeoman is the real thing, he constitutes an item of a very useful force, but in many cases members of Yeomanry Corps have not that intimate knowledge of the horse and his 1111 attributes which is really necessary to the making of an efficient cavalry soldier. If a Yeoman is the son of a farmer brought up in the country, he knows not only how to sit on a horse with comfort to himself and safety to other people, but he can manage his horse, groom it, and keep it free from those evils which afflict it if it is badly managed. That is the man who makes a good cavalry soldier. But I am afraid that in many Yeomanry Corps there are many men who have not horses of their own, and who have to hire horses during the period of training, who cannot groom their horses, and who do not know how to adjust the saddle or how to keep a horse efficient in active service. I do not think that a regiment composed of men of that kind could be considered efficient. I should like to know how many of the Imperial Yeomanry now in South Africa have not the qualifications to which I have referred. It seems to me that more depends on these qualifications than on uniform or pay, because you would have men thoroughly competent to look after their horses, who would not need a groom or syce to keep their horses as well as themselves in good and efficient working order.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
As far as comfort in riding and safety to others is concerned, I think the right hon. Gentleman may be at rest. I was very glad to see such a number of complaints from unsuccessful candidates and their parents as to the riding tests being too difficult. That gave me a great deal of confidence. As to grooming horses and putting on saddlery, all the Yeomanry had to undertake that duty before they went out.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
said it seemed to him that the popularity of any branch of the auxiliary services depended on the chance of seeing active service, and he did not think any branch of the service would value a system which deprived them of that chance. It was perfectly clear to him that the Yeomanry would have little or no chance of seeing active service if they insisted on going out as cavalry. If it was made perfectly plain that the chance of the Yeomany seeing active service depended more on their acting as mounted infantry than as cavalry, that would do away with the prejudice against mounted 1112 infantry, and greater willingness would be shown to conform to the new system.
§ *MR. RUTHERFORD (Lancashire, Darwen)
suggested that in order to improve the Yeomanry there should be permanent camps, where the Government found tents and stabling for the horses, and where one regiment after another from certain districts could be trained. In regard to pay, it is well known that a sergeant-major when he joined the permanent staff of a Yeomanry regiment had his pay reduced; but he had the privilege of taking civil employment. The War Office, however, insisted on his wearing his uniform, and that practically put him out of the running for civil employment. If the Government did not see their way to withdraw the order in regard to wearing uniform, they should increase the pay. He supported his hon. friend in advocating a return to the system of making the troop a unit instead of a squadron.
§ *MR. ABEL SMITH (Christchurch)
said recent events had shown that there was a large class of young men in the country who would make excellent Yeomen, but who under the conditions which had hitherto prevailed had not been able to join a Yeomanry corps. If there were increased rates of pay and allowances we would be able to get hold of that class of men. He would like to know whether the Yeomanry camps were to be brigade camps, and if the Yeomanry were to be provided with transport, as the Militia and Volunteers were. He advocated a return to the troop system, for the squadron system was very difficult to carry out. The men and horses of a squadron frequently extended over forty miles of country, and it was absolutely impossible to get them together, even by train, for drill or for any other purpose.
§ MR. GRAHAM (St. Pancras, West)
said that a few years ago a Committee was appointed to consider the Yeomanry system, and they came to the conclusion that in order to effect a small saving the adjutant and the regimental sergeant-major should be made to serve in two regiments. He contended that there should be a return to the old system, with a sergeant-major and adjutant to each regiment. With respect to the training of Yeomanry, he was 1113 radically inclined, and he believed that those officers who had gone out to South Africa would bring back experiences which would enable them to suggest the re-organisation of the force. In his own opinion, we had been training the Yeomanry on a false system, too much like Regular cavalry, and he should like to see them put more on the footing of mounted infantry. Cavalry might be exercised in the Long Valley at Aldershot or on Salisbury Plain, but that could not be done in the country. He hoped that the Yeomanry would be turned into and drilled as mounted infantry.
§ MR. WARNER
said that the long service medal had been given to the Volunteers, and it ought to be given to the Yeomanry also. The sergeant-majors of the Yeomanry, or most of them, were in South Africa at the present moment, and he thought that the Royal Reserves should be called upon to furnish non-commissioned officers to train the Yeomanry until their own staff return from the seat of war.
§ CAPTAIN JESSEL
said that at present each regiment of Yeomanry had only half an adjutant, and that did not contribute much to their efficiency. He knew of a case where an adjutant had to travel about from Brighton to London, and from London to Oxford, and it could not be expected that he could cover such a large extent of country with efficiency to his corps. It was announced the other day that a Deputy Adjutant-General was to be appointed to look after the interests of the Volunteers, and another for the Militia. He wanted to know under which Deputy Adjutant-General the Yeomanry were to fall, or whether they would have a Deputy Adjutant-General of their own. The supply of non-commissioned officers to undertake the duty of the permanent staff who had gone to South Africa was important. In one regiment the whole staff had gone, and in most of those he had inquired about the half of the staff had gone.
§ MR. SEELY (Lincoln)
said that, although not a Yeomanry officer, he would support the suggestion that the War Office should give the Yeomanry regiments a satisfactory staff of adjutants and sergeant-majors. He was sure that after the services rendered by the 1114 Yeomanry in South Africa, the country would be very willing to support the War Office in doing what was necessary to provide them with a proper staff.
§ SIR ALBERT ROLLIT
supported the suggestion that the long-service medal should be given to the Yeomanry and the Militia as well as the Volunteers. He also advocated a return to the troop unit instead of the squadron in the Yeomanry, for he knew of a regiment which had had to be disbanded on account of the great expense of the squadron system.
§ MR. BUTCHER (York)
said that a large number of clipped horses had been bought for the Imperial Yeomanry. It appeared that it was not customary to purchase rugs along with the horses. A demand was made for rugs, but the answer of the Department was that it was contrary to regulations to pay for these. Well, these clipped horses were taken out of the warm stables and sent across country to Liverpool in open cattle trucks, in bitterly cold weather, without rugs. The result was that something like thirty of these horses died of pneumonia on the way to South Africa. That was a most destructive as well as cruel way of treating horses, and he hoped that precautions would be taken to prevent such a thing happening again.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said that his hon. friend the Member for York probably knew that all the arrangements for buying horses and their equipment, and moving them about, had been delegated by the War Office to the Imperial Yeomanry Committee, and so far as he knew they had discharged their trust in the most admirable manner. He knew of no such case as that mentioned by his hon. friend, but if clipped horses had been travelled without rugs it was a great error of judgment, and it was not due to any regulation or any remissness on the part of the War Office. As to the long service medal, it had been decided at present that it should not be given to the Yeomanry or Militia. In reply to the hon. Member for Christchurch, he could say that the camps would as far as possible be brigade camps. In regard to the suggestions that had been made as to some change in the administrative units of the Yeomanry, the increase in the permanent staff, the appointment of 1115 a sergeant-major to each regiment—all those were points which would be considered when the Yeomanry came back from the war, and when they would be more fully represented at home. He was very glad that this year, for the first time for many years, there had been an opportunity of discussing the Yeomanry Vote. What was wanted was to make that force as efficient as the members of it had proved that it could be made if they had facilities given them.
§ *COLONEL WELBY
asked the hon. Gentleman to answer his question in regard to increased pay of the regimental sergeant-majors.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said he was not in a position that afternoon to answer the question, which would come under the general consideration of yeomanry.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said that everything that could be done to increase the efficiency of the staff this year would be done.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ 4. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,230,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Capitation Grants and Miscellaneous Charges of Volunteer Corps, including Pay, etc., of the Permanent Staff, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901."
*SIR HENRY FLETCHER (Sussex, Lewes)
said that as the Volunteers were taking a prominent part in the war in South Africa, and as they were going to take a still more prominent part in the scheme of home defence, there were one or two points in connection with the capitation grants which he should like to bring to the notice of the Under Secretary for War. There was no doubt that Volunteers were coming forward to be enrolled, not only in hundreds, but in thousands, and the question arose in the minds of army officers, how those men coming forward should be dealt with. Many Volunteer battalions, which hitherto had not been up to the maximum of 1116 strength had now reached that point, and it was difficult now to determine how those who were in excess of the establishments were to be arranged for. He was very anxious to know from the War Office whether commanding officers would be empowered to continue enrolling men into their battalions, though the establishment had been reached. His reason for raising this point was this. If several hundred men in excess of the establishment were enrolled, would the commanding officer be able to receive an assurance that the capitation grant would be extended to them, because he would have to clothe them and fit them out as Volunteers—possibly at his own expense, for the War Office did not see their way to help in this matter. He thought it would be much better that men should be allowed, when the establishment was reached, to continue to be enrolled. His reason for urging it was this. At the present time he saw great difficulties in forming new companies—first of all, with regard to Army instructions from the Regular Army, when so many of the regiments of that force were in foreign parts, and also a difficulty might arise in providing rifle ranges for these extra companies. He hoped the War Office would advise the House if they would allow commanding officers to continue enrolling men, notwithstanding the fact that the establishment had been reached. Then he came to the question of clothing. Clothing was paid for out of the capitation grant. But a rumour was spreading abroad that a suggestion was going to be thrown out that a second suit of clothes for Volunteers should be asked for in the shape of furnishing them with a set of khaki for working purposes. That involved a considerable amount of money, and there was possibly an idea in the mind of the War Office that an extra capitation grant was about to be given to the Volunteers, out of which they were going to provide this second suit. There was no doubt a radical change must take place in the uniform of the whole Army. He believed that the present state of the uniform of all our troops when in England would, owing to the lessons learnt during this war, have to be very carefully considered. Were the commanding officers to select their own places for camps, or were they to go to places selected by the authorities? Up to the present time, early in the year, 1117 they had been asked what period of the month they wished to go into camp. This year things were entirely changed. They were going to have camps formed mainly for instruction, and in many counties there were no ranges for camps. Therefore he thought it would be wise(and the commanding officers would fall in with this view) if the Government would take upon themselves to give instructions for camps to be formed at such places where they could find sites having facilities for musketry. He was sure commanding officers would give up their own pet ideas of old places for camping—which to a certain extent were advantageous in their way. He did not press his hon. friend to give an immediate answer to these remarks. Perhaps it would be wise to issue War Office memorandums or Army orders as to some of the questions about the selection of sites for camps, and also to promulgate as rapidly as possible this new scheme, in order not only that employers of labour, but the officers and Volunteers themselves, could make their arrangements for carrying out to the best of their ability the scheme of instruction, with which he most heartily agreed. He might tell the Committee that the military authorities had taken many lessons from the Volunteers in the early days in the matter of uniform. He could recollect, when they found their own uniforms, that many of the regiments were clothed in a Norfolk jacket, knickerbockers, and gaiters. Did not we see now that the clothing in which our troops had gone out to South Africa, also that in which they went to Egypt, was largely due to the lessons the Volunteers taught as to useful clothing? Then it was most imperative, as they were now about to go into camp for a much longer period than they had ever been before, that an extra pair of trousers should be provided for the Volunteers for this work. He hoped it would be explained whether they were going to have a larger capitation grant in order that they might carry out these requirements. He saw the difficulty in re-clothing the Volunteer force unless the capitation grant was increased. Another point in connection with this extended training that he wished to bring to the notice of the Under Secretary of State for War was this: Up to the present time, on a young officer joining the force, when he had gone through a month's training at the 1118 school of instruction, or at the depôt, and attained his certificate, he had been granted an allowance of £20. He saw a great difficulty this year, as they were to be called out for twenty-eight days, in calling upon young officers to give another month to attending instruction at the depôts, to obtain the certificate. In this emergency year, if the War Office could see their way to grant some indulgence as regards the outfit of young officers, it would be appreciated very much by all who were anxious to join the force. He should give it his warmest support.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said he was not in the habit of intervening in debates of this kind, but he did not wish to lose the opportunity of expressing the great satisfaction and pleasure with which he saw that a great step forward was going to be taken this year in promoting Volunteering. He was one of those, like the hon. Member who had just spoken, who remembered the beginning of the Volunteer movement in 1859. In fact, he was one of the original Volunteers in that year, and ever since then he had had a strong feeling that the Government of the day did not do what it ought to have done in the way of encouraging Volunteering. Whether it was the old-fashioned ideas which held control of the War Office, or want of sufficient money, the policy of the War Office had not been sufficiently favourable in encouraging the Volunteer corps in the country. He thought a great opportunity was lost in the first years after 1859 to make the Volunteer movement rightly popular by giving it not only support in money, but certain privileges which would have made the position of a Volunteer more generally desirable. We ought all to feel that it was a privilege to serve our country; and he earnestly hoped that the policy adopted by the Government this year would be pursued as a continuous policy. In his early days he and others felt that the time might come to introduce conscription in this country, as in the Continental nations of Europe; and they always felt that one of the best securities against conscription was a large Volunteer force, which would prove a reserve for the Army in times like those through which we are now passing. Their hope was that the Volunteer movement would familiarise the citizens with the idea that 1119 it was a man's duty to be willing to make some sacrifice for the benefit of his country. He was not competent to enter into the details of many of the questions which would contribute to great improvement in the Volunteer system; but he should like to say that we ought to be prepared to give support to the War Office in any scheme for the improvement of the Volunteers. One of these was the provision of rifle ranges. It was more difficult to find such ranges for the Volunteers than for the Regular Army, and the difficulty was much greater now than in the old days, when a 500 yards range was thought sufficient for ordinary purposes. Something might also be done in the way of influencing employers to give certain advantages to those of their employees who were Volunteers, and to make it easy for them to attend their drills, and go into camp when called out. He was persuaded that by taking advantage of the flowing tide there would be a great response in the country to anything the Government might do in favour of the encouragement of the Volunteer movement. The more encouragement they could give, especially to the training of Volunteer officers, and making them thoroughly competent in all military duties, the better it would be for the force. He believed there would be a general recognition of any efforts the Government took in favour of making the Volunteers popular, and in favour of making what they were doing this year not a temporary measure, but a permanent policy.
§ MR. MORRELL (Oxfordshire, Woodstock)
said that something ought to be done in making provision for the training of Volunteer officers. The main difficulty was finance. The Vote showed an increase of £605,000 upon last year's estimate, and the total of £1,230,000 worked out at about £5 a head, which was approximately the value the War Office put upon the Volunteer force. Surely the Volunteers were worth more than £5 a head. The commanding officers knew that they had to add considerably to the capitation grant before they could get their corps into an efficient state. When the details of the increase in the capitation grant were looked into it was found that £37,000 was in aid of equipment and greatcoats. He asked himself what number of men that contemplated; how 1120 many men were going to be added for that amount? Then there was an increase of £204,000 for the purpose of camps. Camps were exceedingly valuable, and if efficiently carried on might be made great places for training, but anyone who had experience knew that many hours in the day were wasted in camp. If the Government would allow a sufficient sum, many things could be done in camp which had never been done hitherto. The drill book had become a mere incident, and details required to be worked out in the field. A man should be taught the handy use of tools and weapons. Some remedy must be found for the waste of time which now took place. There was an increase of £92,000 in miscellaneous charges, £84,000 of which was for expenses in horsing guns and wagons. Whether that was attributed to the increase in the number of artillery and engineers he did not know, but if it was it showed a desire to improve those two units of the force. The increase of £604,000 included £330,000 on account of the war in South Africa. Was it intended that the Volunteers who had gone out should drop their Volunteering altogether? If that were so, he and those who thought with him were at cross purposes with the War Office.
§ *COLONEL COTTON-JODRELL (Cheshire, Wirral)
assumed that the remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman in reference to the Yeomanry also applied to the Volunteers. That being so, he would like to know exactly how the increased capitation grant would be calculated.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
If a man is in camp over fourteen days the capitation grant is made on the higher scale. If he is in camp less than fourteen days it is made on the lower scale.
§ *COLONEL COTTON-JODRELL
said that what was required to increase the efficiency of the Volunteer officers was that greater facilities should be given them to become acquainted with the routine and discipline of the Regular Army. The question of clothing was a question of management. In the corps with which he was connected they were able to supply a man with a red serge frock and a blue serge frock out of the present capitation 1121 grant, and that had been done without detriment to the regiment. There were many uses in the future to which Volunteers might be put which could only be decided by the experience which officers would bring back from South Africa, and he hoped that some new scheme might be drawn up under which they might become accustomed to fight and would be taught to fight according to the conditions of the enclosed countries in which they might be called upon to take the field.
§ [The chair was at this point taken by Mr. WODEHOUSE (Bath).]
§ MR. SCOTT MONTAGU (Hampshire, New Forest)
congratulated the Government on the recruiting of the Volunteer forces, but pointed out that the greatest difficulty was to get officers of the right kind in sufficient numbers. We would not get them until further inducements were given them to join, and he suggested that a larger grant should be made for the purposes of uniform, the £20 grant not being sufficient to properly fit a man out. There were a great many gentlemen living in the country and engaged in agricultural pursuits who would make good officers of Volunteers, and form the best leaders in times of war, but who in these times of depression were not able to undertake the responsibilities entailed upon them by taking a commission. He also called attention to the fact that there were a large number of men in Southampton engaged in Government works who belonged to the Hants Brigade, who when they went to camp had the time spent there deducted from their holidays, and who while they were in camp were allowed no pay. He submitted that the Government in this respect ought to be a model employer, and contended that they could hardly expect private employers to grant greater facilities for men to go to camp than were granted by the Government itself. He also asked what was intended to be done with reference to a cycle grant, having regard to the valuable work now done by cyclists.
§ MR. SCOTT MONTAGU
said that his point was that a grant should be made 1122 for the purpose of keeping up the cycle. He further suggested that a grant should be made to local farmers for the provision of transport. He congratulated the Government on the proposal to add a mounted infantry company to every Volunteer battalion, and suggested that where possible they might be allowed to form more than one, and thought that a useful purpose might be served by exempting Volunteers from jury service, which in itself would be a great inducement for many men to join.
§ MR. CHANNING
trusted that the great reform with regard to the Volunteer system which had been announced would affect the Volunteers as a whole, and not merely the details. When speaking on a previous occasion of a Volunteer army corps he meant by that phrase that the Volunteer system might be so arranged as to enable all the Volunteers to be brought together and gain a more experienced knowledge of the art of war, so that in a case of emergency the Government might be able to form what in reality would be an army corps for national defence out of the Volunteers. He hoped that that view would be adopted in the future, and that the Volunteers would not be treated merely as feeders to the Army.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I can assure the hon. Gentleman who spoke last that the War Office has no intention whatever of treating the Volunteers as feeders for the Army, and I may remind him that we are making changes of various kinds in regard to the Volunteer force. The hon. Gentleman who opened the discussion gave most valuable information, and all the suggestions he has made will be most carefully considered, and not less carefully because of the regard he has shown in not pressing for an immediate answer on every point he has brought before us. The Volunteer force has increased since I introduced my emergency scheme far more rapidly than I ventured to anticipate. In the home district the number of Volunteers on November 1 was 36,351; on March 1 the number was 41,725. The establishment of the Home district is 44,312 men, and when the fact that the district has provided the City Imperial Volunteers and the Imperial Yeomanry with 2,590 men is taken into account it 1123 can be said that the home district has jumped up to its establishment number at a single bound. The total strength of the Volunteers throughout the kingdom on November 1 was 230,427. Since then there has been a net increase of 19,179, making a total of 249,606 men, exclusive of the 11,389 men who have gone out to South Africa, so that between November 1 and March 1 there had been an increase of over 30,000 men in the Volunteers. There could not be a more striking testimony of the patriotism of the people. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has called attention to the clothing of the Militia. That is a question which should not be very urgently pressed at this moment. I am able to announce that there is a Committee sitting to inquire into the whole question of the clothing of the Army, and they are rapidly arriving at a conclusion which, I think, will be agreeable to the House. I have taken notes of the other matters which have been pressed upon my attention, and can promise that they will be carefully considered. The hon. Member for Woodstock made a very temperate speech, and asked for some explanation of the figures. Estimates are always very difficult to follow, I know. We are paying the nominal capitation grant this year instead of dividing it, so that from our apparent generosity it has risen to £255,000. Putting £330,000 as the actual increase, I should distribute that by allowing £200,000 for camps and ranges, £12,000 for travelling expenses to and fro, £38,000 for equipment, and £80,000 for transport, horses, wagons, and so on. I am glad to find the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen, as an original Volunteer, coming forward to bless the scheme of the Government, and to urge us to fresh efforts. The Committee may rest assured that, while the Government are doing their best this year, we hope by the aid of experience to do more in the future.
§ SIR ALBERT ROLLIT
thought that no great difficulties would arise in regard to the proposals of the Government, and that employers would raise no objection to a month's camp for Volunteers, and the other difficulties which were apparent had been disposed of by the increased grant of pay. He was sure the Committee must have heard with great satisfaction the proposals of 1124 the right hon. Gentleman as to the increase of the Volunteers, who he thought would be greatly improved under the new plans, which would bring them in connection with Regular officers. It was to be hoped that there would be no undue expenditure of time with regard to the time spent in camp on mere parade drill, but that there would be great attention paid to actual field duty and musketry practice, which was indeed of the greatest importance. He had just one word to say as to the permanent steps that ought to be taken regarding the Volunteers. It was not merely an emergency we had to deal with. We had to look to the better organisation of the force. He was glad to see that a grant was proposed for ranges. That was distinctly a local question. Proximity was everything. The Military Land Act would admit of reform in this direction, and he would suggest that communication should be opened with the municipalities and other local authorities, who might be permitted to render aid to the Volunteer service by local contributions. Headquarters with means for drill were also most desirable, and that was a point on which Volunteers took the greatest interest. He was glad that transport was being provided. With respect to the organisation at the War Office, he said there should be direct representation of the Volunteers by some one who had a knowledge of the conditions and difficulties of the force. He approved of the statement of his hon. friend that there should be provision for exemption from juries. The Volunteers gave their time for nothing to the service of the State, and it was very hard that they should also be called upon to give their time for civil employment as well. There was a growing demand among Volunteers themselves for an enlargement of the Volunteer Act of 1863. The Volunteers did not wish to wait for embodiment or otherwise until there was a possibility of actual invasion. They desired to feel themselves part of the actual army of the country, and to be prepared, by proper training and equipment, to take their part whenever their services might be required.
§ SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbrightshire)
said he understood from what had been stated that if one-half of a regiment went into camp the capitation grant would be given to that half. He should 1125 like to know if the regiment would get the capitation grant on the old footing on which they had been accustomed to get it in the past years.
*THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. J. POWELL-WILLIAMS,) Birmingham, S.
replied that they would.
§ SIR MARK STEWART
remarked that the question of rifle ranges was a most important matter. In many counties there were quite sufficient rifle ranges for all needs, even the Militia as well as the Volunteers. If a small sum was allowed for the transport of men it would assist very largely in giving Volunteers and Militiamen far more opportunity for proving themselves competent in carbine shooting than at present. It would cost the country a very small sum. The Volunteers experienced a difficulty in getting good officers. He could not help feeling that a large number of men imbued with military ardour would come forward when the present war was over and make their services available as Volunteer officers. It would do great good to the Volunteers to know that they were being commanded by men who had had actual experience in the field.
§ MR. SEELY
congratulated the Government on the great increase in the Volunteers, which they were right in anticipating, and also on the spirit with which this year they had dealt with the training of the Volunteers and the general demands of that force. He was very glad that they were making it quite clear that the training they were asking this year was an emergency proposal. It was very desirable that it should not be considered a permanent demand for a longer period in camp, partly on account of the men themselves, but still more on account of their employers. The Volunteers could not in many cases afford either the time or the money for a longer time in camp, nor could they get permission from their employers to leave their work for any considerably longer period than at the present time. At this time, in the peculiar circumstances of the country, with practically the whole Regular Army abroad, there would be no difficulty in finding men willing to come themselves, or able to obtain leave from their employers 1126 to attend in camp for whatever time the Government considered necessary to render them thoroughly efficient. He did not want the War Office to think that any success they might have had in obtaining a longer period in camp this year from the Volunteers would make it desirable to have it in future. Having these two forces—the Militia and the Volunteers—it would be a pity to make arrangements for the Volunteers which would prevent the class of men who now belonged to them from joining them, and which would make them more in the nature of the Militia than at present. There were sufficient numbers available for both forces. With regard to the places where the Volunteers go into camp, it was very desirable, and it would be liked by the Volunteers, that they should be sent—he did not say every year, but every now and then—either to the actual places or somewhere in the neighbourhood of the places where they would be sent in case of mobilisation, there being, he believed, at the War Office a general scheme of mobilisation for the Volunteers. He suggested that every four or five years regiments should be sent to these places, so that the officers and men might get to know the country in the neighbourhood where their services might be required. He concurred with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen as to the very great importance of the adequate training of Volunteer officers, and with that view the War Office ought to give greater facilities for officers attending the excellent military schools. They should also consider whether, in cases where officers could not attend the schools, some arrangement might be made for local training. He was glad the Government were realising the importance of providing ranges. He impressed upon them that it was very desirable they should get ranges as near as possible to the homes of the Volunteers. He had the impression that it was of enormous value that a man should be, so to speak, at home with his weapon and know it thoroughly, and a man could only be in that position from constantly using it. The Volunteers could only do that if they had ranges near to their homes. He congratulated the Government on what the Under Secretary has said about sending some officers to Switzerland to inquire into the system of short ranges existing 1127 in that country and the method of making them safe. That showed that the Government appreciated the value of having ranges near home. All Volunteers would feel that this Government had taken considerable interest in them, and this year they were obviously doing their best to make themselves efficient in every possible way.
§ MR. DRAGE (Derby)
spoke of the enormous advantage a military and industrial community was likely to reap from the development of the Volunteer force. He supported the view of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen that with a proper development of the Volunteer force we should reap the same advantages that foreign countries derived from their military systems. Discipline, such as was obtained in military training, had an effect on the mind, character, and methods of a man which were of great value in the ordinary avocations of civil life. If the right hon. Gentleman had developed his point a little further he would have been able to show the Committee how it was that this development of the Volunteer movement was bound up with nearly every social question with which we had to deal. There were three points which had to be considered in connection with the development of the Volunteer force, namely, first, how we shall avoid industrial loss by taking men away from labour for a long period; second, how we are to get men and train them; and third, how in connection with this system of Volunteers at home we may be able to institute a connection with the Volunteer system in the colonies. He wished to say a word on the training of the men from the purely industrial point of view. He urged the desirability of getting, if possible, in connection with any large scheme of Volunteer reform, into touch with the schools, pointing to the valuable example of the United States, where boys on the occasion of great national festivals heard speeches with regard to the national heroes and so forth. If we had in connection with the elementary and secondary schools a system of military training, it seemed to him that we should increase the flow of men into the Volunteer service we so much desired. It was true, as the hon. Member for South-east Essex had said, that there was hardly room in the Volunteer force 1128 for every man who desired to enter it, but he trusted that provision would be made for a larger increase than had taken place this year. The Government would have to face some form of organisation which might prevent the Volunteers who had been in South Africa going into the ranks of the unemployed, and coming upon the rates. He suggested that there should be in connection with the Volunteer force some sort of old age pension scheme. He had opposed old age pensions from the first on the ground that the people who were to receive the pensions had not given some sort of public service. Some would be glad to welcome an old age pension scheme which would be conditional upon giving service in the Volunteer force, because we should then see that public service had been rendered for the pension given. With respect to representation of the Volunteers at the War Office, he said, if the reformers in that House got their way and got decentralisation established, that would be very valuable in connection with the Volunteer movement.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE (Hereford)
I do not know that I entirely agree with what has been said as to the industrial value of the military discipline to which young men on the Continent are subjected. I do not mean exactly that I object on the ground of their withdrawal from industrial life, though that, of course, is very important indeed. In my judgment it is to a great extent due to our not having the Continental system that we are able to pay for a very expensive war, that we are richer than other countries, and that we can on an emergency procure men and material in a way other countries cannot. Another feature of our military system is this. Half a dozen redcoats can put an English mob to flight. It is different on the Continent, where every man is a trained soldier. I was an original Volunteer, and in those days it was a force to which the middle class largely belonged. Now there are in the Volunteer force many young men who, if that force did not exist, would be in the Militia or the Regular Army. It is sometimes said that the Volunteer force is a sham. One does not like to say that the Volunteer force is a sham, but yet a great many people think so. One does I not like to depreciate the Volunteer force, 1129 with all their energy and self-denial. There was a time when the country and the War Office never thought the Volunteers would be of the least use. Neither the country nor the War Office have ever thought that the Volunteers would be much use. If the War Office had thought so they would have provided proper means of transport, made the Volunteers a mobile force, and not allocated them to certain kopjes around the metropolis, and armed them with obsolete guns. The chief lesson of the war has been that a comparatively small body of what used to be called "sharp-shooters," men who could shoot straight, can defend their country very successfully against a foe armed with the best modern weapons. If the War Office nerved themselves to the task of forming the Volunteers into a mobile force of 50,000 men, able to shoot straight, and armed with the best guns, they would do more to render this country safe against invasion, or even the fear of invasion, than by any project of making the Volunteers approach more nearly to the Regulars. With regard to the facilities for learning the art of shooting straight, I was referred the other day to a Return issued last year, from which I find that within the last ten years there have been 536 ranges closed, and only 205 new ranges opened, leaving a balance to the bad of 331. I recently asked for information as to whether the Volunteer corps, county and borough councils had availed themselves, and if so to what extent, of the provisions of the Ranges Act of 1891, and I was told I could move for a Return because so many inquiries would be necessitated. In my innocence of military matters I supposed that this information would be at the War Office, and that it would be a clerk's work for a few hours to prepare a reply to my question. But it appears that the information, although most important, is not in the possession of the War Office. We have been told that certain officers are being sent to Switzerland to make inquiries about the ranges there. What are they going for? Perhaps to buy some mountains to put at the back of the targets in this country. I always thought there was an Intelligence Department connected with the War Office, of which the primary duty would be to keep the authorities fully informed of the doings of other countries in this important matter. But it is now, at the eleventh 1130 hour, after our men have been shot down in consequence of the superiority of the firing of the enemy, that officers are to be sent to a little country like Switzerland to make inquiries which ought to have been made years ago. Forty-two years ago a pamphlet was written on "England's Dormant Strength," in which my father advocated the very thing the War Office now propose to do. At that time it was the opinion of the people that these men were to be riflemen. This is a very glaring instance of the negligence of the War Office. We were told the other day that behind our targets it was necessary to have a butt 200 feet wide.
*MR. J. POWELL-WILLIAMS
The answer I gave was that with the existing rifle it is necessary in a range of 1,000 yards to have another 2,000 yards behind the range as a safety zone.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE
That is precisely what I was going to say, but what the hon. Gentleman calls a "zone of safety" I call a "butt." You have to purchase land for that purpose, which makes the cost of long ranges almost prohibitive. But shorter sites could easily be obtained. Although I have a strong belief in long distance shooting, yet it is well known that the greatest mortality occurs at between 300 and 500 yards, and if a man can shoot properly at that range he will be a very much better shot at a longer distance than a man who has not had the opportunity of shooting at even 500 yards. Instead of the War Office sending officers to Switzerland they should depend on our local authorities, and ascertain from them where in their respective neighbourhoods such likely sites are to be found.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
I think there is a great difficulty in the matter of policy in regard to the Volunteers, and for this reason—it is a force not created by responsible authority and determined by the conditions of our situation. It was spontaneously imposed in a time of panic in 1859. I am one of those who rejoice that we have got the Volunteer force we have, and I am distinctly in favour of promoting in every way the efficiency of that force, and encouraging it in every possible way. But if the policy of the War Office is simply the policy which rests upon the theory originally adopted—namely, the fear of 1131 a gigantic invasion by a foreign Power—then I say their policy is wrong, and if you are pursuing that policy you are making a mistake. I take it upon this ground: It must be remembered that in order to exist as an Empire we must have naval supremacy which will absolutely prevent any great invasion. I am free to confess, looking at it from a practical point of view, you must contemplate raids here and there. Therefore the organisation of the Volunteer force in the future appears to me to be this—that as far as the question of the defence of these shores goes they have to be organised for the purpose of meeting not a great invasion but possibly worrying raids here and there. They may be few, but you have got to organise against attack in that way. I notice that the policy of the War Office seems to be to treat the force as a great army to be prepared to meet another great army. You must bear in mind that to get the best of your population into the ranks of the Volunteers it is necessary to remember that the units have only got a certain amount of time to give, and you must aim at getting individual efficiency. Whether as artillerymen or riflemen, your aim should be to make the Volunteers a great school for teaching individual efficiency as military units. The Volunteers who go into camp take their cash into consideration. They make a sacrifice, and they have got their wives and children to consider, and they combine their military training with their outing, and they generally choose places of popular resort. Yarmouth is one of the places which they choose, and there is a tremendous demand from the Midland and Northern counties from Volunteers to come to Yarmouth. They go into camp there in brigades, and the men give their whole time to military training, but their families are often there too, and they combine their holiday with the camp training. But if you are going to bring the Volunteers together in large camps as great armies on Salisbury Plain and elsewhere, you must recollect that you are asking the men to do more than they have ever done before, for you are asking them to give up the ordinary system of combining their holiday for their families and themselves with their military training. I cannot help thinking that the War Office are not considering the instincts of human nature sufficiently in a programme of 1132 getting Volunteers for any length of time to go into these very large camps, where they will be separated not merely from their employment, but from their families at the very time when they usually take their holidays. I cannot see the object of getting very large bodies of Volunteers together. The efficiency of the individual Volunteer can be assured far better under other conditions than in huge camps. The object of huge camps is not to improve the training of units, but it is to improve the superior officers. Company training is necessary for units, and it is necessary to bring companies into battalion for the training of those who command them, but I do take exception to the collecting of Volunteers into divisions and army corps in camp under the idea that you are improving the individual unit of the Volunteers. All you are doing is to use the individual units to give the superior officers special knowledge of dealing with masses of men, and I think when you do that you are doing something which is likely to make the Volunteer force unpopular, if you use Volunteers as a sort of machinery merely for the training of superior officers. As a policy it appears to me the proper course is to give convenient facilities free of expense to Volunteer officers for them to learn their business as officers with regular troops in regular camps, and to use the local means afforded in every district, and make it as convenient as possible for Volunteer non-commissioned officers and men to become efficient with the least inconvenience to themselves, with the least separation from their employment, and with the least separation from their families. I cannot say myself that I am satisfied at all with the policy, as I understand it, which is being pursued by the War Office. I think there is too much looking at Volunteers as if they were not men but machines, and the Government proposals place too much reliance upon the supposition that the men are not only going to sacrifice their holidays, their families, but also employment to go into large camps. As every officer knows, the training in large camps is more useful for the officers than for the men themselves. If the policy of the War Office is that the Volunteer force must be prepared to act as a huge army to meet another huge army on these shores, then I say that is a blunder, and cannot be justified scientifically. If, on the other hand, the reason- 1133 able possibilities are considered, and the Volunteer force is to answer its true purpose—which is that it shall be a mobile force organised in such a way that each district shall have its own coast line allotted to it, together with the necessary hinterland of that coast line, and shall have all the local knowledge and military machinery necessary for resisting a sudden worrying small raid—then we know where we are. That is my view, and I think it is the true view, but I cannot discover that it is the view of the War Office. Recollect what that means. You group your Volunteer forces into small complete mobile bodies according to the nature of the coast line and the hinterland. You group them as a mobile local force organised for the defence of that particular portion of coast. You can always, if necessary, bring these military groups of organised force together, just as you can bring battalions into brigades or into divisions. Having provided against a worrying raid in each district you should next lay yourselves out for providing the local means within each district of efficiently training your units. Having done this, remember the Volunteer Army is a great reserve of trained units upon which you can rely in a great emergency to volunteer to go anywhere and do anything. That appears to me to be the true view, and if you put too much strain upon the individual Volunteers to get them to a pitch of perfection—which you have no right to expect under the conditions you are now offering—you make a mistake. With regard to the training of the individual units, I wish to endeavour to get some information as to what the Government intend really to do about their ammunition. I want to know if they are going to supply a sufficiency of free ammunition. There is an impression abroad that the Government are contemplating giving very freely ammunition to Lord Wemyss's Reserve Volunteers, but the limits have not been stated. Is there to be an unlimited supply of free ammunition to Reserve and not to Active Volunteers? I am told the Government are too niggardly with regard to the supply of ammunition to the Volunteers actually serving in the ranks. Perhaps my hon. friend will clear that point up in his reply. It is a fact, I presume, that the policy of the Government is that the Reserve Volunteers shall have free ammunition. 1134 I should much like to know whether the War Office intends to increase to any considerable degree the quantity of free ammunition to the Volunteers actually serving. I do not think I need trouble the Committee any further, except to repeat that the policy of the War Office should be to group or organise the Volunteers by smaller districts, to encourage by every possible means the individual training of the units, and to give the officers every opportunity at Aldershot and all the other military centres of learning their business as officers with the regular troops. By these means you would greatly increase the efficiency of officers and men of the Volunteers.
§ DR. TANNER
drew attention to the fact that, while under Headings A. and B. the amount of the Estimate had increased from £259,200 to £568,000, or more than doubled, only £300 of that increase went to the pay of the adjutants connected with the Volunteer force, while the pay of the sergeant instructor had only gone up by £1,500. This point was certainly worthy of explanation. In connection with the total Vote, it was a great injustice that while Ireland had to contribute a large proportion of the £1,230,000 to be provided from taxation, there was no such thing as a Volunteer corps in that country. It was suggested that there should be a regiment of Irish Guards, and yet the authorities would not allow a regiment of Irish Volunteers to be formed. The present state of things was cruel and unjust, and the Irish representatives would not be doing their duty if they permitted this Vote to pass without raising their voices in protest. If the Irish people were not worthy of possessing rifles, it was to be hoped that at some future time they might have rifles with or without the assistance of any English Government.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
This Vote deserves considerable attention from the Committee. When Irish Members of Parliament are called upon to vote £1,250,000 for the support of Volunteers in this country, the question naturally arises why the Irish people are not allowed any part in the Volunteer movement. In my opinion, the Volunteer force is the most deserving branch of the whole military strength of the Crown in this country. Nothing 1135 could be more admirable from your point of view than the way in which thousands of young men give up the only afternoon in the week at their disposal in order to take part in this movement. But how can we Irish be asked to vote this money, a considerable proportion of which will come from Irish taxpayers, when the insulting stigma and slur is cast upon our countrymen of depriving them of that right of volunteering which is given to the inhabitants of Great Britain? So strongly do I feel on this point that I shall move a reduction of the Vote, and press it to a division. Why are not the citizens of Ireland permitted to bear arms? Is it because there is some idea that if they did bear arms they would, while defending their country, still see that Ireland received all the rights to which she is entitled, just as did the Irish Volunteers of a hundred years ago, when they insisted on the independence of their country? It is a matter of history that that force was one of the finest that ever assembled in any country in the world. But that was before the Union, and ever since then the system of rule has been such that, with the exception of those who through lack of employment generally join the Regular Army, the citizens of Ireland have been refused the right to bear arms. As long as that right is withheld no one can say with justice that the Irish people are satisfied or contented, or that the Irish representatives are not justified in protesting against this Vote as unjust and unfair. Why were English regiments sent to Ireland to replace the troops withdrawn for service abroad? Doubtless to form a garrison for the protection of Ireland. There were many rumours of foreign complications. Supposing those foreign complications occurred. Are we to be told that if our country is invaded we are to be obliged to hide behind the skirts of the—I almost called them soldiers—members of the Militia battalions which have been sent to Ireland? The very idea is a positive insult. We ought to be allowed to raise our own Volunteer battalions. If such an order were issued to-morrow it would be received with enthusiasm, and the young men of the country would make sacrifices of time and money just as do the young men of Great Britain. I do not for a moment believe that the establishment of a Volunteer corps in Ireland would give dissatisfaction to anybody who 1136 really desired the welfare of our country. I do not believe for a single moment that the men who would form the Volunteer battalions in Ireland would be a bit false to the conditions under which they joined. They would join, not for service abroad, but would band themselves together to guard the foreshores of Ireland from foreign invasion. Over a hundred years ago this country was pressed by the threatening aspect of affairs in France and the Continent generally. At that time the Irish people were allowed to join their gallant battalions, and but for that there would probably have been an invasion of Ireland. Why are they not allowed to do so at the present time? We are told that all the penal enactments against Ireland have been removed, that one by one all the inequalities between British men and Irish men have been extinguished, and that there is nothing of which Irishmen can legitimately complain. There is much to complain of; but if there is nothing else we have a right to complain that while Englishmen are allowed to band together as Volunteers, Irishmen are not. I maintain that that is a badge of inferiority and inequality, and an indication that the Government of this country are not satisfied that the Irish are content. I would point out what an utterly absurd position this rule of law in regard to Irish Volunteers brings us to. An Irishman in Dublin is not allowed to bear arms, an Irishman in my constituency is hardly allowed the use of a fowling-piece—
I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that in the course of his observations he has repeated himself several times.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
With very great respect to you, Mr. Wodehouse, I am sorry I cannot agree with your ruling. [Hon. Members: Order, order!]
I am occupant of the Chair for the time being, and I am entitled to the respect generally accorded to the Chair.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
It is very far from me to show disrespect to the Chair. The very fact that you are not the regular Chairman is the very 1137 reason why I should not do so. I merely desire to point out, Sir, that I do not think I was repeating myself. [Hon. Members: Order, order!] That is a matter of opinion, but I will endeavour not to do so. However, I will say something now that I did not say before, and if my remarks are curtailed there is an hon. friend of mine who will probably succeed me. [Laughter, and cries of "Order!"] Any interference with me will not conduce to facilitating the debate, still less will the interference on the part of the hon. and gallant Colonel opposite. [Hon. Members: Order, order!]
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
I rise to order, Mr. Wodehouse. I made no remark of any sort whatever, and the allusion of the hon. Gentleman is uncalled for and unnecessary.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman wishes me to explain what I mean I will do so.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
When I was not in this House, when my back was turned, the hon. and gallant Gentleman made sneering references to what he was pleased to call the treason I had talked in this House. The next time he has observations of that kind to make he should make them to my face. I repeat nothing under the privilege of this House that I would not say outside. I do not shelter myself under the privilege of this House in the slightest degree. I have said outside what I have said here, and I have been punished and imprisoned for the expression of my sentiments, and I will repeat them again. What the hon. and gallant Gentleman thinks treason we consider loyalty to our country. The absurdity of the rule against Volunteering in Ireland is exemplified by the fact that, whereas any one of my constituents in the county of Clare, though physically far superior to the ordinary Englishman, is not allowed to bear arms there, and an Irishman 1138 in Dublin is not allowed to bear arms there, let my constituent or a Dublin Irishman take the steamer and come to London and offer himself, with his fine physical advantages, as a member of the London Irish or London Scottish, as many Irishmen do, or any English Volunteer corps, he is gladly accepted. [Hon. Members: Hear, hear!] Yes, hon. Members cry "Hear, hear"; and what is the difference between an Irishman in Dublin and an Irishman in London? The crossing of the Channel does not make an Irishman into an Englishman, but directly he comes here he is allowed to join the Volunteer force. Why is that? I call on the Under Secretary to state in his usual plain and candid fashion why it is that Irishmen in Ireland have this degradation put upon them, and why Irishmen in other parts of the world are allowed equal privileges and rights in this matter with the other subjects of the British Empire. I ask the Under Secretary to show, if he can, if it is for any reason except that old distrust and that ill-feeling of misgiving about the contentment of the Irish people. Apart from the Irish point of view, I maintain that if the British desire to stand well with the people of the world, if they wish to prove that Ireland is a pacified country, they should allow Irishmen to bear arms in defence of their country as they allow Englishmen to do; and as long as they do not do so, no impartial people throughout the world can say that Ireland is fairly and equally treated by this country. To mark the strong feeling which I have on this matter I beg to move the reduction of this Vote of £1,230,000 for the Volunteer forces by the sum of £30,000. I may say, as an additional reason for doing so, apart from the Irish question, that I think the whole arrangements of the present Government in regard to the Volunteer forces are perfectly absurd. What are the proposals of the Government this year in regard to the Volunteer forces? They are to be invited to go under canvas for two or three months in order to be trained to become capable defenders of the country. Why, a more utterly preposterous proposition was never heard to emanate from any Government at any time. Who in his senses imagines that the Volunteers, or any considerable proportion of the Volunteers of Great 1139 Britain, could give two or three months of their time to go under canvas? Everybody knows that they could not do anything of the kind. In the first place, however willing, they could not possibly get the time, nor could their employers keep their positions open two or three months at a stretch. A great number are clerks, young men engaged in ordinary commercial pursuits. Many occupy extremely subordinate positions in big commercial firms. Who is to do their business while they are away under canvas? And what is to become of their situations after they have done with their training? Will the employers dismiss the men who had been temporarily engaged? The very idea is impractical and utterly unworthy of any Department such as the War Office. Then the Militia battalions are asked to come up for a month or so every year in the ordinary course of affairs, but this year they are asked to attend drill for six months. This is not the Vote for the Militia, and I will not pursue that line of argument further, except to say that they might be able to do so; but I utterly deny that the Volunteers, or any considerable proportion of them, could leave their occupations to put in two or three months training under canvas. Why is this proposition in regard to the Volunteers made? It is made because it is necessary to have some force in this country, and because the Government have not the courage to admit that they are drifting to conscription. I hold that this proposal in regard to the Volunteers is nothing but conscription in a modified form. These young men entered the Volunteer battalions under the condition that every Saturday afternoon they would devote to drill, and that once a year they would go under canvas for a week's training. Now they are suddenly told, without a word of warning, that the Saturday afternoon is not enough, and eight days under canvas at Easter is not enough, but that they are to come out for a month's drill as well. That is a proposal that is useless and must break down. The Volunteers themselves do not approve of it. I see that quite a number of Volunteer company officers have expressed the view that such a long period of training cannot be done. A more absurd proposal to meet the present crisis was never made, and on that ground 1140 also I move the reduction of the Vote; and I would do it every time as long as my countrymen have not the right of freemen to defend their own shores.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,200,000, be granted for the said service."—(Mr. William Redmond.)
§ MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN (Kilkenny
seconded the motion of his hon. friend. He thought that all the professions so constantly made of the desire on the part of the English Government to do justice to Ireland, and the professions, of belief in the loyalty of the Irish people, were unblushing lies when at the same time Irishmen were told that they could not defend their own shores. His hon. friend had pointed out that a citizen of Dublin was not entrusted to have arms, but if he took a short trip of two and a half hours, and landed in this country, with a month's residence he might become a Volunteer. Could any one outside the House of Commons—where they were willing to believe anything they were told—could the people of any European country believe—could they themselves believe that an Irishman could not be trusted to hold a rifle except at a distance of two and a half hours journey from his own shores? He did not believe in the sincerity of all the praise that had been lavished upon his unfortunate countrymen who were fighting Britain's unworthy battles in South Africa, when they were not willing to let them get a training at home. He had all the admiration hon. Gentlemen opposite had expressed for the Volunteers in England. They were splendid men, and he gave them credit for real patriotism and a desire to obtain a knowledge of the use of arms, so that when the day came when this country was invaded—as he believed it would be sooner than some anticipated—they would be prepared; but surely Irishmen should also have the right to protect their own country from the invader. He argued that if they trusted the Irish people, and if they called upon them to pay to keep up a system of defence, they should put into their hands the weapons necessary for their own protection. So long as they insisted on having Volunteers in Great Britain, and Great Britain got the advantage of these Volunteers, then their cost 1141 should be made an exclusive charge on Great Britain. He supposed they would be told that Irishmen got all the advantages of the British Empire, but they did not even send a ship to Ireland to get the barnacles scraped off her bottom.
I call the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that his remarks are not directly relevant to this Vote.
§ MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN
said he had great pleasure in seeing Mr. Wodehouse in the Chair, but he was arguing for a Volunteer force in Ireland. The provision of the Volunteer force was for Great Britain, and Great Britain ought to pay for it. He wanted the Under Secretary, with all his sweetness and light, to get up and argue why Irishmen should pay for a Volunteer force which they themselves did not get. It was a cardinal doctrine of the Liberal party that taxation ought to be accompanied by representation, and he argued that if Irishmen had to pay for a Volunteer force they ought to have a Volunteer force in Ireland. He did not want to evade the Chairman's ruling, but if his fellow countrymen were worth praising in South Africa, they should begin at home and teach the boys the use of the rifle. If they took away the Irish generals and the Irishmen who secured the victories for the generals, he wanted to know where Great Britain would be. It was Ireland all along the line. In the face of that, were they going to send out a message to the Irishmen in South Africa, whom they were bespattering with praise, to tell them that they could wear the shamrock—if they could get it and pay the cost of it—but that they were not allowed to be Volunteers at home? He was not without hope—and he said it deliberately—that the day would come when they would rue that they had left the fighting population of Ireland without a knowledge of arms.
§ *MR. JOHN WILSON (Falkirk Burghs)
said he wished to bear a tribute to the gallantry of the Irish soldiers in South Africa; but he reminded the Committee that Scottish soldiers had also borne the heat and the burden of the day with equal, if not greater, heroism. He represented a district in which there was a population of 100,000, and in which they 1142 had no Volunteers. And why? Because the Airdrie Volunteers were shamefully disbanded, and because the late Secretary for War—he did not refer to the present Secretary, who was quite a different gentleman—for the purpose of making a humorous and sarcastic speech in this House, threw unmerited disgrace upon 800 gallant men. He had asked for an inquiry at the time, and if that had been granted it would have been found that it was not the fault of the Volunteers, but of the adjutant, who told a number of deliberate falsehoods in regard to the matter. [Hon. Members: Oh, oh!] He insisted upon an inquiry, and he would not retract his words, because he could prove them on oath. It was the fault of one or two officers. He had gone to the adjutant-general, Sir Redvers Buller, and told him that if he had any fault to find with two or three officers let him dismiss them, but not disband the whole regiment of 800 men, and throw an odium on the whole district which had furnished so many gallant men to fight the battles of their country in India and South Africa. He could assure the Under Secretary for War that some of the very officers of the regiment which he had disbanded were fighting at the present moment in South Africa. The Under Secretary ought to say a word to the present Commander-in-Chief in Scotland, who was an old fossil. [Hon. Members: Withdraw!] He would not withdraw. It was the truth, and he would not withdraw. When he was asked to report whether a corps of Volunteers could be got up, he said there were no officers in a district where there were 100,000 population, and he asked for a word of encouragement from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ *MR. F. W. WILSON (Norfolk, Mid)
drew attention to the position of the sergeant-majors in the Volunteers. Although some of them had been in the Army for twenty years, they were only colour-sergeants, and had not the status or pay of a sergeant-major, whose duty they were now performing. Their pay was only 3s. a day, compared to 4s. 6d. received by sergeant-majors of Militia. They received 6d. extra a day pay, 9d. for lodgings, and 3½d. a day for fuel and light, whereas a Militia sergeant-major received 1s. 4d. for lodgings and 6d. for fuel and light, with the rank of quarter- 1143 master-sergeant. He trusted the Secretary of State for War would see his way to improve the position of a highly qualified body of men, who fulfilled duties so arduous and important in the training of our Volunteers.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I think that the time has come to remind the hon. Member who spoke last that I cannot go further than I did earlier in the afternoon when I said that the position of the permanent staff would be carefully considered; beyond that I cannot go. I very much regret what has been said by the hon. Member for Falkirk, and I assure the hon. Member that I hope the time will come when the War Office will be able to give back to the district the privilege of raising a regiment.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The hon. Member will see he is putting an impediment in his path by the use of expressions in reference to the general officer commanding, which, I feel sure, the hon. Member will regret having used. I know the hon. Member feels strongly upon this subject, and certainly the district contains excel-
§ lent raw material for a corps of Volunteers. Undoubtedly they are a fine set of men. As to the speeches from Irish Members, they raise issues above my province and capabilities. These things are too high for me. They are questions of policy with which it is not for me to deal. I trust that the Committee will now come to a decision.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
protested against the Vote, and pointed out that inasmuch as there were no Volunteers in Ireland it was unfair to make the Irish pay anything towards their cost. It was a matter in which the Irish taxpayers had no interest, and should not be called on to pay a farthing for the maintenance of the Volunteers. He challenged the Committee to say that this protest was unjust, and contended that although the amount which Ireland would be called on to pay was not large, it was one of the many instances that proved the gross injustice of the system of taxation applied to Ireland. The Irish never saw a Volunteer in their country from the day they were born to the time they went to their graves.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 8; Noes, 123. (Division List No. 72.)1145
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Redmond, William (Clare)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—.|
|Doogan, P. C.||Sullivan, Donald (Westmeath)||Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien|
|Kilbride, Denis||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Macaleese, Daniel||Weir, James Galloway|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry E.||Cotton-Jodrell, Col. Edw. T. D.||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Crombie, John William||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Curzon, Viscount||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hamilton, Rt Hon LordGeorge|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Heath, James|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter|
|Banbury, Fredk. George||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorg'n)||Howell, William Tudor|
|Barry, Rt. Hon. A. H. S.-(Hunts||Faber, George Denison||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Fenwick, Charles||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J(Manc'r||Kenyon, James|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Finch, George H.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Fisher, William Hayes||Kimber, Henry|
|Caldwell, James||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (D'rbysh're||Flower, Ernest||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Sw'nsea|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Garfit, William||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Gibbs, Hn. A.G.H. (City of Lond||Long, Rt. Charles W. (Evesham|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Alban's)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverpool|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||M'Crae, George|
|Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Monckton, Edward Philip|
|Monk, Charles James||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Wason, Eugene|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Webster, Sir Richard E.|
|More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Welby, Lt.-Col. ACE (Taunton|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Rutherford, John||Welby, Sir C. G. E. (Notts.)|
|Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||Seely, Charles Hilton||Williams, Joseph Powell-(Bir.|
|Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Wilson, Fredk. W. (Norfolk)|
|Newdigate, Francis Alexander||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Nicol, Donald Ninian||Smith, Samuel (Flint)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Wyndham, George|
|Pierpoint, Robert||Stephens, Henry Charles|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Plunkett, Rt. Hn. H. Curzon||Strauss, Arthur||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Purvis, Robert||Sturt, Hn. Humphry Napier|
|Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. T.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
Resolution agreed to.
§ DR. TANNER
called attention to an item of £300 which appeared in the Estimates, in reference to which he desired some explanation, to which as a mere matter of business he was entitled. In default of some explanation he would have to trouble the Committee by pressing for another division.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next.
§ Committee to sit again upon Monday next.