HC Deb 31 July 1902 vol 112 cc329-53

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £100, be granted to His Majesty, to make good excesses of Army expenditure beyond the Grants, for the year ended on the 31st day of March, 1901."

*(5.36.) SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)

did not desire to make any merely carping objections to this Vote, because he quite understood that in the course of a great war, such as we had been going through, it was almost impossible to avoid considerable excesses on both sides of the account. It was very difficult to ascertain the extent of the excess on each side in this case. The Comptroller and Auditor General, in his Report, gave figures showing an excess of over £4,000,000 on the one side and over £3,000,000 on the other. In that Report, which was of a most serious character, the Comptroller and Auditor General, after making every allowance for the difficulties of a great war, called attention to what lie considered were extraordinary failures to get anywhere near such estimates as, in his opinion, ought to have been produced. The most startling case was that of the sale of cast and other animals, for which the estimated receipts were £16,000 for the year, the amount actually received being no less than £402,950. Such a discrepancy, even in a war estimate, was too startling to be passed over without inquiry. The figures given in the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, however, did not appear in the Excess Vote as laid before the Committee. He had tried to understand what the Vote really meant by reading the evidence given before the Public Accounts Committee, with the result that he arrived at quite a different figure, viz., £2,760,000 on the one side, the other being the same as that laid before the Committee.

The specific matter which he desired to mention, however, was one the consideration of which the Secretary to the Treasury recently stated would be in order on this Vote. The system of military accounts was a very curious one, as the only opportunity the Committee had of considering certain matters of great importance occurred at a period long after the time at which the matter would naturally have been debated with interest. Various statements had been made by the Government as to the purchase of guns abroad, in regard to which this Excess Vote was submitted— and the imperfections in these guns. On 19th June, 1900, the present Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, in answer to a Question said— I do not think I ought to say where these guns are being purchased. On 6th August, the then Financial Secretary to the War Office made a similar refusal. On 28th February, 1901, the hon. and gallant Member for the Chelmsford Division of Essex had found out where the guns were being purchased, and had heard something about their imperfection, and the Secretary of State then admitted that they had been purchased in Germany, that some defects had been discovered, and that fourteen had been returned to Woolwich to have fresh axles fitted. On 4th March, the subject was again brought up, and the Secretary of State was asked what opportunity there would be for discussing the matter, which certainly seemed to be as worthy of discussion while it was fresh as any matter which could be considered on the Army Estimates. The reply was that the German guns had been charged to Vote 9 of that financial year. That Vote having been taken eight months previously, it was thought there would be no chance of discussing the matter. The hon. Member for the Chelmsford Division, however, pressed the matter still further, and on 11th March obtained an admission of the fact— which had already become known to him—that eighteen batteries of these guns had been purchased in Germany, the Secretary of State saying in general terms that some defects had been discovered and remedied. On 26th April, the matter was again referred to, as it had been found that not only were the axles defective, but, what was more important, the recoil springs, on which the whole of the quick-firing principle depended, had gone wrong. The Secretary of State then, for the first time, admitted that the recoil springs had been found to be weak, and said that stronger springs would be substituted. On 13th August the real facts were ascertained. The Secretary of the Treasury admitted that Treasury authority in 1900–01 covered the transfer of sums for clothing and other Votes for the purchase of field-guns in Germany, and it was that transfer which enabled the matter now to be discussed. He did not allege any concealment of facts known to the Government, but he thought they had not until an unusually late period made up their minds out of which Vote to pay for these guns. The important financial bearing of this matter was that the Dawkins Committee recommended that the War Office should have power to incur certain expenditure without the previous sanction of the House of Commons. He wished to point out that that power existed already in the most aggravated form, because if they were to be allowed to transfer money from the clothing and other Votes for the purchase of field guns out of that transfer, surely the control of the House of Commons over the expenditure was affected in a most extraordinary degree. He could not imagine any subject in Committee of Supply more worthy of discussion at a time when discussion would do the most real good. With regard to the whole subject, perhaps he might be allowed to say a word or two as to the necessity for purchasing these guns. This was the very fact which was repeatedly called attention to by the hon. and gallant Member for Essex, and others, who pointed out in this House that we had no quick-firing guns, the only result being that it was stated that something was a quick-firing gun which was not a quick-firing gun, and this want led to the subsequent purchase of these guns in Germany. In a memorandum dated February, 1899, long before the war, the Secretary of State for War said that— All the guns of the Army are being converted to a quick-firing system. They all knew that they were not, and this was not what was known to any other Power or military authority as a quick-firing gun. It was a mere makeshift and the matter was twice brought before the House before the war. On the 21st April, and the 21st June, 1899, the hon. and gallant Member for Essex pointed out that we had not got a single quick-firing gun, but no notice was taken of those warnings, and as soon as we became engaged in the war in South Africa we had to purchase these guns in a hurry in Germany. Therefore the Government had ample warning, and had had every opportunity of obtaining these guns before the war.

An excellent quick-firing gun was offered to the War Office from France, but it was refused, and others were also offered and refused. The Government insisted at that time that they had quick-firing guns which they had not. The fact that the Government had refused these guns came out in a curious way, although it was ultimately officially admitted. There was an inquiry made in regard to these guns in the Colony of New South Wales, where Major-General French was asked a question which he declined to answer, and he referred the matter to the Government. He was directed by the Colonial Government to ask the question of the Minister of Defence, then stated that this French gun and others had been refused by the War Office. At the beginning of the war the Commander-in-Chief stated that we possessed the best field gun in Europe, and he certainly misled the present Prime Minister by that statement. This country certainly had not the best field gun, although the Government had been thoroughly warned of this fact over and over again; and yet they went into this war in South Africa without a quick firing gun at all, and they had to purchase them in a hurry in Germany in order to get over the difficulty.

MAJOR RASCH (Essex, Chelmsford)

said he should like to say a few words upon this subject because, as the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had said, he, had on several occasions put one or two questions to the War Office on the subject of our field artillery. He would commence by saying that in the first winter of the war questions were put to the representative of the War Office with reference to the field artillery, which it was thought was insufficient in number, and not first rate in matériel, but they were told in reply that we had practically the best field gun in Europe. In February, 1899, they asked some questions about the manufacture of quick-firing guns, and they were told that they were being manufactured, and they were informed that the delay in the manufacture of quick-firing guns was due to the fact that the War Office desired to secure the best pattern. There were no quick-firing guns in the Army at all then, except the gun which had been rightly described by the right hon. Baronet as an ingenious makeshift invented by the Governor of one of the Australian Colonies. This was not a quick-firing gun, and was not accepted as such by any European Power. They all knew that a French gun had been offered to the War Office, and declined, with the result that we had to go to Germany and purchase eighteen batteries of guns there with the possibility of converting them into quick-firers. It was discovered upon inquiry in the House that there were several defects in these guns, notably in respect to the axles. In March, 1901, in answer to a further question, the Government admitted certain grave defects, and another question, put in April, brought to light the fact that the springs were wrong and had to go to the shop. This showed that the Government made a bad bargain in the purchase of these guns. He should not be inclined to blame the War Office for purchasing guns with defective carriages, but he thought the blame lay in the fact that the Government had to go outside the country to buy guns at all, and he thought this showed that they had not the intellectual equipment alluded to in a question the other day by his hon. and gallant friend the Member for Woolwich. He did not know whether it was the Committee of National Defence that was responsible, but he did not think that in this case the fault rested entirely with the War Office. He had never worshipped at their shrine, and he had occasionally ventured to criticise some of the performances which emanated from Pall Mall, but in this case he thought the blame should fall upon the general system which did not provide for the intellectual development which was necessary, and they appeared to let things slide. He was glad that the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had seized this opportunity of bringing this case before the Committee, and he thought the thanks of the country were due to him for having done so.

(5.55.) MR. BRODEICK

I rise now to answer the right hon. Baronet and my hon. and gallant friend, because I expect that some Members of the Committee will probably wish to address themselves more generally to the question of the Excess Vote. In the first place, I cannot agree with the right hon. Baronet as regards this being the first opportunity Parliament has had of reviewing the procedure by which these guns were ordered. What occurred was this. In March, 1900, the very large demands made on our artillery in consequence of the war in South Africa made it necessary to secure a considerable number of guns without delay, and Lord Lansdowne decided that the best possible thing to do in the circumstances and the most rapid provision that could be made at that moment, rapidity being the essence of the matter, was to order these guns in Germany. He thoroughly satisfied himself, and the event proved that he was absolutely correct, that the guns could neither be obtained in Great Britain so quickly, nor could they be obtained of the same quality as the guns which he ordered in Germany; and I will show the Committee that he was entirely justified in that contention. It is perfectly true that it would be impossible to come to Parliament and say, "We are buying guns on the Continent." There are, of course, questions which may arise as to the purchase of weapons during the hostilities, and it was not desirable to provoke a debate at that time. That was the reason why the Financial Secretary declined to give Parliament the information; but, in the following year when the guns were delivered, I undoubtedly suggested that the proper time to discuss their purchase was on the War Office Vote. Although I cannot influence the decision of the Chairman, and I am quite aware that the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean is a high authority upon this question, I cannot conceive that any Chairman would rule out of order on the Vote for the Secretary of State the discussion of the decision he might have taken in such a matter of policy as the purchase of guns abroad.


said he did not attack the Government for buying guns abroad, but for their previous neglect in past years, and also upon the defects in the guns purchased abroad.


Of course, in time of war orders have to be given. It is impossible for any Secretary of State in time of war to explain the exact orders he is going to give, and nobody occupying the place I have the honour to fill would hesitate when stores: were required to order them when, where, and how he could. With regard to the question of a transfer to pay for guns from one Vote to the other, I do not quite understand my right hon. friend's contention.


It is not my statement, but the statement of the Secretary to the Treasury in August of last year.


I have not the amount before me, but so far as I am; aware the amount provided for guns and carriages in 1900–1 was £1,379,000, and those guns were paid for on that Vote. The excess on that Vote, from the Return given me, is only £12,000, which is not a large amount, and I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman is contusing the transfers.


said he was not responsible for the answer, because; the Question was first asked by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs as to whether there had been any transfers to pay for these guns, and that fact was brought out.


I will not labour that point, for this reason, that so far as I am Concerned I am not in the least inclined to apologise for these alleged malpractices in respect of a transfer from Vote to Vote, because never before in any previous war has any attempt been made to allocate supplies to particular Votes for the purposes of the Estimates. On all previous occasions the practice has been to take a Vote of £10,000,000.£16,000,000, or £20,000,000 as a Vote of credit, and the war has been carried forward on that Vote, according as demands were made on the Secretary of State. In this war, for the first time, we have made an almost impossible attempt to allocate beforehand to different Votes the principal supplies that would be needed, and so far from being surprised that there may have been £3,000,000 of a surplus or deficit, the wonder is that any approximation was found possible at all, when you consider that the war developed in a manner altogether unexpected. Turning to what is far more important, the question of our being properly armed in artillery at home, I have to say that in every respect the purchase of the German guns was justified by the event. The guns were delivered with extreme rapidity and precision, considering all the circumstances. They were all in this country and ready for service, not actually to the date, but far before the time at which they could have been obtained from any other available source of supply. It is perfectly true that they developed certain defects, though not in the shooting of the guns, but those defects having been remedied. I can truly say that there has been no divergent Report that I am aware of on the guns at all. Compared with our existing artillery they are quicker in shooting, better in range, and more accurate in firing. I do not mean to say that we ought to rest content with the guns we have obtained. On the contrary, I put in the Estimates in the year when I came into office a considerable sum in the hope that we might begin the manufacture of field guns during that year. It is difficult to speak on this subject without seeming to attack British enterprise, but having had at the head of the Army for the last eighteen months in Lord Roberts an artilleryman by profession, who had come home from South Africa determined to get the best guns that could be got, and having given with General Brackenbury his own personal attention to this subject, and every manufacturer whom we could rely upon having been asked to assist us with patterns, and every attempt having been made in our own factories to produce guns which would be better than any we now possess, more satisfactory in tire, range, and quickness, we have not yet been able to fix on such gun. We have not yet found a gun which is sufficiently better than the one we now have to warrant our beginning to manufacture. We cannot wait for perfection, but I do believe that in the guns we have recently received we have a gun which is in every respect an improvement on the one which preceded it. My one desire is to develop in this country the power of manufacture of this class of ordnance on which we must depend, or may have to depend entirely, for our protection in the case of a European war. At the same time if I cannot get them in this country and can get them elsewhere, the guns must be got. It is so serious a matter. I feel more than I can express the responsibility of properly equipping our artillery, who have throughout this war gained, I think, universal commendation. There have been many cases when guns were lost; there never was a case when the gunners had not fought to a finish. There were cases when the guns were outranged, but the men always served the guns to the best of their ability. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that our object and his are the same, and I may assure the Committee that the investment made, and which had to be made in a hurry, was the best investment which could be made in the circumstances, and one of which those who made it have no reason whatever to be ashamed.


as one of the members of the Public Accounts Committee desired to call attention to a few of the salient points of the Comptroller and Auditor's Report. One of the greatest mistakes that were made by the War Office had been entrusting the equipment of the Yeomanry to outside agencies. This was done because the War Office were so hard passed that they desired assistance outside to gain time, but this was work which ought to have been done by responsible officers of the War Office instead of being passed on to inexperienced and irresponsible though well-meaning persons. As a result of the Yeomanry Committee attempting to find their own transport, the taxpayers of the country had to pay £4,900 to get out of the bargain which the Committee had made with the owners of a ship which they had chartered which was not fitted for the purpose, and the Admiralty had to carry the Yeomanry after all. The general result was that the Yeomanry paid higher prices for articles of their equipment as compared with the Army, and got inferior goods. The worst case of all, perhaps, was that of the Rhodesian Field Horse, which we took over from the Chartered Company. For the equipment of 5,400 men of the Rhodesian Horse we paid £1,800,000, which was more than £300 a man. He wondered what the Committee would say if men were recruited in this country at the rate of £300 a man. The force was really for the defence of Rhodesia, and the Chartered Company ought to have paid for it, especially as the Chartered Company owed the country a considerable debt as the successors of the Transvaal in respect of the Jameson Raid. He complained also of the taking over of wagons and oxen at high sums. No judgment had been exercised as to the value of the oxen lost, and the maximum rate had been paid in every case. Oxen that fell down by the way were reckoned as lost and were left where they fell, and then the contractors came along and doctored them up, and gave them a rest, and brought them in again as fresh oxen. Such a thing as that was quite wrong and should not be allowed. Attention was next drawn to the repayments by prisoners at Nooitgedacht, to whom money had been advanced for the purchase of comforts. This was only a small matter. These officers and men received £600, and when they were called upon to repay it they could furnish no account of how it had gone, and the War Office did not get repayment. He did not say they were wrong in surrendering. Prisoners were not entitled to pay, but, unless they surrendered under disgraceful circumstances they always received their arrears, and the result in this case had been that it had been found that the officers and men who had successfully resisted the enemy had received less pay than the men who surrendered, so that there had really been a bonus paid for surrender. This was a bad principle, and it must inevitably lead to grumbling. These cases of maladministration led, first of all, to additional expenses being thrown on the taxpayer; next, to the obtaining of an inferior article, and, worst of all, to the creation of a class favourable to war and receiving profits out of war. He hoped the country would learn the lesson, and that if we were involved in any war in the future such things should not be allowed to recur.

(6,25.) LORD CHARLES BERES-FORD (Woolwich)

hoped that the lesson which the country would learn from the war was that there must be some kind of preparation before war was entered upon. It appeared to him the action of the authorities in these matters resembled very much the attempt to put a fire service into a house after it was well alight. He desired to call attention to the amount which had been paid for our guns. In 1898, and since, the attention of the Government was called over and over again to the fact that they had not the proper number of guns for the men voted. The number was estimated at 2.8 guns instead of five guns per 1,000 men. The right hon. Gentleman acted wisely in buying guns from Germany. They were very good guns, but he thought the right hon. Gentleman had made them out to be better than they were. It was reported that both the recoil springs and the carriages were weak, but, so far as the guns themselves went, they were very good indeed, and he quite concurred in the statement that they were better than we could produce. The Government should take the two services, and secure the "intellectual equipment" they had heard so much about, leaving to this thinking department the duty of making out all the requirements needed before going into war, and this should have been done in 1898. Let us have a smaller navy and a smaller army so long as they were efficient in all their essentials for fighting. A large navy and a large army were no use it they were not efficient. Of course everyone agreed that it was the men that pulled us through in this war, although they had inferior weapons. What made him unhappy was that the right hon. Gentleman, who worked like a Hercules, would fail as certainly as his predecessors had done, unless he had some Department of the War Office to work out the details necessary for the efficiency of the service. He hoped the lesson of the war would be taken to heart. Let the authorities find out what the services are short of, arid that we do not have to pay £1 when we ought to pay 1s. in order to get something effective, which was not only not effective but was not there.

MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)

thought there was some reason to complain at the Government bringing on a Vote of this kind at a time which gave less than two hours for its discussion. While it was apparently an innocent Vote, it involved very large sums. He did not object to large excesses having to be balanced in time of war; that was a matter it was impossible to avoid; but that was no reason why an opportunity should not be given for discussion. The amount of the Vote was £100, but the total amount involved was £7,400,000. There was a surplus on various Votes of £4,000,000, and there was a deficit of £3,400,000 to be dealt with, and those were figures which could not be discussed in a few moments. They ought to be carefully examined. With regard to the item for cast and other animals, he wished to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he could give a clear understanding to the Committee as to the way in which these matters were dealt with in South Africa. There was an enormous sum for cast horses and sale of cattle. It would be interesting to know what became of the cattle captured in such large numbers in South Africa. He had heard that they were at once sold by auction, and that the only bidder was the Cold Storage Company, which afterwards sold the cattle back to the War Office as meat for the troops. He could not conceive a worse system. £290,000 was received for the cattle captured during a short period of the war, and he had endeavoured to discover what price they realised. He had found they were sold for a few pence each and bought in again by the Government as fresh beef at 11d. a pound. He understood also that some cast animals, after compensation had been paid for them, were doctored up by the contractors and put into service again. He considered that in all these cases there had been a great lack of businesslike administration. It was not to be expected that a man, trained as a soldier, should be able to deal with matters of this kind, and he contended that a certain number of business men should be employed to relieve our officers of the purely business part of these matters of supply. He further wished to know whether the sum on the Estimates, £27,200, represented all that was recovered from the Cold Storage Company, for their excess charge for meat supplied, because, if his information was correct, another nought ought to be added to those figures before accounts were settled up under that contract. The Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General showed that hon. Members were not at all satisfied with the way in which this money was spent. Every item purchased was bought at a far higher price than that for which it could be obtained in this country, and though the noble Lord had pleaded the necessity of getting certain things on the spot, laxity of control there had led to tremendous profits being made in South Africa by local contractors, and perhaps that fact accounted for the existence of a war party, who were disappointed that peace should be re established.

Before he passed from this question, he would call attention to the item of remounts. The noble Lord had a great opportunity of investigating these things, and he hoped he would probe them to the bottom. They were very much disappointed at the way the gross scandal with regard to remounts in Ireland had been hushed up. If no public policy was adopted with regard to these matters, they were bound to occur again in the future. The only way when they were discovered was to deal without mercy with the men who had cheated the taxpayers in a time of stress. Business men should be employed in these matters, and he thought the enthusiasm of the Secretary of State for War in employing soldiers would lead to their being employed in the wrong place. He maintained that if the War Office were going to the other extreme, they were walking into a great extension of the serious scandal which had been reported to the House by the Comptroller General. All through his Report the Comptroller General was continuously complaining of the absence of vouchers, and the lax way in which the money had been paid out without receipts being given for it. In one case the Comptroller General challenged the War Office to produce the receipt for a large sum alleged to have been paid, when it was admitted that the money had never been paid. That was a most extraordinary system of finance. His hon. friend had drawn attention to an item of £600 written off as a bad debt. Now, according to the information given to him, that £600 was given to the members of the Duke of Cambridge's Own Regiment of Yeomanry, which surrendered at Lindley, on the appeal of the parents of the men who were not satisfied with the food which Mr. Kruger provided for them, and who wanted extra luxuries, or, as they were called in the report, "tobacco and other comforts." If his information was correct, when the regiment returned home the War Office sent in a bill to the fathers of the young men who had joined the Duke of Cambridge's Own Yeomanry for these advances for luxuries, but had been unable to obtain payment of them. Hence the £600 was written off as a bad debt. That was really a most extraordinary aspect of affairs. According to all accounts, the food given to the prisoners by the Boer Government was sufficient for their subsistence. His hon. friend the Member for Norfolk had pointed out a very serious evil. These Yeomen received their pay while they were prisoners, and, in addition, they received extra money for comforts and luxuries, which was not deducted from their pay, as was usual in other cases. Therefore, men who surrendered practically in their first fight were better off than soldiers who had gone through months and years of the campaign. His information might be wrong, and the noble Lord might have some other explanation to give. He thought it was rather an irony that the Committee should be asked to write off £600 advanced to these Yeomanry as a bad debt. The last item to which he wished to draw attention was the sum of £1,800,000 advanced to the Chartered Company. It appeared, from page 230 of the Report of the Comptroller-General, that here again he complained that there were no vouchers for the money spent in raising the Rhodesian contingent. The Comptroller General there drew attention to the fact that the money paid for raising and equipping that contingent was from 50 to 100 per cent, more than had been paid by the War Office for the same articles for the regular Army. He thought it was time that some explanation and investigation should be made into this matter at the War Office. This was another instance of the way in which the War Office went off their heads in the days of flurry. The lesson from this Report would be that the next time the War Office had better conduct their own business, because, as in the case of the remounts scandal, shifting it on to other shoulders only meant increased cost, and decreased deficiency. He hoped that never again would they have figures like these laid before the Committee, showing such a scandalous waste of money.

(6.52.) THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Lord STANLEY, Lancashire, Westhoughton)

said no one would complain of the various points brought forward for discussion, but he objected to the hon. Member who had last spoken reserving to himself the monopoly of honesty, and making—he could not help thinking unintentionally—accusation that in all these transactions there was some dishonesty.


said the word he used over and over again was "laxity." He made no accusation of dishonesty.


said he was quite willing to accept the hon. Member's explanation. At the same time the contention seemed to be that the contractors were making more than a fair profit. But he did not wish to press the point. With regard to the £600 which had been written off, the hon. Member said it was to go to the prisoners who surrendered at Lindley. It was not to go to those prisoners; it was to go to the whole of the prisoners who were at Nooitgedacht at the time. He supposed the foundation for the hon. Member's supposition was the fact that the money was administered by Colonel Spragge, as he was the senior officer on the spot and in command of the Duke of Cambridge's Own at Lindley. The hon. Member said the prisoners probably had enough food to keep body and soul together. Perhaps they had; but there were many of them who had surrendered in circumstances in which surrender was the only thing possible, and some of them were wounded. He did not think they should grudge giving those men some little luxuries in addition to the mealies on which they had to live. Our Consul at Lorenzo Marques was asked to go to Nooitgedacht and distribute the money, but when he arrived he was not allowed to have any communication with the prisoners. He had to hand the money over to the Boers, who kept it in their safe and issued it to Colonel Spragge, telling him it was, a donation from charitable people in England for the purpose of purchasing luxuries like tobacco, and also bootsand clothes. They did not tell him that it was an advance. In these circumstances could Colonel Spragge be blamed if he did not tell the men that they must expect to refund the money when they were released? The statement had been made that men who were prisoners got more than those who were not prisoners. In many cases these men, being prisoners, had money of their own and refused to take any of the grant, preferring that it should be given to those who had nothing. And the whole grant divided up only amounted: to 2s. a man.


said he was glad to hear the noble Lord's explanation. He wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman sent in an account to any of these persons to recover the money when, they returned to the country.


said he could not answer that Question on the spur of the moment. Until Colonel Spragge was released they did not know the circumstances in which the money was distributed. Of course, the vouchers were not forthcoming, because the bulk of the men did not get anything at all.


asked whether the noble Lord could say it was untrue that accounts had been sent by the War Office to these Yeomen or their families.


could not say definitely. He did not think it was done, and certainly, if they had known the circumstances under which the money was issued, the War Office would not for one moment have thought of asking for its return. The hon. Member for Halifax had brought up the question of equipping the Yeomanry from outside sources. He agreed that in the future, if they had to equip a similar force, it would be imperative for them to do the work themselves. But they must not look only to the future. What were the circumstances when the emergency arose? They were sending every single man that they could to South Africa. They were working every factory that they possibly could in order to supply these men. From outside an offer came to raise and equip a certain number of men. That offer came from those whom they believed to have great experience, not, indeed, in equipping for a war, but in the general equipment of Yeomanry. Was it to be wondered at that under these circumstances the Government gave the chance to the outside instead of waiting some months, as they would otherwise have had to do, until their own factories could do the work? He agreed that it was expensive, but they had to consider the time which had been gained; and time gained at that period was of a great deal more value to the country than a number of thousands of pounds.


Not in the case of the ''Lusitania.'


agreed that that was undoubtedly a case in which something was given to outsiders which in future they would know ought not to be so given. But, again, it was done under the impression that time would be gained, and that was the chief thing they had then to consider. With regard to the Rhodesian equipment, it was hardly fair to compare the prices of various articles as had been done. It should be remembered that the articles with which the comparison was made were bought under a contract entered into a year before there was any question of a war, and, therefore, before the exceptional demand for all such articles arose—a demand which under any circumstances would have led to an increase of price. The noble Lord the Member for Woolwich, when he spoke of the War Office being rushed for guns, should not forget that, owing to the outbreak of the war, it became necessary to raise these fifteen batteries immediately, instead of gradually, and, in consequence, recourse had to be had to other manufacturers in order to supply the guns and thoroughly equip the batteries.


said his point was that in 1898 the War Office was short of the requisite number of guns per thousand men.


said the War Office found they were short, and for that reason raised the fifteen batteries in 1898, which, he thought, brought the proportion up very much to what the noble Lord required. They were told that they ought to learn the lesson of the war. No doubt, and they were trying to learn that lesson, and he believed time would show that the lesson had not been lost upon them. The great lesson—and it was a very difficult one—they had to learn was how they could keep their expenses in time of peace at the lowest possible limit, and yet have such a form of expansion as should enable the Government to put an effective force in the field in time of war. Their whole efforts ought to be directed to having an efficient reserve in men, guns, and stores, so that, although a capital sum might be chargeable against them in time of peace, yet, when war broke out, they should be able to equip a vastly larger Army than their peace requirements necessitated, and that without having to go into the highways and byways as in the past, and to buy in the dearest market. Time would show that the Secretary of State, in the plans at which he was working so hard, was doing that which the Committee and the country desired, viz., making in time of peace preparations for any strain that might have to be borne in the future. As to the local purchases referred to by the hon. Member for Halifax, such purchases must always be expensive. Patriotism did not always go with selling things cheaply, and when there was an increased demand the price was certain to be enhanced. But in this case again, they had to choose between paying high prices and going without something that was essential for the efficiency of the troops, and he did not hesitate to say that in future, if similar circumstances arose, similarly high prices would have to be paid.

MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)

said that while it was the duty of everybody to give to the War Office a chance of doing what it could, and not to press upon it small peccadilloes while in the midst of its reorganisation scheme, yet at the same time certain large deficiencies had been revealed of which the country ought to know. The question of guns had been raised over and over again, but without result until hundreds or thousands of men had been lost in consequence of the weakness of the batteries. The complaint was not that in an emergency guns had been bought in Germany, but that the necessity for rushing into that expenditure had existed in spite of repeated warnings. The Financial Secretary had stated that the raising of the fifteen batteries at the last moment had almost remedied the deficiency. But that was only so far as the Regulars were concerned. The Militia and Volunteers were absolutely without guns, and the policy of the War Office had been to refuse to provide them. He had the privilege of seeing the first battery armed with the spade attachment, and the first of these German guns issued. No one who had seen this quick-firing gun could imagine how it was possible for the War Office representatives to have persuaded the Secretary of State for War that this spade detachment gun was a

quick-firing gun. Almost every artillery man who had seen these German guns said they were too light in the carriage for the work for which they were required. They might be all right for the flat roads of Germany, but they were not suitable for the rough ground in this country and in South Africa. He was afraid that the whole carriage was too light for the work, and he was very sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman state that no gun had been found which was better than this one. Were they more than four years behind Germany in the manufacture of guns? They ought to have some good guns in the country, and he hoped more attention would be paid to this subject by the War Office. The troops were now coming home, and it would be established in the near future that it was through no fault of their soldiers and regimental officers that disasters had occurred, but they were due to the want of preparedness for war on the part of the War Office. With regard to the prisoners to which allusion had been made, he did not object to £600 for them, but he hoped that something would be done by the War Office to decentralise a little more in the future.


rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

(7.18.) Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 177; Noes, 88. (Division List No. 340.)

Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex F. Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Davenport, William Bromley-
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Davies, Sir Horatio D (Chatham
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Brotherton, Edward Allen Dewar, Sir TR (Tower Hamlets
Allhusen, Augustus H'nry Eden Bull, William James Dickson, Charles Scott
Anson, Sir William Reynell Bullard, Sir Harry Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-
Arrol, Sir William Butcher, John George Doxford, Sir William Theodore
Atkinson, Kt. Hon. John Campbell, Rt Hon J A (Glasgow Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin
Bain, Colonel James Robert Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart
Balcarres, Lord Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh Faber, George Denison (York)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r Cawley, Frederick Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward
Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey) Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Fergusson, Rt Hon Sir J.(Manc'r
Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst
Banbury, Frederick George Cham berlayne, T (Southampt'n Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Chapman, Edward Fisher, William Hayes
Beach, Rt Hon Sir Michael Hicks Churchill, Winston Spencer FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Flannery. Sir Fortescue
Beresford, Lord Chas. William Cohen, Benjamin Louis Flower, Ernest
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Foster, Sir Michael (Lond. Univ.
Bignold, Arthur Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready Gardner, Ernest
Bigwood, James Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (CityofLond.
Blundell, Colonel Henry Cranborne, Viscount Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick
Bond, Edward Crossley, Sir Savile Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop
Gore, Hon. S.F. Ormsby-(Linc. M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander
Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse
Goschen, Hon. George Joachim Maxwell, W J H (Dumfriesshire Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.
Goulding, Edward Alfred Middlemore, John Throgmort'n Seely, (Charles Hilton (Lincoln
Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury Milvain, Thomas Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight
Gretton, John Molesworth, Sir Lewis Shaw-Stewart M. H. (Renfiew
Greville, Hon. Ronald Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Smith, James Parker (Lanarks
Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F. More, Robert Jasper (Shropsh. Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand
Hambro, Charles Eric Morrell, George Herbert Spear, John Ward
Hamilton, Rt. Hn Lord G (Midx. Morton. Arthur H. A. (Deptford Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset
Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry Mount, William Arthur Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)
Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm. Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Harris, Frederick Leverton Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Stone, Sir Benjamin
Haslam, Sir Alfred S. Nicholson, William Graham Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Haslett, Sir James Horner Nicol, Donald Ninian Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo. O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens Thornton, Percy M.
Hay, Hon. Claude George Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Tomlinson, Sir Win. Edw. M.
Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley Palmer, Walter (Salisbury) Tritton, Charles Ernest
Henderson, Sir Alexander Parker, Sir Gilbert Valentia. Viscount
Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T. Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n Walker, Col. Wm. Hall
Higginbottom. S. W. Peel, Hn Wm Robert Wellesley Warde, Colonel C. E.
Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Bri'htside Penn, John Webb, Colonel William George
Hudson, George Bickersteth Platt-Higgins, Frederick Welby, Lt. -Col. A. C. E (Taunt'n
Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse Plummer, Walter R. Wills, Sir Frederick
Jessel, Caption Herbert Merton Pretyman, Ernest George Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Keswick, William Pryce-Jones, Lt. Col. Edward Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.
Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow Purvis, Robert Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E.R. (Bath
Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Pym, C. Guy Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Randles. John S. Wortley, Rt Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S. Rasche, Major Frederic Carne Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Llewellyn, Evan Henry Reid, James (Greenock) Wylie, Alexander
Lock wood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Renwick, George Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Ritchie, Rt. Hon Chas. Thomson Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Loug, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol, S. Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)
Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale) Rolleston, Sir John F. L.
Loyd, Archie Kirkman Ropner, Colonel Robert TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Macdona, John Cumming Round, Rt. Hon. James Sir William Walrond and
Maclver, David (Liverpool) Royds, Clement Molyneux Mr. Anstruther.
Maconochie, A. W. Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.
Ambrose, Robert Flynn, James Christopher O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)
Asher, Alexander Gilhooly, James O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Atherley-Jones, L. Griffith, Ellis J. O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N
Bell, Richard Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton O'Malley, William
Boland, John Hammond, John O'Mara, James
Brigg, John Harrington, Timothy O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Broadhurst, Henry Hayden, John Patrick Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- Power, Patrick Joseph
Burns, John Helme, Norval Watson Price, Robert John
Caldwell, James Hope, John Deans (Fife, West) Rea, Russell
Cameron. Robert, Horniman, Frederick John Redmond, William (Clare)
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Jones, William (Carnarvonsh. Rickett, J. Compton
Causton, Richard Knight Joyce, Michael Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Clancy, John Joseph Law, Hugh Alex. Donegal, W Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Cogan, Denis J. Layland-Barratt, Francis Shipman, Dr. John G.
Crean, Eugene Leamy, Edmund Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)
Cullinan, J. Lewis, John Herbert Sullivan, Donal
Dalziel, James Henry Lough, Thomas Tennant, Harold John
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan Lundon, W. Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr
Delany, William MacNeill. John Gordon Swift Toulmin, George
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan
Dillon, John Moss, Samuel Weir, James Galloway
Donelan, Captain A. Murnaghan, George White, Luke (York, E.R.)
Doogan, P. C. Murphy, John Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Duffy, William J. Nannetti, Joseph P. Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.
Edwards, Frank Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.
Elibank, Master of Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Farrell, James Patrick O'Brien, Kendal (Tipp'r'y, Mid Major Jameson and
Fenwick, Charles O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny Mr. Warner.
Ffrench, Peter O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)

(7.28.) Question put accordingly.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 203 Noes, 63. (Division List No. 341.)

Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Gardner, Ernest Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Gibbs, Hn A. G. H. (City of Lond. Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick Parker, Sir Gilbert
Allhusen, Augustus Henry E. Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n
Anson, Sir William Reynell Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.) Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)
Arrol, Sir William Gorst, Rt Hon. Sir John Eldon Peel, Hn. Wm. Robt. Wellesley
Asher, Alexander Goschen, Hon. George Joachim Penn, John
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Goulding, Edward Alfred Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Bain, Colonel James Robert Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury) Plummer, Walter R.
Balcarres, Lord Gretton, John Pretyman, Ernest George
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J.(Manch'r Greville, Hon. Ronald Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey) Griffith, Ellis J. Purvis, Robert
Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W.(Leeds Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F. Pym, C. Guy
Banbury, Frederick George Hambro, Charles Eric Randles, John S.
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Midd'x Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Beach, Rt Hn Sir Michael Hicks Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nderry Rea, Russell
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm. Reid, James (Greenock)
Beresford, Lord Charles Wm. Harris, Frederick Leverton Renwick, George
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Haslam, Sir Alfred S. Rickett, J. Compton
Bignold, Arthur Haslett, Sir James Homer Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson
Bigwood, James Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo. Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)
Blundell, Colonel Henry Hay, Hon. Claude George Rolleston, Sir John F. L.
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- Ropner, Colonel Robert
Bond, Edward Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D. Round, Rt. Hon. James
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley Royds, Clement Molyneux
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Helme, Norval Watson Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Brotherton, Edward Allen Henderson, Sir Alexander Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander
Bull, William James Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T. Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)
Bullard, Sir Harry Higginbottom, S. W. Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Butcher, John George Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln
Campbell, Rt Hn. J. A. (Glasgow Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Hudson, George Bickersteth Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh. Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse Shipman, Dr. John G.
Cawley, Frederick Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton Smith, James Parker (Lanarks)
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Jones, William (Carnarvonshire Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand
Chamberlain, J. Aust. (Worc'r. Keswick, William Spear, John Ward
Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow) Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset
Chapman, Edward Layland-Barratt, Francis Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)
Churchill, Winston Spencer Lee, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E. Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Stone, Sir Benjamin
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S. Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready Lewis, John Herbert Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Llewellyn, Evan Henry Thornton, Percy M.
Cranborne, Viscount Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.
Crossley, Sir Savile Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Tritton, Charles Ernest
Davenport, William Bromley- Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S Valentia, Viscount
Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chatham Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale) Walker, Col. William Hall
Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan Loyd, Archie Kirkman Warde, Colonel C. E.
Dewar, Sir T. R. (Tower Hamlets Macdona, John Cumming Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Dickson, Charles Scott MacIver, David (Liverpool) Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Maconochie, A. W. Webb, Colonel William George
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Welby, Lt.-Col A.C.E (Taunton
Doxford, Sir William Theodore- M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Maxwell, W.J.H. (Dumfriessh. Wills, Sir Frederick
Dyke, Rt. Hon Sir Wm. Hart Middlemore, John Throgmort'n Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Edwards, Frank Milvain, Thomas Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)
Ellibank, Master of Molesworth, Sir Lewis Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)
Faber, George Denison (York) Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r Morrell, George Herbert Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford) Wylie, Alexander
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Moss, Samuel Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Fisher, William Hayes Mount, William Arthur Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose- Murray, Rt Hn. A. Graham (Bute
Flannery, Sir Fortescue Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Flower, Ernest Nicholson, William Graham Sir William Walrond and
Foster, Sir Michael (Lond. Univ. Nicol, Donald Ninian Mr. Anstruther.
Fuller, J. M. F. O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Abraham, William (Cork, N.E. Flynn, James Christopher O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)
Ambrose, Robert Gilhooly, James O'Connor, James(Wicklow, W.
Atherley-Jones, L. Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)
Bell, Richard Hammond, John O'Donnell, T. (Kerry W.)
Brigg, John Harrington, Timothy O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.
Burns, John Hayden, John Patrick O'Malley, William
Caldwell, James Hope, John Deans (Fife, West) O'Mara, James
Cameron, Robert Horniman, Frederick John O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Joyce, Michael Power, Patrick Joseph
Clancy, Jonn Joseph Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W. Price, Robert John
Cogan, Denis J. Leany, Edmund Redmond, William (Clare)
Crean, Eugene Lough, Thomas Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Cullinan, J. Lundon, W. Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Delany, William MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)
Dillon, John M'Kenna, Reginald Sullivan, Donal
Donelan, Captain A. Murnaghan, George Touhnin, George
Doogan, P. C. Murphy, John Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Duffy, William J. Nannetti, Joseph P. Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Farrell, James Patrick Nolan, Col. John P. Galway, N.
Fenwick, Charles Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Ffrench, Peter O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid Major Jameson and Mr.
Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Weir.

It being after half-past Seven of the dock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Resolutions to lie reported tomorrow; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.

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