§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War what is the diminution in the strength of the Volunteer force upon 31st January, 1903 compared to 31st October, 1901; and what is the deficiency of officers at the present time.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
The strength of the Volunteer force was, on the 31st October, 1901, 288,476; on 1st January, 1903, 250,990. The present deficiency of officers is 1,895. In estimating the 490 diminution in the Volunteer force it should be remembered that the strength in 1899, and for many years previous, was only about 225,000, and that an abnormal number of enrolments took place in 1899–1900 (113,000), whose period of three years service expired in October last. A large number of Volunteers, who would have left the service in ordinary times during these three years, have also waited to take their discharge till the close of the war.
§ MR. ROBERT SPENCER (Northamptonshire, Mid)
Is there any ground for the suggestion that the diminution occurred owing to the stringency of the new Regulations?
§ MR. BRODRICK
There is no doubt that stringency may have had some effect; but I am equally certain, seeing the Volunteer force was maintained before the excitement of the war at about 225,000, that ultimately the strength will revert to some such figure.