§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Question [8th March], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. LEA
, continuing his speech, said with regard to the reduction of our military expenditure, that Members of this House must have viewed with alarm the growth of the Army Estimates during the last twelve years. When they realised that in that period the expenditure had almost doubled, it must be with regret that they noted that there had been no improvement as regarded efficiency. He had noticed a very strong desire, in London and in the country, to see a very great reduction in both the Army and Navy Estimates. He did not however, view a reduction in the Naval Vote with either complacency or sympathy. It must be remembered that we had to face an absolutely different military problem from that of any Continental Power. We were a great manufacturing country, dependent on other countries for our food supply; for that reason it was of paramount importance that we should keep our trade routes open, and that necessitated our having an important Navy. In his opinion the financial resources of this country could not stand the strain of the expense of an Army on the Continental pattern and an important Navy as well. Therefore, he had no hesitation in urging the House to press the right hon. Gentleman to give some assurance that in the next few years he would make a substantial reduction in the Army Estimates. In his opinion there never was, and never could be, any fear of an armed invasion of these Islands. In the first place the fighting force employed would have to be of sufficient magnitude to overcome any possible opposition brought against it in the first four or five days after it had landed on our shores. It was computed that such a force would require to be 40,000 or 50,000 men, and the amount 720 of shipping necessary to bring such a force over could not be massed at any foreign port without giving the British Admiralty ample time to mobilise the Fleet, and render any such attempt unsuccessful. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon had said that any continental nation would look upon the sacrifice of 10,000 men as a cheap price to pay for the occupation of one of our naval arsenals, but he thought that had the right hon. Gentleman been more familiar with the defensive works of our arsenals he would not have made the remark. If we were at war with a continental nation it would be unnecessary to bring an invading force to this country or to subject it to any force whatsoever, because when once we lost the control of the trade routes and food supplies ceased to come in we should be face to face with famine; invasion would be rendered unnecessary, and to maintain a great army at home to provide for such a problematical state of things was throwing a burden upon the country which it ought not to be called upon to bear. The Army of this country should be as small as possible in times of peace, but should, through its training and organisation, be capable of very vast expansion in time of war, but not such an expansion as the hysterical and frenzied expansion that took place in the spring of 1900, which resulted in large amounts of public money being wasted. At present the Army was largely over-manned, but the number of men borne on the strength of the Army very much depended on the course pursued by the particular Government in power. We had now some 20,000 men in South Africa. That was a great expense to the taxpayer of this country. The object of these men being there was to overawe the Boers who were disarmed. As soon, however, as the Chinese outrages took place the Boers were allowed to have arms for their protection against the Chinese marauders, and the result was that in the event of an explosion those arms would be used against the men who were there to overawe and keep down the Dutch. There was no doubt that the state of Parties in the present Parliament was due to a deep sense of resentment on the part of the people of this country at the growth of the naval and 721 military expenditure and many who sat on the Liberal side of the House were very greatly disappointed that in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War there had been no forecast of any reduction in the Estimates. They all realised that whilst this vast expense was going on the great social reforms for which the country was waiting were marking time; that it was impossible to carry them out while money was being spent and wasted in this unproductive fashion. It was not for him to say where reduction should be made, but the people required a reduction and he should have great sympathy with any Liberal Member who had to meet his constituents at the next election knowing that no great reduction had been made. The great reform, the only reform that they must ask for was to make the British officer earn his pay and live on it. The officer of the future must be a different man from the officer of the past. The military officer was not comparable with any other professional man in civil life in the strenuousness with which he learned and conducted his business. As an efficient servant of the taxpayer he was one of the greatest frauds that ever existed. It had been said that the British military officer was badly paid, but he was better paid than officers in any continental army and was less efficient. All the campaigns and expenditure in which we had been engaged during the last twenty years had commenced with a series of ghastly blunders, many of them being the result of inefficiency and the want of study on the officers' part, and those blunders had to be redeemed by the lives of our soldiers. We did not even learn from experience, because the blunders of fifty years ago were perpetuated in more recent times. The charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava had its counterpart in the charge of the Lancers in the Egyptian Campaign. The deploying of the guns in a very exposed position in Afghanistan was the prototype of the incident in the Battle on the Tugela in the last war, when Lord Roberts' son lost his life in attempting to recapture the guns there The blunder of Spion Kop was a mere reproduction of that at Majuba, with 722 this difference, that at Spion Kop the generals were at the bottom of the hill. No one could come to any other conclusion than that the success of our expeditions had been the result of the pluck and luck of our men. It was only that which brought us through. It certainly was not generalship, and the sacrifice of life and money would have been considerably less if those responsible had been more efficient and more conversant with their duties. He attributed the inefficiency of our officers to the training they received, which in his opinion was of the wrong kind, and he advocated the adoption of a system more nearly analogous to that adopted at West Point, U.S.A. He also suggested that there should be a much larger percentage of men raised from the ranks to a commission, and that promotion should be by way of selection and not by seniority; that an inspecting officer should visit the various regiments and battalions and work with them for a fortnight at a time, giving no notice of his visits, and that they should select for promotion those whom they thought most fit to be promoted.
§ MR. J. R. MACDONALD (Leicester)
said he desired to draw attention to the condition of labour in the arsenals, and to move, "That, in the opinion of this House, the conditions of labour in the Arsenals should be, as regards hours, wages, and right of combination equal to the best trade union private firm." In doing so he took the opportunity of thanking the right hon. Gentleman for the very generous and sympathetic references he had made in his very remarkable speech to the relations which ought to exist between the War Office as an employer of labour and those it employed. Labour Members generally would like the right hon. Gentleman to repeat in the House also some of the welcome assurances which he had given to deputations outside, and to enable the right hon. Gentleman to deal with one or two points, he would draw attention to one or two matters in connection with the Resolution he proposed to move.
The right hon. Gentleman was well aware of the conditions of labour in 723 the arsenals, but his remarks on that point did not quite cover the whole field, because there was a large body of labour outside these arsenals which required sympathetic attention much more than even the labour inside the arsenals. For the purposes of discussion this evening he did not propose to refer to those matters because they felt perfectly certain that the right hon. Gentleman would approach those matters from the point of view of reform. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would approach the subject of the underpaid workers and the underpaid women workers in precisely the same frame of mind as that in which he approached the subject of the better paid arsenal skilled worker. He dared say it was impossible to dissociate military control from a certain amount of particularism, a certain narrowness of view, and a certain amount of red tape. As an illustration, he mentioned what went on regarding new engagements at Enfield Lock and other places. When a man's application for a situation had been received he was ordered to be vaccinated. The right hon. Gentleman would not suppose that one of the Members for Leicester could allow that to go without a protest. The man was a week off duty, and got no pay. He had to pay for his own vaccination, although it was carried out by the doctor on the spot, and the dispenser, he was informed, sailing very near to what remained of the Truck Act, actually went round the shops and collected half-crowns from the victims whom the right hon. Gentleman had ordered to be vaccinated. He felt sure that the Minister who earlier in the day had made sympathetic statements about the relations between the Government and its workpeople would put an end to that. The right hon. Gentleman might take it that that was only one instance of many similar things belonging to a class of relationship which he hoped would soon be put an end to. In considering the question of Government employment in arsenals he would like to approach it from the point of view from which the right hon. Gentleman approached his task this afternoon. What was the idea of an arsenal? Why did we have arsenals? That was a question it would take a considerable time to explain 724 but one point that ought to be emphasised was that if the Government was going to have an arsenal at all it ought to be the most efficient machine for doing the work. Regularity and certainty of employment were necessary if that efficiency was to be obtained. They must adapt the whole machinery of the arsenal control so that the State would receive the most efficient service from the staff of men employed there. The essential condition of efficiency in the arsenals was a proper minimum wage. If the right hon. Gentleman made up his mind to treat the men as though he was a model trades union employer he could count on the support of the Labour Members, and count also on their protection against illegitimate pressure being put upon him. In that connection he reminded the right hon. Gentleman there were about 3,000 workers in Woolwich whose wages were under 24s. per week. In view of the expensive living in London he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would listen sympathetically to the request that the minimum should be raised to 30s. per week. He drew attention also to the methods of work under the War Office. He thought the War Office had been a little too fond of piece work in the most aggressive, aggravating, and objectionable form. Piece work was always work done in a rush, and men were actually engaged on piece work in the danger houses. The mere mention of this fact would, he did not doubt, set the Department on an investigation, which would result in the discovery of a serious grievance that ought to be remedied. He called attention also to some serious attempts to reduce the standard of pay for piece work. He cited several instances of what he regarded as attempts to grind down the wages of the men to the lowest point, and expressed the hope that the right hon. Gentleman would also institute an investigation into this matter. He was glad to find the right hon. Gentleman had committed himself to the recognition of trades unionism, but he was not sure how far some of his subordinates thought he had committed them. He had a letter written only the day before by one of the right hon. Gentleman's subordinates of the Royal Army 725 Clothing Department, declining to receive a trade union deputation in regard to the case of some men who had been discharged. He was glad a Wages Board was to be created, for, if fairly and equitably constituted, it would do an enormous amount of good. It would raise the level of labour and make the workman more comfortable as the Government servant. He suggested, however, that the right hon. Gentleman might adopt the course pursued by the Postmaster-General and inquire into the whole subject of the basis of employment and the organisation of labour. He begged to move.
§ MR. BARNES (Glasgow, Blackfriars)
seconded the Amendment, and said he wished to associate himself with what had fallen from his hon. friend as to the very remarkable speech they had heard from the War Minister that afternoon. They welcomed the slight improvements which had been effected, and took them as an indication of much more that would follow. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would find ways of dealing with the matter in a larger and more comprehensive way than had yet been done, so that the social and industrial measures which they desired might be passed through this House as early as possible in order to effect some relief from the burdens which the people had to bear. That result could not be effected unless there was economy on the one hand and a new source of revenue obtained on the other hand. Those with whom he was associated welcomed the desire manifested by the right hon. Gentleman to connect the Army with the civic and social life of the people of the country. It might be that these contemplated changes would not have as their first result the lessening of the risk of war; but ultimately they believed it would have that effect, as it would tend to introduce that feeling of responsibility on the part of the people of this country which must be brought to bear upon questions of that kind. He also welcomed the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman that the Department would be prepared to sanction a system of collective bargaining between themselves and the workmen. The workers had to thank the present Prime Minister 726 for doing, while he was War Minister, what he could to improve the condition of the workmen, it being largely due to the right hon. Gentleman that the workmen enjoyed the eight hours day. The right hon. Gentleman said then that the workshops of the Government ought to be as good as those of private employers in regard to pay and conditions of labour. To illustrate the present position he would take the case of one class of men engaged at Woolwich Arsenal, viz., the engineers. The average rate of wages of those employed by the first flight of employers in the whole of the London district was 41s. 5d. The minimum under which no man who was a member of the Society of Amalgamated Engineers could be allowed to take employment was 39s. At Woolwich Arsenal 90 per cent. of the men were only receiving 37s. 6d., and there were a number of men working at 35s. and less. Then the system of piece work was defective, and under it he had know men to work for 30s. a week. The system of fixing prices was also wrong, and he knew of one man who worked for thirty hours and got 8s. So far as he was concerned, and he thought he was voicing the opinion of trade unionists generally, they thought that a man, who had served seven years, at the termination of his employment should be brought to the standard rate of wages in his trade. While the best employers did not do so, there were many employers who paid from 2s. to 4s. less than the standard rate on the termination of apprenticeship, but who in no instance, so far as he knew and so far as the agreement between the trades union and employers were concerned, retained the wage below the standard rate after the age of twenty-three. But in the Woolwich Arsenal it was customary to pay these men about £1 or a guinea a week, and it was only with the utmost difficulty that they could get the standard rate of wages until five or six years after the termination of their apprenticeship. This was an insidious way of reducing wages, and one which might well be looked into. He had made an inquiry as to the practice in the Royal Dockyards, and he found that at Devonport, on the termination of a man's apprenticeship, he was paid only 2s. below the rate, and the full rate was 727 paid him at the termination of a year. The same was the case at Sheerness, and Portsmouth; and, at Chatham, the full rate was paid at the termination of the man's apprenticeship. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to at least bring the War Office conditions up to the standard recognised by the Admiralty. Still more important was the question of the chances of promotion to the men in the Royal Arsenal now as compared with a few years ago. There seemed to have been a disposition on the part of all the departments of State for the last year or two to ear-mark all the posts of trust for men of University training, and to debar workmen from the chance of promotion they used to have. He admitted that some time ago there was room for improvement. As an old Arsenal workman he knew from experience that kissing sometimes went by favour, and therefore they were not at all averse to some examination—competitive if they liked—in order to ascertain if a man were really competent for these important duties. The report of a special Committee which sat in February or March of last year stated that the Committee were of opinion that the classes referred to as managerial should form the Upper Division, and that the qualifications of all should, if possible, include a University education of a standard to be approved. It might be thought that a man could at least aspire to be a foreman. But the Committee's recommendation on that point was that a man must have a University education if he would aspire to that rank. In answer to their protest the men were told that men had educated themselves in the past and could do so in the future to a point fitting them for the highest possible positions. He ventured to say that that was a mere playing with words. A man who had the necessary qualifications and had taken advantage of the opportunities which were now fortunately open to him at the Woolwich Polytechnic and other places should have the chance of rising to positions of trust and responsibility. It would be an incentive to them to give better and more loyal service, and therefore would be not only in the best interests of the men themselves, but of the Army and War Office administration.
728 Amendment proposed—To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'in the opinion of this House, the conditions of labour in the Arsenals should be, as regards hours, wages, and right of combination, equal to the best trade union private firm'."—(Mr. Ramsay Macdonald.)Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. HALDANE
I have no exception to take to the tone of the mover and seconder of the Amendment. I have always felt that much of the difficulty which arises over these questions of wages and hours of labour is due to the abstract nature of the questions raised. I think the House will agree that a good many of the points raised by both hon. Members are points which it is impossible to debate across the floor of the House, but which are eminently adapted for discussion by such a joint Committee of the War Office and representatives of the men as we announced some little time ago we were prepared to appoint. We cannot bind ourselves by the discussions of such a Committee, but the result will have very great weight with me in coming to a decision as to what ought to be done. There are some other points which appeared to raise questions of another kind. There is the question of vaccination, which was raised by the hon. Member for Leicester. The origin of the system under which the War Office insist on the vaccination of the people who enter the employment at Enfield is that, some years ago, there was a scare and the men came and asked for it. The War Office provide vaccination at their own expense, and if a man is ill as the result of the vaccination the War Office give him sick-pay during that time. I am strongly in favour of vaccination in these cases as a preventive against an outbreak of smallpox, but, in asking for it, I recognise that the charge should come upon the public and not on the employee. We do not propose to alter the system, but I can assure the hon. Member that, if there is any case, as I gather there is a case, in which a fee of half-a-crown has been asked, it shall be very strictly dealt with. I agree with the hon. Member 729 that we ought to do all we can in our power to make the Arsenal a model of efficiency. I am very sorry that other calls upon my time in connection with the duties of my office have prevented me from spending quite as much time as I should have liked to do with the nationalised industry, but I do my best. As hon. Members know, we have swept away, as far as possible, the whole system of red tape which prevented men from having access to us for the purpose of having their grievances considered. I do not want every workman who has a grievance to come and see me; but my instructions are that a workman shall have free access to the person with whom he is in direct contact, that we shall lay down no abstract rules to prevent a trade union representative accompanying him, and that, in cases of grievances affecting classes of men or questions of principles, there shall be, if necessary, free access to the Secretary of State. We want to get at the truth of the matter. We wish to be model employers, frugal employers, it may be, but, dealing on the footing of the standard rate we wish to do everything we can to show that we are what we mean to be, model employers. It is my wish that the question of whether there is a satisfactory minimum wage at Woolwich Arsenal, and the question of the men who are receiving 24s. a week shall be brought before the joint Committee for investigation. With regard to the difficult question of fellowship piece work, the system was abolished in the case of lyddite shells, because I am perfectly certain it led to pressure. I shall be quite ready to look into the matter as it affects the handling of gunpowder, but other things that are done under the system, such as filling cartridges with cordite, stand on a different footing. So far as apportionment is concerned, that is a matter which we desire to look into. We have no interest in the matter except to see that everyone gets fairly paid for his labour. The system has been in existence for a long time, and it enables some men to earn a good deal of money which they might not otherwise earn. As to the question of over-staffing with superior officers, that is not a mistake the Government are prone 730 to make, because the Treasury look with the utmost jealousy at every superior appointment that is made. I do not think it is likely that there are too many superior appointments at Woolwich, but I am prepared to examine any representations that are made about slowness in the promotion of the men. For these superior positions we require men with scientific knowledge, though that may not be absolutely indispensable. Hon. Members will realise that they are appealing to the wrong person if they ask me to abolish scientific knowledge for a good deal of the work that has to be done. My life had been spent in preaching the necessity for better education and scientific training. I would like to throw open the Universities in England, as they are thrown open in Scotland, to the working classes. I would rather the working classes took advantage of the increased facilities that are opening up to them and obtain that scientific knowledge than that they should press me to appoint them to these posts without the scientific knowledge that in many cases is indispensable. There may be cases at Woolwich where there may be a better system of promotion. That is a matter I will look into. My whole desire is to get the best men for the important places. There is no distinction now between a man in one kind of coat and a man in another kind of coat; the distinction now is between brains. With regard to the clothing factory, I think there has been a mistake. I am told that the two men to whom reference has been made are kept on. We cannot discuss individual cases in this House; we can only discuss general questions, and I have given an earnest of the way in which I shall endeavour to deal with all matters relating to Woolwich Arsenal, Enfield Arsenal, and the Pimlico clothing factory. At Woolwich there are some things which contrast very well with what takes place at private yards. There is the 48 hours week system. If there are any big questions of principle, I and my hon. friend are always accessible, and we hope to have this conference going before very long, at which these and other thorny matters can be threshed out. That is the spirit in which we are handling the whole of the labour question, 731 and I hope we shall find we are all really of the same mind and are all working for the good of the community.
§ MR. CROOKS (Woolwich)
joined in the general congratulations extended to the Secretary of State for War upon his speech, and agreed absolutely with the rights hon. Gentleman that they wanted to deal with general principles. There was a question he wished to ask, and that was whether a man who had a conscientious objection to vaccination and had obtained an exemption certificate from a magistrate would be compelled to be vaccinated before he was taken on.
§ MR. HALDANE
I do not know, but if I had to decide the matter, I should say the man would have to be vaccinated. That would be my decision from the point of view of the good of the community.
§ MR. CROOKS
It is not unreasonable to ask you to pay him for the whole time. The man should be paid while the lymph is germinating.
§ MR. HALDANE
If a man who is in our employment has to be vaccinated, he is paid while the lymph is germinating. There seems to be some confusion about this, but if there is anything wrong I will see that it is put right.
§ MR. CROOKS
said there were one or two points to which he desired to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention. He wished to know if all the women working in the Pimlico factory were getting sufficient wages to keep them. He had been making inquiries as to who these women were, and he was told that they were mostly the wives of old soldiers who were given work as compensation for the good behaviour of their husbands. Preference was given to them in proportion to the size of the family, and a 732 widow with four children would have preference over a widow with one child. He had ascertained that these women were paid 11s. a week. He told one of the officials that he thought that wage meant starvation, and the answer he received was, "Yes, but it is constant." Of course it was permanent starvation. Too much importance might be attached to the scientific attainments of a young man, and much of his apparent knowledge might be matter of memory. He should, in addition, give evidence of being practically acquainted with the work. The wages paid in some of the departments were quite inadequate, and he attributed the higher percentage of accidents among the lower paid men to the constant domestic worry caused by insufficient payment. It was not to be expected that the Secretary of State for War should have personal knowledge of all the matters referred to, but it was a grievous mistake to rely upon figures giving the average rate of wages, for the average was often arrived at by including a number of highly paid officials whose services were not required. The average wage might be comforting to the fellow at the top, but it was no comfort to the fellow at the bottom. They had been promised sympathetic consideration, but that was not what they wanted. Sympathy was cheap. He used to be told that the cheapest thing they could get was advice, but since he had been a Member of Parliament he had come to the conclusion that advice had been outclassed by sympathy. When the Arsenal workmen heard of this promised sympathy to-morrow morning he expected they would ask the tallyman to let them have a suit of clothes on the strength of it. In times of peace when there were a lot of people looking around to find something to keep them out of mischief, the Government sent them down to the arsenal and gave them titles and they went round the works ordering people about. If those men did the same thing in private works the employers would send to the nearest police station to have them removed. The Treasury ought to keep a separate account as to the cost of these men. These men were called supervisors, and it was said that they were learning something. He did not mind this so much, 733 but he objected to the men's wages being cut down in order that these people should be found soft jobs. It was a wicked thing that such men should be there at all, with their titles and their salaries, because it meant grinding down the wages of the most useful workmen in the arsenal. It was no use saying that the Secretary to the Treasury would not stand it, because the workmen ought to be paid a proper wage. The Government had attracted the best workmen into their service because the men believed that Government employment was the best, but promotion was very slow, and there was a good deal of discontent, which was due to the fact that they were overstaffed with officials. When the question was investigated it would be clearly demonstrated to the right hon. Gentleman that there were many officials they could do without. It was all very well to say that the men could come forward and state their case, but they did not all possess the same amount of moral courage, and they all knew the influence of the overlooker. He hoped that the Secretary of State would accept this Resolution and that the Government would make up its mind to pay trade union wages and observe trade union conditions in all Departments. Of course they had the right to demand in return the best labour the men could give. They did not wish to increase the cost to the country, but the account ought to be separated, and so much put down for the work actually done and so much for the superfluous members of the staff. If this were done then they might be able to get decent wages for the poor women and the workmen, and also be able to deal with some of the pensioners. In the lyddite explosion it had been clearly demonstrated that piecework caused the death of those sixteen men. There was a big field in which improvements might be brought about in the arsenal, and the idlers ought to be told that the Government could do without them. If they got rid of about 90 per 734 cent, of the officials the workmen would be able to do the work better.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
referred to the discharge of men at Waltham Abbey. He should be glad to know if there was any prospect of a re-engagement of those men. Some of them had been for five or six years in the service and they were practically starving. He did not wish to press the right hon. Gentleman unduly in this matter, but he wished to know whether there was any hope for them or any prospect of being employed in the factory to which they had been attracted by the hope of Government work.
§ MR. HALDANE
said that the answer must depend on what supply of cordite the War Office required. The employment was spread as much as possible, so as to make it regular. But the War Office could not control the demand for cordite.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD
said he understood that more work was to be given to the Government factories than to private firms.
§ MR. HALDANE
said they had to consider workmen in other parts of the country as well as in Government factories. The War Office tried to maintain an even balance, but they were bound in the interests of the State to support these other factories, but they tried to do the best they could for their own employees.
§ MR. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
thought that in the speech of the Secretary of State for War there were grounds for hope that that economy would be secured which Liberals had preached to the people all over the country. He entirely sympathised with the remarks of the hon. Member for Leicester and with his Amendment. He thought fair wages could be found without increasing the Estimates if they went in for reductions of expenditure in other directions. He 735 should like to point out to the House the sources from which the money might come. The right hon. Gentleman on the Opposition Bench had asked where they could make those reductions without impairing the efficiency of the Army. He would like to point out that the garrisons in South Africa, Malta, China—
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Member must confine his remarks to the Question before the House, namely, the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Leicester.
§ MR. LUPTON
said that with reference to the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Leicester, the Secretary of State for War did not altogether touch the point with regard to the compulsory vaccination of the men in the works, and it was open to question whether he ought to force his views on this subject upon unwilling workmen. As far as the management of the works was concerned there was not the slightest reason why a man who went through a Government establishment should not become a most scientific engineer. Workmen, by studying in the evening, had educated themselves, and had risen to the highest positions, and he trusted that the way would be cleared for allowing the workmen to rise to the higher positions. It should be made essential that those who were placed in charge of the workmen should go through the humbler positions, and get a practical knowledge of their work, and that, combined with scientific knowledge, would give efficiency. Let the staff see that those at the top had gone through the various stages of labour, and then they would get much greater efficiency than they obtained at the present time. He sympathised with the remarks of the hon. Member for Leicester, and if any men were underpaid and were not getting a fair living wage he hoped the Government would set an example by removing any such blot from Government employment.
§ MR. LANE-FOX (Yorkshire, W.R., Barkston Ash)
said that first of all he should like to allude to the speech of the hon. Member for East St. Pancras. He believed that it was considered bad form for a new Member to be criticised in this House, but his excuse was that he started from the same level, because he was also a new Member. When an hon. Member of this House who had served His Majesty stood up and said that a British officer was not a workman in the sense that he was not doing work, that he was the greatest fraud on earth, and that this was due to the bad training he received at a public school, then he had no hesitation in saying that the hon. Member would come to regret that one of his earliest speeches in this House contained such a statement as that, which was absolutely unfounded. He regretted that the hon. Member was not now in his place, but he felt sure that all those who heard his speech would be ready to repudiate what he had said, and they would be ready to tell him what their opinion of him was. To pass to a more savoury subject, he entirely disagreed with the remarks he made and his covert attack upon the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. He should like to endorse the opinions expressed in the very remarkable speech which they had heard from the right hon. Gentleman representing the War Office. The appeal which the right hon. Gentleman made not only to the House but to the country would not fail to be responded to by those who took an interest in Army matters. He was afraid when the right hon. Gentleman spoke of decentralisation he might not always receive the encouragement he would like. If this matter drifted into the hands of some county councils, he feared that some would not be as enthusiastic as they ought to be. He was a member of the West Riding County Council. They had strong opinions on certain questions; he wished he could think their enthusiasm on imperial matters was as 737 strong as on some others. At all events, he hoped that if the right hon. Gentleman made an appeal to the country it would be successful, and that the country would rally to him and make the Army a truly national concern. The particular thing he wished to allude to was the disappointment it had been to him and some other Members that further reference was not made to the question of rifle ranges. The right hon. Gentleman had asked what forms of waste there were which could be done without. One was the waste of time and money and ammunition incurred by many members of our Auxiliary Forces, when they came to the range to shoot. It was not their fault or that of their officers, but because they had not had a proper opportunity of being trained and taught to shoot before they went on to the range to shoot their course. They knew this was not the moment to ask the right hon. Gentleman to incur expense, but they hoped when the Liberal ship did come in he would find an opportunity of spending money on this particular branch of the service, because he was sure it would save a great deal of waste that was going on at the present moment. A great deal was being done by means of Morris tubes and other devices, but that was not enough. In his own part of the world he did his best to have a rifle range started not many years ago. They got the land and a good deal of money given, and he believed they could have carried it through if they could have got more money. They wrote to the War Office when the late Government was in power asking for £150, and they were told there were no finances to provide the money. Had that £150 been given a rifle range would have been in existence for the use of Volunteers from a large tract of country, who would thus have been far more competent to go on the range and shoot their course. This was a distinct waste that was going on, and he hoped 738 the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to help our population to become what a great many wished—efficient servants of the State and soldiers. He desired to point out another item of expenditure which, if slightly increased, would give a much larger value. He referred to the sum in the accounts for the provision of horses and riding schools One thing which was much wanted in the Yeomanry was an opportunity of more riding parade before the actual training came on, and he suggested that the grant of £100 should be doubled. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman would give satisfaction throughout the country, because everybody would recognise they had had a promulgation from the Government Bench which would secure continuity of policy. He did not agree that it was a mistake to have a big Army and a big Navy. He assured the House he should go to bed that night with a very much greater sense of security and sleep better for having heard the speech of the Secretary of State for War, because he felt that the country was absolutely safe in his hands. He was sure that everything he had said would be endorsed by the Conservative Party to which he belonged.
§ MR. HALDANE
appealed to the House to let the Speaker now leave the Chair. The whole debate would still remain open, and he would be enabled to reply to the speeches which had been made. This he could not otherwise do.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.