§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
I wish to ask your ruling, Mr. Speaker, as to whether the Resolution on which this Bill is based is a sufficient Resolution. It states that it is expedient to make further provision for certain military works, and it goes on to authorise the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of a sum, not exceeding £5,000,000, as may be required, but, if you look at the first clause of the Bill, you will see that an expenditure of £5,500,000 is provided for. The extra £500,000 is to be found by the sale of some property now belonging to the Government. I suggest that the money received from the sale of that property should go into the Consolidated Fund, and that, therefore, the Resolution should have been to authorise an expenditure of £5,500,000 instead of £5,000,000. I ask you whether, under the circumstances, the Resolution is sufficient to cover the Bill.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
There is another point which supports my hon. friend's contention though he did not raise it. 236 It is, that if the money ought to be paid into the Consolidated Fund it should appear next year among the appropriations in aid of the Army Estimates.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I think the Resolution is sufficient to cover the Bill. The £5,000,000 is the only sum which is a fresh charge on the people, the other £500,000 is to be derived from the sale of certain Government property. I think it is competent for the House to deal with that £500,000, if it chooses so to do, in the way proposed in the Bill. The general words of the Resolution in the first line are enough to cover it, and I do not think it is a new charge. It is no doubt a matter which the House has a perfect right to investigate and object to if it thinks fit, but, as a matter of order, I cannot say that the Bill is not covered by the Resolution.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Perthshire, E.)
complained that the Bill had only been circulated that morning. On the previous night lie was informed that it was to be obtained at the Vote Office, and lie got a copy of it, but he did not believe that half-a-dozen Members of the House were in possession of copies last night. The fact that it was ready for circulation was not obtained by him from any member of the Government, or from any information given by the Government; it was simply due to his going into the Vote Office and asking whether or not the Bill was ready. It was hardly fair to invite the House to consider so important a Bill as that on the very day of its issue. Of course-they were all aware that the Secretary for War last Tuesday made an important statement explanatory of the objects of the Bill when the customary Resolution was submitted in Committee to the House. He did not wish to quarrel with the length or details of that statement, but there were undoubtedly facts of importance which were now discoverable in the Bill which were not alluded to from the very beginning to the ending of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. There were also serious alterations indeed in this Bill as compared 237 with the Acts of 1897, 1899, and 1901. He referred particularly to the schedule. The schedule in this Bill applied in a totally different form from the schedule in the Acts of 1901 and 1899. It would be within the recollection of hon. Members that a detailed schedule in regard to barracks was inserted for the first time in Act of 1899 Owing to representations made by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and other Members of the House. The schedule which was then arranged for, and which gave details, particularly with regard to barrack work, was inserted again in the Act of 1901, but now, without any in notice being given, they had substituted for it another schedule of a totally different character, giving very much less information to the House than did which had been advanced in support of the previous one. If hon. Members would glance at the schedule and compare it with the schedules in the Acts 1901 and 1899, they would see how Exeter had an Amendment on the in the present schedule large subjects were lumped together, and large sums were asked for instead of detailed sums for certain specific works. He would only say that this was a very serious political and financial matter, because it hon. definitely decreased their detailed knowledge of the schemes undertaken by the War Office. It lessened the financial control they had over the administration of the Department, and, more than that, it sinned against a cardinal principle of finance in the respect that it made it more difficult, indeed, practically impossible, for the ordinary person to compare year by year the progress of expenditure on the various works. The House would be well aware that one great difficulty which had to be met from year to year in the expenditure on various works was that it was only with the utmost care that they were able, under the existing system, to follow in detail that expenditure. The difficulty was doubled by the form of the present schedule, and, so far as he could gather, future, under the Treasury rules, a large sum would be set apart for new improvements in the Alder-shot district, in the Southern district, and in Ireland, whereas formerly the, schemes submitted showed the specific works required at the various places. He would, however, deal with the 238 schedule at a later stage. He proposed now to discuss more general topics.
This was, perhaps the last opportunity they would have this session, and possibly the last they would have during the present Parliament, of entering a protest against the continued career of extravagant military expenditure carried on by the present Government. That was the first ground of his opposition to the Bill, that they were continuing the reckless progress of extravagance and ever increasing expenditure in their military departments. He had always held the view in regard both to Military and Naval Works Bills that the policy underlying those Loan Bills was financially bad, and he believed that the arguments which had been advanced in support of that contention were even stronger now than they were a year ago. He observed that the hon. Member for the City of Exeter had an Amendment on the Paper which practically raised that point, and, therefore, regarding him, as he did, as a great financier, he would not particularly elaborate that point at present. He observed too that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, like his predecessor, referred as an authority on this subject of constructing these works out of loans instead of out of the annual Estimates to Lord Randolph Churchill's Select Committee on the Army Estimates. Be thought it was a little hard on Lord Randolph Churchill's reputation as a financier and Army reformer that he should be quoted in support of that career of expenditure which had been going on in military departments for the past six years. He did not think the Committee's Report, or the evidence submitted to the Committee, at all bore out the argument which the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessor had attempted to adduce from it. The case rested, as the right hon. Gentleman had himself stated, practically on the evidence submitted on that occasion by the Inspector-General of Fortifications, evidence which was roughly to the effect that the whole subject of fortifications and barrack accommodation for important stations in various parts of the Empire should be put together in one scheme which would, no doubt, cost something 239 like five or six millions of money, and that that scheme should be submitted as a whole and the money voted in the lump. But that was very far from being the practice recently pursued under these Military Works Acts. No doubt hon. Members on both sides of the House would acknowledge that any special scheme for defence must necessarily be carried through by resort to special financial expedients, and that if they had, clearly set out, a detailed scheme involving an expenditure of large sums of money on works which were urgent as a military necessity, and which were also urgent in point of time, they were entitled to have recourse to borrowing powers in order that the scheme might be carried through without interruption, and within a strictly limited period. But that was not the case now. In those days there was a definite thing, and as a result the necessary powers were granted, and the works were carried through; the money was borrowed and was now being paid. That was a clear and consistent scheme which was laid before the House of Commons and the country, and it enabled the Government to carry the matter forward, but now these Military and Naval Works Bills had become a regular departmental practice by which the War Office and the Admiralty endeavoured to supplement the Estimates. The Estimates were eased yearly by getting power to borrow money to meet charges which really ought to be paid out of income.
The further disadvantage was also entailed that they had practically a second financial statement in regard to military flatters towards the conclusion of the session instead of having, as they ought to have, one complete financial statement explaining their liabilities for the whole year at the commencement of each session. The fact was that the practice of the War Office was now to borrow money to meet charges which should be paid out, of the annual Estimates, and he would just quote one or two instances in proof of that. They had not got in that Bill, as fu the Act of 1901, any clearly thought-out scheme for the construction of works or for general defence works which could be once and for all submitted to the House and for which they might be asked to authorise the Government to borrow money. 240 On the contrary, they had carried out with the loan money a variety of small works such as additions, extensions, and improvements of barracks and rifle ranges, which should naturally be met out of the annual Estimates, and analogous charges to which did exist in the Estimates. According to the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, in which more details were to be found than in the schedule to the Bill, there were items of £5,000, £1,200, and £500, and they even went as low as 1103 and £13 0s. 9d., the payment of which was to be spread over a period of thirty years. That was the reductio ad absurdum of the whole system. In the Estimates there were analogous charges, even for the same stations and works as were dealt with in the Works Bill. Included in the Works Vote of the War Office Estimates were individual works amounting to £40,000, £50,000, and £90,000, and they were rightly being met out of the annual Estimates, but they included charges for Woolwich and the Cape, in respect of which places there were also items in the Loan Bill.
A further general consideration was the growing amount of these charges from period to period. The revised Estimates under these Acts were continually expanding. It might be imagined that the sums mentioned in the schedule represented the total commitments, but that was not at all the case. But even imperfectly as they were stated in the schedule, they had increased from £5,500,000 in 1897, to £9,500,000 in 1899, £15,800,000 in 1901, and £20,810,000 in the present Bill. As to the sum spent annually for the purposes of these Acts, and met, not out of the annual Estimates, but out of loan money, in 1902 it was £1,697,000, in 1903 £1,700,000, and for the year ending March 31, 1904, £3,450,000. Taking the Military and the Naval Works Acts together, there was to be spent out of borrowed money during the current year £7,500,000, and the total amount of our commitments under the two Acts, which, even as incompletely stated in the schedules, was £50,000,000, probably totalled £60,000,000 or £70,000,000. This practice could not possibly last. Various statements had been made during the present session as to economy, retrench- 241 ment, and the reduction of debt. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that in 1906 the country would be paying about £9,000,000 in reduction of debt, but he had omitted to state that while they were reducing the debt with one hand, they were piling it up with the other. These liabilities were increasing from year to year. The first Estimates for naval and military works were never the final Estimates; further sums had always to be asked for. The present Bill contained new proposals of a far-reaching character. One would naturally expect that the Minister in charge would feel some alarm at the continuous and rapid increase of expenditure, and the right hon. Gentleman had indeed stated that the Government did not view it with anything like equanimity. But the Secretary of State had not held out any prospect of retrenchment in the future, or of the stoppage of the increase. It was true that the suggestion was thrown out that part of the increased charge in connection with the permanent garrison in South Africa might be put on the finances of India, but that, lie thought, was an unworthy suggestion, and one to which he hoped the Government would not adhere. There would be an opportunity of discussing that proposal on another occasion, but lie hoped that whatever burdens were thought necessary for the maintenance and defence of the Empire would be borne by those who could criticise and complain of them, and not by those who had no voice in the raising or distribution of the money or in the policy for which the money was required. As to the item for permanent barracks in South Africa, he was not prepared to vote the money until sufficient reasons for the proposal had been adduced. As recently as March last the Secretary of State said the Government had come to the conclusion that 15,000 was an adequate permanent British garrison in South Africa, and now the number had been increased to 25,000, with an expenditure of over £2,000,000. Some Members thought the proposal a first step towards the destruction of the linked battalion system. He recognised that his opinions on military matters were of no value, but he had certainly not been convinced that the system which enabled this 242 country to send so large a force to South Africa during the recent war should be lightly thrown aside or weakened Nor did he think the scheme would result in any reduction either of men or of money. The House were entitled to further information as to why the increase was necessary. If it was because of the condition of things in South Africa, it was a sorry comment on the reports we had had from the Cape and the speeches of the Colonial Secretary, and the House should be informed of the fact. The question arose as to who should pay, and how the money should be paid? The proposal to put any part of this money upon the finances of India was an unworthy one and he hoped the Government would not adhere to it.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order. The question of India bearing a portion of the cost of maintaining these troops does not arise on this Bill.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said that one of the arguments put forward to justify this increased garrison was that the men were to be placed there for the better defence of India. He had not heard that this proposal was defended or supported by the Government of India; indeed the information they had received was entirely in the other direction. This was a large scheme of aggressive military policy and a distribution of our forces on new principles which were definitely discarded thirty years ago. These proposals would increase beyond endurance the burdens placed upon the shoulders of the people of this country and at the same time it would not materially strengthen our defences.
§ M. LOUGH
said that an additional expenditure of £500,000 appeared on this Bill in quite a new way, setting up a precedent which the Government would find it very difficult to make good. There was £500,000 of appropriation in aid taken in reduction of expenditure. That was an exceedingly bad precedent, for it was taking another step to destroy the financial control of the House of Commons over the expenditure of the country. Therefore on that account this Bill should be 243 regarded with extreme suspicion. They had retained the phraseology of the old Bill which stated that the object of the measure was to defray the cost of the works mentioned in the schedule. As a matter of fact no works were mentioned in the schedule. He supposed it was originally assumed that the schedule would be in the usual form but it appeared practically in blank, and they were being asked to appropriate large sums of money without the House informed in what part of those districts or for what purposes that money was to be expended. This Bill covered a total expenditure of nearly £21,500,000 which had been sanctioned by successive Acts. This money had not been all expended, for about £12,000,000 had not been appropriated. Surely the country might go a little more slowly; and seeing that these large sums had been voted for building works not yet carried to a completion the Government might wait until they were completed before asking for another large amount. The expenditure upon this head last year was £1,700,000, and it had never exceeded that in any one year, but, never the less, the Government were asking for £3,300,000, or nearly twice as much kind. The great change made here was money for the year ending 1904, as in the previous years. Considering the state of the finances of the country and the growing burdens which the people had got to bear, it was somewhat reckless to ask for permission to expend twice as much this year as in any in previous year. The House would vote the money—in fact, the Government could make the House vote anything—but when it came to the practical business of spending the money economically it could not be done in this way. The first heading was for defence works, but no figures were given. He thought the cost of those defence works should be laid before the House before the money was voted. They had heard of elaborate defences for London, but either that had been abandoned or the proposed expenditure upon them had been considerably reduced. He thought the House of Commons ought to be taken into the confidence of the Government and they ought not to vote large sums for defence works without knowing more of the details. Because Parliament 244 had readily granted large sums before was no reason why the Government should make any further call this year than was absolutely necessary. This item ought to disappear altogether. There ought to be a programme laid before them. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to give a promise that he would try to give the total estimate of what was the idea of the Government under the different heads. Surely the House of Commons was entitled to know what the whole scheme of the Government was, and they should not make any more grants until they knew this. Then there was a small sum of £20,000 for the barracks at Aldershot. That was preposterous!
§ *MR. SPEAKER
To go into the details of the schedule will be out of order on the Second Reading of this Bill. It is quite unusual to discuss every particular item.
§ MR. LOUGH
said he did not need to labour that point any further. Those repairs ought to be provided annually and not by borrowing under a Bill of this kind. The great change made here was that instead of having the details, and the precise places in which the expenditure was to a take place, together with the amounts for particular works, they had all been grouped together in districts. The Bill ought to be restored to the form in which all the other Bills were discussed. There was one item of £400,000 for the hospitals about which they ought to have some further information. Considering the present feeling of the country it did not appear to him that the principle upon which this Bill was founded should be extended more than was absolutely necessary. The principal item was this great expenditure which was asked for in regard to South Africa. He thought this was a rather hurried way in which to take such a huge sum. He wished to know if any estimate had been made of the way this money would be expended. They had been voting large sums for the construction of barracks, and they were now told that some of them would have to be sold and a great loss would thereby be entailed. He thought they ought to have some explanation why an expenditure of about £100 per man was necessary 245 for the housing of these troops in South Africa. Then there was another large item for the administration of the Act, but that might to come out of the annual expenditure. They kept a large staff at the War Office, and it should be quite sufficient to deal with all these questions of expenditure. The question of the staff ought to be brought before the House in the annual Votes. He could quite sympathise with the feelings of the House that it was reluctant to go into the separate matters of expenditure, but if some protest was not made an ultimate expenditure but if some protest was not made an ultimate expenditure would be flung upon the nation far beyond What anybody could relaise. He begged to second the Motion.
Amendment proposed—To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Qustion to add the words 'upon this day three months.'"—(Mr. Buchanan.)Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question,"
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not propose to go into the general questions raised by the hon. Gentleman who seconded the rejection of this Bill. I believe the fears he has expressed are totally without foundation. It is perfectly true that these successive measures have taken very large sums of money, but I do not think the present Government are altogether to blame for this. We have to ask ourselves how much of this money is due to the fact that for many years this country did not sufficiently carry out its obligations in the matter of housing and dealing with the capital expenditure which the Army and Navy necessarily involved. It is really due in no small measure, though not entirely, to the increase in the Army, justified in some directions, but not justified in other directions. It is also largely due to the tact that we have got to make up for deficiencies which ought to have been long ago remedied. I do not mean to press that point, which rather fails within the province of my right hon. friend who is in charge of the Bill. I only rise now—because my right hon. friend cannot rise after the speeches of the two hon. Gentlemen—in order that I may explain to the House at this early stage the change of which complaint has been made by both speakers in regard to the form of the schedule. It is perfectly 246 true that the schedule is not in the shape it was last year. It differs from the form of last year's schedule in the respect that the exact locality in which the works are to be carried out is not specified, but only the large district in which the works are to he completed. I wish to tell the House in two sentences why that change should be effected. I think they will agree that the course we have adopted is justified. It is not in the least done in order to diminish Parliamentary control over these Bills, or over the expenditure authorised by the Bills, as was rather unamiably suggested by the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It is not so I will tell the House why it was done. It was found and, I think, wisely found that if you put in a Bill that a barrack is to be erected in a particular spot the value of land at that spot rises at once to an absolutely prohibitive price. One of the great difficulties which the Government and the House have got to deal with in these questions of capital expenditure is the way in which we are bled in the purchase of the necessary land. It is found that if you state exactly where a barrack is to be built, either you have to pay a most extravagant price for it, or you could not obtain the land at all. The law officers have laid it down that if the actual spot on which a barrack was to be erected was named in the schedule it was illegal to spend the money anywhere else. A case arose in the Aldershot district, of which my right hon. friend will give particulars later on in the debate if necessary, in which the place was fixed where the barrack was to be built, and it was found impossible to obtain land on anything like possible or reasonable terms, and in which a most legitimate attempt was made by the War Office to move the barrack six miles off, but the law officers declared that such a course was illegal.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
The right hon. Gentleman is explaining to the House the cause of this change, and perhaps he will allow me to direct his attention to 247 a previous schedule in which, while the particular places at which accommodation is to be provided are specified in great detail, there is a lump sum of £120,000 taken for the purchase of land for barracks without any location of particular spots. That would appear to me, on the face of it, to meet the question the right hon. Gentleman is raising. The difficulty with respect to the question of land winch the right hon. Gentleman points out is a very obvious one—that of everybody taking advantage of the announcement that new barracks are to be erected at certain places—and that seems to be met by this item for purchase of land.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think I can explain this, and, if not, my right hon. friend, who is necessarily more acquainted with the details than I am, will fill up any lacunæ that I may leave. A large sum was voted for barracks, but that sum was not to be spent by the War Office as they might desire to spend it. They had not the sum given to them to dump down a barrack here and there where it suited them. They were restricted to spend the £100,000 in this or that village, and the result of being thus closely tied down was the difficulty at which I have hinted. Most naturally the owners of land, seeing that Parliament had authorised £100,000 to be spent on barracks, and knowing from the schedule that it was to be spent in their village, made the most extravagant demands, and put the War Office in a most impossible position. I think what I have said will perhaps be taken by the House as a justification of the change. I am sure it is the only reason for the change, and it is one which is adequate, and is justified by its results. Perhaps the rest of the debate may deal with the larger and more important issues raised by the Bill, and the discussion of these details may be deferred until the schedule itself is reached.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
, said the objection to this Bill was somewhat wider than that involved in the question whether barracks should be placed in this or the other place. The objection of his hon. Friend 248 was that an enormous amount of money was to be spent without any guarantee as to how it was to be spent. What was proposed by the Bill left the whole question entirely in the hands of the War Office, and after their experience of that Department his hon. friends and himself on this side of the House, and he thought also a number of lion. Gentlemen on the other side, did not care to trust them with absolute discretion. What was proposed was capital expenditure, and he held that that, instead of being any part of a decentralisation scheme, should be determined by the Secretary of State for War himself. The right hon. Gentleman should state what was wanted for infantry and what was wanted for cavalry barracks, and he ought to specify in so many thousands of pounds the amount to be spent in one military district. He was himself very much opposed to the expenditure of money in South Africa in the way proposed. He did not believe it would be an economy. He did not understand why the sum allocated to South Africa should be put into this Bill. There was something more than £50,000 in the Army Estimates for the year which ought to have been spent on the housing of troops in South Africa, and he did not think it was fair that £2,250,000 should be borrowed for putting up permanent barracks in connection with a scheme which was going to be tried in regard to the housing of the troops in South Africa, and which probably would be reversed as other policies had been before. If the answer was that these were only temporary huts which were to be put up he did not think they ought to spend on them a large sum of money repayable in thirty or thirty-five years. The real cause for tins expenditure was the enormous increase in the Army, and he must protest in every way against this money being spent on an increase of the Army before the Army we had was made thoroughly efficient. They might be told four or five years hence that a large capital expenditure was required for Military equipment. He was sure that if the War Office only tried it could make great economies in the Staff, and in the way they carried on their business.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The question before the House at present is not the economical administration of the Army.
§ *MR. COURTENAY WARNER
said he was only objecting to this vast expenditure, as the House had not had assurance and proof that everything that was being done could not be done out of the ordinary expenditure. Another objection to the Bill was that it was a condoning and sanctioning of the increase of the Army and of the scheme for the establishment of a large force in South Africa. He should like to know where the enormous force for South Africa was to be taken from, and whether there was to be a corresponding economy in England. If they spent £2,300,000 in South Africa they ought to have a corresponding decrease in England. They were told that something was to be saved, but they had no explanation of what that was to be. It appeared to him that, while this extra expenditure would be incurred, they would not save anything. As long as these extravagances went on, and the Government did not make corresponding economies, he thought the House should refuse to vote the money asked for.
§ MR. BECKETT (Yorkshire, N.R., Whitby)
said the Prime Minister in concluding his remarks invited the House to proceed to the discussion of the larger issues involved in this Bill. He was sorry that when they discussed these larger issues the Secretary of State for War was not present. Undoubtedly this Bill to some extent involved the whole question of the military policy of the Government, and the Prime Minister himself admitted that it was in some respects due to the increase in the number of our troops that these barracks were to be erected. The position which he and his friends took up had been expressed in the Amendment which he had put on the Paper. They thought that a great portion of the expenditure provided for in this Bill was justifiable. But, on the other hand, they thought that it was due to the modifications of the military policy recently announced. No one could deny that such modifications involved an entire change in the military policy of the Government, and, in view of that fact, and of the enormous amount of money they were spending on the Army Estimates this year, was it not advisable that some of the expenditure 250 proposed in this Bill should be postponed? This expenditure unquestionably was due to the military policy of the Government. No one could for a moment contend that our soldiers ought not to be well housed. There was no doubt that the requirements in die matter of barracks would depend on the size of the Army and the location of the troops. The scheme proposed by the right hon. Gentleman might give him satisfaction, but the House had to consider the question of cost, and the full and overflowing Army proposed by the right hon. Gentleman was not such a one as they were prepared to support. They were not prepared to undertake an excessively heavy expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the cloven hoof of economy. He should like to know what he meant by that, Did he mean that questions of pounds, shillings and pence were not to be considered, that they were to be entirely put aside, and that, in fact, questions of economy in Army administration were never to be considered? The country would like to know how this large expenditure was to be reduced. It had been pointed out, in the course of the debate, that if they looked into the finances of the country it would be found that cur ordinary liabilities had not been diminished to anything like the extent they would naturally suppose. The country would find in various ways that its expenditure was growing, and that the Sinking Fund was not doing its work properly. He ventured to say that it was time to cry "halt." This allocation of troops in South Africa unquestionably involved increased expenditure. The Secretary of State for War told them that it would involve an expenditure of another £900,000 a year. Where was he going to get the money? Was it going to be on the Army Estimates next year for accommodation of troops in South Africa? If so, it ought to be objected to. Would the right hon. Gentleman diminish the Army charges by a corresponding amount at home He and those who shared his views had been misunderstood as having approved of the allocation of troops in South Africa, They did not approve of that unless there was a corresponding diminution of expenditure in the Army at home. 251 These Army Corps were to be defended on the ground that they had to protect our North-West Frontier of India.
§ MR. BECKETT
said he bowed at once to the ruling. He asked whether the 25,000 men in South Africa were to be part of the Army Corps at all. It was obvious that if they were, the Army Corps system was incomplete.
§ *Mr. BRODRICK
said the hon. Gentleman was making assumptions which were incorrect. When the Army Corps scheme was originally framed it provided that 15,000 men would be in South Africa, and, therefore, it was now a question as between 25,000 and 15,000.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
said there was a difference of 10,000. He understood that the 25,000 men were to be on the home establishment, and that corresponding linked battalions in England would Corps not be necessary.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
said he had pointed out that there were to be 156 battalions of the line, and of these it was proposed to keep fourteen in South Africa, about seventy-one or seventy-two in India and colonies, these latter being supported by linked battalions at home.
§ *MR. BECKETT
said he supposed that, to begin with, 10,000 would be withdrawn from England and sent to South Africa. If there were an extra 10,000 to be sent to South Africa, where were they to come from? The Army Crops scheme would be necessarily incomplete. Was not the right hon. Gentleman fighting for a shadow? He wanted to make everything work into his Army scheme.
§ *MR BRODRICK
said it would not make the slightest difference in any arrangements on the question of barracks.
said the right hon. Gentleman had stated that in the last six years there had been an increase in the Army of 54,000, and that his own scheme would involve an increase of 6,000.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
said that so far as his scheme meant an increase in the number of the Army, it was due to the relieving of the linked battalion system which had been so long over-strained, by forming garrison battalions for permanent duty abroad.
said the difficulty was to know what the Army Crops scheme was. Their point was that the Army was too large, whether it was organized as an Army Crops, or in any other way; and that, therefore, the accommodation now proposed was far in excess of what it ought to be. He hoped that the views and arguments brought forward in the House with regard to the Army Corps system, and the fact of its enormous cost would, in course of time, compel the War Office to abandon that system and reduce the Army. There was a general tendency against such a large military establishment as now existed. He believed that that tendency would strengthen, and that, as time went on, his right hon. Friend would be shown the danger of the existing system, and the mistake of trying to keep up this large military establishment, for which he was now asking for barracks. Surely the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman would involve a new distribution of depots. If they were to do away with linked battalions and were to have large depots they would have to put troops into them. The large deport system contemplated, he supposed, depots with 700 and 800 men in each. With reference to the locality of the barracks, he understood that there was to be a large force located on Salisbury Plain. Three were objections to that from the Midlands, which would be denuded of troops. Only the other day there was a bitter cry from Birmingham that they scarcely ever saw a soldier. A request from Birmingham was very much like a command. They wanted to know where the barracks were to be located. The Army Organisation system was 253 under consideration and discussion; and no one could say with certainty whether it would be maintained for many years, or even for one year; and it would he unjustifiable under such circumstances to give that organisation a fixed and permanent shape. Further, it had been very generally conceded that with regard to the defence of the country they ought to rely upon the Auxiliary forces to a greater extent than hitherto. He knew that the War Office objected to that; but he believed that his right hon. friend was more in favour of it than were some of his military advisers. There was undoubtedly strong jealousy against the Auxiliary forces in the minds of many soldiers; and that jealousy would have to he overcome. It was conceded even by the Prime Minister himself that they ought to rely to a greater extent than at present upon the Auxiliary forces; and if they did that they could afford to do without some of the barracks which it was now proposed to erect for the Regular forces. On those grounds he thought he had made out a good case for the postponement of the Bill. He and his hon. friend felt most strongly, on this question. He thought they might claim that there had been modifications in the military policy of the Government as the result of the criticisms passed in this House on the War Office. Those criticisms would continue year by year, and would not be stilled until further modifications were introduced into the Army system. A large question had arisen which had somewhat over-shadowed the question of Army reform; but he thought nevertheless that questions had been raised that the country would neither ignore nor forget; and unless next session there was a large reduction in the Army system his right hon. friend would find that he would have to face the same opposition which had been directed against his policy with quite as much vigour as had been shown during the present session. They had endeavoured to fight this policy because they believed that in fighting it they were doing some service to the State; and next session, and if necessary for several sessions, they would continue to fight it.
§ *MR. A. HAYTER (Walsall)
said he was anxious to bring before the House a matter in connection with the Bill which strongly reinforced the argument of his right hon. friend the Member for East Perthshire and that of the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken. He thought there was no necessity for this Bill at all. If hon. Members would look at the schedule they would see that in 1897 the amount taken was £5,458,000. That was followed by an Act in 1899 for £4,000,000 which made up the total amount taken to 31st March, 1901, to £9,458,000, out of which there had been spent to that date £3,633,719 according to the Accountant-General of the Army. The House would observe that covered a period of nearly four years, and when the third Bill was introduced his right hon. friend the Member for Wolver-hampton reinforced him in his argument that there was no necessity for it because on the 31st of March, 1901, there was an unexpended balance of £5,828,000. It was impossible that that large sum could have been got rid of. Then, in addition, the War office took a Vote for £3,362,000. He did not know whether his hon. friend the Member for West Islington lent any authority for the statement that the annual expenditure was £1,700,000. [Mr. LOUGH said it was in the Annual Accounts.] At any rate, there was a very large amount in the hands of the Government, and what reason was there for adding this £5,000,000, which would make up the total to £17,000,000, and which was not included in the Army Estimates? He thought that the House could hardly go wrong in refusing on such short notice to take this Bill into consideration. He had only had the Bill in his hands for two hours before the House met; and he thought it was very hard that they should be asked to plunge into an expenditure of this kind. His second criticism was, that there was in the schedule a great number of items which had no business to he contained in a Bill of that character, and which ought to have been in the Army Estimates. Take the case of the educational establishments at Woolwich and Sandhurst. When the subject was discussed on the Army Estimates there was not a 255 word said about additional building accommodation being required; but he could assure the Committee, as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, that it was impossible for that Committee to arrive at any definite understanding as to how much had been expended on any particular Vote when they had these supplementary Bills, which altogether upset the expenditure. "Staff and Contingencies" was not an item which ought to be in the Military Works Bill at all. It ought to be included in Vote A of the Army Estimates. As regarded defence works, lie confessed lie was in profound ignorance of what they were. Then as to South Africa, the sum of £2,300,000 for the provision of barracks was the beginning of a policy which would increase to a considerable extent. The House had not had as yet any opportunity of discussing the merits of the proposal adumbrated in the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. He supported very heartily the proposal of his hon. friend and he hoped he would proceed to a division.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
complained that there were no details given to the House with regard to the items of this Bill, and he certainly agreed with the hon. and gallant Baronet that the Secretary of State for War was bound to account for each item. The items contained in the Bill were not matters which could he discussed at a few hours' notice. The question of fortifications, for instance, was one that ought to be before the country for a year or two. Fortifications when erected were expected to last for eighty or ninety years, and the figures ought to be properly worked out and discussed before they were put into a Bill of this kind; but nothing of the kind had been done. The proper course for the Government to have pursued would have been to set out the items they required and given the House a fort night or three weeks to consider them before bringing the Bill before the House. He complained that although the Government took care that this country was well fortified, Ireland was much neglected in this regard. So far as Belfast and Dublin were concerned there were no fortifications at all. It seemed to be quite forgotten that it 256 was a right of war to put up a town to ransom, and ships might send an ultimatum to a town threatening to bombard it if it did not pay £200,000 or £300,000 in so many hours. Two or three big guns on shore would be sufficient to frighten away any ship; they were afraid of them. The town would then be well defended. The Government did not leave English towns undefended they took care to have their own ports fortified but neglected Ireland in this matter. That was one of his objections to this Bill, but his main objection to this Bill was that the Government were asking for a large sum of money without giving sufficient reason. The amount asked for under this Bill would bring the total cost of the Army up to £42,000,000, and he objected to that because he thought we could put an efficient force in the field at one quarter the price. It seemed to him to be a very extravagant Bill. The land required for rifle ranges was bought at exorbitant prices, and very often land equally good for the purpose could be acquired at a price very much less. They certainly ought to have more details. The Government spent large sums on places like Gibraltar, when everyone knew perfectly well that a few heavy guns on the Spanish side could demolish the whole thing. He was the first person to oppose the Gibraltar scheme, because as everyone knew, it was as hard to fortify Gibraltar now against the new range guns as it was before for the Spaniards to climb up the 1,300 feet of rock. This was a matter upon which the House should have a great deal more information and unless the information was forthcoming and was satisfactory he should oppose the Second Reading.
§ Sin JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)
said he felt bound as a late chairman of the Public Accounts Committee to say a few words in support of the protest of the right hon. Baronet the present chairman. These Works Bills were inventions since his time, and they depleted still further the slender hold the House of Commons held over the expenditure of money. The Government contended that they were strictly confined to great permanent works of consider- 257 able magnitude, and that small items of expenditure which ought to find their place in the Estimates did not find their way into this Bill; but unfortunately the practice of the Government was opposed to their theory, and many items appeared in these Works Bills which ought to appear on the Estimates of that year. The House of Commons could not exercise vigilance over this Bill because it had not the power in these days that it had in days gone by. There was a time when the House of Commons was more independent; when Members recognised a stronger obligation to the constituencies that sent them there; when the strongest Government could not prevail on the House to give away their power. But now they could, by the ringing of a bell, summon men from the refreshment rooms, the newsrooms, and the library, who would vote for anything they wished them to, and the control of the House over money Bills had become an absolute farce. Would the right hon. Gentleman explain why the educational establishments, for the first time, were put into Bill? He should have thought that and similar items certainly ought to be subjected to such discussion and criticism as could only take place on the Estimates in Committee of Supply. The other items referred to were equally in explicable. "Staff and contingencies." What were "Staff and contingencies," for which they wanted £;1,500,000. That seemed to be an item which certainly should not appear on this Bill. It seemed to him that it was a most serious protest that had been made by the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. So far as he could judge there was this year no necessity for any military Works Bill at all, as the Government had already in its possession, from the residue of money provided under previous Military Works Acts, far more money than it was at all likely to be able to spend in the course of the next two years, judging by the expenditure of the past. If that were true it was utterly indefensible for the Government to come and ask for power to spend this large additional sum of £5,000,000, to be permitted to hold it in their hands in addition to the moneys they already possessed, and which they had neither expended nor were likely to expend in the 258 course of the next two years. The Secretary for War was absent temporarily, but he would ask the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if the right hon. Gentleman in his explanation before the Bill was read a second time, would state the actual sum which was now in the possession of the Government from previous Military Works Acts, on the 1st of April in the present year. If the conjecture of the chairman of the Public t Accounts Committee was correct the, Government certainly ought to give some explanation why, with ample funds already in their possession, they came and asked Parliament for an extra £5,000,000. He thought the financial laxity of this great Government spending Department had reached a point at which, if there was any independence in Parliament, it should be checked, and that it must have disastrous results for the economy and interests of the country if allowed to progress further without any protest.
§ COLONEL SANDYS (Lancashire, Bootle)
said that, as was well known, he would not be likely to oppose any Vote for military works of the absolute necessity for which he was convinced. There was no question in which the country took more interest than the way in which the money voted by Parliament was expended. He asked for an assurance from the War Office that the money now asked for would he expended in a particular direction. But if it were not spent on the purpose fur which it was asked, what became of it? The country was anxious that money should be expended in the best manner possible, but it was difficult for those interested in military subjects to ascertain exactly how the sums voted were expended. He understood that money voted had to be expended within the financial year. But it might so happen that it was not for the good of the service that the money should be expended in the year in which it was voted, and he would ask whether it was really indispensable that the money should be so expended, and whether the unexpended balances might not he carried over to the next year. He noticed that a portion of the money now asked for was for fortifications. During a recent visit to Newcastle he went to see the new defence works at the mouth of the Tyne, and he saw there 259 what he believed to be a new gun, intended for one of the new forts, lying in the open, unprotected, and covered with rust. He suggested, therefore, that out of the moneys voted for fortifications my something should be allotted for the purpose of keeping guns under cover before they were mounted.
§ SIR EDGAR VINCENT (Exeter)
said previous speakers had opposed the Bill for various reasons, but he desired to base his opposition on the broader ground of financial principle. He did not think the real nature of the Bill was understood. It came to this, that the Secretary of State for War, finding that the large sum voted on the House as were the Annual Estimates was not sufficient, came to the House with what amounted to a Supplementary Estimate of a peculiarly objectionable character, inasmuch as there would be no attempt to pay this money out of the revenues of the year. It would be raised by loan and so burden the Budgets of future years. The objection was all the stronger because the harm done was not confined to the present moment, but the revenue of future years was forestalled in order to enable the Secretary of State to meet expenditure he had been unable to meet under the Estimates of the year. The practice was very similar to that of a spendthrift son who, finding his annual allowance inadequate, supplemented it by having recourse to moneylenders, and pledging for the loan he thus obtained his future allowance. It had been argued that it was preferable to base the repayment of loans on future Estimates because, by imposing that burden upon future Secretaries of State, there would be an inducement to them to become more economical, but that view, in his opinion, was based upon an altogether too optimistic idea of the character of these gentlemen. It could not be supposed for a moment that the Secretary of State of War in future years would say that the military services of the country required an expenditure of £35,000,000, but as his predecessor in 1903 was extravagant he would content himself with £33,000,000 instead of £35,000,000. The whole supposition was preposterous. It was far more likely that such a Secretary of State would say, "What was done in 1903 is no concern of 260 mine, and I cannot allow the Army to suffer by the fact that the House of Commons was then foolish enough to allow the Minister for War to pledge my present revenue." He ventured to assert that the procedure under which these capital sums were raised was nothing more nor less than the procedure adopted in some foreign countries, and termed the raising of an extraordinary budget. This Military Works Bill was in all essential features identical with the extraordinary budgets which did such considerable damage to the credit of the Second Empire. The sums thus expended were not included in the Budget of the year; they were not subject to the control of the House as were the annual Estimates; they were not in the finance account, were not included in the annual Return of revenue and expenditure, and were not in the profit and loss account of the country. No mention of these sums was made in the Budget state-went, and yet it was known, or ought to have been known, that there was to be an additional expenditure of £9,301,000. He ventured to say that this system was dangerous and misleading.
Early in the session complaints were made — justifiably in his opinion—of the enormous growth of military expenditure, but the figure of £34,700,000 at which the Army Estimates were put was only apparent. The real figure was £3,500,000 more. Under a strict and sound system of finance the Vote would have been something like £38,000,000. Outside the ostensible and apparent expenditure of the country there was another kind of expenditure. Large sums were carried from the Treasury to the War Office by the from door, but considerable sums were also taken by what he might term the backdoor, and over those sums the control of the House of Commons and the country was practically non-existent. Military expenditure had grown with alarming rapidity, but, outside the figures ordinarily known, authority had been given during the last seven years for the expenditure of an additional £16,000,000. Surely this aggravated the case considerably when the spirit of economy or of extravagance at the War Office was discussed. He would go even farther. The objections to the 261 plan were not limited to the War Office; they were even graver in their application to the general financial position of the country. In the Chancellor of the Exchequer's estimate an inadequate sum was provided, and when he came down and said that, having calculated the full expenditure on the Navy and Army, there would remain £6,500,000 to go to the Sinking Fund, he was talking without proper financial basis. So far from that being the case, the net indebtedness of the country at the end of the year would be greater than at the beginning. The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke of redeeming the total debt in fifty years; on the present basis it would never be redeemed, for, in a year of peace, instead of there being a Sinking Fund there would be a deficit. It had been argued that this was due to the spirit of extravagance in the country. He ventured to think there was another reason—viz., that the bad financial system under which the naval and military Estimates were presented for the criticism of the House and the country rendered the financial position so obscure that it was almost impossible to ascertain the real state of the case. It really required no argument from him to show that the system was not only misleading, but dangerous. It was apparent that the method of forestalling the military budgets of the future must also gravely prejudice the military efficiency of the future, as the Secretary of State would not have at his disposal the entire sum allotted to him, a large proportion of it being ear-marked for the payment of past debts, The system produced uncertainty, and unjustly and improperly diminished the control of the House over expenditure, and also seriously imperilled the financial credit of the country, which was already suffering from so many diverse causes. He was against the Bill, not because he objected to this particular expenditure—into that question he did not enter—but because it, ought to have been put on the annual Estimates of this year or deferred till next year. He believed it was of the highest importance to the country to put a stop to this pernicious system of extraordinary budgets, and to revert at the earliest date to the old practice of paying our way.
said the House had listened with great interest to the serious arguments of the hon. Member opposite, who was well justified in making a purely financial criticism, inasmuch as the Bi11 was not only a military, but also a financial measure. It was backed by both the Secretary of State for War and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but the latter had not put in an appearance at all to defend a Bill of which he was the official sponsor, and which had been attacked mainly on grounds which it was his business to examine. Reference had been made to an attempt to draw from the Secretary of State for War a statement of the amount of money which would be involved in the new loan, and the allusions then made to the precedent set in connection with the Naval Works Bill. As he had something to do with setting that precedent, he might say a word in defence of it. For the purpose of debate on the ordinary naval Estimates we asked the Admiralty what was the amount required for the new Naval Works Bill, and the hon. Gentleman opposite very wisely gave its the information; and so we were able to discuss the last Navy Vote with the full possession of the whole of the demands that were to he made for the Navy. That was the reason why he should have liked the same course followed in the case of the Army. The hon. Gentleman opposite placed the total expenditure at £34,000,000, hut he would add another £3,500,000 which was required under this Bill. That gave a total of about£38,000,000. The result of their examination of the Navy Estimates was that they discovered that for the Navy they were paying this year about £40,000,000. They had to add to that £38,500,000 for the Army, and tins made a total expenditure upon the Army and Navy of something Like £78,500,000 sterling. The right hon. Gentleman might ask them to exclude the abnormal expenditure, and he was quite willing to take the normal expenditure, which on the Army and Navy amounted to no Less than £70,000,000. The last item in this enormous military budget was the sum involved in the 263 present Bill, amounting to an expenditure on the Army and Navy in the present year of something like £1 15s. an per head for every man, woman, and child in the United Kingdom. This meant an expenditure of nearly £9 per average family of the population of the United Kingdom. That was the sum they were paying for the military and naval defence of the Empire in the present year. He wished to point out that the benefit of this expenditure accrued not only to the population of the United Kingdom, but to those living in the uttermost parts of the Empire as well. The people of the United Kingdom bore the whole of this enormous burden for the Navy while the benefit was shared in an equal degree by all the outlying portions of the Empire, which contributed almost nothing with the exception India. India paid its full share of Imperial defence, and it was chase not feasible or possible to add an additional burden to India either on account of the Army or the Navy.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said that £3,500,000 was being asked for, this was a burden which would almost alone have to be borne by the United Kingdom, whilst the benefit of it would be shared by all the Empire. The right hon. Gentleman had explained the absence from the schedule in this Bill of the details contained in a former Bill, and if he followed him rightly his explanation was that it was not desirable to mention localities, because when the locality was known the value of the land went up. That appeared to be the sum and substance of the right hon. Gentleman's contribution to the debate He thought it would be possible to indicate the locality without specifying the actual place.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
thought there might be some limit stated as in former Bills, indicating the neighbourhood or districts without naming the 264 actual place. That was a fair comment upon what the right hon. Gentleman had stated. They had recently had an extraordinary case in which the State was compelled to pay eighty years purchase for land, and they all considered that that was an outrageous sum. In that case the State had to pay it, although there was no divulging of the Admiralty's intention of purchasing beforehand. He supposed in that case other sites were considered, but he did not know whether the land was purchased in this case by a person whom the owner knew as the representative of the Admiralty. The question of purchasing land for the purposes of the defence of this country was one of the most important subjects that the House could consider. He thought that before long they would want a new system of compulsory purchase if these Bills were to go on. He should like to know' if the War Office ever put into force their powers of compulsory purchase.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said he supposed that power was used after the inflation of the value had taken place.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
said they did not use these powers for ordinary purposes as between the War Office and private owners unless the price was greatly inflated. He wished to point out, however, that under compulsory purchase in Scotland it was the practice of the Arbitration Boards to award 50 per cent. additional value for a compulsory sale. That was the most difficult item they had to contend with in regard to obtaining land for military works.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said that those who had had practical experience of arbitrations in Scotland told him that the view of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to arbitrations in Scotland was entirely wrong. All lie had to say was, if that were true when the State, which was the ultimate owner of all the laud, wanted a particular portion for the defence of the whole, if it was compelled under a compulsory system by arbitration to give 50 per cent. more. 265 than the real value, it was high time that that system was brought to an end. In that case it would he their duty to insert a clause in the Committee stage of this Bill to strengthen the power of the State, in taking hack its own, by laying down, as an instruction to the arbitrators, that they should assess nothing for compulsion, and that the landowners should not be able to inflict such a heavy burden upon the country. Although the schedule of this Bill could not be discussed in detail, he submitted that the schedule was really the Bill. It was most unfortunate that in this, as in many other respects, the War Office had not followed the lead of the Admiralty and given them the same sort of schedule as that which was con tamed in the Naval Works Bill. The Naval Works Bill informed the House what the works were, what the total cost was to be, how much had been spent up to the end of last year, how much was to be spent this year, and what were the new naval works for which the expenditure was required. The hon. Gentleman opposite would acknowledge that, in dealing with these Bills, the discussion had been confined mostly to the new items, and the old items had not been raised again acid again. Why were they not to know the particulars in this Bill which the Admiralty had never hesitated to give in the Naval Works Bill? They ought to have given the total estimated cost of every one of the headings mentioned in this Bill. They might also have had a column giving them the date of the completion of the works. They ought also to have had some means of tracing the new items. Under this Bill they had not the faintest means of knowing how the money was being spent or to what extent.
It was a revelation to him to hear from his right hon. friend that there was, under the existing Military Works Acts, such an enormous sum in hand. They had been told that the powers to borrow contained in previous Acts were not exhausted to the extent of £10,500,000. Was that true? Would the Secretary of State for War say whether it was true or not? If that amount remained unexpended, why had it not been expended within the time intended by Parliament? The intention of having these Bills originally was that Parliament should 266 vote just enough money for about two years, and that the necessity should be imposed upon the Government of coming back to the House when the money was exhausted in order to ask for more. Why had they hesitated or failed to spend the money they were empowered or directed to spend within a given time? It used to be argued that it was their bounden duty to spend up to the last £1,000 authorised. If that was a good argument in the past would the right hon. Gentleman explain why so large a portion of the money already voted by Parliament had not been spent at all and remained in hand. With a sum like £10,500,000 in hand why did they come forward with a new Military Works Bill at all? Why did they come forward now asking for more borrowing powers? They could not require them for the old items because there was a clause in the first Military Works Act which was automat cally repeated in subsequent Acts, and which enabled them to use money not spent upon one item upon another. They did not require fresh borrowing powers for old items. There was another item in the schedule for barracks in South Africa which called for an expenditure of nearly £3,000,000. Up to 1897, before the war, an expenditure on barracks amounting to £250,000 had been authorised. Now they were asked for an additional expenditure amounting to £3,000,000. That was a startling contrast. There had been two theories put forward about this expenditure. The hon. Member for Whitby had discussed this point from the military side, and he would not deal with that. This scheme might be represented as part of the Army Corps organisation in South Africa. His own belief was that it really formed part of the scheme of the military occupation which followed the war. They might cover and cloak it up by contending that it was necessary for the defence of India, but that was a new theory altogether. They might say that the soldiers in South Africa were to be treated as part of their ordinary forces, but he did not believe that the House or the country would accept the proposal to find accommodation for 25,000 soldiers apart from the present state of affairs in South Africa. Therefore a proposal of this 267 kind was out of place in a Bill like this. They could not consider this item without considering at the same time the situation in the Transvaal, the Orange River Colony, and Cape Colony. Surely they might have had some further information. Were these buildings to be erected in the new colonies or the old colonies? Surely they could have that detail furnished them, for that would not send up the price of land, even in the Transvaal. His main point was that he could not accept this proposal either as part of an Imperial Army scheme or a scheme for the defence of India, and he must insist upon regarding it as part of the plan necessary to maintain our military occupation of South Africa. Therefore this was an item which ought to fall into the account of South Africa itself. They heard some months ago from the Colonial Secretary glowing accounts of the prosperity of the new South African colonies and of surpluses in the budgets. They were told of the money that was to be advanced by the new colonies for paying off a portion of particular moment that sums were the war debt. It was idle to talk of any surplus at all in these new territories until they had saddled them with the cost of the military occupation. It was unfair that the people of these Islands should be compelled to bear a burden, the benefit of which extended equally to all portions of the Empire. He hoped this question would he fully threshed out in Committee, and he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give satisfactory answers to the questions he had addressed to him.
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH (Bristol, W.)
said he would detain the House only a very short time, but he was anxious to make a few observations on two points which had been dealt with in the course of the debate. The Bill had been opposed on two main grounds. The first objection had, he thought, been fairly represented in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University, and it was that for the purposes named in tins Bill the better course to have taken would have been that any such expenditure for military works should have been included in the ordinary Estimates of the year. He did not at all deny that there was force in 268 that argument, and he did not at all deny that there was a temptation to increased expenditure if the money could be obtained by loan. But as he had been himself responsible for several Bills of this kind during the past seven or eight years, he must state his opinion that in no other way could the expenditure, which is considered by the Government and Parliament necessary for such purposes as those named in this Bill, have been properly provided. What were the facts? Would any hon. Member who took the opposite view look at the schedule in this Bill? In the schedule of the present Bill the expenditure provided for under it, and under the previous Military Works Acts, was set out under three great heads. There was, first, defence; second, barracks; and third, ranges, including accommodation for manœuvring and mobilization. He could not but think that expenditure with regard to maters of so completely a permanent character, and necessarily so large at any particular moment that sums were required for the purchase of land, for the construction of defence works, or for the purpose of ranges, including arrangements for manuvring and mobilization, could not properly be put on the Estimates for the year. The country in these matters had a permanent and valuable asset, and considering that the repayment of the sums borrowed was only spread over a term of thirty years, he did not think that that was an undue burden on the taxpayers of the future compared with the taxpayers of the present. Then came what he admitted was a more questionable item relating to barracks. There he thought there ought to be the utmost care on the part of those charged with this expenditure, that nothing should be included in the loan for the purpose of barracks except expenditure which was of a reasonable and permanent character. Small sums required for ordinary repairs, additions, or ordinary restoration, certainly ought not to find a place in a Bill of this kind. He thought the War Officer was acting on that principle. These Bills now, and previously, were therefore justified as being the only way in which the money required for these purposes could be properly provided, 269 but he was bound to make an addition to that by asking the House to consider the amount provided by Parliament during the past few years.
In 1888 the Imperial Defence Act was passed, under which a sum of £2,600,000 was provided for the defence of our ports and coaling stations. In 1890 the Barracks Act, under which £4,100,000 was provided for the construction of barracks, was passed. In the three years, 1897, 1899, and 1901, as appeared from the schedule of the Bill, £15,810,500 was sanctioned by Parliament for the purposes named in the Bill; and now in 1903 they were asked to add £5,000,000. That was a total of £27,500,000 since 1888. How much longer were they to go on at this rate? He attached every importance to the statement made by the Prime Minister at the outset of this debate. They had to make up grave arrears. There was no doubt that their predecessors, probably on both sides of politics, did neglect matters connected with defence works, the provision of ranges, manœuvring grounds, and other matters; and that the provision of proper barrack accommodation had been east on them now. But there was this additional matter to consider. Barracks which were considered to be sanitary and comfortable thirty years ago were no longer held to be adequate for the accommodation of the troops. He hoped that his right hon. friend would exercise a little discretion in matters of this kind; for, having himself been over the new barracks at Malta and Gibraltar, which were being built under loans recently granted, it seemed to him that the accommodation had been of a character almost too good. Then there was the question of the strength of the Army that was to be provided for in the matter of barracks. He thought, seeing the enormous sums which had been provided, the time had come when the War Office might see some end to this expenditure, and might return to the normal system of placing it on the ordinary Estimates. They had to deal with exceptional circumstances; but these exceptional circumstances could not last for ever; and the amount now sanctioned was so large that he hoped his right hon. friend might find it possible to deal with it in regard to the future. He reminded the House that there was one very salutary 270 check on loans of that kind which he hoped Parliament would maintain—namely, that the sanction was only for a limited period, and that on the Estimates must appear a sufficient sum for the Sinking Fund. So that they had provided a national Sinking Fund which could not be touched by any one.
Then he came to the second ground of objection, stated by the hon. Members who moved and seconded the rejection of the Bill, that the expenditure under the Bill was unnecessary. He did not think that the House would take that view. He had heard no real objection to the provision made for defence works and ranges. It had been suggested that either in the schedules or in some Papers to be presented to Parliament, as had been the case on former occasions, some more definite information should be given to the House as to the particular places in which this expenditure was to be incurred. He did not think that it had ever been the custom to state the places where the expenditure was to take place on defence works or where ranges or manœuvring grounds were to he formed. He did not, therefore, ask his right hon. friend for any statement on that matter, for the reasons given by the Prime Minister. He expressed the hope, with regard to ranges and manœuvring grounds, that the needs of different parts of England, Scotland, and Ireland would be considered, rather than any addition to those already possessed by the Government either at Aldershot or Salisbury Plain. When they came to barracks, he must say that he did not recognise the force of the objection stated by the Prime Minister as to the expenditure to be incurred in the case of sites. His right hon. friend had stated that if particulars were given under this head it would raise the price of land, and an instance was given. He should have thought it might have been possible to vary the site of t he barracks and so avoid any loss to the country. He could not himself believe that any real difficulty had been found on that account. Surely Parliament ought to know what the Government proposed to do with the money voted for this purpose so far as they could be told without injury to the public interest. He hoped that his tie-lit hon. friend would reconsider the point, and that He would be able to give the 271 House more information than he saw in the schedule of the Bill.
One point remained, and that was the expenditure proposed to be incurred for the hutting of troops in South Africa. The hon. Member who had just sat down said that they ought not be incur that expenditure, and that it ought to be a charge on South Africa rather than on the taxpayers of this country. He did not think that that was a practicable view. He understood that his right hon. friend would have had to propose a considerable sum for barracks in this country if he had not proposed this £2,500,000 for hutting accommodation in South Africa. But he did think that in connection with this matter the Government ought to consider whether South Africa ought not to bear some portion of the annual maintenance of these 25,000 troops it was proposed to retain there. He should not enter into the question whether any part of the charge should be placed on the revenues of India. In his opinion India was not unfairly treated in the matter of expenditure; and if it could be fairly shown to Parliament that India would really benefit by having these troops in South Africa, he did think that there would be fair reason for some claim on the revenues of India. But if there was a claim on India, there, was also a claim on South Africa. What were the facts? We were to maintain 25,000 men in South Africa. We were to maintain them at a very considerable additional cost as compared with their maintenances in this country. Who reaped the benefit of that cost? Of course the people of South Africa. Why in the world should they be excused from bearing a portion of the cost? The Secretary for the Colonies had very properly imposed upon the Transvaal a charge of £30,000,000 towards the expenses of the war. For himself he attached more importance to the Transvaal and Orange River Colony bearing a part of the cost of the garrison of the future than he did as to that charge. He believed that the result of their bearing part of the cost might be that there would be an inclination to lessen the garrison, greatly to the benefit not only of this country but to the peace of South Africa in future. He only mentioned 272 this because he wished to commend it to the careful consideration of the Government. For himself, subject to what he hard said, he certainly could not join in opposing this Bill. He however trusted that by passing this Bill the House of Commons would not be precluded from a full and complete discussion of the new Army policy and the fresh arrangements which were contemplated for maintaining 25,000 men in South Africa in future—involving as it seemed to him some very considerable changes in the composition of our Army—when the proposal was made, as he supposed it would be, on the Estimates of next year.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said this discussion had been or a most instructive and useful character, and had been remarkable for the great unanimity of the opinions expressed, he would not say altogether in condemnation, but, at all events, in criticism of the method of raising money for public purposes by way of loans. They had always understood that a loan ought not to be resorted to except for some definite and easily defined separate purpose of a permanent character which could not be dealt with in the ordinary Estimates of the year. He dared say there were some items in this Bill which came under this category, but there were a great many of them which he believed did not. Taking the case of barracks, the right hon. Gentleman said that all repairs and expenditure on ordinary maintenance ought not to come under a loan, but ought to be provided for by the Estimates of the year. He should think that that was the course followed. But there were in the ordinary Estimates of the year a number of items for the extension of barracks and the creation of new barracks, and he could not distinguish between them and a great many of the items in the Bill, and he doubted whether any one going over the list could see any good reason why one should be placed under the loan and another should be placed in the ordinary Estimates of the year. That was where confusion and the want of proper control over public expenditure seemed to him to come in. He admitted that they must have loans on 273 proper occasions. The right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down asked how long this great expenditure was to continue. The right hon. Gentleman had accustomed them to these homilies of his, which they had received with applause and sympathy, but he had always neutralised his homilies by his action when he was in charge of the finances of the country. He did not imagine for a moment that the right hon. Gentleman had not exercised great supervision over expenditure but he was bound to say that they did not see in the result any very great benefit from his exertions.
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH
The right hon. Gentleman has often made that charge against me. Now I will reply to him very shortly. If it had not been for me, this very Bill two years ago would have been something like £4,000,000 higher than it was.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said he was glad to hear it. Of course the right hon. Gentleman was very properly and loyally anxious not to say too much, or anything which would be in the nature of imputation against his former colleagues; but, so far as he had been able to observe, the right hon. Gentleman was not able to stem the current of expenditure from which the country was now suffering. He only hoped that the right hon. Gentleman, whose influence might be even greater now than it was when he was in office, because his power of influencing his late colleagues might be enhanced by his present position, would use that influence to secure that an end would he put to these periodical Loan Bills, which were now being treated as if they were a regular necessity of our financial system. Every two years, or three at the outside, there was a Loan Bill. A Question was allied at the beginning of the Session, "Is there to be a Military Works Bill this year." and there was almost a feeling of disappointment if they heard that there was no occasion for it. That was a state of feeling which they ought to set themselves against. He looked to the right hon. Gentleman, now that they heard how successful his efforts had been before, to continue in 274 the same useful path. The question had been greatly discussed whether in a Bill of this sort the details ought to be inserted in the schedule in greater fulness than they were this year. The discussion on the Bill of 1899 showed what was the opinion of the House of Commons of that day. The schedule to the Bill of that year gave a general heading, "Defence Works"; another equally comprehensive heading of "Barracks"; another of "Ranges," and another of "Staff and contingencies." A protest against that arrangement was made, with the result that in the amended form of the Bill they were given the particular places where the barracks were to be built, the particular sums expected to be expended upon them, and, in fact, all the information which they could desire. The Prime Minister had alleged that this led to extortion on the part of those who had hind to dispose of in these localities. He agreed that it that were so Parliament should protect itself by taking powers to acquire land for the public need on reasonable terms, and not leave the Government at the mercy of exorbitant extortioners. But, after all, supposing more money was paid here and there for land in these circumstances, lie would set against that the economy that was effected by having this statement before the House.
With regard to South Africa, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, that if they were to maintain this largely-increased force of 25,000 men, and spend these millions in South Africa for the benefit of that country, then there should be a contribution from South Africa towards the maintenance of the force. One of the strongest arguments in favour of it was that which was used by the right hon. Gentleman, that it gave some hope that there might arise, by-and-bye, a desire on the part of the people of South Africa to be relieved of that contribution. If they were to keep 25,000 men constantly in South Africa, and supposing, ten years hence they thought it desirable to reduce that force by 5,000 men. would they be aide to do it? What an uprour, what a declaration of a feeling of "Little South Africanism" there would le in 275 South Africa if they proposed to take away those troops. We delivered ourselves from that position thirty years ago, by bringing home troops from every part of the world and concentrating them in this country. What had been the result? Take the case of New Zealand. Up to that time they were never without Maori wars. There was constant ill-feeling between the different races, and constant difficulty. When it was announced that we were going to remove our troops, New Zealand, with great good sense, came to terms with the Maoris and there was no longer any trouble at all. That was, perhaps, an extreme case, and was not likely to be repeated in any other part of the Empire. But he hoped they would have some contribution from South Africa if this large force was to be maintained there. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the £30,000,000 that were to be paid by the two colonies in South Africa. They would be very glad to see these £30,000,000 when they were paid. But, apart from that, the fact that this contribution might be a removable burden upon them would give some hope that possibly this force in South Africa, and the expense of it, might be reduced. He was glad his hon. friend had moved this Motion, and he should vote with him. He hoped that this debate, which had in the main been a protest against this method of raising motley for the public service, would have some effect in preventing in the future the introduction of Bills of this sort.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
said he hardly agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that this debate had been in the main a protest against Bills of this sort, because he had himself sat through periods in that House in which there had been no Bills, and periods when there had been Bills, and he knew that on the initiation of this system, which was due to the economical instincts of Lord Randolph Churchill, the general view of the House was that the haphazard system under which the provision for barracks and defence works had been initiated, and not carried out, should be brought to an end. He sympathised with what fell from his right hon. 276 friend the late Chancellor of the Exchequer when he justified the last three loan Bills for which he was responsible, and he thought the very statement which was elicited from his right hon. friend by the right hon. Gentleman opposite was one which completely vindicated his right to bring forward the Bill which was now before Parliament.
His right hon. friend had said that the Bill of 1901 would have been£4,000,000 or £5,000,000 larger if it had not been for him, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite immediately seized on that as showing that £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 had been saved to the country. He could not imagine a more delusive application. What could it matter to the House whether, if barrack accommodation must be provided for 25,000 men at a cost of, say, £10,000,000, £5,000,000 was voted for half the number of men in 1901, and the remaining £5,000,000 at the present moment? The point the House had to consider was, had these barracks got to be provided, could they be provided, and was the sum likely to be economically expended. Now, economy was the vindication and the entire substratum of all these Bills. What was the other system? Not a business man in that House would give his sanction to it for a moment. Was it conceivable that they could get contractors to engage in large undertakings if they were to bind them down to spend so much money, well or ill, by March 31st of every year, or that the War Office, three or four months beforehand, were to frame Estimates for the following year, allowing for the surrender to the Exchequer of, say, £80,000 or £100,000, on the assumption that some impediment to building would take place in January? That system led to every species of extravagance; it was an inducement to every officer and contractor at all hazards to spend the money committed to him; and every farthing which went to the Exchequer to pay off the National Debt in consequence of the money not being expended was, he submitted, a fraud on the taxpayer, who was asked to vote the same money twice over for the same services. At this moment their contracts were open to the investigation of the Public 277 Accounts Committee every whit as much under the system of Bill as of annual Estimates; and he ventured to say that the review of the work which took place was carried on every whit as effectively on these occasions as in Committee of Supply.
The right hon. Gentleman had said that there was practically no separation between the different classes of works carried on by Estimates and by loans; but he was sure he would not have made that observation if he had had before him the schedule of the larger works over £1,000 which were in the Estimates this year. There, with-out exception, the sums of money were taken for the provision of drainage, electric light, additions or large repairs to existing buildings, and the like, works which were not in the least in the same category as tire works and barracks in the present Bill. He did not know that he need labour the figures which the late Chancellor of the Exchequer gave them as to the amount of these Bills, but he would recall to the mind of the House that a large number of old barracks had to be reconstructed. It was natural that hon. Members should ask what finality they might expect in this respect. The sums hitherto taken amounted altogether to something like £16,000,000 or £17,000,000 for barrack accommodation. This included very considerable additions for colonial troops and coaling stations, and barracks had had to he built for nearly 60,000 men. He was only giving rough figures. The sum hitherto taken would house somewhere between 80,000 and 90,000 men, so that they were renewing barracks for something like 30,000 own, or possibly more. He was quite certain that those who knew what our barracks were twenty years ago would say that we had not got to the end of the business by reconstructing barracks for 30,000 or 40,000 men. But the sum he was asking the House to vote to-day, as far as they could estimate, would complete the accommodation for the fighting units' troops. There were also Departmental troops and accessories; but they could not undertake contracts immediately for those, and it might hereafter be necessary for whoever re- 278 presented the War Office in that House to ask for further provision.
He did not propose to discuss the South African question, but it should be clearly understood that they were not asking for any sum to duplicate barracks. As to the amounts unexpended, and dealing with the present year, of which four months had already passed, at present out of £15,800,000 which had been voted £10,500,000 had either been spent or was likely to go out in the present financial year. But beyond that there were heavy commitments on contracts already made for barracks under these loans, which were not only sums paid out because the contractors had lot earned them, and the amount rut actually allotted was comparatively small. In regard to the defence works nearly the whole of the money had been expended, and the money for ranges and training grounds had also been largely paid out, and the money for barracks where they had had the land. But he could not press too strongly on the House a fact which hind caused them to ask the House to forego the actual items of the schedule of the Bill. The hon. Member opposite had spoken very strongly about difficulties in obtaining land for Government purposes. He would give an instance which occurred in the purchase of Salisbury Plain. After they had purchased a large amount of land on an average at about £8 or £9 per acre they had to deal with some of the smaller holdings. They were actually in treaty for a small farm, through a private individual, for the War Office did not appear, and the farm was nearly knocked down to them for it £10,000. But, unknown to their agent, somebody bid £11,000, and got the farm. They then treated with the new owner, but he declined to sell, and they accordingly enforced compulsory powers against him. As a result of the arbitration, the arbitrator being the late Lord Ludlow, wino was specially selected as likely to give a fair verdict, a verdict was given against them for £15,750, although the surrounding land was valued at a much cheaper price. [Colonel LEGGE:] How many acres were there?] He believed the farm was one of about 1,100 acres. He could assure the House that on all these occasions they found there 279 was but one way of getting land cheaply; that was, without its being known that they were in the market, to negotiate privately through some private individual. He did not want to treat of matters that were passing at the present moment, but he could assure the House that there was no power they had to enable them to get land on fair terms winch they were not using. The one power they had resorted to at times, that of compulsion, was the one from which they had got the least satisfaction.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
replied that in the new colonies barracks were being built the neighbourhood of Pretoria, M burg, Barberton, Potchefstroom, Bloemfontein, and Harrismith. As regarded the Cape Colony, they were in the middle of a negotiation. They proposed to sell their barracks in Cape Town itself. They occupied a very valuable site, hut were not well-placed for the accommodation of the troops. They felt convinced a large sum could be obtained for these barracks, and they proposed to spend that money and no more in building barracks elsewhere. He hoped he should not be pressed further on that point. There were reasons which made it desirable that he should not make a precise statement at that moment. The troops to be housed in South Africa undoubtedly made the largest demand upon them under this Bill; but in this country they had to provide for one cavalry regiment and fifteen batteries of artillery altogether. The War Office had loyally accepted the arrangement the late Chancellor of the Exchequer made oil behalf of the Treasury that the hutments of a special character which had been put up in various places should be taken as sufficient for the accommodation of the troops. But those hutments required accessories—married soldiers' quarters, offices, recreation rooms, and so on—for which they had to come for money under this Bill. They had also to complete the garrisons at various coaling stations which had been increased and in which the troops, mostly colonial, had been housed for a long period in temporary quarters. All these, he thought, 280 were grounds which should appeal to the House. There were other matters under the Bill for which he hoped to have the assent of Parliament. They proposed to spend money on training grounds, not so much in the vicinity of the present barracks as in providing the necessary providing space both in Scotland and Ireland, where training grounds were very largely required. He had some hope that in the North of England, too, they might be able to obtain some facilities for training which they had not at present. They had had to take a very considerable sum under this Bill both for hospitals and educational establishments. Their hospital accommodation, like their barracks, had not been completed up to date, and it was of the utmost importance, especially with all the new appliances now used in hospitals, that they should not find themselves behindhand in this respect. With regard to educational establishments, as he had already intimated, the Government proposed to do something to inert the accommodation at Sandhurst and Woolwich; and, considering the largely increased number officers entering the Army, he did not think they would be accused of being profligate in expenditure if they asked the House to sanction the sum put in. the Bill for this purpose.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL (Oldham)
Do I understand that all this increase of expenditure is for Sandhurst and Woolwich?
§ *MR. BRODRICK
said that the expenditure at Sandhurst would be for a larger number of cadets due to the increase of officers, who were now half as many again as they were some years ago.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said he could not say off-hand. He expected the outlay at Sandhurst would be al out £70,000, but he could not say what the increased number of cadets would be inasmuch as that must depend 281 on the accommodation they provided. He wished to say that in this Bill there was no new policy, except the policy of building barracks in South Africa. There was no evasion of the system by which the Estimates were used for repairs and the Loans for new buildings. There was no change in the policy with regard to defence and works, training grounds or rifle ranges no policy which was not before the Treasury two years ago. With regard to South Africa, generally speaking, he would say that the voting of this sum would not for all time settle the new policy. It had to be remembered that our troops there had been under canvas, some for three and others for nearly four years. That tended neither to good discipline nor to good health. At the close of the war Lord Kitchener advised them that a smaller garrison than 30,000 men should not be left at that time in South Africa, and they were strongly advised by the whole of the military authorities not to allow the troops, it possible, to remain for another winter without shelter over their heads. Therefore, large works must have been undertaken, without any change of policy, simply for the shelter of the troops. Now it had been determined to station a permanent force there. The only difference between the old proposal and the new one was that the permanent force proposed would be 5,000 weaker, but it would be provided with accessories which were not contemplated under the old plan. The old plan was 15,000 men, with accessories, permanent, and 15,000 men, Ns-about accessories, temporary. The new force was 25,000 men with accessories, so that the House would see that between the two there was no very large margin. The sum they were now proposing to take for South Africa would enable them to dispense with a considerable number of barracks in this country they were not duplicating barrack accommodation in what they were building in South Africa.
THE MASTER OF ELIBANK (Edinburgh, Midlothian)
asked what had been done with the huts in the concentration camps, which must have cost an enormous sum of money.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said those huts which were originally sent out for Army' purposes and diverted temporarily to the concentration camps, had been used to the fullest extent they would go. They did not order any more until they had ascertained that the huts were being fully used. But the great expense was not in the actual hutment, but in the enormous price or labour, which they had endeavoured to lessen, as far as they possibly could, by using their own engineers and troops, and by inducing contractors in this country to send out labour on better terms. In conclusion, he submitted there was nothing in the Bill which in any way changed the position which had been taken up by Parliament for some years with regard to these expenses or to justify any anxiety as to undue extravagance.
§ Me. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said that those Members who bad opposed the policy of Loan Bills on the grounds so eloquently stated by the hon. Member for Exeter were fully justified by the course of events. Of course, when the policy was initiated, the Government were very careful to put down no item which was open to objection, and for the first few years of this policy the Government, as a rule, confined themselves to items which they could defend. But those who objected to these Loan Bills foresaw, and their anticipations had been fully borne out since, that if this system was accepted there would be a temptation to the Government to throw on Loan Bills all sorts of items of expenditure that ought properly to appear in the yearly Estimates. The right hon. Gentleman said that this system was conceived and carried out for the purposes of economy; but hon. Members who had taken an opposite view were more than justified by the result because in all financial measures experience was the ultimate test as to whether they made for economy or not. This system was now adopted as a regular policy, indeed Loan Bills were now as I regular as the Estimates themselves, and they the were bound to make, not for economy, but for extravagance. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol, whose financial record, at 283 all events, in his speeches, was beyond reproach, was getting somewhat appalled at the rapid growth of the child for which he was responsible; and although the right hon. Gentleman defended this policy, as he was bound to defend it, he admitted frankly he was appalled at the extent to which it had grown. The right hon. Gentleman implored the Government to tell the House that they had now reached the last of these Loan Bills; but the Secretary of State or War did not give any such assurance. On the contrary, he distinctly indicated that they had not reached the last of these Bills; and there was not the slightest hope that the last Loan Bill would be reached until there was a popular uprising against extravagance. The Committee on National Expenditure was astonished at the figures laid before them. In 1893–4 the expenditure under Loan Bills was £1,429,000; in 1898–9 £1,080,000; and in 1900–1 £1,120,000. The Army Loan Bills were in 1893–4£717,000; in 1898–9 £830,000; and this year £3,450,000. where was the prospect of finality or improvement in the figures. Expenditure under Loan Bills was rapidly increasing pari passu with an enormous increase in the ordinary Estimates; and the country was being deceived as to its real financial position. The Army Estimates had increased over £10,000.000 in five years, which was absolutely without parallel with the whole history of the country. The right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to make out that part of this year's Army Estimates was extraordinary, and that the proper amount should he £30,000,000. As a matter of fact, however, the figure should have been £34,457,000, plus £4,520,000, in addition to appropriations in-aid. When he first entered the House he soon arrived at the conclusion that the one characteristic which made the finances of the country pre-eminent over the finance of any other country, and which had conduced so much to the financial stability and resources of England was, that owing to the work of Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone, the finance of the country had been brought to such a condition of simplicity that the man in the street could understand it. It was almost the ideal of accounting. Everything went into the Exchequer in one account and was paid out in another; so 284 that where a financial statement was published everyone could see what the country was raising and spending each year.
But this Government, during the last eight or ten years, have steadily undone that work. In the first place, there was the system of interception; and in addition there were special Budgets, in addition to the ordinary Budgets, which had completely deluded the public as to the amount that was being spent on the Army and Navy. Formerly, it was the practice of the Government to bring in a Loan Bill in February, so that the amount could he taken into account when the annual financial statement was discussed. In 1901, however, another descent was mate in this career of financial irregularity and recklessness; and the Loan Bill was introduced at the end of the session, when there could be no adequate discussion at all, and when the ordinary financial business of the year had been concluded. He had no doubt there was tin object in that great change of policy, namely, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the representatives of the Army and Navy should not be embarrassed the discussion of the Estimates, and that they might be able to force on me House of Commons false and misleading figures. He was glad to have one more opportunity of recording his vote against such a system. There was one item in the Bill to which he particularly objected—viz., time two-and-half millions for permanent barracks in South Africa. He was amazed to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol, as well as from the Leader of the Opposition, that South Africa was to be caked upon to pay for its garrison. Was South Africa consulted in the matter, and it so, what answer was given? The right hon. Gentleman time Member for West Bristol said that the settlement and contentment of South Africa would he promoted not only by imposing on her a permanent garrison, and thereby branding her as a conquered country to be held down by military force, but at the same time exacting from her a contribution towards the expense of that garrison. The Government never made a greater mistake in their lives if they imagined that any such measure would bring contentment and peace to South Africa. They would find that they had embarked 285 on a very stormy sea if they endeavoured to impose the cost of the garrison on South Africa. When he first read the proposal his mind was carried back to April, 1899, when he moved a reduction of the Barracks Vote for South Africa, and when the first note of the war was struck. On that occasion the Colonial Secretary, after midnight, made a speech in support of the Vote, which aroused the suspicions of many of them as to the intentions of the Government. The speech was cabled verbatim to Pretoria, and no doubt did much to exasperate feeling, and to convey the impression that the Government meant war. He ventured to prophesy now that the determination to keep a garrison in South Africa, and to compel the people to pay for it, would have an effect directly contrary to that hoped for.
§ *LIEUTENANT - COLONEL GEORAGE KEMP (Lancashire, Heywood)
said he was somewhat astonished to hear that the 25,000 troops which were to be South Africa would not be available for use India. [Mr. BRODRICK dissented.] Was he, then, to understand that these troops would be available, partially, at my rate for India it requited? [Mr. BRODRICK assented.] He was glad to have an opportunity of speaking, because the Bill bore directly on objects which certain of his hon. friends brought before the House when they criticised the military policy of the Government. The original position taken by the Secretary of State for War, that the three Army Corps were for the defence of England, was abandoned by the Prime Minister.
§ *MR BRODRICK
said he never laid down that position. The position he took up, and to which he adhered, was the necessity of having three Army Corps in England.
§ *LIEUT - COLONEL GERORGE KEMP
said his misconception of the position was due to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman at the Conference of Colonial Premiers when he said that in the opinion of his military advisers, the number he put forward was not too great in the event of an invasion. At 286 any rate, the Prime Minister stated that the reason for such a large number of troops in England—
§ *MR. SPEAKER
It is not in order to refer to speeches made in the same session or debate on another bill or matter.
§ *LIEUT. - COLONEL GEORGE KEMP
said he apologised for his mistake. He wished to know if the force in South Africa were to be available for India, whether the men were to be three years service men or seven years service men. If they were to be three years service men, then the public were being misled.
§ *LIEUT. - COLONEL GEORGE KEMP
said that wall due submission to Mr. Speaker's ruling, his point was that if the troops were to be three years service men they would be of no use in India; and that, therefore, he would be justified in opposing a Bill to provide them with barrack accommodation in South Africa.
§ *LIEUT.- COLONEL GEORGE KEMP
said that if the men were three years service men they could not be sent to India, because the majority of them would be under the age at which men were sent to India. If they were to be sent to India it would be a great change on military policy.
*LIEUT.-COLONEL GEORGE KKMP
said that he would be justified in recording his vote against the Bill until they were certain that the barracks 287 would be built for the purpose put forward by the Prime Minister. He had heard with a certain amount of satisfaction that there would be a curtailment of expense in England as a result of building these barracks in South Africa; but the House had not yet been told whether there would be a reduction in the number of Regular troops stationed in England. If they were to have troops in South Africa, there ought to be a corresponding reduction in the number of Regular troops in England. He was fully in favour of having troops in South Africa; it would give them an opportunity for better training, and of becoming more efficient; but he could not vote for barracks in South Africa unless there was to be a corresponding reduction of the number of Regular troops in Great Britain. He thought it was only right to ask now which of the three Army Corps was to be reduced. He hoped he would not be understood as opposing all the items in the Bill. For instance, no hon. Member was more anxious than he was that barracks should be reconstructed and improved; but until he knew what the equivalent reduction in England was to be, he would be compelled with regret to record his vote against the Bill.
§ MR.WINSTON CHURCHILL
said he would not himself be able to support the Bill. He accepted the assurance that the Bill involved no new policy, for there were many features of the Bill thoroughly in accordance with the very extravagant policy which the War Office had been carrying on for years. While not able to support the Bill, he had a difficulty in opposing it. Mixed up with the items to which he objected were items no one would take the responsibility of preventing the Government from obtaining. He thought that the financial aspect as revealed to-day convinced many hon. Members that the whole position of affairs with regard to the Army was very grave and increasing in gravity. Not only was expenditure increasing, and increasing without any prospect of immediate arrest, not only was the organisation of the Army unsuited to the needs of the country, but side by side with enormous expenditure they had 288 a deterioration in the quality of the troops and a diminution of supply.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said that, with great respect, it was preliminary to some observations he was about to make with reference to the very extensive plan of barracks for which his right hon. friend was asking money.
§ MR WINSTON CHURCHILL
said that a large part of the money for which his right hon. friend was asking was required for liniments or huts—he did not know the difference for troops in Smith Africa. He had no rooted objection to the establishment of a large force in South Africa. It had many advantages in the direction of teaching, training, and colonisation, but to his mind it possessed two great advantages. A large force in South Africa struck at the root of the Army Corps system at home and destroyed the linked battalion system. But the whole question had been much altered by the fact that they had their increase in South Africa and no diminution at home. Everyone, knew that the South African scheme was first proposed in a series of articles in The Times by a very able writer, who had now unhappily gone wrong on another point; but that scheme consisted of two parts, a larger force in South Africa and a proportionate reduction at home. Many of them were induced to support a large force in South Africa, because they understood that it would carry with it a reduction of at least 25,000 or 27,000 men at home. The arguments in favour of a force in South Africa were very strong; but the difficulties were very great. The difficulties prevailed over the arguments until the Colonial Secretary returned from South Africa. He did not allow the difficulties to stand in his way. Twenty-five thousand men had to be found for South Africa; and the 289 Colonial Secretary was determined to have his way. While the Colonial Secretary had had his way as regarded the men being sent to South Africa, the extra embarrassment and strain put upon our recruiting system, if there was no corresponding reduction at home, was a parochial matter which did not commend itself to his august attention. As to the contribution from India, while none was exacted from the colonies India was not under the Colonial Office, and that made the difference. His right hon. friend said that the increase in the barrack accommodation was due to the increase in the Army. That was one of his principal objections to the Bill.
The right hon. Gentleman stated that 60,000 men had been added to the Army in the course of the last few years. His right hon. friend the Member for West Bristol asked the tight hon. Gentleman if this was to be the end; but the right hon. Gentleman did not say it was. Side by side with the right hon. Gentleman's demand for barrack accommodation there was a deterioration in the quality of the troops and a diminution of supply. [Mr. BRODRICK dissented.] According to the right hon. Gentleman's own statement there was it diminution of 6,000 men during the present year. Apart from that, he would remind his right hon. friend in the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the very distinct pledge which had been given by various members of the Government, that there would be a reduction in Army expenditure. He had seen at Aldershot battalion after battalion under strength. Twenty-five battalions had been added to the Army, not all perhaps by his right hon. friend, and no doubt it was largely owing to the addition of those battalions that this loan was necessary. He had already contended that that increase was not justifiable and the time had now come when a reduction ought to be made. If the number of troops in England was decreased by the number of troops to be sent to South Africa, that would to a large extent adjust the balance. He must remind his right hon. friend in the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the very distinct pledges that had been given by various members of the Government of a reduction in military expenditure, and of a reduction 290 in the number of the Army when the Reserves have been filled up. He was not there to make accusations against his right hon. friend of having been a thriftless Minister. He knew enough about the Army to know that for a long time he was zealous for economy; but his troubles and the quarrel of some of his supporters with him had arisen from the fact that the right hon. Gentleman had endeavoured recently to form an army on a scale larger than his resources would allow, and he had never been able to catch up with his original mistake. His right hon friend had never been able to make his army a real and honest army; battalions had to pretend to be battalions, Army Corps had to pretend to be Army Corps, and boys had to pretend to be men. In point of fact, his right hon. friend had tried to fill a quart pot when he only had a pint and a half pint with which to do it. The present state of affairs in the Army could not go on indefinitely. In the course of the next few years the whole conditions of Army policy would have to be reconsidered and recast. He hoped it might he wisely done, and that when reaction came against this great expenditure it would not be such as to endanger the safety of the country. He did not attack the courage or the patriotism of his right hon. friend. but he thought he would have shown a higher courage and a more enlightened spirit if, in what might prove to be his last few months of office, he had found it possible to make those reductions in the Army which would free it from the suspicion of pretence.
§ MR. CUST (Southwark, Bermondsey)
said he was opposed to the Bill on the double ground of its extravagance and its futility. In his judgment the War Office had stooped to the lowest depths of meanness in bleeding India for a purpose in which she had no interest. The Government had started experimentally on the very expensive idea of a permanent South African Army, which admittedly increased our military establishment, and now they were face to face with this enormous expenditure on a plan which, he believed, could never be realised, and which, even if it could be, we did not want and could not afford. 291 This expenditure followed absolutely on Army Corps organisation, to which the right hon. Gentleman was so much attached. But for the growing increase in the Army this new expenditure would not be wanted. The right hon. Gentleman had said he had only increased the Army by 6,000 men, but during the last six years the Army had been increased by right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors by 60,000 men. It was no defence for a Ministry which had been in office for fifteen years out of the last eighteen to say they only realised their responsibility three or four years ago. If these barracks were filled with men of high standard they would be a gross and unnecessary extravagance. What if they were not filled, even with "specials" or stall officers? What if they were to be merely memorials of an old-world mania? What if they were only to be what would have been called two generations ago "Brodrick's follies," scattered about the country? To draw an illustration from common life, he would point out that even a rabbit hutch was an extravagance if they had no rabbits to in it. A fortiori barracks were an extravagance if there were no recruits to put in them, and a recruit was a more furtive animal even than a rabbit. Was it worth while to build barracks for an Army that was never likely to exist except on paper? The Chancellor of the Exchequer had declared that large reductions in military expenditure must be made, so that by the time these barracks were ready there would be no one to inhabit them. Already they knew that a reduction in the size of the army was practically agreed to. The right hon. Gentleman had indicated himself, as had also the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had laid down that a large reduction of expenditure would have to be made. That meant that in two or three years there would be a substantial decrease and that when these barracks were finished there would be nobody to inhabit them.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
said the barracks in this country were to house the cavalry and artillery, both arms being largely above strength.
§ MR. CUST
Exactly. It was because the establishment was above strength that new barracks were required. The War Office were adding an imaginary Army Corps which would never exist; they were building enormous barracks for which they could find no inhabitants; and they were piling up a burden of extravagant expenditure which even this country, with its engagements, would not be able to pay.
§ MAJOR EVANS GORDON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
said he thought economies might be very well effected in one or two directions, and particularly in regard to these troops. When the Army Corps system was introduced it was with the object of reorganising the defence forces and decentralising the commands as much as possible. But what had happened? So far as he could gather, an Army Corps Staff—
§ *MR. SPEAKER
said the hon. Member appeared to be going into something which was not relevant to this It would be relevant to argue that there would not be enough soldiers to occupy the barracks, but to go into the organisation of the Army was not relevant.
§ MAJOR EVANS GORDON
said his point was that instead of getting rid of what they had before, the Army Corps system had been superimposed upon the old system.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Lord STANLEY, Lancashire, Westhoughton)
pointed out that the Staff contingencies "were the controlling staffs of the building of the barracks and had nothing to do with Staffs of Army Corps.
§ MAJOR EVANS GORDON
asked, was no provision being made for Staff officers? Was there not, for instance, to be a new Government House on Salisbury Plain?
§ *MR. SPEAKER
said that even if there were the question of the organisation of 293 Staffs would not he a matter for discussion. The necessity of a large or small Staff did not arise on this Bill.
§ MAJOR EVANS GORDON
said in that case he would conclude his remarks by saying with regard to the army in South Africa lie was bound to support that part of the Bill. He had ventured to say on other occasions that if India were in danger the proper place to keep troops was either in India or as near India as possible. He was glad that that principle had now been adopted by the right hon. Gentleman, and he heartily congratulated him on having placed troops in a strategic position, far more safe for the relief of India than they could be if they remained in England. If that were the object in view, this Bill would have his most hearty support.
§ MR. GUEST (Plymouth)
said there was considerable dissatisfaction on all sides of the House at the reply of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, who had a way of treating this matter very lightly, if one could judge from his facial expression. He thought that the cost of hutting 25,000 men in South Africa could well have been split up and the Government might have taken the amount required to hut 15,000, and that the cost of the remaining 10,000 should have appeared on the
§ next year's Estimates. His great objection to the Bill, however, was the item for the building of barracks in this country. The number of recruits had fallen off, and it had been generally conceded that there must be a considerable reduction in the number of men nominally with the Colours, but no account appeared to have been taken of the reduction in the building scheme. If the noble Lord the Financial Secretary would get up and tell the House that these matters had been taken into account, he was prepared to support the Bill if it went to a division.
§ LORD STANLEY
said it seemed to have been suggested by his hon. friend who had spoken a short time ago that 15,000 men should be in huts mild the remaining 10,000 left in their tents. He thought that would not tend to either the health or discipline of the Army. With regard to the general policy, whatever hon. Members below the gangway might say, the House, by a great majority, had approved a certain establishment for the Army, and for that establishment the Government were endeavouring to make provision.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 154; Noes, 53. (Division List, No. 155.)295
|Sir Andrew Noel||Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Monor)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Bignold, Arthur||Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J.A(Wore|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Bigwood, James||Chapman, Edward|
|Arrol, Sir William||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Clive, Captain Percy A.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bond, Edward||Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Coddington, Sir William|
|Bagot, Capt. Josecline Fitzroy||Bousfield, William Robert||Coghill, Douglas Harry|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Collings, Right Hon. Jesse|
|Balcarres, Lord||Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.)||Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon.A.J. (Manchir||Bull, William James||Colston, Chas. Edw H. Athole|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds||Butcher, John George||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasow,|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Campbell, Rt Hn. J. A.(Glasgour||Corbett T. L. (Down, North|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Kenyon, Hon. G. T. (Denbigh||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Kimber, Henry||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Knowles, Lees||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Davenport, William Bromley-||Lamborn, Hn. Frederick Wm.||Ridley, S. F. (Bethnal Green)|
|Denny, Colonel||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glosgow||Ritchie, Rt. Hn Chas. Thomson|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monm'th)||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Lawson, Jn. Grant(Yorks.N.R.)||Sadler. Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Lee, Arthur H.(Hants, Farcham||Sandys,. Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Lees, Sir Elliot (Birkenhead)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Faber, Edmund B.(Hants, W.)||Lees. Col. Hon. Hencage||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Leveson-Gsower, Frederick N.S.||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Ed.||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, E)|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Man'r||Long, Rt Hon. Walter(Bristol,S||Smith, Hon. W.F. D. (Strand)|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Spear, John Ward|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lowe, Francis William||Stanley, Edward Jas.(Somerset|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lowther, C. (Cumb. Eskdale)||Stanley, Lord (Laues.)|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Stirling-Maxwell. Sir John M.|
|Flower, Ernest||Lucas, Reginald. J. (Portsmouth||Stroyan, John|
|Forster, Henry William||Macdona, John Cumming||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Foster, PhilipS. (Warwick, S.W.||Maconochie, A. W.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Gardner, Ernest||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Talbot, Rt Hn J.G. (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Gordon, HnJ. E.(Elginand N'rn||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Goschen, Hon. Geo. Joachim||Massey-Mainwarning, Hn. W.F.||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.||Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir HE(Wigton||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Grenfell, William Henry||Maxwell, W.J.H. (Dumfriessh.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Gunter, Sir Robert||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Valentia, Viscount|
|Guthrie, Walter Murray||Mitchell, William (Barntey)||Walrond, Rt. Hon. Sir W. H.|
|Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Midd'x||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Hamilton, Marq. of (Londondy||Motton, Arthur H Aylmer||Whiteley, H (Ashton-and, Lyne|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute||Williams, Rt Hn. J Powell(Brim|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Heath, Arthur H. (Hanley)||Murray. Col. Wyndham (Bath||Wills, Sir Frederick|
|Henderson, Sir Alexander||Nicholson, William Graham||Wilson, A.S. (York, E.R.)|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Percy, Earl||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Hoult Joseph||Plummer, Walter R.||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C.B. Stuart|
|Howard, Jno (Kent, Faver'hm||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Howard, J. (Midd., Tott'ham||Purvis, Robert||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Randles, John S.||Sir Alexander Acland|
|Johnstone, Heywood||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne||Hood and Mr. Austruther.|
|Allen, Charles P.(Glouc., Stroud||Fuller, J. M. F.||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Asher, Alexander||Grant, Corrie||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Asquith. Rt. Hon. Herbt. Hy.||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Shackleton, David James|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Horniman, Frederick John||Shipman Dr. John G.|
|Blake, Edward||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Kemp, Lieut.-Col. George||Tennant, Harold John|
|Caldwell, James||Labouchere, Henry||Thomas, David Alfred(Merthyr|
|Cameron, Robert||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Campbell-Bannerman Sir H.||Lough, Thomas||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Cremer, William Randal||Mappin, Sir Fredk. Thorpe||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Mellor, Rt. Hn. John William||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh N.||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Dillon, John||Morgan, J.Lloyd(Carmarthen)||Wilson, Chas. H. (Hull, W.)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.||Wilson, H. J. (York. W. R.)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Palmer, Sir Charles M.(Durham|
|Edwards, Frank||Partington, Oswald||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Elibank, Master of||Pirie, Duncan V.||Mr. Causton and Mr. C.|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Reid, Sir R. Threshie(Dumfries||R. Spencer.|
Bill read a second time, and committed third time upon Monday next.