§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 235,761, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at home and abroad, excluding His Majesty's Indian Possessions, during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1904."392
§ Whereupon Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 208,761, be maintained for the said Service."—(Mr. Guest.)
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
To-day we are nominally discussing in Committee of Supply what is a small Amendment, but in reality the House of Commons is called upon to pronounce one of the most momentous decisions which has ever had to be taken in Parliament, and the decision to which we shall come tonight is one which will affect to a very substantial degree our decisions on other questions which will have to be submitted to this House later on. It is not possible to imagine a decision of more far-reaching interest than the one which this Committee is invited to come to, especially in face of the gigantic Estimates for the Navy which have been laid before us. We cannot deal with this as an isolated and detached problem; we cannot separate the question of the Army-Estimates from that of the Navy Estimates. I am one of those who think that the expenditure is bound to increase year by year. My hon. friend the Member for the College Division of Glasgow, speaking last night on this question of expenditure, used the words—Any reduction ought to be made on other items, and not on the Army or Navy.This suggestion carries us even further; it points to the possibility that in this debate we shall have to consider not merely the expenditure on the Army and Navy but also the general expenditure of the country. I think the hon. Baronet should have hinted at the class of expenditure which he thought might be reduced. There are proposals made by Unionist Members with regard to various matters which are in our minds which point to a very largely increased national expenditure on the Civil Service Estimates. I therefore doubt very much whether we shall be able to save money for the Army and Navy out of the Civil Service Estimates.
The Secretary of State last night accused those who are supporting this Amendment of a desire for the reduction of expenditure at all costs. I wish to deny both halves of that suggestion. I do not think that 393 the advocates of the Amendment desire or expect any reduction of expenditure. It is the prevention of an increase of expenditure at which they are aiming. I deny also that they desire a reduction "at all costs," because I am certain that those who have brought forward this Amendment have shown by their utterances that they are animated by patriotism alone—that they regard the matter' from a national and patriotic point of view. I am one of those who hold that peace is the greatest interest of this country, and I do not concur with my hon. friend the Member for Oldham, who sits on this side of the House, in his views of the policy which he thinks makes necessary these very large Estimates. We are face to face with the fact that, owing to the position of this country in the world, a gigantic expenditure on military and naval services is a necessity; but while we admit that, all we are frightened of is the tendency towards] constant increase, an increase which is certain as regards the Navy, and one which, unless we check it, is certain as regards the Army also, and certain, I believe, to be attended with insufficient results. Not only is it certain that the naval expenditure will increase, but it is also admitted by the Secretary for War that the Army expenditure will necessarily go up under many heads, even if this reduction in the number of men is carried.
It is not necessary to go into these matters in detail, but there is one point I should like again to mention, and that is that the food of the private soldier must be raised up to at least the standard which has now been fixed for the Navy. The most useful purpose that this debate will serve is that we shall make our personal appeal to the Prime Minister, who is looking into the question, and directing the reforms of the Cabinet Committee; that he shall consider with us if the expenditure on the Army cannot be, I will not say reduced, but checked, and if it cannot be applied on different lines. Just as yesterday the Secretary for War defended the Intelligence Department to the War Office against Lord Salisbury, who was the only man to attack that Department, he also in advance defended the War Office against the arguments which he thought were to be addressed to the Mouse by the mover of this Amendment and his friends. That defence proceeded on lines which were not exactly 394 those of his former defence; it was not at all on the lines of his statement to the Colonial Conference. I am glad to think we have heard very little in this debate about the possibility of the invasion of this country in the event of our loss of the command at sea. That point has very properly receded into that third or fourth position which it ought to hold. The defence of the Secretary of State yesterday proceeded largely upon two points which I should like the Committee to consider, because they are matters to which we shall have continually to return. He told us that unless we retained the linked battalion system we should have inferiority in our training depots, and he alluded to the case of India. As to the case of India I shall have something to say later on, in considering the proposals that have been put before us by the Prime Minister. It is necessary for us to face this linked battalion question. I fully admit that the Prime Minister can advance any number of arguments in favour of it when he is in the happy position of summing up the debate. I admit also that we are not entirely agreed upon it, but then I would point out that the supporters of the Government themselves are not agreed. I should like to ask the Secretary for War as to what he looks forward to in regard to this linked battalion question. There are some of us no doubt who, having been many 3'ears in Opposition, are naturally, to some extent, defenders of what have been great Liberal reforms in our time; and there is always a danger that we on this side of the House may drop into considering all the Liberal reforms as a kind of fetish to which we are absolutely bound. It is not surprising, therefore, that under all the circumstances, we should be inclined to look on the linked battalion system as such a fetish. The Cardwell reforms were great reforms in their time, but they have been essentially modified, first by Mr. Cardwell himself, then by Mr. Childers, next by Lord Hartington, and finally by the present Secretary for War during the time he was Under-Secretary. Surely the time has come when we may look upon this linked battalion system as one not quite so sacred as the Ark of the Covenant. The hon. Member for Oldham who sits 395 on the other side of the House put forward, I think, no fewer than five different plans for avoiding the difficulties of the linked battalion system.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
Four—and last night the hon. Member for Plymouth made, I think, a very admirable statement, with which I agree except on one point, upon the change so far as it affects the linked-battalion system. There is undoubtedly a difference of opinion—the extent of which is not yet realised on this question. The suggestion that the difficulties of the system may be avoided by counting South Africa as home, and keeping a whole Army Corps there, was objected to by the Secretary for War as too costly, but I understand he is already trying, or intends to try, the experiment of keeping battalions at the Cape on the home footing. Has he any limit as regards the age at which recruits are to be sent to South Africa? That is a matter worthy the consideration of the Committee, because it is a notorious fact that during the war men who were too young to be sent to South Africa in the Regular service were afterwards sent as Militia, and served along with their own Regular battalions. That is a strange and artificial rule. We already enlist 2,000 men who officially are only seventeen years of age, and I have no doubt that many more are actually enlisted who are under the age. Before the war the Army medical question was frequently debated in this House, and much pressure was brought to bear on the Government in connection with it. One of the most frequent topics of remark was the prevalence of typhoid fever among young recruits in South Africa, and this is a fact which ought not to be lost sight of in considering whether we can avoid the defects of the linked battalion system in the manner to which I have referred. Undoubtedly many of the difficulties we labour under are the result of that system. In order to make it operate we are forced to keep a battalion at home for every battalion we have abroad, and consequently the 396 strength of our home Army is regulated not by our needs but by the extent of our colonial garrisons. If you increase those garrisons you must increase the number of Regular battalions at home. Again the strength of your expeditionary force depends on the number of Regular battalions at home, so that the whole thing is a chapter of accidents. It certainly cannot be claimed for it that it is a scientific system.
I want to ask the Secretary of State for War, what his own intentions were in regard to the linked-battalion system, and how was he going to meet the difficulty he had himself raised? He said the previous day that in a period of from two to four years, he expected the Reserve would reach 100,000men, and then it would rapidly rise to 125,000, 130,000 or 140,000 men. That was, of course, in consequence of the new departure made in adopting the three years system of enlistment. The Secretary of State for War went on to say—When the Reserve readies 100,000 then you may safely begin to reduce the number with the colours, having the minimum necessary to maintain the cadres in efficiency, with great effect in, the reduction of our expenditure.What did he mean by that? Must they not interrogate the Secretary of State for War and find out what he meant to do with regard to the linked battalion system. He said they were going to make a great reduction in numbers and expenditure, by reducing the number of men with the Colours in consequence of greatly strengthening the Reserves. They were to have a large reduction of men when the total reached 100,000 and they might ultimately expect a reduction of 40,000.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE said the Secretary of State had said that he was going to retain only the minimum number of men necessary to maintain the cadres in efficiency. These last words constituted the ground given for the increase of the Army. How was the right hon. Gentleman going to work the linked battalion system under his new scheme? He might tell them that he had not made up his mind. He submitted that, when that 397 movement had been met by a suggestion that in two to four years from that time they were to have this startling change, they should not part with the Estimate until they knew the principles which were to regulate that change. The reduction moved was one of 27,000 men and the mover explained his reduction in these words: he said that the increase of infantry would be 27,907 men, out of 54,000 of an increase. That was the first time that a thought-out reduction of that kind had been moved. That Motion did not touch the increase in the artillery or the mounted men, and it had been put before the Committee by arguments which dealt very effectively with that horrible wastage in the Army. It would take them very far indeed if they were to attempt to deal at length, with the question of the wastage in the Army, because it was notorious that that wastage was gigantic compared with any other foreign army: and yet one would have thought that under a system in which they did not work the men so hard, and where they did not sweep the whole population in their net by conscription, they would have been able to prevent such a gigantic wastage.
§ As regarded the mounted men the Secretary of State for War had made no statement this year to the House, and he had not told them what he was going to do on the line of his unsuccessful proposals of last year. They were still left with his Army Corps, provided with mounted troops for the one part by Yeomanry and one part by Regulars. Their objection to that scheme was the scratch and mixed character of the Army Corps, for it was a system in which the House of Commons had never supported the Government of the day. The right hon. Gentleman thought his scheme had been approved, but looking back to the debates he did not believe that the House of Commons had given any real approval for the creation of those mixed Army Corps at home. Now he came to the question which was suggested by the needs of those mixed Army Corps at home. They were corps which by their constitution appeared to be tied to the Islands in which they existed, and tied to Home defence, and that they were so considered by the right hon. Gentleman there could be no doubt if they 398 considered his speeches, or in particular the speech he made at the Colonial Conference.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I merely pointed out at the Conference that the proposal of the Government was to be able to put 120,000 men in whatever portion of the Empire they might be needed for the defence of the Empire.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE said he was speaking of the other three Army Corps, that is the three mixed corps.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said he was speaking of the mixed corps, composed partly of Regulars and partly of Yeomanry, Volunteers and Militia. The Prime Minister had assumed in his speeches on this subject that the increased and increasing expenditure was for the foreign service Army, and that they were obtaining a larger or more efficient foreign service expeditionary Army for time of war. He doubted that. His own impression was that apart from the great increase which would accrue a few years hence in the Reserves, now depleted—apart from that they had actually diminished the number available for foreign expeditions. Ear from the numbers for foreign service being greater under the new scheme he thought they were in fact diminished. For example, the 23,000 men of the old Militia Reserve which was abolished were so available and in the Army Corps Scheme there was no corresponding increase. Let him quote the previous declarations of the Government upon this head in the three years before the war. The Prime Minister assumed that this expenditure was for an increased expeditionary army that could be sent across the sea. The present Chief Secretary for Ireland on the 2nd March, 1899, speaking before the adoption of the six Army Corps Scheme, told the House that they had organised three Army Corps and four cavalry brigades of Regulars without any intermixture of auxiliary forces. In 1898 the present Secretary of State for War named three Army Corps of Regulars, and in 1897 the same right hon. Gentleman said that: 399We put into the field three Army Corps of Regulars, of which two are ready to embark at a moment's notice.At the present time not more than two Army Corps could be sent abroad without colonials, and without sending for the Volunteers, Yeomanry and Militia, and the difficulty which prevented them embarking three Army Corps still existed, viz.: the Irish difficulty, which made it improbable that that the third Army Corps would be moved from Ireland.
All through the scheme of the Secretary of State for War there ran this clinging of the Empire to fixed defence, and to troops which could not be freely moved about the world, and which were consequently of a lower standard of efficiency. The Secretary of State for War yesterday gave the numbers of these garrisons. He said the colonial garrison amounted to 51,000 men, and the British garrisons of Regulars in fortresses at home numbered 13,000. He placed the permanent staffs at 20,000, making a total of 84,000 men, tied as it were at home, who could not be moved among the Regular forces; and these, in addition to the recruits who could not be sent out In India they had already an enormous force of this kind. There were under the Indian mobilisation scheme no less than 100,000 Regulars who were fixed for employment in their own portion of the country, and could not be moved to the frontier in the event of war. These figures made a total of 224,000 men of the Regulars of the Imperial Army who were tied to fixed defence, as compared with any expeditionary force which they could move about the world. That had always been one of the greatest difficulties of the War Office system, and it was one which he was sure had brought this question home to the minds of many Hon. Members in this House.
They had in the British Armies an overwhelming number of men. Some years ago a calculation of the troops within the Empire was made, and it worked out that they possessed nearly 1,000,000 of men of one kind and another, apart from the Irish Constabulary and military police, and without counting the marines, troops under the Colonial or the Foreign Office, and military police available in many colonics for military operations. There were nearly a. million consisting of those shown in the Army Estimates, the Army Reserve, the 400 Militia, the Volunteers, the Yeomanry, the Channel Islands Militia, Malta Militia, and other forces so shown, the Indian Army; and in addition to those shown anywhere on Army Estimates the forces of the various colonies, including the organised and drilled part of the Canadian Militia, and the army of the Colonial Office paid out of Civil Service Estimates, such as the West African Frontier Force. The number had been increase I since that time, but at the present moment there was a temporary reduction in the Reserve. Substantially they might still say that the number of troops capable of serving in the field in the British Armies stood at one million men, and yet they had only the relatively small numbers produced by the War Office who, could be put into the field as an organised military force. As regarded the number of these men the Secretary of State for War told them yesterday that their wish was to get rid of the small and well-tried body of Regulars, and put in their place a great number of partially trained troops. He submitted to the Committee that this inaccurately described their proposals, but accurately described the actual state of the case. It was a description the very opposite of what the hon. Member for Plymouth desired to produce. At the present time we had 1,000,000 men, supported at enormous expense in all portions of the Empire, and the result was that we had only a small striking force. Supposing the Volunteers of this country were property organised for home defence service, the ideal would be that they should be able to send abroad the whole Regular Army of this country, and that they would be able to reinforce them by the Militia who would be ready at an interval of longer time. The Prime Minister assumed that the increased cost was for possible expeditions of Regulars across the seas, but if he looked through the constitution of his force he would see that the opposite was the case, and that the overwhelming proportion of the forces of the Empire were not for that purpose, and that by far the greater portion were not organised.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
thought the right hon. Gentleman assumed that. He admitted that the statement was rather vague, and he would, therefore, give a definite argument which the right hon. Gentleman used to the House. He said that the great ground for the increased cost was what he called the defence of India, and what the Secretary of State for War called the defence of the North-West Frontier. The Prime Minister spoke of the absolute necessity of providing for the defence of that frontier—providing for the contingency of being militarily adjacent to a first-class military power. The right hon. Gentleman said that was the key of our own military position. What he wanted to suggest was that these words of the Prime Minister showed a certain measure of adherence to the old heresy with regard to the defensive policy of this Empire. The only way in which the British Empire could be defended, if we had not sufficiently defended it by a policy of peace, was by striking at the enemy and conquering him by offensive operations.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman assumes that I only considered one thing, and that that was the case of invasion, but if he will look at the observations I made he will see that I prefaced my observations on the question of the Indian Frontier with the remark that it was absolutely necessary that we should not be driven to a purely defensive policy, and that we must have a striking force.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said that Indian defence was provided for by the Indian mobilisation scheme. That scheme provided for putting two Army Corps of Regular troops in the field, and he ventured to say that no military authority could he quoted who believed that from the present Russian frontier on the other side of Afghanistan it was possible to move any Russian or foreign force which these two Army Corps in the Indian mobilisation scheme were not able to deal with. No one who had considered the matter had ever for a moment suggested that it would be possible from the present frontier to reach India at all. If they were going to assume the partition of 402 Afghanistan, or assume an unsuccessful war to prevent it, or going to invite it, an entirely different state of things arose; but surely it was not necessary in the military preparations of the present year to discuss a hypothetical and visionary state of affairs which he believed would never arise. Ho did not think we were strengthened by the recent fad for the creation of an Imperial service force. That did greatly affect the balance of power in India. He did not hestitate to say that before the creation of that force there was virtually no danger of a military mutiny. They had always been told that all they wanted against mutiny were British men in uniform, and that they did not require men of the highest training; that Militia and battalions of much less quality in the open field would be equal to that event, which he for one did not contemplate. No one had ever suggested a mutiny in India except in the actual event of an invasion of India which, to him, seemed at the present moment to be impossible. He believed that the unanimous opinion of almost all the authorities who had thought out this question was that what had been suggested was a dream, but at all events there was no military authority for it. There was no military authority for saying that Indian defence required more than two Army Corps which could mobilise.
Once on a time it was thought that Russia could be attacked by the Black Sea. It was not necessary now to discuss those suggestions because as the colonial fever increased all Powers, including Russia, appeared to become more vulnerable to our Fleet, and our Army could strike more easily than was the case some years ago. France and Germany were vulnerable to our arms, and Russia was formerly invulnerable, but Russia by expansion had become more vulnerable. He did not think they should be presented with this Indian argument as the main ground for the proposals which were made to the House. He for one believed in the necessity for a Regular Army service across the seas. He believed above all in keeping that Army in a high state of efficiency. He rejoiced especially that this Amendment did not interfere with the cavalry or artillery of such a force. In the event of war there would be a long struggle 403 before our command of the sea was absolutely secured, and before we were able to bring the war to an end, not by defensive operations but by striking at the enemy, even at his heart. The Secretary of State for War had stated that the real question in debate was whether the Army was too large. If the right hon. Gentleman asked the Committee to consider that question he should say that, while he was not one of those who desired to cut down expenditure on both services year after year, if they were driven to choosing between the Army and the Fleet it was more important at this time to maintain a Fleet capable of preventing a coalition against us. It was more important that they should prefer the Fleet rather than have an unwieldy Army which seemed beyond their power to discipline and control.
§ *MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)
said he was sure that they had all listened with the greatest possible interest to the able speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He agreed with almost every word of it. He should like to offer a few observations on this Motion, and also to express some serious objections to the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. In doing so he felt to a certain extent embarrassed because he was not altogether in sympathy with the methods by which this scheme had recently been attacked. He thought that there had been too much suggestion of falsification of returns and matters of that kind, and too little critical examination of broad principles. Personally, he had the highest esteem for the right hon. Gentleman, whose task was one of the most difficult and thankless in the Empire, and attacks of that kind only increased the sympathy he had always felt towards him in his difficult position. Recently, and particularly in the debate the day before yesterday, the right hon. Gentleman had introduced certain reforms which would give a great deal of satisfaction to those interested in the welfare of the Army. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had reason to complain of the attitude of the House, and particularly of Members of his own Party, towards the scheme which had been received 404 with approving cheers two years ago. If the scheme was wrong—as be thought it was—in principle, they must share the blame. Most of the criticisms which had hitherto been made were of a purely destructive character. Nothing was commoner, or more easy to indulge in, than destructive criticism, nor could he admit the easy contention that if they wished to destroy the existing order of things there was no moral obligation to suggest an alteration. His objections to the right hon. Gentleman's scheme might be summarised as follows: In the first place it was clearly based on the idea of an insufficient or defeated Navy; secondly it was neither flesh, fowl, nor good red herring, in that, as at present constituted, it destroyed the efficiency of both the home defence and the foreign service armies. If modified be thought it would be extremely suitable for a purely home defence force, but his contention was that it was not suitable in any way for an expeditionary force intended for service overseas. His third objection was that it was an unreal and ineffective force, not on the grounds previously urged that it was only a paper organisation or that it had no existence outside of false or misleading Returns, but, accepting the right hon. Gentleman's most optimistic hope, and granting that every unit was in its place and full up, that it was a force composed very largely of ineffectives. Consequently the country was paying for a fighting force and did not get it.
He would endeavour to make these points good. In the first place this scheme was based mainly on the idea of an insufficient Navy, and on the expectation, or the fear, of an invasion of these islan is. In the course of a previous debate the question was asked, What was the inspiration of the scheme? and the right hon. Gentleman the other day said that it was the handiwork of the old Defence Committee. That was, he thought, rather an unkind remark, seeing that that Committee had ceased to be, and the right hon. Gentleman ought to have borne in mind the old kindly adage, De mortuis nil nisi bonum. If he might hazard a guess as to what was its inspiration, he should say it was a perusual of that well-known essay the "Battle of Dorking" It will be re- 405 membered that the field of Armageddon therein described was the right hon. Gentleman's own constituency, and that would naturally bias his judgment. Whatever the inspiration, however, he thought there was no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman's dominating idea was the fear of invasion of these islands. Consequently the well-meaning but mistaken efforts of the right hon. Gentleman to provide the country, as an alternative to an insufficient Navy, with a military force after the German pattern, whilst at the same time neglecting the real and crying needs of the Army, reminded him of the unhappy days when Charles II. and his principal advisers were "chasing poor moths" at Whitehall while the enemy's guns were thundering in the Thames. In the second place, he maintained that the Army Corps organisation was unsuited for a foreign service force, because it was too large a unit to be shipped over sea with any likelihood of preserving its corporate existence after landing at the base of operations. It would at once be split up into brigades and divisions and hurried up country. No foreign Army Corps was designed for service over seas and for this purpose divisional organisation was much more suitable. His next and most serious objection was that it was dependent for its very existence as a fighting force, even at home, on a large influx of Reservists. That would not matter so much in dealing with the Army Corps not required for immediate service, but even the First Army Corps, which was our first and only striking force, and supposed to be always ready for over-sea service, was essentially an ineffective force—that was to say, a force composed largely of ineffectives which would have to be weeded out, and replaced by Reservists, before it could go abroad. The Secretary for War himself admitted that out of battalions of 800 men there was only an average of 500 ready to go to the front in the South African War, and even that proportion was a trifle over-estimated.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said that the hon. Gentleman forgot that a battalion 406 received 200 recruits each year, and that they could not count on recruits of the first year.
§ *MR. ARTHUR LEE
said he did not think it was much to boast of that the battalions of the First Army Corps should, from whatever cause, have in their ranks 300 admittedly ineffective men. What was the result of this system of depending on the Reserve? The Reserve, instead of being a mere military force, became a great political or diplomatic factor in any ante bellum situation. It hampered the course of diplomacy, or might even precipitate a war, because if the Reserves were called out it was regarded as equivalent to throwing down the gauntlet; it showed our opponents that we meant to fight, and consequently diplomatic negotiations could no longer be carried on. On the other hand, if the Reserves were not called out, we could not get ready to fight in case our opponents suddenly determined to break off diplomatic relations and to attack us at the first opportunity. Even in exceptional cases, where we were fighting with only an uncivilised enemy, this dependence of the fighting units on their Reservists meant that men had to be swapped in crossing the seas, and a start made to the front with the corps entirely reconstructed, untrained, and with the bulk of the men quite unknown to their officers. Either way, the Reserve was a spoke in the wheel, and simply because it had been perverted from its proper use and, instead of being a Reserve, was made the first line. Surely it was only commonsense and an imperative necessity that the foreign service force, the first weapon of military offence, should be a force, however small, which should be always at war strength, always equipped and trained for war, composed entirely of effective men, fit to take their place in the fighting line at any moment, and that it should be entirely independent of a Reserve or of any padding from without, until, of course, actual wastage in war reduced its numbers. It might be said that this was another attack on the linked-battalion system, but he maintained that it was only another striking illustration of the fatuity of that system. He was aware that the Secretary for War derided that 407 idea, and did not think that the depôt system produced effective Reserves. Did the right hon. Gentleman pretend that the Marines and the Guards were not efficient, and could he name any other home battalions that were?
§ MR. BRODRICK
said that the Guards were worked on small lines, and the men went into the depot for two or three months and then were at once posted to their battalions.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said that young men joined the depots at eighteen years of age, but they were not sent out to India until they reached the age of twenty.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
said that the right hon. Gentleman assumed that these men should be enlisted at the age of eighteen, and would only be kept at the depot for two or three months, but in the case of the Marines they were kept for a much longer period, with great benefit to the force they ultimately joined. The question of the linked battalions was one which must be faced at some time. What did the system mean? It implied or required a fantastic theory of equilibrium between the battalions at home and abroad—a condition which did not exist, which never had existed, and never would exist. Accuracy demanded the admission that it had been demonstrated by the War Office astronomer that at a certain midnight hour during the trooping season in the late seventies, it did happen that there were, for a few moments, precisely the same number of battalions at home as abroad, but that was a mere astronomical phenomenon, like the transit of Mars, never repeated before or since. And yet successive Secretaries for War clung to the idea with the same rapt fanaticism that sustained King Arthur's Knights in their quest for the Holy Grail; and, like these knights, were ready to sacrifice everything material in order to attain the unattainable. The linked-battalion system wrecked the home battalions, made it impossible to have 408 at command an ever-ready and effective striking force for foreign service, and made the first two years of a soldier's career so unattractive, so heart-breaking, that good men would not join the Army. What was the alternative? It was the Marine or Guards system. Instead of a hundred or so ill-found, ill-conducted,; ill-famed little depots scattered over the country, there should be a small number of large, central, well-equipped depôts, similar to those at Walmer, Eastley, or Caterham, whence it would be possible to supply all the battalions, both at home and abroad, with the whole of their recruits direct. And what would be the effect? In the first place the depôt would be an attractive and inspiring start of the young soldier's career, instead of, as at present, a discouraging and humiliating experience. He would have as his first mentors and instructors the keenest and best officers and non-commissioned officers that could be found, instead of as at present the slackest and most inefficient. The second effect would be that the home battalions, instead of being mere "turnstiles" or "squeezed lemons," would be real units, consisting largely of young soldiers perhaps, but capable of being trained effectively, and of becoming fighting machines.
What was the official obstacle to this commonsense system? Mainly that the expense of building the necessary barracks for these central depots would be prohibitive. Why, the Secretary of War had had £6,000,000 recently to spend on new barracks, and instead of spending it in this common-sense way he had frittered it away all over the United Kingdom in order to bolster up, and to perpetuate if possible, that linked-battalion system which did not exist in practice, never had existed, and never could exist, as a working plan. His next complaint against the Secretary of State was one which the right hon. Gentleman had often heard before, though he freely granted that the right hon. Gentleman had done a great deal to meet it. He referred to the recruiting question, and more particularly to the enlisting of ineffectives. The right hon. Gentleman claimed that a much better class of 409 recruits was now coming in, and he was supported to a limited extent in that view by the Report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting, which had just been issued. That Report struck him as being tinged with a perfunctory optimism. There was a note of forced cheerfulness running all through it. He had studied it closely, and having com pared its statements with those he had collected from officers commanding regiments he could not say that he was greatly infected with its optimism. The reports which he himself had received showed that the recruits now coming in wore, if anything, younger than before, but that their physique was not so good as was the case before the South African War. One commanding officer wrote—There are far too many boys passed into the service who are obviously medically unfit. Within the last six months I have had quite sixty discharged within a few months of enlistment as medically unfit, and two were claimed by their fathers as being under fourteen years of age.
Another commanding officer wrote—
I find that out of 180 men I had recently received 105 were below standard; in other words, were 'special,' although not so described in their attestation paper.
§ [Mr. BRODRICK asked for the name of the officer.]
§ He was afraid he could not give the right hon. Gentleman the name of the officer; it would not be fair; but he could give him his word that the writer was a genuine commanding officer. In spite of those facts he believed that the right hon. Gentleman's new scheme for attracting recruits, when it came into force, would have a very good effect. He would point out that the right hon. Gentleman's scheme had had, as yet, no chance at all. It was not sufficient to offer a young man prospective advantages and ultimate increased pay. That was not sufficiently tangible to induce a rush to the ranks, and until the extra sixpence came into force, and the new scheme was better known, it would not be possible to form any just estimate of the future of recruiting under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. It was not, however, only increased pay that was wanted.410
§ There was another vital reform required, which cost nothing, and that was the question of character. As long as bad characters were allowed to join the Army, as long as no evidence of the respectability of an applicant was required, so long would the Army be restricted to a low class of recruit, so long would the British mother be hostile, and so long would the present appalling wastage continue. The right hon. Gentleman diverted a good deal of hostile criticism the other day by explaining that "specials" were no longer to be taken, and that characters were being demanded. He was very glad to hear that. The right hon. Gentleman's proposals in this direction were as yet in their extreme infancy, and they did not know what the result would be; but the regulations with regard to character as described by the right hon. Gentleman did not seem to him to be either thoroughgoing or likely to work in practice. However, he did not want to press that argument very far; but he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would make a real rise in the physical standard, and insist that recruits should not be enlisted under that standard. He did not wish to insist too much on the question of mere size. They had often been told that Lord Nelson, or Lord Wolseley, or Lord Roberts. would not have been admitted to the Service if the regulations with reference to size had been rigidly enforced. There was even a more striking illustration, which might be of interest to the Committee. He was informed on good authority that his noble friend the Financial Secretary to the War Office was rejected at his first application to enter the Army, on account of his extremely fragile and emaciated appearance. A wise discretion was, however, exercised, and his noble friend was passed through; and he thought the result was valuable, as proving to the House the beneficial effects of drill and good food. He did not therefore want to press the point of size, but he thought it was really of vital importance that there should be some insistence on enquiring into the character of applicants. He knew his right hon. friend was afraid of doing this, and that his military advisers were afraid of it, but the 411 military mind was nothing if not timid, and he would ask his right hon. friend and his military advisers to take encouragement from the sister service, and particularly from the Marines. He thought the experience in the Marines was so remarkable and convincing that the House would perhaps permit him to refer to it. The facts were very significant. During the first half year of 1901, when character was not required, the wastage was fifty-seven per thousand, and during the second half year, when a character was required of all recruits, the wastage was reduced to eight per thousand. Fradulent enlistment was reduced from eighty-one per thousand in the first half year to six in the second; convictions by civil power were reduced from seven to one; discharges as "objectionable" from thirty-two to one; and desertions from thirty-one to six. He thought those figures were sufficient to prove that to require some evidence of respectability did not hamper recruiting, but that, on the contrary, it encouraged it. Why? Simply because by insisting on it they would convert the British mother, who was the arbiter of the situation, from being an enemy into being a friend and abettor.
He was sorry to have to repeat what he had said on previous occasions, but increasing experience of his right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War convinced him that the only way to convince his right hon. friend and to get anything out of him was to weary him almost to death. After the little experience he bad had of modern war, he was firmly of the belief that the man of good character and high intelligence was also incomparably the better fighter; but the important point he wished to make was that the effect of getting a better class of man was an almost magical cure for wastage. He did not know if the Committee were aware of the extent of this wastage. Taking an average over a great number of years he found that of every 100 men who joined the Army only forty-six passed into the Reserve; or, in other words, that in the seven years of a soldier's life 64 per cent. of the men were expended from one cause or another. One high authority had put it more forcibly, and said that during a soldier's life of seven years the equivalent, in numbers, of no less than three Army Corps were completely lost through
wastage alone. He found that at least 10,000 men every year were lost to the Service, simply because they were so morally or physically deficient in the first place that they should never have been enlisted. He would further point out that there were not at any time in the ranks of the Army 25,000 men shown as "effectives" who never were, and never would be, able to take their place in the fighting line. One commanding officer whom he had consulted on the matter put it down to the incredible slackness of the medical officers. But after all the efficiency of the doctor or the recruiting officer was determined officially by the number of recruits he passed, and not by their quality. He received a letter the other day from a recruiting officer in active work, who said that—
It was numbers the War Office wanted, and if there was a falling oft' the recruiting officer was hopped on, and consequently he old not go into the question of character more than he could help.
§ They all knew that was true; but there was no justification for enlisting those men in the first place, or for retaining them in the Service, where they cost just as much, and even more, than real fighting men. The moral of all this was very plain. Some hon. Members, including the mover and seconder of the Amendment, contended that the Regular Army was too large. He was not prepared to dogmatise on this point, but here, at any rate, was a simple and obvious way to reduce it. The right hon. Gentleman promised a reduction four-years hence; but now was the time to reduce this Vote by a number, which he put at the very lowest, of 25,000 men, who were absolutely ineffective and always would be. If his right hon. friend did that he would at one stroke relieve the taxpayer of an imposition to the extent of £1,500,000 yearly, and reduce the strength of the Army below 200,000 men, without reducing its fighting strength by one single bayonet. That was not a reform he was demanding, but the suppression of a grave scandal.
§ Surely they were justified in asking the Secretary of State for War to refuse to permit the enlistment of any man who was ineffective, and who would merely swell the paper strength of the Army. The strength of the Army should be regulated, if possible, by the number of 413 effective men required, but if they could not get more than 200,000 effective fighting men, it was absolutely inexcusable to make up the balance by enlisting and paying in effectives. But that was what the Secretary of State was doing, and what the country was paying for every year, Personally, he did not feel able to contest the question as to whether the effective part of the Regular Army was or was not too large. Previous speakers had expressed confident opinions on that point; but, personally, he felt himself bound to accept the solemn assurance of the Prime Minister, backed up as it was by all the exclusive sources of information at his command, that the safety of the Empire required that we should have 120,000 fighting men, or the equivalent of three Army Corps, within these Islands. He accepted that contention on the unique authority of the Prime Minister, though ho did not think that any one could regard with equanimity the increased and ever-increasing expenditure it imposed upon the country. But if that was necessary then let the Secretary of State for War produce 120,000 effective fighting men. Let him prove to the Committee that one of the three Army Corps, at any rate, is really effective; that it is composed of effective units, and that the units are composed of effective men. Let him not palm off on the country a half-dozen of Army Corps, composed largely of in effectives who would have to be disgorged and replaced by Reservists at the first sign of war. At any rate let the country have one effective Army Corps or some smaller expeditionary force always on a war footing, and always ready. At the present moment not one single battalion in the first Army Corps was ready to take the field. That was a parlous condition of things. What was the remedy? He had given his views, and, in conclusion, would summarise them very briefly.
§ In the first place let the Secretary for War retain his Army Corps organisation, by all means, for the organisation of a home defence army. That Army should be composed almost entirely of Militia and Volunteers with a proper stiffening of Regulars. Let that Army have nothing whatever to do with the expeditionary force. Secondly, let there be a striking expeditionary force for foreign 414 service, shall, if need be, but of the highest possible temper and efficiency. Let it be a real force composed of effective fighting men and not dependent on the Reserves; thirdly, let the right hon. Gentleman abolish, root and branch, the linked-battalion system, which was the prime cause of most of the evils of our military system, and in its place adopt a system of large district depots, and let him resolutely refuse to admit into the ranks of the Army any recruits who were morally or physically unfit. Let him regulate the fighting strength of the Army by the number of lighting men he could get, and not the amount which he wished to parade on paper. Lastly, let him expand the present intelligence and mobilisation departments into a proper and adequate general staff and thus do away with the reproach that ours was the only Army in the civilised world which was without this essential directing brain. If the right hon. Gentleman would carry out these reforms he would reap in full measure the reward to which he aspired, of being known as a great military reformer, and he would earn the gratitude of posterity, even if during his life time he was not appreciated according to his deserts.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, West)
said he did not pretend to address the Committee as an expert on this matter. He did not consider his having attended one or two of the meetings of the Service Committee, with the labours of which he greatly approved, gave him any title to speak as an expert. He approached the question from the point of view of those humble individuals the man in the street and the taxpayer. He congratulated the hon. Gentleman who had moved this reduction, because it gave an opportunity to those who looked with some suspicion upon this new movement to give expression in the Lobby to their disapproval of what was going on. The taxpayer of Great Britain was becoming greatly alarmed by this great expenditure, and wanted to know when this game of brag and these bloated armaments would come to an end. The right hon. Member for Forest of Dean had said he was not an economist in this matter, 415 but he (Dr. Farquharson) was, for the reason that when he saw this military expenditure continually going up he also saw industrial progress sterilised and stopped. We could get no money for the industrial and commercial purposes of the country, and we saw our place in the commerce of the world being taken by countries like America, which were not struck down by such expenditure. Our Army was the most expensive in the world, if not the most efficient, but could not efficiency be obtained in a more economical and less costly manner? Speaking as a taxpayer, he expressed the opinion that no case had been made out for this new and expensive system. What special danger was there now ahead? Why should there be any hurry? We had not had an opportunity yet of learning the real lessons of the war. He thought the proper course would be to wait for the report of the Committee which was investigating this question, and when that was submitted, its recommendations should be submitted to this new Committee of National Defence of which they had heard, which should deduce reasons to show that this expenditure was necessary, and upon which they could invite the House to undertake it
When the matter was Submitted to the Committee of National Defence, he would be glad to hear if this question of Army Corps had been brought before it, and if it had this Committee should be told whether they approved of this new departure which, to many hon. Members was so unpopular, and which to many admirable soldiers outside the House seemed to be unnecessary. In this country we were on these occasions subject to scares, and one or two had been trotted out, but he was rather surprised to hear the old bogie of India trotted out again. The hon. Gentleman who spoke so effectively in a former debate, the hon. Member for York, had given his experiences in India, but he (Dr. Farquharson) had also been in India, and had ridden over the Khyber Pass, and he was of opinion that anybody who had command of the hills, with modern pieces of precision could pick off a bluebottle fly even without the slightest difficulty. India knew perfectly well that we were the best rulers she could have, and if we 416 kept on good terms with the Shah of Persia and avoided breaking up the independence of the independent tribes by foolish, costly, and unnecessary wars, we could hold India without the need of this expensive Army. The man in the street was puzzled as to the necessity of this thing, but if they went to experts they heard a different story. The Committee knew what expert evidence was: one expert said one thing and one another, but, on the whole, he was inclined to take the view of the experts in this matter, but he rather sided with, the view of the naval experts.
He would like to know, first of all, whether we were to understand that these Army Corps were to be fully equipped. Of course if that were so that would bring us into active competition in a dangerous line with the military countries of Europe. If they were to be merely skeletons clothed with flesh and clothes and other adjuncts from time to time to stand the strain of actual warfare, a great deal of danger which surrounded a well-equipped Army Corps would be removed. But he was rather inclined to fall back on the old system of a supreme Navy and a small and efficient Army which could fall back on the Reserves, Militia and the Volunteers. Let the Volunteers emerge from the obscurity in which they had been held, and let them be treated as they ought to be, as a patriotic force which was the bulwark against conscription, and the members of which, at great inconvenience and some expense, undertook the defence of the country when the Army had to fight our battles beyond the seas. The obvious lessons to be drawn from this war were, first, a small Army that could be easily extended into a force of 250,000 of admirable fighting material, and then the superiority of defence over attack.
With regard to recruiting, we found, in time of war we were always able to get as many recruits as we wanted. He did not take the pessimistic view of the present condition of recruiting. If these Army Corps were fully equipped he should take a pessimistic view, because we should not get the men, and there would have to be some kind of compulsory service; but the study of recruiting had convinced him that recruiting was going on very well at the present 417 time. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had told the Committee that the recruits obtained were of an inferior standard; that was not the view of the Inspector-General of Recruiting The Inspector General was evidently a. man of ability, and his Report was the best report that he had ever seen issued. According to the Report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting, the recruits were better in physique, but not better in moral and intellectual qualities, while, notwithstanding our compulsory education, a considerable number of men joined the Colours who could neither read nor write. A very serious matter in connection with that Report was the warning given as to the physical deterioration going on throughout the country. Many more men than usual were rejected this last year, and a considerable number were sent back in the initiatory stages, their condition being so bad that the recruiting sergeants would not trouble even to send them on for medical examination. The Government had acted wisely in appointing a Committee on the physical training of the young, and every Member of the House ought to read an admirable article on the subject by the Under-Secretary for the Home Department. Too much pressure was put on the children in elementary schools; they had too much brain work and not sufficient physical training. The Inspector-General's Report did not in any way bear out the observations of the hon. Member opposite, because it was there shown that of the 64,000 men who returned to civil life last year, 7,000 had "exemplary" characters, 33,000 "very good," and 23,000 "good" and civil employment was found for 46,000. It was no doubt very important to have men of unblemished character and good education; but there was a university other than those usually referred to, viz., that of the world, in which men received a very fine training. A man did not fight the better because he had an extremely good character from his last place. Men who had lived a roving life, the ne'er-do-wells—they were not bad men—were frequently the best fighting men. Men who had been "rolling stones" experienced difficulty in getting good characters, but they often found their proper niche at last in the Army.
418 Another serious matter was the large number of desertions. He believed that a considerable proportion occurred in the early part of a soldier's career, and were probably due to the fact that the life was not made sufficiently attractive in its first stages. Men joined the Colours in a burst of enthusiasm, and were taken, perhaps, to a dreary hole like St. George's Barracks, with the result that the men were disgusted. There was a great deal in first impressions, and if a man was disgusted at the beginning, his ardour was sapped, and desertion was likely to ensue. Recruits should be better fed and paid. He heartily commended the right hon. Gentleman for all he had done; the soldier was no doubt better treated than formerly, but more remained to be done. He would be sorry to think that any number of good men were being lost simply because they were over-worked and disgusted in the early stages of their career.
Reference had been made to the "scandal" connected with the Army Medical Department. If there had been a scandal, it was not one of the Department's making, but was largely due to the fact that the Department was greatly undermanned. The responsibility for that rested not with the present Secretary of State, but with his predecessors, who, over and over again, were told of the insufficiency of the staff for the work they might be called upon to do. The individual doctors in the late war worked most gallantly and industriously, and in no campaign had the results of the operations, or the treatment of typhoid, been so good. At first he looked upon the new Advisory Board as likely to cause friction, as was frequently the case when civilians and military men worked together, but the right hon. Gentleman had stated, and he had also heard privately, that the Board was working very well. The: Secretary of State had been fortunate in getting Sir Frederick Treves, the most brilliant surgeon in London, to give up a portion of his valuable time to the work of the Board, and it was to be hoped that it would be the means of bringing the right hon. Gentleman into touch with the medical schools, and so securing a supply of first-rate medical 419 material. If that should happen, the name of the right hon. Gentleman would go down to posterity as having done a really good thing for the Army Medical Department. The improvement in the position of the Director-General of the Department was an admirable arrangement. The late Director-General was made a scapegoat, and retired without the honours and distinctions which had been given to all his predecessors. His successor, however, had not only more pay, but more dignity, and was Chairman of the Advisory Board, so that he was in a position of great responsibility. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman upon that result, and he hoped they would continue to have a larger flow of good candidates for the Army Medical Corps.
§ *LIEUT.-GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)
said the Financial Secretary, in speaking of inspection of Volunteers, stated that criticism was not necessarily condemnation, and he intended to apply this to the present debate. As regarded the Estimates for the Army, the House of Commons was really a sort of inspecting officer, and its duty was to criticise. Some branches of the Army had been most ably dealt with by previous speakers, but there were some points which had not been touched upon. Notwithstanding what had been said he could not help thinking that recruiting was at the bottom of all the difficulty in their system. A good deal had been made of the report of the Inspector General on Recruiting, but he thought it was interpreted too optimistically, but he was inclined to think that the Secretary of State for War had made a mistake, and did not present his case in the most advantageous way, and so it was thought he was asking for too many men. This large force was not asked for in order to defend these islands, but in order to supply drafts for the foreign service The recruits were mostly lads under eighteen years of age, and had to be kept at home on pay until old enough for foreign service. It would be much better to do as he had urged on another occasion, and follow the practice of the Navy, where they were first called boys, then ordinary seamen, and finally able-bodies In the Army the boys were rated as men, and foreign nations must know that they were not men, and the 420 country was likely to be deceived by statements calling them effective men. They were not effective men, and the country should know it. Now he came to what was done with these recruits. They were put into the linked battalions until old enough for foreign service, but he did not think that was the best way to deal with them, and it was a very costly method. As long ago as 1854, in his early days in the service, they were able to take out of barracks and embark for active service 25,000 men, all serving with their battalions; but now they could not send out a single battalion as it stood without calling out the Reserves. But after those fighting units were exhausted, they had then to depend on raw recruits. They all knew that the boys sent out to the Crimea died like flies, and they did not want a repetition of that. Therefore, a Reserve was organised to take the place of the wastage of the first line, instead of which the, new system was that the Reserves were placed in the first line. This was not a cheap way of training recruits, or an honest way of stating to the country what they had got.
In regard to the Reservists, they based their experience on what happened when the South African War broke out. What was the Reservist then? He had served eight-and-a-half years with the Colours, and he could not have been more than three-and-a-half years out of the Army. Under the present system, a boy of seventeen might leave the service at twenty years of age, and he might be nine years away from the Army; and when that man was called up, after being nine years in civil life, he would not be as good a soldier for immediate service as a man who had had eight years in the ranks and three years in civil life. They should not lead the country to believe that the Reservist of three years service could do what the old Reservist did. He wanted to touch on one or two other points. In regard to the training of officers, they had been told over and over again of their deficiencies, and they had been taunted with their inadaptability to circumstances, and it had been stated that the naval officers were very much better 421 trained. Let them compare the position. Take a lad put upon the "Britannia" at twelve or thirteen years of age, and then take an Army officer who commenced his training at an age between nineteen and twenty-one. The boy learned how to adapt himself to circumstances, but in the case of the Army officer they were now going to make things worse. In order to get what was called a higher educated class, they were going to take a University candidate, who would join the service at twenty-two or twenty-three years of age, and therefore they were going to make things worse. Let them take the position of that young man when he joined after nominally having been commissioned for two years? What would be the position of the regiment if every officer decided to go to the University?
§ *LIEUTENANT-GENERAL LAURIE
said that would stop promotion. When they joined, the University candidates would join the men who had been doing duty all the time with the regiment, and those regimental officers who had not been to the University would not be at all pleased at being superseded by men who had been following their own studies while they had been doing the Cinderella work of the regiment, and the position created would be very unpleasant for both parties.
With regard to recruiting, it had been said that the recruits were coming in satisfactorily, but that was not the general opinion. In his view the best recruiting officer they could get was the contented private soldier who was able to say: "Boys, come and join me; this is first-rate." Men would not do that if they could not serve in regiments along with their friends. The recruit was constantly being shifted from his comrades and officers, and, consequently, he could not make his regiment his home. The secret of their success in fighting had been the esprit de corps of the regiment and if they were continually shifting 422 the recruit he would lose all interest in any particular regiment. He thought a recruit should be allowed to remain in the corps in which he enlisted, and by letting that fact be known he was sure they would get a much better class of recruit. If a man wanted to join the 25th Lancers he should not immediately afterwards be taken and put into the 15th Lancers on the plea that he had enlisted in the corps of Lancers. That was not a fair thing to the recruit, who probably joined under the impression that he would be permitted to remain in the regiment he first joined. The soldier was a cheery, light-hearted fellow, and was willing to accept the situation, but he always remembered what he called having been "done." He hoped they would try and stop the recruiting for the Army through the Militia. It was a very cruel thing to an officer who took a pride in his regiment that, as soon as ever the inspection was over and the men had passed a satisfactory muster the men should be encouraged to join the service, and the following year he should have to begin again and have an entirely fresh lot of men. It was not fair to say they were anxious to maintain that great Constitutional force the Militia when at the same time they did their best to deplete it every year by taking away practically all the efficients from it.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I venture to rise at this stage of the debate to make an appeal to the House that we should address ourselves as exclusively as possible to the question before us, whether the Army should be reduced by 27,000 men. Many interesting speeches have been made, and many points urged to which I should like to reply, but I propose to give them all the go-by. I have followed with the greatest care the speech of my hon. friend the Member for Fareham. He appeals for a totally different Army system on behalf of the recruits, and his demand is that we should have at least one Army Corps ready to go on foreign service without its Reservists, and thereby put ourselves in a different position from any other Army in the world. I can only say this, that in his speech and in many other speeches which we have had today there was the same passion and determination to do something for the Army, but there was a 423 lack of perspective which I think prevents hon. Members seeing that while we are voting for the men and for an increase of expenditure we must not undertake schemes that would cost a large increase of the national expenditure. My hon. friend's scheme would, in every single particular, add largely to the Estimates instead of decreasing them.
I cannot discuss the system of the Army, on which I have already troubled the House at great length, but I would say a few words on the effect of this Motion, if carried, on the future of the Army. I look upon this Motion as the most serious Motion we have ever discussed in connection with the Army in my time with regard to a reduction in Committee of Supply. It has far-reaching results in case of war, and its results in case of peace would be destructive to the present system of the Army. At this moment we have in India 74,000 men and in the colonies 51,000. Taking in the South African garrison, we have 129,000 men abroad in time of peace, which have got to be kept going by drafts from this country. There are eighty-six battalions abroad. I am not going to argue the question of the linked-battalion system as against the depot system. I hold the strongest possible view—a view in which I am supported by every military expert who has given advice to the Government for many years past—that the depot system is more costly and less efficient than the regimental system. I can prove it by figures, and have proved it over and over again in this House; but for the purpose of my argument at this moment I will not raise the question at all. I will simply tell the House that the proposal of the hon. Member for Plymouth amounts to this: You have at this moment raised, since 1897, fourteen Line battalions, one Guard battalion, and five or part of six out of eight garrison battalions which we have been authorised by the House to raise. He proposes to reduce all the Infantry raised since 1897, and if he carries his Motion we shall have eighty-six battalions abroad and fifty-six at home. I presume that even the Member for Fareham, speaking from the point of view of economy, would hardly wish that I should still continue to deal with fifty-six at home to form a depot also for fifty six abroad. That will leave me with a deficit 424 of thirty. These thirty are to be filled up by making depots here to feed them. Out of these thirty battalions—the difference between fifty-six and eighty-six—nearly three-quarters are in tropical climates. You cannot send young soldiers to tropical climates until they have had close on two years service and are twenty years of age. The depots for these twenty-two battalions would be 400 strong. You would have to raise 8,800men at the depots; the other eight battalions would not be in tropical climates, but they must have depots. That makes another 800 men. So what does it amount tot. He asked us to reduce twenty-three battalions, making in all 21,600 men, and to force us, in order to maintain our troops abroad, to these depots of 9,600 men. To gain the 21,600, the loss by substitution is 9,600. Apart from dislocating the whole Army, apart from the feeling that must be caused by doing away summarily with twenty-three battalions, he absolutely forces the Government, if he carries his Motion, to incur nearly half the expense again which he proposes by this Motion to reduce. I call upon the Committee to consider that for every pound he reduces he will cause us to spend nine or ten shillings in order to give us an inefficient and absolutely useless force of 9,600 instead of 21,600 which could be sent into the fighting lines in case of emergency.
We have heard a great deal about the panic of 1899. My hon. friend goes further back than that. He wants to go back to the measures taken by the Government, with the full consent of the House and without hostile divisions, between 1897 and 1898, when there was no question of a Boer War. What were these measures? Especially to add eighty men to each of the battalions at home, to make up the effective strength and avoid the squeezed-lemon theory—to make the cadre effective for mobilisation. My hon. friend, by one fell stroke, removes the whole of those eighty men from each of the home battalions. That is a part of his proposal—that you should not only knock down twenty-three battalions, but make inefficient the whole of the sixty battalions at home, and, incidentally, it is not only a question of peace, but a question of war. The system which I have 425 urged upon the House, and which I shall continue to urge, is that we should be able to send the value of three Army Corps abroad, about 120,000 men. Out of 120,000 men you must have twenty-five Regular battalions. If the Motion of my hon. friend the Member for Plymouth is carried, instead of seventy-five battalions ready to go abroad you will have left fifty-six Line battalions and nine Guards battalions. You send every battalion you have got in England out of England. Is it really the intention of those Gentlemen who have come forward to tell me that I am only providing for a home defence force which is not needed to make it only possible for us, as in 1897, to send two Army Corps abroad? That is the result of their policy and their Motion. Those Gentlemen who are going into the Lobby to-night against us, and if they succeed will have succeeded in reducing the fighting strength abroad of this country—[cries of "No, no," and cheers]—from three Army Corps to at the outside two Army Corps and a-half. They will replace the draft system of training recruits by regiments and sending them out to regiments by a system which has been pronounced faulty by every military authority for the last twenty years, and of training them at condemned depots. In addition to that every year they will have to replace efficient battalions at Aldershot and elsewhere by battalions which will not be efficient but will be reduced to the old number of 720—the "squeezed-lemon" number denounced by each side of the House before 1897, when at last the question was finally met by the Government without any question whatever—
§ MR. GUEST (Plymouth)
What I suggested was that he should reduce the number of the battalions and not the strength of the men in the battalions.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I am very sorry then, for in that ease the hon. Member must reduce the strength by nine more battalions. Having added to the dominion of this country a large province in South Africa, requiring a larger garrison than before 1897, and having been denounced by everybody on both sides for the weakness of our preparations before 1899, we are now to go back to a worse position 426 than we had before. [Cries of "No, no."] I cannot congratulate this baud of Gentlemen who are professing to support the Government in strengthening the Army on such a proposal. My hon. friend the Member for Whitby, in a passage which excited the sympathetic laughter of the House, and which had no other merit whatever in fact, spoke of my having organised three Army Corps equipped for anything but war.
§ MR. BRODRICK
My hon. friend will scarcely tell me that the Amend merit he is going to support to-night will equip oven two Army Corps for war. On the contrary, the interpretation given to it a few moments ago by the Member for Plymouth showed that he is resolved to reduce the Army to such an extent that we should barely be able to put two Army Corps in the field. My hon. friend the Member for Whitby alluded very pointedly and in a kindly spirit to the old friendship existing between us. I remember passages of arms with him in very early days when we were both members of an Eton debating society. He even then displayed the tendency which he has now, for, having begun side by side with me on a Conservative platform, I remember that within a very few months a reaction came upon him, and he suddenly turned up as leader of the Liberal party. I have waited for eighteen years in this House to see my hon. friend obtain an opportunity which was equal to his ability, and I only regret that now this has come in his heading again a most reactionary movement in connection with the Army—I will say the hastiest and most ill considered reaction that we have ever seen in this House after a great campaign, and one which traverses the strongest expression of national sentiment and determination in favour of strengthening the Army ever shown in this country since the days of Napoleon. We had one after the Peninsular War, after the Crimean War, and there is now one after the Boer War. I hope we may take example from the past, and I would say this, my hon. friend the Member for Oldham, who I am obliged to speak 427 of solely from the point of view that he had delivered wilder criticisms on the Army system than any who sit beside him, talked some weeks ago about the chaos and confusion at the War Office.
Before we divide, although we have still some hours of debate, let me remind the House that this Motion—this banner under which my hon. friends are going into the Lobby, with the legend which, as in 1899, or still worse as in 1897, will cause us to reflect what was the condition of the country in March, 1900. We had then sent a large number of troops to South Africa—not half the number we had ultimately to send. At that moment there were left in this country six cavalry regiments, a brigade of Guards—four regiments; a division of infantry—eight battalions; and twenty-two batteries of artillery. The total number of organised Regular troops in this country in March, 1900, made up 17,000. The additions we have made since then have added, I think, altogether 30,000 men. My hon. friend is determined to strike off those additions. Who can say that we may never again have to fight a small nation of 70,000 or 80.000, or who can say that that will never again be experienced in the case of a great Foreign Power? I say that it almost astonishes me that I should have to get up at this box and urge the House not to go back to the position as in 1899. Do not let me he supposed to be speaking on behalf of the Army as against the Navy. I can show, and will show at the proper time, that the Navy has services performed for it on the Army Votes in the maintenance of coaling stations and of garrisons which far more than balance any imaginary surplusage which the Army is supposed to get from the Navy. In these comparisons if you strike off £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 from our side of the account and add it to that of the Navy, the result of the account comes out very different. But, of course, I fully recognise that the Navy has the first claim on the country. I urge, at all events, that I should not he supposed to be prejudiced when I ask the country not to put upon me the humiliation of standing at this box to confess that we cannot do better than we did in 1899. Before we vote I think my hon. friends 428 should tell the House what military authorities they have behind them for the propositions which they have advanced on their sole authority. [Cries of "No."] Absolutely! [Renewed cries of "No."] Let them give us the name. Omne ignotum pro magnifico. It is very easy to cite military authority for saying that the Army is too large. I want to know the military man of experience and authority who will get up and say, or write and tell the country, and put his opinion against all the highest military authorities at the War Office, now and for many years past. My hon. friend, when he goes to a division, will, I suppose, have with him in the Lobby a great majority of the Opposition. Many of them protested against the expenditure on the war, and many of them have protested against what they considered to be bloated armaments. Some urged on the Government more preparation, and their vote will be less easy to explain. But they will have against them in the Lobby all the military experts who advise the Government. They will have against them the ghosts of all their own opinions given two years ago. They will have against them also, not the opinion or conviction, but what is practically the fiat of the Government as to what is the advice which has been tendered to them, and as to what force it is absolutely necessary to preserve now. I think if we are to reject authority, if we are to overturn the system which has barely got into working order, if we are asked to neglect so recent and so trying an experience as that to which we were subjected not three years ago, I think we should be taking a course which would make us the laughing-stock of foreign nations and bring upon us the censure of our own posterity.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)
The right hon. Gentleman said in the beginning of his speech that he wished to bring the House back to keep the debate to what he considered was the real issue before it, viz.: the reduction of a certain number of men. I hold, and many others hold with me who support the Amendment, that the right hon. Gentleman does not yet understand what the real issue is. It is not the mere question of the reduction 429 of a definite number of men, but really the question is whether the right hon. Gentleman is not asking for excessive numbers, and whether, by a mere thinking out of a policy of the needs of the country and of the Empire, we cannot get a far more effective Army with fewer numbers? That is not a narrow issue. It is the broadest possible issue of policy that can be raised, and which is intended to be raised, by the Amendment before the Committee, if I rightly understood the speeches on the other side. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech has narrowed the issue so much that he positively left the financial considerations out of account altogether.
Now, the real difference between the supporters of the Amendment and the Government is this: the supporters of the Amendment have come to the conclusion—a conclusion which all their previous speeches led up to with regard to applying the lessons of the war—that we have now to think out a fresh policy
I do not believe I ought to use the word "fresh," because it has never been done properly yet—but we have to think out the problem of what are the needs of the Empire, or how much money is to be spent, and how the money can be spent in the most effective way to meet those needs. I admire the earnestness and conviction with which the right, hon. Gentleman defended his own scheme, but he really does not seem to be conscious of the great problem lying behind, which has to be attacked and thought out. And although he alluded constantly to the opinion of his military advisers, he has not placed his case before us so as to bring the conviction to our minds that he and his military advisers have thought out the problem together. What we have from the Government is a blank statement that this scheme of numbers is what is required by the Empire, and, having made this blank statement, some of the supporters of the right hon. Gentleman believe it, because he has stated it.
The Prime Minister admitted the other day—at any rate, his speech conveyed to me the impression—that he was conscious there was a problem to be thought out. The hon. Member for Fareham alluded to the solemn and explicit statements of the Prime Minister. 430 For myself, I do not think they were explicit, because, although they left on my mind the impression that he was conscious that the problem was a very serious and important one, they also left the impression that it has not yet been thought out by the Government. What is the policy behind this Army Scheme? We are told that we are to have a striking force of 120,000 men, but the policy is a defensive policy. Therefore it contemplates using a striking force for the put poses of defence—using their striking force in such a way that you will make it a part of a policy of defence. I believe that to be perfectly sound. Now, let us consider how far the analogy of the South African War comes in. Here the right hon. Gentleman has no right to reproach anybody who supported the Government during the war, and who called loudly for Army reform as a necessary consequence. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman yet understands the analogy of the South African War. We want to see the lessons of the war applied. Those of us who are most conscious of the want of preparation in the early stages of the war, wish to see the lessons to be derived from it applied in the future But we do not think that the right hon. Gentleman uses the analogy fairly. I do not mean that he is making an unfair use of it in argument, but he brings in the South African War just as he might crack a whip to encourage his supporters and stimulate them by the recollection of some of our past troubles. The South African War has very useful analogies, but it is not useful in regard to numbers. It is most useful as regards training, and as to the way in which these men, after being trained, should be used in warfare. But that does not decide the question of numbers.
The South African War was, to begin with, in my opinion, a war of defence, but it became, when once started, not a war of defence, not even a war of victory, but a war of conquest and annexation. That is a most exceptional case. Where are we likely to have a war the object of which is to annex territory held by white men and to conquer a white race? The South African War so far provides an analogy 431 for defence, but does not quite show the need for numbers. So far as it goes beyond the policy of defence, it provides an analogy that cannot possibly apply to any future incident.
The third lesson is this: What caused the need for these great numbers in South Africa was want of knowledge beforehand. The right hon. Gentleman entirely convinces me that when he is increasing the Intelligence Department he is on the pathway to reality, and making it so real and effective as to give us a guarantee that the money will be money well spent. He told us the Intelligence Department provided us with satisfactory information in regard to South Africa. I will not go into that question. I have no doubt a great deal of the information—all of it—was excellent and satisfactory, but it was not complete. I do not believe that the topography of the country had been studied as other countries were studied. I think that the want of mapping was the great want in South Africa. A letter was written some time ago, which was published in The Times, quoting a German officer's opinion à propos of our disasters. The gentleman who wrote it said—A German officer has been telling one of our people here that we did not take pains enough to get hold of the topographies of the countries we have to deal with. 'We in Germany,' he said, 'are all given certain areas to study in detail. For instance, I have had to do Yorkshire; ask me any question you like about the country and I can answer you, such as how many smiths' forges there are, and how every one is situated.'I do not believe our Intelligence Department knew as much about the configuration of our colony of Natal as the Germans know about Yorkshire, and we had no reliable maps. I will not pursue that further, except to say that the analogy of the South African War is, first, most useful as to training, and, secondly, as to the need for knowledge and preparation, but it is not analogy as to the need for numbers.
An argument that has been used—I think it has been brought forward rather as an afterthought—is as to the Indian Frontier. The question of invasion has very much dropped out; we do not hear so much about that. I think the argument for the need of 432 troops on the Indian Frontier has been brought in to underpin the structure of the right hon. Gentleman's Army scheme. What is the kind of calculation that has been made with regard to the Indian Frontier? Are we to have a striking force on the Indian Frontier, or are we to be on the defensive and use the striking force elsewhere? I listened to the speeches of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean and others who have paid great attention to this question; their opinion is that a comparatively small force in addition to what already exists in India will suffice to defend the frontier, and that your striking force can be used elsewhere. Then it is not a question of placing 120,000 additional men on the Indian Frontier, and when the Prime Minister uses the Indian Frontier as an argument I wish he would go more into detail. Might we not have some idea as to how far it has been really considered by any Council of Defence? It cannot have been considered by this new Council of Defence. Was it considered by the Cabinet Committee of Defence? If it was not considered by them, why is the Army scheme which has been produced supported now by this argument of the Indian Frontier? I cannot discover from the speeches of Members of the Government that the Indian frontier question has yet been thought out. Speeches which have been made by those who support this Amendment, and the Amendment the other day, seem to me to give evidence of far more forethought and calculation than the Government themselves have evinced. The speeches of my right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean and of the hon. Member for Stepney went to show that on the Indian Frontier your policy was one of defence, that your striking force could be used elsewhere, and that, therefore, the question of requiring 120,000 men on the Indian Frontier is not one which is really a reasoned calculation on which the right hon. Gentleman's numbers could be based. The Prime Minister, when he talked of placing 120,000 men on the Indian Frontier—
§ SIR EDWARD GREY
I may have misunderstood him, but I understood his argument to be that in the event of India being attacked we should have to send 120,000 men and more abroad. It he say she had not the Indian Frontier in his mind as their destination, of course I accept his statement; but my point is that he contemplates sending 120,000 men and more. The weakness of that, I think, is in the word "more." If the 120,000 men were the maximum which was going to secure us once and for ever, then it is worth while considering whether that is not an object for which we should make great sacrifices, and which we should permanently maintain. But if we are to have to send an indefinite number more than 120,000, then, I ask, should we not be better off if the country had a much smaller expeditionary force always ready, as the hon. Member for Fareham desired, and a much larger, better trained, and more stimulated and encouraged force of Auxiliaries in the country, who would add to our staying power and enable us to develop our fighting power as time went on? If the Navy ensures our safety at sea, and if the defence of the Indian frontier be safe, we then could have time to develop our military power for striking purposes. If that be so, and the 120,000 is not a definite number, I think there is a primâ facie case, at any rate, for asking the Government to show whether the country would not be better off with a smaller expeditionary force of 80,000, or of 40,000 men if they were prompt and ready, and a much larger and better-equipped body of Auxiliaries behind them on whom we could draw afterwards. That is the argument which I wished to put to the Prime Minister the other day. Could you, under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme, send these 120,000 Regulars abroad? I must say I am puzzled about the right hon. Gentleman's mobilisation in sending these 120,000 Regulars abroad. They will go from those parts of England which I understand are most open to attack. If we were engaged in a great national struggle, it seems to me that the disposition of the right hon. Gentleman's numbers of men at home is not one which facilitates the sending abroad of 120,000 Regulars. If you are to 434 supply the men from this country you will have to send them on a long sea voyage to India, and till the Navy has established the full command of the sea there may be some hesitation and some risks. It occurs to me to ask, would not 40,000 men nearer to India be for this purpose of the Indian Frontier worth more than 120,000 men at home—40,000 men who could be despatched at once?
On that I wish for a few moments to consider the question of keeping troops in South Africa. We are told they will cost so much more, £20 to £25 per man more; but as time goes on living will become cheaper, and that must be a diminishing expense. But this proposal is put forward as a saving on the whole Army, despite the addition to the cost per man. It appeared, first of all, I think, in The Times articles, and The Times articles concluded with estimating a saving of £7,000,000 a year on the Army as a whole. It seems to me obvious that if a part of your South African Army can be placed on the home establishment, at any rate as long as you stick to the linked battalion system, you will have a tremendous saving. If you make a battalion in South Africa a battalion on the home establishment, instead of having one battalion at home, one in South Africa, and one in India, you at once knock off two battalions; that is a saving of two men, or £120, for every £25 extra spent per man in South Africa. Supposing the General who commands in India, after reviewing the situation of his command, were to tell us that one Army Corps, trained, as well as kept, in South Africa, would be worth to India two Army Corps kept anywhere else, you have at once the possibility of a great saving and increased efficiency. The South African question is not to be dismissed as lightly as the Secretary for War imagined. He always seems to me to assume that no further training grounds are required in this country. If he requires them he will have to pay very heavily for them. But in South Africa he can have training grounds very much cheaper and very much better than he can get them here. Unless it is assumed that our training grounds in this country are complete and sufficient, in which case 435 the lessons of the war are neglected, there is the possibility of a great saving in connection with training grounds by keeping a portion of the Army in South Africa on the home establishment. What are the drawbacks? It is said that recruits will not go. Well, you can only find that out by experience. They are going now, I understand; and I conceive that the mind of the people of this country is turning readily towards going to places where they may have opportunities. I should say that a drawback might be that after a few years of service in South Africa they might see before them opportunities which would make them tend to leave the Army rather than to go on for longer service. Did I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that he was already trying the experiment of treating certain battalions in South Africa as being on the home establishment?
§ MR. BRODRICK
The right hon. Gentleman said that, and I did not dissent from it. The battalions kept in South Africa in excess of the normal garrison of 15,000 are being treated in that way.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY
Then all I would press on this point is that our minds should not be closed in advance, and that this question of South Africa should not be dismissed as one not worthy of consideration. If battalions are there, and recruits are going, let us at any rate bear in mind that there may be great possibilities both of economy and efficiency in this proposal of South Africa. Of course in any self-governing colony, which South Africa will become in a limited time, troops can only stay with the consent of the colony. But our experience hitherto has been that there is a great objection made whenever it is proposed to remove troops from any place where they have once been stationed. I am not thinking of troops kept as a forced garrison in South Africa, but of troops stationed there with the consent of a self-governing colony. It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman is really labouring to establish something which it is not in the public interest that he should succeed in imposing upon us. I have referred to 436 the possibility of saving and efficiency afforded by the South Africa proposal; but the right hon. Gentleman's scheme has committed us to a permanent expenditure in certain definite directions, which will be thrown away if a more elastic scheme turns out to be preferable in future. What I think he forgets is how this large military expenditure must react on other things. It must react eventually on the Navy, and not only on that but on everything at home, on the needs of education, grants in aid of any local service, rating reform, and all those things for which you are sure to have demands. For those you will have to be niggardly, and to plead your military expenditure as the reason. That is a real danger very much under-estimated by the hon. Baronet the Member for the College Division of Glasgow. He alone on the Ministerial Benches has spoken against this Amendment. He pleads the willingness of the people of Glasgow to pay the money asked for. But are they so attached to permanent institutions in Glasgow that they wish an income tax at 1s. 3d. or, even at 1s., to be a permanent institution? Because that is what we are coming to. It is the future that we have to look to. We must guard against the danger in future of being unprepared for any sudden crisis, and of suffering disaster.
We have argued that by a better thought-out system of Army expenditure we could better, and more cheaply, guard against that danger. But the right hon. Gentleman brings us face to face with another danger—not that of being overwhelmed in time of emergency and crisis, but of being bled to death in time of peace. If the expenditure of the country were not growing so fast as it is, if this military expenditure were not likely to lead to other services being starved, I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman's friends would have wished to disturb his scheme. Their real reason, apart from the fact that they believe it to be badly devised and inefficient from a: military point of view, that makes it imperative on them to oppose the scheme, is the great expenditure of the country, and the certainty that we have now reached the point when we must 437 distinguish between what is essential and what is not essential. There are in the right hon. Gentleman's Army schemes certain aspects which we believe to be not essential, and which, therefore, the country cannot afford. It is because we wish to distinguish between what is essential in the public interest and what is not essential, and to enable the country to provide what is essential, that we support the Amendment. We believe that the Army scheme has gone beyond the necessities of the case as to numbers, and that it is not applying the lessons of the South African war either as to training or preparation.
§ *SIR EDGAR VINCENT (Exeter)
Sir, I desire to express my agreement with what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I remember when there was a question of my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War accepting the post he now occupies, and I then said to the right hon. Gentleman it would mean in my opinion three years hard labour, followed by obloquy for life. The first part of the prophecy has come true; I hope the second part will be falsified. It is because I desire to dissuade my right hon. friend from pressing this extravagant and vicious scheme that I now venture to intervene in this debate.
The debates which have taken place since the commencement of the present session on the subject of the organisation of the Army have led to such important results that I do not think that I overstate the case in asserting that the entire problem has been modified. On many points a general agreement has been established; on others it appears to me that the defence is somewhat wavering. The most important declaration is that made by the Prime Minister in this House, and by the First Lord of the Admiralty in another place, that on the citizen and on the Volunteer forces we depend for national defence, and that it is not the policy of the Government to determine the number of the Regular Army for the purpose of repelling invasion of these Islands. I submit, Sir, that both of these propositions, though I believe them to be sound, are absolutely novel. They constitute a new departure. It is, true that the Prime Minister in the 438 speech which he made on 24th February, stated that—This proposition respecting the Volunteers was the very principle on which the Government had proceeded in all their reorganisations.But, Sir, a reference to the speech of my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War when introducing the Army Scheme of 1901 discloses no trace of the supposed principle on which the reorganisation is asserted to have proceeded. In that speech the right hon. Gentleman said nothing whatever from which it could be either understood or inferred that the War Office trusted to the Volunteers for the defence of these Islands. On the contrary, it is perfectly clear that he relied so far as land defence is concerned upon the Army. He said—We are bound with the Army and Navy acting together to provide a proper system of home defence.And his reference in this connection to the Volunteers was limited to priding himself that for the first time picked militia and volunteer battalions (twenty five I think of the latter) could be ranged with Regular troops in the first line. Surely, Sir, every one must recognise that between the attitude of the Government in 1901, and the view held by them in the present year, there is a wide and fundamental difference. And, Sir, if this difference does exist, I ask whether it is conceivable that the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, which in the opinion of competent critics only fulfils inadequately the purpose for which it was devised, should happen by an extraordinary coincidence to meet the requirements of a system of defence which was hardly thought of at the time it was elaborated, a system of defence of which the governing principle has only now received general assent. I have a great respect for the organising capacity and the industry of the right hon. Gentleman, but the achievement of devising a military scheme to fulfil unknown conditions is a feat which partakes rather of a supernatural divination than of the merely human capacity with which we all credit him. The Government seem inclined to complain that there has been a complete change in public opinion between 1901 and the present day. But surely, Sir, the 439 change of view is not confined to the public: it has also infected His Majesty's Ministers. And if intelligent opinion in this country requires now something different from what it was supposed to require two years ago, surely it would be wiser to elaborate a plan in harmony with the new conditions rather than to force a discredited and extravagant scheme upon the country, which demands a. radical and essential change. Comparing to-day with the time when the scheme was rashly introduced, is it not probable that the sober judgment of the present is sounder and more worthy of acceptance than opinions hurriedly formed, cursorily debated, Hastily adopted in the midst of a grave military crisis, when the country had to concentrate its attention on the present and had little leisure to consider the future? Surely, Sir, an appeal from the mature judgment of the present time, when we have had the full benefit of our South African experience, to a judgment formed in the full stress of the storm is somewhat of a paradox, and is not in consonance with the ordinary rules of wisdom and statesmanship.
Sir, there is another point in the speech of February 24th with which I venture to trouble the House. The Prime Minister said with truth that the real question we have to ask ourselves is whether the Army which we have provided is too large or not. If it be too large, what matter whether it be arranged in Army Corps or not? I submit that the Army is not only too large, but that the Army scheme is based upon the realisation of two irreconcilable standards, upon the attainment of two incompatible ideals. In the first place, it supposes possible the maintenance by this country at the same time of a great Navy and a great Army. So far as I know, history contains no instance of a power which has been able to achieve this and which has not sunk exhausted under the effort. The country must choose between the Army and the Navy, and the service which is not selected must be organised as complementary to the other. If we endeavour to maintain both, neither will realise its full standard of strength. And, the second incompatibility which 440 underlies the present conception of our Army organisation is the maintenance of a numerous Army based upon voluntary enlistment combined with a high individual standard in the selection of recruits. There is grave reason to fear that by increasing the annual demand for recruits above the number which the country can supply the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman has brought us into this position: that we pay considerably more for a slightly inferior article. If the organisation of the Army is to be based on a foreign model—a prospect I deplore—let us at any rate select one country and follow it. A plan which consists in organising Army Corps on the German scale, and then paying them at a quasi-American rate, may or may not lead to the temporary creation of a powerful engine of war, but it will undoubtedly lead to financial disaster.
And this brings me to the vital question; whither an equally efficient Army could be brought into existence and organisation at less cost than the House is now asked to furnish. The Prime Minister assumes that there is no accusation of extravagance outside the question of excessive numbers. Is not this an instance of the rhetorical skill which masks the weakest spots? Is it not an artistic manœuvre? If not, it is certainly a misconception. So far from agreeing with the proposition that the Army as at present organised is provided at the lowest possible cost, it is the very heart and centre of our criticism and of our contention that large sums of public money are wasted under the present scheme. The country does not receive value for its expenditure. Under a more reasonable system greater results could be obtained at less cost. The efficiency of the instrument must be measured in relation to the work which it is required to perform, and my belief is, that greater military strength both for defence and offence might be obtained from the expenditure which this House now grants the Crown, provided that the money was expended on a scheme which utilised more skilfully the military capacity of the country, its military zeal and its sense of patriotic duty. Under 441 present arrangements we appear to derive neither relief nor advantage from our insular position.
Let us compare our military expenditure with that of foreign nations. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean pointed out very clearly that the total forces of the Empire must be included in our estimate of cost. I accept his figure of £50,000,000 as our total military expenditure, and I add the increase in this year's Estimates, making £54,000,000. How does this compare with foreign nations? The military budget of Russia amounts to £35,000,000; the military budget of Germany amounts to £33,000.000; the military budget of France amounts to £31,000,000. Have we an effective force at all comparable to that which these countries obtain for a lesser amount? Admittedly not. But I shall be told that the difference of cost is due to the existence of the voluntary system here and to the enforce ment of conscription on the Continent. Yes, Sir, but does this explanation stand the test of analysis? The cost of the pay of the rank and file of our Regular Army absorbs less than 30 per cent. of the total Vote, say at the outside £15,000,000. If we allow £9,000,000 of these £15,000,000 as the extra cost of the voluntary system, certainly an excessive estimate, we are still left with a military burden of £45,000,000, or £10,000,000 more than any foreign empire. In this connection I would urgently appeal to the Government not to forget that the financial position of this country is of primary importance in estimating our military strength, and in measuring our chances in a struggle with any of the great Continental empires. It was the view of one great writer on military problems, whose loss the world has recently had to deplore, that any future contest of the first order would resolve itself into a test of financial strength and financial resistance rather than a mere question of military skill and organisation.
Sir, that view I believe to be sound, and it receives striking confirmation in our South African experience. No one who followed the war in South Africa closely will deny that the enor- 442 mous sums of money which the taxpayers of this country cheerfully provided, and which the credit of this country enabled the Chancellor of the Exchequer to raise, were a determining factor in the conclusion of hostilities. I do not like to contemplate what would have been the issue had our Government found greater difficulty in raising funds. But, Sir, our financial resources are not unlimited. I will go further, and say that owing to the war, owing also to the lavish manner in which our wealth has been expended, the finances of this country have been and are severely strained. You have imposed during the war £31,000,000 of war taxation. How much of this extra burden can you afford to take off, now that the war is ended? I am convinced that if a proper provision is made for a special war sinking fund, that after allowing for the enormous increase in the Estimates of the Army and Navy, the relief to be given to the taxpayer will not exceed one-third of the amount which was imposed to meet the war expenditure.
When the war began, our credit stood far higher than that of any Continental power. Is that the case now? The margin in our favour has become dangerously small. Consols are 15 per cent. lower than they were in the five years preceding 1899. The war has been ended some nine months, and there is no recovery from the lowest level. I shall be told that this is due to the expectation of further issues. Yes, Sir, all low prices are due to the excess of the supply over the demand. The Government has wearied the investing classes of this country and has overtaxed their powers of absorption.
There are other signs with which I will not weary the House. If anyone doubts the correctness of my view of the situation let him suppose that in the present situation another war or some other cause imposed the necessity for a further appeal to public credit. What price do you suppose you would have to accept? Ask your financial advisers, and learn from their reply the extent to which the credit of this country has been affected by the strain.
This House recently received with general approval the news of the appointment of the Committee of National 443 Defence, and it learnt with special satistaction that the Prime Minister would fake an active personal part in the deliberations. In that satisfaction I most heartily join; but I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to remember that he is not only President of the Committee of Defence, but that he is also the First Lord of the Treasury. Let him reflect that the wise tradition of this country makes the first Minister of the Crown peculiarly and directly responsible for the wise ordering of our finances. That is his first duty, and let him not forget that whatever success he may attain in more novel or more congenial fields they will not atone for any shortcoming in this, the central source of the abiding strength of this country.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
It is for the best that in the midst of the more or less technical discussion which has been proceeding this afternoon, the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down should have recalled us from the more confused and confusing details to those general principles which really underlie the Motion the Committee has now to consider. In my opinion this Motion is justified by the fact that the country is appalled at the extraordinary increase of expenditure for military purposes which has been going on for many years past; and I do not know any other way than this in which that increase of expenditure can be challenged. When we come to inquire what the causes of the increase are, I dare say everyone can give an account of it according to his own predisposition; but there is one account, given a year or two ago on the high authority of the Prime Minister himself, from which I venture to differ. In March, 1899, speaking in this House, the right hon. Gentleman, who had been pointing out that the Military and the Naval Estimates had both been increased said:—The great augmentation of our Fleet has not been rendered necessary by the foreign policy of this Government or the Government that preceded it, but by the naval and military policy of other countries, and until the naval policy of other nations undergoes some modification I do not see how it is possible for our naval policy to undergo any modification.444 In qualification, at all events, if not in contradiction, of what was then laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, I would venture to point out that the foreign policy of other nations can only be influenced and met by the foreign policy of this country, and the proper way of meeting the foreign policy of other countries is by adopting a foreign policy of our own likely to have that effect. Therefore the responsibility, whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say, lies directly upon the shoulders of the Administration of the day. It is not exclusively true in any sense that our expenditure is influenced only by the foreign policy of other countries. It can be influenced, for instance, by our own colonial policy; and we have a flagrant instance of that before our eyes in the recent South African War.
I entirely agree with what my right hon. friend the Member for Berwick said with great clearness and elaboration,—that the South African War is not any guide whatever in the question of the numbers required in the Army. It is a guide in the question of training, and in all questions affecting the art of war generally, but on the question of numbers, no; and when we are told that it is to be taken as a standard, and the Secretary of State states, as he has done tonight, that we do not know how soon we may be involved in some similar war, then I repudiate altogether the argument that we should act upon that basis, because I am not aware of any circumstances on the face of the earth which are likely to give rise to any such war as that from which we have just emerged. When we come to the organisation of the Army we are all in favour of a "striking force." That is a phrase which catches the ear, and expresses what we all desire to see maintained in this country. But it should be an effective striking force within our means and according to our requirements; and when we are told that this striking force must be raised to, and maintained at, the level of 120,000 men, or three Army Corps, for the defence of India—and that was practically the only plea urged by the Prime Minister in the previous debate—there are two observations to be made.
445 En the first place, that argument is inconsistent with the fact referred to by my right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean that, after all, the presence of an available force of 120,000 men in this country is not an intention, but an accident. My right hon. friend called it an accident; I would rather call it an incident. The existence of 120,000 in this country available for such a purpose is necessitated by the force which you maintain throughout the world for garrison purposes in time of peace. It is that which gives you this force of 120,000 at home. You have not, and it has never been alleged that you have, created that force for any such purpose as the re-inforcement of India.
My second observation is that every emergency has been foreseen and guarded against, so far as it can be guarded against, by the Government of India, and. let me say, has been and is being paid for by the people of India. The hon. and gallant Member for Stepney explained, with great personal knowledge and acquaintance with the facts, the position on the North-West Frontier of India; but, besides that, I can quote the very highest military authority. The Secretary of State said that when hon. Members put forward theories and used arguments in this House he wished to know whether they could quote any military authority in support of them. I can quote a military authority on this very question of the protection of the frontier of India. Sir Henry Brackenbury—and I do not know any higher authority—was a witness before the Royal Commission on Indian Expenditure, of which Lord Welby was chairman. [An HON. MEMBER: When?] Two or three years ago. The proceedings were spread over a good deal of time. The Commission reported last year to the House. In answer to a question, Sir Henry Brackenbury says—and I would invite the somewhat close attention of the members of the Committee to this remarkable statement:The strength of the Army in India is settled by the Government of India in consultation with the Secretary of State for India to meet Imperial needs.Then, answering another question, he said:The strength of the Army in India"—without any reinforcement from this country, of 446 course—"is not only a question of Indian, hut is a question of Imperial policy.He was pressed further on the subject by the Chairman of the Commission, who asked whether he thought that, if an emergency arose, India could not rely upon England being able to send her troops. The answer was:I express my own firm opinion, and that opinion may carry some weight, because I was, as I say, five and a-quarter years Head of the Intelligence Department, and five years in India as a military member of the Council, and I have seen a great deal of what has been going on in the way of confidential Papers. I feel perfectly certain in my own mind, as long at all events as the balance of power in Europe is what if is now, that if there were to be a necessity for mobilisation on the Indian northern frontier to resist the Great Power which is there, they would not at that time move a single man from England to the help of India.Then, in a further answer, he says:I am obliged to keep repeating this, that with such a balance of power as there is now in Europe and such a condition of alliances, if India were to be threatened by Russia on her northern frontier, and there were to be an imminent probability of war, this country would not send one soldier out of England.He went on to add:Neither to India nor any where else.He also says:I do not say that after a certain length of time, after perhaps this country had completely established her supremacy at sea, had swept the seas, if she had succeeded in doing this, and after all possible danger of attack upon this country had disappeared, I do not say that then she might not send troops out to India.I may here interpolate that there would be abundance of time to organise if all these antecedent circumstances took placeBut it is a question whether it would be in time, and therefore it is knowing of this that India does keep up this great force in India.He not only says that we should not send a man to India in case of danger to the northern frontier, but that the force now maintained in India is not maintained for mere domestic and police purposes, but is maintained for the express reason that it is considered by the military authorities in India to be adequate to the defence of the frontier.For the purposes of the defence of our frontier," we are told, "we have to keep up a large field Army in addition to what might be called the obligatory garrisons of India. If you can do away with that frontier question 447 altogether, then you might reduce your Indian Army by—I do not wish to commit myself to any figures—but say 50,000 native troops and 20,000 British troops.The right hon. Gentleman has asked us whether we are supported by any military authority whatever. On the question of the reinforcement of India, which is the one subject upon which the Prime Minister based the necessity of maintaining these three Army Corps, I have adduced a military authority giving an opinion of the most sweeping kind. So much for that question. Let us go back to expenditure. Is it too great? It imposes, as I hold, an undue burden upon this country both in money and in men. I think in our appreciation of the money we sometimes forget the men. As to money, I need not repeat figures that are familiar to the House. The Estimates since 1884 have been more than doubled, and as to the future the right hon. Gentleman has a convenient word, which all of us abuse—the word "normal." There is a certain expenditure which is supposed to be normal, but normal does not at any rate mean stationary, because even with regard to the right hon. Gentleman's own schemes, I think it has been abundantly shown that there are great sources of expenditure necessarily involved in the system as it now stands, which must cast a great burden upon the resources of the country in future years. In fact, within the year on which we are about to enter, I should like to know whether there is to be any Military Works Bill. By means of subsidiary and auxiliary sources of expenditure, we often incur a large expenditure not represented at all on the face of the Estimates. Let us look for a moment at the question of the men. What are we taking from the population—abstracting, that is, from the productive industry of the community? We have within the last few years doubled the personnel of the Navy, and then as to the recruits I do not know whether I need quote at full length what the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State said the other day. He said that our normal recruiting used to be 35,000 a year, that in 1900 it went up to 45,000, and that in 1901 it was about 46,000. 448I told the House last year," he said, "that we required 50,000, not to carry out my scheme, but to secure the number of recruits necessary to make up the numbers which Parliament voted.Then he spoke of the extra pay which had been given to get these recruits. The original pay of 7d. had been raised to 10d., and then to 1s., and presently every soldier of two years' service would get 1s. 6d.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
The right hon. Gentleman went on—Whereas in previous years we got about 35,000 recruits, and thought ourselves lucky, taking, if we went over that number, one-third as specials, last year we had the biggest recruiting we ever had. Without bounties we took nearly 51,000 recruits, of whom only 18 per cent. were specials.That was in one sense satisfactory. It was satisfactory that the recruits had been obtained. On the other hand, it comes to this—that you base your policy on the hope of getting 15,000 recruits per annum more than you did before. You, in fact, increase your recruiting by something like 40 per cent. All this breaks down if you do not get the extra recruits, and I very much doubt whether you will get them.
Another point which I would urge upon the Committee, as I often have done before, is that, while you were taking from the country the number of recruits which we used to require, you were taking less useful, less industrious, and less hopeful members of society, and making men of them by putting them into the Army. That was much less of a drain upon the resources and productive power of the country than it will be to go into the higher ranks of the population in order to fill up your number. But if this does break down, then let the Committee consider what they have before them. There are only two alternatives. You must either alter your system, which has stood you in good stead in the emergency of the South African War, or revise and reduce your standard of requirements. I say nothing of compulsion, because the Government have rejected it, and I believe the country had rejected it. The compulsory system of service is wholly inapplicable to any army which has so 449 large a proportion of its number serving abroad. The course I would press upon the Government is to reduce the standard of requirements. The obstacles, I admit, are enormous. I hesitate between the old man of the sea and the octopus as a. figure by which to express the situation. You cannot throw it off in a hurry, and you cannot get out of its clutches. But one thing can be done, a thing which has been done in past years with great effect, you can' bring home part of the foreign garrisons; that would certainly be a step in the right direction, in every respect, above all in an economical direction.
The hon. Member for Plymouth, whose speech in moving the Amendment was listened to with so much pleasure last night, made, I think, a mistake, when he spoke upon this subject, in saying that troops were brought home mainly from tropical stations They were brought home from New Zealand, from South Africa, from Canada; and these are not tropical stations. There was experience in both New Zealand and South Africa, but, apart from other questions, so long as the troops were maintained there, there were wars upon wars upon some excuse or other, and, alter bringing the troops home, the policy of native warfare fell into disuse. Therefore, I say, do not let us go back upon any policy of that sort, but rather carry it further. The Estimates for recent years show that the Colonial garrisons have nearly all been increased. Year by year small additions have been made. Then there is the great question upon which I happen to differ from my right hon. friend the Member for Berwick—the question of stationing a large portion of the Army in South Africa. I attach more importance to the objections to such a proposal than my right hon. friend does. At all events, if General Brackenbury is an authority in the matter, one great reason for maintaining an Army Corps in South Africa vanishes, because you will not require to have any such force at hand for operations in India in case of necessity.
Now let me say a word or two on the very disputed point—what is known as the linked-battalion system, a misnomer, let me say at once, for linked battalions 450 disappeared more than twenty years ago; they were two battalions which maintained their entity as separate regiments, but for the purpose of supplying drafts for foreign service they were grouped together. That system, objectionable in many ways, came to an end twenty years ago, and since then we have had double battalions of the same regiment. Now, the original scheme went much further than either the linked battalion or the double battalion; but it was impossible to carry it out owing to the pressure of local prejudice and of regimental prejudices and associations. I believe that the cure for all that is objectionable in the double-battalion system is to carry that system very much further instead of going back upon it. My right hon. friend the Member for Forest of Dean spoke of it as a fetish of some Members, and I suppose he had his eye upon me as being among those Members; but I make no fetish of the system; do away with it if you can, find something better; but it has never been fully tried yet. It has this great advantage, that it is effective for our purpose, and is the most economical arrangement we can possibly have. But I admit again that here we are tied and bound. I spoke of an octopus just now, and you have an octopus of county feeling and regimental feeling, and it is almost impossible to double up battalions in a way that it can advantageously be done. Very wisely in the last year or two the right hon. Gentleman has raised fresh battalions of existing regiments, and that is a step in the right direction, and I should be glad if it could be carried further. I cannot say what possible reductions could be made in foreign garrisons. The Secretary of State holds out the hope that in two or four years our Reserves will have attained such dimensions that a reduction will be possible. But how can it be possible if this necessary force of 120,000 men, always ready to be sent to India or anywhere else in case of emergency, is to be maintained? He bases his Estimates on this policy of 120,000 men; therefore, I venture to think he is excluded from the possibility of making the reduction himself upon the theory upon which he proceeds.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Yes, but I am not talking of the Reserves, but of the men to be available as a striking force. The main fact of the whole of this matter is that the country asks that this increasing expenditure should be brought to a stop. We can do no more than I have humbly attempted to do and what others have done—to indicate a line in which some relief, at all events, can be given that will lead to this result; and, as an expression of that strong feeling in the country, I shall certainly support the Amendment which has been moved.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
At an earlier period of this afternoon's debate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean said it was easy for the Leader of the House to come in at the end of a debate and obtain a dialectical triumph by knocking together the heads of the various critics of the Government; and that is no doubt true. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down would, if I wished to indulge in such an operation, give me ample opportunity. We have had, for instance, an interesting and able speech from my hon. friend, the Member for Hampshire, with an explanation of his views upon what is called the linked battalion system, his objections to it, and his opinion that a much better, more effective, and more economical system might be substituted; and I need hardly say that the linked battalions have no more passionate admirer in the House than the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, but who has joined with my hon. friend in his criticisms of the Government, and will join him in the Lobby against us. I might even go further and draw attention, if it were worth while to do so, to the difference in opinions expressed from that Front Bench itself in the course of this afternoon's debate, upon the expediency of keeping a large and important part of our Army in South Africa. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Berwick takes one view, the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken takes another. But I do not 452 care to raise this question or dwell upon these differences of opinion. I admit at once that this problem, this military problem presented by our very peculiar position, is so difficult, so complicated, that you must not expect from attackers or defenders of any system an absolute and drilled unanimity of opinion upon all the details as to how the system should be attacked or defended; and, for my part, so long as the criticisms are really for the purpose of enlightenment, I have no objection to them. I think the House would be insane if, on account of any single argument used in this debate, it should try to upset the whole system on which the Army has been administered since Mr. Card well's reform of 1870. If the system is to be condemned, it is only by a long, laborious, and difficult process the alteration can be made. I am not going to defend the linked-battalion system; I will only remind the Committee of what my right hon. friend has said, that, so far as he is aware, no soldier, whatever his predisposition may have been, whatever may have been his prejudices against the linked-battalion system, when he came on the Headquarters Staff, and had to examine all that was involved in a change of that system with all that could be said in favour of it, and when he had weighed one against the other—not a single individual but has come to the conclusion that, with all its defects and inconveniences that lent themselves to hostile criticism, with all its disadvantages, it was probably the best method of meeting the difficult problem of how to raise by voluntary enlistment alone an Army to be used in theatres of war that cannot be foreseen, in theatres of war where the conditions differ widely one from the other, and in military expeditions, not against enemies whose power of attack can be calculated with the nice precision with which strategists on the Continent have to frame their forecasts. All I shall do now is not to say that in my opinion the system pursued in the British Army is at the present time, or will be at any future time, of that impeccable character that sound criticism cannot be addressed against it; what I shall devote myself to is, not to consider what it may be possible to do in future years, but to consider whether in this 453 year of grace 1903 the Army Estimates should be cut down to the extent of 37,000 men.
The question before us is, not what the Army will want five years hence, but what we ought to vote for the Army this year. It is not whether when the Reserves are filled up we can make large and important reductions; the question is, whether we can make the reduction now, and it is to this I will ask the Committee to give attention. The problem is twofold. There is the question of home defence—I mean the defence of these shores—and there is the offensive defensive side of the problem which would be presented to us in an invasion of any part of the Empire, and especially of India, by a Power in alliance with some other naval Power. I take home defence first. We have had again reiterated this afternoon the opinion that the Government are ill-advised in acting in a hostile spirit to the Auxiliary forces—acting, that is to say, in a manner which is not calculated to turn those forces to the best account: and complaint is made that we say that there should be associated with the Auxiliary forces a certain number of highly-trained Regular troops. I think that those hon. Members who have urged this complaint against us have not really considered what they say on this point. If these Auxiliary forces are to be, in the true sense, a mobile force, they must have with them a body of field officers. Are those batteries of field artillery to be manned by Volunteers solely? [Mr. LEE: "No, no!"] Some hon. friend near me says "No," Then I claim him, in spite of what has been said, as favourable to the idea of adding to and assisting the Auxiliary forces with Regular troops. My hon. friend holds that view. But there are some hon. Members who do not hold that view, and my hon. friend docs not speak for everybody. A large number of Iron Members on the other side of the House do not agree with him. [OPPOSITION cries of "No, no!"] Well, I appeal to any man who has listened to this debate whether that is not the cardinal doctrine—at least, a leading feature of the attack. [Cries of "No, no!"] Of course, if it is admitted that we cannot trust the Auxiliary forces alone—is that the attitude of my hon. 454 friend? Well, then we are agreed: but I have heard him expressly contradicted by the right hon. Baronet opposite. I observe the right hon. Baronet does not contradict that. Others have advanced the opinion that the Auxiliary forces alone would be sufficient for the defence of the country.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY
What I urged was that the British Army should be entirely separate, and that the Auxiliary forces should have a separate organisation altogether.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then, if we are all agreed—if we are all in accord as to the three Army Corps—if what you want is that the Auxiliary forces should be in a great majority, and that the Regular forces should be only relatively a small portion of the total number, I do not understand what this supposed attack on the Auxiliary forces is—I do not know what we have to divide about. In providing for home defence we know that the great majority, so far as the garrisons are concerned, are composed of the Auxiliary forces. Some of the views which have been expressed can only be held by hon. Gentlemen who are absolutely ignorant of the scheme of home defence which the Government desire to make. There is nothing left of that scheme for all practical purposes if you take away the Auxiliary forces. Without the Volunteers it would be quite impossible for us to carry out the scheme in anything like its integrity. I have referred to high military authorities for the doctrine laid down, and this view is universally accepted, and now I understand that it is universally accepted here.
Now, I leave the question of home defence, and I come to the question of a military expedition leaving these shores. I thought I had made myself perfectly clear and plain when I spoke on this subject in the debate which occupied two nights on the Address; but I find that I have been greatly misunderstood in some quarters, even by as fair-minded men as the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Berwick, who spoke a short time ago. They both said that the one object for which we contemplated a force 455 of throe Army Corps being sent abroad was the defence of the Indian frontier. That is not so, and if any one refers back to my speech, he will find that it is not so. The case I had in my mind, and the case that hon. Gentlemen had in their minds in dealing with this problem, is parallel with the case which presents itself to the Board of Admiralty in settling the strength of the Navy. The strength of the Navy is arranged on the idea that we may have to fight two Powers. I cannot try to draw a distinction in this matter between the Army and the Navy, for, if we have to fight two Powers with the Navy, of course the Army cannot be excluded. Let us suppose that we have to fight two Powers, and one of these Powers is able to invade us in India. Are we absoutely sure—is it wise for us to find ourselves so absolutely denuded of men for the purpose of Indian defence that we have nothing left at all for the purpose of defence elsewhere? As I have before said to the House, and as the right hon. Baronet has said to-day, the Navy by itself cannot finish a war; but it can, by a great deal of pressure, make it very inconvenient and expensive for an enemy to fight us. But so long as an enemy can keep its ships in port the Navy can hardly strike a blow—no effective blow—hardly a blow at all, upon any enemy with which we have to deal. For all that you must have some power of landing some kind of expeditionary force; and my statement, broadly speaking, is this: That if we were to find ourselves involved in any such conflict as that, we have to consider both the power of sending an expeditionary force and the necessity of providing additional troops for the defence of the North-West Frontier. These necessities may arise at the same time, and they may have to be dealt with together. If that is so far accepted let me say one word more on the question of the Indian Frontier. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has read to the Committee long extracts from the evidence of Sir Henry Brackenbury before Lord Welby's Commission. The subject of investigation at that time was Penjdeh; and it is quite clear to any one reading the evidence to which the right hon. Gentleman has called 456 attention that Sir Henry Brackenbury had in his mind one of the great difficulties of the great problem; and that difficulty was the fact that India might require troops when it would be extremely inconvenient, on naval grounds, for us to send them. That is perfectly true. The phrase used by Sir Henry Brackenbury was—The Government of the day would not move a single man from England to help India; they would not dare to do so.But that was not military evidence at all; he refers to a great difficulty, a real difficulty to be considered with regard to the problem. Then I observe a paragraph—I have not had time to go into the evidence—in which he says that the invasion of India might require soldiers, and that he might not be able to send them. That is the point to which I have just called attention; and then Sir Henry Brackenbury says—I do not think in the least that India would require them.What he means is that in the early stages of a war with a great naval power we should not be able to send them. That is, I think, the strongest argument which has been advanced for the distribution of our troops, and which finds favour in the great military school to which, I believe, the right hon. Baronet belongs—namely, that we might get over a great deal of the difficulty by keeping an Army Corps in South Africa instead of in England.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I should like to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to question No. 14,882, where it is stated that for the defence of our Indian Frontier we have to keep up a large Army in addition to what may be called the obligatory garrisons, and that if we could do away with the frontier difficulty altogether we could greatly diminish our Army. I think this shows that the Indian Army could make ample provision for the frontier.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I can hardly agree with that—I do not follows I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman interrupted, as I am engaged on an argument which I should like the Committee to flolow. I quite admit that one of the difficulties connected with India is the difficulty of getting assistance, getting 457 troops from here at an early stage of the war. I quite admit that the scheme of having an Army Corps in South Africa would meet the difficulty from that point of view, for we all recognise how much easier it would be, apart from getting up the Reserves, to send a great body of troops from South Africa to India, in the face of a hostile naval Power, than it would be to carry them all the way round from these Islands to India. But that difficulty of the problem does not touch the question whether or not we require a force to be sent to India in case India should be involved in hostility with her great military neighbour. I was astonished at the lightness with which the right hon. Baronet spoke of the possibility of India requiring a single soldier more than it has at present.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Baronet there greatly simplifies the problem when he says so long as the Russian frontier stays where it is. Of course, then, Russia would not be able to inarch a large body of troops across Afghanistan by Quetta or down the Khyber Pass. Perfectly true; but I fear the problem of the defence of India cannot be dealt with in that simplified form. I only wish I could believe it. It is strange that the right hon. Baronet himself at one time took a wholly different view of the situation.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
I said I should take exactly the same view so long as the Russian frontier stands where it does. Of course, if there were a successful campaign on the part of Russia and a new basis established, then the problem would be entirely changed. But that is a matter of time.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not know that it is very wise to go into details. Surely to suppose the partition of Afghanistan would be to present problems of far greater complexity and require this country to put forward a far greater exercise of strength than the simple question to which the right hon. 458 Gentleman has attempted to narrow down the problem. Of course, if there is always to be a strong, and friendly, and untouched Afghanistan between us and the Russian border, I admit the difficulty of a rapid Russian advance is very great, and the number of troops which she could use in that advance would probably be not very considerable. But we may have to deal with a much more difficult state of affairs than that to which the right hon. Gentleman has pointed: and I do not think we should be wise—I am sure we should be insane—if we wore to attempt to lay the flattering unction to our souls that never in defence of India should we have to send a single soldier from these shores. The right hon. Gentleman says he was always of that opinion. Perhaps he will allow me to quote an interesting and important book which he wrote two years ago, and which I do not in the least quote for the purpose of making a point against him. The right hon. Baronet concludes his chapter on the North-West Frontier with this sentence—Whatever measures are taken, and whatever policy may be adopted, the fundamental conditions of the defence of India will continue to be the readiness of England to send ample reinforcements when they are needed. In other words, the peace of India depends greatly on having an efficient army at home and retaining the command of the sea.You could not put it better. That is exactly the view which we take of the situation; and I really think that the right hon. Baronet ought to reconsider his own old views, which I am convinced are sound views, upon this very difficult question.
I only wish to make one further observation on an argument which appears to mo to be in great favour on the other side of the House. They say, and say truly, or with a great deal of truth, "You talk as if you wanted exactly three Army Corps for all these purposes of sending foreign expeditions. We do not think much of your three Army Corps, because we see how you have got at them. You are obliged to have them at home to keep the balance of your foreign regiments, and having been obliged to do that because of your Army system, you say it is necessary for other reasons." That is the argument of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Northumberland, and an argument used on this 459 side of the House. If it is any pleasure to hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen to extract an admission from me, I am ready to admit at once that no human being can say to a regiment, or to a brigade, or to a division, what calls will be made upon the British Army in certain contingencies. As I reminded the House, the conditions we have got to meet are so complicated and so impossible to foresee, that I for one should absolutely disbelieve any War Minister who said to me that he had calculated all the contingencies that had to be met, all the difficulties which had to be surmounted, all the forces with which we might be brought into conflict, and that the result of his careful summing up of the situation was that he was confident that 120,000 men, not 121,000 or 119,000, but 120,000 men were required to meet the needs of the Empire. That is not the way in which we can reasonably and rationally approach this question. It is perfectly true that with the great body of troops we have got to keep abroad it is very convenient.—I do not say it is absolutely necessary, although I might, perhaps, go that length—at all events, it is very convenient under our existing Army system to have a large body of troops at home—I do not argue whether South Africa is to be called at home or not—that is not a question I am dealing with to-day—but a large body of troops either in England or some other part of the world which for this purpose is to count, as England. What we have to argue to-day is whether this is the occasion on which, with all these needs before us, we ought to upset this system on the ground that the strain on our finances is very great, which I admit that it is, and that the needs that we have to face are very small compared with the forces we provide. I believe that that is a conclusion which it would be absolute folly for this House to adopt. I have heard a number of Gentlemen speak to-day as if this was the first time that we have ever been brought face to face with the establishment of this strength, and as if in these Army Estimates for the first time they were asked to provide this large body of troops. Everybody who has looked into 460 it knows that the great increase in our forces dates partly from the war, but largely from a time anterior to the war, and when the South African War was not even in contemplation or above the horizon. Is this, then, the time at which you are going to destroy the units which you have called into existence, to upset a system which you have elaborately created, because you think that your national needs are so small that a force of this kind is not required? I always anticipated that we should suffer from a cold fit. I always knew, and I suppose everybody knew, that the war fever would be followed by a temperature below the normal; but if we are to have a cold fit we ought to have it with more moderation, and we ought not to shiver quite so violently. Whatever may be right in a few years, it cannot be right to choose a moment when your Reserves are dangerously low—to choose that moment especially to diminish the strength of your Army. Surely that will be admitted on all hands to be insanity. Get your Reserves up—my right hon. friend says to 100,000; I prefer not to commit myself definitely to a figure—but get your Reserves up to a large figure, and then consider how far you may safely reduce the number of your units without destroying their value as units. If after having made those reductions, if after having provided this margin of safety, you then come to the conclusion that even that reduction is not enough to relieve your finances, that even with that diminution of Army expenditure the burden is still too great to be borne, then you may set to work upon the difficult and laborious task of destroying the military units which you have called into existence. But to embark on that task now, before you have filled up your Reserves, before you have seen what reductions can be made in the units after the Reserves are full, surely is a policy, not of wise economy, not of prudent statesmanship, not of men who look before and after, who think of the dangers to which this country would be subjected, but of gentlemen who are either anxious to take advantage of what they regard as a great reaction of public opinion, or of men who, always opposed to the Imperial policy which the majority in this House, 461 and the majority of the country approve, at last see their way to getting what they want under the & œgis of Imperialists themselves.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL (Greenwich)
said if he presumed to follow his right hon. friend, it was not because he conceived himself able to instruct the Committee on this subject. They had already listened to many speakers who were very much better acquainted with the details of the matter than he could pretend to be; and he only wished to explain the vote which he thought it right to give in the forthcoming division. He wished to say, first of all, that the arguments which had been brought forward on behalf of the Government did not appear to him to be well founded or calculated to justify him in supporting them in the Division Lobby. He did not think much of the argument of authority with which the Secretary of State for War closed his speech. That was an argument which Secretaries of State always commanded; but which was never convincing except to very stupid people. A Government in a controversial difficulty always called upon, as their ultimate hope, mysterious military advisers whose advice was only known to themselves, who could not be cross-examined or tested, but who were always unanimously, effectively, and conclusively in support of the Government. Nor did he think, when the First Lord of the Treasury spoke of taking advantage of waves of public opinion, that he added either to the amenity of the discussion, or to the convincingness of the argument. In a democratic country the movements of public opinion were parts and elements of politics. Nobody knew that better than his right hon. friend, and no one understood better the value of enlightened opportunism than his right hon. friend and the Government. Therefore, he set aside that argument, as not being sufficient to induce him to support the Government on this occasion. He would rather consider the very interesting argument of strategy which his right hon. friend had just delivered. It seemed to him that the Government, and some of the speakers who had taken part in the debate, made a profound 462 mistake in distinguishing, as though they were in separate compartments, home defence and foreign service. His right hon. friend dealt quite separately with the question of home defence; and appealed to his hon. friend the Member for Fareham to say whether some Regular troops were not required to strengthen the Volunteer and Auxiliary forces for home defence. Then his right hon. friend proceeded to consider the expeditionary force. Was it not quite obvious that they would have command of the sea, or that they would not. If they had command of the sea very completely indeed, they might send a large expeditionary force from these shores; and if they had very complete command of the sea, there would be no question of military home defence at all. They could not at the same moment he in two contradictory positions—in a position of having such command of the sea as to be able to send any number of soldiers anywhere they pleased, and of having so little command of the sea that they would not be able to protect their own shores. That seemed to be at the very root of the Government difficult. He was unable to understand how his right hon. friend could contemplate in imagination a fleet starting from the Thames and carrying 150,000 men as an expeditionary force, and meeting off the North Foreland a French or other foreign fleet with an expeditionary force for this country. That was the only case in which he could contemplate such a state of things. They commenced with complete naval supremacy, which lasted until they had sent the expeditionary force out of the country. This was the whole case for a large military force composed of Volunteer forces.
The difference between trained and untrained men was merely a matter of training, and the Secretary of State for War had fixed six months as the extreme time required for that purpose. So that the whole question resolved itself into what would take place during the first six months of the war. Was it possible, was it conceivable, that the Navy of this country would fall so low, lower than ever they had ever fallen before in the history of this country, in less than six months, that they could not defend our shores from invasion? The whole thing 463 was inconceivable. If they believed in the power to send an expeditionary force abroad, they must believe in the safety of this country. It appeared to him therefore that a very strong case had been made for the Amendment. The only answer to that case had been the general answer made by the hon. Member for Glasgow of the previous day—namely, that after all a big Army was better than a small Army, and that if you had these 27,000 men you would have 27,000 more than you would otherwise have, and that sooner or later they would be useful in war, sometime or other.
But there was another answer that had been overlooked, and that was the financial answer. It was not on the one hand 27,000 men, and on the other nothing; it was on the one side 27,000 men, and on the other economy in production. It was the greatest possible mistake to suggest, as his right hon. friend certainly did, that there was anything wanting in imperialism, in the patriotic sentiment that had so long and powerfully animated the country in maintaining the importance of financial economy. He did not urge financial economy from the point of view of domestic expenditure or anything of that kind. He urged it in view of the war that was to be, if there was to be a war. The Government very properly had to consider the military measures they would take in case of a war. Had they also considered what financial measures they would take in case of a war? Taxation was now heavy. If they went to war, how were they to make it very much heavier? It already began to press on the means of production and on the resources of the country. It was not in any sense of trying to restrain the Government from holding high the honour of the country or from maintaining the rights of the country in every part of the world with a strong hand and with a proud front; but it was because he believed that a judicious economy, if it could be made without diminishing the resources of the country, was the supreme and patriotic necessity of the hour—it was in the name of the nation's power, and for the sake of its greatness and glory, that he should vote for this reduction.
MAJOR SEELY (Isle of Wight)
said: Had any reply been made to the case 464 which had been made in favour of this Amendment he should have reconsidered the matter before voting for it. He should vote for the reduction in the firm conviction that though it reduced the establishment it would greatly add to the fighting strength of the Army. That might seem paradoxical, but if all those who were liable to go sick under the strain of a campaign were eliminated from the ranks, they would eliminate from the fighting strength not a source of strength but weakness. Many of those who went sick on active service were known from the time of their enlistment to be men who would be likely to go sick directly they undertook the arduous duties of a campaign, and a fighting force of 500 men, of whom none went sick, would be infinitely stronger than a fighting force of 1,000 men, of whom 500 went sick, because for every ten men who go sick on active service from one to five fighting men were made inefficient. Therefore not only would the country save money by this reduction, but it would make the Army more effective as a striking force. He therefore should vote for the reduction.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
said that nothing that had occurred during this debate had altered his opinion or had suggested any reason why he should support the mover or seconder of the reduction instead of voting for the moderate scheme brought into the House by the Secretary of State for War. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that in this matter he had not only to face a frontal attack but a flank attack as well. That attack had begun with the Amendment to the Address and had continued to-day. He confessed he himself viewed this course of conduct of Members sitting on this side with considerable misgiving. He had no doubt that the convictions of those who would vote for this Amendment were as honest as his own; he had an infinite admiration for the generous and cleansing fires of youth, but when, in the endeavour to cleanse the Government from the bacillus with which it was alleged to be infected, they proceeded so set fire to the House, he was reminded of the Chinaman and his efforts to procure roast beef. The course 465 being taken by some of his hon. friends was fraught not only with discredit to themselves, but with danger to the Government they were returned to support. In his opinion, the Government were not asking for more men than were absolutely necessary. He did not believe that the country had changed its opinion on this subject since the autumn of last year. The danger to the Empire did not cease with the war in South Africa, and he intended to support the Government.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, Chelmsford)
thought that the Amendment was rather crude, though it had been moved by his hon. friends with such pain and grief. It was like some of the proposals of Joseph Hume, who occasionally brought forward proposals to reduce the Army by 10,000 men, and if that was not enough, to reduce it by 20,000 more. But hon. Members like himself, who had been in the House for fifteen years, and who had been endeavouring to screw up successive Governments to increase the numerical strength of the Army, looked upon it as rather hard that hon. Members sitting on the Government side of the House should now make an attempt to reduce it. The Leader of the Opposition in this matter was rather a prejudiced witness. At a meeting which he attended he heard the Leader of the Opposition state that the Navy was a necessity, but that the Army was an expensive luxury.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I did not know that I had the privilege of being at the same public meeting with the hon. Member on any occasion, but I certainly never used any words of the purport indicated.
§ MAJOR RASCH
said he did not mean the right hon. Gentleman. He meant the Leader of the Opposition in this particular matter. The right hon. Gentleman must be aware that he had a great many rivals in the House. He referred to the hon. Member for Whitby. The objection of his hon. friends to this Army scheme was, however, an old 466 story repeated. In 1770, at the time of the American War, Burke and the Duke of Richmond and Gordon moved to reduce the Army, and told the old story that if the Fleet was efficient there was no use of an Army, and if it was not efficient there was no good in having an Army or a Fleet at all. He was surprised that hon. Members below the Gangway, knowing as much about soldiering as some of them did, when they knew that the Reserve had been reduced by 30,000 men should desire to reduce the Army by 27,000 men, and should not wait until the Reserve had reached; its normal strength of 120,000. ["We only want to reduce the wastrels."] He understood that the bedrock of this question was the scheme propounded in The Times—that they should take an Army Corps from England and dump it down in South Africa, and fill up the Army Corps by overpaid and under-drilled Volunteers. To talk of South Africa as a home station was rather a Gilbert and Sullivan burlesque idea. Hon. Members might say what they liked; they might call South Africa Clapham Junction, but they did not get the recruit to believe it. If they were to recruit for the Army and to keep two-thirds of the force in the tropics they would not get the necessary men. He suggested to his hon. friends that a more excellent way could be found than by reducing the Army. Let these hon. Members move to reduce the Estimates by the cost of the Intelligence Department, the Quartermaster-General's staff, and the general staff. There was such a galaxy of talent below the Gangway that they did not want an Intelligence Department.
§ MR. J. HOPE (Sheffield, Brightside)
, who spoke amid cries of "Divide," was understood to say that the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich had never put his great abilities to a more unworthy use than in his speech of that evening. He had assumed the new role of an economist, but his conclusions were contradicted by all the teaching of English military history. Since the great army which Wellington had laboriously created had been dissipated in 1814, our military system had never been put on a sound 467 basis till now. He did not wish to give a silent vote, but to show that he supported the Government not from discipline but from conviction.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 154; Noes, 245. (Division List No. 22.)469
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Rigg, Richard|
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead)||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Allen, Chas. P. (Glos., Stroud)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Grant, Corrie||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbt. Hy.||Grey, Rt. Hn. Sir E. (Berwick||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Rose, Charles Day|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Runciman, Walter|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Harcourt. Rt. Hon. Sir Wm.||Samuel, Herbt. L. (Cleveland)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Hatch, Ernest Frederick G.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isleof Wight|
|Bell, Richard||Hayter, Rt Hon Sir Arthur D.||Shackleton, David James|
|Blake, Edward||Hemphill. Rt. Hon. Chas. H||Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Hobhouse. C. E H. (Bristl. E.)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick, B.)|
|Bowles, T. G. (Lynn Regis)||Holland, Sir William Henry||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Brigg, John||Jacoby. James Alfred||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Jones, David B. (Swansea)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Bryce, Right Hon. James||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Kearley, Hudson E.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Burns, John||Kemp, Lieut.-Colonel George||Thomas, Sir A. (Glam., E.)|
|Burt, Thomas||Kitson. Sir James||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Buxton. Sydney Charles||Labouchere, Henry||Thomas, J. A. (Glam., Grower,|
|Chine, William Sproston||Lambert, George||Tomkinson, James|
|Caldwell, James||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Toulmin, George|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Leigh. Sir Joseph||Ure, Alexander|
|Cawley, Frederick||Leng, Sir John||Vincent. Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Levy, Maurice||Wallace, Robert|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lough, Thomas||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Cremer, William Randal||M'Crae, George||Wason, E. (Clackmannan)|
|Cast, Henry John C.||M'Kenna, Reginald||Wason. J. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Malcolm, Ian||Weir, James Galloway|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Markham, Arthur Basil||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taunton)|
|Dilke, Rt. Horn. Sir Charles||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Whiteley, G. (York, W. R)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Morley Rt. Hn. John (Montrose)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Moulton, John Fletcher||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Dunn, Sir William||Newnes, Sir George||Wilson. F. W. (Norfolk, Mid)|
|Edwards. Frank||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)|
|Ellis, John Edward||Palmer, Sir C. M. (Durham)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Emmott. Alfred||Parker. Sir Gilbert||Wilson, J. W. (Worcester., N.)|
|Faber. George Denison (York)||Partington, Oswald||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Huddersf'd)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Yerburgh, Robt. Armstrong|
|Ferguson. R. C. Munro (Leith)||Pemberton, John S. G.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Perks, Robert William|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Pirie, Duncan V.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Foster. Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Price, Robert John||Mr. Guest and Major|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Rea, Russell||Evans-Gordon.|
|Furness. Sir Christopher||Reid, Sir R. T. (Dumfries)|
|Gibbs, Hn. Vicary (St. Albans||Renwick, George|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Barry, Sir Fras, T. (Windsor)|
|Aird, Sir John||Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Hartley, Sir George C. T.|
|Allhusen, Aug. Henry Eden||Bain, Colonel James Robert||Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj.|
|Allsopp. Hon. George||Band, John George Alexander||Bentinek, Lord Henry C.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Balcarres, Lord||Bignold, Arthur|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Balfour. Rt. Hn. A. J. (Man'r)||Bigwood. James|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey||Blundell, Colonel Henry|
|Arrol, Sir William||Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Boseawen, Arthur Griffith-|
|Atkinson, Right Hon. John||Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Boulnois, Edmund|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middx.)||Helder, Augustus||Purvis, Robert|
|Brassey, Albert||Henderson, Sir Alexander||Randles, John S.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Rankin, Sir James|
|Brown, Sir Alx. H. (Shropsh.)||Hoare. Sir Samuel||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Bull, William James||Hope. J. F. (Sheff, B'tside)||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Horner, Frederick William||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Butcher, John George||Hoult, Joseph||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Campbell, Rt Hn J A (Glasg.)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Remnant, Jas. Farquharson|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H||Howard, Jno (Kent, Faver'hm||Rigley Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge)|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Hozier, Hon. Jas. Henry Cecil||Ridley, S. F. (Bethnal Green)|
|Cavendish, V C W (Derbysh.)||Hudson. George Bickersteth||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. C. Thomson|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Wore)||Jebb. Sir Richard Claverhouse||Robertson, H. (Hackney)|
|Chapman, Edward||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Johnstone, Heywood||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Olive, Captain Percy A.||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H.||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Kenyon, Hon. G. T. (Denbigh)||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Keswick, William||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Collings, Right Hon. Jesse||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Knowles, Lees||Sadler, Col. Saml. Alexander|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasg.)||Lambton, Hon. Fredk. Wm.||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Cox, Irwin Edwd. Bainbridge||Lawson, John Grant||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S)||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. E. J.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cressley, Sir Savile||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Bristol, S.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Ben-|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lowther, C. (Cumb. Eskdale.)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Lowther. Rt. Hon. Jas. (Kent)||Skewes-Cox Thomas|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Dimsdale, Rt. Hon. Sir Jos. C.||Lucas. Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Smith", Abel H. (Hertford, E.)|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth)||Smith, H. C. (North'mb, Tyneside)|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Dorington, Rt. Hon. Sir J. E.||Macdona, John Cumming||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Douglas, lit. Hon. A. Akers||Maconochie, A. W.||Spear, John Ward|
|Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Spencer, Sir E. (W Bromwich)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||M'Killop, Jas. (Stirlingshire)||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||Majendie, James A. H.||Stanley Lord (Lanes.)|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir Jn. M.|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir H. E (Wigt'n.)||Stock James Henry|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Ed.||Maxwell, W. J. H. (Demfriessh.)||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J. (Man'r)||Melville. Beresford Valentine||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Finch. Rt. Hon. George H.||Middlemore, Jn. Throgmorton||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas||Milvain, Thomas||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. E. M.|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Mitchell, William||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Fison, Frederick William||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hands.)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edw. Algernon||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Vincent. Col. Sir C, EH (Sheffield)|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Flower, Ernest||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts)|
|Forster, Henry William||Morrell, George Herbert||Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. Lloyd|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Morrison, James Archibald||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Gardner, Ernest||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Williams, Rt. Hn J Powell (Birm)|
|Garfit, William||Mount, William Arthur||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lond)||Mowbray, Sir Robt. Gray C.||Willough by de Eresby, Lord|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Murray, Rt Hn. A. Graham (Bute||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nrn||Myers, William Henry||Wilson, A. S. (York, E. R.)|
|Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby- (Linc)||Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Wilson John (Glasgow|
|Goschen, Hon. Geo. Joachim||Nicholson, William Graham||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Gretton, John||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Groves, James Grimble||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Guthrie, Walter Murray||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Hall, Edward Marshall||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Halsey. Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Percy, Earl||Wyndham-Quin, MajorW. H|
|Hamitton, Rt Hn Lord G. (Midd'x||Pilkington. Lt.-Col. Richard|
|Hamilton, Marg. of (Londondy)||Platt-Higgins. Frederick||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Hambury, Rt. Hn. Robt. Wm.||Powell. Sir Francis Sharp||Sir Alexander Acland-|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Pretyman, Ernest George||Hoodand Mr. Anstruther.|
Bill read a second time, and committed.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman proceeded to interrupt the Business.
§ Whereupon MR. BALFOUR rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.