HC Deb 07 June 1901 vol 94 cc1427-35

1. "That a sum, not exceeding £15,977,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge for Transport and Remounts, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1902."

2. "That a sum, not exceeding £345,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Ordnance Factories (the cost of the Productions of which will be charged to the Army, Navy, and Indian and Colonial Governments), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1902."

Resolutions read a second time.

First Resolution:—

MR. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)

thought the very magnitude of this Vote justified further investigation than could be given to it in the few hours discussion of the previous day. He desired particularly to impress upon the Leader of the House that these Votes in regard to operations in South Africa were all discussed on the distinct understanding that the promise of a full inquiry into the conduct of the war was a promise in the general acceptation of the word—namely, that a promise was a promise, and not, as the right hon. Gentleman had recently defined it, something to be carried out when the party to whom the promise Was given chose to exact it. In any case, however, the House would exact the fulfilment of that promise. The item of this Vote with regard to which he had given notice of his intention to move a reduction was for the transport of troops returning from South Africa. From the recent quarterly Returns giving the strength of the garrisons in South Africa on the 1st February and the 1st May last, it appeared that there was an enormous disproportion between the number of officers and the number of men returning home not as invalids compared with the proportion of officers to men remaining in South Africa. According to the Return of 1st February, the number of officers sent home was 1,214, as against 11,109 men—a proportion of one officer to nine men; whereas the proportion of officers to men remaining in South Africa was one to thirty-two. That disproportion certainly required some explanation, although he could surmise several good reasons for it. When an explanation was asked on the 5th March the Secretary of State for War merely said the preparation of a Return would entail very considerable labour. But a new Return was not asked for. What was wanted was merely an explanation of the existing Return, and it was no good issuing Returns at all if, when an explanation was asked for, Members were treated in this high-handed fashion. He moved the reduction standing in his name.

Amendment proposed— To leave out '£15,977,000,' and insert '£15,990,900,' instead thereof."—(Mr. Pirie.)

Question proposed, "That '£15,977,000' stand part of the Resolution."


hoped the Secretary of State for War would give some explanation in regard to this matter. He could quite understand that a large number of these officers had necessarily returned home in consequence of the diminution of the number of generals in South Africa with their large staffs, but he did not think that that would account for the great disproportion. This was a matter in which the country took a very great interest, and, unless a satisfactory explanation was given, it would be believed that favouritism was at work by which men of high position or officers were allowed to return home much more freely than the men of the rank and file.


said the explanation was very simple. The exchange of officers must be greater than the exchange of men in a campaign of any magnitude. A number of officers had been summoned from India to replace others, and no doubt a considerable number of officers who had left their staff appointments had come home in order to resume their ordinary duties, It was

extremely desirable that, in a campaign like the present, officers should not have to bear too long the great strain put upon them by operations in the field. This was a matter of policy, and had nothing to do with the officers themselves, The reason of his refusal a few days before to give the hon. Member the details for which he asked was that in most cases references had to be made, to South Africa for absolute statements from the officer in command of every staff officer who came home to explain the precise cause of his return. That would entail an enormous amount of labour, which at this stage of the campaign was not desirable.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 123; Noes, 60, (Division List No. 228.)

Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.
Ambrose, Robert Hayden, John Patrick O'Malley, William
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale- O'Mara, James
Boyle, James Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.) O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Brigg, John Horniman, Frederick John Partington, Oswald
Burke, E. Haviland- Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.) Power, Patrick Joseph
Burns, John Kennedy, Patrick James Priestley, Arthur
Caldwell, James Lambert, George Reddy, M.
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Leamy, Edmund Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Chanaing, Francis Allston Lough, Thomas Shipman, Dr. John G.
Colville, John MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Sullivan, Donal
Craig, Robert Hunter M'Dermott, Patrick Thomas, F. Freeman- (Hastings
Crean, Eugene Mooney, John J. Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.
Delany, William Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Dillon, John Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport) Weir, James Galloway
Donelan, Captain A. Moss, Samuel White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Doogan, P. C. Murphy, John
Duffy, William J. Nannetti, Joseph P. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Pirie and Captain Norton.
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Norman, Henry
Flynn, James Christopher O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Gilhooly, James O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)

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


protested against the monstrous waste of public money involved in this Vote. Throughout the discussion in Committee the Government failed to answer any of the criticisms brought forward. Never in his experience had he seen an Estimate drawn up in a more loose, careless, and reckless fashion. The items with regard to transport seemed to be so absurd as to be quite incapable of explanation. In fact, the only possible explanation was that the Government had been so often accused of miscalculation and want of foresight that the War Office clerks had been given instructions to make this Estimate as large as they could, so that by no possibility could a Supplementary Estimate be required. With regard to the remounts, it was admitted on both sides that through carelessness and bad management there had been an enormous slaughter of horses in South Africa. That involved not only a great waste of money, but also horrible cruelty. It was absurd to ask for a further Vote of £3,000,000 for remounts without any assurance being given that the system would be altered. But that was not all, for within the last few days a statement had appeared in The Times from one of its correspondents in South Africa that no horses were available for one of the Yeomanry battalions, notwithstanding the fact that the men were practically dismounted, the reason given being that all the remounts were required by the new drafts coming out in order that they might practise riding.


thought that he was entitled to rely on the evidence of the general commanding the troops in South Africa rather than on that of any correspondent as to the class of horses sent out and the use made of them; and he could hardly be asked to provide more troops and more horses, or better troops and better horses, than Lord Kitchener himself required. So long as he was able—without having asked for it—to quote Lord Kitchener's opinion in his favour in regard to remounts, he could hardly be called into question. He had already explained that the Vote for sea transport was necessarily nearly as high as last year because the hope was entertained that they would be able to bring home a large proportion of the troops employed at the front. With regard to transport in the colony, they had been able to reduce the Vote largely, because last year large sums had to be paid for the actual provision of transport wagons and various other accessories which were not needed to be repeated this year. Moreover, in many cases better contracts for transports had been made. Lord Kitchener had given his personal attention to this particular business, a business which he understood probably better than any other man alive, and he had been able to make large reductions in the contracts made and in the cost of conveying troops in South Africa.


said that the complaint was that more than £7,000,000 had been paid during the past year to mount our troops, but nevertheless they had been abominably mounted. To say that Lord Kitchener was perfectly satisfied was like locking the stable door after the steed was stolen. The whole management of this department, from top to bottom, had been of the most shocking description. Before the war commenced he had time after time called the attention of the Government to the need of strengthening the veterinary department, but without success. At present, the veterinary officers in South Africa numbered only one to 7,000 horses. It was true that a number of civilian veterinary surgeons had been sent out, but they were merely the sweepings of the profession, and even counting these there was only one veterinary surgeon to about 200 or 300 horses.


pointed out that no money was taken under this Vote for the Army Veterinary Department.


said he was dealing with the department only as bearing on the question of remounts. If the animals had been properly cared for the taxpayers would have been called upon to pay a much smaller sum than was now the case.

MR. O'MARA (Kilkenny, S.)

asked whether the Vote included any estimate for bringing home the horses. If it was intended only for bringing home the men, how was it that last year, when about a quarter of a million of men and the same number of horses were taken out, the transport cost about £10,000,000, whereas this year to bring home about the same number of men without the horses the estimated cost was nearly the same? If the animals were to be brought

Acland-Hood. Capt. Sir Alex F. Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Bain, Colonel James Robert Balfour, Maj. K. R. (Christch'ch
Alluhsen, Augustus Henry E. Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r Banbury, Frederick George

home he should like to know what was to be done with them.


said there was no intention of bringing the horses home. Any horses that could be sold would be sold in South Africa. It was a question whether the nucleus of a remount department should not be formed in South Africa. He believed that in the future South Africa would be able to provide remounts as well as any other part of the Empire.

MR. CREAN (Cork, S.E.)

did not believe there would be any necessity to bring home the soldiers that had been sent out to South Africa; they would be required to keep the few remaining Boers in subjection. They would also be required for the protection of the people who were taken out and settled on farms. In fact, it seemed more probable that this money would be required for taking troops out than for bringing soldiers home. The proceedings would, however, be watched very carefully, and if it was found that soldiers were sent out the Secretary of State for War would be reminded of his statement that the money was for the purpose of bringing the troops home.

MR. FLAVIN (Kerry, N.)

asked how it was calculated that £9,500,000 would be required for the purposes of bringing home 250,000 men? That worked out at about £40 per head, but that was surely a mistake. Perhaps the Financial Secretary could give the Committee the total number of men sent out and the total cost, so that they could see the average price per head.


said he had not the actual figures with him, and therefore he could not give the information asked for.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 124; Noes, 41. (Division List No. 229.)

Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Greene, Sir E. W. (B'ry S Edm'ds Pretyman, Ernest George
Beach, Rt. Hn Sir M. H. (Bristol) Gretton, John Purvis, Robert
Bond, Edward Greville, Hon. Ronald Randles, John S.
Brassey, Albert Guthrie, Walter Murray Reid, James (Greenock)
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Hamilton, Rt Hn. Ld. G (Midd'x Remnant, James Farquharson
Bull, William James Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge
Caldwell, James Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm. Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Harris, Frederick Leverton Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T.
Cautley, Henry Strother Hay, Hon. Claude George Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derhysh. Helder, Augustus Ropner, Colonel Robert
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter Sharpe, William Edward T.
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Hogg, Lindsay Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm. Hope, J. F. (Sheffild, Brightside Smith, H. C (Northmb, Tyneside
Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.
Charrington, Spencer Keswick, William Spear, John Ward
Churchill, Winston Spencer Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Lawson, John Grant Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., Farehm Stroyan, John
Colville, John Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North Long, Rt. Hon Walter (Bristol S. Thornton, Percy M.
Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale) Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Craig, Robert Hunter Macdona, John Cumming Valentia, Viscount
Cranborne, Viscount Maconochie, A. W. Vincent, Col. Sir C E H (Sheffield
Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield M'Calmont, Col. H. L. B (Camb. Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)
Dorington, Sir John Edward Majendie, James A. H. Walker, Col. William Hall
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriessh. Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney
Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Milton, Viscount Webb, Col. Wm. George
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Montagu, G. (Huntingdon) Weir, James Galloway
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Morgan, David J (Walthamst'w Welby, Lt. Col. A C. E Taunton
Finch, George H. Morrell, George Herbert Welby, Sir Charles G. E (Notts.)
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F. White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Fisher, William Hayes Morrison, James Archibald Wills, Sir Frederick
Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick Nicol, Donald Ninian Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Gordon, Hn J. E. (Elgin & Nairn) Norman, Henry
Gore, Hn G. R. C Ormsby- (Salop Parker, Gilbert TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby- (Lincs.) Pemberton, John S. G.
Goulding, Edward Alfred Penn, John
Green, Walford D (Wednesbury Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.) Hayden, John Patrick O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.
Ambrose, Robert Hayne, Rt. Hn. Chas. Seale- O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)
Boyle, James Kennedy, Patrick James O'Malley, William
Burke, E. Haviland- Lambert, George O'Mara, James
Burns, John Leamy, Edmund O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Pirie, Duncan V.
Crean, Eugene M'Dermott, Patrick Power, Patrick Joseph
Delany, William Mooney, John J. Reddy, M.
Donelan, Captain A. Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Doogan, P. C. Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport Shipman, Dr. John G.
Duffy, William J. Moss, Samuel Sullivan, Donal
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan Murphy, John
Flavin, Michael Joseph Nannetti, Joseph P. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Dillon and Captain Norton.
Flynn, James Christopher Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)
Gilhooly, James O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)

Second Resolution proposed.

Further consideration of postponed resolution deferred till Monday next.