§ MR. J. M. MACDONALD (Falkirk Burghs)
rose to move: "That, in view of the continued friendly relations with Foreign Powers announced in the gracious Speech from the Throne, this House trusts that further reductions may be made in expenditure on armaments, and effects be given to the policy of retrenchment and reform to which the Government is pledged." The hon. Member said: I desire to say at the outset that the Motion that I now rise to move is not framed in any spirit of hostility to the Government. By the ordinary procedure of this House, the House never has brought before it a statement of expenditure on armaments as a whole with the view of having the sense of the House taken upon it. Nor is the Government ever called upon to justify its proposals with regard to our defensive armaments either by reference to the policy it is pursuing or by reference to the actually existing international situation. We have only statements laid before us with regard to details of expenditure and no large or comprehensive review as to what our requirements really are. In these circumstances if an unofficial Member desires to raise this large and general question he has to resort to the inconvenient expedient of moving an Amendment to the Address, or he has to persuade the Government to give him some other opportunity for discussing it. I have to thank the Government for having given me this opportunity, and I shall avail myself of it in what I hope is no hostile spirit. In any case, I shall try to argue the question, not with an eye to Party or sectional interests, but solely with regard to the interests of the country. I do not propose to trouble the House with many 356 figures, but it is necessary for my purpose to make a rough comparison of the Estimates for 1908–9 with those of some former years. The Estimates for 1893–4 amounted roughly to £32,000,000. At that period they had been increased by more than a million beyond the amount at which they stood in 1887–8 when Lord Randolph Churchill resigned rather than accept the Estimates for that year. It is perhaps not without interest to recall what he then said in justification of his action. He said—I remember the vulnerable and scattered character of the Empire, the universality of our commerce, the peaceful tendency of our democratic electorate, the hard times, the pressure of competition, and the high taxation now imposed, and with these facts vividly before me, I decline to be a party to encouraging the military and militant circle of the War Office and the Admiralty to join in the high and desperate stakes which other nations seemed to be forced to risk.Although his action seemed to be without effect, I do not think it is altogether true that it was so, for we find that during the next six years the total defensive Estimates of the country increased by only about £1,000,000. But in 1894–5, a new era in expenditure opened. A proposal in that year to increase the Estimates by £3,500,000 was made to the Cabinet, and that proposal produced a difference of opinion among Members of the Government. Mr. Gladstone and the minority opposed it, while a majority approved; and rather than make himself responsible for it Mr. Gladstone resigned. He would not, he afterwards said, be a party to—A policy that will be taken as plunging England into a whirlpool of militarism.Between 1894–5, and 1904–5, there was a steady annual rise till the expenditure culminated in a Vote of £65,789,000, or more than double the Vote for 1893–4, the last year of what I may call low Estimates. Comparing the Estimates of 1904–5 with those now on the Table there is a diminution of £6,000,000; but this expenditure is still £27,750,000 in excess of that of 1893–4. If that increase is analysed and traced to the separate Votes it will be found to be due, so far as the Army is concerned, mainly to additions of men and horses; and, so far as the Navy is concerned, mainly to 357 additions of men, to the maintenance of many more ships in commission, to the consequent large increase in cost of repairs, and finally to the cost of coaling for cruising. In the Estimates now on the Table we are asked to vote 27,000 more men for the Army than ten years ago, and 28,000 more men for the Navy. And here I desire to clear away a misunderstanding. It seems to be generally supposed as regards the Navy that the increase of expenditure is due to demands for the building of new battleships and cruisers, and that any reduction in the total Estimate must necessarily mean a reduction of this Vote. That I think is a mistake. The sum provided for new construction and armaments in 1908–9 was almost exactly the same as in 1897–8, but the proportion under this head in 1897–8 was nearly one—half the total expenditure; while in 1908–9 it will be less than a third. The main cause of the enormous increase in ten years Is therefore not to be found in new—construction and armaments, but, as I have said, in additional officers and men, in maintaining and repairing a larger number of ships, in the purchase of coal, and in all the other Votes relative to the administration of the Navy. These are the facts and figures on which I rest my case, and they suggest to us two questions for our consideration. The first is, What is there in the international situation that justified the enormous increase in our defensive forces made year after year from 1894 to 1904? The second is, What is there in our present international situation that justifies us in continuing to maintain forces so enormously in excess of what were sufficient for our purpose ten or fifteen years ago? As to the first, the answer is clear and is not, I think, disputed. It was our relations with France and Russia that justified the increase which took place between 1894 and 1904. I do not want to argue the question as to whether or not it is a sound justification. For the purposes of my argument I accept it. With both countries there were outstanding differences that might have led to war with either of them; and the character of the alliance between the two Powers was such that war with one of them would almost inevitably have meant war with 358 both. That was the fear that induced this House and the country patiently to bear the additional burdens year by year put upon them. But that fear has been partly dissipated by the agreement with France signed in 1904, and it was completely dissipated by the result of the Russo-Japanese War; and our security against any attack from Russia was still further confirmed by the agreement by which the differences between us and that country in Middle Asia were amicably settled. No responsible Member of this House will now assert that we are bound to maintain our present defensive forces because of a fear that within any measurable distance of time, for which we have now to prepare ourselves, a war with either of these countries is possible. What then is there in our present relations with the Great Powers of the world that justifies a continuance of the present rate of expenditure? What new danger has taken the place of the danger that has now disappeared and that makes it necessary for us to maintain an expenditure £28,000,000 in excess of what was sufficient to meet our requirements fifteen years ago? I shall be told, no doubt, that the expenditure has been reduced by several millions since 1904, and that the reduction would have been greater than it appears if allowance were made for the automatic increases from which we cannot escape, for additions due to the payment of Sinking Fund and interest on loans, and for the transfer to the Estimates of considerable sums for the completion of works originally intended to be paid for out of loans. I am aware of all this, but it is no answer to my point. The largest reduction in any one year was a reduction of roughly £3,750,000 in the Navy Estimate of 1905–6 under the late Government. But that reduction did not mean a diminution in the efficiency and fighting strength of the fleet. On the contrary, we were told that the very means by which this reduction was effected, were the means by which at the same time the fighting strength of the fleet was enormously increased; and we were told last year that this strength had been in no way diminished since then. In the face of these assurances to say 359 that there have been reductions in expenditure has no bearing on the real question at issue. I look not at what has been taken away but at what is still left; and I ask again, What is the danger that now confronts us and that justifies us in maintaining a strength greater by far than any strength we have ever before possessed at a time when the outlook was peaceful and gave a reasonable prospect of a continuance of peace? That is the real question at issue—the question to which neither the House nor the country has ever had any reply, either from the Government or from their predecessors in office. Last year the Secretary of State for War, speaking on this subject, told us that he had never been able to work out the standard of our military requirements. He had never made any attempt to estimate the dangers that confronted us or to adjust our forces to them. That he seemed to regard as no part of his duty. He told us indeed that, given a peaceful policy, he hoped that our requirements would be small; and he added, as the sole justification for the maintenance of the Estimates he then asked us to accept, that at any time clouds might come over the horizon. That is not a reason that will bear examination. It gives us no real standard at all. It is vague, uncertain, and entirely imaginary; and if we allow ourselves to be influenced by it there can be no limit to our expenditure except the limit of endurance. As to our naval requirements, the Government adheres to the two-Power standard and a margin over and above. Why do they do this? To that question, again, we have had no answer. Last year the Secretary to the Admiralty told us that when that standard was originally adopted it was determine by reference to two specified European Powers. Those Powers were France and Russia. It was not, he said, a standard in the abstract—a mere chimera bombinans in vacuo; it was a concrete thing. Is it an unfair inference from this to say that our adherence to that standard now is adherence to an abstraction, to a chimera, which has no real relation to the actual facts of out situation among the nations of the 360 world? My right hon. friend went on to say that—There may be conceivable circumstances in which a two-Power standard would be too-much, and there may be imaginable circumstances in which a three-Power standard would be too little.To this we can all agree. But the question is, What are the circumstances that now determine the maintenance of bur present standard? He went on still further to say that what the standard should be is in its essence a political question, not a party question, but a question for Parliament. Here again we can all agree. It is a question for Parliament; and above all it is a question for the responsible Government of the day. And here I may be met with the objection that, subject to-their responsibility, confidence ought to be placed in the Government on account of their superior knowledge of the real situation of affairs. Confidence in a Government by their supporters is undoubtedly one of the political virtues without which government, as we know it, could not be carried on. But, like most rules of conduct, it admits of limitations and exceptions. On an occasion, not very dissimilar from the occasion of our debate to-day—it was in a debate on the ArmyEstimates—Burke, in reply to this argument that the House ought to have confidence in the Government, said that—Confidence might become a vice, and jealousy a virtue, according to circumstances; that confidence of all public virtues was the most dangerous, and jealousy in a House of Commons of all public vices the most tolerable, especially where the number and charge of standing armies in time of peace was the question.This jealousy is, no doubt, always a source of discomfort to a Government; but it has been the attitude generally adopted by the House all through its history towards proposals relating to the number and charge of armies and navies in time of peace; and few of us looking back over that history will deny that, when kept within reasonable bounds, it has been a source of untold benefit to our country. We are ready to place confidence in the Government; but the Government must in its turn justify that confidence, by placing before 361 us a reasoned statement in support of their proposals with regard to our military and naval Estimates. They must, in short, tell us why they maintain the present numbers of the Army, and why in the Navy they maintain the two-Power standard and the margin over and above it. There are four foreign Powers which possess at this moment considerable navies. They are the United States, France, Germany, and Japan. Against which two of these Powers are we maintaining our present naval strength? Japan is our ally. She is, therefore, not one of the two Powers that give us the measure of our naval requirements France is our friend, and we are not maintaining the two-Power standard against her either alone or in alliance with any other Power. The idea of a war with the United States is one that no man among us seriously entertains. Germany remains; and here I come on the one danger spot on the horizon of our international politics. The danger exists; but it is of such a character that I am convinced that if it is brought out into the open and frankly discussed it will disappear. It is an artificial danger, not springing from any conflict of interest associated with the permanent welfare of either country. There are men among us who assert confidently that a war between us and Germany is inevitable. They assert it as confidently as ten or fifteen years ago they asserted that a war with France and Russia was inevitable. They assert it not because they think that we have anything to gain by such a war. We are not, in fact, to be the aggressors. It is the Germans that are to be the attacking party. And these men are industriously engaged in the Press and on the platform in spreading among us a suspicion of the designs of that Power. By their action they are fostering and encouraging the very danger that they profess to dread. In Germany, too, there are men who say that a war between them and us is inevitable. But in their view we are to be the aggressors, and not they. Those who know German opinion tell us that every German throughout the length and breadth of the Empire—every German, at least, who gave any attention to public affairs—has been convinced for the last two years, up to 362 quite recent days, that we had evil designs against his country. He lived in daily dread of an unprovoked declaration of war from us. His fear was absolutely chimerical. No responsible man among us ever dreamt of an unprovoked attack by us against Germany. That is undoubtedly true. But what was the origin of the fear entertained, by Germany with regard to us? It undoubtedly was—I say it without hesitation—that we were maintaining a power in excess of our apparent requirements. The international situation had altered enormously to our advantage in 1904, and in the two succeeding years. Why then did we not reduce our strength in proportion to the advantage we had gained? Who looking back over the history of our relations with Germany during the last six or seven years will honestly say that he is astonished that Germans interpreted our action as hostile to them? We hear that during the last month or two, largely in consequence of the warm welcome given to the German Emperor on his recent visit to us, truer views of our feeling towards the people of Germany are beginning to prevail in that country. But the danger has not yet gone by. There are men among us, and there are men among the Germans, who with a frothy and feminine exaggeration of patriotism are, knowingly or unknowingly, doing all they can to stir up ill-feelings between the two peoples. These feelings can be allayed by a policy of moderation. There is nothing in the situation of the two peoples to justify their continuance. And I will boldly say that it is for us to give the example. There is one other point on which I wish to say a few words. The policy we have been pursuing during recent years in relation to expenditure on armaments is, I am convinced, a mistaken policy, even if we look at it solely as a means of preparing for war. Two courses, it seems to me, lie open to any Government in fitting a nation to bear the strain of a great war, if a great war should come. Every interest of the people may be subordinated to the interest of maintaining a great Army and a great Navy. All the available resources of a country may be used up in maintaining the establishments necessary to meet the risks of war. We have seen many illustrations of this policy in the 363 history of Continental nations. The extreme example was that of the French Kingdom under Louis XIV. That monarch sought to maintain an army greater than that of any other European Power, and a Navy equal to coping with the British Navy. In pursuance of that object he neglected all the real and permanent interests of his people; and he sowed the seeds of that impoverishment and discontent which led by inevitable stages to the French Revolution. The very means by which he sought to secure the position of his kingdom among the other kingdoms of the world became the means by which it was ultimately undermined and destroyed from within. That I admit was an extreme example of the policy, but it is an example that ought always to be present to the mind of the statesman when considering the distribution of the resources of the people among their several wants. More moderate examples of the policy we can see on the Continent of Europe at this day. I refrain from specifying any particular Power. But there are Governments that have been, and are now, putting so severe a strain upon the resources of their country for the purpose of maintaining great armaments as to create between themselves and their subjects a gulf which has been widening and which must go on widening till at last the stability of the State is exposed to far more serious risks from within than any risks which in ordinary circumstances it would have to encounter by attacks from without. That is one course open to us in preparing ourselves to meet the risks of war. The other course is in time of peace to subordinate the demands of our military and naval departments to the wants of the people. This is the course which, taking our history as a whole, we have hitherto tended to pursue; and it is a course to which we owe much of if not all, our greatness, as a nation. What other country in the world, locking back over its history, can boast of a people so loyal to its government, so contented, on the whole, with its condition, so able to bear the strain of war when war came, as ours? And if that be a true boast, as surely it is, we owe it to the fact that we have never allowed, taking our 364 course of action as a whole, the claims of war, in time of peace, to over-ride the claims of the people. But it is the burden of my complaint that in recent years we have been tending to depart from this wise course. We have been spending more, far more, on our defensive establishments than we have ever spent before, and we have been spending it without any proved necessity for it. Nor has the waste of our material resources been the only evil that has resulted from our adoption of this course. We have been concentrating more of the attention of the country on this question of armaments, and we have been devoting to the solution of military and naval problems more of the intelligence at the disposal of Government for the performance of its various duties to the people, than we have ever done before. And we have been correspondingly neglecting those great social and educational problems by the true solution of which our real greatness, and the position which we are in future to take among the nations-of the world, must ultimately be determined. Of the two policies which I have attempted to describe, and which now lie open to our choice, the first is essentially military and autocratic in its character and essentially opposed to the permanent interests of the people. The other is, I submit, the traditional policy of this country, which has always-refused to follow the example of Continental Powers and to be drawn into the whirlpool of militarism. It is a policy sanctioned by the greatest names in the long roll of our statesmen. It was sanctioned by Sir Robert Walpole, the first and greatest of our peace Ministers. It was sanctioned by Sir Robert Peel. And it was sanctioned by Mr. Gladstone. I appeal to the House and to the country to adhere to this policy as the only policy consistent with our permanent welfare and our real greatness. But before I sit down there is one word that I must say with reference to the Amendment that stands in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I take no exception to that Amendment. I cannot conceive that any reasonable man could. It is in fact a mere form of words, of whose real substance and meaning we can know nothing till we have heard the Chancellor's 365 speech; and it must be obvious, from what I have said, that my attitude towards it (and I think I speak on this point for many more than myself) will be determined by that speech. I beg, Sir, to move.
SIR JOHN BRUNNER (Cheshire Northwich)
Sir, I have the honour to second the Motion of my hon. friend but before doing so may I thank my hon. friend for the zealous, logical, calm and temperate statement he has laid before the House. I shall not trouble the House with any figures; I am not an expert, though I have had a great deal to do with this kind of work, and I shall endeavour to state my case apart from figures as simply as possible, and in absolute sincerity. It was about half a century ago that an hon. Gentleman in this House proposed a standard for the Navy equal to that of any other two Powers. That policy was approved by Mr. Gladstone and accepted by the late Marquess of Salisbury. I am bound to acknowledge the wisdom and justice of that two-Power standard. It was originally adopted as a weapon against two countries who were, with reason or without reason, suspected of animosity towards this country. One of these two countries, by the help of King and people, has become our friend; the other, by the wise statesmanship of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, is now also bound to us in terms of amity. The reason for the two-Power standard then has gone. So long as the reasons for the policy of the two-Power standard existed, there was in all the world no anger or alarm at our conduct. It was recognised that we who were an insular people with a world-wide Empire were entitled to maintain a Navy larger than other countries in the world. Why that policy has been continued I can only conjecture. But I take it it has been because the statesmen of this country have thrown off the responsibility of the decision in this matter and put it into the hands of experts. I have employed experts for over thirty-three years, in matters of all sorts, and paid for their opinion, but I have never allowed them to dictate my policy. I have always decided what it was right and wise for me to do, and then asked the experts how it was to be 366 done. I think it is the right policy for the State to have their own opinion as the head of the Government or of a Department. In private concerns we never allow experts to dictate our views, and I certainly hold the opinion that that is the right course. I am angered when I see in the Press that the Government must be guided and advised by their responsible advisers. I am one of those who think the men in the Government should be strong enough to decide their policy for themselves and bear the responsibility. They certainly should be strong enough to keep the experts quite out of sight and prevent them from dropping confidential documents about and popping in and out of newspaper offices. I want strong men at the head of the Government. In my opinion, and I am as I said not an expert, we have a Navy far beyond the two-Power standard, and, as the House knows, it is universally regarded as anti-German. That has been openly stated. It is to be found in all our newspapers. And what has been the effect of that in Germany itself I shall have a word or two to say upon in a minute or two. A very large proportion of our newspapers have for years been nagging at Germany. We have far too many newspapers, and the result of their competition, keen beyond precedent, is to be seen every day in the desperately unworthy expedients which they adopt. It has become almost impossible for honest men to carry on a newspaper and live upon it. They are not all on one side of politics. They live by sensations and scares, the more sensational the more profitable they are, and while they rake in the profits it is the people who have to pay the damage, except, of course, in the case of soap. I object to government by sensation-mongers as much as to government by experts. And seriously I would ask, are we to allow these men, carrying on what has been called by German editors "interested agitations," to lead us deeper into the mire? Are we to allow ourselves to drift from folly into crime? Let us return to the days of manly restraint, reticence, and moderation, and let us abandon bluff. There has been an immense amount of bluff both in Germany and in England. Let us also refrain from talking about German deficits, 367 German taxation, and the probable exhaustion of the power of the German people to maintain their expenditure. Who would dare to fix the limit of the taxation we would be willing to bear if we were threatened by Germany? I hope we shall cease to taunt the German people in any such fashion. If the two-Power standard was adequate ten years ago—I did not consider it justifiable then—why is it not adequate now? Ten years ago we were on the verge of war with France, and I remember four Englishmen meeting four Frenchmen with grave faces and anxious hearts to consider what they could do to preserve peace and ease the dangerous relations. I remember it was suggested to send a deputation to Paris. I remember with intense pleasure the effect of the visit of those men to Paris and the perfect impression they produced three years afterwards. I remember and am glad to remember that now France and England are on terms of cordial friendship, and that the first beginning of that friendship was the visit of British trade unionists to Paris. We have now a friendly Convention with Russia, whose position has been otherwise altered; and Japan is our ally. In these circumstances, I scout the idea that we need more ships of war than we did ten years ago. Last Whitsuntide I travelled in Germany with the Royal Commission on Canals, and found that practically everyone there was apprehensive of an unprovoked attack by us on the German Navy. In Berlin we heard of a secret report emanating from the Admiralty describing how this attack could be made, and how troops could at the same time be landed in Schleswig-Holstein, which report, it was said, had come under the eyes of the Kaiser. The anger created by this document was sedulously fanned throughout Germany, and the result was the jingo majority of 1907 and the naval programme. I am glad to say that our relations are improving, and responsible leaders of opinion in Germany have expressed their intense admiration of our great act of magnanimity in making a gift of a free Constitution to the Transvaal. We never had a definite standard in the case of the Army; I therefore take the standard of ten years ago and ask 368 why we should be spending more to-day. I quite agree that it is to the good that the pay of the men and their comfort should have been increased. But we are to have more men, and there I cannot follow my right hon. friend the Secretary for War. There is to be a striking force of 160,000 men, and this necessity depends largely on the demands from India. But are our needs there as great now as they were before my right hon. friend made his statement lately in the House? Has the Convention between us and Russia improved our position in India? Has it lessened the need for a defensive force against invasion? If not, what is the value of the Convention? Are we being bamboozled, and is it all fudge? My praise of the right hon. Gentleman is sincere, and my admiration of the great act of statesmanship is very great, because I believe that our force in India is sufficient, and if it is not, why is the House not told so by the Secretary of State for India? If it was sufficient in the past, then with the improvement of our position with regard to Russia it is more than sufficient to-day. Let the House lay down the policy and insist that our numbers at home should be decreased, and I will be ready to back the opinion that the experts would be able to find a sufficient number of men to send out as drafts to India. If the experts did not find the means, then I would get another set of experts. To make the country really strong we want productive, not unproductive, expenditure. I want the Government actively to help trade, and I want to abolish unskilled labour because I want to see a highly educated people. For Germany has beaten us owing to its better system of education. I am not hostile to the Government, but I warn them not to dwell in a fools' paradise. I assure the Government that if all the hon. Members who sympathise with the Motion of my hon. friend were to vote against them, His Majesty's Ministers would be in a minority. I hope that the debate will be interpreted abroad as a friendly message to the people of Germany, because in my opinion those who take the view I indicated of friendliness in relations with foreign Powers will win, if not tonight, at least in a short time to come.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That, in view of the continued friendly relations with foreign Powers announced in the gracious Speech from the Throne, this House trusts that further reductions may be made in expenditure on armaments, and effect be given to the policy of retrenchment and reform to which the Government is pledged."—(Mr. Murray Macdonald.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fife, E.
Sir, I can assure my two hon. friends who have supported this Motion with so much force and feeling that in the dominating motive which I am certain has actuated them in bringing it forward—namely, a desire to do something effectual to reduce the growth of naval and military expenditure not only in this but in other countries—they have the complete sympathy of every Member who sits on this bench. Among all the avoidable curses which in these days afflict the civilised world, there are few I think that bring a greater sense of despair than the competition in armaments. Looked at even from the purely economic point of view it means the annual diversion from productive to unproductive employment of an almost incalculable quantity of potential wealth, both in money and in men. I have complete sympathy, therefore, with the intention and the motive of my hon. friends. Further, I quite accept their disclaimer—couched though it was in rather menacing terms by my hon. friend who has just sat down—of any hostile intention to the Government in bringing forward the Motion. I need hardly point out to them and to the House that a Motion of this kind, if adopted, must and would be judged, not by the spirit in which it is conceived, but by the sense in which it will be interpreted; and I cannot but think, and the Government think, that a Resolution of this kind deliberately passed by the House of Commons a week after the Army and Navy Estimates have been circulated, would be construed, and must be construed if passed in the form in which it now stands, as a declaration that the Government had failed to make such reductions as were required for the interests of the State—at any rate, that 370 they had been slack in redeeming the pledges which they gave to the constituencies. I need not say that the Government cannot admit the accuracy of either of these propositions; and hence I have thought it to be my duty to put down an Amendment which I now move. I should not have thought it right to meet the Motion of my hon. friend by a direct negative. On the contrary, we adopt, and we gladly adopt, the preamble with which his declaration is prefaced. We invite the House, however, in our Amendment to make a declaration in favour of economy and of support to the Government in all the efforts it is making towards this end. The Government will then be more solemnly pledged than ever before to do everything in their power to promote this economy; but at the same time we ask the House—we are bound to ask the House—to give explicit recognition to the governing consideration by which all economies must in the long run be regulated—namely, that they are consistent with the adequate defence of his Majesty's Dominions. Something is said in the Motion of my hon. friend about the pledges in favour of economy given to the country by the Government and their supporters. I quite agree that one of the heaviest counts in the indictment which many of us preferred against the late Administration was this, that during their term of office the expenditure on the Army and the Navy had enormously and unnecessarily increased, and increased to a degree which was not and could not be justly measured merely by the sums annually voted by the House, for the actual outlay was substantially added to by capital expenditure out of money borrowed for the purpose. We were undoubtedly pledged, and are pledged, to do everything in our power as promptly and as effectively as we can to effect some mitigation of that enhanced scale of expenditure. But some of us pointed out at the time of the general election that while it is very easy to raise the level of expenditure for purposes like these it is very difficult to cut it down again. When pledges are spoken of I should like to cite some words which I used, not on one occasion only, but often. It is only a sample of 371 what I said even at the time when I had just assumed the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, and on which I laid tress at the general election. Speaking at Perth on 11th January, 1906, I used these words—It is very easy to pile up expenditure, but once you have raised the standard of expenditure in the Army. Navy, Civil Service, and other Departments of the State it is extremely difficult o cut it down again to the level from which you started. New interests have been created, new expectations held out, new and expensive services have been begun and developed, large works of construction are in the course of erection, and you cannot in a moment as by a magic wand bring things back to the condition n which formerly they were.This was an expressive and authoritative statement which the newly-formed Government made at the time of the election; and I am bound to say, though [spoke more or less as an outsider—as one at any rate having a superficial and. preliminary acquaintance with the duties of his office—that after more than two years experience in which I can honestly say that almost day and night I have been battling—I will not say with my colleagues, though in that I should not be saying anything far from the truth—in every Department of the State, not merely to bring about reductions, but to prevent increases in expenditure, I found out how prescient I was then in the words I had uttered, how serious, grave, formidable, almost insuperable, were the obstacles when inflated and reckless expenditure has once established, itself to those who conscientiously and resolutely desire to lessen it. Apart from that, I ask the attention of the House to the actual facts in order to see what we have done during the two years. I will take first of all the case of the Navy. The total outlay on the Navy consists of three different heads. First of all, there are the sums voted by the House in the Estimates, from which, of course, it is only fair to subtract the amount of the annuities under the Naval Works Acts which represents the payment of interest and reduction of principal on works created. In the second place, there is the money raised and spent from loans; and in the third place, there has been in the last few years another item of considerable importance, though it has largely escaped the attention of the House—namely, 372 the stores in stock which have been drawn upon for consumption without being replaced. These three items together represent the total outlay on the Navy for any given year. What did they amount to during the last few years?
I begin with the year 1904–5, and I use round figures. The expenditure in that year was £41,400,000; in the year 1905–6 it was £38,300,000; in the year 1906–7—for a part of which only we were responsible—it was £36,000,000; in the year 1907–8 it was £34,750,000; and in the year 1908–9 it will be just short of £34,000,000. So that if you compare the total actual outlay—and. I am speaking of gross expenditure—for the year 1907–8 with the year 1905–6, you have a reduction of £3,500,000; and if you compare the same year with 1906–7, you have a reduction of £1,250,000. Let us take the figures in reference to one particular item—the item of new construction. Here, again, I will not make a comparison with the years 1903–4 or 1904–5 because they were exceptional years. In the years 1905–6 the item for new construction was £9,690,000; in 1906–7 it was £8,860,000; in 1907–8 it was £8,100,000; and in the present year it was £7,540,000. So that the Estimates now before the House, compared with those of 1905–6 show a reduction in respect of this item of £2,150,000, and, compared with those of 1906–7, a reduction of £1,320,000. That is a very solid, substantial, and successful effort to reduce expenditure. But when you are comparing what appears to be the outlay on the Navy in different years, you ought to analyse the figures and read between; the lines. Let me make some explanatory notes from that point of view. First as regards loans. Under the administration of the late Government a great deal was spent on the Navy which did not appear on the Votes at all. For several years the loan expenditure reached nearly £3,500,000 a year. I have never said that under no conceivable circumstances is it right to defray capital expenditure on any service out of borrowed money. I shall never say anything of the kind. But I do say unhesitatingly that the system followed 373 during these ten years was wasteful and extravagant; that both the Army and the Navy got into the habit of resorting to borrowing for defraying the cost of services which ought to have been defrayed out of revenue, and that through the necessary withdrawal from direct Parliamentary criticism and control of the money raised by loans, works of an expensive and unnecessary character were undertaken with no productive result. That item of expenditure, which in some years was nearly £3,500,000 under the last Administration, has sunk this year to little over £1,000,000; and it will now soon disappear. On the other hand, and this is another consideration to be taken into account when dealing with the apparent expenditure on the Navy, our expenditure has been ostensibly swollen by the growing charge for the annuities necessary to repay these loans raised in the past. If you go back to 1901–2, the amount of annuities charged on the votes was only £122,000. In 1906–7 it was £1,094,000; in 1908–9 it will be £1,264,000; and in 1910–11 it will be £1,350,000. Thus in eight years the apparent annual cost of the Navy in consequence of meeting these loans out of annuities will have risen by £1,228,000.
Then there is the question of stores. Everyone knows that in the year following the Estimates of 1904– an enormous apparent reduction in the Navy Estimates, due to the initiation of the policy which is known as "scrapping"—the discarding of obsolete ships which had been hitherto kept in commission. I say nothing now as to the wisdom of that policy. It is a matter of acute controversy in naval circles. But one result of the policy of scrapping on a large scale was this—that there was set free a huge quantity of surplus or redundant stores, otherwise needed for the purposes of these discarded ships. Ever since the year 1904–5 the Navy has been living to a considerable extent on these redundant stores. Instead of Parliament's being obliged to provide money on the Estimates to supply these stores to the Navy, the Navy, through the stores set free, has been able to supply itself. During the last three years the naval expenditure has been aided by 374 these redundant stores by sums which have varied from £768,000 in the first year to no less than £1,242,000 in the last. Like other things, except the widow's cruse, these stores have come at last to an end; and, during the next financial year, we shall only receive aid to the extent of £500,000, and in the following year none at all. We have, therefore, to provide out of cash—and that is one of the reasons for the apparent increase this year for the requirements of a Navy which has been living on capital in this respect. It is thoroughly acknowledged by my hon. friends that such emergency and contingency expenses are not likely to be recurrent as those we have to provide for—the cooling or refrigerating magazines for the great battleships which we now know are absolutely essential to their safety and the extra cost of fuel due to what we think is a temporary rise in the price of coal. The Navy contracts had to be made when the price was still exceptionally high. These things are beyond the region of controversy; and when these facts are taken into account, I say that during the two years when we have had actual control, we have made substantial progress in redeeming our pledges. And I add that I do not believe the Navy was ever in a more efficient condition than it is at present. It is not possible to suggest that that substantial reduction has been incompatible with maintaining and even with improving the fighting efficiency of the Fleet.
I pass from the Navy to the Army, and here, again, I deal with gross expenditure. There is no question here of surplus stores, and so the actual outlay means the sums voted by Parliament and spent—not always the same thing—and the money actually raised and expended from loans. The figures circulated, by the Secretary of State deal only with net expenditure. I again take the gross. In the year 1904–5, the expenditure was £36,300,000; in 1905–6, it was £32,800,000; in 1906–7, it was £32,050,000; in 1907–8, it will be about £30,691,000; and in 1908–9, it is £30,570,000. If again I compare the year 1907–8 with the years 1905–6 and 1906–7, we see that there is a reduction on the expenditure of 1905–6 of £2,109,000, and on that of 1906–7 of £1,359,000. 375 Here, again, the same analysis will be necessary. The average annual expenditure out of loans for the three years ended 1905–6 was £2,500,000. That my Tight hon. friend has brought down to £320,000. On the other hand, the loan annuity, which in the Army as in the Navy has been growing all the time, which we have got to defray out of the Votes, and which in 1904–5 was £651,000, in 1907–8 was £1,223,000, and in 1909–10 will amount to £1,158,000. Thus the House will see that in the course of five years the apparent, not the real, cost of the Army, in consequence of the extra charge of the annuity, has risen by £500,000. If you add to that the non-recurrent expenditure which my right hon. friend has had to face in connection with the winding-up of the Volunteers and with the initial expenses of the Territorial Army, the House will find that in the Army, as in the case of the Navy, we have made very substantial progress in the direction of retrenchment. I now take the actual outlay on the Army and Navy combined, and make the same comparison. As compared with 1905–6, the reduction for 1907–8 on the Army and Navy together is £5,633,000, and as compared with 1906–7, £2,553,000. Those facts are, I think, sufficient to show that we have kept steadily in view the pledges we gave, though I quite agree that the reductions are not so large as some of us hoped for.
I shall be asked "what about the future?" The Motion of my hon. friend is prefaced by a reference to the growth which we have witnessed in recent years of friendly agreements and intimacies between ourselves and other Powers. I propose, as I have said, in the Amendment which I am about to submit to retain that reference. The happy working of a wise and skilful diplomacy, conducted with equal earnestness and skill and tact both by Lord Lansdowne and my right hon. friend the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, has established relations based upon written covenants, but cemented, I am glad to say, by reciprocal good will, which remove some, at any rate, of the dangers with which we used to have to reckon in days gone by. There are, to speak first of the Navy, some combina- 376 tions—I will not particularise them—which used to trouble the minds and colour the policy of statesmen which, to say the least of it, have become in the highest degree improbable and which we may hope in a very few years, at any rate, will have passed into the region of the inconceivable. And even where, as in the case of Germany, there is no express compact, we have the best reason to hope and believe that the two peoples are every year advancing nearer and nearer to a complete mutual understanding. We, on our side—I say it advisedly—have no reason to witness with suspicion or with apprehension any naval expansion there or elsewhere, which should simply correspond to the economic and defensive needs of the country and a rapidly-growing population becoming more and more dependent both for food and raw material on overseas sources of supply and with an expanding maritime commerce which she is bound to protect. Those are perfectly legitimate limits of naval expansion.
On the other hand, I say emphatically, that our shipbuilding policy, and the whole of our naval policy, is a purely defensive one. We not only do not wish to take the lead, but we want to do everything in our power to prevent a new spurt in competitive shipbuilding between the great naval Powers. We do not, as the Estimates which are now circulated sufficiently show, build against programmes which are merely on paper. The policy of the Government is most clearly defined in a single sentence of the Memorandum of my noble friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, which I will read to the House. After dealing with the shipbuilding programme for the new year, my noble friend says—This programme suffices for 1908–9; whether, and to what extent, it may be necessary to enlarge it next year, or in future years, must depend upon the additions made to their naval force by foreign Powers. His Majesty's Government have every intention of maintaining the standard of the British Navy which has hitherto been deemed necessary for the safeguarding of our national and Imperial interests.What does that mean? Our naval position is at this moment, as I believe, as the Government believe, one of unassailable supremacy, and such it must remain. The command of the sea, 377 however important and however desirable it may be to other Powers, is to us a matter of life and death. We must safeguard it, not against imaginary dangers, not against bogeys and spectres and ghosts, but we must safeguard it against all contingencies that can reasonably enter into the calculations of statesmen. For that purpose, we believe it to be our duty to maintain our standard of relative naval strength. Both my hon. friends have said something as to the historical origin of what is called the two-Power standard, and I daresay they are correct in the statements which they made on that point. But I do not think the historical origin of the standard matters very much. The combinations of Powers and the relations between Powers necessarily shift from time to time. The standard which is necessary for this country—you may express it by any formula you please, though I believe it to be a convenient and practical formula—the standard which we have to maintain is one which would give us complete and absolute command of the sea against any reasonably possible combination of Powers. I do not think it desirable, on the contrary, I think it in the highest degree undesirable, in the public interest to speculate as to what the possible groupings may be; whether this Power or that may or may not become, in the future, the enemy of this country. Of this I am perfectly certain, and I believe I can make this statement in the face of this House and in the face of Europe, that there is none of the great Powers of the world at this moment, I believe without a single exception, which views with animosity, jealousy, or misgiving the Navy of Great Britain being maintained at what we call the two-Power standard. I do not believe they do. I see no evidence that they do; I do not believe any evidence can be produced that they do. But I may add that, further than that limit, the limit laid down by the First Lord of the Admiralty in his Memorandum, we have neither any temptation nor any inclination to go.
I pass to what is, undoubtedly, a difficult question, the question of the Army, because it raises considerations of a different kind. It is not on the Army, 378 in the long run, that we rely for the defence of this kingdom and the protection of our possessions. But, as everybody must agree, though we may differ about numbers and so on, our Regular Army has certain denned and indispensable functions, as to which there is now a general consensus, and which no other instrument, neither the Navy nor the Territorial Force, nor any combination of the two, can adequately discharge. There are two principles affecting the size of the Home Army, and I speak, of course, of the Regulars, which have been adopted and pursued, with general agreement, for the best part of forty years. Their history and their justification are very carefully set out in the Memorandum of my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War. The first is that we ought to get rid, as far as possible, of foreign service for the Regular Army and leave to the self-governing parts of the Empire the cost and responsibility of local military defence. The second is that we ought to make our home establishment a central reserve force for Imperial purposes, and, therefore—and this is where the question of numbers comes in—to proportion its numbers and strength to the troops required for service in India and in the outlying parts of the Empire. That principle lies at the root of what is called the Cardwell system of linked troops, which is the governing, though it is not the only, factor in determining; the size of our Regular Army.
What is the enormous increase in the cost of the Army, something like £8,000,000 during the last ten years, due to? It is not mainly or substantially due to any great increase in numbers. The establishment abroad—I think the figures will be found in the Memorandum of my right hon. friend—has grown in those ten years by less than 5,000, and that at home by less than 3,000. What, then, has been the main cause of the increase? By far the largest cause, I think, is the higher pay which has been given to the men and the officers. I need not go into the figures, but I am sure I am not exaggerating when I say that at least £2,500,000, £2,000,000 at any rate, of the additional cost of the Army is represented 379 by the increased pay, the greater comfort in various ways of the men alone. I do not know whether if we had to go through that process again, we should find it possible to justify every step that has been taken, but I am certain that neither this nor any other House of Commons would go back on what has been done. You cannot reduce the wages of the soldier. You cannot possibly, in these days particularly, ask a man who has gone to serve his country in the Army to accept a lower standard of comfort and of remuneration than that which at present prevails. I do not believe that that is practical politics, and I do not believe that there is any party in the House in favour of it. Then how are we to reduce the cost of the Army? That is the serious matter for us. I agree with my hon. friend who has just sat down in saying that there never has been set up in regard to our Regular Army any such standard as the two-Power standard for the Navy and for a very good and simple reason. The Navy is our vital instrument of national defence, whereas the Army exists for much more denned and much more limited purposes. How, then, are we to reduce the cost of the Army? As I have said over and over again in this House, there is only one way in which it can be done—that is by reducing the number of men. [An HON. MEMBER: By 50,000 men?] I should like to mention one or two considerations of a more general kind which you have to bear in mind—those of you who are anxious, as I am, for a reduction in the number of men. In the first place, the whole problem of the size of your Regular Army at home must in the long run, under the Cardwell system—
§ MR. ASQUITH
Of course, if you are going to abolish the Cardwell system, I agree; but my hon. friend has first to persuade the Government and this House to abolish it. But so long as the Cardwell system exists, the size of your Army must bear strictly definite relation to the size of the force that you keep in India and the other parts of the 380 Empire. In talking about India both my hon. friends referred—it was very natural for them to do so—to the Anglo-Russian Agreement, in regard to which so many congratulations were offered the other night—[An HON. MEMBER: And rightly.]—and quite rightly, to the Secretary Of State for Foreign Affairs. No one rejoices in that Agreement more than I do, or appraises its value more highly; but it is only fair to remember that while, as I hope and believe, that Agreement will produce in time a very considerable effect on the military situation in India, Anglo-Indian military requirements never have been and never can be governed solely—I might almost say mainly—by the possibilities of an invasion on the North-West frontier. That is only one of the contingencies against which you have to guard; and your force in India, which was fixed as far back as the time immediately after the Mutiny, was fixed in reference to a large number of considerations quite independent of the possibility of invasion—considerations many of which still have, or ought to have, as much weight as they had at the time. I do not think it is expedient or desirable to go into detail as to what those considerations are. They are perfectly familiar to anyone who has studied the matter, and I only allude to them in order to enter a caveat which my hon. friend will thoroughly appreciate, against the notion that the Anglo-Russian Agreement, important as it is, must necessarily lead in a short space of time to any substantial reduction in the garrison. But this I will say, and I am sure it will be gratifying news to both my hon. friends, that my right hon. friend the Secretary for India is now, and has for some time been, in close communication with the Indian Government in regard to the whole question of the maintenance and distribution and size of the military forces in India. I think the House ought to be satisfied for the moment with that declaration. I cannot anticipate what will be the result of the deliberations which are taking place, but the House may be quite certain that they will be continued in a serious spirit and with a desire to arrive at a thoroughly satisfactory result. Leaving India for the moment out of the question, there are 381 other parts of the Empire where we still maintain garrisons which, in my opinion and in the opinion of the Government, it is our business to reduce. My right hon. friend, in his statement circulated with the Estimates, states what as the result of a decision of the Cabinet Is to be done in that direction during the coming year. He says—The policy of concentrating our forces is still being continued, and in pursuit of this policy the Government has, during the last two years, materially reduced our garrisons abroad, and aims at reducing them still further wherever withdrawals can safely be effected. With this object in view, it has been decided to bring home from colonial stations during the coming financial year one cavalry regiment and four battalions of infantry. This arrangement has the full assent of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who is of opinion that the time has arrived when the interests of South Africa admit of some reduction of the garrison.I hope and believe that is only a first step. We have granted self-government to the two colonies in South Africa, and the necessity for the maintenance of a large military garrison there has, we believe, ceased to exist. There is no part of the world, and I think the right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong, where it is so costly to maintain British troops as it is in South Africa, and if we bring home, without danger to the peace and good order of South Africa, as we believe will be the case, first this instalment and then gradually more and more of the garrison out there, we shall be establishing not only an Immediate saving in the cost of the men who are brought home, but, by being able to dispense with expensive expedients like provisional battalions here and producing a complete balance between the units at home and abroad, we shall make a double economy which will have visible and substantial effect. Before I leave that point, let me say in regard to this question of Army reduction that, since we came into office, my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War has reduced the numbers of the Regular Army by 21,700 men—the announcement does not seem to receive very much credit from hon. Gentlemen opposite—there again, I believe, not only not impairing but substantially increasing the efficiency of the forces.
I have endeavoured to describe to the House what I may call the political 382 limits which circumscribe the finance of the Army and Navy. Those limits depend upon policy, and policy, I quite agree with my hon. friend who has just sat down, ought to be determined, not by the opinion of experts, but by the decisions of the Cabinet. But I must not be understood as alleging or admitting that even within those limits there is no room and no need for further economies. Experience shows that many things in the judgment of experts are indispensable or were indispensable so long as the Exchequer was readily accessible, and still more so long as money could be raised easily by loans which posterity had to pay—many things which were then regarded as indispensable assume a very different complexion under a more rigid financial system, and are found to admit of substantial curtailment, or even in some cases, without any damage to the real interests of the country, of indefinite postponement. The abolition of the loan system is in itself a powerful guarantee of this kind of economy. But I repeat—and I should not be telling the House the whole truth if I said I was satisfied—I am not satisfied. I welcome, and I am asking the House leave to adopt, an authoritative declaration in favour of economy, carefully safeguarded, as I think every such, declaration should be, by the due and full consideration of our national and Imperial risks. I welcome such a declaration on international grounds as making for peace and good will, and I welcome it also on domestic grounds as a warning to us, a warning which, I can assure my hon. friends, the Government did not need to have clamorously dinned into their ears, which they are only too ready to take, a warning to all of us, in whatever quarter of the House we may sit, to be on our guard lest we drain away into the channel of unproductive expenditure that reservoir of resources, limited as it is both in area and in depth, upon which alone we can draw for the enriching work of social reform. I beg to move the Amendment.
In line 3, to leave out all the words after the word 'House,' and add the words 'will support His Majesty's Ministers in such economies of
naval and military expenditure as are consistent with the adequate defence of His Majesty's dominions.'"—(The Chancellor of the Exchequer).
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
The hon. Member for Falkirk Burghs who moved the original Resolution said that he regarded the Amendment moved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a mere form of words, and that he was anxiously awaiting the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to know what interpretation his Amendment might properly bear. That is precisely or as nearly as possible precisely our own position. We have heard the right hon. Gentleman's speech and we cannot say that we are satisfied with the final form which the Motion will take if the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendment is incorporated with what he calls the preamble. For what has the speech been? It consisted of three parts. The first section was of a purely party, I might even say partisan character. He taunted the Opposition with having been guilty of reckless extravagance, but the force of the taunt was a good deal diminished when the right hon. Gentleman pointed out that the economies effected in the Army have been reached by making a large reduction in the number of men. The second section of the speech was almost purely departmental. The third, I admit, did something, though not much, to remove the vague and therefore unfortunate impression which has been created by the terms of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Motion. In the third part of his speech he pledged the Government to the maintenance of the two-Power standard for the Navy. In the third part of his speech he touched, but not with sufficient firmness in our opinion, on the necessity of maintaining the Army in India at its present strength and consequently of our means being adequate to reinforce that Army. I say he did not touch upon that with sufficient firmness and that is to put the case mildly, because he informed us that the Government is corresponding with the Government of India with a view, if possible, I suppose, of arriving at some reduction of the Army there.
§ MR. ASQUITH
The Government is corresponding with the Government of India as to the size and general condition of the military forces in India, not with the object of arriving at any reduction.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Not with the object of arriving at any reduction; then the announcement made by the right hon. Gentleman does not bear upon this debate. In the earlier part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, when he reiterated these accusations of reckless extravagance against the Opposition, he took great credit to himself because the Government had avoided having recourse to loans, and I am not surprised when I consider the position in which the Government find themselves. I take the item of new constructions or rather the construction of new ships by the Government, in the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty. He has claimed that there has been a successive reduction from year to year under that head, and he gave the figures for the last four years. I challenge him to say whether the Government believe that they will not have in the near future an increase of that programme of new ships and have to increase it materially—to increase it to such an extent that the Navy Estimates not only of next year, but the year after will not be lower but much higher than the Estimates of this year. That paragraph, if I may say so, in the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty is of a purely illusory character. The Government announce the construction of a certain number of new ships. I need not recite what they are. I may come to that later, but it is not the point now, they are only providing about one-tenth of the cost of those new ships, and if they continue to spend, money at that rate it will take them ten years to complete the ships. But, of course, they will have to spend at a greater rate later.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. EDMUND ROBERTSON,) Dundee
In the second year it is always so.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Then I am right in saying you are paying on the programme one-tenth of the cost of these new ships, and in the same programme you announce that in certain contingencies which are more than possible—which are certain—you will have to have another programme. That is to say you are paying for Programme A. this year and you desire Programme B. to be added to Programme A. next year —a much bigger programme in which you will have not one "Dreadnought" but several—two, three, four or five— "Dreadnoughts" will appear in the programme. Is it sound finance to pay one-tenth on account of a programme which everybody knows to be inadequate, and to defer the completion of that programme to a time when it is absolutely certain that you will be embarking upon another and larger programme? There may be objections—technical objections—to proceeding by loan, but to defer your obligations so that they will reach proportions which must smash your fiscal system, is not only unsound finance, but it is scarcely honest finance. And so, too, with regard to the Army. Have these reductions been due to any amazing discovery in the science of economy on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War? He is reducing the Regular Army, I think, by about 32,000 men.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
32,000 men. I look at the strengths and I find that taking the year stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1905, and comparing it with the strength this year there will be 32,000 men less with the colours.
§ MR. HALDANE
was understood to say that if they took the troops at that 386 period they would get a much larger apparent reduction than had actually taken place. He should mention that hon. Members had put down a series of questions on this subject which he had answered.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I will look into that matter. The right hon. Gentleman's figure is 21,000, and what I was pointing out is that that is not done by economy; that is done by taking another view of military needs. Then again, in the year cited by the Chancellor of the Exchequer we were paying for the rearmament of the whole of the artillery; as he has stated, nearly a million and a quarter or something like £1,200,000 was spent in rearming the artillery with new guns. That rearmament is complete, and it is no longer necessary to spend the million and a quarter; therefore to accuse the late Government of reckless extravagance is really beside the mark. What we want to know is whether the Government takes a different view altogether of the military and naval needs of the nation from that which we think is taken by the great majority of the people of this country. We are still left in some doubt, even after listening to the right hon. Gentleman, why he accepts this preamble, unless he attaches some particular meaning to it; but if it has a meaning what is it? I am bound to say that the form in which he asks the House to accept the Motion is either meaningless or mischievous. It is composed of two phrases which occur in every King's Speech that I remember. Every King's Speech says that our relations with Foreign Powers are of a friendly description. Most of our wars have been merely military operations since the Crimea, and I think you will find that phrase present in the King's Speech since the fifties. Every King's, Speech except one, and I think there it was an omission, says that the Estimates are to be prepared with due regard to economy, and now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he is challenged to give the whole policy of the Government, both as to our naval and military defences, at a time when the attention of this country and of foreign countries is concentrated upon what we are going to do, comes down and asks us to vote 387 for two phrases which appear in every King's Speech. I do not know whether his opinion is different from ours if we retain this preamble. He says that a preamble which states that our relations are friendly with other countries has no bearing upon the question of the necessity of maintaining the two-Power standard. He says that the Government adheres to the two-Power standard, and that they have the greatest pleasure in accepting this preamble, and that he does not differ in a great degree from the sentiments of the hon. Member who put down the original Motion. We say that the preamble ought to have no bearing upon the maintenance of the two-Power standard, but if we are to maintain the two-Power standard we add that that preamble ought to have no bearing upon the adequate and timely provision of all the accessories which are necessary to a fleet of battleships, if that fleet is to be a source of safety and not a source of risk. What are those accessories? Attention was directed to them last year by the Leader of the Opposition, who pointedly asked the representative of the Admiralty on 7th March, why the Government were not proceeding with greater expedition at Rosyth, because a fleet of battleships without a base in the waters in which it might not be unreasonable to expect it to operate, is not a source of safety, but a source of danger, or at least, of panic; because, if your fleet of battleships cannot be in a place where public opinion requires it should be, you would have a panic which would seriously militate against our borrowing power in the event of a great war or struggle for national existence. The right hon. Gentleman pressed for information on another point. He wished that we should know whether the Admiralty were providing a sufficiency of lighter craft—of cruisers, and, above all, of torpedo boat destroyers. He got no answer. Owing to the rules of debate it is impossible upon this or that Vote to get any full account from the Government as to their naval policy. We ought to know what the naval policy of the Government is, not only in respect to maintaining the two-Power standard, but in respect of pushing on with the base at Rosyth, and 388 providing an adequate number of cruisers and an adequate number of torpedo-boat destroyers. My right hon. friend last year brought to the notice of the Government a statement that in home waters Germany has a superior equipment of torpedo boat destroyers on this equivalent than we have. No answer was given last year; we must insist upon an answer being given this year. No doubt we shall be able to press in detail when the Navy Estimates are produced to-morrow. We are not satisfied with the provision put down in the Estimates, and we are certain that to proceed at the dilatory pace contemplated, is a mistake which the Government will have to amend if they are to retain the confidence of the country. There is one other point which I feel it my duty to press upon the Government even at this early stage. It has been a matter of comment abroad, notably in the Siecle, a paper published in Paris yesterday, that the Government are passing ships into full commission with great rapidity—it has passed more I believe last year than in any preceding period—and that they show continual reductions in cost, while it is notorious that the price of materials is going up, and people ask how that is done. This year we see a reduction in the cost of projectiles and ammunition following upon a reduction last year, but no one can forget the debate we had during last session, a debate in which concern was expressed as to the value of the cordite then stored ashore or on the fleet. The impression was left that the Government felt it their duty to take steps in the matter, and so they have thought fit to take steps. They have put down a vote of £500,000 for cooling apparatus which is to prevent the cordite from deteriorating. They recognise that there is an element of danger which needs their attention, but what of all the cordite in existence? Are the Government satisfied as to the value of that powder, and if they are not how do they account for the decreases in the Ammunition Vote? So far as the Navy is concerned we reject the acceptance by the Government of this preamble, and we say that it has no bearing upon adequate and timely provision for the Navy. Now in respect to the Army. What does the Government mean by accepting this preamble? Do 389 they contemplate further reductions? The right hon. Gentleman has referred to South Africa. It is hoped that it will be possible to withdraw the troops from South Africa; but hopes that the balance between our troops abroad and at home is going to be other than what it is now have often been indulged in by many Governments, and have always been falsified. Are the Government going to throw over the Secretary for War, because if they hold that this preamble is to have a great effect on the Army, they will be throwing him over? In the statement which the Secretary for War has laid before us, he touches upon the danger of a "blow at the heart." By that, I understand, that he does not rule out the possibility of an invasion. He insists upon the necessary co-operation between Army and Navy, and he defines the purposes for which the Territorial Forces are created. They are created to prevent raids. They are created to free the positions of the Regular Army, that may have to be despatched. They are created also in order to liberate the Navy. That is the definition, given by the Secretary for War, of the purposes for which the Territorial Forces are to be brought into being. Will anyone maintain that the amount of money now in the Estimates for these Territorial Forces would enable them to perform any one of those purposes? It is perfectly clear that the Territorial Forces are going to cost twice or three times, perhaps four times, as much as is now down in the Estimates if they are to fulfil the purposes for which the right hon. Gentleman says they are brought into being. At any rate, it is certain that until some progress has been made with that force—I am not blaming the right hon. Gentleman for not having made progress; it does not come into existence until the beginning of the next financial year—until some progress has been made with the training and equipping of that Force—training it adequately, as it would exist under war—no further reductions in the Regular Army are possible. In any case, we feel that the Regular Army cannot be further reduced. We regret that the right hon. Gentleman has reduced it. We deny that it should be what the right hon. Gentleman the 390 Chancellor of the Exchequer says it ought to be, a school for the reserve forces of the Empire, if there are to be fewer than 148 battalions of Infantry in the Regular Army. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman—though, he postponed it—still entertains the intention of converting thirty-three battalions of Artillery into mere training schools. It is certain he cannot carry out that—he says he will not—until his Territorial Force is something very different from anything which we can hope it will be in the near or even distant future. What sense, then, is there in asking the House to accept a preamble which would lead to the belief that on the Navy and the Army a sensible reduction can be made now or in the near future? What sense is there in holding out hopes to hon. Gentlemen who sit below the gangway, that great swings are going to be effected? You are only inviting a repetition of such a Motion as that which we have now before us. You are only laying yourselves open once more to the accusation that you are not keeping your pledges. That, I admit, is not our affair. But it is our affair to make it clear that the Parliament to which we belong does not share those hopes, not because we would not willingly see the burden of naval and military expenditure lightened, but because we know that the hopes are illusory and we think the people ought not to be deceived. The Government would not ask the House to vote this year £60,000,000 in round figures for the Army and the Navy, unless they believed that an attack on their country is a contingency which ought to be contemplated—a remote contingency, but one that must be faced. A fleet of battleships without the accessories which are necessary in order that it may be placed where it is wanted, is not a safeguard against such an attack being launched. It is almost inviting such an attack. The Home Army, inadequately trained and incompletely equipped, will not prevent a possibly hostile Power from considering the chance of making such an attack; on the contrary, it will, if I may so express myself, put the idea into the heads of those who have to consider the problems of war. If such an attack were launched, the Territorial Army, as at 391 present contemplated, could not resist it. If that be the case, how can the Government ask the House to support them by accepting the preamble of the hon. Member, and adding to it an expression of their earnest desire for economy? Unless the Government makes adequate and timely provision for both those purposes, for making the Fleet and the Territorial Force a real source of protection to this country, if it shuts its eyes to inevitable increases and possibilities and refers us simply to well-worn phrases that have no bearing on the subject, it will be piling up obligations for the future and creating in other quarters expectations of a policy which it will be unable to fulfil—and all this just at the moment of all others, when £1,500,000 is to be devoted, not to the purposes of national defence in the face of national danger, but to buy a sword for the Minister of Education to conduct a campaign of religious discord at home.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
This debate goes over a vast variety of topics, but I can state very briefly what the Admiralty has to say in defence of its Estimates. I admit that the situation is paradoxical. Everybody knows that new construction is the dominating item of the Estimates, upon which in the long run every other item depends. This year while those Estimates have gone up by nearly £1,000,000 the new construction has gone down by about £500,000. That is a paradox which may be easily explained. It is extremely dangerous to draw conclusions founded on comparisons between these Estimates and the Estimates for recent years. There is no more abundant source of error and confusion. The net Estimate alone tells very little of the total expenditure of the year. It is equally dangerous to leave out of account the complication and confusion caused by the Loan Acts and the subsequent abandonment of the Loan system. Last year, this year, and for two years at least to come, the finances of the Navy will be complicated and confused by the system of loans and abandonments of loans. Two years ago I warned the House that the apparent reduction in the 392 Estimates was not a real or permanent reduction, but that there were elements in the situation which made an increase in the near future perfectly certain. I was then alluding to the automatic increases for which the previous Government were responsible, and I went so far—uselessly as it turned out—as to make a calculation of what, if no remedy were found, would be the gross Estimates expenditure in the very year we are now considering, the year 1908–9. Two years: ago I warned the House that unless some relief were found the gross figure for 1908–9 would be £35,000,000 sterling. This year the figures are complicated by the transfer of certain works from Loans to Votes, but perhaps the House will take it from me that the actual figure will be just £1,500,000 less than I estimated as the gross Estimates for 1908–9. I now address myself to the finance of the Estimates. To some extent what I have to say has been anticipated by my right hon. friend. I have first to call the attention of the House to the absolutely automatic expenditure of the following kind. There is to be an increase on Vote 1 of £150,000 on pay, consequent on regulations made for the most part before the present Government came into office. There is a similar increase of £70,000 on the pension and half-pay Votes. There is a £50,000 increase in the loan: works annuity, and £38,000 increase in the amount of the annual subsidy to the Cunard Company. The automatic increases absolutely binding on the Admiralty amount to £308,000. These form one part of the automatic increases. But there is another, which is not a matter of legal obligation, though equally inevitable. I refer to the question of stores, to which my right hon. friend alluded. He gave figures which showed how this arose. The redundant stores were entirely the creation of the present Government's predecessors, who did three things. They reduced certain establishments abroad, they reduced the standard of reserve at home, and by a courageous stroke of the pen—if I may use the phrase of the right hon. Gentleman opposite—they set free stores which would otherwise have been used, to the amount of £3,500,000. In 1905–6, the last year 393 of the preceding Government, the value of stores drawn from stock, without replacement, in aid of cash expenditure, was £768,000. The redundant stores were used in lieu of cash. In the next year, the Estimates of which were prepared by the late and administered by the present Government, the amount of stores used was a little over £1,000,000, and in the last year the amount rose to nearly £1,250,000. Last year we saved, by the use of actual stores, £1,241,000, and did not go to the market, because we had stores to that value in our hands and used them. Next year we shall have stores in that position only to the extent of £500,000. The difference between the £1,241,000 we had last year and the £500,000 which is all we have this year, is in round numbers, £741,000, and, as a matter of course, we must go to the market with cash to make up that difference. I claim, therefore, to add that sum to the £307,000 of legal binding obligations, and so I get automatic and inevitable increases amounting to £1,050,000, which more than counterbalance the £900,000 of net increase in the aggregate estimate. The House will observe that I am not going so far as my noble friend the First Lord of the Admiralty in his Memorandum. I take no credit for other increases which are mentioned in my noble friend's statement. I am not counting the £300,000 which fell upon us this year because of the new arrangements for cooling ships' magazines, nor the sum due to the increase in the price of coal and other articles, though it must be obvious that the fact that prices have gone up is no reason why naval efficiency should go down. I have treated these items as merely fluctuations. I foretold all this two years ago, when I explicitly mentioned these stores, but to my horror I was told at the time by some of those who are now criticising the Estimates in the Press that I failed in economy. My well-meant warning as to economy was then misconceived, but I am determined there shall be no mistake next year. Next year we will have to face further automatic increases of the same kind. There will fall on Vote 1. £150,000, due, not to increase of numbers, but to increase of pay consequent upon regulations passed before we came into office. 394 The Annuity payable will show an increase equally automatic of £60,000; pensions and retired pay will show increases amounting to £35,000; and, finally, there is the £500,000 of stores which next year will no longer be available, whose place we will have to supply by cash purchases to an equal amount, that is to say, we must have for this purpose another £500,000. The result is we will have to face in 1909–10 automatic increases amounting to £745,000. I think it my duty thus to make the future situation absolutely clear.
I hope the House will allow me to clear up as far as I can the complication and confusion caused by the system of Loan Acts. These were first introduced by a Liberal Government in 1895, and were put an end to by my right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer last year. I will give round figures. The latest of these Loan Acts, that passed in 1905, which was a summary of all the preceding Acts, contained a Schedule specifying the works authorised to be constructed by the Admiralty at an estimated cost of £32,200,000. In 1906 the new Board of Admiralty revised this schedule, and struck out items amounting in the whole to close upon £2,400,000. This reduced the authorised works to £29,800,000. The Act of 1905 authorised them to borrow to an amount not exceeding £27,600,000, the difference between the borrowing powers and the expenditure authorised being in more exact figures £2,240,000. This difference would, in the ordinary course of events, have had to be met by a new Loan Act, which was due in 1907, but my right hon. friend has declined to renew the Act, and the balance is therefore left to be provided by the annual Navy Votes. Of our borrowing power I estimate that at the close of the present financial year there will have been expended £26,700,000 which leaves an unexhausted borrowing power amounting to about £900,000, the whole of which will be used up in the coming financial year, when our borrowing power will be finally exhausted. Of the amount transferred from loan to Votes, amounting to £2,240,000, £980,000 is borne by the Estimates of the current year, and £390,000 will be borne by the Estimates of the next year, 1908–9. The balance of £870,000 will fall on the 395 Estimates of 1909–10. That will finish the whole affair. The long series of Loan Acts will have become obsolete, fit for the scrap-heap of some future Statute Law Revision Bill, by which they will be formally repealed. But not altogether; there will still remain the annuity in repayment of past expenditure—non omnis moriar. In the coming year that amounts to £1,260,000 and it will go on increasing for two years to come. I venture to renew the suggestion which I made last year, that when, in the year 1910, we shall have finished all the loan works, it will be good business to absorb the annuity into the body of the National Debt, and relieve Navy Votes from a burden which represents not present but past expenditure. The economies effected might be summed up as follows: By the two operations I have mentioned, the revision of the schedule and the transfer from loan to votes, loan expenditure has been reduced by £4,600,000 and the amount of the annuity will be correspondingly reduced, ultimately, by £240,000. For the first time the House has been taken into the confidence of the Admiralty as to the true total expenditure on the Navy for the current and previous years; for the first time there is placed in the forefront of the Estimates a statement which shows absolutely what the true total expenditure is. The result, I think, is extremely interesting. The gross expenditure on the Estimates includes all appropriations-in-aid. I abate the amount of the annuity of the Naval Loans Bill, and I add, first, the expenditure during the year for loans, and, secondly, the value of stores drawn without being replaced in the manner I have described, and finally I take the expenditure on behalf of the Naval services which appears in other Votes. That gives you for the first time a true account of all the public money devoted to the service of the Navy in any one year, and the results are somewhat remarkable. I do not think my right hon. friend brought out the full meaning of these figures, but if you look at the table you will see that the true difference between naval expenditure last year and this year is less than £14,000 increase, and of this £14,000 increase £12,000 is accounted for by the se miscellaneous services borne 396 by the Votes of other Departments to which I have referred.
Passing away from that, I will venture upon a comparison which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was too magnanimous to make, namely, a comparison between the climax of expenditure in 1904–5, and the expenditure of the present year. On that table it appears that comparing the actual expenditure four years ago with the Estimate now there is a reduction of not less than £7,000,000. I may be allowed to go further, because I will point to this fact, that the expenditure four years ago came largely below the Estimates, and if we compare Estimate with Estimate now and four years ago the difference would be not £7,000,000 but more nearly £9,000,000. To sum up the conclusion on this head, the result of our two years' administration of the finances of the Navy—first, the total expenditure as shown by this table has been reduced in that time by £1,500,000, or if we compare Estimate with Estimate, by £1,800,000. Secondly, the expenditure on loans has been reduced in the manner I have described by £4,600,000. And thirdly, and most important of all, new construction alone has been reduced in that period by the very considerable figure of £1,700,000. I do not know that these figures will be so agreeable to some hon. Gentlemen opposite as to some of my hon. friends on this side. I hope hon. Members opposite will not chide me if I venture to make still another calculation. I have been comparing our Estimates with expenditure in the last two years but it is not to be forgotten that we succeeded to a programme which was outlined and placed before the public in an instrument known as the Cawdor Memorandum. The Cawdor Memorandum programme if executed this year would have called for an expenditure of £9,500,000 for new construction. That statement is received with different feelings on the two sides of the House. I am not making a Party attack, but merely a statement of fact. If you compare the Estimate that we now propose in respect of new construction with the Estimate that would have been necessary if the Cawdor programme had been carried out, the difference is not £1,700,000, but 397 £2,000,000. I have dealt not at undue length I hope with the finances of the Navy.
What I have now to say will be devoted to the leading items in which expenditure is reduced. The first topic is that of new construction including the new programme of the year. I have already said that the total cash provision in the Shipbuilding Vote for the building of new ships of all kinds—whether laid down last year or the year before and undergoing completion now, or whether they are to be laid down next year it is all new construction—is £7,545,000. The relative provision for new construction in Vote 9 (Armaments) is £1,115,000. If we take both these Votes together the reduction from last year amounts to £567,000. The provision for new construction in the present year is the lowest that has been known for ten years. Just a word about the new programme. I am not going to enter into details, but I may be permitted to remind the House what the new programme of ships to be laid down this year is. We are going to have one battleship and one armoured cruiser, both to be built in the dockyards. We are going to have six protected cruisers of the "Boadicea" type, one to be built at Pembroke and five by contract. We have sixteen destroyers all to be built by contract. We have submarines of the value of £500,000 sterling, most of which will be built by contract, though some will be laid down at Chatham. Here are the figures that I interrupted the hon. Gentleman by mentioning. The total cost of carrying out the programme from first to last will be in round figures £7,770,000, of which there will fall next year £750,000 which I believe is about the usual proportion, because the habit of this country is to lay down ships late in the year and. the House does not discuss the Vote till July, when all necessary Amendments have been made and announced to the House. I am not going to anticipate the discussion of the Vote, but there are one or two points that I would like to speak to in quite general terms. This new programme constituted as I have described is substantially in amount and even in detail what I foreshadowed in this House last July. I 398 think—and I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will not challenge this statement—I may venture to say it was then accepted by the House. At all events, there was no serious criticism directed to it, and it has not been materially changed since last July. In view of a great deal that has been said out of doors it is important that this should be borne in mind, namely, that the programme which is proposed now is that which was settled in substance six months ago. I trust the House appreciates the significance of that declaration.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say if that applies also to the amount of money provided?
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
Oh, yes. The hon. Gentleman who has been at the Admiralty himself knows that we lay down our ships late in the year and the great burden of any new programme falls not upon the first year but upon the second. I am not going to enter upon the controversy of the two-Power standard, but I may be asked on both sides of the House whether this new programme now proposed is sufficient to maintain what is called the two-Power standard. The question what the standard should be I have always said, and I say now, is a question for the Cabinet and in the last resort for this House and for the country. I absolutely disclaim on the part of the Admiralty any authority to fix a one-, two-, or three-Power standard. The standard has been determined for us and all we have to do is to execute it. On the second part of the question there ought to be no more misunderstanding about this, than about the other. While the Admiralty does not pretend to fix the standard I claim on behalf of the Admiralty that on the subordinate question whether such standard is being maintained or not the decision of the Admiralty must be conclusive. If you 399 cannot trust the naval experts and your Board of Admiralty with all the knowledge it has at its command, you had better seek another Board of Admiralty. I have the authority of the Admiralty for saying, and I think this ought to be sufficient for the House, that the programme now proposed and the provision now made fully maintain the two-Power standard. Perhaps I may be permitted to remind the House of the statement that I made as to the relative strength last July. I took two Powers that are never likely in our time or in any time I hope to be found in alliance against us, namely, France and Germany. I took them as illustrations of two Powers with strong Navies. Will the House permit me to give the figures I gave them. I showed by the authority of the Admiralty that as regards ships of what may be called the pre- 'Dreadnought" type we were in a position of undoubted superiority over the two other Powers, while as regards newer ships contemporary with or subsequent to the "Dreadnought" the position was this. In the autumn of 1910 we shall have nine battleships and three cruisers complete. France will have two battleships and no cruisers and Germany will have four battleships and two cruisers. That is the statement I made on authority a year ago. These figures still hold good. I am advised that if certain alterations take place the result may be that at the end of 1910 Germany will have seven battleships and three cruisers completed. Then France and Germany combined will have a total of twelve ships of this general character against the twelve ships of Great Britain. This, I am informed, is the very worst that can happen at the end of the year 1910. As to the items of the programme I propose to defer further explanation until Vote 8 is reached, but two things are obvious. It is in the main a cruiser programme, and a replacement programme. The new cruisers and the new destroyers are simply taking the place of ships which must be withdrawn in a short time from sea service. I hope Members on this side of the House will agree that it is a modest programme. It has amazed—I will not say amused—me to find that the new programme is less than the programme of the two hon. 400 Members who have brought forward today this Resolution. I have read in an article by one of our journalistic advisers that, as a matter of course the Government will lay down at least three "Dreadnoughts" in the coming year. As a matter of fact we are only laying down one. On this slender basis, on this portentuous blunder, has been based the whole of the agitation which has culminated in this attack on the Navy Estimates.
§ MR. J. M. MACDONALD
We did not attack the Navy Estimates of this year. The figures which the right hon. Gentleman quotes are figures which were drawn up before the Navy Estimates had appeared and on the assumption that the programme this year would be the same as last year.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
That is exactly what I have stated. I admit that my hon. friend has been extremely moderate and modest in his criticisms, and he has my sympathy in a great deal of what he has said. But some of the promoters of the movement have made the blunder of assuming that three "Dreadnoughts" would be laid down as a matter of course, when at the outside we shall only lay down two counting the armoured cruiser. As a matter of fact we are only laying down one.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
There are some newspapers from which one can derive pleasure and information by the simple process of not reading them at all. Turning to the question of repairs, I have not hesitated to avow myself a partisan of the policy of repairs, and I cannot be a party to any neglect of this most important matter. A great programme of new construction may be a more showy affair, but it is certainly not more essential to the efficiency of the Navy. I prefer rather than build so many new ships to keep the old ones in good and sufficient repair, and that is the outstanding feature of these new Estimates. Last year it was insinuated that we were allowing the repairs to get 401 into arrears, and I then took upon myself to repel that insinuation in a way which. I think was satisfactory to the House. It is difficult to form an exact estimate. The provision last year was, by way of precaution, raised considerably above the figure at which it had been fixed by the technical advisers of the Government, and yet it proved insufficient. The money we propose to take next year for repairs amounts in round figures to £2,500,000; that is £700,000 more than the estimate for the preceding year, and £500,000 more than the actual expenditure will probably turn out to have been. That is a higher amount than has been expended in any year except the year 1903–4, when the costly experiment was tried of sending repairs to be executed by private contractors.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
Yes, higher than 1904–1905. In the year 1904–1905 a climax was reached in repairing and the expenditure fell below the estimate. In the year 1904–1905 the expenditure on the repairs fell below the estimate by £230,000, and in 1905–1906 by £437,000; in 1906–1907 it exceeded the estimate by more than £300,000, and in the current year it would exceed it by more than £200,000; and now the Government are obliged to propose a still higher figure for the forthcoming year. This increase is the outstanding feature of the Estimates. At this stage the House may naturally ask for some explanation of this most remarkable increase. It has taken place notwithstanding the avoidance of unnecessary repairs on obsolete and obsolescent ships, and notwithstanding the fact that ships in commission now make good their defects to a much greater extent than before without dockyard assistance. I will indicate a few of the causes of this large further expenditure. As the torpedo craft become older, more numerous, and more used, the cost of maintaining them goes on increasing. The higher speed and greater power adopted in the past is making itself felt in the dockyards, and boiler repairs are continually increasing in importance 402 and cost. Minor alterations and additions, like the refrigeration of the magazines, are counted as part of the repairs. Finally, there is the increased sea service of the Fleet, especially of those ships which are now manned with nucleus crews and form part of the Home Fleet, but which, under the old system, would have been resting in the Fleet and dockyard reserves. These are all sound reasons in justification of this very large Vote. The policy of the present Board is that no accumulation of arrears should be permitted, and their technical advisers are satisfied that the Fleet is in an efficient state in this respect. In many respects the Works Vote is this year the most important of all. It makes provision for some new enterprises of considerable magnitude. A new lock has become necessary at Portsmouth in consequence of the growth in the size of battleships and cruisers. This service has already been approved by the House, and the cost is estimated at about £1,000,000. Then I have been challenged about Rosyth. The Government has finally decided to proceed with the Rosyth works. [Some cries of "Oh!" on the Ministerial side.] The Government has finally decided to proceed with Rosyth. It has not been an easy matter to settle at all. It has been before the House for many years.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
I think about eight years. With the exception of some minority protests, on the whole I venture to say that it has been accepted as sound policy that there ought to be a base on the east coast somewhere, and the selection of Rosyth in the end has been a case of the survival of the fittest. We took plenty of time to examine all the alternative sites, and we came to the conclusion that Rosyth on the whole-offered the greatest advantages. Let hon. Members not suppose that we are1 carrying out now the scheme which many-of them protested against when it was first mooted six or seven, or, as I think, more years ago. Our scheme will cost £3,250,000. The original proposal of the late Government would have caused an expenditure of £10,000,000.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
I will give the hon. Gentleman the figures tomorrow. The original scheme, or one of the original schemes at any rate.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
I am not sure, but it was adumbrated to the House. It was a scheme for naval bases, and Rosyth was one of them. The only other thing I shall refer to, and this is new, is the provision for the torpedo range at Loch Long. A torpedo is a horrible instrument, I loath the look of it; but it is as delicate as a watch and needs most careful adjustment and attention. Like everything else in naval warfare the torpedo has developed, and the range of 3,000 yards, which was the length of the range hitherto, is no longer sufficient. We want a range of 7,000 yards, and the requirements of proper water area are not easy to fulfil. A great many different sites and schemes were examined, and Loch Long, again, became a case of the survival of the fittest, and the range will be established there. The only thing I have to add by way of solatium for these large new charges we are going to propose this year is that the proposal of Loch Long takes the place of a proposal to excavate on the land an area—a drain, or long artificial river—in which torpedoes might be tested. Our proposal which will take the place of that will mean a saving of 70 per cent.
§ Mr. ARTHUR LEE
Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that the Loch Long scheme was arranged by the present Government?
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
I said that that scheme was to take the place of the excavation scheme. I said nothing about the Government. I know my obligations to both sides of the House—my dependence on both sides—for the acceptance of the policy I am putting before the House. I hope that no hon. friend of mine will go away to-night with the notion that I have ceased to be the economist I once was. I am as strong an economist as ever I was, and I have impressed economy on my colleagues. For many a long weary year I stood almost alone in protesting for economy, not only in naval 404 and military matters, but, what is sometimes too much forgotten, in civil expenditure as well. I ventured to make that personal appeal to my own friends, and I say in conclusion that the proposals I am now defending are the proposals of the Admiralty and the Government, and if any one man is more responsible for them than another it is myself, for it is my duty to represent in the Department the feelings of the House on that subject and all others. I thank the House for giving me the opportunity of making this short personal apology. I thank it sincerely for the great attention it has given to my statement.
§ MR. SIMON (Essex, Walthamstow)
said the right hon. Gentleman had not really directed his observations to the question raised by the Resolution. He had placed before the House a technical and detailed statement, but the Resolution raised the large question of public policy. Those who remembered or had read of the retirement of Lord Randolph Churchill would remember that he wrote a letter in which he expressed his determination to retire from his position sooner than be responsible for the Estimates then brought forward. He said—The great question of public expenditure is not so technical or departmental as might be supposed by a superficial critic. Foreign policy and expenditure on armaments act and react upon one another.There were many Members who supported the foreign policy of the present Government, but who felt constrained to ask: Had that successful and peaceful foreign policy its counterpart in general financial policy? It was for that reason that he desired to return to the speech of the right hon. Member for Dover. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he was not altogether satisfied with the declarations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. For his own part—and he thought he was expressing the opinion of many on that side of the House—he could not imagine a worse omen for the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a Government pledged to retrenchment, than that his Estimates should be received with approval by predecessors whose own expenditure was uniformly extravagant. He would very much sooner hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer denounced and abused for his parsimony than praised for his bounty. 405 He rejoiced to know that the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer caused some perturbation on the opposite side of the House. They must all admit the truth and the sting of the observation made by the right hon. Member for Dover, that the Amendment moved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer might well be put forward by many Chancellors of the Exchequer in many circumstances. It was an Amendment which, dissociated from the spirit of the speech in support of it, might come from a Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had not the slightest doubt that the gentlemen who were responsible for the financial policy of the late Government would be quite prepared to get up in the House—the Leader of the Opposition himself would get up—and assert with a wealth of ingenious paradox, that the late Government, in addition to all its other virtues, was the most economical Government of all time. The present Government was pledged to retrenchment, and the real question which they had to discuss was whether or not it had sufficiently realised, or was going to assure its supporters that it would sufficiently realise, the great part which in any Liberal Government a satisfactory foreign policy ought to play in the definite reduction of armaments. When all allowance had been made for the explanation given with so much candour and skill by the Secretary to the Admiralty, they were still left with the striking fact (which no discrimination between net and gross figures, and no observations about automatic increases, would alter)—the astounding fact that the Estimates now laid on the Table, amounting to £60,000,000 for the Army and Navy, exceeded by £20,000,000 the Estimates which were thought satisfactory in the year preceding the Boer war, and exceeded by £25,000,000 or £27,000,000 the Estimates which were thought satisfactory in the last year of the last Liberal Government. The observations of the Secretary to the Admiralty were really not to the point of policy which was the real motive for the Resolution before the House. The question had been asked, what justification was there for the increase which had taken place? And no really satisfactory answer had been given. It might be said, and no doubt it was true, that during the last few years there had been a 406 great increase in some directions in the wealth of the country. It was astonishing how willing even tariff reformers were to assert that there had been an increase in the wealth of the country when they were going to spend that wealth on armaments, but the real justification put forward that afternoon was a justification which ranged over other points, and he desired to examine them. Much had been said by the Secretary to the Admiralty, and also by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on what were called automatic increases. An automatic increase unfortunately was always automatic when it was an increase in expenditure, but the raising of the money to pay for it was never automatic. It was, on the contrary, a deliberate process, and a painful process. He did not see the force of the argument that much of our expenditure was caused by automatic increases, unless they were prepared to meet them in the only way with which they could be met—by deliberate reductions in the House of Commons. It was really a hopeless position for the House of Commons in one year to adopt some formula which was going to grind out automatic increases for years to come and then to regard themselves as tied and obliged to pay that money, and tied in this sense also that they found it impossible to economise in any other direction. Something had been said by the mover and the seconder of the Resolution on the position of expert advice in this matter. He did not in the least desire to adopt what some people seemed to think a contemptuous attitude in regard to expert advice. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last had claimed, and rightly claimed, that when a technical formula was to be examined in order to see whether it was satisfactorily applied, technical advice was the right kind of advice to choose. So it was. But the fact remained that they in the House of Commons had a far more serious duty to discharge than could be discharged by the most competent expert. They were there to protect the taxpayers of the country, but the expert and technical adviser would be grossly exceeding his duty if he allowed a consideration for the taxpayer's pocket to enter into his calculations at all. There was no unwillingness on his part to recognise the great skill, diligence, and patriotism of the most eminent technical gentlemen who advised the Government; 407 but their functions and those of Members of the House of Commons were two totally distinct things. They had only to consider one small portion of the field. They had not to adjust all the competing claims on the public revenue for different objects, each of which if examined in isolation might seem to be of overwhelming importance. Some people were disposed to think that experto credite meant "trust the expert." It did not mean that. The fruit of experience was that there never had been a time in history when the expert came forward and said that too much money had been spent on his particular object. He yielded to no one in admiration of the First Sea Lord, and when the First Sea Lord went down to a Lord Mayor's banquet and said that too much money was being spent at the Admiralty—on that day he should think it was wise to be guided in matters of expenditure by the First Sea Lord. There was a general consideration which seemed to him should lie at the root of such a discussion. The real question of policy which divided Members was this—was the way in which to provide for national danger hereafter to spend large sums of money now on warlike armaments and preparations for war? or might there not be much to be said for a different policy based on the proposition, to use words which must meet with approval on the other side of the House—That the more you reduce the burdens of the people the greater will be your strength when the hour of danger comes.Those words were used by Mr. Disraeli in 1857, directly after the Crimean War. There was then, in the House a great discussion on the whole policy of war-like preparations and in that debate Mr. Disraeli gave notice that he would move a Resolution to insist that as a general principle, the policy after a great war, should be that the expenditure on armaments must be reduced. It was a melancholy and a striking circumstance that after this country had gone to war in order to rid itself, as they were assured, of an enemy threatening it and a danger which was imminent, and after that war had reached a successful conclusion, the amount of money thought to be necessary to provide against a future enemy was £20,000,000 more than when the successful war began; That was a very astonishing fact, and it did not require the technical 408 knowledge of great Army and Navy experts to discuss it. What it did require was courage and resolution, when a Government was in power, to carry out those principles which they in the House of Commons, as well as the Government, bad united in declaring were necessary for the salvation of the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had declared, and he believed the right hon. Gentleman, that the task put upon his shoulders was a difficult one, and that he was not satisfied with the present situation. Neither were they. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last that, so far as he was concerned, the position which he felt it his duty to take up was not inspired by any journalistic leaders. It was merely an attempt, possibly a misguided attempt, on his part, and on that of other loyal supporters of the Government, to urge the Government to take advantage of the present situation. He was unable to understand how the financial situation could be improved unless, following the very successful foreign policy of the Foreign Secretary on which he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman, and on which the Government were able to congratulate themselves, there were considerable reductions on the expenditure on the Army and Navy. It had to be remembered that between two different kinds of expenditure there was this governing distinction. If they spent money in great quantities on the Army and Navy that money, well or ill spent; had little or hardly any indirect benefit upon domestic and social reforms. But it was a profound mistake to suppose in regard to money spent on social reforms, or revenue applied to productive uses, that the national credit did not rise step by step. And it was in the foundations of national credit after all, more than in any other single element, that our powers of persistence and ultimate success in war depended. He spoke his own individual opinion, but he desired to avow that in taking up this attitude he did not do it from any unwillingness to join hon. Gentlemen opposite in their aspirations for the future of the Empire, or from any unwillingness to admit that provision for success in some great war in the future was the greatest duty imposed upon the consciences of our people. He shared with them in that belief, but it was essential that we should take steps now in order to raise National credit and to provide, as the 409 Chancellor of the Exchequer said, a reservoir from which we might draw in time of war. His proposition was that when a great war was over it was absolutely essential that definite reductions should be permanently made in expenditure, if only to restore our National credit to the position it was in before the war. The Napoleonic Wars were fought on the income tax, and the moment they were over the income, tax was reduced. When the Crimean War broke out the income tax was 7d in the £. It was doubled while the war was going on, but when the war was over it was reduced again. When the Boer War began the income tax was 8d in the £; during the course of the war it reached 1s. 3d in the £. It had since been reduced to some extent, but was still 1s. in the £ for many purposes. What he wanted to know was, if there was going to be another war were they going to double the income-tax again? If not, it seemed to him absolutely necessary that steps should be taken to restore public credit and diminish the strain put upon the people. And to do so in time of peace there must be economies. There were hon. Gentlemen above the gangway who in the course of a few weeks would be considering whether they would vote for the repeal of the sugar duty. He asked these Gentleman before they determined what duties they wanted to take off, to consider in what department of public expenditure they were going to economise. With all possible belief in the financial and economical fervour of the Government, he urged them to afford to those hon. Members, who looked on this matter as of so much importance, some further assurance, not by mere platonic assertions that economy was a good thing, but by avowing that further economy was essential to sound public policy, and that economy was the very basis of reform—to join with them in asserting that as retrenchment must follow peace, so retrenchment must precede reform.
§ COLONEL SEELY (Liverpool, Abercromby)
said that if he were to criticise the speech of the mover of the Motion it would be to say that the whole of it was merely a platonic assertion that reform was advisable. Two years ago it was his privilege, with others, to urge upon the House a 410 definite scheme of reform, but they urged it on the Government for a definite purpose and by a definite method. To say that economy was desirable, that they must retrench after war, and that all money-spent on armament was unproductive, was more suited to the platform or the Press than to the House of Commons. That was the view he took, and for this reason: they were there to deliberate how to save money, and if any hon. Members brought forward a Resolution, that reduction was necessary, they ought to specify how the reduction was to be made. Without that they were wasting the time of the House. The position was the same as if hon. Members were to insist upon old-age pensions, and then, when asked how the money was to be found, were to reply: "That is not our business, but the business of the Chancellor of the Exchequer." That was the kind of thing which they all said when they were in a position of less responsibility, but when they were present in this House they must all recognise their responsibility and feel that platonic references, or, as his hon. friend had put it, platitudinous references to economy were of no avail. Why did he say that he did not regard this Motion as a continuation of the debate which he led and did not regret leading two years ago. It was, first of all, because it was so general in its character and did not distinguish between naval and military expenditure. The essence of the debate which they then had was that they must reduce expenditure on the Army, because looking at the world as it then was it might be necessary greatly to increase our naval armaments-in the course of the next few years if we were to maintain that sea predominance upon which he believed every Member of the House quite irrespective of Party was united. There was a difference of opinion as to what that sea predominance was. His hon. friend who seconded the Motion suggested that we now had a three-Power naval standard, and he thought the hon. Member even suggested a four-Power standard, but himself accepted the view that naval predominance was essential. He (Colonel Seely), of course, also accepted that view, and it seemed to him a very important thing that the House should agree that they were 411 determined to maintain sea predominance. Therefore, the question was what our sea predominance should be, and he said, there and then, the kind of predominance at sea we had now. If it were true, as it was true, that in this absurd game of beggar-my-neighbour between certain Powers, each Power thought the other would get tired of expenditure first, or faint under the strain, if they agreed, as they all did in their hearts, that even if the strain became intolerable, knowing that our whole future rested upon sea predominance, they were prepared, sooner than give it up, to fight to maintain it—if that was once accepted as a principle it carried one further than a two-Power standard, and made it easier in dealing with foreign Powers to get that return which they all sought. Therefore, taking the strong view that he did as to how essential it was to secure sea predominance, even without declaration that they would fight to maintain it, he could not support a vague declaration that reduction was essential which would involve a great reduction of the naval service. He would not follow his hon. friend and several other speakers into the details of naval policy with regard to which better occasions would arise on the next and future days, but he did say that looking at the question as broadly as one could and with such knowledge as a Member of Parliament had, if they asserted that sea predominance was essential, in view of the fact that our naval expenditure unlike our army expenditure was decided—and it was just as well to be frank about it—by the expenditure of others, then there was no standard which could be laid down other than the standard laid down by others. In this it differed from our military power, and when they looked at the expenditure of other lowers he thought they must agree that any considerable reduction which would satisfy his hon. friend on the Naval Estimates of this and future years was possibly inconsistent with maintaining a predominance at sea. He would ask why this vague Resolution was moved? Why did not hon. Members concentrate on one matter, either the Army or the Navy? To justify a Motion of this kind the Member moving 412 it should show what he endeavoured to urge upon the House two years ago. He thought that no great economy in the Army was possible unless they abandoned the Cardwell system, which admittedly had served us well in many respects, which admittedly was most valuable at the time when it was introduced into this House by Mr. Cardwell under Mr. Gladstone, but which he asserted two years ago, and still believed, was not suited to our present needs, especially in view of the great added expenditure on the Navy which stared them in the face, and must mean the reduction of Army expenditure. He was impenitent in this matter, but this must be said in favour of the Secretary of State for War. He said it last year and he repeated it. Fault was found, by the seconder of the resolution, and the matter was referred to by the mover, with this vast expeditionary force of 160,000 men, The hon. Member said, and said, he thought, truly, that this was too large a force to maintain. He agreed; but when he urged the abandonment of that system which if they did not abandon they must maintain, he looked down the list of the gallant few who supported him on that occasion but he did not find the name of his hon. friend among them. If he might put a plain question to the hon. Member, in order to enable him to decide how to vote, he would ask: Was he and those who were going to vote with him, determined to throw over the Prime Minister, who was wedded to the Cardwell system and the whole of the Cabinet, and to insist upon this military revolution, for revolution it would be, and make our Army what our Navy now was, a long service force with no necessity for retaining an equal number at home to the number abroad. Would hon. Members do that? He knew they would not, and when he urged it upon them they deliberately said "No." His proposal was far more modest than the proposal that was made now, and if hon. Members would not adopt the only practicable plan of reducing Army expenditure he did not see how he could support them. It was too late. In spite of the admirable Memorandum of his right hon. friend some of them believed that the Cardwell 413 system was not the best system. He quite recognised that the whole House was against him in this matter, but then it did not follow that one was wrong. His right hon. friend had shown very clearly in his Memorandum, and he had never seen the case better stated for the Card-well system, that great reductions must be made before great economies could be effected. That was true, but they were prepared to face that great reduction, partly because they believed that to maintain the Army at its present standard and the Navy at the great standard at which it must remain, was unwise for the social reason, that as the Navy decreased unemployment the Army increased it. That was because the Navy took a man young and gave him a training which was useful to him in after life; it took him for the rest of his life, and as the result the sailors never contributed to the ranks of the unemployed, but in the case of the Army, the State did that very thing which they constantly condemned in employers. Instead of taking men and teaching them a trade, or, if they could not teach them a trade, giving them a life career as some compensation, they took them for their own purposes, just at the time when they ought to learn a trade, kept them for the time convenient to the State and their Army system, and then threw them back upon civil life without their knowing any trade, and in an enormously large number of cases they went to swell the ranks of the unemployed. It was for this reason that he had so persistently urged the view which he had put forward. Again he knew he had not the whole House with him, but every time this argument was brought home to them that every man enlisted into the Army was potentially adding to the ranks of the unemployed the more they did to roll away the fallacy which they thought overlay what they considered the true faith. He must before he sat down point out how the House had finally committed itself to this expenditure, by refusing to reverse the policy which had been pursued in the past, and also how unfair it was of hon. Members to accuse his right hon. friend of bloated armaments and extravagant expenditure, for having an expeditionary force of 160,000 men. Hon. Members by 200 to forty-eight had 414 decided against abandoning the Cardwell system, and, in fact, by doing so, they told his right hon. friend to have an expeditionary force of 160,000 men, for he was forced to maintain this large number of troops at home, and surely if they were to have a force at home the argument for making it into an Army by adding a few men here and there at small cost was overwhelming. The argument of the seconder against the 160,000 could really best be tested by an illustration. Let hem suppose that a man had a powerful motor costing £1,000 and somebody urged that he did not want it at all. If they were to suggest that in order to economise he should take away the steering wheel and tyres and other portions of the mechanism and sell them, surely no one would say that he would be anything but a fool to do so; but that was in effect what they would do if they abandoned the expeditionary force while retaining the Cardwell system. The Card-well system forced them to retain the whole of that force. On the occasion of the late war, Lord Lansdowne he thought it was, speaking for the Government, said that 192,000 men were left in the country at that time who could in no sense be called a real Army, and that was quite true of the Army here before they started. They were not a real Army, for they had none of those subsidiary services which made an army effective. He therefore defended his right hon. friend for making the force here into an expeditionary force. He did not think they wanted such a big one, but as the House had insisted upon having all those men he thought they had better make use of them. He had tried to show why he could not support the Motion which had been made by his hon. friend. He did not believe that any good purpose would be served by abstract remarks in favour of economy. His hon. friend had refused to adopt the only method which would lead to a substantial economy, and he did not propose to reduce the Civil Service Estimates. Therefore, when he proposed a reduction in the Navy Estimates he could not go with his hon. friend. For those reasons, whilst sympathising with the objects which his hon. friend had in view, he could not support the Resolution.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)
I am glad that we have got back to the Motion before the House, although the Secretary to the Admiralty has made an attempt to draw us away from it. I do hot propose to follow him in the statement he has made to-day. The whole tendency of that statement was to show that the; increase which has taken place in our naval and military expenditure has been inevitable, that he had warned the House that it was bound to take place, and he rejects the Chancellor of the Exchequer's suggestion that there can be any possible decrease in the immediate future. The Secretary to the Admiralty also pleads that he a any rate is a true economist, and has done everything he can to reduce these bloated Estimates. We have now come back to a discussion of the Chancellor o the Exchequer's Amendment, and I am afraid I have been unable to detect any sign of its being warmly welcomed on his own side of the House. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Abercromby division of Liverpool, who has just sat down, has described the Amendment as platitudinous, and as almost wasting the time of the House to discuss it.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
As the mover of the original Motion has stated that there is nothing whatever in the Amendment, the hon. and gallant Member's criticism may apply to both. Although I am the author of a still-born Amendment I deplore the necessity for this debate, and still more the irresolute attitude of the Government towards the great question of national defence. All this marching and countermarching, all this Lobbying and intriguing, might have been avoided if the Government had only had the courage of its convictions and not wobbled and vacillated in response to every current of irresponsible opinion. It is a lamentable procedure that the defence Estimates of the country, after having been carefully adjusted to the national needs, and approved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his professional advisers, should, in response to a demonstra- 416 tion made by hon. Members opposite be re-opened, put up to auction, to the lowes bidder, and knocked down to the hon. Member for Falkirk arid his friends. It is also humiliating that the explanatory statements of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and in a less degree perhaps of the Secretary of State for War, should be couched in terms which seem to apologise for the very existence almost of the defensive forces of the Crown and certainly openly boasted of every penny they had: succeeded in skinning off the Estimates. The only marvel to me is that the disarmament party have not withdrawn their Motion after reading those explanatory statements, and substituted a vote of thanks to the Government instead. I presume that they do not intend to press their Motion to a division, but if they do we of course shall vote against it. That, however, does not mean that we shall feel constrained to vote for the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Amendment adopts what my right hon. friend the Member for Dover has pointed out is the irrelevant and dangerous premiss contained in the preamble of the Motion by which our naval and military strength is to be made dependent upon the existing; state of our friendly relations with foreign Powers. It is in fact proposed, that our armament should not be based on the principle of the existing armaments of foreign Powers, but upon the momentary and ever-shifting state of our diplomatic relations. If battleships, and docks and other requisites of the Fleet and the personnel necessary to man the Fleet could be ordered like a pound of tea at Harrod's Stores, there might be some sense and relevance in the argument. A new Fleet, however, cannot be evolved in less than a decade, and who is bold enough to say what the state of our diplomatic relations with any Power or combination of Powers may be ten years or even one year hence. There have been n the past many confident prophets in these matters, and I should like the House to direct its attention to the well-known case in the King's Speech when n the year 1792 it was stated that "the friendly assurances received from Foreign powers induce me to think that some-immediate reduction might safely be made 417 in our naval and military establishments." On the same occasion Mr. Pitt said that "unquestionably there never was a time in the history of this country when, from the situation in Europe, we might more reasonably expect fifteen years of peace than we may at the present moment." I need not remind the House that before the end of that year we were embarked in the great struggle which only ended on the field of Waterloo. There is only one sane method of computing the necessary standard of our naval strength, and that is by reckoning the actual forces in existence in other countries. After all, every Power, however friendly at the moment, must be reckoned in these matters as a potential enemy. This unfortunate fact has been fully recognised by our good friends on the Continent. The Prussian Minister of Marine has recently stated that the increase of the Germany Navy is necessary because the "friends of to-day might become the enemies of to-morrow." I hope there is no country that will be our enemy to-morrow but we cannot afford to gamble upon it, because it is the very existence of this nation which is at stake. Unfortunately we live in a world of men and not of angels, and that being so it would be well for us to recognise the truth of the dictum laid down by President Roosevelt that "the stronger our Navy the kinder the feelings of other nations towards us: a strong Navy is provocative of peace. If the Government had achieved any success, in the direction of reduction of armaments, at the Hague Conference I am sure it would have deserved the warmest congratulations of all the civilised world, but it achieved nothing except a rebuff and a perfectly plain intimation from the most important quarter that the subject was not even ripe for discussion. The enthusiasts of peace at any price are urging upon the Government that they should now make fresh advances to Germany direct. Apart from the futility of that proceeding the mere suggestion has been received with great resentment in that country and has been regarded as impertinent and almost unfriendly. These enthusiasts are willing to run all risks in order to exploit their views, and we have 418 had a striking illustration in a recent speech of Lord Courtney who went so far as to suggest that we ought to send a missionary to the Reichstag. He said that this country ought to be prepared to run some risks in the way of a reduction of armaments whether other Powers did so or not. Last year the same noble Lord advocated the same thing and he then spoke of it as a "glorious risk." It might be a glorious risk for the missionary, who has generally been willing to welcome the crown of martyrdom, but there is nothing glorious in it for the people of this country, because in case of war it would mean the ruin and starvation of millions of the working classes and of the poorest of our people. These enthusiasts seem to have a firm belief that if we never contemplate the possibility of war, never speak of it, or write of it, and above all never prepare for it, we shall be regarded as so inoffensive that no foreign nation will have the heart to touch us. As I said before, I think it is unfortunate that this debate has been raised, because it is impossible to avoid direct references to individual Powers who are now friendly to us and with whom we hope to live at all times in amity and peace. But the necessity has been forced upon us by the authors of this Motion, and we have been obliged to examine their statements with regard to the armaments and programmes of those Powers, which if by any deplorable circumstances they should become as hostile as they now are friendly would be the most formidable enemies we should have to face. The case of Germany has been specially referred to. There is no secret whatever that Germany, which already commands the land, is frankly and openly seeking to create a fleet of sufficient strength to imperil the supremacy at sea which we now possess. No doubt it is true that there are in the German Reichstag people who are counterparts of the hon. Member for Falkirk and his friends—men who deplore the costly and ambitious policy on which the German Government is embarked, but they, I am afraid, are only as voices crying in the wilderness. Apparently they have had no effect whatever an the policy of the German Government; and, unfortunately for us, that Government is not so easily intimidated by motions and round 419 robins as are His Majesty s present advisers. Moreover there is no sign of any unwillingness in the Reichstag to vote gladly not only the necessary Estimates but complaint is even made that the Government scheme does not go far enough. When the German Minister of Marine was questioned as to why he asked for less than the country was willing to grant, his response was that the programme for 1911 onwards was only a provisional programme which could be increased if the German Liberals wished, and he would be very glad to increase it if the majority gave him their support. Contrast that with our Government, who seem to welcome pressure from advocates of a smaller Navy; and I think that it would be a very unfortunate result of this debate if the impression was created in foreign countries that, whatever may be the opinions of some sections of this House, there are any considerable or influential sections in this country who are not just as willing to make the sacrifices which are necessary to secure our national safety as are the people and Parliament of Germany. It has been suggested in many quarters that financial considerations will block or at any rate hamper the execution of the German naval programme. But it has been shown by a very able series of despatches from The Times correspondent in Berlin that there is absolutely no ground whatever for that optimistic view. He has pointed out that if there was one thing which he noticed it was the determination of all classes and parties in Germany to spend many more millions on the Navy. We cannot count on the German programme being cut down on the ground of financial stringency. It is perfectly clear that the Germans mean business. We have no right to complain of that, any more than we have a right to complain of the action of the United States Government or any other Government which is increasing its Navy. After all, they are only awakening to a sense of the consequences of all that is meant by the phrase "command of the seas," and they do not intend that we should retain a monopoly of that command. They are perfectly within their rights; we have no just cause of complaint. But we must face the situation with calmness, 420 good temper, and above all, I hope, with determination. I regret that the House has had no chance to accept, or at any rate vote on the Amendment which I have placed upon the Paper, because its terms are at least firm and unambiguous, which is a good deal more than can be said for the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Let us consider his Amendment for a moment. He asks us to "support the Government in such economies as are consistent with the defence of the Empire." That is a very slippery slide for anybody who believes in national defence to commit himself upon. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in moving that Amendment knows perfectly well, no one can know better, that so far from economies being possible on the present Estimates, he has cut them down to a point where even the very modest programme of this year, if it is not to be a sham programme, will necessitate the bringing in of Supplementary Estimates before the end of the present financial year, and must lead to enormous increases in the next and following years. He knows perfectly well that if he translates his advocacy of the two-Power standard into action, we must lay down next year five "Dreadnoughts" instead of two, as proposed in the programme of the present year. The present Estimates deliberately shirk their fair proportion of the burden of even the modest programme which they announce. Almost every item indicates a policy of deferred expenditure, and consequently the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows perfectly well that no reduction is possible next year in these Estimates, whilst, on the contrary, there must be a large and progressive increase of expenditure. Consequently, the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman is a mere tactical manœuvre calculated to throw dust in the eyes of the House of Commons, and to hold out to the hon. Member for Falkirk and his friends hopes which he knows cannot possibly be realised. It seeks further to commit the House to the policy of postponing the evil day by putting off expenditure in the hope, I suppose, that something may turn up, probably a general election, which will divert attention for the moment from the needs of national defence, 421 and possibly may even relieve the Government of having to meet the liabilities which it is now afraid to face. No doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer will carry his Amendment. But after all, what does it matter? The country is not interested in his Amendment to the Motion of the hon. Member for Falkirk. What excites the in erect of the country, and I hope also its resentment, is not that the Chancellor of the Exchequer amends the Motion of the hon. Member for Falkirk. but that he should have amended the Estimates in obedience to the dictation of the hon. Member for Falkirk and his friends. That fact, coupled with the abject and apologetic statements of the First Lord and the Secretary of State for War, is, I think humiliating to all who believe that, after all, the safety of the country is more important than the favour of the hon. Member for Falkirk, or even the production of a showy aid electioneering Budget. I will only say this, in conclusion. The statement has been made in many quarters outside, and by the Radical Press, that we who advocate an increased expenditure on the naval defence of this country are indifferent to the claims of social reform. I repudiate that suggestion. We recognise that there must be additional expenditure on social reforms, but we wish first to lay the foundations of that national, security, without which the best designed and most lavishly planned schemes of social reform will collapse like a house of cards at the first flip of a hostile finger. It is because we wish that the structure of social reform shall not be a castle built upon a quicksand that we venture to urge the preliminary sacrifices (however great and continuous) which are necessary to secure our national safety. In conclusion I do do not think I can do better than by quoting in this connection the wise and statesmanlike words of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Speaking only a month ago, he said—We have a stronger reason for preserving our Navy than any foreign nation can have for building a Navy. For upon the strength or our Navy and upon maintaining that strength unimpaired depend not only our trade and our empire, but the very in independence and life of this country.
§ MR. J. M. ROBERTSON (Northumberland, Tyneside)
said the right hon. 422 Gentleman who had just spoken naturally denounced any movement in the direction of a policy which would put the relations of European nations upon a better footing. He was guilty some years ago of a very inflammatory speech, as to which he had since denied the accuracy of the reports, but had never given any account which would reduce it to anything like an excusable utterance. At that time he played his evil part in extending that feeling of ill-will which was so constantly fostered by a number of politicians of his school, not only in this country but also in Germany. To-night he had made a lamentable effort in the same direction. The question at issue, however, was rather between a number of the loyal supporters of the Government in their general policy and the Government in their expenditure on armaments. They never expected the Opposition to do anything but support a policy of expenditure, irrespective of common-sense, and declaim about the necessity of defending the country, without showing the slightest need for such expenditure. Whatever line the Opposition took, the issue between the Government and their supporters must be worked out. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty had said that the mover of the reduction was at issue with his newspaper advisers. He did not think his right hon. friend was quite entitled to take such a line. In any case he seemed to have entirely misapprehended the document to which he referred. That document did not lay down and justify a programme of three "Dreadnoughts" per annum, but was one which showed that if we went on building three "Dreadnoughts" we should have an enormous preponderance over Germany. It did not preclude the writer from maintaining that even three "Dreadnoughts" would be in excess of the needs of the country. If it was arguable that they, should be in accord with certain journalists who otherwise cooperated with, them, they were certainly entitled to argue that members of the. Ministry should be in accord with each other, and that their utterances should be consistent. One difficulty raised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was that it was not at all inconsistent with the argument made 423 out by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in a recent debate on the Address. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had denied, further, that Russia was the main factor to be taken into account in our military expenditure on India. He was putting the Foreign Secretary aside for the moment. Two years ago the Indian Viceroy, Lord Minto, did treat Russia as the main factor in our military expenditure in India, and put forward the astonishing argument that at a time when Russia was humiliated and practically prostrate she was more dangerous than ever. There ought to be a little more concord between His Majesty's Ministers and His Majesty's Viceroy in India, on such a point as that. To come to a matter of still closer concern, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them with the most obvious sincerity and conviction that the whole object of our Navy was defence, and that all the other Powers knew it. The Foreign Secretary n the recent debate on the Address on the capture of private property at sea had indulged in an elaborate argument, the purpose of which was to show that our policy as regarded defending and persisting in the right of capture at sea was justified on this score, that the Navy exists as a great weapon of coercion against foreign powers; It must be in the recollection of the Secretary to the Admiralty that that was the position taken up by the Foreign Secretary, that we were to hold' to capture at sea because it was the best means of bringing an enemy to his knees. It' was not put forward as a means of defence at all. Whatever was the need of harmony between Members of that House and journalists, there ought to be co-ordination between the utterances of His Majesty's Ministers. That brought them to what he considered was a point of central importance that had been over looked so far. What they had to look to was the general question of policy. They were not met there to discuss the points in which expenditure might be usefully cut down. He had listened with amazement to the argument of the Member for the Abercromby Division on that head. If the debate on such a, Resolution as this took that form they would never get at the real issue at all. They would be in the hands of naval and other experts all 424 the time, and would never come to the real issue on which, whatever Ministers might think, a very large number of the most thoughtful people in this country were deeply impressed and were determined to come to some practical conclusion. He had listened with astonishment and pain to the language of the hon. Member as regarded another matter. He seemed to claim that almost everyone in the House agreed to the proposition that if, in the insane and foolish beggar-my-neighbour policy of for ever increasing expenditure, we found the burden intolerable, we should be prepared to fight whatever other Power it was that was increasing its expenditure also. He desired in the most emphatic and solemn terms to repudiate such a proposition; and he trusted that many of his hon. friends would agree with him in repudiating it. If they took the word "intolerable" in a literal sense, it did not matter what they said they would do. If they literally could not go on bearing their expenditure and had to do something else, the proposition might pass as a figure of speech. But as the word "intolerable" was habitually used in a loose and rhetorical way, his hon. friend's utterance on this point amounted to a most lamentable threat to any other Power that the time might come and might come soon, when we should go to War with it precisely because it increased its naval expenditure. What should we think of any particular foreign nation that held out such a threat to us? He was sure we should resent it in the strongest way. He could not but conceive that foreign nations would deeply resent such a threat, and did not suppose for a moment that any of them would endorse such a proposition. We were no more justified in going to war with a foreign Power for merely increasing its naval expenditure than any foreign Power was justified in going to war with us for the same reason. On this point he would think he was much more in sympathy with Ministers than was the hon. Member. He had supported him and voted with him in his demand of two years ago for a reduction of Army expenditure and, like him, did not repent in the least of the course he then, took. He was only the more astonished to find the hon. Member 425 now arguing that there must be no general demand for retrenchment, and that everything or that nature was platitude, to use his own expression. To come to the main issue, the question of the policy of the Government was raised by their refusal at the Hague Conference to abandon the right of capture at sea. He could not but think that in regard to the line of argument adopted by the Foreign Secretary in the debate on the Address, there was a deep fallacy involved, and that it was shared by a number of Members on both sides of the House. One hon. Member opposite had delivered a very able and ingenious speech on that occasion, the purport of which was that war must he war, and that it must be made as abominable as possible. He could not see why, holding that view, any hon. Member should not argue if or poisoning wells. Waiving that particular issue, he wished to point out that the assumption that was made, that the more property was injured the sooner the war would be brought to a close, was really grossly fallacious. The hon. Member opposite drew an illustration which he seemed to think, supported his argument, from the case of the devastation of the Shenandoah Valley in the American Civil War, and he spoke with something like exultation of the utter destruction of the means of life that was effected by Sheridan in that case. The hon. Member seemed to see something ennobling in, the conception of so devastating a valley that a crow could not fly over it without carrying its rations with it. The devastation was never as thorough as that, and it never for an instant aimed at bringing the enemy to his knees. That would have been a very gross delusion indeed. They could not possibly have starved out the South by devastating the Shenandoah Valley, and it did nothing to bring the, war to a close. The Shenandoah Valley was a very important means of communication for the North between Washington and the theatre of war in the south. That means of communication was frequently being interrupted by the southern armies entering the Shenandoah Valley. The whole military theory of Sheridan's' operation was this: By making the Shenandoah Valley untenable by the 426 enemy's army he would leave it free for the passage of his own forces; but there was no hope whatever of bringing the enemy to his knees by merely starving out the people of the Shenandoah Valley or for any other purpose devastating it.
§ MR. BOWLES (Lambeth, Norwood)
I think the hon. Member has missed my point. I did not suggest for a moment that the devastation of the Shenandoah Valley was done in order to brings the people to their knees by making life intolerable. I only used it as an illustration of the fact that private property is not immune on shore, and that if you really were going to withdraw private property from the operation of war you had better begin in the interests of humanity ashore rather than at sea, where it is more humane.
§ MR. J. M. ROBERTSON
said he did not see that the hon. Member's argument in that case amounted to anything at all, for he had to admit that on land loot was prohibited, and what was contended for as regarded the capture of commerce at sea was the permissibility of looting. The Shenandoah Valley was not a case of loot, so that if the hon. Member spoke only in that sense he was not speaking relatively to the contention of the other side. Let them take another case of what might be called devastation for devastation's sake, the famous devastation of the Palatinate in the reign of Louis XIV. That historic act of devastation had been condemned by every great soldier as futile and useless, and it had been recognised by historians as not only having failed in the purpose of bringing the enemy to his knees, but as having united a large part of Germany against the French Ring. In the debate to which he had referred, the Foreign Secretary, practically taking the line of the hon. Member opposite, had interpreted the famous historic phrase: "methods of barbarism," as having been applied solely to the concentration camps in South Africa. He did not see how anyone could ever suppose that the phrase applied to the concentration camps. Concentration camps were never methods of barbarism. They were methods of Vulgar and hypocritical 427 civilisation. It was the policy of the destruction of property and of crops and houses that most of them had in view when they interpreted the phrase. He took it that the insistence on the right to capture the enemy's commerce was strictly a method of barbarism in this sense, that it was an adherence to the old barbaric principle that plunder was the main purpose of war and a good way of getting the better of the enemy. In that very case of the South African war they had the best of recent illustrations of the futility of the war policy of mere destruction and plunder, for it was the peculiar infamy of the promoters of that war that they protracted it, as was now generally admitted, for eighteen months beyond any reasonable time in the hope of forcing the enemy to surrender by a policy of destruction, and after all they had to make terms with the enemy. Thus their policy of destruction was a failure by their own confession. In the whole argument of the Foreign Secretary that the right of capture at sea was a powerful weapon for bringing war to an end, there lay a deep fallacy, which was that plunder was a good way of getting the better of the enemy. The theory that they brought, a war to a conclusion by stealing the enemy's property had nothing in it. He wondered what wars the Foreign Secretary was thinking about when he said that the capturing of commerce would bring a war to a conclusion. The right hon. Baronet must have been thinking of war in the abstract, and not in the concrete form. The last great war between England and France after the French Revolution lasted for twenty years, and commerce was being captured the whole of the time, and never once was it pretended that that policy did anything to bring the enemy to his knees. In the old days when men insisted upon the policy of the capture of commerce at sea the policy of this country was one of interference with the affairs of Continental nations, and for that purpose it might be useful, but surely they had passed far away from that ideal of foreign policy now. If, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed, however inaccurately, the purpose of our Navy should be a purpose 428 of defence, what could justify the maintenance of the policy of insistence on the capture of commerce at sea; what excuse was there for refusing to accept the claim of foreign Powers that we should abandon that demand? He had tried to find a rational basis for the policy of the Government in this matter. It had been pointed out that when the commerce of all nations was insured it was a ludicrous argument to say that they would bring the enemy to his knees by captures, because our own underwriters would have to pay the damages. The Foreign Secretary had argued that in that case the prizes of war would go as an indemnity to the underwriters. He did not know on what authority that statement was made. Such a course would revolutionise the law as regarded prizes of war in this country. The law and the practice as regarded prizes at sea was that they belonged to the captors, and the prize money had always been shared in that way. Now the Foreign Secretary told them that that practice would be put an end to, and the prize money would go to the British underwriters. The Foreign Office, as far as he was aware, had made no attempt to ascertain the views of foreign nations upon this matter-To judge from the arguments of the Foreign Secretary in a former debate, our Government stood blindly to the position that we would make no concession as regarded the capture of commerce, that we insisted on our ancient rights. By that very confession we maintained our Navy, not for purposes of defence, but for purposes of aggression against other nations who happened to have commerce at sea. The right hon. Gentleman had said that if they gave up that right they would run dreadful risks, that the state of war would continue, and they would never get at that enemy. He said the enemy's fleet would remain in harbour, and the state of war would continue. That did not seem to him to be the worst state of war. The right hon. Gentleman had suggested that if the enemy got his fleet bottled up after a certain time this country might lose command of the sea by making a mistake but this country might also bottle up, its fleet and then the enemy might make the same mistake. That was the kind of Pickwickian argument they had been 429 listening to. He did not think he needed to discuss that argument further, because if they were in such danger they might as well give up the Navy altogether. He knew there were two views on the subject of the capture of commerce at sea. There was one set of experts who maintained that an enemy could not do any harm to our commerce in a naval war; there was another who maintained that an enemy could do a great deal of harm. He challenged the Government to decide which of these two positions they took. If it were true that an enemy could not damage our commerce seriously at sea in time of war, what excuse had we for maintaining the present vast fleet, and especially the cruisers? The Secretary to the Admiralty had told them that his programme was largely one of cruisers, and what were they for? By the account of a naval expert they were the eyes of the fleet, and were farther, for the protection of commerce. From that point of view our commerce in time of war would be in danger, and we required cruisers to defend it. Consequently if the Government waived its right to capture commerce at sea they would not need any cruisers. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was committed to the view that our commerce was in danger, because when he said the maintenance of the command of the sea was to us a matter of life and death, he must, he took it, be held to have been referring to the danger of the interception of our food supplies. But the Government had only to agree to the claim of foreign Powers that capture of commerce at sea should cease to put our food supply out of danger. Our food supply would then need no defence, and there would be no justification for the size of the Navy as it existed to-day. If, on the other hand, it were true that our commerce ran no danger from an enemy, that, owing to wireless telegraphy and so on, we were put in such a position that our commerce was practically safe, then what was our Navy for but for the purpose of harassing the commerce of other States? As against the lamentable position taken up by the hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby Division of Liverpool, he would put it to the House that while they claimed the supremacy of the sea the only result would be that all foreign maritime nations would be 430 justified in arming themselves in self-defence. So long as they maintained the claim to capture commerce at sea they were holding out one of the worst temptations to our people to go to war. He had actually read articles which affirmed the proposition, that if they only destroyed the German Navy the trade now going to Germany would come to this country. So long as such delusions prevailed it was this country that ran the risk of being tempted into war by the prospect of loot and plunder that was held out to them under this practice of the capture of commerce at sea in time of war. It was the duty of those who sat on those benches to try to gather what was the opinion of the wiser members of their Party and of the wiser minds throughout the country, and he ventured to say that those wiser minds were not in accord with the policy of the Government, and still less with the policy of the specialists and extremists as to military expenditure.
§ MR. CLYNES (Manchester, N.E.),
in supporting the Resolution, said he could not quite understand the Amendment moved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Labour Party for their part regarded the Resolution as being much too mild to meet the views expressed by the Liberal Party on the subject of national expenditure, especially in respect of armaments. The Resolution merely asked the Government to agree to further reductions in expenditure on armaments. He submitted that the cry raised at the last election by thousands of Liberal speakers was that the late Government was driving this nation to the verge almost of ruin by the excessive burden of expenditure. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was fair enough never in any sense to mislead the country by raising hopes in regard to expenditure which he believed could not be; fulfilled. The right hon. Gentleman's moderation of promise on these subjects could always be verified by reference to his speeches, but at the same time he stood, as it were, as a kind of silver pipe in the great band of Radical trumpeters who on thousands of platforms prior to the last election told the country day by day how thousands of pounds had been needlessly expended. As in ten 431 years the cost of armaments Had increased by £20,000,000 the country was surely led to the conclusion that with the advent to power of a Liberal Government Very great relief from public burdens would follow. He was conscious that in advocating reduction in expenditure he and those who thought with him would be charged with being friends of every country but their own. Those who said he and his colleagues were Little Englanders were men who endeavoured to keep the country as the private property of a little section in it. But the fact that three-quarters of the revenue of the country was expended in paying for our armaments and the cost of our wars in the past was sufficient to make everybody pause. Eight years ago the Emperor of Russia put forward his standstill proposition, but in the years which had intervened the military expenditure of England, France, Germany, and Russia had increased from £165,000,000 to £202,000,000, or something over 22 per cent. It was a burden which to his mind they were called upon to bear, not because there was any great sense of national danger, but because they had to pay a heavy price for the panic mongering of interested parties. They were now asked to approve of a national expenditure, which was consistent with an adequate defence of His Majesty's dominions. Who was to be the judge of what adequate defence was? He asked that question because the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the course of his very lucid speech had pointed out that the late Government had year after year added to the burden on the backs of the people which they were now compelled to carry. Why was that burden added to? It was because they had then, as to a great extent; they had now, a House of Commons called upon to register its approval of private Cabinet decisions. What he and his friends asked was that these high questions of national and international policy should be subject more to the free and unrestrained opinion and judgment of those who were elected to hold themselves responsible for the destinies of the various nations. If the expenditure had: increased because a willing House of Commons had approved of the decisions of the Cabinet, was that 432 not a good reason why the present House of Commons should be left freer to impress on the Cabinet what the need of the moment and of the immediate future was, and to urge that expenditure on armaments should be reduced? He complained that so far in this debate no one who had spoken authoritatively from either side of the House had uttered a word exhibiting genuine sympathy with the cause of international amity the world over. The hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby Division even went so far as to refer to the aspiration for international peace as a meaningless sentiment in a House of this kind. He himself thought they would never get a great reduction in the burden of armaments by dealing with small single items in the great total of expenditure with which they were faced. It was not enough for the House to look at the tact and administrative ability of individual members of the present Government or of past Governments. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had referred to the administrative tact and ability displayed in these quarters. The whole House should hold itself responsible to second the efforts of individual Ministers; and more than that, the leaders of parties, the spokesmen of national organised bodies of men, should show themselves untiring in the cause of peace, which stood second to none in the country to-day. It was said the money spent on armaments gave employment to British labour. But in his view the money should be used in more remunerative ways than in the building of battleships. The building and furnishing trades, and various other industries, might be stimulated if one-tenth part of the expenditure now incurred for armaments were used to assist those who were unemployed in connection with these trades. He and his friends did not wish to say that at no time and under no circumstances should we enter into a state of war, but, surely, only the most supreme national reason, involving the nation's life and honour, should justify us in. employing suck instruments of war as we now had at our disposal. Against which Power were these preparations directed? Japan was our ally; Russia, as far as naval strength: was concerned, offered no grounds for fear; surely we did not fear immediate 433 danger from our friend and neighbour France; and who could contemplate anything like a naval encounter with our kith and kin in America? There was only one nation left, and our Navy was certified by experts to be at least four times as strong as that of Germany. These facts justified the Government in agreeing to the terms of the Resolution, and even in going further in the administrative effort to reduce the burden under which the country was now groaning. We might provide one element of safety for ourselves in the further recognition of the rights and interests of other people. It was a good thing to guard our own, but it was equally good to acknowledge that other people had as much right to their share of the world as we ourselves had. We entered into treaties and arrangements with other lands for reasons of strategy and for purposes of trade; but we should go further and proclaim that we as a nation were ready to enter into treaties that would ensure the conditions of permanent peace and prosperity over the world at large. Members connected with all parties in the House had freely indulged in sentiments as to the necessity for international amity, but when they came to the House as men charged with international responsibilities they were told that these were pious expressions of opinion. It was their business to urge statesmen to make them into more than pious opinions and to lay the lash of their censure in the quarters that deserved it, especially on the sensational Press. Many connected with the Liberal Party were strongly anxious for conditions of enduring international peace, and it was for the purpose of securing these that they had been elected. It was easy for the rich classes to bear the burdens and to refuse to support the principle of international arbitration. But on the financial side of the question the burden fell heaviest on the poorest classes of this country. Of the 40,000,000 of people in this country only 1,000,000 were well enough off to pay any income-tax directly to the Treasury, and until expenditure was diminished the burden of the poor could not possibly be made any lighter, but was bound to be in- 434 creased by an automatic and ever-growing process. The methods pursued by nations to-day in regard to international interests differed, after all, very little from those of savages of former days; and were they to confess that notwithstanding all our education and Strivings after a higher ideal they must keep armed to the teeth out of fear of their nearest neighbours? It would be a good thing if the leading statesmen of the various nations were to recognise their obligations in that regard. It was said by a few that the international burden was counterbalanced by the gain derived from the physical training of the recruits for the Army and Navy; but any advantages of a purely physical character would come in a much fuller degree if the money was spent in organising and properly directing the forces of man for peaceful purposes instead of for purposes of discord and war. If one-tenth of the effort and expenditure involved in naval and military preparations were spent on peaceful purposes men would show themselves better developed in every way. Although the matter of money was very serious indeed, especially to the class he and his friends represented, there, was yet something even more important than money. A very high human issue was involved in this question, and until that issue was recognised between one election and another and pressed in the Press and on the platform, and expressed more frankly from the two Front Benches in this House, this great burden of expenditure could not be diminished in anything like the way it ought to be. No, the great cries of the victors and the cheeks of the successful side had never yet counterbalanced the groans and the agonies of those who were slain in war; and no greater enterprise could be under taken by statesmen than doing their utmost to set up an international arbitration which would settle all the differences of nations in a peaceful way without the dread arbitrament of war.
§ MR. BELLAIRS (Lynn Regis)
said he had long been a student of the economy of this subject, and if his hon. and learned friend the Member for Walthamstow would allow him he wished to defend 435 the expert. He would suggest that legal gentlemen were also experts:To prove by reason in reason's despite,That white is black and black is white.He thought that the hon. and learned Gentleman in the course of his speech was doing precisely what he had done so often successfully elsewhere. In the leaflet issued by the Committee of which the honorary secretary was the mover of the Resolution it was said that the rise of expenditure might be certainly exhibited by a comparison between that of this year and that of 1897. He noticed that there was a slow process of education going on in the Party. The comparison used to be made between now and some period early in last century then it was made with the expenditure in 1894, and now it was with the expenditure in 1897. But when they compared the expenditure of last year with that of 1897 they did not think it worth while to mention that in the latter year the engineers strike took place, and that we underspent to the extent of £2,500,000 on the new construction Vote that year. His hon. friends likewise forgot that the two-Power standard had always been applied by Ministers on both side s of the House, including the present Prime Minister himself, to the two strongest Powers. He could give them quotation after quotation from both Front Benches saying that the two-Power standard meant the two strongest Powers. Very obviously when the two-Power standard was applied now it meant the two strongest naval Powers—the United States and Germany—and when his hon. friends took 1897 for comparison they forgot that that was the year which saw the inception of the first German Naval Bill and the commencement of American naval expansion. A paper issued in Germany in support of that Bill showed that then Great Britain had sixty-two battleships and the United States and Germany had twenty-eight battleships. We were twice as strong in battleships and two and a half times as strong in cruisers, as these two Powers in 1897. The hon. Member who moved the Resolution said that suspicion had been excited amongst the other great Powers of late by our great armaments; but did it not appear to the hon. Gentleman that not the slightest suspicion was excited against us on the part of 436 those nations when our Navy was much stronger than in recent years? It should be remembered that battleships were only one element in naval strength, and that cruisers and destroyers were other elements. Hon. Gentlemen who wanted to go back to the expenditure of 1897 forgot that the cost of construction to-day of a battleship was about 80 per cent. more than in 1897. If they took the ships under construction in 1897 and calculated what the cost would be at the rate paid to-day, the new construction in 1897 would be between two and three times as high as it was to-day. The mover and the seconder of the Resolution had spoken very strongly about sensational journalism which was doing much harm to Germany. He admitted that. He would take an instance in regard to a weekly newspaper which threatened Germany with coercion by coalition, and the same paper had previously talked about Germany's "singularly barbarous attitude" and of her "diabolical" methods of waging war. That was published, not by one of the yellow press papers, but by an economist journal called the Nation, and edited by Mr. H. W. Massingham. It was said that a reduction in our naval expenditure would have to be made, but he thought in connection with this Resolution which talked about our peaceful relations with foreign Powers he would read what the Leader of the Liberal Imperialist Party said in 1902. [An HON. MEMBER: Who was he?] The Leader of the Liberal Imperialist Party at the period was the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, and he said speaking on the Navy Estimates of 21st February, 1902—For my part I think there are two branches of national expenditure in the diminution of which I see no prospect, and for the diminution of which I have no desire. One is the money we spend on national education, and the other is the money we spend on our Fleet.Navy Estimates to-day were £1,950,000 less than when the Chancellor of the Exchequer made that speech. The right hon. Gentleman went on to point out that we had to take into consideration every Power, and that we had even to take into account our ally Japan After referring to France, Russia, Italy and Germany he invited them to look 437 further both to the East and the West. In the case of our kinsmen across the Atlantic in the United States there was, he said, growing up one of the largest and best navies in the world, and on the other hand, our new allies as he supposed we must call them were constructing a powerful Fleet. It was impossible, he said, not to take into account when we were constructing a Navy the dangers to which we were exposed. The right hon. Gentleman said then that the two-Power standard represented the minimum of safety. In the course of the debate to-day, however, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in moving his Amendment had said that the Government adopted and gladly adopted the preamble of the Resolution; but in his humble opinion that preamble vitiated the two-Power standard. If we were to take into consideration our peaceful relations with one Power it followed that we could discard that Power in dealing with our Navy. It turned out however that not one of the vessels which the Cabinet settled at the end of 1903 to build were yet in commission. That was to say the statesmen of 1903 had to take into consideration our naval strength in 1903 and he did not believe anyone who lived in the period of 1903 was able to forecast in the slighest degree the grouping of the European Powers now. They had now to take into consideration what the state of affairs would be somewhere about the end of 1911 or the beginning of 1912, because the 1908 programme must safeguard the position of the country right up to the completion of the 1909 programme. He thought that was fairly obvious to anybody, but he did not believe that any statement by the Government or any argument would drive the economist party from that continual pressure for economy they had been exercising for some time past. If they were driven from one position they took up another, and they would consistently go on applying that pressure. They formed the tail of the Liberal Party, and their efforts were the old characteristic efforts which had always wrecked the Liberal Party, that of the tail attempting to wag the Party. That was always the case, and they seemed to grow by what they fed upon. The more con- 438 cession was made to them the bigger the tail grew, and he supposed it would be all tail if concessions went on. Therefore he wished the Government had met this Resolution with a direct negative, and then he could have supported them heartily. On this occasion the tail of the Party was masquerading more or less, in the capacity of sandwich men. On one board there was the principle of disarmament and on the other the principle of economy. He remembered what a great statesman Lord Randolph Churchill, who had been quoted more than once in this debate, said on this subject. He stated that the Radical Party was always prevented from governing by what it was pleased to call its principles, and in the process of the act of governing it invariably committed suicide, He thought this idea of pushing economy to an extreme was one of those cases to which Lord Randolph Churchill referred, although he himself wrecked his own career by a similar course. A few nights-ago the tail of the Party was masquerading as sandwichmen with Macedonian, misrule on one board and Congo atrocities on the other, but he must point out to hon. Members that if they wished England to act as policeman in Europe and Africa armaments became more and more of a necessity. We could not go on acting as policeman all over the world without armaments and he would point out also that we had treaty obligations, which the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Secretary of State for War must bear in mind. Hon. Members must remember that we had occasionally to coerce Turkey as they did at the beginning of their reign as Liberals. This action with regard to Turkey might cause a war and we might have to send 100,000 troops to meet the Turkish troops who were very efficient soldiers. In that event the Navy would have to safeguard the transport and act along the coasts of Syria, the Levant, and Egypt. That was only a suggestion, which occurred to him at the moment, and which he threw out, and he must point out that the hon. Members who were most strenuous in calling upon the Government to act as policeman in international difficulties and who made strenuous speeches, spitting fire right 439 and left, did not have to do the work but other men had to go and do it in the persons of our soldiers and sailors, and they ought to be provided with adequate weapons and all that was necessary. Hon. Members could not play the part of Peter the Hermit and William Penn the Quaker, at the same time, yet they were attempting to play the part of Peter the Hermit in regard to our policing Europe and the part of William Penn when they wished for disarmament. What was required? What did hon. Members desire to reduce with regard to the Navy? They could reduce either personnel or materiel. If they reduced the personnel they would have to break contracts with men, and If they wished to reduce materiel he would remind them that some figures which he had obtained from the First Lord of the Admiralty that afternoon showed that the total expenditure on materiel in the Navy as compared with the German expenditure was 1.18 as against 1. He would ask his hon. friend whether his object was to get a permanent economy or a temporary economy by disarmament? He thought he should get no answer, but perhaps the Labour Party would give one. Was the economy they desired to effect to be temporary or permanent? [Some LABOUR cries of "Permanent."] They at any rate had had the courage of their convictions and were entitled to say to the electorate that armaments stood in the way of old-age pensions. But those who only hoped for temporary economy were grossly deceiving electors if they said that the Navy stood in the way of social reform. He was in favour of measures of social reform, but he hoped to get them by a revision in our system of taxation. What had been the history of this question of disarmament? Napoleon the Third in the sixties raised the question in every country in Europe, and history, was repeating itself to a very great extent. Napoleon the Third was visited by the King of Prussia, arid the, French. Prime Minister told the French Parliament not to be deceived by mythical German armaments. The French nation proceeded to set an example in disarmament. That was in 1869, and in the succeeding year, 1870, the Prussians 440 took Paris and exacted an indemnity. The result was, therefore, anything but satisfactory. He might instance the case of Lord Goschen. He raised the question in 1899, and this was followed by the German Navy Bill of 1900. The Unionist Party set the example by making the substantial "cut" which had been referred to, and this was followed by the German Navy Bill of 1906. The Government raised the question in 1907, and made a specific offer at the Hague Conference; the result was the, German Navy, Bill of 1908. And yet his hon. friends went on talking about disarmament, Their principle of economy was of limited application. It meant penurious treatment for soldiers and sailors and extravagant treatment as regarded social reform. His own view with regard to the experts who had been referred to in such disparaging terms was that they were bound to go to them for advice, but that they were not bound to take that advice. They would never get economy of a permanent and justifiable kind unless for a time they placed one Minister in charge of both Services and found out what was vital for the two. The right way for a Minister to approach the problem was to ask, the experts if every measure they submitted was vital to the safety of the country. After all, they were the real experts on that question. They were bound to do what was vitally necessary, but of course, they were entitled to ask the experts their reasons and make them, prove that it was vital. If it was merely useful, then, if the British Nation was too hard up, the proper attitude of the Minister would be to say we could not afford merely useful things, but only those which were vital. That was the only way in which a Minister could promote economy. In order to bring the two Services into harmony and prevent overlapping their best Minister for a time only should be put in charge of both fighting services. He wanted to point out to the House the official German figures, and he begged hon. Members to listen to them carefully. Since 1904, side by side with British reductions of 13.2 millions, sterling per annum, there had been an increase in the German Army and Navy Estimates of 16.2 millions 441 sterling per annum. The relative increase, therefore, of the German Army and Navy Estimates in the short space of four years as compared with Great Britain was 29.4 millions sterling. If that extra expenditure did not convince hon. Members that they had got substantially changed conditions, all he could say was that there was no convincing them at all. In addition to that the Admiralty had to take into consideration the fact that the German Navy Bill which had already been sanctioned provided for a still further increase of £5,000,000 per annum by the year 1911. He had been much struck of late months by the fact that the literature circulated in the House had been all of one kind. The Peace Society, the International Arbitration Society, the Financial Reform Society, the Cobden Club, and his hon. friend, through his committee, had all been at work, arguing against naval expenditure; and if industry was to be the sole measure of success they had deserved to succeed. He and those who were associated with him had, he thought, much reason to be ashamed, for they had not met and repudiated, as they could be repudiated, the arguments of his hon. friend by literature of a similar kind. In diplomacy it was universally recognised that whatever promise might be made to a foreign nation, if some new event supervened and, as the late Lord Salisbury said, created a stricken field, then those promises could be violated as we violated them in Egypt; we had then a stricken field to upset all calculations, and, like sensible men, we adapted ourselves to the changed conditions. With regard to all this solemn twaddle about promises at the general election, he maintained that since then there had been a stricken field, created, and promises made under utterly different conditions had no sort of application to the changed Conditions of 1908. The fact that there had been an enormous increase of nearly £29,500,000 per annum in the German Army and Navy Estimates relative to our own was of considerably more importance than all the opinions they might have uttered at the general election. Facts were stronger than opinions, and opinions had to suit themselves to the new facts. He was sure his hon. friends would 442 not be convinced by these changed conditions. He had been struck by the fact that they were so dissatisfied with the reductions that had been achieved in the British. Navy Estimates that they had promoted a memorial of 136 Liberal Members of Parliament to the Prime Minister for further reductions. Those hon. Members did not get elected for economy. The main issue, so far as he recollected, was one in which they showed posters of the big and the little loaf. They pictured themselves as the bountiful big loaf, and their opponents as the famine loaf, and they proceeded to say that seven loaves out of ten came from, abroad and that it would be a monstrous injustice if one out of the ten had a small tax put upon it. If that would be a monstrous injustice, what adjective was left to describe conduct which by reducing; the Navy would expose the whole seven imported loaves to danger? They would get a famine loaf then with a vengeance. The working-men were entirely on his side. There was another strong formula they used at the general election. It was the old watchwords: "Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform." He used it himself many times; but his hon. friends had taken "retrenchment" out of the context altogether without considering the governing word "Peace." Peace in this country had always been preserved by the strong British Navy; and he would ask hon. Members whether they had ever known reforms carried out when the country was at war. Retrenchment was in direct proportion to the strength of the Navy. The prosperity of the nation, as the banking centre of the world, depended upon the strength of the Navy; and, if once they let down naval expenditure—and they were letting it down—there would be in this country, as there was in every other country in Europe, a successful demand for conscription, and if the conscript was to be paid the market rate of wages, they might then expect their Army Estimates to be doubled at the very least in two years. His hon. friends had told them that they only desired reasonable compression of armaments; but who was to judge between reasonable and treasonable compression. It was only a difference of a "T," and some people found it easy to cross the "T" out. The late Lord 443 Salisbury said the people were the ultimate judges. He agreed, but who was to advise the people except the experts as to what was necessary for any given contingency? We had in some respects a very small Navy providing for our defence—128,000 provided for the whole defence, allowing some 400,000,000 people to pursue their ordinary avocations in the Empire. There was one man afloat to every 3,000 ashore. These 128,000 men were the only safety between this country and invasion. That was one sailor keeping out over thirty German soldiers. He hoped he had shown that it was a very penurious policy to starve the Navy of the necessary materiel to safeguard the country against invasion, to fulfil ourtreaty obligations, and to protect the food supplies of the country.
§ SIR GILBERT PARKER (Gravesend)
thought they must all have been impressed by the fact that no case had been made out by the mover and seconder of the Resolution or by those who had supported it. Everyone must feel, as the hon. Member for the Abercromby Division had said, that the Amendment was vague, and no one who had spoken in support of the Resolution had suggested any particular direction in which any considerable economy could be achieved. There had not been shown any avenue where very considerable reductions in Navy or Army finance could be presented. He did not think any Member present would suggest that a matter of two or three or four millions represented the principle of economy which the mover of the Resolution had in his mind. If it was only a matter of difference between one "Dreadnought" and two "Dreadnoughts" or between eight and ten millions of expenditure, then there was really no difference in principle between those who supported the Resolution and those who opposed it. There was something much more vital behind it. There were those who believed that our expenditure on the Navy was unnecessary not to the extent of a difference of two or three millions, but of a difference of probably ten or fifteen millions, and those Members while they felt this and spoke in vague terms concerning it could not point out to the Chancellor of the 444 Exchequer nor to the Secretary of the Admiralty exactly where their economies should take effect. The hon. Member for North-East Manchester had talked of the peace and prosperity of the world to be achieved by action on the part of this country in promoting international amity. International amity was a very good thing, but there were other considerations besides good feeling which must establish international amity. International amity, if it meant anything at all except vague expressions of good feeling, must mean something definite and practical. He asked the House if the attitude of Germany and the United States and France in expanding their naval programmes was against the interests of international amity. If it was, we were bound to expand our naval programme to meet that which was against the interests of international amity. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary to the Admiralty in particular had referred to the two-Power standard and spoken of Germany and France as being the combination against which we had to put our naval expenditure. But as the hon. Member for King's Lynn had just pointed out, that was not the standard on which our naval expenditure should be based, but rather upon the two strongest naval Powers, which were the United States and Germany. At present these two Powers were expending £40,000,000 in support of their navies, as against our £32,000,000. But there was a more serious thing than that, if they recognised a two-Power standard at all. In 1911 Germany, which was now expending £8,500,000, would be expending £13,000,000 on her naval programme. What did we intend to do? The United States were expanding proportionately. Were they satisfied to approve next year of the same expenditure as had been presented to the House this year for new construction? What should we spend in five years from now? He thought every Member of the House must recognise that if they admitted the two-Power standard at all, they must admit responsibility for meeting the two-Power standard wherever it might be. It had been said by the Secretary to the Admiralty that if the Cawdor programme 445 had been carried out we should be expending this year £9,500,000 on new construction. But he thought that the naval policy of this country was supposed to be continuous. One Government was supposed to carry out the naval policy and programme of the preceding Government. He hoped the Secretary to the Admiralty would not have them understand by what he said that this Government disapproved of the Cawdor programme, of the policy which was accepted by the House on the whole, and by the community at large. He trusted that the policy which had always been pursued would not be forsaken even in the interests of that economy which they all desired. He did not think there was any Member on the other side of the House—the strongest advocate of economy—who felt the necessity for economy more than Members on that side of the House. Members below the Gangway and Members opposite, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer also, talked about the division of industrial energy and the unproductive character of expenditure on the Army and Navy. It was a lamentable thing that they must spend money on the Army and Navy, he agreed, but international conditions and human nature were such that they must do it, and it was better to spend heavily on the Army and Navy and preserve our trade routes and our commerce. Our sea-borne commerce alone represented £14,000,000 a year, and we spent on our Navy £32,000,000. What did that represent as an insurance? He thought about 2½ per cent. Was that unreasonable? He did not think it was, and they were convinced that industrialism and trade were best preserved by keeping a strong Navy to protect our trade routes and secure our markets. Members opposite believed in free trade and the open door; free trade and neutral markets and the open door were only preserved because we were able to back up our hand by a strong Navy which compelled other Powers to take into account our ability to strike at a moment's notice. Let them take China alone. If hon. Members desired the open door there, this country must be in a strong position to require other nations to keep the open door. The hon. Member for Walthamstow had 446 made some reference to our position in 1855 and to a speech made by Disraeli at that time. It might have been useful if in quoting Disraeli the hon. Member had referred also to the fact that in 1855 England was in a panic, that she had to send abroad to hire soldiers, 20,000 of whom were encamped upon this soil to fight her battles. He argued that after a great war there should be immediate cessation of expenditure. He had no doubt Disraeli advocated that, but history had great lessons even for great statesmen, as great Liberal statesmen had discovered, and history had its lesson for Disraeli, because there was a decrease of expenditure on the Army and Navy which subsequently brought a panic in this country and produced a reconstruction of our Army. England was as much disturbed in 1870 as she was in 1855. France was another example of a country which believed in anti-militarism. There was a large party in France which advocated a non-military spirit. That produced in the end Sedan. That non-military spirit produced in France a lack of preparation and insufficiency of military force which subsequently put her under the heel of Germany. In Germany, which he hoped would long remain our friend, they had an example of a nation which had a national policy of conquest. In Silesia, in Hanover, in Schleswig Holstein, in France, in her dealings with Austria, she had a most deliberate policy of acquiring territory and making the country that she conquered pay the cost of the war. So long as they were faced by nations who were building up empires of their own they must also face the probability of nations going to war to acquire territory and making the nations conquered pay the price of the struggle, and it was that that England had to face. Whatever her goodwill, whatever her desire for peace might be, she had to face the fact that there might be other nations in the world which were not satisfied either with the territory which they controlled or with the commerce which they governed, and who looked to the possibility of expansion based on conquest. They might not like it, but it existed, and they could not afford to sit down and watch the progress of armaments in other countries without 447 rigidly adhering to the policy which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had, reaffirmed. There was no Member on that side who was not grateful to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as he thought the country would be, for his re-affirmation, of the two-power standard, but he thought there was not a Member on that side who did not regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had retained in his Amendment that which was contradictory and misleading. It was absolutely misleading to speak of the friendly relations of Powers with us and then as a sequel to that to speak of economies. The two things were not compatible. To speak of friendly relations with Powers was a mere figure of speech which was used in public documents at times preceding great crises, and such friendly statements had been made on the very verge of war. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was placed in a difficult position. He had behind him those who intended to make it difficult for him unless he made promises of further economy. He had made no promises of further economy and could hold out no hope that next year or the year after there would be substantial reductions in armaments. He had an extract from a speech by the right hon. Gentleman of 14th March, 1906, in which he had said—The Army and Navy present, fields of possible extravagance and certainly not of possible or practicable reduction in the case of the Navy by contracting your shipbuilding programme.The right hon. Gentleman did not now state that there would be any contracting of the shipbuilding programme. We were building this year one battleship. How many were we going to build next year? If we were to live up to the two-Power standard we must build, not one, but three. If we built three battleships would hon. Members opposite be satisfied? If our expenditure was made commensurate with German expenditure would they move a Resolution next year? He thought it was worth considering. He doubted very much whether hon. Members would go further than they had gone now. They had gone only so far as to express the pious opinion that armaments ought to be 448 reduced. They had not said how they could be reduced, and, he believed it could not be shown if they remained steadfast to the principle which had been laid down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The peace and prosperity of the world at large was a good thing, but the peace and prosperity of England was a better thing. It was that to which they, were committed, and that peace and prosperity would be best preserved by also preserving the tradition of the Navy in which the people of this country believed and from which they would not be diverted by resolutions of this kind.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
I am loth to intervene at this hour but the time before us is short and it is necessary to leave space for the Secretary for War, who will reply on behalf of the Government to the whole debate. I have not heard the whole of the speeches since the dinner hour, but I heard the whole of the debate before that period, and I do not think any hon. Gentleman will dissent from the verdict I venture to pass, that the speeches were able and interesting, but the debate itself has been very unsatisfactory for a quite simple reason—that we have not all been addressing ourselves to the same issue; the House has not been occupied in discussing the arguments for and against a simple question of policy. Quite the contrary. Partly from the use of the particular phraseology of the Resolution, and partly in consequence of the introduction of subsidiary circumstances, we really have been for a large part of the debate at cross-purposes. If I may say so, one of the most fruitful causes of a certain discrepancy and want of concentration in the arguments on either side has been that while some hon. Members have been discussing economy others have been discussing reduction. Now, economy and reduction are quite different things. The Secretary to the Admiralty, for instance, never discussed reduction; he spent the whole of his time in a long and able address in discussing economy. He was occupied in showing that, as trustee for the taxpayers and administrator of the Navy, he had done a great deal to save here and save there by introducing better methods; and in the 449 same way the Chancellor of the Exchequer rising from the same bench occupied a large part of his speech in contrasting, not different policies of two successive Administrations, but the question of economies which he alleged to have been made by the Administration of which he is a member, to show that they were better stewards of the taxpayers money than those who preceded them. I am not going to discuss this question of economy as distinguished from reduction. If you are going to deal with questions of economy, that is to say, if you are going to ask whether the predecessor of the present First Lord of the Admiralty was a more careful administrator of public funds than the present First Lord, or whether the late Secretary for War was a worse administrator of funds than the present Secretary of State, you inevitably involve yourselves in an endless controversy about departmental details. Do not let anybody suppose that I regard departmental details in connection with finance as insignificant. I quite agree that they are very important. It is very important that the public funds should be administered without waste. It is the business of the Committee of Supply in discussing the Estimates to do what they can to prevent waste. But on this Resolution we should only be lavishing our time if we were to discuss, not questions of reduction, but questions of economy in regard to departmental management. I have only to mention two cases that have come up which show how vain these discussions are. We had, for instance, the question of loans for public works dealt with at great length by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is a subject on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is fond of discoursing. He thinks the whole course pursued by the late Government was one of extravagance. He thinks that the habit of contracting even short loans throws upon—he said posterity, but I suppose he ought to have said the next Chancellor of the Exchequer—the cost indulged in by one Administration. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer had gone much too far in all his speeches on this subject; and I think, if the present Government runs its natural and appointed course, he will, before leaving 450 office, find that he has gone too far in the matter of these loans. The right hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion made a very interesting parallel between good business methods and Government, methods, and he quoted, as he had a right to quote, the extremely successful business which his enterprise and ability have built up as showing that at all events no business man should regard the opinion of his experts with too profound or too subservient a reverence. I appeal to the same right hon. Gentleman on another matter connected with business, and I ask whether there is a business firm in the world, from the largest railroad down to the smallest industrial enterprise, in which in certain circumstances it is not only proper, but absolutely necessary to deal with great capital expenditure by spreading it over a certain number of years. There is no other way of doing it, and if you refuse to do it in this way the only result is that you will not do it at all. I would, therefore, reply on that branch of the subject which is, I think, subsidiary and apart from the main problem we are discussing, in the following way:—The right hon. Gentleman says that by borrowing money you are throwing upon future Governments and future taxpayers the cost of carrying out your permanent improvements. I say that by the plan he is adopting he is throwing greater burdens on those who are to come after him. If you neglect these works while you are in office on the theory and on the excuse that you have not the money to do it that year, and you refuse to borrow, if the work in consequence remains undone, the result is inevitable. It cannot be avoided. It is that the time comes when they must be done—when the barracks become so abominably insanitary, so utterly impossible to use that they have to be renewed, or the cry for a new naval base conforming to modern conditions of strategy becomes overpowering. Then you have to find money. You have to complete your annual Estimates for the necessary work of the year, or you have to borrow so as to be able to carry out capital expenditure with capital money. I am not going to dwell on the point further; but I have brought it in to show that we really have been led 451 off, in the first instance, I must say by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and secondly, by the Secretary to the Admiralty, from the great issue really raised by the mover and seconder of the Resolution to quite subsidiary and subordinate questions as to comparative skill and dexterity of administration between two successive Boards of Admiralty or Ministries. Do not let us confuse during the short time that remains to us the two great questions of economy, which everybody is in favour of, and retrenchment or reduction, which is quite a different thing, and involves questions of great Imperial policy. If I have, by what I have said, cleared the ground, surely I am right in saying that the true issue has not been put or met from the Treasury Bench. The true issue was put by the mover and seconder of the Resolution and by the hon. and learned Member for Walthamstow. They say that the present Government—and, to do them justice, they say also the late Government—have brought us into such an international position that we ought to have great reductions in our defensive forces. We have been present to-night at one of those Parliamentary comedies—I dare say they are inevitable—in which the responsible Ministers have to find a way out from a situation of difficulty, which situation depends upon the fact that there is a real disagreement between themselves and their followers which they want to disguise, and possibly something resembling a real agreement with their opponents which they wish to forget. I heard a great deal from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and from the Secretary to the Admiralty of economies practiced and of elaborate comparisons between the Estimates of one year and the Estimates of another—comparisons, by the way, which omitted such important facts as that we had to re-arm the whole Army with a new gun just at the time when some of the important diminutions of expenditure by right hon. Gentlemen opposite began 452 to produce their effects. But I do not wish to proceed on these side issues. The fundamental issue is this—Is the general scale of armaments and of expenditure upon the Navy and Army which the late Government thought necessary still necessary, or ought we fundamentally to modify that scale in consequence of recent diplomatic arrangements? That is the question to which I wish to speak. That is the question of which the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not say a word from the beginning of his speech to the end, except that he did admit, quite explicitly, that the two-Power standard was one which the Government were prepared to maintain, although his friends Will accompany him into the lobby insisting that the necessity for the two-Power standard has been exploded owing to readjustments in international arrangements within the last four years. I have some questions to ask on the real issue that is before us. First, in regard to the Army. Can we or can we not do our duty necessary for the defence of the frontier of India if we carry much further our reductions in the Regular forces of the Crown?
MR. A. J. BALPOUR
My right hon. friend says "at home," from which I conjecture he thinks you cannot diminish them abroad. But that is not the issue I put. Everyone who has studied the Indian question knows that if there is to be a war for the defence of the North-West frontier of India it is not going to a short war, and everyone knows also that, if it is not going to be a short war, the natural wastage of war would be especially great in a country of the climatic conditions of India. Do the Government think that with the inevitable wastage of war we could do with a materially smaller number of Regular troops to deal with the difficulties of the first year or eighteen months of such a campaign? That is a question of 453 purely scientific examination. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion that you must not treat experts as if they were infallible authorities. But, at the same time, it would be folly to ignore them; and I understand that that is a folly which the Government are not committing and do not intend to commit. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that the whole question of the defence of the frontier of India was being subjected to a most close and critical investigation by those scientific advisers, and that they were entering into it without the slightest arriere pensee or any desire unduly to force the decision of that investigation in the direction of reductions. No military position in the world is more complicated than the defence of the North-West Frontier of India. Though we spent an infinite amount of time and trouble over it, the subject was not complete when we left office, and I am glad to find that the investigations hive been taken over by our successors. But have the Government the smallest prospect that the military authorities in India will admit that we can deplete the resources in this country of Regular troops which will be required for India far below the necessities there? I greatly doubt it; and if that is so, then the conclusion is that we are not merely dependent on considerations derived from the Cardwell system for keeping up the number of our Regular troops, but that we depend on something more fundamental, more essential, and which is not so arbitrary as the mere balance of battalions at home and abroad, for in addition to that we depend on considerations based on the vulnerability of our frontier in India and the possibility of meeting all military exigencies. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that he adheres to what is known as the two-Power standard. It is not a strictly scientific standard, but it is a good, broad rough working hypothesis. It is a standard which everyone can understand, and the point of which 454 is quite plain and obvious to the "man in the street," as it is plain to everybody else. It is, therefore, invaluable in practice. I wish that we had it in the Army. The nearest approach we have to it in the Army is the Cardwell system. The two battalion system gives a rough standard, but it is far less valuable for practical purposes. Then I ask this plain question. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said distinctly that he adhered to the two-Power standard; but the mover and the seconder were as distinct and as explicit in stating that they did not adhere to it. Are these two bodies of men—the Government and those who support them, the critics who move this Resolution and those who oppose it—going into the same lobby on the same question, differing not about a trifle, not about something that is an unessential incident in the situation, but differing fundamentally and on a point which, in the opinion of those who believe in the two-Power standard, they believe in because of its security for national safety as well as national pros perity? There you have the two opposite schools of political and military thought. Are they going to be joined together in holy matrimony over the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? If so, then I know a just cause or impediment why they should express publicly and in the face of the world the reason why there is this fundamental difference, and why a Resolution is brought before the House, the whole course of which is to bring light upon this difference of opinion which should not be disguised in the discussion of this meaningless Amendment. I believe myself to be in agreement with the Government on this point and in disagreement with the mover and seconder of the Motion, although I do not think that the division lobby will show that. But let us ask what is the basis of the opinion of the mover and seconder, and of those who agree with them. What is the reason why they wish our ancient policy to be abandoned? What novelty is there in the existing 455 situation requiring us to violate principles which have been accepted by successive Governments and successive parties for many years? I think that I can put the whole of their argument in two or three sentences. They say that the naval and military policy depends oil the Foreign office. The foreign policy of the present Government is a policy of peace and good-will It has found practical embodiment in the agreement with Russia; and therefore, you ought, it is said, to find in your national Budget some reflection which can be estimated in pounds, shillings, and pence of the exact amount of the good will which you have succeeded in obtaining by your diplomatic dexterity. "Show us," they say, "in your Army and Navy Estimates the pecuniary equivalent of your skill in diplomacy." I think that is an utterly erroneous way of reading either the signs of the present times or of any times. I may put in parenthetically the modest suggestion that peace and good-will were not the invention of the present Government; that their predecessors were anxious to be on good terms with their friends and neighbours; and, if you are to estimate the value of the Foreign Office by these crude methods; we on this side may point to a series of treaties of arbitration and of arbitrations carried out, and finally to agreements with foreign Powers, to which this Government, with all its good-will, can really show as yet no parallel. If the relations between us and foreign Powers are so much better than they were ten years ago, then because we have been in office longer we have done more than our successors.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman was perfectly fair. I only want to show that these good relations are a ground for economies; they have been so for some time past. Let us now 456 examine that which is the fundamental proposition—that if only you make treaties of amity and arbitration with a sufficient number of your neighbours then you may cut down your military and naval expenditure to the point which suits your pockets, although it may not minister to your safety. That is fundamentally erroneous. Let us consider the-particular arrangement which has been most in evidence in this debate—the Anglo-Russian Agreement. Does it make the frontier of the Indian Empire safe in the sense that it would enable us to make great military economies? I did full justice to the effect of that treaty in preventing Russia in times of peaces from creating a new base from which to attack India. But that in any case would have been a thing of the far future, which would have involved Russia in enormous expenditure. But as far as the actual and existing frontier of India is concerned we are no safer in case of a quarrel with Russia than we were before. You say we shall not have a quarrel. Let us suppose that it is made more-difficult and remote in consequence of the Agreement. Of course, I grant it is more improbable. But are you to allow the safety of your Indian Empire to depend on that improbability? If you could in the course of six months raise from the soil an army capable of meeting, all your requirements, I agree that while the two Chancellories were haggling over their quarrel you might put yourself in a posture of defence. But everyone knows that is impossible. To put the thing arithmetically. Estimate how long it takes you to create a great fleet and army and compare it with the time it takes you to quarrel with some one else. If you think it impossible to get up a quarrel under four or five years, then you may let your defences go down much lower than they are now. But it takes two years to make a battleship and a great deal more to make a sailor. Does it take you more than two years to submit to a quarrel being forced on you? Does 457 anybody think that in consequence of our specially good relations with France, Russia, and Japan, and in spite of the good terms on which, I am glad to think, we are with Italy, Germany, and Spain—does anybody think that, in consequence of that state of things and by reason of it, we ought to leave these islands defenceless? [MINISTERIAL protests.] I hear a murmur of dissent. [MINISTERIAL cheers.] Well, if not defenceless, less defended. If your defences are not adequate, what is less or more to you? If they are more than adequate to any possible difficulty, I agree diminish them. But is that alleged. [Cries of "Yes."] That is alleged by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, but is it alleged on the Treasury Bench? And if it is alleged, as apparently it is, by hon. Gentlemen below the gangway, have any single one of them in the course of this debate given the grounds of the faith which is in them? Have they explained to us or to anybody else how we are to meet possible difficulties that may arise with less forces than we have at present? Have they gone over the ships and troops, all the apparatus of those who may conceivably be our enemies and compared them with out own means of defence? Not one of them. They have not gone beyond platitudes, eloquently expressed, but absolutely unmeaning and useless.
§ MR. BYLES (Salford, N)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Abercromby division, whose speech the right hon. Gentleman evidently did not hear, defended the possibility of largely reducing the Army.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to which the hon. Member refers, which I did hear, consisted of a bitter reproach of the hon. Member and his friends because they voted against him on the only possible method of reduction.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman is one of the faithful forty. I quite accept the rebuke of the hon. Gentleman, but he does not share that almost solitary glory with either the mover or the seconder of the Resolution, nor with that great body of those who, but for the concordat with the Government, would, I suppose, be prepared to vote with them. The fact is, and it really is a fundamental fact, that there is no greater fallacy than that of saying that armaments and policy are mutually interdependent, if you mean by policy what most people mean—namely, the efforts of the Foreign Office at a given time to keep on good terms with its neighbours consistently with maintaining the national honour. It is very important, it is invaluable, to have such a Foreign Office. It may save you from wars, it may save you from the fear of wars, but it is no substitute for national defence. It is not a thing you can put in the place of fleets and armies. Fleets and armies are the only expedient known in this world by which those who desire to maintain their independence can maintain it in spite of the fluctuating movements of human passion. I certainly do not underrate the abilities of the Secretary of State for Foreign, Affairs, but neither he nor any other prophet ever born into the world could for, see what is to be the European political weather two years or three years hence any more than you can foresee the weather in the Channel next week or in the Atlantic a fortnight hence. These things are beyond human ken, and until we find some method by which political prophecies of that kind can be made with certainty so long it is absolutely essential for the honour and safety of this country that we should keep a Fleet and an Army adequate to every enemy or combination of enemies which is likely to arise, and which, according to all experience, we 459 may have to meet either at sea or an land. Therefore, I say that on the broad merits my friends and I range ourselves unhesitatingly against the Motion which you, Sir, first put from the Chair. We are anxious for economy; we are not anxious for reduction. Econony—as much as you please; reduction we think inconsistent with national safety and national honour. That is all I have to say or indeed that I desire to say upon the broad Argumentative issue before us. But on the actual course that my friends and I mean to pursue I must say a word. We are in ignorance, of course, as to how far the Parliamentary signs indicate that an agreement between the movers of the Resolution and the mover of the Amendment has been reached. We do not know, in other words, whether the movers Of the Resolution mean to resist the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or whether they mean to agree with it. I imagine that they mean to agree with it. Differing as they do fundamentally and intentionally, they desire to gloss over any difficulties or differences that may separate friends. I do not quarrel with them. If however, I am wrong in supposing that an arrangement has been come to, and if there is a division, I shall vote against the Resolution first put from the Chair, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question;" in other words, I shall go into the lobby against the mover and seconder of the Resolution, and shall in that respect follow the Government. If that Amendment is carried, then the question will be that the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendment be there added. If it were in order to move an Amendment to the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer I would do so, but I under- 460 stand that is not in order until the Resolution as amended becomes the Substantive question. I shall certainly not take the trouble to go into the lobby in favour of the misleading platitudes of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendment, although I shall Vote with him that the words of the original Resolution be omitted, But I suggest that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's own Views upon this question, and certainly our views, would be much better expressed if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would consent to have put from the Chair his Amendment with the addition after the words "consistent with," of the words "the two-Power standard of naval strength and," so that the whole Resolution as doubly amended would read as follows: "That in view of the continued friendly relations with foreign Powers announced in the Gracious Speech from the Throne, this House will support His Majesty's Ministers in such economies of naval and military expenditure as are consistent with the two-Power standard of naval strength and the adequate defence of His Majesty's dominions." It will be observed that this gets rid of all ambiguity, intentional or unintentional, in the situation; and it will make it perfectly clear that the Government, in modifying the original Resolution, desire to put on record on the files of the House what they have said in their speeches they mean to maintain. A clear issue will then be raised between them and the Gentlemen on the other side of the House who think that the two Power standard is antiquated and ought to be profoundly modified in the interests of economy. If time permits I will; move that Amendment myself, but if it comes on after eleven o'clock it will not be in my power to move it 461 because you, Sir, will at once leave the Chair without Question put. Therefore practically the only chance of its being put to the House is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should agree to it. As it expresses what I understand to be his explicit view and the view of the Government of which he is a leading member, I hope he will ask you, Mr. Speaker, to put his Amendment in that form from the Chair. In that case we should get a clear vote upon the subject, and the country and Europe would be able to gather what they certainly will never be able to gather from the debate as far as it has gone at present—namely, that the majority of this House are firmly determined to preserve intact those great principles of naval and military expenditure on which I firmly believe the safety and honour of this country depend.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. HALDANE,) Haddington
I have been accustomed to look upon the right hon. Gentleman as one of the most practised masters of the forms of debate in this House, but I am bound to say that in his concluding sentences I do not think he has quite lived up to his reputation. He makes the extraordinary proposition that the Government Amendment should be amended, and that there should be put into it a reference to the two-Power standard which nobody has controverted—[OPPOSITION cries of "Oh!"]—which the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressly affirms—[OPPOSITION cries of "Why not accept it"]—and which was not disputed even by my right hon. friend the Member for Northwich. It would be as absurd to put it in this Amendment as it would be to put in that the Army shall be always 50,000 462 strong. These details are outside altogether the scope of this Amendment; controversy has not been raised upon them, and the long and short of it is the Government cannot accept any such proposal. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech with an observation with which I have a great deal of sympathy. He said that in the course of this debate many topics have been discussed which were not germane to the real question, and so long as he maintained that position, I think he made some criticisms which were of a very fair and appropriate order. There has been some discursiveness about this debate. But then the right hon. Gentleman went on to define the real question. In substance it was this. Ought we to go below the State of things which the late Government had provided? The right hon. Gentleman's proposition was suitable, and he took as his first illustration of it the question which arises in regard to the Indian frontier. He asked whether, if we made reductions on what the late Government had provided, we should be providing adequately for contingencies in connection with the defence of that frontier. The first observation I have to make to that is that the right hon. Gentleman himself does always seem to have thought that the amount of troops-which at one time existed, and existed during the course of his Government was the proper amount necessary to be maintained for the defence of that frontier, because there were put forward in official papers and speeches from his Government propositions for the reduction of the Army by a very substantial amount—fourteen battalions. I think at one time—and therefore I cannot think that the right hon. Gentleman is serious in suggesting 463 that the state of things which he left when he went out of office represents the numerical quantity which ought to be maintained for the defence of the Indian frontier. Thus the question is, What was the state of the Army when the right hon. Gentleman left office? I admit most cordially his keen interest and desire to put things right. But he did not put things right. He did not leave us with an efficient Army, and an Army which was adequately organised, and the question to-day is not, one of keeping these numbers more or less, but a question of putting that Army into such a state of efficiency that we will get much more out of it than we got in his time. That is what underlies the policy of the Government, and it may be that it will turn out that with smaller numbers we shall have a more efficient Force for the defence of the North-West frontier if such an occasion should arise than was the state of things under the late Administration. The right hon. Gentleman said the Cardwell system is the nearest approach to the two-Power standard that we have in connection with the Army. I agree that it is the nearest, approach. In the Cardwell system you have got a system which was devised by Mr. Gladstone and Lord Cardwell forty years ago, as being the most economical mode of providing for the defence of an Empire a great deal of which is overseas. It is a merciful system to the Colonies and Dependencies, and it is a merciful system to India. One reason why I could never agree on this point with the hon. Member for the Abercromby division was because it departed from the Cardwell system or put a large charge upon the already overburdened Indian frontier.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
interjected a remark about the Government of India 464 which was not distinctly heard in the gallery.
§ MR. HALDANE
It was considered by Commission after Commission and decided by them to the contrary. I will give references which will place that absolutely beyond doubt. At any rate that was the policy of Mr. Gladstone and Lord Cardwell; it, is the policy of the present Government, and has been the policy of most responsible statesmen for forty years past. We think that at present the time has come for the review of all those matters, for the purpose not merely of cutting down, nor of disregarding efficiency, but with a view to getting efficiency. We feel that there are three reasons on which we can justify reduction. One is because it is not inconsistent with getting increased efficiency. The second, and a very important one, is because economy in Army and Navy administration tends to give you a war chest, and a war chest is one of the most important things you can have for national defence. I would ask hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite whether they have any plan by which three successive thirty-firsts of March would have brought them to a point at which they would have paid off £40,000,000 of the National Debt. That will be our position by the next 31st of March. The war chest of the nation will be in a more satisfactory position than that of other Powers. There is a third reason why we can reduce consistently with the, Cardwell system, and that is because policy in South Africa has led to a state of things which makes it right and profitable to withdraw a considerable number of troops. That enables us to make a very substantial saving, which is estimated at £170,000 a year. These things we believe to be consistent not only with economy but with increased 465 efficiency. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that there were two propositions before the House as I understood him. One was that if you had a treaty such as the Anglo-Russian Treaty, or the French entente, you have got rid of am necessity for making any provision for the future. I certainly did not understand anybody on this side of the House to maintain that thesis, though some speeches were made with which I did not wholly agree. Some speakers seemed to me inclined to go too fast in their progress and to proceed without any definite standard; but nobody went so far as that. I did not hear anyone say that we wanted no Army and Navy. I believe the right hon. Gentleman said the counter-proposition was that treaties were not to be taken into account, that you are really no better off when you have them, because you cannot rely on them. To my mind that proposition is an even greater fallacy than the first. I do not say, any more than the right hon. Gentleman, that you can absolutely rely upon treaties; they are are modified, they change, they pass away. I have always held very strongly that while war may come quickly and your notice may be short, preparation for war can never be a short affair; it requires much time and study. Therefore, I agree you can never wholly rely on treaties. Nevertheless, they may and do make a profound change for the better. You never can, in dealing with the affairs of the British Empire, provide for every possible contingency. The right hon. Gentleman in an eloquent period of his peroration used a phrase which I think went too far. He seemed to me to say that it was our duty to provide against any combination of our enemies that was in the least likely to arise. How can you do that? You 466 might make yourself bankrupt and be your own worst enemy. But what I do say is that it is true that no amount of survey of the strategical possibilities can guard you against all the contingencies that may arise. I have studied this question closely and am convinced you cannot lay down any absolute and immovable standard for all the necessities of the Empire. What you have, to do is to deal with the most likely contingencies, and these are contingencies which depend upon what your treaties are and your relations with other Powers, so that it may well be that a risk which might at one time be great has ceased to be any serious risk at all, because of those treaties and relations. That must be judged by those who best know the condition of affairs. The Secretary of State for India, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the Secretary of State for the Colonies—these are the men who ultimately determine, with the Governments to which they belong, the size of the Army and Navy which has to be maintained, not the Secretary for War or the First Lord of the Admiralty. The hon. Member for Walthamstow pleaded for larger reductions in naval and military armaments, but he did not give us any standard by which we were to judge of those reductions or what was to be-the measure of them. I sympathise with those who feel that if we had more money at our disposal as a nation we could do much with it. My right hon. friend the Member for Northwich and I have worked at the University problem together, and we have often felt that, if we had only the cost of one or two battleships to operate upon, it would go a long way to giving us one or two very useful and necessary Universities. 467 But, after all, national problems remain. The life of the nation has to be carried on, and the extent to which its life has to be guarded depends on your relations with other Powers and what other powers are doing. You cannot divorce your own position from that of other Powers. And it is on the shoulders of the Government of the day that must rest the responsibility of determining to whit extent it is safe to make changes in the armaments you are to keep up. War is a serious enough business, and so is preparation for war. We have been caught out more than once when the sky seemed clear overhead. We had a sky that was cloudless and there came the Crimea. The sky seemed clear and there came the Indian Mutiny. And again the sky seemed clear and there came South Africa and caught us unprepared. Matters change, and you cannot be sure that the conditions will remain to-morrow as they are to-day. In time of peace, not less than in time of war, you cannot forget that the views which nations take of each other's armaments and the capacity to make decisions felt are an element which you cannot exclude. In these circum-
§ stances I say it is not possible by any mere general aspiration, by any broad principle laid down without reference to any standard, to define precisely or in practical fashion the extent to which you can go in the direction of economy. It always mist be a difficult matter to tell the precise point to which you can go with safety. That must always be a matter for the judgment of those who are best informed, but it is also a matter on which broad considerations of policy bear. There are two schools of thought in this matter, and it is not desirable that either school should prevail to excess. The only wise course, bearing in mind the desire which exists to set nations free from the burden under which they groan, is for those who are responsible to take all things into account and to survey the question as a whole, and to arrive at a decision which is at once wise and just.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 73; Noes, 320. (Division List No. 29.)471
|Alden, Percy||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Mackarness, Frederic C.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Glover, Thomas||M'Callum, John M.|
|Baker, Joseph A.(Finsbury, E.)||Gooch, George Peabody||Maddison, Frederick|
|Barnes, G. N.||Grant, Corrie||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Bethell, Sir J.H.(Essex, Romf'rd||Gurdon, Rt Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)|
|Bethell, T. M. (Essex, Maldon)||Henry, Charles S.||Nicholson, Charles N.(Doncaster|
|Brunner, J.F.L.(Lancs., Leigh)||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Nuttall, Harry|
|Brunner, Rt. Hn Sir J.T(Cheshire||Hodge, John||O'Grady, J.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Holt, Richard Durning||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)|
|Clough, William||Hudson, Walter||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Clynes, J. R.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Richards, T.F.(Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Jowett, F. W.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Cooper, G. J.||Laidlaw, Robert||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Cotton, Jir H. J. S.||Lamb, Edmund G.(Leominster)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)||Scott, A.H.(Ashton under Lyne|
|Crossley, William J.||Lehmann, R. C.||Seddon, J.|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Levy, Sir Maurice||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Lupton, Arnold||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Summerbell, T.|
|Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr||Watt, Henry A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Thompson, J.W.H.(Somerset, E||Mr Wedgwood, Josiah C.||Murray Macdonald and Mr|
|Walsh, Stephen||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarth'n||Alexander Harvey.|
|Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Wilson, Henry J. (Y rk, W.R.)|
|Wardle, George J.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, W,)|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J. A.(Worc)||Haddock, George B.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Chance, Frederick William||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Hamilton, Marquess of|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Cleland, J. W.||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)|
|Agnew, George William||Coates, E. Feetham (Lewisham)||Hardy, Laurence(Kent, Ashford|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Harmsworth, Cecil B.(Worc'r)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Harmsworth, R.L.(Caithn' ss-sh|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Corbett, CH (Sussex, E. Grinst'd)||Hart-Davies, T.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Harvey, W. E.(Derbyshire, N.E.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Aubrey. Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Courthope, G. Loyd||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Cowan, W. H.||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cox, Harold||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Balfour, Rt Hn. A.J.(City Lond)||Craig, Charles Curtis(Antrim, S.||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Craig, Capatin James(Down, E.)||Helmsley, Viscount|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Craik, Sir Henry||Henderson, J.M.(Aberdeen, W.)|
|Baring, Godfrey(Isle of Wight)||Crosfield, A. H.||Herbert, T. Arnold(Wycombe)|
|Barker, John||Cross, Alexander||Higham, John Sharp|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Dalmeny, Lord||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)|
|Barnard, E. B.||Dalrymple, Viscount||Hills, J. W.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Dalziel, James Henry||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Bcale, W. P.||Dewar, Arthur(Edinburgh, S.)||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Beauchamp, E.||Dewar, Sir J.A.(Inverness-sh.)||Hunt, Rowland|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Dicki son. W.H.(St. Pancras, N.||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Bell, Richard||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Duckworth, James||Jackson, R. S.|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonp't)||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Jenkins, J.|
|Benn, W.(T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo)||Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor(Swansea)|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Bertram, Julius||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Kearley, Huds n E.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Elibank, Master of||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Essex, R. W.||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Everett, R. Lacey||Keswick, William|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Faber, George Denison (York)||Kincaid-Smith, Captain|
|Branch, James||Faber, G. H. (Boston)||King, Alfred John (K utsford)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Fardell, Sir T. George||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)|
|Brodie, H. C.||Fell, Arthur||Lambert, George|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Fenwick, Charles||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Lamont, Norman|
|Bull, Sir William James||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Fletcher, J. S.||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Forster, Henry William||Lee, Arthur H.(Hants, Fareham)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Fuller, John Michael F.||Lever, A. Levy(Essex, Harwich|
|Cameron, Robert||Furness, Sir Christopher||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Gardner, Ernest||Lloyd-George, Rt., Hon. David|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S).|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W)||Lough, Thomas|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Glendinning, R. G.||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Cave, George||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lynch, H. B.|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C.W.||Gretton, John||Maclean, Donald|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey.||Griffith, Ellis J.||M'Arthur, Charles|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Guinness, Walter Edward||M'Calmont, Colonel James|
|M'Crae, George||Priestley, W.E.B. (Bradford, E.)||Tennant, H; J. (Berwickshire)|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Pullar, Sir Robert||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Radford, G. H.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Raphael, Herbert H.||Tillett, Louis John|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Ratcliff, Major R F.||Tomkinson, James|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Marks, G. Croydon(Launceston)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Toulmin, George|
|Marks, H. H. (Kent)||Rees, J. D.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Marnham, F. J.||Remnant, James Farquharson||Verney, F. W.|
|Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Massie, J.||Roberts, S.(Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Menzies, Walter||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee||Walton, Joseph|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'd||Ward, W. Dudley(South'mpton)|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Robinson, S.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Mond, A.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Waring, Walter|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Montagu, E. S.||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Wason, Rt. Hn. E. (Clackmannan|
|Montgomery, H. G.||Rose, Charles Day||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Moore, William||Runciman, Walter||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Russell, T. W.||Whitbread, Howard|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Salter, Arthur Clavell||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Morrell, Philip||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Whiteley, John Henry(Halifax)|
|Morse, L. L.||Scarisbrick, T. T. L.||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Sears, J. E.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Murray, James||Seaverns, J. H.||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Myer, Horatio||Seely, Colonel||Williamson, A.|
|Napier, T. B.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Newnes, Sir George (Swansea)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Nield, Herbert||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Winterton, Earl|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Soares, Ernest J.||Wodehouse, Lord|
|O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Spicer, Sir Albert||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Partington, Oswald||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Starkey, John R.||Younger, George|
|Pease, Herbert Pike(Darlington||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Philipps, J, Wynford (Pembroke)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Stuart, James (Sunderland)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Sutherland, J. E.||Mr.G. Whiteley and Mr. J. A.|
|Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Pease.|
|Price, Robert John (Norfolk, E.)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
§ Question proposed "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I beg to move the Amendment of which I have given notice. [Cries of "I object."]