§ Order for Committee read.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. HALDANE,) Haddington
At this time last year it was my duty to lay before the House at some length a programme. Last year the House passed the legislative part of that programme into law, and sanctioned the administrative changes for which the Government asked. My duty to-day is therefore a much lighter one. I have in the main simply to lay before the House a record of progress made. Now, Sir, before I go into those details, and to make them intelligible, I will state very briefly what is the policy of the Government with regard to the Army. The Cardwell system is one about which there has been a great deal of difference of opinion, and I am not going to argue that question, at any rate at this moment. In the memorandum attached to the Estimates I took the opportunity of going in some detail into the reasons which have convinced the Government that that policy is the most useful and, in the end, the most economical; the most economical, certainly, if you take India and other parts of the Empire into account, because departure from the Cardwell system would be to lay a heavy burden upon the finance of India. But, 707 as I said, I am not going to restate the argument now. Suffice it to say that the Government adhere firmly to the Cardwell system, and they will carry to its completion the work the foundations of which were laid by Mr. Gladstone and Lord Cardwell in conjunction. The Cardwell system, if for a moment I may quote mathematicians instead of poets, has the advantage that it reduces the question of the size of the Army to the function of a single variable. That variable is, of course, the number of troops which it is essential at any given time to keep abroad, in the Colonies, and India, and the Crown possessions. That is why I said on Monday night, and why I say again now, that the question of the size of the Army and of its distribution is at no time one which the War Minister can answer unaided. The answer mutt depend on the view of foreign policy taken by the Foreign Secretary, the Secretary for India, and the Colonial Secretary, and it is one that must be determined by the Government as a whole. But the Cardwell system has the advantage that when you have determined the size of the variable you at once determine the size and character of the Army which you will require to support it. It has this further advantage, that it precludes sudden changing and chopping; it gets rid of obscurities, and it gives you a clear principle according to which you can lop off what is unnecessary or build up what is essential. That is why the Government maintain the Cardwell system. Quite apart from India, it is a system which apparently makes for both economy and efficiency. Now, we are about to reap one advantage in connection with the Cardwell system which we have not had, just because the size of the force which we are maintaining abroad is one which varies, and because the happier circumstances of South Africa admit of the withdrawal of a cert in proportion of the garrison. We have it in view, at the end of the summer or in the autumn, to establish a Cardwellian balance of units by bringing home four battalions of infantry and one cavalry regiment from South Africa. That will give us, instead of seventy-eight battalions abroad and seventy at home, seventy-four at home and seventy-four abroad; fourteen regiments of cavalry at home 708 and fourteen abroad. The artillery and other services do not require any alteration, because at the present time the number that we have at home is in excess of what we have abroad. I shall be sorry if in my time anything is done to disturb that balance. The position, therefore, is that if the Cardwell system is adhered to, and if the changing necessities of the distribution of troops abroad are met by men from units abroad rather than by sending unit? from home—a thing which I think can be done much more than it has been done—you get this good result, that you are freed from the necessity of having the costly machinery of provisional battalions and depots, to my mind a most wasteful way of training soldiers and providing for drafts, and you have the simple principle that every unit at home serves two purposes. In peace it is a training school, not a fighting unit at all; in war it is mobilised with its Reserve into a fighting unit. That is why we say you get both economy and efficiency. That is why an almost unbroken succession of military opinion has pronounced for maintaining the Cardwell system. There is another advantage that the system gives you. You have to keep certain number of troops—whether you keep them in depots or in units—to provide drafts for the forces abroad. But if, according to the Cardwell system, you keep them in units—units, which in time of peace have a very small establishment, but in war would be mobilised to their full fighting strength—then you are in a position to organise a very much better and more efficient expeditionary force than you would otherwise possess. I mean by an expeditionary force, not the small Striking Force which is used for emergencies, and which is specially provided for in the organisation of our Reserves, but a force which on mobilisation you can produce in an organised form, and which would be in a position to take the field abroad and to operate with the Navy without the necessity of improvising an organisation for it. The second part of the Government policy has been to organise such an expeditionary force within the limits of the troops which it is necessary to maintain at home under any system for the purpose of feeding the 709 units abroad. I draw attention to this because there has been a certain amount of misunderstanding about it. People have asked why we should have an expeditionary force of 160,000 men. The answer is this. You have to have the men for the expeditionary force, and a good many more. At any rate, the 160,000 men are not all men with the colours. On the contrary, a great proportion of them are Reservists and men not serving with the colours. Of the 160,000 men of the expeditionary force 61,000 are actively serving with the colours, 70,000 are serving with the Reserve, and 24,000 are engaged in the ancillary services and trained on the Militia basis. Therefore your expeditionary force, which consists of only 61,000 men serving with the colours, is really a small force compared with the number that it is necessary to keep at home for the purpose of providing for your units abroad. This expeditionary force will be organised far within the limits of the home establishment that you possess at the present time. If there are seventy-four battalions at home and sixty-six are required for the expeditionary force, there will be eight battalions surplus besides the extra battalions of guards. The same is true of the cavalry—you have got surplus regiments there—and the same is true of the artillery. Therefore the expeditionary force is not eating up a single man whom you would not otherwise require to keep up, and the only cost involved is the comparatively small cost of putting it into organised form. The Government believe that the organisation of the expeditionary force in this fashion is a truly economical procedure, and one that doe3 not add to your burdens. The third principle that the Government has had in view is the substitution of two lines for the old arrangement, under which there were three or four lines according to how you looked at them. We had the Regular force. We had the Regular first line of which we have made the old Militia an organic part. And we have the second line, which is the old Volunteer-Yeomanry organisation, brought up to a true Militia organisation, and organised and equipped as nearly as possible on the model of the first or Regular line. These are the 710 four elements in the policy which I described last year. Our first object was to get a force with some kind of scientific organisation, in which we could see by looking at it whether any unit was in excess or deficient. We have been trying to bring that better state of things about. I am far from underrating the difficulties of the task; there is an enormous amount to be done. When I produce presently the record of what we have accomplished, I hope the House will take it from me that it is in no spirit of boasting, but really with a desire to show the House that we have done something tangible towards the accomplishment of a piece of work which, will extend over many years and take, not one, but several Governments to bring to perfection. All we have been able to do is comparatively little compared with what remains to be done to complete the plan. But at least we have organised this force in divisions which can co-operate with the Navy, for a Navy without an Army is hardly less useless than an Army without a Navy. The effect of lopping off a surplus organisation has been to bring the numbers down to what they were just before the war of 1899. I think there is an excess of some 7,000 or 8,000 men. There are people who are not there in the main for combatant purposes—medical units, ancillary services, and to some extent artillery. The artillery certainly were in a very unsatisfactory position at that time, and the Government of the day did absolutely right in increasing the artillery force. But if you compare the figures of what the Army stood at just before the war, and what it is now you will find there is a difference of only 5,000 or 6,000 men, and these extras were due, not to the combatants, but to what I might call the ancillary services. The combatant element is not larger but it is organised in a fashion it never was before.
Let me say a word about the progress made with the expeditionary force. The House will remember that the Army Order organising it into six divisions was dated 1st January last year, and the organisation of the six divisions and the four brigades of cavalry which accompanies them are complete. The 711 artillery consists of fifty-four field batteries, ten horse, twelve howitzers, and six heavy batteries, and we are engaged on the perfecting of the artillery organisation. The next step was that while the force was organised it was not effective until the mobilisation tables were complete. We set to work and they were completed in May last year. The next step was to get the equipment complete, and the equipment is all complete except certain small items for which provision is made in the present Estimates. But there is something which is not perfect, and that is the provision for wastage in the ancillary services, including the ammunition columns. The position of things at present is this—that only forty-two out of the requisite fifty-four field batteries can be mobilised for want of ammunition columns, and we have set ourselves to work to convert the Garrison Militia Artillery and to introduce machinery for further producing the requisite men trained on a Militia basis, for the purpose of mobilising these ammunition columns. I will tell the House presently how far we have proceeded with that. Meantime, it is sufficient to say that the Army Order of 23rd December, organised the whole of the Special Reserve for the purpose of infantry and artillery, and the scheme as it was explained to the House last year is in course of being carried out. The right hon. Gentleman will remember this well, because he and I came to a kind of covenant about the Infantry Special Reserve, and I have endeavoured to adhere to that in spirit and in letter. We have organised 101 battalions of the Infantry Special Reserve, which will ultimately be 580 strong. These are distributed—seventy-four to the depots and twenty-seven elsewhere. The depot battalions take the place of the old depots, but we save the cost of the regular infantry depots in that fashion and they train drafts for the Regular Army, and also drafts for their own establishments. We have set these training battalions to work, and presently I shall be able to give some account of how they are progressing in the way of getting their recruits. But I want to point out that we gave an undertaking to the Militia—it was, I think, given in the other House—that we would not disband any 712 of them until after the next training. In order to carry out that promise I shall have to make the cost of the Special Reserve somewhat larger this year than it will be in future years, because I have to provide for that Militia training and for a number of Militiamen. Moreover, we do not discharge any man from the Militia—we absorb him into these new battalions, 101 in place of 124—therefore some of these Special Reserve battalions will be much larger in numbers than their ultimate establishment will be. Some of them will have a very large strength of Militia battalions. So much for the Special Reserve.
Now I come to the fifth item with which we have been dealing this year, and that is the Reserve of Officers. The question of officers is a very serious one, and I shall have something to say about it later on. We have set the machinery I described last year to work, and the Reserve of Officers is—I will not call it a going concern—at any rate, actually in its infancy. The last thing I have to mention is the very comprehensive topic of the Territorial Army, to which I will come in its turn. I am able to pass over the first four of these items—the expeditionary force, mobilisation, equipment, and general structure of the expeditionary force—because these have been gone into at other times, and I come at once to the Special Reserve. As I have said, the 101 infantry battalions have all been organised, and recruiting has commenced for the Special Reserve as from 16th January. The House knows what the plan of the Special Reserve is. We are anxious to get to a larger class to recruit for the Special Reserve than the Militia could reach. The Militia used to train for two periods in the year; there was the recruit training and the regular Militia training. We have made the recruit training longer and the annual training shorter. The annual training will be only some twenty-one days, as against six months' recruit training. We are so organising the new battalions that we hope to appeal to a considerable class who have not hitherto come into the Militia to come in and take six months' training, with good pay and good food and good healthy exercise, 713 at these new battalions head-quarters. So far there is every indication at present that the process is one that is likely to succeed, and recruits are coming in very well. Possibly that is due to the fact that we have increased the pay of the recruit by 3d. a day from the commencement, in order that he may have a better messing allowance. We lay a good deal of stress on the food during the first six months. Whereas formerly he had to wait to get this, he now gets this 3d. a day during his first six months. But, whatever the reason, the Special Reserve, although only open some six weeks, is recruiting very well. The Special Reservist will have 308 days initial training as against the old Militia training of 207 days. I hope it may be possible to arrange that a good deal of the initial training may be in winter, so that whenever possible any young man who finds himself out of a job at the end of the summer can come in and get six months' good food and good exercise, and be turned out at the end of the six months at a period of the year when he can seek a fresh job, and his chance of employment be not interfered with by having had too long a training. Elasticity in this is everything. Of course, we are now in the experimental stage, and it is impossible to predict how this is going to turn out, but the first indications are good.
I will now say something about the artillery training brigades. As the House knows, we had the other day ninty-nine batteries of field artillery and we only wanted for the expeditionary force fifty-four batteries of field artillery, and this is an illustration of the advantage of the Cardwell system. We know exactly how many batteries of artillery we want for the expeditionary force. We may require some batteries, of course, for other troops who do not leave this country with the expeditionary force, but we have a large surplus that we could not use for any expedition. The House need not be nervous about this. We have not abolished a single man. We have taken thirty-three of these batteries and organised them into training brigades.
§ MR. HALDANE
Yes, we have organised them into eleven training brigades, and they are actually at work training men. The result of that is that these eleven training brigades, carrying out the policy I announced last year, are now training Special Reservists to form the ammunition columns of the artillery and will get a training which will enable them as individuals to work up into the brigade columns, ammunition columns, and ultimately the best of them into the battery lines. We have saved 2,400 Regulars who are not necessary for the establishment of the thirty-three batteries, which are on a training brigade footing. These 2,400 Regulars we have kept, and propose to keep, until we can replace each man by four or five trained Militiamen for the same money, and with the advantage of having converted the money that used to go to Garrison Militia Artillery to this purpose. Assuming that this plan succeeds, we shall be able to equip the Artillery with its requisite am unition columns, and not only put fifty-four field batteries with the Expeditionary Force, mobilised with their ammunition columns, but also make large provision for the wastage of war. With the eleven training brigades we estimate we shall be able to produce 15,000 men, who will ultimately take the place of the 2,400, of whom I have spoken. In that case we shall be able, not only completely to mobilise with the Regulars, the batteries, and the brigade ammunition columns, but we shall have a large Reserve for wastage in time of war behind. So much for the Artillery plans. To show how impossible it is to predict how anything will work out, I will instance one curious thing. I made up my mind when we abolished, or, rather, converted, the Garrison Artillery into a Reserve of Field Artillery, that, as horsemanship would be wanted, and drivers would be asked to come forward, in Ireland, where everybody is good at a horse, we should find plenty of people; whereas in my native country. Scotland, where I will not say nobody, but few, people are good at a horse as compared with Ireland ["Oh"]—I speak for myself—I thought artillerymen would not have come forward. But there has actually been a tremendous influx of people who wish 715 to become artillery drivers in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the north, while Ireland is rather hanging back. But, on the whole, the recruiting for this new branch of the Special Reserve is doing very well. The men of the disbanded infantry Militia battalions are coming in very well, some 60 per cent. of them have already come over straight to the new Special Reserve. The Special Reserve also includes a minor part, which I may call B, as distinguished from the two Regular branches of Infantry and Artillery, the men of which we hope to get through the Territorial Force. We want medical assistants, extra engineers, army service corps, transport, and so on. That will be a much smaller element in the force, but still it will be considerable. As this Special Reserve is very large and a novelty in the Army, the House will be anxious to know how much it is going to cost. To begin with, we have the advantage that the depôts are already there, and their cost charged to the Regulars, so that you have the machinery ready to hand. The result is that the total cost of the Special Reserve compares very favourably with the cost of the old Militia. There are fewer units, fewer headquarters, and a considerably smaller establishment of strength. The old Militia system cost the country £1,986,000; the new Special Reserve in its normal form will cost £1,955,000 so that it will cost £31,000 less than the old Militia system. This year, however, the Special Reseve, inasmuch as we have got to keep the two systems going for a time, will cost £2,119,000, which is £164,000 above what it will normally cost. That will be saved in the future. When the enormous advantage is considered that the Special Reserve presents over the Militia system, since you have got it ready to go abroad, and since it enables you to mobilise your expeditionary force, and makes that effective in a fashion that could not formerly be contemplated, one sees that we have got in it an element that was absolutely requisite to give a perfectly scientific organisation for the British Army. The Special Reserve is in its infancy, and all I can say yet is that its early days promise well.
I spoke last year of the very formidable deficiency of officers in the Army, and pointed 716 out that we were deficient in the quantity and also in the quality, because the training we give them is not in all respects a satisfactory training. On that topic I will speak with reference to the policy of the Government. It is absolutely essential that, with an intricate machine such as the British Army, you should have highly trained minds to direct it. The more the science of war advances the greater are the calls upon the intelligence and science of your officers. Those calls are growing year by year, and every nation is feeling the burden more and more. You cannot get that supply altogether, or even to a large extent, by promotion from the ranks. The Army Council encourages such promotion, we think it good, and we promote those recommended to us from the Regulars. But you cannot get any large number of officers so, and the reasons are plain. First, the want of previous training stands in the way, and then there are other difficulties. You can get some, but you cannot in that way count on a substantial contribution of sufficiently highly trained minds to make your machine work effectively and swiftly. Education and promotion for ability are the two things to which one must look. The figures of the deficiency of officers are, and have been for many years past, rather formidable. At the most difficult time of the South African war the wonder was that the nation got through as well as it did. We are over 5,000 short for mobilisation for the British and Colonial establishments, and we are besides that over 3,000 short for India, a total of over 8,000 short. For mobilisation, exclusive of India, we want a total of 13,000 odd, and we have over 8,000 if you include about 1,500 officers who belong to the old Reserve, and are on retired pay, and who have to come out to serve the country in the case of war. The result is that for home alone we have a deficiency of over 5,000. It was my duty to put before the House a plan for getting a new Reserve of officers. We estimate that if that new machinery works satisfactorily it will give us, when it becomes effective, the requisite number. We have called certain principles to our aid, one is the analogy of the reserve officer on the Continent, the basis of whose 717 training is that theoretically to qualify in the requisite knowledge a man serve a year à la suite with a unit. Then he is qualified to become a reserve officer. We calculate on getting a certain number of young men who are going into the professions, or who are likely to succeed to property, and whose parents may be glad for their sons to have a year of military training, which might be taken at home, but better still might be taken in India. At any rate the year's service with a battalion would give the first category of those we hope to get, and we think that probably a considerable number of those who have gone into the Militia up to now will join the new Reserve of Officers, and that will be a benefit to the Regular Army just as much as the Militia has been in the past. The second source is the Universities and public schools. I entered into a covenant with the House, which I intend to keep, in spirit and letter, when the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act was under consideration, not to bring the military element into the State-aided schools. But there are other schools which are on quite a different footing, the great public schools, which have their cadet corps at the present time. The headmasters of these public schools have been very keen to work with us in introducing this second branch of the Reserve of Officers. We have been in communication with over 130 of them, and, carrying out the principles which the House sanctioned last year, we are now setting up training corps, one branch of which will be in these schools and the other in the Universities. We are in communication, I think, with fourteen universities at this moment, with regard to converting their Volunteer corps into training corps. The General Staff has taken over the management of this matter, and has organised a special department for these duties, for which provision will be made in the Estimates. It will be the duty of three or four officers to superintend the work of these training corps. We have also established two specially selected officers at Oxford and Cambridge whose duty it is to superintend the organisation of the corps on the spot. We propose to organise in the schools Officers' Training Corps which will correspond to and absorb the old cadet battalions 718 of the schools, where a young man who hopes to take some part in the military life of his country will get two years training, at the end of which he may pass for certificate A, which will be very much the equivalent of what is necessary to qualify him to be a lieutenant, and will, at any rate, enable him to go into the Territorial Force with a lieutenant's commission. But if he chooses to go on and take Certificate B, he will have to get that at the University, and do two years with the University branch of the Officers' Training Corps. If he does that he will then have the qualification and knowledge that will approach very near to a captain's. Anybody who has a certificate A, only will be able to go to the unit and serve there for only eight months, getting four months off. Anybody in the second year at the university training corps will get another four months off, so that we have eight months off altogether, but no candidate will be qualified for a commission in the Reserve of Officers unless his commanding officer approves and certifies him. The General Staff has carefully elaborated the training for this corps, and in a few days an Army order will appear giving the full details. In the schools there is a very large cadet corps. We hope to get some 12,500 boys from the cadet corps to work with, and from the Universities we should be able to get 2,000 or 3,000. From these we might hope to get, in course of time, if the scheme were working at full strength, over 800 officers a year for the Special Reserve. Here again I wish to guard myself. We are setting this machinery going, but I do not wish to be taken at all as confidently predicting the success of the scheme. It is an experiment, but it is only by experiment that it is possible to make any progress. And yet the great problem of the deficiency of officers has got to be faced and cannot be shelved. We have taken £2,000 in the Estimate this year for this purpose and we took the same last year, and that will cover us for some time. The increased cost, which will be about £150,000 a year, will be covered by automatic reductions which will be in operation long before we get to that time. If the scheme succeeds in producing officers for the Reserve to the strength we hope, I think it will be 719 a cheap scheme. Such an officer in the Special Reserve will get £40 outfit allowance, and £20 a year as a retaining fee and his pay while he is out. We hope the career is one which will prove attractive to the class of young man who is going into the educational professions, the schoolmaster—schoolmasters are very keen about it—the doctor, the lawyer, or many other professions where probably in the early years he will have a good deal more leisure than at a later period, and in which, moreover, he will wish to have a second string to his bow in case law or medicine does not smile upon him.
I now come to the question of quality, and what I am now going to say applies to all officers and particularly to the Regular officers. The problem of the education of our officers and their training is a serious one. Great progress has been made, but there is still a great deal to be done. Before 1902 the system in vogue was a system of book knowledge, which lent opportunities for cramming to an undue degree. Then there came the Report of the Committee presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the St. Augustine's Division of Kent—a very valuable Report because it grappled with the difficulty; and I think great credit is due to those who devised it, to Lord Midleton, who initiated the proposal, and to the right hon. Gentleman who worked out the changes made at that time. They superseded the old-fashioned garrison instructor, and the system they adopted was one which aimed at producing a practically trained officer. In appreciating what they did and what they were not able to do it is necessary to bear in mind that the professional life of an officer has four stages. There is, first of all, his general education, altogether outside the Army. The next stage is that spent at Sandhurst or Woolwich before he gets his commission. That is followed by the third step, which is of a much longer character. When the young officer gets his commission he has a period from his early twenties till he reaches the age of, say, thirty-five, in which there is no adequate provision for his instruction at all. That is the most serious period, and it is one for which we have to provide. It is the period during which the officer has no opportunity— 720 of which many of them would avail themselves if they had—for making himself efficient in the science of war. The fourth stage comes only to those who seek the highest branches of the military profession, and that is the training for the General Staff and the higher commands, which is required from those who aim at being masters of the science of war and war organisation. About the first two stages I say nothing; they are tolerably satisfactory, except that Sandhurst is a great deal too small. We are adding to it very largely—practically doubling the accommodation. Coming to the intermediate stage, the Akers-Douglas Report, abolishing the old garrison instructor, entrusted the practical training and examination of officers to local examining boards, organised by the general officers commanding and the staff under them. They are a great improvement upon what used to obtain, but still they are not up to the modern level, and the reason is this. The general officer commanding and the battalion commander have a great deal to do. Very often they are men of a practical rather than an educational mind, and it is imposing a great additional burden to call on them to do educational work for which they may not be naturally qualified, and the result is that there is great unevenness in the kind of instruction and examination. The examination board consists of men who necessarily, according to the Army system, are chosen with some reference to their rank, and you may not be able to get a good examining officer of the proper rank. Anyhow, the result is, we feel, that the system is unsatisfactory and must be reconsidered. When I come to the fourth head, the General Staff, the system of education is admirable. I cannot speak too highly of it. But there again we have not enough trained men for the Staff College. We have accommodation at Camberley for seventy and at Quetta for fifty. They work in close communication, but they are not identical. We take their people and they take ours. But the Staff College is too small for our requirements; we have not enough instructors. The staff is very good, but the strain on it is too great. In the last eighteen months we have set to work another body which is training, not for staff 721 work, but for administrative work—the London School of Economics. That has been a great success and it has created a great deal of interest, and already the officers who have attended that school are beginning to find the fruit of their studies recognised by promotion. That has been a help to us, but it does not touch the General Staff work properly so called. We have got to do something to raise the level of the instruction and training of the officer during the period from twenty-two to thirty-five. The reason why we want to do more is twofold. In the first place the standard of education in the Army is rising rapidly. The divisional organisation is rising. The training of troops has been modified in such a fashion that you want more skill and more knowledge in the officer than formerly, and, moreover, the General Staff is of a higher standard of education all round. It is a great mistake to suppose you have made a General Staff when you have brought the officers together and labelled them General Staff officers. That is not a General Staff at all. In order to get a General Staff you want a long time; a tradition must grow up, a corps must form itself—a corps of men actuated by a common purpose, of divergent mind, it may be, but still concentrated on the accomplishment of a common purpose and permeated by certain central ideas relating to military thought. Such a body must take time to grow, and although we have at the War Office an organisation which is improving month by month, and the effect of which has been already very great in the organisation of the Army, still we all feel that two years time will make a very great difference in what the General Staff is. But a true General Staff is a body which does not remain concentrated at the War Office. A General Staff is a body which is becoming more and more important in its influence, not merely at headquarters, but out in the commands and in the training centres, and for that matter all over the Empire. The result is that the General Staff is asking, and properly asking, for higher military knowledge in the regimental officers. We want to assist the regimental officer in a way we have not been able to assist him hitherto. We want to give him more 722 chance of instruction, not the old garrison instruction, but instruction that is not merely practical instruction, given by men whose minds have been permeated by General Staff teaching, and who will go down to the command and work with the general officer commanding and his staff on the spot for the purpose of providing facilities for acquiring knowledge and for study which do not exist at the present time. We want to control the spirit of the promotions examination in the same fashion. We want to provide chances of higher appointments, not necessarily to the General Staff, but to the large and growing class of intermediate staff appointments, which is constantly coming more into existence in connection with the Territorial Force. By throwing open the chance of appointment to these new positions we hope to do something to stimulate the regimental officer. Just now he has far too little chance, his life is too restricted. He has a feeling that he has entered a costly profession without obtaining any adequate opening. We want to make the position of the officer in this respect a little more attractive than it has been. We shall give a chance after a little while of specialising. One man may have one talent and another man another talent. We must see their work and give them opportunities of showing how they will shape. Therefore, the examinations should allow for a certain amount of selection and the record should be taken into account. A thorough grounding in regimental work is necessary before there can be any specialisation, but after specialisation you may possibly open the field of selection to the Staff College and open it to some of those other appointments of which I have spoken. How are we going to do that? It is extremely difficult because it is extremely vague. You have a good system working in the Akers-Douglas system if only certain modifications are made to bring it up to date—to bring it up with the rapid changes made between 1902 and the present year, and the equally rapid changes which are, I am sure, in front of us. We ought to be very cautious about rushing in advance of experience. We want experience to guide us; and it is, therefore, well to proceed tentatively, making experiments in certain commands to begin with. I 723 beg the House to consider me as merely thinking aloud about the very difficult problem which we are trying to solve. I think we should do wisely at present to concentrate ourselves on experimenting carefully and to select commands which are most fit for the purpose. In the second place, we should have to select in detail more instructors than at the present time, and these instructors must be persons who are in accord with the spirit of the General Staff. It is evolution rather than revolution which is wanted in this case. It is essential that the proceeding should be very deliberate. In the course of the summer I hope we may make a tentative beginning. At present the General Staff is considering the be3t means by which the new departure may be made. Although we are looking ahead, we have not been idle during the past year. One matter in which our officers were very hardly treated was the want of opportunities for studying foreign languages. We have established this year classes in French and German at the chief military centres. When we have found officers who are willing to devote their leave to going abroad to study we have given them a contribution towards their expenses. I am speaking of all the countries where there are better known European and Oriental languages. In the case of the most difficult languages we have detailed officers to go abroad at Army charges and study these languages so as to be available as interpreters and for General Staff purposes. In order to encourage the study of Oriental and other languages, the Civil Service Commission have met us very handsomely. For interpreter-ships they hold their examinations in foreign languages abroad at the military stations. They are examining just now in Arabic at Cairo, for instance, where there are officers with the battalions which we have sent to Egypt who are taking the opportunity of acquiring an Oriental language. Last year forty officers spent their leave abroad. A sum of £2,500 appeared in the Estimates last year for this purpose, and it has served its purpose very well.
§ MR. HALDANE
Not at Cairo, but the principle has been established and the-Civil Service Commissioners will examine wherever they have examinations. I have finished what I have to say on this big and very difficult subject of officers. It is the most difficult subject which the War Office has in hand at the present time, and it will require much time. I have no hope of solving this problem rapidly. We must proceed tentatively, and I have indicated certain lines on which we hope to proceed. With thoroughness, patience, and continuity of policy I think a good deal may be done. But not till then can it be said that the British Army is properly equipped and organised.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain if there is any difference as to the mode of taking officers into the Special Reserve and into the Militia, except in the special case of getting regular officers into the Special Reserve?
§ MR. HALDANE
The mode of access to the Special Reserve is three-fold. At present officers may come into the Special Reserve through the Universities and Public Schools, but there are two other entrances by which they can come in.
§ MR. HALDANE
Yes. The old one is not very much liked. There are two general observations which I wish to make before I sit down. Since last November we have been giving 3d. extra to the recruit. The recruit is at the growing stage, and there is nothing on which attention has been more concentrated than the improvement of his spiritual, mental, and bodily condition. The pay of the Army is one of the items which strike people as being more costly than they used to be. There is a growth in pay of £2,000,000. I want to justify that, and I hope I may be able to convince hon. Members that one of the best things that has been done with 725 this big body of 250,000 men has been to spend money on feeding them better and improving their pay and general social conditions. The result of our policy is that the class of recruits is undoubtedly improving. The consensus of reports from the districts is to this effect. The pay, the additional comforts, and the prospects of the soldier are having a marked effect. There are many indications to prove this, but perhaps the most satisfactory is the decrease of wastage. Wastage may be comprised under the following heads: Invaliding, men discharged within three months of their enlistment as not likely to make efficient soldiers, and men discharged for misconduct. In 1903–4, the number of invalids was 4,973; in 1904–5, owing to the efforts of my predecessor, who gave great attention to this subject of wastage, the number fell to 4,226; in 1905–6 it was 3,234; last year it dropped to 2,928; and I have no doubt that this year it is again falling. I now come to those who are not likely to become efficient. We now select more carefully the men whom we take. Recruits are coming in owing to the improved conditions in such a way that we can pick and choose. The number of those rejected as not likely to become efficient was in 1903–4, 1,373; in 1904–5, 1,822; in 1905–6, 1,248; and in 1906–7, 928. In 1903–4 there were 3,656 cases of men discharged for misconduct; in 1904–5, 3,090; in 1905–6, 2,121; in 1906–7, 2,119. This is a tremendous drop. Under all the heads wastage has diminished from 10,002 in 1903–4 to 5,975 in 1906–7, a decrease of 4,000. I think that is a most satisfactory result, on which the country may congratulate itself.
We are taking other steps to improve the condition of the soldier, to enable him to realise the advantage of saving money, and to show him how even small sums may amount to a considerable total in a number of years. Instructions have been given that the schoolmasters and inspectors are to draw attention to this matter. I was struck two years ago with this—that there was a disease in the Army, of which I had not become cognisant elsewhere, but of which the evidences were unmistakeable and that is what is 726 known as "soldier's heart." It appeared that the heart of the soldier became more easily affected than the heart of any other class. We therefore appointed a highly qualified committee of very distinguished medical men, physiologists, together with practical officers, to sit under the Director-General of the Army Medical Service and to inquire into the whole system of the physical training of the soldier. This committee traced "soldier's heart" to the old-fashioned system of doing exercises, and we have substituted for it the Danish system of training. The great advantage under the new conditions is that physical exercises are based not only on military requirements, but on medical expert advice as to their effect. The Report states that the new exercises tend to develop the intelligence of the men, that they are capable of being performed without undue distress to them and are more interesting in their nature, and they will undoubtedly diminish admission to hospital for disordered action of the heart. So much for physical exercises.
I am glad to say that under other heads things are improving very much. The Director-General of the Army Medical Service reports to me for the purposes of this statement that improvements have already begun to accrue from the steps which have been taken towards the prevention of disease and consequent inefficiency of the Army. For instance, whereas the average yearly number of cases of Malta fever was for the years 1896 to 1905 over 150 in every 1,000 men of the garrison, in 1907 the number had fallen to two in every 1,000 men. This represents a saving of about 40,000 days pay in a year to the British Government, taking into account only the days spent in hospital, and not the loss and expense entailed by death and invaliding. That is, I think, a remarkable tribute to the achievements of science. This improvement, the Report states, may be directly attributed to scientific discoveries lately made, in large part, by officers of the department. As a result of the steps which have been taken in consequence of these discoveries the disease may be regarded as practically stamped out. I think 727 I ought here to acknowledge how much we owe to this Committee and also to the Royal Society for the deep interest it has taken in this matter. The Committee also say—We can also report for the year 1907 a considerable improvement in the health of the British Army in India in respect of three important diseases—enteric fever, venereal disease, and malarial fever. We regard this satisfactory state of affairs as a direct result of the increased attention paid by all the authorities concerned, both military and medical, to sanitation in cantonments. The improvement in venereal disease may be attributed to an increase in temperance and an improvement in general moral tone throughout the ranks of the Army.I may say in connection with the Army Medical Service that we have this year opened a new medical college in London which will, we hope, greatly facilitate the education of these most valuable officers of the Army—the officers of the Army Medical Service. As regards temperance, I have given instruction that, wherever it is possible, an Army tent may be placed at the disposal of the temperance organisation of the battalion, and we have taken every step we can to encourage the cause. The growth of temperance in the Army is marked and satisfactory. We have improved dining arrangements, and done many other things which conduce to the well-being of the men. Another thing I would mention is this. Two years ago we abolished flogging in the Army. We have had no reason to regret it, and we have been able to follow it up with an Army Order which has made considerable changes in regard to punishment. Under the new regulations only the graver offences, dealt with by entry in regimental conduct sheets, are taken into account in assessing a soldier's character, while minor entries, dealt with by entry in company sheets, are wiped out by subsequent good conduct, the company sheets being destroyed on discharge. Provision is being made for the abolition of company conduct sheets for noncommissioned officers of the rank of colour-sergeant or upwards, and the wearing of plain clothes under certain conditions has been extended to colour-sergeants. All that seems to me to show that progress is being made in the solution of the social question and the well-being of the great mass of the people. You cannot separate the social 728 condition of the Army from that of the rest of the population. Mixing as they do with the general population, your soldiers ought to be of the highest class, and, whatever view may be taken about other questions of economy, I hope I have convinced the House that the £2,000,000 spent in improving the conditions and pay in the Army have been well spent.
In the case of the infantry we have put them on a seven and five years service, which will give us an adequate Reserve. The Reserve is now enormous—135,000.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
The effective strength of the Reserve on 1st January was, I think, about 129,000. Is this 6,000 an accumulation since 1st January?
§ MR. HALDANE
It has been growing up very fast. We do not, of course, estimate the Reserve at that figure. I gave the figures last year as something like 115,000. The effective strength at this moment is 135,000, and it is still rising. As regards the cavalry, I wish to say this. We have got now a complete infantry organisation and a complete artillery organisation, but we have not a complete cavalry organisation, because the cavalry has not got depots. At one time it was thought that you could train the men without depots, but we believe they require depots, and what we propose is to establish tentatively, say, half-a-dozen small depots for the cavalry. We have determined this in principle, but we have taken no active steps yet in determining what the particular places shall be. One reason for that is that we want to bring the Regular cavalry into relations with the Yeomanry. We think it would be a great pity if we did not succeed in bringing the cavalry and groups of Yeomanry regiments into relations with one another. It is an excellent thing for the Yeomanry regiments that there should be a sort of centre of instruction. What we hope to establish is depots which will be the centres for groups of Regular cavalry and Yeomanry regiments. Last year I expressed my hope that the Yeomanry were going to give us fourteen squadrons for service abroad, who would take six 729 months training for service abroad with the Special Reserve. It has been found, however, that that is not possible, as they cannot do the amount of training required. The result is we have had to modify somewhat our cavalry organisation. The new war organisation of the cavalry consists of this—first, there is the strategic cavalry division, which consists of four brigades of twelve regiments with four batteries. Then there comes the protective screen between the main force and the adversary, and that consisted last year of something a little different from what it consists of to-day. To-day it consists of four regiments of Regular cavalry and two battalions of mounted infantry. That is what I think we shall settle. We intended to have more mounted infantry, but being unable to get the fourteen squadrons from the Yeomanry, we have been compelled to put in more Regular cavalry. Then there are the divisional mounted troops, and these will consist of mounted infantry and the Irish Yeomanry and any other regiment of Yeomanry which will volunteer to serve. The Irish Yeomanry forming part of the Special Reserve will be able to render the service asked of them. That is the modification of our cavalry proposals. It may not be the final form, but it is the form we are now working on.
Now I pass to the Territorial Force. I am not going to dwell on that, as I shall, no doubt, have to answer a great many questions as to it in the course of the discussion. All I have got to say is that the arrangements are nearly complete, that the reason why there has been so much pulling about of the Volunteers is that the whole disposition of the force has been made on a General Staff basis with a view to coast defence. The purpose has been so to arrange the force as to ensure points where invasion would be likely, so that an enemy would be obliged to bring large bodies of troops in transports, and consequently to have many transports. If you can force up the number of transports, then you have the objective which has always been the historical objective of the British Navy when dealing with an invading force. We should not go for the battleships, but 730 for the transports. The very essence of our traditions has been to strike at the transports. If the force with which your enemy makes his invasion is great, then in his transports he presents targets for the Fleet to aim at. Knowing this, he will send smaller forces for making raids, for which we organise. I have taken an Estimate for 315,000 men of the Territorial Force, and I want to make it clear to Members of the House, for I know there have been local complaints of pulling about of existing organisations, that there is a deep reason at the bottom of the whole matter; the organisation of the Territorial Force is for the country as a whole, so that the various possibilities of invasion may be adequately provided for and dealt with. If everybody comes up after 31st March, I shall have 315,000 men to provide for, and the cost will be a matter of interest to the House. The hon. and gallant Member for Sheffield has said that I have departed from my original proposals, but that is not so. The cost of the Auxiliary Forces under the old system was £4,400,000, and the original Estimate of the new Territorial Force was £2,890,000; that was at the time excluding the Militia. Since then, however, the Militia have come over, and in my then Budget I pointed out the saving from the formation of the Special Reserve. Taking out for this £2,000,000, that left the cost at about £2,500,000. But what will the Territorial Force cost? At first we began with £2,890,000. Now the House is in favour of economy in the abstract; but when we come to close quarters the platonic love for economy sometimes disappears. So in this case; and the various additions made to figures in the original Estimate brought up the cost to £3,579,000.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman had included expenditure under every Vote, and was the Estimate made upon the total number or on the basis of the number likely to come in.
§ MR. HALDANE
I will make it perfectly clear. The figure is £3,579,000, that being with the additions made by the House, for 315,000 men maintained at a war strength, as a going concern 731 with 126,000 horses. But that is supposing every man cames out for fifteen days training, and during a time of peace we do not want that number of horses. We have calculated what the Force will cost upon the enlarged figures and on a peace strength for 315,000 men, but with much fewer horses. With the saving that will accrue from diminishing the number of horses by some 70,000 and from the saving by estimating that 80 per cent. of the men will camp for eight days or over, the estimated cost of the force is £3,000,000. This is what I have to budget for as the cost of the Territorial Army on a peace footing from year to year. How do I budget this year? I have to bear in mind that it is impossible to expect that all the Volunteers and Yeomanry will have to come; they will fall very short; and we cannot blind our eyes to the fact that many things are going on. I have asked myself the question what money shall I want for the Territorial Force? If I take the full cost, and do not get the full number of men next year, then I lay myself under reproach for taking more money from the taxpayers than I am able to spend. If, on the other hand, I take too little, I bear in mind that the House does not like Supplementary Estimates. I am in a peculiarly difficult position, for I cannot tell how many men will come in—nobody can tell. In the result I prefer in making my calculation to take a little less, even at the risk of having to ask for a Supplementary Estimate, rather than take an amount I may not be able to spend. I have made a very close calculation, and I think I ought to take five-sixths of the money, calculating that not all the men will come to camp. I have calculated what is likely to happen, and if I am wrong I must come to the House with a Supplementary Estimate, but I do not think I shall have to do that when I take a little over £2,500,000.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said there were £2,000,000 for pay and allowances. He supposed the other £500,000 would come under other Votes, clothing, transport, and so on.
§ MR. HALDANE
That is so. If the right hon. Gentleman will do a 732 little arithmetical sum he will find that £2,510,000 includes all the charges and compares with £3,000,000, which is the full cost. But, as I have pointed out, there will be a saving of £160,000 on account of the Special Reserve, and there are other savings which will take off the remainder. I have provided this year at the outset £300,000 for the expenditure on clothing, and next year there will still be that item, but smaller in amount for new recruits. The new Territorial Force is going to cost a great deal more per man than the old forces of Volunteers and Yeomanry. Where we paid £6 10s. per man we are going to pay £9 for a more efficient man. It is, therefore, £3,000,000 as against £2,500,000, but there are the Special Reserve savings and the droppings out of the initial costs. That is all, I think, I need say about the Territorial Force, except that we provided in the initial cost for getting rid of debts on halls and personal debts. Therefore, I think we have done pretty well financially without increasing the Estimates, providing out of savings and—I will not quarrel about the word "savings," but money not spent, though at any rate we put it on the Estimates—£800,000 plus £300,000 plus £150,000, for the initial starting and non-recurrent expenditure not adding a penny for the purpose to the Estimate. I think it reflects great credit—not on myself, I am merely the mouthpiece—but on the financial authorities at the War Office, my hon. friend who sits near me and his staff, who have worked this out and have allayed the terrors about enormous expenditure of which we have heard so much. Of course, for the additions made to the original Estimate I am not responsible; the House accepted them, and the equipment on an adequate footing for £3,000,000 is the result at which I have arrived after careful minute investigation with the best expert advice I could get.
There are one or two other matters I have, to mention. The right hon. Gentleman opposite takes a great interest in manœuvres. We had a large programme of manœuvres last year. The Eastern and Southern Commands had combined manœuvres in Wiltshire; the Aldershot Command had manœuvres in 733 Buckinghamshire and the Irish Command in Leinster; the Scottish Command had mounted manœuvres in Perthshire, in which the Scottish Yeomanry regiments took part; the Northern Command had cyclist manœuvres in Yorkshire; the Eastern Command had siege manœuvres at Chatham, and the 1st Cavalry Brigade and the Household Cavalry Brigade were exercised in combined operations on the Marlborough Downs by General Sir John French. The new organisation of the expeditionary force into divisions was thoroughly tested with satisfactory results. There will be considerable manœuvres in the coming autumn. I do not wish to go into details, but certainly they will not be less than last year; in fact, I have taken a little more money under this head. We think it inadvisable to economise in this expenditure, for we think it is most fruitful when judiciously applied. The General Staff has been making its influence felt in the new formations. For instance, during the past year new units of the Royal Engineers have been raised, and, with the exception of the bridging trains and the line of communication telegraph companies, can now be mobilised to full war establishment as regards personnel. The bridging trains require more drivers, and the line of communication telegraph companies more telegraphists before they can be fully mobilised; no difficulty is anticipated in producing this personnel from Reserves when the normal has been reached. The new units are as follows—two field troops, two air line telegraph companies, two cable telegraph companies, two wireless telegraph companies, four divisional telegraph companies, three divisional telegraph companies, two bridging trains, two line of communication telegraph companies. In other words, we have had to recast the whole of the engineer organisation on account of the new organisation and improvements in science
§ MR. HALDANE
There is a small reduction, but, on the other hand, we are producing a reserve of engineers through the Special Reserve which will 734 more than compensate for that. There has hitherto been too much of getting civilian services from Regular soldiers which can be rendered more adequately by men who have been trained all their lives for these particular services; and the footing on which we are proceeding is that of getting more men—more Regulars I admit—but more men. There is another important feature of the year, and that is the work done in the Colonial Conference. The General Staff was in evidence at the Colonial Conference, and a general agreement was arrived at, the feeling being very harmonious, about the organisation of, what one may call the whole of the forces of the Empire on a general pattern. We agreed that each self-governing Colony should provide, as far as possible, for its local security; and that there should be the duty recognised of arranging for mutual assistance on definite lines in case of need; and we agreed that as far as possible the pattern of organisation should be made the same throughout the Empire, and that there should be co-operation. The way in which we thought we could best bring that about, without interference with the liberty of self-governing countries, was to make the General Staff Imperial; that was not only organising the General Staff at home but so organising it that we could send officers out to the Colonies, and could take officers from the Colonies upon our General Staff for training at home. That is being done. We have got two staff officers now, from Canada, and one from New Zealand at the Staff College; and the authorities are taking every step they can to make the forces of the Empire feel themselves a single force so far as possible. The principle is that in addition to the expeditionary Force to act at a distance in case of necessity, there should be a far-flung line of local defence extending all over the rest of the world, managed by each country within the Empire, organised as far as possible on one pattern, and by one school of thought in the shape of a General Staff. We are endeavouring not only to make the General Staff, for instance, in Canada and at home work together and exchanging officers, but we are throwing open General Staff appointments here for Colonial officers. 735 Of course, these things, can only be done on a very small scale at first; for the Colonies are only beginning to organise on the ideas that we have agreed upon, but we have made a beginning, and I am glad to say that the Selection Board have lately offered the command of an infantry brigade at Aldershot to Colonel Otter, a distinguished Canadian officer. In this way throughout the Army the spirit is now beginning to prevail of regarding the forces of the Crown and the officers of the Crown as more or less interchangeable.
§ MR. HALDANE
I do not know. The invitation has been sent to him. There is very little more that I have to trouble the House with. The whole question of reorganisation impresses itself on one's mind the more that one studies the circumstances of the Army. No Army is so difficult to manage as the British Army, because it is raised on a voluntary basis and is scattered all over the world. On the other hand, I do say that you have in the principles which I have described, which have been in large part inherited and on which we are endeavouring to carry on the work of our predecessors to its completion, a definite pattern and a definite organisation. I do feel that that has a value from every point of view, whether we take efficiency or economy into account. The great curse of our system in the past has been that its units have risen without any plan, without any definite purpose, without the question being asked of each one what is the end it is there to serve. It is better that, having adopted certain principles, we should set steadily to work and carry them out to their ultimate conclusion, looking neither to the right nor to the left, than that we should waver and hesitate. There has been much criticism about reductions; but, after all, had the country ever an organised force such as these six divisions, four cavalry brigades and artillery adjuncts? Had the country ever the prospect of such a force before it, and if such a force can be got with 21,000 fewer men and less cost, and without adding one man more than is necessary to keep at home under the influence of the Cardwell 736 system, it is a great gain to have lopped off unnecessary units and taken the opportunity of converting others, such as the old Militia, to build up, and fill up gaps, in the Regular organisation. It seems to me that there is at least enough that is simple in the plan which is now sanctioned by Parliament, and which we are working out, to justify the hope that steady working may give us an Army of which we may be able to predict with some sort of accuracy how it will function in case it is called on. We are only at the beginning of the work. A plan is made. The foundations are laid. The building is beginning to arise. That work must take years. It must be done by successive hands. I shall achieve my ambition if I leave my part in it, without having brought into the discussions of the subject that element of party bitterness which is the worst enemy of continuity of policy. I recognise what my predecessors have done; I am grateful to them; and all I ask is that the House and the country should take, in the spirit in which I have taken their work, my work hereafter. No one knows better how small it is and how true it is that we have here—"the little done, the undone vast." We have made a beginning. If we have laid down lines of steady, of continuous policy we may justly claim that good work will have been done for the British Army.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said that if he began at the beginning of his right hon. friend's speech, the hoped the House would not think he was going to follow him at anything like a corresponding length through the whole of it. But the words in which the right hon. Gentleman ended his speech had relation, he thought, to the argument with which he had begun it. The principle upon which he hoped to have attained a permanent basis for the British Army was the principle he had explained in his opening words, and it also formed the foundation of his speech in winding up the debate on Monday night. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Cardwell system as 737 he called it, which he explained to mean the system of linking battalions, and now, cavalry regiments also—perhaps the whole Army—in groups of two's, one at home and one abroad, was economic, and not only efficient, especially if they brought in India, and that it reduced the Army to the mathematical function of a single variant. He would be inclined to put that statement plainly to the House in something like these words. It meant that the Army was to be divided into two equal halves of which one was always changing and therefore the other must always change correspondingly. The half which was thought to be needed abroad from time to time regulated the size of the corresponding half which they had to keep at home. That was what was meant by the phrase "function of a single variant." How far that was the case the House now knew well. The expeditionary force which was explained to stand last year at 167,000 would stand he supposed in a month or two at 172,000, because the right hon. Gentleman was bringing home four battalions from the Cape of which three were placed in the expeditionary force.
§ MR. HALDANE
There were seventy battalions at home and I only wanted sixty-six. These four were the surplus. They do not add to the Expeditionary Force.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said that at all events the size of the force which they were to mobilise under the working of what was called the Cardwell system of linking in two's, was a force now larger than 167,000 men. He was only giving an illustration of the effect of linking in pairs to show that the expeditionary force, which was arrived at by utilising for mobilisation an exactly equal number at home to that abroad, was a force which did not depend on their particular needs. It was a force which depended on an accidental number abroad. Therefore, if three out of the four battalions coming back from South Africa were to be retained as communication troops, he understood they were added to the force to be mobilised on that system. He would like to examine the statement that the system was an economic one, especially if they 738 included India. In recent debates upon finance his friends on that side who had objected to the enormous cost of our military and naval defence did not state their case at its full strength, because they did not include anything except the shown cost of the Army paid for out of the funds of the United Kingdom, and ignored certain military charges which appeared on the Civil Service Estimates. They did not include such expenditure as that upon the Canadian Army, nor the £22,000,000 which was spent on the Indian Army. It was impossible to consider his right hon. friend's proposals and principles without including India in their purview. The cost of our land forces was upon such a gigantic scale that no comparison with any foreign country presented them with any element for arriving at anything like the cost per head. The British Empire, was spending upon its land forces £53,750,000 a year, a sum which exceeded enormously the expenditure upon the Fleet. The Secretary for War had already seen the difficulty of justifying such a gigantic expenditure and such a waste of energy in the creation of his new Territorial Army, and he had admitted in the House the predominance of the Fleet in our scheme of defence. But in the last speech he made to his constituency the right hon. Gentleman threw some doubt upon that admirable doctrine, and his Under-Secretary the Earl of Portsmouth also made a speech a day or two ago in which he said—He sympathised with those who felt that to sink enormous sums on ships whose efficiency might be superseded at any time was a costly experiment. If the force of the Navy was to be materially lessened they were bound to increase the cost of the Army.It was impossible for them to overlook words like those. At the Colonial Conference the Secretary for War said—There is the other part which exists not for local defence, but for the service of the Empire as a whole, the expeditionary force which, in a country like ours, must be naval as well as military—and I go further and say primarily naval. There is the Fleet, which in order to make the defence of the Empire what we all hope and believe it is, and are convinced that it must remain if the Empire is to hold together, must have the complete command of the sea, and must be stronger than the fleet of any other Power, or, for that matter, of any other two Powers.739 That statement the right hon. Gentleman still adhered to, but it rendered foolish speeches like those of the Under-Secretary for War advocating a larger Army than that which we possessed at the present time. Under those circumstances were they to go on spending £53,750,000 a year on land forces? He did not think so. In regard to this military expenditure he felt ashamed of the burden they were throwing upon India, much of it for services with which the Government did not face the British taxpayer. Although they had been steadily increasing the mounted force in India the number of horses at home had been decreasing in spite of the enormous cost of the Army. On the 1st January this year the Cavalry of the Line in the United Kingdom had only 6,445 horses for 8,848 officers and men, and only 5,801 of those horses were fit for service. No less than one-third of the horse troops in the Army had at present to go on foot, and yet it was claimed that this Expeditionary Force was ready to be sent instantly across the sea. The French cavalry had their horses in time of peace, and there had been an increase in the number of artillery and cavalry horses in India. However, his right hon. friend hoped to develop a more economical system. If the country were to spend so much money on its Army, it was on the cavalry and artillery mainly that such expenditure must take place, because, whatever the infantry produced on a cheaper system might be worth, no one imagined that artillery and cavalry fit to face European troops could be produced on a Militia basis. His right hon. friend had admitted that the divisional cavalry which the Yeomanry was to produce was no longer in existence.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said that in regard to the Territorial Artillery there was a great deal of doubt whether the change of system was to be accompanied by an improvement in the training. In the case of one of the regiments of garrison artillery which was to be transformed under this scheme the Colonel went down on Saturday to address them, 740 straight from the War Office where he got his instructions, and he said that—He had information as to drills Sometimes they would get three drills in one day.Then he invited questions, and in answer to one question put to him he said—They would be able to put in three drills in one day.The Adjutant, Captain Holme, R.A., also said that—The drivers would get a drill if they put in an appearance.The colonel added that—Their presence at lectures would count also. There would be eight days camp from Sunday to Sunday. There would be ample time to get in the drills.He did not think that that was a favourable sign, and at all the meetings which had been held there had been constant explanations in order to induce the men to come, and they had been assured that nothing would be changed and that everything would go on as before. If there was to be no improvement in training, why alter the system—why reject the service of willing men, and willing battalions, and destroy the whole civil character of the force? It had been said over and over again by War Office representatives that the new system would make no change at all. But there was the abolition of the word "Volunteer," the use of a military attestation form, and the use of the "enlist" instead of the old word "enrol," which in many parts of the country had a detrimental effect on recruiting. The basis of the whole of this costly Army system was what his right hon. friend called the Cardwell plan. What did the right hon. Gentleman say at the Colonial Conference? He recommended his scheme as vouched for by Sir George Clarke and the Esher Committee. That Committee had reported on a scheme for the reorganisation of the War Office and the Army, and that scheme was adopted by the late Government. The Secretary of State said that he was carrying it out. The Esher Committee was against the Cardwell system, and it reported in the strongest terms against the linking of battalion to battalion. Colonel Ellison, the secretary of the Committee, and Sir George Clarke, military member of the Committee, signed the Report against the scheme which the 741 right hon. Gentleman said was the foundation of his whole plan.
§ MR. HALDANE
The Cardwell system was only referred to in a single sentence. Colonel Ellison is one of the strongest supporters of the Cardwell system.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
You named a sailor and a soldier—Sir John Fisher and Sir George Clarke—and said that you were carrying out their views.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said he would read the sentence and let the House judge for itself. The report of the Esher Committee was in these words—We assume that the double-battalion system as part of the organisation of the infantry will be abolished as regards the training and supply of drafts for service abroad.They went on to discuss what would happen when the "battalions are unlinked." The Esher Committee assumed as the foundation of their argument that we were to get rid of all the system which the Secretary of State for War now said was the principle of the new organisation. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech on Monday night had in the strongest terms put the defence of his principle of reorganisation on the ground of economy to India. He said that any other plan would be ruinous to Indian finance. That was a home opinion, but was that the opinion of the Government of India? He did not mean Lord Kitchener's opinion, for he did not think Lord Kitchener was representative of Indian opinion, he was a home soldier and not an Indian soldier. Whenever India had given evidence on the subject, that evidence had always been against this principle. The Secretary of State said that he had proved the opinion of India in his Memorandum this year. The right hon. Gentleman quoted the Wantage Committee Report of 1892. Was India represented on that Committee? No, it was a War Office Committee. There had been a Commission which had considered the subject, namely, the Indian Expenditure Commission. The Indian witnesses, Lord Cromer, Sir Edwin Collen, Lord Ripon, Lord Northbrook and Lord Roberts, in giving evidence before that Commission showed that the system 742 was invented by us here, that it was not their system, and that they could do the thing much cheaper if they were allowed to do it. It had undoubtedly certain advantages, but it was a costly system. It was a compromise which was costly both to us and to India. His right hon. friend always called it the Cardwell system. He ventured to suggest that it was not the Cardwell system. Lord Cardwell never heard of the system of linked seven-year service battalions. At the present moment we had two battalions of Regulars, and a third battalion in nubibus. Lord Cardwell's idea of short service enlistment was that it should only be for a term sufficient to train the soldier for the Reserve. The system, right or wrong, was a very different system from that of the right hon. Gentleman. It was a system of real short service. Lord Card-well's words were that the term should be "as short as would make an effective soldier." Moreover Lord Cardwell contemplated compulsory service of the Militia. He had indicated this view to the Secretary of State on previous occasions in the way of interruption, but the right hon. Gentleman never took the matter up at all. The right hon. Gentleman had named the opinion of "distinguished officers" who had always held his view, but in the Memorandum of 9th April last year he used a very different phrase. He said—Cardwellian principles are not concerned so much with linked battalions or with particular terms of service as with the relations which should exist between the Regular and the Territorial soldier.He denied altogether the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that no distinguished soldier was against his view, and that all were on his side. The whole idea of the Reserve under the Card-well system was different from that of his right hon. friend. In a lecture delivered by General Miles at a conference held by the Chief of the General Staff on 4th January, 1906, and "sent round with the permission of the Army Council," that experienced adviser of the Secretary of State said—As regards the conditions of service, Lord Cardwell introduced short service, and he linked battalions in pairs; at least he did not link battalions, he affiliated them.The Wantage Committee was not the only authority on which his right hon. friend had relied for support of his view; 743 he said that he had been supported by every soldier of note. He himself had always been inclined to think that it had been opposed by every soldier of note. He was beginning to think that the necessity for economy and the pressure of the cost of the Army might enable them to arrive in the course of three or four years at some reasonable accommodation. General Miles also said—All the highest officers … saw the advantages of a wider link … instead of a link of two battalions … the group system … an enormous advantage … The change is an important one, and I think it very likely it will come.That seemed to contradict the statement made by the Secretary of State in the Memorandum of this year.
§ MR. HALDANE
If the right hon. Gentleman will read the lecture again, he will find that he considers affiliated groups more suitable for producing drafts.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said the quotation he had read disposed of the statement of his right hon. friend that every distinguished soldier had been on his side. General Miles had made exactly the opposite statement. He would not go into the wide subject of the Territorial Army, which was dealt with in the discussions on the Supplementary Estimates. He had already said that the Territorial Army was now explained away into a series of changes which might have been made without any legislation. No reason had been given for those violent and revolutionary changes which had involved so many difficulties in regard to Vote IV. His right hon. friend had left to the last moment the announcement that any new changes which dealt with military law or explanation regarding them would appear in a new edition of the King's Regulations. Did he mean the edition of last year, or an edition yet to come? The matter might be in part discussed on the morrow; he meant as to the employment of troops in police service. This was an important question, and he had given attention to it with the advice of a skilled lawyer. It became, in his opinion, increasingly necessary that some explanation should be given as to what was really the condition at present of military law. Last year there was sent to the 744 library a document containing some explanation of the changes which had been made in military law in 1906, but for twenty-two months he had not seen another document on the subject, and it was only two years after the right hon. Gentleman had been warned of the necessity of understanding the nature of his military code, and implored to produce and explain it, that it had now been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. The pressure on the subject had been increased from the fact that it now applied at any time to the infantry of the Territorial Army when called out for training and exercise. Being there, these men would not be forced to act as any civilian would, but under pressure of military law they might be called upon, if necessary, to shoot civilians.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said that that might be the opinion of the War Office, but that was not the opinion of those to whom he would go for advice. What he appealed to his right hon. friend to do was in the name of his Territorial Army and for the purpose of obtaining for him recruits who might otherwise be frightened to join unless the matter was made clear to them. It had always been said that it was almost impossible to explain to the ordinary recruit for the Regular Army what he was liable to under military law; but it was the more necessary that the recruit for the Territorial Army should know what were his liabilities under military law. He would not further detain the House and had only risen because of the challenge of his right hon. friend. There was a settled opinion on that side of the House that certainly the right hon. Gentleman's views would continue to prevail. Looking forward to the expenditure of next year and the year after on the Navy, and to the gigantic character of the increase of the Indian military expenditure, which excluding Military Police and the Imperial Service Troops, now amounted to £21,000,000, and looking to the extent of the expenditure we threw on India which we ought to bear ourselves, economy would be demanded. Such a grouping system as that recommended by General Miles would at least be 745 cheaper and as effective as that proposed by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Those who remember the crowded benches some years back when the Motion that yon, "Mr. Speaker, do now leave the Chair," was moved, and those who remember even the numbers who attended to hear the right hon. the Secretary of State for War on a similar occasion two years ago and who look at the empty spaces this afternoon must agree in the conclusion that the whole country represented by every section of opinion acquiesce, however unwillingly, in the belief that it lies in the power of no Secretary for War by some wave of a wand to do any thing largely and seriously to diminish the cost of the Army that we need. We have often hunted the will-o'-the-wisp, but to-day the right hon. Baronet who last spoke and the hon. Member for Abercromby Division are the only two Members of the House who have the courage to get up and say that they have a plan which would give the Army what the country and the Empire require for something less than £27,500,000 sterling. We unwillingly acquiesce in the fact that the Navy costs us £33,000,000, and that we have to pay for the Army £27,500,000.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The right hon. Baronet always brings this Indian money into account, but it is surely enough to discuss this question in the terms of the figures that appear in the Estimates. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War declares that he adheres to—I hardly call it the Cardwell system—to the plan which people call the Cardwell system—the plan which consists in saying that the number of Regular regimental troops which we maintain abroad practically dictates the number of Regular regimental troops at home, and that that being so, it is real good economy, even if it costs more money, to organise the regimental troops at home and to utilise and train them in order to become efficient fighting units. "A little more and how much it is; and a little less and how many miles away!" It is said that it is economical to spend a rather larger sum of money in this way because you train the men and officers, 746 and have a school of preparation for war, as well as raising a reserve from which we can feed our Army abroad. The right hon. Baronet challenges all that. He may be right or he may be wrong, but I think it is somewhat academic at the present moment to put before the House any alternative scheme. After all, so far as we know, the Secretary for War enjoys the confidence of his colleagues, and they command an enormous majority in the House. If they believe, as I myself believe, that great emendations may be made in the present system, they need not abandon the hope of economy the future. The real question is whether, if we have this system, we are making the best of it. It is somewhat unreal to say, "is it the right thing; we may have another system that may cost less." But what we have to consider is whether that which is new in the system proposed by the right hon. Gentleman is valuable, and whether it is going to cost more or less, and by that I mean the right hon. Gentleman's Territorial Force. I think it could be shown that whether you adhere to the Cardwell system or abandon it, or whether you treat it well or ill, the Territorial Force of the right hon. Gentleman is not going to cost less but more money. The right hon. Gentleman naturally takes a somewhat sanguine view of that Force, with respect to which a good deal has been thought and said, but nothing has been achieved. The Volunteers and the Yeomanry have been renamed, but not everyone has the same lively faith as the right hon. Gentleman in the saving grace of baptismal regeneration. I think there is great virtue in personal effort, because the right hon. Gentleman has elicited from all parts of the country, and from all conditions of men, a very remarkable support and they are determined to give the right hon. Gentleman's scheme a chance. There are a very few elements left for criticisms of his Territorial Force. If you go into details on this occasion it is impossible to debate the major question of policy. When the tree has only just been planted it is perfectly impossible for anyone to see the fruit, or to judge of its value in the future. But we still doubt altogether the right hon. Gentleman's plan of converting the garrison artillery into field artillery. You cannot have field artillery trained in a fortnight; it would be a waste of time 747 and money. What is the Territorial Force to prevent? The right hon. Gentleman hinted more explicitly than I have yet heard him that he looks to this Territorial Force as a formidable force at points where invasion may be expected. Therefore, in the light of that statement, we must judge of the efficiency and cost of the force. The right hon. Gentleman says that it is to be a formidable force where invasion is expected, and that it is to cost £3,000,000. But I maintain that it will not merely cost the sum now budgetted for, but a sum three or four times as great, because the training must be three or four times longer. If you take into account the necessity of equipping by means of wagons and ranges and much more that comes into the book, that will certainly be so. But I do think it proper, in view of the debate of the day before yesterday and yesterday, to ask the House to consider the question whether or not we need an army, what we want it for, and whether it should cost as much as it will cost when the Territorial Force is made adequate for the purpose which my right hon. friend thinks it may some day have to fulfil. There is a danger, if I may say so, in devoting the whole of this afternoon's debate to a question of detail. For the whole of yesterday a considerable number of Members in this House pressed for a large reduction in the Navy, and on what was practically a two days' debate it seemed to be acknowledged that there was no prospect of a large reduction of force in the Navy. We had a very remarkable speech yesterday from the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent and he, speaking for the Labour Members, practically footed the Bill for the Naval Estimates, and said they were prepared in the near future to vote for the further millions which were required. But he accompanied that, as I think notable statement, by a very extreme and extravagant form of opinion, which I think widely prevails in this country—the opinion that if you pay £33,000,000, or £37,000,000 or £38,000,000 for the Navy, then you ought to get a large reduction of five, six, seven, or eight millions from the cost of the Army, or that, as he put it, you ought not to have an Army at all. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State for War, practical always has taken it for granted that he is safe for his twenty-seven or twenty-eight millions, 748 and thinks he will get the additional millions he requires if his Territorial Force is to be anything but a paper force; but I am not at all sure that he can convince some sections of this House that we need an Army as well as a Navy, and that we need an Army practically equipped for war. What we really want to know, or rather what we really want the people of this country to know, is that we have got an Army of about the right size and about the right establishment. If we had only to think about defending these islands we should need a considerable Army, and those who look at the Navy and say, "Why, if we spend all that on a Navy should we need an Army?" forget that you cannot conduct a naval war without an Army. You cannot protect the bases of your Navy, you cannot prevent raids, and you cannot finish a naval war without a large and rather effective Army. You cannot produce an effective Army in a few months, and therefore if you think that by paying for the Navy you absolve yourselves from paying for an Army, you will court disaster if you cut it too fine, and in the event of war, which you rather invite by cutting down your Army, you court the prolongation of war, which is almost as great a national disaster as defeat. There is a case as it stands for maintaining an Army of sufficiently large size even if we had only to defend these islands, but these islands are not the country which we have to defend; we have to defend the British Empire. The British Empire is a great deal larger than these islands. I think it embraces about 13,000,000 square miles, and a population of 400,000,000, and that is one-fifth of the surface of the earth and one-fourth of the population of the world. In addition to the defence of these islands and the Empire, supplemental to that work, you have a great deal of police work on your hands. Then let us consider the shape and the conformation of the country which we have to defend. In addition to these islands we have India. I believe that the people who live in India regard these islands as an appendage of the Indian Empire. That is not our view, but it certainly is our duty to be ready to defend India against any possible contingency. In India we have a long land frontier. It has been argued, it was argued only the day before yesterday, that because our relations with 749 Russia are—and I am glad to think they are—far better than they used to be, therefore it is possible for us to reduce the garrison of India. Does any country in Europe diminish its garrison because it is at peace with another country which has a long land frontier? If Russia remains long our friend we have precisely the same duty as a European country has in regard to another country with which its borders march. I put this in a very hesitating manner, but there are some who say that Russia is not only friendly but she is not so strong as she was. I do not believe that, but if it were true the necessity that we should uphold the garrison of India would not be less but greater. If it were true that we were the principal powerful European people in Asia the necessity for maintaining European prestige would be so great that instead of being able to reduce the garrison in India we should have to increase it. That being so, the facts are that far from being able to do without an Army, and far from being able to do with an insignificant Army—an Army for parade purposes at home—we in this country—we alone of all the nations of the world—have to have two Armies, an Army abroad as well as an Army at home, and the real question we have to consider is how we can provide economically for the double obligation in view of the great cost of the Navy, and by providing economically for the double obligation I mean the fact that we get a sound relation between the amount of money which we spend and the degree of preparation which we get for the money spent. If we could agree upon a principle—if we could, as my right hon. friend expressed it the day before yesterday, arrive at some standard for the Army comparable with the two-Power standard for the Navy—it would be very desirable. Supposing that for every £5 worth of money you spend you get £2 worth of preparation it would be better to spend £6 to get £5 worth of preparation; it would be better to have an Army which would cost one-fifth more to prevent war happening, and in the event of war happening it is an insurance against an undue prolongation of war. Therefore if we could come to some arrangement, some rule of thumb agreement as to the numbers of the Army that we need for our foreign Army and 750 the reservoir from which it is fed at home—if we could agree that that reservoir shall be properly trained in order that it may be effective, then I think we could come to some sort of an agreement on the force of the Army, as I think has been attained in the last few days in regard to the force of the Navy. Is it possible to arrive at any agreement on the numbers? I think it is. Nobody seriously suggests that you cam largely diminish the garrison in India, and I doubt if anyone seriously suggests that you can diminish the garrisons at our naval bases, or at our coaling stations. It follows that the only places you can; find for the reduction of troops are to be found in our self - governing colonies. I think it can be shown that even if the right hon. Gentleman gets back the number which he wishes to get back from South Africa—I think it is a fantastical idea that he can get all of the troops—it follows that you will always have a number of troops abroad, and if you brought these home then you would have to spend more money upon the Home Army as practically your Imperial Reserve. That is the question raised by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. At the present moment we have 130,000 men at home and 126,000 men abroad. Balance the figures if you can quite equally, and your army—your Regular Army—is not going to cost any less than it does now. It will indeed cost more. You will still need your Territorial Force. Now let me take the hypothesis of the right hon. Baronet that you can lessen the cost, partly by reducing the number of troops abroad. That is his point.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
I will not interrupt, but I think my right hon. friend really knows what I meant.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I know that the right hon. Gentleman wishes to reduce the number by reducing troops abroad in our Colonies.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
And I know that he believes that with the Regular Army you can have a reservoir at home.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
By having a long service army for our foreign obligations you can have three men abroad and one man at home instead of having two abroad and two at home. I believe that nobody has proposed a plan of that character which when fully examined showed any great saving of money. It has been my duty to examine several of these plans. I believe that no one has been able to show any great saving of money, if you adopt any substitute for this balance system. But supposing you can show a saving of money, though not a great saving, I am perfectly certain if you adopt such a plan you will have to spend a great deal more money on your short service Home Army than the right hon. Gentleman is going to spend on the Territorial Force, and the right hon. Gentleman will have to spend a great deal more on his Territorial Force. So that there is no El Dorado on which we can roam by changing our present system. I think some improvements are possible on it, but even if improvements are possible on what is called the Cardwell system those improvements are not going to save a great deal of money, and if they are going to save a substantial sum then the cost of your Home Army is going to be a great deal higher than anybody has contemplated. I think it is well that we should face these facts, but has anyone faced them? Has the right hon. Gentleman faced them? He keeps the Cardwell system, and if you keep that system you must try to treat it fairly; if you keep it you must keep the exact balance between infantry, seventy-four battalions abroad and seventy-four at home. The right hon. Gentleman says he can do it. How many Secretaries of State for War have I heard make that announcement? He told us last year that that was his object; we turn to the Estimates and we find that there is one more battalion abroad than at home and I shall not be surprised if next year there are two more battalions abroad than there are at home. This is always what has happened in the past. But supposing he succeeds, as nobody has who has treated the Cardwell system fairly, in keeping the balance at home and abroad, he must do something which has not been done—he must maintain the balance at home; for the great claim 752 made for the Cardwell system is that under it you can train the men at home who are to feed the battalion abroad better than under any other system. You can train them better in units than in depots, and you can also train the officers and the staff. That is true if you have enough men in the Home battalions to admit of progressive training; it ceases to be true if you have not enough. When you cut down the establishment of a Home battalion to a certain limit the number of men engaged on fatigue and other duties is so great that the battalion ceases to be a proper training school, and you lose the whole benefit of the Cardwell system.
§ MR. HALDANE
Does the right hon. Gentleman reproach me for having cut down those establishments? I have only reduced them because I cannot get the men. The three years system has now culminated in its full effects, but assuming that we can get the men and they are not swept away by drafts, we intend to raise the establishment of the Home battalions. It is absolutely academic.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I am making no reproaches against the right hon. Gentleman; I am stating the fact. If it is the fact that the Home battalions do not contain a sufficient number of men to admit of progressive training, then it is the fact that at the present moment we are not deriving the great benefit which is claimed for the Cardwell system. If that be the fact, it is still more necessary that the Territorial Force should be properly trained, properly equipped, and properly organised. I do not indulge in speculations at any length as to what will happen if we abandon the Cardwell system, but I will tell the right hon. Baronet that if you do abandon it the necessity for training the Territorial Force, and for spending money upon it, will become very much greater. In fact, nobody, I suppose, who ever considered this question asked for less than one year's training; most people ask for two years training. The right hon. Gentleman is giving two weeks training, and says it will cost £2,000,000 a year. What an Army with two years training would cost I leave to those who are ready to perform a sum in mental arithmetic to state. We do not hold for a 753 moment that two weeks training is adequate. For artillery, it is laughable; or for Yeomanry also. The right hon. Gentleman says in regard to the Territorial Force that so far he has reduced the period of training for Yeomanry. He has spoken of the necessity of linking up the Yeomanry with the cavalry, and providing horses for both. If you discourage the Yeomanry service throughout this country you discourage horse-breeding, horse-riding, and horse-mastership; you deplete the natural nursery, so to speak, of horses, and men who under stand horses, which you had not only with the Yeomanry, but with the Cavalry also, and you do that at a time when the advent of the motor car is making the horse a rarer and rarer animal in this country. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take full advantage of the period of law which we have deliberately given him. We told him last year that his scheme must have a fair chance. I suppose in politics two years is a somewhat generous period by which to describe a fair chance. But we shall expect something more than these speculative details and rosy hopes as to the future of the Territorial Force. We shall wish to know how he is going to deal with the Artillery. We shall deny his right to convert the Artillery into training schools until he has found a solution for that question. We shall assert that he must not cut down the Yeomanry. We shall declare that his rechristened Volunteers must come up to the standard which we had not to impose upon the old Volunteers. And we shall abide by our own opinion that he has made a mistake in reducing the Regular Army; that he has made a mistake in creating this great gap between the Territorial Force and the Regular Army; and that if your system is to be voluntary it must be various, and by making it uniform you are tending either towards inefficiency or towards compulsion.
§ MR. MCCRAE (Edinburgh, E.)
said that his right hon. friend the Secretary for War could make no complaint of the tone of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, who always intervened in Army debates with that knowlege and courtesy for which he was so distinguished. In reply to some observations of the Secretary for War, the right hon. Gentleman had said that the Territorial Army was required to 754 be of such a nature as to be formidable at points where invasion was expected. It had another duty to perform which his right hon. friend had always maintained. It was a reserve to the Regular Army in case of war. That ought not to be lost sight of in considering the utility and the cost of the force. He entirely agreed with the view of the right hon. Member for Dover with regard to the Cardwell system. He did not suppose that his right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean claimed that his scheme, if it were given effect to, would result in any great economy.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said he had now no scheme. Many years ago he had a definite scheme, but as there was not the slightest chance of its being adopted, it could not now be spoken of as his scheme. He only said this, that he preferred any of the modifications to battalions in links of two.
§ MR. MCCRAE
said he did not think if his right hon. friend pressed the point that his proposal would result in any great economy. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Abercromby Division had gone so far as to tell them on Monday that unless they discarded the Cardwell system they would get no economy in the Army. That struck him as a false assumption. Before the war the cost of the Army was £7,500,000 less than it was to-day. They increased their expenditure while the Cardwell system was still in existence. They had reduced their expenditure, and they still had the Cardwell system. The question of economy did not so much depend upon the Cardwell system; it depended really on the policy, first of all, of their military advisers, and also largely upon the question of the pay of the Army, as would be seen by comparing 1898–9, when Vote 1 amounted to £5,900,000 as against £9,400,000 in the Estimates for the coming year. If they were to have a reduction of the expenditure on the Army it must be by a different policy from that of abolishing the Cardwell system, which the right hon. Member for Dover had very well shown was a most economical system. He congratulated his right hon. friend on the steady reductions he had made in the expenditure on the Army, and he thought 755 they did not quite realise what those reductions amounted to. If they took the Estimates for 1905–6, which were the last Estimates prepared by the late Administration after they had made up their minds to reduce expenditure, it would be found that they amounted to £34,148,000. If they compared that with the Estimates for the coming year, £30,569,000, they got a reduction of £3,500,000. If they went one year further back, and took the actual expenditure of 1904–5, when the expenditure on the Army amounted to £36,250,000, they had a reduction of £5,750,000. If they took the actual expenditure on the two Services for 1904–5, it amounted to £77,700,000 as against £64,500,000 for the coming year—a reduction of £13,000,000. He thought these figures ought to be kept in view when they were discussing the scheme of his right hon. friend, and the actual reduction of expenditure on armaments. The amount for which the present Administration was responsible, in a short period, was £8,750,000. But he thought that further reductions were still possible and even probable in the Army. He thought the bringing home of the Colonial garrisons afforded practical evidence of how economies could be effected. They must look to considerable reductions of the Regular Forces if they were to provide the money necessary for the complete equipment and training of the Territorial Army. It stood to reason that if they had an efficient Reserve they could do with a smaller active regular force. There was one point which he did not think his right hon. friend had made quite clear in his opening speech, and I that was as regarded the cost of the Territorial Army. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War had estimated the cost of the Territorial Army for the coming year at £2,500,000, and his estimate for the ultimate cost was £3,500,000.
§ MR. MCCRAE
said he had criticised the financial arrangements of his right hon. friend when he introduced his scheme, and soon afterwards £650,000 was added to the Estimates. He must say, looking at the matter closely, that 756 he thought the equipment and training of 315,000 men for £3,000,000 was a very conservative estimate.
§ MR. HALDANE
If my hon. friend will look he will see I have allowed for the horses which would not be required, and for the fact that only 80 per cent. of the men may be expected to come out to camp. That gives a big saving.
§ MR. MCCRAE
said he had no doubt his right hon. friend was accurate. He thought the Estimates had been very conservative, and he held it would cost more, though the Army would be worth the money after they had considerably increased the Estimates. The Volunteers and Yeomanry together at present cost in round figures £2,000,000, and he was, sure it would cost at least £1,500,000 more to give the new force fourteen days training and all the additional equipment with regard to artillery and Army Service Corps which was absolutely necessary. The cost of the new Territorial Army worked out at £11 4s. per man as against £7 15s. 4d. per man taking the present expenditure on the Imperial Yeomanry and the Volunteers combined. That showed, of course, a considerable increase, but they ought not to grudge it. If this Army was properly organised and trained it would be worth the money. He regretted that his right hon. friend had not had a fair chance in creating this new Territorial Army. He had had every encouragement from both sides of the House, but he did not think his military advisers had dealt very fairly with him in the way they had launched the scheme, and speaking as a Volunteer officer he said it was a matter of regret that the organisation had been brought about in a way which had placed almost insuperable and unnecessary difficulties in the way of the creation of the new force. He could not understand the muddling and blundering there had been. The attestation form was a most maladroit document. There was nothing in it which was not sanctioned by last year's Act, but it was not altogether a document likely to be useful for recruiting purposes. In Scotland they had not worried very much about it. They were accustomed to the methods of the War Office, and looked beneath the surface at the actual facts, and they found there was nothing 757 in the document that any man wishing to join the Territorial Force need be at all afraid of. But why was it presented in such a form? To ask a recruit if he was married, the name of his wife, the officiating clergyman, and the number of children was rather unnecessary seeing that the average age when a Territorial soldier joined was 17. There was, of course, a basis of reason for the questions, because non-commissioned officers were to receive a separate allowance for their wives and families on going into training, but that was a matter that ought to be kept out of the attestation form altogether, and to ask the questions of the whole battalion, when, as far as peace training was concerned, the information was only required with regard to non-commissioned officers, was a little unfortunate. If the force was embodied, in the event of war every Territorial soldier would be entitled to allowance, and they would then require the particulars; but that was a matter that ought to have been arranged as pure administration, and not put in a form which terrified a good many of his fellow Volunteers in the South. A much more serious grievance, however, was the delay in issuing the conditions of service. He could see nothing to prevent the Army Council considering the necessary conditions, and having them ready for presentation to the new Territorial soldier at the beginning of the Volunteer year. It was, however, only the other day that they had had the complete form of conditions when the recruiting period was almost over. January and February were the two best recruiting months of the year. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, had had unnecessary difficulties placed in his way by this delay, and he saw no reason for it. At the request of his officers he had called a meeting of his men in November to explain what the conditions were likely to be, and now that they had them they were hardly anything different from what he had explained, going merely on the Act of Parliament. Surely they had sufficient time in the War Office to have got these forms ready so that commanding officers might know what to say to their men when the recruiting season began? He was rather disappointed at the answer the right hon. Gentleman had given to a question with regard to a circular issued by the 758 Warwickshire County Association asking employers to give preference to men who were willing to join the Territorial Army. There was nothing that would be more disastrous to the success of the new force than that there should be any form of coercion of this kind. After all, those who enlisted did so voluntarily. It was a voluntary organisation, and he deprecated any such methods. He regretted also that a noble Lord in another place had accused his right hon. friend of starting a scheme and giving it to his political opponents to work. Observations of that kind were very much to be deprecated. They ought to keep party politics altogether out of this organisation. It was matter for congratulation that when the scheme was going through the House both sides while criticising it kept the party point of view out of it altogether. He hoped those who had to do with the new Territorial scheme would make a point of keeping it apart from party politics. He mentioned it because other observations similar to that to which he had referred had been made in Scotland at public meetings. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on appointing the advisory committee which would deal with questions affecting the Territorial Army. That was good, but something more was wanted, and he joined with those who had pressed repeatedly on the Secretary of State the necessity of having direct representation of the force on the Army Council. When they considered the probable cost, three and a half millions, and the number of men to be trained, it was absolutely essential that they should be directly represented. He was quite sure that if they had been, the attestation form would never have gone out in the form that it did, and the conditions of service would have been got out earlier. He hoped it was not yet too late to press on the right hon. Gentleman the absolute necessity, if the scheme was to be a success, of having on the Army Council direct representation of the new Territorial Army.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
said he felt that he ought to apologise for venturing to suggest that there was any other portion of the Army than the Territorial Forces, but he must ask the House to recollect, however willing they were to forget it, 759 that there was a force called the Regular Army, and it would be well that a little attention should be paid to its needs and the conditions imposed upon it. He differed absolutely from the right hon. Gentleman in his idea that the reduction of Regular trained soldiers could be adequately or reasonably made up for by the introduction of untrained men. He held that to be an extreme fallacy, and it would be found some day to be a source of extreme danger. The right hon. Gentleman took some credit for having reduced the Army by 21,000 men. Just before the battle of Waterloo the Duke of Wellington was asked what he thought were the prospects of being able to check Napoleon. The Duke, pointing to a soldier, said—It depends entirely upon that article yonder. Give me plenty of him and I am safe.The right hon. Gentleman had reduced the number, and in that proportion he had reduced them from safety to want of safety. Again, acting under he did not know what mistaken influence, the right hon. Gentleman now would tell them that untrained men, who were cheap, were a good substitute for trained men, who were dear. What was going to happen when such batteries went into action if they had to rely upon untrained men behind the guns? Not being trained or disciplined they would be liable to panic and confusion; and if such a thing did arise, that might have the effect of destroying the efficiency and the power of the units in the fighting-line. The result of all this would probably be defeat. He agreed that if they were to calculate these things on the assumption that the men were never to fight, this policy of economy might be a wise one—but if they were really intended to meet an enemy in the field, then he could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman. He congratulated the Secretary for War upon the broad way in which he was looking at this subject. There was some difficulty, he was aware, in obtaining a sufficient number of officers for the Regular Army, and he would venture to suggest that he should bring into play upon this question his knowledge of human nature, and recollect that although 760 it was of the highest importance that a large number of officers should be trained to the highest degree possible, it was not necessary that every officer should be equally well trained. It should be remembered that at the present time they were able to command the services of a certain type of officer, who, although not particularly, ambitious, was nevertheless willing to offer services which were intensely valuable during his regimental career, and that kind of officer made the best troop-leader in action. Such officers commanded in a remarkable degree the affection of the men they led into action, and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind the importance of retaining that kind of man in their regiments, and not over-examine him out of the regiment, and so lose a most valuable kind of regimental service. He was not arguing that such men should go to the higher grades without giving some evidence of professional attainments, but he hoped it would not be made impossible to join as officers men who were ready and willing to give ten or twenty of the best years of their life simply for the love of the service. With regard to officers, he thought that of all the classes in the service of the Crown, none were so badly paid. When it was remembered that they look their lives in their hands, and had to spend a good deal of time in unhealthy places and got only about £100 a year, he thought it was time for the economists to pause before demanding all these services from officers. As regarded the Militia, which were now to be called the Special Reserve, he thought he was right in assuming that at the present moment they were in a state of pulp, in a soft and flabby condition. While that force remained in its present condition no-one could possibly say that the scheme was cohesive, or capable of being put into force. He thoroughly agreed with other speakers who had stated that it was the bounden duty of them all, however much they might differ in detail, or in their estimates of the future, loyally and heartily to support the scheme which had been adopted by the House of Commons. The Secretary for War had invited the country to support his Territorial Army Scheme on the ground that it would effectively improve 761 the military strength of this country, and safeguard all those points which, from a military point of view, might be considered in danger. There was one point, however, which was in reality the whole question—and it was whether it was proposed to train the Territorial Army to be efficient and reliable. He would like to know if any body of men, however intellectual individually, and however capable, could be made efficient and reliable on the system laid down for the Territorial Army. The right hon. Gentleman himself had not had personal experience of military affairs, but he himself had, although it was a long time ago. He did not, however, think that he was far from right when he said that no soldier of any experience would for a moment admit that a Territorial Force, trained and drilled on the system laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, could be fairly called either reliable or effective. It was a matter of absolute impossibility that such a force could be effective. He agreed that under the present system less drill was required than used to be thought necessary, and possibly the improved individual intelligence in the type of man they hoped to get by recruiting would compensate for the old soldier upon whom they used to set so much store. Nevertheless, he ventured to say that a possible maximum of fourteen days, which was more likely to be nearer eight days on the average, was not an effective or reliable training for a soldier; and men so trained ought not to be put before the country as constituting a reliable force. The leading soldiers of every foreign country would scorn the idea that such troops would be considered reliable. It was not until they had added to those men that discipline and self-reliance which an adequate training alone could give that they would get a soldier who would be taken seriously by those whom he would have to meet in the field. He knew it was extremely difficult to get men of that type from their occupations into camp for any long period of time, in order to subject them to military discipline. He could, however, see one direction in which much could be done to provide, at all events, self-reliance under the present system. Just in proportion as every man in the Territorial Force became a master of the 762 weapon he had in hand, they would make him more of an effective soldier. If it was impossible for them to increase the actual time of training, at least they should insist upon a much higher average of individual shooting capacity and power with the rifle, because if men went into action conscious of their ability with the rifle, that feeling in itself gave the self-reliance and steadiness which was after all what they wanted to get out of training and discipline. He trusted that the efforts of those who had to conduct the new Territorial Army would largely be thrown into elaborating the system of rifle shooting, which would make each man a first-rate rifle shot, if they were unable to undertake longer camp training. The hon. Member opposite had talked about the Territorial Force being able to reinforce the Regular Army, but he appeared to forget that not one member of that force undertook to go abroad. The very first thing they would have to consider in the event of an expeditionary force leaving this country was, how were they going to reinforce it and keep it up to strength, after some great disaster?
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
Yes, but they could not reckon upon them. He wished to judge the Territorial Force generously, and at its full value, and he fully recognised that it contained probably the best fighting material in the world. There was no better st ff than that which, in the past, had composed their Auxiliary Forces, and which would in the future compose the Territorial Force. But because it was so excellent, they should not run away with the idea that it was efficient for fighting purposes unless it was properly trained. Therefore it was not wise for them to live in a fool's paradise, and bring upon themselves the possibility of disaster through not recognising the facts and the realities of the situation. He believed that, in fairness to the force and to the country, the right hon. Gentleman should state what were its possibilities and impossibilities, its limitations and powers of expansion. He would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to say to the 763 country boldly and straightforwardly: "Under this scheme we believe we provide an adequate expeditionary Force; under this scheme we believe we supply sufficient reinforcements for India; under this scheme we believe we supply through the Special Reserve an arrangement under which we can reinforce the Expeditionary Force in the field; and under this scheme we also create the very best Territorial Army that the limitations which the country puts upon us enables us to create." If in saying that the right hon. Gentleman would also say honestly fairly and squarely that within the limitations upon which the War Office had to work this Territorial Army could not be reliable or effective for the purpose of meeting at short notice anything like a well-drilled and well-disciplined Army, then he would have told in a candid and fair way the realities of the situation, and he would be relieved of the accusation to which he was at present open of representing that in the Territorial Force the country had something superior to what it really had. More than that, he would stimulate the force to make itself really efficient and reliable by taking all the advantage it could of its opportunities of training, and, above all things, of perfecting itself to the highest possible degree in rifle-shooting, which would very largely make it an effective and reliable force. If the right hon. Gentleman would do that, he would be doing that which would be patriotic and fair to the country, and in the best interest of the Army.
§ MR. SEDDON (Lancashire, Newton)
said he did not think that anyone who listened to the speech of the Secretary of State for War would charge him with lack of lucidity. So far as the reductions were concerned he was afraid they were more illusory than permanent. He desired to call attention to the personnel of the Army and also to refer to the Territorial Force. The Secretary for War had said they were attempting to provide a better training for officers between twenty-one and thirty-five years of age. He thought there was to-day a higher appreciation among officers of their duties than in the past. When he visited Aldershot last year, he met several officers who looked 764 on their duties very seriously. But he had an uneasy suspicion that all officers were not like minded. The evidence in the case of Lieutenant Wood had left a suspicion in his mind that there were some officers in the Army who still looked more to pleasure than duty. He thought the right hon. Gentleman would be well advised in trying to somewhat further democratise the higher ranks of the Army. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the class of recruits was improving. Speaking from the working-class point of view, he thought there was a new conception of the Army. It was not now regarded as the dumping ground of wastrels. Many young men went into the Army as an occupation and pursuit. He was one of those who objected wholly to the three years system. Under that system the soldier never became inured to Army conditions. When he left the Army he was unfit for civil life. There ought to be something further done to induce the intelligent members of the democracy to rise to the higher ranks as officers. He was glad to hear that wastage was decreasing under present conditions, and that temperance was on the increase in the Army. The right hon. Gentleman had also referred to the decrease of venereal diseases in the Army, but unless he was wrongly informed—and he had private information which he would be glad to give to the right hon. Gentleman—that was not so in fact, and he thought it would be a wise thing if the medical inspection of soldiers was much more minute than at present. As regarded the Territorial Army, he was afraid it was the parent of the child so far as the expectations of the right hon. Gentleman were concerned. The lords-lieutenant had already given evidence that this child was going to die by neglect. Many volunteers who had served for long years objected to the provisions laid down under this new scheme up to the present time. Personally, he was all in favour of the Territorial Force, and he believed the day had not yet come when they could beat their swords into plough shares and their spears into pruning hooks. They must make provision for every contingency, but the conditions laid down under this new scheme were somewhat harsh on those called on to serve. Lancashire was reckoned a leader in commerce 765 and patriotism, and their county instinct was very strong, and if anything were done to destroy the county character of the Territorial Army, much more harm would be done than the right hon. Gentleman thought. If the Territorial Army failed they would have to look forward to conscription, and he objected to conscription on all grounds. There was much in the Swiss, system which he appreciated, and if the economic conditions there and here were more similar, he would be still more a supporter of that system. But if the Territorial scheme broke down they would be in danger of being confronted with conscription pure and simple. He believed, however, that the patriotism of the democracy of this country was quite enough, to meet all requirements, if only a clear statement were made, fairly and squarely. He thought the right hon. Gentleman would be well advised to revise the instructions to commanding officers and to see that they were made as clear as possible. There would then be a prospect of his anticipation of an effective Territorial Force being realised.
§ MR. BYLES (Salford, N.)
said that in his opinion this had been a discouraging debate, for no one had said a word about economy or retrenchment. [An HON. MEMBER: Yes, the hon. Member for Edinburgh.] The hon. Member for Edinburgh, like others who had addressed the House, had spoken from the military point of view. He supposed that none of them were surprised at demands from the Tory benches whenever there was any spending to do on military and naval affairs, but the observations that fell from the Minister of War were somewhat disturbing. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that he was not responsible for the size of the Army. The right hon. Gentleman, as a Minister and a Member of the Cabinet, had, he thought, his own individual responsibility for the policy of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman told them that the enormous Expeditionary Force was truly economic. The right hon. Baronet had replied to that statement. To be asked in the House for an expeditionary force of such magnitude was certainly depressing to the friends of peace. The right hon. Gentleman had advanced the view that 766 the Navy was of no use without the Army. He had thought that the advocates of the Blue-water school, as it was celled, were accustomed to say that the more efficient the Navy was the more they would be able to save on the Army. The right hon. Member for Dover had stated that we wanted not only one Army but two Armies. [An HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!] He dared say that the right hon. Gentleman would like three or four, but he never could maintain his claim that the Army was the greatest insurance against war. He combated that idea and held that with a large force in which the interests of a great number of men and officers were involved, they were far more likely to go to war than if the advice he would give to the House were followed. He approached the question from a totally different point of view from that expressed that day. He thought that these large Votes for naval and military expenditure were contrary to Liberal traditions and Liberal principles, and were not desired by the nation. Certainly they were contrary to the expressions which were made by hon. Members before the last general election, and by Members of the present Government profusely when they condemned the extravagant expenditure, naval and military, of their predecessors. It was to change all that that they came into power. Their supporters echoed their professions—he confessed that he did at any rate—and thereby they won their seats.
§ MR. BYLES
said that that was assented to by the hon. Baronet, and therefore they had a right to suppose that those who sent them there with a big majority took the view to some extent which he was expressing. He would quote a sentence from a speech made in the House by the Prime Minister, not in view of the general election, but on 9th March, 1904, on a precisely similar occasion to the present. The Prime Minister then said—The scale of military expenditure cannot be maintained. That is what the House of Commons has in its mind and what it must 767 impress upon any government. The great expenditure which has been so rapidly incurred can only be reduced by decreasing the number of men in the Army.He thought that that was a pretty high authority, and what the right hon. Gentleman said then, he thought now. Compared with ten years ago we were spending on the Army half as much again. Granting the necessity of a big Navy we ought surely to be able to save something on the Army. He regarded a standing Army always as a menace to the liberties of the people. The use of troops in civil disturbances had been referred to, and that was a point of view he specially commenced to his Labour friends. They believed, as lie did, that the greater the Army the greater the menace. It might be asked why he, a mere civilian, and not a military expert, advanced the view that the Army was too big. Well, he was not able to judge for himself, but he would quote from a speech made by Mr. Gibson Bowles, whose name he was sure would be received with mixed feelings on the benches opposite. But he did not think that anybody would deny that Mr. Gibson Bowles was an authority on naval matters and on matters of public finance. That Gentleman said—Without in the least impairing efficiency very great reductions might be made. I have conic to the conclusion after the expert advice I have taken that on the Navy £8,000,000 might be saved, and on the Army £15,000,000.
§ MR. BYLES
A few months ago, and he would give the right hon. Baronet the reference with pleasure. He would quote a still higher authority than Mr. Gibson Bowles—the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The speech was also made in a debate in this House, and the right hon. Gentleman suggested that—Instead of an Expeditionary Force of 120,000—not 160,000 as was at present proposed—there was a prima facie case to show that this country would be better off with a small force of 80,000 if not 40,000 men.He did not know if anybody had on Monday ventured on such a small number as 40,000 men for our expeditionary force. The speech was made on a 768 Motion moved in 1903 to reduce the Army by 27,000 men and the Motion came from a Member of the Party opposite, who took with him thirty Unionists into the Lobby in support of it, and obtained a minority vote for it of 154.
§ MR. BYLES
said that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs voted for that reduction, but now instead of talking of a reduction of 27,000 men, the right hon. Gentleman acquiesced in a proposal to put on 40,000 men!. He would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman how he reconciled the vote he gave then with the demand which he now allowed the Secretary of State for War to make on the House. He was glad to believe—and he gave the right hon. Gentleman every credit for it—that in his high position he was exercising and practising the arts of a wise and peaceful foreign policy and promoting to the best of his great powers friendly relations with the nations of the world. But he confessed that it was impossible for him to reconcile the demand now made upon the House with a speech such as he had quoted and a vote such as he had mentioned. There was another point he wished to urge. He believed that this country would never be truly great as long as its greatness rested on these demonstrations of brute force; and he did not believe that the nation was with the House in this enormous expenditure upon the Army and the Navy. Let him put this case to hon. Members. Supposing he was in a position to offer to his constituents to take off £5,000,000 from the Army expenditure and £5,000,000 from the Navy expenditure and to leave that money in their pockets to fructify, or to spend as they liked.
§ MR. BYLES
Let us see how. It would enable them to increase the consumption of commodities, thereby increasing the production of commodities and thereby increasing the employment of men; and thereby to raise wages; and 769 thereby to swallow up the unemployed and thereby to enable themselves to improve their own house accommodation. What would they say? Would they say: "No, no; don't leave this money in our pockets; let us remain unemployed; let us go on living in squalid slums, We eat meagre food and wear poor clothing. We have no old-age pensions and can scarcely keep body and soul together, but never mind, go on spending our taxes on buying costly ships, on feeding and clothing a quarter of a million soldiers and sailors." He did not believe that they would say that while they were in the depths of poverty and on the verge of starvation. If he was correct in that, what right had Parliament to spend the money it took from them in the shape of taxes in such directions? He put it to every hon. Member present whether it was not wrong to spend their money so taken from the poor people in taxes for purposes which were against their wishes. He knew in his own constituency many men, who had as much as they could do to keep themselves, who at the last General Election asked for old-age pensions, and they had been given Dreadnoughts; who asked for bread, and had been given a stone.
§ MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)
asked why the hon. Gentleman who was an extremely militant member of the extreme peace party was not supported by more than seventy members, when he and his friends pressed the Government for further reductions in military and naval expenditure on Monday night before they knew what the Government proposals were I How, if he represented the party, did he make so poor a show in the lobby? The answer was that there was no such waste as that perpetrated by spasmodic reductions, and subsequent and hasty increases. He, however, wished to refer to the Indian question which had been raised by the right hon. Member for Forest of Dean, who, anticipating that he was going to catch him out in regard to one of his facts had taken the precaution to be absent. The right hon. Baronet quoted General Sir Edward Collen, as against the Cardwell linked battalion system, and as having quarrelled with Lord Kitchener in regard to this question. The right hon. Baronet had certainly made a mistake there for General Collen had never sat 770 with Lord Kitchener; and he had also perhaps attributed to General Collen, whose colleague he was for years, views which that distinguished soldier did not hold. He was quite sure that the right hon. Baronet would hardly contend that all authorities connected with India condemned the Cardwell system. What they did know about the Cardwell system was that for many years it had supplied India with the drafts she wanted. It had given her the best men, indeed the flower of the British Army. He did not say that it was not expensive, but nobody had provided a better system although in many respects it was no doubt open to criticism. If they wanted to see a British regiment in its full strength and efficiency they must go to India, because there they had the best men, and if a man failed in his health and strength he was sent back to England and a sound man went out to replace him. When hon. Members criticised this system they should in his judgment have something to put in its place, but he had never heard anything suggested, not even by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, or by the Member for the Abercromby division of Liverpool who faithfully represented the right hon. Baronet's views, and often went one better. In their agreement they were like twin stars one of which differed from the other in glory. The right hon. Baronet said of this system that under it we not only did not get what we wanted here, but what we had was determined by the needs elsewhere. It was quite true that what we had here was determined by the needs elsewhere, but that must be so in any case, for the needs of India were our needs, and it was not possible to separate India from England, so far as problems of defence were concerned. India paid one quarter of the whole expenditure for the defence of the Empire, and in spite of what the hon. Gentleman who spoke on his right hand said, he thought the Cardwell system was mutually beneficial to this country and India, more so perhaps to India because it gave her the flower of the British Army and she got the best of everything. But having got the best, India paid the best price for getting it, while any failure-or loss fell upon Great Britain. His right hon. friend was mistaken in supposing that General Collen or Lord Kitchener had any dispute on this matter. The 771 attitude of Lord Kitchener had been discounted, on the ground that he was not an Indian soldier, and did not represent Indian ideas? But still he was Commander-in-Chief, and it would be dangerous to put aside his opinion, and while he was there they must assume that the noble Lord represented the views of the Indian Army. There was no proof that a locally raised long service Army was now possible or that its cost would not be prohibitive. It had been urged that the Indian Army could be reduced on account of the Anglo-Russian Convention, but that was altogether a fallacious argument. The numbers of that Army in India were fixed without any reference to the Russian menace. They were fixed after the Mutiny, though they had never been maintained at their proper strength; still they were fixed in order to secure the safety of our countrymen and countrywomen in India, and to safeguard the hundreds of millions which we had invested in that country and to preserve our position as the Imperial power. So far from this being a large provision it was a small provision, and the native Army which was originally in the proportion of five to one European, had since been reduced to three to one European. The proportion of soldiers to the population was very small, he thought .07 of the population as against .3 in Britain, and nobody who had any knowledge of the conditions of the case could argue that it would be safe to make any reduction in the Indian Army because of the Anglo-Russian Convention. It was altogether out of the question, and he was sure that no such proposal would be made by anybody who had been at the pains to study the matter. It was said that Russia was weaker than she was before. That might be so in one sense, but in another sense her defeat in the Far East made her stronger in the Middle East by enabling her to concentrate her energies and arms in that direction, and right through her troublous times she never relaxed her grip on Persia or Central Asia, but everything was in those quarters maintained up to concert pitch during the struggle. Besides, they all knew now, since the war in Manchuria, that Russia could place a large Army in the field by means of one single line of rail. Russia, if she ever was a menace, was 772 still a menace and the Indian Army was still a very small provision for our Indian Empire. He hoped he would not hear anyone who had an elementary knowledge of the case contend that on account of the Anglo-Russian Convention or on any other account the British troops in India should be reduced in numbers, nor was so mad a measure rendered less insane by being proposed at a time, when difficulties we had to a large extent prepared for ourselves had come to a head, and sedition hatched in Bengal and encouraged in England, was scotched but not killed. He would not say more upon that subject, but there was one other matter mentioned in which he was much interested, and that was the examination of officers in languages. He could not in passing, help referring to what the hon. Member in front of him had said about a certain case which was extremely relevant to what the right hon. Member for Shropshire had stated about the difficulty of getting officers for the Army. If there was one thing more than another that increased that difficulty, it was that the officers were afraid, not of their superiors, not of the enemy and not of their work, but of the inquisition they were subjected to in case of a little horse play or high spirits in the regiment being displayed, and a ragging scandal, as it were called, being brought against the corps. They were then brought before Parliament and held up in the Press as malefactors, and this sort of irregular and sentimental inquisition made the Army a far less popular place for the men we wanted to get into it than it should be. But returning to the point about the examination of officers in languages, he was extremely glad to hear the Secretary for War say that arrangements had been made by the Civil Service Commissioners for conducting their examinations in the country where the language in which the officer was to be examined was spoken. If that system could be extended and developed he was sure that it would have a good effect. He knew that the present Government was anxious to provide facilities for the study of Oriental languages and had appointed a Treasure Committee to consider this very important subject before which he had the honour recently of giving evidence. He had to remark that after very con- 773 siderable experience in this matter he believed that the officers in our Army were improving every day in this respect. In India our officers were devoted to their profession, and took the greatest pains to learn the language s of the country. He believed that the British officer was a man who took the greatest pains to master the details of his profession, and he had found him a better linguist as a rule than civilians who had to qualify themselves in this respect. He did not know whether he would be rightly making use of the opportunity he now had of addressing the House if he went away from these general questions. He was not going to bring up the question of Welsh patriotism in regard to the Territorial Force which he had no doubt would be maintained upon the lines already settled, so far as Wales was concerned, but he wanted the Secretary of State to consider the question of separation allowances. In his county it was regarded as a grievance that privates should not have separation allowances as well as the non-commissioned officers. He would also ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether regimental sergeant-majors and bandmasters should not be given the rank of warrant officers, as in the case of similar officers in the regular Army. There was also another matter in regard to which there was a good deal of feeling in Montgomeryshire, which county had always done its best to provide men for the Army. If the right hon. Gentleman would give such consideration as he could to these little matters to which he was drawing attention, it would tend to make the Territorial Army far more likely to be a success in the county than it otherwise would be. What they wanted was to keep the Cardiganshire Company in Montgomeryshire. There was some idea of turning it into a University company, but the members of it were all men belonging to their county or coming from close by and if the company were taken away it would diminish the interest which existed in the scheme in Montgomeryshire. He ventured to mention these matters as he had an opportunity of addressing the House, but he really got up with a view of speaking of the Cardwell system, which he thought was of great benefit to the Indian Army 774 and of the suggested reduction of the Indian Army in view of the Anglo-Russian Convention, which he thought was out of the question, and would find no support in any responsible quarter.
§ MR. LAMBTON (Durham, S.E.)
said that the statement made by the Secretary for War in regard to short service in the Army raised a question of serious importance. The right hon. Gentleman had suggested a scheme which he (Mr. Lambton) regarded as unsatisfactory and which, before it was carried out, required further consideration on the part of the House. The right hon. Gentleman had also talked very much about the highly-trained minds of officers, but if he put before the young men of this country who were desirous of entering the Army the proposition that their minds must be so exceedingly highly trained he would place one more obstacle in the way of obtaining those officers which he required.
And, it being a quarter-past Eight of the Clock, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 4.