§ A. 450,000, Number of Land Forces.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
I listened to the able speech of the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean and the hon. Member for Fareham Division, and was much much struck by the ability and technical knowledge displayed, and its usefulness in a debate of this kind. No doubt they compared very favourably with the eloquent speeches of the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. the Member for West Monmouth, and the Leader of the House. They were businesslike. What is wanted is that hon. Members who have gained expe- 153 rience should put their views before the House, so that the Secretary of State for War may get some idea of what is thought in the country as well as at the War Office.
Anyone who heard the Secretary of State for War could not help realising the enormous amount of work lie has done in the War Office in limes gone by, and the large technical knowledge he has acquired of the subject. No doubt his scheme is, on paper, very good. If it could be carried out, it would be one of the best schemes ever submitted to the House for re-modelling the Army. But there are several things which raise doubts as to whether it can be carried out. I have never met a single officer who has not spoken of the difficulty of getting recruits for the Regular Army. I believe even the War Office is not ignorant of these difficulties, because from a conversation I had with him nine months ago, the late Under-Secretary for War looked forward to the difficulty of getting recruits to keep up the strength of the Regular Army. Another difficulty is that of organisation. It is a magnificent organisation on paper. We have been before offered schemes of organisation on paper which were quite beautiful, and I question whether that unfolded by the Secretary for War will be very much, if at all, better than that we had at the beginning of the war in South Africa. I trust that the present Secretary for War will do more for his predecessors in transforming visionary schemes into realities, and in getting his proposals transferred from paper into action at once.
We are all grateful to the Secretary for War for having increased the artillery. There is not a single Service Member in the blouse who has not for years past begged the War Office to increase our artillery and raise the proportion of guns to the same figure as in foreign armies. Year after year there were debates in the House questioning whether the guns were up to modern pattern, and year after year we were told that they were quite perfect. Only the other day the Secretary for War quoted a military expert, who stated that our field guns were as good as any in Europe. That has hardly been proved in the South African War, because the 154 Boer guns were better than ours. And why is it, if they were as good as any in Europe, that the, War Office bought the other day seventy-two guns in Germany of a new pattern, for which special ammunition must he made? If our guns are quite perfect, why buy guns in Germany, not to send out to South Africa but to arm our artillery at home? No doubt the guns in South Africa were bad weapons, and I hope the Secretary for War will concentrate his attention on this question until we obtain better guns than at present.
I come to the cavalry proposals. We heard something about the re-arming of the Yeomanry, but nothing about the training and re-arming of the cavalry. The hon. Member for Fareham Division mentioned the superior training and equipment of the American cavalry, and one of the most important points in any Army reform will be to make our cavalry more efficient in scouting, more useful in feeling for the enemy, and in fighting on foot, and to make them Jess fond of the shock of the sabre and the lance. It was only a few years ago that the lance was introduced in our cavalry, and I think that experience has proved that the lance is the one thing to make our cavalry useless, as it attracts the attention of the enemy from a long distance. Cavalry should be the eyes and ears of the Army, and not like Yeomanry, fit only to charge a mob in bread riots. I sincerely hope we shall never have mobs rising to demand bread, and need to have to suppress them by cavalry charges. We want our cavalry to be the eyes and the feelers of our Army, and they have not been trained at all in that way. Besides the Regular cavalry, as we have got it, there is none at present, and will not be for some time to come, until the Imperial Yeomanry is raised, with the Reserve forces. In the memorandum made by the Service Members last year it was pressed on the Government that we should have in England a force thoroughly equipped with artillery, cavalry, and a supply train, as well as infantry. That is what we have never had. We have had plenty of infantry, but have been deficient in cavalry and artillery, and there, is no proposal to produce the reserve cavalry for a long to time come. 155 When the Imperial Yeomanry are raised I hope it will not be the scamped article we have sent out to South Africa. We want something better trained, and I should like much to know whether it is going to differ from mounted Militia. They are to get something like a month's training, and to be treated exactly as Militia, being taught to fight on foot. The only difference will be that they are to be paid 5s. a day instead of 1s. given to the Militia, and they are to be mounted. I do not understand how the Government are to supply the mounts. If the 5s. a day went for supplying the horses and the keep of the horses, nobody could complain; but if the pay is to be 5s. free, then it will draw away recruiting from the regular cavalry and the ordinary Militia. Last year and the year before the Guards were increased so that some of them might be sent to Gibraltar or Malta, in order to relieve the line battalions there; but that increase is to be maintained, and the Guards are, to be withdrawn from Mediterranean duty. The great difficulty at the present moment is that of the foreign garrisons. Of course we have been told about the veteran garrison regiments, but we have not had the latest information as to the recruiting of these garrison regiments. It was expected that they would be recruited from the Royal Reserves, but these were for a long time unarmed and untrained, until the need for them had gone by, and moreover there was no place to put them in if the other troops had come home. I have been told on fairly good authority that the recruiting of the garrison regiments from the Royal Reserves has been a dead failure. The hon. Member for the Chelmsford Division of Essex told us that in one district only 24 out of 1,500 had volunteered, and 12 of these had been rejected by the doctor. In another garrison town where there were 4,000 Royal Reserves the magnificent number of 50 had been collected from the garrison regiments. Even if these figures were doubled what prospect is there of getting eight battalions? I quite agree, however, that there will be many more than now at the close of the war, but not the number necessary, for the men who come home will expect to get civil employment. Reservists may be very willing to go to 156 the front for a year, but it is not very likely that they will desire to spend the rest of their lives in Malta or Gibraltar, and I am quite sure it is altogether hopeless to expect to get eight battalions for garrison duty. If three are got it may, however, be some relief, and set two battalions of Guards and one line regiment free.
On the subject of the difficulty of getting recruits, I would point out the utter fallacy of that being solved by the ballot for the Militia. No country in the world has compulsory service for foreign service. Moreover, no country would stand it. However many troops we could get in England by compulsory service for home defence, we could not got the troops in that way to go abroad. The ballot for the Militia if carried out in the old way would result simply in buying substitutes, and we could not keep up foreign garrisons to be perpetually stationed abroad. I am pleased to find that having a Militiaman as an Cinder Secretary for War has done much for the Militia, and I congratulate the War Office upon it. The £3 bounty and 3d. a day for messing will be a great incentive to recruiting, but there are still two or three things lacking. The embodied Militia have been dealt with more liberally in regard to clothing than in times gone by, but there is room for improvement in the quality of the clothes. If you are going to embody the Militia you ought to give them a swagger kit, and improve the quality of the clothing in many ways, and also make it fit for foreign service, so as to avoid the necessity for re-clothing them before they go abroad. I think an immense deal might be gained for the Army if the Militia were enlisted both for home and foreign service. It is true that many Militia regiments have been got to volunteer for foreign service; but the manner in which they have been asked to volunteer has caused all sorts of jealousies. I know of one instance where a colonel never thought of volunteering, and, when reminded that he might do so, he volunteered and the regiment was not taken, while another regiment which volunteered at first was taken. Another point is that very often the regiment which volunteers is very weak, whereas strong regiments are wanted for foreign service. Or there 157 may be very few officers, especially young officers, and that is a very serious matter. Practically all the young officers have been swept out of the Militia into the Regular Army, and there are very few regiments with senior subalterns of more than one year's training. In many regiments there is at present not a single subaltern of more than three months standing. This is a very serious matter, because it is a fact that it is very much harder to work a Militia than a Regular regiment, partly because they have not had the same training, and partly because they have civilian ideas. Another point is that the old system should be reverted to of putting a good non-commissioned officer, when he is found, on to the permanent staff. At the present moment the permanent Militia non-commissioned officers are taken from the Regular Army, and the result is that when the best non-commissioned officers in the Regular Army are abroad, there are none worth anything to send to the Militia. There is still another point. When a, Militia regiment is embodied and short of men, it should be allowed in certain circumstances to recruit beyond its own district. I myself do not believe in voluntary field artillery. No doubt it is better than none at all, but I do not believe that it will ever be efficient. I would like to know whether it is intended to have any Militia artillery as well.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Lord STANLEY,) Lancashire, Westhoughton
said it was intended to raise batteries of Militia artillery.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
I am gratified at that answer. A very important point has been brought forward with regard to the Volunteers in respect to the training of officers. It has been suggested by the Secretary of State that the Militia and Volunteers would have opportunity of training; but that is not the point. It is not a question of men taking an opportunity of learning their duty—those who are keen upon that will always take every opportunity, but there are others who are not keen about their work—what is required is some further training for the ordinary 158 Volunteer office, who should he better trained, to make the battalion efficient. There is one point with regard to the Volunteers and Yeomanry sent to South Africa in which they were deficient: there was a very great luck of discipline.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
No, no; not at all. The hon. Gentleman has no business to bring charges of this sort.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
I do not suggest there is any refusal to march or anything of that kind, but there are very irksome details, on fatigue duty, for instance, which Volunteers and Yeomanry are never efficient in, and I hope some extra training will be given to them so as to bring them into closer touch with military matters. With regard to organisation, people in this world do not believe much in army corps as army corps, but they believe in artillery, cavalry, and infantry in proper proportions, if creating an army corps means providing these things in their proper proportion then it will be a very good thing. With regard to decentralisation, if it is intended to decentralise by giving much of the work done at Pall Mall to local commanders, the work must be done thoroughly, and the staff at Pall Mall; thoroughly reorganised so as to do away with any unnecessary clerks. With regard to decentralisation, complaint is made that one of the difficulties in that process is that local officers are quite as dilatory in their work as the War Office itself. That is due to their having been trained on War Office principles. One of the most necessary things is to do away with all the unnecessary letter writing. If it be true, as is suggested by the Secretary of State, that there are 3,500 letters to be answered daily, the reform ought to have taken place years ago. The most important part of the scheme, so far as I can see, is with regard to the promotion of general officers, and I hope that the House will receive more than a mere statement that the War Office will only turn competent men into generals. Having regard to the size of our Army we have more generals than any army in the 159 world. At Gibraltar there are no less than five to command 5,000 men, when one general to do the Governor's work and two colonels are amply sufficient. Then at Halifax and Esquimault, with an establishment of 2,110 men, we have a full general drawing £2,000 a year, with a house, coals, table allowance, and forage allowance, which is a somewhat large amount, taking it altogether, to pay for the command of 2,110 men. We seem to be increasing the number of generals although we do not increase the number of our troops. The policy of the War Office has resulted in the production of the most expensive article in the Army, the general. One suggestion that has been made is a very good one, which is that a man should not be promoted higher than a brigadier except for distinguished service. A scheme of this kind is not a good one unless it reduces expenditure and extravagance. Extravagance should be cut off. In our case we could do with at least half the staff officers and generals that we have at present. No doubt the ability of some of the officers in the field will have to be provided for, but there ought to be a corresponding decrease in generals by seniority. The statement as to efficient garrisons is fictitious. There is no provision for getting recruits for the Regular Army, and we should only have skeleton battalions, very pretty to look at upon paper but of no use in the field. There is no real scheme for decentralisation, because the light hon. Gentleman cannot yet trust the generals to be less dilatory in their methods than the War Office, and there can be no decentralisation until the generals are properly trained to the work. Pall Mall is the only place as to which the Committee has no definite statement, though they know from, the late Commander-in-Chief that the system existing there does not work, and that some reform is urgently required in order that the War Office should work properly. So far as reforms go there are a few small reforms in the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, and with regard to those the right hon. Gentleman can depend upon the support of every Service Member in the House, but when it comes to great reforms we think the scheme is a mythical one and will prove a failure.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
said that in his opinion the most important feature of the whole scheme was that it transposed the order in which the country had regarded for the last forty years our military obligations in the respect that an effective army for over sea service was put first and everything else afterwards. That was where the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman was a great reform. What he liked about the new departure was that it came down from the nebulous atmosphere of army corps, which meant anything or nothing, and gave plain figures. The right hon. Gentleman came down to the House and said that, after providing for India and foreign garrisons, the necessities of Empire demanded a force of 120,000 men organised, trained, and equipped as a field army for service abroad.
With that preface, he desired to ask if those, 120,000 men were to be ready to start on oversea service at any moment, and, if so, he desired to know when, under the scheme, those 120,000 men had sailed what remained to maintain that force for an indefinite period in the field? The second question he desired to put was what was the proportion of cavalry, of field artillery, and of infantry that would remain as a reserve ready to follow them when required for reinforcements in the field. He had never been one of those who condemned Mr. Cardwell's scheme; he always urged that it did not contemplate the exigencies of actual war, and it did not contemplate greater expense oversea in times of international peace. This scheme was based on the foundation of the necessity of meeting a state of international war. With regard to the employment of the Yeomanry, there was no indication in the minds of the Government that this time was opportune for bringing together all the army forces required, but the forces proposed to be raised under the head of Yeomanry could not possibly be so called; they were mounted men for military purposes, but certainly not Yeomanry. And why were they called Imperial? He protested at a time like this against conferring the name of "Imperial" upon a force which was not "Imperial," and which originally was only organised for the purposes of meeting invasion.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Glare, E.)
called attention to the inequalities of pay as between the Colonial troops and the Yeomanry and the men of the Regular Army. He was not interested very much in urging upon the Government the advisability of increasing the pay of the men of the Regular Army, and he must be understood as opposing the war in every possible way. The point which he raised was not merely with reference to the war but the principle which had recently been set up of paying one class of men a certain rate of pay and paying the vast bulk of the men of the Army another rate, me asked the Under Secretary of State for War to tell him the number of men under arms in South Africa at the present time who were receiving not less than 5s. a day. There were thousands of Colonial troops in South Africa who had been all through the war receiving 5s. a day. They might be worth it, for he was not competent to pass an opinion on this matter, though one might come to the conclusion from the length of time the war had taken and from the unsatisfactory position the war was in at present, that those men were not worth three farthings a day. Why should the Regular Army—the men of the Highland Brigade who fought so bravely and lost so heavily in South Africa, the men of the Connaught Rangers, the Dublin Fusiliers, and the Inniskilling Fusiliers, who had gone through the greatest possible hardship and toil—receive 1s. a day while the gaudily dressed troopers from Australia received 5s. a day? He had received representations from many men in the Regular Army pointing out that the utmost discontent and dissatisfaction existed in many corps because, although they had gone through all the hardships of the campaign in a greater degree than many of the Colonial troops, they only received 1s. per day. They were told with pride from time to time that this war, though disastrous in many respects, had in one respect been a glorious success, inasmuch as it had shown that this worldwide Empire was one and that at sound of the drum and the first appearance of danger thousands of stalwart colonists, from Australia and elsewhere, joined the colours. What did it amount to? If they offered the Australian and other troops the beggarly 1s. a day which they 162 gave to the Gordon Highlanders and to the Dublin Fusiliers they would not get 1,000 men to come from the whole of Australia. Why was it that men were flocking still in thousands to South Africa? It was because they were offering these young men the extraordinary and unprecedented pay of 5s. a day. Before they boasted of the devotion of the colonies to the mother country, and before they said that they were in any way enthusiastic over this war, they must sec whether at the ordinary rate of pay these men would come to serve. They sometimes heard a talk of conscription. The hon. Member said they would never want conscription as long as they gave 5s. a day. At that rate, they would get all the men they needed. If the right hon. Gentleman would give some reason for paying these men 5s. a day he would be satisfied, but if not he was afraid that on the next Vote he would have to move a reduction.
§ COLONEL WELBY (Taunton)
said he most heartily welcomed the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, and congratulated him upon his courage and devotion to duty in submitting it. He was only sorry that the plans of reform had not been adopted sooner. If the foundation of this great reorganisation had been laid in time of peace it would have been much more easy to carry out the work. To carry out a scheme like this they needed the public opinion that had been generated by the war. He thought he might fairly claim that there was an amount of public opinion in this country tending towards Army reorganisation, which was very much greater than had been acknowledged by either Front Bench in that House. Had the foundation of this scheme been laid in time of peace hundreds of lives would have been saved in South Africa, and millions of money would have been saved. One of the great features of the scheme was the adoption of the army corps system. Personally he had advocated that system over and over again in the House; but in criticising the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman he feared that he must differ from him as to the number of army corps, or military districts, into which the United Kingdom was to be divided. He believed that one of the lessons of the war was that the 163 army corps system was unfitted for our needs either for defence or for offence. The true unit of organisation for the Army was the division, and, after all, the army corps was merely the grouping together of two or three divisions. It would be far better, instead of trying to create these army corps, that we should divide the United Kingdom into three great military commands—South Britain. North Britain, and Ireland, into those important military districts we could put as many divisions as the organisation required. He believed that the organisation of military commands and divisions would overcome the many difficulties which were foreshadowed in the present scheme, and he would most earnestly press the right hon. Gentleman to carefully consider the scheme before he finally decided upon the shape of the permanent organisation of the Army.
One of the great features of the army Corps organisation was decentralisation. The result of that decentralisation seemed to be that the organisation of the War Office became a secondary consideration, He believed that as long as the power was centred there it was absolutely necessary that there should be responsibility clearly defined; but the moment they appointed great executive officers commanding large districts in this country, who would advise with the Secretary of State for War, he thought the organisation of the War Office might well be left to the Secretary of State and the Commander-in-Chief to arrange between themselves. A part of the scheme, also, was that which arranged for peace commands to be the same as those in war. He looked upon this as being fraught with one of the greatest advantages to the Army. Not only would it be the means of training our generals and staff, but it would be the means of overcoming that difficulty which had become apparent in the present war—the want of professional zeal in our officers.
He believed that zeal and the desire for efficiency were equally distributed among all classes of officers in the Army. If that was the case, we must look deeper for the want of professional zeal which had been displayed in the present war. He ventured to say that that must be traced to the Army system under which the 164 officers had been living. Officers who were known to the great officials of the Army had a far better chance of promotion than regimental officers and minor staff officers scattered throughout the country. A man knew that, however devoted he might be to his duty, and however he might render himself efficient, unless he came under notice or made himself prominent in some way he had little or no chance of getting on. Some one had said that promotion in the Army was seniority tempered by interest. No one had ever said that it was seniority tempered by zeal. Under the new system generals would try to pick up and select the very best men. He was perfectly certain that the duties of the Board of Selection at the War Office would be infinitely lighter and more satisfactory. The real difficulty with regard to the reduction of expenses' was the comparison between different regiments. One aspect of the question could be dealt with by the central authorities at the War Office, and that was that when a sumptuary regulation was published it should be enforced upon all regiments alike with absolute impartiality. This was not entirely a military question. Civilians could greatly help. If a regiment did not give an entertainment costing each officer perhaps £40 it was considered mean: so that civilians could assist in lowering the expenses of officer by not requiring more than a reasonable amount of hospitality. In conclusion, he thanked the right hon. Gentleman for the splendid prospect of organisation he had put before the House. He did not believe that reorganisation was militarism, but organisation and preparation were the best means of overcoming any possible approach to the military spirit in this country. As a practical soldier, he knew how deeply rooted were many of the abuses in the Army, and he could only say that in the good cause to which the Secretary of State had set his hand it would be his prime duty and proud pleasure to afford him his utmost support.
COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
thought there was no harm in having one or two costly regiments, but great care should be taken by the colonel to protect the poorer officers from being compelled by undue pressure to incur unnecessary expenses. As to the corpss 165 organisation, it was simply a question of whether it was intended to have in the field armies of under or over 100,000 men. The best organisation for an army of under 100,000 men was that of divisions, but for above that number the corps organisation was absolutely necessary. He should like the Secretary of State, however, to explain what the cost of that organisation would really be, as it did not appear to be fully stated in the Estimate. A great mistake had been made by the practical abolition of the Quartermasters' Department, as there was now no staff to look specially after the movements of the troops and matters of that kind. The weak point in the present proposals was, no doubt, that the Secretary of State had not sufficiently increased the attractions held out to the private soldier. Before the system of cubicles was adopted on any large scale it should be tried tentatively in order to see what the private soldier's opinion was in regard to it, but in any case such alterations were not enough to draw men into the Army. The pay was the great drawback. That should be increased by at least 6d. per day, and even then it would not be up to the American standard. He believed that most of the recruiting difficulties would disappear if such an alteration were made. The present system was the most abominable in the world. The rate of pay was all very well for a boy of seventeen, but when he reached the age of twenty-five or twenty-six he was worth a great deal more. Boy regiments might be a very good thing if they were treated as boys and not as men, but to have such a large proportion of boys as was now the case was a. very expensive matter, as they had not the stamina to undergo the hardships of a campaign. With a better rate of pay better men would be obtained. He thought such a change would not cost more than £900,000. The Secretary of State might not like to add so large a sum to his Estimates, but he would not get a proper voluntary Army without it. With regard to the Reserve, the right hon. Gentleman's proposal was too modest. The Reserve should number at least 200,000. The great secret on the Continent was to have about one fourth of the army with the colours 166 and the remaining three - fourths engaged in civilian pursuits. As to shooting, volley firing was really a waste of ammunition. To have good shooting individual firing must be insisted upon and much more ammunition allowed. In these matters the Secretary of State should not get his advice so much from generals who had distinguished themselves in the field or on the staff. The House of Commons knew far more about recruiting and many other matters concerning the Army, and the right hon. Gentlemen would do well to take their advice and to use his own common sense rather than to rely too much upon so-called experts.
§ *COLONEL BROOKFIELD (Sussex, Rye)
said that, judging from the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, the zeal for Army reform was on the Government side of the House; but he felt sure that in every quarter there would be a disposition to give a fair trial to any experiment brought forward by the Secretary of State for War at the present time. With regard to six, army corps which were supposed to be complete, the should like to ask which of them would furnish the drafts for the Army in India, because in the event of mobilisation it would not be fair to call an army corps really fit if it had just gone through the process of finding drafts for the linked battalions in India. He hoped it would be laid down in the future that if, owing to any circumstances, both battalions of one regiment were abroad at the same time, the Militia battalion at home should be embodied as a matter of course. He looked with the greatest hopefulness to the establishment of an army corps system as providing a reasonable probability of great decentralisation, but he urged that no attempt should be made to take a "trained civilian staff" into each of the army corps districts. That work should be trusted to military hands and heads entirely. In connection with the territorial regiments, the home battalion should as far as possible be kept in its own county. It was merely a matter of custom which led the authorities to send county regiments out of their counties when they might be in them. If the practice he suggested was adopted it would be a great economy to the tax- 167 payer, extremely popular with the officers, and have an excellent effect in solving the difficulty of civil employment for the men. Reference had been made to the desirability of generals knowing those under their command, and that object would be achieved if the units were kept in their respective districts.
The hon. Member for Lichfield had passed some strictures upon the discipline of the Volunteers and Yeomanry in South Africa. No one could advocate more strongly than he (the speaker) the strictest possible discipline, but as far as his experience went the discipline of the Volunteers and Yeomanry was neither better nor worse than that of the Regular troops. Once they were in the field all the troops behaved very much the same. As to the artillery, he had the honour of having under his command the field battery of the C.I. V., one of the drivers of which was a clerk in that House, and a more useful or smarter lot of gunners and drivers it would be difficult to find. By universal consent the weak point in his right hon. friend's proposals was the difficulty of getting the men. There was a prevalent idea that all difficulties could be solved by voting more money, or by offering fancy rates of pay, but that he believed to be a mistaken notion, and that the necessities of the case would ultimately bring them face to face with the possibility of having to adopt some other than their present system of voluntary enlistment. He could not say that he at all admired the ingenuousness of those who attacked the Secretary for War upon this matter. He thought his right hon. friend spoke upon this question of voluntary enlistment in a very statesman-like manner, and he did not think that he went out of his way to grate against the susceptibilities of anyone. Some people said that it was the "proud boast" of this country that its system was a voluntary one, but who was supposed to be the boaster—the people looking on or the men who did the work? There were several practical objections to the present system, and he thought that one of the most serious objections would ultimately prove to be that it was ruinously expensive; and, the tendency being to take recruiting more and more into open 168 competition with the labour market, that competition must end in further disastrous expenditure, and they must finally come again face to face with the same difficulty. The question was were they going to pay other people to do their work or would they insist upon everybody taking a small share of it? He believed that there was a half-way house. There was the Swiss system and the further development of our Militia and Volunteer systems, and the lessons we had learned by the employment of the Yeomanry in the present war would also suggest solutions of the difficulty. When recourse to partial compulsion was hinted at, it was most unfair to represent the Government as advocating conscription in the full Continental sense of the term, or anything like it. He believed it would be found, however, that by the light of the present war the people were in a much more advanced frame of mind than Ministers, certainly than the Prime Minister, and that they would be prepared to go a great deal further than he seemed inclined to do when he suggested the establishment of rifle clubs all over the country. Then there was the question of altering the status of officers—making them more professional and, where necessary, diminishing their expenses. Now he thought he detected in the remarks of his right hon. friend a certain tendency to sneer at the Staff College.
§ *COLONEL BROOKFIELD
said that the Staff College was not at all popular, but they should not forget how extremely useful it had been. What was the matter with the system there was that they did not encourage the right sort of regimental officers to go to the Staff College. This encouragement ought to be given, and it should be made easier for the average regimental officer to go there. The Staff College had greatly raised the standard of military knowledge during the last few years. The maps and the correspondence were now done twice as well as they were twenty years ago. He believed that the discipline of the officers stood in need of very great improvement, and one very necessary step in the direction 169 of raising their general sense of discipline would be to make them feel more respect for the source from which all their orders came. Many of the orders that came from the old unreformed War Office only excited derision on, the part of the officers who received them. He believed, also, that the system of confidential reports stood much in need of improvement; that the regulation which provided that officers should he informed of any adverse reports made about them should be strictly adhered to and that no man should be injured for life by something said behind his back and without his knowledge, He thought officers should be given less leave than they received at present; that the work at headquarters might at the same time be made more interesting. He hoped too that before long they would see them not ashamed of wearing their uniforms on ordinary occasions. With regard to officers' expenses, he had served for some years in a cavalry regiment and knew something of the difficulty. He thought most of it arose from some obsolete, snobbish traditions which were allowed to linger in regiments because the commanding officer, or other officers, had not the good sense or the moral courage to combat them. Some very absurd customs existed in, regard to wine. He remembered that upon one occasion, when his regiment was serving in India, they were in the habit of carrying all over the country old vintage port. That was a trivial item; but in this matter of wine he thought they had a good deal to learn from the Royal Artillery. He observed that their batteries on foreign service used to take over each other's wine, and the result was that they had smaller bills and much better wine. Officers might learn something on this subject if they would put to themselves two simple questions—firstly, which, without prejudice, was the smartest arm in our service? He thought that most unprejudiced people would say the Royal Field Artillery. Secondly, which arm of the service had the least wealthy officers? He thought that the answer again would be the Royal Field Artillery. They had a great deal to learn from them, and he thought that was the direction 170 in which many of their economies should go. When orders were given or suggestions made with the object of promoting economy in the regiment, it would be better if they were sent in the form of definite orders and not simply as pious precepts. More than twenty years ago precepts of this kind were issued about young officers and their expenses, but they were never taken the least notice of, and certainly never enforced. Such instructions ought to be sent down as definite orders, and a reply insisted upon stating that they had been obeyed. He was glad that he had been in the House when those reforms in the Army were instituted by his right hon. friend, and he trusted that before a very long period of time they would see many of them carried into effect with advantage to the country.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
For some time past this debate has been in the hands of the hon. and gallant Members of this House. I confess that I have no desire and no ability to follow them through all the technical questions which they have raised and discussed. I have intervened now only because I have on the Paper an Amendment to reduce this Vote by 1,000 men. That Amendment was placed on the Paper with the assent of those who sit on this bench, and with the intention of raising the whole question of the new programme of the War Office with respect to the permanent forces of the country. That was the intention with which this Amendment was put on the Paper last night. But the situation has now been entirely changed by what has taken place this afternoon. This afternoon the First Lord of the Treasury, by an arrangement, which I think met with general acceptance, proposed that instead of the continuation of the discussion on this particular Vote we should, at a later period—some time after Easter—discuss these new proposals of the Government on a motion to be submitted by the Government formulating their proposals in express terms, and leaving it to the House to say "Yea" or "Nay" to the I principle of those proposals. The hon. and gallant Member for Great Yarmouth 171 seemed to have some doubt whether that motion would contain a due recognition of the essential importance of naval co-operation in any question relating to the efficiency of the Army.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
My point was whether the motion would be so framed as to permit a discussion on the Army under the conditions of maritime supremacy.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
I confess that I do not understand the casual expression which fell from the Secretary of State for War on this point. I believe that you cannot consider the work of the Army at all in relation to Imperial defence without beginning by accepting not only the co-operation of the Navy, but also the fact that the Navy must be the predominant element in our scheme. That arrangement having been made it is not, of course, necessary to move the Amendment which I was prepared to move, and still more unnecessary for me to make a long speech. I shall, therefore, content myself with addressing to the right hon. Gentleman two or three questions, in elucidation of his proposals, which he, perhaps, will be able to answer before the debate closes.
The first point to which I would venture to direct the attention of the Committee and the right hon. Gentleman is the financial effect of his programme—I mean the ultimate financial effect, which is not apparent on the face of the Estimate. The immediate financial effect is apparent and it is serious enough in all conscience, and I miss with regret and great apprehension any allusion to the difficulties of the financial problem. I will not repeat what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire, but I ask the Committee to consider this one fact, which has not been alluded to before. Let us compare these Estimates not with the Estimates of 1897 or 1898, over which they show a large increase, but with the Estimates of ten or eleven years ago. At that period the Army and Navy Estimates taken together came to £31,000,000. There was then about £14,000,000 for the Navy and £17,000,000 for the Army, and that was about the normal state of things before 1891. What is it this year? The 172 Army and the Navy have each of them cost as much as both of those Services cost ten years ago. [An HON. MEMBER: Of necessity.] In two years the normal Estimates—the War expenditure of this country in time of peace—have doubled, and they are now £60,000,000 or £62,000,000, whereas ten years ago they were only £30,000,000. "Of necessity," says the hon. Member opposite, and so says the Daily Mail and organs of that kind, which cry out for this expenditure, apparently knowing little, or caring little, how that expenditure is to be raised. This sort of progress in our military expenditure cannot go on. It has doubled in ten years. Does any hon. and gallant Member suppose we can go on doing that? Why, if it did go on, in another ten years we should be expending £100,000,000. We have to halt somewhere, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman what is to be the ultimate financial effect of these new proposals, which is not at present apparent.
Every increase of the numbers of the Army implies an increase in the cost, and we want to know the ultimate financial effect in respect of the non-effective charges. I will explain what I mean. I pass now to the question of numbers. After the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury last night, the Committee stand in need of some further explanation, because it appears to me that the First Lord did not state correctly the increase in numbers in the Regular forces demanded by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. I could not reconcile what I understood the First Lord to say with what the Secretary for War set forth in his statement to the House. I understood that the Secretary of State for War said on Friday last that the increases he required were these:—Regulars, 11,500; Militia, 50,000; Yeomanry, 25,000; Volunteers, 40,000: total, 120,000 increase in numbers. That is the statement I understood him to make, and which I cannot reconcile with what the First Lord of the Treasury said. I have looked at the Estimates and I am not at all clear that the financial charges for the whole of these increases is apparent on the face of this year's Estimates. There is money taken for 50,000 Reserves in addition to those already on the Paper. As to the Yeo- 173 manry and the Volunteers I am not at all clear, and it is not apparent to me that in the Estimates for this year the total charge for the Yeomanry and extra Volunteers is taken. It is apparent to me that he is mot taking this year the full financial charges for the increase of 11,500 Regulars. I have looked at the comparative statement of differences and this is what I find. The increase of Regular forces taken by this year's Estimate, as shown by the statement of differences, amounts to 7,351 men. If the right hon. Gentleman will look on page 11 of the Estimates he will find that the net increase is 7,351 and not 11,500 men. That is the total increase in the Regulars charged upon this year's Estimates. The numbers called for by the right hon. Gentleman's scheme amount to 11,500 men, whereas you are only going to raise 7,351 this year, and to that extent the Estimates this year do not show the ultimate, financial effect of the new proposals. Having regard to the automatic increase which must follow any increase in numbers, and the fact that the entire charge is not provided for in the present year, we ought to have a full explanation of the ultimate effect financially and of the actual increases that have taken place. That is all I want to say about that point.
With regard to these increases, I am not going now to deal with the question as to how far they are satisfactory. The hon. Member for Taunton, who rose to bless the scheme, appeared to me to condemn it in its most essential points. I should like to have some further explanation of the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury. In his original speech the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War alluded to the commitments of this country in two continents besides South Africa, and in explaining and defending that last night the First Lord of the Treasury assumed that, at all events, our responsibility for the colonies must be admitted. I want to ask the Secretary for War for how much in his new scheme does our responsibility for the colonies count? Can he tell us how much responsibility for the colonies enters into this new expenditure which we are now being called upon to provide for the Army? I put that question to him for this reason—the colonies are 174 either self-governing or they are Crown colonies. If they are Crown colonies then we have the power and the right to make them pay for a portion of the burden of Imperial defence. If the self-governing colonies count for anything in this additional expenditure proposed by His Majesty's Government, then I say those colonies ought to contribute to that expenditure. I could go further than that, but possibly I should not be in order now in doing so; but when the time comes for the settlement of the debt for the war in South Africa—which is an Imperial war for colonial defence—are you going to ride off on the claptrap that certain colonies who have gone to the front indulge in? Is that to be the answer in regard to what ought to be demanded from the colonists for their share of this Imperial war? If the colonists pay their share of the burden of this war they ought to pay at least one-third of the whole cost which has fallen upon this country. That is why I want the right hon. Gentleman to tell us if he is charging us with any expenditure for the defence of the colonies. Are you going to suggest to the colonies that they are to pay their share? It is high time that the question was looked into, for this money has been spent for the defence of people who are as rich or richer than we are.
There is one other point as to which I should like some further explanation, and that is the question of the training and selection of men for the rank of officers in the Army. I listened with great interest the other night to a speech made by an hon. Gentleman who has just joined the House—I allude to the hon. Member for Oldham—and I was much impressed by his observations upon the system of selection of officers in the Army. I do not know whether to call it an artificial or a natural selection, but whichever it is, I can assure the Secretary for War and the Government that there is no lesson of the South African War which the country has taken more to heart. There is nothing that the country is more in deadly earnest about than that there should be a system of fair play and free competition both in the entrance to the rank of Army officers and also in subsequent promotion. A year ago about 175 this time I called the attention of the then representative of the War Office to this subject. We have had the admission that this is a scandal, especially in the case of the cavalry, and that was admitted at the beginning of last session. On the the last occasion when the Army Estimates came before the House I expected to find from the representative of the War Office some statement as to what they propose to do in this matter. The answer I got was a most unsatisfactory piece of procedure. The right hon. Gentleman said that Supplementary Estimates were not an occasion on which proposals should be made to alter the law. But I do not know what he meant. At all events, nothing was done last year, and now when I come to the right hon. Gentleman's own proposals. I find that they do not in the least meet the gravity of the case.
What is the true principle to be applied in this case? It is the right of the nation, as a mere matter of public safety, to have at its call the whole available talent of the community for service in the rank of officer in the Army. The nation is entitled to insist that no capable youth whose services could be possibly obtained should be excluded. On the other hand, take the point of view of the parent. Every parent, whatever his social position may be, should have the right to say that his son should have every opportunity of access to the rank of officer in the Army. These I believe to be the only principles capable of solving this question. How far has the right hon. Gentleman gone in that direction? Has he taken anything that can be called a step at all He tells us that trousers and tunics can be got direct from the Army headquarters instead of from the stores or the military tailors. That does not seem to me to meet the difficulty at all. I do not see how you can meet it unless you lay down the rule that the pay of an officer from the moment he enters the service shall be such as to enable him to live in the Army without any call on private expenditure, and no social pressure should be permitted which would make his life uncomfortable if he does not choose to incur large expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of sumptuary laws, but there is a sumptuary law existing in the Army at the present moment. Officer after officer has 176 has told us of the scandalous amount of expenditure incurred at present, and, which is enforced by social sumptuary laws. Surely the right hon. Gentleman will have no hesitation in putting down anything like boycotting in the Army It is easy enough to invent a system which will give the young officer —and the old officer for that matter—the pay to which his services entitle him, and thereby protect him from being driven into expenditure beyond it. This is a question which a civilian is as capable of gauging as a soldier, and which the civilian is as anxious about as the soldier. We do not want the Army made cheaper for rich men. That has been done in the case of similar reforms, including admission to this House, which has been made cheaper for rich men. We want a reform which will enable the country to have full command of all available resources for the Army, and to give to persons in all stations the opportunity of a free career in the Army, to which they are entitled, and which it is for the good of the Army they should possess.
§ LORD STANLEY
I know a number of hon. Gentlemen desire to speak on this question, but I hope they will excuse me if I reply now as briefly as possible to the various questions which have been brought before the Committee.
The general view seems to be that the Secretary of State for War has come round to the view of Army reformers in this House. It is a peculiar delight to some people to be able to say, "I told you so." If in this case the Secretary of State and the Army reformers are in, the right way for effecting real progress and reform in the Army, both the Secretary of State and the Army reformers are to be congratulated. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said in his speech the other night that we must not depend entirely for our reforms on the lessons learned in the war. I quite agree that we must not depend entirely on the lessons learned in the war, but I cannot help thinking that the state the country found itself in after the troops went to South Africa should be considered, and it is that which my right hon. friend is trying to remedy in the scheme he has put before the House 177 The right hon. Gentleman and hon. Gentlemen ask us how recruits are to be obtained, and they say that in two years time or so we shall not have got them. Well, it will be another chance for them in that ease to say. "I told you so." But, at all events, we have no right to assume that we shall not get recruits. My right hon. friend has put forward a scheme which he believes will attract recruits, and until it is proved to be a failure we are justified in hoping that it will be a success. The question of getting new recruits is not a very large one, because the number of recruits to be added to the Army at present is roughly, some 10,000 men. But the object of the whole of this scheme is not so much to attract new recruits as to endeavour, with the forces at our hand at the present moment, to secure increased efficiency. The right hon. Gentleman said he had heard of army corps before. We have all heard of army corps before, but I would put it to the Committee that this is a genuine attempt to have army corps not only on paper, but in reality, to bring troops together in time of peace who would be employed together in time of war; to put at the head of those troops men who would be with them in war and who would have stall's whom they knew they could trust, and who would be known to all with whom they came in contact in time of war. It is our endeavour at the same time to bring up these various army corps to their proper strength in artillery and mounted men.
Some remarks have been made on the subject of Volunteer and Militia artillery, and some doubts have been expressed as to whether they will be effective. I am bound to say that if the question had been asked two years ago it would have been said that they would not be very efficient, but after one had seen and, still more, heard of the excellent work done by the Elswick and City Imperial Volunteer batteries in South Africa, one could not help giving every Possible facility for training to these batteries.
With regard to the Militia. Yeomanry, and Volunteers, whatever may be the feeling of hon. Members for or against conscription, there can be no doubt whatever that these three forces stand between us and conscription at the present time, and 178 our object ought to be to make them to the best of our power as efficient as possible, and to rely on that loyal devotion to the service of the country they have shown in the past, to stand the extra work which, in the opinion of the Commander-in-Chief, is necessary for their real efficiency.
I will now deal with a few of the other questions brought forward. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean asked particularly Whether we were going to have mounted infantry regiments. That is a question not mentioned in the Estimates, but it is a question which must be and is being taken up. Whether it is better to have mounted infantry or not is a debatable question. My own opinion is that the more men we can get in a regiment to pass the mounted infantry course the better for the Army; but that is only my private opinion, and it is probably wrong. With regard to the question of an Imperial mounted infantry, I quite agree with the hon. Members who urged that we should attempt to get an amalgamation for joint defence of the mounted corps of the Empire, whether they be at home or abroad. Schemes to this end have been and are being put forward, but it is a question that can hardly be rushed into. It must be carefully thought out and must be done, not with one colony, hut with all the colonies on a common basis. I do not think that the time when men are actually serving in the field is the time to put forward a definite plan. It is time to consider what plan we can put forward when the war is over. That will be the time to ask these men whether they and their Governments will consent to form an Imperial Yeomanry—a title which will be very suitable.
The hon. Member for Mid Kent asked several questions about the Yeomanry. He wanted to know if the Yeomanry would be brigaded, and the answer to that is, Yes He then asked if every Imperial Yeomanry regiment would have its own adjutant. He spoke about equipment, and showed great distress at some prospect of the Yeomanry losing their swords. He mentioned that the chief use for swords would be in quelling bread riots should they occur, but, in my opinion, an implement 179 that is supposed to add zest to Irish affairs would be more suitable for that purpose. He next referred to the training of the Yeomanry, but that is a matter that will be put forward as soon as possible in the form of an Army Order. I may, however, state that I do not think it is for my right hon. friend or myself to stand up in this House and express views on the training of these various forces. The one thing that the country is saying is that there should be no civilian interference in military training. Surely the Commander-in-Chief, who knows these men, who knows what training to give them to make them fit for the duties they will have to perform, is the right man to lay down the details of the training of these forces.
The hon. Member for Lichfield asked about Volunteer artillery and the time allowed them for training. That is not yet definitely settled, and will be settled in consultation with the commanding officers of these batteries; but we will try to get them out for as long as they possibly can remain. He then asked if a militia battalion short of men would be allowed to raise men out of its own county. I do not know what the military objection to that might be, but personally I cannot help thinking it might be possible to fall in with the hon. Member's views. He then spoke of the want of discipline in the Yeomanry and Militia.
§ LORD STANLEY
Yes, general want of discipline; and the hon. Member referred particularly to South Africa, Is it to be supposed that those men going out to South Africa have exactly the same idea of discipline the troops have who have been drilled at home? Nor is it expected or required of them. They did their duty. I never heard of any want of discipline among them, and I think it is rather a pity that they should have been selected as having shown a want of discipline.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
I did not say want of discipline, but a want of training caused by a want of discipline at home.
§ LORD STANLEY
I accept the hon Gentleman's explanation. I took his statement the other way.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Yarmouth asked three questions. The first question, was what Reserves would be left to fill up gaps in the ranks of the 120,000 men. Exactly the same Reserves as at present, as they would not be taken away for other regiments. He then said we must be prepared to meet an international war.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
My question was the numerical proportion of cavalry, infantry, and artillery in the 120,000 men to be ready at any moment to embark.
§ LORD STANLEY
We should send abroad about sixty-three batteries and fourteen cavalry regiments, the remainder being infantry. The hon. and gallant Gentleman also asked what would be done in the case of a small war. There will be a system by which men going into the Reserve receive for the first year a small extra sum, for which they will hold themselves in readiness to be called on at any time to fill up regiments going a broad, without rendering it necessary to call up the whole Reserve. It is computed that about 5,000 men will be obtainable in this way.
With reference to the criticisms of the hon. and gallant Member for Fareham, I think the House will feel that, if in all our schemes we could get criticisms such as his, army schemes would be vastly improved. I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman on the question of the expenses of officers. He said that the whole question was very much exaggerated, and I am bound to say from my own experience that that is so. I believe myself that infinitely more trouble arises from the initial expenses of men going into the Army than arises from the expense of living with a regiment. The difficulty is not so much the yearly allowance as the large sum which has to be put down for an outfit in the first year. I believe a great deal can be done to limit the expenses of officers.
§ LORD STANLEY
I do not see how there can be. Suppose we are able to meet officers in some way in regard to clothing, that could hardly come into the Estimates; but we are going to try and get them what they want cheaper than at present. That whole question is being gone into. Then the hon. Gentleman asked what was the extra charge for the Imperial Yeomanry. We have taken £300,000 this year for the Imperial Yeomanry, which is exactly half what we will take yearly in future. The amount of the pensions for widows and orphans of the soldiers killed in the present war has only been roughly calculated, and probably there will be an increase in that direction. The amount taken this year for reserve of stores is only for a limited period of four or five years and will then cease. I hope I have now replied briefly to all the questions which have been asked.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I would appeal to the House to pass this Vote now, as otherwise we may get embarrassed. Exactly the same discussion can continue on the next Vote.
§ MR. SAMUEL SMITH (Flintshire)
asked if he would have, an opportunity of referring on the next Vote to the question of Army chaplains.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ 1. £21,657,500, Pay, etc., of the Army (General Staff, Regiments, Reserve, and Departments).
§ MR. F. W. WILSON (Norfolk, Mid)
said he desired to draw attention to a matter which was very much in the shade—namely, rifle shooting and the provision of rifle ranges. Unless men were sent into the field properly trained to the use of the rifle they would be practically useless. But how could men be properly acquainted with the rifle unless facilities were offered them? They all knew the exceedingly great difficulty of providing rifle ranges, but he did not think that a rifle range was necessary in every case. He was connected with two rifle clubs—one with a long range, 182 the other with a miniature range—and, in his opinion, experience could be gained by practising with a Morris tube at a miniature range. The army in South Africa was confronted with 50,000 men whose one merit as soldiers was that they could ride and shoot, whereas many men were sent out who could neither ride nor shoot. Army reforms were always admirable on paper, but difficult of execution. There was a distinguished occupant of the Government Benches who was within one shot of winning a prize at Wimbledon, but he was afraid that the present distinguished Secretary of State for War was not himself a rifle shot or he would have paid more attention to the extreme desirability of making Englishmen accustomed to the use of the rifle. He hoped no disparagement would be shown towards the Volunteers who were giving their time to train themselves as soldiers, or to the men who, in a fine national spirit, were forming themselves into rifle clubs throughout England in order to qualify themselves for the defence of their country.
§ *MR. SAMUEL SMITH
said he wished to move the reduction of the Vote by £100 in order to call attention to the large extent to which Army chaplains belonging to lawless ritualistic societies had been appointed. These societies were chiefly the English Church Union and the C.B.S., or the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, two distinctly Romanising societies. Two years ago the House of Commons passed a resolution deploring the lawlessness shown by certain members of the Church of England, and lie would remind hon. Members that members of the societies he had mentioned were going in the teeth of the Lambeth decision given by the two Archbishops. The First Lord of the Treasury himself declared with reference to the policy of Lord Halifax and his followers, that they made no secret of the fact that they regarded the history of the Church of England for the last three centuries as unprofitable, and yet Army chaplains were appointed from the men whose aim was to bring the ritual of the Church of England into the closest possible agreement with the Church of Rome. More than half the 183 House of Commons was returned at the last General Election on distinct Protestant pledges—
The hon. Member is not entitled to enter into the whole question of ritualism in the Church. He must confine himself strictly to the case of Army chaplains.
§ *MR. SAMUEL SMITH
said he would conclude his remarks by saying that he had a list of twenty Army chaplains belonging to the two extremely ritualistic societies he had mentioned, some of whom had been appointed by the Government within the last few months.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfarshire)
said he desired to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that they were asked to vote 21½ millions of money in twenty minutes. The position in which the financial business of the country was now placed was due to the fact that Parliament had been summoned at so late a date. The scheme they were discussing seemed to him to have one characteristic, and one only, and that was that it was placing a very severe burden on the country. It was impossible at that hour to go into details as to the lessons to be learned from the war, but he thought it would be rash to base the organisation of the military forces of the country on those lessons. It would be rash and dangerous, not only from the point of view of the efficiency of the Army, but also from the point of view of educating public opinion in the right direction, to base the organisation of the Army on the necessities disclosed by the war in South Africa. The scheme which had been submitted by the Secretary of State for War laid an additional burden on the country at a time when it was very little able to bear it. The country had made great efforts in regard to money, and now when trade was taking a turn the Government proposed to lay a fresh burden upon it. Ten years ago military expenditure was seventeen or eighteen millions a year; now it was twenty-nine millions, and as his hon. friend the Member for Dundee had pointed out the scheme of the Government could not be fully carried out without an increased demand for money. 184 Then there was a large demand for men to enter the Army. He held that the grave necessity which would justify such a demand for men and money had not been proved. He welcomed the fact that there would be a full discussion of the scheme later, but pending that discussion he would say that he thought that the call on the country to maintain three army corps of Regular troops ready at a moment's notice to embark was a most monstrous demand. No country in Europe maintained its first line of defence in that position. They would only have to go a step further and provide transports with steam up, to see the ridiculous absurdity of the demand. If the Government meant to have three army corps of Regular troops the would not only be departing from the present system, but they would be laying on the country a burden the extent of which could hardly be realised. He regretted extremely that the First Lord of the Treasury should have treated the matter as a party question. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to imagine that hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House had no interest whatever in Army reform. If there was to be continuity in the foreign policy of the country there should also be continuity in naval and military administration, but that could not be unless there was a certain amount of give and take between the different political parties. The Government seemed to think that they must take everything, and that the Opposition must give everything; but there should be a recognition of the fact that there were two sides to the question. None were more ready than his hon. friends to-do what they thought ought to be done., but no sufficient reason had been shown for the additional burden which it was now proposed to put on the country. He would make the strongest and most emphatic protest in his power against the unwisdom of the policy which was proposed.
§ MR. BLAKE (Longford, S.)
said he heartily sympathised with the opening statements of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just spoken. It was a shocking thing that the House should be called on to vote twenty millions in twenty minutes. He 185 should never for his part have assented to the suggestion of the First Lord of the Treasury, were it not that he believed that there could not have been full, ample, and deliberate, discussion of such a gigantic scheme, if the debate went over to Saturday, and was, as proposed, closured on Saturday night. It was because he believed that the House and the country would have a, better opportunity of considering the scheme in all its details of policy and finance that the First Lord of the Treasury would keep the understanding arrived at in its spirit as well as in its letter, that the subsequent discussion would be free and exhaustive, and that it would not be taken out of the twenty-three days for Supply, that he assented to the right hon. Gentleman's proposition.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
said that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Forfar stated that the Government proposed to have three army corps ready to go abroad at a moments notice, but as a matter of fact they would he no more ready to go abroad than the French army corps, which would have to wait until their reserves were called up.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
said the right hon. Gentleman was quite right. He wished also to be permitted o say, as his previous remarks might have appeared ungracious, that he, quite recognised that the First Lord of the Treasury had done everything in his power to secure a full discussion of the scheme.
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
I only want to have it made clear that if, in accordance with the understanding arrived at, we pass this Vote, we, do not in the least degree prejudice our right to discuss the whole scheme and subsidiary matters after Easter.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
said he did not intend at all to break the arrangement which had been entered into, but there was one point which he should like made clear. They were asked to vote money at the rate of a million a minute, and of course it was impossible that the House of Com- 186 mons should be able to consider the Vote in that time. The Leader of the House, however, stated that he was prepared to afford an opportunity for a full and free discussion of the whole question, not merely, he took it, of the general effect of the scheme, but such questions as the payment of 5s. a day to the Colonial forces and to the Yeomanry, while only Is.3d. per day was paid to the Regular troops. He would like to know whether the discussion would be in Government time, or in private Members' time. Private Members would not have gained anything if the Government took Tuesdays after Easter. Hon. Members were therefore entitled to know whether the discussion would be a full and free discussion, and whether it would be taken in Government time, and not in private Members' time.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have no wish to trespass on private Members' time more than I must. The matter will be treated like the Second Reading of a Bill, and if the discussion be extended I may, of course, have to take private Members' time. With regard to subsidiary questions, there will be ample opportunity for discussing them.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again on Monday next.