HC Deb 06 March 1902 vol 104 cc606-63

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Main Question [4th March], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

Question again proposed.

*(4.25) SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)

, who had on the Paper the following Notice— To call attention to the organisation of the Volunteer Force, to the patriotic readiness with which it has furnished officers and men to the Army in South Africa, to the difficulties it labours under in the matter of rifle ranges, manœuvring ground, drill grounds, drill halls, and finance, said: I do not believe the House will think that any apology is necessary from me for having placed this Notice on the Paper. The Secretary for War made extended references to the improvement of the Volunteer force, and I have no doubt he will be glad of this opportunity to make more detailed explanations of his scheme, for I am bound to say that his remarks on Tuesday, though not in any way intended to reflect on the force as a whole caused considerable pain to a very large number of individuals. I shall therefore have to claim the indulgence of the House while I refer at length to this subject. I will, however, compress my remarks as much as possible. The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to exempt the regiment which I have the honour to command from a share in the observations he made, and I shall therefore approach this matter entirely from an impersonal point of view. I quite recognise that there are regiments and regiments, and that all cannot be brought into that state of efficiency which is possible in London where the corps are more concentrated. Associated as I have been with the command of a regiment for twenty years, I cannot dissociate myself from the general welfare of the force.

Allow me to call attention to the present organisation of the Volunteer force. It consists of 222 battalions of infantry, 68 regiments of artillery, 28 corps of engineers, and 8 of the Volunteer Medical Staff. In October last it numbered 295,000, of whom 97,000 were returned as efficient and 22,000 proficient. Excluding the pay of adjutants and sergeant-instructors, who are members of the Regular Army, the Volunteer force cost the country a little over £1,000,000, and it is therefore one of the cheapest armies in the world. The sum works out at £3 10s. per head, as against over £100 a year for the regular soldier, £8 for the militiaman, and £39 for the Imperial Yeoman. It has endeavoured to keep abreast of the times, for in 1870, only 88 per cent. were efficient, and there were only 8,000 proficient. When the force was originally formed service abroad was not contemplated; but any doubt as to their willingness and ability to undertake active service was dispelled in 1899. At the time a very much larger number of men was required than the War Office had at its command, and the Volunteer force promptly offered to augment the field force. Many individuals and many regiments tendered their services, and although they were then rejected by the War Office, a state of affairs arose in what is known as the Black Week in December, 1899, which made it quite evident that the calculations of the War Office as to the force required were entirely erroneous and that a larger force would be necessary. What did the Volunteer forces do? In January, 1900 they raised and sent out to South Africa 10,787 men at soldier's pay and reinforced them in 1901 by 5,985 men, and they added 5,045 to the levies of Yeomanry. Nor is this all. If hon. Members consult the recruiting returns they will see that every month a very considerable number of Volunteers have joined the regular army; and that between July and October last 800 men joined the regular army from the Volunteer force every month. That shows what an admirable recruiting field there is in the Volunteer forces for the regular army, and that anything which would increase the popularity of the Volunteers is a great and direct advantage to the regular army.

I will deal first with the field force. There is a direct contribution from the Volunteer forces to the field force in South Africa of no less than 22,000 men, besides about 30,000 going from the volunteers indirectly, and that without counting many men of the Imperial Yeomanry who did not join as volunteers. The Secretary of State for War in introducing the Estimates said that there are just under 5,000 volunteers at the present time in South Africa attached to the field force, but this does not include several thousand volunteers serving at the present time in the Imperial Yeomanry. After the observations of my right hon. friend, I must read a short passage from a speech which Lord Roberts, the Commander-in-Chief, made to the City Imperial Volunteers in Pretoria on 2nd October. 1900. He said— I have always been a firm believer in the volunteer movement, and I have had strong convictions that some of the best material in the Army is to be found in our Volunteer force. The admirable work now performed by C.I.V.'s and by the Volunteers attached to the regular battalions serving in South Africa and by the Imperial Yeomanry had, I rejoice to say, proved that I was right, and that England, relying as she does on the patriotic volunteer system for her defence, is resting on no broken reed. You have proved your worth, and now you return to receive the well-merited applause of your fellow-countrymen. I am sorry to say that that applause was not carried into the speech of my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War on Tuesday last. General Smith Dorrien, one of the strongest Generals in South Africa, and now Adjutant-General of the Army in India, on September 28th, 1900, telegraphed to the City Imperial Volunteers as follows— No regiment of the Army in South Africa has done more splendid work, and I have not only appreciated the honour of having them under my command, but I have been given a pleasure which I shall never forget. Up to the last day some of the corps have been with me. This little band of mounted infantry have, to my mind, done the finest mounted infantry work I have seen in this campaign. For three days they were our only mounted troops, the Boers disputing position after position with rifles and guns, but such was the dash and skill with which Concannon worked his men that our advance was not even delayed. Goodbye, and all the good luck they deserve, to the Volunteers. One other quotation. On Saturday last there was another speech made to the Volunteers in Birmingham, delivered by Sir Reginald Pole-Carew, who commanded the brigade of Guards and a division for a considerable time in South Africa; in the course of which he made these observations— On all occasions the Volunteers in his division proved themselves well worthy to serve alongside the British soldier, and when he said that, he had said that they were fit to serve with or against any Army in the field. Yet this is the force which was referred to in well-meant but still disparaging terms from that Table on Tuesday last. I venture to submit to the House that the Volunteer force as a whole, so far from deserving this disparagement after having sent all these men to South Africa, merited more generous observations from my right hon. friend.

But, Sir, this disparagement was not confined to the observations of my right hon. friend. An Army Order was issued on 16th January last, and there is a passage in that Order which has given very great offence to large numbers of the volunteer forces. I cannot say that I interpreted it so adversely myself, but it is undoubtedly offensive to others, because I have received communications from commanding officers in all parts of the country pointing out the unfortunate wording of that Army Order. It reads that— For some years the volunteer force has constantly claimed to be seriously accepted as a reliable and organised section of the Army for home defence. I submit that all that the volunteer forces have ever claimed was to endeavour to do their best according to the opportunities afforded them. What view the military authorities take of it is another matter; but it is hardly fair to say that they constantly claim a position to which they are not entitled. I do not think that either Lord Roberts, who spoke of the volunteers in the terms I have quoted, or the Adjutant-General, General Kelly-Kenny who was for some time Inspector-General of the auxiliary forces, was a party to that Army Order, or that General Turner, the present Inspector-General of the auxiliary forces was a party to it. I express the feeling of the whole Volunteer force when I say that they have never had an Inspector General snore sympathetic, more painstaking, and more anxious to do all he can for the welfare of the auxiliary forces from the highest to the lowest. I do happen to know who penned this Army Order, but I do not think I should mention any names, as I do not want to introduce any personal matter into the question. All I can say is that it was an unfortunate thing that it was worded as it was, and the speech of my right hon. friend coming on the top of it, has added to the grievous feeling. In October last, the Volunteer forces numbered 295,000; in January these had fallen by 18,000. I am perfectly ready to admit that between November and January there are always a number of resignations, but this year they were very much in excess of any previous year, and the recruits were very much fewer. My own regiment has at the present time 370 men less than three years ago. Many officers have become seriously alarmed at the calls made upon them by the new Rules of the War Office, and some have taken offence against the Order that has been issued. Take another regiment, with which I am acquainted—the Hallamshire Rifles. It has had only one recruit this year compared with over seventy in the same period of last year. This statement was made to me last night by the Commanding Officer, who authorised me to quote it. And this is one of the best regiments in Yorkshire and sent out repeated contingents to South Africa. I direct the attention of the Secretary of State for War to the effect which has been produced by the wording of these new Rules, by the Army Order, and by the unfortunate words which fell from the right hon. Gentleman himself.


I hope that the hon. Member does not mean to suggest that the Army Order, which he has carefully explained, though without any authority, does not carry out the views of the Commander-in-Chief or of the Inspector-General of Volunteer forces —that that Army Order, published under Lord Roberts' name, was published at my instance and against the wishes of the military authorities.


I understand the right hon. Gentleman to disclaim responsibility for the Army Order.


No, Sir. I have to take the responsibility for any Army Order issued; but my hon. friend having singled out all the officers, one by one, who he thought were not responsible for the Army Order, left the House to understand that I was responsible for that Order against the wishes of the Army Board, and also for the remarks I made in introducing the Estimates which he does not altogether approve of.


It would be very easy for me to give the name of the officer who was the author of the Army Order, but I should not be justified in doing so. The Secretary of State for War will have an opportunity later on of explaining how this Army Order was worded as it was.

Now, if the House will allow me, I wish to call attention to one or two points in connection with the Volunteer forces, and to the very great difficulties which commanding officers labour under. I do not want to weary the House with details, but I may state generally that a commanding officer is solely responsible for everything connected with the corps, including its debts. Therefore, everything connected with its finances or welfare is of the most vital importance to himself. I will take the difficulties under which the Volunteer forces labour. First, as regards the rifle ranges. The War Office authorities quite rightly insist on a very high standard of musketry, but it must be remembered that it is from men whose time is not entirely at their own control. That standard has been continually increased, but side by side with that increase, the facilities for shooting have been absolutely diminished. In all urban district there is the very greatest difficulty in obtaining any suitable range at all, especially for modern rifles. The commanding officer is entirely responsible for all the arrangements for carrying out the musketry course; and he has to pay the rent of the ranges out o the funds of the corps. Now, if the War Office authorities were to relieve the Volunteer forces of their liability in this respect, and their responsibility, not only for the rent of the present and even longer ranges, but for the provision of drill halls, then a great deal of the difficulty would disappear, and they might reasonably exact a higher standard. If the Volunteers, as has been stated, are to shoot fifty more rounds than at present in their musketry course, then the very greatest difficulty will be experienced in fulfilling the requirements of the War Office. It takes a Volunteer practically a whole afternoon to fire a single course at the targets. When he arrives at the range, after having, with difficulty, obtained leave from his employer, he finds a great crowd of Volunteers there already, and very likely the weather becomes dark and unsuitable for shooting, and his whole time is wasted. I do hope my right hon. friend will be most careful how he increases the requirements; and that he will really look at the matter from a practical point of view, and see whether the Volunteers can fulfil them.

As regards manœuvres, it is perfectly true that everybody who knows anything about the subject, and still more any one who has seen anything of the South African War, will recognise that our manœuvring grounds are extremely small; and that for corps in towns it is extremely difficult to find any adequate space for field training. In London, with its 30,000 Volunteers, there is scarcely a single place nearer than seven or eight miles, where adequate field training can be practised in any shape or form. Even when a regiment goes out, it finds the place occupied, and it is extremely difficult to do anything useful. This is the case, also, with regard to drill halls. It seems absurd, according to the regulations which have been issued, to require that half the combatant officers and a third of the men should be present in order that a parade should count. That meant in the case of his own regiment, that thirty officers and 600 men should be present; and if 599 men and thirty officers attend and the 600th cometh not, the regulation absolutely is that the parade is not to count. As regards company drill, the regulation is somewhat similar. Eighteen men and one commissioned officer or sergeant was the old number required; but under the new regulation, all the officers and men must be from the same company, and the drill must include one commissioned officer, four non-commissioned officers, and twenty men. If twenty-four men attend and the twenty-fifth does not turn up, the time of the twenty-four is entirely wasted. It is obvious that a system such as that is absolutely impracticable. My right hon. friend, on my calling his attention to this matter, appointed a Committee, of which the Financial Secretary to the War Office was a member, and the Under Secretary of State President. That Committee has been sitting some time, and when it reports, as I hope it will at an early date, to the Secretary of State, I trust that some of these difficulties will disappear. But I would earnestly ask the Secretary of State if, before making these great innovations, it would not have been much better, if he had consulted with a few officers who understand the force. The officers are all anxious to work with him and to be efficient, but the injury which is done by issuing these regulations, and then having to appoint a Committee to see whether they are practicable, is very great. How much better it would have been to have appointed the Committee first of all to see what should be done and then to do it carefully.

Then there is the matter of these new regulations emanating from an Order in Council. We all know the unfortunate circumstances under which my right hon. friend was unable to be in the House during the last days of the last session. He had an admirable representative in my noble friend the Financial Secretary, but it was quite by accident that I found that this Order in Council had been put on the Table. Who was responsible for bringing it on, almost smuggling it on in the very last days of the session, I do not know. It was by accident I found it, and I came up a long distance from the country in order to call attention to it. My noble friend, replying to my observations regarding it on the Appropriation Bill, said— There was no intention of adhering to them as hard and fast rules, and if it were found that in any place the shoe pinched, something would be done to remedy it. As he said, he could not give a pledge that the requests which had been made would be complied with; but he had it from his right hon. friend the Secretary for War to say that in the autumn he would bring together all the objections which had been raised to his scheme with regard to the Volunteers and lay them, not before a Committee, but before those who were best able to advise him, and that in every case in which it was found that the objections could be met without loss of efficiency, they would be met in the fullest and frankest manner. Therefore, after an observation of that kind on behalf of the War Office, it was with some astonishment that the fore found these new regulations of so serious a character so suddenly issued. It is true my right hon. friend received a deputation, but when he received it I think none of his advisers were present. I am informed that the Inspector General of Auxiliary Forces was not with him. Whether that was so or not, I do not know, because I was not in this country at the time; but I have been told that his advisers on the Volunteer force were not with him on that occasion. I have already dealt with the question of ranges and drill halls, and will only add that drills will be rather difficult, if the War Office require, and I think they are right in requiring, a more extended training than in the past; but it is their paramount duty to provide places where we can drill. If not, they have no right to insist on these hard and fast rules. If they do, they must give us facilities for carrying out the regulations. These conditions do not apply so much to country corps as to metropolitan and urban corps. They are very vital indeed, and attention ought to be given to them. My right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War made a statement the other day with reference to certain corps. No doubt some corps are well managed and some are badly managed. But in a very large number of men—295,000, with 400 separate units—of course it is obvious, whether they be regular or auxiliary forces, that there must be corps and corps. We all know that with the regular Army, as with the Militia and Volunteers, some regiments are better managed than others. But the matter of finance is at the bottom of the whole thing. I may explain to the House, as many hon. Members cannot possibly be aware of it, that the whole burden of finance falls on the commanding officer, and that anything which diminishes very materially the capitation grant deprives him of a considerable portion of his income, with the result that he does not know where he is, or how to make his engagements. He cannot rent increased premises or increased range accommodation, he has to be extremely careful to save every penny he possibly can, and he cannot enter into any future contracts. Every one acquainted with the Volunteer force knows that there is great competition for range and drill hall sites, manœuvring grounds and so on, and if a commander wishes to obtain them, he must be very sharp and active indeed, and be prepared to enter into a lease for a number of years. He cannot do that unless the financial position of the corps is absolutely secure.

My right hon. friend must allow me to call his serious attention to certain matters connected with finance. Of all things, the War Office ought to keep faith with the auxiliary forces, not alone the auxiliary forces in the field, but with the Volunteers and Militia. My regiment, like others, was encouraged to form a mounted infantry company two years ago, and we were given ten days, or a fortnight, with which to raise a mounted infantry corps of 180 men. We were told, if we did that, we would be entitled to a capitation grant of £4 a year, and saddlery and accoutrements. My hon. and gallant friend behind me (Col. Denny),and other commanding officers, as well as myself, raised companies on these conditions, and, suddenly, without a moment's notice, we found the capitation grant cut down, first to the ordinary grant, and then it was increased to £1. But we had entered into contracts to stable the horses and to keep the saddlery, and we engaged men for a term of four years, on condition that there should be a £4 capitation grant. The same remark applies to the cyclists. We engaged to form a cyclist company, 116 or 120 strong, and we were to have an extra capitation grant of £2 per head. We formed the Company, but there again the grant was cut down by a half. We had to keep faith with the men, and the War Office does not keep faith with us, and we do not know where we are.

Sir, we all appreciate the hard work and industry of my right hon. friend, but I do earnestly urge on him to pay attention to these matters, if he values the Volunteers at all. If he does not value the Volunteer force, he has a very simple remedy in his hands. The Volunteers have sent thousands of men to South Africa, and 30,000 to the regular Army. We have done our best for 40 years, but if my right hon. friend does not believe any more in the Volunteers, and if he wants compulsory service, we are all of us quite ready. We have no personal motive to serve, we receive no pay, we have nothing to gain; and if the country does not require us, I am quite sure we are all quite ready to take our discharge or whatever the right term is, although we hope it will not come to that. If my right hon. friend is convinced that compulsory service is the thing necessary, let him say so. Some hon. Members are of that opinion. I do not say whether my right hon. friend is right or not, but if he is, let him not undermine the Volunteer force to introduce compulsory service by a side wind. We are entitled to some little thanks and fair treatment for all our services during forty years. We admire my right hon. friend's gift of language; he found it very easy the other night to tell the House good stories and to have the laugh of the House with him. My right hon. friend, I think, should have reflected on the great pain which stories of this character are calculated to give, not only to those who are doing their best, but also to the 7,000 or 8,000 men who are living irksome lives in South Africa. Many of them gave up civil employment, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman did not mean anything very serious by his observations.


My hon. and gallant friend will recollect that I particularly explained to the House that the observations which I made had reference to a very few corps—the worst managed corps —and had no reference whatever to the great body of volunteers throughout the country, and I particularly added that it would be impossible to bring those corps up to the level of efficiency merely by increasing the amount of money paid to them.


I am glad to hear the observation that has fallen from my right hon. friend, but I still think it would be better to improve the corps. The commanding officer is only appointed for four years, and if it is desirable to remove him sooner it is quite possible to do it, but do riot turn into ridicule the whole force for simply the defects of one or two corps. A private Member's words do not have much effect, but, speaking as a Minister of War in this way, whose words are printed verbatim in all the papers throughout this and every country in the Empire, it does a great deal of harm. I am sure my right hon. friend will be glad to have this opportunity to correct any misapprehension. I must touch on the three stories. In regard to the old "chesnut," which relates to himself, and which he delights in telling at volunteer banquets and officers' dinners, he told it to me privately once, and this is the third time I have heard it, and I am weary thereof. It was a story of his undergraduate days. I daresay we all did extraordinary things in our undergraduate and in our younger days which we should not do now. But in one thing I can make his mind easy. He was doubtful if he ought to refund £2 10s. conscience money for his capitation grant to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not know when my right hon. friend was at Oxford, but the capitation grant was not given until 1873, so that if it was before that he need not do so. But what was true of the force in 1875 is not true of the force in 1902. The force has greatly improved, and does everything it can to improve itself, and we do not think the old stories of which Punch had so many pictures in other days should be reproduced today. There were two other stories, one of a commanding officer who was sent for to confer with the Secretary of State, and who charged his expenses.


He was not sent for. He said he came up.


I beg my right hon. friend's pardon; he came up, but lie came on duty and he charged his expenses. But I have always understood when the Secretary of State or the Under-Secretary of State or any officials of the War Office go anywhere on duty they always charge their expenses. Then there was another officer who made payments to his corps at the expense of the corps. We ought to have the particulars of that case, and if they are not satisfactory the officer ought to be brought to book. I should think very likely upon inquiry we should find it was only giving food to the men after a long march or several hours of duty, and, if so, it was a proper thing to do. But let us have the particulars, do not attempt to throw ridicule on the force with two or three stupid stories of other days. I will not detain the House at further length, because there are others who want, I know, to speak. I put a Motion down on the Paper, but as I understand I cannot take a division on it, it is not necessary to move it. If it had been possible to take a division I would move it. But I was only anxious to draw attention to the difficulties under which the Volunteers labour. The country is, I believe, attached to the Volunteer force, and has no intention whatever of dispensing with that force, at any rate at the present time, or supplementing it by any other force.

*(5.5.) MR. CHARLES SPENCER (Northamptonshire, Mid)

I know I ought to apologise to the House for intervening in this debate, more especially as the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down said that while the Volunteers were only valued at £3 10s., the Yeomanry were valued at £39. I admit that I am but humble and lowly, but at the same time I must enter my protest against the remark the right hon. Gentleman made on Tuesday night last. Let not the right hon. Gentleman think for a moment that we did not see that his words were intended to be humorous. The House laughed—it is very difficult to make the House laugh—and the right hon. Gentleman must have credit for having made it laugh. But outside the House considerable harm has been done to the force, I have heard, by the remarks, humorous as they may have been, made by the right hon. Gentleman. I do not believe the right hon. Gentleman intended to speak contemptuously of the force, but his words published broadcast throughout the country have done great harm. Take one case that I know, take the recruiting. Is it likely that men will come forward to join as recruits when the chief of the army in this country is laughing at the whole of the force? Recruiting is hard at all times I know. At the present time it is extremely hard. Is it likely, when we are doing all we can to increase the efficiency of this force, that men will come forward and join it when remarks, which I confess I think were unfortunate, are made by the Secretary of State in this House. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of efficiency rather as if he himself and Lord Roberts were under the impression that no volunteer had any idea of efficiency. We spend our time and money in trying to procure efficiency, and we try to make the volunteer forces as efficient as a volunteer force can be, and though the volunteer forces may be inefficient the country calls upon them to perform duties for which it is necessary they should be efficient.

There is one reason why I feel hurt by the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman last Tuesday. I am connected with just as good a regiment as the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken. I do not think it is quite so large in numbers, but I think it is as good a regiment as can be met with coming from the rural districts. Does the right hon. Gentleman know the enormous difficulties we have in the rural districts to arrive at proper efficiency in a volunteer force? Take the case of my own company: men live miles from the headquarters and come seven or eight miles to drill, and then, with regard to ranges, they go miles to the new range which happily we have been able to secure. All these difficulties and the train facilities on which our volunteer force largely depends should be, I think, considered by the right hon. Gentleman and the War Office. But I know this late volunteer order has done a great deal of harm; it has discouraged the men and has taken the heart out of some of the older volunteers who are anxious to remain in the force. Nobody expects a volunteer force to be as splendid in its drill arrangements as the guards, but though we are not quite so good as the guards, I am not sure that we are much behind them, and I will guarantee some volunteers to make as good a show as any regulars we have sent out to South Africa. What I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman and the War Office generally is not to treat the difficulties of the volunteer officers in an unsympathetic and contemptuous manner. We do not claim large sums of money for what we do. Believing as I do the enormous importance of the volunteer movement. I cannot sit down without saying I feel somewhat sore at the right hon. Gentleman's remarks.

*(5.10.) COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)

On Tuesday the House had the pleasure of listening to a speech by the Secretary of State for War, which in many of its parts was masterly,. Being a frank recognition of the faults of our system, and a fearless indication of how that system could be put right. It was an acknowledgment that up till now our soldier has been underpaid, that his terms of service have been too long, that in fact the War Office has been mistaken. Such a frank acknowledgment of error will always bring forgiveness. The speech will be celebrated, I think, for the historical research which was brought to bear in the hunting for arguments to support the right hon. Gentleman's theory. The House dived with him into the ashes of the Norman Conquest, to have disinterred a story of how the head of the then War Office, William Rufus, treated 10,000 unfortunate volunteers. We panted after him down the centuries, as, skipping sometimes two or three hundred years, the Secretary of State artistically brought out in strong relief the iniquities and incapacities of administrations, which tended to throw up in a strong light the work and the importance of the existing establishment in Pall Mall. Sir, no one in this House, I think, grudges the Secretary of State his triumph over the dead and gone—thank Heaven, dead and gone! effects of the Peninsular and Crimean Wars. We are thankful that we live in brighter and in better times, and that we find ourselves in more capable hands. The world has been improving all round; the country has not stood still, and it would have been a pity if the War Office had been the one institution that had made no progress.

In the Secretary of State's description of what is to be done for the soldier, I think the House must have gone with him as a whole. We do recognise that with the present wages in industry you cannot expect men to take service with the Regulars, only to be thrown out when too old to commence a trade, fit for nothing but labourers. The Secretary of State has taken a proper step. A man when he leaves at the end of three years will not now be too old to learn a trade. If he leaves at the end of eight years he will have had opportunities of saving, and I presume he will still have the power of re-engaging to complete his twenty-one years. All the right hon. Gentleman said about the Army we are thankful for and proudly endorse. His compliments to the Militia are reiterated by us who belong to a junior force, and our gratitude to that great constitutional body of men is heightened by the fact that for so many years their excellencies remained unknown to the War Office, of whom they were the ill-treated and despised step-children. Touching next on the Yeomanry, the Secretary of State said not a word that we cannot endorse. I think if he looks over the list of those who have gone out in that wonderful force he will find not a few names who are on the rosters of Volunteer regiments. Sir, it is when we come to the "Cinderella" of the War Office—shoved into that position vice the Militia promoted—that the Secretary of State and every Volunteer in this House and in the country part company. I have seen many creations of nature dancing. I have seen the little animal, the tiny but graceful creature, skipping from flower to flower, hardly leaving a trace on the petal of where its foot touched; and I have seen the other animal, the pachyderm, whose terpsichorean evolutions were a standing menace to the feet of unwary by standers. So is it with the play of human wit. There is the wit which pierces like a needle, a momentary pang and it is gone, having served its purpose, without leaving an indication of where it had taken effect; and there is the wit, whose lightest touch weighs a hundredweight, and which when lifted has left a bruise which is difficult to heal and very much more difficult to forgive. That exemplifies the treatment which the force that I am proud to be connected with met at the hands of the Secretary of State in his speech. The Secretary of State speaks about our not being efficient enough. Have we ever refused to meet the demands of the War Office? I defy the Secretary of State to bring an instance. I admit that as to this last issue of regulations we question the advisability of having a series of cast-iron rules issued from an already over-worked Department, in the midst of a great war, and harassed by such events as everyone regrets. But there was no denial of our intention to work for efficiency, and if we are to be accused of inefficiency let it be done in such a way that it gives no unnecessary offence. What were the stories brought forward by the Secretary of State for War? First of all, he accused former Secretaries of State for War—I see one opposite—and others about having said smooth things about the Volunteers, because they are a popular force, and because they wanted themselves to court popularity, while he is prepared to run counter to every popular feeling, for the sake of telling what he thinks to be the truth. I admire candour, but when a member of an administration boasts of possessing candour at the expense of his colleagues, I do not so much approve of it. Let me recite a few of the stories very shortly—I hope the House will allow me to do so—because I think it is better we should have this question of the Volunteers thrashed out once and for all, so that we may know where we stand. First of all, we have a story of what, according to the heading in a newspaper the next morning, are "Pious Frauds," and the first one has been committed by the Secretary of State himself. When in Oxford, he yielded to the blandishments of a commanding officer to personate an absent sergeant, thereby doing the Government out of £2 10s. The Secretary of State, who was then, according to himself, an innocent undergraduate, did not know what he was doing. Sir, there is an amphibious body of men in His Majesty's service, whose depôt I think is at Portsmouth, who have archives for stories of that description. There is then the story of bankrupt regiments—for I beseech the house to remember that the right hon. Gentleman was not in the singular number—that bankrupt regiments out of their want of cash have been in the habit of spending money on entertainments to their friends. If that is going on, it can be checked every year by the auditors' department in the accounts we have to render in great detail, and if it has not been checked it is the fault of the War Office; but that it prevails to any extent at all is to my mind absolutely not the case. We then have the story of falsification of registers. Might I recall to the mind of the right hon. Gentleman that these registers are not kept by volunteers; that it is the duty of the regular soldiers attached to the regiment to keep those registers; and that it is the duty of the adjutant, who is a regular soldier also, to supervise those non-commissioned officers? In shooting at the volunteer pigeon the right hon. Gentleman has hit the regular crow. I do not like tu quoques; it is not a nice form of argument, but it is forced upon me. The next is about some sergeant-instructor, who appears to have been the "Pooh Bah" of his regiment, filling every office in turn. He made himself pay clerk, for which he drew an indefinite number of shillings; he made himself, or was made, orderly room clerk, for which he drew 1s. a day, and he then voted himself into the position of assistant to himself, for which he paid himself another 3d. a day. This was—if he were an instructor, which I think the right hon. Gentleman said—a regular soldier, employed in the orderly room, where the adjutant (another regular soldier) is all-powerful.

Are not these stories just a little too thin? Are they good enough to bring before this House to raise a laugh? We are not all as gifted in the matter of raising laughs, but we feel them long after the echo of laughter has died away. What causes a man to join the Volunteers? It is not the pay; there is no pay. I have never been paid a farthing, nor has any one of my men touched a farthing, from the year 1859 to the year 1900, when we got the pay of our rank, when we gave up our holidays and left our work for a fortnight. It cannot be the shooting, because although the shooting average of Volunteers, considering the opportunities they have, is high, there are not 20 per cent. who shoot for pleasure. It is not the uniform, for many of the uniforms are singularly unattractive, and those that are a little bit gay are difficult to keep clean. What is it, Sir? It is patriotism. It is the innate soldierly feeling of the country that induces men to give their names in for a service which, when all is said and done, is the cheapest in the world. The cost of the Volunteers is something like from £3 10s. to £4 per man per annum. The whole force of the volunteers is maintained, I believe, at a smaller cost than the Brigade of Guards. And what have we done? We have saved the country, in conjunction with our brother volunteers from the Colonies and in the Yeomanry; we stepped between the country and disaster, for there is not a regular soldier in the War Office—not even the right hon. Gentleman himself, who is not a soldier—who would deny that but for the Volunteers from here and elsewhere this country would be in a very different situation to-day. As a mere incident the right hon. Gentleman mentioned our saving the country from conscription—as if it were nothing to be proud of. Well, perhaps it is not. But be that so or not, we have done it. We have sent 23,000 men out to South Africa at a shilling a day. There is not a regiment in the country that has not sent some men to the front. We may be of use, or we may not. But I would take the country's verdict on that sooner than I would take the right hon. Gentleman's. We may have claimed too much, or we may not have claimed enough. In a question of claims we have generally not pushed ourselves forward, but you have no right to make such a force as this exist on charity, and that is what it is largely doing.

Hon. Members might have gathered from the right hon. Gentleman's speech that money was wasted on the Volunteers. It is not wasted on the Volunteers. There is not an officer in the service who has not had taken out of his pocket since he joined as much as an officer of his rank in the army receives in pay. Take the case of my own regiment—and I do not quote it from any egotistical motive, but merely because it is the one I know best. I am put upon the same platform as any other regiment in the Metropolis here, who, l know, are hard enough put to it. But the average Metropolitan regiment, either here, in Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Liverpool, has, as a rule, one drill hall, half a dozen instructors at the outside, very often a joint range with others, or sometimes the use of Government ranges. What is my case? My regiment numbers over 1,500. I have eleven drill halls, of which I have hired three, and built eight or bought them at an average cost of £1,500 a piece. I had twelve ranges, and when the Government introduced a new rifle, they turned me out of nine, and the landlord put me out of a tenth. I had to build a range on a twenty-five years lease at £100 a year, which cost me £2,200, so that I have in twenty-five years to wipe off the cost of the range, as well as the rent and interest. And how is it done? In financial difficulties there are three ways which a man may adopt. He can beg, he can borrow, or he can steal. Most financiers adopt one, perhaps two, of the three. Most Volunteer officers do the lot. They beg front their friends, as I have cleared drill halls before now; they borrow from the bank; and I suppose bazaars and sales of work are, after all, only a genteel way of stealing. During the last Administration, when the Chief Secretary for Ireland had the duty of expounding the Estimates, we were always sure of a sympathetic hearing. He never asked us to do anything that was not done cheerfully, and the cost to the country was not great. I wish the House to note the position a commanding officer is put in connection with his drill halls. So long as there is a penny of debt on a drill hall so long does the War Office insist on the officer bearing the brunt of the debt. But whenever the drill hall is clear of debt—by whatever means, whether by the process of mendicancy, borrowing, or theft—that drill hall becomes the property of the country. Sir, I have cleared drill halls—not one nor two—by bazaars, and the moment the money is paid into the bank, title deeds have been made out in my name as representing the Government.

Sir, I have kept the House too long. The House is always very good to young Members, and I don't want to weary it. [Cries of "Go on."] But, as I said before, we had better understand the position we are in. Either we are to be recognised as an integral part of the forces of this country, or we are not. Either we are to be treated as rational beings, able and entitled to rank alongside our brethern of the Regulars, Yeomanry, or Militia, or we are not. Sir, I could go on telling stories; I could bring up the scandals of the Mounted Infantry, in which the War Office never knew its own mind for six weeks together. The scandal of my first of all being entreated to raise mounted men, then told to disband them, then an attempt made to starve us into submission to the War Office by breaking faith with us in our arrangements, then the re-establishment of the Mounted Infantry by Royal Warrant, and finally the orders to do a glorious and consecutive system of training for which no money was to be received. Sir, I could multiply these instances, but what is the use This House knows the kind of thing as well as I do. But I think I am entitled to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman for a little justice and mercy towards a force which the War Office now appears to despise, or at the very best does not certainly, properly recognise. In the old bad days there was a strong unpleasant feeling between the Regulars and the Volunteers. In the last administration it died out to a great extent, and we hoped it had gone for ever. Sir, it is reviving under the fostering care of the right hon. Gentleman. I appeal to this House to let us have a definite decision as to what we are to expect. Are we, who have done so much for the country, to be starved, to be looked upon as absolutely inefficient, to be derided, to have our work rendered absolutely impossible, or are we to have a chance of showing really what we can do under sympathetic and intelligent administration?

(5.38.) MR. FREDERICK WILSON (Norfolkshire, Mid)

said that as an old Volunteer he was very sorry to hear the tone adopted by the right hon. Gentleman, because incidents like those he referred to were within the knowledge of all Volunteer Officers. On the occasion referred to by the Secretary for War at Oxford, he seemed to have been a most admirable "Pious Fraud." With regard to the Volunteer Reserve he thought there ought to be a much better qualification than had been proposed. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to propose that the qualification should be attendance at the range once in two years, but he did not think that was sufficient and it should be at least attended once in twelve months. He knew from his Volunteer experience that rifle shooting was a great incentive to join the ranks, and he sincerely hoped that something would be done in the direction he had indicated. Only within the last few weeks they had heard of the closing of another great rifle range in Essex. Ranges in this country were steadily disappearing, and unless something was done to give Volunteers effective ranges he did not think they could hope to obtain a thorough efficient force. He hoped the right hon. Gentlemen would take up the question of rifle clubs so that they would not have to rely so much upon a standing army as upon a trained nation. He had been the captain of two rifle clubs, and they were of great use in teaching men who were unable to join a volunteer corp how to use a rifle. When a man had learned the use of a rifle he was half qualified for a soldier, and a month's drill in a camp would make him as good a soldier as the Boer was today. The Boers were a nation of volunteers, and they ought to encourage the English people to make as good material for soldiers as the Boers had done in South Africa. One of the particular demands of the rifle club was to be able to get more rifles and more ammunition upon cheaper terms. At the present time it was left to American gentlemen, like Mr. Astor, to assist rifle clubs. By establishing more miniature ranges they would revive the spirit of the "sixties," when every young man used to think it was necessary for him to be able to handle a rifle. Rifle-shooting in the "sixties" took the place of many of those games which were so popular in this country at the present moment. When the war in South Africa was over, he trusted that it would be a long time before they entered upon another. During that interval he hoped the Volunteer Army would assume far greater proportions than now. The Volunteers were established simply for home defence. It was not likely that England would be invaded at a day's notice, and if they had a lot of men trained in shooting, they would be very useful to defend the country. He hoped that the War Office, whatever they did for the Regular Army, would do all in their power to foster that love of patriotism which was inherent in the English race, and it should be impressed upon every Englishman that it was his bounden duty to be prepared, in case; of need, to fight for the land in which he lived.

* (5.45.) MR. WYLIE (Dumbartonshire)

I have a notice on the Paper— To call attention to the order demanding longer and more arduous training of the Volunteer forces without corresponding augmentation of allowances and facilities, which, it is believed, will seriously reduce these forces; whilst the growing necessities of the Empire require a large increase both of their numbers and efficiency, which should be secured by a substantial increase of capitation and other allowances and of facilities for drill and shooting. This is substantially the same as the Amendment placed on the paper earlier in session and unanimously approved by eighty Commanding Officers of Volunteer regiments from all parts of the country, and which they were very anxious to have debated on the Address, but which, on account of the exigencies of the Government, could not then be discussed. Since that time there has been a Committee appointed for the purpose of investigating the whole subject, but I think a debate on the floor of this House will be of great advantage to the cause. The authors of the new regulations are, I believe, anxious that they should be criticised, for they say that "the operation of the regulations will be carefully watched, and that any Amendments which experience shows to be desirable will be effected." It is for the purpose of giving a few hints in connection with this subject that I have deemed it necessary to speak on the present occasion. I quite concur with the remarks of my hon, and gallant friend the Member for Central Sheffield when speaking of the paragraph in the new regulations to the effect that "for some years past the Volunteers have constantly claimed to be seriously accepted as a reliable and organised section of the Army for home defence. It has now been determined that the responsibility claimed shall be realised." The paragraph further sets forth that "the State requires that a suitable standard of military training shall be secured, in return, for the outlay of public money." Now, I venture to say that no other State, ancient or modern, has ever secured a better return for the public money expended than the British nation has done in its Volunteer force, and I am quite certain that, with few exceptions, the whole country recognises them as a reliable, organised, and most important section of the Army for home defence. I am glad to say that it is very fortunate for us that foreign nations so recognise them also. I think the phrasing of this paragraph is a very good example of the War Office depreciation of the Volunteer force, and I was very sorry to read the statement, especially after the long process of starvation to which they have been subjected.

Let me give only two instances of the starving process which the Volunteers have been subjected to. Just the other day we were informed that the Runymede rifle range was threatened with sale—a range which has been used by thirty volunteer regiments in and around the Metropolis, and who have no other opportunity Office practising their shooting. The War Office coolly replied that as the range was not required for Regulars or Militia, the best thing the Volunteer colonels could do was to buy it themselves in their own interest. I hope, however, that the strong representations which have been made to the War Office in connection with this range will be given effect to and that it will be retained for the benefit of the Volunteer. The other instance of the process of starvation was this: an able Volunteer colonel told me that last year he went to Hanover and there visited a museum of antiquated instruments of war. He found there the very gun which his own brigade had still in use. That speaks for the parsimony with which the Volunteer force is treated. It is an example of the contempt, neglect and parsimonious treatment to which they have been subjected at the hands of the War Office.

I was very sorry to find my right hon. friend the Secretary of State on Tuesday last adopting a tone of disparagement towards the Volunteer force. In fact, his whole statement in regard to the Volunteers was most disappointing with the exception of his proposal for a Reserve. He disclosed a most admirable and liberal policy in connection with the regular army—a policy which, I venture to say, will, in conjunction with his reorganisation scheme, add his name to the list of great reforming War Secretaries. The right hon. Gentleman will ever be popular with the soldiers as the man who has secured for them the largest increase of pay ever granted to the rank and file of the British Army. He disclosed that policy towards the Regulars in an able and statesmanlike speech, which, however, I have no hesitation in saying, was marred by his rather antiquated jokes in regard to the Volunteers. For every funny story about the Volunteers, we could give him twenty more racy about the Regulars and the Militia, and fifty still more racy about the hypercritical War Office itself, but this is not the time for sarcastic anecdotes about the various branches of the Service. It is rather the time for serious consideration of how all can best be united and utilised for the defence of the Empire. I believe that the new regulations indicate an honest attempt on the part of the Secretary for War and the Commander-in-Chief to improve the efficiency of the Volunteers. But these gentleman have been so much occupied with the practical conduct of the war, and with their duties in connection with the reorganisation of the Army, that they have not had time to go into the details of this question, and they have committed the very great blunder of exacting greater duties from the Volunteers without a corresponding increase of allowances and facilities. But I do not attach so much importance to the facetious remarks of the Secretary of State in connection with the Volunteers as some of my hon. friends who have spoken before me, because I have noticed that the right hon. Gentleman is, sometimes, not able to refrain from jocosities, even at the expense of serious subjects for the promotion of which he is very anxious, and I hope that the Volunteers will, before long, have as much occasion to thank him for benefits conferred, as the Regulars have at the present moment.

In regard to the regulations to which reference has been made, I may state, for the information of those who have not studied them, that they provide that no corps or individual volunteer will be exempted from attending a camp for two consecutive years; secondly, that ten preliminary company drills must be put in by every Volunteer before he goes into camp. Formerly no compulsory drills were demanded from Volunteers who went into camp. I quite concur with the hon. Member for the Mid Division of Northamptonshire, that this regulation would very materially reduce the strength of the Volunteer force if unaccompanied by an increase of allowances and facilities for drill. I have not now the advantage of being in the active Volunteer service. My interest in the Volunteers arises from an old connection, but I have still the advantage of being in close touch with many able commanding officers of Volunteers in various parts of the country, and from every one of them I have received information to the same effect. I will not weary the House with quotations from the letters I have received, but I will simply state what I learn from them and from other sources of information. Many Volunteer colonels believe that those demands will result in a reduction in the force of 25 per cent., some say 40 or 50 per cent. and others say 60 per cent.; assuming that the reduction amounts to the minimum of 25 per cent. the Volunteer force will be reduced to 200,000. I think the fact has been overlooked that many Volunteer regiments even with their present numbers have not sufficient money for their requirements. When these numbers are materially reduced the capitation grant will be reduced and many of our regiments will be threatened with bankruptcy and some of them even with extinction. Under these circumstances I think it would have been wise if the Government had made arrangements for increasing the efficiency of the Volunteer force by increasing grants and allowances.

I quite concur with the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield that a great deal of the success of the Volunteer force depends on finance, and the practical suggestions that I would make are that the capitation grant should be increased 15s., that is from 35s. to 50s. That would amount to about £200,000; that the camp allowance should be increased from 2s. 6d. to 5s. per day, which would amount to £40,000, or less than a quarter of a million altogether—less than one day's cost of the war. This, I believe, would enable the Volunteers to overcome all their difficulties. One of the great lessons of the war has been to show the intense jealousy of foreign countries at the success of the Empire, and also their bitter hostility towards it. It is the duty of the War Office to be prepared for any contingency, and according to their own reorganisation scheme, the Government intend to utilize 100,000 Volunteers for the defence of London alone. That is not a man too many, but if they do so with the reduced numbers and deducting 56,000 in Scotland, there would only be left 40,000 or 50,000 for the defence of England and Wales altogether, an entirely inadequate number. According to their own showing, therefore, they are bound to take some more liberal measures for keeping up the Volunteer force.

I maintain that an increase in the force could be easily secured by a substantial increase of the grants, allowances, and facilities. I believe that would involve very little expense in proportion to the magnitude of the object. By that means the Government could secure a Volunteer force of 500,000 men with a training and efficiency not only equal to that which they propose for the majority of the Volunteers at the present moment, but with a training equal to that of the twenty-five picked battalions who are to form part of the Army corps. By serving four years and passing into the Reserve for six years, in the course of a generation we would have a Volunteer Army of two or three millions of men ready for the defence of the country, and efficient enough to enable them to go anywhere. This plan is not merely theoretical; it is founded upon actual practical experience. The total number of efficient in the United Kingdom is 270,000, and the proportion for England is two-thirds of a unit per cent. of the population, or 214,000; in Scotland it is 1¼ per cent., or 56,000, and in the county which I have the honour to represent, and the Volunteers of which are commanded by the hon. and gallant Member for the Kilmarnock Burghs, the ratio is 1⅖ per cent. If all the Volunteers were in proportion to that represented by Scotland. instead of 270,000 we would have a Volunteer Army of 460,000; or if the proportion were the same as that represented by Dumbarton shire, we would have a Volunteer Army of 520,000. The closer the Regular Army is associated with the civilians the better for the Army and for the country.

Let me give an estimate of the cost of a Volunteer Army of half a million men and a Reserve of two or three millions. The Volunteer force is the cheapest organised force in the world. My hon. friend the Member for Central Sheffield says that the cost of the Volunteers is between £3 and £4 per capita, but I beg to state that when all the surrounding expenses —not only the immediate—are taken into account, the cost of a Volunteer private is £6 2s. 6d., of a yeoman, £20 6s., of a Militiaman, £19 6s,, and of a regular soldier £84 10s; so that the cost of a Volunteer is only a third of a militiaman, less than a third of a yeoman, and a fourteenth of a regular soldier. But, in order to bring the Volunteers up to the number and efficiency which I have indicated, you would require to considerably increase their allowances. What I would suggest is that besides increasing the capitation grant to 50 per cent., the expense of drill halls and rifle ranges should be paid for them, and a more liberal supply of ammunition should be given them. Besides that, the men who have to abandon their ordinary occupation in order to attend camp should be granted an allowance of from 10s. to £1 per week. Then, in addition to the Adjutant, there should be a paid Sergeant-Major and Quartermaster-Sergeant; and last, but not least, we should have at the War Office a permanent staff entirely in sympathy with the Volunteers. If there had been such a staff, no such Army Order as had been complained of would have been issued. I hope when the Committee is dealing with this subject it will not confine itself to tiding over the present emergency, but take up the whole question of the Volunteer force in a broad and comprehensive spirit, so as to give us a magnificent Army ready for the defence of the country, and to meet any emergency that might arise from the combination of any two or three Continental Powers. Within the last two years the War Office has been blowing hot and cold in regard to the Volunteer force. Two years ago they encouraged volunteers to increase their numbers and go into camp by the magnificent allowance of £897,000, or very nearly £5 per head, and the formation of cyclist and mounted infantry corps by liberal grants. Now, the War Office coolly turns round and informs the Volunteers that their numbers are to be very much reduced; that the allowance for going into camp is to be reduced by a fourth, the allowance for the cyclist corps is to be reduced by a half, and to the mounted infantry to less than an eighth of the amount formerly given. I must confess that it is very disappointing, after the brilliant services they have rendered, to find that while the Militia are to be increased by 50 per cent., and the Yeomanry 150 per cent., the Volunteers are to be decreased by from 25 to 40 per cent. The Volunteers have certainly not merited this treatment at the hands of the War Office.

I have no doubt that probably the treatment they have been receiving has been at the instigation of those military authorities who are very strong advocates of conscription. These authorities, however, may make up their minds that with the brilliant results of the Volunteer forces, both Colonial and British, on the field of war, there is no idea at the present moment of conscription being adopted by the nation. The conscription theory, however, is gaining ground. Lord Wemyss, who was one of the founders of the volunteer movement, as Lord Elcho, and for many years a commander of a famous regiment, the other day expressed his regret that he had ever had anything to do with the Volunteer force, because they were a barrier to the adoption of the ballot for the militia; and the hon. Member for Flintshire, who had been always regarded as a peace-at-any-price man, has been so appalled by the hostile feeling on the Continent to Great Britain, that he has run to the opposite extreme, and argues that every man in the country should be put through a conscription drill. If the scheme which I have advocated were adopted there would not be the slightest need for conscription. The great Volunteer movement has done much for the country; it has rendered it practically invulnerable; it has saved the nation hundreds of millions of pounds; it has increased the military ardour of our youths; it has increased recruiting for the regular army in times of emergency; it has improved the shooting of the regular army itself, and it has proved the most efficacious method of training our young men both mentally and physically, in spite of the opposition of the military authorities who have a leaning to conscription. No other country in the world has such ample material ready to hand, eager to be employed, and only waiting for very moderate financial assistance in order to develop into an army between two and three million men. In the meantime there are some Volunteer regiments which are threatened with extinction, and others with financial embarrassment. It is our duty to come to their assistance, to see that their numbers are at least kept up to their present standard, that their able and zealous officers, who have given their time and ability to the movement, without fee or reward, should not be overburdened with financial responsibilities, and that the whole force should be put into that position which its self-sacrificing and gratuitous service at home and gallant conduct abroad have so well deserved. This we can do very easily and effectually at once by a grant not exceeding a quarter of a million—a mere trifle to the country, but which to the Volunteers would mean prosperity and comfort. I believe that if the Secretary of State for War would adopt some such policy as I have indicated, he would have the support of the great majority of the people of the country, and I am sure of the overwhelming majority of this House.

(6.13.) MR. CHARLES ALLEN (Gloucestershire, Stroud)

Like every other Member who has spoken, I belong to a corps which, in my opinion, is one of the smartest in the country. The new regulations in regard to camps form for us no difficulty at all; and the Secretary of State for War will be glad to hear that we have had no difficulty in regard to recruiting, and that the company with which I am connected obtained in one evening eighteen recruits. But we have our difficulties, being a country corps, in regard to the supply of officers. These are not equally spread over the battalion. In one company we have five officers, in one we have no officer, and in two we have only one officer. The difficulty of the company without an officer is only temporary, but in the meantime it runs the risk of being disbanded. In another the officer is engaged in Government service two or three times a week, and the company being split up into three sections—two of them ten miles apart—it must be evident how difficult it is for that officer to attend all the drills. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that in future efficiency in parade drill was not to be considered sufficient for Volunteer officers. If that means doing away with the necessity of going to such schools as Chelsea in future, then I am at one with the right hon. Gentleman. A young officer cannot always give up one month to go to school. In these days it seems absurd that a Volunteer officer should have to go to school for one month to do close order drill. My experience is that a month at Chelsea does teach parade drill uncommonly well, but it turns you out a sort of wooden automaton. Unlike my hon. and gallant friend, I am not in the position of being the commander of a battalion, and I am not at all sorry, but I understand that when a battalion goes to camp the men get a penny per mile per man, but nothing is allowed for baggage. Country corps are not allowed even to average the amount, and if one company costs 6s. per man to go to camp, and another company 10s., the first company gets only 6s. and the next only 8s., and the commanding officer is out of pocket to that extent. We have heard a good deal about rifle ranges. I quite agree that the Government ought certainly to find the money for rifle ranges, and it is quite absurd to come down upon us and tell us that we must be more efficient if you will not find us more rifle ranges. If the Government say that they cannot do this, why do they not take up a little Bill for which I am responsible? It is a very harmless Bill, and I believe, without doing any very great harm to anybody at all, it would very considerably help local and city councils to get rifle ranges, which they are most anxious to do. I commend this Bill to the notice of the Secretary for War and the noble Lord opposite. In conclusion, I should like to say that all Volunteers are exceedingly anxious to make themselves as efficient as possible, and all we ask is that proper opportunities should be afforded us on the part of the Government.

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

I would ask leave now to answer some of the Questions which have been brought before the House in connection with the Volunteer movement. I must, first of all, ask the indulgence of the House while I—I am afraid very indifferently—take the part of my right hon. friend the Secretary of I State for War, who is himself debarred by the Rules of the House from explaining, as I think he could so easily do, the I wrong construction put upon the words which he used on Tuesday. My right hon. friend used two expressions which I think must and ought to be taken in connection with any of those other remarks to which exception has been taken. The leading passages in my right hon. friend's speech, if I may say so, on the Volunteer question, ought to be guided by these words. My right hon. friend said— Do not let it be supposed for one moment that I am saying that these things are general in the Volunteer force; and, again— I yield to no man In my appreciation of the efforts of the Volunteers. My right hon. friend has surely shown that he has always been willing to take the part of those who in the service of the country are doing their best to help themselves and the country. Because my right hon. friend made a joke which hon. Members have described as ancient, that has been taken as being a depreciation of a force which nobody has done more than my right hon. friend to supplement in their efforts. I hope the country at large will not allow itself to believe that my right hon. friend or those at the War Office are in any way prejudiced against what is, after all, a great national force of the country. My right hon. friend has endeavoured in every way in the past to help the force. The Commander-in-Chief has thoroughly shown his appreciation of the inestimable benefits derived from the force which is at present so ably represented by General Turner. The regulations put forward for increasing the efficiency of the War Office—[ironical cheers and laughter]—well, they both go together—for increasing the efficiency of the Volunteers, has been much commented upon. Now, with regard to efficiency, there must be two ways of looking at it. There is the efficiency which is aimed at by the military authorities, and there is the efficiency aimed at by every commanding officer who also knows the local conditions which he may have to encounter. I do not believe that there is any difficulty whatever in securing the efficiency considered necessary by the military authorities and by those who are responsible for the raising and training of the corps. These regulations were submitted to a Committee, of which I myself and another hon. Member of this House, the Member for West Dorsetshire, are members, and I think it will be found that the alteration is not nearly so great as might at first be supposed. The Committee has practically ended their labours, and they hope to report in a few days to my right hon. friend with a view to getting the revised regulations issued as speedily as we possibly can. I believe that there is not the slightest doubt that the regulations as amended by the Committee, as adjusted to deal with the difficulties, will entirely meet all the objections which have been made, and that without any loss of efficiency they can be carried out in their entirety for the whole force.


Will they be laid on the Table?


No, Sir. They are for the guidance of my right hon. friend. They will afterwards be submitted in due course. My right hon. friend has told several of the commanding officers that he intends to see them again this on subject. The Institute of Commanding Officers has also asked permission to send a deputation, and after they have been seen—and I am confident they will approve of the alteration—then these regulations will be put forward not only as the suggestion of my right hon. friend, but as the suggestion of the whole of the Volunteer commanding officers.

The whole of this Volunteer question is most difficult to deal with. It is not as if it were a new force. It is not as if, when it was started, any one had the slightest idea of what the force would be. It has been built up by patchwork. It has been added to here and there, and all these things make it more difficult than if we were starting de novo. Looking back to 1863, we see at once that the whole Volunteer force has completely changed in character. In 1863 there were 131,000 efficients, costing £152,995, or roughly £1 7s. 6d. per head. Now they have grown to 270,369, at a cost of £1,145,000, or an average of £3 15s. 6d. per man. To my mind, that shows one thing which we must bear in mind in regard to the whole Volunteer force—that, with the growth of time, there has been a complete change in the personnel of the men who form the force. In 1863 it was made up of men who were able to devote their services to the country without having to ask for any monetary consideration. During the process of time that has changed, and, although some corps remain on the same footing as those of 1863, undoubtedly in the majority of cases the corps are made up of men who cannot spare the time or the means, and who have to earn their livelihood. You have had to meet a vastly different state of affairs as compared with the early years of the Volunteer movement, You have been obliged to have the same set of rules, and, what is more difficult to deal with, the same amount of money has had to be spent upon them. Picture to yourself two corps which you know in camp. I will take my hon. and gallant friend's corps. They are most likely men who have to pay for the privilege of joining the corps. Alongside them in camp you may have a battalion formed entirely of men who come from the East End of London, and who are obliged to be paid in camp. To meet those difficulties you have still got the same pay and the same regulations. Therefore hon. Members must realise the enormous difficulty that there is in dealing with the force as a whole.

It has been said with perfect justice that a great deal of this outcry against the regulations is connected with the finance of the various corps. What I have said about the difficulty that we have in applying the same regulations to the various corps is doubly emphasised when you come to deal with the question of having to give the same amount of money. It has been suggested, but I hope not seriously, that there should be a difference made in the amount given to the various corps. I should not like to see that suggestion adopted; it would make almost a class distinction. We have always endeavoured to regard the Volunteers as men who, whatever their rank or station in life, were equally patriotic in giving their services, as far as possible, to their country; and therefore we wish that they should all be on the same footing, and that no distinction should be made as regarded finance. At the same time, when I come to look into the finances of the corps, as I have done only lately for the first time, they do show great discrepancies in the way in which the finances of the various corps are managed. The same thing has to be done by various corps, yet one regiment manages to do it extremely cheaply, while another runs into debt because they do not know how to do that thing as well as the other regiment. Not for a moment do I say it is not doing its best to do it economically, but it simply has not the knowledge. So far as I can see, we do not afford a regiment of that kind the knowledge which would enable them to manage better; but I hope we shall be able to make arrangements for giving local assistance to corps in dealing with their accounts, and for showing them the best way in which to manage. Not only Members of the Committee, but Members who came before the Committee, pointed out that there were men kept on the strength of their regiments whom they could not call efficient, and who, in their heart of hearts, they would rather not have; but they were unable to get rid of these men, because a falling off in the numbers meant a loss in their capitation grant which they were not able to stand. That does not seem to me the right system on which to work. It does not seem right that this country should put forward a large number of men as being a proof of her strength when there are men riot actually efficient, who are obliged to be kept on the strength of a regiment in order to secure the due efficiency of the rest. That is a matter to which my right hon. friend was going to give his attention. I do not myself believe that the amount of money that is given is as insufficient as hon. Members would have us believe, but I do think it might be better applied, not only by the War Office, but, in some cases, by those who administer it. My right hon. friend is going to take all this into consideration, but the consideration of this matter cannot be done hurriedly; it can only be done by drawing out various schemes and getting advice on those schemes, not by a Committee, but from those who are competent to judge of matters connected with the Volunteer force. My right hon. friend hopes to be able before long to set himself to that task.

I have little more to add with regard to mounted infantry companies. I believe those companies were started without due regard to what they would grow to. We had ample proof that there was a great desire in this country to form an irregular mounted force. With that object in view, the new Imperial Yeomanry has been formed. That force has met with great success, and so did the mounted infantry for a time. But the two forces can hardly exist side by side; we want the one or the other. My right hon. friend has said he wanted the Imperial Yeomanry, and therefore I hope we shall use every endeavour to get the mounted infantry to join the Imperial Yeomanry.


said many of the best men in the Volunteer force were joining the Imperial Yeomanry, and that made their difficulties very much greater. According to the regulations issued, joining the Imperial Yeomanry was equivalent to joining the Regular Army, and these men broke their Contracts and put their regiment in a financial difficulty.


I quite understand, and though I cannot give any definite assurance that the Government will be able to meet the hon. Member's views, I can assure him the question will be considered. My right hon. friend wishes me to say he will look into the question of expense, and will endeavour to save those corps who have come forward with a mounted infantry company from being put to any loss whatever in regard to the formation of that company. My right hon. friend stated that the post of Inspector General of Auxiliary Forces is not going to be abolished. But there will be some changes. It has been found that a great many of the matters connected both with the Yeomanry and the Volunteers, which are sent up to the War Office for decision, are local matters. Any assistant General Turner might have, though he might be cognisant of difficulties in Surrey, could not be equally cognisant of difficulties in Northumberland, and of difficulties in Cornwall. In regard to these questions of advice and administration, there will be, as far as possible, decentralisation. All matters which do not affect the Volunteer force as a whole, will be considered locally by the general officer commanding. To settle these questions he must have some local advice; and the Government hopes, before the drill season comes on, to be in a position to give to each general officer commanding an army corps, or a district, that local assistance which will enable him to give decisions, and would prevent that friction which must inevitably exist when they endeavour to apply cast-iron rules.


asked whether the assistant would be a Volunteer.


The terms are not definitely fixed, but there will be a representative from each force to give advice on that force. I cannot agree entirely with those who wish to see the Government do everything in regard to the provision of ranges. I have invariably found that when the Government apply for land for any purpose, worthless land becomes worth its weight in gold. The consequence is that the price becomes prohibitive; and land which may be obtained by local bodies at a reasonable price becomes practically barred to the Government. Nobody wishes more than the Commander-in-Chief to see good shooting throughout all branches of the Army, and nobody is more determined than my right hon. friend as far as possible to give effect to that wish. The War Office will do all that they possibly can, but there must be a limit to the amount they can spend, and the money cannot be allowed to go all into one particular centre. We must endeavour to distribute the money to the best advantage, to Volunteers as a whole. I ask the House to wipe out from their minds, and the mind of the country, any idea that my right hon. friend is not sympathetic to the force. I hope the House and the country will understand that the Government recognises the great things that the Volunteers have done for the country in the last few years, and that the last thing we wish to do is to show ingratitude by in any way hindering those who have come forward and, at great sacrifice of time, and, in most cases of money, are doing what lies to their hands to help their country.

(6.42.) MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)

I think we all of us have sympathy in respect to the object of the Secretary of State that the non-efficients should be wiped out of the Volunteer force, but I hope it may also be the object of the Government that their places shall be filled with additions to the force, because the war in South Africa has shown even more than the advocacy of the Volunteer officers in this House what a reliable force we have had to depend on in case of need. What I wish to do is to put one or two points to the War Office with regard to ranges and other local requirements, and the way in which local needs may be supervised and as far as possible met. Every one is glad that the Volunteer Department at the War Office will be strengthened, but there is another way in which the wants of the Volunteers can be met, and that is by giving Generals Commanding in Army Corps Districts the powers promised by the Secretary of State last year and again referred to by him the other day. Take Scotland for example; in that case it would be quite possible to give a good many of the powers still exercised by the War Office to the General Commanding in Scotland. I have not the honour of the acquaintance of the distinguished officer there, but from what one has heard I am sure no one could be better qualified to supervise the concerns of the Auxiliary forces in Scotland; and what is possible there, must be possible elsewhere. We should like to know what are the powers which have already been devolved upon general officers commanding Army Corps Districts, or are likely to be devolved during the current year. So far as I am informed, very little development has yet taken place, and I gather from the speech of the Secretary of State for War that he does not contemplate giving extended powers to the Generals commanding the three northern Army Corps Districts—viz, Scotland, York, and Colchester—at present. As to ranges, I believe anyone in the position of an officer commanding the, forces in an Army Corps District can do a great deal to help. Hitherto the difficulties as to providing ranges have not been thrown in the way of Volunteers so much by owners as by the agents of the Government themselves. Complaints have been made as to the expense to which the State is put in connection with the purchase of laud. But very many of the ranges are given free. In the country districts a large proportion of ranges have not cost the Government anything at all. In eases where the cost is excessive, I think it arises from not having given the War Office stronger powers in regard to taking land for ranges. That is a matter which for some years was pressed from this side of the House, but without much success, and I hope that now it will be unanimously supported on both sides. We could then have a sufficient supply of ranges. As I was saying, one of the difficulties we have had to deal with has been with the Government agents themselves, who have closed many ranges as dangerous where there was no reason whatever for anticipating danger. That is a matter which requires to be looked into by men on the spot, and that is why I lay so much emphasis no merely on strengthening the Department at the War Office connected with the Auxiliary forces, but also on giving the general officers commanding those powers recommended by the Dawkins Committee. No doubt we may save on the Volunteer Estimate by reducing the number of those who are non-efficient; but, on the other hand, I think more money must be spent on the force in making those who remain thoroughly efficient, and in attracting fresh members to the force. The right hon. Gentleman, I freely admit, has done his best to give the voluntary system for the whole Army a fair chance by taking a bold step and raising the pay. As one opposed to conscription in any form, I heartily support his proposal. But we have always regarded the Volunteer force as a security against conscription, and I trust that, while we recognise fully the effort made to give us a strong, regular Army under the voluntary system, the right hon. Gentleman will not do less to give us a strong Volunteer force, which we believe to be the greatest possible support and security to the voluntary system.

(6.51.) MR. GRETTON (Derbyshire, S.)

I do not want to intervene in this debate at any length, but I should be sorry if the impression prevailed in the House or in the country at large that a spirit obtained in the Volunteer force against the new regulations which have been put forward for improving their efficiency. I represent a country corps, and we should, no doubt, find difficulties in meeting the new requirements. But those difficulties are not insuperable, and we do not complain about them. The country has come to rely on the military efficiency of the Volunteer force, and we consider that our military efficiency can be improved, and are anxious, so far as we can, with the assistance of the authorities, to effect the improvement. In the past there has been a great deal of doubt as to the actual position of the Volunteer force. Many of us thought the Volunteers were merely tolerated by the military authorities because they were popular and could not very well be got rid of. But another view is now being taken of their position, and efforts are being made to make them what I myself think they have not been hitherto—a thoroughly efficient military force. Much has been said about the remarks made and the stories told by the right hon. Gentleman. I do not take them very seriously, nor do I think the country does, and I believe there is sufficient common sense in the Volunteer force to receive the speech in the spirit in which it was intended, and to understand that the remarks were not intended to apply to the Volunteer force in general.

I do not desire to detain the House longer, but, as representing a country corps, I welcome the new regulations, especially as regards attendance at camp. The military spirit created by a stay in camp is most valuable, and we find, at any rate in the country, that the only really valuable time we have for training our officers and men in the various corps is the time spent in camp. If I might throw out a suggestion, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether he could not make an increased grant to those corps which are able to take a large percentage of their strength into camp for a longer period than one week, because I believe it would add very materially indeed to the efficiency of the corps that were able to do so.

*(6.55.) MR. NANNETTI (Dublin, College Green)

hoped the House would pardon his intervention in a debate on a subject of so much importance to English Members, but a sense of his responsibility as a representative of a constituency largely interested in the question of Army contracts compelled him to call the attention of the House to the manner in which Ireland was treated so far as those contracts were concerned. The noble Lord had said that the policy of the War Office was as much as possible to decentralise. But how far was that statement consistent with the attitude of the War Office in its treatment of Ireland in all matters appertaining to the supply of the troops in the country? On several occasions he had brought the question before the House, but had always received anything but a sympathetic or generous answer. His complaints had been met with the utmost curtness, and it was with the hope of obtaining some redress from the Secretary of State himself that he was compelled again to raise the question. Last year he was told by the noble Lord that it was a matter for the military authorities in Ireland to deal with. Consequently he devoted the recess to endeavouring to bring the grievance of Irish workers and traders to the notice of the responsible authorities in Ireland. He wrote a letter to the Duke of Connaught, the Commander-in-Chief of the forces in Ireland, who, he believed, was in sympathy with much of the claim put forward by Irish manufacturers. It was evident from the tenour of his observations before the Committee on the re-organisation of the Army that, being on the spot, His Royal Highness had a better knowledge of the wants and requirements of Ireland than had the officials at headquarters, but unfortunately those observations did not meet with the sympathy and support they should have done at the War Office. In a sympathetic reply to the letter (which asked that a deputation of trade representatives might be received) His Royal Highness stated in the course of his letter— That before troubling the deputation to wait on him he would wish you to lay before him clearly what are the points to which you desire to invite his attention. He (the hon. Member) then sent a definite statement of the points the deputation desired to bring forward, viz.— (1st) The securing for local trades in Ireland a share in the contracts for supplies required for the troops in Ireland; (2nd) a wider extension of the workshop system which already obtains in the Island Bridge and other barracks, wherein civilian tradesmen are employed in the repair and manufacture of saddlery and other works for the troops quartered in Ireland; (3rd) the securing for Irish contractors of the supplies for canteens in Ireland. He wished the House to bear in mind that in the letter from His Royal. Highness he conceded practically the point as to receiving the deputation, but he asked to be furnished with the points upon which the deputation desired to address him. He told His Royal Highness in the letter he wrote him that Alderman Doyle, President Dublin Trades Council; Messrs. E. L. Richardson, Secretary Irish Trades Congress; James Chambers, P.L.G., Saddlers and Harness Makers Society; W. J. Leahy, T.G., Coopers Society; and — Maloney, Brushmakers Society, would accompany the deputation, together with Major Jameson, M.P., Mr. William Field, M.P., and himself. He believed that it was the intention of His Royal Highness to have received the deputation, but evidently pressure was put upon him from some quarter, for he received the following letter—

"Adjutant-General's Office,

"Royal Hospital, Dublin,

"25th October, 1901.

"Sir,—His Royal Highness the Commander of Forces in Ireland directs me to acknowledge, the receipt of your letter of the 23rd October, and, in reply, to inform you that, after a careful perusal of it, he has come to the conclusion that the several points therein mentioned are matters which only can be decided at Army headquarters. Such being the case, it would not be consistent with military discipline for His Royal Highness to receive a deputation, and give any expression of opinion which might be at variance with those of his military superiors. If, however, you are of opinion that a further communication—giving more detailed information on the points—would make your case more clear, His Royal Highness will be glad to receive and forward it to the War Office with his remarks."

He was very much disappointed with that letter, and his disappointment was shared by the workers in Ireland, who thought that with reference to War Office contracts they would be treated with the same consideration as the people in this country. He was loth to give up his correspondence with His Royal Highness, because he did not consider that either himself or his constituents had been fairly treated, and in asking for something in return for what Ireland contributed to the Army he was only asking for what they were fully entitled to.

How different was the treatment of Ireland to that which was meted out to the colonies, notwithstanding the fact that they contributed I nothing towards the up-keep of the Army. During the evidence of His Royal Highness it transpired that if a ladder was wanted for the troops in Ireland they had to send to Wool-wich for it, and if they wanted a cart or a waggon they had to order it from Woolwich, although all those things could be manufactured in Ireland as well as in Woolwich and could be bought as cheaply in Ireland. So long as they were able to supply those articles as cheap in Ireland, they ought to get their share of the orders. With regard to the opening of the depots, His Royal Highness asked the following questions:— 8790. Where are the ladders manufactured now?—They are either made at Woolwich or purchased locally. 8791. Do you mean to say an ordinary ladder has to go round from Woolwich?— 8792. But in your opinion, they could he just as well inspected in Ireland?—Yes. They could be just as well inspected here. 8794. (CHAIRMAN): Are there any other articles like ladders which could be so easily manufactured in Ireland which are supplied in the same way from Woolwich?—Yes. Brooms and brushes, etc., and such barrack stores. This would encourage trade in Ireland. He was very sorry to say that there were very few people in the same position as the Duke of Connaught in Ireland who favoured that idea. He wanted to know was it because of the expense that Ireland was deprived of that right? Was it because the articles were more durable? No, it was nothing of the kind, but it was really part and parcel of the policy of taking all they could front Ireland and giving nothing in return. It was the policy of destroying Irish industries and then turning round and telling them that they were not able to hold their own. Upon this question of expense the evidence was as follows:— 8795. All these things have to be sent over to Ireland, and the freight on a large mass of things is considerable; whereas you could buy them on the spot or make them on the spot; if this were done, a contract could be made to include delivery to any station or barracks. 8796. What is an Ordnance workshop limited to doing, if you cannot make a ladder?— Repairs, really. That is the only thing they are doing. He would like to call attention to a Question which he put with reference to the barracks where the saddlery and harness work was done for the troops in Ireland. When he asked if that depôt was used to its fullest extent, the right hon. Gentleman declined to answer the Question. That was a workshop erected out of the taxes, capable of accommodating 20 or 30 saddlers, with the intention of supplying the troops in the country, and the result was that there were only six men employed there, and saddlery and harness were supplied from the sweating dens of England, and when they arrived in Ireland they had to be altered by Irish workmen. The Government would save money if they were to carry out the recommendations made by the Duke of Connaught and insist upon having the troops in Ireland supplied by the artisans and workmen of that country. The evidence went on:— 8797. Surely you have plenty of officers in Ireland competent to inspect blankets and ladders?—Yes, any inspection that can be made by an artificer. 8798. (SIR GEORGE CLARKE). And, in some cases, might it not be cheaper to purchase locally?—Much Cheaper. He directed the attention of the House to the pertinent Question put by an hon. Member sitting on the Benches above him, and whose absence he regretted, as he was sure he would support the claim made by him for a share of this work:— 8799. (Mr. MATHER.) And it would be a matter of policy also to employ Irish labour to supply the Army?—Yes. 8800. (Mr. BECKETT.) I was going to ask you whether you do not think that would be a good plan from every point of view?—Yes. Of course they must come up to the standard, and they must not be more expensive than they would be; but as a matter of fact they would be less expensive. After the evidence given at that inquiry, was it not surprising to find that the same condition of things still existed? Was it any wonder that in Ireland, when artisans and manufacturers saw waggons and other articles imported wholesale with the names of Bristol or other makers on them, that they should feel aggrieved? One hon. Gentleman drew attention to a contract for 400,000 pairs of boots, and he raised a complaint because a portion of that contract had been given to India. Immediately that claim was made, respectful attention was paid to it, because it was made by an English Member. How many pairs of boots, and how much clothing for the troops, were manufactured in Ireland? He was not now simply speaking the sentiments of the Nationalists, for what he was advocating affected every class of people in Ireland. They claimed that if England was going to rule Ireland, she should treat them fairly and deal with Irish manufacturers in the same way as she did with the people of the Colonies and with this country. He asked the Secretary of State for War to carry out his policy of decentralisation, and he hoped that the system of the past would be departed from. He urged the right hon. Gentleman to carry out the recommendations of the Duke of Connaught.

Not long ago he paid a visit, during his holidays, to Belfast, and he visited the establishment of a large boot manufacturer, whose establishment was replete with all the modern requirements of an up-to-date boot factory and fully competent to execute any contract that was given to him. He asked him how it was that he did not tender for boots at the War Office, and he replied that it would be useless, because he would have to send the goods to Woolwich in the first place; and in the second place he knew that Ireland would not get its fair share. That gentleman said he would be able to turn out 7,000 pairs of boots per week, and to guarantee them to be better than they were receiving at the present time. On the question of ordnance workshops he trusted that hon. Members on the other side would give sympathetic consideration to what lie had said. These workshops had been erected at enormous expense, and they should be utilised for the manufacture of boots, clothing, waggons, for the use of the troops, and tin ware, so that Irish workmen might get a fair share of the Government work. The hon. Member also called attention to the catering for the canteens in Ireland, pointing out that the contract for porter was not placed with Irish contractors, although brewing was the staple industry of Dublin, and the article manufactured there was acknowledged to be far superior to that which was made in this country. Besides, the Irish tender for the contract was 10 or 15 per cent. less.


I understand there is nothing on the Estimates for supplies to the canteens.


said he had understood that it would be in order to allude to this matter on the present Vote, but if it was not in order he would take another opportunity of bringing it before the House. Irish workmen were entitled to consideration in the matters with which he had dealt, and he hoped the Secretary of State would give a sympathetic answer.

(7.18.) Mr. BRODRICK

Perhaps with the leave of the House I may be allowed for a moment to explain the course proposed in regard to this Vote. The House is aware that there is a considerable amount of necessary financial business to be got through before the close of the financial year. Some communications have passed through the ordinary channels with a view to arriving at an understanding as to what would be acceptable to Members on the opposite side. The proposal I would make is that, if the Speaker is allowed to leave the Chair now or within a reasonable time, the debate on Vote A should begin this evening at eight o'clock or shortly afterwards, but that the general discussion allowable on Vote A should be concluded and Votes A and I taken tomorrow. Monday should then be devoted to the Vote of Censure on the Government in connection with the Contracts question and the War Office; on Tuesday an additional Vote would be put down for the Army, probably the Vote for warlike stores, and the discussion on the Navy Votes would be continued; on Thursday the Reports of Votes A and I would be taken, and other Reports. That should be continued on Friday, with the report of the Vote on Account. If these arrangements are agreed to, the Govern anent will then provide another day on or after Friday, the 21st, for a special discussion of the new proposals with regard to recruiting and pay now before the house. There will be a preliminary discussion before Votes A and I are taken, and another on Friday, the 21st. That is what is proposed in regard to business.

As I am speaking, perhaps I may, entirely by leave of the House, and it may shorten some of the discussion, be allowed one word of personal explanation with reference to some expressions which have been misunderstood in the course of the discussion. Two or three speeches have been made this evening, of which I make no complaint, because I think that they have been delivered under an impression which could not be rightly deduced from the words I have used. I most carefully guarded myself against being supposed to reflect in any way on the great mass of the Volunteer force. My words, however, have been taken in another sense, but I can only say that they were not so intended. If the words are capable of that false impression, then I regret having used them to the House.

There are two points I should like to refer to. In the first place, our difficulty for at least fifteen years has been in obtaining and in placing Volunteers in the front line of our defences. That difficulty has now been overcome. With it has come a military demand for some higher efficiency on the part of those corps on whom so much more dependence has to be placed. I have felt a heavy responsibility that, while at the same moment I have been attacked for allowing troops to go to South Africa which even the military authorities urged were not sufficiently trained, I should be placing in the front line for home defence troops which our military authorities allege have not attained a sufficient degree of efficiency. Since I have served at the War Office I have pressed on the attention of the military authorities the claims of the Volunteers. I was responsible for adding half a million to the sums given to them. Nothing has been further from my mind than a desire in any way either to depreciate their efforts or to decry their intelligence. So long as I am at the War Office I will always give a sympathetic hearing to the numerous difficulties in which the Volunteers find themselves. I cannot help thinking that my hon. friends who have felt deeply on this matter will agree with me that if an interpretation were given to my words which is not attributable to them the effect might be only to create a chasm between the War Office and the Volunteer force which does not exist, and which, so far as I am concerned, might render it more difficult for me to carry out the work with which I am entrusted, but could not in any way tend to decrease the respect I have for that force.

(7.27.) SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)

I do not rise for the purpose of interposing between the right hon. Gentleman and the representatives of the Volunteer force, who, I think, can settle their quarrel without any help from one side or the other. I was not in the House when the right hon. Gentleman made his statement as to the proposals in regard to business. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to say again what the proposals are?


repeated the statement.


Is it to be understood that there are to be two discussions on what the right hon. Gentlemen calls the new proposals as to pay and terms of service in the Army? I understood him to suggest that there should be a discussion on Vote A and then again on some special Resolution. I do not know that that is usual.


I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman. It is a question for arrangement. I myself would have suggested that the War Office Vote should have been set down, on which full discussion is allowed, and that the discussion should have taken place on that Vote.


It is desirable that it should be distinctly understood, if the Speaker leaves the Chair soon, the House will have a full and wide discussion on Votes A and I. There have not been identical decisions on that subject by successive Chairmen, and I think it is essential, if we abandon the privilege we have of discussing the whole Army Question on this Motion that the Speaker leave the Chair, that we should have a distinct understanding that there will be full licence and liberty for discussion on both Vote A and I.


I want to make it clear that it has been usual to allow full licence of discussion on Vote A, but the discussion on Vote I is generally restricted to matters coming within the Vote.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

I venture to say that in the whole course of my experience in the House of Commons I have never heard of a Minister jumping up in the middle of a debate, close on the dinner hour, and without notice, proceeding to map out the whole time of the House for the following week. These are matters generally dealt with at Question time, when the House is full, and when Members expect to have such a Ministerial statement made. I protest against the idea that Members are to be bound by these arrangements, or that it is to be assumed that the closure is to be granted at the particular hours the right hon. Gentleman has stated. I most respectfully submit to the right hon. Gentleman that if this matter of the time-table of the business of the House is to be agreed to by the House in accordance with rule and practice, it should be dealt with by the Leader of the House at Question time.

MR. MCCRAE (Edinburgh, E.)

I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman what opportunity the House will have of discussing the amended Volunteer regulations which have been promised by the noble Lord the Financial Secretary to the War Office.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

Of course it is to be understood that any arrangement of the business of the House will in no way prejudice the full discussion of the Vote of want of confidence on Monday. I do not suppose we shall want two weeks for it; we may be able to prove our case in a few hours; but it must be left open that we may obtain, what is always recognised as a right, more than one night for discussion of that Motion, if necessary.

*(7.35.) COLONEL BROOKFIELD (Sussex, Rye)

I am under the impression that the debate we have been listening to for the last few minutes is quite irregular and strictly out of order, and I desire with great respect to revert to the discussion on the Volunteers. I beg to thank the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War for the remarks he made a few minutes ago when he said that the observations he had made on the Volunteers on Tuesday should not bear the construction which had been put upon them. I think the time has fully come when the Volunteers should be candidly treated and plainly told their merits and demerits. I cannot see any object in keeping up the old custom of making the Volunteers the subject of extravagant eulogy on platforms or on parade. A General comes down to inspect a corps, indulges in all sorts of mischievous and mendacious compliments, and then goes home and writes a cold and cynical report, very probably contradicting all he has himself said. My principal object in rising is to support the new regulations which have been so frequently referred to. I do not think the best friends of the Volunteer force will resist these proposals. The chief mistake made for a great many years past in dealing with the Volunteers has been that the authorities have been apt to ask them what they would like to do, or are prepared to do, instead of informing them distinctly what has to be done. I had hoped that we should have had a definite scheme laid down for the employment of the Volunteers as a part of our national defence; but the next best thing is for the War Office to tell us what kind of men they want in the Volunteer force and what qualifications they should possess. The great bulk of the Volunteer force will meet these proposals in a soldierly spirit and will be really thankful for them. They will only affect two classes. There are a large number of men in the force who would be much better out of it, and whose services may have to be dispensed with. On the other hand, there are a certain number of good officers and men who will have difficulty in complying with these regulations, and for them we have a right to be sorry, and we should try to meet them if we can. But no good Volunteer ought to create difficulties in complying with these undoubtedly drastic changes. The week's camp should be made a period of serious training; indeed, I would gladly extend it. It is very necessary for some corps which have hitherto never thought of an annual training at all. Another change which I approve of is the proper training of recruits, and the insistence on proper company drill. I do not sympathise with my hon. and gallant friends who find fault with the stipulations as to the number of men who are to be present at company drills. I do not believe in those hole-and-corner squad drills being regarded as company drills; and the authorities have a perfect right to say so, too. I strongly favour, too, the stipulation that an officer should be present at all company drills. Nothing is more disheartening to the men than to find their officers are not present at drills. I believe that the most important change for the good of the Volunteer force which the authorities could make would be more financial assistance. With increased efficiency and discipline, we might fairly ask the War Office for assistance in the provision of drill halls and rifle ranges. At present commanding officers are in this respect placed in a very unfair position, and in many cases their financial responsibilities hang like a mill-stone round their necks. The War Office can do a great deal of good also, by simply sending down financial experts to give advice to corps which are in any difficulty. As to obtaining the approval of the Institute of Commanding Officers, I do not think that the Secretary of State for War ought to ask the approval of anyone over whom he exercises discipline; and for my own part I think this Institute has arrogated to itself duties it has no right to discharge.


Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the amended regulations will be published before he asks the Volunteer Vote to be taken?


I do not see that I can give such a pledge, as there are serious difficulties in the way. I take it, however, that there will be very full opportunity for representative Members of the Volunteers to state their views; but I cannot give a promise without consulting the Leader of the House.

(7.44.) MR. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)

said there was one point he wished to raise which was very germane to the efficiency of the whole Volunteer Corps in the north-east of Scotland; and that was as to the distribution of ammunition to the Aberdeen County Rifle Association. He noticed from paragraph 782 of the Regulations for the Volunteer force, 1891, that the proportion of five rounds of ammunition for each efficient Volunteer should be considered as free. Some years ago a deputation of the Rifle Volunteers of Scotland waited on the General commanding the forces in Scotland—General Chapman—on the question of increasing the free issue of ammunition to the Rifle Associations in Scotland, and secured from him an assurance that he would secure for them an extra issue of ten rounds per man. The deputation urged that the five rounds per each efficient Volunteer was in many cases insufficient to meet the requirements of their annual meeting, and that in the case of the Aberdeenshire Association it was barely half what was required. It was further argued that the free issue of five rounds per man had been introduced into the Volunteer regulations thirty years ago, and that while the Edinburgh and Midlothian and the Scottish Rifle Associations were able to carry through all their competitions with the present free issue of ammunition, the Aberdeenshire Association had to purchase 50 per cent. of theirs owing to the small number of Volunteers embraced in their sparsely populated districts. They impressed General Chapman so much that he recommended to the War Office that they should grant the request of the deputation and increase the issue by ten rounds. The Secretary of State for War intimated that the application could not be complied with, but in June, 1900, a paragraph appeared in several papers stating that the War Office proposed to grant an increased allowance of ammunition for Rifle Associations, and the Aberdeenshire Association accordingly applied for 40,000 in addition to the free issue. The newspaper report was to a certain extent confirmed by a War Office circular received by the secretary of the Aberdeenshire Rifle Association on the 17th of August, 1900, asking for further information regarding the number and nature of the competitions at the annual meeting of the Association and the probable number of competitors. This information was duly sent, and the 40,000 rounds of ammunition received. Nothing further was heard of the matter until the summer of 1901, when the secretary received a request from the War Office for the sum of £186, which came quite as a surprise. The secretary replied that he had applied for the ammunition under the belief that it would be delivered free, and asked them to be generous, as the Volunteers must be made efficient. After some further correspondence, the War Office said they had duly considered the matter and had agreed to accept payment of the £186 in three yearly instalments, and that pending the payment of the instalments the free issue to which the Association was entitled would be withheld. This Association was without funds to pay the money, and he urged that the generous treatment which the War Office professed it was anxious to show to the Volunteers should be extended to this Association, especially having regard to the fact that this Association represented a very sparsely populated district, and was, therefore, struggling under adverse conditions. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would deal with this matter as generously as he could.

(7.50.) LORD WILLOUGHBY DE ERESBY (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

said he thought on this occasion the right hon. Gentleman was likely to fall between two stools. He feared he would obtain neither complete efficiency nor the large forces which he had obtained in the past, owing to the onerous duty which these men would be called upon to perform. He spoke tonight for the reason that later on the House would be called on to vote a large amount of money for the Auxiliary Forces, and there ha d not yet been any clear explanation of the plan with regard to those forces. He understood from the statement made last year that there were to be six Army Corps in all, that three were to go abroad and three were to be left at home, and that the infantry of the three Army Corps which were to remain at home was to be composed chiefly of Militia and the best Volunteers. But he did not understand what was to be done with the remaining 150,000 or 200,000 Volunteers who would not be enrolled in the Army Corps, who were to be left at home for home defence. If efficiency was aimed at, the right hon. Gentleman should have gone further. For his own part, he would prefer to these partially trained men some 2,000 auxiliary officers and 4,000 or 5,000 sergeants and non-commissioned officers fully qualified to drill men and instruct them in musketry and the manœuvres connected with war at a time of crisis. At present when hostilities broke out the country was drained of every officer and sergeant in the Regular Army and a large number of officers and sergeants in the Auxiliary Forces, and there was hardly anybody left capable of drilling an ordinary squad of recruits. He could not believe that going into camp for a week would make these Auxiliary Forces more efficient than they were before. No doubt at a time of crisis thousands of men would come forward and offer themselves for service, but that would be no use unless there were men capable of putting them through their exercises. He believed the great difficulty would be in keeping the Yeomanry and Volunteers up to their full strength. The number of men would never be

obtained. Last year there were 35,000 Yeomanry, now there were not 25,000. and this was at a time when the martial spirit was strong in the land. The same thing would be found in the Volunteers if they had to compete, as they would, with the Imperial Yeomanry. He only hoped that the test of efficiency the right hon. Gentleman intended to put the Volunteers through would be further increased, and that be would keep only those who were efficient.

(7.55.) Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 260; Noes, 51. (Division List No. 60.)

Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Gordon, Maj Evans-(T'rH'mlets
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Goulding, Edward Alfred
Allan, William (Gateshead) Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge Grant, Corrie
Allhusen, Augustus Hen'y Eden Craig, Robert Hunter Greene, Sir E W (B'rySEdin'nds)
Allsopp, Hon. George Cripps, Charles Alfred Greene, Henry D.) (Shrewsbury)
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Crombie, John William Grenfell, William Henry
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Crossley. Sir Savile Gretton, John
Arrol, Sir William Cubitt, Hon. Henry Groves, James Grimble
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Cust, Henry John C. Hall, Edward Marshall
Austin, Sir John Davenport, William Bromley. Hamilton, Rt. Hn Lord G (Midd'x
Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.
Bailey, James (Walworth) Denny, Colonel Hare, Thomas Leigh
Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey) Dickinson, Robert Edmond Harris, Frederick Leverton
Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerard W (Leeds Dickson, Charles Scott Haslam, Sir Alfred S.
Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch. Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Haslett, Sir James Horner
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Digby, John K. D. Wingfield. Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.
Beach, Rt. Hn Sir Michael Hicks Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Hay, Hon. Claude George
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale.
Bignold, Arthur Dorington, Sir John Edward Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.
Bigwood, James Doughty, George Heath, James (Staffords. N. W.
Black, Alexander William Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Heaton, John Henniker
Blundell, Colonel Henry Doxford, Sir William Theodore Helder, Augustus
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Duncan, J. Hastings Henderson, Alexander
Bond, Edward Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.)
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith. Elibank, Master of Hogg, Lindsay
Brand, Hon. Arthur G. Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas Holland, William Henry
Brodrick. Rt. Hon. St. John Emmott, Alfred Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside
Brookfield, Colonel Montagu Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.) Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)
Bullard, Sir Harry Farquharson, Dr. Robert Hudson, George Bickersteth
Burdett-Coutts, W. Fellowes, Hon Ailwyn Edward Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick
Butcher, John George Fenwick, Charles Johnston, William (Belfast)
Caldwell, James Fergusson, Rt. Hn Sir. J. (Mane'r Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.) Finch, George H. Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh)
Cavendish, V. C. W. (D'rbyshire Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Kenyon, James (Lancs., Bury)
Cawley, Frederick Fisher, William Hayes Keswick, William
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Fison, Frederick William King, Sir Henry Seymour
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose Knowles, Lees
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm. Flannery, Sir Forteseue Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.
Channing, Francis Allston Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Law, Andrew Bonar
Chapman, Edward Forster, Henry William Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)
Churchill, Winston Spencer Fuller, J. M. F. Lawson, John Grant
Clive, Captain Percy A. Galloway, William Johnson Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., F"reham
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Gardner, Ernest Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington
Coghill, Douglas Harry Gartit, William Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Gibbs, Hn A. G. H. (City of Lond. Leveson-Gower, FrederickN. S.
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Goddard, Daniel Ford Levy, Maurice
Compton, Lord Alwyne Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S. Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine
Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham Pirie, Duncan V. Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Lonsdale, John Brownlee Plummer, Walter R. Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier
Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft) Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Macartney, Rt. Hn W. G. Ellison Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward Talbot, Rt. Hn J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.)
Macdona, John Cumming Purvis Robert Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr
MacIver, David (Liverpool) Randles, John S. Thomas, JA (Glamorgan, Gower
M'Crae, George Rasch, Major Frederic Carne Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)
M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire) Ratcliff, R. F. Thorburn, Sir Walter
Majendie, James A. H. Rea, Russell Thornton, Percy M.
Mansfield, Horace Rendall Reid, James (Greenock) Tomkinson, James
Maple, Sir John Blundell Remnant, James Farquharson Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Markham, Arthur Basil Renwick, George Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Martin, Richard Biddulph Rickett, J. Compton Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Maxwell, Rt. Hn Sir H. E (Wigt'n Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green Valentia, Viscount
Milner, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick G. Ritchie, Rt. Hon Chas. Thomson Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H (S'effield
Molesworth, Sir Lewis Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield) Warde, Colonel C. E.
Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Moore, William (Antrim, N.) Rolleston, Sir John F. L. Webb, Colonel William George
More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire) Ropner, Colonel Robert Weir, James Galloway
Morrell, George Herbert Round, James Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E (Taunt'n
Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford Royds, Clement Molyneux Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts)
Moulton, John Fletcher Rutherford, John White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Muntz, Philip A. Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander Whiteley, H (Ashton-und-Lyne
Murray, Rt. Hn A. Graham (Bute Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse) Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath) Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Myers, William Henry Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Newnes, Sir George Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln) Wilson, A. Stanley (York. E. R.)
Nicholson, William Graham Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight Wilson, Fred. W. (Norfolk, Mid.
Nicol, Donald Ninian Sharpe, William Edward T. Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Norton, Capt. Cecil William Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.) Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Nussey, Thomas Willans Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew) Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)
Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Sinclair, John (Forfarshire) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Palmer, Walter (Salisbury) Sinclair, Louis (Romford) Wylie, Alexander
Parkes, Ebenezer Skewes-Cox, Thomas Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Partington, Oswald Soares, Ernest J. Yoxall, James Henry
Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden) Spencer, Rt. Hn C. R. (Northants
Peel, Hn. Wm. Robt. Wellesley Stanley, Lord (Lancs.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Pemberton, John S. G. Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M. Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Pierpoint, Robert Stone, Sir Benjamin
Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Hayden, John Patrick O'Dowd, John
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Healy, Timothy Michael O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)
Ambrose, Robert Joyce, Michael O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N
Blake, Edward Kennedy, Patrick James O'Malley, William
Boland, John Lundon, W. O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Burke, E. Haviland. MacNeall, John Gordon Swift Power, Patrick Joseph
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) MacVeagh, Jeremiah Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Condon, Thomas Joseph M?Hugh, Patrick A. Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Crean, Eugene M'killop, W. (Sligo, North) Roche, John
Cremer, William Randal Murnaghan, George Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Cullinan, J. Murphy, John Sullivan, Donal
Delany, William Nannetti, Joseph P. White, Patrick (Meath, North
Dillon, John Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South Young, Samuel
Doogan, P. C. O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork.)
Ffrench, Peter O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid
Flynn, James Christopher O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Gilhooly, James O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N)
Hammond, John O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Sir Thomas Esmonde and Captain Donelan.
Hardie, J. Keir (MerthyrTydvil O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Forward to