HC Deb 18 March 1908 vol 186 cc557-8

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the opinion expressed by Field-Marshal Earl Roberts to the effect that the artillery of the Territorial Army must be not useless but dangerous in war, the Army Council propose to persist in the policy of spending public money on the creation of 196 batteries of this class of artillery; and whether, in view of the great importance of the question, he will lay upon the Table the Report of a Departmental Committee, under the presidency of General Mackinnon (Director of Auxiliary Forces), appointed in 1905 to consider the advisability of creating Volunteer field batteries, together with the minutes referring to the same, by Sir Frederick Stopford, Director of Mlilitary Training, Sir Neville Lyttelton, Chief of the General Staff, and the Secretary of State for War, dated respectively the 29th September, the 6th October, the 7th October, and the 13th November, 1905.


The policy of giving the Second Line Army a real military organisation, including all arms and services, was deliberately adopted last year by both Houses of Parliament after full discussion, and it is not now proposed to modify this policy in any respect. The gallant Field-Marshal's criticisms, to which the right hon. Gentleman alludes, appear to me to apply as much to the whole Territorial Force as to the Artillery portion of it. As regards the last part of the Question, I cannot undertake to lay on the Table documents which refer to discussions which took place between my predecessor in office and his confidential advisers.


Will the right hon. Gentleman state whether the officers named were amongst those who he stated were in favour of the policy of 1906?


I do not propose to criticise or cross-question on this Question.

MR. ARTHUR LEE () Hampshire, Fareham

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the House the names of any distinguished or important soldier who is in favour of this proposal?


There is a very large number.

MR. PIRIE () Aberdeen, N.

Is it not the case that the value of the Field-Marshal's criticism as an expert is greatly lessened by his marked political bias?

[No Answer was returned.]