§ 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."
§ MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)
said that on a previous occasion he indicated that the scheme of the Secretary of State for War had been received with favour in his constituency, and particularly that portion of it which referred to the Volunteers and the Territorial Army. But since then the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had referred to the 1585 provisions of the Bill as affecting India, and had argued that a striking force of 167,000 men was larger than was needed, seeing that we were now on good terms with Russia, whose armies, moreover, could not quickly get into India, so that in case of difficulty there would be ample time to make any arrangements that might be required for the protection of our Eastern Empire. With all due respect for the great authority of the right hon. Gentleman, he submitted that the views expressed by him were not those entertained by military experts connected with India. The voice of the right hon. Gentleman, as that of one who was, in respect of every attribute but ago, an old Parliamentary hand was no doubt entitled to much weight, but so also were the views of those who spoke with great knowledge of India, and surely what was sauce for the old Parliamentarian should be sauce for the old soldier. Each in his own field was entitled to equal weight and consideration. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to look forward also with equanimity or satisfaction, to a diminution of this force of 167,000, but he submitted that in the absence of any provision for expanding it for six months after a war had broken out it was highly inexpedient that there should be any such reduction. The right hon. Gentleman had rightly said that the basis of the numerical strength of the force was the number of units actually existing at home to find drafts for India, and he had referred to the danger that existed lest the cost of the Army should lead to insistent demands for the reduction of the Navy. But he remembered that on a preceding occasion the right hon. Gentleman supported a proposal for a reduction of the Navy, and in view of that he hoped that his authority would not be given in support of reducing the striking force provided for by this scheme—a force which would not be at all too large for the next few years. The fact was that the Army at home chiefly existed for the purpose of finding drafts for India, and anyone who had not seen the Army in India had never seen the British Army. The one was the substance, the other the shadow. There was one other matter to be considered in connection with the question of reduction, and that was the effect upon the people of India themselves and throughout the East. That was very 1586 well illustrated by a recent incident. A cordon of police was placed in one of the best educated districts in India for plague purposes, and it was immediately reported among the natives that British rule had ceased to exist south of the cordon, which was designed to prevent the spread northwards of news of the catastrophe, while actually in one village the watchman went round proclaiming that a new reign had begun and that the possession of the country had changed hands. Absurd as the story was, it proved how a reduction of our Army might be viewed by the natives. We were, therefore, bound to have regard to the potential as well as the actual result of any such dealings with the British Army. The hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby Division had several times argued that the Cardwellian system was not suited to our requirements, but at any rate it had sufficed up to the present to keep up the supply of white troops up to the standard which was declared to be necessary immediately after the Mutiny, and had been found necessary up to the present moment. We wanted not so much great masses of troops in India, but it was requisite that they should possess staying power and power of expansion. If the House should feel that it was keeping up for the sake of India a force larger than was needed for English wants, and involving a burden greater than the taxpayer should be called upon to bear, he would beg hon. Members to remember what were the functions of the force, what it did in the South African War (when it saved Natal), and what it had done in China, Abyssinia, Tibet, Egypt, and Afghanistan. When they got down to the number of sabres, bayonets, and guns in the expeditionary force, deducting the non-combatants, it seemed after all to be very moderate in size. But the right hon. Baronet appeared to argue that this force involved enormous expenditure, and that this expense was annually growing in India. But there had, however, been a decrease of half a million in the Estimates, despite the extra outlay on quick-firing guns and officers, and the increase in the forces in India in the last few years was by no means commensurate with the increase in the area of the Empire and the increase in its population. In his opinion European troops could not be reduced in India, for we had potential enemies on 1587 frontiers now almost, including Persia, Beluchistan, and Mesopotamia, against whom provision must be made. Our Army in India was now based on the standard decided on at the close of the Mutiny; no regard had since been had to the increase of territory and population, and he would view with great anxiety any change which tended to reduce that standard. The Army in India ought not to suffer from experiments made at home, and he was glad to hear that, during the next year, there was to be no alteration either in system or in numbers in India. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had said he wanted a democratic Army. Might he substitute the word "national" for "democratic?"
§ *SIR CHARLES D1LKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
I protest. The hon. Member is putting certain statements into my mouth and I cannot recognise any of them. When I was alluding to the Indian Army and the striking force I quoted a statement by the Leader of the Opposition in which the inapplicability of the force to India was pointed out. Again, I made no demand for a democratic Army, but I pointed out that the Secretary of State had used that term and I said I could not find it in the scheme for officering the Army.
§ *MR. REES
said he had evidently misunderstood The Times report, but he had had the advantage also of hearing his hon. friend. He stuck to his point that this force was not too great for the calls which might be made upon it. He thought it a very distressing thing to try and introduce into this subject the question of democracy. They must remember that when war broke out every class sent its sons into the field, and in this connection he would like to quote some words by Colonel à Court Repington, who said—The realtor Army must, retain its present place if England is governed by sane men. We must resist to the last all further attempts to reduce the regular Army at home or abroad, because it is indispensable for foreign garrisons' reliefs and drafts, and a second line Army can only supplement it and can never supplant it.Under the Government of Mr. Gladstone, when Mr. Cardwell was War Minister, seventy-one battalions were maintained 1588 at home in order to keep up the Indian Army, and that was at a period when the Empire was neither so rich, so extensive, nor so populous as now. How then was it possible now to justify any reduction? The hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby Division had given a general support to the arguments of the right hon. Baronet, and if he understood him rightly he had argued that in six weeks we could under our present system of fourteen days annual training—one half of which depended on the good will of employers—get an Army as good as that of the Swiss which was based on sixty-five days compulsory training every year, and was moreover a conscript army.
§ MAJOR SEELY (Liverpool, Abercromby)
If the hon. Member will forgive me I should like to say that he is misrepresenting me, unintentionally no doubt. What I said was that the Army proposed by the right hon. Gentleman would with six weeks training subsequent to mobilisation be as good as the Swiss Army.
§ *MR. REES
said it was a military and not an arithmetical question, and depended on many factors other than arithmetic. Any attempt to represent the amateur as equal to the professional soldier and to disparage the value of and need for training was, he thought, disastrous. He must insist that with anything like our present periods of voluntary training the territorial forces of the future would necessarily need months to form and harden by training after war had broken out or after embodiment, and would not, therefore, be able to answer all the calls that might be made upon them. Further than that, the hon. and gallant Member had seemed to suggest the desirability of officers passing through the ranks as in Prussia, because he said it promoted an admirable feeling between officers and men.
§ *MAJOR SEELY
What I said was that if the Prussian Army was more democratic than ours it was because many officers in the Landwehr had first to serve in the ranks, whereas in our Army the number of promotions from the ranks was so small as to be a negligible quantity.
§ *MR. REES
doubted if the system was worthy our adoption, and was amazed at the suggestion that the Prussian army was more democratic than our own. The expression in respect of an army seemed to him most inappropriate, and could, he thought, only connote the feeling to which he referred. Was the hon. and gallant Member not aware of certain figures regarding mortality in the Prussian Army? It was entirely wrong to suggest that British officers were not on good terms with their men, or that an antidemocratic feeling was rife in our Army.
§ *MR. REES
said he despaired in that case of getting at exactly what the hon. and gallant Member meant by his reference to Prussia by way of example, and would pass from that point to the Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Preston. That Amendment suggested that the Bill should not be proceeded with until we had ascertained what the Colonies would contribute to the national defence. He hoped that in view of the statement of the Prime Minister that day to the effect that the obligation of England to defend the whole Empire was undisputed the Amendment would not be moved. It would be a most unfortunate thing if that subject were raised in the House of Commons at the present moment, and he hoped the hon. Member would give up the bad habit of trying to settle everything by logic. Those questions could not be settled on arithmetical or logical lines. He considered that the participation of the Colonies in any defence scheme should run on the line 1590 of each Colony defending itself, or rather perfecting its owndefences, providing as far as possible its own troops, and relying on one great Navy at the centre of the Empire. He was delighted to have the concurrence of the hon. Member for Preston in that, but he would remind him of the fate of another logician, who was in the habit of proving the worse to be the better case. The Parliament of Athens sent Socrates a dose of hemlock, and he sincerely hoped the electors of Preston would not do the like for his hon. friend, whose courage he admired, and whose abilities he envied. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil had objected to the Bill because it sought to introduce militarism into our schools, and he wished to stats that in the City of London there was a boys' shooting club, which apparently was approved by the boys' fathers. The parents were all asked if they agreed to their boys taking part in it. Out of 100 parents ninety-nine agreed, and there was only one parent who objected. He rather wondered that even one man objected to his son's being brought up to become proficient in such exercises. Was it necessary to kill, because one could shoot, and who was so dangerous with gun in hand, as the man inexpert in its use? The hon. Member had also said that the high places in the Army were the monopoly of the rich and well to do; but in view of the case of Hector Macdonald it was absurd to say that there were not means by which a capable man could rise from the ranks. Every boy in a humble station could not by legislation be placed in a position occupied by others as a result perhaps of generations of industry, ability and self restraint. To say he could was the idle dream of the idle agitator. He maintained that under the present system there was a ladder up which all could climb step by step. He had seen it largely used in Wales where, in his own constituency, boys had mounted to the topmost rung, but not so much in England. In the English ladder an all-important "Intermediate" rung was wanting. Still, the ladder did exist, and it was quite possible for boys to rise to the highest positions, if they were deserving of them. Then it was said that the Bill of the Government would interfere with the industrial 1591 relations between employer and employed. He did not know how that could be, but he did know that the hon. Gentlemen who clamoured most for reductions in the Army and Navy were the first to object to the discharges of men at Woolwich Arsenal. They could not have it both ways, and besides, if relief was given in one constituency by providing State employment beyond the needs of the State and not in others, it must produce considerable disappointment and dissatisfaction amongst those who were far removed from the throne of grace, or had not such powerful Members as other constituencies had. He did not see that any constituency had a greater claim in this respect than another, and would oppose any benefits not extended to the Montgomery district. Moreover, he did not see the justification for the complaint that this Bill would interfere with industrial relations between employer and I employed, because 60 to 86 per cent. of the soldiers were artisans, labourers, miners, and factory hands. Then the hon. Member had said that the Secretary of State for War's scheme would create a military spirit; but it was folly to suppose that a man who shot straight wanted to kill. On this point he would like to read a communication from President Roosevelt to the Senate. The President, who was the greatest living peacemaker, said—Nothing would more promote iniquity, nothing would further defer the reign upon earth of peace and righteousness, than for the free and enlightened peoples, who strive towards justice, deliberately to render themselves powerless, while leaving every despotism and barbarism armed and able to work their wicked will. The chance for the settlement of disputes peacefully by arbitration now depends mainly upon the possession by the nations that mean to do right of sufficient armed strength to make their purpose effective.Those were words with which he would associate himself in regard to the condemnation which had been uttered of this military training in schools. He would give the hon. Member another passage from a speech of that great lover of peace and composer of differences between the nations. President Roosevelt also said—We should establish shooting galleries in all the large public and military schools, should maintain national target ranges in different 1592 parts of the country, and should in every way encourage, the formation of rifle clubs throughout all parts of the land.He was not in favour of conscription, nor were his constituents, but they did believe in training the people to be capable of defending themselves and their country, and while he was on the subject of rifle ranges he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not forget that there was a district which had supplied him with many brave soldiers in the past, and which would do so in the future, and which badly needed a rifle range—he meant the military centre at Welshpool. As to the financial aspect of the question, he thought the House should not lose any financial control it possessed over the money voted under the present system for Volunteers; but while he was keen on maintaining such control it did not follow that a system of red tape should be introduced which might strangle the new system and bring about friction. Volunteer accounts differed from those of the Army, and there should be some elasticity in regard to the auditing of such accounts. The county associations, too, would not like their accounts to be audited by the War Office officials, and this work should be done, if possible, by chartered accountants. These associations, he felt sure, not being very amenable to pressure from the War Office, would accept the criticisms of these public accountants in a good spirit, and the accountants being in the habit of working for the public would not be liable to Parliamentary or official pressure. He noticed that nearly every speech that had been made expressed doubt about the finance of the Territorial Army, and he wished to express a strong hope that the Secretary of State would lay a Memorandum giving figures showing how the scheme was to be financed. If that were done it would conduce to the better understanding of the subject, which hon. Members like himself were not able to make out without assistance. The Bill dealt with a subject which was too serious to be left to experts alone, and no Member could divest himself of personal responsibility. His own responsibility was great, as here presented a district which had provided many good soldiers to the Line and to the Auxiliary Forces, 1593 and would, he hoped, continue to discharge that valuable function.
§ MR. J. RAMSAY MACDONALD (Leicester)
said that up till now much time had been occupied in listening to the opinion of experts, and in the main it seemed that one high expert had spent his time in flatly contradicting the statement made by the high expert who preceded him. This was the third Army scheme which the House of Commons had had to consider in recent years, and every Minister responsible for the schemes that had gone before had, he believed,one after another, informed the House that he was introducing his scheme with the full concurrence and support of his expert advisers at the War Office. In some ways, therefore, it was exceedingly embarrassing for amateurs like the Labour Members to make up their mind as to how they were going to vote. It was perfectly true, as the hon. Member who had just addressed the House had said, that the question of Army organisation was not altogether a question for experts; but he thought they would feel a little more comfortable in their minds if the experts who professed to know more about these questions and how an army ought to be constructed, would kindly through the life of one Ministry, and also, he might venture to suggest when one Ministry Gave place to another, show some consistent point of view, and produce a scheme which, although it might vary in details, was nevertheless constructed upon the same fundamental idea as that which had preceded it. He had done his best to follow this question, more especially as the illness of his hon. friend the Member for Merthyr prevented him from being there to speak on behalf of the Party; but in his (Mr. Macdonald's) search for knowledge and consistency he found himself in the position of Japhet when he commenced his search for his father. The opinions were conflicting and contradictory, and he thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon, if he read his speech aright, suggested that even the figures presented from actuarial sources recently in connection with the scheme were open to very grave suspicion in 1594 regard to their accuracy. All he could say by way of consolation was that that might give a glint of hope to those who wanted a further reduction of armaments-that when they saw a Labour Party in power it could go to the War Office and be able to produce a scheme dividing the Army by half, and their War Minister would be able to rise in his place on the Government bench and inform hon. Gentlemen opposite to him that his scheme for reduction of the Army to half and of the expenditure to one-third or one-fourth had been produced with the full concurrence of the experts at the War Office, in whose hands the military destinies of the country rested. There was only one thing of which he was perfectly certain, and that was that if ever the time came when a Government sitting on those benches was responsible for the production of a scheme for conscription, the military advisers at the War Office would honestly produce a scheme with which Ministers would agree, and before he sat down he was going to express the suspicion that the scheme before the House was perhaps the first stage towards that most undesirable end. He did not desire to take up the time of the House in offering expert criticisms. He was not competent to do so, but he did hope before the Second Reading of this Bill took place they might have some clear ideas conveyed to their minds on these matters. Up to the present they had not had any information of that kind and they were still in the dark. They had no guarantee that, if by any accident the present Ministry were to disappear and another Ministry were to make itself responsible for another Army scheme, within six months a totally different set of proposals would no be brought forward, and they would be asked to vote upon them. But without wasting words, he desired to say they associated themselves with the criticisms made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean as to the size of Army that was needed. They were not at all convinced that it was necessary to increase the personnel of the Army at the present time, and he thought if the officials at the War Office had been pressed a little more they would have given evidence in 1595 favour of the doubt the Labour Members felt. Surely by this time every reasonable man must have come to the conclusion that the game of " beggar my neighbour," of adding battalion to battalion because some other country had done so, or some other country threatened to do so, was ridiculous, and that the time had come to try to meet the difficulty, not by an increase of armaments, but by a diplomatic understanding as to the strength of those armaments. The Party to which he be longed was an international Parliamentary Party, charged with the task of helping to a solution this great question in every Parliament in Europe, and the Labour and Socialist Party would be betraying itself if the Labour Members allowed a Bill increasing the personnel of the Army to go through the British House of Commons without making a protest by voting against the Second Reading of the Bill. They were not in favour of " a nation in arms." It was a grandiloquent expression and looked patriotic. One had to disclaim that expression because so many people were of opinion that unless one was in favour of " a nation in arms " he was not a patriot nor a lover of his country, and did not appreciate the great traditional and spiritual inheritance that the past had given to him. He denied the accusation, which was false, because those who declined to echo that cry did so or the reason that they were convinced, by a study of the history of European countries and of contemporary politics at home and abroad, that it was not going to solve one problem that faced us as a power in the world and was not going to help us to keep the flag of the country high or to keep it clean as they desired to do. He wished to offer some criticisms on the Bill, not as a military expert, but as one who was interested in the civil politics of the country. The problem of the Army was even a greater civil problem than a military one. It was one which interested every Member of the House, even though they had not the honour of being, as he had not, an officer in the Yeomanry or Militia. The first objection which the Labour Party took to the Bill was that it virtually destroyed the civil character of the Volun- 1596 teer Force. They were quite willing to admit that the Volunteers might to a large extent be open to the charge of having played at soldiering. He did not resist arguments pointing out that in its present condition the Volunteer Force was not a Force upon which we could rely in the case of invasion. They were perfectly prepared to support any proposal for improving the character and efficiency of the Volunteer Force. But that force could very properly make this claim-that it had never been appreciated by the War Office-never had a chance of showing what it could do as a Civil Force. The War Secretary sought to increase the military character of the Volunteer Force. From a legal point of view little or no change was to take place, but from a human point of view a revolution was to happen by the status of the Volunteer as defined in the Bill. The Force was now confronted by some serious obstacles which went to erect a very formidable barrier against its popularity. From inquiries he had made he did not believe the right hon. Gentleman would find that response to Volunteer recruiting which was necessary fto carry his scheme into successful operation. He hoped he was wrong in that belief, because the effect, if he was right, would be so serious that he would much rather find that his view was wrong. If this new scheme broke down there would be no bulwark against conscription. The right hon. Gentleman was like a gamester who played for very high stakes, but unlike a Scotsman, who left himself three or four chances of retrieving his first bad fortune. If the right hon. Gentleman lost he was done for, because it was absolutely impossible for him to hope to retrieve and reconstruct the Volunteer Home Defence Force on lines more free and easy and more liberal than those he had laid down in this Bill. He was like a general who was so confident that he could win a battle that he cut himself off from his base of supply. If he won it was all right, but if he lost he was annihilated, and the enemy chewed him up. As he had said, if the right hon. Gentleman's scheme broke down and the Volunteers did not enlist there was 1597 nothing between the country and conscription, and he had handed himself over to the National Service League and its propaganda. The Labour Party held a very strong objection to the county associations. They would be a union of influences mainly political and social. The county associations would change the political and social centre of gravity in our counties. He thought the right hon. Gentleman suggested that the appointment of Justices of the Peace, and some petty honours, knighthoods, and so forth, should be given to gentlemen who showed themselves active in regard to these associations.
§ MR. J. RAMSAY MACDONALD
said that if it was confined to Deputy-Lieutenants he could not make the point he was going to make. He had misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, and he would not pursue it. They were to have the county associations, which would be necessarily political and social, and which, when they were in full working order, would become a new nucleus of political and social influence. He was bound to say that he could not see why the right hon. Gentleman did that. From the point of view of a democratic Government, he did not see why the right hon. Gentleman should not keep his weather eye open, and suspect the operation of those organisations. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to recreate a form of militarism which did not now correspond to the industrial condition of the country; he wanted to face a modern problem with a mediaeval idea in his mind. No Member of the House was more qualified than the right hon. Gentleman to see how very absurd that proposal was. Modern problems must be faced by modern methods; and the industrial basis which should be taken by the right hon. Gentleman, whatever machinery he cared to create, must be an industrial basis corresponding to existing facts, and not a basis which assumed the old-fashioned relationship between the hall and the village. He was really rather surprised, when the right hon. Gentleman 1598 was delivering his speech on the introduction of the Bill, to hear him talk of the country gentleman's relation to the village. He dealt in that speech with an idea which had gone; whether they liked it or not, they could not bring it back. His colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer had knocked another nail into the coffin of that state of things last Thursday, in introducing his Budget, and he hoped that more nails would be knocked into that coffin before this Parliament ended. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War could not indeed draw on that dead organisation, or upon a state of things which had been condemned, and would be condemned so far as it had any vitality in it; he could not trust to that as a basis on which to place the most important part of the mechanism which he brought into existence by his Bill. It ought to be modified. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would take into consideration the appeal made by his hon. friend the Member for Edinburgh, who desired some sort of assurance that the county associations, at all events as at present proposed, might not be regarded as an essential part of the Bill. Then they came to the question of the officers. An interim Report had been presented the other day on the supply of officers, and he thought they had received a warning of what was going to happen. When they saw a proposal made, an exceedingly curious proposal, that officers were to be created at the London School of Economics, he thought they must have been rather more amused than edified by it. If Punch had made the suggestion, it would have been laughed at, because it was laughable. The fact of the matter was, they were getting a little bit lax in their method of discovering ability. The method they were adopting now was that any man who passed any examination apparently was able to do anything. It was really about time, in a democratic Parliament at any rate, that they showed some discrimination in that respect. He was not going to deal with the appointment of officers in the Regular Army; it did not arise that day; but if the system was bad for the Regular Army, as he thought it was, it was ten times worse for the Home Defence Force. The whole idea of the Home Defence Force 1599 was the hearth and home idea. They had never used their opportunities in giving the Volunteer Forces some interesting work to do. Every corner of the country was full of problems of defence; every little wood, every little ditch, every tree, every irregularity of the ground, presented exceedingly interesting problems for an officer who knew how to handle his men, and how to occupy them with work which would be really interesting for them to do. They had been told that this was just beginning. What he would suggest to his right hon. friend was that if he wanted a test for officers-and of course there must be a test-why not create a class for officers on the spot? Why not take a leaf out of the book of our late enemies in South Africa? Why not give the ordinary farm labourer a chance of showing what he could do as a tactician? Let them put a man down twenty miles away from his home, on a dark nigh and tell him to identify the objects so far as he could see them. Let them give him the problem of bringing in twenty men to his own house, on the assumption that an enemy was following up behind him, and, if he did it, then make him an officer. What did it benefit that a man had been to Eton or Harrow, or that he went to a middle-class school? The only test imposed by a middle-class school was that the man's father had plenty of money to pay for his education. Surely the dead hand was not going to lie heavily on His Majesty's Government-His Majesty's present Government at any rate. These were the lines to go upon instead of those of the interim Report which was simply crammed full of social prejudices. Let them strike out some other method and select their officers as the Boers selected theirs. He had seen Boer officers living in the humblest huts, and whose wives and daughters served at table-men who had added chapters to the history of South Africa that would never tarnish. These men had not been sent to universities, and they were all the better for having been kept from secondary schools. If the Home Territorial Force was to be built up on the ideas of this interim Report, and on certain clauses of the Bill, they were going to have a force for show, and, not for 1600 fighting. The Labour Party wanted a force for fighting, and not for show. Their next objection was to the cadet corps. What happened was this. A youngster, a boy, a child, joined the cadet corps. They taught him certain drill, certain arts of war, and when the time came that he had to leave the cadet corps, he was sick of the whole business, and he did not join the Volunteers or the Regular Army. From the military point of view he thought that was a great danger. If they were going to depend on keen intellectual interest in this business, if they were going to create a hearth and home defence force, then let them not sicken the population too soon. Youths, after they had left the cadet corps, would consider that they had done their part, and were not called upon to enlist as adults either into a striking or into a defence force. If they followed the mind of a child who went into the cadet corps they would find that it was influenced very largely by tinsel considerations. The problem was an exceedingly simple one for it; it believed in force; candidly and honestly the child believed in force. It believed in the force of the Empire, and it was at its early age and development incapacitated from remembering the power of diplomacy, the power of peaceful means, in piloting a country successfully through dangerous situations. So, if the cadet corps was bad for military purposes and for the true military spirit, it also poisoned the springs of politics at the very source. He ventured to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that when they got into Committee he should remove this clause which made the cadet corps essentially a part of the Home Army. His final point was the relation set up by the Bill with the workshop. He thought that for the first time in the history of Volunteers, the uniform was to appear in the workshop. He thought the men in workshops would resist it. The right hon. Gentleman believed that the employers would meet him and give him facilities in order that the Volunteers might be adequately trained. He did not believe it. The condition which this Bill sought to impose was worse than conscription so far as industry was concerned. Under conscription we would have say 1,000,000 men always out of the labour market, 1601 But those in it were steadily in it. The employer could, therefore, gauge the producing force of his workshop. But suppose they told employers that a number of their workmen were required to be taken out for ten days or a fortnight's training; such a proceeding would paralyse industry. The workshop could not go on, and especially where labour was subdivided minutely. Where a man worked through the whole process the difficulty would not be great. Let them take a boot and shoe factory, where sores of men worked apart from each other, but completing each other's work, ask the employer to allow 100 of these men to go out for ten days at a time. It would be better to close the factory doors and have a holiday during the whole period of training, because, as a matter of fact, it would pay better to do that, considering the manner in which the industry was organised. In these circumstances, an employer would be likely to object, and refuse to allow his employees to join the Territorial Force. Some employers might make it a condition of employment that a man should be a member of the Territorial Force whilst other employers would debar every such man from work under them. It was impossible for the Labour Members to move the Amendment which they had on the Paper, but they still held to it. In their opinion, the Bill sought to introduce militarism into public schools. They objected to that. It sought to make the training of officers for positions in the Army practically the monopoly of the rich and well-to-do classes. They objected to that. It sought to interfere with the relations between employer and employed-he agreed with what others had said on that point-and it gave preferential treatment to men who had been soldiers. They objected to that; and they could not possibly vote for the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
Although there are many points on which I find myself in disagreement with the hon. Member who has just spoken, I am quite sure I am in agreement with everybody who heard him when I say that the House has listened with admiration to the exposition he 1602 has made on behalf of those with whom he is associated. We listened to him with unqualified admiration, though some of the views he expressed were, I might say, almost offensive; but seldom have they been put in so agreeable and attractive a form by the representatives of hon. Members below the Gangway as they have been by the hon. Gentleman to-day. I listened to one remark of his with some alarm, when he described the condition of the landed interest and the total disappearance of the relations between the landowners and those among whom they live. I am not prepared to admit the complete accuracy of his description. He told us that a blow had been struck at them, the other day, in the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that he hoped other blows would follow. I listened to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer very closely from beginning to end, and I confess that I did not discover that it contained this attack upon the unfortunate class to which I have the honour to belong. I do not think the hon. Gentleman himself, though he may be inclined occasionally to paint our sins in deeper colours than I think are quite justifiable, will forget that we belong to that class which pays the increased death duties under the Chancellor of the Exchequer's scheme. I do not think the hon. Gentleman is right when he says that in the greater part of the country districts there does no texist to-day those old and friendly relations between the squire and his neighbours that have led to their jointly taking part in local work and in national defence; I believe that they do exist, though in an altered form, yet in a very strong degree, and that in the future, as in the past, they will lead them to do their best in regard to any well-considered scheme that may be adopted. It has been suggested in one or to speeches in the course of the. debate, and also outside the House, that some, at all events, of the criticisms which have been addressed to the scheme of the Secretary of State from this side of the House had their foundation in Party feeling. If any idea of that sort exists, speaking for myself and also on behalf of those for whom I think I am entitled to speak, I may say that no Party feeling whatever has entered into 1603 any of the criticisms which we have passed. There are many reasons, but I will give two. In the first place there is a desire, almost a passionate desire, amongst those on this side of the House who have taken an interest in the problem of national defence, and realised its difficulties, to see the question raised above the level of Party politics, and to seek and find some scheme which might be regarded as offering at all events some working foundation on which might be placed eventually a really efficient and complete system of national defence. For that reason alone, therefore, there is no Party feeling in any criticisms which we offer. The second reason is that it is largely felt by many of us that the Secretary of State has given an immense amount of labour and trouble to the development of this scheme, a circumstance which should make it impossible for us to attack him as a Party opponent, however necessary we may think it to offer criticisms after a careful examination of his proposals. Therefore, I hope there will be no suggestion that in our criticisms we are actuated by other than a sincere desire to see that we get a scheme which is likely to last and to be effective. So far we know little of what the scheme of the Secretary of State is going to do. He can know but little himself, because it must be decided, as other schemes have been, by experience of its working. A great part of the work done by the Secretary of State under his proposals is of a destructive character in connection with our existing Army, and I do not at all share the view of the hon. Member for Leicester that that work of destruction has been inefficient. The reduction which the right hon. Gentleman has thought necessary is such as, I think, must have a bad effect upon the future of our Army, when regiments which have a part in our history find that their existence has come to an end. Take a regiment like the Northumberland Fusiliers, or the Warwick Regiment, whose history has been magnificent, whose record has certainly never been exceeded, and who assuredly might have looked forward to retaining to the end their place in the list of the Army. They are gone as part of the scheme of reduction. I am not going to say more than 1604 one word about that part of the scheme, not because I do not take great interest in it, but because I am anxious to say something about the territorial branch, or auxiliary branch, as it has been called, and do not wish to take up more time than is absolutely necessary. I confess that one of the great difficulties in the way of providing a sufficient army hitherto has been to find enough of both officers and men. With the inevitable surroundings of Army life, I cannot see what there is in the scheme of the Secretary of State to improve that position of things, or to give us either more officers or more men. As the immediate result of the reductions which have already been made, there will be in Aldershot, in the course of the next few weeks, fifty or sixty officers unattached, who have lost the regiments to which they belonged, and who are now wondering what will be their fate in the future. Is it likely that this will encourage other men to join the Army? Is it likely that it will lead to a larger provision of officers than we have had hitherto? It seems to me that there is every indication that this part of the scheme will be a deterrent rather than an encouragement. For that reason I say that the greater portion of the work that the right hon. Gentleman has done so far is rather destructive than constructive. Coming to the constructive part, the great Territorial Army scheme, I disagree with much that the hon. Member for Leicester said, but I think the Secretary of State must have listened not merely with interest, but with grave interest to his description of what, from his point of view, will be the inevitable result of this new system of dealing with the great Volunteer Force of the country The idea of the Secretary of State is to produce, instead of a Volunteer Army, a Territorial Army, in which are to be merged the present Militia, Imperial Yeomanry, and Volunteers. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, when he was speaking the other day, said that the real difference between the two Parties on this question was that the Government proposed to establish their Force upon two lines, whereas our policy was to establish it upon three lines. I have no objection to that description of the difference, because I believe it to be fairly accurate, and I believe myself that 1605 the three-line system is the one to which you will have ultimately to have recourse, whatever method you adopt for the organisation of the Territorial Army; because you have to deal with three totally distinct and different kinds of men and officers. I put on one side the Regular Army, the professional soldier, whether officer or man. Whether the Militia be an effective Force or not with its present position, you have in that Force and in the Yeomanry and Volunteers two classes who are totally different in every respect, and I do not believe that you will be able, certainly not by mere appeals to patriotism, to weld those two totally different classes into one single Force. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs told us that the reason for this two-line as opposed to a three-line system was to be found in economy of administration; he said it was likely to be more successful and more economical. He did not tell us in what way it was going to prove more economical, and there are already significant signs that many of the anticipated economies in connection with the organisation of the Force will have to be abandoned. We shall hear, when the Secretary of State speaks presently, what his decision is upon this matter, as no indication has been given of how these great economies are to be effected by adopting a two-line instead of a three-line system. The case I desire chiefly to put to-day is that of the Imperial Yeomanry, but before I go into that I desire to ask the Secretary of State a question which he may be good enough to answer when he speaks this evening. As he will remember, he left the position of the Irish Militia regiments and of the Irish Imperial Yeomanry regiments, the North of Ireland and South of Ireland Yeomanry, rather vaguely described in his original speech. It may be our fault, but at all events there does exist some doubt as to the effect of the scheme on the Irish Militia and these two Yeomanry regiments, and it would be a very great kindness to the officers and men connected with those regiments if the right hon. Gentleman would tell us what the precise effect of the scheme will be so far as they are concerned. What is it that it is proposed to do with the Imperial Yeomanry? I 1606 have listened to a great many speeches from the other side of the House in regard to the system instituted when we were in office, and upon the policy and action of Mr. Brodrick and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon. Whatever may have been their shortcomings in regard to the Army, I can safely say, speaking from my own experience of the Yeomanry, that those two right hon. Gentlemen did wonders for that force, that they put it altogether on a new footing, and that the Yeomanry responded, I think, admirably and honourably to the calls made upon them. What are the Government going to do? They are going, in this new territorial scheme, entirely to remodel and alter the constitution of that force. The hon. Member for Leicester warned the Secretary of State that he has put all his money on one horse, and asked what he would do if that proposal broke down and he was left without the new Territorial Army. He suggested that you are going to get men on terms very different in all respects from those under which they are enlisted at the present time. The Secretary of State has laid stress-and I think rightly-upon the necessity for sufficient training and the making of the men of this force thoroughly efficient. I do not think you can exaggerate the importance of the extra training which they are to get, and I am sure they will respond to any demand you make upon them in order to become thoroughly efficient; but there are certain conditions which, if imposed, will make it impossible for these men to join. It is sometimes said that the condition of foreign service would be very distasteful to the men. I do not myself believe that. I do not believe that if you decide to impose on these men upon joining the Volunteer Forces conditions as to service abroad in time of national stress and peril you would prevent one recruit in 500 from joining. It will be necessary to give to the men in sufficient numbers the training which they require to make them efficient. I am convinced that the experience in the future will be the same as that in the past. In the case of war these men would join for service abroad in the largest possible 1607 numbers. When the Imperial Yeomanry were called upon to find recruits in 1899 and 1900 the conditions were different. They had their wives and families and other dependents to support and it was impossible for them to leave. Many of them were farmers or tradesmen, and at any rate their conditions were such that they could not leave. But the immediate result of the reforms introduced by my two right hon. friends was to alter the character of the men who joined the Imperial Yeomanry. It was made possible for men to join because they were no longer called upon to pay considerable sums out of their own pockets. But if you require these men to pay their expenses out of their pay and allowances, if they are to be reduced to the position of ordinary soldiers on the outbreak of war, if they are to be liable for service abroad, not going in squadrons or companies of their own regiments, but in order to reinforce the Army at the front, if they are to be taken into camp for six months, I am convinced that the great majority of the men will regard these as impossible conditions and refuse to undertake a liability far more serious than they should accept. Presumably -and I believe it is the case-you get a better class of men to join these Auxiliary Forces under other conditions. I remember discussing with four or five Volunteer officers who were extremely well aware of the feeling in their battalions whether or not there should be some system of compulsory service for the Auxiliary Forces alone. They were opposed to it. They said " We get as a rule the best men in the class that provides recruits to the Volunteer Force, but the moment you make it compulsory you will have a great many men of an inferior class who will come in because they are compelled, and you will be better without them." I believe that is the view of the men themselves who join the Auxiliary Forces. They come in now because they are the very best class of men in their respective trades. I do not care whether he is a farmer, a small tradesman, a carpenter, a blacksmith, or whatever he may be, what are you going to do in regard to this condition of prolonged training in camp? The best man will have 1608 his work doubled or trebled when war breaks out, when every sort of supply is called for to double or treble the usual extent. He is the man who would be earning much higher wages than in ordinary peace time. He is to be penalised by being brought into camp, while the man who is his inferior, not only as a soldier but as a workman, is to be given an opportunity of getting increased earnings. I believe that condition will militate very seriously against your getting the necessary number of men. Now I come to the question of pay and allowances. We have heard a great deal in this debate about patriotism. We have been told that if an appeal were properly made to the patriotism of the men of the Reserve Forces they would come. Patriotism is all very well, but a man has to think of his wife and children and other dependents before he volunteers. He is engaged in civil life in a trade or other occupation, and he must think not only of what his earnings are, but of what his expenses are going to be. The old Yeoman was obliged to pay out of his pocket towards the cost of his training. Under the present system he does not do so. The pay, and the allowance given for forage for his horse, enables him not only to pay his expenses, but in some cases, if the management of the regiment is prudent, to go away with a small amount in his pocket. You are going to change all that. You are asking a man to accept the conditions of the Regular soldier. I venture to say that you are making a demand upon him which is altogether unreasonable, and which he cannot meet. Not only has he to make himself as efficient as he can in fourteen or eighteen days training in ordinary years, but, if war breaks out, he has, in addition, to live the life of an ordinary soldier in respect of his camp food, messing, etc. If you draw a comparison between the Regular soldier and the Volunteer, say, in the case of a regiment of cavalry and a Yeomanry regiment, you can realise the difference. In the case of the Regular regiment the manoeuvres go on perhaps for two or three days when the soldier has hard work, and then there are two or three days off. But the Yeoman, if he is going to learn anything at 1609 all, must work every day at his training whether wet or dry, from early morning till late in the afternoon. At the present moment the first thing everybody connected with Volunteer regiments asks when he enlists is whether his work is to be that of a soldier or whether he has to do other duties which he does not care about. I do not believe that you can, in reason, make the standard of proficiency too high. But if you call upon men to discharge duties which are only discharged by soldiers in the Regular regiments, I do not believe that you will get them. I believe the numbers will fall off in a way that will startle you. Quite recently a meeting of commanding officers was held, and a series of resolutions were passed, all of which pointed in one direction. These men, after all, speak with personal experience of the work they have been engaged upon. They know what it is to get recruits. I will undertake to say that there is not a greater anxiety for a commanding officer in connection with a Volunteer regiment than the ascertaining each year whether he is going to get a sufficient number of recruits to keep his regiment up to the establishment. It has been extremely difficult in times past. I believe if the Secretary of State could see his way to leave the Imperial Yeomanry alone in the matter of pay and allowances, the force would continue to improve and increase in numbers as he desires that they should do. But if, on the other hand, you go in the teeth of the opinion, I believe, of the great majority of officers who have served in the force, and of the views held at this moment by the commanding officers and certainly by all those who were present at the meeting to which I have referred, you will only have yourselves to thank if the scheme breaks down. The figures as to the number of Yeomen and Volunteers who volunteered for service in the late war vary a little because there is great difficulty, as the House knows, in getting at them. But I believe that something like 70,000 offered to go and that over 30,000 went. I believe that if you give the men the necessary training and fit them to go abroad they will do in the future what they have done in the past. 1610 If you are going to impose these conditions which, I believe, are not necessary, you will get rid of the force. The Imperial Yeomanry have been more than once laughed at by some hon. Members who have spoken of them as men who did not work hard enough and who played at being soldiers. I regret that I am no longer on the active list, owing to age, but I make the suggestion on the part of my successor in command of my regiment, to those who think that the yeoman's life is one of play and amusement that they should get recruited in my regiment, and after three weeks' training they will come away strongly convinced that the yeoman's life is not one of play or ease. That kind of criticism comes from those who do not know what the Yeomanry has been doing during the last ten years. The hon. Member for Montgomery Boroughs said that it would be unfortunate in the way of Army reform if a scheme were adopted which would lessen the willingness of men to join the Auxiliary Forces. The Yeomanry have been given the opportunity of improving, and they have improved. I sincerely hope that in the attempt to reconstitute the Auxiliary Forces nothing will be done to damp the enthusiasm of these men in their desire to render a service to their country. If the chance were given them they would still further improve. There are not very many of them, but more can be got. They are men of the right material and with right desires. The officers of the Yeomanry have altered as much as the men within the last ten years. I venture to say that their knowledge of their duties, their enthusiasm in their work and their attention to detail are as great as anyone could conceive; and it is to them a matter of profound apprehension that the War Office and this House appear not to recognise these facts, but to be willing to run risks in materially altering the constitution of the force. I make this appeal on their behalf because they are at present, in my opinion, a useful part of our Army of Defence, and they can be rendered still more useful and valuable in the future. I am satisfied that, if you persevere with the conditions 1611 laid down in the scheme of the Secretary for War, in a short time you will lose this force altogether. The right hon. Gentleman is engaged in a great task of reforming the whole of the Volunteer Army. He is seeking to make of the different forces composing it one great force. I will not discuss the Volunteer or the Militia aspect of the case. Everybody knows that it is necessary to make some changes in the Militia; and the Volunteers want assistance and guidance, but not changes of a serious character. But I ask why, because it is necessary to make changes in two of the forces, it is also necessary to make changes in the one which has improved and which at the present time is not open to criticism? If that view is correct I hope that the Secretary of State for War will see his way to stay his hand and leave the Imperial Yeomanry as they are, subject to this, that he can impose upon them as high a test of efficiency as can be demanded by the greatest military authorities. You cannot strain their loyalty by any demand of that kind. What we ask is, that the right hon. Gentleman will not impose upon them financial conditions which will make it impossible for men to join the corps as at present, and conditions in regard to training which we believe will be not only distasteful, but destructive.
§ MR. BENNETT (Oxfordshire, Woodstock)
said that he had served in the Volunteers, both in the ranks and as an officer, and both in peace and in war. The hon. Member for Montgomery Boroughs, had said that during the Easter recess he took pains to go among his constituents to ask their opinion in regard to this Bill, and he found that the Volunteers in his part of the country were more or less contented with it. He was of a different opinion. He had gone into the question locally and he found that recruiting had fallen off because the Volunteers viewed some of the provisions of the Bill with distrust and alarm. Before the Bill was introduced after a lecture he had delivered to his county battalion he managed to get fourteen recruits in quite a small village; and in another village he obtained thirteen recruits. But after 1612 the Bill was brought in he went to a town of 4,000 inhabitants, and after the combined efforts of a route march, a band, and his lecture, he secured only three recruits. He asked the reasons for the change and was told that the Volunteers to a considerable extent mistrusted and felt some alarm at various provisions in the Bill. He did not think that some hon. Gentlemen realised the existing difficulty in getting recruits. There was one well-known battalion in the West of England which gave a bonus of 10s. to anyone who raked in a recruit. Of course that practice was not universal. He would give some of the criticisms of a few Volunteer friends on the Bill. The suggested abolition of the Regular adjutant was simply spreading dismay. After all, despite the eloquence of the hon. Member for Leicester, considerable weight should be given to the opinions of experienced men in regard to Army reform. He did not think that the existence in a Volunteer battalion of a professional soldier who knew his work could be seriously objected to. He was worth more in promoting the efficiency of the battalion than all the other officers put together. Another objection to the scheme was that the number of Regular drill instructors was to be enormously decreased. At present there were 2,005 Regular drill instructors, but so far as he understood, the number was to be reduced to 1,453. The Secretary of State in one of his speeches had alluded to the possibility of the drill instructor going round on a bicycle to drill different companies in a county battalion. His own opinion was that to reduce seriously the number of Regular drill instructors would reduce the efficiency of many of the Volunteer battalions. Another objection was to the rules for camp. The men might be frequently soaked to the skin during manoeuvres, and they would resent being called upon On return to camp to sit the whole evening in damp clothes. The Volunteer was as proud as any Regular soldier of his smart uniform when he marched out to the admiration of his male and female friends. Then the proposed fine of £5 for failure to fulfil training conditions had caused some mischief. But the chief thing which rankled in the minds of the Volunteers 1613 was the virtual obligation to go on foreign service. The Volunteer battalions it was contemplated were to go abroad as units. The battalion would be called out on parade; the Colonel would make a speech and ask all those who volunteered to serve abroad to step out of the ranks. Anyone could see the social and other pressure which would be brought to boar on the men to serve abroad against their will. There was the ill-starred circular of 1905 which suggested that the Volunteers should be medically examined with a view to ascertaining whether they were fit to go on foreign service. In his own battalion fifty men declined to be examined. Of course it was pointed out that during the South African War one-fifth of the Volunteer force volunteered to serve in South Africa, and one-fifteenth did serve. But that was during the war fever at a time of stress. But in 1901, when the War Office invited 10,000 Volunteers, only 1,400 responded to the call. Many Volunteers had no liking for the county associations and disliked still more the prominence given to the lord-lieutenant of the county on these bodies. The Volunteers were the most democratic section of the King's forces, and they asked that instead of this official the chairman should be properly elected by the county association. Even the supply of young officers was, in the future, to be under the control of these effete county officials, many of whom were eaten up with bitter prejudices. Everybody would have thought that at all events they would have been ruled out by the Government. He protested against any public money being expended on this secondary and separate organisation until the needs of the Regular and Territorial Forces had been provided for. The objections raised from the Labour Benches had been raised on the ground of militarism, and he agreed with a good deal of what had been said with regard to boys being taught bayonet exercise under the guise of religion by a bellicose curate not being an edifying spectacle. He objected to the expenditure of money on cadet corps and rifle corps unless it carried with it an obligation on those corps to serve. The cadet corps of schools had no military value whatever. They were run principally on ginger-beer and buns. And with regard to University 1614 cadet corps, his own experience at Oxford was that when he asked men to join the corps he had been met with the statement that they had done their part at a public school and they came to the University to enjoy themselves. So far, therefore, from these cadet corps helping the military spirit, they retarded it. The rifle clubs, he submitted, were not worth the outlay expended on them at present. Many members of the rifle corps in England were senior men, and of what value were such men from a military standpoint if they could not take the field? And it would not be fair to ask them to take such responsibility. The kind of optimism shared by some supporters of rifle clubs with regard to these military facts was expressed by the hon. Member for Stoke who informed the House that, if the foot of an invader touched these shores, a million bayonets would glitter in the morning light. A General of Napoleon's once said that they could do anything with bayonets except sit on them. He thought that the glittering bayonets would, in all probability, do more damage to those who had them than to the invader. The hon. Member had also said that if the bayonets were not forthcoming the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State would be hanged. Of this he was sure—that those using the bayonets, if captured by the enemy, would be hanged. All this talk was part and parcel of the nebulous nonsense which did duty in this country for Socialism. Many Members of the House in the dining-room and the lobby and other places, having first told him that they knew nothing whatever about military problems, went on to say that invasion was out of the question. Every military expert in this country and on the Continent, on the contrary, were of opinion that, although invasion would be a difficult matter, the difficulties were not insurmountable. We in England did not face the question fairly. We must remember what the Royal Commission said with regard to the Militia, namely, that it was not in a fit condition after a training of 100 days to take the field in defence of the country. The Militia were trained for sixty-three days and then for twenty-seven, and the training the Territorial Forces were likely to get under the 1615 conditions of the present proposals would be more or less on the same lines as the training the Volunteers now got. The Volunteers were now trained for eighty hours in four years and camp was not compulsory. As to the proposal for six months training, did any one suppose that any hostile European Power which had in its programme the invasion of England was going to hold its hand for six months before it commenced operations? Compulsion being out of the question it seemed to him that the only solution of the problem was to be found in the direction of the Volunteers. There were, of course, difficulties in the way, but it was their duty to face those difficulties and to induce the Territorial Force to undergo longer periods of training. And the only way to do that was to pay them adequately for the time they were engaged. However they were dressed or by whatever name they were called, they would still be amateurs of an inferior type, and anyone who looked at the problem from that point of view could not regard these men as an adequate security against invasion when they contemplated the difference between the training suggested for the Territorial Force and that which would have been undergone by the invaders. This problem of defence far transcended any Party limitations. Volunteers were grateful to the Secretary for War for his untiring work in the cause of Army reform and for being the first British Minister to treat the Auxiliary Forces seriously.
§ *MR. BRACE (Glamorganshire, S.)
said that he accepted many of the conclusions of the hon. Member for Leicester, but he did not agree with him as to method or detail. It was necessary first to give this Bill a Second Reading, and then it would be possible to suggest Amendments in detail in the direction in which it was thought it ought to be amended. He felt that, if this Bill were rejected, they would be face to face with chaos so far as the Auxiliary Forces were concerned; and therefore it seemed to him and those with whom he was associated that, while frankly criticising the Bill, they were under some obligation to the House, the country, and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War to co-operate with 1616 him in making his scheme successful. If he thought the Bill led them one stage towards conscription he would offer it violent opposition; but he looked on the Bill as containing the germs of a scheme which would put conscription further away, and therefore he supported it, reserving his right to amend it in Committee. After all, Britain was great because she was supreme in the arts of peace and commerce. This country would never be great because she happened to be great in the art of war. Rome as a nation had stood out among the Empires of the world as the first military Empire, but she had passed away in defiance of her military knowledge and military prowess, because she had failed to understand the true meaning of greatness. He recognised that, as long as conditions remained as they were, an Army, must be maintained, and common sense told them that it must be an efficient Army. He regretted the enormous expenditure on the Army at the present moment, and he had still to be persuaded that so large an Army was necessary; but he felt that in this Bill, dealing with a Territorial Force, they were called upon to consider an altogether different branch of the question. With regard to officering the Volunteers from the public schools, he asserted that a civic force ought to be based on the broad principle of democracy. It was a mistake to think that in these days the men who would volunteer would be influenced by social position. Those who came into the Force would come in with a much better social position, owing to better education, than that which they before enjoyed, and the officer who was going to win the respect of the men he would have to lead would have to be a man capable of leading them. Therefore, every man having the ability to become an officer should be enabled to rise to the highest grade. He could see no reason why the Volunteers or the Army should be placed under martial law in time of peace. He held very strongly that if a soldier was guilty of an offence in time of peace he ought to be judged, and, on conviction, punished by the Civil courts of the land. He regarded the proposal to put the Volunteers under martial law with the greatest apprehension, and he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would realise that it was impossible to get men with any sense of dignity and manhood 1617 to join the Auxiliary Forces if the result was to be the loss of their civic rights in this regard. Pay was also a consideration. If the best type of working man was to associate himself with this movement, the right hon. Gentleman must see to it that it was made possible for him to come out for his training and go into camp without any outlay of money. It was not a question of making money out of it, but unless sufficient pay was given to provide for his wife and family while he was doing his duty to the nation it would be impossible for such a man to associate himself with the scheme. The military force must therefore be reduced to the smallest number, having regard to efficiency. There was every desire among the workers to be in a position to protect their beloved country from invasion, but they must move on practical lines; and it was because this Bill, instead of leading to conscription, really raised a barrier against it, and because the country was in need of some scheme of defence, that he and the group to which he belonged would vote for its Second Reading, reserving to themselves the right to amend it in details.
§ *MR. LEHMANN (Leicestershire, Market Harborough)
desired to say a few words from the point of view of one who was opposed both to conscription and to to universal compulsory military service. Many who favoured compulsory service opposed this scheme because they did not believe that even under the conditions set forth in the Bill there would be a sufficient number of men willing to join the military force of the country. If that were so, what did they propose? They proposed not only to bring in this comparatively small number of unwilling men, but also to force in all the rest of the unwilling to make a competent fighting force. That was a moat absurd proposition, and it was useless, because the country would never believe in it or sanction it by its votes. If they believed the country was with them on this question they had only to go to the country and get its sanction. He admitted that it was the duty of those holding his opinions not so much to devise a scheme for the defence of the country as to support such a scheme when it was devised; and it was because he thought that this Bill would provide a properly qualified military force for the needs of the country that he should support the 1618 Second Reading. The question was could we under the voluntary system obtain a Territorial Army qualified by its training to perform the duties imposed upon it under this scheme. We did not require an Army huge in numbers composed of unwilling men. He had spent some years in a Yeomanry regiment. He did not wear the glittering panoply of an officer. He had begun as a trooper and had worked his way up until he had been rewarded with the stripes of a sergeant. He looked back on that period as not the least enjoyable in his life. They had done some hard work, and he might give an instance to show that the training of the Yeomanry in these days, short as it was, had yet produced men capable of holding their own even against the Regular cavalry. He remembered n case where a Yeomanry regiment, owing to the skill which they had acquired, captured the greater part of a cavalry regiment. They had twelve days of training together, and at the end of that time, owing to the admirable zeal of their officers, and not least of the Regular Adjutant, they were, he would not say qualified to bear comparison with the Household Cavalry, but qualified for most of those duties which regiments of cavalry had to undertake in the field. The spirit of that force was remarkable. He remembered the great surprise with which men after their first training received their pay. No thought of pay had entered their mind when joining, and they went into the service because they wanted military work. He believed that the Yeomanry cavalry, after the improvement which had recently taken place, were a most valuable force, and he hoped nothing would be done to check their enthusiasm. He believed it would be possible, by some slight alteration in the scale of pay, to meet all the fair demands of the Yeomanry cavalry, and thus preserve for the country a force which had done very great service in the past. They were told that under this scheme the Militia was being destroyed. If he believed that he would certainly hesitate to vote in favour of the Second Reading of this Bill. The Militia was not being destroyed, it was only being altered, and it would reappear under another name, because every unit of the force was going to be taken over. There was no sanctity in 1619 the idea of the three-line system. They had the Regular Army and the Militia. Then came the invasion scare, and in a moment the country was covered with Volunteer regiments. They preferred to remain as an independent force of their own, and in that way the third line of defence arose. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for having brought order out of chaos and for having given them the two-line system under this Bill. There were many points in which alterations in the Bill might possibly be required in Committee. He did not know that he was a very enthusiastic admirer of the county associations, but after considering it he had concluded that if they were to make a beginning at all that was the best way to begin, because they placed a Militia officer at the head of the county association and did their best to interest the great families of the country in the Territorial Force. He would like to know how many Volunteer regiments up to the present time had been assisted by the great families in the country. Those families had always taken a great interest in the Regular Army; in a small way they had interested themselves in the Militia, and the Yeomanry cavalry, but, as regarded the Volunteers, they had taken very little interest in them. The hon. Member for Leicester had told them that the old relations between the Hall and the village were things of the past He had himself had some experience of country districts, and he did not agree with the view of the hon. Member. In political matters the agricultural labourers and those who were at one time supposed to be the dependents of the Hall were perfectly ready to vote against its inhabitants, but in social matters he believed they were still glad to work with them. Although he thought that something better in the end might be devised to take the place of county associations he could not join with those who condemned those associations, because he believed they would form the foundation of an excellent system of local administration. He would not dwell upon such matters as rifle clubs, because he did not think there was much good to be got out of them and they were in no way a substitute for Volunteer regiments. There were other points upon which he might join issue, but on the whole, after carefully studying the Bill and listening 1620 to the objections brought against it, he had concluded that the right hon. Gentleman had produced a scheme which, in its essentials, would not only guard them against universal military service, but would properly co-ordinate the various forces of the Crown and give them, without any additional expense, such a system as they had been longing for for a good many years.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
The alteration in the hours of the House must be my justification for getting up at an hour when it is not usual for the Leader of the Opposition to ask for the attention of Members. The Minister for War has a great many topics to deal with, and I do not see that it is possible for him to compress an answer to the case which has been made both by friends and foes—and, if he will allow me to say so, by friends quite as much as by foes—in the course of a rather disjointed debate, into less than an hour; and I am therefore compelled to ask the House to listen to me at a rather earlier stage of the proceedings than in other circumstances would be either useful or convenient. I rise to support the Amendment, but I do not do so in any spirit of Party feeling or with any desire to make a difficult task even more difficult than it is. I have been a close spectator, sometimes an actor, in the drama of War Office administration now for many years past I am profoundly conscious of the difficulties which beset the path, and must beset the path, of any Minister who has to deal with an Army based upon a voluntary system. I believe a voluntary system is a system this country will never consent to abandon, and my sympathy, therefore, is perennially extended to every successive Minister of War, to whatever Party he may belong. I should like to go further. I believe the changes and reforms carried out during the last ten years in the Army have been very great reforms, as they undoubtedly have been very great changes. I believe, when the history of the British Army comes to be written in an impartial spirit, it will be admitted on all hands that Lord Lansdowne, Mr. Brodrick, and my right hon. friend the Member for Croydon have each in their turn and in their measure made a great contribution to this difficult and perennial problem. But I acknowledge at the same 1621 time that one of the things which the right hon. Gentleman has set himself to do was not done by his predecessors, and still remains to be done—I mean the problem of providing for the expansion, on the best possible lines, of the Army in time of great national necessity; and, though I do not think that we who sit on this bench have the smallest reason to be otherwise than proud of the work done during the last ten years, it would not be right for us to take up the position of critics of the right hon. Gentleman from the point of view of people who have accomplished this task, which we all admit ought to be dealt with. Therefore, the House will see that when I approach the particular solution the right hon. Gentleman has proposed to us I not only approach that question with a generous sympathy based upon my consciousness of the difficulties which beset every War Minister in this country, but with a feeling that we on this bench have a special reason for not opposing any plan which we think really does solve that part of the problem which we admit was left unsolved when we were succeeded by the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The House has had to listen to a great many lengthy speeches—not too long, but they have been long, and they have sometimes been long because they have discussed questions which I would venture to put on one side as questions already settled, or at all events, that may be regarded for the purposes of this discussion as provisionally settled. I am not going to say a word, for instance, about the Fleet being our first line of defence, or about the possibility of invasion in great force; I am not going to argue the possibility of raids. I am going to assume for the purposes of everything I say to-day that we may neglect for the moment the possibility of invasion in great force, that we have to admit the possibility of raids, and that the Fleet cannot do its duty as the first line of defence unless there is behind it within the four shores a military force—Volunteer or other—which would make the position of a raiding force when it landed practically untenable. I am going to assume all these things, which I have argued at great length on other occasions in the House, as matters which we may assume without further discussion. As regards the Volunteers, I may perhaps be allowed to say that I have no strong views 1622 about the particular plan proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. I am quite sure that we ought to do something to organise the Volunteers better, and I am quite sure that we ought to do something to give them a general staff, to arrange beforehand how they are to meet and deal with particular contingencies which might conceivably arise in the defence of the country, and that we ought no longer to consider them as merely a large and miscellaneous force of fairly well-trained men of whom, somehow or another, in ways unspecified and in plans unmatured, we can make good use in time of national need. I think that much may be done, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman and his military advisers are in the way of doing it, and in so far as that is so he has my hearty support and warm congratulations. But I view with considerable suspicion one class of encomium which I have heard on both sides, and particularly in the speeches, naturally enough, of the right hon. Gentleman's own supporters. The hon. Member who has just sat down and the hon. Member for Leicester both congratulated the Minister for War upon having introduced order where chaosprevailed before, and it has been indicated that the military system of the country was in a confused state, that we had, as it were, a very varied and miscellaneous force, whose efficiency would be immensely increased if only we gave it a different nomenclature and a different organisation. I do not agree with that kind of praise. Remember that if we are all agreed, as we are, that for all our military forces, whether Regulars, Militia, special Reservists, Yeomanry, Volunteers, whatever they may be, we have got to depend upon voluntary enlistment or voluntary engagement to serve—remember that you must make your terms vary and your conditions of service vary with the various classes to whom you appeal. The very fact that a scheme is simple is to my mind not a priori in its favour, but against it. If I am told there is a very complicated lock to be undone, if a man comes to me and says, "I am a great believer in simplicity, here is a simple key to undo it," I say, "But you do not fit your means to your end." When you are dealing with so complicated a society as our own, depend upon it, it is not good, but bad, that your system should be artificially simplified, and that you should 1623 ignore in any way the varying needs and wishes of the classes on whose voluntary assistance you must depend for obtaining the necessary body of men to defend your interests at home and abroad. And, after all, I am not sure that the plan of the Government really deserves the epithet "simple." I do not think it is simple. You have two lines of defence now before the scheme comes into operation; are you going to have fewer lines afterwards? You will have your Regular Army now, your Militia, your Yeomanry, your special Reservists, differing in their conditions of service every bit as much as the Militia varies from the Regular Army, and both from the Volunteers. There is no simplicity introduced by the scheme of the Government. It is true they sweep away an old historic force, but they do not make the new system simpler than the old. I think we are all apt to be misled by words in this matter. If we look at things, we shall see that probably the result of this plan will be to introduce a greater variety into our system than at present, because at present the War Office does perhaps too much endeavour to run all the Volunteers into one mould. If you are going to leave the county associations really to control in any large measure the force within their respective areas, you may have a different kind of Volunteer, as you may have a different kind of county association. And my confident belief is that, if the Territorial Force as conceived by hon. Gentlemen opposite comes into existence, it will be a more varied force than the Volunteers are at present. But I do not criticise them on that account. On the question of cost the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean made a very able commentary upon the scheme of the Government, in which he indicated his opinion, on what seemed extraordinarily good grounds, that the now scheme would be much more expensive than the old one, as far as the Volunteers and the Militia are concerned. I am not qualified without expert advisers to express an opinion on that point. But it is not on that ground I propose to vote for the Amendment. I propose to vote for it upon much larger and wider grounds. I certainly have no objection in principle to the county associations, but I am very doubtful about this part of the plan. I am not 1624 sure that you have not already thrown in the counties so much work upon the only class whose leisure permits them to do it that for any new and great burden thrown upon them you would find them not unpatriotic and not unwilling, but really unable from sheer want of time to carry out the new functions proposed to be placed upon them. The extremely able speech, I am bound to say, of the hon. Member for Leicester suggested to me a new doubt as to the wisdom of the course suggested by the Government. The hon. Member said that the trade unions, the organised labour throughout the country, would strongly object to a large number of the provisions and ideas in the right hon. Gentleman's plan. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Leicester has better means of judging than I have, but the mere fact that a representative of the Labour Party in this House should be in a position to say that shows conclusively that if you do start these county associations you will have, and must have, introduced into it an element which I do not call Party, but which I may, without offence, call an element of social controversy. You will thus have in the very bosom of the new county associations an element of discord introduced which would be absolutely disastrous to the real success of the Volunteers. So far the Volunteers have had their rows; they have had their perennial row with the War Office; they have had their controversy with the military experts; but they have had, apart from these, which are almost an essential part of their being, great liberty and autonomy. Henceforth the various regiments, as I understand, are to be largely under the control of the county associations. The county associations themselves would be placed in such a position that controversy of a difficult and acute kind must needs break out; and this must react on the future organisation of the Volunteers in a manner that, in my judgment, cannot he otherwise than disastrous. I earnestly commend that particular danger to the right hon. Gentleman. And there is one other danger, not, perhaps, quite so serious, which should not be lost sight of. I have told the House that one thing I am afraid of is that there will not be found men of sufficient leisure in various county areas to deal with their new 1625 duties. In some counties there is a leisured class, estimable, public-spirited, in every way admirable, but I am not sure that they are admirable for the particular purpose—I mean the retired soldier. He will really have a claim to take part in the management of the work of the county associations. He will have the leisure and the technical knowledge, but I am not sure that the spirit he brings from his training with the Regular Forces is of a kind which will make him in every respect the most sympathetic or competent adviser of the Volunteer Force; and I have a little fear, not only of the trade union element introduced in its councils, if I may be allowed to say so, but also of the professional element which in certain cases will take part in their deliberations. I pass now from the civil side of the Volunteer reorganisation to what I may call the military and the formal side. On the military side the right hon. Gentleman has introduced a kind of uniformity extremely pleasing to the theorists, and by the nature of which all the Volunteers of the country are to be organised in divisions with their proper complement of cavalry and artillery. That scheme looks beautiful on paper; but is it going to help us with the Volunteers? I am not sure, and I will tell the House why. In the first place, are you sure that in a particular divisional area you will find the requisite variation of taste which will give you the number of men anxious to serve in your infantry and Yeomanry, and who will undertake the work of learning to be trained as gunners in a battery? If you do not, you will be doing exactly what should not be done, for you will be forcing into undesired and unexpected moulds the Volunteer elements which otherwise you have at your disposal. I do not see what you are going to get by it. You are going to drill in divisions, but I do not suppose they will go into action in Volunteer divisions, and if you do, then I confess that all the criticisms passed on the Volunteer artillery seem to me to be left wholly unanswered. I do not think we ought to pretend that we have the plan of what is called a national army if the artillery, from the nature of the case, is, and will always be, inadequately trained. An hon. friend, one of the Members for Hampshire, pointed out that the best Volunteer artillery regiments had an immense proportion of Regular officers, 1626 and I do not believe, without a very large infusion of Regular officers and highly-trained professional gunners, you will ever get Volunteer artillery to meet on anything approaching equal terms the highly trained artillery of foreign nations. If that is so, it is really idle to arrange your Volunteers into divisions, if by arranging them in divisions you expect them to become great self-supporting military units—units which can provide infantry, artillery, and cavalry. They will not do so, and when I have had to consider the problem of home defence against raids it has always been on the supposition that the artillery will be supplied from the Regular Army. From the Regular Army I am convinced it must still be supplied, if any good work is to be done in the matter. It may be said, however, that I, perhaps, ignore the six months training which the Bill provides with such material as we have in the Volunteers, and that truly an immense amount of good can be got out of the finest and most teachable material in the country. Are we not here again indulging in illusions? I believe that the arrangement in divisions from the fighting point of view is an illusion, and in the same way is not the six months training when war breaks out an illusion also? The question put by my hon. friend the Member for Fareham is one to which no answer has been given. My hon. friend asked; When war breaks out do you expect the Volunteers to go into camp for six months; and if you expect this, will your expectations be fulfilled? Do you expect the employers in moments of danger to say to their men, "The country is in peril; go into camp for six months"; and my hon. friend asked the Government whether, as the largest employer of labour, they were going to do that—whether they were going to tell their employés who belong to Volunteer corps that they should go into training for six months when war breaks out? The Government are not going to do that, and they would be grossly neglectful of their duty if they did do it, because a large number of men would be serving their country more effectively by working in the factories and in the Government departments and in carrying out the great work of civil employment, which, after all, is the necessary background of any military 1627 endeavour whatever. If it is true of the Government, is it not then going to be true of the enormous number of great employers of labour in the country? There is no possible answer to the argument of the hon. Member for Leicester. He pointed out that under the terms of conscription you could, without disorganising labour, make enormous drafts on the manhood of the country because the employer knew exactly what he wanted. Every one in Germany, for example, knows that every adult of good physique between certain ages will be called upon to do military service, and knowing that he makes his arrangements accordingly. But if you organise your factories and workshops on an ordinary business basis, and then when war breaks out you suddenly find that a foreman in this department, an expert in that department, a clerk in a third department, have to go into camp for six months, there is a disorganisation of labour, compared with which the loss of labour under compulsory service sinks into insignificance. The hon. Member for Leicester put that point with extraordinary force and clearness; but no answer has been given to it, and I do not believe that any answer can be given. If that is so, are we not cherishing a pure illusion when we draw a picture of the country being suddenly covered with camps and every man of the age included in the Territorial Army leaving his employer and going out to train for six months? It cannot, will not, and ought not to be done; and therefore do not let us assume that we are creating a system under which it will be done. Nothing can be worse for us than to cherish illusions of this character and to suppose that we are creating that which cannot be created, and which, if we could create it, ought not to be created. When the right hon. Gentleman creates a Territorial Army it is not that a million bayonets may flash in the sun because some invader has landed. It is that he may find some machinery for feeding, in case of a great war, the Regular forces of the Crown outside these shores. That is his object. I do not undervalue the Volunteers from that point of view. They did good service in South Africa, and nothing in this Bill that I can see is likely to make the Volunteer more anxious to serve abroad in future 1628 wars than he was in the South African war. On the whole, I believe that that War had the warm sympathy of the classes from which the Volunteers are drawn, and I do not believe that you will get a larger proportion of Volunteers to help you abroad in future than you have had in the past. If the right hon. Gentleman can point out anything in the scheme which is going to give a larger proportion of Volunteers serving abroad either as drafts, Regular battalions, or new units, it will have my hearty support; but so far I have wholly failed to find it. While, therefore, I have no vehement objection to this part of the scheme in principle, I am afraid that it will, if carried out, give us an illusory organisation and not a real organisation, the image and pretence of a great Army complete in all its various departments, and not in reality an Army capable of meeting other Armies on equal terms, and that it will introduce in the local management of the Volunteer forces some elements of social controversy and discord which happily have hitherto been wholly absent from their counsels. I now come to the more important part, from the second line to the first line of the Army service. All of us admit that we have a great responsibility and that we must have an Army. I am not going to quarrel about the size of the Army. I see nothing to quarrel with in the general view which the Government hold as to the magnitude of the interests we have to protect and the magnitude of the force we should have to protect them. What are the conditions preliminary to having such a force? I do not know whether my enumeration exhausts them, but there are three which ought never to be forgotten. We ought to be thoroughly provided with all those elements in our force which cannot be improvised. There are some things which I believe, with the Member for Abercromby, you can get under great pressure, not perhaps of the best, but of good quality, pretty quickly; but there are some things you cannot get, and you must not think you can get. You cannot get a trained staff, or highly trained and competent officers. You cannot under any circumstances get either guns or gunners; they all take time. And I would venture to say you cannot even get, or it is very difficult to get, adequate cadres. Starting a new regiment is a very serious responsibility; it ought only to be brought into life with 1629 caution, and ought to be destroyed only after careful consideration. That is the first condition. The second is that you should have a sufficient number of units; that follows. The third thing is, you must have a sufficiency of drafts, and other means of repairing the tremendous wastage of war, a wastage which in some climates is horrible to think of, but which we must not blink, but must steadily face when we are considering what is necessary. Having laid down those three conditions, which I do not think will be dissented from, I ask myself how the policy of the Government has dealt with them. I am not going to deal in detail with the regiments in the Regular Army, but I must be allowed to say that that policy has destroyed three of the things which I say can hardly be improvised. It has destroyed ex hypothesi, and from the nature of the case, a number of cadres. That is what the reduction amounts to in the main. It has thrown out of employment—practically limited the number of officers whom we shall have; and, above all, it has reduced the artillery. I frankly admit that I complain of the right hon. Gentleman's method of treating the artillery in all his speeches. I believe it to be perfectly true that he has done a good deal to improve certain classes of men and officers who have worked in the artillery, but nothing can get over the fact that he has diminished their number by 4,000.
§ MR. HALDANE
I have said that I intend to do it as soon as I can organise the divisional brigade ammunition columns for the purpose, but as these have not been organised yet not a man of the 4,000 has been taken off.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am discussing the plan of the right hon. Gentleman, and I thought the plan was to diminish the artillery by 4,000.
§ MR. HALDANE
By substituting a larger number trained on a Militia basis; but, as I said, I have not yet been able to work that out.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the right hon. Gentleman will see the point. His plan to increase those services connected with the Militia which can be properly worked on a Militia basis may 1630 be very desirable, but those are the very things which can be improvised, provision for which is not absolutely necessary in time of peace. But the trained men whom he is going to get rid of cannot be improvised, they will not be given you by six or even twelve months training when war breaks out, and I fear, therefore, in that connection that he has not carried out one of the most important canons which I have ventured to lay down. I put the artillery in the very first rank of the things you cannot improvise. One other point. There is a controversy between my right hon. friend the Member for Croydon and the Government as to whether we shall really possess 115,000 Regular first-class Reservists. The right hon. Gentleman opposite was good enough to speak to me privately, and to assure me of what I did not need to be assured, that he had done his very best to prepare an accurate statement, and he used some arguments of a very interesting kind. But since then this plain point has been brought to my notice by my right hon. friend the Member for Croydon, which I think every one in the House will understand. The actual first-class Reserve at the present time is 113,000 men, broadly speaking. That Reserve is the product of a Regular Army, which is larger by ten battalions that the Army of the future, and which was organised on a three and nine years basis, which, of couse, produces Reservists much faster than would the new Army. Yet we are asked to believe that a smaller Army on a less rapidly Reserve-producing basis is going to give us bigger Reserves than the one which now exists. And remember that those regiments which have only produced 113,000 men at the present time have been in existence seven or eight years, a period long enough to give the full measure of Reservists. How on earth is it possible for the Army of the future, differing for the worse in every particular from the Army of the present as far as Reserve-producing is concerned, to produce a bigger first-class Reserve than the present Army? That is a very great difficulty, into which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will inquire, and I hope his reply will be as clear and brief, if possible, as has been the argument which I have respectfully addressed to him. I come to the way of dealing with the Militia. The right hon. Gentleman who preceded me said the Militia were not 1631 destroyed; they were only transformed. Sir, they are destroyed, and destroyed for the very purpose for which the Militia really exists; and the Government do not pretend that these Militia battalions, transformed into Volunteers or territorial units, are going to perform the function in the future which the Militia has performed in the past. Are we wise to abolish the Militia? I think we are not wise, and that not for historical but for strictly military reasons. The hon. and gallant Member for Abercromby admitted that the Militia had done admirable service in South Africa, but said they did it, not because they were Militia, but because they were, Englishmen. Sir, they did admirable service, not because they were Englishmen, but because they were Militia; if they had not been organised as Militia battalions, they could not and would not have done the kind of service which we asked from them, and not in vain, when that great national crisis occurred. The war broke out at the end of 1899, and before April, 1900, was concluded we had got thirty-five Militia battalions out of the country taking the place that would otherwise have been occupied by Regular units. That was an almost incalculable advantage. The Militia are perfectly ready to take the obligation to go abroad, and I think everybody would support a Bill throwing that obligation on them. But you are deliberately going, nominally in the interests of efficiency, to deprive yourself of that which cannot and will not be given you by your seventy-two new battalions of special Reservists. I do not criticise the constitution of the new battalions of Reservists, though I think there are criticisms that might be passed on them; I content myself with one comment—that they cannot be used for the very purpose for which they are most required. The Government say that drafts are what we most require, and that unless they are given a machine which will provide drafts they must abolish everything useless for that purpose. The right hon. Gentleman is a disciple of the Cardwell scheme, a greater believer in it perhaps than I am myself. The Cardwell scheme was that when the two twin battalions were sent abroad a large depot should be formed which should feed those two battalions in the field, and that is, I believe, one very good way of dealing 1632 with the question of drafts, which I quite admit has to be dealt with. But in order to deal with drafts in a way not contemplated in the Cardwell scheme, are you seriously, in cold blood, going to abolish regiments which do the duty of Regular troops in certain situations? If we had, through some unhappy fate, to defend the North-West Frontier of India, your Militia battalions would take the place of Regular battalions in garrisons in the Mediterranean; some of them might even take the place of Regular troops in the heart of India itself. The very existence of this force, especially reformed and modified as it ought to be reformed and modified, would enormously increase the efficiency of your Regular Army, because it frees your Regular Army to do that which only Regular troops can do, and it puts troops loss efficient and less costly to do less important work like guarding the lines of communication. It is impossible for me to believe that that does improve the efficiency of the Regular Army, and that it does improve our possibility of waging a great war. It does not. I agree that the problem of reforming the Militia, which will have to be undertaken as an alternative to this scheme if it is abandoned, is a very difficult problem. But do not let us put it out of our power to reform the Militia by destroying the Militia itself. In the great wars in which we have been, engaged in the past, the work of the Militia in our own lifetime has been done by the Militia cheaply and efficiently. No one who has had experience of these great wars would say that that work could or ought to be done by the Regular Army. If the Volunteers do not do it the Special Reservists cannot do it. The Special Reservists are not intended, and are not organised, to go abroad; their whole theory is that they cannot fight as units. The only thing that is left then is the Militia, and the Militia you intend to destroy. These are the reasons why I feel that I cannot be responsible, directly or indirectly, for the plan of the Government. Even by the friends of this scheme it has been admitted that the Government are risking the very existence of the Volunteers. It is admitted even by those who have asserted with the most ardour that they will vote for the Second Reading, that unless the terms of the Yeomanry engagement are changed the Yeomanry will go; and 1633 unless the severity of the discipline in the Bill be altered the Volunteers, even if they do not go, will at all events cease to come. Your scheme, therefore, threatens your home Army—what you not very accurately call your citizen Army; it destroys drafts for your Regular Army; it throws upon Regular units responsibilities and labours which ought to be undertaken by a less costly and less highly-trained force, and which there is no possibility of this House ever consenting to see carried out by an augmentation of the number of the Regular battalions in the service of the country. If that view be accurate, however anxious we may be—and we are all anxious—to help the right hon. Gentleman in carrying through any well-considered scheme, I think he will feel with me that we on this side of the House have no choice but to take the only constitutional method of dissociating ourselves from any responsibility for this schene which, with so much ability and faith, he has developed before us, by voting for the Amendment of my right hon. friend.
§ *MR. BELLOC (Salford, S.)
said he would not have ventured to intervene in the debate, in which so many experts had taken part, especially men who were engaged with the recruiting of the Auxiliary Forces of the country, had there not been one particular point in the Bill in regard to which he had a certain amount of personal experience and of the extreme importance of which he was thoroughly convinced. The point upon which he wished to speak had reference to the artillery and especially in regard to one department of it, the recruiting of the drivers of that force with a view of replacing the wastage in war. As he had said, his only excuse for troubling the House was that he had had practical experience in the French Army of driving guns. He knew what it was to drive a gun, and he wished to speak upon certain points of which he had knowledge, the first being the great importance of having a sufficiency of trained artillery drivers, and the second was to urge the supreme importance of that particular arm. This latter point was the one upon which he wished most to insist. The one great war of modern times in which the opposing forces were nearly balanced 1634 in numbers and intelligence, the only war of that character which had taken place in Europe recently, was the Franco-German War of 1870. If they considered that struggle it could be proved that it was the superiority of the German artillery which decided the decisive actions. He would be prepared, were the task a sufficiently useful one, even with regard to actions he had not closely studied, to say beforehand, from his intimate knowledge of that great campaign, that it was the artillery which decided the whole thing. He would take one particular example, that of the fight before St. Privat on the 18th August. The strategical effect of that battle was this. If the two main French armies could have effected a junction it would probably have changed the current of the war, but their junction was, after three days fighting, which were known collectively as the Battle of Gravelotte, prevented by the taking and capture of the village of St. Privat by the Germans. From half past ten in the morning till dusk of a summer's day practically the whole of the fighting was done by the German guns which were directed against the French position at St. Privat. It was this last bit of fighting before St. Privat, in which the French artillery was outclassed by that of their opponents, that did more than anything, in a battle which decided the fate of Europe, to influence the fortunes of the day. The guns did the work. He knew very well that there was a certain amount of prejudice, not among the learned Army experts, but among the journalistic exports in regard to the full value of artillery. One was told that it made a noise, and it certainly did do that. Then one was told that the effect of it upon any Army was only a moral one, but it would be found that in the best Army schools, certainly in Italy and France, and at last even in Germany, the importance given to artillery to-day was over-whelming. In this country, however, a long succession of campaigns fought against enemies who, though by no means despicable, were not armed with gun, and which were fought under conditions in which we should never fight in Europe, had left in us something of a prejudice against the value of artillery. He, however, was convinced personally by his reading and experience, and by the 1635 traditions of his family which were not slight, that notwithstanding the considerable changes in artillery during the last thirty years, there still remained as one of its most important elements the simple human factor, the driver. The gunner who laid the guns had varied in his importance, but the driver must be highly trained, and there should be a sufficiency of that class. Although the functions of the gunner had altered, those of the driver remained the same to day as in the past, and he was often in greater demand than he was before and was put into a position of greater danger. The driver always had to be fairly near his gun, otherwise the carrying of ammunition to it would be cumbrous. We certainly, if unhappily we became engaged in a great war, would be involved in a very heavy loss indeed if we had not a sufficient number of trained drivers for our guns. This was a matter of which a man could only speak from personal experience, and he said that to drive a gun was an exceedingly difficult matter. Three men had to deal with six horses, each leading one and riding another, drawing a gun weighing about two tons, and it had to be taken through all sorts of country. He could not describe to the House what it meant to go through a small ditch with a hedge on the other side, with two tons behind one, leading one horse and riding another. It was a work which no amateur could undertake; it required special training for years. He himself had never been allowed to take charge of the wheelers or the leaders, but had only had the other horses, and he had never heard of any man being made a competent driver of the wheelers or the leaders who had not had at least two years experience and training of a very arduous sort. Even these two years stood for training very difficult to give under Volunteer discipline, and which could only be given under the conditions which conscription afforded. We had at the present moment the heaviest field gun in the world, the 18-pounder. It was a matter of some importance as to whether we had done right or wrong in choosing so heavy a type, but anyhow we had behind the horses a greater weight than any artillery in Europe, and we wanted if anything greater skill added to that which we had at this moment. So important and minute was the proper 1636 training of a driver that if possible a man should be got to know his horses, and, save for feeding them, which was done by the stable guard, should learn to know his horses by every method in which man and horses could be kept together, in order to become acquainted with each other. They should be kept together throughout. The losses among these trained men would be immensely heavy at the beginning of a war, and where that occurred it was utterly irreparable unless we had a very large trained Reserve. At the battle of Sedan the battery to which he was subsequently attached lost every commissioned and non-commissioned officer except one non-commissioned officer who saved his piece. The proportion of loss in killed and wounded, officers and men, upon that occasion was 75 per cent. Artillery duels would be even more serious now than they were in 1870, and if the loss was irreparable we should lose the pieces and the battle. If it was said that our military system, historical tradition, and social condition, were such as to make us largely rely on auxiliaries who were only partially trained, there was the example of Austria which also depended to some extent on a Reserve not trained. But the great Reserve of Austria-Hungary was the artillery, and the artillery was well trained and was jealously reserved for the profession. There was another and sentimental aspect of the matter, an aspect that ought to be dear to every Englishman. English drivers at the present moment had deservedly the highest reputation in the world. Service, long service, and tradition had been responsible for that, as also the fact that their officers escaped the regimental system. The regimental system did not obtain in the artillery, and promotion was out of a larger body. They had that reputation in foreign armies. During a period when foreign opinion was directed with peculiar bitterness against this country he heard in a foreign tongue enthusiastic praise of the action of our drivers at Colenso. There had hardly ever been a more gallant act than that of Lord Roberta' son and his comrades. They did not get a thing like that done unless there was a magnificent professional tradition behind it. He did not believe they could get a reserve of drivers trained on a Militia basis worthy and able to take the place 1637 of the trained drivers we should lose at the beginning of a great war.
*MR. ASHLKY (Lancashire, Blackpool)
said that on broad principles he was entirely at one with the right hon. Gentleman, but when they went further he did not agree. In the last few years several doctors had prescribed for the Army, and now the right hon. Gentleman had come along and said it had been treated quite wrongly, its system had been built up too much, and what was required was a little lowering medicine together with a little amputation. He thought the right hon. Gentleman would have been wise in considering this scheme if he had realised that these constant changes had had a very bad effect in deterring fathers from sending their sons into the Regular Army. They had also had a prejudicial effect on the Auxiliary Forces in preventing recruits from joining. The Bill, however, was before the House, and, that being so, it must be considered. When the right hon Gentleman came down and said that for fourteen months he had not scorned to live laborious days, and that this was the scheme his labours had produced, it behoved the House to give the Bill a respectful consideration. The light hon. Gentleman had informed them in one of the numerous memoranda with which he had inundated the House that he aimed at having a force of 300,000. He had, therefore, reduced the Auxiliary Forces by 74,000 men, and was apparently saving a million sterling. That was no doubt gratifying to those who considered that we ought to reduce our expenditure at all hazards. It was not so to him. But the right hon. Gentleman had quite forgotten that these auxiliaries would require guns, equipment, drill halls, rifle ranges, and other things, all absolutely necessary, and finally there was the expense of the cadet and rifle corps. That, according to the right hon. Gentleman's own statement on the 25th February, would entail a cost of.£1,500,000, which, added to the £2,900,000, came out at£4,400,000. So that what the right hon. Gentleman had really done was to reduce the Auxiliary Forces by 74,000 men and increase the cost by £400,000. What was his proposal with regard to the Yeomanry? At present we had 26,000 effective Yeomen recruited from a class of 1638 men nearly all of whom had a grammar or higher school education, who with sixteen days training had picked up a surprising amount of knowledge, and who surprised the inspecting officers by the excellence of their work. Their pay was now to be decreased to an alarming extent. The Yeomanry did not go out to make money, but it was quite a different thing to ask them to come out aud serve the country and pay for it out of their own pocket. The right hon. Gentle man had said he proposed to relieve the financial liabilities of the commanding officers of the Volunteers, and start them fair to do their work. That was a most excellent proposal, but why should the commanding officers be freed, and the wretched Yeomanry and Volunteer privates docked of their pay? They were to be paid a sweating wage, and the result would be that only an inferior class of recruits would be obtained. It would be impossible to keep up the Yeomanry with such inferior material. He would say very little about the Militia, as their case had been so well put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover. But he must say one word with regard to what had fallen from the hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby division, in reference to obtaining recruits for the Militia. He know that it was difficult to get recruits, but the hon. and gallant Gentleman had said that the only place where recruits could be found was among the miners of the north of England and in Scotland. Did the hon and gallant Member recollect that there was a large floating population in London who filled the ranks in a great many of the Surrey, Middlesex, and Home County regiments? Had he considered the miners in South Wales, who formed some excellent engineering corps? Above all, the hon. and gallant Member had shown a surprising ignorance of the conditions in his own constituency. Had he ever heard that there were 30,000 dock labourers in Liverpool, of whom only 15,000 were in permanent employ; a great many of whom, with others, had joined the Militia regiments, of which they were very proud? The steamers which sailed out of Liverpool had a large number of stokers on board, many of whom spent their annual holiday by joining the Militia regiments, getting the benefit 1639 of the fresh air and good food while out training. He thought he had shown that the hon. and gallant Gentleman had made a rather sweeping assertion. The Bill of the right hon. Gentleman was not a very popular one, because it made scrap heap of this old and historic force, which did such good work not only in the Peninsula and the Crimea, but in South Africa. Then he passed to the Volunteers, to whom the right hon. Gentleman offered pay ludicrous in amount. For fifteen days training the Volunteer was to have the magnificent sum of 1s. per day. Let them take the instance of a married man in a London corps. The majority of men in London corps were married men, and the average of their families might be taken at two each. He took for illustration the case of a married man with a wife and two children, and in receipt of 35s. a week. What would be his budget for a fortnight? He would have to pay, say 5s. a week to lodge his family, and he would have to provide 10s. a week to feed them. Therefore if he was fifteen days in camp he would have to find 30s. What did the right hon. Gentleman give him? He was going to give him 15s., therefore the Volunteer would have to find 15s. out of his own pocket for his wife and children, have absolutely nothing for himself, besides losing his wages. Was not the idea ludicrous? They were dealing not with a conscript Army, but with free and voluntary enlistment, and if men were not given money they simply would not come. Last year the corps which he had in his mind gave each man 2s. 6d. a day out of the 5s. capitation grant. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had said that in some cases as much as 4s. a day had been given, but the average was from 1s. 6d. to 3s. In the corps which ho was talking about it was 2s. 6d.; therefore the man got £1 17s. 6d., out of which he had to pay 30s. for lodging of wife and children, leaving him 7s, 6d. in hand—6d. a day to provide himself with tobacco and a drink of beer after the day's work or any little thing that might be necessary. But under the conditions which the right hon. Gentleman proposed it was perfectly impossible to suppose that any man would join. Next he wanted to draw the attention of the House to Sections 6 and 8 of the Bill, because they seemed the most 1640 extraordinary sections he had ever come across. He had taken legal opinion upon them, and it bore out his view that if a man in Hampshire, say, wished to join, he could go to the recruiting officer and say he wished to join the Territorial Army, but he would not be allowed to say that he desired to join any particular regiment or even branch of the service; he had absolutely to join for general service. A successful cross-country rider might apply to join the Territorial Army-in some particular Yeomanry regiment and he might be put into a foot regiment. Did the right hon. Gentleman realise that recruiting at the present moment was not by regiment or battalion but by company? A man would say that he wanted to go into Captain So-and-So's company. Now they were going to ask him to enlist in an Army corps for the county, and the right hon. Gentleman was also going to take power to transfer him after he had joined. After having been in the Yeomanry for two years, a man might le transferred to the infantry. The only protection he had was that he was not to be transferred from Hampshire, say, to Essex or Surrey. Except in that respect, ho might be moved about at the will of the War Office. He thought that Members of the House would see the absurdity of the proposal. Was anybody going to enlist under such conditions, especially when they remembered that in the Regular Army a man could enlist into a particular regiment? He would not deal with the question of Regular adjutants, because he took it that, after what was said by the hon. Member who sat behind the right hon. Gentleman on the last day the Bill was discussed, that part of the Bill had been practically abandoned. Finally he came to the point which he especially wished to bring before the House, and that was with reference to Clause] 2 of the Bill, which said—Any part of the Territorial Force shall be liable to serve in any part of the United Kingdom, but no part of the Territorial Force shall be carried or ordered to go out of the United Kingdom.That carried out the idea that the Volunteer Force was intended for home defence; but the clause went on to say—Provided that it shall be lawful for His Majesty, if he thinks fit, to accept the offer of any part or men of the Territorial Force, signified through their commanding officer, to 1641 subject themselves to the liability to serve in any place out of the United Kingdom.That perpetuated a statute to which, personally, he had always objected when it was applied to the Militia. The truth was that the State, when it enlisted a man, ought to tell him what exactly was his liability. A man for family reasons might not want to serve abroad, though perfectly willing to serve at home. Now the right hon. Gentleman proposed that, when the first class Army Reserve was called out, the whole Territorial Force should be embodied for the period of six months. That embodiment was not chiefly intended to meet raids and invasion, because if it had been meant for that the right hon. Gentleman would have given himself power to call out a portion only of the Territorial Force, as it was obvious that in case of a war with Russia it would not be necessary to call out the whole of the Territorial Force in order to repel an invasion or a raid. Our fleet could guarantee us against that. But he believed that they might consider that the embodiment of the Territorial Force for six months was entirely to fit them for service outside of the United Kingdom. If that was so, he did not think that it was right that they should pass the Bill in the form which the right hon. Gentleman wished, because it would be enlisting men under one set of rules, and asking them to carry out something quite different. The better plan, it seemed to him, would be that, under the direction of the War Office, every county association should have the power to ear-mark certain units within their association who should be composed of men who, when they enlisted, expressed themselves as willing to serve abroad when the First Glass Army Reserve was called out; the remaining units should not be called upon to serve abroad as units, though individuals might volunteer from them for foreign service. He could not see why that could not be carried out; why should they not allow the Militia and the Yeomanry to form these foreign service units in the Territorial Army? They knew that both the Militia and the Imperial Yeomanry were ready to go abroad in their units if called upon. When they merged into the Territorial Force, why should they not allow them to consist entirely of young men willing to 1642 serve abroad in a grave national emergency, and let them be reinforced if necessary from the home battalions in order to bring them up to strength? The advantage of such a proposal was that the right hon. Gentleman would know what number he had to rely upon in case of emergency. Had he now the slightest idea of how many of the proposed Territorial Force would volunteer for Foreign Service in case a war broke out? If it happened to be a popular war he might get a large percentage of them, but if it should turn out unpopular, then the percentage would be very small indeed. Another advantage would be that a man perfectly willing to serve his country at home, but perhaps for family or business reasons not willing or able to serve abroad, would be able to enlist, secure in the knowledge that if war broke out he would only be called upon to serve his country against foreign invasion. It might be said that such people belonged to stay-at home battalions, and they would possibly be laughed at. He was aware that this had been said when the proposal was made to have two active service companies in each battalion, but there was a very great difference between two companies in a battalion and keeping a regiment of that kind in each county. They might include the Militia, the Yeomanry, and the Volunteers in this Territorial Force, and lay down that the Militia and Yeomanry should take on the liability to serve abroad, leaving the Volunteers as at present to come forward to defend their hearths and homes and have a saving clause that the Volunteers or the stay-at-home people should be allowed to Volunteer as individuals, but not as units, in order to supplement the foreign service battalion. He considered that unless the Bill was very greatly changed in Committee it would have most disastrous results, and the upshot would be that the Regular Army would be reduced by 20,000 men, the Yeomanry by 50 per cent., the Militia would be abolished, and the Volunteers irritated and discouraged.
§ *CAPTAIN KINCAID-SMITH (Warwickshire, Stratford-on-Avon)
said he would like to make an allusion to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman first of all 1643 sympathised with the Secretary of State for War in the extreme difficulty and complexity of his task. He also stated that his three predecessors at the War Office had not been able to do one thing, and that was to provide the expansive system required, and he further stated that the present Secretary of State for War had also failed in that respect. Personally he did not agree with that statement, and he was supporting this scheme because he believed that for the first time they were taking a step towards providing that reservoir of men and that Reserve which was required to reinforce the Regular professional Army in times of emergency. Whether the Territorial Army was to be filled by Volunteers or by compulsion, it was the first step towards providing that essential condition always insisted upon by the Leader of the Opposition in any scheme of Army reform. With regard to the remarks made by the hon. Member for Leicester, the first part of his speech seemed to be one long complaint against the military side of the War Office. He complained that various schemes had been brought down to the House, and each time the Secretary of State for War had stated that they were backed by expert military opinion. The answer to that remark was the extreme difficulty and perplexity of the problem which they had to solve. What was now placed before them was one of the alternatives, and every alternative must be tried. There was not a single scheme which could be put forward by any member of the Labour Party or by anyone else which could not be picked to pieces in five minutes by the Leader of the Opposition, and probably by any other Member of the House. The hon. Member for Leicester's chief complaint against the scheme was that it would increase the military spirit or what the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had called public spirit. To him it was immaterial what sort of spirit it was if it produced that willingness to undergo the small amount military of training required by the regulations laid down in this Bill. It had been said time after time by members of the Labour Party that the scheme was the first step towards conscription, but it was nothing of the sort The country was not going to be coerced into conscription, and no system of universal military training could be 1644 introduced in this country except with the almost unanimous consent of the nation. Continental countries had not adopted their system of compulsory military service from any love of that service or from any sense of their duty as citizens, but simply because it was necessary for their national security that they should maintain a great professional army, and if it could be proved that it was unnecessary to keep such a great standing army they would very quickly express their disapproval of it. He would like to read an extract from a manifesto by the Social Democratic Federation. The manifesto he alluded to said—We want no class of men set apart from their fellows, but we want a national citizen force in which while every man will be a soldier no man will cease to be a civilian. Such a force is not conscription, which can only be successful by securing that every man shall be trained in the use of arms as a civilian.He would commend those sentiments to the Leader of the Opposition. That was an extract from a manifesto issued by the Social Democratic Federation, and it read almost like an extract from any leaflet issued by the National Service League; some of the sentiments were most admirable. He thought they might congratulate themselves upon the great value such sentiments would have in raising the Territorial Army. The point was, would they be able to fulfil the aspirations expressed in that manifesto without compulsion? The underlying principle of one of the speeches which had been delivered from the Labour Benches was that they would be opposed to any reduction in the Regular professional Army until they had some civilian Army on a semi-trained basis on which they could rely. He for one would be very much opposed to any further reduction in the professional Army until they had the Territorial Army organised on a reliable basis. He supported the Bill because he believed that for the first time it, so to speak, co-ordinated all the different Auxiliary Forces into one uniform body and made the civilian community responsible for the maintenance, and to a certain extent responsible for the organisation of the new Territorial Army. In time of peace the civilian community had not sufficiently recognised its responsibility for the maintenance of the Auxiliary Forces. He believed this scheme did 1645 provide the organisation required, and it would form a reservoir and a vast reserve of men on a semi-military basis which could be drawn upon to reinforce the Regular professional Army in time of emergency. A great many hon. Members, especially on the Ministerial side of the House, had expressed some nervousness about the increased size of the expeditionary force. He did not think there was much danger, and he was sure there was no necessity to be nervous about that. They had the men on paper and they might as well organise them on paper. The bald fact remained, however, that the expeditionary force outside the administrative departments which was on a semi-Militia basis was the same as before, minus those by which the Regular Army had been reduced. A great many hon. Members had expressed various opinions as to whether the Territorial Army would be sufficiently attractive to get the number of men required. Upon that point his opinion was absolutely valueless, and he did not think anybody's opinion upon it would be worth much. Nobody could tell whether the Territorial Army now proposed would attract sufficient men to make it a success; they could only find that out after two or three years experience. He fully realised the great difficulty in the case of working men, especially those employed in skilled trades, in giving up even the little time required under the Volunteer Regulations. He did not, however, think that those considerations would justify a great many others who were often more comfortably situated, sometimes with complete leisure, and who had not identified themselves in any way with any branch of the Auxiliary Forces. He thoroughly agreed with the principles advocated by the National Service League, but ho would like to hear a little less about the duty of the working classes in this matter and a little more about the duty of those who had a good deal more leisure. The hon. Member for the Abercromby Division had recently made a very interesting speech about the Swiss Army. He had praised the Swiss Army as a model for us to follow, in our Territorial Army. He had also referred to it as an illustration of the state of efficiency to which an Army can be raised if constituted solely on the Militia basis. He agreed with the hon. Member that it was an excellent model in that respect, but it 1646 was not true to say that as a fighting, force it would be equal without further training to the professional soldiers of other Continental countries. He thought the hon. Member had left out of his narrative what must have been the most interesting part of the information he gathered when looking at the Swiss Army. The hon. Member did not state whether in the opinion of responsible people in Switzerland the same results could be obtained without compulsion. He himself thought he was right in saying that the opinion was almost unanimous that, without compulsion, the same results could not be obtained. The hon. Member had said that we approved apparently of the Swiss Army as a model for the Territorial Army because compulsion was imposed. But that was not the reason why we approved of it. It was because the Swiss system would give us the expansible system which everyone admitted was required in this country. We did not approve of it because it was constituted on the basis of compulsion. The hon. Member had said that with compulsion in this country we should find it more difficult to get men for the various punitive expeditions which we were obliged to engage in. But even if we had compulsion we should require a regular professional Army very much reduced, and this force would always be available for these expeditions. He never believed that there could be any difference in the fighting value of a man who was forced to be a soldier and a man who came forward voluntarily, provided they were fighting for a good case and had the feeling that they were fighting for national existence. He instanced the war in Manchuria as an illustration of that. He did not think that by the greatest stretch of imagination anybody would say that the soldiers on one side were animated by the idea that they were fighting for national existence and their homes many thousand miles away. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover had voiced the case of the Militia. Many people who had served in that force and who were at present serving in it naturally did not like it to be abolished. Nobody liked to be legislated out of existence, from the owners of public-houses to Militia battalions. A great many Members, no doubt, belonged to 1647 Militia battalions with fine old traditions, and pressure had been brought upon them to oppose the present scheme. But looking at it impartially, something had got to be done to reorganise the force. He believed that one of the truest statements made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover was that if they wished for uniformity in the Territorial Army, in the end compulsion would be necessary. He himself said, "Let us give the scheme a chance." It could only be seen in a few years time whether it would be a success. He believed it would be a success if they raised the pay of the Territorial Army to the pay of the Yeomanry. He suggested also that as an inducement everyone joining the Territorial Army of twenty-one years of age should have the franchise extended to them. If some privilege of that sort were conferred he thought the Territorial Army might be made a success, but unless they did something like that, and raised their pay to that of the Yeomanry, he did not believe they would get a sufficient number of men, so that they would be able to reject the physically unfit and yet get a sufficient number to make the scheme a success. Personally, he would be quite prepared; if the scheme did not prove a success to support any right hon. Gentleman who would come forward and say that having tried every other alternative there was nothing left but to have a small Regular professional Army for foreign service and a compulsorily trained civilian Army for home service. He believed that was a policy which would be in the end cheerfully accepted by the country.
§ *MR HUNT (Shropshire, Ludlow)
said that a short time ago an hon. Member, on the other side of the House, speaking as a Volunteer officer, stated that compulsion was impossible. He ventured to ask "Why?" and the hon. Member replied, "Ask your constituents." He had asked his constituents, and his difficulty with them so far had been to get anybody to oppose compulsory military training at all. He believed that if hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House would take their courage in both hands and tell their constituents that it was the duty of every man to learn enough to be able to defend his country in times of great national peril, it would not only do 1648 them no harm politically, but would probably in most cases do them a considerable amount of good. The hon. Member for Leicester had told the House that he was entirely against anything like teaching children in schools military exercises, or teaching them to shoot. The hon. Member said it would have the effect of causing them to believe that force was a remedy. He himself believed that it was absolutely true that force was really the only ultimate remedy. He put it to hon. Gentlemen opposite who did not believe in force, and especially to one hon. Gentleman opposite who was now there; If it had not been for the "gentlemen in blue" how could they have prevented the seried ranks of the gallant suffragettes from invading the sacred precincts of the House of Commons? That he thought was distinctly a case in point. The only thing that really told ultimately in this world was force, and they must recognise that that was absolutely true. The hon. Member for Stoke, who was a trained soldier and must know what discipline meant, had told the House that if this country was invaded one night the next morning there would be a million dripping bayonets. He thought the hon. Gentleman who had seen much active service and had honourably gained His Majesty's medals should not tell people that sort of thing. To begin with, there were probably not a million bayonets in the country. He did not think there were a million rifles. He believed that a regiment of trained soldiers from the Continent would swamp our patriotic million of men who were armed simply with bayonets. It seemed to him that this new Army scheme would put the country in an even more dangerous and defenceless position than at the present time. It appeared that under it we should be short, counting their Reserves, of very nearly 40,000 of our best trained infantry, besides losing somewhere about 3,800 trained artillery men, with no certainty whatever of getting any other force to make up for their loss. They could not make trained artillery men in much under three years. The Secretary of State for War was built on Herculean lines of physique as well as of intellect, but he appeared to be trying to get a voluntary Army on the cheap, and that was a very difficult thing to do, even in a country 1649 like this of heavily taxed imported necessaries and also heavily taxed exports.
And, it being a quarter-past Eight of the Clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.