§ £331,000. War Office, Salaries and Miscellaneous Charges.
§ *SIR LEES KNOWLES
, continuing his speech, said when the Committee adjourned he was trying to induce the 1439 Secretary of State not to disband but to reduce the Line battalions. It required at least two years' hard work to make a soldier, and the trouble was that the greater number of those who enlisted did not like hard work, they enlisted to get food and petty cash, and if they were made to work they at once said they could get more wages in civil life with less restrictions. The scheme went below the irreducible minimum both in numbers and period of service. Ancient and modern authorities alike held that three Years was the shortest period in which to make a soldier efficient, and it seemed to him that the Reservists with two years service and two training, would be little better than efficient Volunteers. In times of stress it was far easier to fill existing battalions than to raise new ones, and he was borne out in that statement by the remark of the Secretary of State in one of his opening sentences, that he would rather have ten men on whom he could rely than 100 raised rapidly under the stress of adversity. He was further borne out by the statement of his friend Colonel Bruxner-Randall, of the Lancashire Fusiliers, who wrote to him—While I see the difficulty of getting men, still, my experience proves that a regiment is easier to expand from 500 to 1,000 than to originate. I had two entire companies from our 1st Battalion to start the new 3rd Battalion. Even up to a year after the formation those two old companies kept their lead; and this superiority was not the result of better officers.And then he went on to say—In fact, these companies were alive, and drafts of recruits were digested by them. The new companies were made up of just as good material, but were atoms with no corporate life: And this fault took much time and cultivation to eradicate.He could speak, moreover, from personal experience of the excellence of the 4th Battalion, the Lancashire Fusiliers, which it was proposed to disband. One third of the figures recently quoted of these who volunteered for long service in India came from that battalion, and, to spew the excellent men they had in that battalion, at the recent All-Ireland Rifle Meeting at the Curragh, fifty-four of the warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men won fifty-four individual prizes, amounting to £68. Further, for the Scouts' cup—the blue 1440 ribbon of the meeting—their sections took first, second, and third places, the second and third being ties. The high state of efficiency of this battalion under Colonel Hammersley, and now under Colonel Deane, was well known to the general officers under whom it had served, and it was only last year that he himself at the Curragh saw its colours presented to it by the Duke of Connaught. He could illustrate from history how the reduction of units impaired in time of necessity the power of expansion in the case of the 20th Regiment. In 1756, owing to stress of war with France, a second battalion was raised. This subsequently became the 67th regiment. In 1779, again in consequence of war with France, an expansion was necessary, and he 20th Regiment received a draft of Militiamen, and the corps was formed into two battalions which served together in Holland and Egypt. In 1858, the stress of the Crimea, followed by the Mutiny, necessitated expansion and the present second battalion was raised. In all these three cases a new battalion was raised hurriedly for war, and the existing battalion was in each case denuded to supply the new staff and nucleus for the new battalion. What he asked was this, was it necessary to do more than reduce the number of men in each battalion? He suggested that if skeleton battalions were kept that would meet the necessities of the case, and that instead of having battalions of 1,000 men the right hon. Gentleman might have battalions of 500, which were easy to handle, and this, he believed, was the custom in European armies.
With regard to the territorial system, he was personally much attached to it. He should not be speaking to-night if he were not second in command of a Volunteer battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers. He looked upon the territorial system as one of great value, and he always noticed the names of men in his own battalion who had passed into the Militia or into the Line. He looked on the territorial system as a sort of family connection. The territorial system was carried not merely into the Army but into the Navy: our battleships now being named after counties. Everybody was now accustomed to territorial 1441 names, and a county name gave a wider I importance to a regiment and a homely and sentimental attachment. The men of the Lancashire regiments were nearly all Lancashire men, men from the county although perhaps not recruited in their own districts, but in different districts. But the men did not cease to belong to the county because their battalion was not quartered in it. With regard to the linked-battalion system, he liked the idea of one battalion feeding another, and although the right hon. Gentleman disapproved of that system, he might point out that Lord Wolseley described it as the only safe one. He considered it was useful when the battalion at home had sent men to its sister battalion abroad, and it strengthened the strong family feeling. They saw that in the active service corps which were sent to South Africa; the three Volunteer battalions of the Lancashire Fusiliers sent out three active service companies to South Africa, and splendid reports came home from the officers commanding. They were bound together by a common feeling of camaraderie, the living together under one canvas, and esprit de corps. He would refer to the farewells to these companies in the recent edition of the History of the Lancashire Fusiliers by Major B. Smyth, M.V.O., of the Royal Hibernian Military School. With regard to the Line battalions to which he had referred, he would ask for special consideration for them; he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the advisability of reducing rather than disbanding them. This scheme had been introduced at the fag end of the session, and he thought some little further time should be given to its consideration. He hoped nothing dra tic would be done during the recess. He wished the right hon. Gentleman all success in his scheme, but hoped that he would not he hard on those for whom he (Sir Lees Knowles) now pleaded.
§ * CAFTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
said that much that had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, and by Members on both sides of the House, went to show that, so far as Army reform was concerned, the Government was condemned. They had been eight years in office, and had 1442 been dealing with Army reform for the last five years. He would not do the right hon. Gentleman the injustice of supposing that this was the right hon. Gentleman's own Scheme. This scheme had been evolved out of the general knowledge of the Cabinet. He might describe it as a Forster, Brodrick, Wyndham, and Balfour scheme. It was nothing but a shuffling compromise to tide over the difficulty for the day and leave the question of Army reform in a state of confusion worse confounded; it had been whittled away to meet the exigencies of the day. The Committee had been told that this scheme was backed by the united Cabinet, but they were told the same thing with regard to the previous scheme, which was to give us two Army Corps, but which, when it came to war, gave one Army Corps, and what the Scotch called a bittock. The scheme which followed it, which introduced the three years men, was condemned by all military authorities, who warned the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor that the men would not re-engage. He had no desire to attach more importance to the military authorities, who sometimes disagreed, but there were some questions upon which they could give information, and this was one. Those who had been connected with the men all their lives were able to say whether they would re-engage or not. The result of that scheme was that it was a failure. What he would like to know was whether this scheme of the united Cabinet had the backing of half-a-dozen generals of experience who had the confidence of the Army and the country. If the right hon. Gentleman could say that, then the scheme would occupy a different position to what he (Captain Norton) thought it did at the present moment.
The whole of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme was economy and efficiency. In regard to economy, the right hon. Gentleman showed a decrease of a million odd, but if they took into consideration the fact that India was paying for the manufacture of guns this year, and that we were living, so to speak, on the stores left over from the South African War; that the money payments would be steadily increasing; that we had to meet the difficulty of 1443 Indian reliefs, and that we had not yet paid for Somaliland—if all those matters were taken into consideration—not only would the million which the right hon. Gentleman professed to have saved be wiped out, but a million or two more. He also contended that the reduction of our fighting force was out of all proportion to the economy gained. The right hon. Gentleman placed at least half the battalions of the country on a peace footing, and left us with a balance of 177,000 men, which meant that our total force was reduced by about one-sixth, and such a reduction of men should represent. £5,000,000 instead of £1,000,000. We were, therefore, paying too dearly for the small economy obtained.
He was astonished to hear the right hon. Gentleman make the statement he did with regard to conscription. The right hon. Gentleman said that were conscription possible it would be costly! Why, the very reverse was the case. Why did Continental nations adopt it? The Members of the other House had no constituents to face and they did not hesitate to tell the country the truth, nor did the Royal Commission. It was an unpalatable truth, no doubt, but it required to be told. To pretend that conscription was not the most economical way of getting an Army—at the same time we should get the flower of the country in the Army—was not playing the straightforward game. The right hon. Gentleman stated the cost would be £26,000,000 on the assumption that the number of men raised each year would be 380,000. But why in the name of heaven should he want 380,000 men when the right hon. Gentleman maintained that under his scheme he would provide for the garrisons and the defence of the country with 214,000 regular troops minus his reduction of 37,000? He (Captain Norton) had been at some trouble to get out the figures that would apply to an Army of this size if obtained by conscription, and the cost of 177,000 men would be £12,000,000. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the non-commissioned officers would be paid Army rates, and then he would have to provide 1s. a day for the men; but the right hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well that in countries where the Army was obtained by conscription, where the people were bound 1444 to serve, they were paid practically nothing. This meant a further reduction of at least £3,000,000, consequently, the cost would be only £9,000,000. Therefore it was not fair to the country to lead them to believe that if this country was prepared to do that which Switzerland and other countries did, it would be more costly. The great difficulty we had to deal with was the question of recruiting. It might be said, in dealing with this liability of the manhood of this country to some form of service, that we might lose from an industrial point of view; but the opposite was the case. It had been found by the insurance companies of Berlin that the men who had given their time to the service of the country lasted five years longer than those who had not been through the service. The result, therefore would be a gain of three years of industrial life. It was not fair to place this question before the country in any but its true light.
One specific and definite Question he would like to put to the right hon. Gentleman. When was the new scheme with regard to recruiting to come into force? As to recruiting, the total number required for the home and general-service Armies was 34,500. In a normal year the country would provide about 40,000 recruits, of whom a large proportion were below the proper standard of physique. The alteration in the terms of enlistment really constituted a new gamble in recruiting. There was no reason to believe that men would come forward for foreign service any more readily for nine years than for seven or eight years, because not only was nothing additional offered, but the men were to be taken at a higher age, and were to be physically sound. The physical condition of recruits had a distinct bearing on the question. A high authority had computed that during the last decade 60 per cent. of the men who presented themselves for enlistment were rejected, and that of the men accepted 37.6 per cent. were either rejected within three months of enlistment or were discharged for inefficiency in two years. A larger number than usual had been cast for various diseases during the last nine years, and in Manchester alone no fewer than 49 1445 per cent. of the men presenting themselves had been refused. If the right hon. Gentleman took 34,500 recruits, he would have difficulty in getting 20,000 of the class he required from them, which was not much over half the number he wanted. This matter of recruiting was the basis of the whole question. As his view was borne out by two high military authorities whom he had consulted, he thought the right hon. Gentleman was hardly justified in throwing so much cold water on the scheme suggested by the Royal Commission.
The Militia, he believed, had much to complain of. The cause of the depletion of the Militia was the abominable manner in which it had been treated. It had been squeezed absolutely dry. It gave 2,000 officers and 54,000 men to the Regulars during the late war, it sent seventy battalions to South Africa and the Mediterranean, and now that the force had been ruined hard things were said about it. So far as the Volunteers were concerned, he believed the result of this amputation would be to cause a shock to the constitution of the Volunteer force as a whole. The division into two classes would create friction in every corps throughout the country. What the members of the force required was sympathy and consideration in reference to their ordinary avocations, whereas under the proposed scheme many of the very best men would be crushed out of the force. Of the 448,000 men who soldiered in South Africa, 200,000 came from the Auxiliary Forces, and the Volunteers alone supplied 20,000. He therefore thought it would be a fatal mistake to destroy the units in the manner proposed.
So far as the broad outlines of the scheme were concerned, he was thoroughly with the right hon. Gentleman, but he would venture to suggest one or two remedies for certain difficulties which would be encountered. A considerable reduction in the Regular Army might be effected if the coaling stations were handed over to the Admiralty, who could man them much more effectively and at the cost of far fewer men. Then it was monstrous that this country should be called upon to furnish 21,500 men for South Africa at an expenditure of £1,360,000 more than they would cost to maintain in this country. 1446 There wan no more unpopular station than South Africa. The soldiers there had none of the amenities which they enjoyed in England, they were stationed at great distances from towns; liquor of all sorts was excessively dear; and the men had to discharge duties for which they received only one-third of the pay given to other people to do the same class of work. The British soldiers had had enough of South Africa. Why should not that country do the same as Ireland, which not only supported its own constabulary but bore its share of the cost of the Army? As to the long-service Army for India, there was no reason why the right hon. Gentleman should not get the men he required if he would give them 6d. a day deferred pay, so that they would get a pension after fifteen years service, increasing in amount the longer they were able to serve as effective soldiers. Recruiting at home would doubtless be assisted if a certain number of men of good character were allowed to sleep out of barracks. From the point of view of the physique of the manhood of the country, nothing was more desirable than that physical exercises should be taught in the public schools.
§ *CAPTAIN NORTON
agreed. He was simply throwing out the suggestion as one which would improve the physique of the youth of the country. The right hon. Gentleman would also be assisted in the getting of recruits if he would take boys as they were taken in the Navy, so that on reaching manhood they should be bound for twelve years. The life of the soldier in India would be made more comfortable if he was quartered more than at present in the hills. With regard to the Volunteers, if something like £12 instead of £9 were given the force would be largely increased, and in time of need could be drawn upon for a large proportion of men of fine physique, who in a very short time would be able to take their place in the field.
§ MR. GRIFFITH BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
congratulated the Opposition on possessing so eloquent and able an 1447 advocate of the policy of compulsory service as the hon. Member for West Newington had just proved himself to be. Having always felt that we should ventually be driven to some such system to enable the necessary men to be obtained, he had listened with pleasure to the speech of the hon. Member, and he had never heard the reasons in favour of conscription more clearly stated. But his purpose in rising was to refer to that branch of the service with which he was connected, viz., the Militia. There was so much that was good in the general scheme of the Secretary of State that all Army reformers must wish him well in the great work he had undertaken, but he could not say that the right hon. Gentleman's proposals with regard to the Militia were sound, good, or likely to he to the advantage of the Army or the country. The Militia had not been treated fairly in the matter. If the force was absolutely inefficient, by all means let the right hon. Gentleman say so and let it be abolished. But what the right hon. Gentleman said was. "I am going to maintain and improve you; I am going to boil you down to thirty-three battalions; I am going to put you in a better position." As a matter of fact, under the scheme the existing force might be boiled down to thirty-three home service battalions; in that sense its identity would be preserved, but it would not be preserved as Militia. The conditions of service would be so different that the country would not get the Militia, but something altogether changed. Instead of getting officers who joined their county Militia because they liked to serve in a battalion with which possibly their family had been connected for generations, they would get a force consisting of ten so-called Militia officers, not belonging to the regiment which they regarded as their own, but attached to a regiment merely for a month's training, and coming in a position of inferiority to the officers who served all the year round. The actual effect of the right hon. Gentleman's proposals would be to abolish the Militia and increase the Line battalions. That might be a good or a bad scheme, but he had always understood that the great use of the Militia was that they were able to go out in time of emergency as complete units. It the 1448 South African War Lord Roberts was enabled to send to the front a tremendously powerful force, and to place in the fighting line practically the whole British Army, simply because the Line battalions had been freed from garrison duty in England, to a large extent in the Mediterranean, and also on the lines of communication, by the embodiment of nearly 100 battalions of Militia which were able to go out as units. In addition to that the Line battalions in nearly every case drew largely from the Militia and the Militia Reserves. We hoped never again to be confronted with so great a national emergency, but it might happen, and then where would the regiments come from to garrison the forts at home, in the Mediterranean, and to play the part which the Militia played in the South African War? The Militia had always stood behind the Line. It might not have been a very glorious part, but it had been a most useful part, and the country would be running a grave risk if they got rid of that force, which in every national emergency had done its duty and enabled the Line to do its duty far more effectively than it could otherwise have done.
The Militia were told that they were to be transformed out of recognition because they were inefficient. He thought the Report of the Royal Commission dealt very hardly with the Militia. Nobody ever suggested that Militia battalions which had trained for only one month should, before they had been embodied for some weeks, be sent abroad to meet a foreign foe. They were a large force of willing officers and men, ready to do their best, and who, after three or four months embodiment, rapidly became thoroughly efficient. They had received very hard treatment at the hands of the War Office, their best officers had been taken away, and they had had most restricted opportunities of learning their work. Let there be a large reduction of the Militia establishment to bring it down to recruiting capabilities, let the Militia have encouragement from the War Office which it never had, let there be more training and field exercise, and, with compulsory musketry practice in addition, 1449 the force would be as useful as it had been in the past.
He had confined his criticisms to the particular proposals of the Secretary of State for War, but he did not think it was right that hon. Members should confine themselves to criticism and make no suggestions in regard to remedies. He understood that the proposals of his right hon. friend had not really received the sanction of His Majesty's Government, and that they had only been put forward for discussion. There were three things which they might do with regard to the Militia. In the first place, they might leave it as it was; secondly they might adopt the plan of his right hon. friend which involved transformation out of all recognition; and in the third place they might reduce the establishment. The Militia establishment at the present moment was a ridiculous one, and bore no relation in the different districts to the recruiting capabilities of those districts. In some places they had eight companies where it was impossible to raise more than four; whilst in some other districts the establishment was exceeded. He would suggest first of all a large reduction in the establishment of the Militia. Let the establishment he cut down to what could really be got in the way of recruits. He would suggest that they might amalgamate many of the districts, and reduce the existing number of battalions to sixty or seventy of 600 or 700 men each. The Militia should be treated less as the feeding-bottle of the Line and more as a force to be maintained on its own account. The present system of training was much too short. He did not see why every Militiaman should not be compelled to do his musketry training at the nearest range on so many days each year, so that the whole of his month's annual training could be utilised for field exercise and drill. He thought that would go a long way towards improving the efficiency of the Militia. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean that the Militia should be enlisted for foreign as well as for home service, and he did not think there would be any difficulty at all about it. If some such proposals as he had suggested were carried out, be believed that they had in the Militia the making 1450 of a smaller but a thoroughly efficient body. He thought they were all agreed that any vote which they might give that evening did not imply that they gave their sanction to the scheme. Before any of these changes were made in the Militia he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider the whole of this question and consult the Militia officers generally; and he was sure that they would be only too glad to co-operate with the right hon. Gentleman in any scheme which, although it might involve the reduction of their numbers, meant increasing the efficiency of the force. He firmly believed that anything which tended towards the abolition of the Militia would meet with great opposition in the country.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
said that whilst exception had been taken to almost every suggestion contained in these proposals there had been a feeling that the intention of the Secretary for War was so obviously sincere in desiring to do something for the good of the Army that his proposals had been treated with greater moderation and leniency than if they had emanated from some other person sitting on the Treasury Bench. The hon. Member for Manchester had suggested that the Committee should place upon record its formal approval of the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman. These proposals carried them back to the suggestions made by the Secretary of State for India three years ago. His scheme suggested the introduction of garrison battalions, but the Secretary for War now proposed to do away with them. The Secretary for India mapped out six Army Corps, but the Secretary for War now proposed to do away with the Army Corps districts and to substitute administrative districts. The Secretary for India created 35,000 Imperial Yeomanry, whilst the Secretary for War had largely reduced that number. If the Committee contrasted the proposals made by the Secretary for India and those now put forward by the Secretary for War they would find that they were diametrically opposed to each other and it was impossible to reconcile one with the other. Unless he had an assurance that the passing of this Vote would not be construed into 1451 approval of the proposals of the Secretary for War, he should move the reduction of which he had given notice. The Secretary of State for War told them that none of his colleagues desired these changes to be made. That meant that the Army Council, either in its entirety or by a majority, were against the proposals. The right hon. Gentleman had not been able to cite one single military colleague as acquiescing or giving his authority to the scheme he laid before the House. That was an important point which ought not to be overlooked. He hoped the Secretary for War would give them some information upon this point, to which he attached considerable importance. The Secretary for India told them three years ago that his proposal for a general three years enlistment was "a leap in the dark." He wished to know if the proposal for a nine years enlistment for general service in the Army was any the less" a leap in the dark." What assurance had they got that the results so far as recruiting was concerned would be any the less strange than had resulted from the proposals which they discussed some time ago? He did not wish to labour the point with reference to what had been called "plague spots" in the Army. That was an expression which might very well have been used from the Opposition side of the House, but it was very extraordinary that at the end of the tenure of office by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India the Secretary for War should refer to the condition of the Army in such a pessimistic way.
The right hon. Gentleman had told the Committee that the two mentors upon which he had framed his indictment were the South African War and the Report of the Commission. He wished to remind the Committee that it was not the system of the Army that existed previous to 1899 which broke down in South Africa, but our failure was due to the fact that the Government had deliberately made no preparations previous to the war. They might have been perfectly right from a political point of view, but from a military point of view it was certain that they were absolutely wrong, and we had to pay the penalty for neglecting a precaution which he did not think any other nation would have ventured to indulge 1452 in. The Report of the Commission showed, in the first place, that many departments of the Army were served excellently and had exhibited great powers of organisation and development. In the second place the Report showed that the numbers produced by the old system were unexpectedly large; and thirdly that the training was deplorably deficient. In every proposal for the reorganisation of the Army it was essential to remember two things. One was the provision of the necessary numbers, and the other the training of the soldiers. Ever since The right hon. Gentleman's proposals had been before the country he himself had made it his business to ask the opinion and advice of every section of the Army, soldier, officer, non-commissioned officer, Volunteer and 'Militiaman on the proposals of the Secretary of State, and he found a universal agreement that if the Army were left alone to choose, they would almost universally go back to the seven and five years which obtained previous to 1902. He did not know whether the Committee were familiar with the result of that system. In the year ending. April, 1899, the seven and five years, system produced 40,207 recruits, of whom 11 per cent. deserted during the first year. In the year ending April, 1903, which was the first year of the new system, there were 40,339 recruits, of whom 12 per cent. deserted. During the year ending April, 1904, which was the last year of the new system, there were 42,216 recruits and the percentage of desertions was unobtainable. Therefore the old system with lower pay and with worse food and clothing produced within a fraction the same results as the shorter system which was more costly.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Mr. BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
But 30 per cent. were "specials" under the old system.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
said the right hon. Gentleman was not distinguished for rejecting "specials" when they suited his purpose. He would re-remind the Committee that the physical standard was lowered to meet the exigencies of the war, and it had not yet been restored to the old standard. Under the old system the actual number of men 1453 serving with the colours was very significant. On the 1st of October, 1899, there were with the colours 59,000 men, of whom 16,000 had done over five years service,28,000 had done over two years service, and 15,000 under two years service. Of these 25,000 could, if the organisation had been better, have been shipped off to South Africa within a day or two of the declaration of war. All that was wanted was better organisation and mobilisation, but the right hon. Gentleman was now interfering with the supply of the men which had proved adequate to our needs.
What would the new proposals produce? The estimate was twenty-six battalions with an average of 800 per battalion, and ten Guards battalions with 800 men each, producing a total of 28,800 men. Not a single man of that total could be moved unless the Reserves were mobilised. The right hon. Gentleman had made much of the fact that this was to be a striking force, but it was no such thing. The thirty-eight home-service battalions would produce at 500 men each 19,000, and that would give a total of only 47,800 men with the colours on the outbreak of the war. The moral of all these figures was that they got not only less in numbers but also a much lower quality of men with the colours than they had before. With regard to the Reserves the old system on the 1st October, 1899, produced 51,000 infantry, and 6,500 cavalry with an average of something like eight years service. He had left out of this calculation the Guards. These Reserves were of the finest quality, and every general who commanded them spoke in their praise, and they were rightly regarded as the backbone of the service. If they added to those 51,000 Reservists 11,000 Militia Reserves then they got a total of 62,000 men under the old system. The Secretary for War had put, the total number of men going from the general-service Army to the Reserve at 23,000, but in the Memorandum issued the other day that number had been corrected to 20,300. They got on an average something like 11,000 recruits yearly, and if every single man passed into the Reserve they would only get 33,000 at the end of that time. On 17th December, 1902, in answer to a Question, the Secretary for India told them that in regard to the men who came into the 1454 Army and subsequently went into the Reserve there was a wastage of something like 60 per cent. Taking 33,000 as the possible number of Reserves, at 60 per cent. wastage the number would be brought down to 13,200 as going to the Reserves. The home-service Army of the right hon. Gentleman was to be entirely served, so far as non-commissioned officers were concerned, by men from the long-service Army, and he calculated that he wanted 2,000 a year, or a total of 6,000 for the three years. Therefore that 13,200 had now been brought down to about 7,000. The right hon. Gentleman suggested for the home-service Reserves thirty-eight battalions at 500 men each, giving a 100 each for long service, and sending 200 yearly to the Reserve. That gave a total of 45,600 for the six years, and if they deducted 10 per cent for wastage the total was brought down to 41,000. The net result was that under the old system we got 59,000 men with the colours on the outbreak of war, and 62,000 Reserves, whereas under the new system we only got 47,000 men with the colours and 47,600 Reserves. All they were going to gain by the new system was an infinitesimal reduction in the expense, which upon the most favourable estimate would not amount to more than £1,000,000, and for this they were going to sacrifice this great reserve strength.
The Secretary for War had stated that the constant calling up of the Reserves interfered with civil employment. Let them consider how many times in the course of the last generation the Reserve had been called up. They were instituted in 1870, and they were called up for the first time in 1882, and then only 10,000 were called up. They were called up for the second time in 1885 and then only to the extent of 2,000. The last occasion was in 1899, when practically the whole of the Reserves were called up. Therefore it was suggested that they were going to create a very expensive and so-called striking force because it was alleged that the calling up of the Reserve had frequently interfered with civil employment. What was to be the number of the striking force? It was fixed at 15,000 or 16,000 men, but he thought the Committee would be surprised to learn that 1455 only four times for thirty-five years had an expeditionary force of over 3,000 quitted these shores. On each of those four occasions it was enormously over the 15,000 men set down by the right hon. Gentleman. What was the moral of that? Surely it was that for a serious expedition a force of 15,000 was too few, and for a punitive expedition too large. What we ought to have was a comparatively small striking force, and behind them there should stand as at the present moment a small special Reserve to come up on occasions of this sort. If that were done we would get rid of the proposed make-believe expeditionary force which could not leave these shores without mobilising the Reserves. A careful and unbiassed examination of the figures of the right hon. Gentleman would show that most of them would not hold water. He begged the right hon. Gentleman before the debate closed to tell the Committee seriously what was the opinion of the Army Council on the subject, whether he could quote any military authority of experience and importance in support of his proposal, and whether it was not the case, that with the best intentions in the world, he was imposing on this Committee and the country proposals which had received no sanction from any military authority whatever.
§ *COLONEL SANDYS (Lancashire, Bootle)
said he desired to compliment the Secretary of State for War on the great care he had bestowed upon the proposals he had laid before the House. He for one should have been most happy to have supported those proposals in their entirety had it been possible for him to do so, but there were some points he was unable to endorse. He would endeavour in the remarks he had to make to point out the proposals in the scheme which seemed to him not to meet our military necessities. From the speeches which had been made it seemed to be considered that the proposals in regard to the Militia were the weakest in the scheme. Speaking as a Militia commanding officer and also as a former Line officer with many years experience, he thought the remarks made by previous speakers on the Militia were perfectly correct, and he thoroughly endorsed them. He would remind the Committee that the Militia 1456 was the old constitutional force of this country, that it dated from the time of King Alfred, and that there was a Militia force in existence before there was any Regular Army at all. Under the present scheme, as he understood it, the idea was to forget this and practically to turn the Militia into a force which would be an entirely different kind of force, to put it in a new guise, in which its old county constitution was to assume an entirely new phase. He admitted that the Militia at the present time was not altogether satisfactory, but he left it to the Committee to judge whether by changing the character of the force they were likely to induce men to engage in it under entirely new conditions of organisation. Military reformers at the present time did not seem to carry their minds back beyond the SouthAfrican War. The services of the Militia in that war were on a par with those which they rendered in previous notable campaigns. A large number of the Duke of Wellington's forces at the battle of Waterloo were composed of the Militia. Great caution should be observed in changing the character of a force which had such ancient and honourable traditions, and which had rendered such great services. But while retaining its present form, it should be possible to strengthen the Militia and to develop its usefulness as the second or supporting force of our Regular Army. He had never considered that one month's training was sufficient to enable the force to perform thoroughly the duties it might be called upon to perform, but at the same time he was bound to say that if seven months training were substituted for this that it would seriously reduce the number of men in the force. The services of the Militia were well known in the country, and in passing from the subject he would only say that no encomium from him was required in that respect, but he wished that the Militia was more appreciated and better treated by the War Office than it had been in the past.
There was one remark of the Secretary of State for War to which he wished to refer. The right hon. Gentleman said that whatever system was followed there must be some uncertainty as to the ultimate course to be taken in regard to changes in the Army. That was a phrase which, he thought, the Committee might 1457 consider with advantage. It was suggested that we should take an entirely new departure, that we should to a certain extent blot out the broad lines of demarcation between our Military Forces accepted in the past, and take a leap in the dark in regard to the organisation of the future. They ought, if possible, to look for experience to the military past of the Army in order to obtain success in organisation in the future. The counsel which he would offer for the consideration of the Committee might be held to be retrograde, but it ought, nevertheless, to be seriously considered. It was that, having tried a particular course for the last thirty years of short service and Reserves, and that course having entirely failed to meet our military requirements, we should go back to the parting of the ways, where the initial mistake was made, and endeavour to some extent to recreate our Army organisation on the basis on which it was constituted when its military history was the most glorious in the annals of the country. The point in connection with that suggestion was this. Our great difficulty then, as now, was, that we could not get sufficient recruits. It had always been a difficulty in our Army. But in order to get recruits we must adopt a system of service satisfactory to the recruit-giving class, and what we had now to look into was the reason why that class no longer supplied the men we wanted for the Army. He did not mean to say that in the days of long service the recruiting was what it should have been. A Commission sat in 1866 and reported that the system of recruiting was at that time a hand-to-mouth one. We were still in that hand-to-mouth position now, and short service had done nothing to mend it, but in the old days we had men with our battalions, while in these days we had only boys, and when war broke out we had to leave a large percentage of them at home, because they were unfit for service. One reason why we suffered so much from the want of proper men was that the confidence of the recruit-giving class in Army administration had been entirely destroyed by the incessant change of the conditions of service, and when they had grown to know their work they were sent adrift into the Reserves to forget it all. The course he suggests to the right hon. Gentleman 1458 was that we should go back to a measure of long service—that a man should be enlisted for at least five years, and that at the end of two years the men who were not likely to make good soldiers should be dismissed from the service. After that the men should be allowed to enlist for a longer period, say ten years, and after that, 50 per cent. of men physically fit and with good characters should be allowed to serve on for pension after 21 years. Short service had been shown not to meet our military needs. The right hon. Gentleman had proposed that the Army should consist of two branches—along-service Army, and a short-service Army. He took entire exception to that proposal. There was no necessity for these two branches if the Army was constituted on a proper system, and the proper system was that the linked-battalion system should be entirely swept away, and the system of single battalion regiments with real depots be adopted instead of it. He was sorry to notice that the right hon. Gentleman in his scheme did not propose entirely to do away with the linked-battalion system, but to retain the cadres for purposes of exchange of officers, and this seemed to be unnecessary and confusing. But in any change now made let our battalions be strong and able to take the field, and let each battalion or unit have its depot at home from which recruits could come as in the past. We did not want large Reserves, but we did want strong battalions filled with well-trained men for our Regular Army, and in reserve a good second force to support them. That Force should be the Militia Force strengthened and improved by all the means at our disposal.
§ MR. GUEST (Plymouth)
said he desired to dissociate himself from any formal approval of the scheme of the Secretary of State for War as put before them to-night and on previous occasions. Having listened to this and previous debates in this House he was inclined to think that the Secretary of State would have to use his persuasive and whatever didactic powers he might possess on his own side before appealing to hon. Members on the Opposition side to support his scheme. On the general problems of the Army he found himself in general agreement with the Secretary of State. In listening to the 1459 Secretary of State he felt that they were emerging from the dark ages of militarism and that they had the advantage of assisting at the renaissance of common sense in Army Questions. It would not be sufficient for the right hon. Gentleman to effect an improvement as compared with those dark ages. The standard by which his success or failure would be judged would be that of the classical period which preceded those dark ages, and therefore he thought the right hon. Gentleman would be well advised if he looked back to the time which he would call the Cardwell era not only for comparison, but also for a system on which he might find a sure foundation for his reform. What were the objects which the Secretary of State had in view. They were, to his mind, efficiency, economy, a small Army at home, and a system under which Reservists did not enter civil occupation, feeling themselves liable to be called upon on slight provocation to leave that occupation and rejoin their regiments. Although the scheme provided for improvements under these heads, there was also a great deal to be said as to where the scheme failed, and that it could not be regarded as an ideal reform. Whatever efficiency might be attained under the scheme, the battalions abroad as compared with the battalions existing to-day would be smaller than they were. There was a reduction in the numerical strength. Another respect in which the scheme seemed to fail was in the Reserve of the general-service Army. The Reserve was extremely small, and without being a military expert, he should say inadequate. An objection to the home-service Army, so far as efficiency was concerned, was that the battalions the right hon. Gentleman sought to create could not possess the number of companies which all military authorities considered necessary to the efficient training of battalions.
What about the question of economy? All previous speakers in that debate had lamented that while making such great changes the Secretary of State for War had only been able to effect a very small economy. There was reason to suppose that the economy which was shown in the Paper circulated by him was more apparent than real, and its principal effect was to prevent the natural growth of expenditure under the system we were 1460 now suffering from very nearly to the extent to which he claimed to reduce the cost of the Army. The economy that he held out to them, small as it was, was dependent on his ability to reduce the eleven battalions, he supposed, from South Africa. What he wished to know was whether the Secretary of State for War would be able to effect that reduction, and when would he be able to do it. He might hope to be able to reduce them, but he had not indicated to the House how and in what respect he would be able to withdraw them, nor had that step received the approval of the House. With regard to the small home Army, he quite admitted that, so far as the general-service Army was concerned, there was a considerable reduction of the troops to be kept in this country, but the balance was very much against reducing the Army at home, because the Secretary of State was adding to it thirty-three short-service battalions. As to the Reserve, there were to be only 179 to each battalion. That was not a very large allowance, and he felt perfectly certain that when the day of trial came the Reserve would be really in no better position than at present. The mere fact of the reduction of the unit to a figure below the mobilised strength exposed the Reserve to a greater demand than if the units were kept up to strength.
The problem, however, resolved itself into a question of recruiting. What reason was there to anticipate that the recruits necessary for the scheme would be obtained? He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would explain in his reply why he was sanguine of obtaining the necessary recruits. He would require 33,000 or 34,000 recruits every year, and very much better recruits than were now being obtained. Nearly half of them were to be over nineteen years of age, and 57 per cent. over eighteen years, and the right hon. Gentleman knew very well that in past years many recruits under eighteen had been taken. When two alternatives were offered to recruits, the one to sign on for nine years and the other to sign on for two years with the possibility of extending, it was very likely that the number who would from the beginning enlist for the longer period would be very much less than the Secretary of State expected. The whole 1461 scheme, great as might be its advantages, had given the impression in the House and the country of being stillborn. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean that had it effected an economy of four or five millions it might have succeeded, but it was a serious disadvantage that it proposed to turn the whole Army upside down for a paltry saving of not more than a million. In view of the errors of the past six or seven years he thought they should revert to the Cardwellian system, making whatever modifications and reforms were necessary to bring it up to date. That system produced an Army within 18,000 of the number which the right hon. Gentleman proposed, at a cost of £10,000,000 less. It had produced an Army which enabled us to conquer the Soudan and to send an Army to South Africa greater than ever known in our history. They should go back to that system which had produced such results. The right hon. Gentleman had made a mistake in trying to degrade the citizen Army; he should seek to encourage and improve it. If the right hon. Gentleman were to regularise the Militia instead of territorialising it, he would obtain better results without sacrificing patriotism. With a smaller Regular Army he would have plenty of money to enable him to secure greater efficiency in the Auxiliary Forces.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said that a more varied battery of criticism had never been directed against any Minister and from so many different points than had been opened upon him that evening. He should do his best in the circumstances to reply. He ought to begin by replying to his noble friend the Member for Ealing, because some remarks that his noble friend made would have been in his judgment of great importance if they had been borne out by the facts. His noble friend who had been Secretary for India for a great many years very naturally and rightly took up the case of India awl pronounced a censure upon him which would have been just if the figures on which it was based had been quite correct. His noble friend said we were asking India to undergo a large expense on the faith of receiving a contribution in the shape of a large 1462 Reserve, and that we were now withholding from her the Reserve which we had contracted to provide for her. That was an error. The actual Reserve at the present time was 80,000. It must be remembered that the Reserve at present was naturally depleted on account of the late war. The calculated Reserve under the existing system was 121,000. The Reserve calculated under the system which he proposed was 128,000. Therefore, so far from giving India smaller value for her money, India would be furnished with greater value for her money than she had yet received. The noble Lord paid great attention to a point which he seemed to consider very effective. That was that the Army was being cut into two sections—those who would stay at home and those who would go abroad. The noble Lord went on to say that the stars, medals, and decorations would be given to those who went abroad, and withheld from those who stayed at home, and asked how, if they gave no inducements to the men who stayed at home, they hoped to get recruits for the home-service battalions. But that seemed to him to embody a double fallacy. What the noble Lord objected to was precisely the state of things which existed now. The noble Lord also said that all the brains would go abroad. But what about the Brigade of Guards? He did not think all the brainless people went into it. On the contrary, his impression was that it was rather the other way, and he thought it would be able to hold its own with any infantry in the Army. Besides, within a recent date there were six very distinguished cavalry regiments whose privilege it was to remain at home except in time of war. But really the fears of the noble Lord were somewhat fanciful. In all these respects exactly the same things would happen in the future as were happening now. Men and officers who wanted to serve abroad would serve abroad, and the men and officers who wanted to serve at home would serve at home. The picture drawn by the noble Lord of battalions enduring penal servitude in India was equally fanciful. Service in India was not so regarded in the Army. The term of service in India for nearly every man who extended now was seven or eight years. He hoped if 1463 his proposals were adopted that the term would be much less. Besides, the total number of battalions serving abroad under his system would be less than it was now.
A point of great importance had been raised by the noble Lord and others, though he was surprised they should suppose that this importance did not strike him also. Hon. Members had spoken of the question of recruiting, and had asked him whether he had ever considered whether it would be possible to raise 14,000 recruits for general service for nine years. He should like the Committee to consider the real meaning of that criticism. He had this year to find 24,000 men in drafts for India and the Colonies—12,000 men in drafts for India, and the whole of these ought to be men who were serving for seven or eight years. Were the Government proposing any extension of the demand for recruits? On the contrary, they were asking for far fewer recruits. They were asking for 14,000 directly enlisted men to go abroad. The present period of service was eight years; they were asking them to go for nine. A very large proportion of the men who were serving in India at this moment were serving nine, ten, eleven, and even twelve years. They were not asking for more, but less; they were simply opening another door for the recruit to enter in at. At present every recruit, whatever his age and qualifications might be, must engage to serve three years and three only, and at the end of two years he had the option of extending for seven or eight years, as the case might be. During his two years he only got 1s. 5d. a day; that was not the pay of the general-service soldier, but of the short-service soldier. They were diminishing the number of recruits required, and offering to any man who desired the right to extend his service, not after two years, but after six months. If they did not, under the present system of recruiting, get extensions to the full limit they required for India and the Colonies, to that extent their recruiting failed. They were giving greater attractions of pay, and they hoped they should be able to give greater attractions in employment after men had left the service. But it was an entire delusion to suppose that they were imposing any new 1464 liability on the recruits by asking them to come forward for general service. No one knew what the recruiting market would produce, but it was fair to predict that if they got ten recruits at, say a shilling rate, they would get five at a rate of 1s. 6d. The power of extension would be just as much open, and they would have added to it the opportunity to soldiers who had reached the age of nineteen, of whom there were far more than the number they required, to get their full service pay at once if they chose to go on foreign service. His noble friend, who had spoken of the quality of the battalions they would send out to India, was under a misapprehension. Could we now find 114 battalions, all a thousand strong, of trained long-service men and employ them in any part of the Empire? Certainly not. When the Army was last mobilised many thousands of men were left behind for whom there was no unit, no officers, no organisation. He had no hesitation in saving that were we able in the event of war to face that war with 114 battalions of long-service soldiers, including the Guards, and with seventy-one battalions of soldiers, all of whom would have had from one year's training and upwards, we should be in a much better military position than we were when we had tens of thousands of soldiers who were left behind on account of their physical immaturity and because there was no organisation for them.
The noble Lord made recommendations with regard to the defence of our coaling stations, and he welcomed him as an ally in what he believed to be a most desirable reform. He entirely sympathised with him, and his only regret was that the noble Lord was not successful, when he held office, in inducing the Government to take that view. He believed the noble Lord was quite right in thinking, in spite of what the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean said, that the prevailing Continental precedent might be followed with advantage in this country, and that we might relieve our troops to a very great extent from a duty which, he thought, was not congenial, and which seemed to him a duty which they could not perform with precisely the same efficiency as those who were acquainted with all the varieties of craft 1465 that were at sea, with the difference between friend and foe, and all the peculiarities of work done on the salt water.
The right hon. Baronet the Member for Walsall talked about the question of recruiting, but he thought that in what he said he was under a misapprehension. Their present difficulty was not with the recruiting; it was with the retention of the men who had entered the service. Recruiting, so far from falling off, was in excess of any recruiting which had been hitherto known. The right hon. Gentleman was, he thought, a little astray, too, in thinking that these men were not likely to respond to an inducement of 1s. 5d. a day. He was rather sorry the right hon. Gentleman said that, because he wanted it to be very widely known that that sum did not represent the pay of the private soldier, and that any soldier on an extended engagement was now entitled to receive pay amounting to 1s. 11d. a day, which, with a very small amount of efficiency in rifle shooting, would amount to 2s. a day. And when they took into consideration the other emoluments he received—the fact that he was well fed and housed, that he was doctored, and that he was provided for in many ways—he was in receipt of a total income which, he believed, compared well with that of many skilled artisans in this country.
The right hon. Gentleman made certain recommendations, which he assured him he welcomed, as to future additional economies. He proposed one with regard to the Guards, but there again he thought the right hon. Gentleman was under a misapprehension, because if he would look at the figures of recruiting for the Guards he would find that, though the number of battalions had increased, the total number of men in the Guards had decreased. Therefore a reduction of the battalions would mean a reduction so much larger than he thought the right hon. Gentleman contemplated, that probably in these circumstances he would hesitate to recommend it. He did not say that circumstances might not make it desirable to consolidate the Guards battalions, but he did not think any one would recommend a reduction in the rank and file of the Guards. He thought the right hon. Gentleman did not remember that the establishment of 1466 the Guards had been greatly reduced, and the result was that the number of men in individual battalions was very munch less than it was at the time of which he was speaking. The result of a reduction would be, not merely to diminish the number of battalions, but greatly to reduce the strength of the Brigade of Guards from what it was before the ttalions were added.
The garrison in Egypt was a political matter into which he did not feel disposed to enter. He should be very glad, from the War office point of view, to withdraw certain battalions from Egypt, and that, no doubt, would give them a reduction of expenditure. He did not agree with the suggestion that the Yeomanry might be reduced with advantage. He thought we got about as good value from the Yeomanry as from any branch of the service at the present time. It was perfectly true that the expenditure had gone up per head, and had gone up in excess of the number of men, but he was bound to say that he thought the Yeomanry of to-day was a far more efficient force than was the Yeomanry of the time of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Walsall spoke, when the cost per head was much smaller than it was now.
With regard to what the hon. Member for Oldham had said with respect to the length of foreign service, unless his anticipations were much belied, the soldier would spend less time in India than he did at the present time. The hon. Member for Oldham would see on reflection that a soldier would hardly ever spend the whole of his time in India, especially when they remembered that it would be possible, and it was their intention, to move a battalion, as a battalion, from one quarter to another.
The hon. Member for Tunbridge spoke about the force with which he had such a distinguished and honourable connection—the Militia. He hoped he had made it clear that it was his desire and hope to enable the Militia to continue to give the valuable service that it had hitherto rendered, and even more valuable service. The hon. Member's battalion was an example of what might be done by the application of the principle of concentration coupled with 1467 efficiency, because, if he remembered rightly, the battalion of which the hon. Member was an officer, was an example of two battalions which were unable to support an independent existence, but which by concentration had obtained greater efficiency. Therefore, he regarded the hon. Member and his battalion as allies rather than as opponents in this matter.
An hon. Member seemed to associate him with the opinion that the Volunteers were a negligible factor, and not one to be regarded with sympathy by the War Office. He certainly thought that he had committed himself as deeply as any one in his position could do to the opinion that the Volunteer force contained within it the most valuable military material that we possessed. He adhered to his opinion that there was a large amount of redundant material in the Volunteers, but side by side with that material there was some of the finest military material that we possessed. When it was borne in mind that it was part of his proposal to give larger funds to those Volunteers whom they desired to maintain he did not think there was much to complain of. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the forest of Dean had referred to the Swiss Militia. He knew it was an excellent force, but he was reluctant to assume that there was any analogy between the Swiss Militia and our Militia. The Swiss Militia was the conscript and only force of probably one of the best educated nations in Europe. It was charged with the defence of a country whose geographical circumstances were unique in Europe. He would, however, point out that never since the battle of Sempach had Switzerland, despite its geographical features, ever been held against an invading army—invading army had passed through Switzerland like a hot knife through butter. Although he was the first to recognise the excellence of the Swiss Militia, if any one told him that our Militia battalions as they were now, or as they were likely to be forecast they could reasonably make, were the analogue of the Swiss Militia, then he must respectfully contradict him. Moreover, he ventured to believe that there was not a single member of the Swiss War Office—and they were very capable officiers—who would 1468 pretend that he could take the Swiss Militia, organised as it was, and put it into the field against a foreign army out of its own country; still less that he would send it to fight battles in a country across the sea. That was our problem—it was not the Swiss problem: whether with a conscript army or a volunteer army, efficiency could only be obtained by thorough training. Those who had read the interesting story of the 93rd Highlanders by the late Sir John Ewart in his "Story of a Soldier's Life," would recognise to what a state of efficiency a battalion could be brought, organised, and led by its own officers, and would understand that it was a work of months or years. We deceived ourselves if we thought we could fight the manhood of a great nation with anything less than the manhood and education of our own. Therefore, he was sceptical when he heard it suggested that we could rely on men selected as our Militia were and trained for a month.
The right hon. Gentleman the member for Fife disclaimed all responsibility for what might be done by the War Office, and he was not surprised. Since he had had anything to do with the administration of the Army he had not found it easy to get anyone to take responsibility. He felt himself that this responsibility must be assumed by some one. The days in which we lived were critical days, and from his own knowledge he believed—he did not know if he had succeeded in imparting that belief to others—that this was the time when we must be doing something. He had put before the House over and over again what he thought to be the evils the Army was suffering from, and he did not believe there was a dissentient voice; there was practical agreement among officers and civilians. He had put before them the broad lines of his policy, a policy he had been able to collate from the wisdom of those who could give him the best advice on Army matters for remedying the evils, and they had agreed that the character of the Army must be altered, that expenditure must be reduced, that it must be an Army practically for service abroad, that the numbers at home must be diminished, that the quality of the troops on which we were to rely must be improved; and up to that point he might say there had 1469 been universal agreement. Then he in his position had to go a step further and to try to give practical effect to this unanimity of opinion. He had made the suggestions of which the Committee were well aware, and criticisms had been passed upon them; but he desired to call attention to the fact that, apart from small matters such as had been recommended by the right hon. Baronet, there had not been a single substantive suggestion during the whole course of the two days debate; not one single suggestion made of a scheme by which those radical defects he had described could be remedied. Therefore, though he did not desire to press upon hon. Members a greater responsibility than they wished to bear, he did, at any rate, ask that they would give to one who had the responsibility to bear the opportunity of trying to give effect—not to his own opinions, for they were unimportant—but to what he believed to be the opinion of those who had studied the problem of the defence of this country and which he had tried to carry out by the suggestions he had made.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said that even after the explanation which had been given by the right hon. Gentleman, many of them on the Opposition side of the House did not believe that the Secretary for War would be able to get the number of recruits he required. That, of course, was a very important point as affecting the success of this scheme, because if the necessary number of recruits was not obtained they would not be able to undo the damage done to the Army by the various schemes of the last five or six years. Many of them believed that the war destroyed and absorbed the Reserve which existed for the time being. The scheme which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India introduced began to reinstate tint Reserve, but in doing so the efficiency of the Regular Army was destroyed. Now they had a scheme put forward which might set the Regular Army right, but which would certainly destroy the present system of Reserves. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be satisfied with what he had got, without starting these thirty-three new battalions. When a great scheme of this kind was brought in it was most important that there should be a 1470 large reduction of expenditure. Instead of thirty-three new battalions he should suggest that ten would be ample. Certainly there ought to be a larger reduction in the expenditure than £1,000,000. He believed that the Militia would be destroyed by this scheme, but he was not going to press that point now. The right hon. Gentleman said he did not wish to maintain any troops which were not efficient. What about the artillery? The artillery were armed at present with a weapon that fired one shot as compared with eight fired by the guns of other European nations. It was all very well to say that next year something would be done, for they had been told the same thing for the last ten years, and they still remained in the same unsatisfactory position. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had pointed out that the artillery was now and would be next year armed in a distinctly inferior manner to all the civilised troops in the world, and they could not be put in the field against European troops without quick-firing guns. The Reserves had always been looked upon as their second line of defence when the first line was sent abroad, but apparently these new battalions would be sent to India, and there would be no second line to take their place. He thought this scheme was a tentative one which had been brought forward at a very bad time. The Army wanted to feel certain that there would be no further meddling with them, and they did not like this chopping and changing about. That was what they had suffered from during the last few years. He sincerely hoped that this scheme would be further curtailed, and that a larger economy would be carried out.
And, it being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
Resolution to be reported upon Wednesday; Committee to sit again to-morrow.