§ * MR. McCRAE (Edinburgh, E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he can state the terms of the instructions recently issued by the Army Council as to the efficiency of Volunteer units.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. ARNOLD-FORSTER,) Belfast, W.
I only received notice of this Question as I came to the House, and I am unable textually to quote the document. The general effect of the instruction is to request the Volunteer officers to furnish the War Department with particulars as to the number of men in their respective commands who are, under the ordinary Army regulations, fit for service abroad. They have also asked for further information as to the number of first-class shots in the commands. The hon. Member will see that it is most important for us to ascertain in peace these particulars, which we should have to ascertain in time of war. I may add that the time which was originally named in this order appeared to me to be short, and that the Army Council has largely extended that time in order to give more opportunities to Volunteer officers to comply with the request of the War Department.
§ * MR. McCRAE
Have not Volunteer commanding officers been informed that the men fit for active service must be first-class shots, and is that rule applicable to the Regular Army?
§ MR. ARNOLD FORSTER
No. I thought I had made that clear. We asked Volunteer officers to state how many men are fit under the ordinary service rules for service abroad. We also asked, as an additional question, how many of these men who are fit for service abroad are also first-class shots. To be a first-class shot is not a necessary condition to fit a man for service abroad, but it is a piece of information very valuable to the War Office.
§ * MR. McCRAE
Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not intend to send Volunteers on service abroad?
[No Answer was returned.]