§ Postponed Proceeding on Motion made on consideration of Question, "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 is course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1909,"
§ Which Motion was, "That a sum, not exceeding £9,421,000, be granted for the said Service."—(Sir Ivor Herbert.)—resumed.
§ Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £9,421,000, be granted for the said Service."
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said he saw the Financial Secretary to the War Office present and he proposed to ask him a few questions. But he would first like to deal with the observations of the hon. Member of the Newbury Division of Berkshire and of the hon. Member for Salford, imploring the Government to effect still further economies in regard to the Army. One of the reasons which the hon. Member had given was that Lord St. Aldwyn, speaking in the City a few days ago, stated that Europe and the world at large were never in a more profound state of peace than at present. On that statement, which he said he felt sure would appeal to hon. Members on that side of the House, the hon. Member advocated a reduction is the strength of the Army. He submitted that this was, he had been going to say an extremely vicious, but at all events an extremely erroneous, conclusion to form. He did not apply that remark 1847 to Lord St. Aldwyn's statement, which he had no doubt was quite correct. In the year just before the Franco German War exactly the same remark was made either by the Prime Minister in England or by the Foreign Secretary; yet within two or three months of that statement the whole of Europe was in a blaze. It was fatal, because they were for the moment in a calm, to relax precautions. On board ship they did not, because they happened to be in a calm, throw away all the preparations against a storm, which might arise at any moment. But the policy of the hon. Member for Newbury was apparently that in fair weather they were to throw overboard all precautionary measures taken against a storm. Why? Because he thought a storm would never arise again, or because he thought that they would be able, should a storm arise, to make due preparations against it. There was no greater economist in the House than himself. That statement might not be received with the sympathy with which he hoped it would be received by everybody, but it was a fact, nevertheless. But his idea of economy was not to save money by knocking off expenditure during prosperous times if they had to increase the expenditure tenfold in times of stress. There was no greater lesson as to this than that afforded by the Boer War. In the case of for that war, instead of spending £230,000,000, we should, if we had been prepared in time of peace for emergencies, probably have saved a great many lives and not spent more than perhaps a £100,000,000. Nothing had been more popular at one time than to get up in meetings and say that the lessons of the war should not be forgotten, and that we should provide against the recurrence of any such events by having an efficient Army. He was sorry to say that the pernicious doctrine of the hon. Members below the gangway seemed to prevail, and that there was a considerable section in the House which desired that we should go back to the old days of false economy when, in order to save one or two millions, we laid up an expenditure of a £100,000,000, if not more, in a time of stress. The hon. Member for Salford had addressed his remarks to the Secretary 1848 of State for War more in sorrow than anger. He had said that their pledges should not be broken, and he had recited those pledges which were made when the Liberal Party came into power. He thought he went so far as to say that it was in consequence of their pledges for reductions on armaments that the balance of power was transferred. He had gone on to say that he did not wish to put any force upon the right hon. Gentle man, and that he hoped he would re form. He would point out to the hon. Member that appeals of that sort made to any Government were not usually successful. If hon. Members desired to be successful, they must exercise their force in the lobby. That was the only way in which pressure could be put upon any Government; and he hoped, if the hon. Gentleman was genuine in his desire that the pledges of his Party should not be broken and that the promised diminution of expenditure should be made, he would take his courage in both hands and by challenging a division show to the Front Bench what their power in the lobby was. He wanted to refer to one or two questions. First of all, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether there was any truth in the statement that some change was to be made in the City regiments. He was told that their names were to be changed. The question appealed considerably to him. The old trained bands of the City of London had been the foundation, first of all, he thought, of the first battalion of the Grenadier Guards, who still had the. privilege of marching through the City with fixed bayonets. They had also been the foundation of many other illustrious regiments. He would, ask whether young men who had served in the public school cadet corps received any abatement in regard to drills or joining the Militia. He thought, possibly, some advantage would be gained if that were done. He did not pretend to be a great military authority and he hoped it would not be thought impertinent if he said this scheme for the Reserve of Officers, under which those who had served in Volunteer corps at Eton would be made lieutnants in the Reserve of Officers, or if they had been in a University corps would be made, captains—
§ MR. HALDANE
What I said was that if you have been two years in the cadet corps of a public school you get certificate A., which is not up really to the qualification of lieutenant, but is something towards it. When you have been two years more through a University corps you get Certificate B., which is a very much higher qualification. The first, A., lets you off four months of your twelve. B. lets you off four more, and leaves you with only four months to give. In each case you have to be approved.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said that that, of course, altered matters considerably, and it was an encouragement to these young men to come forward. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not listen to the request of the hon. Member for Oldham, who was most anxious that the Indian Army should be reduced, giving as his reason the Convention entered into with Russia. It was absolutely necessary that the strength of our Army in India should be maintained. It was fixed not upon any consideration of war with Russia or any other country, but on internal considerations. It was fixed at the time of the Mutiny and it was no larger now than in 1859. Another argument was that India afforded a field for military training which no other part of the Empire afforded. The Army in India was kept up at war strength. It was the most efficient part of our Army, and the fact of the opportunity of going to India and being trained with regiments at a war strength was a very strong argument in favour of maintaining the Indian Army at its present strength. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that our Army was a machine, the parts of which were interdependent, and that they could not take from it a bit here and a bit there without diminishing the strength of the whole out of all proportion to the pecuniary saving effected, and without running the risk of throwing additional burdens on countries such as India, which we had constantly striven in the past to help. He could not conceive a better expression of the sentiments of Members on that side of the House than that, but had not the right hon. Gentleman rather violated his own principle? He had diminished the Army by 21,000 men.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said there was a great art in training, and if the horse was overstrained, he did not win the race. He gathered that for the present there was no reduction in the Artillery, though some part of it was in a state of suspended animation, awaiting the creation of that branch of the Army in the Territorial Force. Though he was not a professional soldier, that made him extremely nervous, because he believed the one part of the Army which could not be manufactured quickly and which required two or three years training, was the Artillery. Artillery driving was one of the greatest arts, requiring a very courageous man, with a very cool head to drive a team of six horses at a gallop over rough and uneven ground. He wanted to be a good horseman, and to know his horses. That could not all be learned in a short time, for however excellent the Territorial Force might be they could not expect a man to get that practice which was absolutely necessary in time of war. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, who was a very great authority on the Army, though he was not quite certain whether the Secretary of state regarded him as a very great authority, was very strongly against a reduction in any way of the Artillery. With all humility, he did not consider it efficient to reduce the best branch of the Army, and that which took a longer time than any other to get into an efficient state. If we had, as he believed we had, the finest artillery in the world—
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said the right hon. Gentleman had given his case away, surely. He was not at all sure if he went on like that that he would not be found sitting behind the right hon. Gentleman if he would have him. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give him some comforting assurance with regard to the Artillery.
§ SIR W. J. COLLINS (St. Pancras, W.)
said that Members who had identified 1851 themselves with economy and retrenchment had done well to raise this question again on this branch of the Service, though he thought they had not given due weight to two very important considerations. One was that considerable reductions had already been effected by the right hon. Gentleman, for which he had received criticisms from hon. Gentlemen opposite; and the other was the party of economy and retrenchment had not done themselves justice, because he thought some good had been attendant upon the representations which were made early in February. He thought the inference might be drawn from questions answered and unanswered in the House that those representations were not without effect upon the Estimates of this year. Allusion had been repeatedly made to pledges given by the Party now in power at the time of the general election and repeated on the floor of the House. They deplored the absence of the Prime Minister, who would, no doubt, have influenced the House in the direction of peace, retrenchment, and reform, which he had advocated when in opposition as well as at the Albert Hall meeting. He was reminded specially of a remark made on 15th March, 1906, in a debate initiated by the hon. Member for the Abercromby Division, in which the Prime Minister had spoken of this as a Government which would "strain every nerve to cause great reductions in military expenditure," and stated that "its honour and good faith were bound up with doing it." Also the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a debate on old age pensions on 14th March, 1906, pointed to the close association between social reform and the reduction of expenditure, and used these words—There are only two ways in which you can reduce expenditure upon the Army and Navy; in the case of the Army by reducing the numbers of your permanent lighting force, and in the case of the Navy by contracting your shipbuilding programme.Having read the Memorandum of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for War accompanying the Estimates for the Army, and the Memorandum of the First Lord of the Admiralty, he thought it was still possible, with perfect loyalty to the two Power standard and to the Card- 1852 wellian system, to encourage further reductions, and to express the hope that the policy of the last two years flight not be arrested or reversed, but continued He rather gathered from the Memorandum of the Secretary of State for War that he himself saw a way of continuing that policy with perfect loyalty to the Cardwellian system, by reducing battalions abroad and corresponding reduction at home, and also by encouraging self defence of the Colonies.
§ LORD EDMUND TALBOT (Sussex, Chichester)
said he wished to refer to that part of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme wherein last year he said he was going to provide divisional cavalry for the Regular Army from the Yeomanry and Territorial Forces.
§ LORD EDMUND TALBOT
said he did not need to remind the right hon. Gentleman that his abandonment of that part of the scheme was no surprise to them, and he was surprised to hear him say that he abandoned it with much regret. He remembered that towards the end of their discussions last year he himself announced that he had experienced much criticism from cavalry officers in the Regular Army. It was no surprise to him to hear that that portion of his scheme had to be abandoned. What he wanted to know was what was going to take its place? He was told that the right hon. Gentleman did make some remarks in reference to what was going to take its place, but it was not at all clear. Last year the reason the right hon. Gentleman gave for the divisional cavalry being found by the Yeomanry was that in his scheme he had used up all the Regular cavalry he possessed. This question of divisional cavalry was of extreme importance. It was not a question which could be dealt with lightly at all. A very distinguished cavalry leader of the German Army whose name began with "G."—the right hon. Gentleman probably remembered that distinguished officer—had laid down, clearly and strongly the need for thoroughly well trained divisional cavalry. He hoped when the right hon. Gentleman replied he would, if possible, go 1853 into more detail as to how he was going to find this divisional cavalry. If it was largely to be found by the mounted infantry, he hoped he would tell them what training for the purpose this mounted infantry was going to have, because if the mounted infantry were to be formed from so many men chosen from various regiments of infantry and trained periodically as mounted infantry, then he must humbly and respectfully beg to assure him he did not think it would be found sufficient. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give them in real detail what this divisional cavalry and the Regular Army was going to be composed of, and what training the divisional cavalry was going to get.
§ MR. LEA
said that this was the third occasion upon which he had risen to take part in the debates on the Army Estimates, but this occasion had been the most bitter disappointment of all. It seemed to him that there was a kind of compact between the official Liberal Party as it existed above the gangway and the Conservative Party to talk in an academic manner about whether the carbine or the gun was up to date, whether the 15 pounder was suitable for the Territorial Army, whether the cavalry were all right, or whether three years was a sufficient training for an artilleryman. But those were not the points at issue. What the democracy of this country wanted was a great reduction in Army expenditure, and the only four speeches which had dealt with that point were those of the hon. Members for Oldham, Salford, and Newbury, and his brilliant colleague the hon. Member for West St. Pancras. The present needs of our Army were a great deal over estimated. Moreover, he had to voice, and he recognised the very great responsibility, the wishes and views of some 60,000 men, women and children in this matter, who demanded a reduction in Army expenditure. They all realised that five years after the war in South Africa was over the war taxes were still on. Every member of the Government was pledged to retrenchment, and yet the war taxes were still on. The Civil Service could not be cut down, and 1854 the supremacy of the Navy must be maintained. It was part of the free trade doctrine to ensure not only open ports but open trade routes. But our military expenditure was to a large extent waste. Next to the Licensing Bill, he regarded the Secretary for War as the greatest danger of the present Government. The latter would ruin the public and the former would ruin the publican. What was wanted was a reduction of £12,000,000 and 40,000 men in the Army Estimates. The only thing which the right hon. Gentleman had done was in the spring of last year when he introduced the Territorial Force Bill with an avalanche of eloquence. If that Force was to be anything at all, it would involve this country in greater expenditure than anything it had been subjected to when the Volunteers and Militia were in force. He wanted to indicate one or two directions in which money could be saved. It would be well within the recollection of the Committee that two years ago the right hon. Gentleman promised the abolition of the Scots Guards and the 3rd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards. The abolition of the Scots Guards, had been carried out, but what about the 3rd Battalion of the Coldstreams The battalion had been sent to Egypt in order to evade that promise. He would like to know at whose instigation it was sent to Cairo. It was of no use there at all, except as an expense to the British taxpayer. Who was responsible for that? He presumed it was the same authority who was responsible for the creation of the military command in the Mediterranean, and for the Duke of Connaught being appointed to the command at great expense to the British taxpayer. [Cries of "Order."] Why order? He was there to voice the views of his constituents, and they objected, to pay for that sort of thing. That command was useless, unnecessary, and superfluous, and it was an insult to the intelligence of the public. In his opinion it was nothing more nor less than a job. It had one great disadvantage on account of the command being centred at Malta. It meant that one of the warships of the Mediterranean Fleet would have to be detached to cart the Duke of Con naught to and from his command. 1855 The three regiments of Household Cavalry were of no use for war purposes; and their present duties would be discharged as well by the Metropolitan Police. The view of hon. Gentlemen below the gangway was that the Army should be cut down by 30,000 or 40,000 men. The present Army expenditure militated against social reform in every ramification of life. It was idle to talk of old age pensions when money was being wasted in that direction. The Party in power at present made promises about cutting down expenditure, on which they gained votes at the election, and if the Government went out of office without fulfilling these promises they would have obtained their position under false pretences.
§ MR. HALDANE
I do not propose to go over the points raised in the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down. I think he was at one time associated with the Army.
§ MR. HALDANE
As he appears to have devoted more attention to the affairs of the licensed victuallers lately, and less and less to the affairs of those with whom he was originally associated, I will pass from the hon. Member to the speakers who preceded him. It is quite true that we have not been able to obtain from the Yeomanry the fourteen squadrons which we once hoped for, but it is not difficult for us to re arrange the cavalry organisation. By the autumn we hope to hive another regiment of cavalry home from South Africa. That will give us fourteen at home. With that we shall have enough to provide the strategical cavalry—the cavalry that operates far out on the flanks of the enemy. This will consist of twelve regiments of Regular cavalry and a four battalion battery of horse artillery. The next element is the protective screen, which will be a couple of regiments of Regular cavalry and two mounted infantry battalions. As that releases two battalions of mounted infantry which, before, we proposed to add to that force, we s hall be left with divisional mounted troops, consisting mainly of mounted infantry, of which we shall have suffi- 1856 cient, and a certain amount of Yeomanry. There will be, at any rate, two regiments of Yeomanry, the Irish Yeomanry, who will be trained, as at present, with the Special Reserve, and who take the obligation to go abroad, but the bulk of the divisional cavalry will be mounted infantry, specially trained for that purpose. The hon. Baronet, who represents the City asked me what was going to be the organisation of the City corps. What we have decided on, after a good deal of consideration, is this. We feel that the London Command, which is neither the City nor the county, but a unit including both, gives us an area on which to fix the name "London." London battalions will be the battalions belonging to the corps in the London Command. We respect the feeling of the City and of the county, and, taking the twenty four battalions of infantry as an illustration, they will be labelled one to eight "City of London," and nine to twenty four, "County of London."
§ SIR F. BANBURY
asked whether the City regiments would be put under the county administration for the whole of London.
§ MR. HALDANE
No. There are two counties—the county of the City and the county of London. The eight City regiments will be put under the county of the City. The hon. Baronet may take comfort—I have a great respect for the traditions of the City. The noble Lord who sits for one of the divisions of Yorkshire asked me about a regiment in two counties. Our idea in such a case, as in the case put by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London, is to treat, as the very foundation of this plan, the county, but though we do not impose upon them the obligation to do so, an arrangement may be made between two counties. The noble Lord also spoke of the school at Nether avon. I am glad to say that the reason why it is difficult to get Yeomanry officers in there is because it is so great a success and the demands upon it are so great. But we hope to bring about an organisation which will provide half a dozen cavalry depots around which the Yeomanry may group, and to provide local classes in which the combined instruction 1857 may be effective. I pass to the questions put to me by the hon. Member for Sussex and by the hon. Member for King's Lynn. As regards the ride, it is still a question whether the light, sharp pointed bullet is a better weapon for our purpose than the heavier bullet which we use. With the heavier bullet, less pressure is required on the breech mechanism, but it is premature to come to a final conclusion on the question until we know what is really going to be the rifle. It is an open question whether, despite its lower muzzle velocity, and taking into consideration its greater range, owing to the heavier bullet, the rifle we have to day is not for our purposes the better weapon. But I do not dogmatise upon it. It is a question which will want consideration in the light of the larger and greater questions which loom ahead. With regard to the question of Kynoch cordite, which was raised by the hon. Member for King's Lynn, there were seven lots, weighing about 35 tons, which were accepted and passed. Wherever we found that mercuric chloride had been used, we rejected the cordite, the reason being that we knew that the heat test had been masked, and that we thought it better to err on the side of caution than to run any risk. It is only in oases where we are satisfied that no chloride is used that we take any cordite that has come from that source. As regards the reduction of the ammunition from 300 to 250 rounds, we found that the men could not use that amount. It is a larger amount of ammunition than is served out to any Army in the world, except the Americans, much larger than Prance and larger than Germany. It stands in this way: we thought it better to offer the general commanding the choice between that and certain other ammunition; most of them thought it better to take extra ammunition of another kind in place of that which I thought was an excessive measure. I pass to the second class of questions, which are of a very general kind indeed. The right hon. Member for Dover referred to the artillery, and said, as I understood him, that we have been very rash in converting thirty three batteries out of ninety nine into training brigades. The right hon. Gentleman said sixty six is not nearly so good as 150, and that 1858 we ought to have 150, and he referred to South Africa. In the case of South Africa it is perfectly true that we had there and at home a considerable number of batteries, but only thirty nine batteries went out from home to South Africa, and a larger number remained at home training and producing the men. It is vital not only to have guns and men, but to replace the wastage of war, and to provide in addition ammunition columns and other services requisite to keep the artillery effective. To do that we must have some mode of training to make up the wastage of war, and therefore we took thirty three out of the ninety nine batteries, and converted them into training batteries. To my mind it was essential that, before we saw what artillery we would have, we should consider what we ought to have. We have a General Staff, which is now becoming a very efficient one. That General Staff computed the amount of artillery that we ought to have in proportion to the other arms, and the computation with which they furnished us was that we should have five guns to every 1,000 bayonets and sabres. Under the present establishment we have only 3.5 per 1,000, the Japanese have 4.5, and the Germans 5.5. That means sixty six batteries of field artillery, and half a dozen other batteries besides. That is the true proportion of artillery, and that gives us seventy two batteries, which is on the basis of five guns to every 1,000 bayonets and sabres. I put another proposition to the House. Nothing is more wasteful and mischievous in military organisation than to have too much. It throws everything out of gear, and it inevitably leads to gaps in the rest of the organisition. Suppose I had done what the right hon. Gentleman urged and had 150 batteries. We should have had to go short of transport, in the Army Service Corps, and in the Army medical service, and in certain other units of the Army. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because the Army Estimates would have risen to such an amount that there would have been an inevitable reduction and our Army would have been swept away. I stand to day midway between too much and too little. In the discussion to night it has been emphatically insisted upon on side that there is 1859 still too much, and on the other side that there is too little, but for my own part, and taking into consideration the fact that the Army has been reduced by 21,000 men and the cost by £4,500,000, I think upon the whole that I am in a position which, because it leans too much neither to one side nor to the other, probably represents the true mean. But I say emphatically that there is nothing worse than to have our arms out of proportion. These training brigades provide machinery of a scientific and systematic kind for replacing the wastage of war. Until to day that sort of thing was absolutely absent from our Army organisation. These training brigades will also create the ammunition columns that are necessary. We should have a proper proportion of all arms, an organisation not only in brigades but also in divisions, and an Army so proportioned that we are able to see what is in excess or is not in excess. That is a plan that enables us to economise in the right direction and not strike with an axe at the centre of the whole machine. Therefore, despite reductions, we have a more efficient Army than it has ever been before, and it is fashioned on a plan and pattern very different from the plan and pattern of other days. I do not stand before the House as an expert in military affairs. I am a plain man of business. I picked out and listened to the best soldiers I could find in the British Army in working out this organisation. It is an organisation on which many voi es have converged and have given me a single opinion, and in regard to which there is not, so far as I am aware, a single dissentient voice in the whole War Office at the present time. It is the unanimous resolution of the best brains in the British Army. We have got at the War Office a General Staff that we really did not possess before. It is wholly different from the Intelligence Department; it is in process of evolution, and it is producing a revolution in Army administration, not only in organisation but in money, because it lops off all that is in excess and all that is costly, and because a scientific organisation is the cheapest in the end. It has been urged by the hon. Member for Derby that the Government have made a mistake in abolishing loans, and I think the 1860 hon. Member for Fareham shared that view.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
I did not say that. My contention was that under loans we had got barracks and necessary works, and now we do not get them at all.
§ MR. HALDANE
That is just what we have not got. Here we are to day with just the wrong things and lacking the right things. If we want to get the right things, there is nothing so good as to have a great deal of trouble to get them. The curse of the loan system is that there is money into which anybody can dip his hands. When I think of the fortifications at St. Lucia, of what was done in the West Indies and elsewhere, and of the money that has been wasted at Gibraltar and Malta—I am not given to emotion, but it makes me almost weep. If I had that money to day I could make better barracks, I could do better for the ordinary soldier, I could build schools for the training of officers, and I could do a multitude of other things all of which would have been done if only the loan system had not existed. But because we had a loan system everybody has been able to spend as much money as he wanted, and now the nation, in the person of my hon. friend, has risen up against us and said we must justify the expenditure of every penny we ask for. There are a few fragments of the loans remaining, and out of that source we are doing a good deal of building. I could conceive a loan system that would be justified when there was a very clear military programme that had to be accomplished once for all. But we have never had a barracks policy. Such a thing absolutely did not exist in the days of the light hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover. We could not have a barracks policy until we had a settled organisation of the Army, and the hon. Gentle msn opposite never had a settled organisation of the Army. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh."] They had Army Corps which existed only on paper, and then they proceeded to lavish money on barracks out of loans. I would not like to say what the soldiers of to day said of the policy of other days. Unless we have thought out the organisation of the Army 1861 we are not entitled to a loan system at all.
§ MR. BELLAIRS
Has the right hon. Gentleman sold any of the empty barracks built under the old system?
§ MR. HALDANE
On the contrary, I am trying to use them. But the point is not whether they are now being used, but whether the expenditure upon them has been justified and whether it is the best of expenditure for the nation, and I hold it is not. The hon. Member for Barkston Ash raised the question of horses. Upon this very important question, I am in consultation with the Board of Agriculture, to see whether we cannot treat this matter of the supply of Army horses as a branch of a much larger question. Whether we shall succeed or not I cannot say, but I am willing so to treat it because I believe in that way and that way alone shall we succeed. Then some concern has been expressed about the largeness of the deficiency in "the Reserve of Officers. The figures which I gave the other day included not only the deficiency on mobilisation but the wastage for six months after. Somehow or other that wastage has got to be made up. It has been said to night that after all, the public schools and the Universities are not the best sources. I listened to that criticism readily, but I want to know what other sources are available? That source is at hand and seems the best, and certainly we get the most loyal co operation from all those concerned. The hon. Member for Woolwich, whom we are all delighted to see back in his place, has raised a question in reference to the discharges at Woolwich Arsenal, and said it is unfair to charge as against the work which the reduced staff turned out the whole of the ordinary establishment charges. While I entertain great sympathy with the view expressed by the hon. Member, I may say that a Committee has been sitting for some weeks inquiring into the whole matter, and it is engaging the close attention of the War Office. The hon. Member knows what the problem we have to deal with is, and that we have got to provide not only for the production of the goods but for maintaining the reserve for war. 1862 The state of Woolwich will not be satisfactory until the material can be produced at prices equivalent to those at which the goods can be obtained outside. Then, a question has been raised of the short training of the Special Reserve. If the Government were going to put whole battalions of these Special Reserves in the field, the training would be too short, but in the recent war the Japanese showed successfully that very short trained men can be put into the fighting line provided they are put in one by one aid not as units. The Japanese were able to use men with only four weeks training. Our Special Reservists will supply substitutes for a good deal of the wastage in war, and will supply in a large measure individual drafts for their own regiments. The Japanese war taught that six months trained men can be well relied upon for these purposes, and their further training they obtained in the progress of the campaign.
§ MR. HALDANE
I do not know, I cannot answer for that, but I should be surprised if they did not. They took them where they could, and seventeen is an age at which everything turns upon the material upon which you are working. A question was raised by my hon. friend the Member for Berkshire about Lords Lieutenant and I enter with a little trepidation upon that difficult subject. The Lord Lieutenant is no doubt in a very responsible position, and it is not expedient that a man in that position should introduce party politics. At the same time I should be extremely unwilling to debar anyone in that high position who has talents in reserve; but I maintain that they should not unduly put forth the party view, and I trust that none of them will. Much criticism has been levelled against many of the things done in the course of the year. I am aware that the Department has made many mistakes. But I can only say that the mass of work which the Department had to undertake since last year has been beyond anything that can be realised. Personally I have not had a day off, neither has any member of my staff. More magnificent service 1863 than has been rendered by the staff of the War Office no man can wish to see. The staff have given up their holidays, they have worked over night, many have m de themselves ill through overwork; and I should be extremely ungrateful did I not acknowledge the extraordinary amount of assistance which I have received from my colleagues, and the devoted service which I have received from them.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I do not intend to say much on the question of Lords Lieutenant, but we did not understand when the right hon. Gentleman invited the Lords Lieutenant to assist him in this scheme, to which request they have generously responded, that one thing incidental to their responsibility would be that the right hon. Gentleman would put them in balk on the political billiard table.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Then I am at a loss to discover why in reply to a specific question as to whether they were or were not to take part in political questions we are told that they are not to take part "unduly." The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by answering my noble friend the Member for the Chichester Division of Sussex about divisional cavalry, and I should like to know how near the right hon. Gentleman has approached that precision of view as to organisation which he claims as the result of his efforts. The right hon. Gentleman has increased the size of a division in the Army. In old days there was a squadron at the head of each division, and now that six divisions are to be equivalent to nine divisions is that to be continued? The right hon. Gentleman has done a great injustice to his predecessors and their military advisers, because the impression left by his speech is that the soldiers at the War Office five or ten years ago had not a plan for organising the Regular Army at home. That was the impression left upon the Committee, and it was the impression which the right 1864 hon. Gentleman meant to leave on it. He used such words as to lead one to suppose that his notions differed toto cœlo—by a whole sky—from the notions of persons like myself, who only had the advice of the predecessors of the military advisers of the right hon. Gentleman. He said the General Staff had made a computation, apparently for the first time, that there ought to be five guns to 1,000 bayonets and sabres. I remember the computation at the War Office years ago. The ratio then was four guns to 1,000 sabres, and it was changed to five in 1898. The right hon. Gentleman, whether designedly or not, conveyed the impression that he was announcing a new plan for organising the part of the Regular Army which is at home, and that he had derived immense benefit from the advice given him by the head at the War Office—that he had listened to the soldiers, and that his plan of organisation was something totally distinct from ours. What is the difference? The difference is one entirely of name, and. it is not one of fact. We used to call it a Field Army. He calls it an expeditionary force. We used, in order to get the right proportion between the three arms, to divide it up on paper into three Army Corps. He divides it up on paper and speaks of six divisions with proper proportions of cavalry and guns. Will the House believe it? The plan of nine years ago and the plan which the right hon. Gentleman has announced as a new discovery are almost identical? The right hon. Gentleman laughs in derision. I want to be quite scrupulous, but does it matter what you call it? We said "There are seventy five battalions in England. It is right to organise them, and we will organise them into Army Corps made up into nine divisions." The right hon. Gentleman says, "I will have seventy four battalions. He gets rid of one, and one only, by an alteration of nomenclature. That is all. Did not the right hon. Gentleman say yesterday that his expeditionary force was to have seventy four battalions of infantry?
§ MR. HALDANE
Certainly not, I said seventy four battalions at home to correspond with the seventy four battalions abroad, and out of that sixty six 1865 Infantry and six of Guards formed the expeditionary force.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
That is seventy two. I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. The difference is seventy two in his plan and seventy five in our plan, three more. It is explained by the fact that he talks of six divisions, and we talk of three Army Corps. That accounts for the three extra battalions. We talked of four cavalry brigades, twelve regiments. So does he. We said in that addition to them you needed six more. He says that in addition to his four cavalry brigades he requires four cavalry regiments and two regiments of Mounted Infantry, or eighteen in all. Thus you have seventy five and seventy two in the case of the Infantry and eighteen and eighteen in the case of the Cavalry. We said: "Then you ought to have fifty four batteries of regularly trained Field Artillery." These are the same in the right hon. Gentleman's plan. They are the same plans. Our plan broke down because we had only fifty four battalions of trained Field Artillery. When it was announced, the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean assured us we were wrong. He stated that if fifty four batteries was right for the Regular Army, you ought to have Regular Field Artillery for Militia and Volunteers as well.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
That is perfectly true, but I had advocated trying experiments of mixed Field Artillery to replace your Regular Field Artillery in proportion to your Volunteers.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Anybody is prepared to consider and even to try those experiments. The predecessors of the right hon. Gentleman tried them and others. They tried having a certain number of short service men in the Artillery in order to create an Army. Plan and plan they are the same. Our plan failed, perhaps more conspicuously in the case of the Artillery than in any other part, and it failed because we had not enough trained Artillery. The right hon. Gentleman says he is going to divert thirty three of these trained batteries which do exist in order to make men for ammunition columns. The need for great ammunition columns is a 1866 somewhat new factor. Rapidity of firing has been developed since the period of which I am speaking. The necessity for howitzer batteries as well as field batteries is also in a measure a new factor. It was the plan of the period before the war to have fifty four batteries of regularly trained Artillery. We were raising them; they were not complete when the war broke out. I am not saying we had completed our plan, and. the right hon. Gentleman is the last to say he has completed his plan. I say there is no new light or vision in his plan. I say we failed in artillery because our plan did not provide enough. There was a debate during the darkest period of the war, and I said you ought not to charge soldiers at the War Office with defects which could be attributed to the settled scheme of the Government. Our scheme was for fifty four batteries. That is the settled scheme of the right, hon. Gentleman, I hope he will abandon it before it is put to the test as our scheme was. He proposes to withdraw thirty three batteries to make the ammunition columns. Is that a wise way of bringing in the Militia element in your service? That brings me to the question of the Special Reserve of Artillery and Infantry. We know what the right hon. Gentleman thinks of depots and provisional battalions, because he described them when speaking; last week—The costly machinery of provisional battalions and depots to my mind is a most wasteful way of training soldiers and providing for drafts.Why is it wasteful to train soldiers and provide for drafts in the normal course by that method, and wise and economic when they are to be exposed to the far more terrible ordeal of going straight into the line without ever having been drilled in units by officers whom they know, and beside comrades whom they trust? The right hon. Gentleman dismisses and justly dismisses the system of depots and provisional battalions as a. means for finding drafts for the Regular Army in time of peace. But, supposing he used for that purpose men who came out; of these depots and provisional battalions, who would go into the unit, would remain in it for seven years, would then pass to the Reserve, and if called out in 1867 time of war would be a tried article. If he did that, you may say the tried article would be an expensive article. Yes; but it would be one upon which you could put your trust. The right hon. Gentleman is going to set up 101 depots, which are more or less provisional battalions, in order to supply the wastage of war. He says it is of no consequence and we need not trouble our minds over the fact that hose who enter these depots and provisional battalions are only to be seventeen years old. He says the value of a soldier in terms of age depends on the climate in which he has to serve. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to arrange where the next war is going to be—because if he cannot settle that it shall not be in a tropical country or in a country exposed to the hardships of a Northern winter, the whole of that argument falls to the ground. We want the Committee to understand that at the moment the right hon. Gentleman is holding up and raising the standard of recruiting for the Army he is opening 101 back doors through which he will admit any boy of seventeen who is short of a job. He is going to teach him for six months in the winter, rot in a battalion at all, but with some pro p c of having a battalion n the summer, if the English summer does not set in with its usual severity, and these men he looks towards in order to make good the wastage of war. Of course he docs not look toward them in order to have a mobile unit. He has disclaimed that intention. But was it worth while to scrap 123 battalions of Militia in order to open 101 cheap recruiting shops? I do not wish to press the matter, but those who heard the right hon. Gentleman suggest that he and his military advisers, and they alone, had taken a scientific view of the best way to organise the regular Army at home, will excuse me if I point out that our plan broke down because it was not big enough, and his will break down for the same reason, and that at the other end, the citizen end of our forces, his Territorial Force is the Volunteers and Yeomanry re named, and that in the middle he has scrapped the Militia in order to make the very kind of military organisation which he most detests and holds up to the contumely of the nation.
§ MR LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said he had listened humbly and with the utmost respect, and he hoped with some profit, to the speeches of the Secretary of state and others. He would like to put in a few remarks from the point of view of a man who did not pretend to be an expert, but an ordinary taxpayer who wanted to see what he got for his money. The King had under his orders altogether about 1,300,000 men trained for war, who were available in one part or another of the Empire for its defence. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover said we were short of men. He wondered how many men we ought to have if 1,300,000 was not enough. It struck him as being a very great number. As to the statement made by the Secretary of State, he had listened with the utmost pleasure to his very eloquent explanation of the evil results following from borrowing money. But he was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman had intimated that where a large outlay was required for some new development it might be wise to borrow money. He, as a plain business man, would suggest that when they had the money themselves it was never wise to borrow from anyone else. It was always bad finance. It was only good finance to borrow when they did not intend to, or knew they could never, repay. Then the more they borrowed the better. If they were going to repay eventually it was shocking bad finance. We were now paying nearly £28,000,000 a year because our ancestors had not the courage to put on a 3s. 6d. income tax and pay their way as they went along. He hoped a 3s. 6d. income tax would be put on the next time we went to war, and would come down to the lowest wage earner in the Kingdom, and the war would not last very long. They knew that as a striking force the Army was absolutely useless for any Continental war. For what purpose did we keep it? If we kept it for the purpose of taking part in any Continental war we must at once proceed to organise an Army of at least 2,000,000 men. The tendency now a days was to increase the size of armies. Japan sent 1,000,000 men into Manchuria, and if we were going to place ourselves on the Continent against any armies of France or Germany 1869 or Russia it would be absurd to think of sending a single man until we knew we had 2,000,000 men trained, and supplied with corresponding armament. He had always understood that our Fleet would save our shores, and save us from destruction while we were preparing a suitable Army to do the work we had made up our minds to do. If that point was admitted, what was our Army for? Whom did hon. Members want to fight? Let them mike up their minds; was it France, Germany or Russia? When they had decided they could then proceed, in a businesslike way to prepare a suitable Army. In the meantime let them save the nations money. He took it that our Army was wanted to send to the Colonies and to India, and for similar purposes. His view was that 100,000 men thoroughly well trained would be ample for any purposes of defence which this country might require. He was quite willing to pay for that number. He would like to know why they required a bigger force now than the Conservative Government provided before the late Boer War. The right hon. Gentleman had been asked the question why the Government wanted more men than were considered necessary ten years ago. At the present time no scare monger was clever enough to make the country believe that Russia could endanger India unless she constructed a double line of railway through the mountains, and all the time Russia was doing that this country could prepare and arm 1,000,000 men ready to meet and destroy an invading force on the plains of India. Russia having been disposed of, principally by treaties, to maintain a great force to fight this imaginary danger on the North West frontier of India was a great waste of money. The hon. Member for the City of London suggested that perhaps he had not read the Memorandum issued by the Secretary of State for War, but he had read that document. Why was it necessary to keep such a large Army in India. When the Indian railways were first made one of the bargains entered into was that they would be able to reduce the number of troops in India. Those railways had now been constructed and in the course of a day or two a large Army could be concentrated in any part of 1870 India. At the time of the Mutiny a Hindu gunsmith, or brass founder could make muskets and cannons as good as ours, but now our troops were armed with weapons four times as deadly as any that the natives could produce. On that ground alone our Indian Army might safely be reduced to 30,000 men, as far as our white Army was concerned. Nevertheless we continued to keep in India the same number of troops. It should not be overlooked that we also possessed much more rapid steamers today by which we could convey troops to India very quickly through the Suez Canal. Another reason for reducing the number of the Indian Army was that millions of poor Hindus were being starved to death in order to keep up this vast Army. [Cries of "No, no."] He repeated starved to death. It had been said by one of the hon. members for one of the Divisions of Leicester, that we could easily reduce our Colonial Forces, and the Secretary of State for War had said the same thing. By reducing the Forces maintained at the present time in South Africa they could get a reduction of 10,000 men from those Colonies alone. The 16,000 men at present kept in South Africa were really in danger of being taken prisoners of war because they were not sufficient to cause a moment's fear to those brave men who fought against us in the South African War. Therefore the fewer troops they had in South Africa the fewer hostages they would risk leaving in the hands of a possible enemy. A great many criticisms had been passed upon the right hon. Gentleman, but however much they complained, they could not get a sufficient reduction. [OPPOSITION cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they came into power, would re gathered from the speeches from the front bench add £5,000,000 to the Army Estimates, and so he did not want to see them in office He hoped the Committee would not be led away by the false idea that they saved themselves by being always ready for war. It had been said that the great cost of the South African War was due to the fact that they had not enough troops in readiness. The contrary was the fact, the Government were able to take 10,000 men from India to threaten the Boer frontier and so 1871 precipitate the war, they also had 80,000 men ready to despatch to the aid of the 20,000 troops already there, and were thus able to threaten war without the previous sanction of Parliament. But for this unfortunate readiness the war would never have been begun, and this country would have been saved £500,000,000 of money. We conquered the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, and now they had very wisely given it away again. For the defence of the country we wanted the great Territorial Force which was being built up under the new scheme. He would be in favour of doubling it, and the cost of so doing could be met out of the saving which would be effected if the Regular Army were reduced to 100,000 men. He ridiculed the suggestion that this Territorial Force could not hold its own against regular soldiers. The reading of history contradicted that assertion. When the American Colonists rebelled we sent against them the best disciplined Army in Europe, but they were defeated by a lot of American farmers. The same thing happened recently in South Africa. We sent a highly disciplined Army of 80,000 men under General Buller, and they were hopelessly defeated by 20,000 Boers. These facts showed that a citizen Army could hold their own against a mercenary Army. The Territorial Force if large enough and properly led, organised, and equipped, would make it impossible for any foreign foe to have any chance whatever in trying to subdue this country. He would say that the Navy could be reduced by a half if we had these Volunteers, and then they would have money for old age pensions and many other things. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that he wanted to hold his hand in regard to the rifle. What a good thing it would have been if he had done that two years ago, in regard to the last new rifle. A good deal of money would have been saved then if he had done so. An hon. Member had stated that the artillery had covered itself with glory in South Africa. Glory indeed! 400,000 troops fully equipped with every weapon against 40,000 farmers old, young, and middle aged; where was the glory? He had no doubt it could cover itself with glory 1872 if it met a foe equal in number and equipment, but what happened in South Africa was not his idea of military glory. The right hon. Gentleman need not spend £4,000,000 a year on officers. Many men were glad to go shooting at their own expense. It was said that they could not live on 6s. or 7s. a day. He could find any number of young men with all the qualities necessary to make good officers who would be glad to be officers in the Army at 7s. a day. The right hon. Gentleman said he could not get them. That was because of the bad system. It was necessary to make it compulsory for all the officers to go through the ranks; then all would be "rankers," and no false pride would prevent young men joining with a good prospect of a commission after a few years' service. With an improved system there would be no difficulty in getting plenty of good officers, and the right hon. Gentleman would be able to reduce the officers' pay and pensions by at least £2,000,000 a year. The money so saved could be devoted to doubling the Territorial Army.
§ MR. GRETTON (Rutland)
said that the right hon. Gentleman had said something about the duty of the Chairman of the County Associations under his scheme not taking part unduly in party politics.
§ MR. HALDANE
was understood to say that they should not as a rule take a prominent part in party politics in their own county.
§ MR. GRETTON
said he thought that that was rather a remarkable statement, considering that there were hon. Members in the present Administration who were Lords Lieutenant of counties, and therefore Chairmen of the County Associations, and there was also an hon. Baronet who sat for the count of Norfolk who took a part continually in party politics. There were also distinguished Members in the other House who were lords lieutenant of counties, and who took part in party politics. It seemed, however, that the right hon. Gentleman thought that if hon. Members in this House or the Upper House took part in party politics they were not to 1873 hide their opinions when they went into other counties than their own. He did not wish to pursue the subject, however, because he was sure that the right hon. Gentleman had spoken hastily and unguardedly. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question on a point as to which there seemed to be some doubt, viz., what were the conditions on which officers could join the Territorial Force?
§ MR. GRETTON
said that that was what he thought himself, but there had been some doubt about it, and he was obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for clearing up the point.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1874
§ 2. £1,743,000, Half Pay, Retired Pay, and other Non Effective Charges.
§ 3. £1,782,000, Pensions and other Non-Effective Charges for Warrant Officers, Non Commissioned Officers, Men, and others.
§ 4. £167,000, Civil Superannuation, Compensation, Compassionate Allow ances, and Gratuities.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.