§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time.''
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
rose to move, "That this House, though anxious to increase the capacity for expansion of the forces of the Crown in time of war, regrets that the Government should make proposals which, while destroying the Militia, discouraging the Yeomanry, and imposing new and uncertain liabilities on the Volunteers, would not, in a period of national peril, provide an adequate force for home defence, or prompt support for the Regular Army in the field." He said: As I came into the House I took from the Vote Office a copy of the Secretary for War's latest Memorandum, showing how various enactments are affected by his Bill. I have not had an opportunity of studying this latest handbook to the scheme of the Secretary forward, but, thanks largely to the courtesy of the right hon. Gentleman, I have read carefully the Memorandum 84 laid yesterday, which is distinctly a hand-book to the Bill. In that the right hon. Gentleman pleads once more for a general approval of the whole of his scheme. I wish we could give it, but we cannot. This Memorandum does not dissipate the doubts which we entertained after listening to his first description of the scheme. I might almost say that in some particulars it confirms these doubts, but it is an extremely lucid document, and makes it easy for me to state shortly the case which, as we conceive, lies against the whole scheme. In the third paragraph the Secretary for War states that "establishments may be raised or lowered from time to time to suit the exigencies of the moment." That is a somewhat surprising statement, and certainly it is a statement which will not stand if the right hon. Gentleman is contemplating, as he very properly is, the provision for a considerable oversea expedition of a definite size to be maintained during a specified period. For if part of the scheme consists in making provision for such a force, then, if you lower your establishments later to suit the exigencies of the moment, the practical part of the scheme has to encroach still further on the speculative part. Then you must also provide for taking from the Territorial Force so much as is needed for your expedition, and so much more as may be needed for the expedition when you have reduced their establishment. You must see to it, also, that what you wish to take shall be worth taking. In this Memorandum the right hon. Gentleman goes on to appeal for continuity in military affairs, and asks that the country, in order that such continuity may be maintained, shall approve the system on which the military administrators are at work, and uphold that system in spite of defects which may be pointed out by critics. I agree at once that flaws can be found in any scheme, however homogeneous. But what if it should turn out that this scheme, partly because it departs from the continuity of past administration, is no system and is bound to break down? It cannot then be approved. This scheme embraces two plans—first, the practical plan for providing, despatching, and maintaining a large oversea expedition. We find many merits in that plan, and some grave defects. Secondly, there is the speculative plan for creating out of the existing 85 Auxiliary Forces a new Territorial Force. We think that plan visionary under the conditions of the proposal. Above all, we said that the two plans, the speculative and the practical, are not correlated in this scheme, and that there are no adequate or practicable provisions for making the Territorial Force do what it must do if it creates an expeditionary force of the size contemplated. The Secretary for War is perfectly cognisant of the necessity that his second line should support and expand his first line. That is the burden of his song. The right hon. Gentleman quotes in the Memorandum the classic passage in the Report of Lord Elgin's Commission—No military system will be satisfactory which does not contain powers of expansion outside the limit of the Regular Forces of the Crown.But there arc no powers for expansion in this scheme. The right hon. Gentleman knows that the Commissioners did not mean what he means when they wrote these words; they contemplated two definite matters; they laid down that there must be an oversea obligation lying upon the second line, and, in the second place, that there must be compulsory training in time of peace in order that men should be fit to discharge their duties in time of war. Both of these recommendations are ignored in the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman, and it is almost like playing with words to quote that passage and to ignore these two recommendations. The Secretary for War has adopted neither for his Territorial Force, and he abolishes the Militia, to which the first obligation of oversea service might easily have applied, and to which the second obligation of compulsory training in time of peace might conceivably have been applied in the future if needed at any time. That being so, I claim that this system is no system; it is not systematic; it is incoherent in that it creates a great gap between the first and second line of the force it contemplates. With that I pass to the Bill itself. The right hon. Gentleman has objected to legislation by reference, and, although Clause 9 somewhat bristles with applications of the Army Act, in the main the Bill is not an instance of legislation by reference But it is a remarkable instance of legislation by regulation. I have never seen a Bill which purported to do so much by regulation after 86 obtaining the general assent and sanction of the House. I do not make any great complaint of that, provided that it is clearly understood that this is an enabling Bill of the widest possible description so far as the Army Council is concerned, and to that extent a disabling Bill so far as this House is concerned. If we once pass this Bill we shall part for ever, to an unusual extent, with our annual control over the forces of the Crown, and, to an unprecedented extent, with our financial control over the Auxiliary Forces. We shall authorise the Army Council to take any steps covered by the very wide provisions of this Bill which they may think necessary in order to carry out any feature of the right hon. Gentleman's plan—in short, we shall launch the whole scheme on its long voyage towards the horizon of hope. This is the only adequate opportunity we shall ever enjoy of criticising any feature of the whole plan the merits of which we doubt, or to the demerits of which we take exception. I make these observations because some critics, including eminent men for whom I have great respect—Lord Roberts, and that brilliant writer who has been a brilliant soldier, the military correspondent of The Times—advise us to approve out of hand the practical part of the scheme affecting the Regular Army for despatching an expeditionary force, and to consider, as a separate affair, the speculative part for converting the Auxiliaries into a Territorial Force. With a very real and very sincere respect for some of these critics, I entirely demur from that course, and strongly advise the House not to follow it. You cannot consider the speculative part of the scheme affecting the Auxiliary Forces as a separate matter. It is not too much to say that the size, shape, and constituent elements of the Territorial Force in its final form in this Bill have been absolutely dictated by the size, shape, and constituent parts of the expeditionary force which the right hon. Gentleman also contemplates. For, in attempting to organise that expeditionary force, the right hon. Gentleman has, in his own words, to take the substance of the Militia and to embody it in 66 new third battalions; these two operations, covered by Clauses 29 and 32 of the Bill, involve the transfer of at least 60,000 men—I think it is more—from an 87 auxiliary to a regular basis, and in that transfer and embodiment the Militia disappears. The scheme abolishes a force which is not ideal, I readily admit, but which practically, and with a great measure of success, has subserved three necessary purposes. It has given a stream of recruits for the Line, it has given us battalions to take the place of Regular battalions at Colonial stations, and thus liberated these Regular battalions to take their place in the fighting line. During the Peninsular War, as the right hon. Gentleman states in his Memorandum issued yesterday, it gave 100,000 men as drafts for the fighting line, and during the South African War it gave 50,000 more. His plan abolishes that force, and creates a Territorial Force to subserve, amongst other things, two purposes. It will take the place of the Regular battalions at Colonial stations, and it will provide drafts for the Regular Army. But this force is made up of material which must always be exclusively drawn from the Volunteers, a body of men who have never been expected to perform these services, except in an infinitesimal degree, and who perform their main obligation by training for home defence. If that is a fair description of the two aspects of the right hon. Gentleman's plan, it is not too much to say that the scheme raises questions of wide political interest not less than of grave Imperial importance. In the first place, it challenges the assent of at least three considerable bodies of opinion in this country. It challenges the assent of these who are attached by many ties to the Auxiliary Forces as they now exist—men who have served in these forces, men who hope to serve in them, men who have made considerable sacrifices of the purse in order to make these forces efficient. It challenges the assent of another body of opinion, relatively smaller, but still large and perhaps growing—these who, rightly or wrongly, think that a measure of compulsion, ranging from universal compulsory service to some revision of the Militia Ballot Act, is necessary if our military system is to be made efficient and fair between man and man. The third body of opinion which the scheme challenges is far smaller, but still considerable—these who object to what they call militarism and who demand economics on a larger scale in the military 88 service of the country than are contemplated in the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman. Unluckily, these three bodies of opinion do not agree among themselves. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Hear, hear."] Yes; but that they will have to be considered must be apparent to everyone, and particularly to the author of the scheme. Again, the Imperial gravity of the issues raised by the plan can hardly be exaggerated. It is not, only the problem of home defence that must be considered. The Government must also consider the organisation of a considerable expeditionary force—a force much larger than was ever contemplated before the South African War—for despatch abroad to meet an Imperial need. In doing that it is essential to set up a model which our self-governing Colonies can imitate, and which we would wish them to imitate. In the opinion of the Opposition, the model of the Territorial Force that is included in this scheme is not one which can be followed by the self-governing Colonies. No one can pretend that the subject of military defence is popular. Indeed, we all recognise that the intricacy of the problem is inherent in the complexity of the Empire. Therefore the Opposition do not approach the consideration of the scheme in any Party spirit. Then why do we make themselves responsible for a reasoned Amendment which, if carried, must kill the Bill? We do so because the doubts which we originally entertained as to the soundness of the scheme have not been dispelled, and cannot be dispelled by further actuarial returns or by eloquent pleadings in favour of some great national ideal. These doubts can only be removed by the right hon. Gentleman retracing his steps and reconsidering his scheme at the point when he decided to abolish the Militia. We move the Amendment because we see some great defects in the scheme. In the second place we do not think the Territorial Force is adapted to the end of providing expansion and support for the fighting line, because we do not find that it is linked in any practical manner with the expeditionary force. In our view any Minister, in dealing with this very difficult problem, must follow one of two broad alternatives. He must either do what the Opposition would like to see done—develop the existing forces, 89 perfect the Regulars, the Militia, the Yeomanry, and the Volunteers, and adapt them, as far as possible, to that succession of mutual support which is the real and true aim of any sound military system; or if he despairs of that alternative, he must frankly abolish the present system, stock, lock, and barrel, and adopt a uniform system, which to be, uniform and equitable must be compulsory. The objection which the Opposition urge to the scheme of the War Minister is that it is neither one thing nor the other. In the speculative part of his scheme, creating the Territorial Force, the right hon. Gentleman embodies the outward appearance, and to some extent the inward construction, of a compulsory system; but, having done that, he relics entirely upon voluntary effort. The Opposition do not believe such a plan will work. If the system is to be uniform, it must be compulsory. If it is to be voluntary, it must be varied to meet the different needs of all sorts and conditions of men. I pass from the speculative plan for creating the Territorial Force to the practical plan for creating the expeditionary force. In the scheme, one plan or the other had to predominate. The practical plan has triumphed, and the speculative plan has one to the wall. It is in order to make practical the part of his plan dealing with the expeditionary force, in order to ensure that such a force could be sent abroad and properly maintained when so sent, that the Secretary for War has taken the substance of the Militia under Clause 29. It is for this purpose he has to recruit for the Army Reserve under Clause 11, and for this purpose he invites men to take over-sea service under Clause 12. Under this plan the Secretary for War subjects the Territorial Force to precisely the treatment of which the Militia complained, and for complaining the Militia is to be abolished. What, then, is gained by the plan? The Regular Army will be larger by 60,000 men at the expense of the Militia, but the men are to be attracted by expedients which nobody can call satisfactory, and which nobody will adopt unless driven to the plan by sheer necessity for the organisation of an expeditionary force of this kind. The Regular Army will contain elements hitherto not thought worthy of being contained in it, and the Auxiliary Forces will be completely divided from the 90 Regular line. In defence of his plan the Secretary for War quotes Lord Elgin's Commission, and this expeditionary force dominates the whole of the plan; it dooms the Militia and subjects the new Territorial Force to precisely the treatment which led him to find justification for abolishing the Militia. But I need not labour the point. All those who defend the right hon. Gentleman's scheme are military men or the mouthpieces of military men, and they dwell on the practical aspect of it; they find it good to have an expeditionary force so organised that they need not bother about anything else, and they regard the speculative part of the plan with a philosophic spirit that the right hon. Gentleman would admire were he not troubled with War Office difficulties. All his calculations, he said, were based on the complete mobilisation of the first line. The first thing to consider is readiness for mobilisation, and no army is worth anything if not ready to take the field. This, it is to be observed, applies only to the expeditionary force, not to the speculative plan for a Territorial Force. It is true he has said something else which seems to be in conflict with that view. He said, also, that so long as we had to maintain a large force in India and at Colonial stations we should require a Regular force of almost similar size at home. ["No, no."] At any rate, that appears to be so according to the scheme, but I cannot now cover the whole of it. The right hon. Gentleman said we were justified, having the material at home, in putting it into the most useful form possible; but is it necessary to abolish the Militia and to subject the new force to conditions under which the Militia so long suffered? If the right hon. Gentleman fulfils the expectations he has raised, and if he ever reduces the numbers for the Regular Army, there will be no necessity for his elaborate calculations. The scheme is not the ripe fruit of long consideration with friendly conferences with the Yeomanry and Militia; it is notoriously the more precipitate result of a hitch and failure to arrive at a satisfactory agreement between the Army Council and the Militia colonels. In his Memorandum of April 8 the Secretary for War told us that the bond of union between the Militia and the Regular Forces is severed, because, in 1901, the Militia Reserve was abolished. But a 91 great many things have happened since 1901, in spite of which the right hon. Gentleman did not despair of preserving the Militia. There is a reduction of the Regular Army, and other steps are taken which tend to diminish the Reserve. The three-years' men are done away with, the establishments of the home battalions are reduced, and yet we are told the Regular Reserve will number 115,000, and I see in the Memorandum the actuarial department put the number at 121,000. But I do not believe that 115,000 will be provided, and I am sure 121,000 will not be. These actuarial calculations are a sort of widow's cruse, to which the right hon. Gentleman resorts when pressed by criticism. It is the exigency created by reducing the Regular Army and diminishing the Reserves which make the difficulties, already great, so much greater that the negotiations have broken down. These negotiations having broken down, this dubious device is resorted to for drafts as part of a practical plan. The Secretary of State says—Either the Militia must be available for drafts, or … they must give up to the Line the men who have enlisted for six years.The noble Lord the Under-Secretary, in another place, said—The Secretary of State has been obliged to modify his view, because the representatives of the Militia would not modify their view on drafting.It is the failure of these negotiations, conducted in circumstances created by the right hon. Gentleman, that has led him precipitately and mistakenly to decide on the abolition of the Militia. The exigencies of the situation demanded it, says the right hon. Gentleman, and for that purpose and no other he took the "substance" of the Militia. The change is unnecessary and unwise. It is unnecessary because there is every reason to believe that the Militia, and certainly the Yeomanry, dislike the scheme in its present state more than in its original shape. It is also unwise. We have been taught the necessity for maintaining an expedition such as is contemplated for more than six months; the South African War lasted for two and a half years. We have been taught the necessity for providing an increased force for Colonial garrisons. These things the Militia do, perhaps not in an ideal way; still they do it in a way 92 there is no reason to believe the new force will do better. The change is, therefore, unwise. But if the Secretary of State for War really means that, when the South African garrisons are reduced, he can still further reduce the Regular Army—and many people think that—then the change will be insane. If the Regular Army is further reduced, there must be a greater number of special Reservists in order to have an expedition at all. The practical part of the scheme will break down with further reductions of the Regular Army. From that point of view the change is unwise; but it does not end here, for the special Reservists will not have adequate training. The men on whom reliance will have to be placed as the pivot of the scheme will have to be trained in existing depots, not convenient places, for they will not hold a battalion; the men will have to be trained 120 at a time. Nobody has ever tried such a method since David made an army by hiding men by fifties in a cave. They will have no more training than the Militia now have, and what musketry training will they get with the difficulties in the way of getting ranges? They cannot be properly trained under the conditions proposed. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that he has had some success in the matter of winter training; that may be so, but what success will he have when be takes the worst form of recruit obtained at the present time by the Militia, the least teachable man, and tries to teach him in so short a time all that he is required to know? As the depot is occupied, the recruits for the second battalions cannot be trained in the depot. There cannot be battalion training at the same time as recruit training. The right hon. Gentleman has pleaded for continuity in military administration. Might I remind him that not so long ago administrators for whose judgment he would entertain respect—men such as Lord Wellesley and Sir Evelyn Wood—insisted more than on any other aspect of the problem on the necessity for progressive training? They said they could not have battalion training at all if the battalion officers were to take over raw recruits from day to day, week to week, and month to month. There is one other defect in the practical part of the scheme—the deplorable expedient, as I consider it, which has been hastily adopted in order to ensure the number of 93 recruits who now come out of the Militia into the Line. We are getting 12,000 recruits out of the Militia into the Line. Shall we get them out of the special contingent? The right hon. Gentleman thinks so. The military correspondent of The Times has said so. But I doubt it. They would all be taken from the Militia, because these, in the words of the Secretary of State, are the men who cannot get a job. It does not follow that they will all be got for the special Reserve. Many of the young men who join the Militia join it because they want, as they will say "to see what it is like." They mean by that to see what serving in a battalion is like. They will not see what it is like if they go to a small depot to be grounded by a major and four captains whom they had never seen before and will never see again. How many will be tempted by the six months job under these conditions if it entails also an obligation to over-sea service at a moment's notice, serving under officers whom they have never seen, such service being a severe handicap in the competition with their fellow-citizens in civil life to get other jobs? In regard to the practical part of this plan, therefore, affecting the Regular Army, we have these three grave defects: our special Reservists in sixty-six third battalions will not be trained as well as everybody has said Regular soldiers ought to be trained; the training of the second battalions will be impeded; and the source of recruits on which we depend for the life of the Army will not be secured, but will be imperilled. Each one of these grave defects sprang solely out of the change made by the departure from the original plan and this hasty expedient adopted in its place. I almost hope I am forcing an open door. Why is it too late for the right hon. Gentleman to consider the propriety of retracing his steps? The Irish fragment of the original scheme is retained. Let the right hon. Gentleman make the rest of the plan conform to that fragment, and deal similarly with the Yeomanry. Without some such assurance and an explanation which will allay the apprehensions of danger lurking even in the practical plan of organising an expeditionary force, the Amendment must be pressed to a division. When I pass to the plan for creating a new Territorial Force I would ask and attempt to answer only two questions. What material will be 94 left out of which this force is to be created, and will it really support and expand the fighting line? The Militia are gone, so I turn to the Yeomanry. What will be left of the Yeomanry? The Yeomanry is now in a satisfactory state, thanks to its recent more liberal treatment. If we make the reduction from 5s. 6d. to 1s. 5d.; if we abolish the system of catering which they understand and like, and put in its place the Army ration, we shall largely extinguish the present class of Yeomanry. They may take a greater obligation in peace on the present terms and be prepared to fight side by side with the Army on Army terms and Army rations in war. But they are not, if I understand them, inclined to train in times of peace at Army rates and on Army rations. Their standard of living and standard of self-esteem must be considered. The prosperous farmer's son and the bank clerk will not sacrifice a happy holiday to go out and wash, cook, and scavenge and eat the kind of food to be given them in this proposed training, although in wartime they will rough it with anybody. The soldier is not asked to do all that will now be asked of this class, to learn to drill, to ride, and to do fatigues all at once inside a fortnight. The private soldier has his permanent cook-house, his dining and recreation rooms, his canteen and coffee bar, and the funds from various institutions husbanded by skilled advisers. The scheme as applied to the Yeomanry seems to be symmetrical, but it is almost absurd. This class will be lost; and it is to be borne in mind that it is the most teachable class, the only class that can be taught in the short time of training. To what class can we then appeal? To the class "that come to get a job;" but that class will go for six months, and not for fifteen days or eight days. On the hypothesis that they can be got they will be of no use, for they cannot learn anything m the time; and in attracting them the War Office will be competing against themselves and drawing them away from the special reserve on which the practical part of the plan depends. The same reasoning applies to the Volunteers. It cannot be thought that the Volunteer corps can all be satisfied with 1s. 3d. and Army ration, and all trained on a uniform and symmetrical plan. Supposing such difficulties as are thus suggested are surmounted in the 95 only way in which they can be surmounted, by the provision of a great deal more money in regard to their camp allowance, it is idle to disguise that they will be less adaptable than the Militia and Yeomanry to the Regular régime. I may be wrong in this particular, but I do not think so. I believe you could impose conditions upon the Militia and Yeomanry, such as the imposition of over-sea obligations, and by treating them as regular soldiers, which, though they may not like them at first, will eventually be accepted by them provided you do not abolish the Militia on the one hand and ask the Yeomanry to acomplish difficult tasks under impossible conditions on the other. But such obligations are less appropriate to the Volunteers. They are to be administered by county associations largely composed of civilians, while their constitution will be drawn up by the Army Council. The men under Clause 2 are to be trained and commanded always by Regular soldiers. There are to be fourteen divisional generals and forty-two brigadier-generals. I think Mr. Broderick must wish that he was in the House. The staffs of the three Army Corps which were to be formed under his scheme "pale their ineffectual fires" before the fourteen divisional generals and the forty-two brigadier-generals. And the Army Council is to retain the command of the first, and the Army Council is to decide how much money one association is to get, and how little money another association is to get. The powers of the associations are to be regulated by the Army Council. The men are to be enlisted out of the Territorial Force into the Army Reserve. The men are to be asked to accept an obligation for oversea service. Many a Secretary of State has made that proposal to his military advisers. In my day they would not hear of it. I do not know whether the Volunteers have changed their mind, but they described it as a plan for dividing the sheep from the goats. I remember bringing it forward myself in this House, and I remember that an hon. friend said that I made a very good speech, but that the less that was heard of it in the future the better. It lasted forty minutes by the clock on a June afternoon, and the next man on the Government Bench was put up to say that the Government had abandoned that idea. If you apply all these provisions 96 to your Territorial Force, which I think I have shown will be almost exclusively composed of the Volunteers as we now know them, your Territorial Force will get smaller and smaller until it vanishes. But if you waive them all, then your Territorial Force will become quite valueless for the purpose you contemplate, namely for support and expansion in time of war. In any case they are under no obligation to undertake either the one duty or the other. I have tried to show that the scheme is not a whole, but that it is made up of two plans, one for a large expeditionary force which has many merits and some defects; and another of a speculative character to create a Territorial Force. I believe the second plan is a visionary plan, unless you are prepared to modify the conditions now to be found in this Bill. I say that the two plans are incompatible, since the first for an expeditionary force cannot succeed unless it depletes the Territorial Force, and that the Territorial Force cannot be kept at the numbers you desire unless you abandon the idea—and you ought not to abandon it—for an expeditionary force of 160,000 men maintained for six months. If you do not ask your Territorial Force to undertake these obligations for oversea service, then your plan for an expeditionary force breaks down altogether. Whatever happens to the one at the expense of the other, you have no plan under the Bill for adapting the Territorial Force to support the Regular Force. I may be told by the right hon. Gentleman that there are bridges in his scheme. I never quite understood what the right hon. Gentleman meant by that. When he talks sometimes of welding all our forces into one, and at another time, as a matter of the highest importance, of having two distinct lines, I do not quite understand him. But I say that if these bridges are to be a reality, and to be crossed in both directions by many persons, then I think the two lines—the two distinct forces—disappear. If generals are always to be crossing in one direction to command and to train, and if other generals, who are to sit as assessors at the board of the county associations, are to be always advising these associations that their men ought to enlist in the Army Reserve, and ought to undertake oversea obligations; if the Army Council lavishes money in counties where obligations are undertaken, and doles it 97 out penuriously in counties where the obligations are refused, then I say your idea of two lines is only a phrase, and the Territorial Force will be exposed to these very conditions which maimed the Militia to such an extent that the right hon. Gentleman felt justified in abolishing it. If you are to do that, it would be far better to keep the present system with the Militia and Yeomanry, who can be put under Regular officers, and who ought to be put under more stringent obligations, than to attempt to place these obligations on, and to put Regular officers so absolutely in command of, the Volunteers. Perhaps I shall be told that these bridges do not amount to much. Perhaps when the Volunteers realise all the conditions of this Bill we shall be told that the divisional generals and the brigadier-generals are only a temporary measure. We shall be told that Clause 11 inviting men to enlist in the Army Reserve is only intended for men on a non-regular basis, and to provide an ammunition column of men who know the handling of a rifle, but that it does not mean that the Regular Army is always to be bleeding the Territorial Force as the Regular Army has always bled the Militia. But, if we receive these assurances, then this talk about two distinct lines is not a phrase, it is a policy. I do not know which it is to be, but if it is a policy it is, in our opinion, a bad policy, and, above all, a bad policy for this country. We want in this country successive forces, one supporting the other. The universal experience of war preparation is that if it is to be effective it must be modelled on the image of war. It shows that what you need is such a continuous succession of waves to support the Regular Awny, and it rejects altogether the dislocation resulting from two incongruous forces. We need such a succession of forces. That which is generally true is particularly true of our Empire, and we need such a succession of forces adapted to mutual support. You have now first the Navy, ready to fight at a moment's notice, then our Regular battalions abroad ready to fight without drawing on the Reserve, then the battalions at home ready to fight after drawing on the Reserve. And so we want the Militia and the Yeomanry placed under Regular officers, bound by oversea obligations to go oversea and fight when we are con- 98 fronted by a great national emergency. Behind them we want the Volunteer Force ready to take their place when they have gone abroad under these conditions. This scheme provides nothing of the kind. It is incoherent, it is not in consonance with the genius of our people or the exigencies of our Empire, and it has this last and fatal defect. This scheme will prevent and delay the despatch of a regular expedition upon which so much care has been bestowed until after six months of war has elapsed. It may even, if unrest should prevail during that period of feverish preparation, inflict a graver injury on the State. It might tie down the Navy to the vicinity of these shores at a time when our national existence would depend upon our Navy being perfectly free to operate at any distance and in any direction. I beg to move.
To leave out from the word 'that,' in order to insert, 'this House, though anxious to increase the capacity for expansion of the forces of the Crown in time of war, regrets that the Government should make proposals which, while destroying the Militia, discouraging the Yeomanry, and imposing new and uncertain liabilities on the Volunteers, would not, in a period of national peril, provide an adequate force for home defence or prompt support for the Regular Army in the field.' "—(Mr. Wyndham.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir EDWARD GREY,) Northumberland, Berwick
The right hon. Gentleman opposite has held office in the War Office, and is, no doubt, an authority on military questions, to which he has devoted considerable attention, and as regards which in this House he has more than once shown conspicuous ability at a time when the House much needed encouragement. I trust he will understand that if my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War does not rise at once to reply to him as only some one who has had equal experience inside the War Office could, it is because my right hon. friend will have to reply on the debate. I therefore trust the right hon. Gentleman will understand that if some of the questions he has asked are left over it is in order that a fuller reply 99 may be given later on. It is always a pleasure to listen to the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He is a master of language and measured phrase beyond the reach of the ordinary man, and sometimes I have heard him use his gifts in such a way as to be exceedingly helpful to the House when in a difficulty. I cannot say I have found him so helpful this afternoon. The pleasure of listening to him was as great as ever, but the profit was not so great. Some of the right hon. Gentleman's points had, I think, but little substance. His first point was made on the statement in my right hon. friend's Memorandum that establishments may be raised or lowered from time to time to suit the exigencies of war. He took exception to that statement, but I think his objection was really not an objection of substance. That statement of my right hon. friend's meant that his scheme should have some elasticity, and if objection were taken to the statement as he intended it, it would be simply on the ground that it would be better to have a scheme which would have no elasticity. Then I think there is an answer to one or two other points. The right hon. Gentleman said that there are various sections of opinion to which the scheme of the Government has caused apprehension or dissatisfaction. He said that the section of opinion which is in favour of compulsion is not satisfied with it because it is not compulsory; while the section of opinion which depreciates too much military spirit is also not satisfied because there appeares to be too much military spirit in the scheme. The right hon. Gentleman said that unfortunately these various objectors do not agree one with another. He might have gone a little further and said, as I think fortunately for the Government, that these objectors answer one another. Someone must find grounds of dissatisfaction in any scheme of Army reform. The objection of the right hon. Gentleman that some sections of opinion are dissatisfied with this scheme really amounts to this—that it is impossible to produce any scheme of Army reform which will please everybody. That I fully admit. There is a difference of principle between us and the bench opposite on this question. It is shortly this. Right hon. gentlemen opposite consider that an effective scheme of Army reform ought to be one providing for 100 organisation on at least three lines; we hold that if you organise on three lines you will increase expense and get, not efficiency, but confusion, and that a better plan is to organise on two lines. On that issue we are prepared to meet them. To organise on three lines is not practicable, but to organise on two lines will, in our opinion, give efficiency, economy, and strength. I will try to prove why we think so. My right hon. friend had three objects which he desired to secure in his scheme of Army reform. Any one who sets these three objects before himself, as he proceeds at the War Office to work them out, is inevitably led to the conclusion that his plan must be on two lines if these objects are to be secured. What had my right hon. friend in view? His first object was to organise the Regular Army at home and provide that it could be used abroad on the outbreak of war; in other words, that the country may be in a position to use, and use without delay in an emergency, the force for which it pays. I think as regards that point the fault which is found with the Government for having reduced the Regular Army is one of the letter only, and not one of substance. Numbers may be reduced, but power is increased. The question is not the numbers of your Regular Army, but whether you can use the numbers you have got. The scheme now before the House would enable us, on the outbreak of a serious war, to send abroad a larger force in less time and better equipped than before. It is true there is a saving of money, but it is natural there should be a saving of money. That is reached in this way. There are certain subsidiary services for which my right hon. friend will no longer provide by means of Regular Troops—the transport, supply, and medical services. He will provide for these from non-professional sources, the men provided for that purpose training with the Territorial Army. The right hon. Gentleman says that if we are going to induce these men to undertake oversea obligations, we shall deplete our Territorial Army, and diminish our power of expansion on the outbreak of war. No; because these particular men will be supernumerary. I maintain that my right hon. friend secures by his scheme efficiency and economy combined. We are always asking for economy. As 101 regards the Army, we have for many years—I am not sure it is not true of both sides—believed there has been considerable waste, but when we do make a reduction of expenditure the question is at once raised on the other side: Are you not sacrificing efficiency? If there has been waste, however, it follows that it must be possible to have economy and reduced expenditure without impairing efficiency, and possibly with an increase of efficiency. The second object my right hon. friend had in view was that you should make provision which would enable you to maintain in the field for six months the force you have sent abroad. You must not only send it abroad, but you must have ready the organisation and material to maintain it in the face of the enemy for, at any rate, six months. This object my right hon. friend proposes to provide for by the special arrangement of the third battalions and the special contingent. It is a new arrangement, but we have been driven to have some arrangement for supplying drafts for the Army in the field, because we were left without any arrangement for supplying these drafts, and the Militia would not undertake to do it. It was absolutely necessary that there should be some arrangement. Here is where the root of the objection to the scheme before the House comes in. In providing drafts, in making your organisation to maintain the Regular forces in the field for six months, and to enable you to feed that force, you have necessarily by the logic of circumstances been brought into conflict with the Militia, which would not undertake the duty of providing the drafts. If, in a short sentence, the opposition to this Bill could be summed up, I think it might be summed up as a Militia opposition. [OPPOSITION cries of "No."] Well, I listened to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and when I heard him dwelling on the question whether, after all, it would be necessary to divide upon the Amendment, it seemed to me that the question whether the Party opposite would divide on the Amendment would depend very much on the attitude of the Government towards the Militia. If it had not been for the attitude of opposition raised by the Militia question there would, I think, have been no Amendment from the Front Bench. As the hon. and gallant Member for 102 Sheffield has not yet spoken, I think I am safe in saying that the strongest language up to the present used against the scheme has been that of the Duke of Bedford, who speaks on behalf of the Militia. He has spoken elsewhere in such terms of the special contingent and the special organisation for supplying drafts that I am not sure they could be repeated under the stricter rules which obtain in this House. They expressed the strongest possible dislike to the special contingent and these third battalions. I am not surprised that that dislike should have been expressed by any one in the Duke of Bedford's position, because the class which will be attracted into the special contingent is precisely the class of which, to a large extent, the Militia has hitherto been composed. Why should that excite disapproval in a Militia officer? It is because this is a limited class in our population. It consists of men who are very young, and who have not yet got into such employment that they cannot spare the time for a month or twos training. That is a limited proportion of our population, and, if you see in this Bill the destruction of the Militia, it is because, in the first instance, the special contingent and the third battalions will draw from that limited class a large amount of the elements upon which the Militia has hitherto depended. I understand, therefore, the Militia opposition to these special contingents; but the work of supplying the drafts to the Regular Army in the field must be secured somehow. If the Duke of Bedford and the Militia officers had assured us, or if right hon. Gentlemen opposite had been able to give us an assurance on their behalf, that they would supply the drafts for the Regular Army in time of war, then they would have had a case. If they had said they would do it better than the special contingent we should have admitted that that was a complete answer. But not only have they not said they would do it better; they have said definitely, emphatically, and finally, they will not do it at all. As regards supplying the drafts to the Regular Army, as regards the work of maintaining the Army in the field in time of war, the Militia has put itself out of Court, and my right hon. friend was bound to resort to some other method, if he was to be able to feed a force 103 abroad. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has made considerable criticism, not from the Militia, but from the strictly military professional point of view, upon the training which will be given to the special contingent. My right hon. friend when he comes to deal with this question, will follow all these intricacies of detail, and explain precisely how we propose to carryout what we believe will be a satisfactory arrangement. These men will, at any rate, have as much training as the Militia have had. The right hon. Gentleman's contention is that they will not have a satisfactory training, and will be trained in such a way as to spoil the training which is given at the same time to regular battalions. We maintain the exact contrary. We believe they will get a training of a better quality than they would have had in the Militia, and we believe that that can be done without spoiling the training of the regular second battalions. I said the right hon. Gentleman opposite was a master of measured phrases. When he came to this point, however, I think his phrase was a little unmeasured. He compared these special contingents to the men David took by fifties and hid in a cave. Was it David who hid them by fifties in a cave? In any case, if I remember rightly, the rations were very poor— these men were fed on bread and water. ["Locusts and wild honey."] Somebody said locusts and wild honey. My recollection of the men David trained is that they were exceedingly efficient, but even the right hon. Gentleman would not contend that there were already some regular troops in the cave who would be able to give an example and help to the special contingent. I repeat that the special contingent will, for the purposes of war, get a better training than the Militia have yet done, and that will be done without interfering with the training of the Regular troops. Those are the first two objects of my right hon. friend—to be able to send a force abroad and to be able to supply it with drafts for six months when it is in the field. Those are the first two paramount objects of Army reform, and you must make sure of these two objects before you proceed to anything else. You must secure a third object afterwards, but you must not secure that third object at the expense of either of these first two 104 objects. The right hon. Gentleman complains that, when we come to our third object, which is that of providing for gradual expansion in time of war, and to secure which we organise on two lines, we shall produce dislocation and destroy the link which ought to exist between the Regular Army and the force behind it. His policy, as I understand it, is that you must organise on three lines, and that you must link these three lines one I with another. Well, his Government had some years which they spent in attempting to organise on three lines. They found great difficulties. Have they really seen their way to overcome these difficulties? They have made more than one attempt. I could not help remembering, when the right hon. Gentleman opposite divided my right hon. friend's scheme into two parts, the practical and the speculative, that they had two plans which were not linked together. Was not there the plan of one War Secretary and then the plan of another? Was not one of these policies speculative and the other practical? We have not found out yet which of these was practical and which was speculative. The link between the Militia and the Regular Army was destroyed by right hon. Gentlemen opposite when they abolished the Militia Reserve. The right hon. Gentleman did not shirk that point. He admitted that they had destroyed the Militia Reserve, but, he said, a good deal has happened since then. There were the three years men. Were they to take the place of the Militia Reserve? But they were abolished by the Party opposite; and the three years men disappeared before the change of Government took place. The link had gone when the Militia Reserve was abolished, and what my right hon. friend has had to do has been to provide for gradual expansion in time of war, an organisation which, we believe, will be suitable to training and encouraging the military talent of the country. What sort of expansion do we want in time of war? We shall never attempt, and this country can never attempt, to overwhelm its foes by mass of men on land. Whatever big land war we engage in must, on our part, be a defensive war. It must be a war to defend, not a war to invade, in the sense in which Continental nations would invade each other. The object of each of the Continental nations engaged 105 in a land war must be to overwhelm in mass of men, to reach the heart of the enemy's country and to overcome it by force. Our military problem will always be on land a defensive problem, and we have to bear in mind that, just as we cannot overwhelm in mass on land, so we cannot be overwhelmed ourselves. The Navy protects us against that. I do not want to go into the dinghy controversy, but what we have to provide against at home is, at most, a raid, and not to have to defend in mass. The assumption of the whole of our Army scheme is that the Navy keeps the sea communications open for us, and closes them to any one with whom we are at war. If the Navy cannot do that, the history of this country as a Great Power is at an end, and neither conscription nor any other system that can be devised will avail. Therefore, that is the assumption, and, if the Navy can fulfil that function, the country is protected absolutely. Distant places that can only be reached by sea communication are protected, but there do remain places of which India is most familiar to the House. There, with the frontier which we have, we shall not want men. We shall want, or we should want, if we are ever attacked, which, in my opinion, is an unlikely contingency—but, so long as it remains a contingency at all, it is something which must seriously be taken into account in our Army provision—not a great mass, but staying power and gradual expansion. And that expansion I must be by units. How are you to produce, in the nation, that gradual expansion —it is gradual and not summary or sudden expansion that you want—in time of war? You must have an organisation in peace which can, in time of war, readily embody and train the Volunteers of the nation as a regular fighting force, and that is what my right hon. friend creates by this Territorial Force. The right hon. Gentleman says that all those who enrol themselves in the Territorial Force do not undertake any over-sea obligations. That is perfectly true. As regards any great war, we must, in this country, depend upon the patriotism of people who, in time of peace, have not undertaken any over-sea obligations. If you are to conduct successfully a great war, it can only be because such a war so appeals to the spirit and patriotism of the people of the country, because they so believe in the honesty and justice of 106 their cause, that the question of whether a man has or has not undertaken an over-sea obligation is swept away by the wave of patriotism. Of course the Volunteers and Territorial Force will not undertake any over-sea obligations, and no nation has ever yet created a great army which has undertaken over-sea obligations. But the appeal which my right hon. friend wishes to make is to the nation as a whole, not to undertake over-sea obligations, but to enrol in a force which will enable them, voluntarily, if the time ever comes, to be trained at short notice to undertake any obligation which they are willing to undertake. If you are to do that, you must have something like a national organisation, and I believe you must have one organisation which will appeal to the nation as a whole. And that one organisation is the Territorial Army organisation proposed in the scheme now before the House—one organisation for all auxiliary and non-professional forces. What would happen if you attempted, under this scheme, two organisations instead of one for the Auxiliary Forces? For the Militia as it was you would not get the men, because they are being drawn away for the special contingent; and if, after providing a really efficient Militia organisation, you were then to proceed to provide a separate organisation for the Volimteers, you would incur great expense and get confusion and not efficiency as the result. The fact is that Lord Lansdowne really gave away the ease as regards the Militia when he said the Militia had been plundered at one end for the Line and encroached on at the other end by the Volunteers. Yes, and if you follow that quotation out, you get, in my opinion, the corollary that if you are to maintain the Militia on its old basis, you can only do it by plundering the Line, or by encroaching on the Volunteers. The Militia, as it is, has no cavalry, no field artillery. Its strength has fallen, its officers are insufficient, the cost per head is increasing, the efficiency per unit is decreasing. If, as part of this scheme, you are to make it one of your objects to take the Militia up to its old basis, to provide cavalry and field artillery, and to get it to the strength at which you would wish to have it, you will find you have incurred very great expense, and if you are to proceed, after that, to organise behind that a third line, 107 the Volunteers, you will soon find that your Army expenditure will run to an amount which I believe the country would not desire, and, as we believe, you would have created not efficiency but confusion. What has been the lesson of previous attempts at Army reform and of almost all Army questions for some years past? It has been that, inevitably, there has been confusion and waste. I believe that has been due, more than to any other one cause, to the attempt to organise on three lines instead of on two. What my right hon. friend proposes in his Bill is one Territorial Force which, as we believe, is adapted to attract every one in the nation who desires, voluntarily, to fit himself to defend the interests of his country, if need be. It is said that we shall not get the men. I think the right hon. Gentleman opposite said that the Volunteers were the worst off. Although we are not giving 2s. 6d., that 2s. 6d. went very largely to pay certain charges from which the Volunteers will now be entirely free. Therefore, the argument of the 2s. 6d. cannot really be used to prove discouragement of the Volunteers. But these who say we shall not get the men hardly realise what we are proposing to do. When they do realise that we are proposing to ask the Territorial Force to undertake a more extended obligation than the Volunteers have previously-undertaken—that is to say, to go out for six months at home in time of war—they will see that we are providing the Volunteers with the stimulus of responsibility that they never had before. I think the late Secretary for War, if he was correctly reported, once said that when he went to the War Office he asked what the Army was for, and he did not get a satisfactory reply. If he has asked what the Volunteers were for, I am sure he has never had a satisfactory reply. The Volunteers have been regarded by some sections of opinion as a plaything to be indulged in.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY
I said there have always been some people who regarded the Volunteers as a plaything to be indulged in. I did not say I did, or that anybody in particular did. Is there nobody who in the last twenty years has 108 ever held that view? There will be nobody if this scheme passes, for then, for the first time, it will be made perfectly clear to every one that the Volunteers do not exist for their own sake, but for the sake of the country; that they have a definite, real responsibility and obligation, and a definite place in the defence of the country. That does, in my opinion, provide a stimulus and a spirit to which, I believe, the Volunteers will respond. I have always believed that if you only made to the voluntary public spirit of this country an appeal which was intelligent, reasoned, and clear, and gave them to understand that the appeal was made, not merely to sentiment, but because they were really wanted to undertake certain obligations, you would get a response. The fact that you will get that response I believe accounts for the apprehension that my right hon. friend's scheme may create too much of a military spirit in the country. I do not believe it will. It may increase the military spirit, but, if so, it will, I think, do it in the sense of creating public spirit. I would much rather in this connection use the phrase "public spirit" than "military spirit." We shall, I believe, under this scheme develop and encourage the talent of the able-bodied men of the country to defend it; we shall undoubtedly encourage the power of defence. Is there a risk that in doing so we shall also stimulate a tendency to aggression in the population? If there were such a risk, we should have to take it; but I do not believe there is such a risk. Nobody can dislike more than he who has for long had to do with public affairs what seems to be a rising tendency to aggression in the country in the public affairs of which he is engaged. But if the Volunteers realise that voluntary training is undertaken with a definite object, it will make men more serious. It is not seriousness but levity that creates a tendency to aggression. I do not believe there is a danger of increasing the military spirit in any sense other than that which would be more correctly described as public spirit. Everybody admits that reform is needed. You cannot have reform without change. The right hon. Gentleman opposite complained that in our plan we shall depart from continuity. We were obliged to depart from continuity, because the plans of our predecessors have not succeeded in 109 solving the problem. As you cannot have reform without change, surely let us beware of saying that change is a necessary objection to reform. If you are to attempt reform without touching the Militia, and, indeed, spending more money on the Militia, and without making a new appeal to the Volunteers, then I think you may have reform with the minimum of change, but with an exceedingly undesirable change. Yon will have eliminated change with regard to the Militia and the Volunteers from your scheme of Army reform, but you will have introduced a new and most objectionable form of change, and that is an increase of expense. I think the system of change on which this scheme is based is to reduce expenditure and to simplify and to solve the problem. Of course, it will not meet the views of these who think that conscription is the only remedy, but I do not understand that to be put forward by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. If conscription is to be put forward in this House as an alternative to the scheme of the Government, then it must; be put forward openly, and we shall be prepared to meet it. It is not, as I understand, put forward as an alternative in this Amendment. When the right hon. Gentleman talked of the need of modifying this scheme he hinted very obscurely at the possible ultimate rejection of this Bill, if not here, in another place. If the Opposition push this Amendment to the Second Reading to a division, it will mean that they have taken up a line of irreconcilable and determined opposition. The Opposition have less right than usual to object to this measure. They have had their chance; they have had it for some years; they have had their two plans, and I have not heard any indication that anybody wishes these plans to be revived if right hon. Gentlemen opposite succeeded in turning us out and had an opportunity of dealing with this problem again. These plans having disappeared, the present Opposition having had their chance for some years, it was our duty to approach this problem; and I could not help thinking, when the right hon. Gentleman said our scheme was now launched on its voyage towards the horizon of hope, it would be much more correct to say that our scheme is the first in recent years in which hope has appeared above the horizon. The right hon. Gentlemen opposite could not solve this problem 110 when they had a majority; they cannot now they are in a minority, because they cannot act, and they cannot carry measures through this House. Although they cannot perform, there is left to them under the Constitution a power which I do not believe any Opposition ought to have—the power to wreck. It would be unfair in me to infer from the tone of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that they have resolved upon any such policy; but we never know whether this temptation to attempt elsewhere what they cannot do here may I arise and prevail later on. If that were to be so, I should say never was there a more illegitimate use of what I consider to be the undue power which the Constitution now gives to the minority in the House of Commons. The scheme that my right hon. friend has brought before the House conies before it backed by military opinion. I am aware that a section of military opinion would prefer conscription, and it does not like this measure because it is not conscription. But that being out of court as an alternative for the purpose of this debate, we are entitled to say that it comes before the House adopted by military opinion, and with the military approval of these who wish to see the voluntary system made a success. We may claim for this scheme that it has been conceived in no party spirit. I think that has always been admitted, and any recrimination or any reflection upon its predecessors has been singularly absent from my right hon. friend's speeches, considering how much material he might have made use of. We do not wish to make it a party question. It has not been hastily produced; it is the result of a thorough review of the whole situation, and it is earnestly recommended to the House as the most coherent, the best-thought out, and the most acceptable and effective scheme of Army reform which has been presented to Parliament in recent years.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
The military opinion which the right hon. Gentleman has given to the House in favour of this scheme is the same military opinion that was given to us by the predecessor of the present Secretary of State for War in terms equally strong; and in a book which the right hon. Gentleman published he 111 has given chapter and verse for the approval of a diametrically opposite scheme by the three distinguished generals who have been referred to as approving of this new scheme. Therefore it is incumbent upon the House of Commons to consider this question for itself, and entirely apart from military opinion. One distinguished member of the Army Council has already expressed his opinion in favour of conscription. Therefore, I think the House of Commons must feel that it is our duty to settle this question for ourselves, and not be affected by the suggestion that certain distinguished generals have approved of this scheme, as they have approved of other diametrically opposite schemes. It is notorious that these distinguished generals are in favour of conscription, and time after time they have stated that none of these schemes will work, and that conscription is the only real solution of the problem. My right hon. friend has met the opposition in regard to the Militia, and I will not deal with that question. But I ask the House to consider the very grave doubts which some hon. Members entertain with regard to this scheme—doubts which do not diminish with careful consideration of the Memorandum laid before the House by the War Office. My sympathies are with my right hon. friend in his attempt to diminish the number of different services which exist side by side in this country, but I am amazed to hear the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs say that this is a scheme to diminish the cost. I am surprised to hear that statement from anyone who has carefully considered the question. There may be a temporary diminution of the cost by means which are very doubtful, but the statement that the scheme can be carried out within the limits of the figures presented to the House will easily be disproved before this debate ends, Admissions will be made by the Government; or, if they are not made, the scheme will be dropped, unless it is put in force in one or two counties experimentally. One of these two things must happen. Let us consider the results at which the Secretary of State is aiming, and the cost at which he expects to obtain these results. In this scheme all rests on the expeditionary force of 167,000 men. The numbers are an enormous increase on any that have 112 hitherto been proposed; and the Foreign Secretary's speech was wholly lacking in any suggestion of why such a force should be needed at a moment's notice. No one suggests that an expeditionary force of 167,000 men is to go post haste to India at the beginning of a war. Both parties concur in the view laid down by the ex-Prime Minister, and the Secretary of State has expressly concurred in it, that the advance of Russia towards India, if it ever takes place at all, must be at a greatly diminished rate; it must take place by railways, and must be a matter of very slow progress. Therefore the expeditionary force cannot be intended for that purpose. Is it right that we should prepare our Army for operations of an immediate nature on this scale? I think the policy pursued by both Parties in the State up to the present time on this question of an expeditionary force is the wiser one. Our Imperial expenditure on land forces is already enormous—£20,000,000 in excess of the expenditure on our Fleet; while the reductions which have been effected on the Navy have been double these on the Army. In his Memorandum the Secretary of State for War said that his scheme is based on Cardwellian principles, and he went a little out of his way to propitiate my hon. and gallant friend beside me, and myself, by saying that Cardwellian principles were not necessarily concerned with linked battalions or particular terms of service. But Cardwellian principles are concerned with the cost of this scheme. To the seventy-four pairs of battalions now existing the right hon. Gentleman adds another seventy-four, so that in future there will be a treble fettering of the system round our necks; and then the right hon. Gentleman adds that this is the foundation of the particular size of his expeditionary force. I was astonished to hear that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover approved the size of this expeditionary force, for the Leader of the Opposition condemned it at the outset, on the ground that he could not conceive the circumstances for which it could be required, and that by implication it could only be intended for European complications. In that view I entirely concur. It is extraordinary how far the Secretary for War has gone in admitting that the 113 gigantic size of this expeditionary force depends upon a mere accident. He has said—The basis is that of the number of units actually in existence at home to find drafts for the force in India and abroad.Then the right hon. Gentleman in February, in a debate in this House, asked himself the question, "Why fix on 160,000?" and his answer was, "Because I have all these men for another reason, to supply the drafts for India and abroad." Well, my right hon. friend has made a scheme for the despatch across the seas I of an expeditionary force of 167,000 men, but it is necessary that we should press him more closely before we pass this Bill, for which we shall be responsible in the future, and in respect of which in the years to come we shall have to say what we meant by giving it our support. It will be necessary to ask many questions of the right hon. Gentleman. Even though the scheme may never come into operation except experimentally, yet the House of Commons will be failing fundamentally in its duty if it does not examine its details with the greatest care, in the light of the principles laid down by the right hon. Gentleman. On 14th September, at Newcastle, the right hon. Gentleman, speaking of the Territorial Army, said—Under this scheme, we might manage to maintain in the field an army of 700,000, of 800,000, or even of 900,000 men. The thing is within compass. It is possible to devise a system for a very much larger expansion than has been contemplated.While desiring that the money spent on the Army shall be well spent, I cannot believe that, given our naval supremacy, we shall best consult the interests of the country by maintaining ready for instant despatch an expeditionary force of 167,000 men, besides our large peace garrison in India, and a Territorial Army capable of expansion to 700,000 or 900,000 men. The necessities of the Navy must come first, and it cannot be conceived that the country will year by year consent to its present expenditure on the Navy, and at the same time contemplate keeping up this expeditionary force with this Territorial Army behind it, as well as the enormous peace garrisons of our ports across the seas. On that I take issue with my right hon. friend, and if it is attempted to pass over the enormous figures, and 114 to say that of these great forces the expeditionary force alone is real, and that the other is a dream possibly of the future, then I say that we must press the right hon. Gentleman more closely in order to know what is to be the scale of expenditure upon the Territorial Army for which we are prepared. The right hon. Gentleman, I think, like Paul, has been a little open to the charge of being all things to all men. Just as Paul said—To them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, that I might gain them that are without law.So the right hon. Gentleman is a Regular to the Regulars, a Territorial Volunteer to the Territorial Volunteers, a little bit of a conscriptionist—[Mr. HALDANE dissented]—well, a friend of conscriptionists, and at the same time he is a leading pacifist to the pacifists. The right hon. Gentleman has stated in most emphatic terms that by this Bill he is erecting entrenchments and earthworks against conscription. But the Bill is being placed before the House on the advice of the Army Council, and the Army Council as individuals are in favour of conscription. ["No."] Two members of the Council have said so in public and the third leading Member said it in private on several occasions. It is notorious that the ordinary soldier at the present time is nothing but a conscriptionist. I do not think it is a real danger, but my right hon. friend is in the position of receiving support all round, and he quotes this support with approval. On 4th March my right hon. friend quoted by way of peroration, the declaration of The Times military correspondent; and it is notorious that the powerful articles of that clever soldier have contributed very greatly to the success of this scheme. This scheme will be carried undoubtedly, and it will be to that soldier that the great success of it will be in part due. It would, of course, be very largely due to the right hon. Gentleman himself, but The Times military correspondent was the right hon. Gentleman's chief backer in the Press. The Times military correspondent, in what he wrote, said that the scheme which he supported was a—Leap in the dark. … It is better that we should know for certain that we cannot expect to create a serious national army by voluntary service than live in a fool's paradise.115 My hon. friend the Member for the Abercromby Division of Liverpool said—If the present scheme fails there are evil days in store for these who hold to the old ways of voluntary service, and the freedom of the subject.The views that have been expressed by the supporters of two very diverse opinions—views of a similar tenor, show how necessary it is that the House should scrutinise the scheme closely. The War Office under this scheme are to get control of the Volunteers; but the form in which they are to be given that control is dangerous. A few years ago the Under Secretary for the Colonies wrote several letters to The Times in which he used language relating to the total misunderstanding of the Volunteers by the Regular soldier. My hon. friend wrote—The War Office has always hated the Volunteers and sneered at them and despised them. That prejudice is still as strong as ever at headquarters. There is a feeling that but for the Volunteers we should have to adopt conscription, and then the War Office would have everybody's life and liberty to play with, which would make them very happy indeed.The language used is, perhaps, too highly coloured, but the fact is that the Regular soldier has never understood the Volunteer, and it is accordingly urged that steps should be taken to prevent the Volunteer from being put under the Regular Army, bound hand and foot. I think the Volunteers ought to be represented on the Army Council itself. One of the reasons given for this prejudice by my hon. friend is that the War Office and the headquarters staff feel that the Volunteers stand between the country and conscription. There is, however, this difficulty about the scheme of my right hon. friend, that under it he destroys the present constitution of the Volunteers, and when once it is killed it cannot be revived. I believe that it will be very difficult to get the Volunteers to bind themselves for so long a period of service as that contemplated by the Bill. In the interim Report of the Committee on Officers it is pointed out that it will be—Impossible for a young man of the professional classes to bind himself for longer than twelve months ahead.But there will be the same difficulty with the working classes as well in respect of these long engagements. The Report of the Committee on Officers goes 116 to prove and strengthen that statement, because it mentions a case where an experiment was tried as regards officers, and they say that the result of this appeal might afford a convincing proof of the statement they make, which is quite as true of the private Volunteer as it is of the officers. My right hon. friend, indeed, has failed to appreciate some of the advantages of the present voluntary system, which form a reason for going slowly and for examining closely the changes that are proposed. The right hon. Gentleman said that one of the scandals of our system is the non-correspondence of strength to establishment. Why? It may be so as to the Regulars and the Militia, but why as to the Volunteers? The establishment is merely nominal; it is fixed by the War Office, and corresponds to local feeling. It offers also this advantage, that in a period of strained international relations we can slowly, and without any mobilisation, recruit up to the larger scale. Why, then, get rid of that elasticity and adopt a cast-iron system? This is doubtless the view of the Regulars as to the Volunteers, which must have been adopted by the right hon. Gentleman without sufficient justification. Then as to the question of cost. The right hon. Gentleman has laid before the House the result of what he calls "a searching investigation," and he says that it will be best to put in everything, that" the Volunteers will be indemnified against cost" (which they certainly are not); and the right hon. Gentleman calls it an "approximate estimate," a "normal annual estimate." But no one will be found to defend that estimate now. The right hon. Gentleman began by cutting off all preliminary expenditure applicable to many subjects. There is, for example, the abolition of the Regular adjutant; but I think the House will insist on the retention of the Regular adjutant. The camp allowances are another item. There are many battalions in which the men receive payment at the present time. Some commanding officers can get men for a week without payment, but if they needed their services for a fortnight the men must be paid 4s. or 5s. [Mr. HALDANE dissented.] I have seen the figures embodying the finance of corps, and I assert that my statement is correct. The only doubt is as to what proportion of Volunteer corps payment does or does 117 not exist. Then the statement goes on in these words—It has been assumed that no payment of any kind is to be made for attendance at drill or musketry.In this statement you do not "indemnify the Volunteers." But the Australian partially-paid system, which is so admirable a success, pays the Volunteer for every moment of his time; if they take him for a portion of the day they pay him for a portion of the day; and that partially-paid system is consistent with perfect self-respect on the part of the Volunteer. He does not look upon himself as a regularly-paid soldier, but as a Volunteer, who simply receives payment for his actual time. The Memorandum goes on to deal with separation allowances, and these are only to be paid to a portion of the non-commissioned officers and none at all to the men; but the men in the Volunteers in many cases require these allowances just as much as the non-commissioned officers. There is no allowance for ammunition to the Artillery or for stores to the Engineers. It has been said that before 1863 the Volunteers were not artisans, but a great many of them were. I myself belonged to a corps, an Engineer corps, after I left the Cambridge University Volunteers—and even before 1863 the War Office were already supplying stores for the Engineers—spades, shovels, and all the stores used in the battalion. The Memorandum distinctly states that there is no allowance of ammunition to the Artillery, or stores to the Engineers. Let me say two or three words more on these figures—illusory figures it seems to me. At this moment there are twenty-three Volunteer adjutants, not Regular soldiers, who are receiving the full pay and allowances of the Regular adjutant. Does the right hon. Gentleman think he will get in the future a man of business, a young attorney, to do the work, or any large portion of the work, now done by the adjutants, for £100 a year? The adjutants now receive pay and allowances which, at the lowest computation, comes to more than £1 a day. This can be tested by the figures of the country as a whole. My right hon. friend was asked what was the number of Regular officers serving as adjutants, and the answer disclosed that the cost worked out at nearly £550 a year on the average. So that it is to my mind idle to suppose 118 that you will get a man of business who will turn out in uniform at all sorts of hours for £100 a year, and be a goodman. Then as regards military discipline, it is undoubted that there will be enormous difficulty in the case of the Territorial Army in getting a Volunteer officer to maintain strict discipline over the Regular drill sergeants. The Regular adjutant can do that. I am convinced that my right hon. friend will have to give way upon that question at all events, just as his supporters in the Press have told us he is going to give way on the question of the Yeomanry. There is the question of camps, which my right lion, friend says is vital. If it is vital, and if you are going to train more, I am satisfied that the House of Commons will take the view that you will have to pay more, and that it will not be possible to cut down the allowances in the way proposed. I should like to deal with the matter of garments. It is material to the Estimate which has been laid before the House. My right hon. friend gave an Answer to a Question the other day which I could not for the life of me understand. There was something about 11s. 5d. in it, and I tried to make out what possible garments you could get for that amount. I am relieved from all difficulty on that point by the Answer which the right hon. Gentleman gave today that the amount was over £2 The sum is not for a walking out suit or a review suit, but for an ordinary working suit. You forget that the men in camp must have clothes to change into. You must let them have, not only their working suit, but their review suit and walking out suit. Now that matter is under consideration, like a great deal of the finance of this scheme. The Secretary of State for War was asked a Question on the subject on 25th March, and in reply he said—The question as to whether any extra grant is to be made towards the purchase of uniforms for review and walking out purposes is still under consideration.When pressed further my right hon. friend said—It is clear that the public must provide these people with the clothing necessary.But there is no money for it in the accounts, and that is another matter on which I am certain the War Office will have to give way. As regards Artillery 119 ammunition, of course reduction was easy if you do not let the Artillery fire. They are at present in that position. The Secretary of State in reply to a Question on 22nd March said—The training of the Artillery Militia will be of an exceptional nature during the present year. There will be no gun practice.As a Member of this House I have for many years pressed for the creation of a mixed Artillery, as part of the Militia system if you like. I am one of those who believe that you are turning your Garrison Artillery into Field Artillery, and that during the hiatus, which may be a very long hiatus, the Artillery are not to receive ammunition and they are not to fire.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
I will not press that point. I believe it is not yet settled. Now as regards ranges. The matter of ranges is left in an extraordinary position in this scheme, and it raises a question which is most interesting to all Volunteers as to how far the War Office are looking forward to putting their hand into the public pocket through the county organisations. Some years ago some of us offered violent opposition to an attempt of the Lord Mayor to raise the cost of the Volunteers by public subscription. We held, and I believe the House of Commons will hold, that this service ought to be paid for by the State and not by private individuals. My hon. friend, who is so conspicuous and so good a Volunteer, asked how far the Volunteers were to be provided for by the Army Council, and how far by private funds. The hon. Gentleman showed how essential the question of ranges was in that respect. Paragraph 13 states—No provision is made for initial expenditure for equipment.It not only means equipment, but storage for equipment, which is often more costly than equipment itself. Some Volunteer battalions have equipment now, but the majority have not, and you cannot start the Territorial Army without a provision for equipment. You will have to start them at least as well off as the Militia at the present time. I think it is clear that depôt accommodation 120 cannot rest in the position in which it is now, and that will require money. The officer scheme is a matter not only of cost but of principle. The Secretary of State has declared that this is to be a democratic Army, but the method proposed for officering that Army cannot be regarded as satisfactory taken as a whole. Take many of the men who have done the best work—and given the most time—I have in my mind a man who would have made the best officer I have ever met, a literary man of great distinction, but not of large income—the men who have been the real officers of the corps—these men have not been able to accept the position which their talents and labours deserve. Under a democratic scheme you ought to be able to do honour where honour is due. And to do that means money. These men must be relieved of all demands upon their private purse. These things are still in a state of flux. They are still vague in the figures which have been laid before us. At page 12 of the Memorandum issued yesterday you may read—The proposed rates of pay and allowances for officers and men of the Territorial Army have not yet been finally determined; but broadly speaking, it is proposed to pay them, during the training period, at rates based upon the pay and allowances of the corresponding arms and ranks of the Regular Forces, in addition to ration and forage in kind, and to separation allowance for the families of non-commissioned officers. The rates to be paid in aid of the cost of messing will receive special consideration.Lord Portsmouth in a speech on 21st March said—He was not able at present to state what the amount of the animal bounty would be; that was a question which would be considered in Committee in another place.That will be an important matter, as my right hon. friend well knows. His supporters in the Press have all told him that it is impossible to run his scheme on the money he estimates it will cost. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head; but it cannot be done. The military correspondent of The Times, who has always supported his scheme, has said that it would need estimates at the least from £35,000,000 to £40,000,000 sterling a year. And that is without the £21,000,000 which the Secretary of State for India is spending on the Indian Army. It is useless to deceive ourselves on this matter. The Secretary of State 121 for War has told us that the figures might vary, and that the decisions ultimately arrived at might modify the cost. Therefore, the House will not be doing its duty unless it presses the, right hon. Gentleman to show precisely what the cost of the scheme will be, and on what scale the scheme is to be carried into effect. As to the representation of the Territorial Army on the Army Council, the right hon. Gentleman was not very clear in the alternative proposals he has put before the House. The absence of sympathy with the Territorial Army on the part of the Army Council is admitted. A Committee of officers presided over by Sir Edward Ward has spoken of "the absence of sympathy on the part of the War Office authorities." How are you going to meet that absence of sympathy? On 25th February the Secretary of State said—Our proposal is that there should be a Committee to represent the interests of the Territorial Army.Then on 4th March the right hon. Gentleman said that the civil member on the Army Council would have as his chief business in the future representing the county associations. Which was the right proposal?
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
When the tight hon. Gentleman was asked who was to be the civil member of the Army Council the answer was: "He is, as a rule, a Peer in the House of Lords." The democratic character of the scheme will not be improved by that, seeing that the officers in the future are to come from the public schools like Eton and Harrow. As regards the Lords-Lieutenants, the Secretary for War desires to restore to them some of that military position which Mr. Card well took away. He said that the Lord-Lieutenant would, in future, be a very different person from now. I have no doubt that the only Lord-Lieutenant appointed since the 4th March when that speech was made would be even more military than his predecessors. These of us who have had experience of Lords-Lieutenant have some doubt as to their ability in military matters. There is one Lord-Lieutenant at this moment whose only military exploit was driving his motor car through a unit of the Regular Army; and when the Com- 122 manding Officer spoke to him he said that it was impossible for him to stop the car, and that that was only the second time he had done it! There is very little that is democratic about this Territorial Army. If we are to attract the sympathy of the general public to this national Army it can only be by adopting the Australian plan of paying the artisan classes for all the time they are to give to the public services. Pay them for their loss of wages, and then their patriotism can be counted upon. In conclusion, I wish to say that while I entertain the gravest doubts as to the exact meaning of the scheme, I maintain that the expeditionary force is too largo for the needs of the country; as regards the union of the services, I am attracted by it, but even given that union I hold that it cannot be accomplished on the scale suggested without the cost being very much greater than is proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War.
§ MR. MCCRAE (Edinburgh, E.)
I agree with much that was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Forest of Dean, but would point out to him that the number of Volunteer corps whose officers pay their men four shillings or five shillings a day, when training, are very few indeed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover made a very interesting speech, and in the course of it he said that the scheme of the Secretary of State for War does not provide "an adequate force for home defence or prompt support for the Regular Army in the field." The right hon. Gentleman has had great experience in Army matters. I remember the time when he was Under-Secretary for War, and I must say that the late Government made a fatal blunder, when the opportunity occurred, in not promoting him to be Secretary for War. If they had done that I feel sure that both the Regular Army and the Auxiliary Forces would have been in a very different position from that in which they are to-day. The right hon. Member for Dover put this dilemma, one of his own creation: You must he said, either (1) deal with your forces as they are, or (2) abolish your present system and adopt a compulsory system of training. That is not the position. Even if the scheme of my right hon. friend the Secretary of State 123 for War goes by the board, the resources of civilisation are not exhausted. The alternation is not conscription. I maintain that the scheme does provide for an adequate force for Home defence, and also for the prompt support of the Regular Army in the field, and compares favourably with the futile attempts of his two predecessors at the War Office, which have led to such disastrous results in the Volunteer Force. If the scheme of my right hon. friend is not perfect, it at any rate holds the field: and it has this advantage, that it is formed on a voluntary basis. I compliment my right hon. friend on the fact that he has shown no disposition to rush it. He has wisely given the country time to think about it, to digest its details, and has shown himself disposed to consider the opinions of these who have given their services to the State in a voluntary capacity. As the right hon. Gentleman I has shown himself to be amenable to reasonable criticism, I hope he will be prepared to modify any details which will not invalidate the underlying principles of his scheme. Approaching the scheme under the conditions of Second Reading limitations, I think that the two line Army plan is a wise one and can be given practical effect to. Perhaps the Secretary for War may not agree with me, but I believe that the proposal for the county associations is not an integral part of his scheme. The second line Army is a grand conception; and it provides a force suited to our needs; but we can provide for that second line Army and yet dispense with the county associations. There has been a good deal of loose talk and muddled thinking in regard to the Auxiliary Forces. We have been told that they are unable to meet the trained troops of Continental nations. Now, if that is so, it is not because the material is bad. The right hon. Member for Croydon, when Secretary of State for War, said in this House that the Volunteers formed the finest material you can find anywhere. It is not that the individual Volunteer is not highly trained. I admit that he is not as efficient as he might be. But that is not the reason why he could not meet foreign troops. The weak point is that the Volunteers have not been organised into larger units. I have not met with a single Volunteer, officer or man who objects to a high standard of efficiency if it does not interfere with the 124 daily employment of the Volunteer. What is the scheme for this new Territorial Army? It is that a force is to be created consisting of fourteen mounted brigades, fourteen divisions of Infantry, with a full complement of cavalry and artillery and coast defence troops. I maintain that all that can be obtained without the interposition of county associations. By his scheme the right hon. Gentleman does not require a larger number of men than we have at present. His aim is that we should have as a second line a self-contained fighting force; that is a great advance on anything which has hitherto been proposed. There is no doubt that the training of that force is a very difficult problem; there must be a certain amount of elasticity, and to combine that with a high standard of efficiency is difficult. But the problem is one which can be solved. However, we must keep in view that these men are civilians, and their training must not interfere with their daily employment in civil life. A good deal has been said about camp training, and I do not undervalue that. Indeed I think my right hon. friend made a sad mistake this year when he abolished the fifteen days training even for one year. I think that will be prejudicial to a certain extent to volunteer efficiency. Although, however, I regard fifteen days training as the minimum which the Volunteers ought to undergo, we must have a certain amount of elasticity, and that is provided for under the Bill in having eight days training for these who are not able to do fifteen days. I remember the scheme of Mr. Brodrick which proved so disastrous to some of our best corps of Volunteers and which introduced compulsory camp training. Some of the best men cannot undergo a period of even eight days training, but these are the men who are very often intellectually and physically much superior to the great run of your Volunteers. An equivalent in drill is provided for them also. Then I have a word to say as to the county associations. I differ from the Secretary of State entirely with regard to the constitution, and in fact with regard to the creation of these bodies. We are in the happy position, however, in having led the Secretary of State for War a considerable way in my direction. I think we have at least arrived at the half-way house. The original idea of these county associations was that we should leave to them the 125 whole control of the Territorial Army, and Lord Esher's Committee recommended that the associations should be entrusted with the entire administration and financial control of the Territorial Force within their area. Now, I hold most strongly that your Territorial Army, if you are going to give it a chance, must be established on a purely military basis. I know the objection that has been urged, and urged with considerable force, that the military man does not understand Volunteers. I think it is true that in the past he has perhaps undervalued the services which the Volunteer has rendered. A great change, however, has taken place in regard to that, and since the South African War there has been a different feeling between the Regular Forces of the Crown and the Auxiliary Forces; but I do agree most heartily with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, that if you are to have a Territorial Army you must have direct representation on the Army Council. The original scheme of the Esher Committee has not been given effect to, and I admire the alacrity with which my right hon. friend has taken up a sounder strategic position on this point, and I only hope that he will see that these County Associations, having been divested of command and training, are very much in the position of tame white elephants under the training of the General Officers Commanding; the entertainment being arranged and superintended by the Army Council. I most sincerely object to the War Office farming out its responsibilities to these County Associations, and I believe that even now they are to have far too much control. In the last Memorandum but two, I think, which the right hon. Gentleman has issued, that of 25th February, he concluded by saying that financial and administrative arrangements connected with the Territorial Forces were still to be under the Army Council although not conferred by Act of Parliament. I believe that they will be detrimental to the efficiency of the new force. It is a great step in advance that the constitution of these bodies is not to be statutory, that they are to be entirely the creation of the Army Council. Even so, the creation of these bodies will simply be like throwing sand into the gearing of a good machine, 126 because so far as they exercise power they will kill initiative, and so far as they are purely ornamental they will be a delusion and a snare. The position of the Lord-Lieutenant at the present time is not unlike that which he will occupy under this scheme. It is not generally known, but at the present time the appointment to first commissions in the Volunteer Force is not in the hands of the Commanding-Officer; it is under the jurisdiction of the Lord-Lieutenant. A Commanding-Officer cannot appoint a new officer unless he writes to the Lord-Lieutenant of the County and asks him whether he wishes to exercise his right. If he writes back that he waives his right of nomination, than the Commanding-Officer can nominate. That is not generally known. These County Associations, instead of being a help to the scheme of my right hon. friend, which is on the right lines, will be a great disadvantage to it, and I do not wish to see it handicapped by unnecessary weights. Another objection to these County Associations is this—that so far as one can gather from the Bill the Army Council is to make different regulations for different areas. If the Army Council does so, it will be fatal to the efficiency of the force. You will have in many districts of the country merely half-trained troops and a want of uniformity which will make your Territorial Army of very little value. I think that under the scheme of my right hon. friend, the Militia, as we understand it, must go. [An Hon. Member: Why?] Well, it is going to be absorbed, and if the hon. Member had listened to the speech of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, I think he would have had conclusive evidence that that is so and the reason for it. It is to be absorbed by the special contingent and by the Territorial Army, but I must say that the right hon. Gentleman, so far as his Territorial Army is concerned, must depend upon the Volunteers. That being so, we must critically examine the conditions which he intends to impose upon that force. [Sir HOWARD VINCENT: Hear, hear.] My hon. and gallant friend the Member for Sheffield says "hear, hear," and I look back to the last Parliament, when I moved many Amendments on Volunteer matters and obtained the hearty assistance of my hon. and gallant friend; in fact, he 127 did everything but follow me into the division lobby; that evidently was too great a strain upon his patriotism. I agree with many of the criticisms which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover has made in regard to this scheme, but I think they are not vital criticisms, because I do not think that the House quite realises that at the present time the Volunteer Force is under pretty severe conditions, and with regard to the six months embodiment after war has been declared our position will not be much more onerous than it is at the present time. It has been asserted that the four years engagement will be a serious bar to getting recruits, but at the present time it is three years, and I understand that in some corps the minimum is four years. Then the right hon. Gentleman opposite was very much concerned as to the position of the Yeomanry, but I think he has done that force great injustice. He has said that the Yeomanry will not come forward unless they get 5s. a day; that they are drawn from a class which will not submit to the ordinary pay and rations of the regular soldier. Has the right hon. Gentleman considered that in the Infantry Volunteers at the present time There is a class of men superior so far as social status is concerned to the average yeoman? We have University Companies in some of our battalions, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the members of those companies in camp not only serve for the pay but do fatigue duty more cheerfully than others who ought to be more accustomed to that work. Therefore, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is fair to the Yeomanry in saying that they will not come forward unless they get paid sufficient to give them the luxuries which they would get at home. A man who cannot exist on Army pay and rations is, in my opinion, not worth having. The right hon. Gentleman has been most unfair to that branch of the service, in his difficulty and dilemma in finding arguments against a scheme which he himself must see is a great step in advance. There is one objection that has been made to the scheme by my right hon. friend which I cannot under-stand, namely, that it will encourage a spirit of militarism. I think it will have entirely the opposite effect. It is in your professional Army, backed up by 128 those who sit at home and shout and do not do any military service, that the danger lies. I have long held the opinion that if you do your own soldiering you will not be so fond of fighting. One can quite understand that those who bear the responsibility are much more careful in looking at the obligation which they have to undertake than those who do not. I am much astonished that from the Labour benches of this House should come an objection to the scheme of my right hon. friend. the Labour Members, in fact, are allying themselves for the moment with the advocates of conscription in opposing this scheme, and I think if they get hold of the idea which I have indicated just now they will find that their support of this second line army is the best bulwark that can be raised, not only against the spirit of militarism, but against compulsory service. I support this scheme because I believe there is an absolute necessity for a reduction in the national expenditure, and I think that, ultimately, this is the most economical way in which we can provide for the military necessities of the country. I do not commit myself to the conservative estimates of my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War in regard to the cost of the Territorial Army. I think those estimates are very conservative indeed. This is a scheme which, if it is to be a success, will require a good deal more money than has been indicated by my right hon. friend. But in spite of all that, I think my right hon. friend is going in the direction of economy. It will lead to savings on the Regular forces. He is carrying out the true conception of a small Army suitable for our needs, highly trained, and fully equipped, supported by a much larger body behind it. I support this scheme because I believe it will be a bulwark against compulsory service. I think conscription is not only unnecessary but also entirely unsuited to our needs. I fully concur with what Mr. Cardwell said in this House in 1871, that to enter upon such a course would be distasteful to the country and extremely objectionable from every point of view, but I also join with those who have warned my right hon. friend to be very careful in this matter. I do not think there is any doubt but that the War Office is 129 wedded to conscription. I do not, of course, suggest that they would interfere so as to interpose any obstruction to the success of this scheme, but as my right hon. friend is of a trustful disposition I would ask him to beware of the soldier tactician, because I believe these gentlemen may score off him in regard to the County Associations. If this scheme is carried out on its broad lines it will give us a second line force trained efficiently for home defence. It will also provide a reservoir from which we can draw in time of need. It has been said that we are not a martial nation but that we are a fighting race. That has been proved in every war. In no war in which we have been engaged has there been any lack of men volunteering for service. What we want are trained men who can give their services when called upon. And here let me say that I have always dissented from the views expressed by the Member for Croydon with regard to the Volunteers when the South African war broke out. In my opinion it cannot be too often stated that when that war broke out the Volunteers were prohibited from volunteering for service, and when, eventually, permission was given to them, every obstacle was placed in the way of the response being a success. No battalion was allowed to send a complete company under its own officers, and the whole thing was carried out in such a piecemeal way that the desire of the men to serve their country was stifled. That was felt when the time of stress came and when we sent out at 5s. a day men who had had no training whatever. We must endeavour to keep in touch with the first line. I agree with a great deal that has been said with regard to the necessity of keeping Regular adjutants with the Volunteers. We ought, so far as we possibly can, though the duties of the two forces may be entirely different, to keep them in touch with each other. And I think no better way can be found than to have instructors who are at the moment serving in the first line and who are quite au fait with all the new methods that are adopted and the changes that take place. It is of enormous advantage that there should be this interchange between the two forces. I will conclude my remarks with a quotation from 130 the speech made in this House in 1803 by Mr. Pitt who said—The Army must, be the rallying point; the Army must furnish example, must afford instruction, must give us the principles on which that national system of defence must be formed, and by which the Volunteer Forces of this country, though in a military view inferior to a regular Army, would, fighting on their own soil for everything dear to individuals and important to a State, be invincible.That is as true and applicable to-day as it was a hundred years ago.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
When the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs rose to reply to the speech of my right hon. friend the Member for Dover, I was a little disappointed that we had not had the advantage of hearing the Member of the Army Council who sits beside him. the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the War Office as a private Member used to have a good deal to say upon those matters, but since he has taken office he has not said one word. He has, I believe, once been allowed to move the adjournment, but he has never made any contribution to those debates. It would have been a great advantage to have heard his defence of the approximate estimates of this proposed scheme. Before I pass to the matter under discussion I must refer to one observation which fell from the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The right hon. Gentleman said that every body was asking what the Volunteers were for. That was a most unworthy question to come from a member of the Government. It was not a question put during the black weeks of the South African War, when within a very few weeks the Volunteer force was increased by 50,000 or 60,000; when 30,000 voluntered for service at the front and 25,000 were actually at the front. Since 1875 immense changes have taken place in regard to the Volunteer force. They are always ready to respond to every call the War Office makes upon them, and they have been highly complimented by those with whom they have served. Those compliments have been genuine compliments and not the clap-trap which is so offensive to the best men of the Volunteer corps. There is a Motion down in my name that this Bill shall be 131 read a second time this day six months. That Motion I shall not have an opportunity of moving, but I cordially support the Motion moved by any right hon. friend the Member for Dover who has so much knowledge of the subject and of the War Office. I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War will not think I approach this matter in any captious or Party spirit. When my right hon. friend the Member for Croydon was Secretary of State for War he knows perfectly well I did what I could to hinder him from embarking upon what I thought was a dangerous course, and the course I am taking now is entirely dissociated from any Party spirit. I greatly appreciate the enormous trouble that the Secretary of State for War has taken in going about the country and addressing Volunteer corps, distributing prizes and encouraging the corps and their officers. That being so, I am impelled to ask this question. Why does he now seek to abolish the Volunteers as at present constituted? Only the other day the right hon. Gentleman was good enough to publish the example of a battalion of 1,100 strong, and now he seeks to abolish them. If the Secretary of State for War had to deal with a different condition of things, with an entirely new country, if he was a German general forcing a new system on a conquered country, there might be something to be said for his scheme. But is it wise for him to abolish a system which has been in existence for 110 years, and has been established for fifty years on its present basis? Is it wise to abolish the Militia with hundreds of years behind them, and the Yeomanry, and all to obtain a new Territorial Force? I will not go into the question of the Militia which has been already so ably dealt with by my right hon. friend the Member for Dover, or into the question of the Yeomanry which will be dealt with by hon. Members far better qualified than I am to deal with it. But is it conceivable, when we hear nothing but praise from the Treasury Bench and from the Front Opposition Bench, and, in the face of the present condition of the Yeomanry, when, we see every regiment full and have the inspecting officers saying they are thoroughly well trained and efficient, that we should abolish all this for the purpose of obtaining a so-called Territorial Force? 132 If this scheme fails, as has been well said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, the re-establishment of the Volunteer Force on its present basis or the Yeomanry or the Militia is impossible, and the only alternative will be conscription or enforced military service. The hon. Member for Merthyr is not in his place, but he made an extremely able speech recently in which he said that if this measure had been proposed by a Conservative Government there would have been the greatest outcry against it by the gentlemen now forming the Government and the Liberal Party. The real fact of the matter is that here young men have an advantage of three or four years over their Continental contemporaries. They can make their plans at the most important moment of their lives without any consideration as to any claim upon them by the country. That is a great advantage. It is proposed to disband the Volunteer forces on their present basis, and I, for one, shall endeavour as far as possible, to prevent those forces from being scattered simply that they may be put under another name and called the Territorial Army. One or two points arise in connection with this matter. Who is the real author of this Bill? The Secretary of State appointed in the spring of last year a Committee of some forty-five members, chosen from highly distinguished officers of the Regular Forces, the general staff of the Militia, the Yeomanry, and well-known officers of Volunteers, together with several eminent civilians. That Committee met seven or eight times, and they gave a sort of general approval to some printed document laid before them concerning Lords-Lieutenant and county associations. The Territorial Army Committee was the name given to it by the Secretary of State, and. Lord Esher was appointed Chairman. But since that time the Committee has never been summoned at all. On the 17th October, each member received a circular, which was not marked confidential, saying that the Secretary of State was engaged in the consideration of several important matters, but he hoped soon to summon the Committee again to confer with them. From that day to this, no member of the Committee has ever had any summons at all, or has ever heard anything whatever of 133 this Territorial Force. That is most unlike the Secretary of State for War, who is courtesy itself. The right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean spoke of the right hon. Gentleman's great capacity for enlisting the sympathies of all persons with whom he came in contact. I will not attribute to the right hon. Gentleman the Biblical character given to him by the right hon. Baronet. At any rate, all who have had any dealings with him know that he is one of the most courteous of individuals, and that he is most anxious to do everything in an agreeable way. Therefore, I think the treatment of the Territorial Army Committee is one of the most inexplicable things I have ever heard of. The only suggestion I can make is, that the right hon. Gentleman saw that his Bill would never be approved, would never be endorsed or sanctioned by the Territorial Army Committee, and that he would be in possession of so many minority reports that it would be quite impossible to produce this Bill before the House of Commons. [An HON. MEMBER: the Duma was dissolved.] My hon. friend says that the Duma was dissolved, but this Committee has never been even dissolved, and we have never had even a farewell speech or farewell benediction from the right hon. Gentleman. However that may be, the House will at any rate distinctly understand that the Territorial Army Committee, appointed to assist the Secretary of State, has no part or parcel in the shaping or forming of this Bill, the Second Reading of which is now under consideration. Then the question arises, who is the author of the Bill? I suppose the Secretary of State will say the Army Council. The Army Council is responsible for the Bill, and, therefore, we have to consider who are the Army Council. The head and front of the Army Council is the Secretary of State for War himself. Then we have the Financial Secretary, who was so communicative of brilliant ideas in this House, and who is now so silent. Then There is the Under-Secretary for War, the Earl of Portsmouth. I can hardly think, with all my admiration for the many qualities of Lord Portsmouth, that he is a modern Napoleon, and that he is the real author of this Bill. Then we come to the military members. First of all, we have an officer of enormous ability in General Hadden who has only just been appointed, 134 and has had no experience whatever of the Auxiliary Forces. Therefore, he can have had very little share in the framing of the Bill. Then there are other two generals. the time of one has been fully occupied in organising the new General Staff, while the other has rendered brilliant service in India; and There is the Adjutant-General, General Douglas. I admit that General Douglas has a full knowledge of Volunteers, both in peace and in war. He was Adjutant for some time of the London Scottish, and he rendered very great service in that capacity. But I ask the Secretary of State for War very distinctly, has he received a Minute from General Douglas recommending him to disband the Volunteers as such? Secondly, has he recommended him to disband the Adjutants, of whom he was such a brilliant example, and who have done so much to keep the best corps up to the highest mark of efficiency? Has the Adjutant-General, in his Minute, recommended the Secretary for War to dispose of the property of the Volunteer forces, of lands and cash and so on, without any compensation, to the county associations? And, lastly, I ask him, has General Douglas, the Adjutant-General, with his knowledge of Volunteers, laid before the Secretary of State any Minute that under the Territorial Reserve Forces Scheme the men will be forthcoming? If he has, I would ask him to lay that Minute on the table; he ought to read it to the House. Now, there are one or two points of detail in connection with the Bill to which I should wish more particularly to refer. My principal objection to it is, that here we have, at the present time, an Auxiliary Force of 374,000 men, in round numbers—Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers. We have a war establishment of 503,000. I agree entirely with the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean that there is no disadvantage whatever in a disproportion between the actual strength of a force and its establishment strength; because it allows the force to be readily expanded without any public parade, and without any consent of Parliament—without calling Parliament together, without the Government being called upon to give any explanation which might cause offence to some foreign Power, and precipitate the very warlike operations which you are anxious to 135 avoid by timely preparation. I think, therefore, that there is very great advantage in having a large military establishment, and a considerable margin between it and the actual strength. What does the Secretary of State propose to do? He proposes to remove this force of 503,000 men and to substitute for it a possible force of 300,000 men. He has now 374,000 men in the Auxiliary Forces, and he thinks if he gets all he asks for that he will obtain 300,000 men. On that ground alone his scheme is one which I think should not be proceeded with. But how is he going to get his 300,000 men under the new system? Some parts of his scheme are good, but I will not touch upon them. I think the scheme for the special contingents and the special reserves to be a good thing. I do not know whether it will answer or not, but I do not see any reason why it should not be tried, while keeping the Militia and Volunteers just as they are at present. There is no occasion, in order to try it, to disband the forces we have now. Whether it will succeed or not I do not know; but we had an experimental company last year, and from my own knowledge of what can be done in six months, I think it is very likely that it would be successful if the men were forthcoming. Neither the Secretary of State, however, nor I, nor anybody in this House, can tell in the least whether the men will be forthcoming or whether they will not. Still, I am perfectly willing that the plan should be tried. There is not the slightest need, however, to abolish the present Auxiliary Forces in order to attain that end. What ground is there for supposing, having disbanded the Militia, the Yeomanry and Volunteers, that a sufficient number of men will be forthcoming to form the force of 300,000 under the much more stringent conditions which the right hon. Gentleman proposes? Now as to the explanation which he owes to this house. It is not enough for him to say, "I think they will be forthcoming;" what is his ground for thinking it, and what reliable sources of information will he be able to lay before the House on the subject? Another point which I think of importance in connection with this scheme is the matter of the county associations. The county associations, to be a success and to attract good men, must have a free hand. But at every step the 136 county association is to be under the guidance of the Army Council; as the Bill states, it cannot do anything really practical without the consent of that body. That being the case, I think that it would be extremely difficult to have satisfactory working by the county associations. This idea of county associations is not a new thing; it is not the idea of the Secretary of State at all; it is the idea of Elizabeth, it is the idea of Cromwell. If I remember aright, one of the great recommendations of this scheme to the Committee was that it was the idea of Cromwell, and that they were only re-establishing what Cromwell had done with a certain measure of success. Therefore, I will not quarrel with the county associations, but I do ask the right hon. Gentleman—and in Committee I shall do all I can to secure that he gives it—that the county associations shall have a much freer hand than is provided for in the Bill. The Secretary of State made a speech the other day—he has made many speeches, but he made one the other day in which he said that when he came to the War Office he found everything in a most confused state, and that everything was centralised in the Department. All I can say is that I have commanded different battalions of Volunteers for twenty-three years, and I have never found the slightest difficulty of any sort or kind. I have never had to ask the Government for a single sixpence of loan. But under this scheme nothing whatever is to be done without the formal approval of those county associations. That is sacrificing some of our best administrative ability and throwing it into the melting pot. I do not want to go at any great length into the details of the Bill, but there are one or two matters to which I should like to draw special attention. The first point I wish to raise is in regard to the legal proceedings. I desire to know what guarantee the right hon. Gentleman has that the men will be forthcoming for the Territorial Force after they have been dismissed from the Volunteers. The clauses dealing with legal proceedings are of extremely drastic character. Clause 23 lays down that—Any offence under this part of this Act, and any offence under the Army Act, if committed by a man of the Territorial Force when not embodied, which is cognisable by a court martial shall be cognisable by a court 137 of summary jurisdiction, and on conviction by such a court shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or with a line not exceeding £20, or with both such imprisonment and line; but nothing in this provision shall affect the liability of a person charged with any such offence to be taken into military custody.Is that one of the attractions which the Secretary of State for War holds out to the present Volunteers to join this new Territorial Force? Clause 24 is also a most extraordinary one. It provides that—An officer or man charged with an offence which under this part of this Act is cognisable both by a court martial and by a court of summary jurisdiction shall not be tried by both of those Courts.That is lucky. Then the clause proceeds—Provided that a man who has been dealt with summarily by his commanding officer shall be deemed to have been tried by court martial.Who ever heard of such a provision as that? A man whose omnibus is lateor whose train has been delayed by the fog—
§ MR. HALDANE
My hon. and gallant friend is under a slight misapprehension. That does not apply to a time of peace.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
But if the right hon. Gentleman will kindly read his own Bill, on page 16 he will find that it applies to "any offence under the Army Act if committed by a man of the Territorial Force when not embodied.''
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
Then is there going to be a court of summary jurisdiction to travel about with the Army in the field? Is there going to be a stipendiary magistrate attached to every corp under this new Territorial Force? Is this the attraction the Secretary of State for War is holding out for the Volunteers to join his new force? The present expense of the Auxiliary Force is, in round figures, about £4,400,000, and the Secretary of State for War claims that he will be able to procure his new force for £2,800,000. But how does he arrive at this conclusion? First of all he cuts down his 78,000 men 138 to 74,000, but he takes no account whatever of his fourteen divisional generals, or the guns, rifles, or equipment which they will require. He takes no account whatever of capital expenditure which will be necessary on drill halls and ranges and other details. There is no provision at all for review or walking-out uniforms, which I feel certain will be absolutely necessary. Lastly, there is no account whatever taken of non-effective charges, or cadets, or rifle clubs. So far from the new Territorial Force being more economical, I am afraid it will be quite the reverse. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh has told the House that if this scheme is to be a success it will cost a great deal more, and when the right hon. Gentleman hears the statement from such an authoritative quarter, I think he ought to attach great weight to it. I feel sure that instead of being more economical it will be far more expensive than the present system. Now I come to Clause 28, Sub-section (b), which provides—For transferring to the association any property vested in a Secretary of State for the purpose of any unit to which the Order relates.I think that is an appropriation of private property which this House will never sanction, and which it ought not to sanction. the affairs of the Volunteers have in the past been administered with the greatest care; the Force have acquired considerable property by their own funds and by subscriptions from their friends and members, and now all this property is to be taken away from those corps which have administered their affairs so well, and is to go into the hotch-potch for the benefit of the county association. If the right hon. Gentleman wants an instance I only need mention the ease of the Queen's West-minsters. Although the property of the corps has suffered considerable depreciation, the latest valuation puts it at about £14,000 in property and cash. The corps does not owe a single sixpence to the Government. Its only debt consists of a small sum due to an insurance company which the corps has tried to pay off, but the company will not accept the money, because they consider it a good business investment. Is all this property, and are all these ranges, drill halls, and cash, to be taken away from them, although their affairs have been well administered, and 139 handed over without their consent to the county association? I think this is one of the most extraordinary proposals dealing with the property of a Volunteer corps which has ever emanated from any Government. I hope, however, that the Secretary of State for War will not think I am at all anxious to thwart him in his efforts to improve the efficiency of the Auxiliary Forces. I hope I have shown during a somewhat prolonged service that that is not my desire. There are some commanding officers I know who think that this Territorial Force will have a better status than the present Volunteer Force, but I very much doubt if those gentlemen have read the whole of the provisions of this Bill. There are thirty-eight clauses and innumerable sub-clauses, orders of the Army Council and rules which can be made subject to their being laid upon the Table of the House "as soon as may be." Hon. Members know that the laying of orders and rules on the Table is a very infinitesimal protection, because few people know they are there, and the Government has sole charge of the time of the House. Consequently it is almost impossible for any hon. Member to get an opportunity of calling attention to rules so laid. There are some good points in the Bill, but as regards the Volunteer Force, I think it is not a scheme which ought to go through. I disagree entirely with those who say that the scheme ought to be given a trial, because if it should happen to fail there is nothing before us but conscription, and I will do everything I can to prevent conscription from being forced upon this country. In the past the Volunteer Force has saved us from conscription. I know that at the present time There is a formidable party urging conscription, and almost the whole of the right hon. Gentleman's advisers are in favour of it, because they see that after the failure of this Bill conscription is an absolute certainty in the near future. For these reasons I support the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, and if the Second Reading is carried I shall do all I can to amend the measure in Committee so as to avoid some of the deterrent influences which I feel will prevent this scheme's being a success.
§ *MAJOR SEELY (Liverpool, Abercromby)
I will not follow my hon. and 140 gallant friend into the details which he has laid before the House, although the statement he has made is of great weight and interest, because I think it will probably be much better to reserve such criticisms till we reach the Committee stage. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover has made out his case for rejecting this Bill on the ground that it will provide neither an adequate force for home defence, nor a proper support for the Regular Army in the field. What does this Bill really set out to do? What is the change that it makes? I do not think there is any real change in calling things by new names; therefore I approach this subject from a totally different point of view from most people, because I see no fundamental difference in the Territorial Force which is to be constituted, and the present Volunteers, the Yeomanry, and the Militia. What does this Bill do with the new force? It at least gives the Auxiliary Forces something which the present force lacks, and which I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover must admit are absolutely essential for any force taking the field, viz.:—cohesion and mobile artillery. This is an entirely new proposal and will make an entirely new force in this country. Hitherto we have had our Regular Army for service abroad and for the defence of this country. Practically we have had a school of arms in the Auxiliary Forces, but in no sense whatever have we had an Army. I support my right hon. friend entirely on these points, although I diner from his proposals in so far as they involve the retention of such a great number of Regular troops in this country. I support him in creating a Home Army, because after all this is the crux of the whole matter, and I am convinced that only by this method can we have security and at the same time effect a reduction of the military forces of the Crown. I must say that I only urge a reduction in the Regular troops because I am firmly convinced that unless we reduce their; number, public opinion will force us to reduce the Navy, and that would involve complete and utter disaster. Why does the right hon. Gentleman propose to have so many as 167,000 men for his expeditionary force? Even the Leader of the Opposition has told us that such a force is not required for anything 141 except a Continental enterprises which he doubts the wisdom of providing for. I think the real reason why this number is provided is because the men are there for the purposes of the Cardwell system, and as they are there he rightly thinks they ought to be organised into something useful. When we have asked, as I have ventured to ask frequently, supported always by my right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean and many younger Members, for a reduction of this force, we have always been met by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and I believe by every conspicuous Member of the Opposition and by some Members on this side of the House, with the statement that you cannot leave this country bereft of defence, and that you cannot rely wholly on the Navy. I agree, and I say that we cannot rely on the Volunteers because they are in no sense an Army. I think if we looked to a country where they have created an auxiliary army we might see what a great economy we might effect in this country by doing the same thing. A few months ago by the courtesy of the Swiss Government I was enabled to view the Swiss manœuvres. I was in a company of officers from almost every European army. That army has a training longer than our own Auxiliary Forces, but not very much so—six weeks originally for the infantry and sixteen days every alternate year. Is that army in point of fact a success? It is quite extraordinary the efficiency to which that army has attained. Every officer of the Continental armies who was present—officers who were naturally somewhat hostile to the idea of the success of an army so different from their own—testified to the extraordinary success of that army. It is in the one particular which our Auxiliary Forces now lack, namely, artillery, that they so greatly excel. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition threw some doubt during the last debate on an assertion of mine that it was possible to make an effective Volunteer field artillery. I think the answer would be "Look at the Swiss army. Their drivers are excellent and their practice is beyond all praise." Of course it is true that a portion of this artillery is composed both of officers and non-commissioned officers who have had a longer training and that that would be the case under the scheme of my right hon. friend. Well, 142 you may say "But would an army like the Swiss army, if we had it here, serve actually to both prevent the danger of invasion and to calm the public mind?" The answer might be, "It would not, because it is not proposed to give it the same length of training." But surely those critics have forgotten this. If it be true that the value of a soldier depends on the length of his training it must also be true that the troops of any possible invader are inferior to our own Regular troops at home, or inferior to the 130,000 Regular troops at present in this country. Directly there is the least prospect of those Regular troops being sent out of the country, this Army with transport, and artillery would be embodied and would be able to pile up that training which is considered so essential. And if it be remembered that it is most unlikely that we should embark 160,000 with all their provisions, stores, and artillery, until at least six weeks have elapsed, it will be seen that before the danger of invasion has to be met by the Territorial Force it will have piled up the six weeks service given in the Swiss army which is admittedly such an extraordinary success. Two hon. Members opposite have whispered the word ''compulsory." They say that the Swiss army is a success because it is based upon compulsory service. It must be admitted that compulsion is wholly bad from the military point of View if you can get the men by voluntary service. the problem of war, and especially modern war, is to get men with hearts in the job who will avoid the temptation, the almost overwhelming temptation, to surrender in the moment of supreme danger which supervenes at an early stage in modern battle, and if therefore by the principle of voluntary service you can eliminate from the Army even in peace time the people who do not want to fight and still keep the requisite number of men, it is clear that you will be more formidable than if you force into the ranks the willing and the unwilling. Under your voluntary system you eliminate even in peace time the man who is determined not to fight. That is a very great asset, and if any hon. Member roads Sir Ian Hamilton's second volume he will find that the same thing is stated by more than one Japanese officer, though in different 143 terms. There is no advantage under compulsion by itself. The selfish loafer may possibly be advantaged by serving in your Army. On that, I express no opinion. But it is certainly bad for the Army to have loafers, and if you can eliminate them by voluntary service so much the better. If you fix the number of men at 300,000, I should say that the odds are that you can, because, as has been pointed out, we have 374,000 men in the Auxiliary Forces at somewhat similar rates of pay and allowances under similar advantages and obligations to those proposed by this scheme. If there are differences they can be amended in Committee. If you get 374,000 men to serve in the Militia, the Yeomanry, and the Volunteers, on the strictly voluntary principle, and if you get them to give a week or a fortnight in the case of the Volunteers, a month in the case of the Militia, and eighteen days in the case of the Yeomanry—and above all let it be remembered that you have drills all through the year, attendance at lectures, and staff rides—if you get all that under the voluntary system, and if you will only give the force artillery, without which it must be defeated, but with which it can fight on equal terms with any foe, you can certainly expect to get the numbers for the proposed new force under the voluntary system, and after six weeks it must be a useful force unless you are to assume that Englishmen are less apt than the Swiss for military service. I support the right hon. Gentleman in endeavouring to set it up, believing that it is essential and that in the long run it will lead to great economy. I agree with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean and others that it cannot be done for the sum which the Secretary of State for War suggests. It is not a matter, it seems to me, of very great substance, for if you can got complete security in the public mind, and enable yourself, therefore, to reduce your Regular Army to such a size that you could give the soldier the same advantage of employment in after life as you give to-day to the sailor, the spending of a million or two would be worth while for the advantage of the Army, and from the financial point of view for the advantage of the State. I do not think it can be done for the money, and I will 144 tell the right hon. Gentleman why. I shall instance the Yeomanry, having served for eighteen years in that force. The right hon. Gentleman wishes the Yeomanry to serve at the rate of 1s. 5d., and everyone sympathises with his desire that all branches of the Territorial Army should be approximately on the same level. It is not money that makes them serve; it is in most cases laudable motives of patriotism. But in point of fact horse soldiers cannot be obtained in any country at a small rate. My right hon. friend will naturally think of the Swiss army, since the cavalry receive approximately the same pay and allowances as in other armies. He may think that that is an argument on his own side, but really I think it is against him, for the Swiss soldier receives far more than our Yeoman gets to-day. He gets a horse from the Government by paying instalments at such a small rate that he gets undoubtedly far more than our Yeoman to-day. I must say he is a most gallant person who is prepared to ride a perfectly strange horse over a mole-hilly field, with a gun in one hand. My right hon. friend might give his attention to the subject of horses and he might adopt a similar method to the Swiss. It will not be cheaper; it will be more expensive than the present plan, but the advantages to the Army will be so great as fully to compensate for its adoption. What would be the changes in the three different branches? In the case of the Militia, they will become, I hope, part of the Territorial Army. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover based most of his opposition on the Militia point of view. The Duke of Bedford has denounced the Government for destroying the Militia, and rightly pointed out that the Militia did good service in the South African War. That was because they were Englishmen and not because they were Militiamen. The Militia is unsuited to our industrial needs except in some parts. In some parts of Scotland fishermen might spare the month required for training and still remain useful members of civil society. In Durham, and in some parts on the borders, there were certain miners who could well afford to spend a month in training and still remain useful members of civil society. But with those exceptions it is immensely difficult for any man— 145 and I chállenge contradiction—to serve in the Militia and still remain a useful member of the civil community. He cannot possibly spare a month every year. The man who succeeds in peace is the man who succeeds in war, and if you want to fight battles effectively, you must use the best and not the worst of the population. It is useless to have a Territorial Army on a basis which will debar the most useful members of society from belonging to it. Reform the Militia, if you must, by altering the terms of service. Our new territorial force is accordingly to serve for that period, and the Volunteers will take on the obligation which the Militia have to-day, while the Militia will take on the period of training of the Volunteers. I cannot see where there is any need for alarm. A fortnight's camp has always been successful; but experience has shown that the men cannot go into camp for a month. This scheme has been attacked by two schools of thought—by those like Lord Roberts and Lord Milner, who believe that no scheme not based on compulsion will be adequate for the defence of this country and the Empire. For my own part, I venture to say that compulsory service for home defence would imperil and weaken our Imperial position. Of course if any one were to come here and propose compulsory service for oversea garrisons or conscription for service on the Indian frontier his proposal would be entitled to respect as a solution of the real problem that faces us, although I would oppose him on the grounds that it would be a gross interference with the liberty of Englishmen; but conscription for home defence only would be a hindrance, not a help, to our oversea obligations. We have to send 17,000 to 20,000 men across the sea every year in time of peace, and as many as 400,000 in time of war; but France and Germany who have compulsory service have not to send a tithe of the men we have to send across the sea. Look at the difficulty that France had in despatching troops to Madagascar and even to Algeria. I have read much literature on the subject, and I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that France, with compulsory service, appears to find more difficulty in sending 5,000 men across the sea than we find in sending 50,000. So it is with Germany. The difficulty in getting a sufficient 146 number of men to volunteer for warlike operations in South West Africa caused the German Government the gravest embarrassment; and the difficulty of maintaining their quota of the International Expedition for the relief of the legations at Pekin was considerable. I suppose that the explanation is to be found in the tendency of compulsory service of any kind to sap the spirit of self-sacrifice. That has been the effect in France and Germany, and it was the effect in this country a hundred years ago. I see the right hon. Gentleman opposite raises his eyebrows; but we had compulsory service for home defence a hundred years ago; and if he reads history he will find that compulsory service for home defence prevented young fellows from volunteering for foreign service abroad. It is most essential to have a force which will make invasion of this country impossible, but I believe that compulsory service for home defence, far from being an advantage, would be a disadvantage. It has been said that the scheme of the Secretary of State for War is un-democratic and antidemocratic. So far as it is both, I would oppose it. I am not a Lord-Lieutenant's man in this matter. I think the Lords-Lieutenant should be elected by their fellows, but that after all is a detail. The truth is that the Auxiliary Army has never got on with the War Office, and by the means of the county associations you do provide some kind of buffer between the Auxiliary Army and the War Office. I do not contend that the scheme is perfect; I do not think that the county associations, as it is proposed to create them, will take all the interest in the Territorial Army which might be desired; but I think a step is being taken in the right direction, a democratic direction. Then, as to the officers of the force, I agree with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, that in this matter our Army is the least democratic of all European armies. In all other armies, even in Prussia, some considerable proportion of the Army officers first serve in the ranks, and rise by promotion. All officers pass through the ranks in the case of Switzerland. That system is good for the officers, and also good for the men. I hope that after the Territorial Army has been created we shall adopt the truly democratic principle of making all men begin at the bottom and serve through all 147 ranks, obtaining their promotion by proficiency, the system which acts so admirably in Switzerland. I recognise that the right hon. the Secretary of State for War may say that he cannot overload his Bill with such details; but I maintain that his scheme will never be a great success unless it is founded on a democratic basis. I do not for a moment suppose that any Member of the House approves of every clause in the Bill, but a Second Reading should be given to it. I believe that the people of this country are sick to death at the perpetual disputes between politicians and soldiers, and they are anxiously waiting for a plan for the settlement of this great problem, and if that plan appeals to them there is no limit to the sacrifice that they will make for the defence of this country and the Empire.
§ *VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH (Maid-stone)
said that he agreed to a certain extent with the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Abercromby Division that if this scheme were carried to its maturity it would provide for the security of our country; but it would take four or five years experience to determine if it was sufficient or not. He hoped the Bill, when threshed out in Committee, would be made a workable and good measure; and that it would render our position as a nation even more unassailable than he believed it to be at the present time. He could not say that hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Benches approached this Bill in a Party spirit. The question which interested them wan whether the scheme would fulfil the hopes of its originators. He himself was too deeply interested in the Army to care from which political Party an Army scheme emanated, so long as it improved the Army. He recognised the great boon which such a scheme as that now before the House would confer on the country if it could be got into real good working order; but he believed that under present conditions it was impossible to provide a force of 300,000 men in the way proposed. He ventured to think that the Foreign Secretary attached too much importance to what he called public or patriotic spirit. The public spirit which was shown in face of a definite danger to a certain extent became dormant when the question was 148 only one of preparation against danger. He did not deny that patriotic spirit would be found to be existent when a definite danger had to be faced, but the spirit lay dormant when the question was preparation against a possible danger. If he were convinced that the scheme was for the education of the male population and would enforce upon them the idea that it was the first duty of everyone to take some part in the national defence of the country, and that it was only by a stroke of luck that he was not called upon to act in that capacity, he would give the scheme his hearty support. But he did not believe that that would be the result. That could only come about from a scheme of universal service known by the name of conscription, and he had no desire that day to dilate on the many reasons for and against that system. In his opinion the Bill depended too much upon the idea that the incentive to join the Army and the Auxiliary Forces had been self-sacrifice—the idea of doing something patriotic. He did not believe that that had been the idea, and he did not believe that it ever would be. He might claim, he thought, a small experience both in the Volunteers and in the Regular Army, and he could only say from personal experience that the incentive to join the Regular force certainly was not the patriotic spirit, to a great extent at all events, but various exigencies of gaining some livelihood. With regard to the Auxiliary Forces, however, it was to some extent different. A number joined, it was true, from a patriotic spirit, but he believed the majority joined because their friends belonged to the Volunteers, because to join was considered a good thing to do, and because members of the force had uniforms in which it was possible for them to walk out when not engaged in military duties. When the conditions were made harder, as they would be in almost every case, and to a certain extent less remunerative, he could not see how a force of 300,000 men was going to be evolved at the call of the Secretary for War. It was obvious that the scheme abolished the Militia, and he was at a loss to understand how it was possible for the Yeomanry to survive when the conditions under which they were called upon to serve were made harder and the remuneration smaller. With regard to the great bulk of the Yeomanry he did not believe that it was 149 possible for men to give up their employment unless they received some adequate remuneration for the trouble and loss of employment which they incurred. As regarded the county associations he admitted that at first sight it was a very attractive scheme that those connected with the soil and employers of labour should be called upon to undertake the duty of collecting a territorial force in the county in which they resided. But on consideration it became obvious that the county associations meant the establishment of forty or fifty War Offices, each with a Budget, clerks, comptrollers, and a paid staff which would be suitable for the expenditure of something like a hundred thousand pounds. He was ready to admit that the Lords-Lieutenant and the authorities of the various counties would make a most excellent advisory body, but he did not see how they could as an administrative body be looked upon as rendering efficient service If the county associations were to carry out the duties which the Bill proposed it would be necessary for the Secretary for War to make a reduction of the War Office Vote, and also of the staff regulating the affairs connected with the Auxiliary Forces. He would certainly suggest that the local interest should be enlisted by having an advisory body for the purpose of assisting the general officer commanding. With regard to the amounts of money that the local associations would ask from the Army Council, he did not understand how it would be possible for those associations to realise their exact position in regard to expenditure. He did not understand how under that head there could be any uniformity whatever. He viewed with apprehension the authority granted to local bodies for the purpose of borrowing money, for it appeared to him that that could only be looked upon as a municipalisation of those associations. The duties of the county associations would be so manifold that the question that arose in his mind was as to whether it was proposed that the machinery of those local associations should be supported by local effort, or whether the expenses they incurred in arranging the various details, such as rifle clubs and cadet corps, should be defrayed by the War Office [Mr. HALDANE was understood to assent.] He was glad he had cleared up one point. He thought that the county associa- 150 tions would have their hands very full and that they would have ample work in regard to the rifle and cadet corps in the counties to which they belonged. There was no denying that rifle corps and cadet corps were two of the most important items of national defence. He noticed that there was no regulation in the Bill in regard to the preliminary training of the Territorial Army. At the present moment the Militia training was laid down by Act of Parliament, but it might, under this scheme, by an Order in Council, be extended to thirty days. He thought that if the matter was left to the Army Council to decide, such a course would dissuade a great many from joining the force. The artillery was one of the most important branches of our offensive and defensive forces, but There had been no mention of the large number of men—10,000—who were to form part of the striking force, and to be artillerymen trained on a Militia basis. He would like to ask whether they came under the Bill, and before the Bill went to the Committee stage he thought they should have a definite answer to that question With regard to mobilisation, the two most important considerations were with regard to artillery and officers, and it was obvious that neither of those two could be improvised at a moment's notice. No special arrangements appeared to have been made with regard to artillery, however, in spite of the example which was being set us by foreign nations in developing that arm. As to the officers, at the present moment he thought the Militia was short by 1,000 and the Volunteers by some 1,500. On mobilisation, also, the Army would require an additional 2,000, although the War Office had just reduced their strength by 400. That did not seem to show that they attached special importance to the question of officers. It was also proposed to absorb the present class of Militia officers into the third battalion. The question naturally arose how officers were to be obtained for the Territorial Army, and it seemed to him that there would be very great difficulty. The pay granted to the Yeomanry had been reduced, and that fact was bound to reduce the number of officers in that force. Then again, the conditions of service were made more onerous. The terms under which the Volunteers served were also 151 more exacting, and there was an obligation to serve six months on mobilisation, which would certainly prevent many officers from joining who otherwise would have done so. If we were not to have compulsory service, there was only one alternative by which officers could be obtained, and that was by giving them additional payment. It was no use, to his mind, depending upon the so-called public spirit and patriotism, because people nowadays could not afford to be patriotic, and if we wanted officers we must pay them to enable them to obtain the military education which was essential to all officers in our military and Reserve forces. He thought some thing could be done by subsidising men who at present had not the time to enter the service. He believed the Bill would press more harshly upon the Yeomanry than upon any other portion of our Auxiliary Forces, and that was to be regretted when it was remembered that that force was reorganised in 1901 and was now in a satisfactory position, having risen since that time from 9,000 to 27,000. That clearly showed the benefit of the step then taken. At the present moment the ranks were full, officers were plentiful, and, what was better still, the inspection reports sent in by officers of the Regular Army were in nearly all cases favourable. To reduce that force to the level of the Volunteers, which appeared to be part of the scheme, would bring it back to the condition it was in before 1901. To his mind the importance of that point might be lost sight of in view of the general havoc which provisions of the Bill would enact, but it should be realised that at the present moment we had no actual reserve for our cavalry. It appeared to him to be folly to attempt to carry out a scheme which would destroy a thoroughly efficient force, which had certainly some claims to the consideration of the House, not the smallest of which was the liability to serve abroad. A further claim was its past service, which it was not for the House to ignore, and which, if they did ignore, they would find cause to regret. He had no desire to detain the House further. As he had said, if they could wake up one morning and find this scheme in thorough working order it might afford that security to the country which all thought most neces- 152 sary, and for which they looked, to some scheme to provide. But there was something else to be looked at, and he feared the Government were destroying the substance for a shadow. If the Bill passed its Second Reading, he could only say that Amendments would have to be moved for the purpose of ameliorating the conditions of the forces and preventing the present Auxiliary Forces from being starved out of existence.
§ *SIR J. DICKSON-POYNDER (Wiltshire, Chippenham)
said the speech of the noble Lord who had just sat down only emphasised the observation he desired to make, that he deplored the fact that the Opposition had thought fit to move an Amendment which, if carried, would have the effect of rejecting the scheme of his right hon. friend. Having had an opportunity during the Easter recess of perusing and considering the Bill, he had come to the conclusion that both in scope and in principle it was wisely conceived. It was incontestably a great advance on any previous scheme, and it now only required the uniform and united patriotism of all classes of the community to realise as its result reasonable machinery for a military organisation to meet the needs of the nation and the Empire. As his right hon. friend had pointed out on a previous occasion, the Bill aimed at creating machinery to fulfil four purposes. The first two were embodied in the scheme for the Territorial Army, the first in the constitution of the county associations and the second in the constitution of the force itself. The other two purposes were the creation of a more reliable and expanding Reserve for the Regular Army. The chief charges made against the scheme of his right hon. friend had been more with regard to the portion of the scheme which dealt with the Reserve than to any other portion. The House had been told that the right hon. Gentleman was going to abolish the Militia. As he read the scheme his right hon. friend was going to do nothing of the sort. He was not going to abolish the Militia in any sense or form, but by his scheme was going to afford an opportunity to the force to transfer itself, both in its character and in its traditions, to the Territorial Army under such conditions-that those who continued in that force could continue their civil life also. 153 At the same time the scheme proposed to raise all arms of the Territorial Force to the standard of discipline of the transferred Militia. He ventured, therefore, to make an appeal to those who were officers of the Militia, and who, therefore, had influence not only in their own battalions but in the whole Militia movement throughout the country, to enter into the spirit of the scheme with the same patriotic spirit which animated the proposals of his right hon. friend. If that were done he was certain the Militia cadres would transfer themselves in the manner in which his right hon. friend suggested. As he under-stood, the only difference would be that the duties the transferred Militia would be asked to perform in time of peace would be less onerous and more compatible with the conditions of civil life of the professional men engaged, while the same liabilities in time of war would be shared by all members of the Territorial Army. Nobody would deny that the Militia had, through no fault of its own, deteriorated in recent years. It had been the victim of a haphazard system of recruiting for the Regular Army. It had been bled for years for recruits for the Regular Army, and in later years it had found in the Volunteer force a successful rival in its recruiting area. The Militia for some years had been in the habit of providing approximately something like 12,000 men annually for the Regular Army. Those recruits had joined the Militia and had been enrolled as on the establishment, but in the majority of cases they had never been attached to a Militia regiment, but had been removed straight from the depot where they had been drilled as recruits, and had joined their battalion of the Regulars either at home or abroad. The Regulars would in no way suffer from this scheme, because the 12,000 men would be available from the new body known as the special contingent which would supply men ranging from 180 to 600 in number, who would have been drilled for six months under competent officers previous to their entering into civil occupation, and would then be enrolled in a Reserve for six years, during which time they would be liable to be called up in time of war, and periodically at the discretion of the Army Council. It would produce a Reserve to meet the necessities of the Army, a Reserve which 154 approximated 70,000 or 80,000, and those, together with the Regular Reserve of the Army which would be drawn from the time-expired men, would give the Army a Reserve for mobilisation, and for filling up the ranks during the first six months of war. In previous years we had had a seven years service, but we had never had a separate establishment to secure this extra Reserve to come behind the time-expired men. Then we had had a three years service which gave a very large Reserve, but which had to be abandoned, because it could not economically fill up the necessary drafts. It was argued that the new Reservists would not be sufficiently efficient in their training to meet other trained troops in the field. But it must be remembered that the men from the special contingents would not be asked to go into the ranks at the outbreak of war, but would be trained for four months on the outbreak of war and would then be drafted into the depleted ranks. The scheme was capable of very largo expansion in times of great national emergency. There would be a greater number of depots for training purposes, and in times of great national emergency there would be no limit to those who might go into training in those depots. That could not be done under the present system of the Militia, except by asking for a Reserve consisting of units. All that the Militia battalions could do in times of national emergency under the present law was to volunteer as units to serve at the front. All modern scientific opinion was on his side when he said that a draft, however little trained, was far preferable for fighting purposes to an ill-trained unit. All experience bore that out. In the Russo-Japanese War the Japanese relied entirely on drafts to fill up the ranks at the front, for the untrained men who went to the front and fought beside trained men under competent officers soon found themselves efficient soldiers. The Russian Army, on the other hand, insisted upon a system of reserves going out in semi-trained units, and those semi-trained units, when they came alongside the depleted units, were not half so good as the units who had been out There for some time. Again, in the American War, the generals had only been in the field some months when they realised that semi-trained units were simply stumbling-blocks for 155 fighting purposes. It might be laid down that 500 semi-trained drafts were better than a thousand men in a semi-trained unit. By his scheme the Secretary of State abolished the idea of the Militia voluutering, asked the Militia force to transfer itself to the Territorial Army, and at the same time started a special contingent in which men would be trained and fitted to join the ranks of the Regular forces during the time of emergency. It was proposed that a large number of men should be supernumerary to the ranks, and that their duties should be of an essentially civil character. Six divisions in the field would require about 30,000 men—telegraphists, railway transport, Army Service Corps, and so on. Those men could be drawn from the civil ranks, and could be more usefully employed in that way than the Regulars themselves; and there was this advantage under the scheme, that they would only be paid during the time that they were up for military training—and not all the year round—while they would be able to take up official positions, according to their occupations, in those various services which were so essential in modern warfare. He did not think that too much stress could be laid upon the point that, whilst they wanted to effect economy in time of peace, they wished to establish machinery which would be rapidly and efficiently expansible in time of war. Assuming that we were committed to a great war, we should have the Regular Reserve to be called up at once. With the outbreak of war the mobilisation of the Regular troops to war strength would absorb very nearly the whole of the Regular Reserve, whilst it was estimated, from experience, that with six divisions in the field the whole of the remainder of the special contingent Reserves would be absorbed during the first six months. That at any rate was what they might have to face in the event of a great war. All that was asked now, therefore, was that they should give a fair chance to this scheme for a special contingent, which, he considered, was in itself an improvement on any other scheme. If the Militia, as he hoped they would, consented to transfer themselves to the Territorial Army, he did not suppose that his right hon. friend would hold out with regard to a question of title, or in reference to the Militia retaining its name 156 and traditions, assuming that they transferred themselves in any considerable numbers; they would have the Militia, Volunteers, and the Yeomanry brought together upon one basis of liability, and assimilated upon practically the same conditions. The real test of the success of the Territorial Army, of course, would be how far his light hon. friend was able to get the men. He could not himself see that there should be any great difficulty; because the right hon. Gentleman was diminishing an establishment of over 370,000 to 300,000. That diminution meant that many who had served usefully and honourably in the Auxiliary Forces in the past could hardly to-day be looked upon as efficient soldiers, and the weeding out of those would really leave an efficient element for the Territorial Army. A great deal would depend on the work done by the county associations. they would have to discriminate whether it was possible, in their own districts, to call out the men, or whether they would recommend to the Army Council that particular battalions should be called out for seven or fourteen days. They would have to go very closely into the matter of pay, because under our voluntary system the whole question of the men largely depended on the subject of pay. He strongly recommended his right hon. friend, as he had done on the First Reading, to bring the question of pay to something like a uniform standard. They wanted a wide field for recruiting for the Territorial Army, and if they paid one arm a great deal more than another they would set up a preference which would have a deterrent effect on recruiting for the other arms. At present the relative standards presented considerable anomalies. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had told them that in some Volunteer battalions the pay was 5s. per man a day. He had made careful investigation, and had never heard of such pay being given. [AN HON. MEMBER: Two shillings and sixpence.] Half-a-crown was a long way from 5s. He found, after careful investigation, that the rate of pay was between 1s. and 2s. a day, and in some Volunteer battalions There was no pay at all. The pay of the Yeomanry, 5s. 6d. a day, had been criticised. In future the right hon. Gentleman proposed that rations should 157 be provided by the Government, also the camp equipment and other expenses. In most Yeomanry regiments 3s. a day was deducted for mess expenses, camp equipment, and so on, and, working it out, it seemed that the right hon. Gentleman's proposal only made a difference of about 1s.; and that being so, he urged that it would be no real deterrent on recruiting for other branches of the Service if the right hon. Gentleman, in a generous spirit, allowed the Yeomanry that extra shilling. the question of pay went to the root of the matter. the young bachelor could probably afford to go out for seven days or a fortnight, and could arrange with his employers so that he would not suffer while enjoying the great benefit of training. But with the married man it was a different matter. He left his wife and family behind; he might have 30s. or 40s. a week at his trade, and if he went out for training his wife and family might have to suffer great inconvenience and privation. He suggested that in the case of married men the right hon. Gentleman might establish some system of separation allowance. It would probably be better to make a separation allowance for the wives and children of married men in the Territorial Army than to raise the pay all round. The further objection has been raised that in the event of war it would be found that a large number of men in the Territorial Army, on its being mobilised, would be the very men who would be required to undertake extra work in civil professions, and that therefore the scheme would break down. That was not a defect of his right hon. friend's scheme. It was a defect of the voluntary system. Where there was a system of universal training under which all men underwent training in their early years that defect was entirely removed, but at the present time this country would not countenance anything of the kind. Whatever scheme was propounded they would always have to face the initial difficulty at the time of mobilisation of the Territorial Army of asking men to come forward in the interests of their country, and that was bound to cause dislocation in certain industries. The plan of the right hon. Gentleman, in his judgment, as far as it went, was a great advance on any other scheme. He hoped that as time went on the present expedi- 158 tionary force of 160,000 men would undergo considerable reduction, because it was a much larger force than was anticipated. He hoped as the Territorial Army was organised that there would be a gradual encroachment upon the Cardwell system by further reductions in the Regular troops. He believed that the Territorial Army would cost more than the right hon. Gentleman had estimated, but that was a detail for Committee. He hoped the House would forget in regard to this question that it was a Party assembly and bear in mind that it represented the nation. He trusted that all hon. Members would loyally join together and endeavour to produce the best scheme, and thereby establish a military machine upon a voluntary basis that would be sufficient for the needs of the nation and the Empire.
§ *VISCOUNT VALENTIA (Oxford)
said that whether one approved of the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman or not, one could not help admiring the courage with which he had brought forward those far-reaching proposals. Of course there were one or two very large "ifs" which had to be faced, and they had been referred to by almost every speaker. One of those "ifs" was as to whether the right hon. Gentleman would be able to get the number of men he required. Another was whether he would be able to obtain them at anything like the estimated cost. The right hon. Gentleman had propounded a scheme which, as far as some sections of the Auxiliary Forces were concerned, might work extremely well, but there was one branch of the Service with which he had been connected for many years, in regard to which he did not think it would work well, and that was the Yeomanry, to which the right hon. Gentleman looked to provide the cavalry for the Territorial Force. Before altering the terms of the present Yeomanry service it would be well carefully to consider what the Yeomanry had done in the past. The Yeomanry as he knew them a good many years ago were inefficient and almost useless, and the only excuse for their existence was that they were cheap. It should not be forgotten that the Yeomanry were reorganised later than any other service, and he thought the 159 Secretary of State for War would do well to consider carefully whether it would not lie worth his while to leave that force as it was at present, and allow them to develop and expand under the scheme he was now putting forward. The right hon. Gentleman claimed that in all the proposals he had put forward with regard to Army organisation he had taken the soldiers into his confidence, and that he had relied a good deal upon the advice of those soldiers who were at the top of the tree. No doubt as far as the Regular service was concerned there could not be a more excellent source of information than the old soldiers afforded, but for the Auxiliary Forces he did not think the right hon. Gentleman could have gone to a more fruitless or useless source than to the old soldiers who were at the top of the military tree. He yielded to no man in his respect for, and admiration of the officers whose long and distinguished service had placed them in high positions at the War Office, but he happened to know their history, and he knew how incompatible their previous service was with an extensive knowledge of the Auxiliary Forces. During the years he had served in the Yeomanry he had attended a good many inspections of regiments year after year, and he had frequently met inspecting officers and colonels of cavalry regiments who had told him in conversation that they had never seen a Yeomanry regiment before. Although it was true that the Yeomanry had only been recently organised, it was, as a matter of fact, in a fairly efficient state at the present moment. He believed the right hon. Gentleman had said on a previous occasion that the Yeomanry at 5s. 6d. a day was an expensive luxury. If inquiries were made as to the price of hiring a man and a horse in any county in the country it would be found that the cost would be the same as that of the Yeomanry to-day. The hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby Division of Liverpool had told them that the Swiss auxiliary cavalry cost the same amount as the Yeomanry. He had made inquiries in the neighbourhood in which he lived, and he found that 7s. a day was the average price for the hire of a horse and a man. The contractors who were constructing a branch of the Great Western Railway in his district were now paying for a horse and man 7s. a day, and they did not get 160 either a very intelligent man or a trained horse fit for active service. Attention had been drawn to the fact that the Yeoman provided for himself a great deal more than the Regular soldier, because he had to supply his own kit, boots, forage, and other things. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman would find that the Yeomanry after they had been converted into the cavalry of the Territorial Force would be any cheaper; at all events, the difference in the cost would be very small. He was sure the Yeomanry would very much appreciate being left to serve on the name terms as they were on at present. No less an authority than Sir G. Fleetwood Wilson had calculated that a Yeoman cost £21 5s. 2d. and a Militiaman £21 19s. 3d. He did not know that there was any particular difference in their efficiency, but that comparison showed that the Yeomanry were not the most expensive soldiers, in spite of the higher rate of pay they received. He believed the Yeomanry of this country were as efficient as any auxiliary cavalry force in Europe, and, with the exception of their armament, they were now as efficient as it was possible to make any auxiliary mounted force in the country. The Yeomanry were still armed with the bayonet, which was a useless weapon for a mounted man, because it was impossible for him to make a proper use of it. During his service in the South African War There was only one occasion when the Yeomanry were called upon to fix bayonets, and his experience of the weapon was that they were used by the men for picketting pegs or opening meat tins. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to reduce the permanent staff of both the Militia and the Yeomanry. whether the Militia would stand such a reduction or not he did not know, but he was confident that no such reduction was advisable so far as the Yeomanry were concerned, unless they were prepared to sacrifice a good deal of efficiency. It had been suggested that an enterprising young solicitor might serve as an adjutant at the salary of £100 a year. He was afraid that, on those terms, no solicitor who had a practice of his own and possessed sufficient knowledge to perform the duties with satisfaction to himself or credit to the force would be inclined to attach himself to a Yeomanry regiment. The Yeomanry 161 were considered efficient not only by the right hon. Gentleman himself, but by all military critics on whose opinion he relied. If they were an efficient and popular force, they were also a Territorial Force, both as to officers and men, and in that respect they fulfilled the idea of the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman as to a Territorial Army. Surely it was rash to throw away the whole of that branch of the service, and to make it impossible for officers and men to remain in the new force, which would be reduced both in strength and inefficiency.
§ *MR. BRODIE (Surrey, Reigate)
said he agreed with several hon. Members who had expressed regret at the Party spirit in which this question was approached by the Opposition. He further regretted that those Members on both sides who were officers, or had been members, of the Regular or Auxiliary Forces had not met together earlier to consider, without in any way binding themselves, what points they might suggest as improvements in the scheme. He was satisfied that the Secretary of State for War desired to take the sense of all Parties in evolving a scheme which would be satisfactory to the House, and, therefore, permanent. In the criticism that day there had been a tendency to deal with the scheme too much in detail and to foreshadow the destruction of the whole or parts of the Volunteer Forces as they now existed. He did not think that there need be any fear of that sort. He did not think there was any reason to suppose that by this scheme the Militia would be destroyed. The Militia would have an opportunity of serving in two ways. One part, which desired to do so, would give more time, and would therefore receive more money for the work which they did. The remaining portion would join the Volunteers and the Yeomanry, as known to-day, in forming the proposed Territorial Army on what might be called a mild Militia basis. He believed the scheme provided for a well-equipped, highly-efficient, and on the whole economical expeditionary force. He himself thought it was too largo a force. By means of the Territorial Army the scheme also provided for completely organised cavalry brigades and infantry divisions distributed throughout the United Kingdom, ready to serve at any given moment. Those who knew about 162 the present condition of the Auxiliary Forces knew that, large as they were in numbers, they were to a great extent useless. The money spent on them was to a great extent wasted because they were not organised and equipped and in a condition which would enable them to take the field. As to the cost of this Territorial Army, he did not think the right hon. Gentleman had allowed sufficient money for the work it would have to do. Roughly, he calculated that the present cost of the Auxiliary Forces, as a whole, worked out at about £12 per head per annum, while that of the whole of the new Territorial Army, apart from that specially trained portion which was to be joined in time of war to the Regular Army, worked out at about £9 5s. He did not think they could expect to get the new force to undertake harder conditions for less money. The present cost of the Yeomanry worked out at about £21 per head per annum, while the cost of the cavalry of the Territorial Force would be, under the scheme, about,£14. That seemed rather an unnecessary reduction, considering the numbers with which the right hon. Gentleman was dealing. If the right hon. Gentleman were willing to pay as much for the Territorial Cavalry as he now paid for the Yeomanry, it would not cost more than about another £130,000 beyond the amount be had laid down in his Paper. He thought it would be impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to obtain the force at the cost at which he hoped to get it. It was never possible to get men to do casual work at the same rate as permanent work. In the case of the cavalry it was proposed to take the men for a certain portion of the year, and to ask them to give up their time for drill, during the year just as the Yeomanry did at present. They could not be expected to do that without a rather better scale of pay than was given to men in the similar force permanently engaged. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that it would only be necessary to provide the members of the whole of the Territorial Force with one suit of clothes or one uniform. He did not think that would popularise the force in the country. Of course it was not the sole or chief inducement, but There was no doubt that the uniform influenced recruiting to some extent, and unless the right hon. Gentleman gave a uniform for show occasions, apart 163 from the working suit, he would find a considerable falling off in the recruiting. It would be a matter of great regret if the Territorial Army were to be deprived of the services of adjutants from the Regular Army. It would be better to dispense with some of the higher officers from the Regular Forces, proposed to be given to the Territorial Army, in order to have a more complete Regular staff, and in order to maintain the adjutants from the Regulars. To obtain the extra money for the Territorial Force he suggested that the numbers of the Regular Army should be reduced. It had been said again and again that the expeditionary force was much larger than had ever been previously contemplated. Without trenching greatly on the Cardwellian principle, he thought they could do without a certain number of the battalions of the Regular Army. He did not suggest for a moment that the battalions should be disbanded at once, or until the new Territorial Army was organised. After all, they could yet so much more out of the Auxiliary Forces in point of numbers for the money spent on them than they could get from the Regular forces. The cost of a regular soldier was from £80 to £90 per year, while the figures for the Auxiliary Forces were much less than that. He thought that the Regular Army was composed of very good material, but if they were to have a strong popular force at home, they must find the money for it. He knew that there was a feeling that the system suggested for obtaining officers for the Home Army was not sufficiently democratic; but he thought that that impression could, without great difficulty, be removed. It would depend to a certain extent upon the composition and power of the county associations. At present we were largely dependent upon the public schools and the Universities for the kind of men wanted as officers. And that was because young fellows got from these institutions the kind of education on which it was easy to shape them into good officers, in a fairly short time. It was for that reason that he wished to extend greater opportunities for secondary education to all classes, so that we might be able to get the best kind of officer from every class. As to the 164 composition of the county associations, he certainly thought that the Bill as drafted did not make them sufficiently democratic. If the Territorial Army was to become a living force, its fate must be given more into its own hand. He did not like to see such a preponderance of the representation of the Regular forces in the management of the Territorrial Army. He was much afraid that the military advisers of the right hon. Gentleman, who had in their hearts a great desire for conscription, hoped that his scheme would fail. He hoped that Without Party spirit they would in Committee make the scheme of the Secretary for War such a success as would prevent all possible idea of conscription being imposed on the country.
§ LORD WILLOUGHBY DE ERESBY (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
said that almost all the speeches made by Members on the Ministerial Benches contained one most important criticism, and that was that a sufficiently strong Territorial Array could not be created for the sum of money which the Secretary of State intended to spend. If that was the case, or if this scheme was not going to effect an economy, then the Government must re-consider their position. He was one of those who, like right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, had tried to make himself acquainted with the provisions of the Bill, but the more he studied it the more complicated the scheme seemed to be. In fact, the whole Bill was as vague and nebulous as it was possible for a Bill to be. In his speeches the Secretary for War had made a great appeal to country gentlemen and employers of labour to form county associations in order to raise; men for the Territorial Army. That was returning to the system in vogue in the feudal ages, to which he was opposed, and he was afraid that the scheme would probably provide us with a Territorial Army whose manoeuvers would be more fit for the Middle Ages than for modern warfare. In order to consider tins matter in all respects, they must first of all take stock of what the right hon. Gentlemen was going to destroy. It was useless for hon. Members on the Ministerial Benches to say they did not believe that the Bill was going to destroy the Militia. As he understood the Bill, by it our present Auxiliary Forces would be destroyed or 165 altogether changed in character. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for Chippenham that it was all to the good to get men into the Army Reserve. They were the best and cheapest soldiers that could be obtained. He was certain that it was greatly owing to the splendid patriotism and excellent services of the Reservists that the South African War was brought to a successful conclusion. Under this scheme we should not get Reservists equal to the men we were losing. The Secretary for War ought, in his opinion, to have retained the extrabattalion of the Guards, by which men could be passed quickly into the Reserve. The new special service troops could not receive training equal to that of men who had served three years with the Regulars under the strictest discipline and the most highly trained officers the country could produce. As to the Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers, the Bill abolished the whole principles upon which those forces had been maintained and regarded in the past. He was free to admit, however, that there was a great difference of military opinion upon the subject. Leading generals frequently, when they made speeches at dinners, prize-givings and public functions, said that the Yeomanry, the Militia, and our Auxiliary Forces generally, were very fine fellows and most valuable to the country and the service, and he believed that one of our chief Generals on his return from South Africa made a speech in which he said that the C.I.V.'s were the best troops that he had ever had under his command. When, however, those distinguished Generals sat upon Commissions those Commissions made reports absolutely contradictory to that, declaring that the Auxiliary Forces were absolutely inefficient and unable to stand up against the first line of Continental troops. But nobody in this country could suppose that we should have men in the second-line Army, who, at the outbreak of war, would be able to take their place against the first line of foreign Powers. He believed that Germany and France did not expect that, and that in those countries it was not the case that such troops existed. To his mind, therefore, it was absolutely begging the question to reason in that manner, and to throw the whole of the Auxiliary Forces as they 166 were at present into the melting pot in order to obtain something of which they knew nothing. It was a very great mistake, in his judgment, to do that, because, forsooth, certain military authorities thought the Auxiliary Forces were not fit to meet the first line of Continental armies in the field. Military opinion appeared to be much divided on the subject. Certainly under the present system excellent troops were raised and maintained. What was the Territorial Army which was to take their place? From beginning to end of the Bill there was nothing to show that it would be an efficient force to take the field. Everything was left to future schemes and directions which were yet to be drawn up. the only thing they had at present was the statement of the Secretary for War that he wanted 300,000 men, for whom he was going to pay £2,800,000. Our present Auxiliary Forces numbered between 300,000 and 400,000 men, and cost £4,500,000. How did the right hon. Gentleman expect to get a more efficient fighting force for the second line when he cut down the expenses in that way? The right hon. Gentleman seemed to have in his mind the feudal system, and probably he realised that the money voted by Parliament would be entirely insufficient, and expected that as soon as the county associations were formed the hat would be sent round for voluntary subscriptions for pay and equipment. Indeed, as much was hinted at in Clause 3, under which the associations were enabled to make use of money which came to them from other sources than Parliament. In order that this scheme should succeed he believed there must be a very large demand for subscriptions from people in the counties where the territorial forces were set up. As to the efficiency of the Territorial Army, he was one of those who believed that no force, whether it was the first line or the second line of auxiliaries, would be of the least value, or at all events would be of very low value, unless it was properly disciplined. He did not refer merely to men obeying readily and willingly their officers on all occasions; there was something more important than that, and it was the officers obeying the commands of their superior officers in no carping spirit. One of the greatest difficulties that officers had to contend with was the maintenance 167 of discipline, and if anyone thoroughly conversant with the Army inquired into the matter they would find that those battalions which did the best service in the war in South Africa and in every other war were those in which the highest state of discipline had been maintained, and where both the officers and men had been accustomed to obey without quibbling. That was true with regard to the Guards, the Regulars and the Auxiliary Forces. It was absolutely essential that there should be discipline in the ranks and among the officers. He turned to the Bill to see if this Territorial Force would be efficient. As regarded that he was pleased to see at the outset some words to the effect that the Bill dealt with the government, discipline, and pay of the Army, but if they read the Bill they would find that There was nothing about pay in it, except that the soldiers were to be paid as much as the Secretary of State for War issued orders for, and although the right hon. Gentleman had given them a memorandum, there was nothing in the Bill which said that any man was to receive any pay at all—they were all dependent upon the good will and liberality of the Secretary of State for War. In regard to discipline it was exactly the same. The Bill simply said that orders on the subject were to be issued by the Secretary of State. The only definite statement was that if a man were disobedient he was to be discharged. In fact, so great were the difficulties thrown in the way of a man's leaving the force, if he so desired, that the simplest thing for him to do seemed to be to disobey his commanding officer. He did not think the Bill would satisfy anybody who wished that the scheme should be a reality and not a sham, nor did he think the condition of these forces could be satisfactory. He knew the difficulty about the Auxiliary Forces and had always thought that this country would never have a proper service until it was provided that if a man took upon himself the burden of defending his country he should have certain advantages and privileges over his fellow citizens, say in the way of voting, increased pay, exemption from taxation, or qualification for old-age pensions. The inducements held out by the Secretary for War, however, would not have much power to keep men in the forces. 168 So far as he could make out, the only advantage that was offered to induce a man to join the force was that if he were a Member of Parliament he need not vacate his seat, and if he were an elector he would not be disfranchised. The only thing provided was that the members of the Territorial Force were not to suffer disadvantage in those ways. There was not sufficient provision made as regarded pay and discipline, and the whole of the provisions in regard to those matters were very indefinite. Thinking that he himself might join the Territorial Force he read the Bill to see if he could find something definite as to what he might make himself liable to, but he found the provisions as to that also very indefinite. They must not, moreover, be always content to take it that what was said by Ministers and others in their speeches was embodied in their Bill. He remembered that some time ago, in 1901, he thought, when the Yeomanry was being reorganised, Mr. Brodrick stated in the House that he was most anxious in reorganising the Yeomanry to provide every facility for Volunteers who could ride to join the Yeomanry and become Yeomanry and Volunteers. He heard the right hon. Gentleman make that statement, and acting upon it he went down to his constituency and proceeded to enlist some ten or twenty Volunteers in the Yeomanry. A short time afterwards he had an indignant letter from the Colonel of the Volunteer regiment complaining that certain people were walking about the town sometimes in Volunteer uniform and sometimes in Yeomanry uniform. He got very frightened and thought that perhaps he had rendered himself liable to be Court-martialled and to have; heavy penalties inflicted on him. He consulted a friend on the question, and he was then told that he need not bother himself as the Government would be only too glad to get a man to count twice over, once on the Volunteer establishment and again on the Yeomanry establishment. When they came to the actual formation of the new territorial force they had to consider what; the Bill set forth and what training the men were to receive. The question of the terms of service and the question of training were left in the most vague position. Everything was "as may be prescribed." the annual training might be 169 eight, fifteen, or thirty days, or might be dispensed with altogether. The only thing certain was that a man who, having joined the territorial force, failed to appear when the force was embodied for six months training in time of war, would be treated as a deserter. There was no penalty stated; but the penalty for desertion in face of the enemy was shooting. It therefore came to this, that the right hon. Gentleman was asking the country to throw away the present Auxiliary Forces and in their place to accept a scheme in which there was nothing certain with regard to discipline, or pay, or terms of service, or preliminary drill, or annual training. If any man when he had enlisted in the territorial force could make out under what conditions he was serving he would be a perfect wonder. Yet one of the provisions was that every person authorised to enlist recruits was to state to the recruit the terms of the contract to be entered into. How on earth could a recruiting officer comply with such a requirement? The officer or sergeant who, wishing to secure a recruit, could inform the man of the conditions of service would be clever indeed. If the scheme should be successful, if the War Office found a large number of men forthcoming, then after the men were enlisted fresh orders would be issued, the screw would be put in motion, and the training would be lengthened. If, on the other hand, the men were not obtained—as he believed they would not be—then the screw would be relaxed, there would be Orders in Council, orders from the Secretary of State, from the Army Council, and from the associations, reducing the number of drills, and the 300,000 men would perhaps be obtained, but they would not be properly trained. The man who joined the Army would be in the position of a man playing a game in which his adversary made the rules as they went along. Military authorities should declare the minimum of training required and the men should be enlisted on that understanding, but this scheme was simply a means by which the screw could be tightened or relaxed as it might suit political exigencies and influence elections.
*COLONEL HERBERT (Monmouthshire, S.)
said he had not the opportunity of listening to the earlier portion of the 170 speech of the noble Lord, but he came in in time to hear his excellent remarks upon discipline. He, as an old soldier, agreed with every word the noble Lord had said on that point. the noble Lord's anxiety as to the amount of training required could not be relieved by laying down a hard and fast rule, for degrees of capacity varied, and he would be sorry to say how long it would take the noble Lord or any Member of the House to become proficient in the "goose" step or any other part of the military art. The rules must be left elastic, and the power given in this Bill should be left in the hands of the military authority to prolong or curtail the time of instruction as circumstances required. To hon. and right hon. Members opposite they were in the habit of looking for Imperial views on many subjects, and he asked them to take a broader view, and see if there was not an Imperial side to the questions raised by the Bill. Outside those islands were our great dependencies, as was pointed out by the right hon. Member for Dover, who alone of those whom he had heard speak from the other side touched a little on the Imperial side of the question. the light hon. Member had reminded the House of the great English-speaking communities over seas, but even the right hon. Gentleman failed to realise that in this Bill our military organisation was being brought nearer to that existing in other parts of the Empire than it had been brought by any previous measure. He had had personal knowledge for many years of the local Forces in one of our principal Colonies, and he would refer to that experience as bearing on this measure. The Government had been represented as being desirous of abolishing the Militia by the Bill now before the House. But so far from abolishing the Militia, they were restoring its true spirit. They were going back, not to feudalism as had been suggested, but to the principles which once underlay the Militia system in this country and which still underlay the Militia system in our Colonies. There the dread of militarism was so strong that they would not have any troops except those raised on a Militia basis under a law precisely similar to that now proposed by this Bill. In Canada, the Colony to which he had particularly referred, they had one Act under which all the forces of the Colony were raised 171 —the Militia Act. Under that Act there were troops who served under precisely the same conditions as our Regulars, but the jealousy of the Militia principle was so strong that the Parliament insisted that those troops should be raised under and be subject to the Militia Act. The difference between those troops and others was that they were called up for continuous training whilst the others were only called upon for periodical training. The elasticity provided in this Bill was necessary to curtail or prolong the period during which the services of the troops might be required for the benefit of the country. The hon. Member for the Central Division of Sheffield had criticised the measure because it placed the whole of the Auxiliary Forces under one Act; and the mover of the Amendment had said it was impossible to unite under one system all the Auxiliary Forces unless we had compulsion. That difficulty had been got over in Canada. There were There different classes of the community who could not all perform service under the same conditions; and the Act under which they served had been modified by regulations so as to allow each class of the community to perform their training in the way best suited to their ordinary avocations. It permitted such training as our Volunteers received and the more continuous training given to the Militia in camps and barracks. It went further and permittted continuous training such as the Regulars received. That disposed of the purely imaginary difficulty and fear that, if all the Auxiliary Forces were placed under one Act and formed into a homogeneous Territorial Force, the Force would be weakened because it would be impossible to employ all the different classes of the community. Exception had been taken to the proposal to place all troops raised for the Territorial Army entirely on their own basis and not to furnish them with a permanent staff. When he took over the command of the Militia troops in Canada, though he found that many of his predecessors had urged and pressed for the adoption of the English principle of a permanent staff, he received the impression that it was going against the feeling of the people to introduce into the Canadian system that permanent element. He, therefore, took the view that every unit should maintain 172 itself in every particular—that its own officers and non-commissioned officers should be its instructors and he believed the results justified that view. It was only in that way that the esprit de corps or rather the esprit de regiment which was necessary to produce good units could be obtained. Given that spirit and suitable arrangements, such as schools, for training instructors, he had no fear for the result. He did not wish to labour the point. His only object in intervening was to show that they were not trying a new experiment in this Bill. It was not a speculative measure, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover had said, for a similar system existed in Switzerland, and with admirable results, though under a compulsory system. Such a system might exist with equal success without compulsion. He believed more in democratic enthusiasm than in bureaucratic compulsion. the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon agreed that the Militia had fallen on evil days, but while agreeing with the diagnosis of the Secretary of State, he seemed to object to the application of any form of remedy. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman's earnest zeal for the Army, which he had shown both in office and out of office, would lead him to help in making this a measure which might once more set up that fine old Force on which they all looked with pride, the old Militia Force.
§ *MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)
It is only too evident from the empty state of the House that great national questions involving the gravest issues are under consideration. But we are used to this on Army debates, and I hope that on this occasion the smallness of the attendance is not entirely due to the fact that I am now addressing the House. I think the Secretary for War will admit that, whatever may be the fate of this Bill in this House, the system which it proposes to set up cannot possibly come into practical being unless it receives not only the assent but the enthusiastic support of the majority of the people of this country; and, therefore, I think that it is reasonable for us to inquire what measure of support it has received so far. I think the right hon. Gentleman will be the first to admit that hitherto, at any rate, there has been a remarkable restraint of criticism, that there 173 has been a patriotic desire exhibited to examine his proposals in an unbiassed and non-party, I might almost say in an indulgent, spirit; and I think that arises from the fact that it is recognised that he is making a serious attempt to solve the most baffling military problem that confronts a Minister of War in any country, and he is given full credit for that. But I am afraid, as far as we on this side of the House are concerned, that is as far as our approbation can go. We recognise, of course, the goodness of the right hon. Gentleman's intentions; we know that the War Office is paved with good intentions, but we feel that the scheme, how ever sound it may be in theory, is in many of its most vital aspects unworkable in practice. It seems to be based on a series of hypotheses which do not take into account the workings of human nature or the passive resisting power of vested interests, and, in short, whilst he has produced a scheme which is homogeneous, which is complete and even imposing on paper, in my opinion it can never be materialised and carried out in anything like the form in which he has presented it, because the officers and men will not be forthcoming. The Amendment of my right hon. friend states in very forcible terms the process of cleaning the slate on which the right hon. Gentleman is resolved. The Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers, at any rate in their present form, will be practically wiped out; and whilst the right hon. Gentleman has written on the slate a very attractive scheme for reconstituting or replacing them, it all depends upon whether the existing Forces are willing to fall in with his views. I do not mean that there is any fear that they would oppose his scheme from mere "cussedness," but they may find it impossible to accept his proposals, because in their opinion they may run counter to all their interests and make their continued existence impossible. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Berwick Division said that the opposition to this scheme was really a Militia opposition. I am sorry that he spoke in a tone of such undisguised hostility towards the Militia. But, after all, the chief merit; of the new scheme is that it undoubtedly introduces a uniform and homogeneous system, but that is attained at very heavy cost, particularly to the Militia and the Yeomanry, from 174 whom, no doubt, the greater part of the opposition is likely to proceed; and it is to be carried out at what I believe to be a fatal cost, because in order to get your uniformity, you are going to level down the Auxiliary Forces to the standard of the lowest instead of levelling them up. After all, even if this opposition does come from the Militia and the Yeomanry, they are being called upon to make very grave sacrifices. These are summarized perhaps as well as they can be by the military correspondent of The Times, who wrote the other day that—The Militia loses its cherished identity as a separate Force and is asked to give up its substance and become a new Reserve to the Regular Army. The Yeomanry are asked to revert from it high rate of pay to the standard of the cavalry of the line. We may get yeomen of a kind at the rates proposed, but it is not certain that it will be the same fine Force that it was.I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman will find that, as time goes on, this foreboding will be only too well justified. The Volunteers are doubtless less upset by the scheme than either of the two other portions of the Auxiliary Forces; their traditions are more preserved, and t by this means, no doubt, the edge of their opposition will be considerably blunted. But has the right hon. Gentleman any assurance that his proposals will be accepted by the bulk of the Volunteer Forces; because unless his proposal is accepted, not merely with assent but with enthusiasm, the scheme is bound to die from lack of driving power. I feel sure that he recognises that. Has he received that assurance with regard to the practicability and popularity of the county associations? We have heard one Volunteer officer behind him, the hon. Member for East Edinburgh, and I think that it is evident that he is strongly opposed to the county associations. I have endeavoured during the recess to ascertain the opinions of a number of prominent Volunteer officers with regard to this question. I found that they all had an anxious desire, in a soldier-like spirit, to assist the right hon. Gentleman as far as they possibly could, but at the same time they pointed out grave defects in his scheme, particularly as to the proposed county associations, which, in their opinion, are given a far too ambitious and extended list of duties. A great many of them are in 175 favour of modified county associations, with comparatively minor duties; but with the list of duties as now proposed they consider there will be over centralisation, that it will lead to work being done at the headquarters of the associations which could be done much better at the headquarters of the units, and that the chief result will be friction, followed by a great deal of extra work, and, as is inevitable in all those cases, a great deal of extra cost. Coming to a smaller matter, that is the abolition of the Regular adjutants, I find that proposal is universally condemned. I do not think in the debate to-day that there has been hardly a single opinion in favour of it. It seems to me that this step can only be defended on the principle of saving money at any cost, and surely it is a notable example of spoiling the ship for a halfpennyworth of tar. Of course I have heard with great respect the opinion expressed by the hon. and gallant Member for South Monmouthshire, whose experience with the Canadian Militia is very great. I had the honour of serving with him when he was in Canada, and he knows that any opinion which he could express would be received by me with great respect. But I cannot altogether allow his opinion to weigh against that of the bulk of Volunteer officers in this country, who have had practical experience of the work of their own corps, in which the conditions are not precisely the same as those which obtain in the Canadian Militia. I also find, unfortunately for the scheme, a consensus of opinion among the Volunteer officers whom I have consulted, that the terms of service as set forth in the Bill—and I cannot but believe that they are made unnecessarily forbidding in the wording of the Bill—will cause a number of good men to resign and discourage fresh men from joining. The discouragements are first of all the penalties, which, I gather from the right hon. Gentleman, he does not propose to enforce. If he does not propose to enforce them, why does he put them in the Bill? He says they may be wanted.
§ MR. HALDANE
said the penalties were similar to those contained in the Volunteer Corps Rules at the present time. The Government had only substituted new machinery.
§ *MR. ARTHUR LEE
I think that the right hon. Gentleman has made the penalties very much more formidable than they were; at any rate, they are so regarded by Volunteers, and after all the important thing is that if they think so it is going to discourage enlistment. The other thing which I am told will discourage enlistment is the obligation to be liable to six months embodiment in the case of emergency. The War Office is no doubt counting upon the patriotism of employers to secure men in their jobs if they are called out in this way. I hope the War Office will be justified in their hope. But will they set a practical example? Is the Government prepared to guarantee that any men who are in the Government service and who are called out for six months under this Bill, will have their full pay, or at any rate that the difference between their full pay in their employment and their pay received as Volunteers, shall be secured to them, or their families, and their places kept open for them? That would be a practical test of the Government's patriotism in this matter, and I will at any rate give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of expressing an opinion on that subject by moving an Amendment later on in the Committee Stage of the Bill. Personally I cannot help thinking that this obligation which is to be kept hanging over the heads of the men who may be in steady employment, will be an even greater discouragement to recruiting than would be the same period of training at the beginning of the term of enlistment, because after all there are always a certain number of men, particularly young men, who may be out; of a job at the time, or who are willing to wait for a job until they have completed a definite period of training. they would begin the training at once and thus know what they were in for, and the experience they would gain during that long preliminary period might well be kept up by that short period of annual training which the right hon. Gentleman proposes in his Bill. At any rate while by such a process you might get a less number of men, yet you would get a far higher rate of efficiency, and, when an emergency arose, you could always fill up with a similar class of recruits to those that 177 you expect to get under the existing terms of enlistment. The hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby Division gave us some interesting information with regard to the Swiss army. He pointed out with great force that one of the secrets of success of the Swiss system was that the longer period of training—six weeks—comes at the commencement instead of being held over until an emergency arises. I do ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether it would not be better to have the longer period at the commencement rather than to hold over the head of the recruit that it will only be enforced when war has broken out. I must refer for a moment to a recent speech by General Sir John French, in which he is reported to have said that—The new scheme is based on the principle that it is the bonnden duty of every young man to take part in his country's defence.If he is correctly reported, I can only surmise that the right hon. Gentleman's speech in explanation of, and his printed memorandum on, this Bill must have been singularly misunderstood by the gallant and distinguished soldier, because surely, nothing can be further from the facts. As a matter of fact, by the Bill the vast majority of able bodied young men are encouraged to evade this duty, whilst the few who do voluntarily consent to qualify, in a dilettante sort of way, are threatened with pains and penalties if, subsequently, they happen to change their minds. One would have imagined from General Sir John French's speech as reported, that the Militia Ballot Act is being brought into force, and that, in that way, an old obligation which has long since fallen into desuetude, is being revived by the right hon. Gentleman. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, on this point, whether he proposes that the Militia Ballot Act should now lapse altogether, or whether he proposes to keep it in existence?
§ MR. HALDANE
This Bill does not touch the Militia Ballot Act, but, even if it were brought into force, it would be found to be unworkable. Further than that, it allows paid substitution, which, I think, is a most vicious principle.
§ *MR. ARTHUR LEE
We all admit that the Act is not what it should be, 178 but it is all we have got, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not allow it to lapse.
§ *MR. ARTHUR LEE
In studying this Territorial Army, I could not help being reminded of a remark of Lord North's when the list of officers who were to serve in an approaching campaign was submitted to him. He said—I do not know what effect these names will have on the enemy, but I know they make me tremble.I think I might apply that remark to the right hon. Gentleman's Territorial Army. I do not wish to be accused of undue levity, but I should venture to describe it as a " Snodgrass Army"—and I hope the right hon. Gentleman and the Government generally are better acquainted with their "Pickwick" than they were with the Scriptures in the earlier part of the debate. I think the right hon. Gentleman will remember that on the only occasion on which Mr. Snodgrass was called upon to fight, it was related that—In a truly Christian spirit, and in order that he might take no one unawares, he announced in a very loud tone that he was going to begin, and proceeded to take off his coat with the utmost deliberation.What was the result? In the next sentence I find—He was immediately surrounded and secured,and, as he was led away captive—Listened with gloomy respect to the torrents of eloquence which his leader poured forth.I do not see, seriously, how any one can possibly defend the theory of causing an army to commence its training after hostilities have actually begun, and which proceeds on the assumption that there will be a "close time" for a force of this kind in modern war. We have heard a great deal in the course of the debate about another grievous defect in the right hon. Gentleman's Territorial Army, and that is with regard to the artillery question. The hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby Division said that the advantage of the new scheme was that it gave "cohesion and artillery" to the second line. I have endeavoured to show that it does not give cohesion, and 179 I think I can show that it cannot possibly give efficiency to the artillery. The Times correspondent has described the artillery problem as being the greatest of the unsolved problems in connection with the Territorial Army. But the new scheme does not solve the artillery problem. It merely aggravates it, and when this matter was discussed on a previous occasion the right hon. Gentleman, if I may say so, showed a curious testiness and irritability with regard to criticisms of the artillery. He recognised no doubt that it was a fatal weakness, and he did not like attention being called to it. At any rate, he derided the long experience of artillery experts, and dismissed their opinions with the taunt that there was "more superstition about artillery than about any other subject except theology." If he were in a position where he was exposed to rapid bursts of shrapnel, while he was endeavouring to adjust a fuse or a telescopic sight, he would find that there was considerable cogency in the superstition. Speaking to his constituents, only in September last, the right hon. Gentleman said. "We need more Artillery, and nothing short of the best will do." But he is about to reduce the best and to create for the second line of the Army an artillery which is bound to be the worst in Europe. [Cries of "Why?"] Because it will be untrained and armed with inferior weapons. It will be unfit to go into action against the only enemy which it can possibly be called upon to fight. But perhaps the right hon. Gentleman's real excuse was disclosed in the reply which he made to an interruption of mine, during the previous debate. The right hon. Gentleman then said that he—Hoped the contingency would not arise of this Territorial Artillery having to fight at all.And of course if they are not intended for purposes of war it does not matter how they are trained or armed. In spite of what the hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby Division said, I contend that the training to be given to this force will be hopelessly and ludicrously inadequate. The right hon. Gentleman bases his hopes on the experience of the Lancashire Militia Field Artillery. But that comparison is altogether inadequate and misleading. I do not know whether the right hon. 180 Gentleman read a recent debate in the United Service Institution, in which most of the officers of the Lancashire Field Artillery took part. Colonel Wing, who commands that force, described his three batteries. He pointed out that they had a permanent staff of 120 Regulars, or one Regular to every two Militiamen; that half of the non-commissioned officers and most of the specialists were Regulars; that the recruits began with twenty-eight days training on enlistment, and that was followed by eight weeks continuous training every summer for the batteries, and an extra month for non commissioned officers and specialists. Further, he pointed out that though the Lancashire Field Artillery did extremely well in the circumstances, they were only placed as third class at the inspection on Salisbury Plain. Compare with this the fact that the new Territorial Artillery would only have from eight to fifteen days training annually. There would be only fourteen to eighteen Regulars per battery, and there would be no Regular officers, or even Regular adjutants. Colonel Wing added—If a large increase of Militia Field Artillery is to be made, you cannot get such a high standard of officer as in the Lancashire Field Artillery; in fact, I am sure you cannot get them.Colonel Wing also pointed out the great difficulty there would be about noncommissioned officers. These remarks were fully endorsed by Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell-Hyslop of the Lancashire Militia Field Artillery, who said that the Regular nucleus of their batteries was the secret of their success, and he compared it to a nucleus crew of a battleship which trains throughout the year and "keeps the whole show in order." Colonel F. G. Stone, late Inspector-General of Canadian Field Artillery said—No country can produce many officers of that kind, nor can it be expected that there are many of these special officers or non-commissioned officers to go round.Colonel Stone further said that—A Militia non-commissioned officer can never exercise the same authority as a Regular non-commissioned officer, because if he did he would be liable to retaliation when the training was over.'Then the debate was summed up by one of the greatest living authorities upon 181 artillery training, Major-General Sir George Marshall, who pointed out that—The experiment with the Lancashire Field Artillery has been a small one, and I do not believe in small experiments proving anything in a large way. …I do not see how we are going to have a Militia Field Artillery fit to go into action and to fight Regulars unless they are as good as the enemy. … In my opinion the introduction of quick-firing guns will necessitate that the commissioned officers of butteries shall be men of the highest capacity and training—men who have been trained all their lives to it.But perhaps the unkindest blow of all given to the right hon. Gentleman came from his Fidus Achates, The Times military correspondent, who summed up the controversy by declaring that—If any politician believes that he is going to obtain officers fit to command modern quick-tiring batteries from among people who do not give up their whole time to the study and practice of artillery, the first battle in which these persons are engaged would disabuse him of that belief.He added—Half-trained officers and half-trained men have no business to touch those guns. They will not get half the results attained by the trained hands; they will get no useful result at all.These are the opinions of the best; qualified experts, and I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to dismiss them as artillery superstitions. Then I wish to touch on the question of the matériel of the batteries—that is to say, the guns with which they are to be armed. I base my criticism from experience in the field. It has been conclusively proved to be a disastrous policy to attempt to arm half-trained troops with an inferior weapon, for unless these troops are given at least as good a weapon as that possessed by their adversaries, they will be hopelessly demoralised before going into action at all. The right hon. Gentleman has endeavoured to create the impression that the converted 15-pounder gun with which he proposes to arm the Territorial Artillery will be as good as that with which they are likely to be faced. I put down a Question on the subject, and I am afraid by the form of the Question I may have afforded the right hon. Gentleman inviting opportunities of giving figures which really do not institute a true comparison between the converted 15-ponnder and the guns of other nations. It may be the fault of my Question, but the figures given were very misleading. 182 The right hon. Gentleman gave the range of the 15-pounder gun as being 5,900 yards, which he showed as being equal to, and in the case of the German gun, in excess of the range of the guns of other countries. He did not say, however, that that means that we happen to have a fuse which will burn a sufficient time to enable that range to be obtained, and that in order to get it the gun has to be elevated to an angle of twenty-five degrees, and the remaining velocity is so small and the angle of descent so great that the effect of the projectile will be practically nil. I really do not understand the right hon. Gentleman's figures with regard to the comparison with the German gun, which he showed to be very inferior to the French gun and even to this converted 15-pounder. But do his figures refer to the old German gun which I understand has now been discarded, or to the new German gun which is to be taken into use in the German Army? I think in making any comparison of any kind he ought to give the figures of the latest German gun, and I will put myself in order by putting down a Question on the subject. In conclusion, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will recognise that I am not pressing this artillery question in any captious spirit. It is a subject which has interested me most of my life, and I hope that he will examine into it further, and that on further examination he will admit that he has not given sufficient consideration either to the personnel or to the matériel of this force. I think he may carry his passion for uniformity too far, and in my opinion the only safe plan as regards the artillery is to increase the Regular artillery to a sufficient extent to enable it to serve the needs both of the field force and of the Territorial Army. If, from financial considerations, the right hon. Gentleman is unable to do that, I beg that he will accept the standard of the Lancashire Field Artillery as an irreducible minimum. If he refuses to do that, and persists in imagining he can equip an effective artillery force on the conditions laid down in the Bill, then I believe, and I understand it is the opinion of all artillery experts, he will be merely conniving at a murderous and extremely costly farce.
§ *THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. BUCHANAN,) Perthshire, E.
The remark with which the hon. Gentleman has just concluded his speech points to this conclusion, that if we are desirous of attaining a high standard of efficiency with regard to artillery, it is quite impossible to include artillery in any Volunteer force or any force such as is in contemplation by this Bill.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
My last appeal to the right hon. Gentleman was that he will accept the standard of the Lancashire Field Artillery, which is part of the auxiliary forces, as the irreducible minimum.
§ *MR. BUCHANAN
Yes, but the hon. and gallant Member had said that it would be impossible if we wanted to attain a high standard of efficiency in regard to the artillery to include artillery with the arms of the force which we are creating. Of course I quite sympathise with the hon. and gallant Gentleman, who, being an artillery officer himself, naturally looks at the interests of the artillery first, in discussing this scheme. ["Oh."] I do not mean that in any offensive sense. It is desirable that those addressing the House should address it upon the particular points with which they are best acquainted. What I was going to say was that I have listened throughout the evening to the various speeches which have been made in the progress of this debate, and I think I am within the mark in saying that on the whole they have not been directed against the principle of this Bill or against its substance, but they have been mainly criticisms with regard to certain points of detail in the Bill, and they have largely been criticisms of certain points and proposals which are not in the Bill, and are not proposed by my right hon. friend, but which will properly come up for our consideration when we come to deal with the Bill in its further stages. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover in the speech which he delivered in the early part of the debate, attacked the Bill on definite lines, and he concluded his speech by moving an Amendment which, of course, if carried, would prove fatal to the Bill: but I do not think that even he is wholly hostile to the Bill, and I do not gather 184 that he would look upon the passing of the Bill as a great calamity. I do not think that in any of the subsequent speeches from that side of the House, and certainly not from this, has there been any definite, downright fully considered hostility to the Bill. Therefore, I think my right hon. friend and the Government are justified in considering that upon the whole the debate has been favourable to the proposals before the House, and that we may look forward to the passage of the Bill through Parliament, no doubt with Amendments, and we may hope with some confidence to arrive at a satisfactory solution of this difficult Army problem that has vexed and puzzled so many minds for years past. I say with Amendments, because the Government are fully open to the value of the various criticisms that have been directed to the Bill. The clauses of the Bill are by no means intended to be an ultimatum as to what the Government have got to propose; it is rather a Bill which confers powers within which the Secretary of State and the Army Council may be able to operate. With regard to Amendments on any of the details we hold an open mind, and we shall be perfectly ready to receive suggestions favourably from all quarters of the House To-night, therefore, I hope it will not be thought discourteous if I do not proceed to reply in detail to the many and various points that have been raised in discussion during the last three or four hours. I would rather bring the House back to the main principle of the Bill and main object that we have in view. My hon. and gallant friend the Member for Sheffield, who is not in his place, invited me to speak on this Bill. I have often in former days spoken upon questions connected with Army finance, but I never posed as being able to speak on military matters connected with the Army. I desire to speak purely as a civilian, and do not pretend to be even an amateur strategist. This Bill, as I have seen it, deals almost exclusively with the non-Regular Forces of the Crown, and with that body which was described as the second line of defence. What is the problem put before us connected with the second line of defence? We have at present ample material ready to our hands, but its organisation is not an organisation of a 185 second line as a whole, but only of units and certain parts of it. In the same way, its training as it exists at this moment is not a scientific or systematic training. Surely, if that is the condition of the problem it is the duty of the Government to take advantage of this most efficient material and to endeavour to give it unity of organisation and unity of efficient training. The Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers are ample in numbers and keen in military spirit. They do not want merely to play at soldiers, but they want to be soldiers and to get the best possible military training within the limits of their remaining civilians, and under the conditions in which it is possible for them to serve. Surely we ought to embrace this opportunity and make their organisation one for the whole of the forces of the second line and give them a systematic training and render then as efficient as possible without making them cease to be civilians. It is no use to endeavour to alter and improve the condition of the Militia in one point, the Yeomanry in another, and the Volunteers in a third. My right hon. friend rightly goes a step further and asks the House and the country to take advantage of this opportunity to give the united forces of Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers such training as will make them an efficient defensive force in time of national emergency. Of course, whether we shall succeed or not, or whether the Bill will pass in its present form, remains to be seen. The Government are open, as I have said, to suggestions for the improvement of the scheme so long as they are consistent with the main object they have in view. The fact that this is the object we have in view is recognised, at any rate, outside this House. It has been brought before the country mainly through the energy of my right hon. friend, and I believe the country now understands what the object is and approves of it, and the people are willing to support the Secretary for War in his arduous task as long as they are convinced that he is taking practical means to 186 achieve his object. We have been told in the course of the debate that we are destroying the Militia, the Yeomanry, and the Volunteers. That is not so; we are endeavouring to treat these three forces as a single body, and of course, if we amalgamate them into a single body they will, to a certain degree, lose their distinctive characteristics. But the efficiency of the whole body will be vastly improved. It has been asked on both sides of the House what relation does this proposal bear to proposals for conscription or compulsory service. There is no element of conscription or compulsory service in our proposals or behind our proposals; our scheme is founded on a voluntary basis. Myright hon. friend has rightly said more than once that a volunteer is a volunteer. It is a useful truism to insist upon, that that is the basis on which we found this new departure and new-development of our Army system. But there are certain individuals who criticise the scheme more or less favourably, but always with certain reservations. they say they wish well to the ingenious proposals my right hon. friend has placed before the country, and that he may perhaps succeed, but they end by saying that the scheme is foredoomed to failure because it is based on a voluntary system and not on the principle of compulsory service. There is no foundation for the suggestion that the ultimate motive of those who lay those proposals before the House is compulsory service. My right hon. friend over and over again has expressed his wholehearted allegiance to the voluntary principle as the basis of this proposal. It was mentioned, I think by the hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby Division, that it was manifest on the face of it that a system of conscription was one which in many respects would be wholly unsuitable for adoption in this country. The British citizen is a patriotic man, and he is not blind to the interests of national defence or unwilling to undertake his full share of responsibility 187 with regard to it; still he thinks, and he rightly thinks, that the burdens that are put upon his shoulders should be proportioned to his needs and to his risks, and that he should not have imposed upon him burdens which are wholly unnecessary. I do not know that after the speech of my hon. and gallant friend that I need elaborate this point. We have no land frontier like continental countries, and, therefore, our naval line of defence is our first line of defence, on which it is necessary and right for us to bestow our supreme attention. But, more than that, we have military obligations upon us connected with our Empire which render it practically impossible for us to adopt anything like general compulsory service. The first military necessity laid upon us is to see that we have a complete and sufficient force for garrisoning and defending India and our other Imperial possessions over the seas, and for that purpose it is absolutely essential that we should have a large force raised upon the Volunteer basis, and upon no other. That must be a prime necessity of any military organisation of this country, and having that large burden on our shoulders, it is absolutely impossible for us to adopt in addition a general compulsory system with regard to our home I defence. This scheme is in no sense what it has been described—the last despairing effort on the part of the advocates of the voluntary system. It is a reasoned attempt to solve a difficult problem on broad lines, and I am certain that, if it fails it will but lead to another attempt on the same voluntary basis, and that the political leaders have not yet come into existence, or, at any rate, into prominence, who will be prepared to; advocate anything like a general measure of compulsory service or conscription. I can understand that there may be doubt in certain quarters as to the cost of the scheme. But the Secretary for War has declared his confidence that he will be able to give the country a military force in the Territorial Army more 188 efficient than and for less money than is now spent on the Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers. With that statement I entirely agree. I think we have given an earnest of our endeavours to make that plain. We have taken the House into confidence and we have given an earnest of our economical intentions, knowing that it is expected by the House and by the vast majority of the country, so long as any reductions which may be effected can be made without sacrifice of efficiency. We believe that we have succeeded in doing that; and the same idea of economy actuates the proposals we are laying before the House with regard to the expenses of the Territorial Army. My right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean and other speakers have made certain comments on the Statement laid before the House by the Secretary of State a short time ago. We have made a complete Statement of what we believe will be, as far as we can estimate it, the general expenses t of running this Territorial Army when it is in operation. There is really no secret in that. In the Memorandum of the Secretary of State there is a statement of the cost of running the Territorial Force when it comes into operation, and he is convinced of the accuracy of the Estimate. Of course there will be considerable expenditure incident to a great change of organisation such as is proposed, but this will be distributed over a certain period of time, and when the scheme comes into operation the cost will be less than that of the corresponding forces on the Estimates now. The figures are not final, and the Government will be ready to consider with an open mind in Committee any suggestions in relation to the third and other clauses of the Bill bearing on the subject. The general grounds upon which I urge the acceptance of the Second Reading of this Bill are, in the first place, that it proceeds upon a voluntary and not a compulsory basis. I think we have made that perfectly clear, and we intend absolutely to adhere to it. In the second 189 place, it proceeds on what we believe to be a sound economical basis, because we are of the opinion that we shall spend less money upon the scheme and get a better return for our expenditure than we are getting now. In the third place, it provides an elastic and not a rigid system. We recognise the spirit in which the Auxiliary Forces have agreed to discharge their defence duties, and this imposes upon the Government the obligation to endeavour in our regulations to meet their needs and necessities, and with this object in view my right hon. friend has made the terms of his Bill elastic, so that it will be in the power of the Army Council to mould those regulations, and alter them according to the exigencies of the various corps and the characteristics of the various classes of citizens who join them, so that we may be able to take full advantage of the best material that is available in the country to develop this force. The Government are justified in noting with satisfaction the reception of the Bill. My right hon. friend has approached the problem with an open, a clear, and a vigorous mind, and has produced a practical scheme. If it continues to meet with the same consideration which it has received this evening, we may hope to pass into law an Act which will place on a secure foundation the defence of our country.
§ Motion made and Question "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. Arnold-Forster,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.