§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ *MAJOR SEELY (Isle of Wight) moved that the Bill be read a second time that day three months. He did so, he said, because he wished to call attention to the state of doubt and uncertainty that prevailed in the Army which must result, and which had resulted, in inefficiency. He asked the Secretary of State for War whether it was true, as reported in today's papers, that General Sir Neville Lyttelton had resigned.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR, (Mr. ARNOLD-FORSTER, Belfast; W.)
No, Sir, it is not true.
§ MAJOR SEELY
said he understood, then, that the report was not true. But it would be a matter for the consideration of the House whether they ought not to have before Monday's proceedings some definite assurance from the Government as to where the responsibility rested for the deplorable occurrences lately brought to the notice of the House. There could be no doubt that immense defalcations had occurred; and they had occurred over so long a period and on such a scale that there could be no doubt some one in high authority must be made responsible. Either the Commander-in-Chief in South Africa of that day must resign or the Secretary of State for War of that day must resign. The Secretary of State for War for the present day was said to be responsible, but he was only responsible for delay. It would facilitate discussion on Monday if a definite assurance could be given in the House to day as to the view the Government took of the responsibility of the soldier and of the civilian in this matter. It was peculiarly pertinent to the question, seeing that in the event of the resignation of Sir Neville Lyttelton his pay would come under the Vote which the Bill proposed to make good. But the question of the salary of the Secretary of State for War was raised under the present Vote. It seemed to him that responsibility rested equally on the civil and military heads of the Army, and, if the Secretary of State for War would say what the view of the Government was, it would no doubt be convenient, having regard to the proceedings on Monday. It would not be proper for him to enter into the question of the general responsibility of the Government. It only remained for him to say that there must be some continuity of responsibility for the appointment of the soldier even if there was not continuity of the policy. And if they had dismissed the soldier the Government also stood condemned.
Gross inefficiency had resulted from; the doubt and uncertainty that existed in the Army. How great that doubt and uncertainty was the present Secretary of State for War was not aware, but that doubt and uncertainty prevailed 1441 in all grades of the services of the Army must cause grave alarm to all who took an interest in this matter. The shortage of officers was in itself a matter of the greatest concern, and the measures taken to make good that shortage were simply extraordinary. At that moment officers were being introduced into the Army without any competitive examination whatever; while on the, other hand officers were being rejected because they had got too few marks by about twenty or thirty. The result was the greatest discontent in the forces—a discontent so great as to be in itself a cause of the shortage of officers. The uncertainty among the rank and file was even greater. He had been told there was no recruiting sergeant, and no Member of the House except the Secretary of State for War (who would not tell them) who could explain to the soldier who enlisted at the present time what his status would be in two years time. The whole matter was so complicated by constant changes in the terms of service, and adumbrated changes about which they could get no information, that no man could say what his position was to be in the future. Therefore in regard to the officers and men a state of uncertainty and doubt prevailed that must result in inefficiency.
Since this matter was last before the House that which they had foretold had come to pass about the Volunteers. In certain corps the Volunteers in camp were far fewer in number than had been expected. It had been stated by the men to their commanding officers that the reason they would not go into camp was because they were not sure their services were really required. Inefficiency must result in corruption. They knew it had resulted in corruption in the past and it was likely that under similar circumstances corruption would recur. If they permitted inefficiency to continue they permitted corruption to continue. If a man did not know how long he was to be at his post, responsibility became a mere form. If they were to put an end to this inefficiency and the resulting corruption, any Commission appointed must have the full approbation of both Parties in the House, of both Houses of Parliament, and of the supporters of 1442 both Parties in the country. By such means alone could they hope to get rid of that corruption.
§ MAJOR SEELY
said he could only venture to urge that if they wished to put an end to the inefficiency which had been the cause of corruption in the Army in the past, and which would assuredly cause it again if nothing were done, any Commission appointed must be one in which the whole House must have confidence.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day three months.' "—(Major Seely.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
said the Motion made by the hon. Member was one of the most extraordinary that he had ever heard made in the House. This matter had been very much before the House and country during the last few days, and it had been met by His Majesty's Government by efficient measures for thorough inquiry on the subject which was exciting so much interest in the country, and the Government had also met the constitutional application of the Opposition by a promise of a day for its discussion. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, not content to wait for the immediate and spirited measures taken for thorough investigation and consideration, begged the question by proclaiming widespread uncertainty and doubt to which he attributed inefficiency, and, so far as the forms of the House would permit, proceeded to prejudge and anticipate the position. He (Sir J. Fergusson) intended to address himself to a matter which was germane and appropriate to the question before the House.
The hon. Member referred to want of efficiency in service, the 1443 difficulty of getting recruits, and the unsatisfactory character of those the country was obliged to accept. That was a point which ought always to be enforced and they ought to do their best to reduce that evil by removing every obstacle in the way of men of a superior class desirous of joining the Army. He had always been surprised that so little interest was taken in those measures which, were intended to induce men to enter the Army by, in some respects, providing for their future after they had finished their service with the colours. It had always seemed to him to be a perfectly marvellous thing that a man who had efficiently fulfilled his service with the colours should be, by reason of the fact, regarded as disqualified for civilian employment. He had done what he could to open the doors of the Civil Service to men who had been efficient in the Army and were of good character, and had established a rule in the Post Office, which he believed was to some extant in existence still, that in case of vacancies arising the preference should be given to efficient old soldiers. He complained also that where a soldier was employed in the Civil Service after serving his time in the Army, he was not allowed to claim that a single moment of the time passed in his military service should be reckoned towards his superannuation. What was the use of talking of a desire to benefit the Army and raise the standard of our soldiers if they put this ban of disqualification upon them. In the French, German and Austrian armies, soldiers on good character were guaranteed civil employment, but that was not so here. This country had, he thought, much to learn from the war in the East as to what true patriotism really meant. He brought this matter once more to the attention of the House and earnestly hoped it would receive the consideration of the Government, and that they would get these hindrances in the way of good men joining the Army removed.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
said the Motion which was directed against the Second Reading of this Bill was not an unusual one. It was moved under unusual circumstances, which, however, could be justified. Mr. Speaker 1444 had pointed out that this Bill proposed to make good supplies to the Army, and therefore anything appertaining to the Army came within it. Therefore all who objected to the Army or the conduct of the War Office were within their rights in discussing these matters. He did not know whether Mr. Speaker intended to rule that matters not relating to the Army or the Navy were not within the scope of the discussion, but, if so, he (Mr. Robertson) would point out that as the Bill proposed to issue sums of money out of the Consolidated Fund to be applied to any purpose, any action of the Government was fair subject for comment.
§ MR. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member is asking my opinion on what he has just stated I do not agree with his view at all. The discussion must be limited to-day to the three Votes included in this Bill, Pay of the Army, Works Vote for the Navy, and Army stores. Any matters relevant to those three Votes are open for discussion.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said the main point to which he wished to call the attention of the House was the very remarkable character of the Bill. It was indeed a very unusual Bill. For many years they had not seen a Consolidated Fund No. 2 Bill in that House, and he was not surprised at hon. Members seeking information when the preliminary Resolutions were brought forward. But, after all, the Bill was only a reversion to the established constitutional practice of the House. Until the last year or two there had always been three Consolidated Fund Bills, and on each opportunity was afforded of arraigning the conduct of the Government. It was not by reason of any virtue on the part of the Government that there were to be three Bills this year. It was due to a blunder on their part in the early part of the session when they failed to get the first Vote for the Army through in time to include it in the first Consolidated Fund Bill. Originally the practice was to limit Votes to two months supply for the Army and Navy and to three months at the outside for the Civil Service; it necessitated three Consolidated Fund Bills. But a silent revolution had been deliberately effected 1445 by the present First Lord of the Treasury. He only obtained small amounts for the Army and Navy at the beginning of the session, but he asked enough Supply for the Civil Service for five and a half months, and used that money for Army and Navy purposes. That ought not to be done. Money which was voted by Parliament should only be used for the purposes for which it was voted, and one service ought not to be financed out of funds voted for an altogether different service. For the first time in the history of this country the Army this year had been left without any provision by issue out of the Consolidated Fund because the first Vote was not taken in time for the first Bill. He understood that the Government justified and excused their present action by the Public Accounts and Charges Act, 1891—an obscure Act, never explained to the House of Commons, and, as he believed, never intended to be used systematically as a means of providing for one service out of funds voted by Parliament for a totally different service. The Prime Minister, above all men, was bound to maintain intact the financial safeguards, yet ho had resorted to this device of taking three times as much as was required for one service and using it for another. The power of doing this, supplemented by the automatic closure, made the Government absolutely indifferent as to what Votes were discussed in Supply; they did not care how the time was wasted, and they had tried to throw the responsibility of selecting Votes for debate on the Opposition, while they had countenanced deliberate obstruction after 9 p.m. on almost every Supply day.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Gentleman is going a very long way from the Bill before the House. He seems to be discussing the whole system on which Supply is taken, and that certainly is not germane to this Bill. He has referred to the Public Accounts and Charges Act. Under that Act the money is legally applied, and I fail to see how the hon. Member has any locus standi for discussing that Act.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said he was not attacking or disputing the interpretation put upon that act. His point 1446 was that it was never intended to be systematically used in the way it had been used. The Government had taken but small Votes for the Army, and unnecessarily large Votes for the Civil Service, and having the advantage of an automatic closure of Supply at the end of the session they had managed to escape from criticism, and the debates on the Estimates were no longer of any practical importance as attaching responsibility to any Minister.
§ MR. SPEAKER
That is a criticism on the general system under which Supply is voted and is a very long way from the point we are discussing in connection with this Bill, viz. whether the sums already voted shall be applied to the purposes for which they have been voted by the House.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said that if that wore so he would be perfectly content, but they knew that the issues would not be restricted to the services for which the money was actually voted.
§ MR. SPEAKER
That is done under the Public Accounts and Charges Act, and if the hon. Member is finding fault with that, I repeat it has nothing to do with this Bill.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said that while the Act in question authorised what was being done it did not justify it. It was a wrong thing to do.
§ MR. SPEAKER
It is done under an Act of Parliament. If the hon. Member wishes to criticise that Act this is not the time to do it, for it is not referred to in this Bill.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said he was not criticising the Act of Parliament in the least. All things might be lawful, but all things were not expedient, and he submitted that it was not expedient that this course should be followed.
Another matter to which he wished to call attention was the power assumed by the Treasury to authorise a Department to spend money voted for one purpose upon some other purpose. It would be Found from Vote 10 for the Navy that 1447 the building on Whale Island, costing £45,000, was an absolutely new service, which had never been named to the House of Commons before this year, and yet £5,000 was spent in the last financial year by anticipation on that service. That surely was a matter well worth the attention of the House, and he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would state what power he conceived he had to sanction such a transfer of money. Apparently the Comptroller and Auditor-General did not see his way to object to such expenditure, but when the accounts for the financial year just concluded came to be examined, that official would find that the Admiralty had spent £5,000 on a service not sanctioned by Parliament, and he submitted that the Comptroller and Auditor-General had no right to pass such an expenditure merely because by a Vote in a subsequent financial year the service had been ratified. As to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement on a former occasion, he did not believe he himself had ever done anything of the kind, nor did he think the practice was covered by the ordinary power of the Treasury to transfer money from one portion to another of the same Votes. His point on this case was that a considerable new service not provided for under any Estimate had been sanctioned out of money voted to the Admiralty for another purpose. The Public Accounts Committee stated that the practice appeared to be growing, and that they thought the attention of Parliament should be called to the matter, as it.seriously affected the control of Parliament over public expenditure.He entirely concurred in that statement, and he desired the Chancellor of the Exchequer to quote statutory authority for what had been done. There had been some remarkable cases of the practice in times past, but they had been defended as matters of urgency and emergency and covered by a Supplementary Estimate, followed by an Act of Parliament, before the close of the financial year. The purchase of Chilian battleships was one case, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer asked for an indemnity in the shape of a Supplementary Estimate, and little was 1448 said about it. Then there was the purchase of submarines. That was not a case of emergency, the Government of the day, after refusing during the whole Parliamentary session to adopt such weapons, took advantage of the recess to enter into a large contract without the sanction of Parliament. But that also was covered by a Supplementary Estimate and an Act of Parliament passed before the close of the financial year. That, however, could not be said of the present case. These practices Struck at the root of Parliamentary control over expenditure. If the Government of the day departed from the old financial safeguards, and if the representatives of the Treasury, particularly the Prime Minister, persisted in treating the various stages of Consolidated Fund Bills as mere formalities, such laxity in the centre of the financial system of the Empire would assuredly be followed by inefficiency and corruption. He should, therefore, support the Amendment of his hon. friend.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN, Worcestershire, E.)
said that not being quite certain how much of the argument of the hon. and learned Member was in order, he was in some difficulty as to how much of the argument he ought to answer. He would, however, confine himself to the affairs of this year, which he understood were in order, and in regard to which the hon. and learned Member had raised two points, neither of them new, but both familiar to the House, and to which the hon. and learned Member appeared to attach great importance. The first was that the Treasury had committed an irregularity, in the belief of the hon. and learned Member without precedent, in that they had not included in the first Consolidated Fund Bill of the year a sufficient amount of Army or Navy money, and had consequently, according to the hon. and learned Member, been paying for Army and Navy services out of money provided for Civil Services.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said that his contention was that this year, 1449 for the first time to his knowledge, for a period of three months provision for the Army had not been made by any grant provided for by a Consolidated Fund Act.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
understood the hon. and learned Member's argument to be that the Treasury had been obliged to pay for the Army under the authority of a Consolidated Fund Act based upon Votes for Civil Services and certain Navy Votes. As to there being no precedent, the hon. and learned Member must have looked in the wrong place. Under a Unionist Government there was probably no precedent, but there were precedents under each of the last two Liberal Administrations. In 1883—
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that had no bearing whatever on the point. It was an exact precedent, and was not affected by the Public Accounts and Charges Act of 1891. In 1883 the first Consolidated Fund Act covered no Vote for the Navy, and did not cover any Civil Services.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said the right hon. Gentleman had not pursued his researches far enough. The Government of that day passed the Consolidated Fund Bill well in time for it to become; an Act before March 31st, but delay occurred in another place. The Bill was hung up for a fortnight in the Lords, but so far as this House was concerned all the necessary steps had been taken to legalise the transaction.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that the hon. and learned Member knew very well that no Liberal Government had ever asked the House of Lords to sit in order to discharge duties necessary to conform with the law and had been refused. He now came to the second precedent. In 1894, when a Liberal Government was in office, and the Public Accounts and Charges Act had been passed, the first Consolidated Fund Act covered the Army and Navy Votes, but it did not cover any Vote on Account for the Civil Services. Whereas in this case Army payments had been made out of money that was voted for the Civil Services, in that case Civil Services had to be paid for out of money voted for Army or Navy purposes. In this second case, the second Consolidated Fund Bill did not pass until June 1st. He thought he had supplied the hon. and learned Gentleman with precedents which afforded Sufficient authority for the practice which the Government had pursued. He granted that it was inconvenient not to have these Votes passed before March 31st, and it must have been the object of every Government to secure that a sufficiency of Supply should be voted before that date in order to comply absolutely with the letter and the spirit of the law. If that consideration did not influence the Government, they would be moved to it by consideration of their own convenience, because, if they did not do it, they would, subsequently, require a second Consolidated Fund Bill in the middle of the session, which, of course, occupied time to their disadvantage.
The other point which the hon. and learned Gentleman put to him was as to the authority of the Treasury to sanction in any circumstances the commencement of work in anticipation of Parliamentary sanction, before Parliament had voted any money for that work, without taking a Supplementary Estimate in the session in which it was done. The hon. and learned Gentleman had admitted that the Treasury had power to anticipate Parliamentary sanction in this way, subject to the obligation of bringing in a Supplementary Estimate in the same session of Parliament. Therefore, in this case also, the 1451 principle was admitted, and the only question was, for how long should the Treasury act without the direct approval of Parliament. In his opinion, the power of the Treasury to act in this way should always be used with great caution and discretion.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that, in his opinion, the power was given under the Appropriation Act. That was the view of the Public Accounts Committee, who distinguished between the Army and Navy Votes and the Civil Service Votes, not in respect to the principle, but in respect to the extent to which the principle could be employed. In the case of the Civil Service Votes the Treasury had no power, except to authorise variations of expenditure between one sub-head and another sub-head in the same Vote. What the Public Accounts Committee called attention to was that for this purpose, under the Appropriation Act, all Army Votes counted as one and all Navy Votes counted as one. The same authority which authorised the Treasury to vary the appropriation as between sub-heads in the Civil Service Votes enabled them to vary the appropriation as between the Army and the Navy Votes, and they secured subsequent confirmation of that distribution by Parliament in the Resolutions that were taken. This was an ancient practice, and one of which the hon. and learned Gentleman himself had been guilty. When the hon. and learned Member for Dundee last questioned him upon this subject he reminded him that having, like himself, been Civil Lord to the Admiralty he must be aware that this was an ancient practice, and one which the hon. and learned Member himself had adopted. The hon. and learned Member gave him notice the other day that he was going to raise this question upon a certain Vote, and upon that Vote he brought the necessary papers to give three precedents from the hon. and learned Member's own administration for the practice which he now condemned. He lost his opportunity the other day, and as he had not repeated his notice to-day he had not 1452 brought those papers with him, but if the hon. and learned Member desired it the Financial Secretary to the Treasury would show him the three precedents he referred to.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
What! Did so careful an administrator and such a high legal authority as the hon. and learned Member contend that the Civil Lord to the Admiralty was entitled to raid the Treasury and that he had no responsibility for obedience to the law or for economy in public administration? The doctrine now put forward by the hon. and learned Gentleman threw a flood of light upon the kind of administration they might expect when that Government of economy, so often promised, came to take charge of the national accounts and tried its hand at realising those great economies which they professed themselves able to secure. He thought he had sufficiently defended the Government and himself against, the charge that they were introducing laxity into public expenditure. He would only add that, in his opinion, it was of real importance for the efficiency of the public service and for the true interests of economy that the Treasury should have some such power of variation in the appropriations as it now possessed, and that they should have power, subject to being called to account for the way in which they exercised that power, to meet emergencies which could not have been foreseen when the Estimates were prepared. But power of that kind ought to be exercised with the greatest care by the Treasury. He was not aware of what was the evidence upon which the Public Accounts Committee founded their suggestion that this practice was a growing practice, but he would look into that matter. He quite agreed that it ought to be restricted within the narrowest limits compatible with wise administration, with the prudent disposal of the funds in their hands, and with meeting the necessities of the case.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Perthshire, E.)
said ho was glad to hear the last few sentences of the right hon. Gentleman's 1453 speech, because in the rest of his speech he had simply adopted the tu quoque line of argument which he, for one, did not think was at all a satisfactory way of treating this subject, The hon. and learned Member for Dundee had called attention to two matters in regard to which there had been a distinct want of proper financial control. He had pointed out that for three months a new method had been adopted of financing the Army out of the Consolidated Fund when no Army money had been put into that fund for that purpose. On the face of it that was an irregularity, and one which was acknowledged by the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself and the First Lord of the Treasury at the end of March last. He was, therefore, somewhat surprised to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer devote his speech almost entirely to showing that a similar irregularity had been committed by Liberal Governments during the past twenty years. The right hon. Gentleman omitted to say that a similar irregularity was committed by a Conservative Government in 1886 and 1892. What was the use of such an argument, because they had a right to expect that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would take up the attitude of the financial purist in this matter? The right hon. Gentleman ought not to attempt to make excuses for such irregularities, and he had tried to draw off the attention of the House by a mere tu quoque argument against the hon. and learned Member for Dundee. At the end of March last they were told that these Votes were to be pushed through and that the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill, which was to contain the Army Vote No. 1, was to be brought forward at an early date after the Easter holidays. There was not the slightest excuse for what was now being done. The action of the right hon. Gentleman showed that the financial business of the country was not being conducted in a proper spirit, and that he was not adhering as rigidly as he possibly could to the due control over public expenditure by the Treasury, and by the House of Commons.
His second point had reference to the initiation of new services during the course of the year out of the Army and Navy Votes. It had been the practice of the 1454 public Departments to initiate, with the consent of the Treasury, during the currency of the year new services with money voted for the Army and Navy. The Public Accounts Committee did not mean to assert that there was any statutory authority for doing so. It was a practice which had grown up and which was increasing. It was a practice to which public attention should be directed in order that it might not further increase. He remembered that the building of a new Admiralty yacht was started in the course of the financial year, without the consent of the House of Commons, out of the savings on other Votes. The Public Accounts Committee called attention to that matter, and it was because this practice was continually going on that a paragraph had been put in the Report of the Committee on the subject. Again, the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a few tu quoque observations, and pointed out that similar things had been done by Liberal Governments. That was no answer to the House of Commons. If there was one duty more than another which the Chancellor of the Exchequer should discharge it was that he should be the rigid guardian of the public purse, and the rigid maintainer of the severest maxims regarding the financial control of the House of Commons over public expenditure. That was the least they had a right to expect of him, and it was a matter in which they had been somewhat disappointed that afternoon.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said he had not seen the evidence on which the paragraph in the Report of the Public Accounts Committee was based.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the House had not seen all the evidence which had been submitted to the Committee. But the evidence had been cumulative in recentyears, and the recommendation which was inserted in the Report of the Committee this year was with the view of securing that the consent of the Treasury should only be given in cases of real emergency. The Committee had reason to suspect from the fact that the practice had so increased latterly that consent had been given to expenditure on services which 1455 could not be properly described as cases of emergency.
LORD HENRY BENTINCK (Nottingham, S.)
said he wished to bring to the notice of the House and the Financial Secretary to the War Office the hard case of the hand frame work knitters in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire who had been engaged making cotton pants for the cavalry. Hitherto these men had looked to orders from the Government to get a living, but the Government had decided to issue to the troops a cheaper and a machine-made article, the result being that many of these men, who were well advanced in life and some of whom had invested over £100 in machinery, found themselves face to face with either starvation or the workhouse. He did not wish to question the wisdom of the Government's decision, but wished to appeal to the Financial Secretary of the War Office to let these men down as lightly as possible. He could not help thinking that these men had very strong claims upon the War Office. No doubt the Financial Secretary would tell them that it was a dying industry; but that was not exactly the point. The point was that for a considerable number of years the Government had fostered and encouraged this trade by giving orders year after year. If it had not been fostered and encouraged these men who had attained old age would not be still in the trade, but would be occupied in other branches. Some of them were sixty, seventy, and eighty years of age, and found it impossible to get drafted into other parts of the trade. Everything had been done to draft them into other branches. At the end of the South African War they numbered 500. Now that number was reduced to 278. Most of them were working for the miserable wage of 6s. a week, so that it was perfectly obvious that if they could have got into any other trade they would have done so. He was exceedingly grateful to the Financial Secretary for the kindness he had shown in this matter. He had bothered the Financial Secretary a good deal in appealing on behalf of these poor men. Could the hon. Gentleman make some arrangement whereby they might get 8s. or 9s. a week? No doubt the Financial 1456 Secretary had to guard the interests of the taxpayer, but he was sure he would not wish to see these men go into the workhouse.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said he sympathised with the remarks of the noble Lord in regard to the case of the makers of cotton pants for the Army. He trusted that due care would be taken with regard to the contractors chosen to do work for the Array. One of their complaints was that contracts were sometimes given to the wrong men. These unfortunate working men in England who were making cotton pants were being ground down by the unfair terms imposed upon them. Now the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been good enough to throw his ægis over the Minister for War. The right hon. Gentleman said the Ministry which succeeded the present one might perhaps be more efficient and economical. He himself did not think they could possibly be worse in the matter of efficiency than the present Government. But it should not be forgotten that on his side of the House they did not recognise that their leaders were their masters. They kept a careful eye on them. Did hon. Members opposite suppose that hon. Members on his side would have allowed all the evasion and shuffling which they had seen go on for three years? He believed that any Liberal Ministry that could be formed would be most efficient and economical, and what he was perfectly certain of was that, if it was not, it would be attacked by Liberals as boldly and strongly as the Ministry at present in office had been attacked. His complaint in regard to hon. Members opposite was that they were far too servile to their Ministers. No matter what the Government did they were ready to vote for them. They shook their heads in private and regretted that the country was going to the dogs, but when it came to a vote of confidence they rushed into the House and they said they had confidence in those Gentlemen. Next Monday they would have an opportunity of doing that.
This Vote they were now discussing was in the main for Army and Navy stores, and in it was included the pay of the gentlemen who had been suspended 1457 or relieved of their duties. Therefore they had surely the right to oppose this Vote at the present moment. They could not go into the question of the Commission which was to be appointed, but circumstances had occurred lately which did not increase their confidence in His Majesty's Government. There were to be investigations in this matter, but they had nothing to do with Royal Commissions. Hon. Members could not divest themselves of the specific duty which they were sent there to perform, and that was to exercise control over the public funds. Ministers were responsible in all respects for what occurred in their respective offices, and not only the particular Minister concerned, but Ministers were collectively responsible. When on a snatch division a Liberal Ministry was defeated on the question of cordite they at once resigned. He believed nothing that could be brought against the present occupants of the Treasury Bench would make them do that, for they thought it was a duty to the country that such able and efficient men should remain in office in order to prevent the country from going to the dogs, and they were supported by hon. Gentlemen opposite.
If there was an occasion when the House ought to watch carefully what was going on it was when they had to deal with stores in South Africa. During the "fifties" there were any amount of Kaffir wars, and there was stupidity and waste in all of them. On the initiative of the Leader of the Opposition, a Committee or Commission was to be appointed to inquire into all these proceedings—he might call it an orgie—in South Africa, and under these circumstances it appeared to him that they could not agree to this Vote. There was a great deal in the air which required to be cleared up. There had evidently been a great deal of criminal negligence and hushing-up in South Africa during the past three years. He should be delighted if, on Monday, the Prime Minister, and the Secretary of State for War, and also the Secretary of State for India, were able to make out a case for themselves. If they did he should welcome it. But the Government should put off this Vote until after Monday. It was 1458 perfectly preposterous to ask the House to pass this Vote, which included the pay of gentlemen against whom a prima facie case had been made out. Why not put it off for a week? It might be that there was really a solution of the situation in the air; and that it was felt that it was desirable to consult the country. They were living under the impression that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister was hanging on to power and place as long as he could. He would give friendly advice to the right hon. Gentleman to appeal to the country between the hay and the corn harvest. If, after a general election, the country were of opinion that the services of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues should be retained, then he and his friends must bow to that decision; but the country ought to be left to decide these matters. He thought, however, that the country had shown that it had made up its mind that it was not enamoured of the present Government. In fact, so far as he could understand, the country desired that, so far as the Prime Minister and his Administration were concerned, they should come to an end whenever the constituencies were consulted.
There was one point on which he wished to ask the Prime Minister a Question. He could not quite gather the position of General Lyttelton. Had General Lyttelton sent in his resignation? Was that gallant officer in a state of suspended animation? Was he still a member of the Army Council? They had a right to ask that, because some of the officers implicated in these scandals had been relieved of duty. No one who read the evidence of the Butler Committee would say that that evidence did not equally apply to General Lyttelton, and that that general officer ought to be equally relieved of duty. He would, like to have an Answer to that Question.
§ MR. REGINALD LUCAS (Portsmouth)
said that since they had last discussed the question of the position of the Militia, he had had the experience of another training and of the conditions under which the Militia, were labouring. The feeling was that they were confronted with some kind of transformation which they did not understand. The Militia—officers and men 1459 —wanted to know what their position now was, and what was before them. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that when this question was last before the House, in April last, he said that the Militia were to become a part of the short-service Army.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The question of the Militia does not arise here. There is no Vote for the Militia in this Bill.
§ MR. EDMUND. ROBERTSON
May I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that this Bill must necessarily apply to the Militia?
§ MR. SPEAKER
What I say is that you cannot discuss all the possible services upon this particular Bill. There are only three services included in this Bill; and discussion must be confined to them.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said that it was well known and intended, and it was the practice of the House, that money granted in Vote 1 and Vote 7 must be applied to the Militia.
§ MR. SPEAKER
That may be so: but the same argument might just as well be applied in Committee of Supply when a certain Vote is voted for a particular purpose. It might be argued that if a portion of money might be applied to other services, the Committee were entitled to discuss all the services to which the money might be applied.
SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
said that the noble. Lord had brought before the House the case of a very deserving class of men. He wished to recommend that case to the Financial Secretary to the War Office. It was a matter of very great interest that the noble Lord should have discovered that there were dying industries which were not capable of resurrection. They had heard of a great number of dying industries which had a wonderful way of becoming alive again and being restored to an unusual degree of prosperity. If this hosiery industry was dying it was not because of foreign competition, but 1460 because of the invention of machinery which had greater aptitude for performing work than those artisans who had been engaged all their lives in that particular industry. These men were now reduced to something under 300 and they would be deprived of the means of subsistence if the War Office insisted on demanding a particular form of hosiery for that which had been demanded in former times. There might be a small financial gain if the work of these men, the majority of whom were from fifty to sixty years of age, was taken from them. What they asked was that the War Office should continue to give small orders for this particular kind of hosiery which had been well executed in the past. This was not a large claim to make, and he hoped that the hon. Gentleman would consider it favourably.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. BROMLEY DAVENPORT, Cheshire, Macclestield)
said that he quite expected that this question would be raised, and he did not, of course, complain of its being raised, and particularly of the manner in which it had been dealt with by the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. He had not been at all sure, however, from what direction criticism would be levelled against the War Department or that the criticism would be of the kind they had heard from the noble Lord, namely, that the War Office had shown a lack of sympathetic treatment to these workmen, or whether it would be to the effect that sympathetic treatment was out of place in the dealings between the War Office and the men employed under these contracts. The facts were these. This was a very old industry. For a great number of years past, until the South African War, it was an accepted fact that only one kind of hosiery was really suitable and acceptable to the Army and that it must be hand-made. During times of pressure, great encouragement was given to the men to increase their output. A largo number of men, as had been said, were drawn into the industry; and some of the older men invested their hard-earned savings in the purchase of machinery. In spite of their efforts, however, the output did not keep 1461 pace with the demand; and it was then discovered that machine-made articles were good enough for the purpose. In fact they were almost indistinguishable from the hand-made articles, and were very much cheaper. If the hand-made articles were, however, eliminated from the contract that would be extremely hard on the hand workers. Speaking generally, the War Office authorities should not engage in philanthropic or charitable orders. Anyone occupying his position should be confined to the requirements of the Army, and to the cheapest article. For instance, when the establishment was reduced last winter, there were admisericordiam appeals to the War Office not to dismiss men and add to the ranks of the unemployed. These were, however, matters with which he should not be empowered to deal. It was pitiable to hear the complaints, but still his hands ought to be tied in such matters, and he should only be allowed to sanction orders required for the service of the Army. This, however, was an exceptional case. Men who were now old had been engaged in this trade all their lives; and it was impossible for them to engage in any other. The only question was whether the consideration and assistance rendered to them was sufficient or not. He hoped that the young men, who could get employment elsewhere, would be drawn out of this industry, and that only old men, who could not reasonably expect to obtain other employment would remain. He regretted that the industry must be considered a dying one; but they should try to make the period before extinction as long as possible, out of sympathy with the men. Certain orders would be given, but they would have to be constantly decreasing orders so that in the end this particular form of industry would have to be discontinued. He could assure hon. Members who had appealed to him that they had his sympathy; and that he would do all he could in the matter, consistent with his duty to safeguard the interest of the taxpayer.
§ MR. BOND (Nottingham, E.)
said no complaint could be made of the spirit in which the Financial Secretary to the War Office had approached the question. It was a fair and a sympathetic spirit, 1462 and he thought the Financial Secretary's remarks would go far to mitigate the unquestionably hard lot of a number of deserving men. There was one point, however, which had not been dealt with as he should have liked. Practically these men had been kept going for some time past by the Army. They went into the work to supply an article the Army required. They went into the industry with the idea that pants of a particular kind, strong and lasting, would always be required by the Army, and that they could not be made by machinery. That being so, he thought a strong case was made for not throwing the men out in their old age when they had been, not formally of course, but practically the servants of the State for the manufacture of these particular goods. He took his hon. friend's speech to mean that he would continue a sympathetic course to the men, and he hoped that course would be continued by his successors. It was a small concession, but one which he thought justice demanded. He was informed that of 278 men now engaged 231 were over fifty years of age and 121 were over sixty. These men asked to be allowed to earn what was at best only a pittance, and he trusted they might be relieved by what had taken place of the uncertainty under which they must have laboured.
§ MR. MCCRAE (Edinburgh, E.)
said he wished to protest against the reply of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman cynically observed that the House did not realise the gravity of the position. What he wished to point out was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not been exercising due control in the administration of similar Acts. The delay in the introduction of this Bill—which was really a Bill of indemnity—accentuated the matter, especially as regarded Army administration. The transference of money from one Department to another had been stretched to its utmost limits, and the Government had been doing things for which they bad no Parliamentary sanction. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol was Chancellor of the Exchequer, he himself drew attention to the fact that a sum of not less than £10,000,000, which had been 1463 voted for terminable charges at the conclusion of the war, had really been applied to the continuation of the war, the Government thereby evading the necessity for an autumn session to get further supplies. The laxity of financial control was at the root of many of the difficulties they had to contend with at the present time in regard to the Army. He wished to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the recent changes at the War Office tended to better the administration of the Army. He thought that the House ought to have a clear statement on that point. The difficulties which had arisen in connection with the fixing of responsibility had accentuated the position; and, therefore, it would be valuable if the Secretary of State would tell the House how they stood in this matter. As far as outsiders could gather, chaos reigned supreme. He should also like to ask whether General Lyttelton had offered to tender his resignation.
§ MR. MCCRAE
said that the matter was very germane to the condition of the Army generally. He hoped that the Secretary of State would tell the House what was the position of the Army for which this money was being voted. They were in a state of some uncertainty as to the Army, and the sooner a clear and definite statement was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War with regard to the present scheme of Army reform the better it would be for the country. For his part, he thought if the right hon. Gentleman, with his great power of administration and his great insight into detail, ceased from fancy schemes of Army reform and turned his attention to remedying those great defects which were admitted to exist in the War Office, it would be better for the country. He hoped the right hon. 1464 Gentleman would, however, take this opportunity of laying before the House a statement of the present position, as there was considerable alarm in the country, more especially with regard to the facts that had come out recently as to the conduct of the war in South Africa.
One other point. This Bill dealt with the power of the Treasury to borrow money on Treasury bills. Now that raised the whole question of temporary indebtedness. What he desired to put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer was that the condition of the Exchequer balances at the present time called for some remark. The Exchequer balances amounted to some £9,000,000, and yet under this Bill they were authorising the right hon. Gentleman to borrow on Treasury bills, while this money was locked up and causing a consider able dislocation in affairs in the City. In his opinion it would be much better if the right hon. Gentleman took the opportunity of redeeming Treasury bills instead of borrowing further, so as to set free the money which was at present locked up.
§ MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
said he did not think that in the course of that day's debate attention had been drawn to the fact that the Consolidated Fund Bill included Vote 7 of the Army Estimates—a Vote for many millions for foreign supplies, of which amount a large part would be spent in South Africa during the coming twelve months. A day or two since the Secretary for War, in reply to a Question, informed the House that some, contracts were still running with some of the firms that had been so much in the public mind since the Butler Committee reported, and it would therefore be well for the House to realise that that day it was authorising the Treasury to pay out still further sums under a system which they were all now agreed in condemning. He quite appreciated the reply of the right hon. Gentleman that on June 1st this year he sent out orders that no further contracts should be entered into with these contractors whose conduct had been called in question. Indeed he doubted if they were entitled to make any accusation against 1465 contractors for securing the biggest possible prices and profits. It was the system of which they complained and yet this Bill proposed to authorise further payments of money under it during the next year. They were told that the current contracts with these firms were only minor ones, but that did not tally with the statement repeatedly made before the Butler Committee as to large contracts for forage, and he did think that before this Bill received Parliamentary sanction they should hear from the Secretary for War that he either had stopped or would stop the system under which obviously there had been so much waste—to put it no stronger than that.
It was clear that unless the right hon. Gentleman had recently taken some step which he had not yet announced, the system of local contracts, which was the origin of all these unpleasant disclosures, must be still existent in South Africa. Something was said the other day about a new system having been set up recently by which it was hoped to prevent a recurrence of the things complained of, and if that were so, then the House should be informed of the fact that the system of local contracts—which involved their being confined closely to certain Johannesberg firms, with a consequent inability on the part of the officers responsible to make really satisfactory contracts—had been stopped, and it should also be told when it was stopped, and what was the nature of the organisasion for the purchase of the supplies which would be utilised for the spending of the money the House was now asked to vote. There could be no question more pertinent to this Bill than that, and he hoped they would get a satisfactory reply on the point from the right hon. Gentleman.
He understood it would not be in order to discuss the question of the reported resignation of General Sir Neville Lyttelton, but, seeing that possibly the officer who appeared to have been in supreme command, when these difficulties occurred might still have control when the present money was being spent, he thought they might fairly ask a question which apparently 1466 was not covered by a reply given earlier in that sitting—they might fairly ask had General Sir Neville Lyttelton tendered his resignation, or was it the case he had been called upon to do so? They had been told that morning that he had not resigned, but were they to accept that as meaning that his resignation was expected? It certainly was important for the House to know who was going to administer the many millions which under this Bill they were going to authorise the Treasury to pay out.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said that he desired to reply to the various points which had been raised in the course of the debate. His hon. friend the Member for the Isle of Wight referred to two matters—the shortage of officers and the difficulty which he alleged in regard to obtaining recruits. These were, no doubt, very important points, and it would be well for the House to know what the exact facts were. He was glad to say it was not the fact that there was an insuperable difficulty in obtaining recruits. The terms of enlistment had, as the House was aware, been altered, and there was no uncertainty whatever in the minds of recruits as to the conditions upon which they were asked to serve in the Army. It was true that there was a smaller number of recruits this year than last year; but last year was a phenomenal year, and this year two causes had contributed—as the War Office anticipated that they would contribute—to reducing the number of recruits. In the first place no short-service recruits were now taken; and, in the second place, there was a more rigid method of medical examination, and here were stations at which the rejections had risen from 30 per cent. last year to 60 and even 70 per cent. in the present year. Obviously, those two causes combined must reduce—as indeed they were intended to do—the number of men enlisted. Everyone knew that the number of men who in bygone days entered and were compelled to leave the service again, if not in a few months, at any rate in the first year, was very large. He himself greatly preferred the present system to the practice of rejecting men 1467 after they bad joined the colours, and after they had been entered as efficient soldiers and cost us a considerable sum for uniforms, etc. They had now enlisted since October 16,000 long-service recruits—that was to say, the equivalent of some twenty battalions of infantry. There was, therefore, he thought, no foundation for the fears to which his hon. and gallant friend had given expression.
With regard to the question of getting officers, of course that was of vital importance. But there was no evidence at the present moment of the falling off alleged. He did not say that a falling off did not exist, and for reasons that were patent. They were going through a transition stage with regard to the Army. But it was not the fact that they were not getting officers; on the contrary, they had considerably over 200 qualified applicants whom, he was sorry to say, they were compelled to refuse because they had not actual house room for them at the Military College at Sandhurst. That was a most unsatisfactory state of things, and they were doing their best to remedy it. They were taking provisional, steps by putting a number of cadets into the surplus accommodation at Woolwich. It was not correct to say there was a great scarcity of the commissioned ranks. It was the fact that there was a serious shortage of officers in one branch of the Army, the cavalry, and that question was giving the Army Council the greatest possible concern, and he himself had been a very close student of the problem. The Army Council had obtained the opinions of cavalry officers throughout the service, and they had had a special Committee to consider the point. Whether they would be able to reconcile the many conflicting opinions they had received, and to produce the same supply of officers for the cavalry as they had hitherto been able to produce for the infantry, he did not know: but until that problem had been solved there would be ground for criticism.
With respect to the Guards officers, he disliked as much as anybody any interference with the principle of competitive examination for the service, which had so long been the accepted method of entry; but they had found that the brigade of Guards, one of the most useful military organisations we 1468 possessed in time of war, had suffered from a very serious shortage of officers owing to exceptional causes. Exceptional cases required exceptional remedies; and he would remind the Committee that exactly the same emergency arose in the Navy, that exceptional measures were taken, and that when the emergency had gone by the normal state of things returned.
The hon. and gallant Member had charged him with being responsible for great delay in connection with various transactions which he would not now discuss, but at the proper time he would be able to make it clear that no delay, for which he was responsible, had exceeded twelve hours. As to the employment of discharged soldiers, reference to which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East Manchester, he did not think the case was as bad as it had been made out. All had not been done that ought to be done, but he had put this question in the forefront, and they had not been inactive in regard to it. Last year, in prisons alone, 135 vacancies were given to old soldiers, who also secured twenty-eight appointments as messengers; by the War Office 6,700 old soldiers were employed; and on the railways, no less than 16,000. Out of the registered men whose names were down for employment 68 per cent. obtained it. And the most satisfactory fact of all was that, out of 25,498 men of good character who had been discharged into civil life, 21,815 had got situations. He did not rest content with that, for if a man's character had been good he ought to be certain of obtaining employment; but there was not so much cause for dissatisfaction as had been suggested.
The hon. Member for Halifax had asked a Question which, although but remotely connected with the subject they were discussing, might, he thought, be legitimately discussed on its merits—as to the contracts which had been made recently in South Africa. The hon. Member had asked whether they were going to continue the system of local contracts. He thought there was some small confusion of thought with regard to this subject. The local contracts which had been impugned were not 1469 impugned because they were local contracts, but because the whole of the circumstances under which they were made were special. It was alleged that they were not subject to adequate review and that they were not made in accordance with any regular system. He did not think it was possible to have a system which would prohibit the making of local contracts. It had been pressed on him over and over again in that House, and on his predecessors, that they should make local contracts in this country. There were articles, such as forage and provisions, which must necessarily be furnished by local contractors; and he was quite certain if any prohibition of local contracts were insisted upon, there would arise what he believed would be a just outcry throughout the length and breadth of the land—an outcry which the House of Commons would be very ready to support.
With regard to the South African contracts which had been alluded to, he had only to repeat what he said yesterday. There had been contracts, and there were contracts which had been given, by open tender, to firms whose integrity and good faith had been impugned by the recent Report. He had not the slightest reason to suppose that they could be questioned in any way, they were for small amounts, for a very small portion of out supplies. But he did hold, as much as any one, that in these matters they must be above suspicion. The moment he saw that the proceedings of these firms were impugned he decided that there should be no more contracts with them. He did not wait for any prompting in the House, but telegraphed immediately that there should be no more contracts with these firms until their dealings with the War Office had been cleared up.
The hon. Member for Halifax had also asked a Question with regard to general organisation for buying and selling. He would like to point out that the War Office had been the object of much obloquy, but it was not so incompetent as some hon. Members supposed. All those who had studied the history of our past wars knew perfectly well that the organisation of the Army in this country had not been an organisation comparable with that of any 1470 great military State—that we had been content to rub through our difficulties in a way which no human being called scientific. Certainly, if them had been one thing more impressed on his mind than another it was that in a considerable number of the subsidiary branches of the Army, among them those connected with supply and financial administration, we had had nothing comparable with the organisation which existed in some foreign armies. It was true, in his opinion, that the system which existed three, four or five years ago for supplying the Army, and for controlling the financial arrangements of an army in the field were inadequate. He believed they were inadequate because there was no properly organised staff during the time of war, and it had been the task of the Army Council to try to prevent a recurrence of that state of things, which they all deplored. They had been engaged for the last fifteen months in building up a system which, he believed, ought to enable the Army to take the field in any subsequent war without fear of the recurrence of any abuses of that kind. The system was a very simple one. They were now decentralising the contract and pay branches. He had been asked whether he thought the changes in the administration of the War Office, had done good or harm. He honestly believed that they had all been framed in accordance with business principles, and he thought it was a business principle that they should decentralise their organisation as they had done.
Let him explain to the House how he saw the operation of this system. We had one Army corps at Aldershot; we had in connection with that Army corps a contract staff. They were engaged every day in the work of supplying the wants of the Aldershot army corps. When war broke out what would happen would be that the army corps would be transferred to the seat of war, and with it would go the whole of the contract staff which had been trained to do the work at home. If operations at all comparable in their scale to those which took place recently were carried on, he believed that much advantage would be derived from the financial adviser of the War Office accompanying 1471 the general in the field. Every general in the field ought to have at his disposal a skilled financial staff who could relieve him of a great deal of the work which his own experience had not fitted him to perform, and which in the stress of war was not, perhaps, regarded as very important, but which, when the bill came to be paid, was all-important. He might be too sanguine, but he believed the Army Council had made such arrangements in the organisation of the contract and other branches of the Army as would enable them to say with some confidence that they would not be deceived in their hopes. In the contingency of a campaign involving enormous financial transactions that would require a very considerable knowledge of business, of the circumstances affecting the market, of the method of making purchases, and of the way by which the best value could be got for one's money, and that knowledge he believed the new system would supply.
He did not think he had very much more to answer. His hon. friend the Member for the Isle of Wight had spoken about what he conceived to be the shortage of officers; he had stated that uncertainty and discouragement existed. He himself believed that the sooner all uncertainties were removed the better, and he was as anxious about the matter as his hon. friend was. He thought it would not be long before this end was accomplished. He felt, however, very strongly that if one thing more than another could be selected as the reason for discouragement among officers, it was the indiscriminate use of hard words, in the House and outside, with regard to the Army. To speak of "widespread corruption" was, he thought, to use the sort of language that was discouraging to officers. We had no evidence of widespread corruption. He did not believe in widespread corruption. Let critics pick out individuals if they pleased, let them pick out politicians if they pleased, and charge them with crimes which they could bring home to their doors. But he begged the House to desist from these general charges either of incompetence or corruption. They were not sustainable, and if 1472 not sustainable they ought not to be made. They did far more than any blunders he might make or the system might have produced to discourage officers in the Army on whose services we should need to rely in time of war.
§ MR. MCKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
expressed his surprise at hearing that, so far as the Secretary for War was concerned, there had not been twelve hours delay in dealing with the supplies question. The other day in answer to a Question the right hon. Gentleman said he discontinued the employment of certain contractors on 1st June this year. But in the Report of the Controller and Auditor-General, in the Report of the Appropriation Account of the Army, circulated in the House on 1Oth March this year, the whole circumstances in connection with these contracts were set out at length, and the right hon. Gentleman must have had knowledge of them many months before.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
My Answer was correct. The day I became aware that any charge was levelled against these persons I caused a Committee of inquiry to be appointed. The moment that Committee reported I circulated its Report, and the moment I received the evidence of the Committee I took the action to which the hon. Gentleman refers. I do not think anybody in my place could have acted more promptly. I do not think anybody would suppose I could act without having the information I had.
§ MR. MCKENNA
still thought the right hon. Gentleman did not appreciate his point. It was true that on the issue of the Butler Report he discontinued the employment of certain contractors, but the right hon. Gentleman was as capable of getting at the facts as the Butler Committee, and he actually had them within his knowledge. It was true that the Butler Committee stated the facts in stronger language than the Report of the Controller and Auditor-General, but the facts were shown by the latter. There was one paragraph in the Report—known to the right hon. Gentleman 1473 eight months age—regarding a case in which oats were sold by the War Office for 11s., and the same oats were bought by the War Office for 17s. 10d., and sales by the War Office took place to enable the contractor to carry out his contract at 17s. 10d. That was the strongest case mentioned in the Butler Report, and it was brought to the knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman eight months ago, but for those eight months the employment of the contractors was continued. It was too late for the Secretary of State to shield himself behind the Committee. It was his duty to supervise these plain matters, and it was not necessary to wait for the Report of any Committee before putting an end to the possibility of such practices being repeated.
§ of officers who received commissions during the stress of the South African War, many of whom had been driven out of the Army owing to their inability to meet examination requirements. Some of these men were between thirty and forty years of age, and, not having had the advantage of a course of training at Sandhurst, they were unable to pass a technical examination for promotion. He asked whether the Government intended to maintain their unyielding attitude towards these officers, and also whether the same treatment was to be continued as in the past on the question of pay.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 126; Noes, 89. (Division List No. 206.)1475
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Finlay, Sir R.B.(Inv'rn'ssB'ghs||Morton, A. H. Aylmer|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden||Fisher William Hayes||Mount, Wm. Arthur|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Fison, Frederick William||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt Hon. Hugh O.||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Flower Sir Ernest||O'Neill, Hn. Robert Torrens|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon Sir H||Forster, Henry William||Parker, Sir Gilbert|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Foster, Philip S (Warwick, S.W||Pease, Herb. Pike (Darlington)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Garfit, William||Peel, Hn Wm. Robert Wellesley|
|Balfoor, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manc'r||Gordon, Hn. J.E (Elgin & Nairn)||Pemberton, John S. G.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Graham, Henry Robert||Percy, Earl|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Green, Walford D (Wednesbury||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Greene, Sir E W (B'ry S Edm'nds||Plummer, Sir Walter R.|
|Bathurst, Hn. Allen Benjamin||Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Hardy, L. (Kent, Ashford)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Bill, Charles||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Purvis, Robert|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th||Pym, C. Guy|
|Bond, Edward||Heaton, John Henniker||Rasch, Sir Frederick Carne|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hn. St. John||Helder, Augustus||Renshaw, Sir Chas. Bine|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J A (Glasgow)||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Ritchie, Rt Hn. Chas Thomson|
|Cautley, Henrys Strother||Hogg, Lindsay||Roberts Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.||Hope, J.F (Sheffield, Brightside||Robertson, Herb. (Hackney)|
|Chamberlain, Ht, Hn J.A (Worc.||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter|
|Chapman, Edward||Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred||Round, Rt. Hn. James|
|Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Kimber, Sir Henry||Royds, Clement Molynex|
|Coddington, Sir William||Laurie, Lieut-General||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Law Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Samuel, Sir H. S. (Limehouse|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Colston, Chas. Ed. H. Athole||Legge, Col. Hn. Heneage||Sharps, Wm. Edward T.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Lockwood, Lieut-Col. A. R.||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down. North)||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol, S||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Davenport, Wm. Bromley||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lanes)|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Lucas, Col. F. (Lowestoft)||Stroyan, John|
|Dorington, Rt. Hn. Sir John E.||Lucas, Reginald J (Portsmouth||Strutt, Hn. Chas. Hedley|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers.||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh, W||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Egerton, Hn. A. de Tatton||Marks, Harry Hananel||Tomlinson, Sir Wm Edw. M.|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn Sir J (Manc'r||Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir H.E(Wigt'n||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Ficlden, Edward Brocklehurst||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. H.|
|Finch, Rt. Hn. George H.||Morrison, James Archibald||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Welby, Lt.-Co!. A. C. E. Taunton||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm||TELLERS FOR THE AYKS—Sir"|
|Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)||Wyndham, Quin, Col. W. H.||Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|Wilson, John (Glasgow)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong||Viscount Valentia.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herb. John||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Black, Alexander William||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Philips, John Wynford|
|Blake, Edward||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Price, Robert John|
|Bright, Allan Heywood||Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D.||Rea, Russell|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Higham, John Sharp||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries|
|Buchanan, Thomas Rybun||Holland, Sir Wm. Henry||Runciman, Walter|
|Burns, John||Hutchinson, Dr. Chas. Fred k.||Russell, T. W.|
|Burt, Thomas||Jacoby, James Alfred||Samuel, Herb. L. (Cleveland)|
|Buxton, N. E (York, N. R Whitby||Kitson, Sir James||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Caldwell, James||Labouchere, Henry||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R (Northants|
|Cawley, Frederick||Leng, Sir John||Sullivan, Donal|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lewis, John Herbert||Tennant, Harold John|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Lundon, W.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Lyell, Charles Henry||Thomas, D. A. (Merthyr)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Toulmin, George|
|Delany, William||M'Crae, George||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Markham, Arthur Basil||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hn. Sir Charles||Mooney, John J.||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Dobbie, Joseph||Morley, Rt Hn. John (Montrose||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Murphy, John||White, Luke (York, W. R.|
|Doogan, P. C.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Williams, Osmond (Merion)|
|Ellice, Capt E C (S Andrw's Bgh's||Nolan, Col. J. P. (Galway, N.)||Wilson, Henry J (York, W. R.)|
|Emmott, Alfred||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary Mid)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.|
|Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.||Major Seely and Mr.|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Parrott, William||M'Kenna,|
Question put, and agreed to.