§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a number of Land Forces not exceeding 185,000, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" at Home and Abroad, excluding His-Majesty's Indian Possessions, during the year ending on the 31st day of March,. 1909.'
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)
said he hoped that in the observations which he had to offer upon the right hon. Gentleman's scheme he would be acquitted of any hostile attitude or of any attempt to indulge in captious criticism. He recognised that the right, hon. Gentleman's position at the War Office was not a bed of roses. He had his best wishes for success in the on rous task which he had undertaken, and whether his scheme was good or bad, at any rate it held the field. Whilst he must plead guilty to the charge of being an Army Reformer, he was probably the only Army Reformer in existence who had not got a scheme of his own. There were many things about the right hon. Gentleman's scheme which he did not profess to understand at present, but there were other things which, if he understood them rightly, aroused his apprehensions. He was aware of the perils which beset the path of the critic. An hon. Member, a supporter of the right hon. Gentleman, came down to his constituency a short, time ago and, referring, he presumed, to the august hospitality which marked the initiation of the Territorial Army scheme, said that anyone who criticised that scheme was guilty of disloyalty to the Sovereign. He was 1555 naturally averse to incurring that charge, and he was somewhat relieved that the religious ceremonies which were intended to inaugurate this great undertaking had now been indefinitely postponed, or at any rate, that they were not received with much warmth by the County Associations, because, whilst one naturally objected to the charge of disloyalty, one would still more dislike to be suspected of impiety. He did not wish, to discuss that question at length, but at any rate he was prepared to take the risks involved in a certain amount of criticism. Not so very long ago we had gone through a great war, and the lessons of that war had been investigated by a number of Royal Commissions and influential Committees, and if he read the reports of those Commissions and Committees aright it appeared to him that their general conclusions might be summed up as follows. First of all, that there was great need of a larger Reserve of trained soldiers; secondly, that there was a great need of a larger Reserve of trained officers; thirdly, that there was need of a larger supply of efficient artillery; fourthly, that the Volunteer Forces with their present training were not fitted to undertake the duties which they were designed to perform; and, fifthly, that we should at all costs maintain an adequate reserve of stores. The question, therefore, which they had to ask was whether the right hon. Gentleman's scheme or his administration at the War Office had remedied those cardinal defects. He feared it would be optimistic to say that they had. First of all, as regards an adequate Reserve of trained soldiers, at the present moment there was, as the right hon. Gentleman had admitted, an abnormal boom in the strength of the Reserve, but his scheme, when its effects became operative, would produce far less Reservists than the schemes which had preceded it. It would produce less Reservists because he would have largely reduced the units, because he had reduced the number of men serving with the colours who eventually passed to the Reserve, and because he was bringing home units from abroad which were put on a reduced establishment and therefore to that extent were decreased in Reserve-producing power. 1556 He was aware that the right hon. Gentleman was taking great credit for the fact that at last he had succeeded, when others had failed, in realising the Card well ideal of an equal number of battalions abroad and at home. But at what cost had he done it? There was another predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman of the name of Procrustes whose habit it was to adjust, in an arbitrary and cruel manner, the physical proportions of his victims, but it could not be denied that he effectually crippled them in the process, and the right hon. Gentleman had done great injury to the Regular Army by his arbitrary reductions. The present prosperous condition of the Reserve was as the right hon. Gentleman must know quite temporary and illusory. The Reserve was like a cistern. There was a pipe flowing in and a pipe flowing out, and the ideal was that those pipes should be of the same diameter. As a matter of fact, under what they might call the Brodrick system of short enlistment, the inflowing pipe was much larger than the outflowing pipe, but now, under the system proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, the inflowing pipe would be greatly restricted, whilst, when this boom came to an end about 1914, the outflowing pipe would be enormously enlarged and the result must be that there would be in the future a greatly reduced Reserve of trained soldiers. As regards officers the right hon. Gentleman had admitted a most serious shortage, but he would deal with that, if he might, a little later on. As regards a larger supply of efficient artillery, instead of there being more batteries under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme, there would be less batteries of effective fighting value. He was filling up some of the batteries with partially trained men, but at any rate he was taking thirty-three of the regular batteries and converting them into mere depots with two guns apiece and reducing their fighting value to an extremely low point. As regards the Volunteers, they had been undoubtedly reduced in number according to the right hon. Gentleman's own figures, and their training had certainly not been increased. As far as he could judge, under the Territorial Army Scheme, it would be diminished if anything. As regards stores, he did not wish to go into that at 1557 length now, but there were many disquieting symptoms in the Estimates which suggested that the reserves were being drawn upon and not replaced, and he would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman one specific question, viz., was the standard of reserves of stores laid down by the Mowatt Committee and adopted by the late Administration maintained in its entirety to-day?
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE,
continuing, said he was glad of that, because from the way in which this question was treated in the Estimates, it was a little difficult to arrive at such a satisfactory conclusion. Those were the main points on which he proposed to criticise the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. They were bound to fill a looker-on with a considerable amount of anxiety, but there was one point even broader than any he had mentioned and which must be obvious to all. Our only effective forces were being largely reduced by the right hon. Gentleman, whilst the Territorial Army, which was intended partially to replace those forces, had not yet materialised, and the old Auxiliary Forces of which it was to be composed, had considerably shrunk during his administration. The right hon. Gentleman took up that point in his speech the other day, when he said there had been much criticism about reductions, but after all, he added, had the country ever the prospect of such a force before it, and if such a force could be got at less cost it was a great gain; and so on. The right hon. Gentleman held out to them a prospect, perhaps a visionary prospect, but, in the meantime, he had effected a very real and serious reduction of over 20,000 trained soldiers, and perhaps of twice that number when the effect on the Reserve came into full force. His chief complaint was that what the right hon. Gentleman had done, so far, was to prune down our existing effective force, while the force with which he designed to replace it was at that moment only on paper and might indeed be only an aspiration. He would like to consider for a moment the constitution of this force which was 1558 to replace those who had been reduced, in other words the Territorial Army, and of course he wished to consider it as it would be when it was completely organized and in full working order. What its, fighting value would be was of course a very large speculation, but he must confess that the views of the officer, who was, he understood, the Commander-in-Chief-Designate of the British Army, in the event of war, were certainly not sanguine or very encouraging in this connection. Sir John French, in reporting upon the manœuvres of 1907, made these remarks, he understood, to all the officers of the Aldershot Division with regard to the fighting value of the Territorial Army. He said that assuming that three divisions of the Territorial Army had been mobilised for three months it was impossible to estimate their value as compared with Regulars, but it was not too much to say that the military value of the whole of the three divisions did not equal that of one regular division. That was not a very sanguine statement, but after all the General's estimate was optimistic, because he assumed that in the event of war the Territorial Army would have at last three months embodiment in which to prepare. Was there any ground for assuming that? If this country was to be invaded at all it would be by surprise and the period available for preparation was not likely to be anything like three months. We should be lucky if it was even as much as three weeks-Before he passed away from this point of the training and the state of preparedness of the Territorial Army, he wished to dwell for a few moments upon a very interesting point, at least a point which was very interesting to him, and that was the question of the proposed Territorial Field Artillery, an arm which after all required far higher and more scientific training than any other arm in the proposed force. He had had some slight spars with the right hon. Gentleman on this subject, before, but he was sure he would admit that it was a very serious subject, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would recognise that any criticisms he made were uttered solely because he was particularly interasted in this branch of the service. A short time ago he asked the right hon. Gentleman two 1559 questions in this House. The reply to the first he was in complete agreement with, because the right hon. Gentleman said the duties of the Territorial Artillery in the event of war in no way differed from similar duties of "the regular artillery. Then he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether it was the opinion of the Army Council that the Territorial Army field batteries, armed with a considerably less efficient weapon and considerably less trained, could be properly confronted with the quick-firing batteries and high trained personnel of a Continental Army. The right hon. Gentleman's reply to that was certainly peculiar, and he could only assume that it was meant to be humourous. He said that these converted 15-pounder guns would be more mobile and better adapted for use within the close wooded terrain, such as the Territorial Army would usually operate in. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman had any reliable information as to the part of our coast which would be invaded, but there were many points which were open to attack which were not wooded and which would not lend themselves to the right hon. Gentleman's convenient theory. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that he (Mr. Lee) had not applied his mind to the subject, but if he would read an interesting little book which had been recently published by a distinguished officer he would find it laid down that it was "absolutely vital that the artillery should be of the most mobile character, and the range of the guns necessarily short," and that was put forward to justify a statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the range of these new field guns was an effective one, although it was a thousand yards less than that of the guns supplied to the Regular Army. He took the right hon. Gentleman's advice and he invested the sum of 3s. 6d. in this book which he recommended him to study, and he had done his best to apply his mind to it. But why the right hon. Gentleman asked him to direct his attention to this particular work he could not imagine, because the writer, Colonel Callwell, who was a very distinguished officer and a man for whose opinion he had a great respect, 1560 stated, although making them far more clear than he could have hoped to do, the precise objections to the training and equipment of the Territorial Artillery which he had ventured to urge on more than one occasion. He did not wish to go into the matter at any great length, but he would allude to one or two points from the chapter specially recommended for his perusal. Colonel Callwell said that there were many areas in the United Kingdom where the ground was open and where artillery would play as prominent a part as in Flanders or Manchuria. He further said the invading batteries would be of the highest class and of the highest efficiency in regard to personnel and power of armament, and he asked the question if our batteries would merit so flattering a description. Further he said that we could not afford to ignore that the management of artillery in the United Kingdom presented exceptional difficulties and called for an exceptionally high standard of training, and that only highly trained and thoroughly compete nt personnel could hope to get a full effect, and then Colonel Callwell added, as a final refutation of the right hon. Gentleman's argument, that numerical superiority in guns could not avail. His concluding argument, which was interesting, and to him new, was that field-guns were not the most important weapons for this purpose of home defence, but light howitzers and mountain guns would, under the peculiar conditions of fighting in this country, be more effective weapons. Colonel Call-well's theories were reinforced by most students of war and by our military attaches in Manchuria, who had shown that it was impossible for inferior guns to stand up with success to guns of greater range and greater power. General Sir Ian Hamilton said, in a lecture at the United Service Institution a short time ago, that possibly three or four of these Territorial Army batteries might give a warm time to one battery of the kind now in the possession of Continental armies. That was a disputable, but, at the best, not a very encouraging opinion. After all we came down to this was the Territorial Army intended for war or was it not? The right hon. Gentleman said he trusted it would never be called 1561 upon to fight at all, and if it was not intended for war it was a pity that money was being wasted on it. But if it was intended for war he ventured to reiterate his assertion that both as to its training and equipment it was hopelessly ineffective and handicapped for the task which it would have before it. His criticism came under two heads, first personnel, and; secondly, materiel. He dealt with the personnel question and the training at some length last year, and he did not wish to weary the Committee by going into it again, but he might say that further consideration and consultation with artillery officers only confirmed and strengthened the belief which he expressed on that occasion. Moreover, he believed, from all he could ascertain, that the officers of this proposed Territorial Artillery were awakening to ths fact that they were being asked, or were going to be asked, to perform duties which they could not possibly discharge under the conditions proposed. Taking as a sort of touchstone the amount of training that was given to the Lancashire Militia Field Artillery, which produced results which were exceedingly creditable to the officers and men concerned, but which were not in any way high or very efficient, they could see that under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme he proposed to give to the Territorial Field Artillery not more than a quarter or a fifth of the training which was given to the Lancashire Field Artillery, and he did not provide what was the mainstay of that corps, a stiffening of one Regular gunner to every two Militiamen, and also 40 or 50 per cent, of the non-commissioned officers from the Regular Army. As to materiel, he was much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for giving him an opportunity of going down to Woolwich and seeing this new gun of the Territorial Army. It was most interesting, and he must say that the ingenuity with which the efficiency of the gun had been increased reflected the utmost credit upon the officers of the Ordnance Factory at Woolwich. They had succeeded in making a very passable brick with, exceedingly little straw, but, after all, the gun itself was precisely the same gun that we had during the South African War, with the same range, ammu- 1562 nition, and rifling, and as far as the man at the other end was concerned—the enemy—the shell that reached him was precisely the same as it was before, although it might reach him at a slightly greater rate of fire. But the individual round was no more and no less effective than it was before. The carriage had been altered and greatly improved, and the result of that alteration and improvement was that it was steadier and led to an increased rate of firing, which he believed had advanced to the maximum of ten or twelve rounds a minute, unaimed fire, as compared with the eighteen or twenty of the quick-firing gun of the Regular Forces. At any rate, it had only two-thirds of the rapidity of fire attained by a true quick-firing gun, which was so-called because the business of loading was one operation. The cartridge, the shell and the ignition were all in one. In the gun for the Territorial Army the cartridge, shell, and means of ignition were separate, and there were three operations required for loading as compared with one, and it was that fact which reduced the rapidity of firing. Moreover, the result of the adoption of the very ingenious carriage made the gun more complicated than that of the quick firing-gun supplied to the Regular Forces. This handicapped comparatively untrained troops. It had another serious disadvantage. The right hon. Gentleman in answer to his Question had spoken about the gun as being more mobile, but he found that the gun as now altered was much heavier than it was before; it was, in fact, no lighter than the 18-pounder quick-firing gun supplied to the Regular Army.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
said he could not admit that a larger amount of ammunition was the same thing as increased mobility. It had nothing to do with mobility; therefore, the right hon. Gentleman's contention about the gun's increased mobility fell to the ground. Then the gun had not a defensive shield such as was supplied to the guns for the Regular Army.
§ ME. ARTHUE LEE
said he was very glad to hear that. Its absence would have a very bad moral effect on untrained troops when they had to fight. To sum up, he admitted to the full that the 15-pjunder converted gun was a much better weapon than it had been, but was still considerably inferior to the gun supplied to the Regular Army. Its effective range was much less, and it would be outranged and outclassed by the guns with which it would have to fight. He must here relate his own personal experience of the lamentable moral effect that the equipping, of untrained troops with inferior weapons was bound to produce in war. During the campaign in Cuba he witnessed Volunteer regiments absolutely demoralised, because they had been sent to the front with inferior weapons to the Regular troop'. Yet 1hey also had been told that the weapon which they had was most efficient and better suited, perhaps, to their requirements than any other, and that although the range was a little less, yet the bullet was more powerful. But, as soon as they came under fire, the effect of this was that there inexperienced troops were beaten before the fight really commenced. He thought that was the universal experience of war. But to return for a moment to the book which the right hon. Gentleman had recommended, and to its most interesting conclusions on the question of Home defence, Colonel Callwell said that what we wanted, in view of the character of this country, were mountain guns and howitzers. This field gun did not approximate either of those. Was the right hon. Gentleman going to accept the advice of this distinguished officer? Was he going to provide mountain guns and howitzers for the Territorial Amy?
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would give them some more definite information as to the weapons with which the Force was to be armed. On this point, he ventured to urge upon the right hon. Gentleman, both 1564 from the point of morale, and of fighting efficiency, that if they were going to have this Territorial Artillery at all, it should be armed with a gun at least equal to the gun of the Regular troops, alongside which they would have to fight. After all, those extra guns would be invaluable as a Reserve; they would facilitate cooperation in war between the Regular Army and the Territorial Force, because they would avoid the confusion of two kinds of ammunition, and altogether he thought it was a point to which the right hon. Gentleman must address his attention. The Territorial Army was bound to fail in war unless it was adequately trained and efficiently armed. In addition, he thought it was bound to fail in peace unless it was adequately, and even generously financed, and that entirely by the State. He did not believe it was possible to count upon any extensive private financial aid being forthcoming for the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. He was already asking a great deal. The service in the Territorial Force, and perhaps even more, the service on the County Associations was very onerous. It was being given at present without stint and particularly by that class, the landowners of the country, who were the object of special attack by some of the right hon. Gentleman's friends behind him. But there was a growing determination, so far as he could judge, in the County Associations, to resist any kind of private subscriptions for the Territorial Force. As far as he could see the citizen was perfectly willing to give his service, but the State must foot the Bill, and foot it amply. He believed the right hon. Gentleman's scheme would collapse from sheer want of men unless there was some-more generous financing in the direction, first, of providing separation allowance to all married men in the ranks, and not merely to non-commissioned officers; and, secondly, that the one shilling a head which was to be placed to the credit of the commanding officers must be expendable at their discretion, after consultation with their men. At present there was undoubtedly wide-spread alarm in the force, owing to the uncertainty as to what it was the War Office was going to ask of the Territorial soldier. He was talking the other day with a Volunteer 1565 officer, who told Mm that 100 men out of the 113 in his company, as soon as they saw the attestation form, announced that they would not join the Territorial Force. It was only by giving them a supper, with liberal refreshments, that he persuaded them to defer their decision, and they promised to wait until the new attestation form was issued. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would bring it out at the earliest possible moment and that it would be of a reasonable character. If it was not, the Territorial Army, which was the right hon. Gentleman's baby, would, he was afraid, not survive its bringing into the world. With regard to the very important question of the shortage of officers, the deficiency which the right hon. Gentleman disclosed was very alarming, 5,000 at home, and 3,000 in India. This was a pressing problem, and the right hon. Gentleman's proposals to replace that deficiency were very optimistic, and, he feared, ineffective, to produce a class of officer sufficiently trained. The qualifications which the right hon. Gentleman proposed were so sketchy that they would really give these officers very little military value, if any at all. Take his scheme of à la suite officers. The right hon. Gentleman, who was a great linguist, was adopting a French expression to describe a German idea, and when he translated it into English it lost the whole of its substance. What was this à la suite system which he suggested as a parallel to that obtaining in Germany? There they allowed a young man who had satisfied the most severe educational, physical and social tests, to serve for one year, as a private, In the Regular Army as an "ein-jahrige" Volunteer. In that year he was spared nothing of the tremendous training which the Prussian private soldier has to undergo. After he had again passed the educational, physical, and social tests, he was given a commission as second lieutenant in the Landwehr. Every year after that he was called out for service with the same fully - mobilised regiment in which he would have to serve in the event of war. Yet, after all this, it was a matter of complaint in Germany that these officers were not sufficiently trained. The right hon. Gentleman's proposed scheme 1566 of à la suite officers was a mere caricature of what he had described. It would give no serious training at all. The right hon. Gentleman was going to take young gentlemen from public schools and the universities, who, comparatively speaking, had been playing at soldiers in the Volunteer corps of those institutions, and then, as the result of that very limited experience, he was going to let them off eight months out of the twelve, and was going to attach them for four months to a battalion at Aldershot. This, no doubt, would be a very interesting and enjoyable experience for them. They would do a certain amount of work, tempered with weekend visits to town, and he hoped he would not be thought wanting in respect if he suggested that they might be called "The Wild Oats Contingent." At any rate, they would have little, if any, serious value as officers, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would stiffen up the conditions for these Reserve officers, if he wished them to be in any way effective. In conclusion he would only say that whilst the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman no doubt were admirable, yet so far he had only reduced the substance of our defensive forces and offered us a shadow in exchange. The Government was mainly intent upon a reduction of Army expenditure, but the reduction they had effected in money was extremely slight, while the reduction in men was extremely serious. While the right hon. Gentleman had initiated a vast scheme dealing with both the Regular and Auxiliary Forces, they had yet to reap the projected benefits of it. While he did not wish to taunt the Secretary for War with swapping horses when crossing the stream, he did feel that the right hon. Gentleman was open to the charge of having hamstrung both his noble steeds as a preliminary to essaying the passage.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said the non-professional cavalry and. artillery were a point of the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman which they had seized on last year as being the touchstone to the value of the new proposals. The non-professional cavalry had already disappeared and with the exception of 1567 the Irish Yeomanry the scheme of attaching any non-regular cavalry to the expeditionary force for any purpose whatever had been abandoned. As regards field artillery, those of them who had for a great number of years advocated the trial of the experiment of a partly non-professional artillery, that was to say, of the Lancashire system, had always shrunk from the attempt to create a Volunteer Artillery, purely Volunteer, or even a Militia Field Artillery, purely Militia. They had suggested a mixed basis or a Militia basis with a longer training than the ordinary Militia training. These experiments, of which the late Secretary for War preferred the Volunteer to the Militia and of which some of them rather preferred the Militia or Lancashire experiment, were stopped by the present Secretary of State, and he proposed to substitute a Field Artillery on the territorial system which had been described with a certain necessary amount of vagueness up to now. The very deep doubts that many of them entertained with regard to what was being done on this subject forced them to give special attention to the matter. With regard to other matters, they were very much in the position in which they had been for some time past, but this was one which was extremely pressing at this moment because the rural Volunteer was being swept away. The whole infantry of his own Parliamentary division, for instance, which brought a great many recruits to the Regular Army, had been abolished, and the only thing that remained in the whole division, with the exception of a few troopers of the Gloucestershire Hussars, was Garrison Artillery, which he presumed would either be abolished or turned into Field Artillery. An hon. Member had told him the other night, that he was called upon by his County Association to put down two battalions of Infantry Volunteers and to create Field Artillery. That gentleman's brother, who was in the Regular Artillery, had informed him that the latter task was impossible of performance. It was a very pressing matter all over the country just now. It was a pity that in the answer to which reference had just now been made the technical word, "quick-firing" 1568 should be used of the converted gun. In the technical sense it was not a quick-firing gun. It did not answer to the definition of a quick-firing gun, so that it was rather a mistaken name. In regard to weight, of course, our gun, even of the Regulars, was the heaviest of all guns. We had adapted a heavier field gun than, any other Power, and all the other Powers, concurred in thinking our Regular gun far too heavy. Now he came to the matter he wished to deal with in connection with this subject. The discipline of our Horse and Field Artillery had. triumphed over the difficulties of the South African War. There was no portion of the British Army which had shown such a consistent discipline and. courage in South Africa as did the Regular Artillery, and they came through the War on universal admission triumphantly. The reduction of that force was a reduction which prima facie should not take place until they saw their way to the new scheme by which it was to be replaced. It was a great pity that the experiment which was begun some years ago was not continued and that a proper trial was not made of the Lancashire scheme. Here again, as in many matters, there was no party capital to be made out of it. A large sum was taken year by year in the Estimates for increasing the three batteries to nine, but it was never done. Again with the mountain gun, the Monmouthshire mountain battery was abolished by the late Government, and many of them raised a violent protest against the change at the time it was made. But there had been a tendency to represent the retention of the number of men of the Field Artillery by his right hon. friend as waiting until he had something to put in its place. They could trace the extent to which the artillery had been retained rather accurately by the number of artillery horses, and in all previous changes they had been accustomed to take the number of horses as the test of the condition in which they were kept up. In recent years the Artillery horses in India had been constantly increased. A very large increase had taken place in the last two years for which they had figures. In this country they had been, constantly decreased. His right hon. friend had ninety-nine batteries of Field Artillery at home. He was going to keep 1569 eighty-one of them as four-gun batteries, horsed, and eighteen as two-gun, horsed. He kept all, therefore, on what they used to call the lower establishment, and eighteen on an establishment lower still. As for the Artillery to be substituted, for this they had the right hon. Gentleman's own words as a test. He had said several times that no Artillery was of any use except the very best, and these words had been repeated by several officers of distinction who took part in two debates at the United Service Institution, one on the Canadian system and one on the Swiss system of Field Artillery; There it was pointed out that a very much larger amount of training both in Canada and in Switzerland was given to Field Artillery than to the ordinary Militia, and the increasing need for it was obvious when they remembered the difficulties of that indirect fire which was now almost the only artillery fir in certain countries, and when they remembered the claim which the French had rightly made to have a four or five years start over Germany by the mere fact of their knowledge of the quick-firing gun. That claim was acknowledged by the Germans, and there were German military writers of much distinction who had called attention to the permanent inferiority in which they stood. The importance of artillery was shown by the fact that the French, who had a diminishing proportion of the population and of the money that Germany had, were nevertheless going to increase their artillery by no less than a third, bringing their artillery in proportion to their Army to a far higher strength than had ever been attained before by any Army in the world. He had asked the other day whether even the short training of the Field Artillery now to be created was a real training. Were even the number of drills set down real drills? He had quoted recently the addresses given by two commanding officers and one adjutant, as to the number of these drills. The whole attempt of these officers was to persuade the men that there was nothing in it and that, having been nominal garrison gunners or infantry private Volunteers, they could easily assume the new responsibilities. They were told, for instance, that they 1570 would not be fined if, by force of circumstances, they were debarred from attending drills. Any genuine excuse would be accepted. No commanding officer would exercise pressure on the men. They would be in the same position as before. For recruits, the number of drills was to be forty-five, of which thirty must be put in before camp, but sometimes they would get three drills in one day. One of the officers asked what provision would be made for the drivers getting in their drills. Of course that was a most essential point. The driving accounted for the larger portion of the skilled or trained men in the artillery. There were some, of course, who were more highly trained still, but they were fewer in number. The Colonel's reply was that forty-five drills were required in the first year, but that three might be put in in one day. The adjutant said drivers would get a drill if they put in an appearance, and that presence at lectures would count also. Camp was only for eight days, but if a man particularly wished it it might be extended to fifteen days, and there would be ample time for the men to get in the required drills. These reassuring promises to the Volunteers where they were changing to Field Artillery when they had had no experience whatever of artillery, except a certain amount of garr son artillery work, led him to think that they would not be able to attain a high standard, even a Militia standard, for this Field Artillery. He did not believe in invasion or the probability of war, but they were going to spend a great deal of money on the creation of this Force and from any point of view it was necessary that the experiment should be tried under circumstances likely to give satisfactory results. Supposing the artillery were to be employed, as was intended, against raids and in the defence of fortified river mouths, it was always assumed that there would be Territorial Field Artillery available, as well as the-Garrison Artillery in the batteries on the spot. For such a service as that even they would require an amount of training, to get any results worthy of their expenditure, such as this system was not likely to provide. In the attempt to create a Divisional system with its proportion of Field Artillery they were getting rid 1571 of Infantry Volunteers, who wished to remain in districts where a great deal of valuable service was given and where a spirit was kept up which was the very essence of the Volunteer movement, and which they would lose. It was, of course, much easier to get the men together in towns, but what would be the effect of these proposals upon that spirit, which they wished to retain, and upon the recruiting for the Regulars and the Yeomanry? He was afraid it would mean the total extinction in all the rural counties of the existing Infantry Volunteers. What had happened in his own division he imagined was happening all over the country in the rural parts. In his division of Gloucestershire they had three companies of infantry, but one had already come under the Welsh scheme. It was too far for the Gloucestershire men to go, and the result was that they had been disbanded. Only that day he had received the information that the Gloucestershire County Committee had disbanded the other two companies, so that they were now left with no Territorial Infantry at all in his division. In the rural parts good results could not be obtained so cheaply as in the more closely concentrated districts. For this reason, he expected that his Artillery would also be disbanded. They would not be able to get the same men to come into their Field Artillery, and it was idle to rely upon the chance of getting the same men to come into the new Territorial Artillery. The present diminution in the strength of the artillery, in spite of the retention of 2,000 men, was, he thought, clear from the figures as to artillery horses. The total of Horse and Field Artillery horses at home had fallen off very fast indeed. Last year they had fallen to 9,880, and they had fallen this year by between 800 and 900, and, in addition, they must deduct, he thought, 1,500 as being admittedly unfit. That fall had taken place before anything had been created to put in its place. Infantry were being got rid of, and the proposed experiment, which had already broken down in the matter of attaching Yeomanry as divisional cavalry to the Regular Army in the field, was destined to failure as regards artillery if pursued on the same plan.
§ MR. BELLOC (Salford, S.)
said the remarks he was about to make were intended for the purpose of affording some suggestions upon vital points touched upon by the right hon. Gentleman opposite and by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. In the first place, by the turn the debate was taking it was clear that the House appreciated, as he thought all weighty opinion in Europe appreciated, that artillery was the point. Gunners were often amused by the other arms of the service, and nowhere more than in Germany, of exaggerating the importance of their arm. He could not see how any man of historical reading, still less any man with a knowledge of contemporary Europe, could doubt that artillery was invariably the point. In the future, other things being equal, in a contest between two rival forces the artillery would more than ever be the deciding thing. In the case of the particular Auxiliary Force which they were proposing to establish the question before them was whether the artillery was sufficient for its purpose or not. Nobody would deny that if this country had a bottomless purse and unlimited resources, with a different history and past, they would prefer a Regular Force and that force only. They had, however, to recognise the fact that it was proposed to form an Auxiliary Force and that the artillery for that force should also be auxiliary. He knew that there was a great deal to be said against that proposition. For example, a somewhat parallel case— though not strictly parallel—was Austria-Hungary, where there was a system of Militia Reserve, but the artillery was kept professional. In Switzerland, the artillery received a more extensive and regular training than the infantry. There were circumstances in this country, and chiefly social circumstances, which would probably make for the strengthening of an Auxiliary Force if the artillery of that force remained auxiliary. So long as they depended upon an Auxiliary Force, with the present temper of the English people and the comparatively small choice offered, all these things probably made it wise that our Auxiliary Force should be homogeneous, and that the artillery should be auxiliary like 1573 the rest. What they had to consider next was whether for the moment the artillery proposed passed a certain minimum of efficiency, and when they were dealing with what he would not call a makeshift, but a second best, that was the point they had to decide. He agreed that it was not all they wanted, but they had to consider whether what was proposed in regard to the artillery passed that minimum of efficiency as far as personnel and materiel were concerned. As to the personnel, he had said before in that House, and he thought it was the very generally received opinion, that more training for the artillery would be a good thing, and especially for the drivers. He was not going to return to that subject at any length, but they could not make a driver in forty-five drills, and they could not make a driver at all with lectures. The training, in his opinion, was insufficient, and there was a very strong case indeed for increasing the efficiency of the personnel. How that would fall upon the financial side of the scheme he could not say, but if one had a perfectly free hand in the matter, the first thing one would think about would be an increase in the efficiency of the personnel, which he thought ought to be kept auxiliary. As to the materiel, there were, he thought, strong points of criticism against the converted 15-pounder. The weight behind the team was, with its ammunition, over 40 cwt. That was too heavy, and so was the 18-pounder. He believed that the 18-pounder was designed in a hurry after the lesson of the South African war, and before that lesson had been sufficiently digested. But since that time they had had the lesson of the Manchurian campaign, in which the Japanese Artillery, of which the initial velocity was wholly inferior to the Russian, had the great advantage of lightness, and that probably made the chief difference between the two artilleries. But if they complained of the weight of the converted 15-pounder, they must complain, also, of the weight of the 18-pounder. There was no great advantage in the substitution of the one for the other in the matter of weight behind the team. The converted 15-pounder did not use fixed ammunition, and that was a disadvantage which 1574 it was difficult to exaggerate. The whole feeling of a man who used fixed ammunition was different from that of the man who used ammunition in which the ignition charge and projectile were in three separate pieces. If they took men out of the Auxiliary Force—which was not at all an improbable circumstance—and tried to turn them into trained artillery, the fact that they were not in the habit of using fixed ammunition would be a very serious drawback. Granting the disadvantages of which he had spoken, and which might be taken as temporary, no one doubted that they would eventually have to convert their limbers and waggons for the use of fixed ammunition, and the whole thing turned upon whether they got sufficient rapidity of fire, and, in his opinion, rapidity of fire would be everything in modern warfare. The whole thing turned on the question whether they could get rapidity of firing sufficiently. The House knew that there was considerable controversy on the Continent for many years as to the advantage of this rapid firing. There was a considerable school in Germany who denied that it was an advantage, but they had been converted. We also had been converted, though very tardily. This was not a matter suitable to debate, but by way of affirmation of that view, if his personal opinion was worth anything, he would state that rapidity of fire would be everything in the moment of war. The results of the 15-pounder gun compared with the regular gun as 12 to 18. The House would agree with him that rapidity of fire depended more on the personnel of the Army than anything else. They might have a gun that would nominally get rid of thirty projectiles a minute, but the coolness of the man who was laying it counted for more in the rapidity of firing than anything else. The fact that one gun had a somewhat slower rate of fire than another was not the important point. What we wanted was the proper personnel to work the guns. As to the question of range, he thought it was the experience of all those who had seen an actual campaign that when they got beyond 4,000 yards it did not very much matter with Field Artillery what the range was. The 1575 fact that the 15-pounder had more initial velocity than the 18-pounder was for our climate and under any circumstances in which it was likely to be used comparatively unimportant. What happened in the Manchurian campaign was a stronger point in regard to the question of range than any theorising on the matter. The fact that the converted 15-pounder had a shorter range than the 18-pounder did not seem to matter, and the fact that the projectile was of less weight seemed to him to be actually an advantage. He did not think the weapon, which was merely a transition weapon, was a matter of very great importance, but the training of the personnel did seem to him to he a matter of grave and immediate importance.
§ THE SECRETARY OP STATE FOR WAR (Mr. HALDANE,) Haddington
I do not rise for the purpose of replying generally to the broad points which have been raised in the debate. I desire to answer the questions which have been raised in regard to the artillery. I think it will be for the convenience of the Committee that I should deal with these points now. The first is a broad one, and it has been admirably dealt with by my hon. friend the Member for South Salford. We had to face the broad i question whether it was desirable to give the Territorial Force artillery at all. My right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean rather considers that it would not be desirable.
§ MR. HALDANE
I am not sure how far the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite goes—whether he would take the Austrian Militia system of giving Regular artillery to the Volunteer Field Force. On that I have to say that the Government took a very strong view, and I myself took a very strong view. I do not believe that you can put heart into a Territorial Force raised on a volunteer basis unless you show that you are relying upon them for all arms. And how are you going to get the finest quality of men unless you give them a chance? The Field Artillery is recruited 1576 from big towns in the main like Glasgow and Sheffield, where you have artisans who are very highly technically trained men familiar with the working of the complicated mechanism that modern guns possess, and who are far in advance by their previous civilian training of the average man whom you take into the ranks and train. Sheffield and Glasgow have been particularly to the fore in the past, and they are showing a disposition to lead in the future. I admit that I have no hope of getting artillery as good as you could get if you gave men a very long training and took them together, but I do think it is worth while in making a beginning to try and get the best civilian talent in the country. I do not believe you will get a Territorial Army unless you make it an Army complete in all arms. The very essence of the plan is to bring in all arms and have as complete an organisation as you can, and as like to the organisation of the Regular Army. It is perfectly true that it is difficult to get people to give a great deal of time to this matter, and that the training for Field Artillery makes a great strain upon the time of the average volunteer. But if the hon. and gallant Member opposite had seen, as I have seen, the keenness with which the artisans in the towns have come out and manned their batteries, worked at them, taken a pride in them, studied their mechanism, and gone out into the field with Regular artillery with a full desire to show that they can do as well as the Regular troops, he would realise that there is a stimulus behind these men which makes up for a good deal of the lack of opportunity. We have considered it worth while to make the experiment, and our only desire is to ask for as much training as we can get consistently with the civilian occupations of these men. I have spoken so far of the personnel.
I come now to the materiel, and I think there has been a good deal of exaggeration as to the shortcomings of the gun. I admit at once that it is not as fine a weapon as our own new field gun, which is second to none in the world. I am glad to say we are ahead in our field gun— I will not say of France—but of most of the other Powers. But when you compare the converted 15-pounder with, the German gun it is very instructive.
§ MR. HALDANE
It is the gun that the German Army have. The German gun has an effective range of 5,500 yards, our converted 15-pounder of 5,900 yards, so that we are ahead in that. 'The muzzle velocity of the German gun is 1,525, and of our gun 1,581. In regard to the number of bullets in the shrapnel, ours is 230, and the Germans 300, and as regards the weight of projectiles, ours is 14 against the Germans 15. That is a very good comparison, for you cannot say that a gun which has a greater muzzle velocity and a greater effective range is deficient when compared with another. But even admitting—which I think is questionable—that the German gun is a better gun, it is not very largely a better gun, and it cannot be said that you are arming the Volunteer Force with an imperfect gun. I would like to arm the Volunteer Force with the 18-pounder, but I suppose the House realises that that is a process which would run away with a great deal of money.
§ MR. HALDANE
I would like not to mind it, but there are other people who would mind me, and very properly, if I were guilty of any such extravagance. "We are beginning by giving the citizen Army a weapon which is good and efficient, but you are not bound to give it the best weapon all at once. Now I come to the other point about this gun. It has a more rapid rate of fire. Of course, it has not fixed ammunition, and the other gun has fixed ammunition, and the result is that, working at high pressure, you can probably get twenty rounds out of the 18-pounder for twelve that you can get out of the new gun. But to get that rate at all it is a fancy performance. It can be done, but you cannot do it in the aimed firing. But when you come to taking aim as an ordinary thing the approximation is probably closer, for the time that it takes to adjust the shrapnel limits the use of the gun. Therefore, no doubt you do get materially quicker fire when you have fixed ammuni- 1578 tion. Fixed ammunition is an extremely stimulating thing, but the disadvantage is not so overwhelming as to put the gun with compound ammunition out of the category of a good and effective gun in the field. Fixed ammunition is heavier to carry. In the case of the converted 15-pounder there are forty-six rounds in 42 cwts., and in the case of the 18-pounder there are twenty-four rounds in 42 cwts. I do not deny that the fixed ammunition, when it is got up to the gun, is much more satisfactory for the purpose of quick firing in large quantities.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain in what way the converted 15-pounder is more mobile than the 18-pounder?
§ MR. HALDANE
Simply because more ammunition can be carried with fewer wagons. What is the use of mobile guns if you have not mobile ammunition? The two go together. I agree that the question of mountain artillery has been neglected in this country. In order to meet that difficulty the Government are arming the Highland Division Artillery with mountain guns. With regard to the Regular Artillery, on which I have been challenged, when the Government came into office we found a state of things which I am sure could not have been anticipated, but which shows the difficulty of military organisation. There are nominally on paper, ninety-nine batteries of field artillery at home, but you could not put more than forty-two batteries in the field, because no provision had been made for the increased number of men of the ammunition columns. No Power, so far as I know, possesses in its divisional ammunition columns a large proportion of highly-trained soldiers. They put in any sort of people who have sufficient training to go into the ammunition columns. The Government propose to do better than that. The first question we asked ourselves was, what number of guns is wanted for a field force composed of all or nearly all the troops which we have at home for the purpose of the Cardwell system, and organised in six divisions? Six divisions so 1579 organised are a much larger expeditionary force than we have hitherto been in a position to send abroad. What the Government aimed at doing was to arm that force with just so much artillery as would enable us to mobilise that force effectively, and not merely on paper. From the ninety-nine existing batteries of field artillery we took sixty-six batteries, including howitzers. We propose to form the remaining thirty-three batteries into training brigades at a low establishment, and to train people on a Militia basis so as to provide the 15,000 men who are wanted for the ammunition columns and the wastage of war.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
Are the thirty-three batteries mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman to be taken for the Artillery Special Reserve, and not for the Territorial Force?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
There will be sixty-six battalions left. If fifty-four batteries are taken for the expeditionary force, what will be done with the balance?
§ MR. HALDANE
The sixty-six batteries include howitzers, just as the ninety-nine batteries include howitzers. I believe there will be fifty-four batteries of field artillery and twelve of howitzers. The training brigades, if they are successful, will provide 15,000 men. They are at work, and into them will be converted the Garrison Militia Artillery which have ceased to be of use and which have a personnel of over 12,000men. The purpose is to provide, not for the Territorial Force, but for the Regular Artillery. The Government have gone on the principle of keeping the artillery of the Territorial Force and of the Regular Force absolutely distinct. To use one for the other would be to go back to the old state of confusion. We cannot get military efficiency unless we have clear principles, and clear principles demand that we should not use what belongs to one force for another force. That being so, we are producing sixty-six batteries of field artillery, including howitzers, to be the artillery complement of the six divisions of the expeditionary force. 1580 The point made against me is, "What is left?" Why should there be anything left? Nobody contemplates that the whole of the six divisions shall be sent abroad unless we feel that we can rely upon the Navy and the Territorial Force to protect us against invasion. If there is reason to apprehend invasion we can keep two divisions at home. That will give us a much larger and more effective force than we have ever had before, because it is a force as large as two Army corps, and complete in all arms. This force will be provided with artillery and ammunition columns, and with six months wastage of war, which we have never had before. I am speaking, not of that which has been accomplished, but of what the Government hope will be produced by the machinery that is at work. I do not pretend that these things have been worked out. We are discussing a plan; and the most perfect plan is a plan that will give us, not only ammunition columns, but also wastage of war. That is what we will get by turning thirty-three batteries into training brigades. Therefore this is an infinitely better arrangement than the old one. If anybody asks where should we be if we were invaded and wanted Regular Artillery and our six divisions were away, my answer would be, where should we have been if we had sent our forty-two batteries of artillery abroad and the remainder of the guns of the ninety-nine batteries? Under the new system we shall be better off by twenty-four batteries than under the old system. We shall have a much larger expeditionary force, and if we apprehend danger we shall not send the whole of it abroad. We shall be able to do as much as before and still preserve our safety. The Government wish to work the artillery of the Territorial Force and of the Regular Force independently of each, other, except in certain points where we have specially connected them. To mix up the artillery of the two forces would be a cardinal sin against that principle.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
said he was highly pleased to-hear the statement which the right hon. the Secretary of State for War had made with regard to the artillery of the Territorial. 1581 Force. They were cordially indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for maintaining with difficulty the view he had adopted in the face of expert opinion. The Volunteers had done what they could with regard to the artillery and were willing to try and do more. He referred particularly to the efforts which had been made by the people of Sheffield and Glasgow. But he would not be doing right if he did not tell the right hon. Gentleman that there was a little feeling in Sheffield about the battery of horse artillery being taken away and put into a rural district in the West Riding. The experts, of whom the Secretary for War spoke, said that the artificers who resided in Sheffield would not be able to take part in the battery drills. That was a question which the Secretary for War should look into again. He thought that the Secretary for War owed some apology to the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean and the hon. Member for the City of Edinburgh with regard to the whole cost of the Territorial Force. These Members told the right hon. Gentleman last year that the cost of the Territorial Force would be largely in excess of that of the Yeomanry and Volunteers; and the hon. Member for Shropshire told him that his calculations were erroneous. To-day the Secretary for War had admitted in full that the new Territorial Force was going to cost a great deal more per man than the old Yeomanry and Volunteers. That was a very different statement indeed from the assurances given last year on the strength of which the House passed the Territorial Army Act. No one could accuse the Secretary of State for War of intentionally misleading the House, but still the fact remained that he came down now and said that all his prophecies of economy had been falsified and the force, it appeared, was going to cost a very great deal more per man than the old Yeomanry and Volunteers. It was to be hoped that the country would get an improved value for this extra cost, and that they would get as many men as they did in the old Volunteers and the Yeomanry, but at the present time it did not appear that they would. He hoped that the extraordinary old attestation forms which went 1582 out would be cancelled, but he did not know whether they had been altered or not. He had not himself seen or heard any authoritative declaration on the subject.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
was glad to hear that the document had been, withdrawn. It was high time it was, as it was such a foolish one. How it could possibly have been issued he could not conceive, but it was a great waste of money to have 500,000 of them printed and sent round and then withdrawn. In connection with the Territorial Force he hoped that in the future before any document of such a character was issued, the greatest care would be taken not to put into it ridiculous things about imprisonment and hard labour, religion and baptism, and all sorts of things. He had not seen the new form, but an hon. friend near him said that hard labour was in it still; it was a great pity if that was the case. He wished to know whether the organisation of the Territorial Force in London would be continued under the old system of brigades, under colonels of the several regiments of Guards. Of course, nobody had the slightest fault to find with regard to those gallant officers who had always taken the greatest interest in the Volunteers, and had done all they could to advance their efficiency. The object of the new organisation was that the brigadiers should be with their brigades if they were mobilised. Would not the colonels of Guards in the event of mobilisation be required by their own regiments?
§ MR. HALDANE
No; their duties in their regiments can be performed by substitutes. These officers will go to their brigades of the Territorial Force and command them.
§ MR. HALDANE
No; because in peace-time these officers still have to 1583 Perform their duties in connection with their regiments.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
said he understood that the brigadiers in the country received an allowance of £150 while these colonels of Guards got £800 a year.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
inquired if that was to continue, and if a war occurred they were to give up their colonelcies of the Guards and go as brigadiers of the Territorial Force.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
said it seemed to be rather an extravagant way of managing that a brigadier should receive £150 a year in the Provinces, and £800 a year as a colonel of the Guards in London. If the right hon. Gentleman did not look closely into the expenses of every detail he would find the cost of the Territorial Army would very much exceed the cost of the old Volunteers and Yeomanry. The right hon. Gentleman had a paper scheme of cavalry, infantry, and artillery in exact numbers, no redundancy here or there, but whether he would find that the officers and men would come forward so readily under such a system was he thought very doubtful indeed. But whatever he did the right hon. Gentleman would have to watch very carefully the registration of the force and the expenses, and not make a difference between the expense of carrying it on in the counties and the Metropolis, and members of the Territorial Force should have equal opportunities of advancement in all parts of the country.
§ MR. BENNETT (Oxfordshire, Woodstock)
said he would like, with the permission of the House, to refer for a few minutes to a question already discussed at some length on these Estimates, he meant the question of the shortage of officers. He had known from personal experience how difficult it was to have to command a company of Volunteers for years without the help of any subaltern 1584 officer; but apart from this note of personal grievance, he felt sure that every Member of this House would agree with him that the question was one of really vital importance to the efficiency and success of our Army. He had no doubt that the figures given by the Secretary of State for War were accurate, but he did not quite understand how the right hon. Gentleman arrived at them. He took for granted that the shortage of 5,000 officers for the Home Forces did not apply in any great degree to the infantry battalions of the Line, for most infantry regiments appeared to be fairly complete in that respect, and in the case of regiments which had lost battalions through disbandment, there were a number of supernumerary officers waiting outside, so to speak, and ready to join as any opportunity for re-absorption presented itself. The startling deficiency of officers in the Brigade of Guards appeared to have been made good. The shortage in question therefore seemed to exist mainly in cavalry regiments the Special Reserve, and Territorial battalions. The lack of an adequate supply of officers for cavalry regiments seemed, as usual, to be due almost entirely to the expense of living in such regiments. And, as long as present social conditions continued, he did not see how life in a cavalry regiment could possibly be made comfortable for a poor man, even if official and necessary expenses were cut down to the lowest possible figure. So far as any deficiency in the commissioned ranks affected infantry battalions it was due first and chiefly to the absence of a "living wage." He had known scores of men at the University and elsewhere who had been compelled to abandon any thought of military service on those grounds. Young men of promise and ability naturally thought twice before they embarked on a career which provided them with £90 at the start, and £200 when they had risen to captain's rank. That question of the inadequate payments made to an officer would have to be faced by the country sooner or later; in that case, as in all cases, if the country wanted a really good article they ought to pay a reasonable price for it. Any small and paltry increment in the pay would be useless; in fact, glad as he and other Members of this House were to see the private soldier in the receipt of more money, he felt rather sceptical as to the real efficiency 1585 of this increased pay in the matter of securing additional recruits. Most officers who had experience of recruiting would, he thought, admit that not one recruit out of a dozen when he enlisted cared about or knew about the payment which he would receive. This question of pay was not really one of the most operative causes in the supply of recruits for the Regular Army. On the other hand, no heavy increase in an officer's pay seemed, at any rate for the moment, to be expected in view of the swollen Estimates. A second cause which probably tended to act as a deterrent was the discomfort and heavy expense entailed upon married officers from constant removals and changes, and further, the lack of houses for themselves and their families at military centres like Tidworth and the Curragh. Further, it was probably fair to say that the unjust obloquy sometimes directed against our officers in newspapers and public utterances acted as a source of discouragement. Officers were frequently spoken of as if they were hopelessly lazy, self-indulgent, and inefficient. They all remembered the unworthy epigram of the South African war period, "Lions led by asses." And a noble Lord, who was intimately connected with military affairs and ought to have known better, alluded the other day to subalterns who were to be found after one o'clock reading a novel with their feet on the fender. He ventured, however, to think that most military messes would be drawn blank in the afternoon, and even if a tired subaltern were found at such an hour reading a novel it was quite likely that he had already been hard at work from 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. onwards—an hour at which his noble critic had not yet emerged from his bed—or had even spent the preceding night at some damp spot on Salisbury Plain or the environs of Aldershot. He would, however, like to join issue on one point with the exceedingly interesting speech of the hon. Member for South East Durham, who had maintained that the alleged stringency of our Army examinations kept many suitable young men from joining the service. The hon. Member had spoken of examinations as a method of weeding out incapables—or words to that effect—but a qualifying examination like that of the Army Entrance had of course a positive aspect—it guaranteed to the nation and 1586 the taxpayer a certain standard of ability in the young men who were to train our troops and control our forces. The hon' Member had described our young officers as "paragons of virtue and knowledge," but, so far at any rate as knowledge was concerned, such a description was really extravagant. He had acted as an examiner for many years in the entrance examination for Woolwich and Sandhurst, and he could assure the House that the standard of that examination, while quite creditable and adequate, could not be fairly described as unduly high. The young men who succeeded in it appeared to correspond with, say, the rather better class of pass men at Oxford or Cambridge; and as regards the mathematical test to which the hon. Member alluded very few indeed of the Infantry and Cavalry Cadets took the more advanced paper, and the general standard was very far removed from that of the humblest honour man in the class lists of the Universities. As to examinations for promotion, such tests were, of course, always irksome to any man after twenty-five, but nevertheless he thought that few thoughtful soldiers would seriously advocate their abolition; in some cases, indeed, if these further examinations did not exist, an officer would never open another military book after he joined his regiment. The familiar statement had been made in a previous speech that owing to the severe educational tests at present in vogue the great Duke of Wellington were he alive to-day would be unable to enter the service. He probably would not, and if he succeeded he would be of very little use. These analogies from the early part of last century were quite valueless. Doubtless badly educated officers and men fought well in the Peninsula or at Waterloo, but then they fought against armies as badly educated as themselves. The hon. Member for S.E. Durham had told the House that he had come across highly educated men who could not fight. What inference did he wish them to draw—that uneducated soldiers were more efficient than educated ones? He sincerely hoped that that popular athletic fetish — the man with a minimum of brains, a modicum of character, and a great deal of muscle— would not be unduly worshipped at the War Office. To recommend any lowering of the standard of military education seemed to him a veritable counsel of 1587 despair in an age when warfare was daily becoming more scientific, and specialised knowledge was, so to speak, in the spirit of the times. Could anybody imagine such a proposal being made at Berlin or Tokio? The military value of badly educated enthusiasts was not at all borne out by experience. The so-called "lessons of the South African War" had long ceased to interest the British public, but after all the fact remained that the brunt of such carnage as took place in that war at Colenso, Belmont, Graspan, Magersfontein, Spion Kop and Paarde-berg, was borne almost exclusively by British Regular troops, led by trained and educated officers, while irregular officers possessing equal courage, but the merest modicum of training were, as a general rule, from a military standpoint, hopelessly inferior. As regards the supply of officers for the Special Reserve and the Territorial Army, he thought that the grant of £20 in the former case would prove most useful, and would often be a real inducement to a young man of limited means. The right hon. Gentleman's scheme for securing a supply of officers from fourteen Universities was highly ingenious, and he hoped it would work well. But there was one rather disconcerting fact. Something like 50 per cent, of the young men who served in the University corps at Oxford—the same was probably true of Cambridge—were intending to take Holy Orders. The bacillus of warlike enthusiasm seemed to find a peculiarly acceptable resting place in the clerical organism. The University corps usually numbered some half-dozen clergymen among its officers, and he considered that the presence of young clerics in red jackets at a military mess was ridiculous and somewhat depressing. He was afraid that that fact—the large percentage of future parsons in a University corps would seriously upset any calculations as to the supply of officers from such a source. At any rate he sincerely hoped that not a penny of public money would be spent on any young man who, after his period of training, intended to take orders. No less a sum than £8 10s. a year could, under the new regulations, be spent on a man who in a year or two would exchange his red jacket for a black coat and so become quite useless — he meant, of course, from a military point of view. A great deal of nebulous and ill-informed talk was indulged in with 1588 reference to the question of promotion from the ranks. The hon. Member for Stoke felt strongly upon this point, but then he was a confirmed optimist in military matters. He had, e.g., declared that directly an invader set foot on the shores of England a "million bayonets would flash in the sunlight." The hon. Member probably believed that officers could be produced with equal facility, and the only foolish thing that his hon. friend the Member for Leicester ever said in his hearing was his suggestion that military training was of little practical value, and that if a shrewd Scottish labourer were turned out on a dark night and told to find his way to some definite point—perhaps, say, a public-house—that would be far more useful training than anything that could be supplied at Sandhurst. The fact was that there was probably very little demand amongst the rank and file for promotion—at any rate under existing economic conditions. What sergeant-major at, say, thirty-five, would seriously desire to become a subaltern with less than £2 a week, and the certainty that if he were still a captain at forty-five he would be compelled to leave the service? As regards the County Associations he regretted that in some cases they had not co-opted a larger number of the local employers of labour—the most fruitful source for furnishing fresh recruits. Further, there was undoubtedly a lurking suspicion abroad in many places that the War Office officials did not evince a very sympathetic spirit towards the new Territorial Army. He hoped that this suspicion was not well founded. He welcomed the new form of attestation in lieu of the forbidding document previously issued. He believed that a highly placed official at the War Office in reviewing the earlier and more drastic edition of the form in question had said, amongst a number of officers, "Well, if that doesn't choke them off nothing will." Unless the new movement had real and practical sympathy and encouragement from the authorities he was afraid that those in the counties who were doing their best for the Territorial Army would be seriously handicapped.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
I feel some compunction in intervening thus early, all the more after the breezy speech of the hon. Member, which has 1589 exhilarated our proceedings. I do not propose to follow in a similar vein. I owe an apology to the Committee for venturing to address them at all when suffering from a cold, and I hope they will extend their indulgence to me, if I have difficulty in making myself heard. I should like to express my very great regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon, is prevented from taking part in the debate by illness, which keeps him at home. So far, the debate has turned almost exclusively upon artillery and the relation of artillery to the Territorial Force. But this Vote affords the proper occasion for scrutinising the Army policy of the Government as a whole, and to-day it is, I think, invested with unusual interest by the fact that we had last week from the Secretary of State for War a detailed account of the progress which he has made with a plan, the importance of which nobody will deny, and he accompanied that account with a very frank admission that the plan could not be completed for a numbers of years. That suggests that we shall not be wasting our time, if we scrutinise fairly, but very closely, that plan at this comparatively early stage in the evolution of the right hon. Gentleman's projects. If I am to attempt that scrutiny with anything like reasonable brevity, I must waive certain quite legitimate arguments that I may resume upon another occasion. I do not propose to criticise the alleged economies which the right hon. Gentleman sometimes claims and which we find to be of a somewhat illusory character. I do not propose to comment upon the fact which the right hon. Gentleman admits that his strengths are very far below his establishments and may not reach those establishments. I want to look at his plan: and not at his merits as a frugal administrator or the amount of material at his command for completing that plan. I shall, therefore, speak in terms of establishments and not of strengths. But if we are to scrutinise his plan fairly, we must recognise, that in common with any plan which ever has been or will be proposed to the House, it is at once limited in extent and complicated in its design. Any such plan must be limited by the prior obligation of maintaining our sea-supremacy and 1590 must be complicated by the great variety of objects for which the British Army exists. I do not know that it is necessary to refer to these objects again, but if I do so briefly, it may enable the Committee to follow more closely the bearing of what I have to say about the plan. Our Army has in the first place to maintain our garrisons abroad, and therefore we must have a Regular Army at home as well as a Regular Army abroad. In the second place, we have to organise the Regular Army at home in order that it may liberate the Fleet, reinforce the foreign garrisons and deliver a counter attack if the war is ever to be finished, except at the cost of financial exhaustion. In the third place, we have to give to some other forces that amount of training which is necessary to liberate the expedition, to expand and support it, and to maintain confidence at home when both the expedition and the Fleet have gone from our shores. Admitting the difficulties of any Secretary of State for War who has to face that complicated problem, I say, if we are to scrutinise this plan effectively as well as fairly, we must test it by looking most closely at those points of weakness which are, I believe, inherent in any plan which any Secretary of State for War can produce under these conditions. Under any plan your Regular Army, consisting of bodies of troops trained for a considerable period, is going to be smaller than your non-Regular Army, consisting of troops trained, it may be, for a very short period. That being so the points of weakness in this plan and in every plan are to be found in those essentials to an Army ready to take the field which take time to create and which cannot be made efficient unless they are practised with units and with larger bodies of troops, with battalions, and brigades, in time of peace. What are they? First comes that which has figured so prominently in this debate, artillery. Secondly comes the regimental officer. Thirdly, I think I would mention the leader of a combined body of troops, the brigadier or divisional-general. In the fourth place we have to think of creating Reserves of trained Regulars for the wastage of war; and I do not think we can omit from our regard 1591 in the fifth place the provision of supplies and munitions of war and stores and, above all, horses. I leave out cavalry, because I am satisfied with the plan in respect of cavalry. When I speak of supplies of munitions of war and stores you have to think of something more than merely supplies. You have to think of the power of expansion in your sources of supply. These are the weak points in our position. You can make any number of guns in an arsenal, but you cannot make batteries in an arsenal. You can make an expert in the study, but you cannot make a regimental officer in the study. You can make an inspector of brigades, the units of which are trained separately for a fortnight, but you cannot make a brigadier. If you have a small long service Army you do not make a Regular Reserve. You make pensioners. In the most crucial part of the right hon. Gentleman's plan he is taking boys of seventeen for part of the year, mainly in the winter, for initial training, and is going to call them up at uncertain intervals for twenty-one days in the succeeeding five years. By doing that you will add to the ranks of the unemployed, and I deny altogether that you will create a trained Reserve of Regular soldiers. So, too, in respect of supplies, you can accumulate reserves of supplies at the risk of their decaying. But you cannot by that means maintain a power of expansion in your own Factories, or the workshops of the country. And, certainly, you cannot improvise horses. It takes six years to breed and train them. In the light of these general considerations let us look at the right hon. Gentleman's plan; and, first, at the completed part of it, which consists entirely of reductions. I need not dwell very long over it, but I must repeat that we dissent in toto from two of his reductions. We dissent altogether from the reduction of nine battalions of infantry in view of what I have said, and from his diverting thirty-three batteries of artillery to the purpose of creating his Special Reserve of Artillery. Take the remainder of his reductions affecting what were the old Auxiliary Forces; the abolition of twenty-one battalions of Militia, and the absorption of all the other battalions of Militia into what I hope I shall be able to show are mere 1592 depots, and not very good depots; and take again his reduction of a great number of Volunteer battalions, even obliterating a battalion of regular infantry and asking them to become Artillery or Yeomanry soldiers instead. By reducing the number of these battalions and making their shape more uniform I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is proceeding upon the best lines when he has to deal with a voluntary system. In a voluntary system it is unwise to reduce the number of your cadres. I wish we had an English word for that. "Mould" would do. We mean a receptacle of a suitable shape which is not necessarily filled with the material you desire. In a voluntary system it is a mistake to reduce the number of your moulds and to insist on uniformity of pattern. For, if they are fewer it is more important that they should be filled; and if they are all the same shape, less likely. I pass that general criticism upon the completed part of the right hon. Gentleman's plan. I say of these reductions, emphatically of the reduction of infantry battalions and the diversion of thirty-three batteries of artillery and, though with less emphasis, of the reduction of the Militia and their absorption into depots, and the reduction of the Volunteers and the impressing on them of a rigid type of uniformity; all that part of his plan, I say, must be placed on the debit side of the account. To see what, the credit side is and whether it will balance the debit side, we have to look at the speculative part of his plan. Surely, it will be admitted that the whole value of the speculative part of his plan must turn upon this. Supposing we were at war again; supposing we were engaged in a great war, perhaps greater than the South African War, should we have a better condition of things than we had in March eight years ago? I think that is a fair test. At that time the criticism which was put forward with greater justice than some criticisms which had been put forward, was that after sending a considerable expedition over sea, and after some months had elapsed, we had no adequate machinery in this country for training fresh troops to supply the waste of war. Will it be better when the speculative part of the right hon. Gentleman's plan becomes 1593 effective? I do not want to trouble the House with figures. I am going to talk in establishments as I promised. Taking his plan and his establishments, before the war we shall have at home 130,000 Regulars with the colours, 135,000 in the Reserve, and that is a very favourable view, 80,000 in the new Special Reserve, 315,000 in the Territorial Forces, or a total of 660,000 men. Looking at their organisation from the point of view of infantry alone, there would be eight battalions of Guards, seventy-four battalions of the Line and 101 of the so called Reserve battalions which figure on page 167 of the Estimates under the Special Reserve. Then the Expeditionary Force of 160,000 goes abroad: the 68,000 men form the colours, the 70,000 from the Regular Army Reserve, and the 24,000 from the Auxiliaries. What number would then be left for training in order to make good the wastage of war, to expand and support the expedition, and to make the Territorial Force a real security for public confidence when the Regular troops have been dispatched? There would be 62,000 men left with the colours and 65,000 with the Reserves, but those left with the colours would be the boys not fit to go on active service, and those left with the Reserves would be those less fit to go abroad. They would number 127,000, and where are they to go? They would of course occupy all the space in the barracks filled by the 130,000 men with the colours before the war. Under these circumstances the right hon. Gentleman would not have much barrack accommodation for proceeding to train the other parts of the Army. Perhaps the answer I shall receive will be that we must look to the Special Reserve. I may point out that for these 127,000 there will be very few definite units in existence. The right hon. Gentleman says he is going to send fifty-four batteries of Field Artillery abroad with this expedition, but then he will have no Field Artillery left in this country, consisting of Regulars, who have been fully trained. Therefore, the men with the colours, the artillery, and the men coming back from the Reserve will not find a single battery with which they can be trained. There will be only two battalions of Guards and eight battalions 1594 of the line left. I may tell the right hon. Gentleman that the task of organising; 127,000 men into any force which can support or expand the expedition will be a formidable one. He will probably say that he has the Special Reserve, and that is the crux of the whole plan. If the Secretary for War can satisfy the Committee and the country that his Special Reserve is what he hopes it will be, he will lift a load of anxiety from the minds of many, who are really anxious that his plan should not fail. As it stand I cannot believe that this Special Reserve will lift any anxiety from the minds of any men who really scrutinise it. It is to be in two parts, artillery and infantry, and (in so far as the artillery part of the Special Reserve is concerned) we dissent, from the right hon. Gentleman's policy. We doubt its wisdom, and we think he will have to retrace his steps at a great cost to this country and a loos of time even more serious in the work of reparation for war. With regard to the infantry, the plan stands in great need, of amendment, but in respect of both I should like to say that until this Government resumes the barrack policy of their predecessors it will be impossible to train troops after the outbreak of war. It is clear that under these circumstances the existing barracks will be filled up by the 127,000 Regulars. What, then, is the right hon. Gentleman going to do with the 62,000 infantry and the 15,000' artillerymen of the Special Reserve? He cannot push them all into seventy-four depots, for he has admitted that you can only train 200 at a time in the depots. Under these circumstances how are these men going to be trained and taught? I wish to point out that in regard both to the artillery and the infantry the plan. is purely speculative unless you proceed to provide the necessary barrack accommodation. The right hon. Gentleman has this afternoon asserted that by retaining only fifty-four batteries of field artillery and howitzers up to sixty-six, and using-thirty-three batteries as a training school for this section of the Special Reserve, he has made our position far better than, it has ever been before. I very much doubt whether our position under this plan will be any better than it was eight years ago. The right hon. Gentleman has reverted absolutely to the very figure 1595 at which the plan for organising the field artillery of our Home Army stood in the year before the South African War. The year before that war I introduced the Army Estimates, and I asked for fifty-four batteries of Field Artillery in the Regular Forces at home, and that proposition was almost ridiculed by the right hon. Gentlemen the Member for the Forest of Dean. At this date eight years ago we had actually sent thirty-six batteries of field artillery and six batteries of howitzers out of this country, apart from India and the Mediterranean. Now the right hon. Gentleman is going to revert to the same number of Field Artillery batteries in the Home Army that we asked for in 1899, although the lesson of the South African War was that we needed 150 batteries of Regular Field Artillery in all. If there was any lesson which was burned into the minds of all those who went through that war, it was that you had largely to increase your Regular artillery. I regret to note that the right hon. Gentleman is decreasing the artillery even below the danger limit, and by reverting to six years' service with the colours he is depleting the Reserve of the artillery which the Member for Croydon and Lord Midleton did so much to fill up. If you preserve your 150 batteries it will be easy to have some short service men, but the right hon. Gentleman is now going back to the prewar standard so far as Regular trained artillery is concerned, and therefore we must as an Opposition absolutely dissociate ourselves from that part of his policy.
May I now look for a moment or two at the infantry part of the Special Reserve? I ask the Committee to consider it, first; in the light of the provision of officers; and, secondly, in the light of the provision of trained men. The hon. Member who spoke last had a good deal to say on the question of the provision of officers. I am aware that we have to face a shortage of officers on mobilisation. The officers whom the right hon. Gentleman hopes to get, by certificates and attachment a la suite to a regiment, may be a valuable adjunct to our Army at the time 1596 of mobilisation, but they cannot be regimental officers. They may be able to read a great deal, but it does not follow that they will be able to lead at all. You can teach a man to read. But you cannot teath him to lead. There is, even, one form of reading which cannot be taught. That is the reading of maps. It is really easier to teach an intelligent youth to make a map than to teach him to read it with that accuracy, rapidity, and confidence which is necessary if he is to reach a place on the earth's surface indicated on the map. No one can read a map so as to be able to lead troops unless he has been in the habit of reading maps, therefore I dismiss these officers who are to be four months with a Regular regiment probably when the regiment is very busy. I dismiss them from my mind as regimental officers who could be put in charge of troops. Thus we have to look at the Special Reserve. Now what sort of training will those officers get, and what sort of officers will you get for the Special Reserve? Taking the establishments, there are to be twenty-six officers, Militia officers, who have not been fully trained in the Regular Army. The right hon. Gentleman has got to attract those officers to this work in connection with the seventy four Reserve battalions in depots, and twenty seven battalions elsewhere. What attraction is he going to offer? You can only get them by paying them in money, in opportunities for amusement, or in, shall I call it, glory? or general respect, and interest in their profession? There is no other way. Now, is any man going to come into these depots to grind away at boys at seventeen or eighteen years of age during the winter months, and then grind away at other boys, winter and summer, for five or six years? The right hon. Gentleman says that an officer has to do it now at the depot. But I would remind him that this work is now done by the permanent staff, who are men in the regular career and profession of a soldier, with hopes of promotion. Any one of them may become a colonel or a general. But these twenty-six officers of whom I am speaking are expected to grind out their lives under these sordid conditions, and in insanitary barracks 1597 upon unpromising material, without hope of promotion. The right hon. Gentleman is very sanguine indeed if he believes he will get the officers under these circumstances. Under the scheme 62,000 infantry are required for the Reserve battalions. I want to ask a question, but I think I have the answer to it, because it was given to-day to my hon. friend the Member for Fareham. I wanted to know whether the recruit coming into these depots was at liberty to join the Regular Army at any time after going to these battalions, or whether he had first to complete his training. The recruit I now understand must serve six months before he goes in to the Regular Army. I think that is right, but has the right hon. Gentleman realised what it entails? It entails the cutting down of that stream of recruits which the Army has hitherto received from the Militia. When the men enlisted under the old system they could be taken by the sergeant the next day to go into the Regular Army at eighteen, and it was by that means that you fed your Regular Army. After they reach eighteen the right hon. Gentleman will allow them to go into the Regular Army but not before. To that extent you somewhat stint and diminish the stream of recruiting which used to come from the Militia into the Regular Army, and you prejudice jour chance of filling up your home battalions. But who are the others who do not go to the Regular Army but remain in the Special Reserve? They are boys of seventeen. They are those youths who are never going to be tested. And, yet, it is upon them that the right hon. Gentleman is going to rely for his trained Regular Reserves who are to make up the wastage of the Regular Army. In the old days it used to be said that of every three men who went into the British Army only one survived to be of use in the Reserve. I think that was putting it too high. I think it was one in every four. But even for that system there was this to be said. A man who had been seven years with the colours was a man whose constitution was firm and who knew his business. On the other hand, these youths will never be tested under the system now proposed. The Special Reserve, unless it is very much amended, will crumble under 1598 the stress of war, and when it crumbles it will reveal what we have always said is the great defect of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. It will leave a great gap, or chasm, between the Regular Army and the citizen Army. There is in this scheme no plan for bridging that gap in time of peace. If you try to bridge it in time of war, you will only produce a chaotic result. I have endeavoured to scrutinise the plan fairly; and, certainly, closely. I am far from saying that it is incapable of being amended. If the right hon. Gentleman will make his infantry Special Reserve a Reserve of battalioas, and not a Reserve of depots, I think more could be said for it. At present it is a mere set of recruiting shops. The right hon. Gentleman the other night professed great regard for the Cardwell system. If he will make these Reserve battalions into battalions regularly and progressively trained during a whole year, he will be carrying out the Cardwell system to the conclusion which Lord Cardwell seems to have thought necessary if it was really to supply this country with the Army it needed. The Cardwell system was at one time exposed to a great deal of criticism and even obloquy. It was restored to its position in the public confidence largely by the action and evidence of one man, Sir Patrick MacDougall. He said that, if the Cardwell system was to work, you must do two things. The first was to identify the Militia more closely with the depots of the Line. Well, the Government have done that with a vengeance. They have absorbed the Militia in the depots of the Line. But he went on to say that that was useless if they attempted to turn a depot into a battalion during the "hurry and rush" of a war. That is what will happen if the right hon. Gentleman does not amend his scheme and make these battalions battalions in fact as well as in name—battalions in which the recruit will be trained progressively in squad drill, battalion drill, and brigade drill, and in which he will attend manœuvres during one year of his life. I think it ought to be two years. If the right hon. Gentleman does not do that, he will be courting disaster. I have endeavoured to show that the value of the plan depends upon the conditions it will give us some two or three 1599 months after an expedition has started in a war. I have said that, those conditions will depend, in the main, upon this part of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme, namely, the Special Reserve. We reject the artillery part of that scheme, and we do not think the infantry part will stand the strain of war unless it is amended in the direction I have ventured to indicate. I ought to answer a question which suggests itself to my mind, namely—What of the Territorial Force? We wish that Force well. I do not see how the right hon. Gentleman will ever be able to mobilise that Force unless the Government resumes the barrack policy of their predecessors. I have indicated earlier that he cannot mobilise his Special Reserve under the existing conditions of barracks. Apart from that, the new Territorial Force is now the old Volunteers and the old Yeomanry paid a little bit more or a little bit less, trained a little bit more or a little bit less, but we do hope, better equipped, better staffed, and better led. I hope all those anticipations will be fulfilled. But I cannot say too earnestly that, unless the right hon. Gentleman by amending the Special Reserve portion of his scheme, places something substantial between the citizen army and the Line, a burden will be cast on the citizen force which it cannot bear —which it cannot be expected to bear— except at a cost infinitely above any sum which has been mentioned in the House, and, in my opinion, some compulsory provision adopted, not for the sake of fighting efficiency but for the sake of fairness as between man and man, when you are asking the citizen to give up not only, as he does now, his holiday, but, as he must then, a considerable portion of his working and wage-earning time.
§ MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)
said that after all this great scheme depended in a great measure upon the County Associations, and he wished to ask something connected with the Territorial division of his own county. It was proposed that there should be a North Wales Infantry Brigade, with headquarters at Wrexham. That brigade was to consist in part of companies of infantry drawn from Merionethshire and Montgomeryshire. Merionethshire was not so 1600 much worthy of the attention of the right hon. Gentleman as Montgomeryshire—a county that had always provided the Army with Regular soldiers, militiamen, volunteers, and yeomanry. It was worth the while of the right hon. Gentleman to take special pains to encourage a county like Montgomeryshire, which was not backward in. performing its duty in this all-important respect. Ho did not believe they would get very many men from Merionethshire. Then it was decided that their Militia battalion was to be disbanded and that their colours were to be handed over to the Territorial Force. Notices had been sent round asking the officers and men whether they would serve in the new Territorial battalion. He was happy to tell the right hon. Gentleman that the officers had all consented to do so. They naturally did not like their regiment to be abolished after having been in existence since the days of Queen Elizabeth, serving in the Crimea and fighting in South Africa. That was to their credit, and nothing else could be expected. They felt the abolition very much and so did the county. As regarded the men, they were behaving very well, and were willing to transfer, but the transfer must be made quickly, or they would retire or go into another force. He begged the right hon. Gentleman, in order to ensure his scheme a good trial in Montgomeryshire, to keep the Cardiganshire company at Aberystwyth for Montgomeryshire and to see that the transfer from Militia to Territorial Army was effected as early as possible. A matter in connection with the present state of affairs which he would like the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider was his refusal to make the Volunteer regimental sergeant-majors warrant officers. He was not an expert, and he did not see the objection to that being done. He knew that one advantage would be that it would greatly please these officers, and he would beg the right hon. Gentleman to give the matter his best consideration. He would also appeal on behalf of the quartermasters. They were men whose future appeared to be somewhat precarious. A great amount of work had fallen on them during the past few months, and it would be hard if they were to be thrown out of employment, 1601 and if they did not get some consideration in the shape of pay for the work they had done in connection with the new scheme. He regretted, too, that reparation allowance was not given to privates in the Territorial Army, and commended this matter to the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. The Secretary of State had shown a conciliatory disposition in other matters, and he was sure he would consider the points to which he had called attention. If he had not brought them before the House these matters might not have received that full recognition which they deserved. As regarded the secretary to the County Association, in his county the secretary, Major Mytton, received the magnificent salary of £40 a year. There was once a curate who was passing rich on £40 a year, but they could not get a War Minister even for a County Association on that sum, and he would like this gentleman to get better pay. It was quite true that he made his salary up to £60 by adding on the duties of Merionethshire, but he should have more, because he was a good officer who went out to the Boer War, had influence in the county, and would do the work well. They had also a capable and energetic chairman in Mr. Lomax, and he believed that affairs would march. Many hon. Members had attacked the Cardwell system of linked "battalions for supplying our Army abroad, but he had not heard of any other working system which would do the work so well. If there was such a scheme it would be interesting to know if it possibly could be regarded as a substitute for the Cardwell system. There was, so far as he knew, only the alternative of a locally raised long-service Army for India, but he did not think that the men could be raised in that way as in former days. These old soldiers were splendid fighters, who fought in forage-caps, drank brandy, used language, and defeated with great slaughter every enemy they were sent to attack. But they could not get such men now in India, neither would public opinion of the present day regard them altogether with approval. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the cadet corps in his speech. Did he refer to the cadet corps in the public schools only or to 1602 the other cadet corps as well, and was any difference to be made between them? Were the rifle corps at Eton and Harrow, for instance, to be changed in any way?
§ MR. HALDANE
said that the cadet corps of public schools like Eton and Harrow were now organised under the General Staff as Volunteer corps, and would be part of the Corps of Officers being trained. They would be in no way discouraged; on the contrary, they would be continued as at present.
§ MR. REES
said he was very glad indeed to hear it, as it was a very admirable training for the boys of these two schools, who had lately fought a bloodless and interesting battle on the plains of Uxbridge. The system was admirable, and he had the opportunity of seeing how good it was mentally and physically for the boys, and how it developed in them a sense of discipline, and of combined action, as well as teaching them how safely and usefully to handle their weapons. The hon. Member for Woodstock had referred to various matters which he thought tended to discourage the right sort of men coming into the Army as officers. One reason which made the Army unpopular as a profession was the unnatural and unreasonable fuss and criticism which was made when any domestic disturbance occurred owing to any officer not being able to get on with his brother officers. He thought that the officers of a regiment formed the most just tribunal in the world, and he did not think that any hon. Member in the House could display more tact, consideration or kindliness than they showed to comrades who had risen from the ranks, or to any brother officer, unless he set himself against the excellent traditions, habits, and customs of the average British officer He must say that he had always admired that in the officers in the Army. It had not been proved that officers combined to oppress other officers who were not likely to turn out efficient and the manner in which some commanding officers had been treated when a charge of that kind was brought forward was enough to turn good men away from the Army. Their conduct was not only brought 1603 before the Army Council, but before the hon. Member for South Donegal, who claimed some special jurisdiction in such matters, and before the House. They were tried and retried before the whole matter was over, and though they had done their best, and often deserved sympathy quite as much as the so called victims, they were treated as malefactors. He was certain that officers were rather afraid, not of doing their duty at the front in the day of battle, or of doing it day by day in time of peace, but of being haled before the public in that way and disparaged in the newspapers and the House of Commons. Too much was made of what he regarded as domestic matters in the regiments affected, and he pleaded for forbearance, and urged that regiments knew what was good for them and for the Service, at least as well as the Press and Parliament.
§ MR. CROOKS (Woolwich)
said he wished to ask the indulgence of the House as he did not feel quite robust after his long illness. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would give some better assurance than he had done in regard to national public safety as to the condition of things at Woolwich. Last year, for reasons, they were shut out of an opportunity of discussing the discharges at Woolwich Arsenal, and what was called the "minimum." Numerous questions were asked, but the answers to them were on the whole unsatisfactory. There were many deputations and demonstrations which took the side of Woolwich as Woolwich, and said that it was a national danger to deplete the Arsenal of the best kind of workmen. The Secretary for War had absolutely ignored the conclusions of the Committee over which the hon. Member for Barnard Castle had presided, and the result of the policy adopted by the right hon. Gentleman was that the indirect expenditure for the work being done on armaments had increased in some cases by 40, 50, and 100 per cent., while machinery which cost £250,000 was lying idle in the Arsenal at the present moment The best workmen were now looking askance at Government employment' whereas the nation should aim at safe- 1604 guarding the employment of such, men and show an example to private employers. 1898 could be taken as a normal year; from 1886–87 until 1898 there was a steady increase in the number of men employed as the Army Estimates increased. In 1898 the Army Estimates—had reached £20,096,000. This year they were £27,459,000, an increase of £7,363,000 over the year 1898, yet the normal strength of the Arsenal had been reduced by 3,400 men, and the productive strength by 4,130 men. If the Navy Estimates were taken with the Army Estimates, it would be found that the expenditure was increased by over £20,000,000 since 1898. Yet the Arsenal was reduced below the productive peace strength of 1898 by over 4,000 men. The increase in strength of the Arsenal up to 1898, as the Army Estimate increased, and the decrease in the strength of the Arsenal since the war, notwithstanding the continued increased Army expenditure, showed pretty conclusively that during the war the contractors had got a grip on the permanent officials that had resulted in the policy of the minimum for Ordnance Factories. As to Establishment Charges, in the year 1898 when the number of productive workers was 13,479 the strength of the Central Office Stores and Medical Department was 510 men. Now it was 642. The total charges for establishment and indirect expenditure amounted approximately to £900,000 per annum. On a basis of 9,000 for "minimum," and not 8,400 as fixed, this meant that every productive worker had to earn. £100 per annum besides his wages to cover establishment and indirect charges. It actually worked out at more than this, but he had taken round figures for purpose of illustration. Was that business? What did the business men of the House say to a policy that was costing the nation hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum? Both the Murray Committee and the responsible Ministers agreed that it was necessary to keep the establishment on a war footing while reducing the productive side to a minimum. The consequence was that every job done for the Army and Navy, whether by the Ordnance Factories or the contractors, cost the country more. In the Royal Carriage Department the 1605 percentage charged on production for indirect expenditure had reached over 100 per cent. Every job given away from Woolwich which could be done there meant a less chance of reducing the enormous percentage of indirect expenditure, and consequently an enhanced cost to the nation. He would give an illustration. Recently the Royal Carriage Department was asked for an estimate for the manufacture of stores. The estimated price worked out at £9,633 12s., as against £7,964, the trade price. As the loss of the order would have meant a further discharge of men in the Royal Carriage Department, which was already below the "minimum," an analysis of the price was submitted to the Army Council with the view of obtaining the order although the estimated price was higher than the trade price. The analysis proved that of the £9,633 12s. no less a sum than £2,417 1s. was charged as general indirect expenditure, which would have to be met whether the Royal Carriage Department had the order or not. That was to say if the Arsenal was kept fully employed the price could be reduced by £2,417 1s., making the price £7,216 11s. as against the £7,964 of the trade. The serious part to business men was that if the work was given to the trade it would mean that the cost of the job would be £7,964 plus £2,417 which the Ordnance Factories were taxed with because it was not fully employed, making a total of £10,381 1s., as against the £9,633 12s. charged by the Royal Carriage Department, including the percentage of indirect expenditure. The Master-General of Ordnance, in submitting the analysis to the Army Council with the recommendation that he should be empowered to give the work to the Royal Carriage Department, made the significant comment—Although the prices quoted by the factory will involve some extra expense (over trade price) it must be remembered that the work will assist in reducing the proportion of in-direct charges borne by our other orders.The Army Council agreed that the Master-General of Ordnance—Should give such orders to the factories as will enable him to provide the necessary employment for the minimum establishment of the Royal Carriage Department when the 1606 estimated cost is not more than 20 per cent. in excess of the trade price.On this decision of the Army Council the even more significant comment was made by a responsible officer—That in view of increased indirect expenditure (now 100 per cent.) 60 per cent. increase over trade prices appears to form a fairer basis of comparison than 20 per cent.Both from a business point of view, and the point of view of the safety of the nation the minimum stood condemned. The illustration he had given showed how on a £10,000 order the enhanced cost to the nation, by reason of the minimum, reached the sum of £2,400. The percentage charged for indirect expenditure on production when the Arsenal was employed as in 1898 was between 40 and 50 per cent. On the minimum it was 100 per cent. It was therefore a simple sum in proportion to find out what the policy of the minimum was costing the country. The "minimum" also tended to remove that competitive check on contractors' prices, which hitherto had been some sort of a safeguard against "ring" prices. He thought the facts he had quoted were sufficient to show that the War Office or the Army Council could have kept the Arsenal fully employed without loss to the nation. Even the Murray Committee were constrained to report, after suggesting that the minimum should be 8,000, that the Chief Superintendent of Ordnance Factories had given in evidence—That he considered the present total of 14,037 (employed in November, 1906) was not susceptible of any further reduction.The Committee after recording this grave warning said—We do not feel able to make any definite recommendation as to the exact number to be adopted for the minimum establishment, which requires further examination, and a fuller knowledge of the circumstances of each of the factories than we can claim to possess.Private inquiries went to show that the serious warning of Mr. Donaldson but feebly expressed the fears of the administration of the Arsenal under this policy. It was an open secret in Woolwich that many shops had been so depleted that it would be impossible to expand quickly to a maximum output at a time of national crisis as at the South African War, when the Leader of the 1607 Opposition himself confessed that the small arms ammunition stores were depleted within a few weeks of the commencement of the war. It was only because of the splendid staff of the Arsenal that it was possible to cope with that national crisis. Yet the bulk of these men had been scattered to the four corners of the globe. The whole difficulty in this case seemed to be not that we could get more men than officers but that we had more officers than men. If the Government really wanted a number of men to do some training for the Territorial Army he thought they might relieve the Arsenal of these superior employees. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to look at this case, not because he happened to be the Member for Woolwich or because he represented the men who had been put off. He appealed for the men who were there and asked the House not to sanction a policy which had distributed all over the world the workmen who saw the country through the crisis of the South African War. The best workmen now looked askance at Government employment. The reductions which had been made were a national disgrace and danger, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give them some assurance that the points which he had raised would be looked into, and where it was possible to place work in the yards, not on the establishment charges but at a fair price, it should be so placed. They should give the men a fair chance and not put on their backs this heavy and evil burden which they could not bear. The Government had the plant, the machinery, and the skill, and they ought to be able to utilise them in the interests of the workers, and to the best advantage of the nation.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
said the hon. Member's advocacy of Woolwich Arsenal had been so strong that he hoped he would not think it was because of want of sympathy with him that he did not follow him in the line he had taken. What he had said, was sufficient to impress the adamantine heart of the Secretary of State for War. He wanted, however, to refer to some previous points in the debate. Whenever he had listened to a debate upon Army matters, especially 1608 to a debate in which the welfare: of the new Territorial Army loomed so large, he had been utterly disappointed by the tone, adopted by so many speakers. He had heard, for instance, three or four speakers; who prefaced their remarks by saying: "If the Territorial Army was ever wanted," "We hope it never will be" and "We think it never will be." He thought that that was the wrong attitude to take if they wanted to criticise with any effect and the Territorial Army was to be a reality and not a sham. They should look at it from the point of view that it was going to fight, and if it was going to fight they wanted it to win. That was the line which he should wish to be taken by the House and the country in regard to the Territorial Army if they wished it to be a real instrument which, should satisfy the necessities of the; nation. The proper view was that it would have to fight, and it would have to fight under circumstances of peculiar difficulty, circumstances which would make the most exacting demands on its powers of discipline and warfare. It was only honest and fair that they should not exaggerate the capabilities of the Territorial Army, but they had heard quoted two or three very great authorities who had served His" Majesty the King. First, Sir John French was reported to have said that, assuming that he had three divisions of the Territorial Army mobilised for three months, then he thought that those three divisions might be equal for war to one Regular division. Did anyone suppose that our possible enemies, those against whom we created a Territorial Army, did not lake note of these criticisms and the opinion of our best soldier that they had only to bring one soldier to three. Again they had that brilliant and most trusted soldier, Sir Ian Hamilton, who was said to have stated that if three or four batteries of the Territorial Force were engaged with one battery of the enemy they might be able to give them a hot time. That just supported his contention throughout that they were deluding and humbugging the country if they told them that the Territorial Force they proposed to train was an effective force; they were throwing dust, in their eyes, because what the country meant by an effective force was a 1609 force of their own soldiers who would meet a force of any other country at least man for man. They did not want a force in which each of our men was to be reckoned as only one-third of a man in a foreign country. What they had heard that evening intensified the argument which they had had brought before the House, that the training of the Territorial Force was not sufficient to make it effective, and what they ought to insist upon was that the right hon. Gentleman should make that fact patent and clear to the country. He thought the Secretary for War was earnest in desiring that the hat should not go round and private subscriptions be brought in for the aid of the Territorial Army, but undoubtedly there was a very considerable suspicion in the country that if that Army was to be made a success it would have to depend upon local effort and local subscriptions. If so the Territorial Army was doomed and it became a worthless thing. Another point was that the right hon. Gentleman in. bringing in such a great scheme as this had found it impossible to avoid treading on a certain number of local toes. It had been necessary for him to ask from counties that which they could not provide, and to ask other counties to give up that which they had provided and were proud to provide. In the rural counties the result of the scheme would be largely to disembody the force now existing. He knew of one county in which there were two straightforward and satisfactory battalions. By the right hon. Gentleman's scheme only one battalion was to be taken from that county. The disappointment had been so great that he was afraid it was doubtful whether they would get even one battalion. In the rural districts they could only raise what used to be called Volunteer battalions. But now the Territorial battalons were to be on the basis of units of companies. They could not get a. company unless the district was sufficiently large for the whole company to be recruited pretty close at hand. They could not expect men to join who lived in scattered villages, and who would have to walk some miles to their drill. They would practically get their Territorial battalion on the basis of company units from centres which would in themselves suffice for the 1610 formation of companies. Therefore, if in a county in winch they had two battalions they abolished one, thus taking 1,000 men instead of 2,000, they must recollect that they could not get that number by saying they would take such and such a unit from such and such a town or district, but they must have the units in the locality, otherwise they would not raise their rural battalions. He quite sympathised with the right hon. Gentleman, who was in earnest and in love with his own scheme. He was an ardent lover, and naturally he did not wish to see any imperfections in the lady of his affections, and, so far did the right hon. Gentleman go, that he was almost inclined to sacrifice a really efficient fighting force in order to get the symmetry he would like to see in the Territorial Force. Although the Secretary for War himself acknowledged that he did not think that he would raise a Territorial Artillery that would be as good as the Regular Artillery, yet it appeared that, for the sake of symmetry the right hon. Gentleman would prefer to run the risk of asking the Territorial Force to provide him with that extraordinary basis of service which he acknowledged in his own words he could not hope to get so good as it ought to be. There was another another subject upon which he had a rather strong feeling. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that at the present moment the recruiting was going on, he hoped, fairly satisfactorily for the Regular Army. But this was the point he wished to raise, and it was one which, touched the feelings not only of the Regular Army but of the whole community, in regard to the men who served the country as soldiers or, sailors. He wondered whether the right hon. Gentleman realised that the case he was about to explain actually existed, for it touched the popularity of the Army and the question of justice. Perhaps the House would bear with him while he put a curious case. He would take three brothers, A, B and C. The man A joined the Civil Service at the age of twenty. At the age of sixty, he retired on a pension which was forty-sixtieths of what he was receiving at the end of his term. His brother B joined the. police service. He was in the police, say, for twelve years, and then 1611 he passed into the Civil Service. He was allowed to reckon the twelve years police service towards full pension, but he was also allowed to reckon four years for every three of his police service, so that he would be allowed to reckon fifteen years towards Civil Service pension. He then went on to the age of sixty, and before he reached that age he was absolutely able to claim his full pension by virtue of the recognition given to his police service. They now came to C, the soldier or sailor. He joined the Army, say, at the age of twenty, and served for twelve years. At the end of twelve years he went into the Civil Service. Perhaps some people would say that he might have served in the Army. But in many cases they were not allowed to serve in the Army to the end, because there was an arrangement by which under certain circumstances only 10 per cent. might go on, and it very frequently happened that a man who might wish to continue could not continue. He had given twelve years of service in the Army, and he joined the Civil Service, working up to sixty, in the same way as his brothers, but he was not allowed to reckon his twelve years service in the Army towards the Civil Service pension. Instead of forty-sixtieths he only got twenty-eight-sixtieths. That was a gross injustice. From every point of view, from the point of view of recruiting and of inducing men of the best type to join the Army, the soldier or sailor should have the same rates of pension as the policeman who entered the Civil Service. Then as to the reasons for this. The policeman was allowed the extra time on account of his services, which were considered to be onerous and, perhaps, even especially dangerous. But they had to remember that the policeman, if he stayed in the force, could get his pension at the end of twenty-four years. As to the soldier, surely no one would say that his service was less dangerous or onerous than that of the policeman. Out of his twelve years it was extremely probable that he had to spend some in India, or at all events in some foreign country. It was also extremely probable that he had spent a good many months of his service in extreme personal danger to life and limb. In the Army at the end of twenty-one years a soldier was entitled 1612 to pension, and he believed that the pension of both the policeman and the soldier was based on the fact that their service had some peculiar dangers, and that, therefore, the men ought to have their pension at a proportionately earlier period. Why, therefore, when the soldier or sailor joined the Civil Service, of course with a good character, should he be deprived of the opportunity of counting his years of loyal service in the Army or Navy towards the civil pension? Again, a boy joined the Army at the age of eighteen, and served on the frontiers of India, getting the distinguished service medal and other medals. He came back with the very best of characters and of certificates, and why should he at the age of sixty, after he having served twelve years in circumstances of special danger, and earned the gratitude of his country, be debarred from getting full pension. He believed that he had stated the case absolutely accurately, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman, if he acknowledged its justice as he thought he would, would not be stopped by any trifles of inexpediency, but would say that this was a matter to be considered on its merits. He was not asking that the soldier should get the extra years which were given to the policeman, though his service had exposed him to danger just as much, but that he should be at least allowed to count the twelve years he had actually served. These were the points which he wished to impress on the right hon. Gentleman, and he left it in his hands to give him sooner or later such an answer as would assure him that the strong case which he had made would receive his consideration.
§ MR. MACLEAN (Bath)
said with reference to the point raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down as to pension on transfer of service, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give it consideration, though it might not be possible to do anything without legislation to remedy the matter. From many of the speeches made on the other side of the House, and from some made on his own. side, one would imagine that the main object of the country was to spend as much money as possible. If 1613 they were to carry out all the suggestions which were made across the floor of the House for an enormous extension of expenditure, the country would find itself in the position of the man with £600 a year, who, out of it spent £450 on insurances of various descriptions against burglary, loss of life and other risks, leaving himself with £150 to meet his social necessities. The real object of the finance of this country should be directed to social reform, and the amelioration of the condition of the people; and he found that the scheme of his right hon. friend was in general directed to that proposition, namely, as far as possible, to keep military expenditure in this country within reasonable limits. The main object of the country was the social betterment of its poorer people. He wished to add a remark upon the subject of canteens. At present he understood there were three systems under which the soldiers could be supplied at the canteens—the regimental system, the tenant system, and the mess and canteen co-operative society. As he understood, the regimental system had fallen largely into discredit, and it was only the tenant system and the co-operative society which were in competition for the supply of the soldiers in these canteens. All he desired to say on this point was that he hoped that his right hon. friend would see with regard to these competing agencies that there was a fair field and no favour. In reference to the co-operative society he was not making the slightest reflection on the bona fides of those managing it, but there were very large opportunities—he did not that those opportunities were made use of—for giving an unfair advantage to the co-operative society, managed by officers, as against the tenant system. What he did strongly plead for was that the field should be kept open in the interests of the soldiers themselves. The field should be absolutely clear, and let the best tenders be dealt with on the principles which obtained in the open market.
§ MR. MOONEY (Newry)
said he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question on a subject which was prominently before the House in the discussion of last year, viz. the policy of the War Office with respect 1614 to cordite and other explosives. Last year the right hon. Gentleman said that the policy of the War Office was to follow on the lines of the report of the Committee which he was about to appoint to inquire and report on the whole subject. That Committee was appointed, he understood, as the result of a statement which the Secretary of State made in that House. The right hon. Gentleman stated that, when he was about to appoint that Committee, the House was taken into the fullest confidence of the Government, and that he intended to appoint a Committee of the most scientific experts to advise and inquire on the matter. In the last few days questions had been put asking if the Report had been submitted to the War Office, and if so what were its terms. He understood the answer to be that it was not in the public interest to publish the Report. But in View of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman had said he would take the House into his confidence he ought to give some explanation of why he had changed his mind. He would ask further if it was the fact that while the Committee was sitting he had taken into the public service cordite which had previously been rejected on the ground that it was unsafe. If that was done in accordance with the Committee's Report they were entitled to know whether they had reported that the ingredients complained of had no injurious effect whatever. The right hon. Gentleman was not justified in sheltering himself behind the plea of public policy and refusing to give any information.
§ MR. HALDANE
The reason that has influenced me is this. There is litigation pending by Messrs. Kynoch against the War Office on which the Report materially bears, and it would be very wrong of us to publish any document which prejudges questions which might arise in the litigation. As soon as the litigation is out of the way the situation will be cleared. It will be a great convenience if we might take Vote A. by agreement of the House and then continue the discussion on Vote 1. That is the common practice, and if there is general agreement the discussion could be a perfectly open one, just as free as upon Vote A. I would appeal to my hon. friends to let us take Vote A. at 1615 8.15 and then go on with the open discussion on Vote 1.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
said they would have no objection to that course if they had the assent of the Chair to the discussion on Vote 1 being just as general as on Vote A.
As I have been appealed to I will just say I will give my consent to any arrangement of the kind made by general consent.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
said he supposed the general discussion would go on before the Amendments were called, otherwise they would be restricted to the particular subject on the Amendments.
May I just say with regard to that matter that if an Amendment is moved to-morrow for reduction of the whole Vote it would still be possible to continue the open discussion, but if a reduction is moved on an item it would not be possible to continue the open discussion.
§ MR. MOONEY
asked for an answer to his question whether it was a fact that the Government had taken into the public service explosives which had been previously rejected.
§ MR. HALDANE
Not that I know of, unless it was some that was specially investigated by the Committee and found to be safe after it had been subjected to severe tests.
§ MR. MOONEY
asked if it was not a fact that the War Office having rejected 100 tons as being not fit for use, after wards took into the public service 30 tons of the very cordite which 'hey had previously refused.
§ MR. HALDANE
I know nothing about it. If the hon. Member will put down a Question I will look into it.
§ MR. LUTTRELL (Devonshire, Tavistock)
said he wss very unwilling to put any opposition in the way of the arrangement come to by the Front Benches, but he was asked to move in the matter by 1616 a considerable number of supporters of the Government and it would be necessary for him to move a reduction of men. He moved it in no spirit of hostility to the Government of which he reckoned himself a loyal supporter, but their reasons for doing this were provided by the speeches and actions of the occupants of the Front Bench themselves. They had continually made speeches in favour of a reduction of the Vote—true, when they were in a different position—but the fact that they had gone to the Front Bench ought not to alter their principles. They had been influenced also by their policy. He was not blaming them but paying them a very high compliment indeed. It was because they had been at peace with, the world and because there were no clouds on the horizon that they were able with confidence to ask the House to reduce the Army by 10,000 men. It was in no spirit of hostility to the Secretary of State that he moved this. He appreciated and valued his great ability and his remarkable energy and industry, but he would remind his right hon. friend that he was not only Secretary of State for War, but he was; Secretary of State for Peace, and he hoped in reality more a Secretary of State for Peace than for War. He believed his persuasive powers were such that he might have induced the generals themselves to turn their attention to economy had he exercised those powers. He was inclined to think that the right hon. Gentleman had studied efficiency somewhat to the neglect of economy, and he wished he would study economy and spell it with a very big E indeed. The number of men was the only test they could have of the cost of the Army. It was no use making small economies. If they wanted really to economise they must reduce the number of men. It was in excess of requirements and could with safety to the Empire be reduced to the extent he proposed. In 1895–6, just before preparations were being made for possible contingencies in South Africa, the Home Army numbered 116,153; to day it had grown to 130,000 odd, an increase of nearly 14,000 men. In Africa we had then 4,888, and a temporary contingent of 1,066 men in West Africa; to-day we 1617 had 20,173, an increase of 14,219. In America we had then 5,928, which had been reduced now to 2,356, our troops having been withdrawn from Halifax and Barbadoes. In Asia, exclusive of India, we had 6,300 men; to-day we had 9,735, an increase of 3,405. In the Mediterranean the number had decreased from 14,451 to 11,479, but in Egypt the number had increased from 4,267 to 5,771. The difference between the total numbers we had in 1895–6 and to day was no less than 26,609 increase. During the year 1895–6, we had in India 73,168 men, but to—day we had 76,155, which was a considerable increase. His contention was that the increase in India had been far too great, and it was the duty of the Government to bring the military expenditure in India back to what it was in 1895–96. The Cardwell system as now adopted necessitated keeping at home the same number of troops as were maintained abroad. That was the policy which the Secretary for War was pursuing, and in pursuance of that policy he was bringing four battalions of infantry and one regiment of cavalry from South Africa. That was not real economy, because when those troops came back they would not be disbanded. That could not be claimed as economy.
§ MR. LUTTRELL
said that that was the only gain they got, and there was no real economy in it unless the establishment was reduced. Small savings like that were not real economy; that could not be secured unless they reduced the number of men. He agreed that the men should be properly trained and housed, but they had far too many of them. The so-called Cardwell system which the Government were following was practically that they should keep a battalion at home for every battalion abroad. He believed that Mr. Cardwell was a great economist and his main object was to run the Army for as little money as possible—to have as many men as possible trained to arms, but not under arms, and that was why he instituted the short service system. The Cardwell system had been fully explained by the right 1618 hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, who said—The Cardwell system has the advantage that it reduces the question of the size of the Army to the function of a single variable. That variable is the number of troops which it is essential at any time to keep abroad in the colonies, in India, and the Crown possessions When you have determined the size of this variable you at once determine the size and character of the Army which you will require to support it, and it gives you a clear principle according to which you can lop off what is unnecessary or build up what is essential.They wanted the right hon. Gentleman to do a little lopping off, because the Army was too large both at home and abroad. They were told that they required 160,000 men for an expeditionary force which was called the striking force. Whom did they want to strike T Under the guidance of the right hon. Gentleman they had started a Territorial Army, which was going to cost a lot of money and cause a great deal of trouble and naturally they supposed it was going to be of some use for defensive purposes. Surely under these circumstances they expected the Regular Army to be smaller. The Secretary for War had said there were seventy four battalions at home, and sixty six of them were required for the expeditionary force, and eight battalions would be left. His excuse for this large expeditionary force was that we were not keeping more at home than we had abroad. "If," he said, "there are seventy four battalions, at home, and sixty six are required for the expeditionary force, there will be eight battalions surplus. Therefore, the expeditionary force is not eating up a single man whom you would not otherwise require to keep up." Why should they keep so many men abroad? He contended that there were far too many abroad. He thought he had said enough to prove that the number of troops maintained at home were fax ins excess of requirements. If he could prove that their requirements abroad did not necessitate so large a force as seventy four battalions, then it followed that they did not require seventy four battalions at home. Now his right hon friend had stated that "the question of the size of the Army is not one the Minister for War can answer unaided The answer must depend on the view of foreign policy taken by the Foreign 1619 Secretary, the Secretary for India, and the Colonial Secretary, and it is one that must be determined by the Government as a whole." He would also give the opinions of other Ministers. The Prime Minister (the cause of whose absence they so deeply deplored) in 1903, said—The hon. Member for Oldham has said that up to 1897 our Army was a good one and sufficient for our purposes. That is true. The idea was then that we should never contemplate anything more than an expeditionary force of 70,000 or 80,000 men; and that was more than accomplished with the machinery and material that we had. The question is, What has caused since then an increased demand on the Army? If the Army was strong enough in 1897, why should it need to be stronger now? H the expenditure of £18,000,000 were sufficient in 1897, why should we now require an expenditure of £30,000,000? ….Speaking on 11th March, 1903, five years ago that very day, the Foreign Secretary said—If the Navy insures our safety at sea, and if the defence of the Indian frontier be safe, "we then could have time to develop our military power for striking purposes. If that be so, and the 120,000 is not a definite number, I think there is a prima facie case at any rate for asking the Government to show whether the country would not be better off with a smaller expeditionary force of 80,000 or of 40,000 men, if they were prompt and ready, and a much larger and better equipped body of auxiliaries behind them on whom we could draw afterwards.He thought a considerable reduction might be made in the Army abroad. In South Africa they were bringing back lour battalions of infantry and one regiment of cavalry, whereas the increase in the number of troops in South Africa had been no less than 14,219 men. So that if the troops in South Africa alone were reduced by 10,000 they would still The over 4,000 in excess of the number there previous to the Boer War. Why should such a force be kept there? They prided themselves that they had given representative Government to 'South Africa and that there was now absolute peace there, and why under those circumstances should such a large force be kept there? There might also be a reduction of the forces maintained in Asia, Hong Kong, and Egypt. We had entered into a Treaty with Trance, and there was less danger in Egypt now than at any previous time, and why should we keep such a large force in that country? The size of the 1620 British Army under the system to which he had referred was largely dependent on the number of men we kept in India. He thought we were keeping in India men vastly, in excess of the number really required. Since 1895 there had been an increase from 73,000 to 76,000. He could not see why we required to keep 3,000 more now than in 1895. It seemed to him that the arguments were all in favour of keeping fewer. We had entered into a treaty with Russia which ought to make things very much easier for us. Questions relating to Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet had been settled for many years to come. He asked the Secretary of State for War why we were keeping more men in India now than before. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the British Army in India was kept there not for aggressive purposes, but to preserve internal order. Was it necessary to keep this large force for preserving internal order? Lord Lawrence did not find it necessary to keep more than 60,000 men there. In 1879 Lord Roberts was a member of a Commission which reported in favour of keeping 61,000. Only a few years ago we were content to leave India with 63,000, and that was at the time of the Boer War, and if ever we had a time of difficulty in India it was then. Why should we require 13,000 more to day? He thought the number there could be reduced by 10,000 or 15,000 with absolute safety. At the time of the Mutiny, when we had only a small force in India, there were only 400 miles of railway, while to day there were 30,000 miles. This made it far easier to do with a small force. He had said enough to prove that we did not require so large a force abroad as we had at the present time. The Army should be brought up to date; we were behind the times. He and his friends who shared his views did not think it necessary to keep up in peace time a war establishment, and. they hoped that the policy which had been adopted by the Government, namely, the policy of pursuing the paths of peace, would be continued. He was convinced that if the Government would be courageous in following that policy it would be absolutely unnecessary to keep up the large force which we were at present maintaining. The country 1621 wanted peace, and he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to hold out some hope that the Estimates next year would show that the Government were studying economy as well as efficiency, and he would say that they should put economy before efficiency. He and his friends wanted to see the country properly defended, but they wanted to see the houses of the people at home properly furnished before battlements were were put on the walls.
§ MR. BYLES (Salford, N.)
said he must join in the renewed expression of disappointment at the enormous demands made for the Regular Army in the Estimates now before the Committee. He hoped the Government would not try to abridge the discussion of this most important question. He had noticed the eagerness with which the chief Government whip had been watching the clock and conferring with the Chairman, and no doubt the Government desired to get the Vote before a quarter-past eight. If they did not get it to-night, they would probably get it early tomorrow, and nothing would be lost if the discussion did not close now. He believed they had now entered upon what was really the most important question which could possibly engage the attention of the representatives of the people in regard to our preparations for Imperial defence. The technical details which had been discussed that afternoon were all, no doubt, of importance, but they were beyond his ken, but the Committee had now come to the essential question in which the country was interested, namely, why did we want this big Army? They had never been told why the country wanted 160,000 men as an expeditionary force. A great portion of last session was occupied in trying to formulate measures for the construction of a Territorial Army. If the citizens of this country had to defend themselves against
§ any marauders who might come here he would be the very first to help them in that defence, but he was not one of those who believed in what a Bishop in the other House called the menagerie theory, that neighbouring nations were waiting to devour us up when we lessened our armaments. If Germany were to put down her army and navy, should we desire to take a single acre of her territory? Why should not we believe the same of Germany? Why should we always suppose that Germany was waiting to swallow us up? Surely England was strong enough to go her own way without being influenced by the votes of the Reichstag. He was one of those who desired to promote international friendliness, and he believed that international friendliness was by far the strongest defence we could have. He wondered whether the Government quite realised the extent to which it was—he would not use the word alienating, but chilling; the enthusiasm of its followers by the enormous proposals it made for both the Army and Navy. This was going on further within the Party than the War Minister really recognised. He was sure the right hon. Gentleman did not miss the significance of the division which took place in the House last week. It was with the greatest reluctance that he voted against the Government. It was a most thankless thing to do. He and his friends received all sorts of buffets and taunts, but they were not afraid of them. A colleague on leaving the House last night was positively dejected, disappointed, and despairing.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 186; Noes, 41. (Division List No. 38.)1625
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Baring, Godfrey(Isle of Wight)||Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets,S. Geo.)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Barker, Sohn||Berridge, T. H. D.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Bethell, Sir J.H(Essex, Romf'rd)|
|Agnew, George William||Barran, Rowland Hirst||Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine|
|Armitage, R.||Beale, W. P.||Boulton, A. C. F.|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Bell, Richard||Brace, William|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Bellairs, Carlyon||Bramsdon, T. A.|
|Branch, James||Henderson, J.M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Richardson, A.|
|Brigg, John||Herbert,Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Hobart, Sir Robert||Robertson, Sir G. Scott(Bradf'rd|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Horniman, Emslie John||Robinson, S.|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hudson, Walter||Rose, Charles Day|
|Cameron, Robert||Hunt, Rowland||Rowlands, J.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Hyde, Clarendon||Runciman, Walter|
|Cave, George||Jackson, R. S.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W.||Jardine, Sir J.||Sears, J. E.|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Jenkins, J.||Seaverns, J. H.|
|Chance, Frederick William||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Cleland, J. W.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Kekewich, Sir George||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Kelley, George D.||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Corbett, CH (Sussex, E Grinst'd)||Laidlaw, Robert||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Cox, Harold||Lambert, George||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||Lamont, Norman||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Craig, Herbert J.(Tynemouth)||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Crooks, William||Leese, Sir Joseph F.(Accrington)||Stuart, James (Sunderland)|
|Davies, David(Montgomery Co.||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Summerbell, T.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Lewis, John Herbert||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Dewar, Sir J.A. (Inverness-sh.)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Dickinson, W.H.(St. Pancras, N.'||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Duncan, C.(Barrow-in-Furness)||M'Callum, John M.||Tillett, Louis John|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||M'Crae, George||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Toulmin, George|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||M'Micking, Major G.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Elibank, Master of||Maddison, Frederick||Wadsworth, J.|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Markham, Arthur Basil||Walters, John Tudor|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Walton, Joseph|
|Everett, R. Lacy||Marnham, F. J.||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Faber, G. H. (Boston)||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Wardle, George J.|
|Fenwick, Charles||Menzies, Walter||Waring, Walter|
|Findlay, Alexander||Micklem, Nathaniel||Wason, Rt Hn. E.(Clackmannan|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Middlebrook, William||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Morse, L. L.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Murray, James||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Myer, Horatio||Wiles, Thomas|
|Gooch, George Peabody||Napier, T. B.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Gulland, John W.||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Hall, Frederick||Partington, Oswald||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B.(Wore'r)||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Radford, G. H.|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Raphael, Herbert H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Richards, Thomas (W.Monm'th|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Richards, T. F.(Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Alden, Percy||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Jowett, F. W.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Fell, Arthur||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster]|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Gill, A. H.||Lupton, Arnold|
|Clynes, J. R.||Gordon, J.||Macpherson, J. T.|
|Coates, E. Feetham (Lewisham)||Guinness, Walter Edward||Moore, William|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Higham, John Sharp||Nuttall, Harry|
|Collings Rt. Hn. J.(Birmingh'm||Hills, J. W.||O'Grady, J.|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Houston, Robert Paterson||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Hutton, Alfred Eddison||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Salter, Arthur Clavell||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Seddon, J.||Vivian, Henry||Mr. Murray Macdonald and Mr. Luttrell|
|Smith, F.E. (Liverpool, Walton)||Walsh, Stephen|
Bill read a second time, and committed to a Standing Committee.
§ On the Question being put—
Order. If the hon. Member has any point of order to raise, he must put it to me after I have put the Question.
§ The House resumed, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair—
§ And, it being a quarter past Eight of the Clock, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 4.
§ MR. LUTTRELL
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wished in Committee to move a reduction of the Vote for men in the Army —