§ 1. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £2,111,000 be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge for Quarterings, Transport, and Remounts, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1907."
§ MR. COBBOLD (Ipswich)
said the Committee would see in Appendix 9, page 196, a charge of £600 for the hire of buildings to supplement barracks at Malta. His object in moving to reduce the Vote by £100 was to call attention to the excessive number of troops stationed at Malta. The Secretary of State for War, in his opening statement on March 8th, had admitted that if this Parliament were pledged to anything it was to cut down unnecessary expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the problem of reduction was a lay problem quite as much as a technical problem, and that underneath all technicalities there was some question of common sense upon which a layman might pronounce. He had in effect asked them to lay a finger on the spot where the excessive expenditure occurred. The right hon. Gentleman thought that the key to reduction lay in our expenditure in the Colonies, and he stated that in 1897 there were in the Colonies about 31,000 troops, whilst to-day there were 52,482. It was pretty well agreed that the only possible reduction of expenditure was in reduction in the personnel, and that solution of the problem was emphasized on March 15th, when a Resolution for reducing the personnel by 10,000 was submitted. It was on that evening, he (Mr. Cobbold) believed, that the Secretary of State for War, in answer to some remarks made by the hon. and gallant Member for Walsall admitted that there might be some good reason for reducing the garrison at Malta. He observed that when the Secretary of State announced his intention of withdrawing the garrison 531 from St. Helena and dismantling the fortress barring the approach to London the late Secretary of State immediately took credit for the reductions, and said they were decided upon while he was at the War Office—in fact, that the War Secretary was stealing the Tory thunder. Personally, he did not wish to steal the War Secretary's thunder, and if that night or next year the Secretary for War promised to give them a substantial reduction of troops at Malta he would regard any proposition he had to make as an absolutely original one on his part. In March they were told that there might be good reason for reducing the garrison. He hoped to show the right hon. Gentleman several.
said the hon. Member must not discuss the reduction of troops but confine himself to the Vote.
§ MR. COBBOLD
said he thought if the troops were reduced there would be less necessity for barracks. He understood that in the Mediterranean there were as many as seven battalions which, for linked purposes, wore treated as home battalions.
said the hon. Member must confine himself to the question of extra-barrack accommodation under the Vote.
§ MR. COBBOLD
said he wished to draw attention to the insanitary condition of Malta, and to object, in view of this fact, to the use of extra barracks there. The harbour was already a cesspool of drainage in consequence of the number of troops and the ships of war quartered there. In order to show how pestilential the place was, he produced statistics from the Army Medical Report of 1903 (the last Report published) which showed that during that year there were 592.2 per thousand admissions to hospital and 44.69 per 1,000 constantly sick. In 1902 the figures were 587.5 and 39.33 respectively. During 1903 6.34 died from sickness at Malta, as compared with 4.05 at Gibraltar and 5.05 in Egypt and Cyprus. During the ten years from 1803–1902 the figures under this head for Gibraltar were 4.11, and for Malta 8.37. In 1903 those constantly ineffective from sickness at Malta numbered 45.34 532 per 1,000, whilst at Gibraltar the figures were 29.87, and in Egypt and Cyprus 44.49. The men invalided home from Malta during 1903, numbered 390, or 41.88 per 1,000, whilst in 1904 the figures were 27.34, and in the ten years ending 1903, 30.83 per 1,000. Among the officers in 1903 there 243 cases of sickness out a total of 266, and twenty-nine were invalided home. He thought he had said enough to show that Malta was a congested district, that the troops there were too numerous, and that it was a most insanitary spot. He invited the Committee to press the Secretary of State for War to apply the policy of reduction to the garrison at Malta, and he also invited the right hon. Gentleman to see in that plague-stricken spot an opportunity to put in force the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister when the Motion was made to reduce by 10,000 the Vote for men, viz., to save money where they could.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item C be reduced by £100."— (Mr. Cobbold).
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. HALDANE,) Haddington
admitted that there was a great deal in what the hon. Member had said with regard to the drainage conditions of Malta, but the Government were doing their best, and they hoped to mitigate substantially existing conditions. The hon. Member had, however, raised a larger point to which it would not be in order to make more than a mere reference. Although the question of reduction was very largely in his mind, he did not wish it to be assumed that he had in any way pledged himself to such reduction. It was the policy of the Government to take the Committee very much into their confidence in the matter. He was not ready to propose any reduction, but he wanted to put everything before the Committee as far as it was possible. He hoped, however, that in July he would be able to make a general statement as to the policy to be adopted by the Government, and then ample opportunity would be given for full discussion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.533
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Croydon)
complained of the bad condition of many of the existing barracks. With regard to new barracks, the question was whether there was sufficient improvement upon the old ones in the matter of construction to justify the amount of money spent upon them. He did not think so. Anyone who visited the new barracks and saw the extent to which they had been built upon the old lines would be as disappointed as he was. Referring to the cavalry barracks at Norwich the right hon. Gentleman strongly criticised their present condition. It might be contended that there was no need for cavalry barracks there, but every military advisor had declared that there was. It had been a cavalry quarter for nearly a century, and the county had come forward and placed a large amount of land at the disposal of the War Office for the purpose of new barracks. The present barracks were 110 years old and were so pestilential that it was impossible for the officers and men to live in them; they had had to be moved until the condition of the worst part of the barracks had been ameliorated. He did think it was a case where there might have been a little continuity of policy. It was a case where the War Office and the locality were at one, the inhabitants having given a very generous gift, and there was no reason why the whole movement should have been arrested.
COLONEL HERBERT (Monmouthshire, S.)
said there were several matters in respect of which reduction might and ought to be made. He quite admitted the difficulties which faced the Secretary of State for War when he took over his duties, and he hoped that next year, when he had got a greater hold upon his Department, he would be able to announce greater reductions. He called attention to several small items of expenditure, and whilst admitting the difficulty of keeping such items down, contended that it was both possible and necessary to do so. Of course, when people got nice snug berths, there was a tendency to remain there for ever, and in that way the expenditure went on. The system meant a great increase in the Army Estimates, although it was assumed that there would be a corresponding decrease in regard to the expendi- 534 ture of the Navy. Such assumptions, how over, were seldom realised. With regard to the expenditure upon clerks and other subordinates continuously employed, he thought it should be rigidly laid down exactly what clerical staff was to be employed. Clerks were taken on temporarily, and they gradually became permanent. There was also this difficulty: every now and then there appeared to be an excess of zeal in Pall Mall, and circulars were sent round saying that there must be certain reductions. When he was a responsible officer, he remembered a case where these reductions were ordered, and of course they were made, but in spite of that, owing to certain influences which nobody could explain, these extra clerks were allowed to remain on. That went on all over our large Empire, and we thus got an accretion of expenditure which he thought could very easily be reduced. Such items amounted to no less than £40,000 under one head of the Vote, and he suggested that under that heading there was considerable room for administrative reform.
§ SIR CARNE RASCH (Essex, Chelmsford)
said he desired to say half a dozen words on a question of remounts. He did not consider that the remounts were at all satisfactory, and he thought the War Office might take a leaf out of the book of the Austrian Army upon this question. It was recognised, that, next to Ireland, Austria was the best horse-breeding country in the world, and the Emperor of Austria had started a system of remount depôts. It was also agreed that they had the most efficient cavalry in that country where remount establishments had been created. He did not see why we should not have similar establishments in Ireland, and that part of England where it was possible to have them. In Austria the Government lent out the stud horses to the farmers and the produce was ear-marked and might be bought by the Government at a certain price. Austria paid to these horse-breeders £32 for a cavalry horse and £28 for a gun horse, and the public got the benefit of the rest. There was no middleman in Austria, and thus a very considerable part of the expense connected with horse breeding and horse dealing was saved. In this country the War Office paid considerably more than 535 the prices he had quoted, and they did not get such efficient horses. The average life of an Austrian trooper was thirteen years, and this was a great contrast to the interesting relics of antiquity which paraded the streets in this country and which certainly were not fit to do a long day's march. He entirely failed to see why a similar system should not be started in Ireland, where the best class of horse for the British Army could be obtained. He understood that the Irish farmer could not afford a good stud horse, with the result that inferior horses were produced. In Austria and Hungary the rule was never to work a horse before it was five years old, but in this country they began to be worked at three years. It was a well known fact that if they took a three-year-old horse and gave it hard work they would practically ruin it. A great number of horses under the Austro-Hungarian Government were paid for under the register system, under which they were lent to responsible persons, who used them absolutely as their own horses; every year the animals were inspected by an officer from the Agricultural Department, and they were used annually by the Government for four weeks' training. If, after six years, these horses were doing well, the man who had brought them up was allowed to keep them for good. Another system was that which was adopted in India of bringing over remounts from Australia; that was by no means a bad one, and might with advantage be introduced into this country. We certainly ought to provide our cavalry with better horses, and obtain a supply upon which we could depend. This would prevent the recurrence of what happened during the South African War.
§ MR. MORTON (Sutherland)
hoped the Secretary of State for War would make some reply to the remarks which had been made and to the cases of extravagance which had been put forward by previous speakers. Their plain duty was to get economy effected somehow with a view to reducing the bloated expenditure in all matters connected with the Army. It was in little matters such as those which had been referred to that they might make a beginning. He recognised his right hon. friend's difficulty in having to take over matters as 536 they were left by the late Tory Government, but all parties were pledged to economy, and the Secretary for War had power to carry it out. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to assure them that he had got his eye upon these matters.
§ MR. HALDANE
said that as regarded economy a number of the points which had been raised had been engaging his attention. There was a great deal of work of a civilian nature now being done by Regular soldiers which might well be done by civilians. Working out that principle in practice was a rather complicated task, but it was by no means impossible. It had been engaging attention for some months. Whether the item for vessels, which was a costly one, could be substantially reduced he could not say at present. A certain number of vessels appeared to be necessary for purposes connected with floating targets. He merely mentioned this circumstance as showing the difficulties of the subject. No doubt both in Austria and in France much more was spent on cavalry than we spent; but one had to consider the proportion of means to the end in this matter. He admitted that under the head of remounting there was a good deal to be done, and that there was much to be learnt from both Austria and France; but the subject was one of great magnitude, and he could not give any promise as to setting up a national horse-breeding establishment on the scale of the establishments in those countries.
§ MR. LEA (St. Pancras, E.)
said that at Portsmouth and other seaport and garrison towns steam launches and pleasure yachts placed at the disposal of the commanding officers of the Army for carrying out their duties were, in nine cases out of ten, used for private purposes by the wives and families of the officers. He asked the Secretary for War to promulgate a General Army Order that in no case should a Government boat be used except for Government purposes, so that these picnic parties should be a thing of the past under a Liberal Government.
§ MR. COCHRANE (Ayrshire, N.)
while sympathising with the War Secretary's desire for more time to consider the question of remounts, and 537 admitting the great cost of the Continental systems referred to, pointed out that the experience of the South African War showed that it would be economical to have horses prepared in advance. Remounts in France cost over £300,000 a year, and in Germany nearly £200,000 a year. The right hon. Gentleman must be aware of the enormous importance of having a good supply of seasoned horses. Anyone who saw the condition of the horses sent out to the South African War must know that the loss incurred would have provided a capital sum in time of peace sufficient to furnish an adequate supply of seasoned horses in time of war. He believed that something like 1,000 horses a week were destroyed in South Africa simply because they were useless, owing to the fact that they had been issued to the troops in an unfit state. If they could do something in times of peace to provided seasoned horses they would be really economising. He suggested that the system of registration of horses for use in war time might be extended. Among the best horses used by the artillery in the South African War were omnibus horses. Owing to the rapid increase of the new terror—the motor omnibus—there would soon be no more of these horses available; and it was, therefore, all the more important that means should be employed for securing a supply of seasoned horses in time of emergency.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ 2. £4,492,000, Supplies and Clothing.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
called attention to the fact that the ventilation in the Army Clothing Factories had not yet reached the state of perfection which obtained in an ordinary private factory. This was an old grievance. He declared that there were a greater number of cases of women fainting at the Pimlico Factory than at any similar factory belonging to a private firm. He was told that there was a deficiency of pressing irons in the pressing gallery, inconsequence of which the woman and girls were kept in the heated atmosphere longer than was necessary, and that most of the cases of fainting occurred in the gallery. He also called attention to the failure in this factory to give particulars of work and wages such as the pro- 538 prietors of a similar factory would be required to give. A deputation on this subject had waited on Mr. Brodrick and the director of the factory, and an assurance was given that the requirements which the law imposed on the proprietors of ordinary factories would be carried out in this factory. He was informed, however, that that assurance had not been fully carried out in the sense and to the extent to which a private manufacturer would be required to carry it out. In many cases different prices were being paid for precisely the same class of work. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give his attention to these points. If Ministers did not see that in Government institutions there was at least as high a standard of comfort and abatement of nuisance as the law enforced in the case of private factories, the outcry against the exemption of Government works from the Factory Acts would become urgent.
§ MR. HALDANE
said the condition of the Pimlico Factory had engaged his close attention, and he believed that it was now much above the ordinary standard. The hon. Member for the Richmond Division of Yorkshire had been spending a great deal of time in connection with these factories. A conference was going on to see whether the ventilation could be improved. So far as he knew there was no absolute standard laid down by the Home Office, but if there were he believed this factory would probably be found to be above what was normal. His hon. and learned friend had referred to the condition of work in the pressing gallery. The condition there was not more disagreeable than in the pressing departments of other factories, and, looking to the nature of the work, it was inevitable. It was quite up to what it should be. There were, no doubt, times when the atmosphere in this and other factories was objectionable. Some workers wished windows to be kept shut in order to avoid draughts, and others wished to have them open for ventilation. The matter was still under investigation by the War Office and the Home Office authorities, and their intention was with due regard to economy to keep the factory up to the level of factories generally.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would kindly 539 give his attention to the allegation which had been made as to the deficiency in the number of pressing irons.
§ MR. HALDANE
said there were times when there was a superfluity. It depended very much on the habits of those concerned. As to the question of particulars referred to by his hon. friend, it was quite true that there was a class of work known as "repairs" where it was very difficult to give particulars. This matter was being looked into. The War Office recognised the obligation on the part of the Government to be model employers. A question had been asked as to the smoke chimneys at Woolwich. There were no doubt cases where complaint was justified, but in regard to that matter he had to say that it was the intention of the War Office to keep the chimneys up to the mark. When they heard of these cases directions would be given which, he hoped, would have satisfactory consequences.
§ MR. PARKER (Halifax)
called attention to the wages of the workmen employed at Woolwich. On April 1st this year the Resolution of the late Government to increase the scale of the labourers' wages from 21s. to 23s. came into operation, and along with it he understood that a new arrangement was introduced in regard to the reduction of leave by three days. He was not absolutely sure that this report as to leave was correct, but if it was, he thought there was just ground for complaint. The men who were doing responsible work in the way of preparing and issuing orders were not by any means adequately remunerated. As to the question of wages generally, he did not regard 23s. a week as a model wage. He did not know how people could live upon it. They were making paupers of men who were still following their employment. It was useless to say that the richest country, perhaps, the world had ever known could not pay a better wage. The average wage of the women workers was about 15s. per week, and that, he submitted, was not adequate. It was liable to lead to many things which he was sure the Government did not desire. He was informed that many of the women workers had to pay 11s. or 12s. per week for board and lodging, and it followed as a natural consequence that they must 540 have a very hard life. He wished to call the attention of the Secretary of State for War to the attitude assumed towards trade unionists. He was informed that many of them were almost afraid to admit that they belonged to a trade union. It was regarded as objectionable by those in authority. He did not say that the Minister for War knew this. It was very often the case in Government Departments as in private employments that the principal did not get to know the facts. It was those beneath him who made things awkward for the worker. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see that the men were not penalised because they belonged to trade unions, and also that the wages were increased to an amount which would enable them to live under proper conditions in London where expenses were high.
§ MR. ACLAND (Yorkshire, Richmond)
who was indistinctly heard, was understood to say that the number of irons was one to seven or eight women. In regard to the question of the docking of leave by three days, that was done for a certain class of workmen whose wages were increased. It did not affect the class of unskilled labourers whose wages were raised from 21s. to 23s. per week. It was found that the wages of the men to whom it applied were too low. When their wages were raised an old privilege which they had of two or three extra days was done away with because it was quite anomalous. No similar class enjoyed the same privilege, and the increased wages granted to the men compensated for the decreased leave. A deputation recently waited upon the Secretary of State, and the question of extra remuneration to men doing responsible work was mentioned. They were asked to forward particulars, and when they did so the matter would be looked into. The question of the minimum wage of 23s. was not one which concerned the War Office alone. It was a matter which affected the whole of the workers in Government employment. It would be impossible for the War Office to increase the wages of their unskilled workmen without careful consideration being given to the question whether 23s. was a proper wage for unskilled workmen employed by the-Government generally. The earnings 541 of the women workers amounted to about 16s. per week. The difficulty in raising that amount was that there had to be some relation between the cost and the work turned out by the factory and by the trade outside. Unfortunately the wages customary in London, even amongst the best employers, for this class of work, were still very low. If there was a better trade union among women workers, and if the result was to increase wages generally for the London area he believed none would be more delighted than the War Office authorities. As to the women in the Pimlico Factory they had had full particulars. A deputation of seven had waited on the Department and had talked to him of what had been going on. It had been found that the statements they made were fully justified, and that there were on the part of persons, not in high authority, undue discouragement of any form of combination. That, he believed, would be wholly altered in a very short time.
§ *SIR. W. EVANS GORDON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
said that the grievances in regard to the Army Clothing Factory at Pimlico were not confined to that establishment itself. He referred to the evils alleged to exist in regard to the work done for the Army Clothing Department outside the Government factory. Until a short time ago he knew that a very large amount of Army clothing work was given out on contract in the East end of London; and it was freely alleged—it was difficult to test the accuracy of the statements—that though in those contracts very strict conditions were laid down, the conditions were altogether evaded, and that a large amount of the work was sub-let or sub-contracted to home-workers who had to work under grossly sweating conditions. The temptation to do this was very great, because there was an unlimited amount of destitute foreign labour coming into the country, and these people were compelled to work under conditions which no English worker would submit to. The profits of the contractors were naturally very much increased. That system affected the conditions all over the trade, and as a consequence the Government found it very difficult to raise the 542 wages of the people employed in their own factories. He understood that that was admitted even by the Government Department. Again, he believed that in regard to contracts for under £25 or £30 the conditions attached to large contracts were not enforced at all. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would put an end to that practice and that all contracts, great or small, would be subjected to the same conditions.
said he wished to draw the attention of the Secretary for War to an anomaly in the form of these Estimates, which was very strongly exemplified in the Vote before the Committee. The Vote was for upwards of £4,000,000, but the debate hitherto had turned entirely on the item for the Army Clothing Factory which formed a very small proportion of the Vote. The greater part of the Vote was for "Supplies" which, in Army nomenclature, included certain consumable articles such as straw for palliasses, fuel, light, etc. It appeared to him that very great advantage would be gained, for the purpose of controlling the expenditure of the War Office, if this Vote were brought under individual heads, grouped according to their nature; and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would give some assurance that in preparing future Estimates some such system would be adopted so as to enable hon. Members to get a grip of the whole expenditure.
§ MR. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
referred to the question of the purchase of cloth used in Army clothing. He knew of an instance in which some putties were rejected because there was an almost infinitesimal difference in shade from that of the pattern. In place of these rejected other putties were bought from another manufacturer, and these stood only a few days wear before going into rags. The putties which were rejected would have worn for a long period, and in fact they were subsequently used by volunteers. If the Secretary for War would place someone in the Purchasing Department who understood cloth it would be a great advantage to the Army and to the Government.
§ MR. HALDANE
said that in regard to what had been said by the hon. Member for Sleaford, no doubt great care was taken—much more than before—to send down the most competent and reliable people to purchase cloth. There were two sides to every case and he should like to hear the other side of the case the hon. Member had quoted. The hon. Member might be right.
(intervening) said he had allowed the hon. and gallant Member for Monmouthshire to make a comment on the form of the Vote because he thought he was going to load up to a criticism or question on the Estimates before the Committee; but to discuss changes in the form of the Vote was really out of order.
§ MR. HALDANE
said that the Vote had assumed the form it did because it carried out the very intelligent principle which had been applied by his predecessor at the War Office. When the War Office was reorganised these Votes were reshaped. It was found most convenient to arrange the Estimates according to the principle that the Votes for which one man was responsible should be grouped. In regard to sweating, however slow the War Office had been about other things, he could conscientiously say that they had not been slow in dealing with the matter of sweating in connection with supplies. They of course, gave out a good many contracts, and this year all of their contracts had been investigated in the most searching fashion, in order that they might discover whether any element of sweating existed. On many occasions when they were not satisfied they had altered the allocation of the contracts the details of matters of this kind could not of course be published, but he could assure the Committee that a searching investigation was made in every case, and wherever they had had any suspicion they had made short work of the case, and the contract had been dealt with. Everything that they could do this year had been done to get rid of a system that was a disgrace to any Department. They 544 had done their best to see that those employed in carrying out Government contracts were not sweated. Sometimes, however, he and his advisors, had been in doubt as to whether sweating was carried on. The forms of evasion were very subtle, and although the schedule of wages handed in might be satisfactory, still there were cases in which a firm paid full wages upon a Government job, but upon another job they paid little or nothing in order to make up for the payments they made in regard to the work carried out for the Government. The workers were warned by their employers that if this arrangement was disclosed they would lose their work, and poor men and women who had no other chance of saving their children from starvation accepted the terms. The War Department had not only investigated closely; they had done more, and wherever the cases of any firms bearing a reputation of that kind had been brought to their notice they had taken steps in as thorough and as firm a manner as possible. They had, however, to be very careful not to act upon hearsay evidence, because one of the worst things that could happen would be to do injustice to a firm which was trying to do its best even in a small way to improve the wages of the worker. They had as a consequence of their action put an end to some abuses which existed and brought about a better state of things; they had made War Office contractors realise that they were in earnest in regard to this matter, and that no contractor who sweated need hope to obtain contracts from them. The system of investigation had been in operation to a greater extent than hon. Members could know of and he hoped the fruits of it would be apparent before very long.
§ MR. LEA
said that everybody must be aware, from a recently published book and comments in the Press, of the great scandals which had occurred in regard to the working of the stock yards of Chicago. He wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman would give the Committee a definite pledge that during his term of office, or, at any rate until confidence in the United States and this country had been restored as to the purity and excellence of the products emanating from those stockyards, he would decline 545 to allow any canteen to buy canned goods which came from the United States of America. The particulars given in the book to which he referred were not at all exaggerated. There was not a single exaggeration in that book as to the conditions under which the meat was canned. He had visited Chicago and could corroborate the statement that the conditions prevailing in these packing houses were absolutely revolting. If the people at the War Office who were responsible for these contracts would only go out themselves and see how the meat was packed they would agree with him. This condition of things prevailed, not only in Chicago, but in Omaha, and at St. Louis, and the Government should refrain from going into such contracts unless they had on the spot their own men who could give a guarantee as to the purity and well packing of the goods. [An HON. MEMBER: What about our Colonies.] They could deal with the Colonies after they had settled this question of the United States. Another matter he had to refer to was that of fuel and light. Some little time ago, owing to the kindness of the right hon. Gentleman, he was allowed to go down to Aldershot and prowl round. He noticed that the electric lighting power stations were not working, and on making inquiries was told that in consequence half the electric plant was lying idle or was not being worked at full pressure. The result was that the buildings were being supplied with light by gas or oil. He thought that in such a case the expenditure of a few thousand pounds would be a great economy.
§ MR. HALDANE
said that he also had been down to Aldershot "on the prowl" and he had seen the very thing to which his hon. friend had alluded, viz., soldiers trying to read by oil lamps, or rather not reading at all and doing nothing. They had not much money to spend, only about £15,000, and, seeing that this matter concerned the social life of the men, he took steps at once to put it right. The improvement had almost approached completion, if indeed the work was not finished. This change would not cost much and would result in true economy. In regard to tinned moat coming from the United States, he would be sorry to prohibit its use, and for the very good reason that he 546 regretted to say that the United States was not the only place in which there had been bad tinned meat put up. We had had instances of it in our own country, and the matter was one which required to be very closely looked into. He would therefore be sorry to say that tinned meat should only be bought in the United Kingdom, and he noticed that an hon. Member reminded his hon. friend about the colonies. In his judgment the best thing to do was to buy tinned meat in the places where they were able to get the best and purest supplies under guarantees of good quality. The War Office bought a large quantity of tinned meat from various sources, including a good deal from the United States. They had at present a large contract running in the United States which they were bound to complete, but he had picked out the very best and most experienced officer whom he could select and had sent him out to inspect carefully these tinned articles to see that the Department obtained goods of the proper quality. The tinned goods would be carefully inspected, and they proposed to pursue that course with regard to all preserved meats.
said the reason he had sent the officer out was that he might exercise the rights of the Government in regard to access. The officer was not sent out merely to open the tins and look at their contents, nor did they send him out merely that he might look at the tins. They could do that at home. He had thought it right, however, to send out an officer in order that he might see the process of manufacture before the goods were shipped.
§ MR. FORSTER (Kent, Sevenoaks)
said that no doubt the right hon. Gentleman recognised that there was a strong feeling in this country, and also in the Committee with reference to these canned goods. Did the contract he had mentioned give him the power to break it if the goods were not satisfactory?
§ MR. HALDANE
said that fortunately the War Office had very wide powers 547 under the contract, and they were using them to the full.
§ MR. CHARLES DEVLIN (Galway)
said that there had been some very sharp criticism of these Estimates by Nationalists in years gone by, and they still thought that the money might be much better expended. He did not complain of the expectations which the Secretary of State for War had held out to the representatives of labour that there might be an increase of wages in certain factories and also greater holidays. No Nationalist Member would complain of the expenditure of money for such purposes, but they did hope that in the main the promises of reduction of expenditure would be carried out. If there was to be any reduction of expenditure he was sure that Irish Members would prefer to see it carried out in regard to the Army than anywhere else, because they got no benefit from the Army. He complained that there was no clothing factory in Ireland that he was aware of which was supplying clothing to the Army. He might be mistaken, but he knew that in that portion of the country with which he was familiar, there was no clothing factory connected with the Army. There were, however, in Ireland cloth mills, and it was possible for them to supply the Army. Ireland paid a large portion of the amount raised for these services, and got no return, and should have some share of the work. It might be said that at one time contracts of this kind existed in Limerick, but that they had been withdrawn. He did not know why. If, however, these contracts were given out in England why should not some be given to Ireland? If there was one portion of this worldwide Empire where the want of such work was felt it was Ireland, which contributed so much towards this expenditure, and to which so little was given in return. If he dwelt upon this point it was in the hope that the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to establish a factory in Ireland, where he would find men and women willing to work at rates of wages which would not exceed those paid in England, and whence he would be able to get cloth for the purposes of the Army.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Mr. Haldane.548
§ 3. £775,000, Ordnance Department Establishments and General Stores.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
asked for some further information with regard to the state of the manufacture of field guns. His recollection was that by March 31st forty-six complete batteries were to be supplied, in addition to which there were to be supplied 270 18-pounder guns and 115 12-pounder guns, 385 guns in all, with a certain number of their component parts, waggon limbers, etc. The date which he referred to was the end of March, and as it was now the beginning of June it was possible that some progress had been made in that regard. The arrangement which he made when at the War Office was that India should receive the guns and the waggons due in respect to guns already despatched. But it was felt that without any detriment to India it would now be possible to withhold the guns destined for that country and serve them out to home stations, whose needs were quite as great as those of India were likely to be, in the light of recent events, for some time to come. The delay had not been a manufacturing delay; it had arisen in a very curious manner in connection with the parts for carrying fixed ammunition for the field guns. When tested there were discovered in the metal cases used for carrying the fixed ammunition, certain flaws which it was found very difficult to get over. Finally it was suggested that instead of metal cases wicker baskets should be made and fixed to the limber waggons. Trials were made of this system, which satisfied the War Office; but the Government of India required further trials to be made, in addition to those which satisfied the Government, as to the safety of carrying ammunition in this form. He wished to know whether all these difficulties had been got over; whether the supply of guns to the home stations had been completed, and how soon they might expect the whole of the artillery to have the new armament in their hands.
§ MR. LEA
asked for information with regard to a battery which had been erected at a point in the Isle of Wight. That battery was armed with two 9-inch and two 6-inch guns, the latter being totally different in type from anything in this country. He understood that 549 they were obtained from the Chilian Government when His Majesty's Government purchased the Chilian battleships a few years ago. The question he wished to ask was how it came about that these Chilian guns had become part of the armament of a home battery. He would further like to know how much money this battery had cost. It was erected on a spot whore no battery ought to be erected, owing to the state of the foundation, which was locally known as blue slipper. In the course of five or six years the whole battery would slip into the sea.
said he was afraid the hon. Member was out of order, as the situation of a battery did not arise on this Vote.
§ MR. HAROLD COX (Preston)
called attention to the waste which, in his opinion, was involved in the present system of keeping mobilisation stores. The system roughly was that when a man went into the Reserve all his kit and equipment was put aside into little pigeon-holes in the mobilisation store. When he left the Reserve the pigeon-hole had to be emptied and refilled with somebody else's kit. Consequently men had always to be employed in changing these pigeon-holes. Supposing it happened that the man remained in the Reserve until he was called up for mobilisation, the clothes put aside for a comparatively young man no longer fitted his fuller development, so that the whole object of the system was defeated. He knew a military officer who decided to keep the equipment in bulk instead of in separate pigeon-holes, with the result that he was able to keep the whole supply in about a quarter of the space otherwise required, and also to supply men with their kit much more rapidly than under the prevailing system. Although the common-sense system which that officer had adopted on his own responsibility had been working well for some time past and had been connived at by the War Office, the authorities would not allow him to get rid of the pigeon-holes, the result being that while there was a room in the barracks almost as large as the House of Commens filled with empty pigeon-holes the men quartered there had no dining-room.
§ MR. HALDANE
said there had been a considerable amount of change in this matter of the storing of clothes. At one time every kind of article was stored together, but unfortunately that system had its disadvantages too, for everything could not be found at once, and the delay was immense. Then the pigeon-hole system was adopted. Quite recently a compromise between the two systems had been tried. There was a distinction drawn between two classes of articles. For instance, there were certain articles which a man required and which were well adapted to his requirement whether he increased or decreased in bulk. Those articles were kept together in the pigeon - holes. Then there were other things which would not fit, articles like great coats, which were now kept in store, and the man was supplied with No. 3, 4, or 5 great coat according to his size. That system probably represented as nearly as possible the best that could be done. In regard to the guns, the War Office had been experimenting in different ways and were now working with wickerwork instead of brass cases for carrying the fixed ammunition for the field guns. The Indian Government was asked whether it would like wicker in place of brass. It was now carrying out experiments, but had not yet announced its decision. The present position was this. The total number of batteries was 130, of which 21 were horse and 109 field. Of the 21 horse batteries 14 had been issued complete, and of the 109 field batteries 66 had been issued complete. Of the horse batteries eight were with the troops at home and six had been sent to the troops in India. Of the field artillery 36 batteries had been issued complete to the troops at home and 30 batteries had been sent complete to India.
§ MR. HAROLD COX
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would allow the pigeon-holes to which he had alluded to be swept away and enable the room he had mentioned to be used as a dining-room.
§ MR. FORSTER
asked whether the military police employed by the 551 Government in large towns were in receipt of the extra lodging allowance given to police in the Metropolis in order that they might be able to bear the high rates which they had to pay.
§ MR. HALDANE
said he had not the information by him to enable him to answer the Question, but he would make inquiries.
§ MR. HALDANE
said he was not in a position to answer right off. The whole question of coast defence guns had been very carefully investigated, and he did not doubt that the battery to which his hon. friend referred, if defective, had been under consideration. It was certainly not proposed to keep up useless guns for coast defence.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 4. £2,543,000, Armaments and Engineer Stores."
§ MR. FORSTER
said he would like to draw attention to the question of rewards to inventors. When he was one of the Junior Lords of the Treasury, it fell to his lot to have to sit as one of the so-called judges in two arbitration cases in a dispute between the War Office and two inventors. It struck him in those eases that there was an extraordinary lack of system in the arrangements between the War Office and their inventors as to the remuneration which they ought to receive. He did not wish to infer that he had any cut and dried plan to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, nor did he think it was his business to make such a suggestion. But, speaking from the short experience he had had of this matter, he did think there was room for very great improvement both in the method and in the manner of treating these inventors at the War Office. So far as he could see, there was nobody whose business it was to look into the question of those inventions, and nobody who was really qualified to say whether or not the patent was a good one. The suggestion was made in one of the cases with which he had to deal that if the War Office had examined the patent 552 more thoroughly when the arrangement with the inventor was made it might have been found that the patent was not a patent at all. He believed the right hon. Gentleman had a large experience of patent cases, amongst others, and he would no doubt be able to express a very valuable opinion as to whether patents were good or not. He did not suggest for a moment that all these cases could come before the right hon. Gentleman personally, but he thought they ought to ask him to turn, his attention to this matter, to see whether some really business like system could not be found whereby the patents should be subjected to close scrutiny when brought to the War Office, and if a patent were found to be worth taking up the patentee should not be left to starve and to cherish a sense of wrong. He was quite sure that if the War Office and other Government Departments would be a little more generous to inventors it would tempt them to bring the results of their ingenuity more frequently to the service of the State.
§ MR. HALDANE
said the hon. Gentleman had raised two distinct questions, namely, that of dealing with inventors generally, and the question of the position of the inventor who had taken out a patent, which, under a section of the Patent Act, the Government was entitled to use. The ordinary inventor was completely within his right in keeping his patent to himself as the law now stood, but there was an exception to that right in the case of the Government, who could use any patent of any inventor. In the cases mentioned by the hon. Gentleman there was, he presumed, a difference of opinion, and the matter was referred to the Treasury. A point that had always remained obscure between the Treasury and the War Office was whether the Treasury ought to take any account of the question whether the patent was a good one before it came to them or not. He had a very strong view that in ascertaining the amount due to an inventor when they used his patent they ought to take into account whether it was a valid, one or not. The hon. Gentleman had suggested that the Treasury were not the proper authority to ascertain the validity of patents, but he thought the same observation might be made of the War Office, and the only way of ascertaining the 553 validity of a patent was the costly luxury of a Chancery suit. Therefore, before the question could be put upon a proper footing an amendment of the law dealing with patents generally, and not merely those used by the War Office, was necessary. It was one of the most difficult things in the world to assess value. On the one hand, there was the estimate of those who had to use the invention, and on the other hand there was the estimate of the inventor, who thought that nothing on earth had ever approached it in merit, the result being that there was extraordinary diversity of opinion, and it was impossible to get any standard which would satisfy everyone. one. The War Office felt that they always paid too much and the inventor thought that they always paid too little. He himself tried to arrive at some kind of rough estimate, and left the inventor and the officials of the War Office to worry it out themselves, and they generally succeeded in getting some sort of rough result. He was afraid that was all the light he could throw on a somewhat unsatisfactory and complicated topic.
§ MR. MORTON
requested some explanation of the item of £1,000 for fees to civil members of the Ordnance Committee, and the item of £1,450 for fees to members of the Explosives Committee. He also asked whether the items for civilian photographer and assistant photographer were now items placed upon the Army Votes.
§ *MR. HIGHAM (Yorkshire, W.K., Sowerby)
said he understood from the Answer given by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War a few weeks ago that the Government had a settled policy in regard to the production and purchase of small arms, as had previous Governments. It might be necessary in the interests of the force to have business firms from whom small arms could be bought, but when the critical moment came in the last South African War the Government were buying small arms from outside firms at an extra cost of 7s. 6d. each for overtime, while the Government works were running barely full time, and they could have produced from 800 to 1,000 rifles per week more than were produced. Taking the whole course of the last ton years, the rifles produced by the Govern- 554 ment factories had averaged quite £1 per rifle less than those bought from outside firms, in spite of the fact that the Government works had never run at their full capacity. In placing this question before the Committee he was not bringing forward a grievance of the men. He had nothing to say about the hours of labour or the wages, but he was speaking as a manufacturer and employer of labour and one who knew the importance of running a concern at its proper capacity. It was possible to produce 2,000 rifles weekly at Enfield, and the War Office had given an order for 1,000 weekly for this year. He agreed to a certain extent with the policy of keeping outside channels open, but the question was how far that policy should curtail the output from the Government factories. At one time they were buying machine guns at about £200 each. At their own factories they were induced to put some of these guns in hand, and the price quickly came down to £50, solely on account of the competition caused by the output at the Government factories. We had been buying pistols at 66s. each, and this particular class had retained the same high price for the last fourteen years. This was for the simple reason that we had never made any at our own works. A great deal of money was also wasted in regard to machinery. He knew of some machines which had been put in at Enfield at a cost of over £80 each, and they had never been used to this day. It should not be forgotten that the fixed charge for depreciation at the Enfield works was no loss than £100,000 a year. In the working of a business concern of this description the manager knew the amount of stock which it was wise to have. He might mention that the butt ends of guns were made from walnut, which had to be seasoned, and they always kept at Enfield not less than 500,000 of them. Even when they purchased rifles outside, they were in the habit of providing their own butt ends. The question of stock could be easily overcome if the manager and the head of the department worked in harmony for the stock they had to produce. One of the answers given by the War Office was that if they produced too many rifles they might become obsolete in a short time. In reply to that he would say that experience had shown that the life of a rifle was about fifteen or 555 sixteen years. He might also mention that the life of a patent in regard to rifles was somewhere about twelve or thirteen years. He did not think there could be any objection to running their own establishmentsat their fullest capacity, seeing that they had just adopted a new short rifle. He had also noticed during his visit to Enfield a quantity of obsolete machinery. That did not lead to economy. He would mention one case. At the present time there were in use a number of Snider rifles which were thirty years old, and they actually had part of the works at Enfield taken up with machinery for producing these rifles, although the rifle was very little used. It would be far more economical to displace this machinery altogether and do away with the old Snider rifles. In the sword and bayonet departments for the last three years the production had not been what it ought to have been, and 90 per cent of the machinery was standing idle. It should not be forgotten that the Government had some responsibility for the village of Enfield. Enfield would never have existed but for the Government factory, it being the only industrial enterprise there. At one time 3,000 men were employed at Enfield, which number had been reduced to about 1,700, and since increased to 1,900. The workmen who had been displaced had had to leave the village and take their families with them. The hardship was not so great in regard to the factory at Sparkbrook, because in that district there were plenty of other factories at which the men could apply for work. But if a man lost his work at the Enfield factory he was obliged to leave the district. Therefore, the Government had a much greater responsibility at Enfield than they had in regard to the factory at Sparkbrook. The village of Enfield had been built for these men, and they had been working there all these years. He contended that, without altering the policy of the Government, the War Office could easily have another thousand rifles per week made at Enfield. Even 500 or 600 more per week would put the rifle department at Enfield into steady work, and keep the houses occupied and the workmen employed. Therefore he urged that the right hon. Gentleman should give a little more consideration to the Enfield gun factory. There had been purchased outside large quantities of guns which might 556 easily have been manufactured at the Enfield factory. He had gone through the Enfield works, asking various questions, and as a large manufacturer himself, with every wish to practise the strictest economy he had no hesitation in saying that they could easily give the factory at Enfield the extra work for which he was pleading, and still pursue the policy which he agreed with the War Minister was the right one to adopt. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would give these points his serious consideration.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said the hon. Member had drawn a picture of a Government factory in which he asserted that 90 per cent, of the machinery was out of date.
§ *MR. HIGHAM
No. What I said was that 90 per cent, of the machinery in the sword and bayonet departments was standing idle.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said he was inclined to think that the difference of £1 apiece in the price of the rifles arose from the fact that the accounts were made out in a Government factory in a different manner from that adopted by private firms. Where machinery and buildings became obsolete in a Government factory they were immediately written off, whereas in the case of private firms the amount had to appear on each balance sheet until it was written off by process of time. With reference to small arms, he wished to know what progress was being made in arming the troops with the more modern weapon. He should like to know whether the Secretary of State for War was satisfied that his Department had hit upon the most efficient rifle that could possibly be served out to the troops. He had heard the efficiency of the short rifle at long range questioned. At distances of 1,000 or 1,500 yards he was informed that the shooting with the short rifle was not so good as it used to be with the longer barrel. If that were so they might be purchasing a lighter rifle at the cost of 557 efficiency. He did not mention names, but he had seen a rifle invented by a private gentleman, who was the brother of a distinguished general officer, who had spent a great deal of money and time in perfecting it, which possessed many advantages over the short rifle, because it brought the barrel further back into the butt, thus doing away with the small. This gentleman had succeeded in producing a rifle, and although it possessed a long barrel it was nevertheless shorter than the new rifle. This new invention had been reported favourably upon by the highest authorities, but he had not heard that there was any prospect of its being adopted. He wished to know if the right hon. Gentleman had given this matter his personal attention, because the greatest economy they could have was to obtain the very best rifle that could possibly be procured; and no hide-bound adherence to anything that had gone before should prevent the War Minister adopting the most up-to-date rifle. One of the reasons given against this reform was that the Department did not wish to make any change until some automatic rifle had been discovered. He thought it was very questionable whether an automatic rifle would possess any great advantages over the present rifle, when placed in the hands of the ordinary private soldier. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to state at what rate the Army was being supplied with the new rifle, and also whether he had satisfied himself that the new rifle which was being produced was the very best that could be supplied to the Army at the present time.
§ MR. ABEL SMITH (Hertfordshire, Hertford)
said he could endorse what had been said in regard to the effect of the policy of the War Office authorities at Enfield. It was entirely owing to that policy that the number of unemployed had grown in that neighbourhood. A few years ago a large number of men were discharged from the small arms factory, and a very lamentable state of things had existed for a considerable time. He ventured to ask the late Government to preserve as far as possible the normal level of employment in the Government factories and not to make the sudden changes which had caused so much distress on the previous occasion. He asked the Secre- 558 tary of State for War what was the present state of employment in the small arms factories, and what was likely to be the effect of the policy recently carried out by the War Office in transferring a small arms factory to Sparkbrook. He should like also to ask what were the prospects of employment in the bayonet department. He was told that there was very little work in the department, and that in consequence a considerable amount of distress was being caused. Reference had been made to the policy of the War Office in giving orders to private firms. He looked at that from a point of view different from that of hon. Gentlemen below the gangway. He looked at it from the point of view of those who were normally employed in the small arms factory at Enfield, many of whom he had the honour of representing in this House. He admitted that it was necessary for the Government to give orders to private firms so that they might be able to get an increased supply of small arms in times of pressure. It was perfectly true that there was a large amount of costly machinery standing idle, which had practically never been used since it was set up. The keeping up of the establishment involved a large sum for depreciation every year, and that was a very serious matter, deserving of the earnest attention of the War Office. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see whether it was not possible to keep the machinery better employed, in order that the time of stress which had occurred lately might not occur again. He thought the men there had behaved extremely well; there had been little or no agitation amongst them. They only asked for bare justice when they appealed for more regular employment.
§ MR. HALDANE
said it had been correctly stated that it was part of the policy of the Government to give a certain amount of encouragement to private contractors, so as to provide for expansion of supplies in times of national emergency. But at the same time the Government's own factories must be their first care. The hon. Member bad complained of certain machinery in Government factories standing idle. That must be so, because provision had to be made in these factories for expansion in time of war. He could say nothing definite as to the prospects of employment in these factories, except 559 that he saw no reason to suppose the prospects were bad. Naturally, it was the policy of the nation in times of peace to limit expenditure upon armaments all round, and they could not expect the same amount of employment at places like Enfield that they would have in time of war, or when things looked more unsettled than they did now. The hon. Member for North Ayrshire had raised the question of the short rifle. Since he had been at the War Office he had considered this matter very carefully, and before he assumed office he considered it for five years on the Explosives Committee. He was satisfied that at the present time it was the best and most serviceable weapon we could give our troops. It was quite a mistake to suppose that there was an enormous advantage in having a long barrel. Experience showed that with a short barrel almost as good results could be obtained, together with the advantage of a much lighter weapon. The shooting competition between the Guards and the Middlesex Volunteers the other day showed what rapid and fine shooting could be done with the short rifle. India had reported strongly in favour of the short rifle and tests here had worked out strongly in its favour. The idea of its having a larger kick had now passed away, and everywhere he went he found a pretty general consensus of opinion that we had hit upon the best weapon for the present. He said "for the present," because, unfortunately, there was nothing in which changes came more rapidly than in engines of war. It was not unlikely that in a few years we might have an automatic rifle all over the civilised world. That automatic rifle had yet to be discovered. The United States, who were an extremely practical nation, were following us in arming their entire Army with the short rifle. The balance of testimony was so strongly in favour of the short rifle as to make it wrong for him to arm our troops with any other rifle. There had been no waste of money in making short rifles, because the plant for making long rifles was worn out, and new plant had to be laid down. He could not state the exact date when the re-arming with the short rifle would be complete, but the process of re-arming was proceeding rapidly. As regarded the fees paid to members of the Explosives Committee and the Ordnance Committee, it had been found 560 desirable, as more skilled evidence was being taken from experts, that certain of them should be paid, and two were now being paid a moderate sum, considering their great eminence and the value of the work they did. The civilian members of the Ordnance Committee were paid a moderate compensation, and the Government were glad to get assistance so cheaply. The question of bayonets had not yet been settled.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said that with reference to an item for fourteen chemists in the Vote, he wished to make the suggestion, which he thought would be congenial enough to the right hon. Gentleman, that the time had come for an amalgamation of the offices of the head chemists of the great departments. The Admiralty, the War Office, and other departments were constantly in need of chemical advice, and this country was in a position generally j inferior to that of other countries in regard to metallurgical knowledge. Having regard to what was being done in South Kensington, they might concentrate in the hands of a person of recognised authority in metallurgy the scientific work required. He remembered that as the result of a conference between that eminent man, Professor Glazebrook, the Director of the National Physical Laboratory, and the manufacturers, an enormous improvement in the manufacture of carbons had been brought about, and orders for the Admiralty formerly sent to France were retained in this country. There should be at the head of a central institution an officer having j under him a corps of chemists and analysts who would be always at the disposal of the Government.
said that since the Estimates were framed he had carried out a reorganisation of the chemical department. The Explosives Committee no longer existed in the old form. It was now practically united in its work with the Ordinance Committee as a Chemical Research Committee to which would drift the whole of the scientific work at Woolwich. The testing of steel could only be done by very fine apparatus, and the place where the work should be done was the National Physical Laboratory, to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his warm concurrence, 561 had made a grant of £10,000 for the improvement of apparatus He agreed that one of the most valuable things that the Government could do would be to carry these arrangements a step further and have a corps of experts, whose business would be to co-ordinate the scientific work of the department, thus saving wasteful expenditure. In the organisation of such matters Germany, France, and the United States had reached a height we had not touched. Until we were more in earnest about thorn and the interest of Parliament had been awakened we should continue to be in what to his mind was a situation of peril.
§ *MR. BRANCH (Middlesex, Enfield)
said that when Members remembered that the township of Enfield was built up for the purpose of supplying armaments to the nation, they would agree that it deserved some consideration at the hands of the Government, The men attracted into the town to work in the Government arms factory were sober and industrious; they had built their own houses and schools for their children; and if so many were to be discharged they would he compelled to sell their houses at a loss. There was no other industry in Enfield, and the orders for rifles were being sent to other towns where there were other industries to which the discharged men could be drafted. Besides, in the factory at Enfield 50 per cent, of the machinery would be standing idle, and both that machinery and the recent large additions to the buildings on which £40,000 had been spent, would be depreciated. He trusted that the Government would do all that was possible to sustain the work at Enfield.
§ *MR. AINSWORTH (Argyllshire)
said he wished to call attention to the armaments supplied to the Volunteer Garrison Artillery in the West of Scotland. The guns were obsolete, and that was a state of things which was discouraging to the members of the Volunteer force. He noticed that a large sum was down for the re-armament of the Field Artillery, and he suggested that some portion of the armament superseded should be devoted to supplying guns of a modern type to the Garrison Artillery.
§ MR. HALDANE
said he had the greatest sympathy with the case which 562 had been brought forward by his hon. friend, not only in regard to the Volunteers in Argyllshire, but in every other part of the country. He quite agreed that the guns which they had to work were of an obsolete type, and absolutely useless for the purposes of national defence. One of the reforms he hoped to institute was to assign to the Volunteers a definite function and to give them not obsolete guns to work with, but something that would contribute to the national defence. That was the policy of the Government, but it could not be adopted piecemeal, and he was afraid that his hon. friend's constituents would have to wait for new guns until the War Office had worked out this scheme in all its details.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 5. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £2,353,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge of Barrack Construction; for Works, Buildings, and Repairs, at Home and Abroad (including Purchases of Land), and for the Staff in connection therewith, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1907."
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
hoped that he would be in order on this Vote in calling attention to a matter to which he had alluded earlier in the debate. He then called attention to the question of the Norwich Barracks, which he took as typical of other cases. He thought it was to be regretted that the people of Norwich should have received the slap in the face to which they had been subjected by the War Office. It did seem to him to be desirable to establish good relations with localities. There was hardly a town in England or Scotland which had not shown a desire to co-operate with the War Office in regard to the provision of sites for barracks. The present situation was most unsatisfactory, as a hundred years ago barracks were put on sites which had become most unsuitable at the present time. Barracks in those days were erected in places for the reason that there had been riots and it was desirable to have the Military in the neighbourhood. The reason for the existence of the barracks in those places, however, no longer existed. 563 Again barracks were a hundred years ago erected in places which then were open country, but the buildings were now surrounded by a large town population. Moreover, many of these barracks were in a most unsound and insanitary condition, and the right hon. Gentleman knew that in saying this he did not exaggerate the facts of the case. The barracks at Coventry were 140 years old, while the barracks at Norwich were in every respect unfit for the accommodation of a regiment of cavalry. He could mention many other barracks which were entirely obsolete and could not be reconciled with any modern point of view at all. He thought that an enormous amount of good might be done by getting rid of the barracks which now existed in the wrong places and establishing them in the right places. The non-erection of the proposed barracks on Salisbury Plain and the stoppage of the proposed buildings at Stobs and Bulford, a policy which had resulted in a great saving of money, had made this course all the easier. He thought that London was one of the places where the course of action he had advocated might be pursued with greater advantage than anywhere else. The London barracks were particularly bad. In regard to Wellington Barracks, he would undertake to say that no Secretary of State would care to allow an officer coming from abroad to inspect them, and yet this was the place where the officers and men of the King's Guard were housed. The drainage was very bad and the buildings were of such a character that they should not be used for their present purpose in the Metropolis of a great empire. There were many sites in London which might be utilised for the erection of barracks for the Guards, and the site of Wellington Barracks if properly utilised might be made most remunerative. There was a great deal of property owned by the Government in London, but under our present system we divided the ownership of Crown property among a number of trustees. There were the Board of Works, the Department of Woods and Forests, the Army, the Metropolitan Police and one or two other bodies, all of whom owned Crown property. None had yet been able to arrange any harmonious working between these bodies, and they all acted independently one of another. Perhaps the reason for 564 this was that each of these Departments had a staff of clerical officials, lawyers and so forth, who felt that their existence was to a certain extent bound up with that of the Department which they represented. Wellington Barracks occupied one of the finest sites in London and had every fault that a barrack could hive. It was too large for one battalion and too small for two. It seemed to be a barrack built for a battalion and a half—a most unsuitable plan. The site, however, if properly utilised, might be made the most remunerative site in London, and might bear upon it one of the finest facades in Europe. It could indeed be made use of in such a way as to prove extremely profitable. The site of the Duke of York's. School was about to be abandoned, and he thought that a little ingenuity and a little exercise of business faculty should make it possible to transfer the King's Guards, from the Wellington Barracks to the site of the Duke of York's School. Another suggestion which he ventured to urge upon the right hon. Gentleman was whether it was not possible to make some better use of Chelsea Hospital, which was a very beautiful and a very well situated building. He could not help thinking that for its present purpose it was no more suitable than Greenwich Hospital used to be in regard to the Navy. The old men who under existing arrangements finished their lives in Chelsea Hospital would be far better looked after if they were allowed to go and live at home with their friends, and then that great site and that beautiful building might he utilised for other Army purposes That something would have to be done in regard to the London barrack accommodation was shown by the fact that, until within a few months ago, the married quarters of the Brigade of Guards, the finest regiments in the army, were in a condemned workhouse within 500 yards of the Royal Palace. That state of things, went on for years, and unless some strenuous action was taken was likely to occur again. Perhaps something might be done for the reform of our barrack system and expenditure by allowing some of the men to reside outside the barracks. This should be possible as the men became older and there were a greater number of long service men in the Army. Such a system, however, would not be desirable in the case of young men. He 565 did not think it would be desirable for them to remain out of barracks in places where they had no homes, or relatives, or friends, but he did think it was possible in regard to a certain number of men who had passed a certain age and had good characters. In his judgment the money spent on new barracks had not been well spent. There had been many faults even in the construction of the new barracks, and he could give ludicrous instances of the way in which the faults to be found with old barracks had been repeated in new barracks. There was a way of putting a stop to this sort of thing. Plans of a novel kind had been drawn up, with the approval of all the officers concerned and with the consent of the War Office, for constructing barracks upon totally different lines. Those plans had been drawn up by the architect who designed the great Rowton Houses in London and Birmingham, and no one had a greater experience than that gentleman of how properly to house a large number of men in a building. Those designs would have been put into execution in the case of the new barracks at Norwich which had been stopped. Such barracks would be the best advertisement of the British Army that we had ever bad; they would have a beneficial effect upon recruiting, and reconcile the friends and relations of men to their going into barrack life. The newest military barracks in the United Kingdom were at Colchester. He knew the new barracks at Colchester well enough, but all he could say was that if they were to be considered as an example which ought to be followed, we had a good deal to learn. Those barracks were, as all others were, the necessary outcome of the present method of construction. He earnestly hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not lose sight of the enormous help that would be given to recruiting, and to the welfare of the Army generally, by improving barrack accommodation. What he had already stated showed that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State had already learnt a good many details of many important questions; but if he required further enlightening let him go to the central recruiting station at St. George's Barracks. It was now located in St. George's Square, at the back of the National Gallery, an old George II. building, which was utterly unworthy of 566 being the entrance by which a man got into the British Army. His idea was that the recruiting station should be in a fine building on a main thoroughfare, that a man would be proud to enter, and which his friends would be proud to see him enter. He knew from practical experience that when the recruiting station was brought out of a slum and put into a main thoroughfare it had an immediate effect on recruiting. If a better class of man was to be obtained it was necessary to improve the whole character of the barracks and the character of their surroundings. The Winchester-Barracks, which were a depot of eight-battalions, were bad in every particular; they were near no exercise or recreation ground, and by an act of Providence they were burnt to the ground. But what happened? The whole thing was built-up brick by brick on the same foundation. The hospital was omitted. The sergeants' mess — a mess of eighty sergeants—was a barrack-room with a curtain in the centre, on one side of which was a billiard-table, and on the other accommodation for only half the number of the mess. The change which all desired to see in the Army could only come about when barracks were built in the same wav as civil buildings were constructed. He trusted that the little that had already been done in this direction might be followed to a larger extent by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. HALDANE
said the state of things which existed all over the country only illustrated the extraordinarily haphazard way in which barracks had been built, and millions of money had been wasted in their construction. He quite agreed that the condition of the Norwich barracks was bad, but it was not so bad as the condition of two or three others he could name. Norwich was not the place where the need of barracks was-most urgent. What he was trying to do-was to take the worst cases, rebuilding where it was necessary, but on a moderate scale. When money was short one could only deal with places which were insanitary and dangerous. It was not a case of hardship or of comfort. The first essential was that these places should be made sanitary and safe. The second essential was that they should know for what portion of the military organisation the barracks were to be 567 built. Was Norwich the place in which I to build cavalry barracks? He had asked the opinion of a cavalry brigadier upon that, and the answer given to him was that it was more than doubtful. It might be that cavalry barracks would be built at Norwich; he did not say they would not. What he did say was that he was bound to have regard to the expenditure and to see that building was not engaged in where it was not necessary. The Government were now stopping the loans, which had been a source of great waste, and in the future, when these particular items were completed, they were going to put the expenditure for buildings on the Estimates. That, he thought, would have the effect of making them very careful not to engage in any unnecessary expenditure, and would make them think out the consequences before they embarked on any large scheme of barrack construction. One of the most difficult things they had to face was how to spend money in such a way that in a few years it should not be found to have been thrown away. If they had only half the money which had been thrown away during the last ten years it would be of the greatest possible use at the present time. But they could not get it, and therefore they must make the most of that which they possessed, and endeavour to make the barracks what they ought to be. First, they must consider what portion of the forces the barracks were for and thon deal with those the sanitary condition of which was the worst. In this way they must progress by degrees until out of the annual Estimates they could put the barrack accommodation into a proper condition.
§ *MR. MADDISON (Burnley)
said he was extremely glad to hear the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. One would imagine from his remarks and his suggestions of big reforms that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon had never been at the War Office, but had always been a strong critic of that Office. He was glad the Secretary of State recognised that with regard to barracks he had to do as business men in civil life had to do with regard to their concerns, namely, to consider ways and means. Those who looked forward to substantial reductions in the Army had always taken the line 568 that those reductions should not be made at the expense of the men in the Army. At the same time, they had to remember that there were tens of thousands of brothers and friends of those who joined the Army who suffered from bad housing and bad surroundings. He would resist to his utmost any attempt to make any difference betwen the civil and military conditions to the benefit of the latter, because, after all, the money devoted to the Army was found by the civilian. It was for that reason that many were reassured by the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that he was going to do exactly as he would if he were in business—make the barracks fit for the men to live in, but not embark on a large building scheme. The right hon. Member for Croydon had said that if recruiting stations were erected in main thoroughfares a better class of men would be obtained; but, in his opinion, no real benefit would accrue to the Army. They would have been much disappointed if the Secretary of State had embarked on a large scheme of barrack construction, because they were waiting for a substantial reduction in the number of men in the Army. That they had been promised, and to that promise they intended to keep the Government. The right hon. Gentleman had also stated that he was going to put the building on to the Estimates, and they therefore had now a guarantee that there would be some real economies. The right hon. Member for Croydon, when speaking of the possibility of rebuilding in London, had said these valuable sites might be sold for large sums of money, and that it only needed a little common sense and business ability to rebuild these barracks and effect economies at the same time. The right hon. Gentleman must have known that common sense and business ability had long been strangers to the War Office. Still, if sales could be made of these valuable sites and barracks built elsewhere it might be beneficial. The main point, however, that satisfied him was that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State was not entering into any large building scheme.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said he did not know why the hon. Member for Burnley had spoken as he had. He took a totally different view from the hon. Member as to the housing of the Army. 569 He thought it was our duty to house our soldiers well, and he would like to see followed in this country the system which obtained in Franco, in the housing of the Republican Guard, whose barracks were a model. He denied that he had advocated any largo scheme of barrack expenditure. He had said he thought the expenditure for the existing barracks was excessive. All he suggested was that by a judicious use of the property we had we could get good buildings instead of bad ones. He had given instances whore the Army had properties in the centres of our great cities where we had barracks and where no barracks ought to be, and his suggestion was that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State should lose no opportunity of getting rid of those barracks and putting up others where they could be erected more cheaply. His view was that they should ear-mark the sum received from sales of barracks for reconstruction. He entirely repudiated the suggestion that he advocated any large expenditure with regard to the construction of barracks. He had suggested a reform greatly needed, and one which was consistent with economy while it would add to the value of the Army. A man should be able to go into the Army as he went into the Navy. The hon. Gentleman had said that his suggestion would make no difference; but if the service was made more attractive they would get a very large number of the best class of men. What was the secret of the recruiting of the Royal Marines? The answer would be readily found if they examined the conditions under which the men entered that service. They would find men serving in that arm whose fathers and grandfathers had served there before them.
said he could supply the earlier chapters of the story of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon had given the conclusion with reference to the barracks in London which he had condemned so strongly. He happened to be in command of a battalion at one of those barracks only a few years ago. At that time he brought Lord Rowton and his builder down to inspect the barracks and give an opinion. He was thankful that that seed sown at hazard had been cultivated the right hon. Gentleman, and he was by 570 confident that as the the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon had left it at the War Office, the plant would be nourished and brought to maturity. The good housing and good treatment of the Army had more to do with its success than anything else. Anyone who had anything to do with the Army would bear him out when he said that getting value for the money expended had everything to do with the well-being of the Army. The hon. Member for Burnley did not quite appreciate the standpoint from which soldiers regarded Army expenditure. They did not desire excessive expenditure, but value for the money that was expended. They were always crying out for some system I which would give the country value for the expenditure incurred. So long as there was expenditure on the Army let the best value be obtained for it. He was quite certain we could not do better than by having a reasonable and sensible system of building barracks. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for the explanation which he had given, but he would venture to go a little beyond the strict letter of the official voice. This Vote included details ranging from £20,000 for a barracks to £600,000 for instructional railways, and it would at once be seen how difficult it was to discuss these Estimates so long as they were presented to the Committee in this miscellaneous medley. With regard to the sewage farm at Aldershot the details wore not specified, but he noticed that the annual expenditure upon it was £20,000, whilst the revenue derived from it was only £12,000. It was impossible from the details given to form any idea of the financial operations that were going on in regard to this sewage farm, and on the face of it, it looked ridiculous to spend £20,000 a year upon something which produced only £12,000. As to the making of instructional railways, military authorities doubted whether the country obtained its money's worth out of them. The multiplication of toy military railways was indeed a doubtful policy. Foreign countries had abolished this form of military instruction. It was now imparted to soldiers through the medium of experience gained on the ordinary railway systems of the country. With regard to devolution, he had had considerable experience in one of the colonies, and he found that they 571 never had any satisfactory hold over the expenditure until they got practically an iron hand over the various amounts to be expended in each of the districts to which the devolution was given. A certain amount used to be allocated to a particular area, and then it was left almost entirely in the hands of the officer commanding to carry out the services. Under that system the commanding officer was given a special inducement to reduce his expenditure, because he was allowed to carry over from one year to another the unexpended balances. He believed that this was the system of devolution which now obtained at the War Office. He thought we had now got officers in command of large districts who were fully competent to administer a very considerable amount of the expenditure upon the services of the country.
§ *MR. MORTON
drew attention to the charge for the rifle range at Salisbury Plain. It was said that the land for this range had cost quite double its market value. As further expenditure was now being proposed upon it, he thought he was entitled to ask whether the same extravagance was being pursued, and what the total expenditure in connection with it had been. With regard to the sewage farm at Aklershot, he hoped his right hon. friend would take care that it was not allowed to pollute the Thames, and poison Members of the House of Commons. He wished to know the total cost of this Salisbury Plain business.
§ MR. LAMBTON (Durham, S.E.)
said he desired to emphasise the need of providing better barrack accommodation for the officers. An officer was supposed to be a man who was most highly educated. And yet there was no barrack-room where he could study his profession. There was a small ante-room in which it was impossible to spread out a large map, and if an officer wanted to look at such a map in order to follow military operations he had nowhere to go but his own bedroom, and this apartment, occupied as it was with uniform, etc., was of little, if any, use for these purposes.
MR. BELLAIES (Lynn Regis)
said he desired to call attention to the expenditure for the defence of naval bases. In 1903 there was a report issued which showed that the cost of defending naval bases 572 amounted to £10,000,000, and he thought that it was in this direction that a great deal of cutting down of expenditure might be effected by a little co-operation between the Admiralty and the War Office. When these military works were first started in 1897 Vote 10 amounted to £1,115,000, but it was now considerably more than double that sum, the amount being £2,253,000.
said the hon. Member was referring to the defence of naval bases, and, as he was informed these were not included in the Vote, they could not be discussed now.
§ MR. BELLAIRS
said fortifications-were included in Vote 10. In any case many of the works which had been undertaken on the insistence of the Admiralty had now been abandoned.
§ LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)
said he should like to say a word on behalf of the taxpayers of the country. He felt that the question of barracks was one of the most desperate which concerned the administration of the Army. There was no subject on which civilians had heard more than the total inefficiency of the Army barracks. He was not a military man, but if he were to tell the Committee all the stories he had heard about the condition of barracks he would take a considerable amount of time What was the cause of this? It was to outsiders a perfect mystery. The Secretary of State had admitted that barracks were very bad, but apparently he could not tell why they were. All that the right hon. Gentleman could say was that an enormous amount of money was wasted by the last Government. The barracks of the country were not built in the last ten years. They were built in the last half century, and long before the late iniquitous Government came into power, in the time of Mr. Gladstone the same kind of errors were made in the construction of barracks as were made in the time of the late Government. He asked the Secretary of State to furnish some reasonable hypothesis of why the Army should be so badly housed. Could not barracks 573 largely be abolished? He would himself be glad to see a wholly different system of Army organisation, under which j the soldier would be treated as an employer treated his artisans—allowed to live at homo and come every day to the military centre to his work. There was nothing so repugnant to the average Briton as being perpetually under discipline. Such a reform as he indicated would, he believed, increase the popularity of the Army, and not diminish its efficiency.
§ MR. HALDANE
said there was something attractive about the suggestion which had just been made, but he wished the noble Lord had given him a little assistance as to how it could be realised. The suggestion was really impracticable. From the necessities of the soldier's training he must live in barracks, so as to be always kept in hand.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said he quite agreed that what he suggested could not be done at certain periods of the year.
§ MR. HALDANE
said that men were constantly being moved from towns to the training places. He thought many of the Militia troops could live more at homo than at the present time, but the regular soldier must to a great extent live in barracks. He hoped the noble Lord would not think that he was disposed to hurl reproaches at the late Administration in an undue sense in this matter of barracks; it was quite unnecessary, because the late Administration were not always of one and the same mind. The work at Tidworth, for example, initiated by one War Minister of the late Government was arrested by his successor, he thought rightly, because it was framed on an enormously extravagant scale. He was going further than the right hon. Gentleman in improving Tidworth faster than he himself would be disposed to do. Rifle ranges were essential parts of military training, and as a matter of fact we had not enough of them; nor did he think the Government wore keeping them up on extravagant scale. He was asked why they had increased in 1906–7 the item of staff and salaries in the barrack construction department by £10,000. They had not increased it at all. They only took that amount which used to be charged to 574 loans and put it on the Estimates. The change was really a change in the form of the accounts, and represented no difference in expenditure.
§ *SIR W. EVANS GORDON
said the suggestion of the noble and learned Lord as to the abolition of barracks altogether was some what visionary, but he thought that some guarantee should be given to the taxpayer to prevent the recurrence of the costly mistakes in barrack construction. In his belief the cost and inefficiency of those works were due to the fact that their execution was entrusted to persons who were wholly unfit to carry them out. He did not know whether the suggestion originally came from the hon. Gentleman opposite or from his hon. friend below him; but his belief was that the nail had been hit on the head, and that in future these works, whether for repairing or total reconstruction, would be entrusted to really practical people who would safeguard the interests of the taxpayers and prevent the perpetuation of the hideous blunders which had been committed under both Liberal and Conservative Administrations. He did not wish to cast any reflection on the Corps of Royal Engineers; but it was notorious that, in all parts of the world, they had designed and erected buildings highly unsuitable and at very great cost. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War would, in future, see to it that properly qualified people were entrusted with carrying out these works. As the answer of the right hon. Gentleman had been unsatisfactory, he begged to move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £2,352,000, be granted for the said Service."—(Sir William Evans-Gordon.)
§ MR. MORTON
said that there was put down a sum of £681,500 for barracks and rifle ranges. How much of that was for rifle ranges and how much for barracks? He could not find it. Then there was the question about the sewage farm at Aldershot. Had the nuisance there been mitigated? It was a danger to the people of London.
§ MR. HALDANE
said that he was informed by his advisers that there was 575 no nuisance from the sewage farm. There had been considerable complaints in regard to the matter, but the nuisance had been mitigated to such an extent that the complaints had ceased to exist. As to the cost for rifle ranges and barracks the sum asked for was for new works, additions, improvements and certain replacements, amounting to less than £2,000;in all, £132,500.
§ MR. HALDANE
was understood to agree. The hon. Member opposite had taken exception to the way in which the barracks were built at the present time and to the fashion in which the buildings were carried out. He had pointed out truly that the Royal Engineers were the chief blunderers in barrack construction. One of the recommendations of the Esher Committee was that to a civilian should be assigned the duty of carrying out the work of construction of barracks, and the result was that the work had been taken away from the Royal Engineers. There had not yet been time to see how the new rule would work. But the main cause of the large cost of construction of barracks and other works was the constant change of policy. Until there was a fixed and settled policy in regard to the organisation of the Army the main sources of economy in Army expenditure would not be reached.
§ the criticism in regard to barracks. The complaint was not only of extravagance, but of total inefficiency. He was told that in both barracks and camps the drains were shockingly out of order. In some cases the walls of the barracks were so thin that the buildings were totally uninhabitable. No change of policy-could affect the provision of decent barracks and the curing of bad drains. It was a question of efficiency and not of policy. He should like to know when the new system began or was to come into, operation.
§ MR. HALDANE
said that the civilian staff had been working for eighteen months or a couple of years. The stories, as regarded the old barracks were true. Only last week there was a complaint about a barrack built in 1780. In his opinion the real policy for barrack construction was not to build them of too permanent materials, but of light materials; and time would prove how good they were. At present they were building stables on that plan, and he was not sure that that was a policy which was not susceptible of considerable development.
§ MR. LAMBTON
said that he knew of a barrack where the card tables provided for it were so large that they could not be got through the doors into the rooms.
§ Question put.
§ Committee divided:—Ayes, 19; Noes, 134. (Division List, No. 107.)577
|Acland-Hood,RtHn.SirAlexF.||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Smith,Abel H.(Hertford,East)|
|Arnold-Forster,RtHn. HughO.||Haddock, George R.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Hamilton, Marquess of||Vincent, Col. Sir C.E. Howard|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hill,Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)|
|Cochrane, Hon.Thos. H. A. E.||Houston, Robert Paterson||TELLERS FOR THE AYES— Lord Robert Cecil and Sir William Evans-Gordon.|
|Fell, Arthur||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Forster, Henry William||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Abrabam,William (Cork.N.E.)||Bellairs, Carlyon||Brodie, H. C.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Benn,W.(T'w'rHamlets,S.Geo.||Brooke, Stopford|
|Adkins, W. Ryland||Bertram, Julius||Brunner,J. F. L. (Lancs.,Leigh)|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Billson, Alfred||Burke, E. Haviland-|
|Baring,Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Bolton,T.D (Derbyshire,N.E.)||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Bramsdon, T. A,||Byles, William Pollard|
|Barnard, E. B.||Branch, James||Chance, Frederick William|
|Beaumont, W. C. B. (Hexham)||Bright, J. A.||Cheetham, John Frederick|
|Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)||Hodge, John||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Horniman, Emslie John||Paul, Herbert|
|Clough, W.||Hyde, Clarendon||Philipps,J.Wynford(Pembr'ke|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Jackson, R. S.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.||Price,C. E. (Edinburgh,Central|
|Corbett,CH(Sussex,E.Grinst'd||Kearley, Hudson, E.||Radford, G. H.|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Kekewich, Sir George||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Cox, Harold||Kelley, George D.||Rees, J. D.|
|Cremer, William Randal||Kincaid-Smich, Captain||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Crooks, William||Laidlaw, Robert||Rowlands, J.|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol.S.)||Lambert, George||Sears, J. E.|
|Devlin,CharlesRamsay(G'lw'y||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid||Shaw, Rt. Hon.T.(Hawick B.)|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh,S.)||Lehmann, R. C.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Duckworth, James||Lewis, John Herbert||Stranger, H. Y.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Lough, Thomas||Steadman, W. C.|
|Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Lupton, Arnold||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Elibank, Master of||Lynch, H. B.||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Faber, G. H. (Boston)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||MacVeigh,Charles(Donegal,E.||Summerbell, T.|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||M'Kenna, Reginald||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||Maddison, Frederick||Thompson, J. W. H(Somerset,E|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Mallet, Charles E.||Tillett, Louis John|
|Grant, Corrie||Marnham, F. J.||Torrance, A. M.|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Molteno, Percy Alport||Verney, F. W.|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Morrell, Philip||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Morse, L. L.||Walters, John Tudor|
|Hardie,J.Keir (MerthyrTydvil||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Wardle, George J.|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Newnes, F. (Notts.,Bassetlaw)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Nicholls, George||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Hazleton, Richard||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary Mid.)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Hedges, A. Paget||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Connor,James (Wicklow,W.|
|Herbert, Colonel lvor(Mon.,S.)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||O'Malley, William|
Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ 6. £132,000, Establishments for Military Education.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 7. £77,000, Miscellaneous Effective Services.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
thought that they were moving too quickly. On the last Vote several Members had endeavoured to catch the Chairman's eye. Upon this Vote he thought they were entitled to know what these Miscellaneous Services were. They had had no explanation in regard to them. During the last Parliament great complaint was made that they voted enormous sums without any question having been put, and without discussion. 578 He thought they were entitled to some explanation in regard to this £77,000.
§ *SIR W. EVANS GORDON
said he did not think that when he rose just before he had been treated quite fairly. The Chairman read out the Vote and did not look up to see if anybody rose to object.
The hon. Member is not entitled to criticise me in any way. I looked and did not see the hon. Member or anybody else rise, and I put the Vote to the Committee. There was no Motion down to reduce it, and there cannot be any criticism about my conduct.
§ *SIR W. EVANS GORDON
said he did not wish to criticise the conduct of the Chair, but he did feel that he sprang to his feet almost immediately upon the Vote being put. He only wished to mention one point, which he had no doubt would be of some interest to the Secretary of State for War, and it would, he thought, conduce to the rapidity of business if he were allowed to make the 579 few remarks which he wished to make. He did not know whether, upon this Miscellaneous Vote, he would be entitled to go into the question of the funds expended upon the examination of officers. He should like to make one or two remarks, if it would be in order.
§ *MR. MORTON
wished for some explanation of item A, "grants in aid of churches, schools etc., £1,150." He desired to know what churches and schools got this money. The Vote did not say to whom the money went, but he hoped all denominations got their share.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. BUCHANAN,) Perthshire, E.
said that these grants, he was informed, were given impartially to churches or to nonconformist bodies from whom soldiers and their children received benefit. The £1,150 was only an estimate of the amount which would probably be required during the course of the year in different localities from time to time.
§ LORD R. CECIL
thought the Committee ought to have a little more information, because, although the item was small, there seemed to be an important principle involved in it. The State apparently, in places where soldiers were quartered, contributed something towards the charities of the churches which ministered to them and their children. He thought the Committee were entitled to some explanation of the way the money was distributed, because it had a bearing upon another very important discussion which was going on in the House. This seemed to him to be a sort of pan-denominationalism.
§ MR. HALDANE
said it was obvious that the Estimate was not formed on any lavish lines. When soldiers were stationed in country and other districts 580 it was necessary that their religious needs should be attended to, and the State contributed the sum of £1,150 for this purpose.
§ MR HALDANE
did not see how it was possible to give details as to the particular needs of the year in different quarters of the country.
§ *MR. MORTON
asked what was included under the term "etc." The late Joseph Hume said a great deal might be covered by that term, and that he found on inquiry on one occasion that it meant sherry and biscuits.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
called attention to the increased cost for postal and telegraphic services in the Army. Were the speeches of his right hon. friend telegraphed to the various stations of troops at home and abroad like those of the Under-Secretary of the Colonies? There was a useless expenditure on telegrams, when letters through the penny post would often serve the purpose just as well, as he knew from experience. The Financial Secretary to the War Office, who was a great economist in the past, would perhaps explain how it was that the postal and telegraph expenses had gone up by £1,700.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said the hon. and gallant Gentleman was aware that these Estimates had been largely recast, and in inaugurating the new system it was found that a sufficiently large sum was not estimated for. Therefore a larger sum was inserted in this year's Estimate. With regard to the sum granted in aid of certain churches, etc., it was a contribution in cases where there was no actual church existing.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said he did not attack the amount of the Estimate. In his opinion it was a very proper payment. He only wished that the War Office in this matter would impregnate the Education Office. This was a very proper contribution towards the upkeep of denominational institutions which were carrying on spiritual work in this country. What surprised him was that not a word 581 of protest had been raised by hon. Members opposite who represented the Nonconformist conscience, and who, if this charge had happened to come upon the rates instead of on the taxes, would have gone to prison as passive resistors rather than pay a shilling towards the upkeep of a form of religion which did not please them. He only hoped that after this they would hear less of the great wickedness of spending public money on the upkeep of religious denominations.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ [Mr. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid.) took the Chair.]
§ 8.£1,694,000, Half-pay, Retired Pay, and other Non-Effective Charges for Officers, etc.
§ 9.£ 1,684,000, Pensions and other Non-Effective Charges for Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, Men, and others.
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he had considered the question of adapting Chelsea Hospital to more satisfactory purposes than it now fulfilled. If the right hon. Gentleman inquired he would find that the life of the pensioners there was not particularly desirable, and that the considerations which led to the removal of the naval pensioners from Greenwich applied with oven greater force to the pensioners in Chelsea Hospital. He believed that with a little management the whole of the pensioners might be removed to happier surroundings, and he therefore hoped the right hon. Gentleman would carry further the inquiry, which had been already made, and bring it, if possible, to a satisfactory conclusion.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said he was encouraged to raise the question of compensation to soldiers for injuries sustained when not on active service by the fact that the Secretary of State for War had earlier in the day expressed himself as being anxious that the Department over which he presided should be model employers. A soldier who met with an accident when on active service received a gratuity on a fixed scale, and if he lost 582 his life a limited number of his dependents received compensation. A soldier engaged in quasi-civilian employment, however, did not stand on the same footing. The other day a Question was asked in the House as to a farrier who when out with the Yeomanry was kicked by a horse and permanently injured. After his three months training he was unable to carry out the civilian duties in which he had been previously employed, and he received no compensation whatever. Had he been a civilian instead of a soldier he would have been entitled to receive the value of half his wages for the rest of his life. In this matter he did not think the Department could be altogether regarded as model employers, and there was room for bringing them into line with civilian employers. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman to look into the question. To a Bill now under discussion in Grand Committee he had put down an Amendment which he believed would meet the point, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would use his influence so as to enable the soldier when injured in civilian employment, such as an arsenal, to be treated as well as a civilian working by his side.
§ MR. HALDANE
said he was busily engaged in considering the point last raised. The question was a very complicated one as the occupation of the soldier was very different from that of the civilian. The question raised by the right hon. Member for Croydon was receiving careful attention. Chelsea Hospital and the adjacent site of the Duke of York's School opened up a large question. Chelsea Hospital, after all, was a national institution, although it might be said that nowadays it was not the best way of making provision for the old soldier. As to the Duke of York's School, a building was being put up elsewhere, and careful inquiry was being made as to what was best to be done with the site of the school at Chelsea.
§ LORD R. CECIL
drew attention to the item of £538 for the chaplain at Chelsea Hospital, which amount was made up as follows—pay,.£411; £18 in lieu of servant, £9 in lieu of light, and £100 for assistance. There was a very mysterious item on another page, £3 for an orderly for Presbyterian services. He should be 583 glad to be told exactly what that item meant. There was also a very considerable item, £6,343, for schoolmistresses. Were they attached to the Army, or were they brought in from outside, and to what denomination did they belong?
§ *MR. MORTON
asked whether the chaplain at Chelsea Hospital was a Nonconformist, or whether the poor old pensioners had definite Church teaching shoved down their throats. He knew several old soldiers from Sutherlandshire who would naturally be Presbyterians, and they ought not to be led astray by definite Church teaching. The cost of the staff connected with the management of Chelsea Hospital was £29,100. That certainly seemed to be an extraordinary sum to pay simply for the official staff in the office to look after, he presumed, the governor, deputy governor, and secretary. He desired to point out the item of £100 for allowance for the master of Kilmainham Hospital for garden expenses, in addition to his pay and allowances as Field Marshal Commanding the Troops in Ireland. What a Field Marshal had to do with a garden he could not understand. He did hope the Secretary of State for War would cut off such an extraordinary allowance, and would not allow the Commander-in-Chief to hold the office of master of Kilmainham Hospital. Either he neglected the one office, or else the other, and probably both. A man who was getting £5,000 or £6,000 a year, and in addition free apartments, fuel, and light, ought not to come on the nation for £100 a year to keep up his little back garden. He was not even sure whether there was a garden there.
§ MR. HALDANE
said Kilmainham Hospital was really an institution which was founded a long time before Chelsea Hospital in the reign of Charles the Second, and in which a number of old pensioners had lived for a long time past. By an economical arrangement it had been assigned as a residence of the General Officer Commanding the troops in Ireland, and the allowance for garden expenses was simply part of the sum allowed for the upkeep of his house. The rest of the items related to the hospital, which was inhabited by the old pensioners. The case of Chelsea Hospital was very different. He agreed 584 that the item of £29,000 looked formidable, but that was not the cost of running the hospital. The largeness of the sum was because of the great staff which was required to look after the whole non-effective Vote to Army pensioners, which otherwise would have to be done at the War Office. The present arrangement was a very convenient one. The pension list was investigated very thoroughly at Chelsea, and quite as well as it would be at Pall Mall. Considering the enormous amount of complicated work that had to be done he did not think the cost was excessive. Coming to the item for chaplains, he admitted that it looked as if the Army Council managed its affairs on a somewhat different footing from the Education Department, and no doubt it did; but then the Army Council was a body which was very large-minded and took a very comprehensive view of all sections of the clergy. The Army Council superintended the spiritual welfare of all, without distinction of party and without bias. They did not waste money on buildings. The other day he visited one of the smaller establishments, and found a very useful hall, which obviously through the week served the purpose of a gymnasium, and on Saturday night was used for theatrical purposes, after which it was converted so as to be used for religious services on the Sunday. He thought the Committee would do well to leave the Army Council, which, after all, managed these things satisfactorily, the latitude they at present possessed.
§ MR. FORSTER
said that for some years he represented the Treasury upon the Board of Chelsea Hospital. One reason, he thought, why the vast amount of pension work was better done at Chelsea than it would be at Pall Mall was the fact that a Treasury eye was kept upon the expenditure. Speaking from a very close experience of the work done in Chelsea Hospital, he could say that it was done as carefully and as efficiently as possible. The sympathy shown for the men as well as the pocket of the taxpayer was worthy of all praise.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said he was surprised that such a staunch friend of the Irish cause as the hon. Member for 585 Sutherland knew so little about the Kilmainham Hospital. The hon. Member had made inquiries about the garden there. He might inform him that there was an excellent, spacious, beautiful garden attached to the hospital, and if the hon. Member was desirous of finding a suitable place to spend his leisure he would recommend him to go there. The Secretary of State for War had given some interesting details as to the way worship was carried on, but he had omitted to say anything about the history of Kilmainham Hospital, over which he would like the right hon. Gentleman to cast his Scottish eye. He was told that the luxury and splendour of Kilmainham Hospital would do credit not only to the Viceroy of India but to the Emperors of Hindustan. He was also told that there was wine galore at Kilmainham Hospital, but he did not know who paid for it. If anybody wished to enjoy good old Irish hospitality of an eighteenth century pattern they could not do better than go to Kilmainham Hospital.
§ *MR. MORTON
said it was obvious from what the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool had said that this was a very serious matter, after all. He was rather astonished at the extravagance which had been alluded to, because the money wasted would be far better spent amongst the poor peasants of Ireland. With regard to the services, he understood that the Presbyterians did not trouble about this Church teaching, because they went out into the woods. He wished to point out, however, that in Chelsea Hospital if they did attend Church they had to listen to this definite Church teaching. He would later on turn his attention to this hospital. He noticed that there was an English Church chaplain and a Roman Catholic chaplain. If Kilmainham was not a hospital why did they want, all these officials. Page 106 of the Estimates was covered with officials, and if Kilmainham Hospital was simply a home for the Feld-Marshal commanding the troops in Ireland he failed to see why all these officials were necessary at all. He thought his right hon. friend might easily effect an economy here and insist on the Field-Marshal living upon his salary.
§ MR. HALDANE
said it was obvious that the officers referred to belonged to some other part of the establishment.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 10. £180,000, Civil Superannuation, Compensation Compassionate Allowances, and Gratuities.
§ 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 Accounts Department, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1907."
§ MR. PAUL (Northampton)
moved to reduce the Vote by £100 in respect of the salary of the Secretary of State. He did so, he said, to call attention to the degradation of the office of Judge Advocate-General. By making that functionary subordinate to the War Office instead of independent of it, and responsible only to this House, the British soldier had been deprived of his one independent court of appeal. The Committee were no doubt aware that no court of justice could interfere with the decision of a court martial. That could be revised by the Judge Advocate-General, and by him alone. The Secretary of State had said that he himself was responsible to this House, and that, therefore, the authority of this House was preserved. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not consider him discourteous if he said that was a sham. It was impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to revise all the sentences of courts martial. There was no man with whom he was more reluctant to come into any sort of agumentative collision than the right hon. Gentleman. He had known him for thirty years, and what motive he had for defending this nefarious job perpetrated by his predecessors he could not imagine, but he was perfectly certain that it was not an unworthy one, for it was a characteristic of the right hon. Gentleman that he preferred the public interest to his own personal interest. The right hon. Gentleman had two favourite words — "continuity" and "efficiency." Continuity might be a very good thing if it meant perseverance 587 in well-doing, but if it meant the permanence of jobs, it could not be too strongly condemned. As to efficiency, they all desired that every public department in the State should be efficient; but that was a mere platitude, and a platitude was the last thing that would ever come from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman. He had, therefore, to look about for some other meaning of the word. The right hon. Gentleman was a great German scholar, and it was said that he could think in German. No doubt great efficiency prevailed in the public departments of Germany, with the result that the members of the Reichstag might talk as long as they pleased without affecting in any respect the administration of any single Minister whom the German Emperor chose to name. Humble folk who spoke English had to consider their responsibilities as Members of this House to the people who sent them here. They were not disposed to be under the sway of the gentlemen at the War Office, but they were, he thought, prepared to teach them that their masters were the people of the United Kingdom. Under the old system the Judge Advocate-General was responsible to the House, had direct access to the Sovereign, and was a Privy Councillor. When he raised this question before, the right hon. Gentleman was pleased to be very sarcastic with him for attaching any importance to the fact of the Judge Advocate-General's being a Privy Councillor. He (Mr. Paul) did not mean that it was important on account of some ridiculous snobbery as to the address on an envelope, or who should go first out of a dining-room. He attached importance to that distinction because it made the right hon. Gentleman independent of the War Office and responsible to this House alone. He must confess that when he last raised this question on the Motion for the Adjournment for the Easter holidays he was convicted of a blunder. He said then that the Report of the Esher Committee had not recommended that there should be any change in the character and functions of the Judge Advocate-General. He was wrong. He fell asleep in reading the Committee's Report. He was a bad sleeper, and he could confidently recommend that Report to any hon. Gentleman 588 who wanted an admirable soporific. But if he had persevered to the end, if he had got through the remarkable letter in which the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the City of London was favourably compared as a military strategist with the Duke of Wellington, he did not think it would have done him much good, because he would not have discovered how a brilliant luminary at the Admiralty, an extinct light of the War Office, and Viscount Esher combined had power to alter the Constitution of this country or repeal the statutes of the realm. The Committee said:—All that is now required is a competent legal adviser to revise the proceedings of general and district courts-martial, and to give such legal advice as the Army Council may desire.There it was! When the Judge Advocate-General was independent of the War Office, he sometimes gave advice which the War Office did not desire. He was in the habit of reversing the decisions of courts-martial at the average rate of three a week; and as he never interfered except in case of manifest injustice, it was evident that the present state of things might involve the conviction of three innocent soldiers every week. This was not merely a constitutional question. The appointment of Mr. Milvain was not only unconstitutional, but flagrantly illegal, and by this degradation of a great office numbers of British soldiers were placed in imminent and constant peril. The office was a statutory one which could only be altered by statute. There were other statutes affecting the office of Judge Advocate-General. The Parliamentary Reform Act of 1867 provided that a Member of this House holding office under the Crown, on being transferred to another office, was exempted from vacating his seat and seeking re-election. For the purpose of carrying out that object, the second Schedule of the Act set forth all the offices of profit under the Crown which vacated the seats of those accepting them, and which were at the same time tenable by Members of this House. Among those offices was that of Judge Advocate-General. He respectfully submitted that this, if nothing else, made the Judge Advocate-General's office a statutory office, and that no authority 589 short of Parliament, as expressed in an Act of Parliament, could alter it in any respect or degree. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, with his many accomplishments, was somewhat disposed to under-rate Imperial minds. He had endeavoured, to extract from the right hon. Gentleman some constitutional information in the usual Parliamentary manner by putting Questions on the Paper; but he found that he was going rather too fast; that he was making a constitutional rake's progress. He had given up that method of extracting constitutional information when he found that an office created by one statute, and regulated by many other statutes, was not a statutory office, and that to remove a Minister holding an office by the pleasure of the Crown would be equivalent to the repudiation of the National Debt! Accordingly, he had devoted such poor intelligence as he could command to studying this question by the light of nature; and he had found that it was not quite so difficult as he had supposed. This office, he discovered, was an old constitutional office, entirely independent of the War Office— a post which he had no doubt the War Office very much disliked, because its holder was responsible to this House, and to this House alone. The first change was made during Mr. Gladstone's last Administration. He did not want to mention names, especially the names of dead men, as that might give pain; but it was notorious that this office of Judge Advocate-General had not always been entrusted to the best possible hands. It was sometimes given to a man who was not at first included in the Ministry, and who was not qualified by social rank to be Lord High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland! But there were two names he might mention, because they commanded universal respect in this House. One was the name of a Liberal, Sir George Osborne Morgan; the other that of a Conservative, Sir J. Robert Mowbray. These gentlemen held the office with great ability and distinction; and what they wanted was to have the Judge Advocate-General back again on the Treasury Bench responsible to this House and disregarding the idea of the War Office doing justice to the soldier—a lawyer eminent in his pro- 590 fession and accustomed to deal with evidence and to discriminate facts. There was nothing to prevent that change being brought about to-morrow by a stroke of a pen. The right hon. Gentleman could terminate the appointment of Mr. Milvain, and he had it on the authority of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that if Mr. Milvain were removed from office on grounds of public policy he would have no legal right to public compensation. Mr. Milvain might have a moral claim against the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for the City of London and for Croydon, who misled him as to their legal power, although, after all, if Mr. Milvain did not believe them, what were they to think of their prudence, and if he did believe them, what were they to think of their law? In any case he believed that that moral obligation would be immediately discharged. In 1892, this office having fallen into some disrepute, a Judge of the High Court of Justice was asked to undertake it, without salary. They had it from the present Prime Minister, who was then Secretary for War, that that appointment was intended to be only a temporary one. That Government, however, was short-lived, and their successors continued the appointment for ten years. He did not think that the appointment of Sir Francis Jeune to be Judge Advocate-General could be altogether defended, because, being a Judge, it was impossible to make him responsible to Parliament; but he was—and this was the most important point of the two—absolutely independent of the War Office. On September 14th last year Sir Francis Jeune, then Lord St. Helier, addressed a letter, after the appointment of Mr. Milvain, to the present Attorney-General. He thought it was rather to be regretted that, when a question of this great constitutional importance was raised, neither of the Law Officers of the Crown was in his place. In that letter to the hon. and learned Member for South Leeds, who had expressed a very strong opinion that the appointment of Mr. Milvain was constitutionally wrong and legally bad, Lord St. Helier said that it was essential to the efficiency of his office that the Judge Advocate-General should be wholly independent of the military executive. 591 He maintained that such an opinion from an eminent Judge, who had held this office for thirteen years, was infinitely more valuable than any report of the Esher Committee, which was, after all, only a Departmental Committee. The question was raised in this House on March 17th, 1904, † when the present Prime Minister, who was then Leader of the Opposition, said that the great matter was to have an independent person of sufficient authority and independence to retain the confidence of the Army. Lord St. Helier having died on April 9th last year, why was Mr. Milvain not appointed till September? Was it because Parliament was not sitting, and that even the late House of Commons might have had something to say if they had been told of this most nefarious job? He had nothing to do with the personal qualifications of Mr. Milvain. He was told that Mr. Milvain had been Chancellor of an ecclesiastical diocese; and it might be that the late Government thought that, having been in charge of a portion of the army of the Church militant, he was thereby qualified to command or to advise for legal purposes the more secular forces of the Crown. Everybody supposed he would stand again for Hampstead. The letters patent appointing him were, he was told, regarded by lawyers as a legal solecism, limiting, as they did, the power of the Crown to retain his services, which were to terminate on his attaining the age of seventy years. The document did not, however, even give Mr. Milvain the right to retain the office until he reached the age of seventy. How could a man holding an office tenable with a seat in this House be a permanent member of the Civil Service? How could he come under the statutes which regulated that service? If he could the late Government might have made their Law Officers permanent officers of the State under letters patent. He could conceive even so great a personage as the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Croydon, when he was Secretary of State for War, saying —and it would only be characteristic and true, "There has never been a War Minister like me before. There is not likely ever to be a War Minister like myself again. I will give myself the one† See (4) Debates, cxxxi., 1490.592 thing which nature has not given me, and that is fixity of tenure. I will humbly recommend His Majesty"—he supposed the right hon. Gentleman is formally humble to his Sovereign—"to make me permanent Secretary of State for War for life." Then the right hon. Gentleman would be like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but standeth firm for ever. Could the Minister for War contend that if such a document had been issued by the right hon. Gentleman, it would have prevented the country from enjoying his own services at the present moment? Of course not, because the first thing which the Government succeeding that to which the right hon. Gentleman belonged would do would be to advise His Majesty to cancel those letters patent and appoint another Secretary of State for War. He could not understand why the Government had not advised the Crown to cancel the letters patent and appoint a new Judge Advocate-General. This was a question between the War Office and the House of Commons. If this appointment was confirmed the War Office would have established its authority over this House and hon. Members would be reduced to the position of members of the Reichstag or the Duma. Then the illustrious persons who condescended to govern the country might do anything they pleased by letters patent, and if the House of Commons presumed to interfere they would be told to mind their own business. He remembered reading a story about the late Sir Robert Herbert, who said of his chief at the Colonial Office—he thought it was Lord Kimberley—
When I ask him what the House of Commons will say, he always replies, 'Oh, damn the House of Commons.'But the House of Commons would not be damned. He appealed to hon. Members to vote for the Constitution and for the principle that voluntary military service did not take away the elementary right of personal liberty. The House of Commons was the sheet-anchor of personal liberty and popular rights; if that dragged they were lost. He was well aware that comparatively few soldiers had votes, but that was a reason why they should pay not less, but more, attention to their interests. He therefore asked hon. Members to vote 593 for his Amendment, and to vote for the British soldiers, who had been deprived of their only appeal from the tyranny of the War Office. He begged to move the reduction of the vote by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That a sum, not exceeding £558,900, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Paul.)
§ MR. HALDANE
said his hon. friend the member for Northampton was a great speaker and a master of rhetoric and had addressed the Committee with great conviction. He rose to address the Committee with equal conviction, although he did not possess his hon. friend's gifts. He had a plain statement to make. He would not have recommended the continuance of the existing arrangement unless he were convinced that the system under which justice was now administered in the Army was better than any system they had had for many a long year. Under this system as he found it, and as he maintained it, was justice administered under the control of soldiers or under the control of the War Office? Nothing of the sort. A lawyer had been appointed to devote his whole time and attention to the revision of these sentences. His hon. friend had not, and could not, attack Mr. Milvain's personal capacity. His hon. friend was quite wrong in thinking that this was a statutory office. This office grew up about the end of the 17th century, and down to the year 1806 the Judge Advocate-General was never in Parliament. It was purely an advisory office, and in the opinion of the most competent, authorities it continued an advisory office to the end. It was not the office of a Judge. From 1806 to 1893, with a few exceptions, the Judge Advocate-General sat in the House of Commons. It was a small office in point of salary and there was no definite prospect attached to it, and it came to be regarded as a somewhat easy-going office. The last occupant, in his evidence before the Committee, said his duties occupied him on an average only half an hour a day. The reason was that the work was always done by a deputy. In 1893 Mr. Gladstone found that the office, so far as the 594 work's being done by the Judge Advocate-General himself was concerned, had lapsed into somewhat of a sham, and he appointed a Judge whose salary was not in the Estimates. It was said the intention was that the appointment should be temporary; but it continued to the end of the Liberal Administration in 1895, and then continued right on to 1905. No doubt the Judge gave very valuable advice when his intervention was called for, but substantially the work was done by an official in the Judge Advocate's office. His hon. friend had referred somewhat slightingly to the Esher Committee, but that Committee contained some extremely capable men of business. Among a great many other changes that Committee recommended that the office of Judge Advocate-General should be reconstituted because they considered that under the then existing system the duties were inefficiently performed. They recommended that a lawyer of some standing should be appointed, and that upon him should fall the full responsibility of being Judge Advocate-General. He should not be in Parliament, where his duties would take him away from his work. He should give his whole time to the work, and the Secretary of State should be made responsible for his decisions. That recommendation was carried out by the late Government. It might have been a "job," but all he could say was he had found Mr. Milvain a most competent person. He was responsible to this House for what Mr. Milvain did. For twelve years there had been nobody responsible. During the interregnum from 1895 to 1905 a Judge of the High Court filled the office, but he was not responsible to Parliament, and there was no one responsible for the action of the Judge Advocate-General. The Esher Committee recommended the abolition of the abuse; and to-day the Judge Advocate-General was paid a salary of £2,000 a year, which was the same salary which the old Judge Advocate-General got, devoted the whole of his time to the work and surveyed the cases wholly free from interference on the part of soldiers. His conviction was that the new arrangement was infinitely better than the old. He was in daily contact with the Judge Advocate-General, and 595 saw his papers; and, if anything went wrong, he personally was answerable to the House for any miscarriage of justice.
§ MR. HALDANE
said the Judge Advocate General was a subordinate official of the War Office and for every official of the War Office he (Mr. Haldane) was here to answer. He could only say that the work which was done in the past by men of a different calibre was now done by Mr. Milvain who gave his whole time to it, and for Mr. Milvain's action he (Mr. Haldane) was responsible to the House. After all, the new arrangement was an economical arrangement, and if it was no better than the old arrangement he would say that that was a distinct point in its favour. In the old days a salary of £2,000 was paid to a Judge Advocate-General and a further salary paid to a deputy Judge Advocate-General. The same salary was now paid to the Judge Advocate-General but the office of deputy had been abolished. The change that had been made was not a new one, because they had simply gone back to the state of things that prevailed before 1806. The office was not a statutory one, for the statute to which the hon. Member referred had been repealed long ago, and moreover it did not create the office. In the Army Act there was no creation of this office, which was simply of an advisory character created by the Crown on the advice of Ministers, and it could be abolished in the same way as it had been created. The schedule of the Act of 1867 only mentioned this office as it mentioned half a dozen other offices which were not statutory. In August last year the Government of the day carried out the change, and the obligations which had been incurred could not be got rid of any more than they could get rid of the obligations flowing from a similar contract. When Parliament found that a contract had been made it was its practice to carry it out; and there was a contract with Mr. Milvain, constituted by a series of letters in the first instance between the Army Council and Mr. Milvain, and latterly by the 596 Treasury approving what had been done. Mr. Milvain was offered the office at a salary of £2,000 a year, with a pension at sixty-five or a gratuity. He was to be an ordinary civil servant coming under the Order in Council of 1870 and the Act of 1859. On July 6th last year the Secretary of State wrote to Mr. Milvain offering the post on condition that he devoted the whole of his time to the work, the appointment to be terminated at the age of sixty-five unless specially extended. There was to be an office and a staff, but it was proposed to make reductions in the office establishment. Mr. Milvain replied that he was sixty-one years of age, and it was not unreasonable that he should look forward to holding the office until he reached the age of seventy, but he was willing to forego all claim for pension. The Army Council then referred to the Treasury, and the Treasury wrote that they had no objection to Mr. Milvain's holding the office until the age of seventy, adding that there would be no claim for pension or gratuity on his retirement. Finally, the Army Council appointed Mr. Milvain, in a letter which constituted the contract, subject, of course, to continued efficiency on the part of Mr. Milvain for the duties of the post, until he attained the age of seventy, with no claim for pension or gratuity, and abolished the office of Deputy Judge Advocate-General. It was on these grounds that he appealed to the Committee for support, and not upon any technicalities connected with the filling of the office. He had had six months experience of the working under Mr Milvain, and he found that the system was working exceedingly well indeed, The work was being carried out thoroughly, and was being done with a searching knowledge which had not been shown in the office for a long time. Exercising the best judgment he could in this matter, he believed that the country had obtained a thoroughly good and thoroughly effective working system, and he would be sorry to see it disturbed for the revival of the old inefficient order of things.
§ MR. PAUL
said that the late Sir G. O. Morgan was always at his office from 11 o'clock to 4. This fact proved that 597 there was work in the office to occupy the attention of the Judge Advocate-General for a longer period than half an hour. He suggested also that it might be more convenient to appoint a third law officer of the Crown at the salary of the Judge Advocate-General, while as to a binding contract with Mr. Milvain, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman ignored the letters patent which did not give Mr. Milvain the office until he reached the age of seventy. He had listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and he gathered from him that the Treasury merely said that they had no objection to his retaining the office until he had reached the age of seventy. Of course not. Why should they object? Somebody had to receive the salary. But what they did object to was his receiving any pension, gratuity, or allowance on his retirement. Speaking as a mere layman, instead of, as they knew he was, a distinguished lawyer, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had told him most distinctly that he could not see that Mr. Milvain would have any
§ claim whatever. There were no doubt cases in which Departments made contracts which were morally binding upon this House; but when the Executive went out of its way, behind the back of Parliament, eluding the observation of Parliament, to make a statutory change of this sort, to the disadvantage of the soldier, he thought it was monstrous to say that the House of Commons was bound by a contract which it was entirely beyond the authority of the late Government to make. He believed that in accepting this appointment and the decision of the right hon. Gentleman to renew it, the House of Commons was allowing its functions to be abused [" No "], and was parting with the legitimate powers it ought to exercise. He had made his protest, and he was afraid, under the circumstances he could, do no more.
§ Question put.
§ Committee divided:—Ayes, 27; Noes, 110. (Division List No. 108.)599
|Abraham, William(Cork,N.E.)||Kelley, George D.||Radford, G. H.|
|Clough, W.||Lupton, Arnold||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Russell, T. W.|
|Corbett,CH(Sussex,E.Grinst'd||MacVeigh,Charles(Donegal, E.||Sullivan, Donal|
|Devlin, Chas. Ramsay(Galway||O'Brien,Kendal(TipperaryMid||Summerbell, T.|
|Duncan,C. (Barrow-in-Furness||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Grant, Corrie||O'Connor,James (Wicklow, W.||Wardle, George J.|
|Hazleton, Richard||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Hodge, John||Parker, James (Halifax)||Mr. Paul and Mr. Byles.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Brooke, Stopford||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.|
|Alden, Percy||Brunner.J.F. L. (Lanes..Leigh)||Forster, Henry William|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Fuller, John Michael F.|
|Baring, Godfrey(Isle of Wight)||Chance, Frederick William||Gibb, James (Harrow)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Cheetham, John Frederick||Gladstone,Rt.Hn.Herbert John|
|Beauchamp, E.||Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Beaumont, W.C.B. (Hexham)||Cleland, J. W.||Gordon,SirW.Evans-(T'rHam.|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Benn.W. (T w'rHamlets.S. Geo||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hamilton, Marquess of|
|Bertram, Julius||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Cremer, William Randal||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Crooks, William||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Billson, Alfred||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Bolton.T.D. (Derbyshire,N. E.)||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh,S.)||Herbert,Colonel Ivor(Mon.,S.)|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Duckworth, James||Higham, John Sharp|
|Branch, James||Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Elibank, Master of||Hills, J. W.|
|Bright, J. A.||Faber, G. H. (Boston)||Holden, E. Hopkinson|
|Brodie.H. C.||Fell, Arthur||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Marnham, F. J.||Taylor,Theodore C(Radcliffe)|
|Hyde, Clarendon||Molteno, Percy Alport||Thompson, J. W.H.(Somerset,E.|
|Jones, William(Carnarvonshire||Morse, L. L.||Tillett, Louis John|
|Kearley, Hudson E,||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Valentia, Viscount|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Nicholls, George||Verney, F. W.|
|Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Vincent, Col. Sir. C.E. Howard|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Price,C.E.(Edinb'gh, Central)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Lambert, George||Rees, J. D.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Rothschild,Hon. LionelWalter||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Samuel,Herbert L.(Cleveland)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Scott,A.H.(Ashton under Lyne||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Lloyd George, Rt. Hon. David||Sears, J. E.||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Lough, Thomas||Shaw, Rt.Hon.T. (Hawick B.)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Lynch, H. B.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|M'Kenna, Reginald||Stanger, H. Y.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Maddison, Frederick||Strachey, Sir Edward||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A Pease.|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.