§ 1. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £9,422,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of the Pay, etc., of His Majesty's Army (including Army Reserve) at Home and Abroad (exclusive of India), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1909."
MR. STANLEY WILSON (Yorkshire, E.R., Holderness)
said he had no intention of detaining the Committee at any great length, but there were one or two points on which he would like to raise the general question of the Army, as he understood it had been arranged that a general discussion should take place on this Vote. They all knew the great enthusiasm of the right hon. Gentleman for his scheme, and he had given them in that House many most admirable speeches. But when the right hon. Gentleman began to think aloud—and there were occasions when he thought aloud at considerable length—he was perfectly confident that hon. Members were always delighted to listen to him. They would give him the greatest credit for the work he had 1780 done during the recess, when he addressed meeting after meeting at very great length in expounding the scheme which he had brought before the country. He had told the country in those speeches that his scheme would have the effect of strengthening the Army. If to reduce was to strengthen then he must agree with him that the Army was going to be strengthened, but if they were to carry that to the reductio ad absurdum and to a final conclusion, then when the country had no Army at all it would be in the strongest position. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman did not mean that at all. He meant that he was strengthening the Army in the way of greater efficiency. He would like to assure the right hon. Gentleman that during the recess he had done his utmost to give him his humble assistance in endeavouring to persuade all members of the Volunteers and Yeomanry to re-engage, and to give the right hon. Gentleman's scheme a fair and proper trial. He had told them that they could be engaged for one year, and that they would, in his opinion, find that there would be very little alteration brought about by the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. He had heard a great deal of talk as to what was going to be the effect of the scheme. They knew that the Government had told the country, when they came into office, that they had found a Napoleon who was going to succeed where so many others had failed 1781 in the past. But as a matter of fact, as the right hon. Gentleman's scheme gradually matured, they began to realise, and he believed the country began to realise, that less and less was going to be done. As far as he could see the ultimate result of the scheme would be that it would have brought in a new name, the "Territorial Army," and the right hon. Gentleman would have reduced the Army by a very large number of men. Except with regard to a certain number of details which, in his view, it was entirely unnecessary to have brought forward in that large and important Bill of last session, he was afraid they would find that very little had been done. The Secretary for War told them last year that his scheme was of an economical nature. They were all aware that the Government got into office on the pledge to the electors that they were going to be a Government of economy; and "the Secretary for War had said that his scheme would mean a reduction of Army Estimates. He ventured to say that in the course of the past week they had seen that idea, at any rate, exploded. The Committee must realise that this idea of the right hon. Gentleman was not going to be carried out. It was unquestionable, from what the right hon. Gentleman had himself said, that if his scheme was to be carried out properly and in its entirety, it would lead, not to a reduction of the Army Estimates, but to a considerable increase of expenditure. When he first introduced these County Associations the right hon. Gentleman was of opinion that through them he would be able to raise considerable sums which would be used for carrying on the Yeomanry and Volunteers in their particular districts. He ventured to think that the right hon. Gentleman was not going to accomplish that object with the County Associations. The country districts were not going to supply these funds for which the right hon. Gentleman had hoped. It was absolute common sense that the people in the country districts were not going to subscribe funds to the County Associations in order to carry out work which should be done by the National Exchequer itself. A week ago the Secretary for War told them that he 1782 had a considerable difficulty to face, and that was the putting together of an efficient reserve of officers. Everybody must acknowledge that this was a most important point, and it was absolutely essential that there should be a large and efficient Reserve. The right hon. Gentleman had evolved a wonderful new idea to carry out this much desired, object. He was going, he said, to train, boys in the cadet corps of public schools, and afterwards train them as men of the Volunteer corps of their universities After that they would be sent through a month's course of training at some Army school or in some regiment, and they would be then efficient and good enough to take the position of captain, in the Army Reserve. Would such a training as that possibly bring forward, an efficient Reserve of Officers such as everybody so much desired to see brought about? They maintained that, it was absolutely essential that that Reserve of Officers should have full knowledge of the duties which they would have to take up. They though that those officers should be ready at any moment, to take their place in the ranks which they held in the Reserve, and he thought that nobody who had studied this question could possibly believe that, by the training which the right hon. Gentleman himself suggested, such a Reserve as was desired could be established. He should like to refer for a moment to a branch of the service in which he had the honour to hold a commission, and that was the Yeomanry. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had told them very little with regard to the Yeomanry. He had told them he had been unable to raise the fourteen squadrons which should he ready to go abroad if called upon, but anybody who knew anything with regard to the Yeomanry would have been able to tell him that that part of his scheme was impossible. They in the Yeomanry wished to know what exactly their position was; he did not think there were any Yeomanry officers who quite realised where they were. The right hon. Gentleman had told them last year that there were going to be considerable alterations made and that it was the intention to train the 1783 Territorial Army by combined training. All officers in the Volunteers and Yeomanry welcomed that statement, believing it was bound to lead to the greater efficiency of all arms. But they no longer heard anything with regard to these combined trainings, and he would like to know whether that was one of the ideas that the Secretary of State had abandoned, and, if so, why he had abandoned it. He understood that the right hon. Gentleman had laid it down that leave for training would not be granted to any member of the Yeomanry, unless he applied to the General Officer Commanding the district, who, it appeared, would have to go to the commanding officer and then to the squadron leader to ascertain whether the man ought to be granted leave. Surely the present system had worked well, by which the man asked permission from his squadron leader, who, after all, knew more about the training of his particular men and whether the application was one that ought to be granted. Then the squadron leader could make the application to his own commanding officer. He had very few applications in his squadron for leave, perhaps one or two during training, and these had only been made in cases which were undesirable.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. HALDANE,) Haddington
It was right and important that we should lay down clearly that the General Officer Commanding has general control over these matters. He will give general instructions, and subject to those instructions things will go on in the future as in the past.
MR. STANLEY WILSON
said he was exceedingly glad to get that, but he rather thought there had been a false impression with regard to what had been said previously. The right hon. Gentleman had issued a leaflet, a great deal of which was admirable, but on the first page he read—No non commissioned officer or man who has not signed his attestation paper will be permitted to attend the annual training.He thought that was rather a mistake. If a man was already enrolled for a 1784 period of service in the Yeomanry he could not see what was the object of signing the attestation paper, which eilistel him under absolutely dissimilar conditions from the piese.it. He thought it advisable that that particular point should be reconsidered. He welcomed the fact that the right hon. Gentleman had not interfered very greatly with the existing constitution of the Yeomanry, because everybody who had had any connection with the Yeomanry, must acknowledge that since its reconstitution it had worked extremely well. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman should have reduced the pay of the Yeomanry, and it was a pity that he had not laid down the exact amount a man was going to receive, because it took a very considerable amount of consideration of the various allowances that were made before a man could quite realise what pay he was going to receive. There was since the issue of the leaflet a very great deal of unrest amongst the Yeomanry, and it would be well if some strong statement came from the Secretary of Stats as to the exact position they would serve in, and the exact amount of pay they would receive. With regard to Volunteers, he would like to ask whether it was the right hon. Gentleman's intention to do away with the honorary rank of lance corporal. He was glad to see the right hon. Gentleman shook his head, and he concluded that they were to be allowed to continue. It would have been a mistake to do away with the rank. He very much regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had not seen his way to grant the separation allowance to the rank and file. He had had in the past few days letters from one or two Volunteer officers who had asked him to raise the question. They told him that their best men, the backbone of their battalions, were the married men, and that if they did not get the allowance they would inevitably be lost to their country's service, which would be the greatest pity for the sake of the Volunteers and of the country. He was afraid the right hon. Gentleman had found out that his scheme was going to cost him a very great deal more than he had expected, and that it was from an idea of economy 1785 that he had not seen his way to grant this allowance to the rank and file. He was extremely pleased that the right hon. Gentleman had seen his way to withdrawing that unfortunate attestation paper. It really seemed that under their new Napoleon at the War Office very great blunders could be committed. The new attestation paper he was sorry to see included the same penalties although they were not put quite as prominently before the eyes of the men who read it as in the original. Still, the man came under Section 99 of the Army Act, which involved the possible consequence of two or three months hard labour, and he did not think that that would add to the popularity of the scheme. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to introduce some Amendment into the Army Act.
§ MR. HALDANE
The hon. and gallant Member would not wish anybody who wilfully gave a false answer to be exempt from severe punishment? The Volunteers would not ask for that.
MR. STANLEY WILSON
agreed to it on a different point, but he did not quite like the three months hard labour, and their coming under Section 99. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman had considered the question of granting decorations to the Territorial Army, and that they would be granted as they had been in the past to the Volunteers and Yeomanry. He had received a letter from a Volunteer who would next June, under ordinary circumstances, be qualified for the decoration, and would feel it a hardship if he was deprived of the honour which he had looked forward to. With regard to the new Field Artillery of the Territorial Army, he was extremely sceptical as to whether that portion of the scheme could possibly prove a success. He would like to ask how it was intended to supply the necessary number of horses. Considerable difficulty had been experienced in his own district in getting fit and proper horses for the Yeomanry, and under the new scheme a large additional number would be required. Then how was it intended to supply the drivers? He was informed by an artillery officer that it 1786 took two years of continual training before a man could become an efficient driver. Was it contemplated that the Volunteer Field Artillery were going to be trained in such a manner as that? His own opinion was that this scheme was not going to be that very great revolution that they had expected or feared, and that it would prove a great deal more expensive than the right hon. Gentleman ever contemplated. He would find that beyond reducing the Army largely in its numbers he would accomplish very little else. He sincerely trusted that his somewhat gloomy forebodings would prove to be wrong.
§ SIR IVOR HERBERT (Monmouthshire, S.)
said the concluding words of the hon. Member who had just sat down led him to think that he did not look upon the scheme launched last year as a revolution. Personally he preferred the smooth force of evolution to the more drastic one of revolution, and he looked to the Secretary of State for War to make the way easier, thus facilitating the efforts being made by persons all over the country and by a very large number of the hon. Members of this House in connection with the various County Associations who were anxious to make the scheme a success. In rising to move the reduction which stood in his name, he did not wish to divert the course of the debate from the very many useful points which had been raised by the hon. Member who had just sat down, but there was a duty incumbent upon him in regard to his own particular district, and to the Principality of which he was proud to be a Member, of bringing forward what was felt to be a very serious grievance. He was not going to put forward any exaggerated claim on behalf of Welsh nationalise, but the grievance of which he complained arose from their peculiar geographical position, a grievance which was felt in a different degree and manner by those in various parts of the kingdom. What he felt—and he was stating the Welsh view purely, and probably other hon. Members would apply what he was going to say to the circumstances of their own district—was that they had not been encouraged to come into the 1787 general scheme of the military administration of the country. The Principality had been treated as though it were a fortuitous aggregation of English counties. What was the effect of that? By ignoring geographical, racial, lingual and other considerations, which went to make up a distinct nationality, they had shut out from the service of His Majesty very many valuable elements which otherwise would contribute greatly to its strength. They were encouraged last year by some of the words of his right hon. friend in the very interesting and able Circular which he caused to be issued, with regard to his own scheme recently adopted by Parliament—Local sentiment and susceptibilities can be better provided for by a system which appeals to local patriotism than is possible in a system of centralised control.Those words and other utterances which the right hon. Gentleman made in numerous speeches were hailed with a great feeling of hope everywhere through out the country, but nowhere more strongly than in Wales. They felt then that there was going to be a chance for them; that they had got somebody at the War Office who really under stood the feelings of the Welsh people, I and so they approached the right hon. Gentleman and asked him for that which he proposed to ask for again to day; namely, that he should consider the advisability of making the Principality—that is, the geographical entity consisting of the thirteen counties of! Wales—into a distinct administrative military district. He said "district" because he wanted to avoid the confusion which might otherwise arise from that unusual use of the word "command," which had been adopted in official quarters. A command he understood to be one of those larger divisions which had been made in the area of the Kingdom, and a district he understood to be a lesser area over which jurisdiction was exercised by an inferior officer. Therefore they did not come forward asking for a "command" with all the great expense and all the surroundings and glamour which attached to it; they were not asking that such a command should be set up in their little country, but merely that Wales should be made a dis- 1788 tinct administrative district within the area of one of those greater commands. It might facilitate the Committee in understanding the scope of the suggestions they were making if he recalled for a moment what was the administrative scheme which existed at present in the United Kingdom. Under a special Army Order, issued about three years ago, in the early part of 1905, the United Kingdom was divided into certain commands. It was then understood that this term "command" was adopted to express what had hitherto been known as a district. There were seven commands: Scotland and Ireland had one command each and the rest of the United Kingdom was divided up into four large territorial areas, the Northern, the Southern, the Eastern, and the Western. And then there were two exceptional commands, one at Aldershot for a very small area, but a very important one in its personnel, and the other was the London military district, which was an administrative district within the larger area of the Eastern command. It was an independent command, but he thought he was correct in saying that it was a district within and subject to the control to a certain extent of the Eastern commander. Although that arrangement was only made three years ago it had already been subjected to some very large modifications. There remained, however, seven commands and one military district. The only clear principle that seemed to emerge from a consideration of the. distribution which had been made of the area of the United Kingdom was that the national principle had been applied in the first instance in the arrangement of those commands. Ireland was made a separate command, Scotland was a separate command and the rest of the kingdom had by some extraordinary ignorance on the part of the General Staff been regarded entirely as England. He denied that as a geographical fact, and he claimed that there was a neighbouring country named Wales, which although its area was less, it was certainly not less in importance than England in the estimation of its inhabitants. He claimed that some consideration should be given to the very marked characteristics which 1789 that country possessed. Having been encouraged by the right hon. Gentleman last year they approached him and asked him to make this little concession to Wales. Of course, he was very sympathetic, he always was sympathetic, and he hoped he was going to be sympathetic to day. The right hon. Gentleman told him that what they asked for was not in his power to give, but he was prepared to give them a great deal, and something which they never thought of, namely, a whole division to themselves. At the time that promise was made he (Sir Ivor Herbert) had his doubts as to its feasibility, but he thought it prudent to hold his tongue, and the sequel had confirmed those suspicions. It was impossible to have a whole Welsh division, because they were only a humble people, and could not possibly raise the number of men to make up a whole division. Consequently, the scheme sketched out by the right hon. Gentleman was not practicable, and it was now suggested that Wales should invade the neighbouring districts, and Wales had been requested to annex the county of Shropshire, which claimed the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, and Cheshire, which claimed the Member for Dover. Of course, they were ready to welcome those right hon. Gentlemen, more particularly if they would address them in Welsh. At the same time he quite recognised that this arrangement was inflicting upon the invaded districts the very injury from which Wales desired to escape, namely, an interference with local patriotism. If Shropshire was to be brought into Wales, naturally all good Salopians would say that they were not Welshmen, and they did rot wish to have their local patriotism interfered with. He did not wish to put forward any claim that would in any way interfere or clash with the local feeling in any English district. What he complained of himself was the interference with local patriotism, which was the essence, in his opinion, of the whole of this scheme. It was in order to enlist that feeling which was very strong in Wales that he said: Set up Wales as one administrative district. Let them have a general officer commanding. He need not be a lieutenant 1790 general; a major general would do as well, or even they might put up with a brigadier general. If they had one who would be able to assist the local Associations, who would make himself acquainted with the different conditions which existed in Wales, he was sure that would assist greatly in making this scheme workable. There was a point he would make on this, which was after all the raison d'etre for his giving notice of Motion to reduce the Vote. He would suggest that it would possibly lead to the four commands being reduced to three, and the formation of one smaller district. He did not wish to press the point, but it was a fact that for the staff of one of these large commands the annual cost to the country was £10,000, and he thought it was very difficult to prove that the country got full value for that in military efficiency. The work could be done by a smaller staff in the smaller area he proposed at a cost of probably under £5,000. The cost of the London district was, he thought, £5,050 a year. The gain in efficiency, and the gain especially in the way of bringing into the service of the country that which never yet had come into the service, would be very great indeed. The reason why Wales had never done very much in the way of supporting the military forces of the country was this. The Welsh were essentially a people of ideals, and they wanted some ideal to awaken their enthusiasm. There had been nothing in connection with military service that had awakened the enthusiasm of Welshmen since the great Parliamentary Wars of the seventeenth century. Before that there were various times when Welshmen did go into the Army in large numbers, especially under the Plantagenet Kings, and their history, traditions and poems, were full of the traditional fighting feeling of the race. But that had died down, and it had never come into the service of the British Army. Wales had never poured her manhood into the ranks of the British Army in the way Scotland did at the end of the eighteenth century, or in the way Ireland did at the beginning of last century. Wales had never furnished any great number of officers to the British Army, and he was afraid that he 1791 must acknowledge that Welsh names were conspicuously absent among the great commanders of the Army. That all sprang from the same cause, namely, that the spirit of the people was not touched. It was that spirit they wanted to get at, and unless they got at it the Territorial Army would be a dead letter to the Celtic race in Wales. He could assure hon. Members that there were parts of Wales which had never yet provided a recruit for Great Britain, and it was not because the Welsh were not a fighting race. What did they do in the South African War? Although there was no enthusiasm about that war, a very large number of Welshmen took part in the fighting, and on the memorial which was now being set up at Cardiff, there would be the names of 886 Welshmen who laid down their lives in South Africa. But in how many units were these men serving? They were serving in 126 different units, which showed that there was no movement which carried them into any particular regiment or part of the Army. That showed that the spirit of the people had never been with military service, and yet the national spirit was undoubtedly a fighting one. The figure he had given meant that a very considerable number of men from Wales must have been serving unknown to anybody in the British ranks, and unknown especially to the War Office. He and others had had to carry out the inquiries to obtain the verification of all those names, and they got very little information from the War Office. The proportion of the killed to those serving would be high indeed if it reached 25 per cent. In the tightest place he ever was in there were 25 per cent, killed and wounded, but that was very unusual. Taking that proportion, they must reckon that there were about 4,000 from Wales serving during the last war. They wanted a stronger enthusiasm than that, and they could produce something more. He would like to refer to the scheme of the divisional organisation because it was a point which affected the whole future of the Territorial Army. In his opinion they were sacrificing to an imaginary symmetry the real strength of the whole scheme. They were setting up a fictitious standard, and they were forcing 1792 the Territorial Army into it, whether it suited it or not. He thought it would be far better if this somewhat Teutonic arrangement were abandoned, and if the organisation of the greater units were allowed to grow up and adapt itself gradually to the force which we found we could produce. He had been told that there were persons in high office who believed that we would never get anything under the voluntary principle. He had never held that view himself, but the opinion was growing very largely throughout the country that it was the fixed intention and desire of some of those persons to make the present scheme a failure in order that they might bring in their scheme for compulsory service. He could imagine nothing more unpatriotic—nothing that would be more regrettable. But it was not wonderful that these reports should get about regarding high officers at the War Office, because the War Office had always shown itself to be without any beliefs at all. [An HON. MEMBER: Always without knowledge.] He would not venture to criticise their knowledge, but he knew about their beliefs. Was not that the case in the early part of the South African War? It was strong belief that made the Yeomanry a success. But was it found among those who would now be described as members of the Army Council? He ventured to say that it was the noble Viscount opposite and the late Lord Chesham who were the real apostles and believers in that movement. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, then in office, was sympathetic and assisted in what was afterwards a great and valuable reinforcement in South Africa. He would like to recall to the right hon. Gentleman some words which he used when he brought forward his great scheme last year. He then stated that it was by appealing to the public and to the nation that they hoped to secure a change for the better. Then the right hon. Gentleman asserted his confidence in public opinion and in national feeling. He gave the Secretary of State credit for good intentions, but he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would not allow his good intentions to go to that limbo where all hope must be relinquished. 1793 He asked the right hon. Gentleman to trust national feeling a little bit more and to see whether he could not meet the humble request now put forward on behalf of Wales. He begged to move to reduce the Vote by £1,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £9,421,000, be granted for the said Service."—(Sir Ivor Herbert.)
§ MR. HALDANE
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has raised a specific question which I think I should at once deal with. He spoke eloquently and truly on the necessity of taking locality into consideration and appealing to local patriotism. I entirely agree with him. That is what we are endeavouring to do. But what is it that he asks? He wants the status and the ceremony and the gold lace of the staff of a general and the administrative arrangements which are associated with a full command. Well, I venture to say that that has really nothing to do with local patriotism. Local patriotism means the appeal to the people to render service and the recognition of the people as rendering their service in a national capacity. Last summer I went down to Rhyl and addressed a meeting there. In the course of my speech I gave a pledge which is more close to the point than anything which the hon. and gallant Member discussed. I said—The different parts of a nation should be treated according to their temperament and the necessities of their people. We do not desire to rule Great Britain on a east iron pattern. Even in the Army that was always the case; and the Government had now decided definitely and finally to offer Wales a division commanded by a general of their own.That was accepted with a good deal of applause, and I now think that we have come to what the people want—their regiment, their brigades, their units, their staff, their commanding officer, and their commanding general of their, own and a division of their own. The division is the real thing, and that is what contains the distinctively Welsh fighting element. I thought we had come to an understanding upon that, and I went back to the War Office, and within a very short time we had organised and given 1794 them a Welsh Division. There is no difficulty made about the Border. Neither did the Border counties demur to working in Wales nor Wales in the Border counties. Wales and the Border counties now work together and nobody wishes to disturb the arrangement under which the Border counties come into the division. Indeed, without them we cannot have a complete Welsh Division with the troops as they now stand. I thought all this matter was settled, and my hon. and gallant friend astonished me to day by coming and raising a new question altogether—that Wales should not have a division but a command, and, an extraordinary thing, a command with an area smaller than the area of the division. He wanted this command to be distinctively Welsh. That is a remarkable proposition. The organisation of this country for military purposes is one in which, very happily and fortunately for the present plan, the old Auxiliary Forces and the Regular Forces were organised in the same area. The commands were divided into grouped regimental districts and the command of the Auxiliary Forces and of the Regular Forces went to a large extent together. The brigadier commanding the regimental district was in command of the organisation of the Auxiliary Forces. Now the general commanding the regimental district commands the Territorial Force and the divisions of his district are included in the larger great in the command of the general officer commanding. The general officer commanding commands the Auxiliary Forces and the Regular Forces. Therefore, we have kept the same area precisely for the Territorial Forces and the Regular Forces for the future; and we thought it of the greatest importance to do that. Now comes my hon. and gallant friend and asks that we should break up the organisation which Was created by the late Government and which was worked out by the right hon. Gentleman opposite according to the provisions of the Esher Report, which divided this country into commands according to the amount of the military enclosed in each command, and sub divided these commands into grouped regimental districts. The hon. and gallant Gentleman now asks that the area of a grouped regimental district instead of being within 1795 the area of the command should overlap the command and contain within itself a command. That is wholly and absolutely incompatible with the policy and arrangement—a very good policy and a very good arrangement—initiated by the late Government and continued by the present Government. That could never be done without causing vast confusion and embarrassment. I come to the second part of my hon. and gallant friend's proposal. My hon. and gallant friend whispered the word "economy," but you cannot have the costly machinery of a new command without a staff and various expenses which are not justified when you are trying to organise on a small scale. There are eight commands, taking them from north to south: The Scottish Command, the Irish Command, the Northern Command, the Western Command, the Eastern Command, the Southern Command, the London District Command and the Aldershot Command. These eight commands are all based on this, that a large number of troops are included in each—sometimes the number is largest on the Regular side and sometimes on the Auxiliary side. The Alder shot Command contains no great amount of Auxiliary troops. The Scottish Command has an enormously large number of Auxiliary Forces and a very small number of Regulars. Ireland has a large number of Regulars and a considerable Auxiliary Force; but every one contains within itself a vast amount of material. If I were to adopt the suggestion of my hon. and gallant friend I would be splitting up the Western Command and creating a new command with so little military material as to render it absolutely unjustifiable to put on the Estimates. But the matter does not stop there. The reason for a command is not merely for the command of the troops.
§ MR. HALDANE
Does that mean that we are to break up the very principle on which our plan is founded, and to have a Territorial command different from the Regular command? If so, that is excluded by the very essence of our plan, which is to organise the Territorial Army 1796 as much as possible on the same basis as the Regular Army. We want them to train and work together as much as they can. My hon. and gallant friend is wanting me to go back on the root principle of our plan by what he proposes. Moreover, the division has, I think, this great advantage—that it is not tied down like the German Army Corps or like the Indian division. That is to say, arrangements are made on a large scale so that when it comes into action it can take what it needs in the way of supplies. That has enabled us to make a much more complete and effective administrative arrangement for each unit of the Army and each division than if we had a separate command and administrative staff for each division. The problem was again carefully worked out by the Esher Committee, with the result that the fixed administrative services have been organised on an enlarged scale and the division has been left free and relieved from the conditions to which it was attached in the past. The result is that the one thing that we could do for Wales effectively and which would make Wales feel that it had got a real division within itself is to take the divisional area and to carry out what I undertook to do at Ryhl, and what we have carried out to the letter. It is an entirely new suggestion that you should set up a new command—a very small one—in Wales, and that it should exist only for the Territorial Force.
§ MR. HALDANE
What is a poor, stupid representative of the War Office to do between these contending factions? How am I to divine the mind of Wales if Wales cannot state its own mind? The position really is that in Wales there are not enough troops to justify a separate command.
§ SIR IVOR HERBERT
Would the right hon. Gentleman state the number of troops in the whole of the Western district, and how many of them are actually in Wales?
§ MR. HALDANE
Speaking from memory, Lancashire and the other parts of the country included in the Western Command furnish the larger part of the troops in the whole command. And what would Lancashire say? It would demand a separate command also. And York would come on the scene likewise.
§ SIR IVOR HERBERT
I apologise for interrupting the right hon. Gentleman again, but it would be just as well to be quite accurate. I can state from documentary evidence that there is one infantry battalion, two batteries of Royal Field Artillery, one heavy battery of Royal Garrison Artillery, and one company of Royal Engineers; and out of that force, that large Army, which is in the Western district, only one field battery of Royal Artillery is outside Wales, and that does not belong to the Western district, and is only lent to it by the Northern district.
§ MR. HALDANE
They come and go in various places, but the command is measured by the number of troops in it, whether Auxiliary or Regular, and Lancashire raises two divisions of the Territorial Force, while Wales, including the four border counties, only raises one division. My hon. and gallant friend is asking me to create something which, from a financial point of view, from a military point of view, from an administrative point of view, and from the point of view of analogy, is totally unjustified. London is an independent command apart from the Eastern district. The London district has 7,000,000 of people to draw upon. The London Command has some 7,000,000 of people in its district, and has, therefore, a very much larger number of 1798 troops as compared with the other commands, and it offers no analogy to the other districts. On the whole case I really must say that I thought I had deserved the gratitude of the Welsh nation by having recognised their great qualities in so speedily and rapidly constituting a Welsh division, but I now realise that I cannot any longer put any faith in such expressions as came to me at the meeting at Rhyl.
§ MR. HALDANE
The Welsh Division consists of infantry, artillery and Yeomanry. It includes the border counties by general desire.
§ MR. HALDANE
Oh, yes; by general desire. I beg my right hon. friend's pardon. No objection was made in the Welsh interest.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
But Herefordshire, the adjoining county, objected very strongly to be attached to Wales.
§ MR. HALDANE
They may object to going to Wales, but Wales does not object to her coming. That is the point.
§ MR. HALDANE
Wales has a division of the old grouped regimental districts. In the old Western Command there were two grouped regimental districts, and Wales was one of them, and that district included the four border counties. We have adhered to the condition of things laid down by the old Order in Council, and Wales is not put in any new area, but on the ordinary area of the grouped regimental district. It is called the Welsh grouped regimental district or division, and it will be under a commanding officer who will be distinctly Welsh.
§ VISCOUNT VALENTIA (Oxford)
said that after the ruling of the Chairman overnight he thought it was not 1799 necessary for him to confine his remarks to the Amendment which had been moved, and he desired to revert to the general discussion of the Vote which was now before the House. He would only do so for a very few minutes in order that he might get a little information from the right hon. Gentleman, because he had repeatedly told them in the course of last session and this, that the Yeomanry who were still serving and who had not fulfilled their engagements would not have the conditions of their service or pay altered until their service was completed. But a leaflet had been lately issued which had not only mystified the men but mystified their colonels. In this the men were told that they must sign an application paper and make a second attestation in regard to the Territorial Force, but it seemed absurd to give a man who enlisted last year for three years this pamphlet to read, and convey to him the information that he was obliged to sign an attestation form, although he had still to serve for two years.
§ MR. HALDANE
Of course, he is a member of the old force, but without the attestation form he cannot, under the Act, come into the Territorial Force. This is a new force and without his signing an attestation form you cannot bring him into the new force.
§ VISCOUNT VALENTIA
said he quite agreed; but the very fact of the form coming into use at an early date made the soldier fear that he might unexpectedly become a member of the Territorial Force.
§ MR. HALDANE
was understood to say that a man could not become unexpectedly a member of the Territorial Force and until he had applied.
§ VISCOUNT VALENTIA
repeated that the leaflet had mystified the ordinary yeoman. It told him that it was open to him to join the Territorial Force and that he was to retain his old engagement. If he signed the form he became, as it were, in two forces at once.
§ MR. HALDANE
was understood to say that that would not be so, as the new force would take the place of the old.
§ VISCOUNT VALENTIA
said he quite understood what the right hon. Gentleman meant, but he did not think he would make the yeoman understand it, and he thought that it was natural that a leaflet such as this should mystify the yeoman. One officer had written to him on the subject stating that he understood shortly after the Act was passed that the conditions of service of the Yeomanry would not be affected until their term of engagement had expired, but the new attestation, form had given the men the impression that they would not be able to attend at the next annual training. If they thought that and did not attend, that, said the officer would make his regiment inefficient. They told the yeoman on the one hand that he became a member of the Territorial Force, and then they told him on the other hand that he was not to come out and serve with his regiment unless he signed a new attestation form. It seemed absurd to make a man attest twice over while he was serving in the same force.
§ VISCOUNT VALENTIA
said that even if it was a new force it still seemed, absurd to make him attest twice over. He thought that this mystification would have a serious effect and men would not come out. They did not read these documents very carefully and had not, like the Members of the House, the advantage of the attendance and explanations of the right hon. Gentleman Then, again, the conditions of pay were altered, and the man did not get the is a day which he expected to get. If the hon. Gentleman added up the figures of the allowances he would see that the men would not get 4s. They were told, however, that they were only going to lose 1s. 6d. out of the 5s. 6d., but although it was only a few pence it would be more.
§ MR. HALDANE
said the hon. Member was referring to the figures in regard to the recruit. The yeoman would be in a better position, as he would get the benefit of the equitation fund.
§ VISCOUNT VALENTIA
said that the idea in the men's minds was that their pay 1801 and conditions of service were not what they expected, and the whole argument of the officers of the Yeomanry and the officers of the County Associations to encourage the men to join the force was that although the pay had been very little altered the conditions of service had not been interfered with. He contended, however, that the pay had been altered. Another small point upon which he would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman was his declaration that no compensation would be paid by the Government in respect of loss or damage by accident to a horse used in the Territorial Army. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the compensation of £50 at present granted to a Yeoman losing his horse would not be maintained, but this was a very material change and seemed a very decided alteration in the conditions of service. The right hon. Gentleman had said that if a yeoman joined the Territorial Force he could insure his horse as he had £5 horse allowance, but that was, he contended, part of the yeoman's pay, which ought to go into the pocket of the yeoman or that of the commanding officer for his use or benefit. Nothing, therefore, should be taken out of it. His sole object in raising this point was to see that the yeoman was not treated differently, and that he was going to get what was promised him and what they, as officers, had promised him, on the statements of the right hon. Gentleman. He hoped the Secretary for War would make it clear that the yeoman would suffer no change in the conditions of his service.
§ MR. GUEST
said he must refer for one moment to the Welsh question which the right hon. Gentleman regarded as rather a nuisance. He was not at all surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman's statement that with all the best intentions in the world it was impossible to meet the wishes of the Welsh people. It was quite easy to give official reasons why this or that could not be done, such as inconvenience and want of symmetry if such and such a regulation was introduced into such an organisation, but he did not think the right hon. Gentleman quite appreciated the extent to which Welsh feeling 1802 had been stirred by Wales being lumped in with English counties, and the feeling of the people of the Principality ignored. That feeling had been strengthened by the fact that the headquarters of the division was not to be on Welsh soil.
said that North Wales had refused to agree with South Wales that the headquarters should be at Cardiff, and, therefore, as they could not agree to a place in Wales, an arrangement was made that Shrewsbury, the existing place, was the most convenient spot.
§ MR. GUEST
said the right hon. Gentleman should not lay too much stress on family differences of opinion with regard to the place to be fixed upon, and he thought his right hon. friend had made a mistake in placing the Welsh head quarters outside Welsh soil, against the desires of most of the Welsh people. He would recall to the right hon. Gentleman the fact that the whole essence of his Army scheme was an appeal to local sentiment and emulation, one county seeking to outvie another. Yet he had deliberately ignored one of the strongest local feelings existing within the British Isles, namely, the Welsh national sentiment. Some might think that this Welsh feeling was rather antiquated. But at any rate it was a great asset, and it was one which the right hon. Gentleman, ought to appraise at its true value. There was a tremendous Welsh national feeling, and if they appealed to it they would get a response. If they ignored it, if they included the Welsh with the English countries, and put the Welsh headquarters outside Welsh soil, they would fail in appealing to the one thing, Welsh national feeling, on which they could count for the success of the territorial scheme. He had no wish to make himself a nuisance to the right hon. Gentleman. He quite saw the difficulty he was in, but he was obviously ignoring the more essential condition for the less. If the right hon. Gentleman had paid a visit to Wales recently, he would know how strong the Welsh feeling was on this subject. If his right hon. friend could not see his way to meet the deep seated desire of the Welsh people, he must expect disappointment so far as 1803 the working of the territorial scheme was concerned. Scores of people had told him that if the Secretary for War did not satisfy the Welsh sentiment they would take no trouble to make the scheme a success, because it would be of no use to appeal for recruits, for they would not get them. He hoped, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider the matter, and see if some arrangement could be made to meet the national sentiment of Wales; otherwise he feared that his right hon. friend would be disappointed with the result of his scheme in that part of the country.
§ COLONEL SANDYS (Lancashire, Bootle)
said he desired to bring forward two points. In the first place, he might say that in reading the newspaper extracts of what the right hon. Gentleman himself had said he gathered that the Secretary for War had allowed himself to some extent to be a follower of Lord Cardwell's scheme for the Army. The point to which that scheme especially applied was that of linked battalions; and lie might say that since he had had the honour of a seat in that House, and of speaking frequently upon matters affecting the well being and organisation of the Army, he had always opposed the principle of linked battalions, because he believed it to be thoroughly inefficient, and to his mind the severing of the link between battalions, in any way that they might please to effect it, would add to the efficiency, flexibility, and mobility of the Army. The alternative to the linked battalion system was a system of depots. By depots he meant real depots. He did not mean that taking the system and putting it into a brand new organisation, and calling it a Special Reserve, filling the depots with the Militia Force, would in any way meet what he called the real depot needs of the Army. The first thing that struck his mind in reference to this question was the inadvisability of continually reopening the conditions of service in our Army—unsettling and constantly altering the main principles of its organisation. Each Secretary for War, from whichever side of the House he came, appeared to think it incumbent upon him entirely to reverse, or to a very large extent reverse, 1804 the well known organisation of the Army; with a view to introducing something which, to his mind no doubt, had advantages, but which to the mind of the practical soldier and more especially to the soldier in the ranks, were very doubtful advantages, and made him hesitate as to accepting the conditions under which he was to serve. He confessed he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had not taken the well under toad system of the Regular Army, the Militia, and the Volunteers, as the fixed foundation for our military forces, upon which our present organisation should be firmly based, and which, like the rails upon a railway line, could not be altered without risk of serious accident. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, in speaking yesterday, had touched upon the fact that by taking away the Militia Force there was a hiatus left between the Regular Army and the Volunteers. That was an idea which he could not press too strongly upon the right hon. Gentleman as being indeed most important; for it was an accepted fact by all generals and commanders in the field, in the present day, that the fighting force must be divided into three lines. They must have their line in immediate contact with the enemy; they must have the supporting line behind it; and they must have a Reserve behind that. He would not trouble the House with, technical details as to the way in which the principle of the three lines was applied in practice, but, if they would accept the statement from him, this was the unvarying plan of manœuvring troops in the field in contact with an enemy, and he maintained that the principles were identical whether they were manœuvring a company, battalion, brigade, division, or the British Army. These three main lines into which our Army must be divided were understood in the country, and certainly thoroughly well understood among all ranks of the Army. When they took away the second of the two supporting lines of the Army, he maintained that they left a great gap in our military organisation which they could not fill, and that it was dangerous at the present time, in the unsettled condition of matters abroad to take away that one well understood branch of our military organisation, 1805 and to unsteady the organisation by I leaving it incomplete. President Lincoln used the homely phrase that it was dangerous to swop horses while crossing a stream, and, in the condition of foreign politics at the present time, he ventured to think that it was rather unwise to change our military organisation and try any untested plan involving serious alteration in our forces. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had not taken our existing military organisation as it stood, and endeavoured to improve it, making the best of it, taking out its weak parts and converting them into strong parts, instead of applying himself to an almost brand new scheme. One other point he wished to allude to was that the artillery of all branches of the Service was the one that should be altered with the very greatest care. It took longer to train an artillery soldier than the soldier of any other unit of the Army. The artillery must always be kept up to full training in peace as well as in war, if they wished them to be ready for work when called upon. The right hon. Gentleman spoke with a light heart of his intended expeditionary force of 160,000 men. He did not think these islands had ever sent 160,000 British soldiers abroad yet. Wellington at Waterloo only had 35,000, and he had always laid it down, as the result of his observation and experience, that if we could ever put 100,000 men in the field, and maintain them complete in all points for two years, it would be a feat as great as we could possibly be called upon to perform. Therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman spoke of sending away 160,000 men into the field it appeared to him to be an impossibility. We never could attempt such a thing. But if the expeditionary force could ever be got out of the country, what had they left? The Territorial Army was practically Volunteers under another name. He spoke with all respect of the Volunteers—he was himself an honorary colonel. The force was a very good force as far as it went, but they must not expect too much from it, and if it was contemplated to leave the safety of the country mainly in the hands of the Volunteer Force, the safety of the country was being im- 1806 perilled to a very dangerous extent. They were taking away the Militia, which was a tried force, had always come forward, and was ready to be embodied for any length of time and to serve at home or abroad as long as it was wanted if it was only given the chance. It had been the backbone of the military force of this country from the time of King Alfred to the present time. This fine old force was all to be put into the melting pot and. thrown on one side, while the safety of these islands was left to the Territorial Force. He would not venture to put such a scheme before the country under any circumstances whatever, and he pleaded with the right hon. Gentleman before he took this fatal plunge of extinguishing the Militia Force once more to give them a chance, to stand in their proper place as the supporting line of the Army. The British Army was expected first and foremost to garrison our possessions abroad. The garrison of India was 75,000 men as a minimum, and circumstances might easily arise in which it might be necessary to increase it. If the expeditonary force were by any possibility got into any foreign country, how would the garrison in India be reinforced? Then also we had to maintain the garrison in the Mediterranean, which might also need reinforcing. The second duty of the British Army was to defend these islands in conjunction with the Territorial Force, and the third was that it must be capable of sending abroad a force to be landed at any tactical point that might be necessary. Unless they had a backbone of Regular troops, or a tried force like the Militia to support them, they could not rely on the Volunteers. During the South African War a request was sent to the Volunteer Force as a whole to ask them to give two months continuous service, and the reply was that they were unable to do so. He could, of course, quite understand that they could not do so, but if we were seriously attacked by a European Power it would be a question of continuous service, not for two months, but for two years. He would like to lay before the right hon. Gentleman privately various additional points that he might consider worthy of his attention. What we 1807 wanted for our Army, in addition to the points he had laid down, was flexibility, mobility, and great powers of expansion. The three main duties of the British Army must be supplemented by those qualifications, and any scheme for its reorganisation must be tested by these main facts. Anything which would not stand these tests, though it might be made to run during times of peace, would inevitably break down in time of war. He recollected hearing the Secretary for War, when he first came into the House, state that the Army was constituted for the purpose of carrying on the military duties of the country in peace time. It made such an effect on his mind that he had never forgotten it, but he trusted that that idea might come to an end, and that the right hon. Gentleman, and those who might succeed him in his office, would recollect that we did not want the British Army to fulfil the duties of the country in peace time, but that we wanted an Army which was capable of expansion to meet the requirements of the country in time of war. With regard to the reorganisation of the Army itself, our present system in the infantry was that the companies were small. They were nominally 100 men, but they varied. They were seldom much more than fifty, and were never more than seventy five. He had come to the conclusion that the proper strength for a company in the infantry should be on arrival from abroad, nominally 100 privates; in its second strength, 150; and in its war strength, 200. There would thus be instead of eight companies as now, four companies in a battalion, and one company at the depot. Another point in the Regular Army that needed correcting was the superfluity of majors. There were at present four majors to a battalion, and he had never seen what in the world was the use of four majors in a battalion. Why should they not revert to the old system of two majors to a battalion, which was quite enough? The only use of majors on parade was to take certain well recognised places, and they could not use four majors. Therefore the only thing to be done with them was to let them command companies, which was quite out of their sphere and derogatory to their rank, and he would have 1808 very great pleasure in seeing the two superfluous majors done away with, and captains allowed to command the companies, which was their proper duty.
§ MR. ACLAND (Yorkshire, Richmond)
said it would perhaps be to the convenience of the House that he should answer the questions that had been put as to the Yeomanry. It was true that Yeomen transferred to the Territorial Army must sign the new attestation paper accepting the terms and conditions of service applicable to the Territorial Force. It was not an unnatural thing when a force was disbanded and another force came into being that a man should be, asked to enlist into the new force, and it was no hardship to ask that the man should do so. The paper made it perfectly clear that in accepting the terms of service of the new force the exact guarantee as to pay which had been given in that House would still be kept as an absolute guarantee, because in the forefront of the statement on pay and allowances they found that "Men would be permitted to retain the existing Imperial Yeomanry rates and conditions of pay until the expiration of their current engagement," that was, for the period for which they signed the new attestation.
§ COLONEL SEELY (Liverpool, Aber cromby)
For how long a period may they sign this new attestation? It is very obscure.
§ MR. ACLAND
said he believed it was for one, two, or three years. Then there was the question as to the 4s. a day, which was guaranteed to be expended on the new recruit. It was asked how that 4s. a day worked out. It worked out in the following way: Pay, 1s. 2d.; equitation allowance, 1s. 4d.; camp allowance, 1s.; to be paid to the commanding officer for expenditure on the men, and the ration in kind, or 6d. in lieu of the ration.
MR. STANLEY WILSON
Will the hon. Member show me where the camp allowance is shown in the leaflet? I cannot see it.
§ MR. ACLAND
said that neither could he in the particular leaflet re erred to, but he did not think for that reason anyone would disbelieve that it was a guarantee. There was no doubt whatever that it was a perfect guarantee. The allowance was £5 for a period of sixteen days, which worked at 6s. 3d. per day. Under the new conditions they would receive £5 for fifteen days, which worked out at 6s. 8d. per day. If the horse was wanted for a further period than fifteen days the sum of 6s. 8d. would be paid for each additional day for which the horse was retained. Compensation would also be given if the horse was fatally injured or killed during the training. He thought that made the allowance for horses quite as generous as if not more generous than it was before. Leaflet No. 3, relating to services in the Territorial Yeomanry, laid down that Army rations would be issued free to all non commissioned officers and men, and this would be supplemented by the payment of Is. per day. The reason the terms of service were not in the leaflet was that it was made perfectly clear in the previous leaflet issued to each individual yeoman. He hoped this explanation would make it clear that 4s. per day given to the man or spent upon him was guaranteed to the new Yeomanry, the old rates were guaranteed to the old Yeomanry for the remaining time they might re enlist for, and the horse allowance was really a little more generous than it had been in the past.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
In regard to the old Yeomanry I should like to know why it is necessary to make them sign again. By asking the yeoman to sign again he naturally supposes you are altering the conditions. I understand that the old yeoman is to get the same pay and allowances which he got before, including the horse allowance of £5, and I also understand that if he does more days than are provided for by the £5 he will get a proportionate part of extra payment in addition. I also take it that 1810 if the yeoman's horse is destroyed—and this is not in the leaflet—he is to receive compensation and he has not to insure himself against the loss of that horse.
§ COLONEL SEELY
said he understood the yeoman was to receive the same rate of pay for the period of enlistment in the new form. That would of course enable him to enlist under the old rate of pay for another four years. If that was the meaning of the leaflet it was highly advantageous to the Yeomanry. He wished to put that before the Committee because the time was very short and they must have the answer very soon. He suggested that it was rather ridiculous to insist upon the yeomen taking a fresh oath of allegiance, because, although the duties would be different, they would be under the same Sovereign, and why should they take a fresh oath?
§ MR. HALDANE
The Answer will he found on page 3 of the leaflet. The yeoman will be permitted to retain the existing rate of pay and allowances. The new attestation is only necessary for the balance of the period for which the yeoman is signing.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
But the leaflet does not say that the yeoman is to get £5 horse allowance, or that he is to have compensation for the horse if it is destroyed in addition to his £5.
§ MB. BRIGHT (Oldham)
said he approached this subject from the point of view of a humble economist and a lover of peace. He was also a lover of economy in regard to warlike preparations. He had no wish to make himself a nuisance to the Minister for War, but he hoped to be able to extract from him a little comfort for his soul on the question of the very large preparations which it appeared to him the Government were making for the military defence of the country. If there was one thing which he spoke about more than another at the general election it was what he conceived to be the very gross wastefulness of the late Government, and he believed almost all hon. Members sitting on the Ministerial side joined in that chorus upon a thousand platforms. He thought it was extremely probable that nearly 1811 all the right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Front Bench uttered similar sentiments. If there had been a very gross wastefulness in what the last Government did, that pre supposed that a new Government ought to make a very great reduction. If they had to go back to their constituencies and after all the statements they made as to the enormous expenditure of the last Government they had to confess that the present Government could not carry on with very much less, then he thought they owed an apology to hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side. He, however, was not going to make any apology for having said that, for he was going to stick to it. They expected something more in the way of reduction from the Liberal Government. He understood that the Secretary for War had arranged for what he called a striking force of 160,000 men. He had been told that that was a great deal larger than had ever been provided before, and he wished the right hon. Gentleman to explain why, when the circumstances of the Empire were such that everything appeared to be perfectly calm and hopeful, they were required to provide such an enormous force. Then there was the question of the troops in the regimental stations in various parts of the world. The right hon. Gentleman had said that if any reductions were made in the Army it would have to be in the forces abroad. There was also the question of the Army in India, where he thought the Government would be quite justified in reducing the number. During the South African war a very considerable number of men were brought away from India. At that time if a certain Empire had wished to attack them that was the moment to do it. But obviously that Empire did not wish to attack them and, therefore, they were not in fear of any such danger. That danger had now been practically removed, and it would be a very reasonable thing under the circumstances to make a considerable reduction in the forces of India, and that would be an immense advantage to the very poor people of India. There was another quarter in which they were keeping a large number of troops for apparently no reason whatever, and that was South 1812 Africa. He noticed that the right hon. Gentleman intended bringing back some troops from South Africa, but he understood they were not to be disbanded, but retained in England. It appeared to him that the 14,000 now being retained in South Africa were not wanted there. As to the Mediterranean stations he thought a large number of troops both at Malta and Gibraltar might be withdrawn, because they had now fewer men of war in the Mediterranean, and consequently it was not necessary to keep up such a large establishment of troops there. He appealed to the Minister for War to make considerable reductions in those various quarters. The present Government, he knew, did not wish to go to war with other countries, but they could not expect to remain in office eternally, and if they left behind a tremendous striking force, a Party might come into power with predatory instincts, and then they would have ready to hand an instrument to use in a way which might be very injurious and disastrous to this country. He had only risen to clear his conscience and try to get a little comfort as a sincere lover of peace and an economist, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to say something as to the future prospects of such reductions as he had in his mind and which would give a great deal of pleasure to a great many hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
asked whether it would not be advantageous at this stage that the right hon. Gentleman should answer the question as to the position of the Yeomanry. The right hon. Gentleman last year said that the Yeomanry were to have precisely the same conditions and emoluments as they then enjoyed. Was that to be so?
§ MR. HALDANE
said that the £5 horse allowance would be paid to the Association, but if a man rode his own horse the Association would have to pass on to him the £5. As to the horse that had to be destroyed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer authorised him to say that the old rule would be the rule of the future. The State would bear the charge up to £40.
§ MR. SEDDON (Lancashire, Newton)
expressed his sympathy with the argument of the hon. Gentleman opposite who had pleaded for economy. It was as: an economist that he himself supported the Territorial Army scheme. He looked upon that as the only buffer between this country and conscription. Those who wanted to avoid conscription ought to give all the support they could to making the Territorial a real scheme. Those who listened to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for South Monmouthshire would have much sympathy with the appeal he made on behalf of Wales. Whether it was owing to the conditions laid down he did not know, but he had a strong feeling that Welshmen were not satisfied and that the response would not be in accordance with the requirements of the right hon. Gentleman. He would warn the right hon. Gentleman that he had to be very careful, so far as Lancashire was concerned. They might differ among themselves as to religious education and other questions; they might differ about the supremacy of Liverpool and Manchester; but their county pride was, like Caesar's wife, above suspicion. The people of Lancashire would not tolerate anything to the detriment of that particular county. The hon. Member for Woodstock had said that he did not think promotion from the ranks would be regarded with favour by the rank and file. Since he himself called attention to this matter last week he I had had considerable correspondence with non commissioned officers, from which it appeared that there was a strong feeling that the men in the ranks should have greater opportunity of rising to the commissioned ranks than they had at present. The Minister for War had stated that it was part of the policy of the Army Council to encourage promotion from the ranks, and he took it that that was the right hon. Gentleman's own sentiment. In the Military Mail of Friday, 6th March, he found the following statement—An extraordinary letter, it is stated, has been sent to the general officers commanding the territorial divisions pointing out that no one is to be recommended for commission in the new force unless he is a gentleman by birth and socially fitted to be received in the officers' mess of the Regular Army.1814 It was because it had been stated that the letter had been sent from the War Office that he rose to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether that was correct. The right hon. Gentleman would admit that the old idea of the aristocracy of birth—
§ MR. SEDDON
said he took the right hon. Gentleman's word, of course. He hoped it would be verified when the right hon. Gentleman made inquiries at the War Office. He thought there was something more in this than the right hon. Gentleman was aware of, and he would be glad if that was not so. The old idea of "gentleman by birth" had passed away, and it was the aristocracy of brains that was wanted in the Army.
§ MR. HALDANE
I can give the hon. Member the assurance that the War Office is no party to the sentiment contained in that letter. We will give every man a chance according to his capacity, and there is nothing further from our mind than the restriction indicated in the speech of the hon. Member.
§ MR. SEDDON
said it was not his statement. It was a statement circulated in a military journal. He was trying to popularise the Territorial Army scheme, believing it was a bulwark against conscription. It needed no argument to show the need of having all ranks, both commissioned and non commissioned, open to men in every walk of life. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that he wanted the Territorial Army to be a replica of the Regular Army; he wanted to have in it artillery, engineers, infantry and Yeomanry. He thought the right hon. Gentleman would get many skilled artisans who, from the engineering point of view, would be able to give much valuable help which many of those who were called gentlemen by birth would not be able to render. He was preferring no charge against those who were making that distinction; he knew that they were not snobs. There were many young men who were ambitious and anxious to get on, and if they were willing to give their knowledge in building up the Territorial 1815 Army, the right hon. Gentleman should do everything he could to popularise the Force and to remove the suspicion that it was going to be a class preserve for gentlemen of birth so far as the commissioned ranks were concerned. He would advise the right hon. Gentleman to get somebody to sub edit War Office Advertisements. The attestation form sent out was no credit to anyone at the War Office, but he exonerated the right hon. Gentleman from blame. He wanted the existing suspicion removed so that the Territorial Army scheme would realise the right hon. Gentleman's intentions and save the country from the blight of conscription
§ MR. COCHRANE (Ayrshire, N.)
said he began his military career under a very distinguished officer who joined a Highland regiment as a boy, served in various ranks, got the Victoria Cross, and eventually became commanding officer of the regiment. That was an example of what a British soldier had been able to do in the past.
§ MR. SEDDON
said he had simply referred to a statement which had been circulated, and with respect to which he had received a great number of letters.
§ MR. COCHRANE
expressed the hope that the ventilation of the subject would sweep away the cobwebs. He could speak in the warmest terms of his first commanding officer; he was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He rose from a humble position among the crofters of Scotland and was an exceedingly gallant soldier. There were many such in the Army, and everyone was received by his brother officers on terms of equality. Capable, zealous, and efficient young men should have a chance of rising to the commissioned ranks; still he believed it was not every soldier who was qualified for the post of officer. The hon. Member for Oldham was somewhat disquieted at the Army Estimates; he would like to see a reduction in the garrisons all over the country, and also a reduction in the troops in India, and in the garrisons abroad. [AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!] The hon. Gentleman cheered that. He himself 1816 would like to see the day when it would be no longer necessary to maintain armies and garrisons at all, but that day was far distant. Being a sane Imperialist who recognised the responsibilities and duties falling upon us, he felt that there was an obligation on every citizen of this country to contribute in some manner to the fulfillment of those responsibilities and duties. He had listened to the speech which the right hon. Gentleman made in July, 1906—and a very generous speech it was—in which he said that he had found the Army in a more satisfactory condition, both in point of quality and quantity, than in his recollection. Well, was the Army in a satisfactory condition now? what did the man in the street—who, after all, was the man to be consulted—say was the result of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme? The right hon. Gentleman in 1906 described the Army then as thoroughly effective and efficient and it was now reduced—
§ MR. COCHRANE
said that the words the right hon. Gentleman used in March, 1906 were that the Army had never been in a more efficient condition. He thought at the time that it was very generous for the right hon. Gentleman to say so.
§ MR. COCHRANE
thought he would be able to persuade the right hon. Gentleman that he was more generous then than now. The man in the street said that the Army had been reduced by thirteen battalions of infantry, and that two battalions of the Guards had been reduced.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said that as a Scotsman he deplored particularly the reduction of one battalion of the Scots Guards. The Army as a whole had been reduced by 20,000 men; and as the right hon. Gentleman reduced the 1817 Regular Army, he had increased pari passu the length of service.
§ MR. HALDANE
The terms of service under the late Government were nine with the colours and three in the Reserve. That had been altered to three and nine. I changed it to seven and five.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said that the changes were somewhat puzzling; they altered like a kaleidoscope. At any rate the right hon. Gentleman, not content with reducing the numbers of the Regular Army, had pari passu reduced the Reserve. Everyone who saw the Reserves who went out to South Africa knew that these men had served in the Regulars for a number of years, and had then gone back into civil life. They returned to the ranks with a good knowledge of discipline, and with physical strength which made them capable of taking the field at once. He feared that in the future there would not be that class or number of men to be counted upon. Did the right hon. Gentleman realise the great extent of the dislike to the Territorial Force? Recently during a visit to Scotland he asked how the Territorial Force was getting on, and the answer was not at all, what with the fine of £5 in case a man failed to give due notice if he wanted to leave, and what with the attestation form which in almost every line had the word "punishment," which was a euphemism for imprisonment. He ventured to say that, so far as his fellow countrymen were concerned, these were not conditions which would prove sufficiently attractive to induce them to join the Territorial Force. He did not want to join in the battle of the nations which had taken place; but one hon. Member had spoken of the disabilities which Wales had been put under, and he would speak for a moment of Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman had deprived Scotland of its only cavalry regiment on very insufficient grounds. The right hon. Gentleman had told the House that that was because of the insanitary condition of the barracks at Piershill; but he replaced the cavalry with a battery of field artillery not much less in numerical strength than the cavalry regiment. Then the garrison artillery had been 1818 reduced by 1,000 men, and how did that affect Scotland? He would compare Scotland with gallant little Wales. The number of garrison artillery in Scotland had been reduced nominally to 253 rank and file, but actually to only 150 men and those 150 men had to garrison Leith Fort, Inchkeith, Kinghorn, Aberdeen, the Forth Bridges, and three stations on the Clyde. It was no wonder that he was told that at a recent grand parade at Leith Fort there was one non commissioned officer and nine men in garrison of the Fort which was meant to protect Edinburgh against attack.
§ MR. COCHRANE
But the 150 men have to garrison Leith Fort, Kinghorn, Aberdeen, three stations on the Clyde for the defenoe of Glasgow, as well as Inchkeith.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said he was talking about Regular artillery. The right hon. Gentleman must have often enjoyed hospitality in different parts of Scotland, and he must have heard complaints that there were nominally only 253—actually 150—girrison artillery for the defence of Scotland, from the Orkneys to Berwick on Tweed and the Clyde, while Wales made a loud complaint that she had only 340 garrison artillery and Ireland 741.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said he was glad the right hon. Gentleman held so much trust in the Volunteers, but he asked if it was not the truth that the men in Scotland were resigning and flocking out of the Volunteers and not enrolling in the new Territorial Force? That was the information he had received. As he had said, they had no Regular cavalry in Scotland, and he would press on the right hon. Gentleman the importance of that to Scotland and to the nation generally. Scotland had proved a very good training ground for cavalry and mounted infantry as had been shown 1819 during the manœast autumn of Lord Tullibardine's Lovat's Scouts and the Fife Light Horse. After all, Scotsmen made exceedingly good cavalry soldiers. As to guns, the right hon. Gentleman had spoken about arming the Territorial Force with guns which appeared to be the old 15 pounders with an altered carriage. But had they the same trajectory and muzzle velocity, and the same effective range as the German gun? The right hon. Gentleman said that it had a range of 5,800 yards, but that did not correspond with the Answer which he had given to a Question that session. The right hon. Gentleman was asked what was the effective range of the gun, and he stated that the mere distance the shells travelled was about the fame, but the lighter projectile had a les effective range than the heavier one, the resistance of the air operating more rapidly, and consequently there was a difference of 1,000 yards in the effective range, the shrapnel bullets giving a higher degree of momentum. There was a difference of 1,000 yards in effective range. The right hon. Gentleman could not say that this gun was effective at a range of nearly 6,000 yards.
§ MR. COCHRANE
Then why did not the right hon. Gentleman arm the Territorial Force with the more effective weapon? If he sent out the Territorial Force to fight with a weapon which was outranged it would prove a very expensive target for the enemy's guns.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said that the trajectory of the German gun was far flatter than that of our gun, and it was a more effective weapon altogether.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said that the right hon. Gentleman would not dispute that whereas the altered gun was only capable of firing six aimed rounds and twelve 1820 unaimed rounds per minute, the more modern guns could fire twenty unaimed and twelve aimed rounds per minute, thus giving much more efficiency to the 18 pounder than to the converted 15 pounder gun. All he could say was that if the right hon. Gentleman found a difficulty in getting skilled artisans—the very class of men most to be desired—who were willing to give up time to learn artillery shooting he should give them an efficient weapon with which to go to war. With regard to the supply of officers, he did not know how short they were at the present moment as it was difficult to make out, but that there was a considerable shortage and always had been was an established fact. How did the right hon. Gentleman propose to make it up? By taking young men from the schools and universities and putting them in command of men. The fact, however, that a man was in uniform, was well conducted and intelligent, did not make him a good officer. He must have a knowledge of men and have been with them in their games and in the field, slept out in the open with them, and watched Tommy Atkins in every condition of his life, and not only have watched him, but know when not to see him, which was a great thing in a British officer. That was what made an officer—not the fact that he was a pedant or a scholar, but that he was a man. They would' not get that class of man by taking young men from the universities and putting them through a few months' classes. Why did not the War Office do as they did in the Navy, and take young men as at Osborne and Portsmouth and train them into efficient officers by a long course of training in their earliest years? They would not get officers by suddenly bringing them out into the field in an inexperienced condition and not knowing how to handle men in camp or field. These young men, moreover, would be liable to enteric or fever, and it was cruel to take them in case of an emergency and put them in command of men. He would also like to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the shortage of horses in the Army, and to ask him how he proposed to deal with it now that the 'bus horses which formed the nucleus of our supply 1821 and the greatest strength of our artillery in South Africa would be no longer available in the numbers that they were before. Where did he propose to get his reserve of horses, a matter which was of great importance to the artillery and cavalry? The right hon. Gentleman had promised to deal with this question several times, but he had never done so. Every foreign Army had a reserve of horses, sometimes on a very large scale. Of course, they could not ask the right hon. Gentleman to go into such a wide scheme as they had, but the tenant farmers in England, Scotland, and Ireland were always available and. ready to faring up and train young horses if they were given something towards their keep, and then they could be registered for use in time of war. He thought the right hon. Gentleman should consider whether he could not make use of that material. The right hon. Gentleman "was starving the Army in regard to men, guns, and horses for the artillery and the cavalry, and was apparently looking forward to the day when the burden of these things would fall, not upon himself, but upon hon. and right hon. Gentlemen at present on the Opposition side of the House.
§ MR. BYLES (Salford, N.)
said the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down began his speech by saying that the Army for which they were going to vote that night an enormous sum of money was not big enough, and he finished his speech by telling them that the right hon. Gentleman was starving the Army in the matter of men, horses, and guns. That was a characteristic remark to come from those benches. The typical Tory always "wanted the Army and Navy bigger and bigger and bigger, and if both of them were doubled to morrow hon. Gentlemen opposite would criticise the Government for not increasing them. He was sure they would, and not one of them had ever confessed that it was possible to have too big an Army or Navy. Happily the Party to which the hon. Gentleman belonged was now a miserable minority and could hardly rake together a three figure minority for any division at all, and he congratulated the country that another Party animated by totally different ideas and desires had now an 1822 enormous majority in this House and in the country. He would bring back the discussion for a moment if he were allowed to the position in which it was put by his hon. friend the Member for Oldham, who asked why this huge force should be supplied? He would not have intervened in this debate, but that last night when he was trying to put this point the clock arrived at a quarter past eight and the right hon. Gentleman felt it his duty to move the closure upon him. [OPPOSITION cheers.] Yes, he was always glad when his Tory friends wanted to see him closured.
Order, order. It is not desirable to make reflections upon the closure which has been adopted by this House
§ MR. BYLES
regretted that he had said something that was not wise, but he was simply excusing himself for troubling the House again so soon on the same subject. He would not complain of the right hon. Gentleman at all, and the Government which he adorned had no stronger well wisher he could assure him than himself, and nobody recognised more than he did the great and laborious industry and the conscientiousness that the right hon. Gentleman had shown in the conduct of his Department. They all wished him success, but his hon. friend had brought back the discussion to this question, which, he maintained, was the important question in discussing the Army. Why had this Regular Army to be so large, and what was it for? They had never yet had any explanation of why the country wanted 160,000 men. He thought the right hon. Gentleman himself said two years ago that he could give no reason for its being so big. He took it as he found it. He also said he depended upon policy, and was determined by the demands of his colleagues, 1823 the Secretary for India, the Secretary for the Colonies, and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. But he was a Cabinet Minister, and he ought to be able to tell them what 160,000 men were wanted for. Whom did we want to kill, whose houses did we want to burn, whose crops to destroy? That was the question. He maintained, as he had said before, that the pledges which the Government gave before they came into power, he would not say were being violated, but they were not being kept. It was these pledges perhaps more than anything else which brought them over from the benches opposite to that side of the House and put the right hon. Gentlemen into his position. The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues now enjoyed the luxury of power and the sweets of office, and he thought that the pledges which were quoted last night by his hon. friend who moved the reduction, and which had been frequently quoted by himself and others, ought to be justified by the Estimates which were put before the House of Commons, in regard to both the Army and the Navy. They wanted the whole military scale to be lowered, and +hose were the words of the Prime Minister himself. He said when he was in opposition that they must have a lower scale of military expenditure. That was what the House of Commons wanted and must impress upon any Government, and that was what he was now trying to impress upon this Government. There was one further point that lit, desired to make, and that was by this vast expenditure of naval and military expenditure they were really straining the taxable resources of the country. He could never forget where this money came from, and he was afraid too many of them were too ready to forget that there was no treasure chest inherited from a distant past, there was no reservoir built by a kind fairy out of which this money was obtained, but it came out of the pockets, and out of the earnings of the poor, and the very poor, of this country. He did not put it so high as to say that the country could not afford this expenditure, because after the experience of the Boer War it would be rash for anyone to say that there was anything which this country could not 1824 bear, but they were burdens which the poor had to bear, and which they ought not to bear. They were burdens which they need not bear, and which were imposed upon them for other people's benefit and not for their own, because all this insurance money as it was called, and all these munitions of war were for the defence of property. They had no property. [A LABOUR MEMBER: Workhouses.] His hon. friends said that they had the workhouses, and he agreed that that was all the property they had, and therefore, in the interest of the poor taxpayer he maintained: that it was the bounden duty of a Liberal Government to reduce the scale of expenditure upon military matters. As. the money was to a large extent raised: by a system of indirect taxation, we took taxes from the poor without their knowing it or feeling that they were paying. That was a most mischievous method, and if the poor knew that a part of the money they were spending: on sugar, tea, tobacco, and beer was really being spent in maintaining barracks, full of soldiers whom they did not want, and of whom they did not feel the need, and upon the disbandment of whom they would not feel one qualm of fear, they would not suffer the system to goon. He said that in taking the money from the poor in that way they were taking it, he would not say dishonestly, but we were supporting our Army by means, which were not justified. In his view on this subject he had the support of a very large number of Members of this House
§ MR. BYLES
No, not seventy five, but 175. They did not always consider themselves entitled to try to destroy their Government. They had some hopes of its reform, and they knew that if they got out of the frying pan they would] fall into the fire. But it was not only a large number of Members of that. House who held these views; if they went to the country they would find that these views were extensively held. He now appealed to the leaders of the Liberal Party, and to the Government supported by the Liberal Members. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that only a week or two ago the 1825 organised forces of Liberalism, drawn from every quarter of the country, namely, the National Liberal Federation, had passed a strong resolution in support of these views. The great Liberal newspapers of the country, daily, weekly, country and, Metropolitan, day by day, and week by week, were maintaining that the Army should be reduced. But even that was not all he might appeal to. If they went back to the names of past statesmen who had made speeches on this subject, they would find these views abundantly supported. From the days of Sir Robert Peel and Lord John Russell, through the days of Gladstone and Sir William Harcourt on one side, and of Mr. Disraeli and Lord Randolph on the other, they found that the utterances of these eminent and experienced statesmen might be quoted in support of the views he now advanced. Therefore, he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman not only to Remember his own Party, the newspapers which supported him, and the National Liberal Federation, but to realise that all the moral and intellectual leaders of the country, or very many of them at any rate, were in favour of the position which he and others in that House took up. Would they be in great peril, said an eminent Member of the other House a few days ago, if they reverted to the scale of expenditure which they indulged in ten years ago? Was there anybody "who believed that we should be risking our freedom if we reduced our expenditure to what it was when Mr. Gladstone "was in power and when the last Liberal Government was in office?
§ MR. BYLES
Lord Courtney, a man than whom none was more entitled to the respect of his fellow countrymen. If the Liberal Party was to live, it would hive to return to its earlier and better traditions; it must keep its pledges; it must husband its resources; it must lighten the burdens of the poor; it must show an example, not of international jealousies, but of international friendship. He had spoken strongly, he hoped not too strongly, but he could assure his right hon. friend that he had spoken more in sorrow than in anger. He was a staunch and stalwart 1826 friend of the Liberal Government, and he was deeply attached to the ancient principles of the party to which he belonged—the principles of peace, retrenchment, and reform.
§ MR. COURTHOPE (Sussex, Rye)
said he would like to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to a speech of his made in 1906, when he used these words, reported in Hansard on 8th March of that year—Our Army was never more efficient than at the present time. Our Army is now on a better foundation as regards organisation, and a better foundation as regards the knowledge of officers—and I include cavalry and infantry officers just as much as engineers and artillery—than it has been at any previous period.
§ MR. HALDANE
I said that it was in a more satisfactory position than it had been before, but that I hoped that it would be still mare efficient.
§ MR. COURTHOPE
said he would not pursue that argument, but he took the opportunity of drawing the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the words he had used on a former occasion. He wanted, for a moment, to criticise what he called the musketry policy of the War Office at the present time. When he said musketry policy, he meant the training of the Regular soldier and the Auxiliary soldier to shoot, and the means with which he was supplied to shoot, namely, the rifle and ammunition. He wanted to confine himself to that policy because it was the policy which the present Government pursued. He ventured to say that they were getting dangerously behind the times, in the whole matter of the musketry of the soldier. They were failing to make the best u e of the material at their disposal, namely, the hands and eyes of the troops they had to train. They were not supplying such weapons and ammunition as would enable those hands and eyes to be used to the best advantage. It seemed, as far as one could judge from the statements which the right hon. Gentleman made, and from the Army Orders which had been issued as to musketry regulations, and so on, that extreme accuracy of fire was not desired at all by the 1827 the right hon. Gentleman and his present advisers, but that it was sufficient if the fire of the soldier was kept within a sufficient "angle of error" to use the technical expression. He really thought that was quite wrong. It might be right to say that a soldier was a tolerably good shot if he fired within a certain distance of the object, but he should be able to shoot nearer and so become a better shot. It might be good shooting for a man to hit a battery of artillery at a distance of 1,000 yards, but it would be better if he could hit a single horseman at the same range. It was simply a question of degree, and it was not, in the least, for any party to say that we should be satisfied with a certain degree of musketry efficiency. The whole tendency of modern warfare—and it should convince the right hon. Gentleman—was that extreme accuracy of fire was extremely necessary. In Germany they insisted on special musketry training under special conditions for 10 per cent, of their infantry, and the importance of this training was recognised by other Continental nations—it was realised in Japan, and by all the leading Powers of the world. It was realised in a very marked degree in the United States of America; and he might quote one instance to show the great importance, of at all events, a certain number of the troops being trained to extreme skill with the rifle. In the Spanish American War in Cuba they had a very remarkable example of the value of accurate shooting. A large portion of the Spanish Army, he believed approximately a division, were moving from one position to another on one side of a ravine which for a number of miles could not be crossed. It happened, he believed by chance, that a single American scout was on the rocky ground on the other side of the ravine overlooking the road. That single man happened to be a very fine rifle shot. He was at a considerable range, but by his skill with the rifle he succeeded in stopping the progress of the whole division. Now a man who was an ordinary shot would have used all the ammunition he could and done very little damage; at all events, it was absurd to suggest that he would have stopped the progress of a division. But this one American scout 1828 killed or wounded over forty officers, and never touched anybody else. He cited this example to show the importance that should be attached to extreme accuracy of fire in certain portions of the Army. In any case, if they could not get a large number of men to attain a degree of extreme efficiency, at all events they ought to train some to attain the highest degree of efficiency of which they were capable, and for that reason they must provide them with plenty of opportunities for practice; they must encourage them to the best of their powers to become efficient with the rifle; they must give them good, weapons and good ammunition. But the Government were not doing any of those things. He did not wish to say that their modern rifle and ammunition, were really bad, but they were not improving with the times. The right, hon. Gentleman knew what other countries were doing; he had seen the comparison between experts with various, rifles in the Pal ma match, in which picked men were engaged. The difference of rifle and ammunition was so great that our men had no chance at all against the experts, who not only shot, with much greater accuracy, but shot very much faster, because their Governments, advancing with the times, had provided them with the best rifle, the sights of which could be focussed quickly We had sights on our rifles which could not be focussed quickly, and which many eyes could not focus at all. The fact remained that we did not do the best we could to provide our troops with a good rifle. The right hon. Gentleman was an expert in the question, of ammunition and he knew very well that our service cartridge was. thoroughly out of date, owing to the? improvements which had taken place since our service cartridges were stocked. It was now possible to have greater range and increased striking velocity. This involved higher pressure at the breech. He suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should consider the advisability of arranging the block part of the breech in connection with the loading breech of the rifle in such a way as would give the extra resistance to the pressure, which was required for high velocity powders. He asked the right hon. 1829 Gentleman to ask his advisers whether something could not be done mechanically and cheaply which would adapt our rifles to the extra pressure required for modern powders. He urged the right hon. Gentleman to make sure that in the matters of training, musketry, and ammunition we should march with the times. At present we were behind our Colonies as well as other countries. We should always try to keep ahead of them in these matters as in others.
§ MR. MACKARNESS (Berkshire, Newbury)
said he entirely agreed with what had fallen from the Labour Benches in praise of the Territorial Army as a bulwark against conscription in this country. He wished to ask a question with regard to the position of lords lieutenant under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. They were now the presidents of the County Associations as well as lieutenants of the King. Would it not be right that an indication should be given them as to the inadvisability of taking part in party politics in their own counties? They were high officials appointed for great public purposes, some military and some judicial. It was their business to recommend gentlemen for appointments to the magisterial bench, and they were now the supreme officials for the purpose of managing, organising and recruiting for the Territorial Army. Was it not advisable on grounds of public policy and of the success of the Territorial Army that they should in future abstain from publicly identifying themselves with party politics in their own counties? He believed it would now be in the jurisdiction of the War Office to give some directions as to the position which they should take up in this matter. He had in his own county a lord lieutenant, who plunged publicly into party politics who happened to share the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite; but his (Mr. Mac karness's) feelings would be the same if he happened to be a Liberal. These high officials were not placed in the position of representatives of the Crown to use it for the purpose of identifying themselves with either side of party politics. He would like to ask, and he thought he ought to have the 1830 support of hon. Gentlemen opposite, why there was such a vast difference between the total Estimate for the Army and the total number of men voted now and the Estimates which were thought sufficient by hon. Gentlemen opposite a few years ago. He found that in 1895–1896 the Party opposite thought it sufficient to spend under £18,500,000 on the Army, and in the following year they spent only £18,269,000. In the year before the war, although there was a slight increase, the Estimates were only just over £19,000,000, and in the year the war broke out they were under £20,000,000. They, in that year of profound peace were spending £7,500,000 more than that, and it was a peace which was secured by friendly treaties with other great Powers such as had never been the case before. Only a week or two ago such a great authority as Lord St. Aldwyn had said he never remembered in the whole course of his experience a time when there was such hope of sustained peace as they enjoyed at present. From 1886 to 1896 the number of men thought sufficient for the Army was about 140,000, taking the mean number for the period. In 1897–8 when the Party opposite had been in office a couple of years, they were then satisfied with 156,000. There was, of course, a great increase during the war, but although the war had been over now for nearly five years, they had got nowhere near back to the numbers thought sufficient before the war. The Party opposite had always claimed to be the special custodians of the armaments and defences of the country. He put it to his right hon. friend that it lay upon the present Government to show what causes there were to justify the Estimate's they were asked to vote, amounting to 185,000 men and £27,500,000. That was about 25,000 men and £7,500,000 more than the Party opposite thought necessary before the war. That was a matter which appealed to Liberals not merely on the grounds of the needs of the taxpayers, but because they were pledged to great social reforms for the masses of the people which could only be carried out by the expenditure of money. There were only two ways of finding that money. One was by reducing taxation and 1831 saving money on the expenditure on armaments, and the other was by increasing taxation in the way proposed by the Tariff Reform scheme of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He begged the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind that they meant, so far as they could, to carry out not only a scheme of old age pensions, but the reduction of the sugar tax, one of which pressed heavily on the mass of the people, while the other was a reform eagerly demanded by aged people in great distress throughout the country. He did not see any way in which these reforms could be carried out unless some large reduction could be made in the expenditure upon armaments, and it was on that ground that he begged the right hon. Gentleman to tell them what were the special grounds upon which he justified this much larger expenditure than was required a few years ago.
§ MR. HUNT (Shropshire, Ludlow)
said the hon. Member opposite had stated that in regard to the affairs of this country there never was such a peaceful outlook as at present. He would remind the hon. Member that that was what the Prime Minister said just before the Franco German War.
§ MR. HUNT
said that did not make any difference. They did not intend to increase taxation upon the poor of this country. Apparently a great many hon. Members opposite wanted still further reductions in the Army, but the Regular Army had already been reduced by 21,000 men. Another hon. Member said he wanted peace, and not war. So did everybody in the House, but if they wanted peace they must be prepared for war. There was another great nation which possessed a comparatively small part of the civilised world, and her increasing population compelled her to find some more land. Therefore this country had to take great care to preserve what it had got. They had already reduced the Regular Army, and he did not see what they had got in its place. There was no doubt that the Territorial 1832 Army would not afford any more military training than the old Volunteers, and the numbers would be less. The Duke of Norfolk's Committee said that the Volunteers and the Militia were not good enough in musketry to face a serious foreign invasion; at any rate, not successfully. The Territorial Force would be utterly useless for some time, and it was going to be very expensive as well. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean had said that the artillery force of the Terroritial Army would not be of any use, and he agreed with him, because it would take quite three years to make a skilled artilleryman. The scheme of training was not only useless, but it was not fair either to the employers of labour or to the men. Employers who allowed their men to go to camp for a fortnight would be placed at a great disadvantage with their trade competitors who did not allow their men to go to camp at all. The right hon. Gentleman was asking 300,000 men to take upon themselves the whole duty of defending their country, and he was going to leave the rest of the able bodied men to do nothing but shirk their first duty to their native land. They were asking those 300,000 men not only to become the sole defenders of their country, but to give up their only holiday in the year. There were hundreds and thousands of able bodied men with plenty of leisure and money, who were not going to do anything for the defence of their country. The plan was absolutely unfair, and it would never work. The number of men was not anything like enough, and the right hon. Gentleman could not pretend that they would be sufficiently trained they would be quite useless to repel an invasion of this country. They had had sufficient warning from past and present military authorities as to the risk they ran of invasion. The whole scheme was an absolute farce, and if national disaster came upon them the Minister for War would be criminally responsible.
§ MR. BELLAIRS (Lynn Regis)
said he did not propose to follow the hon. Member for Oldham and the hon. Member for Salfoid in their disquisition about economy. They posed as lovers of 1833 economy and peace, and claimed a monopoly of it, and like all lovers they protested too much. He had the charity to ascribe to all the Members of this Hour e a love for economy and peace. The questions put by the hon. Member for the Newbury Division were answered in the Memorandum, which he suspected the hon. Member, had not read. He proposed to deal with one or two questions which involved an increase in the expenditure. To the scientific mind of the Secretary for War the question must have occurred whether in the near future the Army should not be re armed. He understood that the short rifle with breech action would only stand a pressure of about 19 tons, whereas the Continental and American rifles would stand pressures up to about 23 or 24 tons, and were therefore capable of being adapted to high velocities. If adapted they could be used with a fixed sight up to 1,000 yards instead of 500 yards as in the case of our rifle. That was an enormous advantage in action. The cost of re arming our infantry, he believed, would be £1,000,000. He called attention to the Memorandum of the Army Council, urging the necessity of practice in rapid firing under service conditions. He was informed, however, that the number of rounds of ammunition per man for all purposes had been reduced by about 17 per cent, from 300 rounds to 250. How was this consistent with the Memorandum? He hoped he had been misinformed on this point. He wished to put another question in regard to the large quantity of Kynoch's cordite, which was rejected because it had been treated with mercuric chloride. He wished to know whether that cordite had been destroyed. He was told that during the last seven years the amount of Kynoch's cordite supplied to the Army and Navy was 2,450 tons. He did not know when the firm commenced to mask the heat test with mercuric chloride, but the Navy had found this cordite so dangerous that all which had been dostorel with mercuric chloride had been destroyed. Supposing that all of it had been so treated, and only 40 per cent, had been fired, there would be 60 per cent, left on their hands which had to be destroyed. This, at £170 per ton, meant a loss to the two Services of £250,000, but he did not 1834 suggest that all the cordite had been so treated with mercuric chloride. Had any claim been made against Messrs. Kynoch for the immense loss to the taxpayers involved by this destruction of cordite? He wished to know whether the reserves of ammunition had been brought up to replace the cordite which had been destroyed. A 12-inch cartridge of cordite took three months to dry, and, therefore, at the very earliest they would only get their first batch of cartridges three months after the first order. The provision of reserves could not be deferred until war broke out. He hoped that the cordite which had been destroyed had been replaced by fresh.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY (Yorkshire, N, R., Thirsk)
said he was glad that the question of cordite had been raised, and he would like to hear the answer of the right hon. Gentleman. There was no greater well wisher of the Territorial Army than himself, and he thought that so far the scheme had been progressing satisfactorily. He wished to know what was going to happen where existing regiments overlapped and were in the areas of two different Count)' Associations. He instanced the case of a regiment with two squadrons under one County Association, and two squadrons under another County Association, and asked whether he was right in coming to the conclusion from the Memorandum he had seen that the four squadrons would be administered by the County Association in whose district the headquarters were situated.
§ MR. HALDANE
was understood to state that each County Association would administer the squadrons in its own area.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY
said he was glad to hear that explanation. That raised the question how they were going to get uniformity of equipment, and so on, if a regiment was to be run by two different bodies. He had seen nothing in the Memorandum on that point. Were there to be Joint Committees, and, if so, what regulations were to govern the appointment of the Committees? He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give attention to this matter, as there 1835 appeared to be some difficulty in connection with it. He had been informed in answer to a Question to the right hon. Gentleman that the school for Yeomanry officers at Netheravon had been abolished for junior officers. He thought it was a great pity that the right hon. Gentleman had abolished that school for officers of all grades. The institution was very much appreciated by Yeomanry officers. The right hon. Gentleman did not say in his answer what rank of officer was still to be allowed to go there. He supposed it was abolished for every junior officer below the rank of captain. It was supposed that these officers would be able to get as good instruction with a cavalry regiment. That had been tried, and it had never been half so popular as the Yeomanry school. It stood to reason that officers of the regular cavalry had something else to do than to train Yeomanry officers; they were busy training their own junior officers and men, and they were not in a position to give the individual time and attention to junior Yeomanry officers which they were entitled to expect if they desired to become efficient. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that junior Yeomanry officers could go to the school at Netheravon for a refresher course. Would officers taking that refresher course be able to qualify themselves for promotion by obtaining a field officer's certificate? He wished to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the question of training manuals in connection with the different branches of the Territorial Army. In recent years the position had been very unsatisfactory. A sergeant or non commissioned officer who wished to qualify and make himself thoroughly acquainted with his work had to find the information he required in four or five different books. It was difficult for him to learn what was really necessary to be efficient. The right hon. Gentleman would confer a great boon if he would bring out a simple manual containing the rudiments of every branch the man was supposed to know. That would remove what non commissioned officers felt was a great handicap in their work.
MR. EVEEETT (Suffolk, Woodbridge)
said he wondered why the right hon. 1836 Gentleman when consolidating and unifying all the fighting forces in the country had not availed himself of the police a fine, numerous and well trained body of men, by placing them in the Territorial Army. In case of invasion there should surely be some place for them in the defence of the country. He rose, however, chiefly to protest in the name of his constituency against the continuous and enormous military and naval expenditure of this country. One of the most conspicuous of the many faults of the late Government was their reckless prodigality and extravagance in military and naval matters. Before the last general election Mr. Gibson Bowles wrote an interesting pamphlet on national finance in which he showed that in the previous ten years the cost of the Army and Navy in this country had been actually doubled. An interesting article had also been written by Lord Avebury in the Nineteenth Century Magagine of November 1905, in which he showed that the annual expenditure of this country on armaments in the previous ten years had increased by the enormous amount of £50,000,000. He showed further that we were not obliged to do this by the expenditure of other nations, but that it was we who had compelled other nations to increase their expenditure. It was we who had forced the pace. Lord Avebury set forth the startling fact that the increase in our expenditure on the Army and Navy in those ten years had exceeded that of Italy, France, Germany, and Russia, all put together. Therefore we were not only putting an enormous additional burden on the shoulders of our own industrious folks at home, but driving the Governments of Europe to lay heavier burdens on the shoulders of their people. He had hoped that, when a Liberal Government came into power there would soon be a reduction in the bloated armaments of the last ten years. He could not express the bitterness of disappointment he felt that in the third year of the present Government, supported by the largest majority that had ever sat within those walls, no very substantial reduction in expenditure had yet been made. He earnestly entreated the right hon. Gentleman to do his level best to ensure that) before this Parliament 1837 separated and they had to go back to their constituents, they would be able to report very considerable reductions in the expenditure on the fighting services. The great strength of this country lay in its industries, not in its armaments;—not in its fighting people, but in its producing people, on whom lay the additional burden of taxation. We had an income tax of 1s. in the £ in a time of peace. He could remember when the income tax in a time of peace was only 4d. When the last Liberal Government was in power and he had the honour of a seat in Parliament, the income tax had got up to 8d., and now we saw it in a time of profound peace at 1s. When he was last in Parliament, sugar, which was one of the greatest necessities and comforts of the people, was entirely free from taxation, but now £6,000,000 of taxation was put on the poor people's sugar basins, and a considerable addition made to the cost of their tea. They wanted to have their sugar as free as before, and the tea duties reduced to the level at which they were before their friends opposite started on their career of prodigality and extravagance. It seemed to him that the Tories loved taxes, not in the concrete; but they took a pleasure in swelling the expenditure of the country, especially that on the Army and Navy, from which no profit whatever came to the people, and thus made heavy taxes necessary. It was true that comfortable billets were found for some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite and their friends in the Army and Navy, out of the pockets of the taxpayers. He represented a constituency mostly of poor people who lived in cottages, and who had to fight hard for their daily bread, and in their name he urgently appealed to the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues to use their utmost endeavours to make substantial reductions in the enormous expenditure on armaments which now prevailed in this country; an expenditure which they had never seen anything like before. We were safe enough formerly relative to other nations, and we were no safer now. We had advanced in civilisation, there was an increasing spirit of friendliness of 1838 one nation towards another, communication between nation and nation was easier than before, and we were blessed with a. Sovereign who was the best friend of peace of any Monarch in Europe. We believed, however, that our Gracious Sovereign's efforts were heartily reciprocated by the other rulers. And as we as a nation had set the example of vast in crease in armaments, so we should set the example of a substantial reduction of armaments. He urged upon the Ministry to set their whole strength, to doing this. They wanted this money" for the use of the people, and for old age pensions. The right hon. Gentleman was spending £40,000,000 on the fighting: services more than was spent ten or twelve years ago. This huge sum would give a pension of 5s. a. week twice over to every old mart, and woman in the country. We were none the better for the enormous: increase of armaments, and the money spent on them should be used for increasing the comfort of the people, and to the advancement of social reform. He felt he owed it to his constituents to make this earnest entreaty for reduction. He besought the Minister for War to grant hum the assurance with which he could go back to his constituents that very substantial reductions would soon, be made in the cost of the fighting services, and very large additions made to the comfort of the people with the money thus saved.
§ SIR IVOR HERBERT
said he did not know whether it was the intention to take the vote for Vote 1 before the interruption of business, but with a view to facilitate the right hon. Gentleman's arrangements, he was willing to withdraw his Amendment.
§ MR. H. C. LEA (St. Pancras, E.)
said be objected to the withdrawal of the Amendment. If it were withdrawn he would, move a reduction on his own account.
§ LORD BALCARRES (Lancashire, Chorley)
said that the hon. Member for the Woodbridge Division of Suffolk seemed, to be rather anxious about meeting his constituents since he implored the Government to take such steps as would 1839 justify him and his friends in meeting their constituents, and in saying that their pledges of economy and reduction in expenditure had been redeemed. The Estimates had been reduced, but it was quite true that this year the reductions effected by the right hon. Gentleman were solely owing to the fact that the undertaking of the late Government, as to the provision of artillery, had been fulfilled. There was, however, no net reduction in the present Estimates. What was more, so far from any reduction being possible in the next few years, the Army Estimates were going to rise again. The right Ion. Gentleman could reduce the Army by a few thousand men, but he knew that the expenses connected with the disbandment of the regiments were very high; and the right hon. Gentleman also knew that on account of the policy of Works Loans being dropped, progress with national works was falling into arrear. Next year and the year after, enormous sums of money would have to be found for public works such as barracks. Existing barracks had been neglected and more of them would have to be built, and the money found by the successors of the present Government. Then they must have a new rifle, which meant a million of money. Again, the Territorial Army, if conforming to the expectations and hopes of the Secretary for War, was going to cost far more money than was at present supplied by the Army Votes. It was just the same "with the Navy. There was a small saving this year, but next year it appeared that they were to have five new battleships, so that no saving was possible or probable on the Navy expenditure. The same system was being pursued throughout the whole of the departments of Government—a system of mortgaging the future, and of living on post obits. So far from the reductions which the right hon. Gentleman and his friends tad promised coming to pass, there would be in the near future a gigantic increase in the National expenditure, and the Army wsa going to take more than its share in that increase. At the present moment and under its present organisation, the equipment of the Territorial Army was not fit for war. They pre- 1840 tended that it was, but it was not. They were anxious, or ought to be anxious, to encourage as far as possible the Volunteer movement of this country, and in order to do so they paid compliments which were not justified by the efficiency of the Territorial Force. The right hon. Gentleman had assured them time after time, and it was on that assurance that legislation was accepted last year, that the Territorial Army would have a grave responsibility placed upon it. Let them look at it from the equipment point of view. The right hon. Gentleman had uttered the truism that no artillery was of any use except the best; that that was the arm in which of all others they could not afford to be second best. There had been no war during the past hundred years, since artillery was still in its infancy, in which the preponderance and superiority of the gun had not shown its influence throughout the campaign; and any Army which had an inferior gun was placed in a position of intolerable inferiority. The gun with which the Territorial Army was armed was a second class gun, not even a quick firing gun. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of it as if it were; it was nothing of the sort. It was out ranged. It was no good telling them how far a shot would go; the real thing was how far a shot would tell. The Territorial Army gun was effectively out ranged by the gun with which in all probability that Army would be faced in the event of war. Then what about the training and efficiency of the men? They had to undergo an annual training of twenty drills, of which ten must be out of doors. A drill was defined as one hour's actual training, and the men might perform three drills in the day. That meant that an afternoon's work would count three drills, so that in seven days they could get under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme all the drill that was necessary apart from camp or artillery training.
And, it being a quarter past Eight of the Clock, and there being Private Business set down, by direction of the CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.