§ Motion made, and Question proposed, " That a sum, not exceeding £559,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge for the War Office and Army 1075 Accounts Department, which will come in course of payment during the year ended on the 31st day of March, 1907."
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. HALDANE,) Haddington
I think it will be for the convenience of the Committee that I should at once make a full statement. What I have to lay before the Committee is nothing else than the proposals of the Cabinet regarding the reorganisation of the forces of the King. This debate has been anticipated with a lively interest. It has given rise to a vast amount of ingenious and intelligent anticipation. These anticipations have not been confined to the Press. My two right hon. predecessors have exercised themselves upon the subject. I much regret personally that my right hon. friend, Mr. Brodrick, is not to-day present in the House for the purposes of this discussion. He has mobilised his forces against me. He has brought his artillery to bear upon my artillery. He has pronounced my scheme, although he had not yet come in sight of it, as in part a national calamity, and in part a national crime. I cannot discuss Mr. Brodrick's letter in his absence; but I will make this observation—it is not always a safe thing to use your artillery against an enemy whose position you have not yet ascertained. You are apt to disclose your own position and to use up your ammunition in vain. But Mr. Brodrick is not the only ex-Minister who has entered the lists. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon has been more cautious. But in his case, too, there have been symptoms of feverish activity which have urged him to rush into print, if not into war. Well, what I have to say may, perhaps, make a good many of the criticisms that have been made seem beside the point. But there are other things on which, I think, we are all agreed. One of them is this—I do not care in what part of the House he sits, but I believe there is hardly a Member who is not profoundly convinced that the state of our national forces is highly unsatisfactory. Whether you come to the matter from the point of view of cost, or from the point of view of organisation, there is much to be done, resolute effort to be made, before things can be brought to a satisfactory condition. The Government has both of these considerations to bear in mind— cost and efficiency. As it has been 1076 suggested that I, for one, have been driven into a desire to reduce the Army Estimates and to put a check on the extravagance which has been been growing up, I desire, most emphatically, to associate myself with the proposition of the necessity for check and reduction. It was the Duke of Wellington who used to say that no greater harm could be done to the British Army than to associate it in the public mind with extravagance. I am sure that that is not only true, but that it is the view of many of the most thoughtful soldiers to-day, who hold very strongly that before you can restore public confidence in the Army you must make the people feel that they are getting value for their money. Then there are other considerations bearing upon this question of the growth and cost and burden of armaments. I do not repeat the solemn warning which was given to the House recently by my right hon, friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not repeat the equally solemn warning that was given by an ox-Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord St. Aldwyn, in another place not long ago, and corroborated by Lord Goschen. I think we all feel that with the income-tax at a shilling, and the public finances in the state in which they are, it is time, at least, that the situation should be closely and carefully surveyed. Then there is another consideration. The democracies of the world, however they may he divided on other points, are at one in making manifest at this moment their desire that the crushing burdens of armaments which press upon them should be lightened. We in this great, rich, and powerful country have the opportunity of taking our share in that movement. We mean to give the lead.
But it is not merely the point of view of economy that has rendered it necessary that the situation of the Army should be closely reviewed. It is essential also from the point of view of organisation and efficiency. Since I came to the War Office I have been struck with this—that while never before, perhaps, in the history of our country, have we had finer soldiers or better officers than those thoughtful new men who have matured since the trial of the great war in South Africa, still we suffer from the disorganisation and the want of intelligent principle in the arrangement of our forces, which put 1077 every attempt to make things better to naught. You have evidences of that at every turn. We have had many schemes of Army reorganisation in the past; but it has generally been the alternation of an Army without a scheme or a scheme without an Army; and the time seems to have come, in the opinion of soldiers and the public, for an attempt, a resolute attempt, to be made to turn schemes of Army reorganisation into realities.
Since I have been at the War Office I have been approached by many of the modern type of officers to whom I have referred, who have said to me—" No soldier but would like more money and more men. But we recognise that the nation demands retrenchment, and we know the grounds upon which it is held to be necessary. We do not dispute those grounds; we are prepared to agree with them. But this much we say to you—use the power, if you can obtain it from this new Parliament, full of vigour and ideas, to reorganise the Army in such a fashion that it shall be fit for the only purpose for which an army is needed—the purpose of war. We hate war. Would that the day had come when the curse of war might be averted from us, when it was no longer necessary to prepare forces for our defence. But till that day comes it is our duty to see that every penny spent on the Army is spent on fighting efficiency." That is the view of the Army. That is the view of the Army Council. That is the view of many soldiers of every shade of politics—some of them in this House—who have come to me and said—" Do not lose this great opportunity for asking Parliament to reorganise us—it may be in a drastic and searching fashion —but to reorganise us in such a way that we shall be fit for war."
That is the keynote of the attempt at! Army reform of my colleagues and myself which I have to-day to lay before the House of Commons. Some time ago I made a speech in introducing the Army Estimates, in which I laid down ' certain principles, which I said were engaging my attention and the attention of my advisers and which seemed to be reasonable. We had a great deal of discussion on them, and some of them form the foundation of what I have to say to-day. I am not going to restate at length those principles or to repeat what I then said. I asked for time to consider them. The House has been generous to 1078 me. It has not pressed me to hurry over my difficult and delicate task. I have had time to think; and today I wish to use the period of the debate which I shall occupy for the purpose of ' stating the concrete proposals in which these principles have resulted as distinguished from the grounds on which those principles were based. I shall only summarise very shortly what I have already laid down. But before I do so let me make one observation.
I concur entirely in the view that we owe in approaching this task a great deal to the work that has been done. The Committee of Imperial Defence has, to my mind, been a most valuable institution in bringing out certain broad principles. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Leader of the Opposition, did the nation a service when he devised an instrument which should bring Admiralty policy and War Office policy into contact with the general policy of the Empire. It is largely due to the discussions which have taken place in that body, and to the light which has been obtained by surveying things not merely in isolation but as a whole that it is possible to get some coherent view, be it right or wrong, of the problem that lies in front of us. One other thing I wish to say. I have stated that while soldiers generally would naturally like more men and more money, the wisest of them see the necessity of a stern attempt at reduction. On that hypothesis, on the hypothesis that economy is necessary, on the hypothesis that those who insist on economy are ready to extend to them also the boon of reorganisation—reorganisation on the basis that war and war only is the thing for which an army ought to exist —I have been able, if I may so say, to enter into a covenant with the influential representatives of the Army. They have put their best strength into the propositions which I have to lay before the Committee, which propositions would have been of very little value if they had been my own propositions only, but are propositions which have been accepted and endorsed by the Cabinet after they have been worked out to the last point by the highest skilled experts who are at present responsible for the work of the General Staff, for the work of the Adjutant-General's Department, and for the work of the Quartermaster - General and the Ordnance 1079 Departments of the War Office. I cannot f express my obligations too deeply to my colleagues of the Army Council for assisting me in the way they have done to work out the scheme of reorganisation which I have to present, and—on the hypothesis that reductions are right—the whole-hearted concurrence they have expressed in a proposal which, just because it is their own, I believe will result in the increase of the efficiency for fighting purposes of the British Army by 50 per cent. I cannot but express my thanks to those young officers who have thrown their energies and their minds into this question. These proposals result in a large reduction of men and of money; and yet, by the reorganisation of the Army as a whole, the result is produced in a form in which, if we have had to pare down, we have also used our materials in building up and completing the structure so that at last it is homogeneous.
But economy and efficiency are not incompatible things. Look at the great industrial concerns, the railways and big manufacturing establishments—how are they made to pay their dividends? Why, by going through every item of their accounts, and asking why and for what reason has this money been spent, and what justification there is for every item. We have been living laborious days at the War Office during the last few months. I am afraid the eight hours movement shows no signs of reaching that great Department, and, more than that, we have put the Army lately on a very frugal and somewhat niggardly administration; but the result has been that we have been able to go through the Army piece by piece, and bit by bit, inquiring why that bit is there, whether it is sound, whether there is any excess, aye, and what is equally important, whether there is any deficiency. We have applied to the Army the same procedure that an accountant would apply in investigating the affairs of a business; we have gone through it bit by bit, and asked in what condition that bit is, and what justification there is for the money spent upon it. We have put as regards every officer and man, and every pound spent, the determining question:—What does that officer, that man, that money mean, tested by the standard of efficiency for war?
1080 When I last spoke in this House, on March 8th last,† I laid down certain broad principles. The first question which I then discussed and to which I sought to find an answer was what was the purpose for which the British Army exists; and the answer was a very simple one. It was for war overseas. No doubt you have to provide for home defence, but the primary task which rests on the British Army is to maintain the defence of an Empire which extends over 12,000,000 of square miles and embraces a population of 400,000,000 of people. Therefore it is no use making comparisons between the army of Great Britain and the armies of France and Germany. They fight for the defence of their own frontiers. They have to maintain great land forces and to maintain them under an organisation which does not require to proceed much oversea, but which is adapted to resist attack and to make counter-attacks within a comparatively restricted area. The British Army exists for a totally different purpose, and there is no ground for comparing them. If you wish to make a comparison you must compare the British Army and Navy with the armies and navies of other Powers, and then I think you need be under no apprehension as to the result of the comparison. The first purpose for which we want any army is for oversea war. The Fleet defends our coast. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London in a most instructive and powerful speech last summer laid down the doctrine that the Navy was adequate to protect these coasts, except against raids, which could not, in his opinion, exceed 10,000 men, and were only to be feared at certain points I do not think with my hon. and gallant friend the Member for Central Sheffield that anything has occurred in the recent manœuvres to shake our confidence in that principle. The doctrine was the result of the most careful and scientific consideration to which the late Government devoted itself, with the assistance of the most skilled experts, and it is a doctrine which, I believe, remains unshaken to-day; it is the foundation of our policy, and such raids must be met with good mobolisation schemes.† See (4)Debates, cliii., 655,et seq..1081 Then I come to the second proposition. If it be true that the Fleet is adequate, and far more than adequate, with its tremendous strength of to-day, to defend our shores, then our expeditionary force ought to be moulded for oversea warfare, and that being so, it is bound to be a finer and more costly force than that of a nation which keeps an army merely to defend itself within its own frontiers. It cannot rest upon conscription, for it requires regularly trained men for a large part of its work, giving their whole time to their duties; and consequently no conscription can be sufficient to maintain it On the other hand, it is a force that need not be large as continental forces are large. Compared from the point of view of oversea work, our available forces are enormously larger than those of the Continent. "What nation is there on the Continent that could mobolise and send oversea anything like the troops we sent to South Africa? Our business is to maintain an expeditionary force just as large as to form a reserve which may enable us swiftly and resolutely to reinforce the outposts of our forces, which are the outposts of the Empire, and which acts as its police.
When you come to the necessity for expansion—we all know it may arise, but it can arise only upon great occasions—in such a case, when we are involved in such a war that the whole soul of the people has to be thrown into the task of their defence, we may assume that the people will be ready to bear their share of the burden, and if they have been prepared beforehand to organise themselves on a voluntary basis, they will be ready to respond with a strength and a might which no conscription can get out of them. But it is not only the people of this country. The South African war showed that the Empire was one and could fight as one, just as the nation could fight. Therefore you have behind the reserves of your own people the reserves of the Empire, so long as you do not alienate them— and so long as you do not gall them by fiscal restrictions—and make them feel that being within the Empire is a burden on their freedom rather than a help to it. So long as these conditions remain fulfilled, experience shows that we may rely in a supreme emergency on the whole strength of the Empire. 1082 Therefore I, for one, am not the least troubled by the alarmist cry of not finding any Reserves behind the Regular forces of the Crown unless you resort to compulsory service—conscription. The people of this country will not be dragooned into giving Military service. Lord Cardwell used to say that, so far from being a nation of shopkeepers, the British were the most fighting nation on earth. I think that the interest of our people is more profound, more real and spontaneous probably, than that of any other nation in the world. The keenness and willingness of our people to give up time to volunteering and to the study of military organisation is one of the striking features we have to deal with. It may be said indeed that the true conception of our system is that of a triangle with a sharp point of the finest tempered metal extended and resting on a broad base of metal which may be soft and yet will harden under blows.
There is another purpose which one has to bear in mind, and this is the fourth proposition which I wish to submit for consideration. It is not merely to produce an expeditionary force that we have to keep troops at home. We have to maintain for the sake of our distant possessions forces abroad which have to be fed largely from home; therefore you must maintain sufficient troops at home to keep alive and feed the troops you have got abroad. These fix the limit below which you cannot diminish your forces at home. You cannot make four except out of quantities equivalent to two and two. Therefore you must keep sufficient troops at home.
Then I come to the limit of possible reduction, and that is my fifth proposition, that it is determined by what we have to maintain abroad. In India, for example, at the present time we have a large force paid for by the Indian Government, but maintained by us because it is a British force in India. We have eleven horse, forty-two field, and three Howitzer batteries, twenty-two garrison artillery companies and six heavy batteries, nine regiments of cavalry, and fifty-two battalions of the Line, equal to a strength on Feburary 1st last of 79,446 men. We are under an obligation to keep that force up. The size of that force was determined at the time of the Mutiny. It is there, not really to resist aggression on 1083 the part of the Great Powers; it is equally there for the purpose of preserving order in India. Whether it is too large or too small, it is at any rate a force whose size was fixed at that time and the standard has never been departed from. It was, however, allowed to fall below its level until at the time of the Pendjeh incident it was brought up to its former strength. The question whether or not the circumstances of the time make it possible to reduce the force is a question outside the scope of a War Minister's authority. How does the War Minister stand in face of that obligation? One of the most brilliant of our military critics wrote lately that the War Minister was thought to be planning for war, when all that he was thinking of was to maintain and to relieve the military policemen occupied in looking after a distant frontier.
In these circumstances it is plain that if you are going to effect reductions the first thing you must look to is the state of the forces abroad. Can they be reduced? Your first reductions must be there. These are what you have to keep up. No juggling, no reverting from Cardwellian principles to other principles will help you. All the other schemes produced go to pieces before the experts and actuaries whose business it is to calculate how many drafts it will be needful to produce. As I have said, four cannot be reduced to a less equivalent than two and two when exposed to the ruthless criticism of the actuary. Nor does it do you any good to reduce establishments. If you reduce establishments you hamper yourselves in providing drafts, and you cannot reduce these without ruining the battalions. Your aim must be to do what Mr. Cardwell aimed at—to keep the number of battalions abroad and at home as near as possible equal. It is very difficult, but the nearer you approach equality the further you get away from the other difficulty in the Cardwell system, whore, owing to the excess of units abroad, you have to put a certain number of battalions on short tour.
Now I come to another great principle which I touched upon when I spoke before on this important subject. At that time I began to realise—and my advisers now realise the fact most fully—the possibility of following the example of foreign nations in making use of the Militia principle. 1084 I do not mean the Militia principle in. the technical sense of the word. I agree that there are certain combatant services which can only be performed by highly trained men. Much of the artillery work, for example, can only be performed by men of the highest training; but there is other work which can be done by men who have a limited military training and can take an engagement to go on mobilisation, who are fitted to perform services of a semi-civilian order to be found in every army— such work as Army service work, the provision of ammunition columns, and the Army medical work. A great deal of this can be obtained on a Militia basis. Yet somehow or other w e seem to have gone on the footing throughout, almost without a break in the history of our attempts at reorganisation of the Army, of assuming that that kind of work must be performed by Regulars. I can only say that we have added enormously to the cost of the Army in that way; and one source of economy which I hope to lay before the Committee, is got by the substitution in this work for the Regulars, of men who have received a partial military training in time of peace, and who are capable of taking up this kind of service on mobilisation. They are intermediate between the Regulars and the Volunteers, and they are, in the opinion of my advisers, and also judging by the experience of the foreign nations that employ them, to be got just as readily as the Regulars. They are so cheap that you can get a larger number of them for the same money or less. There are plenty of them, and they are easy to find; it is only a question of organising them.
My last proposition relates to another great source of economy besides that of the Militia principle It has reference to the aim which should be before you as to the nature of your organisation. It must be organisation for war in a time of peace as well as on the outbreak of a war: that is to say, it does not do to pursue the haphazard policy of the past. When the South African war broke out we had at haphazard to mobilise our forces. If you take the forces which are available in the United Kingdom at the present time— Regulars, Reservists, Yeomanry, and Militia—and ask yourselves what 1085 mobilisation you can get together, you find that the force is about330,000 inpersonnel. But you could not under the existing organisation for mobilising get more than 100,000 men, or two army corps. I have gone through the subject with the experts and actuaries, and the thing breaks down, not because the units are not there, but because there is no organisation for war which would enable us at every point to make complete arrangements for mobilisation. If we cannot mobilise for an over-sea purpose it is not because we have not the men, but because we have not the war organisation which exists in peace and a thoroughgoing plan adapted to the circumstances.
Our proposals are founded on these eight propositions. They promise certain reductions. I may at once say that I propose in the name of my colleagues that the number of British soldiers shall be 20,000 fewer Regulars than exist at the present date. I am able to say in the name of the Army Council that, considering the Army as organised through the number of men we shall be able to get under the Militia principle, we should be able to mobilise in war and keep prepared in time of peace a force which contrasts with the old force as three army corps to two. This is got by rigidly adhering to the policy of writing oft everything that is useless for war purposes, by applying strictly the principle of organisation for war, by maintaining that organisation so that it shall exist in time of peace not merely on paper but in reality; so that you can mobilise your force faster almost than you can get transport to take it away. I will tell you what reductions we propose to make in the battalions abroad. When you have got the minimum below which you cannot reduce, you may as well take what you have at home and put it on the best organisation you can for the purposes of war. It costs nothing to do it, and with economy you can get a stronger force. What we have done is to go through the Army as it stands to-day unit by unit, man by man, item by item. What we have brought out is the great waste, the great extravagance, the great amount of inefficiency caused by the' absence of the machinery necessary to i make mobilisation possible.
I will state at once what is the nature of the force which we propose 1086 to make it possible to organise not , only for war, but to organise so as to be to some extent a slumbering force ready to be awakened out of the Reserves in time of peace. It is a force: which is not organised in army corps, because army corps are, in the unanimous opinion of the experts, an inconvenient form in which to keep our troops. What one wants is something real and tangible; something that does exist there in time of peace; something of which the battalions and the cavalry and the guns and the men are there and available in time of war, and have to be brought from a very short distance. The best organisation for that purpose, in the unanimous opinion of the experts—and throughout I have relied on the opinion of the experts; I have been guided by soldiers at every turn, for I myself am a mere civilian and man of business—what we have thought best for the purpose, after four months close consideration, is an organisation, not in army corps, and not in small divisions such as exist now, of which we could have nine out of the materials we have to keep at home for maintaining our drafts abroad, but six big divisions—I am talking of infantry— organised on a pattern to correspond with our forces in India. We think it important to make our Army here accord as nearly and as closely as possible with the organisation in India, in case—which Heaven forbid!—our forces should have to act together in some great emergency in defence of the Indian frontier upon Indian plains. Therefore the force at which we aim is a force of six big divisions, with the proper equipment of cavalry, which according to the latest war establishment calculations, would be four cavalry brigades for that force. We have more cavalry than that, and I do not cut off a single unit of cavalry. Cavalry is a very valuable and important arm, and we propose to keep our cavalry. Six big divisions of infantry with four cavalry brigades and full artillery would equal three army corps, or nine of the old-fashioned divisions, and represent a total of 150,000 men. These would consist of 50,000 Regulars serving with the colours, 70,000 Reservists, and 30,000 people who are employed and trained on Militia line — that is to say, giving only part of their time for war training 1087 and part for peace, but who are under an engagement to come out on mobilisation. This number falls short of what we are bound to keep in this country for the maintenance of the force we have abroad. We have considered in the Defence Committee to what extent the force abroad could under existing circumstances be reduced. There are troubles in Egypt; things are not wholly clear or settled in South Africa; there are difficulties in various parts of the Empire; and yet, after survey, the Defence Committee is quite clear, and we are quite clear, that we can reduce seven battalions abroad and three battalions at home. The Committee may remember that in the course of the war there were a number of battalions added to the existing regiments so as to improve our strength; these battalions, I think, numbered sixteen or seventeen; but they were reduced, and to-day there are fourteen line battalions which did not exist ten years ago. Of these battalions we are in a position immediately to cut down eight; whether we can cut down some more afterwards depends on considerations of general policy, but I wish in this matter to go cautiously. The Government does not wish to undertake anything they cannot perform and perform with absolute safety. Therefore, we see our way to reduce eight out of the fourteen battalions, and I think in that proposition we are doing nothing extravagant and nothing that will come as a surprise to light hon. Gentlemen opposite. Having reduced these eight battalions, we shall still have to support troops abroad with drafts to an extent which requires a force considerably larger than the regular force which I have indicated. Therefore, when I say we propose to organise a force of six big divisions, amounting to 150,000 men, including Militia men, I am really not increasing the troops which we have had up to the present time available for such a purpose, but I am diminishing them, and by reorganisation I am able to produce a larger amount of units available for organisation.
Why is this? Now I come to a mystery, a great mystery, the mystery of the existing condition of our artillery system. Let us see how that stands. Mr. Brodrick, in his letter, said our proposals as 1088 regards the artillery portended a national calamity. That seems to me to show what I came to suspect in the course of the searching investigation which I have had to make into this matter, that the late Government never knew how they stood as regards artillery. You gave the nation new field guns and new horse artillery guns. They are excellent guns. The reports I have on all hands are most satisfactory as to their efficiency. But there is one thing which it does not seem to have occurred to you to give us, and that was men to mobilise them. Would the Committee believe it, out of ninety-three batteries of field artillery which we have at home at the present time, if today we were called upon to mobilise them —there is no secrecy about these figures, I daresay the general staffs of foreign nations have already found them out— you could only mobilise forty-two. Only forty-two out of ninety-three. All these guns would have been delivered complete by the end of the financial year, but your programme of ninety-three complete field artillery batteries, of which we have heard so much, has only resulted in this, that if we went to war at the present time we could only by using our last man put forty-two of them into the field. Why was this? It seems to have been forgotten that the new guns were quick-firing guns, and used a great deal more ammunition than the old-fashioned fifteen-pounders; and the result of requiring more ammunition, of course, is that your ammunition columns have to be longer than is the case at the present time, and require many more men to mobilise. These batteries would have required at the lowest estimate 10,000 more men than you had available for the purpose. I you had provided these 10,000 men upon the Regular basis it would have cos. you something like £600,000 a year, which was not proposed as part of the artillery reconstruction scheme of the Government. We poor innocents on this side of the House did not know what was going on and the result was that we in our innocence were under the comfortable delusion that we possessed an artillery equipment which would mobilise something approaching ninety-three field batteries of field artillery. The dilemma is either that a mistake was made, or else that His Majesty's late advisers thought 1089 the only field force that they required was a field force equivalent to four of these big divisions of which I have spoken, for four was the utmost amount which the artillery they had available would mobilise, and in that case they certainly cannot object to the very modest reduction which I have proposed in point of view of personnel.
My criticisms are grave criticisms, and they are criticisms which I am going to make good in detail; but lest the Committee should say that " after all, .it is only a civilian who is speaking, and the Government must have had experts at their back," let me say that my statements and the figures I give are founded on the most minute investigation made by our General Staff and in the Adjutant-General's Department, and that the figures have been tested and examined at every turn, so that I do not think myself—and I have been accustomed to criticise various kinds of business in the course of other avocations—that there is the least doubt about them.
First of all, assuming that the position is as I have said, how do we stand at the present time? At the present time you have got about 17,000 Regulars to mobilise for your artillery, and 3,000 besides who are unfit, for you do not send men abroad who are under a year's service, or under twenty years of age. Even taking men; who are quite unfit, who have served only: six months, and who are not up to the standard, the position of matters was that. I with your 17,000 Regulars after mobilising; forty-two butteries of field artillery, you would have to use up the last man who was available for ammunition columns; not one other man could have been got, and the remaining fifty-three batteries, therefore, would have been broken up altogether and could not have been used for any purpose. How is that to be got over? I found myself confronted with this very formidable thing, and at first I was appalled at the prospect of having to spend money in creating new additions to the regular force of artillery; but on reflection, and looking about, I made more discoveries. It is a most valuable thing, a survey of the Army as a whole. It is not only the things you are deficient in you find out, but the things that have been uselessly applied to other purposes, and which you can make available to the 1090 end of filling up gaps. I found that, in accordance with principles which had been sanctioned by my predecessors, the theory of our coast defence had been reviewed with the result that a reduction was necessitated of over 300 guns. They had either become obsolete or were not adapted to modern theories of defence. That was the work of the Navy, of the War Office, and of the Defence Committee in conjunction; and as the outcome of it, I found that I had a very large number of Militia-garrison Artillery who wore released from any useful duty, and a somewhat large number of Regulars, approaching 2,000 in addition. That was a very great comfort to me, because I felt I might be able to put the Regular artillery into such a position as to deliver the nation from a national calamity. There were these garrison artillerymen, amounting to somewhere between 13,000 and 14,000. We consulted the Commanding Officers of regiments, and the suggestion that we should use them for this purpose came originally from one of them, Colonel Blake, of the Northumberland Militia— whom I must thank for the great help he has given us, and the many suggestions he has made about this work— and from other Militia artillery colonels, who very reluctantly, seeing the change that has come over their force, have come to the conclusion that it is better that it should assume a newrolethan that it should disappear altogether. We get therefore these 13,000 or 14,000 men, who do not cost us a penny more than at the present time, and we propose to utilise their services for making up that defect in the machine, in the organisation of our field force as a whole, which prevents it from working at the present time. We should be able to get the 10,000 men that are necessary for the ammunition columns, and to get in addition that support which, I need not say, is wholly non-existent at the present time. In that way not only shall we be able to mobilise a very much larger force of artillery than is the case at present, but we shall save a good deal of money on the transaction. Instead of increasing the cost, strange as it may seem, we assume—I do not wish to be too sanguine about it—we shall be saving £300,000 a year on what we spend at present. 1091 It would have taken a very large sum to supply material on a Regular basis.
The Committee may naturally ask, "Are you sure that these Militiamen will do their work? " and my answer is, " Yes, the General Staff are perfectly sure," and I will say why. We believe we can get the class of men we require to assume this new role, and the officers will be content to train them and to make them efficient field artillery Militia, to train them with a view to their ultimately doing the work of the ammunition column part of the organisation of artillery, and going through training which will enable many of them to become skilled gunners and a Reserve for the Artillery if necessary. But we shall go very strongly for this, that every man shall show justification for the money spent upon him; and therefore, if these garrison Militiamen do not take service we shall be bound to say, " We have no more use for you in maintaining the war organisation of the Army, and we shall spend the money on others who will be willing to take your place," and we think we know where we can put our hands on them. But we have no reason to anticipate there will be any large deficiency in the number willing to assume this newrole,and we know if we give them proper training we shall get sufficient men for the ammunition columns. The training of Reserves to maintain the artillery in the field has also to be considered. We are quite clear that for non-commissioned officers, for servers, for layers, for bombardiers, you require a highly trained class of men, not to be obtained from the Militia service; but, like Admiral Fisher's ship, we shall have a nucleus crew which will be supplemented upon mobilisation from the Militia, and in this way we hope on mobilisation to form effective reserve batteries.
Let us see how it will work. What will be the strength of the new artillery establishment, and what will be the war establishment? What is the artillery strength of the Great Powers of Europe at this moment? My right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean, who has studied these matters closely, knows that a tremendous controversy is raging in France and Germany as to the right 1092 number of guns for a battery—the controversies we have had hero upon religious teaching have been hardly more keen than that abroad upon the number of guns there should be in a battery. That controversy arises out of the fact that the new quick-firing guns consume an enormous quantity of ammunition, and for this reason they cannot be put into the field in such large numbers as in the days of the old slow-firing guns. The result is that France, which has a very fine artillery establishment, has a war establishment of 3.5 guns to every 1,000 bayonets and sabres. Japan has a war establishment of 4.5, and Germany a proportion of 5.5 But Germany is just introducing a new quick-firing gun, and we do not know what the proportion may ultimately be. Great Britain has the proportion of five quick-firing guns to 1,000 bayonets and sabres, and we do not propose to reduce that. Although the gun is a new quick-firing gun we want to be perfectly safe in this all-important arm, and therefore, though it is a more rapid gun, we propose to maintain the live-gun proportion to every 1,000 bayonets or sabres. Starting with this, let us see what the establishment will be in peace and war, respectively. The Committee knows it is always possible to show a considerable saving if in time of peace you resolutely put everything possible into the reserve, so that you are enabled to call up every man at the right time, and so maintain the higher establishment under which you mobilise for war. This is a principle that leads to economy, and it has hitherto partly been applied to the artillery. The General Staff propose to apply it thoroughly, saving money by keeping the batteries on a reserve basis in time of peace. Every nation on the Continent does that. In France the war establishment is five officers on the basis of a four-gun battery; in other ranks a war establishment of 169 and a peace establishment of 129. In Germany they have organised batteries on three scales in time of peace. In an army corps kept on the western frontier there is a six-gun establishment, but that is only one. Germany keeps batteries in time of peace on a three-fold establishment—a higher establishment of four guns, and six on mobilisation, with 127 men to five officers; a medium 1093 establishment of 115 men, and a lower of 102 men, officers being the same, and horses in proportion. Now I come to our own ease. We propose to follow the same principle, to keep our six-gun batteries on a four-gun establishment in time of peace, and we likewise propose to have five officers to 117 men—rather more than France—and sixty horses; France has sixty-one. We propose to keep to ninety-nine batteries, eighty-one on a four-gun basis—I will tell the Committee why we come to this conclusion— and eighteen more on a two-gun basis for quite a different purpose. The artillery establishment for a six-division force such as I have described would be sixty-three batteries, and, with the Militia ammunition column s we shall be easily able completely to mobilise that and provide all the drafts required. But in order to help ourselves and to provide, above all, for the training of Militiamen we propose to keep in reserve the remaining thirty-six batteries. We shall bring home six batteries of field artillery from South Africa, which are useless there, and arm them with new guns.
I think, having regard to the importance of artillery, to which the Powers are more and more awakening, to which the General Staff are awake, and of which the Army Council is convinced, we ought to encourage the artillery in every way we can consistently. We propose to take the old field guns and, making a new departure, issue them to the Volunteers, who will then have an opportunity of organising themselves into a sort of national artillery reserve. I do not imagine that with such weapons they could take the field against quick-firing guns, but I think this will enable Volunteers to put themselves into a very useful position. These old 15-pounders could be converted at a reasonable cost into quick-firers and made a useful gun; I do not say for the Regular Army, but a good gun, good as some Powers possess, and they will serve the purpose of giving Volunteers the training by which they may become a sort of reserve of national artillery. We take thirty-six batteries of new quick-firing guns for a specific purpose. We want to train 20,000 men of the Militia artillery with these guns; and we propose instead of bringing the people to the guns to take the guns to the 1094 people. Just now the practice is to bring the Northumberland and the Fife Militia for training to Portsmouth. We propose to give the men training nearer their homes, and we shall do this with a little inconvenience and as much elasticity as possible; we do not intend that there shall be a uniform cast-iron rule, to enable them to go through the mill for the ammunition column. Of the thirty-six batteries, eighteen will be on a four-gun basis and eighteen on a two-gun basis. The two-gun basis is better for training; you can train more men, arrangements can be made in such a fashion that you pass more men quickly through the mil1. There are reasons, however, why we must keep eighteen batteries on the four-gun basis; we must provide drafts for abroad. Therefore, from the point of view of training, of supplying drafts, of efficiency and of economy, we take the course I have suggested, we use up the garrison artillery, increase the number of mobilisable batteries to sixty-three, put thirty-six more in the Reserve, with eighteen on a four-gun, eighteen on a two-gun basis, and, increasing the organisation by 50 per cent., we have £300,000 a year less expenditure. I have only to add that in India and the Colonies we propose to keep the batteries on the six-gun war establishment. We think that will be wiser, because we cannot get reserves out quickly enough in case of emergency. Therefore, in India and the Colonies nothing will be done.
There are at the present time of Horse-Artillery in the country fourteen batteries. We do not propose to touch the Horse Artillery. We wish to put it on a four-gun basis in time of peace, and so save a good deal of money, and we have made certain rearrangements at the depots which will result in substantial economy. But we leave the horse Artillery untouched. The proper footing on a war establishment for the force I have described of six divisions is by agreement on all hands ten batteries. There would be a battery for each of the four cavalry brigades, that is the original establishment, and six batteries in addition for the corps— one for each division. So we should use ten batteries and keep four surplus batteries, partly for the purpose of 1095 training and finding drafts, and partly as a reserve of Horse Artillery. The Horse Artillery, is of course, a highly skilled arm and has to be manned almost, if not quite, entirely by Regulars, and therefore the Militia principle of which I have spoken does not apply to them. But I think the savings we have made on the Artillery generally are so substantial that I am not only justified, but I think it is right that I should keep up this arm, which is extremely difficult to train, and which it is impossible to improvise at short notice. Now I think I have put before the Committee the important features of our artillery proposals. I think I am justified in saying that their result is very different from the result anticipated by intelligent calculators who predicted that we were going to ruin the national artillery and put things on a very much worse basis than they were before.
Having got my artillery, I now return to the expeditionary force, which I could not complete up to six divisions—I think four divisions were all that could be mobilised—in the absence of proper artillery at the present time. I will give the Committee the figures which compose the expeditionary force. Speaking from memory—I will give the exact figures presently—they are something over 154,000 men, of whom some 30,000 will be on a Militia basis, 50,000 Regulars with the Colours, and 70,000 Regular reservists. ' Well, we have for that at home seventy-one battalions of the Line. You must have these battalions, because you have to keep up, after taking off the eight battalions I have described, seventy-seven battalions abroad. There being seventy-one battalions that have to be kept up, in constructing my expeditionary force I have left myself a margin. There may come a time of profound peace or, better still, the nations may resolve to reduce their armaments on a large scale. In that case, and with a view to that possibility, at all events, our object has been to produce a force which you could con tract or expand, and to make it so that in is proportions it could respond accordingly. Therefore we think it right not to organise the expeditionary force up ' to the full limit of the troops we are compelled to keep at home, but to leave ourselves a margin so that, without interfering with the expeditionary force which we 1096 have constructed, you could make in the future, if it were possible to do so in view of things which go far beyond my department, a reduction without impairing the efficiency for war of your field force. Therefore, I say, instead of the whole of my seventy-one battalions of the Line which I have to keep at home, I take only sixty-six of these battalions for the purpose of constructing the expeditionary force. I use in addition six battalions of the Guards—I am coming to the Guards a little later—making seventy-two battalions of infantry altogether. That gives me five battalions of the Line and a certain number of battations of the Guards surplus. I have four brigades of cavalry on the proper cavalry equipment, that is twelve regiments; and as we have fifteen regiments available—I think one has just gone to Egypt, so the number is fourteen at present—there is a margin of cavalry in case of necessity. There has been no reduction of cavalry. The artillery I have described; it consists of sixty-three batteries of field and ten batteries of horse, with the surplus which I have described. I should say that in addition to that, as hon. Gentlemen who know the organisation of the Army are aware, there is a certain reserve of guns over and above the guns in these batteries always kept in case of guns getting worn out or destroyed in operations. All these we have preserved.
How, then, is it possible for us to get a much larger mobilisation and yet save a great deal of money on it? Before this time the units were there and more units were kept up. We are taking off eight battalions of the Line and two battalions of the Guards. The reason for that I will come to presently. We are taking off, besides, a large number of Regulars who were employed for purposes which, in the opinion of the General Staff, could be amply discharged as they are discharged on the Continent, on a Militia basis. That has enabled us to make a reduction approaching 20,000 Regular soldiers and at the same time mobilise a far larger force. Why? The units were there before, more units than I have left after these reductions. But they could not be mobilised, partly for want of artillery and partly because there were deficiencies in other points, 1097 and it has been so expensive to make things up that the proper provision has not been made. This provision of a Militia basis, which it is easy to keep up, has enabled us to reduce the Regulars in the Army service work, transport, and supply. A great deal of the work done in the field can be done well by Pickford's drivers—men who are trained as well as Pickford's drivers and would be also possible combatants—in connection with ammunition columns, the Army Medical Service, and a number of other services which it would be easy for me to go into if I were not in a hurry.
But I have so much ground to to cover that I will proceed at once to the further details of the organisation of the new force. For this purpose it will probably be for the convenience of right hon. Gentlemen opposite if I give them a spare copy of the table and certain notes which I have; prepared, which show what the composition of the force is. In that way we shall get much more easily to an understanding of the composition; of the new force. If the right hon. Gentlemen will look at the statement on page 3, which is signed by Sir Frederick Stopford, who is responsible, with his experts, for working out this plan, he will find the composition of the force as it has been approved by the Army Council. First of all the total number is 5,546 officers and 154,074 men of all ranks. Those who are on the non-Regular basis— that is to say, who do not require continuous military training, are a certain number of those who are put down as cavalry. By cavalry I mean mounted troops, speaking more accurately. The purpose of the Government, as I have said more than once, has been to go through every department of the Army and ask each man, " What are you here for? Do you justify the money that is spent upon you? " If he cannot answer he goes off ruthlessly. If he can make out a case of efficiency for war he remains. We have applied that method to the Regulars, and we also propose to apply it to the Auxiliary Forces, with such modifications as are requisite. For instance there is an admirable force which, I am glad to say, we have been able to turn to good uses, the Yeomanry. We put to them the question, " Can you furnish us with 1098 what we want? " We do not want them as mounted infantry, because mounted infantry are to be only a small force on a Regular footing, and I think it is the general opinion that mounted troops pull back the cavalry when sent into action with them. It is as divisional troops with the division that we propose to ask the Yeomanry to act, and they are very willing to provide us with 3,240 men at least. We are not driven to refer to the Yeomanry for that purpose, because, as I have said, we have three brigades of cavalry surplus; but still we should like to use the Yeomanry for this purpose. We want to encourage the best Yeomanry to make this part of the Regular Army on mobilisation; and we hope to use 3,240 mounted men, who will be supplied by the Yeomanry, and who will go with the division and act as divisional troops, hold positions, and perform various other services which mounted men who are fairly trained as rifle shots can do with great advantage. Then in the second column of non Regulars there are 10,337 artillerymen. These are the ammunition columns, of which I have spoken. Then there are engineer services, railway work, telegraph work, and so on, men whom we get in the same fashion. Infantry is left blank for the reasons I will give presently. Army Service Corps, 10,000; Royal Army Medical Corps, Veterinary Department, Ordnance, 30,857 men in all, to be put upon the non-Regular basis.
That is the force. Suppose you send it out in its entirety; and suppose you are engaged in a great war, I should be asked, What provision have you made for wastage? My answer is, We have calculated pretty accurately the wastage, and it is appallingly large. The wastage in an average great war is not far short of 80 per cent, per annum. You cannot calculate it at less. For six months you have to calculate for a wastage of 40 per cent., that is to say, of some 56,000 men. And the way we supply that wastage is this, partly out of the surplus people whom we have got and partly out of certain people whom we train on a non-Regular basis, but largely out of infantry, in whose aid we requisition certain existing Militia, with modifications which I shall have, to describe. We have, of course, a considerable number 1099 Infantry of the Line over in the surplus battalions. We also have a surplus of reservists and of young men who, in the first six months of a war, will have matured. These form not only the nucleus, but the greater part. We shal want 9,000 more during the first six months. It is proposed to ask the Militia to furnish them in their units so that we can make them available, not in their battalions at all events in no smaller unit than their company. I will come to that in due course; but I think I have now explained provisionally the composition of the expeditionary force.
The reductions in cost in the case of Army reorganisation come, I need not say, from a reduction of thepersonnelof the Regulars, just as in the Navy they come from the reduction of ships. We get our reduction in this way. We get approaching 9,000 men by reducing ten battalions of infantry of different kinds. We get a reduction of Regulars who are employed for garrison artillery purposes which are now obsolete—those 300 guns of which I spoke which are coming off our coast defences because our coast defences are organised on quite other principles. There is a reduction there of nearly 2,000 Regulars. Then there are large reductions in the artillery consequent upon supplementing them upon a non-Regular basis and a reorganisation of depots and other matters, amounting to a reduction of about 3,850 men. Then there are a lot of miscellaneous reductions. We have scrutinised everything in every corner, and we have found men redundant—too many engineers here, too many Army Service men there, and with a number of minor items which I need not go into now, except to say that they include the Wei-hai-Wei Regiment, and we get, roughly speaking, about 20,000 men.
I want to say something to the Committee on which I lay great emphasis. The Committee is urging economy, and I think I have shown them the prospect of good reductions. I do not want to estimate these things in money at this moment for a reason, beyond saying this, that you will see, if I am not very much mistaken, a very handsome and substantial reduction in the next Estimates. 1100 But you will not reap the full fruit, and some of you may be disappointed with the amount, and I will tell you why. Whatever we do there is one thing which I am sure the Committee would not wish. I hate to be the instrument to disband fine battalions of men. I hate, and the Government hate, and we all hate to disturb existing arrangements, and we feel that to every extent that we can, whether we disband soldiers of the line or discharge workmen from factories because munitions of war have not to be made to so great an extent, or whether we reduce staff, we ought to do it as gently as possible so as not to allow the individual to suffer more than we possibly can help. Therefore we propose to act on the policy of making these reductions gradually. Fortunately we are in a, very happy position. I never before had occasion to bless the three years enlistment system which was introduced some years ago and abolished by the late Government. It was a system which failed wholly of its purpose. It was introduced to get over certain difficulties at the time, and the result of it has been to produce a very large Reserve. But that Reserve has been produced by a constant exodus out of the battalions, men coming out because their three years term is over and because they do not want to re-engage, with the result that, while the reserves are large, enormous, at the present time, the battalions have been far under strength. That comes in as the very gift of Providence, so to speak, because it enables me to absorb, fit any rate, a considerable number of the men of the disbanded battalions who may choose to go into them. We do not know who will care to go in and who will not. These things are very difficult to gauge, but we want to help the soldiers in every way we can out of the difficult position in which we are putting thorn. We do not propose to send any man out into the street if we can possibly avoid it, and we think we can provide for all the men and officers by absorption if we only take a little time. We have worked out schemes for that purpose with all the care we can, and I hope the result will be that the, blow, if it falls, as it does fall, on battalions which it has taken many years to bring up to their present, in many cases, admirable 1101 condition, is a blow which will be softened by the merciful measures we are taking. It, of course, retards to a certain extent the immediate fruits of your economy, but, if you give us some months in which to make every man his offer, you will get something very, handsome and substantial, and the rest will lie, notin nubibus,but at a distance of time that you can see and where you can put your hand on the full fruits. So much for the economy side of these reductions.
Now I come to what, I am sure, the Committee await a little anxiously to Know: What are the infantry reductions that we propose to make? Which are the ten battalions? I will take first the case of the Guards. Our proposal is to reduce the ten battalions of the Guards by two. The Guards up to 1897 consisted of seven battalions. Three battalions were added, one in 1897, the 3rd Coldstream, and the others in 1899, the 3rd Scots. And when those were instituted Lord Lansdowne, who was then War Minister, stated that—it is proposed that of the nine battalions to which the establishment of the Guards will be raised by the creation of two new battalions, three shall be employed on garrison duty in the Mediterranean,with a view to relieving the strain on the short-tour battalions. That never came about. The purpose for which these battalions were called into existence was never fulfilled, and the result has been that the Guards have been used for another purpose. They have been used for the purpose of forming a brigade, one of the most admirable brigades in the British Army, at Aldershot. The first question that will be put to me is, " Why do you not reduce something else than 'the Guards? " I answer that question by saying because the first consideration is not only efficiency, but efficiency tempered by justice. It would not have been fair, it would not have been possible, to make the whole of the reduction in the infantry of the Line The infantry of the Line are, after all, the battalions which do foreign service work and which feed battalions abroad, and thus for every battalion that I struck out of the infantry of the Line I should have destroyed two battalions—that battalion and the battalion it fed abroad. 1102 Consequently I could not reduce, under the present condition of affairs abroad, more battalions of the infantry of the Line, The next question which I came to was this: Did I require these two battalions of the Guards for my expeditionary force, and my answer £was clearly I did not. I require only six battalions of the Guards; I had ten I propose, therefore, to reduce two. I could not justify them for the purpose of the expeditionary force, because the expeditionary force requires so many battalions of the Line, and I could not; reduce those battalions of the Line still lower. Nor could I justify, that being so, the proposition to continue spending £120,000 a year upon those two battalions. I find my occupation, in many respects, a hard one. It requires a; ruthless determination in pursuing a; purpose without looking to the right or to the left, but I must look to the interests of the whole before looking to the interests of the part, and I solemnly say this to the Committee—that unless I am free to pursue these things in that way I can neither reorganise the Army on the basis of efficiency for war nor get down the cost of it to an amount which this House and the country will tolerate It is better for the Army, it is better for the Guards themselves, that the Guards should bear their just share of reduction, and that they should be dealt with in this way.
I want to say a word about the Aldershot Brigade. I have seen that brigade and learned to admire it, and I should rather not have seen it parted. But, with our reorganisation of the Guards, we shall be able to put Aldershot in just as good a position as it was before. We propose on mobilisation to have two brigades of Guards at Aldershot in the future instead of one, as at the present time. Only one of those brigades will be constantly at Aldershot in peace, and it will be a brigade which trains with two battalions of Guards and two battalions of the Line —a mixed brigade. There are many very distinguished infantry commanders who maintain that a mixed brigade is a more efficient force in war than a brigade of battalions of the Line alone. I see my right hon. friend (Colonel Kenyon-Slaney) 1103 shaking his head. He is a military expert, and I am not; but I will tell him what was said to me just two days ago by a very distinguished general who had gone through the full experience of the thing. He said—The old seasoned Linesman, although he may not in some respects be as fine as a picked man of the Guards, is a man with a good deal of experience, and he can teach the Guardsman, when he goes abroad, some things that the Guardsman does not know. I have commanded a mixed brigade, with the result that I think one of the most perfect combinations you could have is Guardsmen and Linesmen in equal proportion.Acting upon that advice and on other opinions, we have so arranged that I do not think the Aldershot training brigade will suffer much in the future by the system of two battalions of Guards and two of the Line. Every battalion of the Guards will, in the organisation we are working out, go through the mill at Aldershot every fourth year. Moreover, in the Aldershot command, which, in the future, will consist of two of these big divisions, in the second division there will be, on mobilisation, a brigade of Guards organised in peace for the outbreak of war, but not continuously stationed at Aldershot Peace like the mixed brigade which I have just described. I believe that the new organisation will be looked at with a not unfriendly eye by a good many people in the Guards, who feel that the keeping of four battalions at Aldershot constantly imposed a strain which was too heavy to bear. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon put some questions designed to bring out figures on the subject of the Guards Reserve. I know nothing more absolutely misleading than the calculation which the right hon. Gentleman made which showed that the Guardsman with the average cost of the reservist worked out at a very cheap rate. The figure adopted was £29 odd, I think. Questions have also been addressed to me the purpose of which is to bring out that the cost of a linesman is very much greater. The comparison is quite misleading. If you take the linesman on the seven and five years enlistment system, taking into consideration that India pays part of the cost of the Reserve, because India pays the cost of the battalion when it is in 1104 service which produces a part of the Reserve, you will find that the average cost of the linesman is very little if at all I different from that of the Guardsman on three years service. The Guardsman is an expensive man, his cost is necessarily rather high. The result is that, looking at the matter from the point of view of efficiency and economy, it is not possible for us to defend the maintenance of the Guards at the strength of battalions to which they were raised since 1897, and the justification of which seems to us to have disappeared. But when you come to what we are to do with them, I am glad to say we shall be able to proceed in such a fashion as, I think, will not injure them any more than can be avoided. We propose to begin with the reduction of the 3rd Scots Guards, taking time for the absorption of the men. Nobody will be deprived of his pay as the process goes on. We shall then proceed with the reduction of the 3rd Coldstream Guards, but there will necessarily be an interval before the reduction takes place. Do not let there be any mistake about this. There is no doubt in our minds about reducing the battalion. Transivit in rem judicatam;we made up our minds that the thing has got to be done; but there will necessarily be an interval of time, and in that interval we propose to ask the Coldstream Guards—their third battalion—to undertake an honourable and important task, that of relieving a battalion in Egypt. They are a fine battalion, and it is only the necessities which arise from the consideration of the organisation of the Army as a whole that has laid upon us the painful task of reducing them also.
I pass from that to the eight battalions of infantry of the Line which we are going to reduce. At the present time this is our position. There are in India fifty-two battalions, there are in the Colonies thirty-two, and at home seventy-two—that is to say, there are twelve more battalions at present abroad than there are at home. If eight battalions are to be reduced, we have worked out with the Defence Committee that this is the proper course to pursue—and this is entirely approved by the Committee and by the Army and Navy authorities—to-bring away three battalions from South. 1105 Africa, replacing them by one cavalry regiment—therwant mounted troops there —and, if necessary, another cavalry regiment. That will leave ten battalions in Africa, but not at full strength. We propose, in order to make the ten that remain effective, to use the substance of one of the three battalions to be brought home to be disbanded for strengthening up the other battalions in Africa. There will be ten battalions of infantry instead of thirteen weak battalions, their strength being brought up to 840. There will be an additional cavalry regiment, and another, if necessary, available to go out. In the opinion of my military advisers, that puts South Africa in a better position than at present, because it provides it with a more mobile force. In the next place we propose to make reductions in Malta. The establishment of the battalions there is at present seven, and in the opinion of the Defence Committee it ought not to be more than five. Malta has become more and more of naval and less and less of military importance. It is of use only as a station for troops, and it is not a healthy place. We have decided that one battalion shall come away from Gibraltar, which again is more a naval than a military station, and one will come from Ceylon, where it is not wanted. The result of the whole is that we have to reduce the battalions, which means that we have to bring home battalions from abroad, and select the battalions, which must be of course linked at home, which we can reduce.
Now we had to consider what principle we should go on, whether to select battalions from regiments, junior, on sentimental grounds, or to I select them from those regiments for which we had been unable to obtain the necessary recruits and bring them up to the establishment. We decided unanimously to go for numerical efficiency and not sentimental considerations — that we should reduce the battalions inefficient in point of I strength—and that being so, we had to determine which. This is the decision of the Government: The third and fourth battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers, the third and fourth battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 1106 the third and fourth battalions of the Lancashire Fusiliers, and the third and fourth battalions of the Manchester Regiment. All these regiments are very largely short.
The terms of enlistment are very important, and we have given close consideration to that. As the Committee I knows, Mr. Cardwell originally proposed in the short service scheme as it first stood, that the terms should be six years with the colours and six with the reserve. Afterwards it became seven and five. Then there was the unfortunate three years experiment, with nine, from which a jump had to be made to the other end nine and three, to increase the men with the colours. That is too large, in our opinion, and after very great consideration the Adjutant-General, to whom I cannot express my obligations sufficiently deeply for the immense amount of work; he has thrown into this part of my proposals, has presented me with these recommendations, which are adopted by the Army Council and the Government. The terms of enlistment for the infantry of the Line will be, as a general rule, seven and five, with the extra year. The Guards will remain three and nine; they do not go abroad. The cavalry will be seven and live, with the extra year necessary; no change. The field and horse artillery, instead of being three and nine, will be six and six. The garrison artillery will be eight and I four. What we want is to get highly-trained Reserve men. I have stated that we propose to reduce the Irish Guards, which was a battalion of colossal proportions, from 920 rank and file to 820. The cavalry we do not touch, nor do we I touch the Household Cavalry. The Infantry of the Line establishment, 805 non-commissioned officers and men, can be well reduced to 775, but one cannot go below that, otherwise one would not get the drafts; and even then that is above the average actual strength at the present moment. The result of the whole process is that, whereas we have now 156' battalions of the Line, of which fifty-two are in India, thirty-two in the colonies, and seventy-two at home, we shall have fifty-two in India, twenty-five only in the colonies, and seventy-one at home, making 148 in all. That is 1107 where I get my reduction. With regard to the Reserve, which is very large, we propose this year to close the entrance to Section D.
I have put before the Committee the full effect of the reductions, and I want to pass on to another topic which intimately concerns the soldier, We have gone with great care in the last few months into the question of how we I can find some employment for the soldier in a more systematic fashion after he leaves his profession, and how we can best teach him a trade, and generally improve his material position. I do not I think we can lay too much stress on the proposition that it is important that we should get quality as well as quantity. The reductions will enable us to put forward a higher standard of quality than, we have hitherto been able to enforce, and we hope, to accompany that by an effort to make the social condition of the soldier better than it is at the moment. For that purpose Sir E. Ward undertook to I preside over a committee which has sat' unremittingly on the whole question, and that committee has presented a Report which has been laid on the Table, and will be printed and issued in a few days. It contains a vast amount, of material and a number of propositions, many of which, at any rate, we hope to be able to carry into effect. It will require a good deal of work, and Sir E. Ward and his colleagues propose to take it in hand as soon as the Report is laid.
Then there is another point of vital importance, the health of the Army. There have been some reproaches in the papers that we have been saying nothing about sanitary reform in the Army and the improvement of our medical system. It is not a subject; which, connected intimately as I am through family ties with medicine and science, I am likely to have neglected, and I am glad to say I have had working for me in this direction Sir Alfred Keogh, Surgeon-General, and the head of the Medical Department of the Army, than whom there is no more skilled man anywhere. He has provided a scheme which is already partly in operation, and I propose to deal with the health of the Army in this fashion. It is ' all part of our organisation for war, which I am going to detail in a few words. We 1108 propose, on the outbreak of war, to treat the Army on the basis of looking after the health of the unit as one thing, and the health of the base and lines of communication as another thing. The chief sources of disease are contact with infection, imperfect disposal of excreta,and impure water supply. All those things are being separately dealt with. Small things in themselves, they multiply the evils to enormous dimensions when dealing with great bodies of troops. First of all, field army conditions are quite different from those of the base and line of communications, and therefore it is necessary that there should be systematic teaching, not only of medical officers, but of the combatant officers, in order to enable them to apply the best results of medical science to the preservation of the health of their units. Our medical training we propose very largely to improve. We have already taken the decision to make the instruction of officers include health matters and medical matters as far as they bear on the health of their companies, as well as other matters. We propose to give instruction not only to the officers but to the men. The Medical Department has prepared a manual of instruction for the soldier, and henceforth it is to be the duty of the company officer not only to read and understand that manual himself, but also to see that his men read and understand it. We have also provided a medical school at Aldershot which is now training our medical officers. When we organise for war it is intended that the unit of organisation I shall consist of one medical officer, one non-commissioned officer, and four men; of the Army Medical Corps, who will have to look after the water supply and other such services; and one commissioned officer who will supervise the sanitary police duties. These men will be trained at the new school of hygiene at Aldershot. A line of communication will be organised for the preservation of health and the prevention of disease on something like the organisation of a civil community. It is intended to form sanitary sections who will not have to attend to the sick, but to look after the health of the troops and the prevention of disease. There will also be a general sanitary commission who, working at 1109 the base, will provide for requirements as they crop up. In that work the combatant officer and the medical officer will be brought together. We think they cannot be in too close a communication. Of course, for skilled medical work, we look to the trained medical officer. But there is a great deal of other medical service which can only be attended to by the authority of the combatant officer. We have learned a great deal in this matter from the Japanese; but we have learned a great deal more from the studies of our own people themselves. They have worked out the problem of how to purify water by a new system of filtration. We have arranged at Aldershot for a regular sanitary campaign on lines as it would be carried out in war. The water there will be declared impure— which is a great farce, as Aldershot is excellently supplied with water—and the water will be brought from a new source of supply in order to see how our organisation would work out in war. I believe we shall have as good a medical service as any in the world, if not better, and have it with something in the way of economy. We are able to reduce the provision of hospital accommodation in war from 10 to 7 per cent., which is a substantial economy.
I have now said what I have got to say on the subject of the Regular Forces. I will deal shortly with the subject of the Auxiliary Forces, for I am ashamed of having engaged the attention of the Committee so long. His Majesty's Government have deemed it to be their duty to put to the Auxiliary Forces precisely the same question as they have put to the Regular Army. That is —" What purpose do you serve in war? " But before I enter upon this branch of my subject, I want the Committee to understand the difficulties which confront the reformer right through the whole organisation of the Army. There has been a want of plan, a want of method; and things have grown up like mushrooms haphazardly, you do not know how or why. It is not only in regard to the Regulars that great wastage has taken place; it has taken place also in the Auxiliaries, and. you come across it even in departments where you least expect it. One would have thought that 1110 in regard to the food supply of the Regular Army things would be closely looked into. About two months ago I found a contract for the supply of meat in which it was said that the meat must be home bred. I know that I am now touching on a dangerous topic, in which members from Ireland take a great interest. Well, I thought the condition about home-bred a little awkward, so I myself struck it out and put in " home-killed " instead. That has been in operation for two months Two results have ensued from it. One was a comfort not to the home-breeder but to myself. That was that we have saved a farthing on every ration, or £50,000 a year, which is a neat little economy to effect on a meat contract on free-trade principles. The other result was that I discovered from my experts that the Army got very little home-bred meat, that the meat they got came not from Ireland, or from anywhere at home, but from Australia, Canada, the Argentine and other countries, whence it was brought to the port of Liverpool, slaughtered there in very large quantities, and sold as home-bred meat. I have therefore the best evidence for believing that the change has not really been to the detriment of the constituencies of hon. members from Ireland; and at the same time we have saved £50,000 a year. That is only a simple illustration of the little reforms you can carry out. The Exchequer has a right to demand full value for the money it spends on the Army. Remember that the cost of the Regular soldier has risen from £49 3s. in the Estimates of 1896–7 to £66 18s. in the Estimates of 1906–7; £13 of that increase is due to additional pay. There has been a very large increase also in the cost of the Auxiliary Forces. The Militia, which in the ten years has fallen from 113,000 men to 90,000, costs £480,000 a year more. The Yeomanry has increased in numbers from 9,600 to 25,000, at an enhanced cost of £420,000 a year. The Yeomanry are a very useful and valuable force, but we must put to them the question—What service can you render us in time of war? The Volunteers have gone up in cost in the ten years to £6 10s. per man. To them likewise we lave to put the question, What services san you render us in time of war? I am 1111 sure the Committee will pity the War Minister when he comes to deal with the financial side of the problem which faces him. . There are automatic increases of expenditure of large amount arising out of things done in years past with which he has had nothing to do; and at the same time he is face to face with the duty of keeping down the Estimates. Still, it can be done, but in endeavouring to cope with that task I think he is entitled to ask for indulgence and consideration if he can not accomplish everything as quickly as ' may be desired.
With these few preliminary observations, which I think are necessary to justify my position in regard to the Militia, I put to the force the question, What purpose do you fulfil in war at the present time? The Militia in old days were raised by ballot, which was compulsory— except in cases where the ballot was suspended—and were for service at home. Even if the ballot were made compulsory everywhere the Militia to-day would not be under any obligation to take part in operations beyond the seas; and if the force is to remain on that basis I could not conscientiously advise the Chancellor of the Exchequer to continue to spend upon them the money he is spending at the present time. The Militia must have a new function assigned to them in the organisation of the Army as a whole. They must either fall hack into Volunteer work, in which case they would not be paid any more than the Volunteers are paid; or else they must lake upon themselves the same obligation as the Regular soldier, and that is to be ready to serve abroad in time of war. In time of peace they stay at home. But in time of war they can be of no use to us unless they form an efficient first line of support to the Regular Army in the field. It is, therefore, clear that we must ask the Militia to form a first line of drafts for the Regular Army in the field, and therefore to accept the obligation of going abroad in time of war. There are two schools of thought with regard to the Militia. One, which is represented by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon, says the Militiaman is but an imperfect conception of what a short-service soldier ought to be. Therefore, make him a real short-service soldier. The other 1112 school says what you should do with our old constitutional force is to extend them enormously, so that they shall be not merely a support to but an expansion of the Regular Army. This school looks to the Lords - Lieutenant to give a now life to the Militia. The Lords-Lieutenant cannot discharge that function. For such a purpose they are as dead as the dodo. I believe new life can be given to them, and that new functions may be assigned to them if they are surrounded by representatives of the more democratic and vigorous elements of the country, who may help them to discharge administrative duties connected with the Army. I do not propose, nor do we desire, to destroy the constitutional position of the Militia at the present time. You can keep them a county force and yet make a great step forward. Mr. Cardwell's great idea was, behind the two Regular battalions, the two territorialised battalions, to have a third Militia battalion. Behind that he wished to have depôt battalions which would be available on the outbreak of war, looked after by officers probably who were retired, but who would be called; back on the outbreak of war. Into those; depôt battalions all surplus elements could go, but between that and the second Regular battalion he desired to place the Militia battalion of the county. Well, the policy of the Government is to carry out Mr. Cardwell's principle, to make a closer connection between the Militia battalions and the Regular battalions than exists at present. The Militia have to elect between going into the condition of Volunteers and coming nearer to the Regular forces. What we are anxious to do is to take the Militia battalions and make them battalions of the Regular Army, to give its officers as nearly as possible Army rank, to place it in a better position as regards training, to raise its strength, and generally to make it much more efficient. We propose to take the 124 battalions of Militia we have now, to review them, to lop off weak battalions and to consolidate them, so as to make more efficient battalions, and to put behind every Regular battalion of the home Army a third or Militia battalion. In some cases there may be more than one Militia battalion, two, or even 1113 three, where the Militia are strong, which will put a first line of Reserve behind the Regular Army. The men will go abroad in units not lower than companies, and often in battalions, with their own officers, so that they may have the feeling that they are going out with their own officers to the regiments to which they are affiliated. I know there are many of the Militia who demur from that, and wish the force to be rather an extension than a reserve for the Army; but, on the other hand, the Army take very strongly the view that the average Militia battalion is not fit, and cannot be made fit, to be put into the field against the Regular troops of the Continent. It is felt that the first fighting line must be filled by the trained battalions of the Regular army. As the Militia become fit they can take the place of companies cut up in the Regular regiments to which they are affiliated. That will ensure the Regular Army taking an interest in their Militia battalions. Further than that we cannot go. It is impossible for this Government to spend money unless they can justify the expenditure. We hope gradually to get the Militia into shape. Valuable experiments have been made lately in Militia training, and we are making experiments ourselves which may lead to modifications in the mode of training the Militia, so as to make them better suited to the exigencies of different districts. It is upon that principle we propose to act. Of course that will be a gradual process, and we hope in that fashion to get the Militia into shape. Valuable experiments have been made lately in Militia training. We are making experiments which may lead to amplifications in the mode of training the Militia so that we may get hold of them more effectually and in a fashion that better suits the exigencies of different districts. The Militia Artillery must disappear as garrison artillery and in a now capacity be drawn nearer to the Regular field artillery.
Now I come to the Volunteers. The same question exactly we put to the Volunteers. We say, "What useful function do you fulfil — because you are costing the country £1,700,000 a year, money we do not grudge if you are 1114 fulfilling a necessary function." Now the Volunteers have definite functions which they ought to fulfil, and which to a large extent they do fulfil. If the nation went to war the Regular troops would go out of the garrison forts, which would then have to be defended by the Volunteers. The Volunteers are also required to repel possible raids to the extent of about 10,000 men. I think such raids very unlikely, because I believe the raiders would never go back alive. There may, however, be some Power which would be enterprising enough to lose 10,000 men in order to destroy the Elswick works or Woolwich Arsenal. They will find it very difficult, but still possible, and provision has to be made accordingly, and that is the second function which Volunteers have to fulfil. There is a third function which the Volunteers may have to fulfil, and that is to be a sort of second Reserve for the Regular Army. We propose to take the Volunteers and organise them for these three functions. For the first two—namely, the defence of the naval fortresses and the repelling of raids—it is estimated by the general staff that 140,000 infantry Volunteers, 9,000 garrison Volunteers, and 8,000 mounted men from the Yeomanry will be required. But at the present time everything is in a state of confusion. The Volunteers who have to defend the naval fortresses are often brought very great distances. The regions in which naval fortresses exist do not produce the kind of Volunteer who is wanted to defend them. We propose to survey the whole of Great Britain to determine the functions which the Volunteers should have to perform in each district and county, and to say to them, " What we requisition you for is this particular kind of service—you, men of Hampshire and the Southern counties, you have to defend the great southern Naval forts." In the Eastern counties there are unguarded portions of the coast, and we may say to the men in those districts, " You must produce in each district Volunteers of the type required for the defence of the coast." In other counties we may say, " We want you as infantry of the line or as mounted men." To other places we may say, " We should like you to take the field guns and train yourselves as a reserve of Volunteer artillery'." In that way we 1115 hope to get value for our money out of the Volunteers. I have talked a good deal to Volunteer commanding officers on this very important subject and they have said to me, almost with one voice, "Do not have any hesitation in making this demand upon us. We Volunteers have been longing, for years past, to have real functions and to be freed from sham. Make one national Army, not regular and auxiliary forces, but one entire force." Speaking from such information as I have been able to get, I do not entertain much doubt that the Volunteers will respond to what we ask of them, and will say, " We are only too glad to find ourselves with real functions."
It will be observed that the working out of all this requires great care and minute local knowledge. How are you to get the Volunteers and the number of Militiamen required for these special services of which I have spoken? You cannot get them through the War Office. The War Office has broken down as a means of reorganising the Volunteers. The result is that battalions grow up haphazard. We must have county associations of some kind or sort. I start with the principle that unless you give some kind of Home Rule to the Volunteers you will not get efficient service.
§ MR. HALDANE
I have that point on my note, and I will come to it, but I cannot do everything all at once. My hon. friend will remind me if I forget it.
We find that we are constantly maltreating the Volunteers for want of local knowledge, and we feel it to be absolutely essential that they should have some power of organisation in the counties and of controlling their own affairs. If that be so, it seems to us that the best way is to form some kind of association in the counties. It is rather an intricate subject, and I felt that it was a subject which opened up large questions indeed. You have to look not only at the question of the Volunteers, but also at the rifle ranges. It is easy to get rifle ranges if you have owners of land inter- 1116 ested in the subject and who will give you rifle ranges because it is part of the organisation in which they are interested. Rifle ranges, rifle corps, cadet corps, and other things will come within the purview of the county association organised for the purpose of looking after the affairs of the Auxiliary Forces in each county. So impressed was I with the difficulty of the matter that I asked a committee to assemble, under the presidency of one who has already rendered great services to the Army by his work in reorganising it—I refer to Lord Esher. He has presided over a committee about which there have been all sorts of rumours. Indeed, it has enjoyed a greater reputation for mystery than any committee for a long time. But its procedure has been perfectly simple, and on the question of the county associations they have undertaken the laborious task of advising the War Office as to the best means of carrying this object out. Their present view is that you can do a great deal by bringing in a number of representatives of the new county and borough councils, representatives of the commanding officers of the Auxiliary Forces, and representatives of the general officer commanding the Regular troops in the district; and then there are the county people themselves. I should like to see a new life infused in our counties. I should like to see the county people getting something to do. I am making no reproach against them. Function after function has been taken from them, but there is now a new chance of their doing a great and useful work for the State. I should like to see the Lords-Lieutenant and perhaps the Deputy-Lieutenants earning their uniform. The Government is not committed to any details, but the Esher Committee is making recommendations, and still want to investigate the subject. The whole matter will be held over until the autumn, when proposals will be prepared which can come forward in the shape of Bills for next session. Meanwhile, some time must necessarily elapse, though for the purposes of administration as distinguished from command and training the Auxiliary Forces require Home Rule of this kind. Command and training must be inevitably under the control of persons who command the forces of the Crown. 1117 I need only say that the Yeomanry form the cavalry of the territorial force, and we shall ask of them to furnish a detachment of the field force. We do not propose to increase by a penny the expenditure on the Auxiliary Forces, which has already grown to protentous dimensions, and I hope that there is room for economy. But we want to get out of the three or four millions spent on the Auxiliary Forces something very substantial in this form which will enable us to diminish the cost of the Regulars, something to bring the Army nearer to the people, to make the people more content with the Army than they are at the present time.
One word before I conclude this subject about the expansion of the Regular forces. This has been a subject of great discussion elsewhere. We may need expansion, but I do not believe that compulsion would be of the slightest avail for the purpose. I believe in the giving of local encouragement by every means in our power to the people, the giving to their associations an interest, not n aggression, not in the spirit of militarism, but in the defence of their homes, of their country, and of the Empire of which they form a part. Put within their hands the means of that defence, explain to the people what we want of them, and they will come to your side and you will not have much difficulty in getting the resources you require freely and generously offered to you. But for that purpose let them train themselves and organise themselves. It is, therefore, to my mind essential that they should be given the opportunity of organising themselves for possible war in a fashion that may lead rather to the expansion of quantity than the raising of a high quality in peace time. I should like to see every man interesting himself in possible contingencies and taking up military training, but not in such a fashion that he would be called upon to interfere with his business or set aside his engagements. If you leave our people alone, whether they belong to the working classes, the middle classes, or the upper classes, you will have a spirit shown among them which is perfectly ready of its own initiative to undertake in sufficient numbers the training that is necessary to 1118 make the art of war an art which is not unknown to them. So that if war broke out you give them an opportunity of training upon a higher scale and turning themselves into a reservoir out of which you can feed the Regular Army in time of need and also strengthen the defensive power of the Empire as a whole.
I now come to the end of my task. I have dealt very lightly with the latter portion of my subject. We are still in a state of consideration about the Auxiliary forces; but about the Regular Army and the Militia our principles and propositions are clear. About the things that remain, and which I have laid down in general principles, we are equally clear, though about them the Government reserves a considerable latitude for consideration. But I want to hear more from the Esher Committee about the problems they are considering, and I want the Auxiliary Forces to consider these things. Our scheme deals with a national Army as a whole. It is a linked chain, each link of which is necessary to the chain as a whole. To organise the National Army for war and not for show or sham, to put it on a business footing by bringing the civilian and the soldier into co-operation for a common purpose—that is our aim and object. We are under no illusion about the difficulty of the work. It may take a generation to realise this purpose, but I am certain that the way that is most likely to lead to its realisation is for the nation to agree on common principles and on a common policy. Here the agreement should be as harmonious and as complete as the policy which prevailed in respect of the Navy. We do not want one Government coming in to overturn the work of another. I would rather that the accomplishment of the great task took place by a process of evolut on. No doubt the beginning is most difficult. I have to-day offered medicine to the patient which I fear may seem a bitter medicine when he takes it, but the recovery of his health, as, well as of the health of the Army, can only come from a closer contact with the nation. The nation has had an extravagant, costly, standing force separate from the people. It ought to be rat her that of the people themselves, the nation—yes, the Empire—because I believe our 1119 organisation fits in with the organisation of the English-speaking people of the Empire as a whole—the Empire organised, not for aggression, but for its own defence in cases of great emergency. These plans are the mere beginning. We hope to settle and work upon them without delay. The task is gigantic, and whether we shall succeed or whether we shall fail, we know not. The future will not disclose its secrets; but my colleagues and I believe that in these plans we have laid, with the assistance of our experts, the foundations of a structure which will largely diminish the cost of the Army while going hand in hand with greatly increased strength. Such a structure cannot be put together quickly. Perhaps a long time is necessary for its completion: but, if the plan be true, as we firmly believe it to be true, the completion of the edifice can be secured in the end. What is wanted for the completion of that edifice is the exercise and the output of an activity which must be unhasting as it is also unresting.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Croydon)
complimented the right hon. Gentleman on his extraordinarily clear and detailed speech. Earlier in the session he had assured the right hon. Gentleman that the Opposition would do nothing and say nothing to embarrass him in the difficult task he had undertaken; and he thought that the right hon. Gentleman would agree that this undertaking had been strictly observed. He was surprised, however, that the Prime Minister should ask the Committee to dispose of this complicated question at one sitting, especially in view of the fact that nineteen days were devoted to the question of the Army last year. He was sure he would be doing a grave injustice to the importance of the right hon. Gentleman's speech if he suggested that nineteen days would be too large an allowance of time for the proper discussion .of the proposals which had just been laid before the Committee. He did not suppose there was any hon. Member of the House, not even among those who had made a special study of Army matters, who would attempt to deal with all the details of the scheme now. He rejoiced in the economy which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to effect, but he 1120 regretted the means by which it was to be brought about. If the right hon Gentleman could say that the risks to which the country was exposed were less than they had been, then the time would have come to diminish the means of coping with those risks. But nothing that had been said in the House during the last few months had led them to form any idea of that kind. The right hon. Gentleman was going to compensate for the reduction in the Army by creating a new Army and a new organisation which was going to guarantee us against any loss which might come in consequence of that reduction. He was delighted to hear it, but be would suggest for the guidance of his hon. friends that it was better to be on with the new love before they were off with the old—that they had better make the new Army before they destroyed any part of the army which it was to replace. If they were going to make a new auxiliary army they had much better make it before they destroyed any part of the Regular Army of the country. He admitted that the reduction was not a large one, but there was an important omission in the right hon. Gentleman's speech. It was this. There had been an infinite number of discussions in public of the military problem, and there had not been a dissenting voice with regard to the proposition that the great need of the country was some power of expanding the Army in time of war. Not only had the right hon. Gentleman given no intelligible idea of how that expansion was to take place, but he had proved to demonstration that the power of expansion that we already possessed was to be gravely curtailed. When the South African war broke out in 1899 it was impossible to mobilise the infantry regiments from their own reserves. Under what system was that? That was under the seven years' system. Battalion after battalion went out short of their established figures, because they had to leave behind men who were unfit to go, and were unable to replace them from the reserves of the regiment. Now they were going to put the whole Army on a seven years' system of enlistment and concurrently to reduce the units by no less than ten. There were, however, some units in 1899 which were easily mobilised and had a large 1121 remaining force of Reserves. These were the regiments of the Brigade of Guards. The right hon. Gentleman said the Guards were expensive. But if they took the test of war they would find on putting 1,000 Guardsmen in the field that each man had cost £29, whereas each Linesman ready to take the field cost £46 6s. These two figures represented what the country got in fighting value for its expenditure upon the Guards and the rest of the Army respectively. Yet in the name of economy they were asked to accept a reduction in the Brigade of Guards. The Committee could not have a better object lesson as to the advantage of short service enlistment than the figures he had given. He thought it was a great misfortune that two battalions of the Guards had been singled out for destruction. He thought the reason given for this change was the weakest that could be given, namely, that under the present linked battalion system they could not give up the Line battalions, and that therefore they were compelled to sacrifice the Guards. It was, however, a much wider question than that of the Guards.
It was a question of the whole Army. How were we going to find a great force in time of war, such a force as would be required for the purposes of mobilisation, when we limited ourselves to seven years enlistment? The right hon. Gentleman was also going to cut down the Royal Artillery. If they cut down at all then should begin with the worst and not with the best; with the dearest and not with the cheapest. In the case of the Guards they were begining with the cheapest; and in beginning with them and with the Artillery they were also beginning with the best. The right hon. Gentleman had twitted him and his predecessor with want of knowledge with regard to the Royal Artillery and the need for providing it with a Reserve. He did not recognise the point of the taunt which the right hon. Gentleman had directed against him. It was perfectly true that the Royal Artillery had grown a great deal faster than their reserves, and the introduction of the new gun had increased the demand upon the personnel, of the batteries. Ten years ago, moreover, public 1122 opinion compelled the addition of no less than seventy-eight batteries of horse and field Artillery. These batteries could not be raised in a hurry, and even now they had not got their full reserve. The Artillery was unable to mobilise on account of the inadequacy of the numbers for the ammunition train and the subsidiary services. During the late war, long before the mobilisation was complete, the whole of the personnel was exhausted for the purpose of forming ammunition trains and the adjuncts to the batteries. He had himself published the facts with regard to all the batteries in a book which appeared five years ago. It was hardly likely, therefore, that he should be unaware of the need. To remedy that defect had been the perpetual care of the War Office ever since; and with that object they had kept the three and nine years basis of enlistment for the Royal Artillery. That system would give a very large but still an inadequate Reserve. But the moment they put the Artillery upon a six years' basis they would greatly aggravate the difficulty.
Arrangements were made by the late Government which the right hon. Gentleman had for the moment suspended for obtaining a most valuable reinforcement for the Artillery from the Volunteers. The officers commanding two of the most important Volunteer Artillery Corps had actually offered to make it a condition of entry that their men should join the First Class Army Reserve and thus be available for the ammunition columns, etc He had himself for years preached the doctrine of utilising the Garrison Militia to supplement the Royal Artillery, and his proposals, which were carefully worked out, and contemplated beginning with the north of Ireland batteries, had no doubt been found at the War Office by the right hon. Gentleman. No doubt large use might be made of the Militia; the right hon. Gentleman had said that he hoped that they would be able to amalgamate the Militia Artillery with the Royal Artillery in times of war; but in suggesting this, the right hon. Gentleman had not touched the great Militia problem. He must have a Militia before he could utilise it. He 1123 admitted that it was dying, but he had not said how he proposed to keep it alive. By what conjuring trick was he going to get men instead of boys to go into the Militia, and how was he going to prevent these boys from going into the Regular Army without injuring recruiting for the Army? Was he quite confident that this Militia artillery would agree to undertake in war work which was absolutely different from that which they had undertaken in time of peace? Unless the Militia was really capable of being utilised in time of war the scheme failed absolutely. But how was it to be done?
The savings indicated by the right hon. Gentleman were much less important than the answer to the question, " Where is the great force for expanding the Army in time of war to come from?" The Militia was not producing trained men or trained officers, and all this paraphernalia of county councils and the like would not do what the people of all other countries found they could do only by the sacrifice of time, effort, and money. He would remind the Committee that in 1904 35,000 men entered the Militia and .38,000 went out of it. Of the 35,000 recruits 22,000 deserted or went into the Line, and 12,000 were under eighteen years of age, and, therefore, ineligible for the Line. Out of the Militia as it stood it was impossible to form a fighting force capable of reinforcing the Army in time of war, and therefore the Militia part of the scheme failed. The right hon. Gentleman had been very sketchy as to the shadowy Army which he was to evolve, and the proposals should be cautiously supported until it was known what they were. He hoped that no new soldiers would be accepted unless they were, at least, the numerical and fighting equivalent of the soldiers whom they displaced. Both the Militia and the Volunteers contained valuable material, but it was well known that the officers of both forces were not efficiently trained. It should be a sine qua non of the acceptability of this scheme that no single man should be taken from the Militia or Volunteers unless it could be proved that he would be better trained and commanded by better officers than at present.
1124 The right hon. Gentleman had not made a single allusion to the over-whelmingly important question of officers. It could not be a matter of forgetfulness. If he had a plan for finding 2,000 or 3,000 trained officers, where was it? The right hon. Gentleman hoped to make a great change in the Volunteers; and if he could adopt the force in each county to the military need of that county, he would have achieved a great triumph; but he had not said how he would proceed. A little time ago the right hon. Gentleman quoted in support of his theories what happened in France. It was strange that the Secretary of State speaking on his official responsibility, should, in order to enforce a great change in our Army organisation, choose the particular example of General Chanzy's citizen army. That was the great historical example of the breakdown of an ill-trained and ill-officered force. Prince Frederick Charles reported that he had captured in ten days 20,000 unwounded prisoners, many guns, all their ammunition wagons, and all their positions; and General Chanzy said that they fled at the first shot, and could not be induced to defend any position, simply because they were not properly trained and officered. Nowadays the waste of war was enormous—the right hon. Gentleman had put it at 80 per cent, How was the wastage to be replaced? They should be able to apply the same test that the right hon. Gentleman had applied, and they also would ask " What will be the value of these things in war? " What did this whole series, of proposals come down to? We were to have 150,000 men of whom 30,000 were to be irregulars, Militia and so forth. The right hon. Gentleman himself had given some idea of the figures in regard to waste of war, and they had a terrible significance. The waste of war might be 50, 60, or 70 per cent, every year; the right hon. Gentleman himself had given the figure at 80 per cent. How were we going to replace that force in the field, especially as we had to deal with this large number of persons who did not belong to the Regular force? The right hon. Gentleman seemed to have the idea that he was going to take into the force a large number of persons under a short engagement, but there 1125 was nothing novel in that. It had been the practice for years, especially in regard to the Army Medical Department, the Post Office and the Army Service Corps. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken in great detail about the Royal Artillery, which he proposed to reduce by 3,800 men, but his proposals required very careful examination, and there should be further explanation of his method of making up the number of trained artillerists from the ammunition column. France, the right hon. Gentleman had said, had reduced her number of guns That was an entire delusion. What she had done was to increase the number of her infantry. Did the right hon. Gentleman when he reduced the guns,propose to add to the infantry?
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said that was so, but the matter was considered by the War Office, and it was asked whether we should do the same. France, he repeated, had recently added to the number of their infantry. Let that be as it might, however, they at this point came to a very specious statement which had been made and to which he asked the Committee to pay attention. He did not ask them to hear his eloquence, but to listen to his facts, and for this latter proposal he regretted that the Committee was not fuller than it was at that moment. Many hon. Members having heard the statement of the Minister for War had left the House, no doubt under the impression produced by that statement that we were well provided with artillery.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said that was so. The right hon. Gentleman told the Committee that there would be five guns to every 1,000 men, but the Indian Army had no provision of field artillery, and there were something like 340,000 men at home absolutely unprovided with artillery. Yet he said the value of artillery was becoming more and more recognised. A certain number of guns were going to be given to the Volunteers, but the Secretary of State declared 1126 that these 15 - pounders could not be made part of the equipment of an efficient fighting force. When the men were taken away to some other body to serve under totally different conditions the Auxiliary Forces would be left exactly where they were. It was with surprise he heard the right hon. Gentleman say that he had the authority of his military advisers for the reduction of the units of the Royal Artillery. Every trained man was required for the Artillery.
The right hon. Gentleman had gone into much detail not at all relevant to the organisation of the Army, and it was to be hoped he would on a future occasion explain why instead of reducing strength, he was destroying units. He might get his drafts with the greatest ease if he would dispense with the unfortunate linked battalion system. Any reduction at the present time which was not accompanied by the replacing of what was taken away by something just as good was a mistake. When the right hon. Gentleman had time to answer the questions he would ask for a little more detailed information in regard to the great go-as-you-please Army of which they had heard. He wanted also to know how the Militia was to be kept out of the Line. The right hon. Gentleman had told the Committee that the Line was bleeding the Militia, and he wanted to know how the right hon. Gentleman was going to stop the bleeding, and how the Army itself was going to live if the life blood of the Militia no longer passed into its veins. Who were to be the officers of the county council Army, what authority would they possess? What training were they to receive, and were the men for this new Army to be taken from the Militia or the Volunteers, or from both? The right hon. Gentleman might stamp his foot and command a new host to come forth, but it would not come. Everyone knew that he would only get the same Army again. He would like the right hon. Gentleman to tell the Committee which he was going to destroy, the Militia or the Volunteers. He wanted some better reason for the changes he proposed than had yet been given. It was all very well to say that the great question of disarmament should be placed before everything else, 1127 but he thought the right hon. Gentleman said a very dangerous thing when he said we were going to take the lead. Was it wise on our part—we, the smallest military force in the world—to set that example when there were so many more powerful countries with much more to gain by such an agreement? We could not play at soldiering. Training, sacrifice, and effort were the price of victory in war. The soldiers of Japan were trained under their officers for three years, and French and German soldiers were trained under their officers for two years. Did the right hon. Gentleman suppose that, if we put into the field officers who had never been trained, to lead men who had never been trained, we should escape the penalties that other nations who had made that mistake had had to pay?
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said he was well aware that in spite of the long and interesting speech of his right hon. friend, even now the Committee were not in the possession of many facts which were absolutely material to any judgment of the proposals which he had put before the House. The right hon. Member for Croydon in his speech pointed out one or two deficiencies in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman and those deficiencies might, easily be supplemented by questions which would show hon. Members who were interested in this subject how little they really knew of the proposals of the Secretary of State—too little to form a judgment upon them. It seemed essential in any case that, if business at the present period of the session prevented the possibility of a debate now, before the Estimates were put into their final shape and before any of the suggestions which had been adumbrated by the right, hon. Gentleman were acted upon, they should have some further opportunity of debating this question. It would be worth it even if the opportunity took the form of repealing the only Resolution on the books of this House, namely, the Brodrick proposals. Since the Cardwell scheme the House of Commons had never given any other judgment on the military affairs of the country. Upon this occasion the Secretary of State had told the Committee that 1128 Bills would be required for the creation of the territorial Army on the county system that was at present in the air. The right hon. Gentleman had told them nothing to-day to enable them to pass a judgment upon his proposals. They might express doubts, but they could not pass judgment on his scheme to-day. It might be a long way off. It was quite possible that the new Esher Committee might be less near complete agreement than was currently reported, and that by October next complete agreement might not have been reached. In that case it was most important that they should have a pledge from the right hon. Gentleman that the Committee should have an opportunity of discussing the subject which was not the subject of a Bill. Another question raised on the last words of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was one of the most interesting, but he did not think they ought to pursue all the questions that might arise in debate, and he should hesitate to pursue the question on this occasion, except to say that the truth in his opinion lay between the two sides. He agreed absolutely with the last speaker that the trained force was the essential force. But the whole question depended on whether it was necessary that we should tie ourselves to the old tradition that governed the scheme before the Committee; or whether it was not possible to work out a plan in the circumstances of the country to substitute for the Regular Army of long-service highly-trained men at home, an Army in which the rank and file would be composed of men raised in part from the Militia and in part from the Volunteers. The Secretary of State had gone on the old plan because he had the seventy-one battalions at home tied round his neck, and he could not otherwise get a sufficiently large Reserve for his purpose. The right hon. Gentleman came down to the House with this great speech, but he (Sir Charles Dilke) found in his scheme very little saving of money and no permanent saving. The men could be put back in a moment of panic. They had seen considerable increases of battalions at different times, The men were not always raised, but the money was raised. And the men the right hon. Gentleman was cutting off were not there. They had 1129 not been raised; the recruiting had not given the entire number of men. We had an empire of the seas, and our enmity was feared and our alliance was sought after by other Powers on account of our position and naval strength. Whether the Navy could be decreased was a detail as compared with this main fact. He, like many others, had supported the proposals which the Board of Admiralty had made from time to time, but if they had differed at all upon policy it was that of three or four years ahead rather than that of the actual moment, and they had always been united in the desire to retain that naval pre-eminence upon which our position in the world in a military sense depended. Our Army was secondary, except so far as India went. No one had admitted that more frankly than the late Prime Minister. That being so, how did the respective finance in regard to the Army and the Navy stand? The expenditure on Army and Navy together was vastly larger than people commonly supposed, because they forgot the expenditure of India and that included in the Civil Service Estimates and on loan money. They compared things which were not comparable, because the loan money and the Estimates varied from year to year. The expenditure of the Empire upon its Navy when it reached its highest figure in the Estimates of 1904–5, was over £42,000,000 sterling. It had fallen, through the efforts of the late Government, by £9,500,000 a year. On the I Army there had been no such decrease, I and while at the topmost point the Empire was perhaps spending upon the Army £60,000,000 a year, in the present year the. expenditure would not be less than £58,000,000, or £2,000,000 less, as against a decrease of £9,500,000 in the Navy. That looked wrong on the face of it, and it made a case for one of those large reductions in land military expenditure which could not be accomplished by any of the parings of his right hon. friend. It could only be accomplished by a complete change of military system, and those who had advocated sweeping reforms for years past had always stated there was no room for large economy on the present system. If they required large economy on the land forces they must be prepared to 1130 secure it by separating the Indian Army from the Home Army. The Indian Government had said over and over again that the present linked battalion system did not suit India, and that they would undertake the training of their own men in their own depots here, and produce a better article at a lower price. His right hon. friend did not point as regarded Infantry to cheaper cost, but he did as regarded Artillery. Why was it not applicable to the Infantry also? The Secretary of State for War had explained on a previous occasion to those who had not followed this question closely what cadres meant, They meant something in which the recruits were trained in time of peace, and into which were put the reservists in time of war. His right hon. friend supplemented the Regular force as regarded the artillery by bringing in a large Militia, or semi-Militia element, but as regarded the Infantry he looked forward to a system of which they had not yet grasped the plan, which would take Militia battalions, as they understood them, either as whole battalions or as separate companies attached to the Regular forces in the field. That was a plan wholly different from that which the Secretary of State proposed with regard to artillery. His right hon. Friend returned to a uniform system of seven years with the colours and five years with the reserve. That system, which was here called a short-service system, was by far the longest system in the world, and, therefore, by far the most costly. It was that which led to the curious fact that Guards were cheap, although there was a difference of opinion between the two right hon. Gentlemen as to the cost of the Guardsman as compared with the linesman. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said the cost was half and the Secretary of State for War said it was the same. It was the Guardsmen who of the Infantry uniformly behaved well in the South African War. He was favourable to his right hon. friend's proposals on the whole with regard to the artillery, and he did not oppose his proposals with regard to the Guards, but it was a curious fact that the two forces, the reduction of which had been discussed to-day, were the two forces which, by universal admission 1131 maintained the highest traditions of the British Army in South Africa. The conduct of the artillery as a force was uniformly magnificent, and the Guards, though perhaps less brilliant than the artillery, did their work without any of those humiliating surrenders by which the course of almost every other branch was marked. His right hon. friend to-day, in talking of his scheme under these new terms of service, spoke of the Cardwell system as being six years. That was not the case except in India. He had told his right hon. friend and the War Office so before. It was a question of fact, as could be confirmed by Hansard. Mr. Card-well's declaration on February 16th, 1871, was that he was going to continue to try the four years system, and that he hoped to reduce it to three, except in the case of India, where it was six years with the colours and six years with the reserve. Mr. Cardwell's declaration was that the service of the Regular infantry should be as short as would make an efficient soldier, and that was the principle they maintained now, and it was the true Cardwell system. On the whole the system which existed at present and the system which was proposed by his right hon. friend both yielded an average actual service longer even than the service before the time of Mr. Cardwell, and in this scheme they seemed to have got rid of almost every vestige of short service. It was a long service army which his right hon. friend created, and was, therefore, a step away from the modern ideas and from the uniform experience of every other nation in Europe. It was saddling the country for ever with a system of which the very essence was that, while it might give a very excellent article, it must give a very costly one. His right hon. friend had said in the strongest terms that the force abroad determined the minimum force at home. The principle was that our force at home was not determined by our needs, our policy, or our desire, but absolutely and for ever because we felt ourselves bound to keep at home the same number of costly Regular infantry battalions which the circumstances of the Empire forced us to keep abroad. That was the linked-battalion system. His right hon. friend had said that these seventy-one battalions, which he admitted 1132 were very costly, were here by no fault of the authorities. They were here by the fault of a system which was out of date and out of harmony with every other country and necessarily costly in the extreme, and which must prevent large reductions of the force ever being accomplished. The short tour system was the subject of much ridicule when it was invented. The Minister for War had admitted that Malta was an unhealthy station, and yet under the short tour system we were obliged to send the young recruits thither, where they could not be properly trained, and to this we were condemned by the present cast-iron system. Those were the results of the link-battalion system which we had tied round our necks. With regard to the artillery, the Secretary for War had announced a new departure, but for the infantry he had remained the oldes of old-fashioned reactionaries, if he would allow him to say so. He could not pledge himself to detail in regard to the artillery scheme. He agreed with what had been said by the late Secretary of State for War as to our weakness in field artillery as compared with other Powers and as compared with the enormous force they possessed numbering over 1,000,000 men. In proportion to that total we were very imperfectly supplied with field artillery. It should not be forgotten that if we were looking forward to bringing a larger force into the field we could not do so effectively without those highly trained services of artillery and cavalry. That was a doctrine common to all. He thought there had been a little juggling in regard to the figures quoted referring to the French artillery. The French were behind the Germans in the number of recruits they could take and in the number of men they could keep in arms. They were also behind them in the number of men they could put into the field in the event of war, but, nevertheless, they had kept pace with Germany in regard to artillery gun for gun in spite of their inferiority of numbers. The same argument applied to the cavalry in France. He thought that demolished any argument based upon French experience, because the French had not diminished their artillery but on the contrary they had made great 1133 sacrifices to keep it up to its present standard. On the other hand no one depreciated the value of the special field artillery raised upon the Militia system, and he believed it to be an admirable artillery. Many years ago Colonel Birley of Manchester wrote a pamphlet in which he recommended a mixed system of artillery and many of them advocated it. It consisted partly of Regulars and partly of Militia or Volunteers, and the experiment had been tried. For the past four or five years the Army Estimates had contained nine batteries of artillery, three of which had been raised in Lancashire upon this mixed system. He understood that the right hon. Gentleman was going to try not the Lancashire system, but a new system, and from what he had heard it was one which would have his support. It was an experiment in the direction which the late Secretary of State for War would like to see tried. What he felt sure the Committee would be anxious to know was what step was going to be taken to avoid the hiatus between the old system and the new, and how far it was it going to diminish the number of trained field artillerymen or diminish what was more important—the number of trained artillery horses which we possessed at present. They would like to know how far the right hon. Gentleman was going to slacken his efforts before his new experiment became operative. Upon that point he thought there would be a natural anxiety in all parts of the House. It should not be overlooked that changes were taking place in this country which would prevent our obtaining that valuable class of reserve horses which we had been getting hitherto, and on this account it was all the more necessary that we should not reduce our trained horses. The Secretary of State for War had spoken of a great expeditionary force of 160,000 men. If that was the force which the Government thought necessary he thought that the number of horses should be exactly in proportion to the trained force. Personally he had never been one of those who desired to see kept up a large force of Regular infantry at home for expeditionary purposes. He had always wished to see a large force of Regular artillery and cavalry and mounted men kept up, and he thought that view had 1134 the support of and was recommended by the Elgin Commission. Whatever the size of the striking force was placed at, the permanent and costly element in it requiring training should be at the highest point of efficiency. Whatever the force was, having regard to the desire to reinforce it by the territorial army, it should be highly equipped with the professional elements, because we could not improvise such elements as cavalry, mounted infantry, or artillery. He was very anxious about this matter, and also in regard to any hiatus which might occur between the old and the new systems. With regard to the Yeomanry he wished to point out that he took no part in what was very much fought over some time ago. At that time the Yeomanry officers in this House were very much excited about the matter, and they tried to force the late Government to abandon the intention of having two kinds of men in the Yeomanry — one kind who would and another who would not go abroad in time of war. That now seemed to him to be the proposal of the Secretary for War. He took no part in that struggle at the time, but he remembered the excitement that was created and how they were told that the system would ruin the Yeomanry. There was a similar proposal with regard to the Militia. The right hon. Gentleman had said he agreed with the Militia in the dislike they had to having their men picked out for the Militia reserve, and that system had been abolished, He would like to know if the Militia agreed to the proposal by which certain companies were to be specially prepared for foreign service. Then there remained the question put by the late Secretary of State for War as to how we were going to equip the Militia and bring them up to the standard which they were to attain to for that part o£ the system suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. These were questions upon which he thought the Committee had a right to ask, if not to insist, upon having an answer, before the matter was finally decided. There was another matter that was still in the air, and that was the territorial Army of the future, he had no doubt from the language used by the Secretary of State for War at an earlier period of the 1135 session that he expected to meet his critics with regard to the territorial Army scheme, and they pressed him on May 24th to lay before the House of Commons the statement which he had made before the Committee which dealt with questions of the future. He thought the House of Commons had a full right to information upon that point as well as the members of that Committee. The House of Commons was quite as competent to deal with those matters as the Committee, because they knew the counties of the country thoroughly and they knew all about the Volunteers and rifle clubs. Therefore the House ought to be consulted by the Government in the preparation of any territorial Army scheme. They would probably be told that the scheme was only in the air and that the Committee were engaged in considering a scheme which had been submitted to them, but when a sort of arrangement had been come to there was always a tendency to force it down the mouth of the House of Commons, but in his opinion upon such a matter the House of Commons ought to be consulted first. It was admitted that during the war the counties rendered much assistance in South Africa, and no doubt they would be ready to do it again if the emergency arose. It was admitted that the county organisations were admirable in war, and in the provision of rifle ranges the assistance of the counties would also be most valuable. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to have in his mind the unfortunate resistance of country gentlemen to manœuvres, but he thought that resistance might be broken down by county organisation. As regarded the administration of the force, strong language had been used in the House of Lords by Lord Portsmouth who seemed to suggest that the recruiting and training of the force ought to be handed over to the county bodies. No doubt the words used by the Secretary for War were intended to correct a mistaken impression which had been given by Lord Portsmouth's speech. He thought the administration of the new Army county by county would be a disaster both in a financial and in a military sense. But before any step in that sense was taken, which must have the effect 1136 of removing the financial control of a large portion of the Army from the House of Commons, he hoped the House would be consulted and would become a party to any arrangement which might be made. The Lords-Lieutenant were spoken of in the original scheme, but they had been let down rather easily by his right hon. friend to-day. No doubt it was odious to select examples, but he might mention two. He lived in Surrey and represented Gloucestershire. He doubted whether Conservatives would be prepared to commit the military affairs of these counties to the Lords-Lieutenant. Lords-Lieutenant did not command implicit confidence on the other side of the House, and on the Ministerial side they did not command any confidence at all. It had been said hat it was necessary to have their patronage because they were the great people in the counties. The Liberal Party would not be inclined to put forward Lords-Lieutenant in any scheme. He believed that in this scheme there had been a suggestion made that grants of public money should be handed over to the county committees in order that they might undertake the administration of the new territorial Army. Against that on principle he unhesitatingly protested in the name of soldiering and in the name of the finance of the Army. It would never be economical in the long run. It was contrary to all sound principles of administration. It would take the territorial Army from the financial control of this House and of the Treasury. He had the strongest opinion on that point, and he expressed it all the more freely because he believed there was nothing settled with regard to it. But for heaven's sake before it was settled he hoped they would be able to express their views in the House of Commons. Let them have an assurance to-night that they would know about the new territorial Army and that they would be able to discuss it in all its details. As far as he understood, there were to be two classes of Volunteers. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the part the Volunteers were to play in the defence of Portsmouth, Plymouth, and Woolwich. Those who were to be efficient for war were to play their part in resisting raids. The right hon. 1137 Gentleman had mentioned the number of men, foot and Yeomanry, who were to take part in these operations in the event of mobilisation. What of the others? This question was a matter on which the House of Commons ought to be consulted. It was a matter on which he believed there would be the greatest difference of opinion. Many Volunteer officers and those who had looked forward to either the Militia or the Volunteers, or both, or a force between these two on the Australian or the Canadian footing, as the home Army of the future, must feel that it was a reactionary step to contemplate the turning of a larger body of the Volunteers into a body called a territorial Army, but in fact no army at all. It would have no training and nothing except the feeble county organisation. The questions asked to-night were questions which ought to be asked, and most of them demanded that an opportunity should be given for their discussion on a future occasion. He was convinced that the plan which had been laid before the Committee was not one which ought to be adopted hastily on this occasion. His suspicions of the territorial Army were increased by the notorious fact that it was "all things to all men." It had been represented to the pure economists in this House as being a great security for economy in the future. They were told that this large territorial Army of the future would be a cheap army. That was what was said to the economists. On the other hand, it was supported by some men with strong military or alarmist views who believed in the necessity of sending 500,000 men to India for the defence of India, a circumstance which, in his opinion, would never arise. These two views of this Army could not both be correct. They were as wide as the poles asunder. Probably both were wrong, but the extreme vagueness of the proposal made it the more essential that this House should keep control of it both in the present and in the future.
§ MR. GUY BARING (Winchester)
said the appreciation of the scheme described by the Secretary of State for War which had just been given by so high an authority as the right hon. Baronet the 1138 Member for the Forest of Dean would perhaps convey to the right hon. Gentleman the unpopularity of his proposals. The right hon. Gentleman had justified his scheme on three grounds. With that which had reference to the linked battalion system he quite agreed. He could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman's reason in regard to the reduction of the Brigade of Guards. The right hon. Gentleman did not quote the Army Council when he made that statement. He quoted a nameless general, but he could not have consulted the Army Council or Sir John French. Thirdly, these two battalions were ruled out' because the right hon. Gentleman had a settled figure of 50,000 Regular soldiers who were to form the force to go abroad if required. He could not see what virtue the right hon. Gentleman found in 50,000. That was a perfectly arbitrary figure. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had not been quite fair to the brigade in this way. He had gone round the Army and asked everybody to show justification for their existence, and also what efficiency they could show for war. He might have told the Committee what other troops could do, what this brigade could do, if called upon for war. The right hon. Gentleman would agree with him that the Guards could put three battalions in the field on a war footing, leaving between 600 and 1,000 men behind as reserves. That was an asset of the greatest value, and one which they could not lightly put aside. He spoke as an interested person in this matter, for he had had the honour of serving thirteen years in the Guards. He had seen all the trouble that had been taken in working these battalions up to the pitch to which they had been brought. He had heard with the greatest regret the right hon. Gentleman's announcement that he was going to do away with some of the battalions. He wished to put what he admitted was a minor point before the Committee, namely, the point of view of those who were going to suffer by the change. He had reason to believe that the right hon. Gentleman was most sympathetic. He had asked the Committee to give him time to carry out the scheme. The time which the Committee would grant really made no practical difference. They must realise that the carrying out of the proposals would entail a great deal of hardship on 1139 the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men concerned. This applied all the more to the battalions of the brigade than to the battalions of the line. The officers, non-commissioned officers and men joined under special enlistment, and there was practically no similar battalion that they could adopt. He understood that the colonel of the Grenadier Guards was willing to take any recommended officers in any of the battalions which were going to be dismissed. At any rate, it could but be a very slow process of absorption, and the result would be that a certain number of men would have their life's work thrown away. He really did not see how the right hon. Gentleman was going to get over the difficulty. It was to be hoped that he had some further plan to indicate. He himself thought that the only plan was not to dismiss the battalions at all.
§ SIR J. DICKSON-POYNDER (Wiltshire, Chippenham)
, said the Secretary of State for War had in his long and eloquent speech indicated substantial reductions in all branches of the Army. He thought everyone on the Ministerial side of the House would regard the proposed reductions with sincere approval. He thought that even the eager spirits who had spoken on this subject at the commencement of the session would not have cause to complain of the reductions which were now to be made without undue delay. He was amongst those who in this House had for many years advocated a reduction in the personnel of the Army. He believed, as other hon. Members had done, that the present establishment of the Army was unnecessarily large, and that the consequence was a most wasteful condition of things. He had always held the view now common amongst all sections of the House that we must carry out a policy by which we could husband our resources in time of peace and expand them in time of war. He had been long enough in the House to know that schemes for Army reform must be accepted with a considerable amount of precaution. The Minister for War had told the Committee that he proposed a large reduction of the men in the regular Army. Many hon. Members had always had the firm conviction that the only real reduction in 1140 Army expenditure that could be effected was by a reduction of men. It was true that many economies could be effected in various directions, and he was glad to note that his right hon. friend intended to enforce rigorously economies which cumulatively would secure a large saving in expenditure and at the same time add to efficiency. But permanent economy in the expenditure on the Army could only be effected by the reduction of the regular forces of the Crown. The question then arose whether if the infantry of the Line were reduced it would be consistent with the military efficiency of the country and the protection of the Empire. The expenditure on the Army of late years had reached an enormous sum—a much larger sum than many would have believed possible a decade ago. Within the last few years it amounted to £60,000.000, of which £21,000,000 was devoted to the defence of India. Then there had to be added £35,000,000 of expenditure on the Navy, which, taken together, was a prodigious sum for the defensive forces of the Empire,, and largely in excess of the sums paid by foreign nations for their defence. If any one looked at those large figures and took a broad view of the case he must arrive at the conclusion that there were very substantial reasons for the reduction of the expenditure on our defensive forces. The only question was in what way the reduction could be brought about. There were only two ways—one comparatively easy and the other difficult. The Secretary of State for War had taken the easy way. He had said he would knock off a certain number of battalions from the existing establishment but that he would not disturb the existing organisation. But it would not be possible to effect any real or permanent reduction of the infantry o the line so long as the existing system obtained. He did not gather whether there was to be a reduction of two battalions of the Guards or whether one battalion was to be sent to Egypt.
§ SIR J. DICKSON-POYNDER
thought it would be impossible to make any material reduction in the Army if in 1141 the days to come they were to maintain one line battalion at home to provide for the wastages of the battalion on a foreign station. The linked battalion system was the obstacle to any real reduction of the military forces of the country. The modern " blue water" school laid it down that we should have an Army for foreign service; that there was no necessity for a large Regular Army for home defence and that home defence must be left in the main to the Navy. As he understood it, the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman did not, by any means, carry out the premises stated by his right hon. friend, because far from there being a small Army at home for draft purposes for foreign service, we should have a larger Army at home consisting of 150,000 men. The question, therefore, arose whether that Army of 150,000 was necessary or the purpose stated. It had been scientifically laid down that in every battalion at home there should be 125 men ready to supply drafts for the battalion abroad. The number of men abroad—in India and the Colonies—was 90,000, and on that basis it would be found that 16,000 would be sufficient to maintain a continuous stream of drafts for the regiments abroad. But under the linked battalion system not 16,000 but 71,000 men would be maintained to furnish the drafts. He did not suggest that there need be any serious diminution in the cadres which would involve a diminution in the number of officers, but he believed that by the depot system being introduced, the supply of drafts for abroad would be efficiently established. He asked his right hon. friend whether he could not see his way to abandon the linked - battalion system. If the right hon. Gentleman did so he would find himself in a position to maintain full efficiency at home and a full stream of drafts for abroad with a great reduction of the Regular infantry in this country. He should like to say one word as to the proposal which his right hon. friend outlined as to the territorial Army. He had advocated in this House a policy on the same lines for many years, because he believed that if we were to have a large and efficient Army, there should be a territorial Army in close touch with those 1142 who lived in the counties. He quite agreed with the caustic remarks of the right hon. baronet about Lords-Lieutenant. He had been brought up to look with respect upon Lords - Lieutenant, but he did not think that they were the proper representatives of the county to take over the administration of the territorial Army. We wanted for that purpose a body which was in close touch with the democratic sentiment of the county. He hoped that upon that body would be placed the Members of Parliament, for the district, because they were brought into close touch with the people in large areas in their counties. They would have intimate association with the sentiment of the county, and would form a nucleus upon which the military government of the county could be built up. He quite agreed with what the right hon. Baronet had said as to the powers which these committees should have, and he did not think that they would be the proper bodies to have the military handling of our Auxiliary Forces. There were, however, many duties which they could perform by which they could improve the territorial Army. They could do a great deal in regard to recruiting, as they were in close touch with many classes of the community who had heretofore kept aloof from the Army. They also might do much in regard to giving access to land for the purpose of manœuvres and rifle ranges, upon which the efficiency of our Auxiliary Forces so largely depended. One more duty which they might usefully perform was that of finding employment for soldiers after they had left the ranks. There always had been this difficulty about the man who joined the Army, which was felt, perhaps, more by his parents than by himself, that when he left it he was thrown upon the casual labour market to make the best he could of his new conditions. To take steps in this direction would tend to raise the standard of the recruit, and measures should be taken to ensure that when he left the Army he should have some employment which would keep him for the rest of his life. He could not conceive any body better suited to perform such a duty than the body which had been suggested. Many men when they left the Army desired to return to 1143 their native county, and if their services could be utilised it would be very desirable. Such a body might bring themselves into close association with the local authorities and industrial organisations, such as railway companies and those who employed a large amount of labour. In conclusion, he would content himself with saying that while he looked cautiously upon this scheme he welcomed the promise of reduction, although he regretted that it took the form of being wedded to the linked battalion system. He regretted that his right hon. friend had not seen his way in that respect to a complete reorganisation of our Army system. The whole scheme was, however, so elaborate and complicated that before it was put into operation a full opportunity for discussion and consideration should be afforded.
§ VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH (Maidstone)
said he had listened to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman with disappointment and apprehension, and he appealed to him to pause and reconsider the position he had taken up. From the time the right hon. Gentleman spoke at the beginning of the session Members on the Opposition side had regarded him as one of the few bright sparks of the Liberal Administration. It was true that in that speech they had nothing to go on, but they had every reason to believe that he was desirous of promoting the best interests of the Army, that he had the courage of his opinions, that no Party influence would weigh with him, and that the complex question of the Army could not be placed in better hands. They were also led to believe that as he was new to his office he would weigh carefully every consideration, that he was fully alive to his responsibilities, and above all that no scheme would be evolved until some time had elapsed in which it could be conclusively proved that the scheme before being produced had matured to its fullest extent. All these hopes had been disappointed. The right hon. Gentleman had almost obtained their confidence under false pretences, and they had been labouring under a misapprehension as to the intent and purposes of the War Office. The scheme of the right hon. Gentleman had descended into their midst like a bolt 1144 from the blue. Whether the right hon. Gentleman felt that in the midst of the educational strife he had been left out in the cold and desired with the fighting instinct which was indigenous to his race to return to the fray, or whether the scheme was the result of a normal period of production he (Lord Castlereagh) was at a loss to discover. He had no desire to impugn the motives of the right hon. Gentleman, but his scheme was not calculated to benefit the country. It was not economical and would, if carried into effect, do a lasting injury to many who deserved better at the hands of a grateful country. He gave place to no one in his desire to see far-reaching economies effected, but there were limits of economy, and a rich and prosperous country must mean heavy liabilities, and amongst those liabilities was the maintenance of an efficient Army capable of contraction in time of peace and expansion in time of war. The Army was sustaining a heavy loss by the reduction of so many units. He was of opinion that these units constituted an insurance of the country in peace and that they removed those difficulties of organisation which were so apparent in the South African War. During that dark period it was obvious that our peace organisation was not adequate for producing a large number of men at a moment's notice. Were we to return to that state of affairs after a warning so emphatic as the lessons of the South African War had given us? He understood that it was contemplated to convert a certain number of batteries of artillery into Militia artillery. Were they to assume that the Army was so we! equipped with artillery that we could afford to make such alterations in so important a branch of the service? He would not say a word against the Militia. He was an enthusiastic supporter of it, but he maintained that ii was absolutely impossible, in the short time the Militia had at its disposal, for that force to arrive at that standard of efficiency which was absolutely necessary for the soldier belonging to a branch of the Regular Army. The Liberal Government claimed that they had a mandate to effect great economies, but he maintained that that was a mandate to every Government in power, and he urged the right hon. Gentleman to 1145 consider whether his proposed reductions were real and lasting economies. It was certain that the life of the Government would not be of long duration. Notwithstanding the admirable policy of the Foreign Minister it was possible that they might be plunged into difficulties abroad, and would it be any consolation to hon. Members opposite, when the present Administration had vanished, to know that although the Government had effected economies the next Unionist Government would be called on to expend all the money saved and a good deal more in order adequately to cope with the difficulties which might at any moment beset us? To cope with these difficulties adequately it was necessary to have behind the Government of the country an efficient force to enforce their claims. These were considerations which he hoped sincerely would weigh with the Government. Certainly this was an opportunity for them to prove that they were not disposed to be swayed in all directions by the various sections of their supporters. He knew there was an opinion in the House in favour of these reductions. One opinion came from hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway who looked forward to a time when nations would settle their differences by means of international arbitration. He knew that they looked to this country to set an example in that direction by maintaining no Army and no Navy whatsoever. While agreeing that such a state of things would be of inestimable benefit, the world had not yet arrived at that state of education at which it would be possible to carry out ! such an arrangement. Those hon. Members, he felt sure—and he said it with regret—would look upon these reductions with satisfaction, and he had no doubt that they would express the opinion that they were only the forerunners of further reductions—a risk which no Government was justified in running. There was another section of the House equally in favour of the reductions, and who in their clamour for a wholesale reduction of our forces suggested no alternate scheme, though he believed that section was as desirous as anyone in the House that we should maintain our position among the nations of the world. The attitude 1146 of those hon. Gentlemen was one he could not under any circumstances comprehend. An aspect of the question which could not be put in a strong enough light was the effect the reductions would have upon the officers and non-commissioned officers in the various battalions concerned. It must be borne in mind that it was the foremost ambition of every officer and non-commissioned officer to command the battery, regiment, or battalion in which he had given the best years of his life. What would be done with the majority of these officers who had risen from rank to rank to that of major? There was only one course to pursue with regard to them, and that was a polite War Office letter relegating them to half-pay, which meant that men in the prime of life who had served their country, perhaps, on active service, and—what was duller and more arduous—in the daily routine of soldiering at home, would have to give up all idea of attaining an object which to most of them had been a life-long ambition. If this scheme were in any way beneficial to the country he felt sure that no one, and least of all the men most deeply concerned, would venture to say a word against the reduction; but the scheme was simply held out with a view to appeasing the ultra-economical section of the Liberal Party. That economies could be made he admitted, but he was convinced that no large economy with regard to the Army could possibly be effected, and certainly not on the lines of the scheme suggested. If economies of this description were effected, it could only be at the risk of endangering the efficiency and the power of our military force.
COLONEL HERBERT (Monmouthshire, S.)
said the noble Lord who had just sat down had ascribed to Ministerialists some dangerous notions with regard to the defences of the Empire, but he thought the noble Lord would be good enough to make exceptions in the case of some of them who, like himself, and a former comrade, the Member for Stockton, whom he saw in his place below the gangway, had served Her late Majesty and His present Majesty for a number of years. He had had the honour of rising, in the manner described by the noble Lord, from rank to rank for thirty 1147 years in a regiment of Guards, and the noble Lord would admit that under these circumstances he had the honour and dignity of the Army and the necessities of Imperial defence quite as much at heart as the noble Lord himself. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War on having performed the feat, unusual in recent years, of making a statement which did not involve increase of expenditure on military affairs. Even more than that, the right hon. Gentleman had indicated a very important and considerable reduction of that expenditure. He had no intention of crossing swords with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean and the hon. Baronet the Member for the Chippenham Division of Wiltshire on the vexed question which they inaccurately termed the linked battalion system. On that question he would congratulate the Secretary of State for War upon having decided to advance slowly. The right hon. Gentleman had not been led into a sudden and complete change of system from that which had existed with more or less success—he did not say with complete success—since the days of Mr. Cardwell. The present was no time for making those great experiments which would be involved by such a change as was contemplated by the right hon. Baronet for the creation of a territorial Army on a new system. He was glad that the Secretary of State for War had decided to adhere in general to the system which existed before he took office, and to advance slowly, at the same time applying to what had been described as the bloated condition of armaments that treatment by absorption which was calculated to reduce the figure of our military expenditure. In the interesting statement which the right hon. Gentleman made two months ago, he said the first thing we wanted was absolutely clear thinking about the purposes for which the Army existed, and the principles upon which it was to be organised. No one who listened to the right hon. Gentleman to-day could fail to have been struck by the fact that he must have been doing a good deal of thinking, but there were one or two points on which he would have been glad to have had a little clearer expression. One of those points in particular 1148 was with regard to the liabilities to which all military preparation must be directed and the calculation of assets for the meeting of those liabilities. The right hon. Gentleman had given in round numbers what were considered to be the requirements for India, and for a striking force organised in this country, but he had not touched upon the real key to the question of the numbers of our military force at the present day, the number of troops which it was necessary for us to maintain in the Colonies. They had been told on a former occasion how largely those troops had been increased. They had been given to-day no clear indication as to what was the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the probabilities of largely reducing that part of the Army. The right hon. Gentleman had told them it was true that there were certain battalions in South Africa which would come under the operation of the reduction, but he had not given any sort of idea as to what were the views held by the War Office as to the probability of our continuing to maintain so large a force as there was at present in those Colonies. The three parts of our Imperial force, namely, that employed in India, that employed in the Colonies, and the force at home, might be divided roughly into troops of the first line and those of the second line. The troops in India must belong to the first line, and they had to be supported by a certain number of troops of the same class at home to furnish the drafts. The new Colonies they hoped in the future might pass into that happier condition which was shown now in Canada and Australia, where troops of the second line could be employed. Here at home he imagined that the right hon. Gentleman's general idea was to place the defence more in. the hands of the second line of troops. However good that class might be there must be something to constitute a stiffening, and in that respect he thought the Brigade of Guards was an important factor. He should have been glad to have heard from the right hon. Gentleman that if it were necessary to reduce the strength of those battalions he would reduce the numerical force and not the units. He hoped that before the debate was brought 1149 to an end they would have some clear statement from the right hon. Gentleman with regard to his intentions on this subject. He could not, for the life of him, understand why it should be better to perform the operation of amputation on two of the regiments rather than to apply the system of absorption to all the regiments, which the right hon. Gentleman himself had described as the proper treatment in the case of bloated armaments. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the question of justice as though it were a question of justice between Guards' battalions and Line battalions. He ventured to say that no such feeling entered into the mind of any soldier, whether he belonged to the Guards or to the Line. The functions of these two branches of the Army were entirely different, and he would express the hope that before this dislocation of two distinguished regiments was finally decided upon, earnest thought might be given to it, and that the House might be furnished with the fullest statement of the conclusions upon which the present proposal had been based. It could not be merely a question of economy, for surely it was not more economical to destroy two battalions in the older regiments than to disband a large battalion of a new regiment with its expensive regimental establishment. He did not wish to say anything which might be interpreted as a want of sympathy with the junior regiment of Irish Guards, but obviously it was better to have three regiments of three battalions each than to have four regiments each with a, different system of organisation. He could not help feeling a sense of regret that the very important statement of the right hon. Gentleman should have been made on the occasion of the War Office Vote. It was unfortunate that the Committee should have been drawn away from the consideration of one of the most important parts of our military system, and from discussing the efficiency of what had been described as the instrument for carrying out the policy of the Government and the brain of the Army. If the War Office was not efficient, then we were paying £500,000 too much for it. It was not possible to consider the effect of the large changes which had been made at the War Office 1150 when all minds were occupied with a fresh statement of policy. As a soldier, he associated himself fully with the congratulations which had been expressed that the Secretary of State for War had entered upon a period of economy in the military service. He knew how little the country got for its large expenditure upon the Army, and they were all anxious to receive better value for their money. He thought by approaching these difficult problems in the way he had done the right hon. Gentleman was taking the surest way for eventually arriving at that consummation which all so much desired —a cheap and efficient Army. He should like to be quite sure that in all the proposals made for reduction the fullest consideration had been paid to their effect upon the whole system. He hoped the spirit of the old regiments would be cherished and preserved, and if that were done he felt sure that officers and men of all ranks would give the best service they could to the State.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
said the time at the disposal of the Committee had been very much curtailed by several extremely long speeches, and the reply of the Secretary of State for War and the speech of the Leader of the Opposition would necessarily cut down the time to an almost unfair limit. With regard to what had been said about the reduction of the Brigade of Guards, he would narrow down his remarks to the regiment in which he had had the honour of serving, namely, the Cold-streams. He thought the battalion of Coldstream Guards should be the very last to be reduced, because it was founded in 1897, whilst the Irish regiment, which was founded in 1900, and formed part of a scheme by which it was intended to raise the battalions of Guards to twelve. There was no demand from Ireland that their should be an Irish regiment^ of Guards, and he could not understand why the right hon. Gentleman should have departed from the usual precedent when reducing battalions of applying his reduction to the last formed regiments. In the case of non-commissioned officers and men the difficulty was accentuated because the Irish Guards were a younger regiment, and they might be absorbed into the various regiments 1151 from which they had been transferred with greater case than would be the case with the older established regiments. At the present time the Coldstream Guards were thirty-six above their establishment and the battalion could be well maintained. There was no lack of officers and only four probationers, whilst the Grenadiers had sixteen probationers, the Scots Guards fourteen, and the Irish Guards three. He thought it was only right that these facts should be emphasised. He was not now pleading that the right hon. Gentleman ' should reconsider his decision to reduce the Brigade of Guards, although he believed he was wrong in taking that step. The Secretary of State for War said he was absolutely determined upon that point, and no doubt he had consulted his military advisers. When the representatives of the late Government: stated that they had consulted Lord Roberts, they were frequently accused of sheltering themselves behind that great man. Now the right hon. Gentleman told them that he had not taken a single step without consulting the military experts, who believed that the, course he was taking was right. In not disestablishing a younger Guards battalion, he thought it was unfair to the older regiments, and if a battalion of Guards must be reduced, it should not have been the Coldstreams. He would not now enter into the question of the hardship I that might be done to both officers and men, but would content himself for the present with the promise that there should be no hardship. He would like to know how the Government were going to insure to the officers of these battalions which were about to be disbanded their chance of promotion. The Secretary of State for War had produced a very remarkable scheme, but he had seen produced three remarkable schemes, which had not all been received with enthusiasm, and which did not remain as a proof of the ability of any single man to reconstruct the British, Army on a principle satisfactory either for peace or war.
§ MR. A. L. LEVER (Essex, Harwich)
said he felt he would have accorded to him that courtesy which was always extended to new Members addressing the House for the first time. He was one of 1152 those who deprecated long speeches, and. he believed in the advisability of not speaking at all unless driven to it by some special circumstances. He felt bound to intervene in this debate because he had advocated a reduction of the expenditure upon the Army. He did so more especially during the last election in view of the enormous increase in the cost of the Army under the late Administration. He thought a satisfactory reduction could be made in the expenditure without seriously reducing; the numbers of the Army, and without in any way diminishing its efficiency as an instrument of war. This could be done by pruning and lopping off all superfluities and doing away with the wanton waste that so frequently took place at the War Office. We might economise by ceasing to send Militia battalions from Scotland to the other end of England to be trained, and by discontinuing the sending of officers to India and paying their expenses, when it was known perfectly well that they were only going to remain six, eight, or ten weeks longer. Lord Roberts had stated that the lessons of the late war appeared to have been completely forgotten. The early disasters in that campaign were not due to any paucity in numbers, but to the military authorities having forgotten the lessons of previous campaigns and repeating the self-same blunders committed in earlier campaigns, and to our general unpreparedness for war. Had they taken the advice of Lord Wolseley and mobilised an Army Corps and Cavalry Division on Salisbury Plain in the June of the year when the war broke out they would have been in a better position and would have been able to take the offensive instead of acting on the defensive for so long a period. He wished to say a few words about the Volunteer force. The military system of this country was so interwoven with the Auxiliary Forces and was so dependent upon the numbers and strength and the part they were destined to play in the defence of the Empire in the future that it was a subject which he might very well mention. The question was how the forces of the Crown were to be expanded. Lord Roberts had stated that—No military system can be considered satisfactory which does not contain powers of 1153 expansion outride the Regular forces of the Crown.The Secretary of State for War had declared that we must depend largely on the Auxiliary and Volunteer Forces. Having served himself sixteen or seventeen years as a Volunteer officer, he recognised all the difficulties, and he also recognised that if the Volunteers ceased to exist—as they would have done had they continued to have Ministers for War like Mr. Brodrick—we should be driven to that hated system of conscription which would sap and undermine and demoralise the youth of the nation. Mr. Brodrick gave the Volunteers to understand that they were not wanted and that he considered they were a useless and inefficient force. The result was that both Volunteer officers and men were disheartened, and they left the force in all directions. But bad as the conditions for the Volunteers were under Mr. Brodrick, they became worse under his successor, and the varying terms of service caused many of the men to leave. All this time no adequate provision was made for the training of the men in shooting and no attempt made to provide the necessary rifle ranges. Surely it could not be expected that any commanding officer would produce first class shots if rifle ranges were not provided. If the finances were in that parlous condition it would be better to give up and abandon the week's training in camp, and allocate the money to the provision of rifle ranges. Lord Roberts had stated that the Volunteers were inefficiently trained and officered, and he quite agreed with that statement. Surely the whole responsibility for that rested with the War Office. If they wished to secure efficiency they must take into consideration the avocations of the men in the various districts where the Volunteer battalions existed. It was perfectly certain that men engaged in agricultural districts, and others employed in manufacturing centres, could not go into camp at the same time. There must be greater elasticity and less adhesion to red-tapeism if they were to improve the condition of the Volunteer force. Then, again, he thought greater care should be exercised in the selection of adjutants. Many of these men were 1154 totally unsuited for the position they occupied. They might be admirable soldiers and the best leaders of men, but they might not be able to act as instructors, just as in civil life one found the most scholarly men, men of high degrees, who were absolutely unsuited for the posts of teachers. We wanted specially trained men who could impart knowledge to others. He would add that he personally had always served under the best of adjutants, but others had not been so fortunate. He thought everybody would agree with Lord Roberts that the Volunteers were inefficiently officered. But was that to be wondered at when they considered that the Volunteer officer was not regarded with the honour and respect due to any one holding His Majesty's commission? The officers were very often not very capable, and they did not seem to have any great desire to become so or as efficient as they ought to be. That was simply because there was no incentive. The question arose, " How is all this to be remedied? " There was great difficulty in the matter, he knew, but he would like to see Volunteer officers placed upon an equality with the officers of the Yeomanry and Militia. He might be told that the Volunteers were not under the Army Act. He suggested that the same rules and regulations should be applied to them as to the Militia and the Yeomanry. If the reins of discipline were tightened, and the status improved, he was sure that the Volunteers would respond cordially and willingly. While he recognised the advantages of the territorial arrangement described by the Secretary of State for War, he thought it was an absolute necessity that there should be a General officer in supreme command of the Volunteers, who should be responsible to the Council of War for the training, organisation, and equipment of the force. He would of necessity be an officer of distinction who was sympathetically inclined towards the Volunteers, such an officer, for instance, as General Turner. There would then be a chance of the force being materially improved for the benefit of the country. He appealed to the Secretary of State for War to take these small matters into consideration.
§ SIR CAENE RASCH (Essex, Chelmsford)
congratulated the Secretary of State for War on the extremely able speech which he had made. He had heard a good many speeches by Secretaries of State for War. Some of them went up like a rocket and a good many of them came down like a stick. He did not think that would the case with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. He could not help thinking that the Government had not chosen the psychological moment to reduce the Army 10 per cent, in view of the recent speech of the Foreign Secretary in reference to Egypt, and looking at the state of unrest which existed in all Mahommedan countries under the British sceptre. If reduction must take place, then he thought there was much less harm in reducing personnel than in reducing cadres. It made no difference whatever if there were cadres behind them, but, as had been said, by reducing the cadres they got rid of the skeleton on which they might put the Reservists when they were brought up. He sympathised with those who had pleaded the cause of the Guards. The Guards were practically the only battalions that could be sent on service at a moment's notice, and the system of enlistment secured for them a big Reserve. The facts stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon in regard to this matter were indisputable. The Foot Guards were 7,000 strong, and the Reserves consisted of 7,000 men. He did not think the Secretary of State for War could as cheaply find 14,000 men, and yet of all the battalions these were the ones which the right hon. Gentleman had taken out for reduction. One word about the gunners. The right hon. Gentleman must know very well that while the infantry soldier could be improvised in a month it took a couple of years to get a good gunner. He did not see how capable artillerymen were to be got from the Militia in time of emergency under the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman. It was through want of trained gunners that the army raised by Gambetta during the Franco-German war did not make a better appearance in the field. He was sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that it was possible in future that we might 1156 go further in pruning the Navy and in cutting down other battalions. Of course the resources of civilisation were not exhausted. The right hon. Gentleman might scrap the Navy and disband the Army, get the country placed under the protection of Spain or Holland, and hand over the money saved to the Battersea Dogs' Home or the Poplar Guardians, but his new heaven and earth would not last very long.
§ MR. BRACE (Glamorganshire, S.)
said that while he listened with admiration to the speech of the Secretary of State for War he felt considerable disappointment. He had expected a much more substantial reduction in the cost of the Army than had been announced. He had listened with great attention to the special pleading on behalf of certain regiments; he pleaded on behalf of the ratepayers of the country, who really were much over-burdened with taxation. As a representative of Labour he could have no hope to see effected those social reforms of which the country was in need unless a substantial reduction was made in the, cost of the Army and Navy. Whatever might be the outcome of the scheme laid before the Committee to-day, the right hon. Gentleman might be sure that nothing could happen which would be worse than had happened under the schemes of his predecessors. The primary function of a standing Army was to sustain a satisfactory peace, and if they could get a fighting machine at a small cost it would be better for the country and the Army itself. He was glad to hear the Government were taking a general survey of the whole question of Army and Naval expenditure. Since 1897 the cost of the Army had been increased by over £10,000,000, and be did not believe that the political situation at all warranted that enormous expenditure. In the same period the expenditure on the Navy had been increased by £11,000,000. He thought the time had come when a progressive Administration should take this question in hand, and with the pressure of popular opinion behind them reduce the cost of the Army at any rate to something like what it was in 1897. The noble Lord had said that the Labour 1157 Members wanted to abolish both the Army and Navy. Nothing of the sort. The Labour Members believed that as long as other nations maintained large Naval and Military forces we must have both an efficient Army and an efficient Navy. But he believed that there was no nation in the world more capable than the United Kingdom to take the lead in bringing about a better understanding between nation and nation so as to secure a reduction of armaments.
MR.A.J.BALFOUR (City of London)
It is evidently impossible that in a single night's debate we can do more than make a commencement of this discussion, and I am confident that His Majesty's Government will see that this can only be the preliminary to many nights that must be given to this important theme. The present Secretary for War will not desire, and can scarcely hope, to avoid the fate of his predecessors, who had their schemes discussed at great, though not undue length, before any action was taken by the responsible Government. I need only remind the right hon. Gentleman of what was done in 1901, when after many days spent in Supply the scheme of my right hon. friend was embodied in various propositions. I do not know if that, precedent is to be followed, but this I say, that we should not allow the right hon. Gentleman to embody his proposals in actual policy until we have had a far more extended discussion than the present opportunity can afford. In making this appeal for further time, I may be allowed to say a few words on the statement we have heard to-night. Of the ability of that statement there can be no question. We are all agreed that the right hon. Gentleman has added to his Parliamentary reputation by the long and interesting statement he has given of his policy. If he will allow me to offer one modest criticism upon the form of that statement, it would be that I think to a certain extent he ignored the work which his predecessors in office had done, and spoke in terms unduly disparaging of the efforts, the successful efforts, they made to increase the efficiency of the Army. I do not imagine that the right hon. Gentleman requires any warning from me on the subject, but if he does, I would 1158 remind him that nobody has held the office he holds without having to undergo very unpleasant criticism, without meeting with extraordinary difficulties in this House and in the country, without being made the object of hostile commentary from all the numerous classes of Army reformers, each having his peculiar expedient, and all prepared to unite in opposition to the War Secretary for the time being. That has been the fate of every Secretary for War since I have had the opportunity of observing Parliamentary procedure, and I do not think he can avoid a fate that has overtaken his most distinguished predecessors in office. He made use of s somewhat rash phrase when he said he was going to recast the whole system and make the Army for use and not for show. Was it not so under his predecessors? He may differ in policy, he may be opposed to there in details, but it is not wise for any Secretary of State to say of himself that he means to make the Army an instrument for use and not an instrument for show, implying by that that those who before him carried an enormous burden of responsibility on their shoulders had a different object in view or had showed less capacity or industry in carrying out the object, they had at heart. I ought to say of the right hon. Gentleman that, if he was not wholly charitable to his immediate predecessors, he did me individually full justice, perhaps even more than justice, in his reference to the Committee of Defence. In that reference he gave full recognition to what I was able to do as Chairman of that Committee, with generous meed of approbation. I thank him for it, and only wish he had treated his predecessor in office with the same kindness and generosity.
The right hon. Gentleman is, of course, like every Secretary for War, in a very difficult, embarrassing position. No industry or genius will make the task of the reorganisation of our great voluntary Army other than the most difficult task that can fall to any Minister of any country. No foreign Minister for War has a burden comparable to that of the Minister for War in this country, no foreign Minister has the problem he has to solve, no foreign Government has to depend absolutely on a 1159 volunteer Army of which the terms cannot be varied from day to day. An employer can raise or lower the number of his employes as circumstances require, but that is not the position of the Secretary for War. He is the biggest employer in the country, but he cannot change his terms, or if he does he incurs an enormous responsibility. He has difficulties incomparably more complex than the Minister for War in France, Germany, Italy, or Russia, and I have every sympathy for that Minister. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman is capable of doing great service in the difficult office which he now fills. I am not sure that he will perform it better by ignoring what has been done before, or by suggesting that the changes he is prepared to make are fundamental and are going to open a new era of military history. I gathered that these were the hopes of the right hon. Gentleman, but I did not gather from his speech that these hopes were likely to be accomplished. He told us he has gone round the whole military system, asking each man in turn the purpose he was going to serve when war breaks out. He has criticised every branch of the Department with a view of eliminating all useless elements. But I did not gather from his statement that there is much that he is going to eliminate, or that he is going to make any very important changes.
I particularly wanted to hear what he was going to say with regard to the Volunteers in this connection. There are 250,000 Volunteers enrolled. A large portion of these have their duties allocated to them. They have to garrison our great seaports and they have to provide force enough to repel any raid the possibility of which we can contemplate. But the total number required for these services is 170,000 men. That leaves at least 70,000 to whom the right hon. Gentleman has put the question as to their value, and I did not gather that he has got as yet any answer. I await that answer with great curiosity. His predecessors were vehemently attacked for saying the number of Volunteers was in excess of the requirements of the country. On that point I do not pronounce any opinion. But the right 1160 hon. Gentleman told us the only Volunteers to whom the Army Council can allocate duties are 170,000. I should like to know what military purpose is to be served by the remaining 70,000, and how they got through that critical examination to which the right hon. Gentleman has subjected every branch of the military forces of this country.
I do not propose to discuss any further the territorial army. I do not wish to add anything to what was said by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. He made some very pertinent criticisms, but he felt, as I feel, that until the right hon. Gentleman is in a position to tell us with more clearness and precision what it is that he desires to do, we should perhaps be wasting our time if we were to attempt any detailed comment on the schemes which have been adumbrated but may never come into practical operation. Therefore I will confine myself entirely to his statement in regard to the Regular Army.
The first point on which I would ask the attention of the Committee relates to the artillery. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman to the ears of any casual listener would appear to indicate that he has made the artillery a far more efficient arm than it was left by his predecessors, and has greatly improved the system under which the artillery are to be organised. I do not at all criticise many parts of that speech. I think he was well advised in using the garrison artillery as he suggests. I think that is a most public, wise, and economical scheme. But when he told us that he was going to improve the artillery, he forgot to mention that the difficulty of mobilising the artillery at the present time to the full extent of the balance we possess is largely due to the fact that the number of artillerymen has not yet produced the necessary reserves. Everybody admits that artillerymen must be experts. Does the right hon. Gentleman's plan increase the number of trained experts we shall in the future have at our command? Surely not. He is going to get rid of 3,800 Regular artillery. But that is not all. At present the artillerymen are engaged on the three and nine years' system, under which you rapidly accumulate a reserve. The right hon. Gentleman 1161 is going to alter that and substitute six years. If you take the two things together—the dismissal of men and the alteration in the terms of service—it is manifest that in a few years we shall have a very much smaller number of Regular artillerymen than we have at present, and than we should have if the right hon. Gentleman had left the present system untouched. I do not think that is a change to which the House ought readily to assent, I should like to have an opportunity of thinking more over it than I have been able to do at present, and I should like to see the right hon. Gentleman's whole scheme before pronouncing a judgment. It is impossible, I think, to suggest that a scheme which by this double process diminishes the Regular artillerymen is one which in the long run is likely to add greatly to the strength of that particular branch of the Service. As everybody admits that the importance of artillery in modern armies is great and growing, I have some misgivings as to the result of the right hon. Gentleman's proposals.
I have a more important criticism to make upon the whole theory that appears to underlie the right hon. Gentleman's reduction of Regular units. I lay down no hard and fast rule with regard to the number of Regular units we ought to keep. I am prepared to consider a scheme which would involve a diminution—not a very large one, but still a diminution—in our Regular units provided we see before us a plan by which the Regular Army is to be expanded in times of stress and difficulty by a cheaper and, no doubt, a less efficient force, but a force which in the course of the war might become thoroughly efficient. The right hon. Gentleman has based his whole scheme upon his power of immediately mobilising 154,000 men. All his criticisms of the previous Government were in the direction of saying, " You cannot mobilise 154,000 men. I can. Therefore, my plan is bettor than yours." I think that erroneous. I am quite unable to imagine any situation which would require the instantaneous mobilisation of 154,000 men. The right hon. Gentleman talked as if there was to be an expedition beyond the seas in which 154,000 men were to be straightway embarked and transported off to some 1162 distant theatre of operations. The contingency requiring such an expedition might occur, but it is not very easy to imagine that it would. We might be asked to land 150,000 men on the coast of Europe, but I do not know that I should sacrifice much money or take enormous pains so to organise my force that that could be done straight away and immediately. What is required, so far as I am able to see, is the power of sending continuous reinforcements to India in a great emergency. That does not mean sending 150,000 men straight off in a few weeks to Bombay. You must be able to reinforce your Indian Army, to make up the wastage of war, to add to the strength of that Army, and make it competent to deal with European troops upon the North-west frontier. That does not require the sort of expedition the right hon. Gentleman appeared to contemplate. What does it require? It requires an army of more than 150,000 men—I do not say 500,000, which I should think an extravagant estimate for any war we are ever likely to be engaged in; but what we do require in case of trouble on the Northwest frontier of India is not 150,000 men ready at a moment's notice, but a force of more than that, which as the war proceeds—and such a war would be long— we should be able to put forward in the fighting line in India itself and on the lines of communication. How does the right hon. Gentleman's plan help us to that result? In my opinion it is a retrograde step, and not merely and chiefly because it destroys a certain number of infantry, but because it destroys units, and officers and non-commissioned officers. I understand that the destruction of these ten battalions means that we lose 300 officers, 800 non-commissioned officers, 4,800 men of the Line with the colours, 1,400 Guards with the colours, 3,200 Line Reserve, and 1,400 Guards Reserve, in all 10,800, men besides the officers.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
In some of the regiments the right hon. Gentleman may be right. But in the officers you have really what we most require for carrying on such prolonged operations, the only operations I can contemplate for which 1163 this force of 150,000 men would he required at all. Is that a wise or economic proceeding? You will require what is called a striking force to deal with some Continental situation, the defence of Belgium, for instance, or some country which our strategy in the world obliges us to defend, and that you require to be ready at a moment's notice. You require it to be perfectly efficient, fully equipped, and prepared for instantaneous action. But for the prolonged operations that I can alone contemplate in connection with a force like 150,000 men, it seems to me you cannot do a worse service to the country than by depriving yourself of the capability of expansion in time of war and of the officers and noncommissioned officers in which we are notoriously and avowedly weak.
But I would consent, and gladly consent even to that reduction if the right hon. Gentleman had given us a scheme by which he was going to expand the Army in case of national emergency. He has no scheme at all. He has talked about a territorial Army, and talked, with truth, of the difficulties under which the Militia labour. Have we got a Militia now which is capable of supplying that expansion which we desire? Has he been able so to organise a territorial Army that we can count upon it to fill up the gaps caused by the wastage of war, by death and disease, and all the elements which make the power of reinforcement absolutely necessary? He has got no scheme at all. He has hopes, expectations, in some respects I would almost say he has dreams, but as to a scheme which has been tried, which has been shown to be efficient, that he neither has nor pretends to have. The question I ask the Committee is, is not the right hon. Gentleman beginning at the wrong end? Is he not attempting to reduce the Regular units before he has made up the machinery for expanding his Army, instead of devising the machinery for expanding his Army and then reducing his Regular units? Can there be a reply to it? I do not know what it is, unless it be that the right hon. Gentleman feels under some political necessity for the immediate reduction of the Army aid that for that political necessity he is prepared, temporarily at all events, to sacrifice the 1164 efficiency of the Army in the hope that he may be able to devise a scheme which will make up for any destruction of units to which he is forced by the pressure of his friends. It is just like the dishonest—not dishonest, I do not wish to use that word in connection with the right hon. Gentleman—but like the trustee who gambles with trust funds and who then too often finds that, although he had every intention of paying back the funds, he unfortunately is not in a position to do so. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly honest in his expectations and confident in his hopes, but he and all of us know the extraordinary difficulty of this problem, the immense risks which attach to any attempt to make the Militia what we wish them to be, or the Volunteers what we hope they may be. All I ask is that this House shall have the common prudence and common self-control to refuse to assent to reductions in Regular units until they have before them in the clearest specific, practical shape some plan which will give us that expansible power which all who have ever studied the military problem at all deem is the real necessity of this country. When the right hon. Gentleman brings forward that plan in a practical shape, he will not find in me an opponent of the reduction of some of our units. All I would ask him —all I would ask the Committee—to do is to remember that although it is not easy to reduce units, it is easier to reduce units than to find their substitutes, and that the problem before us will not be solved until a scheme is really produced which would satisfy us, not that we have 150,000 men ready to start to-morrow, which would be too much, but that we have an Army, partly Regular, partly on a Militia basis, which is capable of sending more than 100,000 men and would be capable of dealing with any of these difficulties which, however remote, are of a character which we cannot exclude from our view if we are really to be prudent trustees of the fate of the Empire.
§ MAJOR SEELY (Liverpool, Abercrombie)
said he did not propose to detain the Committee, but perhaps as a member of the Committee to which reference had been made, he might be permitted to join with the others who had spoken in expressing the belief that much good might result by the complete territorialisation of the Yeomanry and the 1165 Volunteers, and such other forces as were not included in the Regular Army. Such differences as might exist in the minds of hon. Members on both sides of the House as to how they could best territorialise the whole Army would depend upon how far they ought to go in the devolution of powers. While sympathising with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean as to the danger of devolution of powers of control by the House and the Treasury, he was convinced of the general desirability of the devolution of many local matters which the War Office had hitherto dealt with. He congratulated the Secretary for War on his courage in reducing not only by numbers but by cadres. It was a mistake, however, for him to suppose that in reducing the Regular Army he would be adding to the number of the unemployed. It was enlistment in the Army that added to the number of unemployed, for the numbers by which the Army was reduced would now learn a useful trade, instead of joining the Army and being thrown back afterwards on the labour market. They had soon to-night a welcome thing—the Army treated apart from Party politics. It would be well if they could for ever take the Army out of the realm of Party politics. He had a scheme for doing that which he would indicate on a more appropriate occasion. It would involve placing the Leader of the Opposition permanently on the Committee of Defence. He gathered from his gesture that he did not relish that proposition. But it was only by making the Committee of Defence a body representing no particular Party that they would ever reduce the Regular Army without Party recriminations.
§ MR. HALDANE
My hon. and gallant friend has put his finger upon what is essential if the Auxiliary Forces are effectively to be reorganised. So complicated are the details that it is impossible to settle on any centralised system and I am certain that a necessary link in any general scheme of Army reform is the management of local military affairs in the counties, so far as they are administrative, through some kind of local control. Command, of course, must remain in the hands of Regular officers. But administration is a different thing. The whole spirit of our scheme of Army organisation is devolution of administra- 1166 tion. It is true, as the Leader of the Opposition said, that I have not dwelt upon that aspect of things. But I did say that these matters are essentially matters for legislation. It is necessary that a Bill should be introduced; and the proper time to discuss the subject is when we propose to deal with it next session. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of expansion. It is in this connection that it seems to me the one chance of expansion comes. Assuming that you put conscription out of account—and I think there has been to-night a consensus of opinion that it should be put out of account — what remains? It is that the people should organise themselves in accordance with guidance which is to be given to them on the spot. It is true that mobilisation under the General Staff provides for 140,000 infantry for repelling raids and looking after garrison duties. There is a surplus; and that surplus, to my mind, is to be the nucleus of a much larger body which I hope to see grow up, a body in which men will take their part and bear their share of the burden, not because they are dragooned into it, but because it is a duty cast upon them to prepare, in the last emergency, to defend their hearths and their homes; and it comes to this, that if you make the training of the Volunteer Forces more elastic than it is at present, if you try in its arrangement to suit the convenience of people, you have a chance of making good material of that expansion of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke, and which I am sure you will not get in any other form. It is to quantity and not to quality in time of peace you must look for that expansion. In time of war, rocognising that all probability points to having considerable time to work up that raw material, you have the chance, which no other nation would have under similar conditions, of providing such machinery as will give you a stream of men, if there be sufficient spirit in the people, that will make a substantial addition to your Regular Forces. If such an elastic organisation were obtained at homo, what with the self-governing parts of the King's dominions beyond the seas, where the interests of the Empire are held as dearly at heart as they are here, I say that the Empire has within its borders, on a voluntary basis and without the slightest shadow of compulsion, such potentialities of the expansion of its 1167 military forces as probably no other nation could show, and which I think would deter any other country from seeking to encounter you on land. The Leader of the Opposition said that I ought to take no action on the scheme which I have laid before the House until it was more completely discussed. I feel the force of that argument. But am I to go to the War Office and sit all day doing nothing until such time as Parliament may find an opportunity for fully discussing these things and saying that it has come to conclusions about them? That is impossible. I must act. After all, the real mandate for action does not come from any chance debate on a vote for the reduction of my salary. It comes from the decision at the general election. [" No, no " from the OPPOSITION Benches.] The desire of the public is that without delay as much should be done as is possible to put the Army on a better footing than it is at the present moment. No man has entered on his office with less personal ambition than myself. I look upon myself as purely a civilian man of business brought in to deal with an emergency. I may fail, and if I do, I hope I shall bear it with equanimity. But I am sent here to act, and not to sit still, and I shall do everything in my power to secure that satisfactory condition of the Estimates which 1 hope to see next session. If I sat still and did nothing, what would it cost the country? I feel I am sent hero to act, and not merely to talk, and it is incumbent on me that I should take such stops as I can to carry out the task I have before me.
Well, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman rather reproached me for speaking of the Army as an Army to be made of use as against an Army which exists for show. I do not ignore the good work that has been done. I am perfectly aware that a great deal of good work was done by my predecessors in improving both the conditions of the soldiers and the spirit of the officers, and that the redress of the abuses found in the Army as the result of the South African War has proceeded apace; but this I do say, that, after scrutiny, I have been unable to discover any coherent plan running through the organisation of the Army. Therefore. I am compelled to say that it is necessary to put it on a footing which will make it something more of a reality than it is at present. I do not say 1168 I shall do it: I do not say I shall not fail; but, having scrutinised it as minutely as I can during the short time I have been in office, I say that the condition of the Army is profoundly unsatisfactory, based, as it is, on no principle which regulates its organisation, and constructed, as it is, in a fashion which presents no plan and no cohesion. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the artillery, and in connection with the artillery he seemed to suggest that the expeditionary force which we propose to provide, and which we are only able to provide on the new basis on which we put the artillery, is too large for an expeditionary force. I think what he said was that you ought not to assume that it is necessarily a good thing to have an expeditionary force as big as six divisions; that it is not necessary to send out six divisions at once. That is true, but there may be occasions on which six divisions will be essential for striking a blow; and if you do not use them, all that means is that you have a large expansion behind the force you have sent out, an expansion you cannot have while the artillery remains in the position in which it is at present. For my part, I quite agree that officers is the point in which the Army is most deficient. We are very short of officers. But how do you better your position in this respect by keeping up the units? If you maintain the units you will be without the officers; but if you reduce the units you will be able to fill up the gaps you have at present. One of the things I look forward to is being able to utilise the officers set free by these reductions for filling up gaps which exist at the present time.
Now I come to the speech of my right hon. friend the Member for Forest of Dean. He and I will probably never agree about the Cardwell system. Although we may do so when we meet in some other and better world, we shall not in this one. I have never been able to understand his arguments. He talks of getting the men by means of depots, and he seems to assume that depots enable you to get the men out of nothing—out of the blue. The Cardwell system was worked out by two great men — Mr. Cardwell and Mr. Gladstone; and, although I have never been a dogmatist about the 1169 system, the more I look into it and the more I have dismissed it with different exports the more I am impressed with the great idea which underlies it; that in your feeding battalion, mobilised as it becomes on the outbreak of war, you get two functions fulfilled by the same sot of men. In war it becomes a strong unit filled up with Reserves who are trained men and able to convert that unit from a mere feeding capacity into the position of a fighting unit. No other system does that. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon wrote a very interesting letter this morning to The Timer. In The Times he said that this expansion that Lord Roberts spoke of would have been got from a short-service system, which—would have accumulated a trained Infantry Reserve of no fewer than 140,000 men. This result would have been arrived at without asking for n single additional recruit—let the Committee note these words —and at a cost loss than that of our present battalions.I am not sure whether the right hon. Gentleman meant the one-year system or the two years; but I take two years. The right hon. Gentleman published a Parliamentary Paper in 1904, in which he gives the working out of his scheme, and says the Reserves were to be 90,000. It puzzles mo extremely to see how the right lion. Gentleman works out his figures.
§ MR. HALDANE
The point is whether the figures as given now can be squared with those in the Parliamentary Paper. I would point out that the whole of the experts are against the right hon. Gentleman and my right hon. friend on the question of the possibility of getting these recruits.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said there was no difficulty about the matter at all of obtaining recruits between nineteen and twenty years of age.
§ MR. HALDANE
If the right hon. Gentleman can get recruits necessary between nineteen and twenty-one, he is something of a magician. He spoke of the 1170 cost of the Guards relative to the cost of the Line infantry, and he said —Take the figure of £40 6s. 10d., that h the average cost of the Line infantry, taking Reservists and colonists together, and compare that with the cost of the Guards, which is £29 10s. on a similar basis.But he did not observe that the £46 6s. was taken on a nine years colour service basis, whereas, if you take it upon a seven years basis, you get a considerably lower figure—£40 19s. The matter does not stop there. He has omitted to take into account that India pays the cost of fifty-two battalions and a proportion of contribution to the Reserve. If you take the cost of battalions of the Line while they are with the colours and with the Reserve, you have the enormous advantage that India is paying for the unit that produces your Reserve in the case of fifty-two battalions during the whole period of their services abroad. And it does not stop there. India is also making a contribution, I think, of about £600,000 a year to the cost of producing the drafts which go out there. The two things taken together reduce the cost of the Line soldier with his Reserves to—it is impossible to get absolutely near —something certainly as low as the right hon. Gentleman produced in his figure in the case of the Guardsmen and their Reserve. It shows the utter uselessness and vanity of putting forward such calculations as he has made as things worthy of the consideration of the House of Commons.
I am perfectly aware that it is not possible for me to please everybody in this matter. I have got to do the best I can. I have got to produce a scheme that satisfies my colleagues— [Ironical cheers]—most certainly. Hither-to schemes have been produced for six Army Corps and for short service which did not satisfy the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues. That is a thing which I am resolved to avoid. If we produce a scheme I trust it will be a scheme to which the majority of this House will put their backs, because otherwise we shall not do any good with it. Therefore, I am constrained to say that on a matter of this kind it is impossible for me—without going into those wide questions which have been opened up—to try to make compromises on a policy which, after all, whatever its defects and shortcomings, 1171 yet has this merit, that it puts before it a simple object, and, making for that object, it looks neither to the right nor to the left.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
said that everything came to those who waited. He had received a message that day from his constituents asking him to support any proposal to increase the comfort of the soldiers, hut that it was most important that the Army should not be reduced. He insisted, therefore, that the reduction in the Army, proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, had not been called for by the country. ["Oh oh."] He would call to the recollection of hon. Members opposite, who were always talking about mandates, that there was no mandate for the reduction of the Army. [" Oh, oh."] It was perfectly outrageous that such a proposal should be settled in a seven hours debate, of which the right hon. Gentleman himself had occupied upwards of three hours, and only four or five Members had had the opportunity of placing their views before their constituencies and the country. Therefore, he begged to move that progress be reported and that the Chairman ask leave to sit again.
§ Motion made, and Question, " That the Chairman do Report Progress; and ask leave to sit again"—(Sir Howard Vincent)—put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.