§ Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [4th March], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ Question again proposed.
§ Mr. LAMBTON (Durham, S.E.)
said he desired to call attention to the statement made by the Secretary of State for War yesterday that there was a shortage in the Army of 8,000 officers and that there were 3,000 short in India. That seemed to be an extraordinarily large number for India seeing that the Indian Army was practically on a war footing.
§ Mr. LAMBTON
Surely the Indian Army was supposed to be ready for mobilisation at any moment. But 908 leaving India out of the question altogether, the right hon. Gentleman had said there were 5,000 short in this country out of 13,000, and that included 1,500 Reserve officers. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the quality and quantity of the officers and suggested some remedy, but he had given gave no reason for the cause of the shortage. There must be some cause and the House ought to know the reason. It was a most important question, because officers were a class of men who could not be raised at a moment's notice on mobilisation. He wished to know if this deficiency occurred in regiments on service or whether they were up to their strength He thought that one of the causes was the uncertainty in the public mind as to the kind of service they would be called upon to perform in the Army. Another reason was the expense officers were put to on joining. And yet these young officers—these paragons 909 of knowledge and virtue—were expected to serve their country for £100 a year, out of which they had to provide their own uniform. In these days it was no easy thing for parents to send their sons into the Army, because it involved such a large outlay; they could not afford to do it on the miserable pittance allowed. Then the examination to which they were subject had something to do with the shortage. They had constant examinations before their eyes and had to work up to a standard of mathematics entirely unnecessary for officers. Many officers in the Army did not possess what the right hon. Gentleman called "highly trained minds." The right hon. Gentleman expected to get from the public schools 12,500 boys and from the universities from 2,000 to 3,000 a year and 800 from the reserve of officers. The right hon. Gentleman had said that most of them would be schoolmasters, doctors and lawyers. Were these expected to take the place of the officers they hoped to get from Regular forces? It would not be much inducement to those in the Regular Army to find those positions were to be given to ex-schoolmasters, doctors and lawyers. If an officer in the Army applied for one of these posts and it was said on behalf of a certain schoolmaster that he was a splendid fellow because he knew a great deal about Caesar, would he get the position? Then again, take the case of a doctor. The examiner might reply: He has killed a great many more people than you have —I would give him the post." With regard to lawyers who would receive these commissions, did it mean those who had never had a brief, or K.C.'s of a militant nature? He did not think the right hon. Gentleman was encouraging men to join the Regulars by such a policy. He was rather laying down conditions as regarded education which were not needed by the service. It was thought by the Labour Members that those in the Army had a very easy life, and were only just beginning to realise their position. As one who had been in the Army he did not agree with that view. The duties of the Army were more seriously considered now than in the past, but that was no reflection on the men themselves, but rather on the methods adopted by the War Office. The system of competitive 910 examinations necessarily left out someone, but if the Government desired to obtain a large supply of officers they would not do so by putting obstacles in the way. In the debate last night it was suggested that if they put a tax on an article they increased the supply of that article, and at the same time reduced the price. Did. the right hon. Gentleman think that by putting obstacles in the way of men he would increase the quantity, and at the same time keep up the quality? One obstacle in the way of men entering the Army was the excessively high standard required in mathematics. The higher mathematics were never required by the ordinary officer. At present there was an examination going on in which there were 450 candidates, and he was told that the examination in mathematics was very severe. Some of the other subjects were easy, but foreign to the whole career of a soldier. The right hon. Gentleman ought to be aware that a candidate otherwise suitable for entering the Army might be cast on account of one little point in which he had failed at a competitive examination. On Tuesday he saw an examination paper in which there were seven or eight subjects mentioned on which the candidates might write essays. One of the subjects was "The House of Lords," and another was "Tariff Reform." Supposing he had been a candidate, and the examiners had been Members of that House, no doubt the paper he would have written on the House of Lords would have received a large number of marks from the Opposition side. That was what the poor candidate had to go through when he went before the board of examiners, who might have particular fads of their own as to the way in which subjects should be discussed. A boy who was going through an examination this week was cast in mathematics. When that boy left Eton it was determined to put him into a business profession. He desired to leave the business profession and to enter the Army, and the consequence was that he had none of the cramming which under the present pernicious system was necessary before entering the Army. When at Eton he was in the sixth form, which meant that he was in the first ten out of 1,000 boys. He hoped these were matters which the right hon. 911 Gentleman would look into. It was not always the best scholar who made the best soldier, any more than it was the best speaker who made the best statesman. The right hon. Gentleman had told them a great deal about the brain of the Army, and he agreed with him that it was absolutely necessary to have as much brain as they possibly could get, but they could not fight with brain alone. They must have body as well, and the body in the Army was the private soldier. He did not think it was always recognised what a force the regimental officer was. The regimental officers were the nerves of the Army, and without them either the brain or the body would be useless. He wished the right hon. Gentleman would pay a little more attention than he seemed inclined to do to the needs of the regimental officers. It had been frequently stated—he thought the right hon. Gentleman had stated—that the officers in the Army had not had the facilities for educating themselves which they ought to have, and which the right hon. Gentleman hoped to give them in future. He did not know that there was anything in the Estimates this year for that purpose. He would point out that officers were neglected in regard to facilities for education, and for bringing themselves up to the mark in what the right hon. Gentleman called the latest science of warfare. He had never yet seen barracks where there was a reference library, or any place where a map could be spread out. These were surely details which ought to be looked into by the War Office.
§ Mr. LAMBTON
said the right hon. Gentleman agreed with that. Had it ever been, done? Was there any provision for it in the Estimates this year? He hoped that some steps would be taken to enable officers to study in their own barracks, so that it would not be necessary to go to a crammer or to the staff college. Everybody could not go to the staff college, nor did they want that everybody should go there. Of course, all Secretaries for War were in the hands of their military advisers and they were staff officers. He had nothing to say against staff officers; many of them 912 were very brilliant people, and many of them were good soldiers, but not all. Staff officers had their own reward, but the regimental officers had not. The regimental officers were quiet, unassuming men, but they did more or the Army than the staff officers. They had never been encouraged in the Army, and he did not think they were going to be encouraged under the system of the right hon. Gentleman. What was the main object of soldiers? They were simply tools to fight. They entered the Army for ten, fifteen, or twenty years of their life. He believed there was more initiative, more knowledge, and more freedom of action given now to junior officers than there used to be. In the old days, staff officers and the general commanding on a field day knew what was going on, but nobody else ever knew. He remembered a field day at Aldershot when he was on picket duty on the summit of a hill. Presently a staff officer rode up and asked him: "What the devil are you doing here?" He replied: "I do not know. My colonel put me here. What am I supposed to be doing?" "What the devil is that to you?" said the officer, and he galloped away. Such procedure was not very stimulating to the brain, but he thought it was excellent for discipline. The right hon. Gentleman talked very much about stimulating the brain and making everybody very clever. He knew some people who were so clever that they did not want to fight. They wanted men who would undertake the hard work of the Army. The right hon. Gentleman said yesterday that some of the regimental officers and others would receive promotion in respect of their education at the London School of Economics. He did not know whether that meant general promotion or promotion in particular portions of the Army. It seemed to him, at all events, rather a strange way of encouraging the regimental officer.
§ MR. HALDANE
I said that the training there was for the administrative side of the work of the Army. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that you can have the transport of troops, work out difficult calculations, and do the thousand and one things which have to 913 be done in connection with the making of contracts by officers in the field without any training? It is the want of this training which has cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds, and that must be put right. It can be put right by the training given at the London School of Economics.
§ Mr. LAMBTON
said the work of transport could be carried out by officers without going through the London School of Economics. He did not think that the Duke of Wellington would ever have got into the Army at all if he had had to do that.
was understood to say that such training was recommended by a Commission which sat after the South African War.
§ Mr. LAMBTON
said the South African War was not the only great war that had ever occurred. There were other lessons learned besides those which were learned in South Africa. The right hon. Gentleman must not trust too much on the training given at the London S300I of Economics. He must trust the regimental officers and the men who were doing a great deal more for the Army than a good many of the show officers. The Tight hon. Gentleman had stated that the training received through various colonels -was not altogether satisfactory, and that they were not very equal as teachers of their profession. No doubt that was so. Under the present system promotion seemed to be given to those who advertised themselves. A man who gave interesting lectures, who was in touch with newspapers, and got inserted paragraphs written by himself stating that he was instructing his officers in all the newest science of war, would be selected for promotion, while the unassuming man who went in for real military work would be left out in the cold. He wished to put before the right hon. Gentleman the claims of the officers. He could not speak as an educationist. It was twenty-five years since he passed his entrance examination into the Army, which was not then as severe as now. As a soldier he had only six years service, and that in time of peace, but during that time he learned one thing which he never would 914 have learned in the London School of Economics, and that was esprit de corps, love of his regiment. When he passed with the other recruits in the Coldstream Guards through the early drills the colonel and the drill sergeants wore the medals for the Alma and Inkerman, and there was not a man or boy in the regiment who did not look upon those officers with pride and almost reverence. The motto of the Coldstreams was Nulli Secundus, second to none. Second to none they had ever been and second to none he hoped they would ever remain. That was the spirit which he trusted would always run through the whole British Army, and that was the spirit which a War Minister should desire to maintain if he expected the British Army to rival in the future the glorious deeds of the past.
§ MR. WARDLE (Stockport)
in moving "That, in the opinion of this House, the powers now vested in chief magistrates to call upon the War Office to supply troops during times of trade disputes are open to grave abuse, are a menare to the liberty of the subject, and ought to be inquired into and reported upon by a Committee of this House," said that in submitting the Motion he would point out that it dealt with two questions, first, the power of chief magistrates to call on the War Office to supply troops in case of disturbance, and secondly, to the employment of the troops in cases of trade disputes. He, however, would confine his remarks to the latter question. There was not the slightest doubt in the minds of any person in the House as to the position of the trade union leaders in regard to violence in trade union disputes. Violence had always been condemned by them; and they were as anxious as anybody that there should be no such thing as riot or disturbance in connection with trade disputes. Fortunately riots of any kind had been of rare occurrence in this country. For a whole century of history very few disturbances had arisen in which the military had been called out. He might summarise them as those which happened at Peterloo, Liverpool, Southampton, Hull, Trafalgar Square, Featherstone, Belfast, Penrhyn (twice called out) and the famous Bristol 915 riots in reference to the suffrage. If a comparison, were made, between the riots and disturbances in the first half of last century with those which occurred in more recent times, it would be found that their nature had entirely changed. Whereas the former disturbances were political in their character and had mostly to do with the franchise, during the last thirty or forty years they were mainly industrial or connected with strikes. To-day with the exception of the unemployed question or woman suffrage there was no. political movement on foot which was likely to be connected with a riot or disturbance. They who belonged to trade unions. hoped and believed that those riots and disturbances would be fewer in the future than in the past. While they agreed with the growing desire for conciliation, arbitration, and machinery which would prevent those great disputes, they could not shut their eyes to the fact that there was a great danger connected with disturbances of that character in which chief magistrates and other officials had the power to call, out the military. He had gone carefully into the history of the two outstanding disturbances which had occurred within the last few years—Featherstone and Belfast. In both these cases he had come to the conclusion that there was no need for calling out the military and no occasion for bloodshed. It was true that some one had blundered, and the person who blundered was the man on the spot. The man on the spot had often been the cause of a great deal of mischief both in this country and abroad; and he was not quite so convinced as some people were as to the wisdom of trusting the man on the spot. The same principle applied to leaving the discretion of calling out the military in the event of a riot or disturbance to the chief magistrate of the district. They were told in this House during the Belfast trouble both by the Secretary for War and the Chief Secretary for Ireland what was the law in this matter; and he believed he was correct in saying that the law was that a military person was called out in his capacity not as a member of the Army but as an ordinary citizen. Yet he was called upon to do things 916 which an ordinary citizen could not do, and therefore that was one of the dangers of allowing civil persons to call out military persons. He knew that so far as the Army Regulations were concerned, they were fairly explicit and straightforward, and that the military should not be called out except the occasion warranted it. But at the same time, they could be called out by the desire of a mayor, chief constable, divisional commander, a resident magistrate, and one or two other persons entirely on their own responsibility. That danger he was afraid would be increased in the future by the new Territorial Force. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the-Forest of Dean had pointed out on the previous day that there was a great danger that not only would the ordinary military be called upon to use firearms, but that the Territorial Force might be called upon in the same way as the Regular Army to suppress disturbances caused during trade disputes. The fact that in these days industrial disputes did occasionally take the form of riot should, he thought, make the House pause and alter the-law from what it was in the old days, when disturbances were mainly of a political character. The Chief Secretary for Ireland in the debate which took place on the Belfast riots said that—The position of a chief magistrate in a city like Belfast was not one for envy.He and his friends thought that in the interest of the chief persons who were in a position to call out the military as well as of the persons who were concerned in a riot, that power should be taken away from the former. In the case of Featherstone the whole district -was in a ferment and the manager of the colliery and the magistrate lost their heads, called out the military, and bloodshed followed. The bloodshed was caused because the people were incited to riot by the presence of the military. The Secretary for War sat on a Committee which inquired into the whole circumstances of the Featherstone riots, and after that Committee had reported another Committee of Inquiry was appointed which also issued a Report. The Committee on which the right hon. Gentleman sat said at the end of their Report that they 917 thought it was necessary that there should be a codification of all the rules with regard to civil disturbances and that these should be circulated broadcast, and that everything should be done to put them on a satisfactory footing in the future. He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether that codification of the law had ever been attempted to be carried out? If not, considering that the right hon. Gentleman was at present Secretary of State for War and therefore concerned with the King's Regulations for the guidance of the Army, it should be his duty and his pleasure to see that such a codification was made. In regard to the other Committee which made a full inquiry into the whole case of civil disturbances and riots, they reported in January. 1895, and the Report was presented to the House. Along with their Report they issued a number of regulations for calling out the military in future, and they added at the end—We would suggest that these regulations should be revised so as to bring them in accordance with the recommendations which we have submitted.Those regulations dealt almost entirely with the power of calling out the military and the provision of additional constables so as to prevent the necessity of calling out the military. But they did not deal with the point which he had raised—viz., that the chief magistrate when exercising his power to call out the military should, as a rule, apply through the chief constable for the military, and not take it upon his own initiative. That would still leave with him the power to do so under certain circumstances. With regard to the provision of additional constables and the exchange of constables, in both these instances he understood that instructions had once or twice been issued by the Home Office calling the attention of magistrates throughout the country to the desirability of providing for the ex-Change of constables so that there should be sufficient civil force in the event of disturbance, thus doing away with the necessity for calling on the military forces. He thought that none of these recommendations had really touched the point as to the power of the chief magistrate or any other magistrate in his particular district. One of the 918 reasons why they introduced this Motion was that magistrates were not, in their opinion, the proper people to decide, alone at any rate, whether the military should be called out. They might be entrusted with the carrying out of the common law, but in the case of a trade dispute they might themselves be interested parties, and therefore that these should be the persons who were put in the position of having the power to call out the military, when there might be no need to do so, was a state of affairs which could not be any longer maintained. He did not know whether it was in the power of the Secretary for War to amend the law, but certainly he and the Government with him could do what they wanted. It was not a great deal. It was that there should be a Committee of Inquiry appointed to look into this matter, and see if some provision could not be made to obviate this necessity of calling out the military. There was only one other point that he wanted to deal with, and that was the very grave reasons which existed why the military should not be called out in civil disputes if it could possibly be avoided, and particularly in trade disputes. He had no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman knew what had been the effect at Featherstone and Belfast of calling out the military. It was that innocent people suffered. It was not those who were concerned in the riot or disturbance who were killed; it was those innocent people who had nothing to do with it, and that was because the using of modem weapons of war upon an unarmed crowd, or practically an unarmed crowd, was very dangerous. The use of arms in dealing with an unarmed mob certainly seemed to him. one of the reasons why1 this Committee of Inquiry should be held. When the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War sat on a Committee, with Lord Bowen and another that Committee reported to the effect—We are so impressed by the danger of using the modern rifle and cartridge with its full charge of powder against crowds in thickly populated districts, where there are closelying collieries, districts and villages, that, we cannot rest content that the point should bee left without further investigation. We think the attention of the military authorities should be formally called to the question whether 919 special and less dangerous ammunition could not conveniently be used for troops when employed for the purpose of suppressing riots.The right hon. Gentleman was a signatory of that Report. Then, again, there was the question not only of the arms which were used, but of when and how the time of firing should be fixed. He understood from that Report that in both France and Germany they were not quite so ready to fire upon an unarmed crowd as we were in this country. He believed he was right, according to the right hon. Gentleman's own Report, in saying that they gave more warning in those countries than we did in this country. They beat a drum or sounded a bugle so as to warn the crowd that the firing would take place, a thing which did not occur in this country, but which certainly seemed to be one of the things that ought to take place He did not desire to weary the House with regard to this question, but it was a very grave and important matter to the trade unions, and affected them very much indeed. The trade unionists did not desire violence; they did not want to see trade disputes develop into riots and disturbances, but when they did so develop, it did not necessarily follow that all blame should be laid on the men or the trade unions; their action was due to the fact that they were forced into it by circumstances over which they had no control. Therefore, they thought that the civil powers first of all, not only in ninety-nine cases out of 100 but in 999 cases out of 1,000, were quite sufficient to deal with any action which arose out of a trade dispute. Having regard to the recommendations made in the Report, it certainly would seem desirable that constables should be drafted from one part of the country to another with much more readiness than they could be at the present time. He knew he was treading on dangerous ground when he spoke of Belfast and the Royal Irish Constabulary, but there was not the slightest doubt that if there was fear of anybody going on strike, police could have been drafted in from other quarters, and there would have been no need to call on the military at all. Knowing that there were religious differences in Belfast, the police could have been 920 brought from England, and if there was no co-ordination between England and Ireland in this respect we were not the United Kingdom of England and Ireland some people suggested, and he thought it was time that such a state of things should be removed. He was not going to say a word about magistrates except this, that they were not always the best judges in matters of this kind, and there should be some provision to prevent them calling out the military whenever they chose. He begged to move.
§ MR. GEORGE ROBERTS (Norwich)
in seconding said that the Labour Party in promoting this Resolution did so with no frivolous motives, but because they were convinced of the fact that the employment of troops in time of trade disputes was a serious matter, not only to those concerned in the dispute, but to the community at large. They had been minded to put this Motion down by past experience, such as that referred to by his hon. friend. They contended that the intervention of the military should be very rare and never resorted to unless every other endeavour had been thoroughly exhausted. There was no getting away from the fact that to vest such tremendous power in the hands of any one person was capable of becoming a grievous danger to the community. He was glad that his hon. friend in concluding his remarks had stated that he had no intention of implying any distrust of justices of the peace. He felt that to be a very desirable statement, because he happened to be one himself, and therefore might hope to appreciate the responsibility which would rest upon him in the event of the contingency about which the hon. Member had spoken. It was quite possible that the mayor or chief magistrate of a district might be a person of highly nervous temperament, who would become panic-stricken and call for the intervention of the military when no real cause for that was necessary. Again, it might be also that he would be subjected to pressure from interested persons. In fact, experience during the Belfast dispute somewhat indicated the possibility of this danger. It was there alleged that the Shipping Federation 921 had used its influence with the Mayor of Belfast in order to secure the intervention, of the military. It was said, and it had been stated in the House, that the Shipping Federation threatened that if the Government itself did not take strong action they themselves would use force—in fact, would organise a force of their own. The Chief Secretary for Ireland when questioned on this matter on 13th August last year, said that with reference to the letter addressed to him by the Shipping Federation, he dared say that its terms were not very proper, and he had pointed that out in reply. They felt that there was a great danger involved in a circumstance of that character, because it might well happen that interested persons would use their influence in order that these powers might be used to secure the object which they desired. It was just as well to understand that a trade dispute was, after all, a civil struggle with which the State, as such, had no right to interfere on behalf of either of the two parties. It was inconceivable that the military would ever be called out in the interests of the working section involved in such a dispute. Therefore, they could see that when the military were called upon to intervene they really did so in a class interest—a situation which ought to be avoided, at any rate, by the pre eat House of Commons. He was further impressed with the grievous nature of this complaint owing to the new Territorial Force. It seemed to him that they of the Labour Party were perfectly justified in viewing this measure with a certain amount of suspicion. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean yesterday pointed out to tie House a danger that they had anticipated through the passage of the Bill. He had put a question to the Secretary of State for War the other day with reference to a circular issued by the Warwickshire County Association calling upon employers of labour to give preference to men who were willing to join the Territorial Force. He did not charge the right hon. Gentleman or his advisers with any attempt to exercise undue influence in these matters, but nevertheless the right hon. Gentleman himself might not be quite so well aware of the fact as Labour Mem- 922 bers were that large masses of British workmen had not that power of choice, of free right, in regard to the work they did, and it might well happen that men were compelled because of fear if they did not accept a situation that others were willing to do so and would therefore feel compelled to accept conditions that under more favourable circumstances they would be unwilling to abide by. The exercise of such influence might mean the pressing of a number of men into the Territorial Force. These men might he members of their respective trade union organisations, and it was not unnatural to expect that some occasion would arise when they were involved in a dispute between their union and those who were, employing them for the time beings They had to contemplate the danger of the employer exercising his influence with the mayor of the district, and the mayor in his turn, becoming imbued with a sense of danger which perhaps in his nervous state of mind he might exaggerate, and use his influence with the Army Council, for the purpose of calling out the Territorial Force ii order to deal with any probable disturbance. Therefore, there would be the spectacle of a trade unionist in that force being turned from an ordinary workman and citizen into a soldier in the course of a very few hours. He was informed that in the Territorial Force a man would have no option of refusal; he would be bound to respond to the call, otherwise he would be subject to the provisions of martial law. He did not know whether they were perfectly justified in anticipating a danger of that extreme character; if they were not, he would be very glad to receive the desired assurance from the Secretary for War. Nevertheless, they felt the danger was a real one and they were very anxious that they should not wait until they were confronted with it ere taking action. If they were right they were well advised in coming to that House and asking Parliament to make provision- against what they were- all prepared to acknowledge was a source of grave concern to a considerable section of law abiding citizens. With his hon. friend the mover of the Resolution he was of opinion that in the Featherstone riots there was no occasion for calling 923 out the troops. The situation there was created by the fact that the district was denuded of police, who were called upon to keep order among the swells at Doncaster Races. A contingency of that kind might arise in other parts of the land; therefore he thought that the military should never be called upon save under proper restrictions (imposed by that House, and only when it had become perfectly certain that the civil force, was utterly incapable of coping with the anticipated danger. It was perfectly true that to impress troops into a service of that character had a provocative effect upon an assembly of people. After all, the surest safeguard of peace was the constitutional conduct of a trade dispute by the men's leaders, who were able to exercise over their followers more effective discipline than could be achieved by the military, whose presence had an irritating influence. The Committee, who had inquired into the Featherstone Riots had made the following recommendations—In time of possible disturbance, some magisterial rota or committee, with one or more experienced justices should always hold themselves ready to act in their magisterial capacity, and to accompany, if necessary, any troops which are called upon in aid of the civil Power. Indeed, when matters are so grave as to render military intervention probably necessary, there should be the most complete organisation of the justices and of the civil Powers.We think that the attention of military authorities should be formally called to the question whether special and less dangerous arms Hammunition might not conveniently be used by troops when employed for the purpose of suppressing riots.He was not sure that these recommendation would cover all that they desired by the promotion of this Motion, under which they asked for an inquiry in order to guard against possibilities in the future and to protect the interests of the citizens in times of trade disputes. It might be even more necessary to adopt these safeguards now than it was in the time of the Featherstone riots; because the weapons which soldiers carried to- day were more deadly than formerly. Consequently, the military could not be called out without involving great danger to life and limb; and innocent persons, unaware of the gravity of the situation, might be killed or wounded. They desired that legislative action 924 should be taken to obviate such possibilities in times of peace rather than wait for the contingency to arise. The; highest quality of statesmanship was to make provision against possible dangers, and it was in that spirit they Submitted the Motion, in the hope that they would receive satisfactory assurances from the right hon. Gentleman, either that some of the dangers they anticipated were not well founded, that they were Well founded, that, they would be legislated for.
To leave out from the word 'that' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words in the opinion of this House, the powers now vested in chief magistrates to call upon-the War Office to supply troops during times of trade disputes are open to grave abuse, are a menace to the liberty of the subject, and ought to be inquired into and reported upon by a Committee of this House.'"—(Mr. Wardle.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. HALDANE
I think no one who has listened to this debate will fail to recognise not only the seriousness of the topic but the moderate manner and substance of the statements which have been made. The question is not whether the military are often called in on such occasions. The truth is it has happened very seldom. But the question is whether these occasions have not disturbed the public mind, and given such a sense of unrest that the whole thing should be reduced to the very smallest proportions possible. The unrest thus caused has, I think, done more mischief than the calling-in of the military has done good. Nevertheless, I think it is convenient that I should point out that there have been and may be some cases in which it is essential that the military should act, but I should further point out the narrowness of the limits in which such occasions ought to arise. The two hon. Members who have spoken have both stated the law in a very accurate and sensible form, basing their view On what was laid down in the Report of the Featherstone Committee. I sat on that Committee. The paragraph which contains the statement of the law on this 925 subject was the work of one of the most distinguished and most humane Judges who ever sat on the English bench, the late Lord Bowen. It is the classical source of the statement of the law on this subject, and I do not think it can be improved. In fact, I had that very passage, which was read out by the hon. Member for Norwich, and another very admirable statement, reprinted and sent round to the Army, anticipating thereby something of what the hon. Member wished in the way of a codified statement of the law. Let me say at once that much as the Labour Members dislike the Calling out of the troops, the military authorities dislike it still more. I think there is nothing more hateful to the military than to be called out to perform these civil duties. My recollection of the answers of Sir Redvers Buller to the questions put to him by the Featherstone Committee was that this duty was so loathsome that no soldiers ought to be asked to recognise it by pro viding any different kind of ammunition for these occasions from that used on ordinary occasions. Sir Redvers Buller said it was not the business of the military to be asked to act as police, they did not want to encourage the notion that they were to be asked to do the work of police by the provision of a special ammunition, which, moreover, would not be any more merciful than the ammunition ordinarily used. I have always felt that there was the greatest weight in what Sir Redvers Buller urged as to the dislike of the military for this civil duty. Let me remind the House what the law on this subject is. It is not statute but common law. In common law the prime maxim is that the safety of the public is the supreme canon in these matters. The law says, if there is a disturbance going on, the magistrate whose duty it is to restore order may call upon the citizens to come in and interfere, and to use such violence, as is necessary and no more, to put down, the disturbance. Such violence as is necessary and no more. That is often a very difficult thing to judge, but it is to be no more violence than is necessary. Therefore, they have no light to call in the military in a case where the police can quell any riot they have no right to use firearms where they are not necessary, and anyone doing so and 926 killing would be guilty of manslaughter] That is the principle which regulates the calling in of the military, and it can only be in very extreme cases that the calling in of the military is justified. I recollect well the circumstances of the Featherstone riots, and it was clearly proved that the military were not called in by the miners, but by a colony of strangers, who were not acquainted with the characteristics of colliers. Lieutenant Barker was called upon by the magistrate to protect these people. They were shut up in the engine-room for hours. The menacing action of the colliery people got more and more violent, and at last they proposed to burn down the colliery and throw the manager down the shaft. They were throwing jagged pieces of iron—I have a specimen still in my possession—and the result was that there was a very serious situation indeed. It was then that a magistrate, not one who had called out the troops, but another who happened to be there, kept his head and took matters into his own hands. He warned the crowd in the most explicit manner, and it was only when this strange body of men were proceeding to actual violence that he called upon the officer to fire, and the officer did fire, and the most damage was. done to innocent people. That only shows that there may be cases in which you have no other means of helping yourself. The police ought to have been there, but they were not, and there will be cases from time to time when you have not an efficient force of police, and in these cases you must call on the military. The military ought never to act unless the case is so extreme and so urgent that more harm will come from their not acting than from their acting. There always comes harm from, their acting. It is always an obnoxious thing to call on soldiers to do this police work, but there may be cases when it is necessary in order to prevent, still greater disaster It will be seen from the King's Regulations that an officer is not bound to fire, or to use military weapons even though he is commanded to do so by the magistrate. That follows from the law that you must not use more violence, that is necessary. In other words, the officer and his men are there only on the footing of eivilians. That is the common law, but we have 927 defined it by the King's Regulations. Article 283 says that, if the officer finds it unnecessary to take immediate action, it is not obligatory on him to do so, nor is he to continue any action longer than he thinks is absolutely necessary. All commands to the troops are to be given by the officer, and the troops are not on any account to fire except by the word of command of their officer, who, if it becomes necessary to order the troops to fire, is to exercise his discretion both as to the number of rounds and the object to be aimed at. Officers commanding troops are on every occasion that they are called out for the enforcement of the law to take the most effectual means in conjunction, with the magistrates in explaining beforehand to the people that, in the event of the troops being ordered to fire, their fire will be effective. I think we are more humane here than on the Continent, where the order to fire is given much more easily than here. The King's Regulations say further that every possible warning is to be given to people before the order to fire is made effective.
§ MAJOR ANSTRUTHER-GRAY (St. Andrews Burghs)
Are we to understand that the officer in command will be justified in not turning out his troops?
§ Mr. HALDANE
He would refuse to turn them out at his peril. By the common law everyone who refuses to aid the civil power is guilty of a misdemeanour. The officer has to exercise the difficult discretion of deciding whether it is necessary for him to come out or not, and it is not concluded by the fact that the magistrate thought it necessary. That is all. Care is to be taken not to fire at persons separated from, the crowd, and to fire over the heads of the crowd. As far as it is possible to put these things into the military code, we have done it. The whole thing depends on the common law, which is of the most elastic character. know no place where the common law is better laid down than in the two documents which I have here, the late Lord Thring's explanation of it, and Lord Bowen's. We have circulated this right through the Army and put it into our military manuals so that everybody is now informed what the law is. There is 928 another point which was raised by the seconder of the Resolution. Is it true, or not, that the Territorial Force can be called out for the purpose of putting down a riot? The answer is, it is not true. We carefully provided in drawing the Act of last session that that should not be so. Under the law as it now stands, Volunteers who happen to be out training with regular troops could be called upon to put down a riot or disturbance which was going on near at hand. Nobody would wish to do so, and you would wish Regular troops if you had the choice between them, but the Volunteers are liable, if they happen to be there, to be called upon to act. That is merely because every citizen is liable to be called out, and if the case were one in which is required more power than the ordinary citizen could use you would call on the Volunteers, if you had them there, to use their weapons. That applies also to Yeomanry and Militia. As regards the ordinary soldier, this is the point. He can be called out at any time to render this service. The Volunteer could not. It is only when he happens to be there that he can be called upon.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
What we want to be clear upon is the limitation of the words "training or exercise."
In the case of the Volunteer when he was training or exercising with Regular troops he could be called out. In the case of the Territorial soldier, when he is out for training or exercise he is under military law and can be called on, but he cannot be called out for this purpose. That is the point I want to make. The Regular soldier can because he is always under military law. The Territorial cannot be. He is only under military law when he is being trained or exercised either alone or with any portion of the Regular force, or when attached to or otherwise acting in support of any Regular force or when embodied or called out for actual military service for the purpose of defence in pursuance of any agreement When he is being trained or exercised he is there just as the Volunteer, or in the case I have put, and if there happened 929 to be a disturbance going on close at hand he could be called upon to go, but he cannot be embodied for that purpose, and that is what we carefully attended to in passing the Territorial Act last year, so that it might not be said that the Territorial Force was one that could be embodied in whole or in part for the purpose of putting down these disturbances. It is obvious that to call it out to put down disturbance is not to call it out for training or exercise, and it is only for training or exercise that you have power to call them out, and then only if they are under military law. The hon. Member asked me whether we would have a Committee on this subject. That is of course a question which should go to the Home Secretary who is responsible for the civil aspect of the controversy, but speaking for myself I do not think anything could be done further than we have done already, and I do not think any Committee would make the common law clearer than it is. It is an elastic law but you cannot make it any clearer.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)
asked to be allowed to mention one point which the right hon. Gentleman had promised to consider. It was whether there could not be any different ammunition served out and whether a weapon suitable to the occasion could not be supplied on these occsaions, seeing that in almost every case of recent years the people who had been hurt were those who had been a quarter of a mile away. It was well enough in the old times when the blunderbuss or something of the kind was used, and they hit the man they wanted to hit. Now they hit the men who had nothing to do with the quarrel.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I am not sure that I agree that the blunderbuss would hit the man you want it to hit. I am speaking not from experience but from actual knowledge of what happened at Featherstone. The marvel was that more people were not hit, and I think what saved them was this. It was a small bore rifle of eno mous muzzle velocity. The troops fired low and the shot wen between the legs of the people and ricochetted. There was an 930 unfortunate Sunday school teacher a quarter of a mile off looking on, and the bullet went through both his thighs and lodged in the thigh of another Sunday school teacher who was with him. I should be very sorry to substitute the-old Brown Bess for the modern high velocity small bore bullet which makes a much slighter wound. The truth is, you ought not to use the soldiers at all. The only justification for using them is-when you are absolutely driven to it. There may be cases in which you are absolutely driven, but they should be-I reduced to the very minimum. It is-for that reason that I am not in favour of encouraging the idea that soldiers are there to be used and should be given special weapons suitable to the occasion.
§ SIR A. ACLAND-HOOD (Somersetshire, Wellington)
said he understood that there was to be some alteration in the responsibility which was now placed upon a subaltern officer in regard to riots. It had been laid down that the officer must do his best and take his-chance afterwards as to what a jury would say. As an adjutant it had fallen to his lot to instruct subalterns, but he now understood that there was going to be an alteration made in the King's Regulations and Manual of Military Law. Was the alteration going to date from this year? He understood that in future the officer was not bound to fire at the order of the magistrate.
§ SIR A. ACLAND-HOOD
said that under the old law if an officer refused to act and loss of life occurred, he was liable to a court-martial. They might have a very fussy magistrate who would order the officer to shoot, and if he refused to shoot and loss of life occurred, he would-still be liable to court-martial. Let them take the case of a very humane magistrate who said he would not have any firing at all. If loss of life and damage-to property occurred and if the officer-used force, he would be liable to be tried for manslaughter if he fired. That would place the officer in a very difficult position. Even if the magistrate did I give the order and the officer used 931 violence and loss of life occurred then the officer could be tried by a civil power for murder. He did not think that was a responsibility which ought to be placed upon the officers of the British Army The right hon. Gentleman had said that this was not a military question, but a common law question. If it was a common law question it should be so amended and defined that the officers of the Army, who loathed this duty more than any other, should, at all events, not be subjected, whatever course they took, to be tried twice in a Civil Court and three times in a Criminal Court.
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N.W.)
said he did not think anyone would quarrel with his right hon. friend's exposition of the law when he said that a single magistrate might requisition the military. He might requisition them by writing or telephone according to the King's Regulations, and then the military authorities were bound to obey. The magistrate must take the preliminary step by directing the military officer to fire. The military officer might, according to the military regulations, abstain from firing if in his judgment it was unnecessary. That was the state of the law before the right hon. Gentleman spoke and as it would be after. It was that state of the law to which he objected. What was a soldier when acting in civil service? He was not a soldier and was not recognised as a soldier. Lord Justice Tindall had laid down that there could be no distinction in such a matter between a soldier and a private individual. As a matter of fact, according to the dictum which had been laid down, soldiers were not there as soldiers but as armed police. The grievance in this matter was twofold. In the first place, however, they might recognise the humanity of the military and the magistrates, and whether through malice or hate, excessive zeal or lack of judgment, it was in the power of a single magistrate to enable the armed forces of the Crown to fire upon the people. He thought they should have had from the Secretary for. War some assurance that greater precautions than the discretion or lack of discretion of a single magistrate should govern matters of this kind. He 932 had gone through a category of cases in which the military had, in the past, applied force, and he had no hesitation in saying that in the Featherstone case, the South Wales case, the famous Lancashire riots, the Nottinghamshire riots, and the West Country riots, the employment of the military was wholly unnecessary, and the civil force would have been able to deal with every riot about which there was any record without the assistance of the military. The military used weapons with a range of over two miles, and consequently, the use of such weapons was not effective in dealing with the persons participating in the riot, but was most effective in regard to the people entirely outside the area or ambit of the riot altogether. He thought they ought to get some assurance that the use of firearms in such cases should never be resorted to without the enaction of the Home Secretary or the right hon. Gentleman himself. That, at any rate, would be some safeguard. His right hon. friend had said that the Territorial Army could not be employed, or rather could not be called out for this purpose unless they were exercising or training with the Regular Army. He thought it was perfectly competent for the Territorial Force to be called out for the purpose of training and exercised and employed for the purpose of suppressing a riot. His interpretation was, apart from the regulation which had been read out, that it was perfectly within the competence of the War Office if they chose to call out a section of the Territorial Army for the purpose of training, and then employ them for the purpose of suppressing a riot. He could conceive nothing more calculated to produce difficulties than the employing of any portion of the Territorial Army for that purpose. An eminent Judge had deprecated in the strongest possible terms the use of the Volunteers for such a purpose. He thought the House was indebted to the hon. Members who had brought this matter forward in the moderate way in which they had done, and he confessed himself disappointed at not receiving from the Secretary for War an assurance that better precautions would be taken in the future against a recurrence of this evil.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
said that if the officer did not shoot he would be tried for mutiny, and if he did shoot he would be tried for murder. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider very seriously this point before he issued the explanation of the common law which he had to-day foreshadowed. No officer reading the Order to be issued would have the nerve to act if called upon, even if he had gone through the London School of Economics. Did they suppose for A moment that a man when called upon to act suddenly and with judgment, in the face of a great danger, would be able to avoid falling into one of the faults which had been foreshadowed by the right hon. Gentleman? Before issuing such an order the subject ought to be gone into more fully, or else a better explanation ought to be given in order that the unfortunate subaltern officer and even the officers of higher rank might have no doubt as to what their duty was. If an officer was ordered to fire he did so at his own peril. When an officer was ordered by the magistrate to shoot he might either shoot or refuse, and that was placing a very unfair responsibility upon the officer and the men. Those men would, in pursuance of an odious duty, be called upon to fire on their fellow citizens, who might be their own brothers and relatives. When placing men in such an unfortunate position, surely it was only asking a small thing to demand, that the exact duty required of them should be clearly defined in order that the officers and men should not be placed in the extraordinary position of having, first of all to interpret the law, and then to carry out their duty, it wag perfectly true that generally it was innocent people were killed, and the reason was that the men invariably aimed high, and the bullet at its extreme range killed people who were not militant. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would; Seriously consider the position in which he was placed, and that he would lay down absolutely clearly, and once for all, what the troops, should do. and what they should not' do when called out in aid of the civil power.
§ MR. ACLAND (Yorkshire, Richmond)
said that the hon. Member for North-West 934 Durham had suggested that in spite of the law and the Army Act it would be possible to call out the Territorial Army for the purposes of training or exercise in order that they might be used to aid the civil power in suppressing disturbances. There were only two ways in which that could be done. Either the War Office must direct commanding officers of the Territorial Army to call their men out for training in camp or for drill at a time when they would not otherwise be called up, or the officers themselves must do it on their own responsibility in Order that their men might be handy. Both these suggestions were absolutely unworthy of the hon. Member. It had been admitted on all hands that the regular solider hated this business, and was it less likely that the Territorial Force would do so?
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
I never made that suggestion. What I did point out was that it was within the power of the War Office to mobilise these men at any time for the purpose of exercise or training and that it would be competent for the War Office to call upon them, whilst so mobilied, to assist the civil powers.
§ Mr. ACLAND
The suggestion that the War Office would order the training or mobilisation of the Force in order that the civil powers might employ their services is an unworthy one that ought never to have been made.
§ Mr. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said he was very glad this question had been raised, because it was one of very great importance. It was a question of peculiar interest to the Irish people, and to those connected with the agitations which had been going on in Ireland. In this country it was fortunately true that occasions when masses of unarmed people found themselves confronted with armed soldiers were few and far between. In Ireland what were called police were in reality soldiers; they were armed with rifles, and in Ireland they had had more frequently than in England during the past twenty-five years the miserable spectacle of unarmed people being fired upon. He saw the case some years ago at Mitchelstown where two or three perfectly innocent persons were shot in cold 935 blood in the street. He did not think anybody could point to a single case of a conflict between the people on the one hand and the soldiers on the other where the calling in of military had had good effect in preventing the spread of disturbance and in preventing violence. In every single case he knew of where people had been fired upon the men who had been shot had been entirely outside of the dispute, and that made the whole circumstances of the case all the worse. He agreed with the hon. Member who declared that soldiers, and especially officers, suffered a grievance in this matter. It was perfectly true that there was no work that soldiers had a greater repugnance of than that of being called upon to confront unarmed people in an industrial or agrarian dispute. He knew that was the case in Ireland where he had seen troops called upon to carry out evictions. The people recognised that they disliked the work intensely, and the result was that there had never been the same feeling against the Army as there was against the police. It was a monstrous thing to say that, if troops were called out, the responsibility should be put on the officers and the troops. Those who were responsible first of all for calling out the troops ought to take the responsibility. A great many magistrates were not experienced; they were men without training, local or otherwise, and to spy that any magistrate who got into a panic or lost his head was to have the power of calling out troops and ordering them to fire on the people, and that, if it turned out there was no justification, the officer was to be held responsible, was to put the officer in a position which was quite unjust. He Was surprised that the Secretary of State had not recognised the force of the case which had been put before him by hon. Members. If the matter was to be left as it was now, it would be a most unsatisfactory ending to the debate. The Secretary of State had told them what the ordinary law was, and no doubt his description was perfectly true. This was a matter that ought to be specifically dealt with. First of all, there ought to be more stringent regulations with reference to the calling out of the troops to deal with unarmed masses of people in industrial or agrarian disputes. Those who called 936 out the troops ought to be made to bear the entire responsibility. If the Secretary of State for War would place this question on a different footing, if he would place the responsibility for calling out the troops to deal with cases of industrial disturbance or agrarian agitation more clearly on the shoulders of the people who called them out, he would be doing something which would result in much good in future, and something for which many people would thank him. He was surprised to hear an hon. Member say that cases of firing on the people took place, if not more frequently, more readily in this country than abroad. He was under the impression that people were more frequently and more unnecessarily fired upon abroad, but cases had occurred too often in this country. When cases of firing on the people, either by the military or by the police, had occurred in Ireland the bitterest feelings had been aroused and the greatest damage done.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. GLADSTONE,) Leeds, W.
I have not had the opportunity of hearing the whole of this debate, but I think I have been able to gather from what has passed since I entered, the views which are held in the various quarters of the House. I think the hon. Member for East Clare may set his mind at rest in regard to my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War; he does not in the least oppose the settling of this matter permanently on a practical footing and on the soundest basis which can be established, having regard to the complexity of the law on the subject. I agree with my right hon. friend that we cannot take too much care with regard to this. These unhappy occasions occur fortunately very seldom, but when they do occur there is no time to settle questions of responsibility. I quite agree that the commanding officer, whether a senior or a subaltern, is in a very difficult and a very disagreeable position. Not only so, but it is equally difficult, perhaps more difficult, for the solitary magistrate who may have to give him the order. At any rate, my hon. friend will admit that it may be extremely difficult for the magistrate—I do not carry it further than that. Great responsibility has to 937 be taken at a moment's notice, and at a time of confusion when it may be difficult to see clearly what should be done. Everything possible ought to be done to put the matter on a sound and rational basis. Therefore, we have no objection to the appointment of a Committee, and we hope—though we are not very sanguine— that the law which is at present obscure, will be made more explicit. Whatever the difficulty of that may be, at any rate the Committee will do their best to elucidate the law, and by practical suggestions endeavour to avoid the troubles, difficulties, and dangers encountered in the time past. I would suggest to the hon. Member for Stockport that as we have given a substantive undertaking to appoint a Committee to report to the House he should withdraw his Motion.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
I understand that the Motion cannot be withdrawn. I did not wish to intervene, but in the absence of my right hon. friend I think it my duty to say that we do not oppose the Government in the course they have decided to take. But we reserve to ourselves the full power to criticise the terms of the reference and any other matter pertaining to the appointment of the Committee. We recognise fully the complexity of this problem. On the one hand, we desire as ardently as any Member of the House can desire, that the duty of a soldier under the particular circumstances when he is called upon to intervene in aid of the civil power, should be denned with greater precision; but on the other hand, we do not desire that the soldier as a citizen should be absolved by law from doing his duty as a citizen. The law imposes on every citizen, even if he is not a soldier, the duty of acting in aid of the civil power. The soldier when called out in aid of the civil power is a conspicuous and effective citizen whose action everybody takes note of and whose failure to do his duty as a citizen becomes a matter of common knowledge. Again, if he 938 fails, he is exposed to a double punishment—to an action in a civil suit and also to the loss of his career as a soldier. We cannot discriminate between him as a soldier and as a citizen in ordinary cases. If a soldier sees a man beating a woman in the street he is bound to go to the assistance of the woman. Or if a soldier sees a policeman being attacked, he is as bound to assist the policeman as any Member of this House would be. The difference in the case of the soldier is that his conduct is before the eyes of all and is also subject to review by his superior officer. To that we make no objection in ordinary cases. But in the particular case which has been brought before the House when a magistrate summons a soldier to aid him in the discharge of certain duties —we hold that the duties of the soldier ought to be defined with greater precision than at present.
§ MR. HALDANE
The Motion to which this is an Amendment is that you, Mr. Speaker, do leave the Chair. The most convenient course would be to negative the Amendment, and the Government will undertake to appoint a Committee "to inquire into the powers now vested in magistrates to call upon the War Office to supply troops during the time of trade disputes."
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The right hon. Gentleman's terms of reference do not touch the point which I tried to enforce on the House. What we want is an attempt to define with greater precision than at present the duties of the soldier when called upon to assist the magistrate, not the powers of the magistrate.
§ CAPTAIN J. CRAIG (Down, E.)
said he would not have intervened in the debate had it not been that the basis of the arguments used by the hon. Gentleman in support of his Motion was the riot in the City of Belfast, and he thought it was only fair to the House that some slight explanation should be given of the facts of the case. He admired the care and moderation with 939 which the Motion was brought forward and seconded, and he hoped to speak moderately himself. He was present in Belfast at the time of the riots, and was therefore qualified to speak of the action of the chief magistrate. His Lordship was blamed by some for the action he took, but eventually he was admired by all for the restraint with which he exercised his powers after obtaining the test possible advice at a very critical time. The suggestion that the power of calling out troops should be taken away from the chief magistrates, and placed in the hands of the War Secretary or the Home Secretary, appeared to him to be pernicious. Those who were on the spot at a critical period must take the responsibility of calling out troops to aid the civil power. If the War Secretary had the power he would have to apply to the chief magistrate as to whether it was necessary to call out the military—that was to say, the very man from whom it was proposed to take away the power. At any rate, they were bound to have someone responsible. They might surround him with advisers, but in the end One man must give the order. In Belfast the Lord Mayor called in the advice of a large number of resident magistrates from the surrounding districts, who had had long and various experience in such matters, but in the end his Lordship had to give the order. It was said by the Labour Members that at the present time owing to the discipline of trade union officials it was not necessary to bring in the military in case of trade disputes. But he would point out that, in Belfast, the trouble arose through the action of a trade union official. When Mr. Larkin was sent across the water to Belfast to organise the dockers a most regrettable affray arose in the streets in which Larkin was implicated. If the trade union officials could be trusted to exercise some control over the great body of workers, there would be no necessity to call out either the military or the ordinary police. How could the Labour Members sitting in that House, using the powers behind their organisation, be responsible for any person like Larkin?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is taking this opportunity of reviving old 940 animosities connected with Belfast Nothing he has said so far relates to the Army Estimates.
§ CAPTAIN J. CRAIG
said he bowed at once to the Speaker's ruling, but he merely wished, to point out the other side of the question of particular riots to which the hon. Member had referred. He would like to refer to a remark of the Secretary for War to the effect that more unrest had in the past been occasioned by the present state of the law than good had ever been done by calling out the troops. He did not quite understand the right hon. Gentleman's reasoning. Theoretically all of them deplored at any time having to call out troops in any dispute, trade or otherwise, but at the same time if serious troubles did come upon any community of people it was difficult to say where a trade dispute ended and a party riot commenced. What was to take the place of the military in such a case as that? There must be some force. The hon. Member opposite had suggested that there was no necessity whatever for calling out the troops on account of disputes in the United Kingdom, because of the great facilities which railways gave for getting constabulary from any part of England or Wales to the seat of the trouble. But that did not apply to all parts of the United Kingdom, because in Ireland they could not train the Royal Irish Constabulary from the North to the West of Ireland or vice versa, and it became absolutely essential, if life and property were to be maintained, that there should be some power by which the chief magistrate, or the magistrate of the city, or the county council, should have authority to call out the military in case of an emergency. He understood from the Amendment that all that it was intended to do at present was to appoint a Committee to inquire into the whole matter, both from the civil side and the military side and the arguments which were used in the first part of the debate were nearly all from the civil side of the question and only in the latter part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech did he come to the question of the officer's responsibility. He must confess that he thoroughly agreed with what had fallen from the right 941 hon. Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench. The right hon. Gentleman insisted, and he thought quite rightly insisted, that if there was to be a Committee of Inquiry into the whole of this matter it should be more for the protection of those officers who had to carry out the unfortunate and disagreeable duty of giving the order to fire on the people in the case of a strike or riot. He hoped the Committee would look at the question from every point of view and see that there was no undue sentimentality about it. In this country passions might be aroused, they knew not how, and if there was any weakening or sign of weakening on the part of the Secretary for War or the Home Office it would be a very great pity so far as maintaining law and order was concerned. This power was never unnecessarily used, and no instances had been brought forward of undue harshness or of anyone deliberately using the power in their hands for anything other than that which they considered was good and right. He hoped the authorities would, in their wisdom, be very careful before they affected or frittered away any of. the powers which they possessed. They must all agree how very disagreeable it was when it was necessary to call in the military power, but they must have the power of maintaining law and order in the country, for all persons irrespective of class or creed, whether they were labouring men or landlords or tenants. It was with the object of asking the right hon. Gentleman not to enter into any sentimentalism on this subject and see that proper suggestions were made to uphold the law that he had risen.
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said that before the Amendment was withdrawn he would like to say one word. The terms of the reference, as he understood them, were to the effect that a Committee should be appointed to consider the employment of the military in the case of trade disputes. In his opinion that was not desirable. In the opinion of an ordinary citizen of this country a riot was a riot, whether it arose out of a trade dispute or from 942 any other cause of disagreement, and he was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman by the terms of his reference should, lend any encouragement to the idea, that he would sanction different treatment to a riot which arose out of a trade dispute and a riot which arose out of anything else. That was what was underlying the whole of the speeches from below the gangway. [Cries of "No."] He thought if hon. Gentlemen-would refer to their speeches they would find that that was so. One hon. Member had said that in the old days riots arose out of political disturbance, and then, perhaps, it was not unnecessary or inadvisable to call in the military power, but that now they arose out of trade-disputes which was a different thing. To show that he was right he would point out that the hon. Member for Clare wished to include agrarian disputes. That proved what was running in the minds of hon. Members below the gangway. It was no use appealing to the Party opposite he knew, but he wished to call the attention of the country to the fact that a distinction was to be drawn between a riot which arose out of a trade dispute and one that did not.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
: By the leave of the House I should like to say I do not understand that the right hon. Gentleman has formulated any terms of reference, and I reserve on behalf of the Opposition our full right to examine any terms of reference put on the Paper. All I understand is that it has been agreed that a Committee is to be appointed to consider two topics, one the powers of the magistrates, and the other the duty of soldiers when they are called out to aid the civil power.
§ Mr. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
said, that although the speeches made were moderate in tone, underlying them the impression was conveyed to the Ulster Members that this Resolution was aimed at the City of Belfast. He did not wish to transgress the Speaker's ruling, which he understood to be to the effect that they could not discuss the causes in Belfast which had led to the intervention of the military. But if he was at liberty to do so he would like to point out to the hon. Member who said that there 943 was danger in the military being in the streets, that he would have found, if he had been in Belfast, that there was danger of being in the streets without the military. The whole city was in confusion, business was paralysed, tourists were afraid to cross to Belfast, and he was told at one hotel that they had been empty for a fortnight. In that case the municipal authorities were prepared to act and to act in a way in which he thought the Chief Secretary and his advisers ought to have acted in other parts of Ireland. If this Motion was meant as conveying any blame or censure upon the authorities in Ireland, then he for one would make his protest against such a Resolution being passed. If the Government would give them an assurance that in the amended form in which they accepted the Motion, they implied no kind of censure upon the authorities in Belfast, he would not press the matter further.
§ Mr. MOORE (Armagh, N.)
said he desired to associate himself with what other hon. Members had said with regard to Belfast. He witnessed a good deal that was a disgrace to the city When he said disgrace to the city he meant a certain organised artificially imported section of it.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I am afraid the hon. Member was not here when I ruled before. This is not an opportunity for discussing what took place in Belfast. We are now on Army Estimates, and the hon. Gentleman must consider this question solely from the military point of view.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The remark does not seem to be relevant. The Secretary of State for War has said he will propose a certain reference, and no Committee can be appointed without that reference. If the terms of that reference are not agreeable to the hon. Member, then he will have an opportunity of criticising them.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Mr. MACLEAN (Bath)
said he rose to call attention to a subject as to which he had a notice on the Paper, namely, the social condition of the private soldier. The question was one of citizenship. The British soldier, if he might attempt to define him, was merely a citizen who had temporarily and voluntarily abandoned certain civil rights for the service of his country, getting in return, food, clothing, lodging and money. Two things followed upon this; first, that his training while in the Army should leave him not only an efficient soldier, but also fit for the full duties of citizenship, and, secondly, that he should have a fair chance when he resumed full civil rights. A great improvement had taken place in the position of the private soldier in the Army from the days when the Duke of Wellington told the Royal Commission of 1840 that the discipline of the Army could not be maintained without adequate measures of flogging. A very important point was the substitution of detention for purely military offences instead of imprisonment. The soldier, like the civilian, took his chances in the matter of offences against the criminal law. For the first time there was a differentiation, and a proper differentiation, in favour of the soldier who offended against purely military regulations. Formerly he was sent to prison and thus lost a certain amount of self-respect and the respect of his fellows for an offence which was not against civil law, but against military regulations. He was very glad to find that there was now a place of detention for such offences where the soldier wore his uniform, was known by name and not by number, attended drills, exercises, school and gymnasium, and ultimately 945 regained his unit, a better man and a I better soldier than formerly. Another point of great importance was the housing of the soldier. The herding together of large numbers of men in unsuitable barracks inevitably lowered their self respect and the tone of the regiment with which they were associated. He was glad to find that improvement in that respect had taken place. In the new barracks men were even given cubicles where they might have the privacy of at any rate a small space during the hours they were, loft to themselves. Some months ago he had visited Gibraltar. There he found some barracks of modern type, but there were others which certainly did not provide such accommodation as should be given to soldiers. As to the feeding of the soldier, the canteen system required further overhauling. Many of the wet canteens were little better than beer shops. He was glad to note that great improvements had already been effected, and that the canteen was being made a comfortable club for the men, where they could get beer, tea and coffee, and also food. The extension of the privilege of wearing plain clothes was a welcome reform. He did not pretend to talk as an expert on military matters even though some years ago he attained to the dizzy eminence of the rank of corporal in a Volunteer corps. He was one of those Members who accepted the invitation of the War Secretary to visit Aldershot last summer, and he had been struck by the arrangements made for the social life of the soldier there. There had been a marked, an almost marvellous, improvement in many respects in the social life of soldiers, and that had had very good results in the character of the men as shown by the following figures. In 1866 cases of drunkenness were 26.4 per cent., but in 1906 only 4.5 per cent. Trials by court martial in the former year were 12.5 per cent, and only 3.2 per cent, in the latter year. And cases of desertion were 13 per 1,000 in the former and only 5 per 1,000 in the latter year. The requirement of a character from all recruits had tended very largely to raise the standard of the men who joined the Army. He suggested that still further improvement was easily capable of being made 946 in the social conditions of soldiers. Another test of the rise in the standard of soldiers was the fact that 52 per cent, of the men of the British Army possessed an education certificate of proficiency. The large number of old soldiers who were out of employment was lamentable, and the country should find means by which these men might re-enter civil life and hot drift, as they so often did, not only into the ranks of unemployment, but into the ranks of the unemployable. He was glad to note the keen interest of the War Office in this important matter. Since 1906 the War Committee had taken practical interest in training men to occupy positions in civil life after leaving the Army. Much more work in this direction could be done to provide a brighter future for the soldier after he left the Army. The two points he had tried to make were that the social life of the soldier should be developed, and that not only for the soldier's own sake but for the sake of the community he should be given ample opportunities of taking his place in civil life once more.
§ MR. WHITEHEAD (Essex, S.E.)
said he should like to make a few observations about the latter part of the Resolution which stood in the hon. Gentleman's name.
§ MR. SPEAKER
There is no Resolution in the hon. Member's name, and if there were it could not be moved. The only Question before the House is that I now leave the Chair.
§ MR. WHITEHEAD
said he had put it in the wrong form; he ought to have said the latter part of the hon. Member's observations on the question of the employment of soldiers after they left the Army. There were certain difficulties in connection with the attempt which he believed was being made to find employment for soldiers. The difficulties arose in this way. In places where there were works under the War Office, the present policy was to dismiss civilians who had been previously engaged by the Department in Order to find employment for soldiers. While they were all sympathetic with soldiers who desired to find employment, still he thought they ought to 947 look at the other side of the picture. Soldiers who left the Army were mostly unmarried men; they had small pensions, or something at all events to fall back upon. The civilian employees on the other hand were mostly married men with families dependent upon them, It was, therefore, a very great hardship on civilians who had been in the employment of the War Office for years, that they should be dismissed with no fault found, but merely in order that employment might be given to soldiers. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not pursue this policy too harshly, and he appealed to him to bear in mind the fact that these civilians who had been dismissed during the last two years, or were being threatened with dismissal, had entered the employment of the War Office at a time of pressure. Probably they had thrown up other work on a sort of understanding that work in the War Office would be more or less permanent. He submitted to the right hon. Gentleman that this particular class of employees were worthy of every consideration. He hoped that such dismissals as had been going on at Shoeburyness and elsewhere would not continue, merel in order to substitute soldiers, and that if the right hon. Gentleman found it necessary for purposes of economy or in the interests of the public as a whole to effect dismissals he would do it at a time of the year when these men who had settled down near the Government works might have a fair opportunity of getting work elsewhere, not in seasons of slack trade. He would ask whether finality had yet been reached in the matter of dismissals and whether those now, engaged in that part of the war service in which his constituents were particularly interested might now look for a continuance of that civilian element which had been part of the establishment so long. He also submitted that it might be not really in the interests of the public at large to have dismissals take place in this way, because in time of public pressure the War Office must look to trained artificer, engineers and other civilians to come and help them, and if it should happen that subsequently such men were dismissed merely in order to make way for soldiers who 948 were in many respects more fortunately situated it would be a great discouragement to civilians to go into the service of the War Office and to that extent the nation would be prejudiced in time of pressure and of difficulty. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would weigh this consideration.
§ Mr. VICTOR CAVENDISH (Derbyshire, W.)
said he would like to have information as to the position in which the barracks now stood. He understood that something was not altogether right with the barracks at Brighton, and they had a number of debates and answers to Questions last year with reference to Piershill barracks, when an artistic difference was drawn he understood between being insanitary and unhealthy. They would be most gratified if the right hon. Gentleman would give them further information as to how these barracks now were, because there was no difference of opinion in the House that every effort should be made to put them into healthy and sanitary condition without any mincing of words as soon as possible. They remembered debates in previous years largely in connection with loan expenditure deliberately incurred for the purpose of seeing that barracks were built which were thoroughly healthy, sanitary, and satisfactory in every respect. Although they knew the policy of the Government was strongly against loans, it was better to have healthy and sanitary barracks even if they had to borrow the money than to leave them in an antiquated and unsatisfactory condition. He had noticed in the abstract of the account for this year that the total decrease amounted to £307,000. If that was analysed it would be found that there was a diminution in expenditure of £205,342, and the so-called decrease was due to an increase of the appropriations-in-aid of £95,000. That was not very far off one third of the so-called total decrease shown on the face of the abstract of the Army Estimates, a id it was really due to enhanced receipts. He knew there was a school of thought not very strongly represented in that House which had the greatest possible objection to the system of appropriations-in-aid. It was only fair and right that these 949 Votes should be credited with any genuine receipts that might belong to them, and accordingly fewer demands should be made upon the Exchequer for issues to meet payments under the various Votes. It was somewhat remarkable that at a time when very considerable reductions were being made in the effective forces of the Army they should also be able to increase the appropriations-in-aid which came to the relief of expenditure. It would be interesting and he thought useful if the right hon. Gentleman could give an explanation as to where and from what sources the main bulk of these receipts were expected to come. They must bear in mind that to all intents and purposes what appeared as an appropration-in-aid came sooner or later either from the British taxpayer himself or from some individuals or classes of individuals. Whatever merits or demerits the Army might possess, certainly that of money making was not one of them, and accordingly these receipts must come from other sources, and he thought if they were analysed they would be found either to be from the taxpayers of the country for services rendered, or that a considerable increase was anticipated this year to come from various sources in connection with India. For instance, if they took Vote 6, sea transports and remounts, there was an increase of something like £6,000 for receipts connected with sea transport. That was presumably for services rendered to the Navy. At a period when considerable reductions were being made in the effective forces of the country it would be interesting to know how it was that the right hon. Gentleman Was able to make that still further demand from the Navy to the extent of some £6,000. To take another instance, he saw that right hon. Gentlemen anticipated during the coming financial year to be able to obtain another £3,000 for payments by officers for the use of horses. It would be interesting if he would tell them where these extra appropriations were expected to come from, and if they were the result of any deliberate change of policy. No doubt there was an admirable and excellent reason; but he noticed that under Vote 7 there was an considerable sum for clothing which had to be recovered from 950 the Indian Government. Also on Votes 13 and 14, the non-effective votes, there was an anticipation that the receipts made would be considerably in advance of previous years owing to contributions from the Indian Government. He did not know if this was likely to be a continuing process or whether it was automatic, but practically all the appropriations-in-aid which figured in the Estimates would be found to be for services which had been rendered either at home or by the Indian Government. Still where they found there was such a large increase in appropriations-in-aid amounting in the course of this year to £95,000, they would be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman would give them some further information. He did not quite understand the relations of the appropriations-in-aid under the new vote for the Territorial Force. He presumed to some extent they balanced one another, but he found that under the new Vote 4, there were anticipated appropriations-in-aid amounting to £36,000. Under Votes 4 and 5 of last year, which corresponded he understood to this, the sum amounted to £31,000, showing an increase to be expected for the new Territorial Force on appropriations-in-aid of something like £5,000. He would like further information on the matter which completely puzzled him. Under sub-head G. there were repayments in redemption to the amount of £20,000. Last year the right hon. Gentleman thought it advisable to reserve certain sums of money for defraying debts' incurred by the various Volunteer corps on drill halls and ranges. Those he understood had now been extinguished with the exception of about £25,000. This year it was proposed on somewhat the same lines to clear off certain outstanding debts resting on the Volunteers. He could not Understand why, after having cleared off those debts in regard drill-halls, etc., this year there was a credit to the Territorial Force of £20,000. Upon Item G, there was an appropriation-in-aid of some £35,000, and on page 50 there would be seen an item, repayments in redemption of loans, £20,000. Why was there this repayment of loans in regard to Volunteer corps?
§ Mr. VICTOR CAVENDISH
said he could not see any loans outstanding which could be repaid and come in as appropriations-in-aid, and, therefore, he could not see how they could come in as a reduction of the Vote which they were now called upon to pass. The right hon. Gentleman yesterday had given various estimates as to the expenditure of the Territorial Force, and he hoped the figures he then gave would turn out to be something like final. He sympathised with the right hon. Gentleman because when the House was asking to have this, that, and the other done, it was bound to be a troublesome thing for any Government to resist proposals, which, however small they might be themselves, when added up amounted to a very considerable sum. What was asked for last year it was quite clear had considerably swollen the Estimates and cost of the Territorial Force. He hoped the Secretary for War would not be too sanguine in thinking they had arrived at finality as far as the demands of the Territorial Associations were concerned. He hoped the training he had had in the House of Commons would always induce him to take every step he could to keep down unnecessary expenditure. The more he understood and grasped the details of the work of the County Associations, the more he was bound to confess that he thought the expenditure upon them would be sure to increase in the future. There was the boot allowance which required a good deal more attention than had been given to it. There was also the subject of travelling allowances. Under the Memorandum which had been issued in Sections 26 and 65, there appeared a scale of travelling allowances. He could speak with some confidence upon this point because he knew the conditions of scattered counties in which travelling expenses must necessarily be heavy, and where he was extremely doubtful that they would be able to make both ends meet under the present allowances. With regard to allowances made to enable the men to do the necessary musketry courses, he had been asked to find out if any allowance was to be given for providing the men whilst at musketry practice with food and provisions. He had been informed that no such provision had been 952 made in the Memorandum, and it was obvious that if the men had to be away from home at musketry practice for a considerable portion of the day, they could not expect satisfactory results in the way of shooting unless they had had a fairly good dinner. Such matters as this would tend to irritate and annoy those men whom they were hoping to retain and to induce to join in the future. With regard to sergeant-instructors, he found in Paragraph 66 of the Memorandum that an allowance of £6 10s. was to be given to them. No doubt there were portions of the country where that allowance might be sufficient, but he thought the right hon. Gentleman would fully appreciate the importance of sergeant-instructors living up to a certain standard. In colliery districts or big manufacturing centers it was very important that the sergeant-instructor, who had to live in the midst of those whom he had to drill and induce to join and with whom he would have a good many connections, must be in a somewhat superior position. He doubted whether £6 10s. was sufficient to enable such a man to do his duty efficiently. All he could say was that he had paid a good deal more than that out of his own pocket to enable the sergeant-instructor to live in better quarters and to enable him to live up to his position. He understood from the Secretary for War that these allowances, were not to be paid from private sources, and that no obligation would be placed upon the officers to make up any deficiencies. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not be too sanguine in this matter and would recognise that when they were asking him to make still further demands upon the Exchequer, they were only doing it in the best interests of the Territorial Force. Although the right hon. Gentleman might have to adopt certain rules of thumb for the purpose of enabling grants to be given to the different Associations, he hoped he would allow, subject to his control, far greater latitude in forming the estimates of expenditure. It was almost impossible to draw up Estimates for the Volunteers which. would cover all circumstances, and which were applicable under one definite rule. A battalion largely recruited from the 953 urban districts where distances were met great, and where means of communication were easy, could not fairly be compared with battalions recruited from a very large and extended area. He did not like to be constantly referring to his own battalion, but when one saw a battalion recruited from a big population like Derby, it would readily be seen that it was not nearly so expensive as a battalion recruited from the Peak of Derbyshire, where there were outlying stations fifty-one miles away from the headquarters of the regiment. It was obvious that the same conditions would not apply in both cases. He hoped the Secretary for War, when he had got over the initial difficulty of setting these Associations on their legs, would allow them considerable latitude in forming their estimates for providing all their requirements, because it was evident that the same rule could not possibly work out satisfactorily in all cases. There were two distinct classes from which the infantry portion of the Territorial Force could be drawn, viz., the big urban districts and the scattered country districts. He had not had time to find out what were the allowances to be given for attendances at drill, but it was perfectly clear that they would not be able to arrive at a satisfactory result by laying down a general rule for all battalions without considering the different circumstances. As to whether grants could be given to half companies or even to actions, it was not quite clear under the proposals before them. He presumed that further information would lie given on these points which would enable them to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for the answer he gave him that afternoon as to the rules of training. Apprehensions had been excited in the minds of certain commanders of Volunteers by one of the regulations affecting the annual training in camp. The same thing he understood applied to sergeants and the rank and file. He hoped that so far as the men were concerned the right hon. Gentleman would not insist In maintaining that regulation. It would obviously be extremely complicated, and it would be difficult for a man living in a far distant place to find out who 954 was the general officer commanding his division. He did not know whether many people now serving in the Territorial Force would be able to attach much meaning to the regulation, but obviously it would be better that those applications should be addressed, as had always been done before, to the officer commanding the units who would have the means of finding out the true facts of the case, and be able to deal with them properly. He noticed that that was marked "Provisional" on the outside, and he hoped the matter would receive the right hon. Gentleman's attention.
§ Mr. VICTOR CAVENDISH
was afraid he had forgotten the Act. He was dealing with the lesser volume of the two, namely, the pamphlet which had been issued within the last two or three days. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not be too sanguine in thinking that he had reached finality so far a s the cost of the Territorial Army was concerned.
§ MAJOR DUNNE (Walsall)
said the House must have been struck by the amount of work that was being done by the Secretary of State for War and those responsible to him for the organisation of the Army. The right hon. Gentleman had been less than just to himself in applying to his scheme the quotation: "The little done, the undone vast." He thought the House and the country generally would feel that a great deal had. already been accomplished. He was particularly glad that the right hon. Gentleman had made reference to what was called the striking force of 160,000 men, because there was a great deal of misconception not only in the House, but outside, as to what exactly that force consisted of. When they examined the figures which the right hon. Gentleman had placed before them, he thought the feeling of alarm in the country that the striking force was far more than adequate, and that it might be called an aggressive force, would be dispelled. As to the Cardwell system, whenever it was debated in the House it met with a certain amount of abuse; but he thought it had been pretty conclusively shown 955 now that that system held the field against any other yet proposed, and that it would continue to hold it. Most soldiers, at all events, were agreed that the advantages of a system by which the training was carried out in this country in units, these units being kept together in large military centres like Aldershot and Salisbury Plain, enormously outweighed those of the opposite system of training in depots. If that system were departed from great expense would be involved in re-building and renovating the present depots. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to a matter in which, personally, he took a great interest, namely, the instruction of officers. He had the good fortune to graduate at the staff college, and he could speak of the inestimable value of the training received there. The right hon. Gentleman had paid a well-merited compliment to the value of the instruction given at that institution, and what he foreshadowed in regard to the facilities and inducements to be offered to officers, who could not all have the advantage of a staff college education, should go a long way in the direction he desired. He did not agree with the hon. Member for Durham that the new tests and higher educational standard required of officers would meet with opposition on their part. If the officers were given facilities for instruction, and the inducement that when so instructed they would be afforded adequate employment, the right hon. Gentlemen might rely upon their most cordial co-operation. But there was no part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which to him was more satisfactory than the evidence given of the improvement in the conduct of the rank and file. It showed that the Army was becoming year by year a more respectable and attractive profession in the eyes of the classes from which recruits were mainly drawn.
§ COLONEL IVOR PHILIPPS (Southampton)
expressed the opinion that the extension of the privilege of wearing plain clothes to the private soldier would have a great deal to do in popularising the Army. He knew it would be said by a great number of his right hon. friend's advisers that such a step 956 would tend to depreciate discipline, but he thought they already had sufficient examples to show that such would in no way be the case. The police were allowed to wear any costume they liked, when they were off duty, and the soldiers of the Indian Army, whose discipline, as the right hon. Gentleman knew, was on an even higher scale than that of our own Army, wore plain clothes, no only when they were on leave, but when they were walking out and in their barracks. The right hon. Gentleman could effect a very great economy in his Clothing Vote by adopting the reform which he was suggesting. If he called for a statement from the India Office showing what it cost to clothe the Indian soldier he would be very much struck by the difference. He believed the British soldier would willingly provide himself with a decent and respectable walking-out suit if he were allowed to do so. He hoped his right hon. friend would look into the matter.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX (Yorkshire, W.R Barkston Ash)
congratulated the Secretary for War on the breezy spirit of optimism which permeated his opening address. He hoped the shortage of 8,000 officers, which was a very serious matter, would be overcome by the remedies he had suggested. It was necessary that the conditions under which a man entered the commissioned ranks should be made easier. So long as an officer was required to provide himself with so much in the way of furniture, uniform, and horses, the Army would remain—as it was called—a playground for the rich instead of an open field for all classes of the community and for men with most ability. He hoped to receive some assurance from the Secretary of State for War that he proposed to do something to remedy the very grave danger arising from the shortage of horses. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that 126,000 horses were required to keep the Army up to war strength, but that he proposed a reduction of 70,000 to keep it at peace strength. If the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to make that reduction, what preparation was he making in case a serious emergency arose, to meet this shortage? The French Government 957 and to a certain extent the German Government, had a system of a required number of horses ready-trained, to keep the Army up to war strength. The question could only be thoroughly dealt with by bringing it before the House and the country and reminding them of the danger we were running. The President of the Board of Agriculture stated last December that there were 10,000 fewer foals dropped last year than in the previous year. On another occasion the noble Lord said that a reserve of 37,000 horses would be required for a peace establishment and he advocated the registration of horses. It was necessary to ask the question what steps were the Government taking to remedy the existing shortage Every day there was a tendency for the general omnibus utility horse, which had done such good service in South Africa, to drop out in view of the growing amount of motor traction. This was affecting the horse supply all over the world and produced obviously a great shortage. He asked for some details of the proposed scheme of registration and when it would be put into operation. Inquiries conducted by military experts like Colonel Birkbeck of the Remount Department showed that the English-bred horse was the most reliable for cavalry purposes. It was time to do something to encourage horse breeding in this country by direct means in order to remedy the shortage. Good mares were going out of the country owing to the neglect of the Government to keep them. Yorkshire used to be the great horse breeding county of England, but it was enormously decreasing. The horses young farmers used to hunt with were not now bred to the extent they used to be. Under these circumstances the Government ought to be prepared to establish depots in which they could train the horses they purchased and secure that there would be a supply of trained horses at any given moment. So long, however, as (hey adhered to the custom of buying horses five years old it would be difficult to solve the problem. If horses were bought at a younger age they would be able not only to get them cheaper, but to secure their proper training at an earlier age, and that would lead to greater efficiency. A good deal might be done by offering premiums to farmers. 958 It was no use providing men, guns, and equipment, without providing horses to supply the cavalry and artillery. There were as many as 2,010 men in the cavalry walking about because they had n6 horses to mount. It must be a very expensive matter to keep these men practically doing nothing when they ought to be mounted and trained as cavalry and artillery soldiers.
§ MR. C. E. PRICE (Edinburgh, Central)
congratulated the Secretary of State for War on the approval given to his scheme by the country generally, but expressed regret that something more had not been done to encourage men who passed through the rank to gain a commission. Taking the Return issued last year he found that only fifty-six men who had passed through the cavalry regiments had received commissions as second lieutenants during the past twenty-two years, and fifty-two of them were given during the first eleven years, leaving only four for the second period. That number could not possibly represent the measure of the brains and capacity of the men who had passed through the ranks. Taking any other trade or profession, such as the legal, medical, or the more important trades of the country, the found that men born in the humblest houses rose to the highest positions in their professions or trades. The same thing would take place in the Army if due recognition was given to the men of brains and capacity who passed through the ranks. He sincerely trusted the right hon. Gentleman would signalise his occupancy of office by doing something to make the Army attractive to men of the better working class, by giving them some hope that they could rise to the highest positions in it if they showed by their efforts they were capable of filling them.
§ Mr. GUY BARING (Winchester)
do-sired to say a word or two upon the subject of the education of military officers Having himself served through three of the stages of that education he could say that he was thoroughly in agreement with what had been said a to the third stage of it being absolutely unsatisfactory. The young officer when about twenty or twenty-one years of age joined his battalion from Sandhurst. He had had, partly at the public expense, 959 a very good elementary education. He came fully primed into his particular branch, of the profession. He knew a good deal about military law, and was very well grounded in attack, but very often he had not the remotest chance in the earlier part of his life of exercising the practical part of his profession. Of course there were undoubtedly the industrious apprentices who looked at their books and kept themselves up to date, but the ordinary officer did not, because there was no occasion for him to do it, and the result was that, after leaving Sandhurst, he got rustier and rustier, and then he arrived at the point when he had to pass a promotion examination. What happened was that he naturally flew to his great friend the crammer, who got him over the fence, and then he proceeded again until he got to another step of military promotion, and then came the next examination. That was a very unsatisfactory state of things. It was rather a bold step to suggest, but he would like to see promotion examinations done away with altogether, and if possible annual examinations put in their place, and some machinery set up by which the officer was obliged to take down his books and refresh his memory and keep himself up-to-date. All that was done now was to ensure that perhaps twice in fifteen or twenty years the officer knew the subjects which he was supposed to know, but the authorities ought to ensure that he always knew them. There was another part of the officer's education which was neglected through the various branches of it being in such -watertight compartments. Unless an officer went to the Staff College he had no opportunity of learning the work of other branches besides his own. He supposed there were very few infantry officers who knew artillery tactics or artillery officers who knew about infantry tactics, or cavalry officers who knew about either. He would like to see that altered. It would be for the benefit of the Army if competent officers from the different branches were to deliver lectures to other branches in the service. He very much hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would take to heart the speech of his hon. friend the Member for Durham made earlier in the evening It was an interesting speech, and it put 960 very well the feeling of a great many officers in the Army. It was to this effect, that it was not only to the Staff that the officer should look for his advancement and promotion. He thought the right hon. Gentleman from being at the War Office and coming naturally into contact with staff officers allowed undue weight to the staff branch of the Army, but he would be doing the Army a great disservice if he let an officer think that it was only on the staff that he could do himself good. The ordinary regimental officer ought to have every opportunity of getting promotion or getting some advantages, even if he did not want to go on the staff. One other point he wished to make was that if all these demands were made by the right hon. Gentleman on the officers—he did not believe for a moment that they would be resisted, he was certain that they would be only too delighted to respond to the call—either they would have a shortage of officers or they would have to increase the pay. Other professions were getting more and more attractive, while the Army was getting more hard-working. The regimental pay of the British officer had not been altered since the days of Queen Anne, and he did not think they were asking anything extravagant in requesting that the matter should be looked into in the near future.
§ MR. SUMMERBELL (Sunderland)
wished to call attention to the case of a deserving class in the British Army and to win the practical sympathy and support of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War on their behalf. At the beginning of last session the hon. Member for the Abercromby division and himself called the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the treatment of the soldier suffering from consumption and to the fact that he was discharged without any consideration whatever. The basis upon which he put his argument at that time was the fact that the War Office had sent out a blue paper to the municipal authorities asking them when a soldier was discharged for this cause and sent home to keep him under supervision. That he thought was rather unfair treatment so far as the authorities were concerned, because the War Office was placing upon 961 municipalities responsibilities that ought to be discharged by the Army Department. As a result, the right hon. Gentleman kindly appointed a Select Committee, four out of six of the Members of which were leading military gentlemen, and he himself had the honour of serving on it. They received a good deal of evidence of a very practical and skilful character, and the work of the Committee finished in August of last year. There was a unanimous recommendation made that the Department should endeavour to give every diseased soldier discharged for tuberculosis, from four to six months residence in a sanatorium before he was finally discharged from the Army. This matter was considered in 1902 by the late Government and by the Army Council, and there was a great similarity with regard to the decisions of the War Office Authorities in 1902 and 1908. In 1902, it was decided that this matter could not be dealt with without similar treatment being meted out to all Government employees, both military and civil. He wanted to point that out, because he considered it to be a very important aspect of this question. The soldier suffering from consumption was altogether different from a soldier suffering from heart failure or any other disease. It had been urged that a man suffering from heart disease should have the same treatment meted out to him as was given to a man suffering from consumption, but let the House consider the subject in what he submitted was its proper light. He would take the ordinary soldier to-day. Directly it was found that he was suffering from consumption the officer had no option but to discharge that man and send him home. What was the home of the soldier? Ordinarily, the soldier was the son of a working-man, and he was sent back to his home where he could not have the ventilation and other adjuncts of life necessary to bring about a good state of health and prevent the spread of infection. The soldier went back, slept in some cases in the same room with other members of the family, in many cases in the same bed, and yet it was proved by the evidences of medical officers of the Army that these men were a danger to anyone with whom they came into contact, and that the greatest 962 precautions should be taken to prevent them coming into contact with other people. The fact that the Government to-day compelled the local authorities to notify tuberculous disease as infectious showed that these men constituted a danger. He contended that the Government were not doing their duty unless they rent the men to a sanatorium. Every year 350 men suffering from this complaint went into the municipalities where they spread the disease. They all loved the British soldier, but he thought that their treatment of him when he contracted consumption while serving with the colours was bad and utterly unfair. It could not be said that the authorities; did not take all the precautions that were necessary to get a soldier who was sound in wind and limb. After the medical examinations he had to undergo, and the measures they took to see that he was physically fit, he thought he could draw the inference that no less than eight out of every ten men who were discharged suffering from consumption had contracted the disease when serving with the colours. The answer of the right hon. Gentleman in reference to dealing with this matter was, he considered, very disappointing. The finding of the Committee was that the average number of these men was 350 every year, and in order to provide the necessary accommodation and give these men a hen e in life and prevent the spread of disease the initial expenditure would be £16,000 and the annual expenditure £6,000. That would give to 350 soldiers every year an opportunity of being cured of this terrible disease and being enabled once more to fight the battle of life after they had been discharged from the Army. Yet the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues had decided that so far as the finding of the Committee was concerned they were not going to adopt it. All he could say was that had the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues considered the Report of the Army Council of 1902 and decided upon it, the time of Member s of this House, of witnesses outside this House, and the expense of the Select Committee might have been saved so far as the taxpayer was concerned. The Army Council in 1902 arrived at the same decision, and why the right hon. Gentleman should appoint this special Committee in view of the 963 finding of the Army Council in 1902 and then take up the same attitude as was taken up six years ago, he could not possibly conceive. The Select Committee's work was exhaustive in the extreme; the matter was fully investigated by medical experts, and it was with the intention of finally appealing to the right hon. Gentleman before the Report of that Committee was issued that he rose. He was rather surprised at the delay which had taken place in issuing the Report The work of that Committee finished last August and he signed the Report last year and although we were in March of this year it had not seen the light of day. Before it was issued he wanted, as he had stated, to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the decision arrived at, and at a cost of £6,000 a year give tie soldiers a chance of four to six months residence in a sanatorium, so as to enable them to recover their health, to fight the battle of life, and to prevent the spread of the disease in various parts of the country. The soldier in America got an opportunity of residence in a sanatorium, and was allowed, if he was cured, to rejoin the Army and serve under the colours. Certainly it could not be argued for a single moment that what could be done in America could not be done for our soldiers at home. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to take a broad arid sympathetic view of this question, and not allow a few paltry thousands to stand in the way of those unfortunate soldiers having an opportunity of being cured of this disease, and so enable them to regain their health.
§ Mr. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield),
who was imperfectly heard, was understood to say that there would be a difficulty in getting officers for the special Reserve to serve for a year, or even four months, and he urged his right hon. friend to alter the proposal for obtaining Special Reserve officers. The only time when they could get Special Reserve officers was when they came into the Army and when they were young, and at that stage they could not get from them a year nor even four months consecutively, because they had not the time to go through that long period. He did not 964 say that that was not necessary if they were going to make Regular officers of them, but he thought they ought to have Regular officers if they liked of inferior quality, who would fill up the gaps in time of stress. Therefore, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would see some easier way in regard to officers for the Special Reserve than that of going up for a year's work at a time, or doing two examinations, one in the public school and one at the university, and then four months after that. He did not think that they were getting; sufficient officers towards filling up the enormous deficiency that would inevitably take place on mobilisation. In the Regular Army the deficiency was already 5,000 and on mobilisation it would be something enormous.
§ MR. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said with regard to this question of officers the difficulty could not be for one moment a question of money. He had been going through the Estimates and he found that they were spending on the officers of the Army something like £4,000,000. That was a tremendous lot. As far as he could make out the officers got about £500 a year on the average. Surely that was plenty. He would venture humbly but persistently to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that there was one way of getting any number of the best possible officers, and that with great economy, namely, to make it absolutely essential that every officer should have passed through the ranks. If the officer was a man of the people his pay would be ample The men who passed through the ranks and rose to be officers were of the class who became the managers of large works and industrial concerns, mine and factorie—men who were capable of commanding thousands of workmen under great difficulties, men who had risen from the ranks in their various industries. Therefore, he suggested that they might utilise in other ways this lavish expenditure on officers. For instance, there were four generals getting £4,000 a year each, and three getting £2,250 each. Thee were half-pay field marshals getting from £1,300 to£25000 a year each. There were twenty-six other generate on half-pay, getting from £500 965 to £800 a year each. There were 218 retired generals getting from £600 to £1,185 a year. There were 331 generals. What on earth could the right hon. Gentleman do with 331 generals? They must be tumbling over each other; it was impossible that they could be needed for our small force, for which a dozen generals would suffice. This enormous number of highly paid officers, he thought, was a great waste of money, and they got no return in any shape that was worth having. If they were to have an efficient Army at anything like a reasonable price they must give up spending £4,000,000 a year on officers for a little bit of an Army. No other country paid their officers in anything like the same, proportion. Out of an Army of about 170,000 men about £4,000,000 went on officers in pay and pensions. What they should do was to give a retired officer about £100 a year, which was enough to keep him out of the workhouse, and if he were an officer of good family let that family keep him when he retired. Any man of education and of talent, however, could surely turn himself to something that would be for the good of his country. Why should a man retire in middle life, full of health and strength and capacity, to live on a pension all the rest of his days? They did not treat, the soldiers like that. For a soldier £26 a year was enough; four times that ought to be enough for an officer. Of the £4,000,000 a year nearly £2,500,000 was wasted on ineffective pensions. Until that matter was tackled, until they had some man of strength and iron will to deal with it, they would not make satisfactory progress. If the right hon. Gentleman put his services to such a good use he would find that he had a difficult job. He would have to face the Opposition in the House of Commons, and the opposition of the Department with which he had to work, and at the same time offend the people with whom he had to deal, in suggesting really practical economies. In a private concern the managing director dealing with a similar a e of extravagan e in salaries would either have to shift some people, or be shifted himself. In regard to officers they could get the best talent in England for 966 £500 a year, and to pay any more was simply a waste of money. He would not draw the line strictly at £500, for field marshals might get £1,000 a year. It was not a question of whether the pay was £500 or £5,000; if an officer liked the Army he would stick there. In regard to the Yeomanry and horses, he had heard mentioned that agricultural horses had increased; but no doubt the right hon. Gentleman was right in preparing for the time when motor cars would take the place of horses. Generals in the future would have 10,000 motor cars to carry, 60,000 men to attack the enemy's communications and then get back again out of harm's way all in a night With regard to the Army generally, he under stood that the size of the striking force depended to a great extent on the size of the Army outside of this country. But it should be remembered that our soldiers had rifles and artillery four times, as effective as the weapons possessed by our soldiers fifty years ago; therefore one-fourth the number of troops should now be sufficient 25,000 troops would be enough in India instead-of the 78,000 we had now uselessly got there.