§ 1. £490,000, Medical Establishment, Pay, etc.
§ MR. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)
said he need not, he hoped, 1564 apologise to the Committee for wishing to say a few words on this Vote; for it was. one that always recalled the most exciting and certainly the most difficult period of his own Parliamentary experience, and he thought he would show to the Committee that something still remained to be said on the subject. He trusted that, in: making his statement that had been so often quoted, that "he rejected all things that did not make for fighting efficiency," the right hon. Gentleman did not include in that category, or on the negative side of it, the Army Medical Service. Directly and indirectly the condition of the Army Medical Service had to do with fighting-efficiency. Directly, if it was a good service, because it kept the soldier well; or if he was sick or wounded got him well to fight again. Indirectly because however brave a soldier was, the knowledge that if he got sick or wounded he would have the best treatment, could not fail to give an underlying strength, a sort of remote force, to that courage. They did not know, no one could estimate, how far the scenes which our soldiers had witnessed in some parts and places of the South African War in connection with medical deficiencies—the want of nut sing, the want of doctors, the want of orderlies, even the want of shelter and food when suffering from sickness or wounds, might have tended to shake the nerves of those who felt that at any moment they might be added to that list. But here, he must be permitted to say what he had often said before, what he never said so plainly and strongly as at the time when some of his own friends seemed slow to understand his motives; that the system from which those deficiencies arose was not the monopoly or the fault of any one Party in the State. It had received the continuous and unhappy sanction of both Parties and of opposite Governments that succeeded one another; and if a great war had occurred with the Party opposite in office, no reasonable man could affirm that the lamentable results of that system which they witnessed in South Africa could have been avoided. And there was something more. A great deal had undoubtedly been done, and was done under the last Government, to remedy the defects which he had felt compelled to bring to public notice. It remained for the present Government to complete the work. The Committee would 1565 remember that in that heated controversy, three aims were kept in view. The first and most pressing was the amelioration of the conditions under which 20,000 sick and wounded soldiers were at that time lying in the military hospitals in South Africa. That aim was quickly secured, for immediately public attention was drawn to the matter a complete change took place in the hospitals concerned. The second aim was a permanent and organic reform of the Army Medical Service. That also was done by his right hon. friend who was no longer in this House —Mr. Brodrick. He might say that that Gentleman, however he might have been criticised for being in other respects a "reformer in a hurry," deserved great credit for the sincere and thorough maimer in which he carried out the reform of the Army Medical Department. All the evils under this head to which he (the speaker) had from the first called attention, had been taken in hand one by one, and wisely dealt with. The Service was no longer undermanned; the pay of the Army medical officer had been increased; the obstacles to their studying their profession, and many other unjust disabilities to which they were subjected, and which he had urged in his letters to The Times, had been relieved or entirely removed; the principle of promotion by merit rather than by seniority had been introduced; female nursing in war time, against which the Department had at the beginning of the war had an unreasoning and obstinate prejudice, had been sanctioned and provided; and last but not least, a civilian medical element had been admitted into the control of the Department. These were large and admirable reforms. But there remained a third aim which from the first he put in the forefront of his contentions; that was, to give such an elasticity to the organisation of the Army Medical Service that if this country should unhappily be called on to engage in a great campaign, a carefully thought-out scheme should be in existence and in working order to call to the aid of the Army the great civilian service, and to utilise it to the best advantage. Only when they had such a scheme would they be able to feel confident that it was impossible for the medical disasters of the South African War to be repeated. It was to this point that he wished to draw the right 1566 hon. Gentleman's attention, because as far as he knew, nothing had yet been done in this direction, or at any rate nothing had been completed. He strongly urged this point from the first because it seemed to him to afford a model for the policy this country ought to pursue in all Army matters, viz., that of restricting the standing Army within reasonable limits while giving it every power of efficient expansion to meet the demands of a great war. He thought no one had more clearly enunciated that policy than the right hon. Gentleman. Whatever might be the difficulties in carrying that policy out in some of the more highly specialised departments of the Army, the medical service afforded an admirable opportunity for it. They might not have an unlimited supply of artillerymen, engineers, scouts, and so on, outside of the standing Army, ready to be called upon at a moment's notice, but they certainly had an unlimited supply of efficient medical men and surgeons. And the spirit of patriotism which inspired these gentlemen during the South African War would always, he believed, remain. But the crux of the matter was organisation. As he had pointed out before in this House on more than one occasion, there were two ways of utilising civilian aid in time of war. The first and simplest way was to obtain civilian practitioners, orderlies and nurses, and absorb them, so to speak, for the time required, into the regular Army Medical Service. Even that required a scheme whereby they could be obtained quickly, their proper places in military hospitals apportioned, their relations to the Army medical officer and their temporary rank settled. There was no such system in the South African War. Medical men were obtained by advertisement. No time was given for properly examining their qualifications; or if time was taken it delayed their going out. The whole matter was tied up in red tape. A civilian surgeon with a practice bringing him in £4,000 a year, who came forward in a spirit of patriotism, was rejected, because he was forty-one instead of forty. When they got to South Africa there was no proper scheme for placing them. A consultant surgeon of great experience—he did not refer to the distinguished gentleman who went out in that capacity—was placed in a hospital with the rank of captain, under-with regard to the medical treatment 1567 of his patients—an Army medical major who had not one hundredth part of the civilian scientific knowledge of surgery. Yet his subsequent treatment of his patient and the question whether he should be removed or not the next day, was under the control of the Army medical officer, because he was a major, and the distinguished civil surgeon only a captain.
He (the speaker), on a former occasion referred to the great general hospital in Bloemfontein, where civilian medical officers were merged with the Regular Army medical officers, owing to there being no system whereby their proper relations could be ascertained. The friction between these two classes of medical men was so great that the hospital was disorganised, and the Surgeon-General in South Africa admitted that the friction must go on until the machine broke down. All this only needed a scheme settled beforehand between the heads of the civilian medical profession and the Regular department. He had dealt with one way of using civilian aid. And he gathered from the Memorandum issued with the Estimates that this method, viz., of absorbing civilian aid into the Regular Army Medical Service during war time, was the only one contemplated. The words of the paragraph were somewhat vague and it might be, and he hoped it was not the case, that much more than this was contemplated. Because there were two great objections to relying upon this method: First, they would not obtain the services of the highest class of civilian medical men. They would not consent to be placed under the Army Medical officers in the matter of the treatment of their patients. Therefore, only younger men would be retained— house surgeons, students, and so on; or what was more probable, they would get a large number of men who had been unsuccessful in civilian practice. The second objection was that this method, while it might satisfy the requirements of a campaign slightly beyond the requirements of the Regular Service, would never be equal to the demands of a great war. It would only overcrowd a limited number of units with a new personnel who would not be accustomed to their places and had never been practised in the different and graduated functions, on the harmonious working of which the efficiency 1568 of a unit depended. He therefore turned to the second method which he strongly urged upon the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman—that of solid civilian units properly organised and trained for a certain time in field service every year and ready, when the call of a great war came, to go out. He made this suggestion from the first because it was founded on experience. They had a splendid example of it in that great system of voluntary hospitals which played such an important part in the South African War. There was even a more notable example in the case of the New South Wales Army Medical contingent—a solid self-contained unit with field hospitals, bearer companies, tents, horses, and all requisite equipment—which did magnificent service wherever it went. The most distinguished medical men and surgeons in Australia were attached to it. They had organised it and taken part in its annual training in peace time; and when the war came they left their valuable practices and gave their services for nothing out of pure patriotism. He understood that a scheme, the first suggested, drawn up by a gentleman of great medical war experience—Dr. George Stoker—for the organisation of such civilian units in connection with the great hospitals in this country, had long been in the hands of the War Office. The whole system of the civilian hospitals in the South African War was due to Dr. Stoker's initiative. He suggested and helped to organise the first voluntary hospital. He suggested and helped to organise, and went out with, the great Irish hospital—which was Irish from its senior officers down to its rules—which did signal service in the war. A similar plan was subsequently urged by the distinguished Army Medical officer, Sir William Taylor, who was made Director-General of the Army Medical Service after the war. Speaking on October 17th, 1902, on this subject, he said—He hoped each medical school or combination of schools would equip, maintain, and administer units in time of peace which should proceed to the field in a state of complete efficiency for war when required. … He looked forward to the time when such medical organisation would not be fitful, and necessarily dependent on enthusiasm in time of public danger, but would be carefully organised at all times, so that the country might feel assured that, as far as human endeavours could go, everything was prepared and ready in time of peace for the most perfect care of the sick and wounded in time of war.1569 There might be other schemes than the one to which he had alluded. But the principle was what he wanted to get at—the principle of civilian units, organised, practised to some extent in field service, equipped sufficiently for such practice, with the full equipment ready at any time to be supplied them— prepared to go out to a war. Of course, when the call came there might have to be some changes in the personnel; but the framework would be there ready at any moment to be filled up. It required organisation. In the late war there was no organisation and no system. There was plenty of enthusiasm and plenty of patriotic devotion. He believed they could always rely upon these qualities, especially in the great civilian medical profession in this country. But they could not rely upon those who possessed them, for efficient organisation for war service at a moment's notice. This should be undertaken in peace time by the proper authorities; and be carefully thought out, prepared, and accepted by the civilian profession.
§ THE SECRETAEY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. HALDANE,) Haddington
said he should be the last to complain of the speech of the hon. Member. At the time of the war the hon. Gentleman performed a very valuable service in drawing the attention of the public to the real importance of hospital reform and to many matters connected with the medical service of the Army, and it must have been some satisfaction to him to have observed that, in the years which had elapsed since then, progress had been made. The hon. Member had referred to a matter of great importance, not only so far as the Army Medical Service was concerned, but the Army generally: namely, the policy of extension in time of war. It was perfectly plain that, with their increasing burdens, no nation— certainly not this nation—could bear the charges of keeping everything in time of peace upon the level that they had to be in time of war. Therefore they had to act upon the principle of asking themselves what steps they could take to prepare in time of peace things in skeleton so that they might be clothed with flesh when war broke out. The outbreak of war must be their test, and it was the only test which they could apply. 1570 He had given a general indication of his own views on that subject, and now came to the question from the point of view of the medical service itself. The very efficient Director-General of the Army Medical Service had had the matter to which the hon. Gentleman had called attention much under consideration lately, and a start had been made very much, he thought, on the lines alluded to by the hon. Member. They recognised that, in order to make the civilian doctor, for civilian doctor he would be for the main during peace time, efficient in time of war, he must go through a special training. Even the distinguished men who went out to South Africa at the time of the war found themselves very much out of it when they came to the special work which the Army surgeon had to do. He did not himself realise the reason of that clearly until he read the other day one of the latest treatises upon military hygiene. They could not in time of peace keep up the great body of men that would be necessary to do the work in time of war if there were any other way of getting them trained in time of peace so that they would be ready to spring into activity when war broke out. There was a sum of £4,500 in this Vote for a reserve of civilian surgeons, and what they proposed was to take 450 young medical men who were willing to enter the new Army Medical Reserve and train them. They would be subject to the rules that governed the employment of Reserve officers generally, and would have the rank of lieutenant on joining, with promotion to captain after three and half years satisfactory service. A practitioner joining the Reserve would have to undergo a course of special training at the depot of the Royal Army Medical Corps at Aldershot. During this time he would receive the pay and allowances of an officer of his rank in the Royal Army Medical Corps. If this probationary period of service was satisfactory, he would be confirmed in his rank and receive, in his second and third years, a retaining fee of £20 a year. He must, of course, do something for that money, and he would be called upon to undergo another period of instruction preparatory to passing the examination which was necessary for promotion to the rank of captain. During this second course, the duration of which would be one month, 1571 he would be paid as before. After promotion to the rank of captain, his retaining fee would be £25 a year. They proposed to limit the period of service in the Reserve to seven years, by which time he would have learned enough to make him, with his civilian knowledge, able to take the field with the knowledge that was requisite in these matters. The Reserve would primarily be composed of civilian surgeons, but they did not intend to exclude officers of the Auxiliary Forces and medical officers of the Volunteers, provided they were seconded in their Volunteer corps. These Reserve officers could resign their commissions under the usual conditions. They also hoped to get a certain number of Reserve attendants in the same way, and to make this medical department of the Army one which would turn out to be of great service in the future. The Committee would observe that they were increasing the Vote for the Medical Service. If they were to make the Army really efficient and really cheap they must get rid of the wastage as far as possible, and the increasing cost which came to the State in enormous sums through the men not being properly looked after. They had increased the Vote for nurses in like manner. He felt that this matter was only in its infancy, but they were making a beginning. The strides that had been made in this department of the Army were enormous. He did not think anybody who had not had his attention called to the subject could realise the immense changes that had been made for the better in the care of the sick in our Army. They had got the whole matter on to something like scientific principles, and they were reaching a stage at which, he thought, they would find that there really was a scientific system of looking after our soldiers. He was glad to think that, in the British Army, to-day, the same attention was being bestowed upon these matters as was given to them in the Japanese Army during the late war, and in Germany for a long time past, and the same anxiety was being displayed to improve the general condition of our men.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said that he was glad that the right hon. Gentleman had pursued the line of improvement with regard to the Army Medical Service. What was done by Mr. Brodrick in that respect had marked a complete change 1572 from the old practice, and had opened the-way for the immense strides that had since been made. The right hon. Gentleman himself had made a distinct step in advance by requiring something from the civilian surgeon for the retaining fee which was paid to him. He entirely agreed that this was one of the cases in which the civilian element might be brought in, to reinforce the military element; but he wanted to speak a word of caution. The civilian medical officer was improving in his particular work every day that he spent away from the Army visiting the hospitals, whilst those who were performing the actual military work of the Army were deteriorating for military purposes while in civil life. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would be able to say whether any further progress had been made in utilising the Militia as attendants in the Army-Medical Department? He was glad that the expenditure on this department was still on the upward grade, because on any basis of mobilisation the Army Medical Service had not been up to the requirements of the Army in war. A great deal had been done in that direction, but there were still insufficient officers for the reasonable probabilities of mobilisation; and therefore he trusted the Committee would be reconciled, as he believed they would be, to the additional expenditure foreshadowed by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. HALDANE
said that he had taken up the idea that he had inherited from his predecessor of using Militiamen as attendants in the Army Medical Service. A start had been made with 500 of them, and he hoped it would be developed later.
§ COLONEL LEGGE (St. George's, Hanover Square)
was sure no hon. Member would grudge this increased cost, because the health of the soldier was of the very greatest importance. He desired to suggest that an interchange might take place, so that when the civil surgeons entered the military hospitals the Army surgeons might be relieved of their duties temporarily in order that they might study in the civil hospitals. An interchange of that kind, he thought,, might be beneficial. With regard to nursing, an hon. Gentleman had said that the Army Medical Department was opposed to nurses; but his recollection was that 1573 it was not the Army Medical Department, but the soldiers themselves, who preferred the hospital orderly. That, however, had been got over now. There was no doubt that what happened in South Africa had made a very great change in the opinion with regard to the subject. He was very glad to see that there was a considerable addition to nursing establishments.
§ MR. HAROLD COX (Preston)
said he should like to know whether the remarks of the Secretary of State for War with regard to utilising civilian surgeons in the Army Medical Service would apply also to the lower grades of the service, because his impression was that they were not getting anything like value for their money in the Army Medical Service. He had heard of young men joining because the work was so easy. One young man told him that, while he received 15s. 6d. a week and had everything found, his only duty was to sweep out the ward of a hospital, and that it was generally over by ten o'clock in the morning. It would be cheaper, if this was the case, to employ a charwoman. He had also heard that young doctors were deterred from entering the service by the absurd insistence on military discipline. In going round the wards the doctor had to wear full military uniform, including a helmet, in case his colonel should appear. He was told that it was a frequent occurrence for the surgeon's helmet to fall on to the patient's face during a stethoscopic examination.
§ COLONEL LOCK WOOD (Essex, Epping)
said he thought the hon. Gentleman must be mistaken. He had never seen such things happen in a military hospital. The question he desired to ask, however, was whether the Army surgeon was encouraged to attend courses of lectures at civilian hospitals in order to keep abreast of the most modern practice. A little while ago the Army surgeon who attempted to keep himself efficient in this way had to do it at his own expense; and, he believed, if he obtained leave for three weeks or a month his pay was deducted. Would the right hon. Gentleman see whether military surgeons, and even reserve surgeons, attending hospital lectures could not be allowed full pay for the time so occupied, and have their fees paid? The military surgeon was not 1574 generally a very rich man, and the fees to begin with were a heavy fine upon him, and if he were deprived of pay during his attendance at the lectures it was an additional reason for his not attending them.
§ MR. HALDANE
said the hon. and gallant Gentleman would find on the Estimates this year the fees entered for the purpose mentioned. What the Government did was to pay the fees of those who were sent to the lectures and also for getting proper kinds of lectures given. It was part of the regular training of an Army surgeon to go through these professional courses at ordinary hospitals. The fees were paid and the pay was not stopped. What they were very anxious to do was to keep the military and civilian courses of training as much in touch as possible.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 2. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £819,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Pay, Beunty, etc., of the Militia (to a number not exceeding 141,058, including 8,000 Militia Reserve), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1907."
COLONEL HERBERT (Monmouthshire, S.)
said he rose to move a reduction of £100 for the purpose of calling attention to a matter of some constitutional importance, namely, the intervention of Militia officers in Parliamentary elections. Circumstances had occurred in his own constituency which had led him to raise the question. His constituency included the ancient Borough of Monmouth, which was the head quarters of a Militia battalion called, he believed, the Royal Monmouthshire Militia Battalion Royal Engineers. It was also the place where the training of the battalion was usually carried out. The period of training naturally caused considerable local interest, leading as it did to expenditure of money in the district. In the course of his I candidature, it was put forward without any ground whatever that he was opposed to the retention of the battalion in those quarters. The statement went about that he was avorse to the training being carried out in that place. It became 1575 necessary for him to make a clear statement to the contrary, because nothing could be further from his wishes than to disturb in any way the connection between the territorial Militia regiment and its local headquarters. A letter appeared in a local paper, called the Monmouthshire Beacon, a somewhat archaic journal, purporting to be signed by the officer commanding the regiment in question, controverting the statement he had made, and saying that if the venue for training were changed he would, to a considerable extent, be responsible. That letter was calculated to cause a certain amount of feeling in the agricultural district, which was closely connected with the regiment, and with which he also was connected. He regretted to have to bring the matter forward, and he should not have done so except under a strong feeling of public duty, and in the interests of the Militia force, to obtain a clear definition as to the limits to which officers might go, so that they might be restrained from that which would be a serious detriment to the Militia force and which had been so detrimental in other spheres, namely, the introduction of political questions. It was immaterial what the question at issue was. He was quite willing to believe that it was a mere error of judgment, and he did not want to impute anything more than was in the four corners of the letter, but it would have been much better if it had not been written. Here was a gentleman who was the commanding officer of the Militia endeavouring to influence certain persons in the neighbourhood who were interested in this particular election. The letter appeared on the nomination day, Friday, and as it was a weekly paper it was impossible before a week had passed that there could be any reply on his behalf to make clear to the electors what his real opinions were. Therefore he had to take his chance, and it was a good chance, because in spite of this and other difficulties he managed to be returned by a very large majority. The point he wished to know was, how far an officer might go on such occasions? The gentleman in question, Lord Raglan, was one of the best commanding officers in the country and was a very good friend of his outside politics, and he was quite sure that Lord Raglan would understand that he brought forward the matter merely in the interests of the service. He had shown the letter to the 1576 Secretary of State for War, and he left it to his judgment, as one who understood the legal aspect of such matters and the interpretation that might be placed on it, to say whether it was not quite possible-that such a letter would influence persons against him. At the same time in his view a serious error of judgment was committed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £818,900, be granted for the said Service."—(Colonel Herbert.)
§ SIR CARNE RASCH (Essex, Chelmsford)
said he only wanted to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War what he was going to do with the Militia. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the Militia in his opening speech on the Army Estimates, but he could not make out definitely what the right hon. Gentleman was going to do. He (Sir Carne Rasch) spoke as the man-in-the-street, who wanted to know what was going to be done in regard to this very difficult problem. What was the condition of the Militia at the present moment? He did not think anything was ever so bad in the British service in the last 200 years. There was a force nominally of 90,000 men, which had no guns, no transport, and hardly any officers in the junior ranks. So far as the personnel went, he did not think the Militia could turn out under any circumstances, within 40 per cent. of the recognised and official regulation strength. There had to be deducted all those men who were coming from the Militia to the line —probably about 22,000—those men who were recruits and who had not passed any musketry test, and also fraudulent enlistments, because men in the Militia had a way of serving in half a dozen regiments, and there was nothing to stop them. Under the circumstances, the Militia force was not within 40 per cent. of its recognised strength. They all knew that the Militia brigades were under orders for the Peninsula, though they did not go there; that they garrisoned our stations in the Mediterranean during the Crimean war; and that a portion of them went to the front during the South African War. He thought that the Secretary of State should tell them what he was going to do now. The right hon. Gentleman had a good set 1577 of men in the Militia, but they were of no good whatever as they were at present. If he would undertake to mend them he would have good results, and the money devoted to this purpose would be well spent.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Croydon)
said he did not observe that the attack made on Lord Raglan had any bearing on the question of the Militia. He thought it would be most unreasonable to press the Secretary for War for an Answer in regard to the Militia, because he had told them so often and so clearly that he had not yet fully considered the question. They were in this difficulty, that this would be the only opportunity of discussing the Militia question this year, and it was quite possible that before another opportunity came again, the right hon. Gentleman would have dealt with the Militia in a way calculated, they all hoped, greatly to improve them. He thought, therefore, it would do no harm to say a word or two about some matters which might claim their attention. He would respectfully recommend the right hon. Gentleman to go and see for himself what the Militia was. He believed there was no more certain road to understanding the problem. They talked of the Militia as if it had no relation to the Army at all. What happened every year? Every year the Secretary of State for War had to put his name to a statement with regard to the Militia which he knew to be untrue. He was afraid he had done it himself, but he had taken great pains to inform the Home of the fact. At present hundreds and indeed thousands of young men were going to the Militia depots who were never intended for the Militia at all. In one year alone 15,000 of these beys were entered in the Books as Militiamen, though practically the whole of them passed into the Army. They were put down on one page as 15,000 Militiamen, and on another page as 15,000 of the Regular Army. The reason for this was that the non-commissioned officer in charge of the recruiting got a beunty for recruiting a bey for the Militia, and he kept him at the Militia depot for two or three weeks, and then enlisted him in the Army, for which he received a half-crown in addition to the original shilling. For some of the depots this happened in the case of 70 per cent. of the recruits, and thus they were dealing with an 1578 absolute sham. The right hon. Gentleman said the other day that he regarded the Militia as a force that ought to supplement the Regular Army, and to a certain extent act as a reserve. That was a very admirable aspiration, but until the functions of the Militia were much more clearly defined it could not serve that purpose. He would like to know how they were to supplement the Army. Were they to be a reserve of the Army in the sense of the ordinary Reserve? Were they to furnish drafts to the Army, or were they to be a force to be utilised to assist the Army in the field? If that was so, he would like to tell the Committee what would happen. If it was desired now to put two divisions of Militia of eight battalions 800 strong each into the field it would be necessary to go all over the United Kingdom to get the men. Even if the men were got together, under the ordinary rules which governed the formation of a battalion for war, some 5,400 men would have to be left behind. Of these 5,400men many hundred, he might say thousands, would be beys of seventeen, eighteen, or nineteen years of age, and one, two, or throe years must elapse before they could take their places. There was no reserve and no means of filling up these battalions in the field without calling up men equally unfit. It would be necessary to draft 5,400 men from the rest of the Militia, and if two more divisions were required nearly 11,000 men would have to be taken in the same way. For fighting purposes the Militia was now an absolute delusion. There would be nothing but decay so long as the present system lasted, and until the Militia was put on a basis which did not make it absolutely essential to the Line that decay would go on. Hon. Members did not realise what would happen to the Regular Army recruiting if this experiment of the right hon. Gentleman were to prove successful. If the Militia were really to be kept out of the Regular Army until they had served their training the recruiting for the Regular Army would be destroyed. Any commissioned or non commissioned officer who knew the Militia would say that was true. That would be paying "too dear for their whistle." He would try to point out to the Committee the only method by which the Militia could be saved. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not abandon his idea of connecting the 1579 Militia more intimately with the counties. He did not see why the position of deputy-lieu tenant should not be confined to those who in some way had shown a desire to serve in a military capacity. But he believed there would be no fruition of that promise until the Militia was made a separate body and not regarded as an adjunct to the Line. Without giving a complete survey of the position, he had merely alluded to some of the difficulties which were, he thought, most serious in dealing with this question. The whole survey of the question must come when the right hon. Gentleman submitted concrete proposals. He anticipated these proposals with nothing but sanguine feelings. As to the Militia Artillery it was true, as the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had said, that money had been taken in successive years for the formation of three brigades instead of one. It was also true that the reports on the whole in regard to the one brigade were good. But he himself had given an immense amount of attention to the whole of these reports, and he considered that at present the Militia Artillery was a rather expensive article. He wished to impress on those who were pressing the question of reinforcing the Field Artillery from the Militia Field Artillery that they must remember first, that the artillery was a highly skilled arm; that unless they got the very highest skill in that arm they might be terribly out-classed in action. Secondly, they must remember that if they wished to add to the force of Field Artillery there were other sources than the Militia Field Artillery from which it could be reinforced.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield),
whilst admitting that the Militia was not in a first class condition, thought that the hon. and gallant Member for the Chelmsford Division of Essex went too far when he stated that the Militia was in a worse condition than it had ever been. Although the hon. and gallant Member was supported by the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for War, he was still of opinion that the picture had been painted blacker than it was. It was perfectly true in the old days, as stated by the hon. and gallant Member, that 1580 men served in several battalions, and were counted on paper over and over again, but those who knew the Militia of to-day were perfectly aware that that sort of thing took place so seldom that practically it might be said to never occur now. A Question had been put as to whether the Militia was to be done away with or turned into an efficient military force. The Militia had been very nearly done away with by the continuous changes that had been made in its constitution by the late Secretary of State for War. Those changes had done more injury to the Militia than anything else had ever done, and he was glad to see that the present Secretary of State for War had not brought in a great plan to change everything at once. The great difficulty at the present moment in the Militia was the question of recruiting. The shortage of recruits was greatest in the regiments belonging to agricultural districts, because of the migration of the people from the land to the large towns. He would suggest that those regiments should be allowed to recruit in the towns in their neighbourhood which were now outside their recruiting area. He could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon as to men who had been in the Militia a year not being willing to join the Army. In many cases the men joined the Army at once in order to get the benefit of the year towards seniority, but if they were not allowed to join the line until the end of the year they would join at the end of that time just as willingly as they joined now. The only difference would be that where the bey was now taken into the Army and grew into a man at the expense of the country, he would then go into the Militia and would join the Army when he had grown to manhood. He hoped the suggestion which he had made as to the recruiting of regiments in agricultural districts would be taken into considera -tion, and that no alteration would be made in the Militia system by the right hon. Gentleman until he had had full time to consider the position. They could trust to the right hon. Gentleman to keep the Militia the force it was intended to be, namely, the best system of reserve which we had in this country.
§ LORD BALCARRES (Lancashire, Chorley)
said he desired to put a few 1581 Questions to the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the new scheme of training of these Militia regiments. That scheme was first announced in the debate on the address by the President of the Local Government Beard, who put it forward as a practical attempt on the part of the present Government to deal with the problem of the unemployed. The right hon. Gentleman then said that one of the actions to be taken by the Government to deal with that problem was to call out twenty battalions of Militia for training during the winter; that that was the time when there was most distress, and that by deferring the training of these battalions to the winter they would contribute, to that extent, to the solution of the problem of the unemployed. He failed to see how that was going to benefit these regiments. We were now getting on in the year, and it would be a great convenience if the Secretary of State would suggest which twenty regiments were to be so trained. If these twenty regiments were going to be trained during the winter it would be impossible to put them under canvas in one of our great camping grounds, which was the best course of training that could be given. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that barracks were to be utilised where possible. He could not help thinking that putting these men into barracks in the winter rather than under canvas in summer would be the last way in the world to make them efficient. But the right hon. Gentleman also seemed to indicate that in some cases it would be impossible to find barracks, and that meant that in such cases the men would have to be billeted. Everyone knew that of the three ways of keeping troops together, keeping them under canvas, keeping them in barracks, and billeting them, the last was the worst. In the first place, they could not be sure of the times at which the men came in at night; unpunctuality in the morning always followed, and where men were billeted all over the town they lost that esprit de corps which was engendered by men always being together. Under the new scheme he understood that increased attention was to be given to musketry practice. Every one welcomed the decision of the Secretary of State with regard to that. But how increased attention to musketry was to be given by bringing the men out in the winter passed 1582 all comprehension. One of the difficulties of the Militia officers was how to find sufficient time for proper attention to be given to musketry. They would take these men out in the winter when the weather was most severe, and all the conditions were possibly most inimical to suitable musketry training, added to which there was the range difficulty. They would find it impossible to send these men to our great camping grounds, and in case after case they would find that the men had to put up with the old-fashioned ranges close to the town in which they were billeted. The scheme of the right hon. Gentleman meant that twenty regiments were to go through their training during the winter months by themselves, and without cavalry and without artillery. The manœuvres which these men would be expected to go through would therefore be manmanœuvresuvres of infantry alone; there would be no mixed force. That in his opinion very much diminished the value of the scheme, and he wanted to know what the effect upon the recruit was going to be. He could not ask the right hon. Gentleman to give him an answer now, as he had already indicated that he was going to watch carefully the result of these changes both on the Militia and on the line. He could not help thinking himself that if the right hon. Gentleman had inquired of the commanding officers concerned, he would not have received from them any great encouragement as to the likelihood of this scheme's having any important effect upon recruiting. He also wished to know what effect this scheme was going to have on the unemployed problem. It was paraded originally as a solution or a partial solution of that question. He should like to know what proportion of these Militiamen were what one might call habitually unemployed during the winter months, and it would be still more interesting to learn upon what proportion of these Militiamen their families could be said properly to depend. His impression was that, so far as this scheme was designed to render relief to the unemployed, it would be a complete and abject failure. As to its effect upon the Militia, of course it would be premature to offer any judgment, but certainly from the obvious criticism which arose upon its consideration he did not think it had many elements of success. The right hon. Gentleman had stated in his introductory speech that the test 1583 which he applied to all those Army schemes was that of fighting efficiency. That was an admirable test, and no doubt if it was carried through would provide a suitable measure for Army organisation. But he could not believe for a moment that this scheme was introduced in order to enhance the fighting powers of the Militia. The internal evidence pointed to its having been introduced by the Local Government Beard and not by the War Office. [Mr. Haldane dissented.] He was glad to find that that was not the case, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to show the House that the fighting test as applied to I this particular machine would demonstrate that the training of the Militia battalions during the winter was likely to be of some: effect. He was glad think that fighting efficiency was the test by which this scheme was to be measured, but he could not but think that other portions of the problem were measured with anything but economy.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE (Bristol, E.)
said the noble Lord had rather suggested that this scheme of bringing up the Militia battalions for training in winter was the work of the Local Government Beard, but if the noble Lord looked to the Report of the Norfolk Commission he would probably find that this suggestion was made by them. He noticed also that one or two of the other suggestions put forward by the Secretary of State were taken from that Report. Everybody who had looked at the figures and remembered the glowing picture drawn in this House by Mr. Brodrick four or five years ago would regret the state of the Militia, the numbers of which had gone down from 113,000 in 1899 to 85,000 at present. That was a most regrettable drop, but what the Committee wanted to know was the exact position as to efficiency of the Militia at the present moment. The noble Lord had drawn a very melancholy picture as to the difficulties of recruiting if the men were billeted at home. But his own recollection went back to a regiment which adopted that particular method of recruiting and training. He took the case of the 7th battalion of the Rifle Brigade in 1901. On April 1st, 1901, that battalion was 490 strong and on April 1st, 1902, it was 471 strong. The commanding officer obtained from 1584 the War Office leave to allow the recruits whom he enlisted to live at home during the period of enlistment. What was the result? On January 1st, 1903, recruits were allowed to live out of the barracks and on April 1st the strength of the battalion had risen to 775. At the last training in 1904 the strength of the battalion was 850, and it was a better battalion of Militia than any other. That was the direct result of allowing a Militia battalion to do the thing which the noble Lord had suggested would be so disastrous, in regard to both its efficiency and its strength. He should like to ask the Secretary of State whether he could do for him a thing which was refused by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon. A few years ago there was created at the War Office the post of Inspector - General, whose duty it was to go round in person or by deputy and inspect the arms of His Majesty's forces. The duty was mostly performed by deputy, but this House knew nothing of the nature of the Reports made to the Secretary of State. The condition of trade in this country was reported upon by inspectors, the factories were reported upon, the details of local government were also reported upon, and the various Reports were invariably presented to the House of Commons. They got detailed statements about many Army matters, including the actual fighting force of the Army and recruiting, and they even got a Report upon the prisons of the Army, but of the actual state of the Army as to efficiency they knew absolutely nothing from the military authorities. It might be said that it was injudicious, unwise, and impossible to give to the House information which might be used by the enemy, but he was quite sure that there was nothing which was known to the War Office about the actual fighting efficiency of the Army which was not known to foreign powers, and he thought it would go a long way to justify military expenditure if they knew exactly the state of the Army. As to the Militia, there was a terrible dearth of officers. It was due to the fact that there was in the Army a class of officers who had long maintained that they had a right to a monopoly of the commissions in the Army and Militia. The want of patriotism of these people had been displayed in a deplorable manner during 1585 the last few years, and they had failed to come up to national expectations. It was necessary that some more democratic system should be introduced which should apply to all the subjects of the Crown, and he hoped the Secretary of State would take steps to draw officers from all classes of society instead of from one only. He thought it unnecessary to have the very long rifle ranges which had been created since the South African war. If the War Office went to the counties from which the Militia and Volunteers were recruited and asked for support, not from one class and not from the few, but appealed to local sentiment, and if the men were given freedom of leave during their training, he was sure that they would get a very much larger measure of support than they did at present. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon used to talk about the drilling of the Army by soldiers, but he thought that that drilling should remain in the hands of the civilian element. The training of the Militia had been from time immemorial that of a civilian force, and it was important that it should be continued to be trained in the same way.
§ COLONEL LEGGE (St. George's, Hanover Square)
wished to urge upon the Secretary of State for War that he should do everything in his power to foster and encourage the Militia. He believed in that force as a very valuable reserve for the Army. It was an old constitutional force and was based upon the fact that every citizen should be trained for the defence of his country. Originally the Militia were not called upon to serve outside their counties, but now they were liable for service in any part of the United Kingdom. He believed also that it was possible to bring it about that they should now serve out of the United Kingdom in time of war. When called upon as Volunteers he was confident that they would be prepared to accept that responsibility and duty. He sincerely hoped that when the right hon. Gentleman put forward his scheme next year he would introduce some means by which the Militia could be properly utilised as a reserve for the British Army.
§ SIR ROBERT HOBART (Hampshire,New Forest)
craved the indulgence which 1586 the House always extended to a new Member who addressed it for the first time. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had foreshadowed in his very admirable, and, if he might say so, delightful, speech in introducing the Estimates an idea of reviving the local influence of lord-lieutenants and deputy-lieutenants in raising the Militia, increasing its popularity, and facilitating recruiting. They were all agreed on these beneficient objects. They all wished God-speed to the right hon. Gentleman in his efforts to electrify or galvanize this old constitutional force. The position of lord-lieutenants and deputy-lieutenants towards the Militia Forces of the Crown was defined by law. Every year the Militia ballot was only suspended for one year by a suspensory Act, which was included in the Expiring Laws Continuance Act, and, but for the passing of this Act, the Ballot Act for raising the Militia would actually come into force. The Militia Ballot Act was not repealed but only suspended year by year.It still therefore remained on the Statute Book as a final resource of defence of the country in time of dire need. The functions and duties of lord-lieutenants and deputy-lieutenants, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon had said, were defined and regulated by this dormant Act. In simple language, these gentlemen were appointed to raise the Militia, and the machinery and method of doing so were laid down by the Militia Ballot Act. The deputy-lieutenants were given defined areas from which they are to produce a defined quota of eligible men, and the lists of such men are to be furnished by the local overseers. Might one gather from the Secretary of State that some such voluntary system could be devised, on a similar plan, for raising Militia recruits by the local influence of the deputy-lieutenants? It had, however, been the custom for many years to look upon deputy-lieutenants simply as distinguished local gentlemen, to whom the right was given of wearing at Court or at a levee uniforms more or less ugly or comical. That had come to be regarded as the be-all-and end all of the appointment, but the real reason for its existence had been strangely forgotten. It was satisfactory to know that the Secretary of State contemplated furbishing up and putting to good use this constitutional machinery. 1587 He hoped that under this scheme deputy-lieutenants would be brought up-to-date, and that they would be men who would really do something more than once or twice a year to drag ancient ugly red coats out of camphor-lined boxes, for the purpose of parading before His Majesty at Court functions. This question had been raised on various occasions in Parliament recently, and it had been dealt with in another place by Lord Lansdowne when Secretary of State for War. If the right hon. Gentleman now saw his way to make some good local use of deputy - lieutenants of counties in recruiting our gallant country lads in a popular manner to join the ranks of the local Militia he should, speaking as a deputy-lieutenant, like to encourage the right hon. Gentleman to pursue that excellent course.
§ LORD MORPETH (Birmingham, S.)
said there had been numerous debates upon the questions which concerned the Militia, and there had been questions raised as to whether the force should be ended or mended. Before the South African War the Yeomanry of the country had got to such a state that the same kind of thing was talked about them. It was said that the money spent upon them could be saved by their abolition, but they now knew that the Yeomanry was one of the most useful auxiliary services. They knew the services that the force had rendered in the past and the services which they were likely to render in the future. As to the Militia, he did not think it was one of the forces to whom the country should grudge their sustenance; it should be supported in the same way as the Regular Army. For that reason he believed that it was a wise policy that in the future recruits must serve with the force with which they had been recruited. He did not propose to go into the question of how far the Militia could be a supplement to the regular Army at the present time. They knew the shortcomings of the present system; but he thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon went somewhat too far in his description of their weakness, although he recognised the truth of his general outline. If there was a brief campaign in this country or on the continent, many Militiamen would be able to go at short notice. Many Militiamen who had never loaded a rifle in their lives were sent out to 1588 South Africa, and they did well there. He did not say that that was as it should be, but they ought to face the difficulties of the situation and to train these men properly. He believed that the Militia officer and the Militiaman himself were zealous; and, given the opportunity, they would avail themselves of it. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had told the House that he would be guided in all he did solely by the consideration whether the changes that were to be made would conduce to efficiency in time of war. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman to abide by that statement. If the Militia battalions were to be trained in the winter months, that was only a sort of underhand way of dealing with the question of unemployment. Unemployment was, however, a non-military matter, and the right hon. Gentleman would be training the Militia for not a military but a civilian purpose. He did not go so far as the noble Lord the Member for Chorley on the question of billeting. He himself had served in the battalion referred to by the hon. Gentleman in which the system of billeting was adopted, and he thought that it was an experiment which might be tried now and again. He could assure the noble Lord that the Militiamen in billets did not turn up late at the early parades, and that his battalion did not suffer any of the inconveniences to which the noble Lord referred. He believed that barrack life was not altogether congenial to the Militiamen. Although he enjoyod life under canvas in camp, he liked the billeting system, which combined the discipline of drill with the freedom to which he was accustomed in civil life. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War had said that he would not for the present adopt any far-reaching plans. A constantly increasing difficulty in connection with the Auxiliary Forces was to get good men. That was not from want of patriotism, but because there was an increasing competition or recruits for the Militia, the Volunteers, and the Regular Army. He suggested to the right hon. Gentleman that, when he came to deal with his general plan of Army reform, ho should find some system of unification for recruiting for all the Auxiliary Forces, because the present system was breaking down.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said that they had 1589 had a very interesting debate. The noble Lord who had just spoken had taken the line which had been taken by himself and his friends upon certain of the proposals of the former Secretary of State for War. The noble Lord had put his finger on the difficulty that there were too many classes and different kinds of recruits, primarily for home service, but with some idea of preparation for service abroad, competing one with another. At the present time the position of the Militia in the future was the subject of a difference of opinion — he would rather say a difference of nomenclature. The Secretary for War had said that, in his view, the Militia should be attached to the Regular Army rather than to the Volunteer portion of our defensive forces. While he (Sir Charles Dilke), favoured such a Militia, and well-trained Volunteers, he was not in favour of a policy which would lead to the subsidising of gipsy saloons, or stalls at fairs for the destruction of tobacco pipes. He believed in something like discipline and esprit de corps. He sympathised with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War in trying to make out of the Militia a great home Regular Army. It was altogether premature to do more at present than to adumbrate the ideas in their minds on this question. The Secretary for War had sketched a general scheme, extremely vague, of course, but which showed that his mind was pointed in the right direction, and that they might expect proposals from him later in the year, or next year, which might be worthy of serious consideration by the House. There was only one topic which he should like to press on the right hon. Gentleman on the present occasion. Was it possible for the right hon. Gentleman to show a little more of what was in his mind than he had manifested at Question time to-day? The right hon. Gentleman had given to the House no hint of his views on the subject of field artillery. In his first speech the Secretary of State for War alluded to the remarkable success which had attended the Swiss Artillery under the Militia system. The late Secretary of State for War had limited that view' by saying that after consideration of this problem, and the evidence given before the Norfolk Commission, his mind pointed in the direction of Volunteers rather than of Militia 1590 Field Artillery. Would it be impossible to accede to the wishes of the Militia Field Artillery and comprise them amongst the twenty battalions to whom the tentative system was to be applied of training in the next winter?
§ MR. COCHRANE (Ayrshire, N.)
said he had for many years taken great interest in the question of the Militia. He was in favour of all kinds of experiments, and he believed they would not arrive at a solution of the difficulty of getting enough men to serve if they did not try experiments. He had the greatest respect for the opinions on this subject of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Forest of Dean, but in alluding to some of the suggestions which had been made he seemed to be under the impression that it was proposed to bring together large crowds like what might be seen on a bank holiday at Hampstead Heath.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said he had seen something of the results of well organised rifle clubs. A patriotic countryman of his own had started a rifle club in a mining village where there were few occupations.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said there was just a chance of his being misrepresented in this matter. He was a little afraid that in some places the rifle club movement might be so used, unless worked in connection with responsible Volunteer officers, as to be of no practical good for the purpose of discipline.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said there was always a danger of that. There was only a limited number of men who were ready at all to bear arms. There were different circumstances in different localities, and they could not lay down a hard and fast rule applicable to every district in the country. In some scattered villages, for instance, it was almost impossible to get up a unit for a Volunteer regiment, but there might be a number of young men in a village who would be pleased to join a rifle club. In a case within his knowledge a certain number of the members of the rifle club were got to compete against the local Volunteers with very satisfactory results 1591 indeed. The right hon. Baronet had spoken of discipline. He would undertake to say that with good officers who understood how to handle that class of men in a short time they would be got to obey any orders given to them. Although they might not get men who would march with the precision of Regulars marching on the Horse Guards Parade at the trooping of the colours, they would get a very substantial and efficient body of men, who could be relied on to defend the country if called upon to do so. What they wanted behind the Army and the Volunteers was a body of men who in the course of a few weeks would make thoroughly good soldiers. When anything went wrong in the Army or Militia someone was found to say that it was the fault of the officers. The hon. Member for Bristol said it was the fault of the officers and the class from whom the officers were drawn. He thought that was exceedingly unfair. He had seen a a good deal of the Militia officers, and he could testify that they gave up a great deal of their valuable time to the service of the country at considerable pecuniary loss.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
said it was not the class of men who joined that he referred to, but the class who did not join. Of those who did join nothing could be said but the highest praise.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said those who joined were doing their best. Nowadays there were very few people of the leisured class. Most people were engaged in business of one kind or another, and that had reduced the number of men who were prepared to serve in the Militia. The Militia officers and men did splendid work in South Africa, but they got little thanks from anybody. The rewards were given not to those who did good service, but were scattered broadcast among the senior officers. He appealed to the Secretary of State to do something to put the Militia ona better footing. If he did that he would find no difficulty in getting better officers. The training officers got in the Militia was extremely valuable to those who afterwards entered the Army. A great many commanding officers would rather have young officers who had come through the Militia. The Militia had 1592 always been a sort of Cinderella. In every one of our great wars the Militia had sent reserves of men to fight alongside of the Regular soldier, and he had never heard that the Militiamen had done worse than the Regulars. He welcomed the promise that the Militia would in future go out as complete units under their own officers in time of war. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to mean that the Militia were no longer to be deprived of the cream of their battalions and scattered about among other regiments. As to the recruiting of the battalion to which he belonged, he had never had the slightest difficulty in keeping up its numbers. There had been a system of looking after the men in winter and of trying to find employment for them. Some of the officers who had large works of their own had been able to aid materially in and facilitate this work. There had also been kitchens kept open in winter and distress had been relieved largely at the cost of the officers. As to training, one thing which militated against it was the sending of recruits to the depots to be trained. They liked to be trained with their own battalion. With regard to rifle ranges, if the men were trained in summer, when the weather was good and the evenings long, of course it was pleasanter, and much better results in shooting were obtained. But men in time of war could not always be firing in summer, and therefore a certain amount of practice under less favourable conditions was not at all undesirable. The amount of shooting practice the men got was of importance as well as the length of the range. He had seen splendid results from men trained at small safety ranges where the limit was 250 yards, and practice could be carried on under cover in any weather. Men so trained had been able to go out and compete at long ranges with considerable success. If they could have long ranges all over the country, and always shoot in summer, he would infinitely prefer it, but the next best thing to that was practice with the full-sized rifle with the ordinary charge and experience with sights at shorter ranges, so that the men might be accustomed to the recoil and learn generally how to handle the weapon. If there were some parts of the country where it would be more convenient to train the men in winter let that be tried, and if in other cases men liked to take 1593 their summer holiday under canvas then let that course be pursued as in the past. Why not try both systems? The Militia could be trained for £10 per man, as against £00 or £70 per man in the Regular Army. There was not much difference between the two when it came to hard work. A Militiaman wearing baggy trousers, an ill-fitting tunic, and not walking with alacrity might not inspire them with great admiration for the Force to which he belonged, but if that man were stripped naked they would see as magnificent a man as they could find. He spoke from very considerable experience, and took a very deep interest in the Militia. If the Militia were given a fair chance, they could be made into an extremely valuable body of men. They would march down any ordinary Line regiment, as they were used to a rougher life, and were not so pampered as the youths who joined the Regular Army.
§ MR. HALDANE
said that early in this debate the hon. Baronet the Member for the Chelmsford Division of Essex had asked him pointedly what he was going to do with the Militia. If he had had to answer that Question immediately after the hon. Baronet had sat down he would have been at a disadvantage. Since then, he had been singularly blessed by receiving a multitude of counsel. They had had a most interesting debate, not the less so because every Gentleman took a different view. One hon. Member said "Go and see the Militia at drill, and it will do you good." Another hon. Gentleman said "Go and see the Militia and you will learn something"; while the hon. Member for North Ayrshire said "You ought to see the Militiaman without his clothes." The noble Lord the Member for Chorley had drawn a most gloomy picture, in which his imagination ran riot, as to the ruinous condition of the Militia forces, but if he would have half an hour's private conversation with the right hon. Member for Croydon he would emerge a sadder and a wiser man.
§ MR. HALDANE
said that it had never been proposed that the training should be given exclusively in winter. What they had proposed was that they 1594 should take twenty battalions of Militia to operate upon experimentally. The twenty-seven days period of training would be raised to forty-one days, and the period of training for recruits would be increased from sixty-three days to six months. He hoped the Government would be able to put many of these twenty battalions in the big towns. They wished to see what they could get there in the way of support from a class of young men who had not hitherto come into the field of Militia recruiting and who were at present unemployed. Many of them, perhaps, were not in a fit condition to become soldiers; but if we took them for six months and put flesh on their bones we might make them into very different men. The essence of the experiment was an extension of the time of training and not a change in the system. He thought that, considering the condition of the Militia, it would be admitted on all hands that it was necessary to proceed experimentally. In reference to the views expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon, he wished to point out that the Militia was no new institution which we were trying to create for the first time. It was an institution with a history, and a history which showed that in other days these men had done splendid service for their country. The question was whether we could afford to neglect the traditions of a body of this kind, or whether we should not do better to try to make all the use we could of the forces which in the past had gone to make them what they had been. Undoubtedly the condition of the Militia was far from satisfactory at present. Out of the 108 battalions a very large proportion were inefficient. We must get real and not sham soldiers for our money. The first thing to be done was to assign to the Militia a definite function, and a definite function which should be interesting and intelligible to them.? They had a definite function not long-ago, which was of great use to the Regular Army, but not to the Militia itself. Under the Militia reserve arrangements which had now ceased to exist, men were taken out of the Militia for the Regular Army and sent as individuals to South Africa. That experiment was disastrous to the Militia and must not be repeated. The Militiaman must feel that he belonged 1595 to a unit under his own officer; that if he served abroad he did not cease to be a militiaman, but preserved the traditions of his battalion, and that his own officer would go with him. He would like to see a far larger force available in case of a national emergency than was now available, but we could not get the whole or even the greater part of that force out of the Militia. The Militia could only be a supporting second line to the Regular Army. On one side of the line of division in our Forces we should have the Regulars and the Militia, and on the other the Territorial Army, comprising Volunteers, rifle clubs, and everything else. This organisation should furnish skeleton training and give instruction in shooting, to which he attached great importance, in time of peace. He agreed with the hon. Member for North Ayrshire that rifle clubs ought to be associated with some corps organisation. There was a second consideration which arose from our position in bringing out our reserves at the outbreak of war. He was under no illusion as to the absolute necessity for war training before the men would be fit to be placed in the field. It might be that in course of time they would have a natural Reserve put into action by being called into an effective condition in this fashion. The point was that the force had suffered, not only from having no function assigned to it, but from having been called on to perform a perfectly wrong function—namely, that of being a Reserve for the Regular Army. A great deal of drastic reform might be required, but he was sure that the Militia would never be placed on a sufficiently attractive footing unless it had the reputation of being composed of real and efficient battalions, which in too many cases was not the case now. As to the position of Lords-Lieutenant and Deputy-Lieutenants, it was obvious that, if they were going to deal with the Militia and with a territorial organisation of the Army generally, these functionaries ought to have real duties, and to be appointed only if they could show services rendered to the country, and were ready to give a promise of services in the future. That was one way in which we might hope to get more support for the Militia than was obtained at the present time. Then there was the question of Militia artillery. He quite agreed that it was necessary to have 1596 a high state of efficiency in the artillery, not only among the officers, but among the gunners, because the very essence of the work was a skill and judgment in placing the shell and in solving the many problems which arose in the course of an action. A perfectly efficient artillery on a large scale could not be got out of the Volunteers; but the case of the Honourable Artillery Company and other cases showed that the Militia and Volunteers could render very great services to the nation in the matter of artillery. There was an enormous amount of artillery work in which Militiamen, could take a large part. The introduction of the quick-firing gun had made a great change in the number of men requited for ammunition columns. They might look to the Militia trained man to do a great deal of the work which the progress of modern artillery necessitated. That, at all events, was one large function which might be performed by Militiamen. But, as regarded both the Militia and the Volunteers, he hoped it might be possible to go further. A good deal of the Volunteer artillery work consisted of pulling about big guns which were practically obsolete, and what was wanted was to train the men with guns they would have to use if matters came to a reality. He wished to say no more than this, that the problem was being thought out, not only by himself, but by others who were more competent. He would be very sorry to see the Militia and Volunteers cut off from all functions connected with artillery work. The matter, however, was too serious and far-reaching to be dealt with in a hurry. His hon. and gallant friend the Member for Monmouthshire had alluded to an incident during the late election. He had himself known many annoying incidents of the kind take place, and he congratulated his hon. and gallant friend, who was no doubt much less emotional than he was himself, on not only having suppressed his feelings, but also in having reached the top of the poll. That showed, he thought, that the matter was not taken very seriously. There was a regulation under which officers and soldiers were forbidden to take part in any meeting demonstration, or procession of a political character. Under no circumstances were they to attend such meetings, wherever held, in uniform.
§ MR. HALDANE
Oh, yes. Soldiers and officers were, after all, human beings. They all of them had two capacities. Even a War Minister had his emotions and he had a public and a private capacity, and it was very difficult to differentiate between him in his double capacity. Some years ago Lord Rosebery made a speech in Midlothian while an election was proceeding at Leith, and there was an immense amount of controversy as to the capacity in which he made that speech; whether as Prime Minister or as a peer or as a Lord-Lieutenant of the county, and they found it impossible to solve the question. He was sure that if Lord Raglan had infringed that regulation he did so unwittingly. He was also sure that he asked bona fide in a spirit of exuberant political enthusiasm.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said that he had never been strongly in favour of the long period of Militia service, and the only difference between himself and the right hon. Gentleman was whether it should be seven or twelve months. He had approved of two years because every military authority declared that was the minimum period consistent with efficiency. He should be content with a period of twelve months, because it did give an opportunity of successful and continuous training and of the training of Regular officers. The right hon. Gentlemanhad said that that would be departing from the old traditions of the force, but he would most respectfully suggest that they would be just as much departing from those old traditions by training the men for seven months as if they trained them for twelve. He thought battalion after battalion would be willing to join the right hon. Gentleman in making the experiment. He did not know why it was thought necessary to have curious performances upon Hounslow Heath, because at Walmer men were turned out trained after six or eight months.
§ MR. HALDANE
said he had had nothing to do with the experiment at Hounslow Heath. It was suggested by an officer of experience, and he had refrained from mixing himself up in the experiment.
§ MR. HUNT (Shropshire, Ludlow)
said he had seen men taught not only foot drill but also to shoot and to become good useful soldiers in a period of three months. If a man could shoot, surely he could be turned into a fairly good soldier in about a month or six weeks. It seemed to him that it would be possible in regard to the men so trained to enter into-agreements with them that they should be called up in times of emergency. He thought everyone who was able ought to be willing to defend his country and his women and children when they were in danger. If such people as that were not prepared to defend them, who was to defend them? He did not think that in this country men should be encouraged to think it was neither their business to guard against starvation in time of war, nor their duty to defend their country in time of peril.
§ SIR J. DICKSON-POYNDER (Wiltshire, Chippenham)
did not wish to say a word against the idea of asking Militia battalions to come for training in the winter. There might possibly be very good reasons for that course, and it seemed to him to be an experiment which would be successful. If, however, it was intended to remedy the evils of unemployment in the winter, it did not appear to him to be the most satisfactory way of diminishing the unemployment in the casual labour market by making the training to last a period of six months. What class of men were going to be recruited? Under this condition of things the recruits would come from the ranks of casual labour. No man in regular employment could possibly join a force which had to train for six months. He believed that every reform in our Auxiliary Forces must be in the direction of raising the standard of the men recruited. If the Militia was ever to be a useful branch of the Regular Forces it must be recruited from a higher standard of men; and if the training was to be prolonged for six months it would be impossible to get men, except of the lowest standard, to join. It was only to sound that note of warning that he had intervened in this debate.
in view of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman 1599 the Secretary of State, asked leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ By leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. HICKS BEACH (Gloucestershire, Tewkesbury)
said that as a militiaman he was glad to hear there was to be a prolonged training. He was also glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that this experiment was not to be a real winter training for the whole battalion, but that there was to be six weeks training in the summer for the battalion, and six months winter training for the recruits. Every one would agree that an experiment which increased the duration of training to six weeks was one that deserved encouragement, because it was generally felt that a month was not sufficient to make a militiaman as efficient as he ought to be, if adequate time was to be given to musketry. He therefore rejoiced in this experiment. He hoped, however, in the case of the agricultural regiments, that when they were called out the right hon. Gentleman would allow those men to return home after a month's training who desired to do so, in order that work on the land might not be brought to a standstill. Would it not be possible in the future to train recruits at the battalion headquarters? At the present time the recruit was taken to the regimental depot and trained under officers he might never see again. If recruits were trained at their own battalion headquarters under their own officers and permanent staff non - commissioned officers, it would do much to encourage recruiting and esprit de corps. As regards officers, there were always a certain number who were willing to come and serve every winter, if necessary, at their own headquarters who would not be so willing to go to a regimental depot. The hon. Member for East Bristol had expressed the opinion with regard to the scarcity of officers that if they went to a lower grade they would get more officers. He dissented from that view, because the supply of officers largely depended upon the amount of time a man had to spare for military affairs. If recourse was taken to a lower grade the 1600 officers selected would have less time to spare, and would require a larger amount of pay. He welcomed the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that he was going to encourage and improve the musketry training of the Militia, and he was glad to think that the old system, under which men were got up at four in the morning, taken to the ranges and told to get through their rounds as quickly as possible, had come to an end.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
said it seemed that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State was going to take the Militia very seriously, and as that was the case, he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that he must not leave the condition of the officers out of consideration. The right hon. Gentleman must take care that the officers were well treated as well as the men. From a great deal of correspondence addressed to him lately he had come to the conclusion that there was a legitimate grievance on the part of the officers. If a regiment was to be efficient it must be well trained and smart in every part of its equipment. One part of a regiment's equipment was its band, and it certainly was not fair that the expense of supporting and maintaining the band should fall upon the officers. If the right hon.Gentleman inquired he would find that in many regiments the band was maintaned by two or three officers who were well off. That was a condition of things that should not be. The right hon. Gentleman should consider the matter from the point of view of whether it was not possible to make a small extra grant for the support and maintenance of the bands. Again, all officers in the Militia were not wealthy men, and having to provide themselves with a well-trained and good-looking charger was a very important matter with them. The right hon. Gentleman might extend to mounted officers in the Militia regiments the rights conceded to officers of the Line in this regard. Did the right hon. Gentleman contemplate any extension of the system under which officers of the Militia might pass from the Militia to the Regular Army? Because there again was an opportunity of making the Militia service more attractive and of 1601 drawing into it men who were reluctant to give their services.
MAJOR ANSTRUIHER-GRAY (St. Andrews Burghs)
agreed with everything that had been said with regard to this experiment. They did not know whether it would be justified or not, but it was certainly a step in the right direction. It was better to have a large amount of shooting at 200 yards than a little shooting at 1,500, because it was not a very difficult thing for a man well up in shooting at 200 to make a good show at 1,500. As an old field artillery Militiaman he thought they could do a good deal with field guns in the Militia., and militiamen, if there were enough of them and they were allowed to shoot, would do very nearly as well as the Regulars. If they got men keen at their work, and gave them a little sympathetic treatment, they would repay them a thousandfold. They should also, in his opinion, have machine guns in the Militia. Within a very short time they would be able to handle them quite as well as the Regulars. And with regard to the scarcity of officers in the Army, they had only to offer a few commissions to Militia officers. When a militiaman joined the Regulars he was of a good deal more use than a Sandhurst man, because, though he might not, technically, be so well up he was in the habit of handling men. No man had a greater respect for the non-commissioned officer than himself. Noncommissioned officers were the backbone of our Army, and no praise was too high for the way in which they served. But he believed we should do wrong to lower the status of our commanding officers. The armies of those continental countries which maintained officers of a very high class were much more efficient than the armies of those countries where:such was not the case. But while it would be a mistake to lower the status of our officers, it would be wise to encourage them and help them out in the way of expenses. As one who saw what was done by the Militia regiments in the late war, he desired to add his meed of praise to that which had been given to them. In physique they were not inferior to the Regulars, and for British pluck and endurance they were a credit to this country.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
said that though it might be urged that the result of six months training of the Militia recruit might have some element of uncertainty, he hoped the experiment would not be limited to one year or to six months. It had been said that the character of the recruits obtained would deteriorate under this system; but it must not be forgotten that there were large industries, like the building trade, with its million of men, whose slack time was in the winter, and who could not engage in the summer, when work was most easy to find. Prom such trades we should be able to draw a large supply of the beat kind of recruits. He should have thought that the artillery Militia was a class which might have been trained in the winter. Many of the difficulties which had been advanced against infantry training in the winter would be much less felt in the artillery. At Dunbar they could train regiments in barracks in winter quite as efficiently as under canvas in summer-time.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had spoken very sympathetically in regard to rifle clubs. Might he point out that rifle clubs to be efficient must have ammunition? At present a very heavy tax was placed upon young fellows in having to pay something like a penny a shot. Could not the right hon. Gentleman find some method by which ammunition could be supplied at a less charge, or a certain number of cartridges provided free on reaching a certain standard of efficiency?
§ MR. HALDANE
said he did not think he could give any Answer now, but he should be glad to consult his hon. friend the Financial Secretary.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ £423,000, Imperial Yeomanry; Pay and Allowances.
MR. STANLEY WILSON (Yorkshire, E.R., Holderness)
asked the Secretary of State for War for an explanation of the considerable reduction in the Vote this year, and what were his intentions 1603 with regard to the Yeomanry. He hoped it was not the right hon. Gentleman's intention in any way to reduce those forces. At the present time the force had reached a very high state of efficiency, and whatever some might think of Mr. Brodrick's scheme, there was no doubt that that portion of the scheme which dealt with the Imperial Yeomanry had proved a very great success, and the Yeomanry force was in a far better condition than ever before. With regard to the uniform, some of the new regiments were clothed in the horrible uniform known by the name of khaki. Khaki was all very well, but it was not fit for men to walk out in the streets in as full dress, and they objected to it most strongly. His regiment was among the sufferers. What the men liked was to have a smart kit in which they could walk out, and the result was that in the present year he was losing a considerable number of excellent men. Last year they had spent their annual training close to Scarborough, and in the town were encamped the Yorkshire Hussars who had an extremely smart walking-out kit—one of the smartest that any regiment in the country had. When his unfortunate men went into Scarborough town they found they could not compete at all with the Hussars. The ladies of Scarborough would pay no attention to the unfortunate Yeomen, but always insisted on walking out with the Hussars. He should like to ask if the right hon. Gentleman could not give his regiment some assistance and clothe them in a respectable and decent uniform. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would give this matter his very grave consideration. He should like also to suggest that it would be worthy of the attention of the Secretary of State to attach to the Yeomanry regiments during the annual training two Regular officers. He believed it would have the effect of keeping the regiments in a state of the highest efficiency and completely up-to-date.
§ MR. HALDANE
said the reason for the reduction of the Vote was that they had estimated only for the existing strength. With regard to the other point, he was bound to say he thought the Yeomanry did pretty well in the way of 1604 the money they received out of Imperial' Funds, and he could not hold out any hopes that the State was going to assist them in the point of clothes.
§ MR. GIBBS (Bristol, W.)
said he should like to associate himself with the remarks of the hon. Member for the Holderness Division in regard to the khaki uniform of the Yeomanry. He was glad to see that additional encouragement was to be given to the Yeomanry in the matter of teaching them how to ride and manage their rifles during manoeuvring. It was impossible to expect a bad rider, after galloping over rough ground and being jumped about in the saddle, to shoot straight. It was eminently desirable that every facility should be given to the class of men from whom they got some of their best men, namely, clerks in towns, to make themselves as efficient as possible. The experience of the South African War very clearly demonstrated of what service the Imperial Yeomanry could be when they were properly trained. He should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he could not revise the present system of re-engagement for the Yeomanry. At the present moment after a man had served for three years he had to be reengaged and medically examined each successive year, and many men objected to that system. For instance, if a man joined when he was seventeen years old and left when he was fifty, the present age limit, he would have to be re-engaged and medically examined twenty-nine times. As regarded training he thought that the present period was too long. He believed that if they had fourteen days they would get not only more men, but what was more important, more officers. If that was not possible some facility should be given to the commanding officers to give leave to the men and officers more frequently.
§ LORD WILLOUGHBY DE ERESBY (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
said there was one question with regard to the Yeomanry which he desired to bring to the notice of the Secretary of State for War; and it was very important if the Yeomanry were to be really an efficient fighting force. He believed the right hon; Gentleman had taken a very 1605 wise step in regard to the Volunteers and brigades, and he firmly believed that if the Yeomanry were to be an efficient force in case of emergency the same principle ought to be adopted for them. There ought to be appointed throughout the whole Yeomanry force brigadiers — preferably retired Army colonels—and under them. a staff of Regular officers. Unless there were first-class Regular officers to instruct the Auxiliaries, those Auxiliaries in the day of trial would be little better than a useless mob. He would like to see for every three or four regiments of Yeomanry a brigadier appointed who should be responsible for the training of those regiments, and at the end of three years, or whatever period was fixed upon, the brigade ought to be brought together and inspected by a superior officer, and if the brigade showed any falling off in certain respects the blame would lie with the brigadier. Having served in the Yeomanry for twenty years he could assure hon. Members that under the present conditions it was extremely difficult for an officer, however willing, to bring his corps to a high state of efficiency. As to what was expected of the Yeomanry, they were supposed to know about horses, to be first-class shots, and to be able to take upon themselves the duties of cavalry and also of infantry. What happened under the present system? One year they were inspected by a distinguished cavalry officer whose one idea was cavalry tactics; his great idea was that the regiment should be very good at squadron drill; that the men should be able to ride in beautiful line and perform cavalry manœuvres in a highly efficient way. They did not know until a few days before the inspector came that they were to be inspected by a cavalry officer, and when he arrived he found fault because some of the manœuvres were not smartly done. In the following year an officer came whose one great idea was in regard to the work of mounted infantry, and he did not in the least care a bit about squadron drill or whether the men could ride in a straight line or not. That officer went in entirely for work in connection with mounting and dismounting and taking up positions. Possibly during the year 1606 the men had been getting instruction to meet the views of the cavalry inspector, and, special attention not having been given to mounting and dismounting work, a bad report was given. He thought, therefore, it was most important—he did not believe it would cost a very large sum—that brigadiers should be appointed for the different regiments of Yeomanry. Brigadiers ought also to be the inspecting officers. He was one of those who believed that if the Yeomanry were called out to serve in this country and they had not a brigadier and a brigadier staff, they would be almost useless. The only other alternative was to offer Yeomanry officers further facilities for improving their education. Since he had been in the Yeomanry he had been to three or four different schools of Yeomanry, and on each occasion he had been taught nothing but the elementary principles of drill. At Aldershot he practically did the work of a trooper while three or four of the biggest dunder-headed subalterns endeavoured to give instructions to the squadron as to how they should wheel. He considered that the whole of the time spent there was wasted. If he had been taught a certain amount of staff duty and other work than ordinary elementary drill he should have considered that he was doing work which would be of use. The number of schools should be increased and an effort should be made to build up a staff out of the Yeomanry officers. He was in favour of putting officers of the Regular force in high positions in the Auxiliary Forces. Some officers had said that they did not think it was necessary, and that if it were done it would create jealousy in the Auxiliary Forces. They said also that they could do the work as well as those who might be appointed as brigadiers. His opinion was absolutely different. If a Volunteer officer or Yeomanry colonel who went out for a fortnight's training in the course of the year was as capable as the man who made it the business of his life to be a soldier, what was the use of Regular officers going through a course of classes to learn their art? If the Auxiliary Forces were to be of use in time of war it was absolutely essential that those who held high commands should be Regular officers, and that they should 1607 have a staff of Regular officers as well. If the Auxiliary Forces had Regular officers who could draw up instructions and give orders, he did not believe that in England there would be any difficulty in getting transport. It would say very little for the patriotism of the people living in the country—farmers, traders, and others in the different localities—if they could not produce the few horses and carts necessary to get the men and their baggage to the points where foreign invasion might be threatened. To be a useful force in time of war it was absolutely necessary that the Yeomanry should be properly organised, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to accept the suggestion that brigadiers with proper staff should be provided for three or four regiments, even if the cost of doing so had to be met by making reductions in other directions.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
said the War Secretary had made a comparison between the cost of the Yeomanry now and the Yeomanry under the old system. He had shown that whereas the cost under the old system was £11 or £12 per man it had risen now to £20 or £30 per man. At all events the return the country got out of the modernised Yeomanry was far greater than the return it got under the old system. He submitted to the War Secretary that under any mobilisation scheme the Yeomanry—a regiment of which he had the honour to command— should be given a definite place. The work they would be expected to do and the part they would be expected to play in Imperial defence at home should be thoroughly understood by them beforehand. At present they possessed no such knowledge. It was an excellent thing that some system should be devised under which the services of competent officers would be available to supervise the work done by regiments and regularise their training under a definite scheme. He did not know that it was necessary to have regular officers for this work. He had known many Regular officers who had the supervision of the Volunteer force who had been infinitely worse soldiers than those who never had any regular training. When the demand for officers became severe during the South African war a large 1608 number of civilians who had never had such training went out and rendered excellent service. The best scheme available should be adopted in order to ensure complete and efficient training. He did not think that hard and fast rules, to be applicable to all regiments whatever part of the country they were in, should be laid down by head quarters. He suggested that where a man was competent to command his regiment much more discretion should be given to him than was given at the present time. He should be charged with the responsibility of producing a regiment efficient to do the work for which it was intended. If this were done the country would get a cheaper and more efficient force. The Imperial Yeomanry was a very valuable force for the defence of the country, and they could provide both officers and men fit for service abroad if they received the proper training. Unless it could be shown they got full value for their money the taxpayers of this country ought not to be called upon to pay for the Yeomanry. If the suggestions he had made were adopted the results would be satisfactory, not only to the country, but also to the taxpayer in the return he would get for his money.
§ Vote agreed to
§ Resolution to be reported.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,244,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge for Capitation Grants and Miscellaneous Charges of Volunteer Corps, including Pay, etc., of the Permanent Staff, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1907."
§ MR. MCCRAE (Edinburgh, E.)
said he had hoped that they might have had longer time to discuss the question of the Volunteers and to have heard from the Secretary for War a more definite pronouncement than had yet been made in regard to his policy in dealing with the Auxiliary Forces. He would, however, say at once that the administration of the Volunteer Force since the right hon. Gentleman had come into office had been such as to afford a sense of security to 1609 the Volunteers of the country which they had not enjoyed for some years past. He would like to know whether the policy of the right hon. Gentleman was to have a large Volunteer Force, and whether that policy would maintain the present standard of efficiency. The statement which the right hon. Gentleman made in regard to the nebulous force which was to be behind the Volunteers—and which he hoped would remain nebulous—did not satisfy him. He had no faith in an armed mob, or even in rifle clubs. If we were to have an efficient reserve, either for home defence or as a stand-by for the Army, that force must have some considerable training. If the young men of the country did not have the training of Volunteers, the other organisations would be of little use. He thought the right hon. Gentleman must have taken a hint from the scheme of the Canadian Militia or of the Japanese Army which had five different grades, I the lowest of which were not trained at all in arms. As to camp allowances, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon made certain proposals after Parliament rose last year which did not meet with the approbation of the Volunteers. But there was one point in the right hon. Gentleman's proposals which commended itself to all interested in the I Volunteer Force. That was that every Volunteer should have the opportunity of going into camp for fourteen days. No doubt the grant was to be reduced for fourteen days men, while the grant to the men who went into camp for seven days was to be increased. He would like the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War to say whether the allowance of every Volunteer who went into camp for fourteen days was to be 5s. a day; and that every man who went into camp for seven days was to be paid 3s. 6d. a day. Then the medical circular issued by the right hon. Member for Croydon was considered by many Volunteer officers to be illegal, but in the performance of their duty they acted upon it. That circular had been withdrawn, but some men had suffered on account of the illegal demand made upon them by the War Office. The right hon. Member for Croydon had said that there was no compulsion laid 1610 upon individual Volunteers by that circular, but the late Financial Secretary to the War Office stated that it was compulsory in so far as supplying information was concerned. Certain non-commissioned officers had been degraded from their rank and privates had been dismissed from their corps because of non-compliance with the demand of that illegal circular. He wished to have the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War that those men who had wrongfully suffered would be reinstated. There was an impression abroad that the right hon. Gentleman had an idea that a large number of men should be enrolled in a citizen army, and that the conditions in regard to their efficiency should be relaxed. He hoped there was no intention of reducing the standard of efficiency in the Volunteer Force.
§ SIR H. AUBREY-FLETCHER (Sussex, Lewes)
said he would like to say a few words in connection with the force with which he had been associated for a longer period, he believed, than any other Member of this House. He was one of the founders of the Volunteer Force in 1859, and had watched it throughout its career, although he was no longer an active member of it. In the early days of the Volunteer Force it was composed of men of quite a different social status than at present. They found their own uniform, their own rifles, their own ammunition, and paid for their drill instructors. But as time went on a different class of men joined the Volunteer Army, and great difficulties arose because men who ought to have been serving in the Militia joined it. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would see, when he came to consider the whole Volunteer question, what he could do to put the Volunteer Force on a sound footing. For many years past the Volunteers had suffered owing to the various schemes which had been brought forward in regard to them by the War Office; and there was great disquietude throughout all ranks. The result was that the numbers of the Volunteer Army had diminished considerably. He believed that if the force were put on a sound footing it might be brought up into 1611 a state of efficiency such as the Secretary of State for War and the War Office would be satisfied with. There were some points of the right hon. Gentleman's statement with which he was in cordial agreement. The Secretary of State for War had said that brigadiers would be appointed to the force—men generally selected from the Regular Army. He was glad to see in the Estimates this year that there was an increase of the sum allotted for the formation of brigades on a more satisfactory footing than at present. The Estimates this year showed a sum of £10,000 for enlarging the staff of the Volunteer brigades as against £1,800 last year. Having served as brigadier for a great many years he could claim to have some knowledge, and he was sure it would be for the benefit of the force if brigadiers were selected from the Regular Army. But this must be taken into consideration. The officer selected as brigadier should have the full instruction of the Volunteers under his command during the whole year and not only during the week that the Volunteer brigade was in camp. Up to the present time a brigadier, such as he himself had been, had had nothing whatever to do with those under his command except for a week in the year. He had no return presented to him. He had no knowledge of the number of men of the various battalions, and then at the expiration of the week's camp, on the inspection day, he had to hand over his brigade to an inspecting officer, who might have no knowledge whatever of Volunteers or their requirements. He could recollect a commander being sent who had spent many years in India and had never seen a Volunteer. It was most desirable to have brigadiers appointed who should have full command of their brigades during the whole year, and should be allowed, when the day of inspection came, to inspect the different battalions of their brigade. They were the men who had or ought to have a thorough knowledge of the Volunteers, and who could report and inspect just as well as some of the colonels who were sent on inspection days without any knowledge whatever. He wished, if he might, to say a few words with regard to rifle clubs, in which he took a great interest. He was happy 1612 to say they were progressing, and that there were now some 700 affiliated to the National Rifle Association, of which he had been chairman for many years. As far as he could tell they were doing well. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would do what he could to help these clubs by way of granting ammunition and acceding to other requests which they made.
§ MR. AINSWORTH (Argyllshire)
wished to call attention to a matter which seriously affected the Volunteer battalions in the Highland counties. For instance, the area of Argyll and Bute was 100 miles long by sixty broad, and it was enormously difficult to maintain efficiency in the battalions of Volunteers spread over such a wide area. The artillery corps were also armed with old muzzle loading guns.
And, it being half-Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee also report Progress; to sit again this evening.