HC Deb 10 April 1907 vol 172 cc232-94

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [9th April], "That the Bill be now read a second time."

Which Amendment was— To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words '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)—instead thereof— Question again proposed," That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


I propose to support the Amendment put forward by my right hon. friend. It would be a very great pleasure to me and to many other hon. Members on this side of the House if we could accede to the appeal made yesterday by the hon. and gallant Member for Monmouthshire. I can truly say that upon naval and military questions I have never taken Party line; but the hon. and gallant Gentleman, in the circumstances, asks a little too much. I should like to recall to him the circumstances of the case under which he makes this appeal. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said most truly that the Secretary for War had in all his dealings with the Opposition shown invariable courtesy. This I fully recognise; but courtesy is not all that is desired. The right hon. Gentleman has accompanied that courtesy by doing all that in him lay to destroy work done, or attempted, by some of us on this side of the House. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs very properly, I daresay from his own point of view, drew a picture, or rather made suggestions, as to what the Secretary for War might have said regarding the iniquities and infirmities of his predecessors. I am not going to dwell upon that. But what I want to point out is that this is part of the regular stage background upon which this Bill is introduced. It is part of the business to show that order has been restored where chaos was found. It was represented that the right hon. Gentleman found the Army in a state of chaos and dissolution and that he has come forth as its saviour aud restored it to its pristine virtue. The fact is, however, that the right hon. Gentleman himself has borne testimony to the condition of the Army as never having been so good as when he took office. I venture to assert that there is not an officer who will not say that two years ago the Army was better manned, better armed, better trained, better equipped, than it had ever been before. The Volunteers two years ago had 175,000 men in camp, and if the right hon. Gentleman had not interfered they would eighteen months ago have been doing exactly that which he is now hoping they will do in the future; they would have been enjoying the advantage of a fortnight in camp, and the experiment with regard to Volunteer Artillery would not be a question for the future, but a matter of experience to look back upon. I only say these things because I am anxious to dissipate the idea that there has been a waving of the wand by which the reign of order has replaced a state of chaos.

The Secretary for War appealed for plenty of time, free from criticism and interference, wherein to formulate his policy, and everybody on this side of the House felt that it was a fair appeal, and it was responded to. But what has happened? Eighteen months have passed and we have had speeches innumerable from the right hon. Gentleman—the air has been ringing with his eloquence. What has been done? Absolutely nothing at all, except that a large part of the Army has been rendered less effective for war. The Romans, when they wished to inflict a disabling blow coupled with indelible disgrace upon an enemy, used to practise decimation, and the right hon. Gentleman has very nearly succeeded in decimating the Regular Army; already he has succeeded in knocking 20,000 men off the Regular force. [MINISTERIAL cheers.] I am glad to have the accuracy of this statement confirmed. That, we are told, is a beginning only; and when I speak of the Regular Army I mean men serving with the colours only. I can quite understand that there are some who think this a meritorious act, but it does not go far towards strengthening the Army. What I wish to point out is that, so far as accomplishment goes, there has been nothing but destruction, nothing in the way of construction but promises, hopes, and anticipations in regard to the future.

My objections to the Bill can be summed up in a very few words; I believe it involves a policy of make-believe from beginning to end—a make-believe of which the real authors are very well aware. The Secretary of State astonished some of us when he told the House that he I had not been able yet to ascertain what were the real military needs of the Empire. I think that was rather an astonishing statement, for I thought we had during the last five or six years made some progress towards arriving at a conclusion upon this all-important matter, and it causes a shock now to find proposals made without any calculation, any hypothesis, arrived at upon this all-important question. Some of us at any rate had formulated ideas on the subject. We thought—rightly or wrongly—that the principal duties of the Government in relation to the two great services were to furnish a Navy beyond challenge, to provide an Army capable of fighting abroad, to provide a striking force to move prior to mobilisation to create a great power of expansion, and in addition we thought it was necessary, even after taking into consideration the strength of the Navy, to have an efficient force to meet and defeat any raid that might be made on the shores of this country. Now, it is only the last of the requirements that the right hon. Gentleman has attempted to fulfil. Fortunately, the Navy is outside the right hon. Gentleman's dispensation; but when we come to the expeditionary force, I venture to suggest that the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean and the hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby Division may set their minds at rest. They need not be in the least alarmed at the prospect of a gigantic expeditionary force of 160,000 men; it is but a spectral force, it does not exist, and will not exist, and nothing the House is asked to do will call it into existence; it is no more a reality than the spectral force that "beleaguered the walls of Prague." I do not believe that the formation of such a force is a prime necessity of our military constitution, but I do believe the power to keep such a force in the field by expansion by trained men is a military necessity of the first order. In this matter the right hon. Baronet may possess his soul in peace, because this is a visionary force which has no existence now, and, as far as anything the House is going to be asked to do, is not to have any existence whatever in the future.

I will not trouble the House with any reference to the striking force. It is condemned by every military authority with whom I have discussed it. The striking force of 5,000 sixpenny Reservists has been condemned by every soldier I know of.

Some words fell from the Financial Secretary to the War Office last night that require notice. The Bill, he said—and I think he said it with the wisdom of the serpent—was exclusively concerned with what have hitherto been called the Auxiliary Forces, That is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman wants the House and the country to think, and if that were all the interest I take in the Bill would be very different from what it is. So far as the Auxiliary Forces go the Bill practically makes no difference at all. When all is said and done, and if the Bill passed to-morrow, the difference would be so slight as to be scarcely observable. But the Bill touches greatly, intimately, and most dangerously, not the Regular Forces only, but the quasi-Regular Forces which hitherto have supported the Army in the field. I do not wonder that the Financial Secretary was anxious to divert attention from that aspect of the Bill; but I am anxious that attention should be called to it because it is a most important question. For 840 years this country has been fighting year in and year out abroad. The bones of British soldiers lie in every land from the shores of the Baltic to Torres Strait, from Pekin to the Red River. There is only one part of the world's surface where such relics of war are not to be found, and that is the soil of England. Have we no right to learn something from the history of the past? That history tells us that whereas we have had, in order to build up our Empire and to safeguard and protect our industries, to sacrifice blood and treasure in every part of the inhabited world except this England in which we live, we have never yet had to undertake a serious war to repel an invasion of this country. The conclusion I draw from this fact is the simple one that as things have been, so it is probable they will remain. The high probability is that the lessons of the past will serve us in framing our anticipations of the future; and I believe that if ever there was a time when we were justified in forming that conclusion it is the present time, when we have done so much to strengthen our power at sea. At any rate I think I am not unreasonable in asking hon. Members to attach importance first of all to that weapon on which alone we have ever had to rely in the whole of our long history. It is that weapon which the right hon. Gentleman is trying to blunt, but which I desire to keep clear and bright for all emergencies. That weapon is being blunted to an extent which the country does not appreciate at all, and much of that process is to be effected within the four corners of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said—and with much that he said on this point I agree—that what we want in order to reinforce the Army in time of war is cadres. How is it that when we want cadres our first effort is to destroy ten of the units we already possess? The Government know perfectly well where the real crux of this question lies, and that is why they have been so very careful to cover up their tracks, if I may use that expression. It is absolutely wrong to say, as was said by the Under-Secretary for the Colonies, that fewer recruits will be required under the new policy. It has been stated that under the previous arrangement 31,000 recruits have been required for the Infantry, 12,000 for long-service, and 19,000 for short-service. How many are required now? You require 22,000 long-service recruits and 13,000 short-service recruits, or 35,000 altogether under the new system. The right hon. Gentleman has told us we are going to have a stronger Reserve than we have ever had; and in order to make people accept that statement he has taken a very strong course indeed. It was necessary that he should try to create that impression. He has destroyed or is destroying the Militia, which with all its faults, and they are many, has at any rate done something to give us a substitute for a Reserve, and has set free Regular troops in time of war. He has reduced the number of cadres, the artillery, and the establishment of the cadres, and therefore it is natural to suppose that the available force after these reductions will be less than it was before. In order to dissipate that very natural belief, he has given the House the Return entitled "Army Reserve, Actuarial Calculation of the Normal Strength," etc. I challenge that Return. I say that it is not worth the paper it is printed on. Every line of it is calculated to mislead, and has misled. Prima facie the Return is absurd. What does it start out to prove? We have diminished the Army by ten cadres of infantry; we have reduced every battalion of infantry by eighty men as compared with 1890, by thirty men as compared with last year.




Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to make a distinction between establishment and strength? If so, he will make his case worse, not better. After the reductions made and the increase of the term of service for the whole Army, the right hon. Gentleman asks us to believe that the Reserve will not only be as great, but greater than it was before. How carelessly these things are presented to the House! My right hon. friend the Member for Dover asked the natural question how is it, if this reduced establishment is to produce this large Reserve, that even now, after a long period of enlistment for short-service, we have a smaller number of men? We are told that we are to have a Reserve of 115,000 men, recently magnified to 121,000 by some stroke of the pen, and my right hon. friend asked how was it that now we had only got 113,000 men. The right hon. Gentleman said that the explanation was that fourteen recently created battalions have not produced their normal reserve. As a matter of fact these battalions have all been in existence for seven or eight years, and under normal conditions they would have produced their seven years reserve. But the conditions were not normal. During five of these years there have been men pouring into the Reserve on a three and even on a two years enlistment. But there is a much stronger point than that. The regiments have produced much more than their usual reserve, and it would have been well if the right hon. Gentleman had looked at the Return before making his explanation. The Return shows that so far from there being a falling off in the Infantry Reserve, the Infantry Reserve is now 7,000 men more than the calculated Infantry Reserve under the new scheme. And yet he coolly accounts for the number of the Reserve by this imaginary diminution. There will be a great diminution in the calculated Infantry Reserve. I have gone through this Return and others have gone through it also, and I venture to state that if we were to say that we shall get 90,000 men as the available Reserve product of this new scheme we should be very much nearer the mark than this figure of 115,000. The whole of this calculation has been deduced, not from strength, but from establishment. The right hon. Gentleman has told us himself that this year there are 9,000 more men going out of the Army than coming into it. And next year there will be 13,000 more going out than will come in. I want to know the right hon. Gentleman's authority for his calculations.


The right hon. Gentleman asks me a question. The authorities were the best actuaries at the War Office. The Return have been prepared on the most skilled advice.


Very well, the right hon. Gentleman says his calculations are based on the most skilled advice. I have in my hand a Return drawn up two years ago in the War Office for the information of the Army Council, and I should like to tell the right hon. Gentleman under what conditions the Return was drawn up. The question was asked what would be the normal Reserve of the Army on a given establishment. At that time the Army was larger by eight battalions than it is now, every battalion having a larger establishment of strength than is the case at present. What was the result? That larger establishment and larger number of battalions was there stated to give a Reserve of 7,000 less than the Reserve of the right hon. Gentleman. I look upon this actuarial calculation, and I see the name of "J. G. Ashley," the identical actuary whom the right hon. Gentleman claims as supporting this Return.


Nine years and three are the terms of enlistment.


That is one of the casual interruptions of the Secretary of State for War. He is in error. The question answered in the Return to which I have referred is " What, with a system of seven years enlistment, will be the number of men in the home battalions unavailable on mobilisation, and what numbers will be available from the Reserve?"


The home battalions?


The right hon. Gentleman need not interrupt me. Given an establishment for home battalions of 750, the strength of the Reserve is shown in the answer as for sections A and B, 40,000 in round numbers, and for section D, 15,000, total 55,000, the establishments being fifty-two battalions in India, twenty-five in the Colonies, and seventy-nine battalions at home of 800 non-commissioned officers and men. There is no getting out of that.


Seventy-nine battalions?


Yes, eight more than we have got now. I challenge this Return, it is impossible to have this Reserve. And I will go further. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that we are to have an additional Reserve for the Regular Army. I want the House to understand exactly what this additional Reserve is going to be. It is to be made up of boys now going into the Militia, boys who enlist at seventeen. They are to have six months training in the depot, they are to get 6d. a day in their pockets, and at the end of one year, or two years, or two and a half years, they are to be brought back and made the first-class Reservists of the British Army. I have seen these boys, and if I could take hon. Members down and show them these boys, as I have seen them, stopped in their gymnastic rounds because they had not the strength to go through them, I think we should not hear so much of this great addition to the strength of the British Army. Two out of every three of these boys are useless; they fall by the wayside and die out. The remaining one survives; he goes campaigning in India; he bivouacks; he is fed, and clothed and he survives, and at the end of seven years becomes a Reservist. I saw the Devon Regiment mobilised for the South African war. It consisted of 1,000 men, 500 of whom were Reservists. They occupied, I am told, more lateral space than any other battalion in the British Army. There was not a man who did not know his colonel, his officers and his non-commissioned officers. Such are the present Reservists of the British Army. What is the substitute? These boys, cast adrift at seventeen and a half, and for a year in nearly all cases, and in some cases for two years, absolutely useless either to God or man. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh."] Well, I withdraw that remark; I used the expression colloquially. But, at any rate, for any military purpose these boys are useless. They cannot be called out for service at home and they are not allowed to be used for service abroad; but at the end of two-and-a-half years they will be called out as first-class Reservists of the British Army. I read lately an article—I do not speak as to the accuracy of it, but I can testify to the ability of the writer—in which it was stated that we are not to be discouraged because the second line of the Army is not equal to the first, and the writer said "No second line can take the field. Look at the second line of the German Army." The House is often misled on this subject. The second line of the German Army is composed of men of thirty-five years of age and upwards. Every one of them serves two years under the most severe discipline in the world, is commanded by officers of immense experience, and is utilised, if necessary, in that enormous chain of fortresses which rings the German Empire. Is it reasonable, is it common sense to compare these men with such a second line as this of the right hon. Gentleman? I say it is not.

Then there is the utter failure to provide for the great want of the Army—that is officers. Here I must complain again that the House is not properly informed. We were told that officers were to be taken from the public schools and the Universities. We were told that these young gentleman from the Univerities were everything that was to be desired, because they were to be trained on the same method as that in use in the German Army and were attached d la suite of a regiment. The House thought that was a very good thing; but let me explain where the analogy fails. If these boys have served in their public school corps—not a very high form of training, I think— four months are to be knocked off; if they joined their University corps, four months more are to be knocked off, and they are to be attached to a line battalion and to be a la suite for four months only. 'They will mess with the battalion and try very hard to do somebody else's work while somebody else tries to prevent them from doing it. The second line of the German Army is officered to a considerable extent by men who have been a la suite of a regiment. If a boy passes his final examination in the schools and shows educational and social qualifications, he is permitted, as a one year volunteer, to join a regiment. The only thing to distinguish him is that he wears a white thread in his collar and is allowed to live in lodgings. At the end of the year, if physically, socially, and intellectually fit, he is permitted to serve one year a la suite of a regiment as a subaltern officer, under the sternest discipline the world affords, and at the end of that time, if still regarded as qualified, he is permitted to serve as Under-Lieutenant in the Landwehr. And some Gorman papers complain that officers with that amount of training and discipline are inadequate for the purpose for which they are required, and are trying to get a better class of officer. A comparison of that kind is absolutely unmeaning and illusory. His hon. and gallant friend the Member for the Abercromby Division always reminds me of Sir Walter Scott or George Eliot, who, whenever they wanted to find a chapter heading, wrote a verse themselves and ascribed it to an "old song." Whenever my hon. and gallant friend finds it difficult to enforce an argument, he always invents an old song or a new song to illustrate it. He told the House yesterday that all officers of Continental armies were raised from the ranks.

MAJOR SEELY (Liverpool, Abercromby)

I said they had served in the ranks.


As a matter of fact, in France some officers are promoted from the ranks because, very much to the regret of the authorities, they have not been able to provide sufficient officers from the military colleges. But in Germany, no officer serves in the ranks, he has to be balloted for before he is taken, and even those who do pass a year in the ranks under the circumstances I have described, are not taken for the Regular Army, but for the Landwehr. I think we must, therefore, pause and ask ourselves whether we are really supplying the fighting line with competent officers.

I will not deal with the question of the Yeomanry. My impression is that the Government will be well advised to give way on that point, and I trust they will do so. But I would like to touch on the question of the Volunteer Force, which I admit I consider a subsidiary question. In the first place, it is not the Army that is going to fight our battles. It never has done so, and I do not believe it ever will; but, be that as it may, I do not trouble myself very much on that matter, for I believe that when the Bill has passed, if it does pass, there will be no difference whatever between the Volunteers as they are now and as they will be then. With regard to what I may call the penal clauses, I do not think my hon. and gallant friend the Member for Sheffield need I trouble about them. They are rather like the famous punishment in which the penalty is death or a 5s. fine, and you need not pay the fine unless you like." It is my impression that the right hon. Gentleman will relax those penalties and that the Volunteers will go on very much as they do now. They will have, it is true, the advantage of being organised and looked after by a miscellaneous body, the structure of which has not yet been denned; but I would remind the House that at the only time our Forces were in the hands of local authorities they were worse conducted and there was more corruption and failure than at any other time. That is an historical fact. I admit, however, that I do not anticipate such a state of things under modern conditions. I only hope that when the Volunteers come under the Lord-Lieutenant and the county council and the rest of the omnium gatherum proposed, they will be very much improved; but, as far as I can see, there will not be any change at all, except that they will be reduced in numbers.

It is part of the scheme, as I understand it, that the Volunteers shall, if necessary, go out as units in case of war. My hon. and gallant friend the Member for the Abercromby Division gave the House a little lecture yesterday on voluntary service, but there was no truth in it at all.


The point I endeavoured to make was that, in point of fact, when you have forced men to serve in your home Army, you find it difficult to get them to serve abroad.


On that I point I absolutely and entirely agree with the hon. and gallant Member, but I think he did very much dwell upon the question of whether good work would be done by men serving under compulsion. But as a matter of fact all men serve under compulsion. In this Bill compulsion is provided for. Every single one of these men who is still serving in the Force when a war takes place is compelled to serve for one year or for the duration of the war. It is quite certain that unless we have some compulsion of that kind we get no service at all. It is a dream to imagine that we can get service without compulsion in this sense. During the war in America between the North and South—a National cause if ever there was one—what happened? The men who had joined for six months went away the moment they got their liberty, and President Lincoln had to use his immense influence to put the law in correspondence with the circumstances and bring back these men or keep them where they were.

The Swiss Army has been held up as an example for our imitation and as bearing in some way on this Bill. But are we going to have the Swiss system? Nothing the least like it. If the Swiss system is good, our system is very bad. The Swiss Army is a conscript Army. The hon. and gallant Member has told the House that it is only called out for repetition courses every other year. That was so, but the Swiss Government found that that did not give a sufficient military education, and they changed it, and the men have now to come out every year.


No; not last year certainly.


The hon. and gallant Member is perfectly right; but the arrangement was found so unsatisfactory that the law has been altered. Let me compare the training of the Swiss Army with that of the Territorial Force. The Swiss preliminary training for infantry is sixty-five days, but the preliminary training of the men of the Territorial Force is eight to fourteen, and forty drills; for the cavalry the Swiss training is ninety days against our fourteen, and for the artillery seventy-five days against our eight to fourteen. The period of service in the Swiss Army is eight years, and the total number of days training is, for a private, 164 days, while the equivalent period in our Army is forty-eight. For the non-commissioned officers the period of training is 164 days plus 103 days for special instruction, a total of 267 days. In the case of officers, a lieutenant has to serve for 431 days in addition to his annual trainings. The repetition courses are in the infantry eleven days annually, and in the artillery fourteen. It is a pity, I think, that my hon. and gallant friend did not draw attention to these facts when he held up the Swiss as an example for our imitation. The Secretary for War recently took the chair when a Paper was read on the Swiss Army by an officer of Volunteers. I wonder the right hon. Gentleman was not tempted to set the lecturer right. The latter admitted that he knew that the Swiss Army was not thought much of by the German War Office, and, in order to get out of that difficulty, he said the Germans have apparently only lately discovered that it was owing to their adopting the Militia system, that they succeeded in saving their country and making it what it is. There again is an example of how people are misled. What was this Prussian Militia system adopted after the battle of Jena? In one day, the audience were told, the Prussian Army was swept away by an Army on a Militia basis. What was the Army on the Militia basis? The Army of Bonaparte in 1806, I suppose the most professional Army that ever trod shoe-leather or carried a bayonet. Then it was said that they were beaten in the long run by the Prussian Militia system. The Prussian Militia system was compulsion on every man in Prussia who could bear a gun to serve for three years in the Army. If that is the idea of Militia service, we are a very long way off it in this country. But I can excuse the lecturer when I consider the point of view from which he approached the subject. He said that in Switzerland they were not cursed with the Blue Water school. Can the depth of folly and ignorance go further? What is the Blue Water School? It is the product of the study of our great sailors who have preserved this country inviolate through many generations, and who believe they have accumulated a store of military and naval knowledge which is worth placing at the disposal of their country. That a British officer should be silly enough in the presence of the Secretary for War to praise and hold up for admiration the organisation of an Army because the people of that, country are not cursed with a Blue Water school is a strange departure from propriety—I will not say from sanity.

Are we really going to provide for the expansion of the Army by Volunteers? I do not think we are, or that in his heart the right hon. Gentleman thinks we are. As to the number of Volunteers on the outbreak of war, I would draw attention to what was said by the authorities questioned on this matter by the War Commission. The Inspector-General of Recruiting said— The number of Volunteer companies at first required were obtained with the greatest ease. The second drafts required to replace these in the spring of 1901 wore obtained with more difficulty, and, indeed, not obtained in sufficient numbers; and it was found to be impossible on a later attempt to obtain at all an adequate number. The Volunteers obtained on the last call in the autumn of 1901 only amounted to 2,413 as against 10,500 obtained on the first call. What was the reason? There is some testimony on this point. The hon. and gallant Member for Sheffield asked why the Volunteer ceased to come, and he said the reason was that the Yeomanry were getting 5s. a day without qualification and service companies 1s. a day with a very high qualification also that the great war fever had passed away. The Inspector-General of Recruiting also said that— The Volunteer private did not see why he should go out for 1s. a day in the Volunteer service companies when he could go out for 5s. as a Yeoman. That is a reason, but it does not quite fit in with the case which it is desired to make. It is true, moreover, that war fevers do arise and pass away. I make no charge against the Volunteers. Men do not go to war for the picnic anywhere. But the whole organisation of the Volunteers is on a basis which makes it improbable that they will give the necessary service. Let the matter be put to the test. If the Secretary of State will ask the Volunteer commanding officers to get a statement from the men serving as to how many of them are willing during the next twelve months to go to any war which may break out, he will get some idea as to what it is he is really counting upon. Why this should not be done I am at a loss to understand. The whole organisation of the Volunteers shows that they are not intended to supply units for a war abroad; we are driven back, and shall always be driven back, on the Reserve we have prepared for the Regular Army. Lastly, I want to say a word about the artillery. We are living in a perfect fools' paradise as regards this subject. The right hon. Gentleman has been acquitted of any attempt to mislead the House in the answer he gave to a question regarding the new guns, but the answer could scarcely have been different if it had been deliberately designed to mislead. The answer was one from which any human being would have carried away the impression that the guns in question were first-class guns, equal, if not superior, to the guns of foreign Powers. If our gunners were in action against foreign troops and were armed only with this gun, they would simply be destroyed 1,500 yards before they got into action. I do not know whether the cumulative effect of what I have said has produced on others an impression like that which I am under myself. My impression it; that we are playing with these problems; we are not really taking the matter seriously at all. We are not following the example of Switzerland or of any other country. We are pretending that we can achieve our objects with practically no training and under conditions which are not those which make soldiers, or under which anybody has ever succeeded in dealing with such a problem. I am not one of those who believe the right hon. Gentleman will not get his Territorial Army. I do not see why he should not get it. He has the Volunteers now, even if he is going to leave them exactly as they are. What I want to know is, has the right hon. Gentleman got an Army, or when the right hon. Gentleman has got the men, can it be reasonably supposed that he will get an Army which will uphold the honour and preserve the safety of this country in time of war? Although a great deal can be done by good will, we must have also discipline and confidence. There are Members of this House who know very well by experience what I and many others only know by reading—they know perfectly well that when a man is called upon to face death, and it becomes a question as to whether he ought to go forward, to go back or to remain where he is at the risk of his life, everything depends upon association with his officers, confidence in his comrades, and, however irksome it may be, upon discipline. Shall we create men in the Territorial Army like the men of the 10th Legion, or the Old Guard, or the men of the Light Division? Are you preparing an Army for that day of trial, to stand the tremendous pressure upon the human organism and the human spirit that was imposed by intimate contact with the sight and fear of death? Because if you are not, all these fine words and speeches are not worth anything at all. You may point to your Army and your county associations and say "Look at our success." You may have 300,000 men playing about with guns, and organised in brigades and divisions, and say that is success. But that is not the real test. The ultimate test, the only serious test of whether you have an Army at all is the test of the day of battle. I venture to hope hon. Members on this side of the House and some hon. Members on the other side of the House will ask themselves whether we are preparing to meet that test; whether it is in accordance with the universal teaching of all time that we shall postpone our preparations for war until the enemy is at our gates; whether it is in accordance with the teaching of this and all other ages that we should provide inferior troops with inferior officers, and whether it be in accordance with that teaching that we should be the one isolated example of that departure from the accepted doctrine of every other country in the world. Do we believe that we can do without effort, without sacrifice, without science, and without expense, that which other countries with all these things have found it difficult to accomplish? For all these reasons I cordially support the Amendment of my right hon. friend.

*MR. ACLAND (Yorkshire, Richmond)

said the House would hardly expect him to enter into and answer the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. The House had been told many things and had heard many strong expressions. They had been told that every speaker from the Government benches on Army matters was wrong, and that nothing had been done by anybody since the Government had come into office; that their Returns were worthless; that the House had been misled by the phrases used and, once or twice that no truth at all had been uttered by Members on those benches. That was such strong language that he did not dare to imitate it. There was, however, one question which struck him as important, bearing in mind what had already taken place. Surely ex-Ministers for War could not make any great claim to have left the Army in a satisfactory condition, while at the same time attacking violently and mercilessly the schemes that had been brought before the House for improving the condition of the Army as left by them. The question, for instance, which, the House had to ask itself about the training of officers by the scheme now under consideration was not whether it was an ideal scheme which would give the officers as much training as they would like them to have, but whether it was not a great improvement upon anything that was done, or intended to be done, by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The right hon. Gentleman left the Army short of 4,000 officers, and surely he could not go on and denounce the effort which was now being made to get rid of that grave danger and produce a better state of things. With regard to the Reserves there was the actuarial question, and the general question. Their actuarial Return had been attacked. It would be defended and justified at the proper time. But on the general question he could reply at once. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think there was to be some change in the system of supplying Reserves for the Regular Army. He had mentioned the second battalion of the Devon regiment in order to allege that the system which produced that battalion was being done away with. There would be no such change. The special contingent was intended to supply drafts; they did not take the place of the men who filled up the Reserve, which was secured to bring up the battalions to their full strength. The filling up of the battalions would go on in exactly the same way as before. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover had attacked the proposed organisation in two portions, professional and non-professional, and complained that it was not as suited to our needs as a system of three lines of support. That suggestion had been supported in a leading article in The Times. But the argument for it entirely broke down when examined, for it was found that the second line was said to be required for two purposes—providing drafts and also serving in complete units. These two different things could not be done by the same force, and therefore, as drafts were essential, a draft providing force had to be set up separately. There would then be, according to the right hon. Gentleman, apart from this force, a second line which must be either professional or non-professional But if the second line was a professional force, when war came it would compete with the Regular Army for the same class of recruits. On the other hand, if the second and third lines were non-professional forces, they would compete with the Volunteers. It was far better to have a professional force with a complete system of drafts on one side, and a non-professional force on a uniform basis on the other, than to have successive supports under different systems and different organisations. The question was whether, in a time of national disaster, when our professional resources had been exhausted, and it was necessary to call upon the nation for help, we should have time to train and complete our force before it left this country. If organisation was provided—and he believed it could be provided in the best possible way by having a home force organised in one system—we could devote all our attention to training, and we should be in a much better position to send out a great force to bear the burden cast upon our shoulders. The right hon. Gentleman had also spoken of the practical and the problematical side of the Government scheme, and had made much of the point that if the practical side, or Field Force, succeeded, the problematical side, or Home Force, must fail. That would have been true if he had applied it to the Militia in the past, for if the Militia had succeeded in doing its duty to the Regular line, namely, by supplying them with recruits in time of peace and drafts in time of war, it was fairly certain that they would have failed to perform the other part of their task, that of expansion. Surely, however, it was one of the great benefits of this new plan that it enabled the two things to be kept distinct; it enabled the Regular line to do its work with its drafts provided for it, and did not interfere with the Home Force. He understood that it was one of the chief aims of the scheme to separate the professional from the non-professional side of our national forces, in order to ensure that the success of the one might be entirely independent of the success of the other, and in order, too, that they might complete the Regular Army and keep it up to the full strength without interfering with the Home Force at all. He might comment upon one point raised by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, who had very much blamed, as he understood, the Secretary for War for having confessed that there was no strategical reason at the bottom of the fixing the expeditionary force at a certain number.

*SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)

said he had not blamed the Secretary for War, but the right hon. Gentleman had said that it was an accident that the number was fixed at what it was. He had said that in his opinion the number was too large, and that he agreed with the Leader of the Opposition as to that.


said that then perhaps he was in agreement with the right hon. Baronet in saying that there was no reason in the nature of things why this particular force should be kept at that particular number. What he meant was that, although it was considered necessary to maintain that force at present at a certain number of battalions, for certain purposes, in certain parts of the world, yet, when we had got, in the next few or many years, a power of expansion outside our professional force, and when our prospective relations with foreign countries admitted of it, then we might safely cut off some of those triplets of battalions which the right hon. Baronet mentioned. [Ironical OPPOSITION cheers.]


Subject, of course, to the quality of the short-service troops at home.


said he ought, in answer to the jeers from the other side, to say that he was simply expressing his own opinion and his own hopes for the future, and he hoped the opinion of many of those behind him. With regard to the vexed question of the adjutants, he might say that what was intended, or what was hoped, was more perhaps an ideal of the General Staff to which the battalions might be educated than anything which it was intended to rush upon them whether they liked it or not.

SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)

Is the hon. Gentleman speaking for the Government, or giving his own opinion?


said in this case he believed he was speaking for the Government.


It is just as well we should know.


said he thought it might be understood that that idea of the General Staff was based upon good reasons. It was based upon the main idea which had dictated so many of the improvements and modifications made since the war, on the distinction between command and training on the one side and administration on the other. There was no expectation that, in the Territorial Army, the adjutants would do the whole of the work now done by the Regular adjutants. It was rather intended that they should do the clerical work which was now done by the Regular adjutants, and that the work of training should be done from outside. It was believed that they would get better results if they had instructors from outside rather than adjutants from the inside. He was sure that many battalions would be glad to have their orderly room work done by one of their own officers, and to have the whole machinery of training external to the battalion itself, and not done by one of the officers of the battalion. Of course, all battalions were not ready for that, but he was glad to know that there were many battalions which believed that the system was perfectly practicable.


Can yon name one of them?


gave as an example the Lanark Artillery Volunteers. On the question of cost it was stated in the Memorandum that the matter of allowances was not absolutely settled. When they came to the figures they found what would be received by an ordinary trooper of the Yeomanry at present and under the new scheme. Assuming, for the sake of argument only, that 1s. a day was given for the messing allowance, then the figures were these. The trooper would get under the new scheme 10s. 8d. a day for fifteen days, while under the old scheme he would receive 10s. 9d. for eighteen days. Surely, that was not a very great difference, and surely they would not have the Yeomanry entirely destroyed owing to a small change of that sort. It would be seen by the noble Lord the Member for the City of Oxford that the sum of 10s. 8d. a day for fifteen days was very considerably in excess of the 7s. a day, which, as had been truly said, it now cost to keep man and horse. With regard to the officers of infantry, and in reference to the question asked by the noble Lord the Member for Maidstone, it might be interesting to compare the allowance which would be received by the ordinary captain of infantry of the Home Force in the future, with what he received now. In future he would receive 19s. 8½d. a day as compared with 8s. at present. Surely that was a very considerable improvement, which should do a great deal to encourage men to take commissions in the Territorial Army. In the case of a captain of Yeomanry, the new figure was £1 2s. 5¼d. a day compared with the old figure of £1 3s.—a loss of only 6¾d. He hoped that they would not lose the splendid Yeomanry officers they had at present for the sake of the 6¾d. a day which they might be asked to lose. Someone had said in the course of the debate that they could not afford to be patriotic in these days, but he thought that there was still a great deal of patriotism knocking about. He found, in a small way, that people were very willing to be Volunteers if only they saw that the force was encouraged and treated seriously. A man did not make strict examination as to whether; the sixpence he might spend on a railway; journey to attend drill would be repaid or not. He belonged to a battalion which consisted mostly of ordinary Civil Service clerks, many of them with pay no higher than that of a good many working men, and they would go, at Easter, for instance, from London to the neighbourhood of Hastings on their bicycles for four days outing, and would receive absolutely no grant at all. It cost each man 12s. 6d. for the four days, yet all were perfectly willing to pay it for a good turn out. There were thousands of similar cases throughout the country, and there was not that absolute lack of patriotism which would compel them to pay market rates for every single hour of time which they might ask a man to give up. He might say a word or two in reply to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, who, as a commanding officer, had a great reputation among Volunteers. Over and over again the hon. and gallant Gentleman in the course of his speech on the previous day had talked about the destruction of the Volunteers. He must know perfectly well that there was no such destruction intended at all, and he appealed to him not to talk about the destruction of Volunteers when he knew perfectly well that the word did not apply in any shape or form. The hon. and gallant Gentleman knew quite well that the conditions would be in future very much what they had been in the past. If they could make things rather more serious in connection with the Volunteers, so much the better, but there were no revolutionary conditions which could be interpreted to mean the destruction of, or even serious interference with, the Volunteers. The Bill, in many parts of it, was not new at all. Clauses had been taken which had been in Volunteer Acts before. Clauses 23 and 24, as to trial of offences and penalties, contained no new and terrible system of courts-martial for trifling offences or anything of that kind, as he rather gathered the hon. and gallant Gentleman had intended to convey on the previous day. Let them take part of Clause 24, which the hon. and gallant Gentleman had particularly mentioned. It stated— 'Provided that a man who has been dealt with summarily by his commanding officer shall be deemed to have been tried by a court-martial. That was taken simply and bodily from Clause 43 of the Militia Act, and it was the legal way of conveying the fact that a man, who had been dealt with by his commanding officer, could not possibly be tried again by court-martial for the same offence, which had been washed out, and summarily dealt with. He agreed that the words were not the best that could be devised, but possibly better words could be suggested in Committee to make the point clear.


asked, if the hon. Member contended that the clause he had read applied at the present time in any shape or form to the Volunteer force; was it not an entirely novel thing?


said it was not a novel thing at all under the Militia Act. There was nothing in the clause which was not perfectly well known in the Auxiliary Forces at present. He thanked the House for listening to him so patiently.

COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)

said that those who had followed the debates on this new scheme must have been struck with two things: (1) how very little interest was taken in the debates on the matter; and (2) [how curious it was that in the House of Commons as at present constituted they were almost entirely without any expert knowledge upon military matters. In all matters affecting trade, commerce, or education, they always found in the House some great critic whose opinion had some influence with the country; but there was not in the present House of Commons one single professional soldier whose opinion carried weight outside the House. [An HON. MEMBER: What about you?] Although he knew more about the subject than most people he did not claim to be an expert, and there was in the House little or no expert opinion on military matters which was of any practical value. There was a certain amount of trained civilian opinion, but that was not expert opinion, and the House, when considering Army discipline and treatment, would do well to recollect that they were acting without the slightest expert guidance. When this scheme was first put forward he was considerably attracted towards it, largely by the provision of the expeditionary or striking force, and what appeared to him to be the courageous treatment of some of the weak points in our present military system. He was attracted to it because he thought he recognised in it the conception of a national Army based upon a local system; but he had since altered his opinion. How did this scheme affect that part of our Army which was kept and meant for fighting, and upon which our national and Imperial existence absolutely depended? That was a vital point. First of all, he recognised that they started under this scheme with 21,000 less effective soldiers than before. He regretted that step, because he thought it was a great mistake, and unless it could be shown that there was something to make up for that loss, on that ground alone he would be inclined to condemn the scheme. He did not find any fault with what was contemplated in the first instance, but did the scheme provide what was foreshadowed? What did the scheme put forward? In the year 1906 they had 78,000 British troops in India, and 52,000 in the Colonies, or in round numbers 130,000 British troops. The new scheme undertook to maintain in fighting efficiency that number of troops in India and the Colonies, but he would make every allowance and place the number at 100,000. But the new plan also undertook to provide an expeditionary force of 167,000 men. Placing the number at 150,000 it meant that the new scheme would have to maintain, keep up, and equip with war material 250,000 men for service outside our shores. That was not an inadequate provision, and if the scheme really provided that number he would give it his blessing instead of his ban. The right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean and the hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby Division of Liverpool, seemed to think that the striking force was too large, but he did not agree with that view, although he was aware it was held by his leader. But did this scheme really provide 250,000 men? In that total, and especially amongst the 150,000 for the expeditionary force, would be included the whole of the first-class Reserve, and he wished to know how they were going to maintain that force at full strength after it had left these shores. It was proposed to keep up this force partly with the 130,000 men who might be called non-combatants, or semi-trained men, who would have to be kept under strict discipline, or else they would have all the trouble which resulted from employing semi-trained men. If those 250,000 were actually facing the enemy what would be the annual wastage? They would be sure to require at least 25 per cent. to keep the force up to strength, and that would mean another 62,000 men annually. How did the right hon. Gentleman's scheme provide for that total? He did not think they would be able to provide 20,000 from the sources which the Regular Army had at its disposal. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to conceive the position the officers would be put in. They selected some of the best men possible for the purpose of training, and then when they could be useful for the only purpose for which soldiers existed they said, "No, we retain you at that work.'' It could not work, and no officer worthy of the name would remain in the service if he was not to be free to go to the front with his own regiment. He had a suggestion to make to the right hon. Gentleman for what it was worth. He could conceive that these Regular Army officers might be replaced by other officers recently in the Regular Army, whose term of service was over and who might be expected to carry on the work effectively. That was one of the points which was not in the scheme.


said that if war broke out, those officers might eventually be replaced by what were called Reserve officers—officers who had been in the Army and were now in the Reserve— and the four captains who belonged to the training battalion would, as had been explained, probably go to the front in command of drafts or in some other capacity.


said it was satisfactory to be able to extract explanations from the right hon. Gentleman.


I said so before.


said it was probably his fault that he did not know, but the right hon. Gentleman, would allow that in a large scheme of this sort it might sometimes be necessary for him to repeat his explanations. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had answered his point. At all events, the officers thus employed would be permitted to go with their regiments to the front, and their places would be taken by others. So far so good. But would these training battalions be able to provide men fit to take their place in the fighting line? They had got to deal, so far as he could make out, very largely with the type of soldier who used to go into the Militia regiments. The question was whether they would be able to evolve out of comparatively bad stuff a soldier able to take his place in the fighting line. He was doubtful on that point. If these training battalions were not able to provide enough men, on his own showing the right hon. Gentleman would fall back largely on what might be provided by the new Territorial Army. That was the other source to which he looked for the maintenance of the fighting force in the field. In order to create that fighting force the right hon. Gentleman said, quite frankly, that he gave up the present system of Auxiliary Forces. The right hon. Gentleman had with reason much to say in favour of the better theory which the new scheme introduced. But they had to recollect that in practice the system he distrusted had at all events, given us, though with some difficulty, a certain amount of good fighting stuff which had enabled us to win, even though victory had not been achieved so quickly as we should have liked. The right hon. Gentleman had to satisfy the House that under this scheme he would get men and officers from the Territorial Force to which he looked for the reinforcement of the Line. He had also to satisfy them that the scheme would result in such a reduction of expenditure as would make it worth while for the country to accept it as an economical and efficient system. He thought the speech of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was based upon an error. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to lay down that one of the duties of the Territorial Army was to find men for the expansion of the Army in the field. He definitely said that by expansion he meant the addition of units to the fighting line. That was not, and it ought not to be, the function of the Territorial Army. The function of the Territorial Army was not to find units. Generals who had served in the field would state that when they asked that the strength should be maintained they wished to get it from units which they already had, and not from units with a different training and character. He believed the duty of the Territorial Array would be to find not so much units as drafts. If they asked it to find units they would be asking it to do what it could not accomplish. He had not seen in this scheme—although he could conceive that it might be brought into it—that this Territorial Force should be affiliated more closely with the Regular regiments. If the Territorial Force was to provide additional strength to the fighting line, it should be remembered that not a single man need go into the fighting line unless he chose to do so. The members of the force were not asked under the scheme to make a declaration a long time beforehand. It might happen that at the time when stress occurred they would have to ask the question whether they would or would not go, and it might be that they would not get the response which they wished. He did not think it would be a satisfactory position for the country to be in if they were dependent on the Territorial Force to make an efficient fighting line in the moment of emergency and difficulty. Surely if the scheme was to go through it would be better to have an arrangement that a certain percentage of the force should be under obligation to serve—say 200,000 out of 300,000—and upon whom they could rely at a pinch to go abroad. The right hon. Gentleman asked the Yeomanry and the Volunteers to give up a great deal of time, a large amount of pay, and also something of the peculiar position which they were proud to hold in the Auxiliary Forces. He was not quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers recognised the extraordinary differences in the views taken of this question by the Yeomanry regiments. A few days ago he was consulting with the representatives of two distinct types of Yeomanry. One of them told him that the men of his regiment, so long as they were thoroughly well found and made comfortable in camp, did not expect or wish to take away any money in their pockets except £5 per horse. His other friend said that was exactly what his men would not do, and that unless each man was able to put into his pocket 4s. per day, however well he might mess him, he would not get one of the men to come out. It was a question whether the right hon. Gentleman would find the response which he so fondly anticipated. The Volunteers were not asked to make so much difference in their status, but still they were asked to sacrifice a great deal. He wondered how the theory of absolutely equal treatment was going to be carried out. Could they ask the members of the force to accept exactly the same arrangements in time of peace as to food, dress, and other matters? He doubted it, and yet the whole scheme depended for its practical result upon determinedly sticking to equality of treatment throughout; otherwise the democratic and homogeneous Army broke down before it had been created. The men in the Territorial Force, representing what the Volunteers now represented, would be men earning a considerable amount of wages, and they would be earning exceptionally large wages at the time of a threat of war or of actual war. They would belong to certain industries working at full time or extra time, and they would have not only large wages but the chance of promotion. Surely it was essential that none of these men should suffer by the fact that they gave their services to the country. Surely they ought to arrange that the men should get full compensation for the wages or the promotion they lost. The men should be trained before war was imminent. To postpone the training until war had broken out would be a mistake. The scheme of the right hon. Gentleman was not practical, and he would be open to the charge of setting-up a bogus force on which the country could not rely in time of danger. He knew that there was a school of thought which believed that comparatively little drill and a spirit of patriotism could make a good soldier; but old-fashioned soldiers like himself did not agree with that.

MR. JOHN WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)

What about the Boers?


said he did not want to go into all the arguments about the Boer War; but he maintained that if we had had a more disciplined Army there would not have been so many disgraceful surrenders as there were in that war. If the present scheme was to stand good these men were only to be drilled after war had been declared. But who was to drill them? The right hon. Gentleman said that he would depend on Reserve officers for drilling the third battalion recruits; but that did not appear in the Bill. Nor did he see any arrangement in the measure for making musketry training effective. Again they could not rely on having efficiency of training for those recruits unless there were professional adjutants attached to each territorial regiment. It must be borne in mind that those adjutants were changed every four years and came fresh from the Regular Army with all the knowledge they had learned there. He admitted that many Volunteer officers were competent to drill their men and to command them on parade; but they were not equally competent as Regular officers to enforce discipline. They had already been told that the provision of officers was inadequate. He believed that that was so. He would not say that some officers should not be promoted from the ranks; but he doubted the wisdom of making that system universal. He thought it was the late Lord Palmerston who said that he had the greatest reliance on well trained troops under well-bred officers. Was the right hon. Gentleman sure that he would get good, real work out of the county associations? He was frightened about these county associations. Already as much work as they possibly could do was put on county gentlemen; and he confessed he saw difficulties in the composition of the county associations and the duties to be assigned to them. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean that they were to be the recruiters for the Territorial Force and to be the contractors for the supplies of that force? If so, there would be great pressure put on them to give the contracts into the hands of local tradesmen. He would not let the county associations interfere with the raising of the soldiers of the Territorial Army or with their treatment as soldiers; but when they were soldiers no longer the county associations might look after them and their wives and families. The right hon. Gentleman had received a considerable amount of support in the country for his scheme from the idea that it would lead to economy. That idea had been considerably exploded in the course of the debate; but if it was to be an economical scheme it would be a rank and hopeless failure. His contention was that it would lead to largely increased expense. It was said by some people that a cheap and effective Army could be based on an appeal to the manhood of the country for national service. That was a cheap, tawdry, and paltry pleasure to indulge in when speaking from platform in the country and arguing that the cost of the Army should be reduced. That was where democratic speakers always seemed to him to break down so hopelessly. He had tried to see what merits there were in the scheme. He admitted that there was a theoretic symmetry about it; but it was not practical. He thought that it was an imposition, and that the chief victim of that imposition was the right hon. Gentleman himself. Like many people who fell in love, the right hon. Gentleman saw nothing but perfection in it. He would have to acknowledge, however, that in many cases, he had not provided for efficiency and also that he could not get the fighting efficiency he desired at the cost he proposed. The right hon. Gentleman was, in fact, conducting an Army on Christian Science principles as expounded by Mrs. Eddy; but that would not do; and it was rather unfair to put his scheme before the country as a solution of the great problem of Army reform. Like many other old soldiers he was sick to death at all the squabbling over the Army, and he could wish that it should be taken out of the hands of the country and even of the House of Commons and put into the hands of the best military experts. Apparently, however, that could not be; and year after year they were face to face with some wretched squabble about getting economy with efficiency. That they could not get. Therefore, it was with considerable reluctance that he would have to give his support to the Amendment moved by the right hon. Member for Dover.

*MAJOR DUNNE (Walsall)

said he rose to support the Second Reading of the measure now before the House. He thought that one of the most important underlying features of the Bill was that the right hon. Gentleman would by this scheme bring the different elements of the people of the country into a deeper sympathy with our military organisation. He did not think that it was understood how little sympathy there was with the military forces in this country. It was only when outbreaks of war took place that the country seemed to find out that we had an Army. Whoever, for instance, in times of peace heard of a public man making a speech from a public platform about the Army? Abroad, a state of affairs such as he had described was impossible, because in all European countries there was hardly a single family which had not a member either now serving in the military forces or who had served. Consequently the interests of the whole population were directly affected by anything which affected the efficiency or well-being of the Army. It was not so very long ago that soldiers in uniform were refused admission to certain portions of places where public entertainments were held, and if the population of the country were in sympathy with the military forces such a thing could not take place. The right hon. Gentleman, hoped, however, to bring the Army and the population into greater sympathy with each other, not by conscription, but by means of the county associations. He hoped that very great interest indeed would be aroused by carrying the principle of local self-government into the affairs of the Territorial Army, so that the Army and its efficiency would be brought more nearly home to the different sections of the population throughout the country. If that were done, a vast set forward would be given to an increase in numbers and to the general efficiency of the Territorial Army. If the scheme was to be a success, however, they must get in all those who might be interested in the subject; not only the Lord-Lieutenant and the landlord, but the farmer and the employer of labour, so that all classes of society should unite. Until they could get them to unite, he did not think the scheme would be a success. He would point out one way in which the efficiency of the Territorial Army would be increased by the appointment of these county associations. He happened to have been a staff officer of a Volunteer brigade, and he knew the difficulty that corps had in obtaining sufficient ground to manœuvre over, and therefore derive benefit from the fortnight's or week's Volunteer training which took place in each year. If, however, they could enlist the sympathies of all the landowners and farmers and of the other people whose land was wanted to practise upon, he thought a great step would then have been taken to increase the efficiency and the value of the Volunteer training, whether it was eight days or a fortnight, or whatever it might be, short or long. Therefore he thought that not only would they gain in efficiency by setting up these associations, but they would bring the civil population into closer sympathy with the needs and requirements of the Territorial Army. On the 28th February last, the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil said, that— His personal feeling was one of strong suspicion that by this scheme they would strengthen the military spirit and thereby increase the risk of war. He thought it was an established fact now that the risk of war was certainly not increased by universal service. He was not advocating for one moment the, question of universal service, but by bringing home the responsibility to each man of knowing what fighting meant he certainly thought they did not run the risk of anything in the shape of an aggressive policy, and that if many of those who shouted themselves hoarse on Mafeking night had known that there was any probability of their being called upon to make their words good, the country would have evinced a more sober spirit on that occasion. It was an established fact that in all countries where conscription and universal service were enforced it had a distinctly sobering effect upon the warlike spirit of the country. The only exception that he could think of would be that of an entirely autocratic empire where they had a standing army at the call of a despot. That might, of course, lead to an aggressive policy, but in countries under freer institutions that would not be so. "Defence not defiance," was the present motto of the Volunteer Force, and he was sure that that motto would be quite applicable to the new Territorial Army which it was proposed to set up Tinder this scheme. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil also said on the same occasion in regard to a proposal to look after Reservists and discharged soldiers, which was one of the functions put upon these county associations, that— He protested against the present tendency to give preferential treatment in the matter of employment to men who had served in the Army. He maintained that nothing that they could do for men who had been in the Army and who were either Reservists or discharged soldiers could be looked upon as preferential. These men had volunteered to give seven years of their lives at that period of all others when it was most important for them to start a career, and the work of the various associations now existing was to make up to them the long start that the rest of their fellow workmen had obtained in setting themselves up in life and in qualifying themselves for the various professions and employments in which they engaged. Our soldiers had lost seven years in the race of life, and all they asked was that these associations should make up to them the loss of those valuable seven years. The term "preferential employment" was not, he thought, a correct term to apply to the small aid which was and would be afforded to our discharged soldiers and Reservists. He would like in conclusion to say one word upon what he thought might possibly be the effect of this Bill on the numbers of the Territorial Army. He thought the immediate effect would probably be that the present number of the Auxiliary Forces would be reduced on account of the six months training when embodiment occurred. On the calling out of the Regular Army when war broke out certain trades were extremely active, especially those engaged on Government contracts. In the case of large engineering firms like Armstrong's, which had a battalion of Volunteers formed of their employees, it stood to reason that the majority of those men would be among the most active and keenest workers in the firm, and the effect of this proposal would be that the employers would be rather inclined to discourage their men from joining Volunteer battalions connected with their own works. In order to meet that difficulty there would have to be great elasticity and great differentiation between the calling out of the different forces, both as regarded locality, the units, and also the men. He thought, moreover, that men employed on the active service of keeping troops supplied with the necessities of war were serving their country equally satisfactorily with the man who went and did six months training and shoudered a rifle when called upon. Therefore, no stigma of not having fulfilled his patriotic, duty should be cast upon one who did not leave his business, in order to enable the Government to furnish the materials of war.


referring to the remark of the right hon. Member for the Newport Division of Shropshire that there were no great military experts in the House, and that it would be much better if the military experts Were given an opportunity of entirely deciding technical questions of this kind, supposed the right hon. Gentleman would agree that one could easily get military experts of equal standing who would give equally important declarations in favour of the scheme and against it. It was not a question for military experts, it was a question whether the attempted reorganisation appeared from a common sense point of view to be better than the system of organisation which prevailed at the present time. He did not suppose that whatever was said by Labour Members would prevent the Bill becoming law, and he warned hon. Members with whom he was closely associated not to deprive themselves, by open hostility at the commencement of the debate, of the right to attempt to mould the Bill in a democratic direction. There might be many things said in favour of the proposals even from their point of view. He was an advocate of peace and did not believe in war as a means of settling international disputes. He wanted to see a reduction in the cost of our standing Army, and he saw nothing in the Bill to prevent him pressing the War Minister in that direction. Reference had been made to the suggested increase of the striking force. He thought the Bill had nothing to do with the striking force at all, and therefore the criticism of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean on the previous day, when he had attempted to enlist the hostility of the Labour Members against the Bill on the ground that it was to increase the standing Army, had not much force. He had read the Bill carefully and he saw no such suggestion in its clauses. There might be that idea at the back of the minds of the gentlemen who advocated it, but the House of Commons would be able to defeat their proposals when they were brought forward absolutely independently of the scheme contained in the Bill. This was a Bill to codify and unify the organisation of the voluntary forces for home defence, and he thought the Bill and its proposals would be just is necessary with a striking force of 67,000 as with a striking force of 167,000. The first thing they had to do before they proceeded to reduce the standing Army or the striking force was to perfect and unify as far as they could the Auxiliary Forces on which they had to rely for home defence. Therefore, the scheme, instead of preventing a reduction of the cost of the standing Army, would, in his opinion, greatly assist economists in the future in attempting legitimately and properly to effect such reduction. He was not alone in that view. The criticisms of the late War Secretary indicated that he held a similar view, and as the right hon. Gentleman was a military expert of renown he (Mr. Ward) was in good company. It must not be taken that all supporters of the Bill favoured a large increase. He thought it would be quite possible to support the Bill and still to ask for a reduction of the standing Army. He was compelled, however, to make one or two important criticisms which were of such a character that he would have to vote against the Third Reading of the Bill if some alteration were not made in it. The fostering of the military spirit among the boys of our schools vitiated the whole principle of the Bill. They ought surely to be, able to rely on grown men to defend the country in time of war, and in time to come he thought they would find plenty of men for that purpose. With all due deference to the ex-Minister for War, he also thought they would have sufficient courage to meet the enemy in the field. The history of the world showed that the great military nations had been composed of either large agricultural or large rural populations. But though town life did, no doubt, enervate the youth of the country, he had no hesitation in saying that we were as good fighters to-day as at any time of our history and that we were not quite the cowards the right hon. Gentleman would seem to suggest. The suggestion that it took years of training and discipline before a Britisher could be got to face the guns in the field of battle was, he thought, not quite true. The fostering of cadet corps in our colleges was not necessary to the Bill in any shape or form. Had the Minister for War devoted his attention to destroying the triple organisation of the Volunteers, the Yeomanry, and the Militia, and unified those forces without attempting to interfere with the school life of the children he would have erected his purpose to a greater extent than he would do by the proposals under discussion. The introduction of this into colleges and public schools and the attempt to establish such institutions as the source from which all our officers should be derived was an attempt to fashion a national Army on a social class basis, and the two principles appeared to him to be antagonistic. It was proposed to draw officers from the great colleges and educational centres which were the special preserve of the rich and well-to-do. They could never make a national Army by excluding the poor merely because they were poor from the higher positions in the new military organisation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Newport Division of Shropshire had said quoting a speech of Lord Palmerston to prove his contention, that it was absolutely necessary to have well-bred officers. That he did not dispute. The only question was what was meant by the term "well-bred." He asserted that there were soldiers in the ranks who might not have all the cultured and polished drawing room manners that some of our officers possessed, but who, from a military point of view, were equal to any officer in the British Army. Under these circumstances he did not think the quotation was either apt or one which solved the problem. As every one knew, an Act of Geo. III. abolished the sale of offices in every department but the Army. Up to 1871 all the higher offices in the Army were bought, sold, and retained as private vested interests, therefore it was a question of money, not of breeding, up to that time. There was an unfortunate tendency in the present day, especially in Government Departments, to separate into distinct classes the supervisors and the supervised. He was very much afraid that this snobbishness, especially in the great services of the State, the Army and the Navy, this attempt to prove that it was utterly impossible to maintain discipline unless officers were drawn from one class of society and the common soldier from another, this separation of interests, this dividing into castes the Services which ought to be welded together as a whole, was probably the cause of many of our serious disasters in recent campaigns. Now that they were making an attempt to reorganise the forces, it was the business at least of Labour men who represented working men on whom the country had to rely for their fighters —he supposed no one would contest that—to put forth their views on the subject. If members of the working classes were prepared to join the ranks and to risk their lives for the defence of the Empire, they were entitled to a share of the highest offices, provided they had the necessary ability to attain to them. He did not say for one moment that a man should be appointed who was incompetent or without the necessary ability. That was not the suggestion of those who represented the interests of labour. He understood perfectly well that a very strict examination would be necessary; that men would have to qualify themselves for the positions; but once they were qualified, mere social rank should be no bar to their appointment. Unfortunately, at present, the tendency was in the opposite direction. A Return was published in 1885, and it had been brought up to 1899, showing that the number of second lieutenants appointed from the ranks in fourteen years was 343, quartermasters 597, and riding masters 56, total 996 in fourteen years, or 4 per cent. A Return which had recently been issued giving the figures for 1899 to 1902, showed that the percentage had fallen to 2 per cent.; so that it was now twice as difficult for a ranker to rise to commissioned position as it was only a few years ago. ["No."] The hon. and gallant Member opposite said it was not so, but the figures spoke for themselves. Complaint had been made that recruits would not join in sufficient numbers, and that recruits when they were secured were not of the right quality and standard. He believed there was a great deal in that, and he was afraid it would always be so as long as there was no opportunity for the ranker to rise. It might be said that at present he had the opportunity, but he was afraid that the Returns which he had quoted showed that very few got the chance. It was useless on this question merely to express sympathy or a pious opinion. There must be some definite percentage of promotions open to those from the ranks. He was certain that the Secretary for War would be in a position to attract an entirely different class of men if recruiting officers were able to say that there was a definite percentage of higher appointments open to the humblest soldiers of the Army. In France that principle was adopted, but the percentage there was much higher than he would venture to suggest for this country. He thought it would be almost impossible to attract the best men to the Army unless something of the kind he hail suggested was done. At the present time he was afraid that they held out no inducements whatever to the best men to join the Army. The pay was very small, the conditions were extremely irksome, and the opportunities offered to a man were practically nil. The consequence was that the Army had been treated as a sort of human dust bin so far as concerned the lower ranks, which were largely composed of men who had probably failed in many other walks of life. He thought that by setting aside a certain percentage of commissions for the ranks, they would be able to attract some of the best of our youth, among both the working and other classes. At any rate, some attempt should be made to democratise the Territorial Force in the way he suggested, because the people would then be drawn into closer sympathy with at least the Home branch of the forces, than they had hitherto been. He would vote for the Second Reading of the Bill, but he hoped that in Committee something would be done in the direction he had indicated. With regard to the pay of the men, it was suggested, he believed, that they should receive a very small sum for their services. The argument had been used that the Regular soldiers objected to fight by the side of the Volunteer or Yeoman, who was receiving perhaps five times the pay. But the soldier who joined the Regular Army made that his profession for a certain number of years, and his position was entirely different from that of the man who; left his work for a few months of the year merely to perform his regimental duties in the new Territorial Army, The man might lose his employment; he might find it difficult to return to settled employment when he came back from his training, whether that had been long or short. In these circumstances the two cases were not at all comparable, and some special rate would unquestionably have to be paid to the men of the Territorial Army—a rate far above what they would pay to the men who made soldiering a profession. He thought that the scale of expenditure contem- plated under this scheme would have to be very largely extended. There was one other matter he would like to mention. He had known instances where employers had laid it down as a condition that they would not engage Volunteers. He had seen advertisements to that effect. He felt certain that unless the Secretary of State took that fact into consideration, he would fail to secure the number of men that he suggested were required in his Memorandum. The Rill might possibly be amended so as to constitute it intimidation to inquire whether a man was a Volunteer, and to treat as a criminal offence the making it a condition of employment that a man should not belong to the Territorial Army; at any rate, something must be done if, they were going to get recruits and properly protect the men who joined. With regard to the proposal to place Volunteers and the Home forces under martial law, he would observe that the term court-martial had a very nasty sound about it. Among the common soldiers there was sometimes a feeling that justice was not always done by the superior officer; and he thought the right hon. Gentleman would be well advised if he considered the policy which had been adopted in France, namely, that courts-martial should not be applied in time of peace even to the Regular forces. Courts-martial would never be submitted to by the Volunteer force of this country. Whilst soldiers and Britishers generally would be prepared to undergo the difficulties of a campaign and submit to the most stringent regulations when engaged in war, he felt certain that the class of the population from which the right hon. Gentleman expected to draw his recruits would be opposed to being placed under any such conditions as were suggested in the Bill. Under those circumstances it would have to be amended in that direction before it could be acceptable to the Labour Leaders of the House. He hoped the Bill would become law. He could quite see, as anyone could see, that it was absolutely necessary to destroy the triple organisation of Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers, the organisation must be unified. The talk of invasion was to him very peculiar. It was said that we should not be able to get the men in case of invasion, if there were no Territorial Army. If an official paragraph that a hostile army would be landed on our shores were published to-night, a million bayonets would gleam in the sun to-morrow morning and the Secretary of State for War would probably be hung up on the nearest lamp-post if he could not supply them. The military instinct of the nation was as good as ever it was. The Labour Members objected to the suggestion that there should be an enormous striking force, but they accepted the Bill because they knew, as the late Secretary of State for War had declared that afternoon, that this enormous striking force was imaginary and that the real object was to unify and codify the organisation for home defence.

Mr. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)

said he had noticed small points of difference in the objections raised to this scheme in almost every speech that had been delivered. In his opinion the alterations with regard to the Volunteers were practically nil, and that view applied to courts-martial. In the discussion several notable cases of disagreement had occurred. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newport disagreed at almost every point with the Bill, but the one point upon which he did agree was that they should do away with the Militia. Other Members of the Opposition had expressed exactly the opposite view. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon had attacked his hon. and gallant friend the Member for the Abeicromby Division for the description he had given of the Swiss Army, which he stated was absolutely out of date. He might say that his hon. and gallant friend's description was quite accurate; as to drill and other matters he had de cribed them exactly as they were last year. Evidently what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon had in his mind was a description of the Swiss Army as it would be years hence when the regulations now being I made had come into force. The regulations under this scheme instead of making training more frequent would extend it over fewer years, and that was practically not a material alteration. Nearly half the speakers who had taken part in the debate in opposition to the Bill had mentioned six months training as soon as the Reserves were called out. Where they had got that idea from he did not know, because it was not in the Bill. The only thing provided was that they should be liable to be embodied. The Secretary of State for War had stated that probably six months would be the period required to make them into good soldiers, but in saying that I he was merely quoting the opinion of experts; there was nothing in the Bill I about six months. The great object of the Bill was that they should be able to get hold of the men when they wanted them. Great objection had been taken to the total of 160,000 men which appeared in the Memorandum. He did not think for a moment that a striking force of 160,000 men was meant. They did not want a striking force of that size to be sent off during the first month of a war; 50,000 troops would be quite sufficient for that purpose. Under this scheme he believed they would have larger striking force than they had at the beginning of the South African War, and he believed they would have a large number of reinforcements. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover had said that the scheme would leave them too much in the hands of the officials, and that the House would lose its power. Surely the House of Commons would be able to stop the supplies when the War Office asked for too much, and that was really what had happened during the last few years. The country would always have that control. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newport had said that the Volunteers were going to be useless, and he had spoken at great length to show how unsuitable they were as soldiers. It was because they were not so useful as they might be that it was proposed in this Bill to alter their status and their position. He thought the great principle of the Bill had been generally accepted, namely, that there should be two lines, the first consisting of a striking force available at once. The second line was one which would take time before it was available for service, and would consist of a national Army popular amongst the people, and supported by them in the various districts. That principle was so much appreciated that he believed the Bill would pass without very great modifications. He did not think the term Territorial Army was a very wise one. He hoped it would be possible to train larger numbers of men together at their training depots in order that the officers might take battalion drill and occasionally brigade drill. The more men they were able to get, together the better would be the training of both men and officers. He trusted that the depots would be made larger and that the number of men trained at one time would be increased. The most important thing in the whole scheme was its finance. Ministerialists believed that the strength of the country lay to a great extent in its financial position in the world, and, whatever might be said as to preparedness for war, if the national financial position was sufficiently weakened, large armies would never help us. Therefore they thought that the question of economy was a much more important factor in Imperial matters than hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House seemed to think. He did not quite accept the figures of the Secretary of State. So far as he could see, he believed, like a good many critics, that it would cost a good deal more than was suggested. At the same time he thought even from the economical point of view it was worth while spending a million or so extra in the way proposed. The difficulty in reducing the most expensive part of the war organisation—the Regular Army—was that we had absolutely nothing the soldier would trust to fall back upon. The professional soldier never believed in anyone but the Regular soldier. Nothing else was to be depended on. The general opinion of experts was that the only soldier who would face fire was the man who had had long training. But these experts ignored such recent experience as was presented in the war carried on by the Boers and by the success of the Japanese in the late war, who certainly in the later battles fought with men who had not had more than two or three months' training. Sufficient training could be given in a few months to the proposed Territorial Army to constitute a reliable force, and he believed that in time of emergency that reliable force would volunteer by units for garrison duty, and so relieve the Regular soldiers to go to the front. He believed that once we had a good Territorial Army it would be very much cheaper to provide the foreign Army, which was our great difficulty now. Experts would always tell the country that the Reserve Forces were unreliable, but if this scheme were carried out we should have something that could be relied upon by the country and those high in authority at the War Office, and he thought that in future there might be further reductions in the expenditure on the Army. The adoption of the scheme would mean that economy could be realised which under the existing system could not be effected, when there was ever-increasing military expenditure, but no increase of efficiency.


said he approached the consideration of the subject as an ordinary country squire, and in no way as a military expert. From that point of view, he was interested in the proposal for the establishment of county associations, a proposal which, personally, he thought had much to recommend it. In many counties, and certainly in the county with which he was connected, local feeling was very strong, and it was quite possible that under local administration the best use would be made of the raw material at command. There were certain matters in connection with the establishment of county associations with respect to which he should like more information from the right hon. Gentleman. In the course of the debate it had been frequently pointed out that the tendency undoubtedly was for local work to get heavier and heavier. He thought that the chief end which the right hon. Gentleman had to aim at was to make the work of the county associations as practical as possible, to keep it in the hands of county men without the introduction of other elements. These were matters which might be gone into more fully on the Committee stage of the Bill. Though local work was increasing, there would be no lack of men to undertake the duty, providing the work was responsible and attractive, and confined to county men. There was some apprehension that associations might be governed by outside military men. There was also a fear that membership of an association might entail pecuniary responsibility. The fear he believed was unfounded.




said that there had, at any rate, been that feeling, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would make it abundantly clear that there was no pecuniary liability placed upon gentlemen who composed these organisations. A Memorandum had been issued by the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the scheme, and he confessed he had some little difficulty in understanding the financial proposals contained therein. It provided an approximate estimate of the cost of the Territorial Force. He understood there was nothing in that estimate for the expenditure which would be incurred by the county associations themselves for officials' salaries, rent of offices, and general administrative charges. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman in the course of his reply would give the House some more information as to the cost of the administration of the county associations.


pointed out that there was a statement at the top of page 4 of the Memorandum on that subject.


said it was difficult to arrive at any result from that statement. Roughly speaking, he imagined that it would take about £800 per battalion. He feared that the organisation was bound to be extremely costly, and that we should not get full value for our money. What was more, the greater the success which attended the scheme, and the greater the number of county associations that were formed, the larger would be the demands upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He wished that the House and the country should have, if possible, some estimate of the probable cost of the new scheme when it came into full operation. It was very difficult to form any opinion on that point with the materials they had now before them. He had approached the question of the county associations as a country squire; he wished to approach the consideration of Clause 3 through the eyes of the Public Accounts Committee. He had difficulty in understanding what the right hon. Gentleman's proposals were in regard to finance. So far as he could understand it the proposal was that the Army Council was to make a grant-in-aid or a block-grant to the county associations, which was to be at their absolute disposal. The principle of grants-in-aid or block-grants had in the past been open to great apprehension, and the practice was one which they ought not to encourage. At present the Volunteers got a block-grant for the expenses of their corps, but they were not in the same position as the new county associations would be, the latter having a considerable number of duties to discharge which the Volunteers had not to do formerly. It was admitted on all sides that the financial control which this House should exercise over all public expenditure was considerably lessened when the money was voted in block-grants; and he thought that the Secretary of State for War should let hon. Members see before the Bill went into Committee the form in which the new Estimate was to be laid before the House of Commons. That Estimate might amount to £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, and they should not be asked to vote such a large sum of money without being told how that money was going to be spent. He expressed strong disapproval of the drafting of Clause 3 as it stood. It seemed to him that the greatest latitude was allowed to the county associations in regard to the spending of the money, and that the control of the House of Commons was reduced to a minimum. He hoped that the sole power of dealing with the question of finance would not be left in the hands of the Army Council. Again, it was a matter of very considerable doubt whether the House of Commons should agree to a proposal by which they would be required to vote a larger and an increasing sum of money to the county associations without having the accounts audited by their own officials. So far as he could make out there was no provision made for audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General. The county associations were to audit the accounts themselves, and the House of Commons would have no opportunity of exercising that control which they ought to have.


said that this matter had been considered very closely, and it was found that if they did not apply the system of audit proposed by the clause the correspondence of the War Office with the county associations would be interminable.


said he would wait to hear the fuller explanation of the right hon. Gentleman when he came to reply on the whole debate; in the meantime he would respectfully say that the House of Commons ought to be most careful before consenting to any proposal which might be considered to weaken their control over expenditure. He was afraid that the right hon. Gentleman's military colleagues had achieved a considerable victory over him in that regard at the expense of the House of Commons in general and of the Public Accounts Committee in particular.


said he could assure the hon. Member that the Comptroller and Auditor General would have the same control over the new grants as he had at present over the Capitation Grant.


admitted that the present arrangement was far from perfect, but it should not be weakened. He was not a military expert, but, so far as he understood the scheme, he thought that the right hon, Gentleman had made reductions in the Regular Army before he knew what was going to be put in their place.

*MAJOR McMICKING (Kirkcudbrightshire)

said he found himself in rather an embarrassing position, because although he was in favour of the principle of the Bill and would give it his support on Second Reading he felt great apprehension with regard to the proposal to create 140 mobile Volunteer batteries of artillery, especially when fourteen of these batteries would, be horse artillery batteries. In regard to the artillery, there were two very interesting speeches delivered in the House during the debate the previous day. He was in complete agreement with what fell from the hon. Member for Fareham in reference to the artillery. As to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby Division of Liverpool he would like to say a few words. He would take the following quotation from his speech, as reported in The TimesIf people who did not want to fight could be eliminated from the Army by the principle of voluntary service, and the requisite number of men could still be got, it followed that the Army would be more formidable than under a system of compulsion. That was not a very convincing argument. He believed it to be true with regard to the rank and file, but it was misleading as regards officers especially for the artillery. When the hon. and gallant Member compared the Swiss artillery system with the proposed Territorial Army artillery he could see no analogy between the two. He would like to give to the House some figures with regard to the Swiss system. All artillery officers in the Swiss Army must have served in the ranks. At nineteen years of age every man in the country was examined medically and all who were fit must serve for twelve years in the Elite, for thirteen years in the Landwehr, and for five years in the Landsturm, making thirty years in all. Thus in the Swiss Army, where they had all these men, those of energy and talent strove to become officers in the force, and there was great emulation. Before a man became an officer he had to pass a recruit's course of fifty-five days; repetition course, eighteen days; non-commissioned officer's course, thirty-five days; recruit's course as non-commissioned officer, sixty-three days; and officer's preparatory courses, 105 days, making 276 days in all or nine months before he became an artillery officer. That was quite a different state of things from that which would exist in the Territorial Army. Before non-commissioned officers in the Swiss Army were selected for the officer's preparatory course they had to undergo an examination in general knowledge. Captains and majors had to attend special courses for officers of their rank to qualify for promotion. Promotion did not go by seniority only, and the pick of each rank only was promoted. The hon. and gallant Gentleman in a previous debate drew an analogy from or rather based his arguments on the experience of the South African War. No doubt a great many useful lessons could be learnt from that war, but so far as artillery was concerned that war had taught us very little. If the Boers had used their guns in batteries, and if their shrapnel fire had been effective, half our artillery would have been wiped out. Our batteries as a rule had to come into action in the open against the Boer artillery in prepared positions, He would like to ask a question in regard to the special contingent batteries. He believed there were thirty-three batteries for training special contingent officers and men. They would be armed with 198 eighteen-pounder guns. Their functions would be that of training men so that drafts could be sent out for the Army over sea. Let them take a hypothetical case of our field force being engaged over sea, and suppose that at a critical time another European Power joined the enemy against whom we were engaged and a danger of raid and invasion became imminent. He would like to know what would happen to those 198 guns. Would they continue to be used for training drafts for the field force over sea or would they be used to repel raid or invasion? He did not think any War Minister could come down to the House and say, if there was any danger of raid or invasion, he proposed to send the forces of the Territorial Army into action armed with fifteen-pounders while there were these eighteen-pounders in the country.


said there were not only the guns of the batteries but there were also the reserve guns, but it was impossible to forecast beforehand what would be done.


suggested that the batteries armed with these eighteen-pounder guns should be put on a four-gun basis and should be available in time of need. Anyone who had had the slightest acquaintance of the Army from within must be aware of the magnitude and complexity of the problem with which the Secretary for War was confronted. The right hon. Gentleman and his expert advisers had been hard at work for over a year obtaining a solution to the problem, and they had been assisted by various Committees appointed to investigate, subsidiary questions underlying the main problem. As a result they had the Bill now before them. The scheme for its success entirely depended on the patriotic feelings of our fellow citizens. That was a high ideal, especially when it was remembered that the conditions of service in the proposed Territorial Army would be more onerous than the conditions of service in the Volunteer force to-day. He was glad that the right hon. Gentleman had not been afraid of a high ideal and that he had faith in the patriotism of his fellow countrymen, and he saw no reason why the 300,000 men should not be forthcoming. It was argued that it would be impossible to obtain the men, but the scheme would be a test of the free and compulsory education which the nation had been getting for the last thirty-six years. If that education had been on sound lines, if it had truly developed character, he was inclined to think that there would be no difficulty in obtaining men willing to serve. No doubt many men now serving in the Volunteers would be unable for various reasons to continue to serve in the Territorial Army. On the other hand a National Army, with a clear and definite sphere of action marked out for it, would appeal to many men who hitherto had held aloof because they believed, rightly or wrongly, that the Volunteers were not and never had been taken seriously by the military authorities. Then again compulsory service had been mentioned. He himself was opposed to any form of compulsion, but there were many people who were asking why 300,000 men should be asked to bear the burden, to make sacrifices for home defence, and whether the burden ought not to be borne by the whole of our male adult population. But whatever scheme might be introduced, compulsory or voluntary, the burden would still be borne by 300,000 men; it was the quality that would vary. Provided the officers were efficient, the quality of a force composed of men who served from patriotic motives and from love of soldiering would be very much better than that of a force composed of men who were compelled to serve. All good citizens were to some extent called upon to make sacrifices, and he saw no reason why a sufficient number of men should not welcome the opportunity to render effective service for their country. Public opinion rightly directed for the next decade would do more to bring a useful territorial force suited to our needs into being than any amount of compulsion would be able to accomplish. He had spoken of public opinion, and he hoped the women of Britain would use their influence to make the scheme a success. Their patriotism was one of our greatest national assets, and they could do much to help. After all, this was a matter which intimately concerned them. The Territorial Army was essentially a force for the protection of our hearths and homes, and it was in no sense an aggressive force. When he said that he did not mean that the National Army would never be called upon to take the offensive. In war the most effective defence was that known as the defensive offensive. In certain eventualities it might happen that part of the Territorial Army would be asked to volunteer to serve abroad in order to take the offensive. To some hon. Members that might seem a strange rôle for a non-aggressive army to play. It was not so really, because under certain conditions a blow delivered at an enemy oversea would be the most effective method of protecting our own shores. Another objection was that this territorial scheme would involve the putting of the Militia, the Yeomanry and the Volunteer Forces into the melting pot, and it was said that there would be produced a mixture of unknown quality called a Territorial Army. It was quite true that the several parts of the Auxiliary Forces would be welded into a National Army organised in a scientific manner. There might be differences as to whether the number of men required would be obtained, and perhaps on other points, but surely if experts were worth anything at all they should have no difficulty in forming a sound judgment as to the quality of the force which would be created under the scheme. There was every reason to suppose the special contingent officers and men would be better trained and would reach a higher level of proficiency than the Militia had done, at any rate during the last twenty-five years. He saw no reason why esprit de corps should not flourish in the new Army. In his opinion it would become broader and deeper, because each man in addition to his esprit de corps for his own regiment would develop a pride in and affection for the National Army as a whole. Whilst that Army would on the one hand encourage healthy emulation between corps, it would on the other hand obliterate invidious distinctions between different branches of the services. He again appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to move very cautiously in the creation of mobile Volunteer Artillery, and to give the matter further consideration. Some time ago the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War compared gunners to theologians. He at any rate was not dogmatic in this matter, having had experience by means of his sense perceptions, and could not therefore be bracketed with the theologians. If Volunteer field batteries were to be created he sincerely hoped it would be done very gradually; any step in that direction should be in the nature of an experiment.

MR. LANE-FOX (Yorkshire W. R., Barkston Ash)

said the hon. Member for Stoke had compared the French and British officers, but without saying anything derogatory to the French officers he thought we had nothing to be ashamed of in our own officers. With one statement of the hon. Member, however, he cordially agreed. The hon. Gentleman had said that those who served in the Territorial Army should be more highly paid than those who served in the Regular Army. With that he agreed, for the reason stated by the hon. Member. It seemed to him that the scheme of the county associations was likely to be successful, and he hoped it would be, but whenever he spoke to a soldier upon the question he always received the same reply. On the previous night he asked a distinguished General Officer what he thought of the Bill and the scheme, and the reply was that it was a capital scheme, that not a man would be obtained to serve under such conditions, and that then we should have to have conscription, which was what the Army wanted. That was the view of many soldiers, and it was the danger which he was anxious to avoid. Unless they were prepared to give the best terms and good pay, and to make sure that those who served in the Territorial Army were not treated in a way which they would think unfair, there would be the danger of the country saying "This is not good enough,'' and we should be driven to conscription. He strongly opposed compulsion so long as we could get a voluntary force. From the figures given by the hon. Member for the Richmond Division of Yorkshire he understood that the Yeomanry were to receive 10s. 8d. per day instead of 10s. 9d. as at present, so that the Yeoman would be only a penny the worse off.


said he made several qualifications of that statement.


said that in spite of the qualifications of the hon. Member there would be a considerable difference between the payment made to the Yeoman in the future and that made in the past.


said the difference would not be anything like so much as the hon. Member would seem to suggest.


said in that case he wished the War Office memoranda had been a little more explicit, because the impression given by them was that the Yeomanry would suffer a considerable loss, and in consequence there was considerable unrest and discontent in the Yeomanry with regard to the new conditions suggested. He hoped the Secretary of State would take the opportunity of explaining that the scheme was not what it was thought to be in this regard, and that it afforded a much better prospect for the Yeomanry in the future than was generally anticipated. The House ought to be particularly careful in dealing with the Yeomanry, because, although men could be obtained who with a short course of training would become competent infantry soldiers, unless a particular class was appealed to we could not obtain an effective force of men who could shoot and ride. Such men were not easy to find, and unless young farmers, butchers, well-to-do clerks, veterinary surgeons, and others who had an opportunity of living among and learning the habits of horses were appealed to we should not get men who with a short training would become effective Yeomanry. A horseman could not be made in a fortnight, and if the pay was reduced and the comfort of the men diminished the right hon. Gentleman would run the risk of getting the wrong class of men. He therefore hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to modify his views in this matter. The question of having a Regular adjutant was most important. It was far more important to have a Regular adjutant under the new scheme than under the present system. He did not believe it was possible, especially in the case of the Yeomanry regiments, which had to cover a large area, to get men effectively to carry out the duties required for £100 a year and to carry on their civilian duties as well. Another important point was that no provision had been made for rifle ranges, which were one of the crying needs of the Yeomanry at the present time, and the provision of which would do more than anything else to make the Yeomanry effective. The right hon. Gentleman had appealed to the country gentlemen to find rifle ranges, and that appeal would be responded to now as such appeals had been responded to in the past. But they could not help feeling that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite were doing their best to undermine and kill the patriotism of the country gentlemen by their actions in the House. Here, however, was an opportunity for them to show that they realised the influence of the country gentlemen in matters of this kind, and had a higher appreciation of it than they were sometimes willing to admit. The appeal which had been made would be responded to, but he hoped the Secretary of State would not set them too hard a task. If the right hon. Gentleman was not prepared to make the conditions of those who served in the Territorial Army sufficiently good; if he was going to endeavour to run the Territorial Army on the cheap, and get a voluntary service at less than it was worth, he would not get the response he hoped for. He did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Newport Division of Shropshire that Yeomen wished to make money out of training. If that were true at all it was in only a small proportion of cases. What the Yeomen wanted was comfort and not to be out of pocket; and he certainly hoped that he would be allowed full dress for walking out. Everybody knew the value of that. If the Yeomen were treated fairly the right hon. Gentleman might rely on having the force maintained at its present strength, a thoroughly efficient and strong force. Therefore he would press the right hon. Gentleman not to level down but to level up this and other branches of the service in order to make them strong and efficient.

*MR. A. L. LEVER (Essex, Harwich)

thought that the Bill was the most serious attempt made for many years to consolidate our strength and to convert the forces of this country into a real fighting machine. But it appeared to him that there was one weakness, which had been debated at very considerable length, and which he wanted to emphasise. When all was said and done they must judge of the measure, not by its strongest, but by its weakest link. The plan enunciated by the right hon. Gentleman to transform the various independent and disconnected units into one homogeneous whole must commend itself to anyone who had at all considered the subject. In fact it was a matter of surprise to him that the present system had been allowed to grow up under successive War Ministers untouched a system while it made provision for training the troops, made no provision for providing the supplementary auxiliary services, which were absolutely essential if those disunited units were ever to be called upon to take the field. The plan devised by the right hon. Gentleman was an admirable one if it could be carried out successfully, but for his own part he was rather doubtful whether that could be done unless the pay of the rank and fife was materially increased. If it failed, as he feared it would, unless they saw an augmentation in the grants, then he feared that they were face to face with an inevitable condition of things, which, if it was not to be conscription as they had it in continental countries, would be some form of compulsory training. The success of the whole of this proposal must necessarily depend upon obtaining the required recruits. Now was it to be expected that under the conditions which they were offering—offering very little and asking for a great deal—that they would obtain a sufficiency of men. Even assuming that patriotism was running high, that the martial spirit was dominant, and that militarism was for the hour as it had never been before, even under those conditions he did not think that a sufficient number of men would be found who could afford to make a sacrifice of eight or fifteen days work for the remuneration offered under this scheme. Their wages might be high in certain districts and in given trades, but if they took the average wage of working men in towns and cities and rural districts he thought they would find that there was a very small margin for them to provide for themselves in such a way as to enable them to make the sacrifice that this system would involve. He acknowledged that the same rate of wages was to be granted as in the Regular service, but then the conditions existing with the men of the two services would be absolutely different. A man might enter the Army because he was unable to get work, but when he did enter the Army he would get 365 days pay in the year, whereas the man of the Territorial Army might, in civil life, be out of work, or only partially employed for a considerable portion of the year or for some portion of the year. Then he might be a married man and have his home to maintain. Was it likely that when his period of training came round, and when perhaps he was in a good job, that he would be prepared to sacrifice fifteen days pay in order to undertake the obligation on the unremunerative terms which were offered? Personally he did not think that he would, and therefore he feared that they would not get the requisite number of men. If the Bill was to accomplish the hopes of the Secretary for War he appealed to him to consider the rate of pay of all arms of the new Territorial Force. He recognised full well the elasticity that was provided by the Bill—an elasticity which, he thought, commended itself to all sides of the House. This elasticity permitted of the annual training being abandoned altogether if necessary, but the moment they did that they were in a worse position than, or in an equally bad position, as they were to-day; our Territorial Force would certainly be no better than the Volunteer force was at the present moment. Then they were asked to imagine that the county associations would stimulate recruiting. Possibly they would to a small extent, but they could not possibly stimulate it to the required extent unless they had the necessary funds at their command. No one deprecated more than he did any suggestion of a raid on the National Exchequer, because he felt with many Members of the House that the first thing they had to do was to make some provision for what the people of this country had so long and so anxiously been waiting for, and which he hoped would tome in the very near future, and that was a scheme of old-age pensions. As to the question of the adjutants, he felt that if they abandoned the professional adjutant connected with the regiment they would certainly be making a great mistake. After the remarks of the hon. Member for the Richmond Division of Yorkshire, he understood that it would be altered, and that they would have, as it were, a second adjutant attached to the regiment. For his own part he did not care much whether the adjutant belonged to the Regular force or to the Territorial Force, but he thought he should be in any case a man thoroughly qualified to occupy the position and to carry out the duties. Therefore, he considered that before any adjutant was appointed to a regiment he should undergo some examination to prove that he was specially qualified for the position. The Bill seemed to resolve itself into a choice of one of two things: inadequate pay, which would lead us, he thought, without much doubt, to a system of compulsory training; or, adequate pay, which would lead us to the realisation and consummation of a great scheme, that would hand down the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War as that of a man who had grappled with a great and complex question and had solved it to the advantage of the nation and of the Empire at large.

MR. GUY BARING (Winchester)

said that some surprise had been expressed on the other side of the House at the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Dover, but he had no hesitation in giving that Amendment his support. Still he did not wish to see the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman wrecked, because he thought there was a great deal in it of the utmost value. They on the Opposition side of the House had had two shots at Army reform, and he was ready to help the right hon. Gentleman in his shot. But he was not confident that this scheme would give an adequate support to the Regular Army in time of war; and for this reason, that the right hon. Gentleman had done away with the Militia and had not substituted for it a better force. The Government appeared to be particularly fond, to judge from the words of the hon. Member for the Richmond Division of Yorkshire, of the seventy-four third battalions which were to produce the draft units when war broke out. What training would the men of those battalions have had? When those men were sent to fill the gaps in the Regular force not one of them would ever have seen his officers or his comrades, and as far as he could see the men would have been trained in the depots. They would never have seen the battalions on parade, and the drafts instead of being of assistance would certainly for three months be a dead weight, and men in the battalions would have to be told off to complete the training of the men, thus putting a double duty upon them. He believed that to be one of the great faults of the scheme. He thought it would be proved, and that the right hon. Gentleman would have to acknowledge it, that that scheme was going to cost more than had been suggested, and from what he had heard in the debate he was certain that there was a school of thought which would induce the right hon. Gentleman, if possible, to finance the scheme at the expense of the Regular Army, and they would see further reductions of the Regular Army asked for. The force which had been most fiercely attacked was the expeditionary force of 160,000 men. Of that expeditionary force, his one ewe lamb, the right hon. Gentleman had every right to be proud. He certainly hoped that no attack made on the Regular force would induce the Secretary of State to reduce that expeditionary force by even one man. He had pointed out two dangers of the scheme, and now he would point to one of its advantages, namely, that it brought the Army more into popular touch. He had no hesitation in saying that a soldier in time of peace was thought very little of, and military opinion carried little weight. The ordinary man at an election meeting would sooner listen to a politician than to the warnings of any soldier. He thought this scheme would do away with that state of things, and that in future authority in military matters would come from the people. When that came about he believed they would have the national defence of the country nearest to the people's hearts, and the voice crying in the wilderness would not be that of men like Lord Roberts, but that of men like the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil.

*MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)

said that possibly the Secretary of State for War would like to hear from a Member who had recently visited his constituency what sort of an impression the scheme had made upon a well-known military district. Welshpool was a district famous for soldiers in the past, and it had provided a great many men for the Auxiliary Forces, as well as large contributions to the Regulars. The march of Shropshire and Montgomeryshire, which gave the great Lord Clive, could and would find many a good soldier yet. He thought it was most important to know what the Volunteers and the class which supplied them thought of this new scheme. He was glad to be able to tell the right hon. Gentleman, after having been at great pains to find out, that they thought very well of his plans in his constituency, and the Volunteers in particular seemed to be extremely well satisfied. The people he represented were high spirited and patriotic, and did not look upon soldiering as a degrading profession. They were not in favour of conscription, but they were in, favour of a system under which men who were strong and well enough to serve should have an opportunity given to them of serving their country under a voluntary system. Consequently they approved of the scheme in so far as it related to the Volunteers. He did not find in his constituency the state of things which the hon. Member for Walsall said existed, namely, a total want of interest in such a subject as this. In the Montgomery district he found the keenest interest taken in what was contemplated under this scheme for the Volunteers, but he was not in a position to say that he found that the Militia were as pleased with the scheme as the Volunteers. He was not competent to go into details of this question such as a soldier might discuss, but he might, he thought, venture to state that both the Militia and the Volunteers were anxious that the professional adjutant should be retained. He thought opinion was pretty unanimous upon that point. In view of the feeling engendered when the Cardwell reforms were introduced he expressed the hope that the present nomenclature would in some way be retained as far as possible, because he thought it was essential that names should be retained which would preserve as far as possible the individuality of the present regiments which was precious to the members of those particular regiments, because esprit de corps, and proper pride in individuality were conducive to discipline and to everything else that went to make a good fighting battalion. He did not know what the Secretary of State for War's intention was in that respect, and he was afraid that a Question which he put on the Paper recently was not very adroitly put, because he did not succeed in getting the desired information. If the right hon. Gentleman would bear in mind that there was a strong feeling on this subject, his object in raising it would have been attained. With regard to the Yeomanry, he believed there was a feeling existing such as had been referred to by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newport, that it would be a great pity to deprive them during the period of training of anything which would tend to make that time a pleasant outing as well as a useful military training. He was inclined to think the Yeomanry would rejoice if the more stringent canteen regulations, or whatever they were, would be modified and matters left more upon the present footing. He was himself a supporter of the Bill, and he mentioned these matters because he knew the Volunteers in his own district favoured the scheme and were quite ready to come forward to make it a success in a public spirited manner. He thought it only right to tell the right hon. Gentleman that he believed, though he did not feel here upon such firm ground, that the other two branches of the force also shared this feeling but with reservation, and in his county he believed the men would come forward to serve their country under the new scheme. It had been suggested to him by gentlemen well competent to express opinions that some little extra privileges might be given to Volunteers, and one of the things suggested was that those who joined under the new scheme should be exempted from jury service Another suggestion was that a bonus of something like £5 should be given to them, such as was given to Regulars when they took their discharge or went into the Reserve. If the right hon. Gentleman would consider those two suggestions he would be greatly obliged to him. He had heard some doubts expressed us to the value of these county committees, but so far as his own inquiries went, he would like to inform the House that he had heard nothing but good of them, and the general belief which had been expressed was that they would be very valuable recruiting agencies. He believed that employers would be ready and willing to give, within reasonable limits, and subject to certain remarks he had to make, such extensions of holidays as might be required, and they were quite ready to fall in with the spirit of the new scheme. Of course, after all, success must depend upon the Volunteers themselves. With regard to what the hon. Member for Richmond had said about the Lancashire Artillery Militia he thought it was only fair to state that that was not a representative, but a hybrid corps, in which there were a great many artillery men and officers from the line, and he was afraid the House would be likely to be misled if it took that corps as a typical Artillery Militia corps. He would not urge at the present time upon the House and the country the great expense which would be incurred by arming the Artillery Militia with a better gun, and he could not see against whom they were likely to have to use it, so long as they kept the Fleet up to the proper mark. But it was necessary that all branches of our Army, Regular or Auxiliary, infantry or artillery, should learn to shoot straight and that there should be no savings effected in the supply of powder. The greatest peacemaker living, President Roosevelt, said that the best way to keep peace was to learn to shoot straight. He thought it was highly necessary that practice with the guns should be developed as much as possible. The other day he was reading a recent account of the Chinese Army. It seemed that upon one occasion a perplexed general invoked the aid of the god of war, and instead there appeared someone more like the god Bacchus. The colonel said that what he wanted was the god of war, but he received the reply that the god of war was otherwise engaged, and that the visitor was the target god, and as none of the Chinese artillerymen or other soldiers had ever done him any harm in their lives he had come to see what help he could give the general in his turn. They did not want the target god in this country to be on the best possible terms with the artillery of the Territorial Army or any other force, and he believed that money should be forthcoming and arrangements should be made for a proper and sufficient practice for the artillery of the Territorial Army. There was one other matter which he would like to mention, and that was the references to India made in the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean.

And, it being a quarter past Eight of the clock, further proceeding was postponed without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 4.