§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment [22nd February] to Main Question [14th February], "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:—
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign,
§ "We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the 1113 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(Mr. Mount).
Which Amendment was—
At the end of the Question to add the words, But humbly to represent to Your Majesty that the continuous and continuing changes in the War Office are destructive of the best interests of Your Majesty's Army, have gravely disordered the system upon which the Regular Forces at home and abroad are raised and trained, have discouraged the Militia and Volunteers, and disclose negligence and mismanagement on the part of Your Majesty's Ministers, more particularly as to the armament of the artillery, whereby, in spite of the increased cost of the Army, its efficiency for the defence of the Empire has been diminished.' "—(Captain Norton.)
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
COLONEL WELBY (Taunton)
said the hon. Member who moved the Amendment to the Address under discussion challenged the position of the Service Members on the Government side of the House, saying that were it not for Party ties they would vote for it. For himself he could only say that in no circumstances would he vote for it, because it would put him into the same illogical position as that in which it placed the hon. Member himself, and because it would defeat its own main object. The hon. Member gave them in the course of his speech a very interesting retrospect of Army changes under the present Government, but during all the time, thus covered he believed the hon. Gentleman had always been on the side of change. If he objected to the changes in progress, why did "he not set his objection forth in the Amendment; if he objected to "continuous and continuing" changes why had he, during the last ten years, constantly supported those changes, or at any rate the majority of them? The Amendment, as he had said, would defeat its own object. If it were carried it meant a vote of want of confidence in the Government, and then if a new Administration came in what policy was to be pursued? Unless they remained stationary they 1114 would either go back or go forward, either of which would be change. The Amendment was not one which Service Members could support. The hon. Member had said that the changes in the last ten years had been made in the interests of Party politics. He was sorry that he should try to make the Army so much a Party question. There was no question on which the Government had won less credit or saved themselves less criticism than that connected with the Army, and it was unreasonable to suggest that the changes were introduced for Party effect. He would very gladly see a continuous policy adopted, not only with regard to the Volunteers but with regard to the whole of our Army, and what he would particularly like to see at the present would be that the leaders of both sides should meet at a round table conference and work out a policy which they believed to be best for the country, working out the principles and leaving the details to be settled elsewhere, but pledging themselves to defend those principles so as to secure a thoroughly efficient service. He was, however, afraid that the day was far distant when they would see the Army treated as he was thankful to say the Navy was treated at the present time in being looked upon as a national question, the object aimed at being the general good of the nation. He had never feared to oppose, and even vote against, the policy put forward by the Government, but he could say with all confidence and pride that he had never criticised not opposed any change except where he saw a better plan, and as he was not in a position to produce a better plan than the scheme now pat forward by the Secretary for War, he was prepared to give it a hearty and thorough support. His only fear was that in view of the conditions of our military service it might be found almost impossible to carry the scheme out practically. He thought, therefore, he might fairly ask whether the right hon. Gentleman could put before the House any information showing that the great changes which he advocated were likely to be practicable and feasible. Was the scheme worked out by him in consultation with his military advisers; were a majority, of 1115 the members of the Army Council wholeheartedly in favour of it, and could he give more details? Had the striking force been thoroughly and satisfactorily organised; was it ready to be moved anywhere at a moment's notice, or were there young untrained men and horses in it?
Then, again, with regard to the short-service Army, he would ask what the tendency of recruiting had been lately. He had always believed that it was well to see how much cloth was available before a coat was designed, and it must not be forgotten that whatever schemes of organisation were put forward the question always returned to recruiting. Recruiting was the root difficulty of the Army question. The conditions of modern life tended to make recruiting more expensive, and they would never get a satisfactory Army until the people of this country realised that they must pay heavily—either by their pockets or by personal service—for the defence of this country and for the maintenance of the Empire. Speeches had recently been delivered advocating a reduction of as much as £6,000,000 on the Army, but no clue had been given of how it was to be done and the Army kept efficient. The fact was that unknowingly those who delivered the speeches must be in favour of compulsory service. The Government had done their best to deal with the questions of pay, food, liberty, and comfort in barracks, but that was not enough to solve the recruiting difficulty. If the pay of recruits were doubled, even if it were increased to 5s. per day, he doubted whether the Government would be certain of getting men in the numbers and of the quality they required. Yet any such measure would add enormously to our expenditure on the Army. He had always been in favour of economy, but he did not see how it was proposed to maintain the efficiency of the Army and at the same time to avoid the expenditure which it would involve.
Referring to criticisms on the action of the War Office with regard to the Volunteers, he said that hon. Members who were in favour of a great number of Volunteers, Militia, and Yeomanry, regardless of efficiency, were really doing more than anybody else to bring into people's minds 1116 the idea that compulsory service was the only solution of our difficulties. He believed that if we had a force of, say, 100,000 auxiliaries trained, organised, and equipped, on an equality with Continental soldiers, ready to repel invasion, no word would be heard of compulsory service. He viewed with the gravest anxiety the future of our military defence. When he saw the enormous number of highly-trained troops which Japan and Russia had put into the field, and realised how quickly the Russians could move down on the North-West Frontier, he thought the country ought to take the lesson which they were receiving to heart. It was of no use talking about economy when their Empire was at stake. Let everybody realise that we must do one of two things—either pay or serve. He hoped some national policy would be worked out for the Army on main principles on which both sides of the House could unite.
§ SIR A. HAYTER (Walsall)
said the House and the country generally must be very much indebted to the hon. and gallant Member for Newington for having initiated a very interesting debate, and the Secretary for War would surely welcome that opportunity to allay some of the anxiety which undoubtedly prevailed in every section of the community as to the condition of the Army at large. He had the duty of bringing before the House a subject which not only a Royal Commission, but the Secretary of State also, had declared to be vital to the organisation of the Army, and that was the scarcity of junior officers. He would only trouble the House with the condition of two branches of the service which were most popular and therefore most likely to be full; he meant the cavalry and the Guards. At the present moment there were no less than forty-four vacancies in the cavalry. That number made up pretty nearly the strength of two entire regiments in time of peace. That this scarcity was increasing was shown by the fact that in 1903 there were only twenty-three vacancies. A cavalry officer could not be taught in a day. He must be under drill and discipline pretty well eight months before he was fit to take his place in the ranks, and he hoped the 1117 right hon. Gentleman would have something reassuring to say as to the steps he was taking towards obtaining a proper supply of officers. As to the shortage in the Guards, in the Grenadier Guards there were fourteen vacancies, in the Coldstream Guards seven, in the Scots Guards fifteen, and in the Irish Guards four, or forty in the brigade. In 1903 the Grenadier Guards had over its full strength, the Coldstreams and the Irish Guards were full, and there were only five vacancies in the Scots Guards. He had also looked through a number of Line regiments and found a shortage in them also. Was there any better look-out in the Auxiliary Forces? In an article in The Times of February 21st it was shown that there was a deficiency of 951 combatant officers in the Militia and of 2,768 in the Volunteers. Thus, taking the Cavalry, Foot-Guards, Militia, and Volunteers together, there were 3,803 vacancies. Of course, he had his ideas as to the causes of this. A great deal was due to changes of plans and the uncertainty as to appointments and promotions, and there was no doubt that the duties in South Africa were very unpopular, while the threats to the Volunteers and Militia had had their effect. Then there was a great change in the daily duties of officers which had made them more harassing. Whatever the cause was it was a matter that should be probed to the bottom.
As to the changes of plan of the right hon. Gentleman, he was perfectly at sea as to which had been carried out. Had the extra battalions created during the war in such regiments as the Northumberland Fusiliers been disestablished? He understood that large depôts were to be created in place of the linked battalions, but he had not seen anything of the change. Then, again, he did not know whether the disestablishment of the Militia was to be carried out. The right hon. Gentleman ought to tell then what plans he intended to carry out. Too much work was now thrown upon the Adjutant-General's Department and there was some ground for the complaint in connection with the Militia that officers in these regiments were never appointed to adjutancies, all those appointments being given to officers of the Regular Army. Surely it 1118 was a legitimate ambition of the young officers in a regiment to attain to the adjutancy. Yet that was refused them. It would have been better if the Auxiliary Forces and the recruiting were retained under separate direction. As regarded the rifle controversy, he was deeply interested in it, as two of the experts who had reported belonged to the regiment which he himself had commanded for nine years. The hon. Member for St. Helens, in his interesting speech, missed the principal point of the matter. The hon. Gentleman omitted to add that the experts unanimously reported that the rifle was badly balanced, because there was too much weight at the muzzle end. There was a "nose-cap," as it was called, of heavy metal, and also a wooden covering which threw the balance forward, while much wood had been taken out of the stock. Then the recoil was heavier; and that would make the recruit shy in firing, and make it more difficult to instruct him. The lengthening of the bayonet, as suggested by the hon. Member for St. Helens, would make the balance worse still. Another objection which had been brought to his notice by an officer instructed at Hythe, and who was now on full pay, was that the rifles were to have three different lengths of butt. In the case of a night surprise the rifles might get mixed, and a tall man might find himself with a short rifle or vice versa. There was a charger system of loading without a cut-off, so that, unless the catch were put up, the rifle, when charged, might shoot the man carrying it, because it had to be carried at full cock. The oil can and pull through were in a case attached to the waist belt, and not in the gun stock, and so might be lost. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would pause before pledging himself entirely to the adoption of this rifle. It had never been tried fully. Why not use it as a carbine, and issue it to a regiment of cavalry, and then have a report on it before going to the expense of £3,000,000. The short rifle should not be tried against the old rifle, but against the old rifles with the new improvements.
COLONEL WILLIAMS (Dorsetshire, W.)
said he wished to refer to the question of the Volunteers, because he believed 1119 that their number should not be reduced without due consideration. He bore full testimony to the care and attention which the right hon. Gentleman had given to the question; but he would join issue with, him as regarded the reduction of their numbers. It was said that mobilisation facilities could not be provided for more than 200,000 men at one time; but it should be remembered that even during an invasion a certain mount of work would have to be carried out in the country and it would not be necessary to mobilise the same number at the same time. The men might be able to change places, and serve for a week at a time if necessary. That was one of the lessons that was learned from the Boer War. Many of the Boers fought in the trenches, and then went back to work. He did not approve of the reduction of the Volunteers; and he believed that the right hon. Gentleman would easily obtain what he desired if he would make the grants conditional on the number of attendances in camp. He attached very great importance to attendances at camp; and he thought if the right hon. Gentleman would permit, two periods of four days each a great many more men would pass through camp. And in the case of town corps, where the week's camp was a difficulty some such system might be applied as was now in force in regard to public schools—four days camp on condition there were also at least three field days during the year. If some such alteration, were made it was possible that the old system of four day camps at Easter and Whitsun might be revived, which would be a great advantage. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would pause before he reduced the numbers of the Volunteers. He knew it was stated that the reduction of the numbers was the only way in which the increased grant could be afforded; but he thought the country would not grudge the expense. The scheme for the reduction of the Volunteers should not be hastily entered on. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would avoid every possible reduction in order that the country might preserve its natural reserve.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE (Bristol, E.)
said that although the Amendment was general in its character, the debate had dealt almost exclusively with details—important in themselves, but still details—and he desired to bring the House back to the spirit of the Amendment, which, was a direct and deliberate attack upon the constant changes and chances in the administration of the War Office under the present régime. That régime had been defended in the debate by only three hon. Members, all of whom, extraordinary to relate, voted three years ago for a scheme the direct opposite of the system they were now supporting. It had already been pointed out with conclusive effect that whatever might be said for a policy of delay in re-arming the Army with the new gun, the artillery with which the Army was at present—be would not say armed—provided was in the face of any European force absolutely ineffective and obsolete; while every speech which had been made with regard to the new rifle showed that there was great reason for hesitating before the order therefore was finally given. If the offensive guns were obsolete and the defensive rifles doubtful, the Regular Forces were clearly not in a condition equal to that of any Continental force whatever. Therefore, as a member of the regular Opposition, not only was he justified, but it was his duty to call the attention of the House and the country to the extraordinary variation in the proposals which from time to time had been put forward. In 1902, extreme short service was proposed; the Secretary of State now proposed extreme long service. The scheme of the present Secretary of State for India proposed an enormous increase of the Reserve; the present Secretary of State as cutting the Reserve down to nothing, or at any rate reducing it considerably. The present scheme added enormously to the pay, cost of food, and cost of barracks, while, under the regulations of the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, the discipline of the Army was considerably relaxed. Officers in the Army viewed this continual chopping and changing with the greatest alarm and distrust. They had drunk the cup of despair to its very dregs, and the deficiency in the numbers of the Army 1121 ought to be a warning not to continue in the path now pursued.
The House of Commons had two duties with regard to military matters: one to the nation, concerning the state of Army finance, and the other to the Army itself, in the preservation of a continuity of policy with regard to the practical particulars of the service, discipline, pay, and numbers. That not unreasonable proposition had been honoured far more in the breach than in the observance during the last ten years. It was unnecessary to trace all this confusion back to the fountain head. It began with the refusal of the late Lord Salisbury's Government to make military preparations in time for the outbreak of hostilities in South Africa, but the military organisation was not to be blamed for a purely political fault, committed possibly with the best intentions. Reference had been made to the dangers of a military caste. The dangers of a military caste might be great, but far greater dangers flowed from civilians playing at being military experts. There was a tendency on the part of the present Government, not merely to direct the general policy of the Army, but to intervene—as they had intervened with fatal effect—in matters which really concerned soldiers alone. The result of this interference had been to render Army reform a war cry essential to the safety of the Government. It was essential in 1900 to bring them into power, and it had been played on since to keep them in power. By their various schemes they had eliminated from the War Office soldiers and Civil servants of merit. They were now attempting to carry out their new policy with a new staff, and the result so far had not been altogether satisfactory. The Secretary of State had, however, done good work by the appointment of the Esher Commission, the reorganisation of the work of the War Office itself, and especially by the formal constitution of the Army Council. But what was his position with regard to the Army Council? Was he working in harmony with, or in opposition to, it? If there were opposing sets of views, which were to prevail?
Let the House contrast the two schemes which had been put forward 1122 and note the divergency, conflict, and confusion thereby expressed. Three years ago many hon. Gentlemen opposite voted for the Army Corps scheme, and the then Secretary of State declared that it held the field. But what it would not hold was water, and the whole scheme broke down immediately an attempt was made to put it into practice. The very Gentlemen who supported that scheme were now upholding the proposal to organise the Army on a divisional basis. In 1902 the three years enlistment was safe, judicious, and necessary; last year it was a danger to the Empire. The scheme of 1901–2 was built up on a small army, and an enormous Reserve; the present proposals cut the Reserve down by one-third, and yet was held to be the surest and safest scheme that could be put forward. As to the Auxiliary Forces, the earlier scheme maintained the Militia and created a Reserve; the 1904 proposals abolished the Militia, and did away with its reserve. Under the scheme of 1901 the Volunteers were encouraged to recruit as many men as possible, to have maxim guns and mounted infantry companies; the new proposals swept the whole thing away—except that the pressure of public opinion had induced the right hon. Gentleman to say he would further consider his plans. The same had happened with regard to the Imperial Yeomanry; recruiting had been stopped, and the number in the ranks cut down.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. ARNOLD-FORSTER, Belfast, W.)
said the number had not been cut down, but increased to a figure it had never before attained.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
said that under the scheme of the present Secretary of State for India the establishment of the Imperial Yeomanry was 35,000, whereas the right hon. Gentleman had now fixed it at 28,000, which surely was a decrease, not an increase.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
What I said was that the number of Imperial Yeomanry had reached a figure last year which they had never reached before.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
said that the result had been achieved, not under the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, but under the scheme of his predecessor. In the past there had been no more violent critic of Conservative Secretaries of State for War than the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and his habit of criticism still remained. Therefore, the Secretary of State for War should not grumble when an humble Member like himself criticised his scheme, because in another place the Leader of the Upper Chamber spoke about his scheme as a mere collection of notes for the speech of the Secretary for War, and dismissed the question with that remark. This continual chopping and changing had reduced their military strength to a minimum; it had prevented any real improvement in the Army, had acted as a deterrent to good men coming into the Army, and an inducement to capable men leaving it. He could furnish many instances of distinguished young officers who were going out of the Army because as a career it was not good enough to stay in, the prospects of advancement being so bad. The right hon. Gentleman had divided the infantry into two classes, the home service Army and the foreign-going Army. One of the Secretary for War's objections when a private Member used to be that the Army was organised only for peace. They had a long-service infantry abroad and a short-service infantry at home, but the moment war broke out they would have to amalgamate those two armies to produce the regiments they would require. They had had examples in the past of the bad effects of such an amalgamation, and this would happen again with the short-service battalions if, unfortunately, the necessity of going to war arose. The new scheme seriously reduced the establishment of the general-service battalions in the Colonies and at home. That establishment had been the result of the experience of a great number of years and numberless campaigns, and although to make them up would make a smaller demand upon the Reserves, they would find that the establishment would have to be increased to meet war requirements as settled by long practice. [MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman 1124 shook his head but he did not believe so much in practice as in theory.
With regard to India the Secretary for War had sanctioned the reorganisation scheme of the Indian Army drawn up by Lord Kitchener, and that scheme could not have been undertaken without the consent of the Cabinet. That scheme provided for putting 150,000 men upon the frontier in case of necessity. He thought the military reforms of India were much better understood by the people conversant with military reforms than they used to be. The Indian frontier on the East had been rendered practically impregnable, but the western frontier could undoubtedly be turned by an enterprising foe. Ten years ago that frontier could be watched by a police force, but at the present moment that force had to be replaced by something like the strongest Army they possessed. To reinforce that Army, in case of necessity, by troops from this country must be provided for, and he wished to know how far the right hon. Gentleman's scheme met this necessity. The new scheme maintained in India fifty-two battalions at 1,037 men each, but how were the reserves which would be necessary for this force to be provided? They would have to be drawn either from the colours or from the reserves. The colour establishment could not provide any reasonable number of reserves for the Indian Army, and how about the Reserve itself? The right hon. Gentleman professed to be able to find 20,000 reserves for his long-service Army, but he would remind him that the real strength of the reserves provided by the long-service system was only about 7,000 or 8,000. The 20,000 men referred to were, based upon a wastage of 42 per cent., but the real wastage was 65 per cent, upon a nine years service. That fact he got from the Secretary of State for India in December, 1902. The consequence was that 13,000 men had to be deducted, which reduced the 20,000 down to about 7,000. Now would any hon. Gentleman opposite contend that 7,000 Reservists were enough to provide for the needs of India in case an emergency arose. The home service provided a large Reserve, but it provided only half the number of the present reserves. Instead of 80,000 it provided only 54,000. 1125 He would like to draw attention to the opinion expressed by the Inspector-General of the German staff, which was published in The Times of November 28th last year. He said that the two-years system was a serious disadvantage compared with the three-years system, and caused an increased mental strain upon both the officers and the non-commissioned officers and men, and led to other evils previously unknown. What a commentary that was upon the three-years system which the right hon. Gentleman had attempted to introduce, and it showed them the danger of acquiescing in that system. The late Adjutant-General had re-echoed this warning before the War Commission. Consequently any step to introduce short service or relying upon it for an efficient Reserve for the foreign going Army ought to be entered upon with the greatest caution.
The right hon. Gentleman's proposals had almost all been based on his previous theories and not on actual practice. It was because he misunderstood details that he misapplied principles, and he had committed himself to a scheme full of details which had never been properly digested by himself or those on whom he relied for advice. The right hon. Gentleman might answer, and it was a plausible answer, that other great Army reformers had experienced opposition to the reforms they had suggested. Mr. Cardwell, when he put his proposals before the House of Commons, was opposed by the old superannuated generals, but he was supported by the young generals and the whole of the Civil staff, Could the right hon. Gentleman quote any such authorities in support of his proposals? Was it not notorious that the whole staff of the War Office was opposed to his proposals, and was it not equally generally believed that a majority of his colleagues in the Cabinet were also opposed to his scheme? The right hon. Gentleman gave a pledge—the hon. Member supposed it was a pledge—to the Conservative Union at Edinburgh that if his scheme were kept in abeyance he would not remain longer in office. Was his scheme in abeyance or not? Was it alive and was it going to be presented to the House, or, as he hoped, was it going to be decently buried? Revolutions took place in South Ameri- 1126 can States but they were not found to be salutory because they became monotonous. Revolutions in the Army had become monotonous. They did not want to shoot the right hon. Gentleman as South American revolutionists shot their presidents, but they hoped he would transfer his ability to some other sphere of energy.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
said he always listened with interest and attention to the hon. Member for East Bristol. The hon. Member had to-day lifted the debate above the minor level at which it was started and maintained on the previous day. Some Members on his side of the House had been taunted with having supported the scheme of the present Secretary of State for India and with now supporting the scheme of the present Secretary of State for War. He was not open to that taunt because he opposed the scheme in speech and writing, and refused to vote for it. Therefore it was not from, the Party point of view, but on the broad aspects of the problem that he ventured to offer some observations to the House. Unlike previous speakers in the debate the hon. Member for East Bristol had looked abroad at the Empire as it was. He looked at the military danger as it presented itself to the Empire. Nearly every other speaker from the commencement of the debate had overlooked everything except the defence of this country.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB
said the whole criticism of the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight in regard to men and efficiency was concentrated upon a demand for support to the Volunteer force. As the Volunteers were not liable to serve out of this country he could not in the least see why the hon. Member should say "No, no."
said that what he stated was that the Volunteer force should be regarded as a school of arms, because, in point of fact, they did go to war oversea.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB
said he would come to that point presently. Since the introduction of the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India, a new body had been created to consider the question of the defence of the Empire as a whole—in its naval as well as its military aspects. It had declared, and necessarily declared, that the naval policy dominated the whole of our military policy. The scheme of that right hon. Gentleman contemplated the danger of invasion, though the real business of the Army was fighting oversea. That former scheme ignored that fact practically, though in words it did not. There was great talk of having an Army for fighting oversea, but when they came to the details it was the old, old story—our greatest military danger was the danger of invasion. After all the previous changes which had taken place in tinkering the Army, the broad fact remained that we had never considered what were the real requirements of the Empire, and that we had misconceived the military obligations which rested upon this nation. We were always trying to get an Army mainly to protect these islands from military invasion. Anybody listening to the debate yesterday would have supposed that the Navy did not exist. The re-arming of the artillery was a matter on which they were all agreed, but it was not germane to a debate on the Address when they knew positively that every effort was now being made to re-arm the artillery as fast as possible, so as to meet modern circumstances. Therefore, he could not see the the value of the criticism passed on that matter.
On the question of Army reorganisation he was bound to say that he could not see how any practical good which could come from the Amendment on the Address. In a few days they would enter on the consideration of the Army Estimates when they would have the facts and figures before them, and a full statement from the Secretary of State for War as to the changes which were in progress, what point the changes had reached, and what still remained to be done. He thought they might have possessed their souls in patience for that better opportunity of full discussion. He was not exactly certain how far 1128 these changes had gone, and he thought the House ought to know. He wanted to deal with the feature which was most prominent in the debate yesterday—the ignoring of the question of economy. While continual references were made to the improvement of the Volunteers, and abstract references were made to economy, the only suggestions made were such as would largely increase the expenditure on the Volunteers.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB
said an hon. Member stated that he wanted £2,000,000 more. He would not go through the speeches of hon. Gentlemen on that point, but there was a general expression of opinion that if the Secretary of State for War would only spend more money on the Volunteers he would get their support. He was sorry to hear an insinuation from the hon. Member for Plymouth, that those who did not see eye to eye with them on the question of the Volunteers were actuated by some class prejudice against the Volunteers. He did not think it worth while to discuss such ideas. He never held them and repudiated them. The hon. Member himself had talked about the blue-water school having a contempt for the Volunteers.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB
said he understood that the hon. Member had referred to the blue-water school. It was not a question of the blue-water school's opinion, but of the military security of the Empire. They had to provide for military requirements according to some principle, 1129 knowing that their funds were exhaustible, and that they must not waste their money. Now, could they rely upon the Volunteer forces for providing those reserves of men who would be available to go where they would be wanted—to go oversea and stay there.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB
Oh, the hon. and gallant Member thought they could. He did not, and he ventured to say that all experience was against that. He presumed they all agreed with the deliberate opinion of the Committee of Imperial Defence that what our military forces were required for was for fighting oversea. If so, the problem presented itself thus: taking the forces created for a totally different purpose, did these lend themselves to such adaptation as would meet the real necessities of the Imperial situation? They knew that the Regular Army was maintained for the special purpose of going anywhere where their services were required. They knew that the Militia was a service created and maintained originally for the purpose of defending these shores against military attack. They knew that the Volunteers created themselves by spontaneous action and patriotic enterprise, and they had now a large force whose patriotism was admitted, and against the individuals supporting that force not a word was to be said. But they had had a war oversea which afforded the opportunity of seeing how far these two forces could be relied on to give the men wanted for oversea service. He was not talking now of the efficiency of the men or their training, but simply of their numbers. If hon. Members consulted the Returns for 1902 they would find some visible, practical proof of the proportion of those forces they were likely to get for fighting oversea. On the outbreak of the war in South Africa the enrolled strength of the Militia was 116,582 officers and men, and of the Volunteers at the same time 231,624. Now, the number of the Regular Forces sent out to South Africa was 246,000: while the Militia of the United Kingdom furnished over 45,000, and the organised 1130 Volunteer force of the United Kingdom only sent under 20,000.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB
No, certainly not; and for this reason, that if they looked at the figures it would be seen that it was the patriotism of those men who were called yeomanry which took them individually oversea. They had no connection with the Volunteers as an organised force.
said that the hon. and gallant Member had fallen into an extraordinary error in making deductions from the figures he had quoted. What the War Office authorities called for was mounted men, and the Auxiliary Forces in this country out of an establishment of 10,000 sent—if he might use an Irishism—50,000 men to the war. If it had been dismounted men that were asked for or required, 200,000 men could have been got.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB
said he should be glad to agree if he could with the hon. and gallant Member, for it would be a solution of the whole problem. But what he was dealing with was the organised forces of the Militia and Volunteers as they appeared on the Estimates. Shortly stated, the Militia, out of an enrolled strength, gave 39 per cent., while the Volunteer force only gave 8.5 per cent.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB
said that he was not going into speculative figures as to whether the Militia and Volunteers could have done this or that. He was taking the three branches of the service—Regulars, Militia, and Volunteers—as they were trained, and as they appeared on the Estimates; and he held that the Militia gave 39 per cent., and the Volunteers only 8.5 per cent, of their enrolled strength. Of course, if he was wrong, he was wrong; but if he was wrong the Returns were wrong. The Returns showed the enrolled strength in each case, and the number which went to the war; and 1131 he was trying to make some deductions from the figures. And he did not see how his argument was to be met by being told, "Oh! If you had done something else, something else would have happened." He was dealing with the point that we could not risk our Empire by a reliance on forces not liable for service beyond the sea.
said that the hon. and gallant Gentleman's argument was wholly vitiated by the fact that all the men that were asked for were obtained; and the War Office could have obtained 30,000; more if they had been required.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB
said he still preferred the Returns and the figures in the Estimates. He confessed that he might; have misapprehended hon. Members opposite when they said that we had only to spend more money on the Volunteers and treat them properly and the whole question of discharging the obligation of oversea service for the defence of the Empire would be met, because these men must be trained and ready and willing to, go oversea and remain there. He did not think, as regarded the point of remaining oversea, that the experience of the War Office established that. Take the very cream of the Volunteer force which went to the front—the C.I.V.'s—they were brought home while the war continued.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB
At all events they were brought home. He knew he was not taking the popular side and he could not take it. It was not easy, really, to make a connected and clear speech if one was continually interrupted. He knew that if that was frequently done it was not easy to explain his position. Therefore, he could not see that if more money was spent on the Volunteers and their numbers enlarged how the power of discharging our obligation of oversea defence of the Empire was going to be discharged, or our military strength maintained. Consequently, he objected to spending more money on the Volunteer forces. No doubt the problem of the requirements of the military forces of 1132 the Empire was enormously complicated, and ought to be faced in a larger spirit than, it had been. This he would say, the problem was not to be solved by vague iterations against the changes that had taken place in the Army. Changes had been made under the influence of popular emotion, and it had to be remembered in considering this problem that neither popular feeling nor the opinion of this House would alter the military necessities of the Empire. It was the business of statesmen to look at that problem of the defence of the Empire as a whole, and until the last few months that had not been the business of statesmen. There had been no organised means of doing it. The Imperial Defence Committee had placed the obligation on Ministers to look after all these things and to decide how our military power was to be exercised oversea with success.
§ MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molton)
said that in voting for the Amendment of the hon. Member for West Newington those who sat on the Opposition side of the House did not in the least degree desire to make the Army a question of Party politics. That had been done by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who, where-ever they went in the country, had arrogated to themselves the title-role of the defenders of the Army. What the hon. Member who moved the Amendment did was to appeal for some continuity in Army politics. Nobody doubted the zeal of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State; they did not assail him, but they did and must assail the policy of the Government in regard to Army reform. During the past ten years there had been a procession of War Ministers, all of whom had advocated changes, all of which had been adopted in haste and abandoned in a hurry. As the hon. and gallant Admiral who had just sat down had said, the Government had been too responsive to public clamour. The War Office was being continually reformed, and the only tangible result was that after all these changes they had £29,000,000 on the Estimates for the year. They had preached economy until they had come to the conclusion that it was no use saying anything further about it; they were now face to face with an automatic 1133 increase in the Army Estimates, and what was the state of the Army to-day? In the words of the right hon. Gentleman himself, it was imperfectly prepared, wasteful in its methods, unsatisfactory in its results, and one of the most costly machines ever devised. The extravagance in the expenditure on the Army was sapping the greatest spring of our national strength. We did not come out of the Boer War victorious from any foresight of our own, but because we were able to last out longer than the Boers. Another point to which he would draw attention was that the Prime Minister had made himself the fond foster-mother of every struggling infant of the Secretary of State for War. The right hon. Gentleman had said the three great objects were to prepare an Army for service abroad if required, to keep a prepared Army at home if necessary, and to decentralise instead of centralising the control of the Army, and the right hon. Gentleman further said that that could best be done by the six Army Corps scheme. In order to bolster up the scheme recourse had to be had to the Imperial short-service system, in regard to which the Secretary of State for War had said that it did not appear that the Government's calculations had been sufficiently close, and that he had had to extend it. The fact of the matter was that the right hon. Gentleman had succeeded to a heritage of chaos and confusion, the result of nine years of office of the present Government.
He confessed he was somewhat sceptical as to the scheme of the present Secretary of State. One would have thought the Government would have accumulated all the experience possible from men who had served in the late war and applied it to the re-organisation of the Army. Nothing of the kind First of all there came the six Army Corps scheme, and then the Esher Committee, in regard to which there was one point which struck everyone alike, which was that no member of that Committee had had any experience in the South African War, and if anything ought to have been brought to bear upon the re-organisation of the Army surely it should have been the experience gained in that war. What was the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman? Was the right hon. Gentleman going to carry 1134 out the scheme he had adumbrated in the House in the previous July? Was his scheme based on military experience and advice; on the best military judgment of the country? Last year very strong debates had taken place upon this question, and in another place the late Commander-in-Chief, Lord Roberts, said—There are many points in the scheme of the Secretary of State which commend themselves to me but there are others which do not, and which I believe will be detrimental to the interests of the Army.Were those portions of the scheme to be persevered in? The Government knew perfectly well that the Army Council did not agree with them as regarded the scheme. Neither the Army Council nor Lord Roberts agreed with the whole of the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, and what he desired to know was, had the right hon. Gentleman modified his scheme so as to conform with the opinion of those two authorities? If not, it ought not to be proceeded with. Was the linked-battalion system to be done away with? Because there was the evidence of the Wantage Committee that the linked-battalion system was one which had done admirable service to the country in the past. He noticed that the right hon. Gentleman was going to start thirteen new depots at a cost of £3,500,000 in spite of the fact that the Wantage Committee expressed the opinion that the system of depots could not compare with that of the linked battalions so far as economy was concerned. Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether he intended to go on with his scheme of destroying the linked battalions? At the present moment we had a simple organisation for the Army, Militia, and Volunteers. It appeared to him that the right hon. Gentleman was going to considerably complicate the system. What was to be done with the Militia under the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman? Did he propose to merge the Militia in the regular-service Army? The right hon. Gentleman and those who thought with him had forgotten, apparently, the services done in South Africa by the Militia, but the old scheme was now to be put on one side and in its place they were to have they did not know what. 1135 According to the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman the Militia was going to be rendered fit for service at home or abroad. Did that mean that the Militia was to be merged in the Regular Forces? The decline of the Militia was, in the previous year, described by the right hon. Gentleman as being the inevitable consequence of the way in which that force had been treated. With that statement everyone agreed. Did the right hon. Gentleman intend to destroy or raise up the Militia? What had been the result of all this tinkering? It was that the Army Corps had been abandoned; that we had artillery unfit to meet anything in Europe, short rifles, hopeless confusion and wasteful extravagance. Was that what the Army existed for? He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would tell the House what the Army did exist for [An HON. MEMBER: For fighting.] Yes, but where? because an army fighting at home had to be differently organised to an army which had to fight abroad. In the previous year, when the Commission which had to inquire into the efficiency of our military forces was sitting, they asked how many men were required for the defence of this country? The Defence Committee had not then made up their mind upon that point. Had they now come to any decision as to the number of troops required for home defence? Had they made up their minds as to the number required to defend the frontier of India? In conclusion, he asked the right hon. Gentleman to consult the best military authorities and not allow his own theories to run away with him, lest there should be other schemes hastily prepared which would only result in costing the country an enormous amount and give nothing in return. All that the House wanted to see was that they were getting value for the money which was being spent.
§ COLONEL PILKINGTON (Lancashire, Newton)
said he did not propose to speak to-night from the higher level of the Government's general War Office policy, especially as he thought that, after all, it was with questions of detail that the matter to-day had to be chiefly considered. In his opinion the country was far less fitted for war oven than it was 1136 in 1899. He believed that the reserves were far less, and he much feared, moreover, that his hon. friend had gone astray in losing sight of the value of a large Reserve. The larger we could make our Reserve, the more effective we should be able to make our defence. What happened in the Boer War bore out the contention that we could not always wholly rely on the Regular Army. If we had had, at that time, to rely on the Regular Army alone we might conceivably have been defeated; and it must not be forgotten, in regard to that struggle, that a great proportion of the Imperial Yeomanry, who did so much to decide it, were drafted from the ranks of the Volunteers of England themselves. Personally, he did not see any reason why the present Volunteer system should be altered. For many years past it had been increasing both in efficiency—though slowly, perhaps—and certainly in numbers, and he wished to ask one or two Questions in regard to the Government proposals as to the Volunteers. Under the old system it was perfectly easy to send each Volunteer battalion attached to a Line regiment into its proper line. That led him to the Questions he was going to ask of the Secretary for War. He was sorry not to see him in his place, but he quite realised that he had sat through this debate for a very long time and, really, very patiently. It had been asked in the course of the debate, "Why do you not wait for the-Army Estimates?" The answer was simple—that this was a good time for eliciting information, and possibly also for paving the way in some degree for a revision of the proposals of last year. He should like to know, in the first place, whether the right hon. Gentleman proposed to abolish the present battalion system. Because, if he did so, we would at once throw into confusion not only the Line battalions but also the corresponding ones in the Militia and Volunteers. He wanted to ask another question, and it was based on his own experience. For a long time Volunteer corps had been under the supervision of brigadiers, who would, perhaps, be in charge of the brigade for seven, eight, or ten years, and would so get to know the corps under them. He had, he thought, been under three Regular officers as brigadiers, 1137 and from all those three officers had acquired some military knowledge. They were all good men, and the last, of them, under whom he now was, was not only an exceedingly good officer, but took a real interest in the work of the corps which constitute his brigade. He heard now that the present system was to be altered and that everything in the way of these appointments was to go by chance. He thought it was better for a brigadier to be in a position to take an interest for several consecutive years in a battalion under his charge, for they got to know him and he got to know them.
Then they heard much of the desirability of giving encouragement to shooting. The battalion with which he was connected had hitherto done its shooting at Altcar, one of the best ranges in the North of England. How they were to do without that range he failed to see, but an intimation had come to them that they must not look to it as being available this year. On receipt of that notice they went to the officer in charge of the range, but he said he could give no orders, and that it seemed to be a question for the officer commanding the district. To that officer they went accordingly, but could get no satisfaction. This was but a detail, but it went to show what was happening and might happen in other cases. They spent, only a year or two ago, on this Altcar range, which the Government then said would be available to all Liverpool and West Lancashire regiments, £200 for the erection of a shooting pavilion for the use of officers and men, but, so far as he could see, they were not now going to have that range this season, and it looked, indeed, as if—he supposed in consequence of some dispute between the owner and the Government—it would be shut. If they could not have good shooting practice, for which a good practice ground was provided, it was of but little use to talk much of the need of inducing the young men of England to practise rifle-shooting. There was another question he desired to put, as to what the classification would be in future in regard to efficiency. For forty-four years past the Volunteer battalions had been built up into what was now, at least, real efficiency. Were they now going to have two classes of efficiency? 1138 Would the battalions all have one correct mark of efficiency, or would there be two classes? That was a very important question, as to which at the present moment no one knew anything. He did not doubt that the Volunteers would loyally accept any arrangement which the War Office might think necessary, but it did seem hard that they should be told in the House that 60,000 Volunteers were to be done away with, and that the force was to be cut down from 240,000 to 180,000. That, in itself, was sufficient to shake the force from end to end, and had, unfortunately, proved sufficient to discourage Volunteer officers from coming forward. What he asked from the right hon. Gentleman was that when he gave his decision, as he would within the next four weeks, he should be specially careful in regard to the facts which Volunteer officers had laid before him in that House in regard to the Volunteer forces. The case for the Militia and the Line had been ably put, and he had not a word to say in regard to that case, except that he endorsed almost every word that had been said. As to the Volunteers—if they could not be improved, then, at least, let them be left alone.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
I do not get up to indicate any expression of a desire to bring the debate to a conclusion, but, merely to make a few observations and ask a few questions which the right hon. Gentleman later on will be able to reply to. I am not at all surprised, and no one can be surprised, that questions affecting the Volunteers have occupied so large a part of this debate. The Volunteers have been threatened and greatly injured by the threat, and what makes this the more annoying is that the threat was so ill-considered that we are now told that it is not going to be carried out. That haste and want of consideration are at the bottom of nearly all the errors that have been committed in this matter. But I wish to inquire how we stand on the big question of the organisation of the Army. Is there any policy at all with regard to the Army? We are willing to attack or defend the policy, but we want to know, first of all, whether there is a 1139 policy. We can at least be told that. Be it remembered that the Government have been in charge of the Army for ten years, I might even say for twenty years, with a short interruption; therefore the Army now is very much what they themselves have made it, and they have had ample time to make it what they wish it to be. Not only that, but it is four years since we had a definite promise and assurance that they would give us a new and vastly improved Army; it is about four years since the last general election when that was promised. It is one and a half years since the right hon. Gentleman himself came into office and told us he knew exactly what was wanted and exactly how to obtain what was wanted. Last year's Estimates were founded not upon any new ideas, but were nominal Estimates founded on what we were told was a doomed system. Then we had another fact in the creation of the Cabinet Committee of Defence, from which great expectations were formed. The next step was that from the War Office were summarily ejected all the old officers who had held positions there, whatever their experience had been; and new minds, we were told, had to be introduced in order to carry out the new ideas. Then the final stage was the laying before the House and the country last year of the scheme of the Secretary of State for War. Now we shall see, no doubt—at least I have formed no other expectation—in the new Estimates which will be laid on the Table as soon as Committee of Supply is set up, the result of the new Army system definitely announced on authority. The Government, we assume, by this time have either accepted or modified or altered the scheme of last year, and they not only will be able to tell us all about it, but they will have founded their Estimates for the coming year on that basis. That is what we expect, and I think it is a reasonable expectation.
An answer will also be given to a question which has been put once or twice in the course of this debate as to what are the real military requirements of the country. Someone said, when this question was asked, that soldiers were wanted to fight; that is hardly what may be called a conclusive and comprehen- 1140 sive answer. We want to know what is the conception of the Government after all these deliberations, all these new organisations of control, and all that has been said, of what the real military requirements are, what the purpose of our Army and other warlike forces is, and what the particular description of force necessary to fulfil that object may be. We have received no information on the subject. A Royal Commission, appointed to inquire into whether the Militia and Volunteers were adequate for their duties, asked the not unreasonable question what these duties were, and they were unable to get an answer. They tried one source after another in the different departments, but as soon as an answer was given it was countermanded and withdrawn, and there the question ends. I think the House of Commons and the country are entitled to that information.
But while we are expecting to hear a definite and absolutely decided and accepted plan in all these particulars, we were rather startled the night before last to hear a new cut-and-dried scheme for the Militia brought forward, totally at variance with all that we have been told before. The Militia, according to the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman last year, were to be obliterated altogether, or at any rate to be fundamentally altered in character, and to be reduced from the prominent position they have hitherto held. Now they are to be put into another form, and every man is to be enlisted with a liability for foreign service, a liability to which he has not been subject hitherto. The Militia has been used for foreign service, but always by volunteering when the necessity arose. There are a few questions I should like to ask, without pronouncing any opinion whether this enlistment for foreign service is advantageous or not. Has any consideration been given to the effect that such a change will have on recruiting? Many a man is quite ready to serve in the Militia under present conditions; but the moment you say he is thereby undertaking liability to be sent abroad whenever his regiment is embodied, and in the case of war, is there not a danger of his being afraid that that would come into conflict with his employer, or his wife, which is much more formidable? Has any estimate been made of 1141 the effect upon recruiting of adding the new, certainly serious, and almost terrible obligation to the enlistment of the Militia? The second question I would ask is this:—What effect will it have upon the Ballot Laws with regard to the Militia? Is the ballot to be still alive though never enforced for the Militia after you have made this stipulation? Compulsory service for the defence of the country we could understand. Compulsory service to take the place of the Regular Forces in the defence of certain foreign places we could also understand. But compulsory service, the power of sending a man abroad, in a wide sense has never been contemplated as likely to apply to this country. This is at least a complete change of front, because the Militia was going altogether to disappear, and now it is to be put in the forefront. Why was this very fragmentary reform brought forward m the way it was in Parliament? Why this hurry to introduce piecemeal legislation? Is this total alteration of the Militia to be introduced to fit in with some other scheme or not? What is that other scheme? To proceed to deal in that way with one branch of the service without reference to the effect on others is surely a strange thing. If you were building a house, would it be a wise thing to say, "We will at all events commence to build a wing, trusting that by-and-by we shall build a house which will fit in with our wing? "Suppose the War Office buildings had not been quite agreed upon, and we said, "Oh, let us make a beginning with the Quartermaster-General's department. We can easily fit on the general scheme." That is the way in which the new Army is being built. Hurry is the very worst counsellor you can have. It is to hurry we owe the Army Corps, the short rifle, and the Secretary of State's last year's scheme. How much better it would have been if he had taken another year, if he had said less about it, made fewer promises, gone into the work in a humbler spirit, and said, "I must really have time." Not a bit of it. Within a month or two he must produce a scheme, which, of course, being produced in a hurry, has broken down. These hurried schemes are not only unlikely to produce efficiency, but they are the cause of end- 1142 less expense. Look at the barracks which have been built on the Army Corps scheme. So also with regard to the rifle, what expense is incurred. The fundamental and fatal mistake has been that desire, first of all, of showing off and making a splash of finding new schemes, and secondly of making a splash in too great a hurry. That is all I have to say with regard to these successive schemes.
We look forward that either to-night or on introducing the Estimates the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us exactly what the Committee of Defence have determined is necessary for the country. Recruiting is now going on for nine years, and short-service recruiting has been stopped, temporarily I presume, in order to redress the balance. Long service is destroying the Reserve without the compensating machinery which was suggested last year under the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman. Some men of the very new school and some of the very old may contend that they do not like the short service at all, and that there are great advantages in the long service; but, besides the fact that it is killing the Reserve, it is enormously expensive. The short service was introduced largely to save the expense of long service. If you have a man with his regiment for nine years you must have a large increase in your married service, and that hinders the Army by immobility and by charge in every direction. You have necessarily also the charge for pensions. You cannot keep a man all that time away from his ordinary life without pensioning him. After short service had been introduced, following on a ten-years system, the number of pensions came down to less than a third of the previous number. They were in the process of further reduction when these changes began to be made. This is a very important matter. We must, of course, furnish drafts for India, and we ought to do it in the most economical manner both for India and ourselves. The whole difficulty lies in how to reconcile these things. I venture to hope the right hon. Gentleman will tell us that these nine-years enlistments are only temporarily employed, and that he will soon find himself an opportunity of reverting in one form or another to a 1143 shorter service which will give us that system of reserves which we found an undoubted success the other day in the war in South Africa.
§ SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)
said he should not attempt to answer the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who had had a very wide experience in these matters. His sole reason for rising was because the mover of this Amendment had alluded to the difficulty of obtaining recruits and the very unsatisfactory condition of their physique. The complaint as to the difficulty of obtaining recruits and as to their quality was not at all a new question, for it had frequently been referred to in the House, and in public by some of the highest officers in the Army most qualified to speak upon it, and it was considered to be of such importance that His Majesty's Government a few years ago approved the appointment of a Departmental Committee to enquire into the alleged physical deterioration of the people. That Committee included some very high officers in the Army and men of great experience like the Inspector-General, and they made a unanimous Report. There had been a great error in regard to that Report for it did not find, as some people imagined, that there had been no physical deterioration. What was reported was that there was no evidence upon which that physical deterioration could be established. In regard to the recruits for the Army they came to this decision for two distinct reasons. In the first place, because no records had been kept which would enable a contrast to be made with the condition of recruits at the present time; and in the second place, evidence was given to show that the class from which recruits were drawn varied according to the amount of employment in the country at different times. When there was a great depression of trade in this country a great number of men of a superior order enlisted as recruits. When employment was common and everybody could get work, recruits were drawn from a lower class and their physique was decidedly inferior. The Committee also reported that there were a great number of causes, affecting chiefly the poorer paid classes of workmen in this country, which tended to 1144 physical deterioration. The Report contained a number of perfectly practical suggestions, some of which could be carried out by administrative action, and some of which required the assistance of this House in the reform of our laws. He was extraordinarily astonished to learn from answers recently given in the House that no kind of action was to be taken whatever on this Report, and that no legislation was to be submitted to Parliament on the subject. We were to go on exactly as before, notwithstanding the pregnant and important Report of the Committee. If we wanted strong, healthy, well developed men to serve in the Army—and it was the worst economy in the world to take men of inferior health and constitution—proper attention should be given to the conditions under which they were brought up. In India there were about 50 per cent, of the European soldiers constantly on the sick list, so that we had actually to incur the expense of sending out double the number of men required. We had to reckon that half of the number would always be in hospital on one ground or another. What could be more extravagant than a system of that kind if there was any possibility of preventing it?
Evidence was given before the Committee that the degeneracy of the youth of the country was entirely preventable. If growing boys in the public elementary schools were watched and medically examined such measures could be taken as would secure that they would not grow up into men afflicted with rickets and diseases consequent on bad nutrition and bad conditions imposed upon them in childhood. This Amendment did not apply to women, and he would not refer to the training of girls beyond saying that it was also of importance that those who were to be the mothers of future generations should not grow up under bad conditions. Continental countries were more immediately dependent on soldiers for their safety than we were, and they took good care that their boys and girls were brought up under conditions which conduced to efficiency and health. They were more carefully looked after in the schools, and he did not attribute that to any greater humanity on the part of 1145 foreign nations, but to the fact that they were compelled from motives of self-preservation to look after matters which we allowed to drift as they liked. He would press this subject on the attention of the House at every opportunity. He would bring it up on the Irish Estimates, the Scotch Estimates, and the English Estimates, and he would entreat the Government for the sake of the nation, the Empire, and numerous other considerations not to neglect the recommendations of that Committee. The Committee consisted of officials of high rank, and they reported unanimously that the question was very urgent and that there were a great many things that ought to be done at once. It was necessary to have legislation to carry out the Report, and if the Government neglected altogether to consider the question they would incur a most tremendous responsibility. What was the good of having an Army if we could not get people who were fit to bear the burdens of military service? He hoped the Government would take these matters into consideration, and that they would not incur the responsibility of neglecting the duty which had been put before them on such high authority.
§ MR. FULLER (Wiltshire, Westbury)
said that those who knew the present condition of the Army must realise the importance of the remarks made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Cambridge University. Some statements were made in the columns of a newspaper a few days ago, on the authority of Mr. Arnold White, drawing attention to the height and weight of our recruits. He hoped the Secretary of State for War would be able to contradict the figures, because if they were facts it was evident that the physical conditions of the recruits now being drawn into the Line regiments were such that the men could not under any circumstances be a credit to the service they joined. It was alleged that the minimum height was 5 feet 2 inches, and the minimum weight 8 stones 3 lbs. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman and the House whether it was worth while discussing the question of long and short rifles when the recruits who were joining the Army were not only not fit to carry a rifle, but not fit to carry a pop-gun. He 1146 wished to call attention to the wastage that was going on in the British Army owing not only to the physical condition of the men, but to other factors which were largely due to the policy of continuous change, for which the Government was responsible. In 1902 there were 50,753 recruits attested in the Army. During the same year there was in the United Kingdom an Army, roughly, of 100,000. The number who died was 3,896; there deserted, 7,162; there were invalided, 8,869; there were discharged for misconduct, 2,903; and there were discharged as inefficient, 1,653; making a total wastage under these heads of 24,483. It was one of the contentions of those who opposed the right hon. Gentleman's policy and supported the Amendment that the changes which were continually being made were bringing about discontent and interfering with the discipline of the Army. During twelve months the number of men in the British Army who were in prison was 21,943, or 22 per cent, of the whole of the soldiers in these islands. He thought these figures were alarming and that they should be carefully considered by the right hon. Gentleman.
The hon. and gallant Member for Stepney had stated in reference to the Volunteer force that numbers did not necessarily mean military efficiency and the right hon. Gentleman cheered him. If the facts he had given as to the wastage that was going on in the Army were accurate, it might be said that numbers did not mean military strength. He believed that Members of the Tory Party wished to have a large Army, while Members on the Opposition side of the House desired a smaller but more efficient Army. In his opinion that was the difference between the two sides of the House. He believed that if, under the present system of voluntary enlistment, the Army were increased it would only be at the expense of efficiency. Earlier in the debate a controversy had arisen across the floor of the House, between the hon. and gallant Members for Yarmouth and the Isle of Wight, as to the number of Militia and Volunteers who went to South Africa. The point at issue was that the former asserted that in time of war the gaps and wastage of the Army in the 1147 field could not be filled up from the Militia and Volunteers, and the latter that they could be. He thought it would surprise the hon. and gallant Member for Yarmouth to know that there had been drawn from the Militia, Volunteers, and Yeomanry and sent to South Africa no fewer than 101,000 men, and it was common knowledge what excellent service they had performed and that without them the Regular Forces would not have been able to carry the war to a successful conclusion. The Secretary of State for War would, no doubt, when he came to reply, have no difficulty in answering the criticisms made in that quarter. The lines of attack on any policy, and particularly the military policy of a Government, and more particularly when they did not know exactly what that policy was, must be conflicting and divergent. He was certain the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that on both sides of the House, and in the country as a whole, [...]reat uneasiness prevailed as to the [...]ate of the Army. He did not say that that uneasiness would be necessarily developed in the division lobbies any more in regard to the position of the Army than in regard to other subjects of recent controversy.
The hon. and gallant Member for Taunton told the House that they must cut their coat according to their cloth, but he ventured to think that the policy of both the present and late Secretary of State for War aimed at the creation and maintenance of a larger Army than this country under the present military and financial system could ever supply or support. Two days ago, in another place, the Under-Secretary for War, in discussing a question arising out of the present status of the Militia, said that it was a notable fact that only 250,000 troops out of a total of 605,000 men were ear-marked for service abroad. That was to say, that in the noble Lord's opinion 250,000 were insufficient for service abroad. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War himself was even more explicit, for at a dinner at Chelmsford he said in the course of a speech—That in the case of India alone, if we are to keep up our Army for war purposes1148 He did not know for what else than war an army was kept up—We did not want 133,000—Let the House mark this—But four times that number.That was to say, that in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, and, therefore, presumably in the opinion of the Government, we should require in the North-West of India a force of no less than 532,000 troops. He would remind the House that the North-West of India was not the only land frontier with which this Empire had to deal, and if there was danger there—he admitted that many able authorities said that there was problematical danger on the North-West frontier—the whole House would admit also that there was a problematical danger on the Canadian frontier. And if it was necessary to find over 500,000 men for the defence of India alone, what was the policy of the Government in regard to the whole Empire, and how far were they going on those lines sketched by the Secretary for War? He ventured to think that the maintenance of this enormous land Army was beyond the permanent possibilities both of the voluntary and financial systems under which the country at present existed. If we were to keep a land force fully equipped in all details, ready for active service in the field, on the lines suggested by the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman, the financial burden in itself would be greater than the people of this country could bear and we would have to adopt a protectionist policy, not for the purposes of protection but for the purpose of raising revenue to meet the expense. And if we asked the country to supply a sufficient number of recruits to feed an Army of the kind sketched, we would have to abandon the system of voluntary enlistment and adopt the Continental system of conscription. He thought it possible and probable that a good number of hon. Gentlemen opposite would not regret to see the adoption of protection for revenue purposes or of conscription for military purposes. Neither policy, he believed, was one, in the opinion of those on his side of the House, which would be of advantage to the country or the Empire. Therefore, if we were to keep our 1149 military forces within the financial abilities of the people of this country, and voluntary enlistment, it was high time that we cried "Stop" to military expenses and did something to show the country that, at any rate in the opinion of hon. Members on that side of the House, it was not necessary to maintain for the services of this country and the Empire even so large an Army as at present existed.
§ CAPTAIN JESSEL (St. Pancras, S.)
said he did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War or the noble Lord the Under-Secretary intended to advocate the extension of the standing Army to the very large body of men mentioned by the hon. Gentleman opposite. Their only wish was to draw attention to the elementary fact that it might be necessary to mobilise and recruit a very large body of men. Considering that in this country and the Colonies and dependencies we had over a million of men under arms in one shape or form, he did not think it was very wrong of the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord to point out that we could, under existing conditions, only send a quarter of a million of men for an oversea campaign. The recent campaign in Manchuria had shown us the probability of very large forces being employed. The North-West Frontier of India required a much larger Army than was thought possible before. It was the paramount duty of the War Office and those who advised the Secretary of State for War to be prepared with a sufficient number of men to meet any possible emergency. When it was remembered that the Undersecretary stated that we could only send across the sea 250,000 men, he did not think the War Office could be blamed for taking steps to make that number stronger if the occasion arose. The Amendment set forth—That the continuous and continuing changes in the War Office are destructive of the best interests of His Majesty's Army.[OPPOSITION cries of "Hear, hear!"] He was somewhat surprised to hear that cheer from hon. Members opposite considering that year after year they had denounced the War Office and all connected with it. The recommendations of the Esher Com- 1150 mittee were approved of by every Member of the House with the exception of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and now the Government was blamed for attempting to carry out the changes so urgently demanded. There was another very curious thing; the system of Army Corps initiated by the Secretary of State for India divided this country into various districts for the better organisation and decentralisation of the various troops in the different commands. This system was condemned, whereas administrative commands of the Esher Committee answering the same purpose were approved. He was sure the House would agree that the War Minister was wise in introducing changes which created a general staff. For many years complaints had been made that there was no general staff in the Army and the Intelligence Branch existed only as a sort of post office and the letters did not always reach the proper authorities. But they had now got a proper general staff. In his opinion it was not quite big enough, but he felt quite sure that they were now proceeding upon the right lines.
He had listened very attentively to the debate yesterday, and what impressed him was that so many hon. Members spoke about the Volunteers. He believed in the efficiency of the Volunteer Auxiliary Forces, but it was rather hard when the War Office wished to make a change in their condition that so much comment should be made. The Volunteers had grown up in the past in a sort of haphazard fashion. In Scotland there were fourteen regiments of Volunteer artillery for which no possible place could be found upon mobilisation, and therefore it seemed to him that such corps must be redundant. He did not think the House would approve of spending money upon redundant units. He agreed, however, that they should keep up the Volunteers and make the most of them as a very useful reserve force. A most important announcement had been made in another place as regarded the conditions of service in the Militia. He thought that if the Militia were liable to be sent abroad without volunteering it would free the heads of the Army from a vast amount of anxiety in time of need. It seemed to 1151 him that this policy in regard to the Militia needed very careful inquiry, because it showed a somewhat remarkable change of front on the part of the War Minister. They would remember that last year the Militia was going to be ended and abolished, but now it was to be placed in the forefront, and he hoped that this would have the effect of creating a more useful force. The more troops they were able to send abroad and across the sea the better would be the forces of the British Empire.
There was another point upon which a mistake seemed to him to have been made. They had increased the pay of the private soldier. The hon. Member who spoke last and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University had called attention to the low physique of many of our recruits, and notwithstanding this they had increased the pay of the private soldier by nearly one-half. Was that a satisfactory state of affairs? He was not satisfied with the prevailing condition of things, because he had been told that by this increase of pay they had not attracted very many more men, and the money which the men got was of no benefit to them under the present system. The men got their money and they spent it in a way which did them no good at all. He would suggest that it would be a good plan if part of this money could be earmarked for an old-age pension, and this they would be able to hold out to the men as an extra inducement which would really help the soldier when he left the Army. It might be said that this principle had been tried before in the shape of deferred pay, but his idea was that this pension should not be paid in a lump sum but should be paid weekly or quarterly so that the soldier would have something to look forward to. It was a great pity, in his opinion, that money should be wasted in this way, and he did not think the War Office had shown the necessity of so very largely increasing the pay of the soldier. Attention had been drawn to the want of officers in the cavalry and the Guards, and he thought the question of the pay had something to do with that state of things; for they could not expect men under modern military conditions, where leave was not so readily obtained as it 1152 used to be, and when the duties were much heavier, to join the Army, where they had to work so hard, if they did not give them proper pay. There was no doubt a very sincere feeling that the expenses of an ordinary officer were much too high. He did not think, however, that in most regiments that was the case. No doubt a certain amount of economy could be practised, but, on the whole, the standard of life was not at all superior to what those officers enjoyed in their own homes. If they were going to have a professional Army they must pay the officers properly and in accordance with the same standard of pay which they would get in other walks of life. He did not think 5s. 3d. a day for a second lieutenant was sufficient for a man of twenty years of age to live and dress himself upon. He knew that in most professions men did not make sufficient money at the start to keep themselves, but the difference between what an officer in the Army got and what they would get in other professions was so marked that if the Government did not see their way to increase the pay of the officers and extend to them other advantages he was afraid they would still go on experiencing this scarcity of men in the commissioned ranks. Then, again, very little consideration was given to the officers or the men in regard to their movements. He knew an instance where, recently, a cavalry regiment was ordered for service abroad and where the officers sold their horses and the noncommissioned officers got rid of their furniture, and just before they should have left this country the order for them going abroad was cancelled. That sort of thing did not make soldiering popular. If any regiment were sent abroad earlier than was expected it threw out of order the arrangements of all the regiments on the roster, and placed them in very peculiar difficulties.
The Leader of the Opposition had touched upon the terms of enlistment. The three - years system of enlistment had broken down because it was incapable of furnishing sufficient men for the foreign drafts. A great deal of abuse had been put upon the unfortunate head of the late Secretary of State for War because he had introduced this 1153 system. He remembered the Army debates which had taken place in this House, and if there was one question which had been pressed upon the attention of the Secretary of State for War in the past it had been the question of a short-service system. The Leader of the Opposition, when he talked about nine-years service, appeared to forget that in his time the ordinary period for any man serving abroad or in India was eight years; and therefore very little change was being made. It was true that the nominal period was seven years with the colours and five years with the Reserve. But if a man happened to be abroad during his seven years service he was detained for eight years. He agreed that sooner or later it would be possible to enlist men for the shorter service because of the importance of keeping up the Reserve. At the present time they were sending out men to India who had not served two years, and some who were under twenty years of age. With regard to the artillery they knew it was to be re-armed. It might be argued that the Secretary of State for War might have done this before, but he thought, when he gave his explanation, he would be able to furnish them with very good reasons why this re-armament of the artillery had not taken place before.
There was only one other matter which he wished to refer to. He wished to ask what the meaning of reducing our garrison on the colonial stations was. In Egypt the cavalry regiments had been taken away and they had been replaced by a troop of military police. He should have thought that near a great town like Cairo would be a suitable place for mounted troops. In India they always kept a number of mounted troops near the large centres of population. He hoped that when the right hon. Gentleman considered the cost of the Army in Egypt he would be able to see his way to induce the Government of Egypt to contribute to the cost of the British force there. He wished to know for what reason the garrisons all over the British Colonies and Dependencies had been diminished. He was afraid that debates of this kind did not lead to very 1154 much except finding fault, because at the present juncture it was impossible to criticise the real military policy of the Government. Last year they had a plan sketched out at the end of the session, and they did not yet know what had been the effect of that plan, what progress had been made with it, or how they stood as regarded recruiting. They did not know what the real intentions of the Government in regard to the Volunteers, the Militia, and other branches of the service were. He was perfectly sure, however, that in the Secretary of State for War they had a man who had earnestly studied the various problems of Army reform, and they could rely upon him doing his best. He was sure that they would listen with a considerable amount of interest to the right hon. Gentleman's summing up of the various points which had been made in the debate.
§ SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbrightshire)
said he spoke upon this question with some knowledge of the Volunteers, because he happened to have had the command of one of those fourteen Volunteer artillery regiments extending over the three southern counties of Scotland for which the hon. and gallant Member for South St. Pancras had stated there could not be found a place in any mobilisation scheme of the Army. He desired to make a few remarks upon this branch of Army reorganisation. In the first place he hoped that the number of men would not be reduced, and he trusted that some steps would be taken not only this year but in succeeding years to provide for their efficient maintenance. It was no doubt true that the older Volunteers might never be able to lie in a trench all night as was necessary on active service, but their presence in the corps gave stability to it, and induced the younger bloods to join. He should have no objection to a system under which there would be two standards of grants to Volunteers, one for the younger men who were fit and able, for war, and who ought to have a good capitation grant; while the grant to the older men need not be so high, but sufficient for men who were doing useful work in affording others a good example, and giving an air of respectability to the corps. In this way the Volunteers 1155 would take the bottom step in the Army ladder, and if called upon in time of war they would be able to give valuable help to the Regular Army. He thought that his suggestion in regard to two standards of capitation grants would encourage, the patriotism of the country, and induce the young and strong to join. With regard to camps, he spoke as a large employer of agricultural labour, and he knew how difficult it was to spare men to go to camp at certain periods of the year. In his district, however, they had got over the difficulty by having the camps in the early spring as well as in summer, which enabled certain hands who could not leave later in the season to go. They were very thankful to hear that no reduction was to be made this year, and he also hoped that no reduction would be made next year. He would like the right hon. Gentleman to explain in more detail the district barrack depôts of Militia which had been created at very great expense. A fear existed that these depôts were going to be done away with, but he hoped that in future they would continue to use them. What the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University had said as to the physique of the men was very important, but they all knew that the Volunteers from the country were of better physique than those from the town, for they were stronger and better able to shoot. He hoped something would be done to encourage the young men in the country districts to join, because unless some further inducement was offered them they were apt to remain outside the force. He trusted that the capitation grant would not be reduced unless they were prepared to adopt more than one standard. He thought that was a very important matter. He also asked for information as to what changes were likely to take place with regard to University candidates for commissions in the Army. It was most important that they should do all they could to induce young men to join the Army straight from the University. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would recognise that it would be somewhat dangerous to reduce the strength of the Volunteers.
§ CAPTAIN ELLICE (St. Andrews Burghs)
thought the argument that we 1156 must either pay for our Army or serve was fallacious. The hon. Member for Taunton had asserted earlier in the debate that we must either pay or we must serve—either we must pay for our dinner or else we must cook it ourselves. No one objected to paying for a good dinner, but a sovereign was too high a price to pay for a mutton chop and a pint of ale. What he complained of was that we paid too much for the result attained. In 1896 the Militia establishment was 191,000 men, and those enrolled amounted to 117,000, whilst the expenditure was £500,000. In 1905 the establishment was the same, the number of enrolled men 96,000, and the expenditure £817,000. How was it that in 1905 we were spending nearly double what we spent in 1896, and were only getting 96,000 instead of 117,000? We were spending more on the Army every year and getting less for our money. That was one of the strongest reasons for attacking the Government on the inefficient way in which they had tackled this problem. With regard to the shortage of officers, no doubt on their return from the South African War our officers thought they were entitled to a period of rest, and that they could serve their country in a more peaceful way, but instead of there being a period of rest there had been a succession of changes; officers had no idea what was coming next; and the consequence was, instead of keeping our officers we lost them by retirement. There would be no reform in the Army until these constant changes ceased. He sincerely hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consult the convenience of the officers, and make them love the service instead of hating it as they did at the present time. He believed both the problems of the Militia and that of the scarcity of officers could and would be settled if the Secretary of State would himself take the matter in hand.
§ MR. PEEL (Manchester, S.)
drew attention to the fact that from both sides of the House there had been a considerable amount of criticism upon the schemes of reform that had been brought forward during the last five years, but he thought from what he had heard to-day and yesterday that, were 1157 any misfortune to happen to the present Government, the House would be faced with yet another scheme introduced by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Many hon. Members had congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the way he had carried out the reorganisation of the War Office, and upon being able to carry out many of the recommendations of the Esher Commission, whilst other Members stated that owing to the many changes in it the War Office was in a state of chaos and confusion. In fact, anybody who talked about the War Office immediately plunged into almost Oriental exaggeration. What he himself wished to know was whether the change could now be considered complete, and whether the recommendations applying to the organisations of the different staffs both at the War Office and in the districts were being carried out, because those two things were complementary to each other. He would also like to know what the Secretary of State himself thought about the new arrangements for decentralization which were part and parcel of the reorganisation of the War Office. Was the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with the progress made? He hoped the observations of hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to the recruits we were getting into the Army were exaggerated, because if, after all these changes as to pay and so forth had been made, we were getting no better men than before it seemed almost hopeless to improve the class of men who entered the British Army. A rumour was going about—whether true or false he did not know, but at any rate it was a disturbing rumour—that the Committee who considered the question of the new rifle had not absolute freedom of choice as to the best kind of rifle which could be obtained, and that they were limited, especially in respect to the length of the rifle—a most important limitation. He wished to know about that. It was stated that their anxiety was to produce a rifle that could be used lay the cavalry as well as the infantry. He was told by cavalry officers that they were pretty well satisfied with the rifle as a cavalry carbine, and that it was an improvement on the old carbine. In view of the criticisms of the new rifle, many of which came from 1158 expert sources, he wished to know whether the Committee had absolute freedom to select the best possible kind of rifle.
Under the present scheme were we to rely entirely on the Volunteers and Yeomanry for home defence? In the previous scheme it was not so, but there was to be a stiffening of the Regulars to supplement the Volunteers and Yeomanry and to occupy, he supposed, the most difficult position. As to the reduction of the Volunteers, of course there were several ways in which that could be done, and the method by which it might be done was quite as important as the reduction itself. It was one thing to reduce the inefficient members of the Volunteers and to say that there should be a higher standard of drill attendance, or of physique, and another thing to reduce the number of corps into which the Volunteers were divided. If it was the first course, he thought the Secretary of State for War would find it far less difficult than if he were to reduce the number of corps. At what point of efficiency did the right hon. Gentleman actually aim? They knew from the Duke of Norfolk's Commission what were the changes and improvements to which the Volunteers as at present constituted might fairly be called upon to submit in order to fit themselves to fight foreign troops. What was the assumption of the Committee of Defence? Of course it was impossible to provide for everything in war, but there should be some hypothesis. Were they to go on the hypothesis that a certain time was to elapse before these troops would be actually called upon to take the field to meet a foreign army? If so, how many weeks or months were to be allowed to give a further polish to these troops? He quite understood that in producing his scheme the right hon. Gentleman was hampered a good deal by the legacy of his predecessor, and that it was very difficult to pay the death duties upon it. The figures had been given in another place as to the number of men who had been enlisted up to February 11th for service in India or long service on the nine-years system. He quite understood that until the Indian drafts were provided, and the security of India made perfect in that way, it 1159 was impossible for the Secretary for War to commence the new system at all. He wished to know how soon they might expect the Indian drafts to be provided for, so that they might know when the new system was likely to be ready.
Perhaps the most important and vital matter in the scheme had reference to the Militia. The idea last year was to abolish the Militia, and now it was to so alter that force as to make it available for service abroad in case of necessity. That was a far-reaching change indeed, and they had to look to the effect which a change of that kind might have not only on the recruiting of men, but on the condition of the officers who would be put in a very different position from that which they occupied under the old system. He would like to have more information on that matter from the Secretary of State for War, because it bore on another important point, namely, the depletion of the Militia during the last few years through men passing from the Militia into the Line. If the Militia was to be made a foreign-service force it was quite clear that that temptation would no longer exist except for the purpose of attracting Militiamen to the Line long service battalions. That would have an immense effect on the position of the Army. It would be very convenient now if the right hon. Gentleman would give a little more information about his whole scheme. A most important point was the precise relations between the territorial Army and the foreign-service Army. How were they to be connected as regarded change of officers, non-commissioned officers, and grouping, because the proposed territorial regiments, the long-service battalions quartered at home were not for home defence, but for foreign service? They were only separate armies in time of peace. Would there not be a tendency in those separate armies for one to regard itself as superior to the other? The whole future of the Army depended on the connection and the training of those two armies; therefore it was most important to know the relation in which they were to stand to each other. He hoped the Secretary for War would very frankly explain these matters so as to enable the House to 1160 discuss, on the Estimates the new ideas as to the relationship between the territorial and the foreign-service armies.
§ MR. LLEWELLYN (Somersetshire, N.)
said he wished to devote his remarks to matters connected with the Militia. The hon. Gentleman who had last spoken had expressed his views in regard to the advisability of compelling men to enlist for foreign service in case of need. For a long time he had had an open mind on the matter, but he thought the weight of evidence was in favour of the proposal of the Secretary of State for War. It was somewhat dangerous to postpone the decision whether the battalion should go on foreign service or not till the emergency arose. During the late war nearly every regiment was only too willing to go, but there were others not willing, and pressure was put on them not to volunteer. He should prefer to have a small number of regiments enlisted for foreign service in case of necessity. The present uncertainty as regarded the future of the Militia service was very much against the efficiency of the regiments, and recruiting generally. It was perfectly true that the physique was not satisfactory. Mere boys came up for enlistment, and although they conformed to the requirements at the time, they were an unsatisfactory lot. However, what with the training at the depots, good food, and good housing their condition very soon greatly improved. He knew that a very large proportion of Militia recruits passed into the Army, and that was supposed to be unsatisfactory. From the point of view of officers commanding Militia battalions, it was not satisfactory that out of a hundred of their best recruits seventy passed into the Army. But it was good for the Army, as they went of their own free will and became admirable soldiers. He thought that the hon. and gallant Member for Sheffield and other Volunteer colonels were apt to take too narrow a view in connection with the position of the Volunteers. They should look at the usefulness of the force generally and not be content to count the noses under their own command. Occasionally great sympathy was expressed with the Volunteers, especially when an election was approaching. That, he thought, might 1161 have something to do with the criticisms of his hon. friends with reference to the reduction of the Volunteers. He himself did not hesitate to say that the Volunteer force might be reduced by one-half, and still be as valuable as it was at present. An hon. Gentleman opposite said that it was unnecessary to pay a soldier £10 a year when a Volunteer could be got for £6. There was, however, such a thing as having a Regular Army too cheap and a Volunteer force too dear. What was the present difficulty? It was that they were now taking into the Volunteers men who were not intended for that force at all; men who required to be paid; and who would be much better in the Regular Army or the Militia. The fact must be faced that at present patriotism was penalised. Why should one man give up his holidays for the good of the country, and another man do nothing? Why should one employer allow his employees to join the Volunteers and another not? That was a source of danger. He could not see how the Volunteers were treated badly. Last year an hon. and gallant friend of his stated in this House that he found the capitation grant sufficient for his expenses, and they all knew that his regiment when lie commanded it was one of the best. As to shortage of officers, was it not to be accounted for in the fact that amusements were now more general, and the facilities for attending them were greater than when the Volunteer force was established; and, also, Volunteer officers were now called upon to bear expenses which they ought not to be asked to defray.
And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the debate stood adjourned till this Evening's Sitting.