HC Deb 06 June 1901 vol 94 cc1301-5

"That a sum not exceeding £3,281,000 be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Staff for Engineer Services, and Expenditure for Royal Engineer Works, Buildings, and Repairs, at Home and Abroad (including Purchases), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1902."

Resolution read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said resolution."

MR. STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)

said that he wished to know what the Secretary of State for War was doing with reference to providing rifle-ranges. Great difficulty had arisen in many parts of the country in connection with the matter. In his own constituency a Volunteer battalion had succeeded in getting the owner and occupier of the land to grant them a range, but they were informed that they would have to build an enormous wall forty feet high behind the butts, at an estimated expenditure of £750, and that the War Office might contribute £300. The House would see the utter impossibility of local Volunteers being able to provide such a sum. The result would be that the Volunteers, if they wanted rifle-shooting, would have to travel fifteen miles, and men could not be expected to give up a whole day's work, as well as pay their expenses in travelling that distance. He had been told that that Volunteer battalion, which was at present very strong, would, as a result, be reduced in numbers, and that rifle-shooting would be discouraged. He knew the enormous difficulties which confronted the Secretary of State for War in the matter, but he asked whether it was not possible that something more should be done, and that a larger sum than £300 out of £750 should be granted. It was absolutely prohibitive to tell Volunteers that they could not have a rifle-range unless they were prepared to spend £750, with the probability of the Government refunding £300.

SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)

said he desired to join in the appeal of the hon. Gentleman opposite to the Secretary of State for War. The matter was one which affected the whole of the Volunteer forces, and it was quite impossible that they could be properly trained unless the Government took urgent steps to provide rifle ranges. The War Office was doing all it could to increase the efficiency of the auxiliary forces, especially in the matter of musketry, and the requirements were becoming every year more and more strict. But, as requirements became more and more strict, the facilities for rifle shooting became less, owing to the absence of ranges. The London Volunteers had at present the greatest difficulty in fulfilling the requirements of the War Office with regard to rifle practice. The Secretary of State had sent a Committee to Switzerland to examine into the manner in which in that country this difficulty was met, and he hoped that an announcement would be made shortly that the War Office was doing all it could to provide facilities for the proper training of the auxiliary forces.


said he wished to support the appeal. The want of ranges was causing enormous extravagance owing to not only Volunteers but Regular troops and Militia, having to be sent great distances, enormous sums being spent on railway journeys. They had been pressing the question for years, and, as far as he could understand, the Government up to the present had done practically nothing. In his own constituency a range was decided on about five years ago, but nothing had yet been done. It was, however, true there were certain difficulties in the way of getting the land. The matter was a very serious one, and not only interfered with the efficiency of the Volunteers and Reserve forces, but also occasioned great extravagance.


said, with reference to his own constituency, that there was some idea of having a rifle range at Fleetwood, but that would entail a journey for Preston Volunteers. There was also another rifle range nearer Preston, but it was six or seven miles from a railway, and it was almost impossible for Volunteers to get there and do their shooting in a day. He hoped the question of improving the facilities for shooting would be taken into consideration.


said that the appeal made on behalf of ranges was a natural one, and one to which the War Office lent a very sympathetic ear, but hon. Gentlemen who represented their regiments and who had made appeals to the War Office should also appeal to certain Members of the House to give the Government necessary assistance. Last session, as in previous sessions, they had endeavoured to get over some of the difficulties which beset the subject by asking the House to pass a short Bill which would have empowered local authorities to take land for ranges.

He was then and was still of opinion that the local authorities were the proper channels through which to proceed in the matter, as they had local influence and local knowledge, which they could bring to bear on it; but one or two Members of Parliament took a very strong view about the measure, and he did not notice that strong consensus of opinion which he should have hoped for to assist the Government in passing the measure. They had since 1895 done a very considerable amount of work in the direction of providing ranges, and he hoped to be able to pursue the policy which had been carried out since that time still further. The London Volunteers actually got a range from the London County Council on most favourable terms, the Government supplying half the capital; but the whole affair was thrown up because certain persons were not prepared to go into anything in which the County Council was concerned. He mentioned that to show that the War Office should not be asked to bear the whole brunt of the matter. They could only work quietly forward, and whenever they had an opportunity with local assistance of providing rifle ranges they were doing their level best to supply them. A large number of ranges had been already provided at Salisbury Plain.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 175; Noes, 37. (Division List No. 220.)

Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyn
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.J.(Birm.) Fisher, William Hayes
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Chamberlain,JAusten(Worc'r Fison, Frederick William
Allhusen, Augustus Henry E. Chapman, Edward FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose-
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Charrington, Spencer Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon
Bain, Colonel James Robert Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E. Forster, Henry William
Balcarres, Lord Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Fuller, J. M. F.
Balfour,Rt.Hn.A.J.(Manch'r) Colston, Charles Edw. H. A. Garfit, William
Balfour,RtHnGeraldW(Leeds Colville, John Goddard, Daniel Ford
Balfour,MajKR(Christchurch Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.
Banbury, Frederick George Craig, Robert Hunter Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & N'n.
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir. M H(Bristol) Cranborne, Viscount Gore, Hn. G. R. Ormsby-(Salop.
Bigwood, James Crossley, Sir Savile Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.)
Blundell, Colonel Henry Dalrymple, Sir Charles Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.
Bond, Edward Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.) Goulding, Edward Alfred
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Dewar, T. R.(T'rH'mlts,S.Geo. Graham, Henry Robert
Brigg, John Digby, John K. D. Wingfield- Gray, Ernest (West Ham)
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)
Bull, William James Dorington, Sir John Edward Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)
Caldwell, James Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Gretton, John
Cautley, Henry Strother Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Griffith, Ellis J.
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Fellowes,Hon.Ailwyn Edward Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton
Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbysh.) Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Hall, Edward Marshall
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Finch, George H. Hamilton,RtHnLd.G.(Midd'x
Hamilton,Marq.of(L'nd'nd'ry Milner,Rt.Hn.SirFrederickG. Simeon, Sir Barrington
Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. W. Molesworth, Sir Lewis Smith,HC((N'rth'mbTyneside
Hay, Hon. Claude George More,RobtJasper(Shropshire) Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.
Heath, Jas. (Staffords, N.W.) Morgan,DavidJ(Walthamst'w Spear, John Ward
Higginbottom, S. W. Morrell, George Herbert Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Hobhouse, H. (Somerset) Morrison, James Archibald Strachey, Edward
Hogg, Lindsay Morton,Edw.J.C.(Devonport) Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Hope, J.F.(Sheffield, Brightsd.) Murray, RtHnA. Graham(Bute Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Horniman, Frederick John Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)
Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Murray, Col. Wyndham(Bath) Thomas, F. Freeman-(Hastings
Kearley, Hudson E. Newdigate, Francis Alexander Thornton, Percy M.
Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool Nicol, Donald Ninian Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Lawson, John Grant Norman, Henry Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham) Norton, Capt. Cecil William Valentia, Viscount
Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington) Palmer, Walter (Salisbury) Vincent, Col. SirCEH(Sheffield
Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Parker, Gilbert Walker, Col. William Hall
Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Partington, Oswald Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Pemberton, John S. G. Wason, JohnCathcart(Orkney
Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham) Penn, John Webb, Col. William George
Long, Rt.Hn. Walter (Bristol, S Priestley, Arthur Weir, James Galloway
Lowe, Francis William Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward Welby, Lt.-Col.ACE(Taunton
Loyd, Archie Kirkman Purvis, Robert White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft Pym, C. Guy Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Lucas, R. J. (Portsmouth) Randles, John S. Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Macdona, John Cumming Reid, James (Greenock) Willox, Sir John Archibald
MacIver, David (Liverpool) Renshaw, Charles Bine Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Maconochie, A. W. Renwick, George Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks)
M'Calmont,Col.H.L.B(Camb. Ridley,Hn.M.W.(Stalybridge Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R.(Bath
M'Killop, J. (Stirlingshire) Ridley, S. F. (Bethnal Green) Woodhouse,SirJ.T(Hudd'sfi'd
Majendie, James, A. H. Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Malcolm, Ian Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.) Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Manners, Lord Cecil Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Mansfield, Horace Rendall Rolleston, Sir John F. L. TELLERS FOR THE AYES— Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Martin, Richard Biddulph Ropner, Colonel Robert
Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F. Royds, Clement Molyneux
Maxwell, W. J. H.(Dumfriessh. Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Abraham, William (Cork,N.E. Gilhooly, James O'Mara, James
Ambrose, Robert Hayden, John Patrick O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Boland, John Kennedy, Patrick James Power, Patrick Joseph
Boyle, James Leamy, Edmund Reddy, M.
Burke, E. Haviland- MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Redmond, John E. (Waterford
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) M'Dermott, Patrick Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Channing, Francis Allston M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Sullivan, Donal
Crean, Eugene Mooney, John J. Taylor, Theodore Cooke
Delany, William Murphy, J. Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Dillon, John Nannetti, Joseph P.
Doogan, P. C. Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) TELLERS FOR THE NOES— Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.
Duffy, William J. O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)
Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.
Flynn, James Christopher O'Malley, William

Question put, and agreed to.