HC Deb 09 March 1903 vol 119 cc97-8

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the effectives of all ranks estimated on page 12, Army Estimates, consist entirely of the fully trained fit to be sent on foreign or active service; and, if not, what proportion the fully trained bear to those unfit to be sent on service.


The figures alluded to represent the total strength on 1st February, 1903, as distinct from establishment. As my hon. and gallant friend is aware, the peace strength of our Army, like that of all others, contains a proportion of partially trained men who are replaced by Reservists on mobilisation. The proportion of fully trained to those unfit to be sent on service varies in different units, but out of battalions of 800 strength over 500 were on the average found fit for immediate mobilisation in the late war.


Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange that another year only the numbers on the establishment shall be shown, and not the number effective. I think the figures given are misleading.


Oh, no, Sir; it is impossible to divide in any year establishment and strength. Whatever the strength is must be shown to Parliament for the purpose of information; the number of effectives, in the sense of fully trained men, varies from year to year.

MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)

Do I understand that 300 men out of every battalion are not effective?


No, Sir. The strength of battalions for mobilisation, which used to be 720, was only raised to 800 a year, or a year and a half, before the war began; but I believe, taking the battalions as full, that only 500 were found ready for mobilisation at the beginning of the war.

MR. GOULDING (Wiltshire, Devizes)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether, when he stated the strength of the Army to be 12,000 above strength, he included men on gratuity furlough: and whether such men are borne on the establishment of the regiments to which they belong.


No, Sir. The gratuity furlough men were not included. They are borne on the strength of their regiments until they go to the Reserve or are discharged; but they were excluded from the total strength in order not to give a wrong impression of the state of the forces.