§ "That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 185,000, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at Home and Abroad, excluding His Majesty's Indian Possessions, during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1909."
§ Resolution read a second time.
§ MR. LUTTRELL (Devonshire, Tavistock)
said he would move to reduce the Vote by 10,000 men and thus afford an opportunity for speaking to those hon. Members who were not able to speak last week in Committee, amongst the number being no less a personage than the Secretary of State for War. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give a satisfactory answer on this subject. He himself, and others, felt that the Army was in excess of our requirements. If it were necessary to have an Army able to attack foreign countries it might be any size, but if it was only to be a defensive Army, it was far too large. Last week he had compared our Army of to-day with that of 1895–6 when we had not begun to make preparations for the war in South Africa. The Army in 1895 was looked upon as adequate for the defensive purposes of the Empire, and he could not imagine why a like force was not adequate now. He found that since the year 1895–6 there had been an increase of no fewer than 14,000 men in the Home Army. In 1895–6 the Home Army consisted of 116,153, and now it consisted of 130,148. That was an immense increase, and many hon. Members did not see any reason for it. We were to have a striking force of 160,000 men. He and his friends could not see what justification there was for putting the country to the expense of keeping such a large expeditionary force. The Secretary of State for War had stated that in these questions he was dependent upon the policy of the Government. The policy of the Government was a policy of peace. The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, and he thought he might say the 829 Secretary of State for India, judging from the speeches they had made, would all be in favour of a smaller expeditionary force than we had now. It was well know that the Prime Minister over and over again before the General Election made statements accusing the Conservative Government of putting the country to great expense. He could give several quotations from the right hon. Gentleman's speeches to that effect. The Foreign Secretary, speaking five years ago, laid it down that an expeditionary force of 80,000 would, in his opinion, be sufficient; he even went so far as to say that 40,000 would be sufficient. The Foreign Secretary was largely responsible for the foreign policy of the country. What had taken place in these five years to make it necessary to keep more than double the force which the right hon. Gentleman then thought would be sufficient? The Secretary of State for War might say that, although we had this force, it was not in reality one which was putting the country to any great expense, because under the Cardwell system if we had troops abroad we should have the same number at home. Why was it necessary to keep so many troops abroad? The right hon. Gentleman was bringing back from South Africa four battalions of infantry and one regiment of cavalry, and we should then have seventy-four battalions at home and seventy-four battalions abroad. He and his friends contended that seventy-four battalions abroad was too great a number. If we did not require them abroad, then we did not require a like number at home. The increase abroad as well as at home had been considerable. In 1895–6 there were in Africa, 4,888 men, not counting temporary contingents of 1,066 men in West Africa; to-day there were 20,173. He could not see why there should have been such an immense increase. It might be said that immediately before or after the Boer War such a force was necessary, but now that the people were settled there the taxpayers ought not to be put to the great expense involved. The bringing home of four battalions of infantry and one regiment of cavalry would only be a small saving. If we were keeping an excessive number of men in South Africa it was wasteful 830 extravagance. In Asia, exclusive of India, we had in 1895–6 6,300 men; to-day we had 9,735, an increase of 3,405. In the Mediterranean the number had decreased from 14,451 to 11,479, but in Egypt the number had increased from 4,267 to 5,771, an increase of 1,504. He thought we were keeping too many men in India. If during the Boer War we could protect India with 63,000, why not now? If ever there was a dangerous time in India it was the a. Our Army in India was not used for aggressive purposes. The words of the Secretary of State for War bore out that proposition. The right hon. Gentleman said the other day that the British Army in India was not an Army for aggressive purposes, but only for the purpose of maintaining internal order. What was the use of spending money in India on education and in improving railway communication, if we had to keep the people down with a larger number of troops than before? Our policy in India should have the effect of enabling us to reduce rather than increase the force. There had been an increase in India since 1895–6 from 73,168 to 76,155. Since 1895–6 there had been an increase in all of 29,466 men. He thought he was making a very moderate request when he asked the Government to knock off 10,000 men. He begged to move.
§ MR. HART-DAVIES (Hackney, N.)
who was indistinctly heard seconded the Amendment. He said he fully recognised that we ought to have a strong Navy because it was our all in all. The cost of the Navy was necessarily very considerable, but he thought we could hardly afford to have an overwhelming Army and an expensive Navy. He had no doubt that after a few years the Navy Estimates would be over £50,000,000. He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he had ever seriously considered the question of solving the difficulty by reviving the long service system? He hoped the right hon. Gentleman had an altogether open mind and would approach the problem as itreally existed, and not with the eyes of people who had grown up under different circumstances than now existed A different system existed in Europe now as compared with years ago. The situation in India 831 had changed. There were railways all over that great continent now and stations where white men could live, and even in Beloochistan Colonies might be founded. He, therefore, could not see in the least why they should not go back to the old system and allow India to look after her own Army, to recruit her own Army, and to maintain and pay for it. The problem would be extremely simple, and they would be able to cut down the Army to a small highly-trained force which, with the Volunteers, would be sufficient to defend this country. In that way a saving of £13,000,000 or £14,000,000 might be effected. They would then be able to introduce such economies as would enable the Government to carry out those social reforms which were always dangled before the people but never carried out for want of money.
To leave out '185,000,' and insert '175,000,'—(Mr. Luttrell)—instead of.
§ Question proposed, "That '185,000' stand part of the said Resolution."
§ *MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)
I do not rise to support the Motion proposed by the hon. Member for Tavistock, and seconded by the hon. Member for Hackney. Their desire is to reduce the strength of the Regular Army; I desire to prevent its being reduced. I believe that reduction has already gone too far. The hon. Member for Hackney says that we are being bled white by the expenditure on our defence forces, but I ask him what colour we would be bled if ever our country were successfully invaded, and we had not sufficient defences by sea and laud to resist such an invasion.
§ *MR. ARTHUR LEE
I know that the Navy is not on this Vote, and that it would not be in order to refer to it on this occasion. Therefore, I turn to other matters more strictly relevant to the Vote now under discussion. I wish to address my remarks almost entirely to the question of artillery, and to deal 832 with the contemplated reduction of the artillery of the Regular Army, and to the effect that would have on our whole, war efficiency. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that whilst he has not yet carried out the proposed reduction of the Royal Field Artillery by 2,400 men, he intended to reduce it by that number as soon as their places could be taken by the Special Reserve. He is going to take thirty-three batteries of the Royal Field Artillery and reduce them to a two-gun basis; that is, he is going largely to deplete their ranks, by some-thing like seventy men per battery. These batteries are then to be used for training depots and the places of the disbanded men are to be filled temporarily by Special Reservists, who are to be taken at the age of seventeen, and who may or may not have done six months service in those instructional batteries. What will be the effect of this proposal on our available artillery forces at home? We shall have left, apart from the artillery of the Territorial Force and of the expeditionary force, only forty-one batteries of Regular artillery. Eight of these batteries, will be horse batteries, and these the right hon. Gentleman does not propose to touch. But the remaining thirty-three batteries he is going to eviscerate in such a manner that their efficiency for the purposes of any serious warfare will be reduced to a vanishing point. His intention is to reduce those batteries to a two-gun basis, with only one-third or one-quarter of Regular troops. The Under-Secretary for War in another place last year gave an undertaking that—We shall not reduce any Regular artillery before we have an adequate number of Special Reservists to take their place.He added this year—We are living up to that undertaking.But whilst these 2,400 men have not yet been actually disbanded they are under suspended sentence of dismissal. But whether the right hon. Gentleman's plan is good or not, I say that these batteries can never be regarded as efficient by filling them up with lads of seventeen years of age and of no training. The right hon. Gentleman is merely wrecking the efficiency of the batteries 833 by attempting to carry out any such proposal. A very interesting speech was made two days ago by Lord Wynford, who had served in the Regular Artillery, and, therefore, had had practical experience, in the course of which his Lordship pointed out that four or five untrained men in a battery of artillery could not do the work of one trained man. So far as fighting efficiency is concerned the one man could not be replaced by a large number of men who did not know their duties. Therefore, I urge on the House that if the right hon. Gentleman decides on this plan of filling up the sixty-six batteries that are to form part of his expeditionary force, with these Special Reservists, well and good. He will have strengthened the available artillery for his expeditionary force if necessity arises; but as regards the batteries left behind which are to form the backbone of the defence of this country, let him retain the 2,400 trained men whom he proposes to get rid of, and divide them up amongst the instructional batteries so as to give them a more adequate stiffening of Regular gunners. Further, as a result of that, let him raise the peace establishment of the thirty-three home batteries to four guns each. If these batteries are raised to that strength and the proportion of Regular gunners is increased, I believe that, while not nearly as efficient as Regular batteries, they will be readily capable of being brought up to full strength and of becoming efficient fighting machines. I am not giving my own opinion merely. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War is aware of the advice which has been given by our greatest living soldier, who himself is an artilleryman and who has given the whole of his adult life to the study of war. The right hon. Gentleman smiles at Lord Roberts, but after all we attach more importance to the opinions of Lord Roberts than to the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman on military matters. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will not belittle the experience of the gallant Field-Marshal, or, as did one of his supporters the other day, impute to the gallant Field-Marshal any unworthy motive, political or otherwise. Lord 834 Roberts said that to eviscerate these thirty-three batteries in the manner proposed "was an extraordinary waste of good material" and he urged very strongly that the whole of the thirty-three batteries and the eight Horse Artillery batteries should be kept on a reduced peace footing, perhaps, but as Regular and efficient batteries to be used in the event of an invasion. I suppose it is useless to urge on the right hon. Gentleman to take thought again, because he told us that he was determined to go on with this scheme, which, I believe can only lead to disaster. But that after all is his affair. We believe, and I speak for all artillery officers whom I have been able to consult, that more Regular artillery is absolutely essential. We believe that the Austrians have, after all, got the right idea in this matter. I understand that in Austria, after careful consideration it has been decided that it is necessary to give nothing but Regular artillery to the second line Army. I believe that is a perfectly sound idea, and I think that although you can raise a home defence Army of both infantry and yeomanry with a small amount of training, you can never raise an effective artillery force by this method. Really when the right hon. Gentleman tells us—and this is the only reason he has put forward so far—that unless you do what he proposes you will create great discouragement in the ranks of the Territorial Force—in other words that this force will not consent to play at all unless they have a full box of toys, I think he is doing an injustice to the Territorial Army. The right hon. Gentleman himself in a very wise speech which he made some time ago before he committed himself to this scheme said:We must have more artillery and nothing short of the best will do.That is what he preached, but it is not what he practises, and we would forgive him if he would only adapt his practice to his preaching and follow the policy of foreign nations who have far greater experience than we have in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman's remark is corroborated almost verbally by Lord Roberts, who said the other day in the House of Lords, that if we are not to have the best artillery it would be infinitely 835 better to have no artillery at all. I know it is now the fashion in this House to belittle expert advice. It is only necessary to say what the expert thinks is right in order to secure the ridicule of the right hon. Gentleman's supporters, but after all in a matter which is highly technical, such as this affecting the artillery, I think we are entitled to give more weight to the opinion of experts than the Party opposite are accustomed to do. What I ask the right hon. Gentleman is, and I hope that he will answer me because he has not done so yet, whether he can now relieve our minds a little by giving us the opinions of any eminent or practical soldiers who have seen war service, who are in favour of his proposal to reduce the regular artillery and put in its place untrained artillery. I think the right hon. Gentleman should tell us a little more in favour of that proposal than is contained in his own approval. We cannot attach much importance to the statement that the Army Council is in its favour. We all know that the Army Council has varied its opinions very much in the last few years, and we are entitled to know who are the artillery authorities who have given him the advice which has induced him to press forward this matter. I may say that the only military authority that I have heard supporting it has been the hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby Division. He is the only military authority in politics or out of politics that I have been able to meet who has given his approval to the right hon. Gentleman's plan. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give other authorities, but he has not done so yet and I hope he will be able to enlighten us this afternoon. There is another point which I wish to touch upon, with regard to the number of officers taken upon this Vote. The right hon. Gentleman very rightly bewails the shortage of officers, and we have ascertained from official documents that he has laid before us that there has been a large falling-off in the number of officers even since he assumed his present post. The right hon. Gentleman has issued in an Army Order this morning a statement of the scheme by which he proposes to meet that deficiency. I endeavoured to deal with this scheme 836 on a previous occasion and I do not intend to go into it again now, but it seems to me that further reductions—automatic reductions—of officers are inevitable owing to a variety of causes other than those for which the right hon. Gentleman is responsible. There is the aftermath of the South African War and the block of promotion which resulted from it, but the falling off is aggravated by his reduction of units and his bringing home of units and placing them on reduced establishments. There is one particularly bad case which I do rot apologise for bringing before the House, because it concerns my old regiment, and because I know it is creating very widespread interest. It affects the position of the Royal Garrison Artillery officer, because in addition to the causes which I have mentioned which have led to the blocking of promotion, the position of these officers has been seriously affected by what is called the bifurcation of the Regiment. The Regiment was split up into two branches, Garrison Artillery and Field Artillery, and I remember very well at the time, because I was myself affected, that we were assured by the War Office that the officers of the Garrison Artillery should suffer no detriment from the separation as compared with officers of the field branch. But what has taken place since, as far as the War Office is concerned? I have been examining the list, and I find that majors of my own standing have, in eleven years, lost four years as compared with their contemporaries in the Field Artillery. Senior captains head the list with over twenty years' service, which cannot make for Army efficiency, and there are 200 senior lieutenants at the head of the list with eight years' service, whilst promotions are only afforded at the rate of seventeen in a year. At this rate it will take twelve years to work off this batch of lieutenants, and the last of them will have twenty years service as subalterns. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, his attention having been directed to this growing grievance, he will hold out any hopes to these officers of having their position ameliorated, or if he cannot, will he put them out of their misery at once. I have been told by many of 837 them that if nothing can be done for them, they would rather be told now so that they may retire before it is too late to seek another field of employment. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to use this material, the most valuable trained material in the British Army, officers of the highest technical training in the service. Surely he can find some use for them in these new great schemes which he is introducing. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will this afternoon give some answer to this point, and hold out to these officers the prospect of a better future, or else pronounce upon them a definite sentence. I do not wish to detain the House. I am aware that the ground is very narrow which we have to tread in debating this question, but I do wish in conclusion to repudiate what has been stated on the other side of the House and in another place, that we, in bringing forward these objections to any detail of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme, are actuated by party motives. Surely it is possible for us to differ from the right hon. Gentleman and the Government upon these highly debatable and technical matters without incurring that charge, and it is really absurd to suppose that because we do not slavishly agree with all the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman that, therefore, we are guilty of party bias. Really that line of argument will not do. It will not do for the Government to try to shelter themselves behind that bogey. The right hon. Gentleman can possibly belittle our opinions in the eyes of this House but I hope that he will attempt some answer to the arguments that have been addressed to him, not by politicians, but by professional soldiers of the highest possible repute, and that he will, in particular, reply to the contentions of Lord Roberts, whose speech in the House of Lords on this artillery question has caused so much uneasiness in the public mind. I hope at least he will attempt some answer that is reasoned and that does not impute to the professional critics any motives which are political or unworthy.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. HALDANE,) Haddington
I think, Mr. Speaker, that it will be convenient 838 if I pass from the speech which has just been made to the Motion which has been proposed, but there is one observation which I should like to make at once. If all the speeches on Army reform had been made in the temperate and reasoned tone of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down, I do not think that complaint could be made. Indeed, I am not going to make a complaint in any matter but one, and it has nothing to do with the hon. and gallant Gentleman. But there have been things said, during the last few days which are very discouraging to the new Territorial Force. That force, after all, is a delicate plant. The sapling has only just begun to show above ground, and if you proceed to pull it up, and complain it is not yet an oak tree, all I say is that the prospect of progress is rather hopeless. Legitimate discussion, discussion of serious points, re useful and valuable. But to pour contempt upon the efforts to raise a Volunteer field artillery is only to discourage the many men—after all, whether they succeed or not, they are actuated by the most patriotic of motives—who, whether working in the County Associations or in commands in various parts of the country, have been sending us letters of complaint saying that their prospects have been rendered more doubtful by speeches of criticism made at this particular juncture.
§ MR. HALDANE
Not from the same gentlemen—the gentlemen who are endeavouring to get the Volunteers to fill the field batteries. But I do not want to pursue that subject. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the position of the officers of the garrison artillery has been nude hard because of the reduction in that branch of the service, due to the change of policy. That policy was the result of a conference between the Admiralty and the War Office; 839 and it means that the defences in this country and the defences abroad are organised on a more mobile footing than they were on the old footing. We are no longer in the days when the enemy would be so kind as to bring ships within range of a fixed battery, and the changed conditions have given rise to a considerable reduction in garrison artillery. I can assure my hon. and gallant friend that what he has said to-day shall not remain unnoticed, nor shall I forget what has, indeed, been much in my mind in connection with the new military policy which is being carried out.
Now I turn to what is the great question before us. We are discussing the Vote for the number of men, and the speech of the hon. and gallant Member has raised, quite legitimately from his point of view, the proposition that we are not taking in the Vote enough men for the artillery, if we are to have an adequate home defence force as well as an adequate Regular Force. That is the thesis which is very legitimately raised, and I am glad to have the opportunity of making some explanation about it, because I believe that under the argument which the hon. and gallant Member has addressed to the House there lies a very great fallacy. What is the size of the British Army to be? It is an Army consisting of something quite different from what Continental armies consist of. On the Continent, where your land frontier is conterminous with that of another country, where you have only an imaginary line of demarcation, your whole force must be in the first line. All outside can be but a reserve. You must get an Army mobilised and ready for war at short notice. But our island position, while it impose? on us the necessity of a great fleet at sea—and that is the real foundation of our military strategy—enables us to have a small Army for the defence of the country, and an Army fashioned on quite a different footing from all of the Continental armies. With us you can—and if consistent in your military policy you will—divide your force into two, a first line and a second line—a first line which must be ready for action just as a Continental army is ready 840 for action, and a second line, the purpose of which is upon the outbreak of war to prepare itself to come up as a second line for the relief of the first. The first may have to go oversea. The first may be worn out by wastage of war. Your second line is not designed to be ready on the outbreak of war in the same fashion as the first line is. It is rather a line in reserve, which in the early stages of a war will acquire strength and efficiency. That is a conception only possible on the footing that you have command of the sea; and it is on the footing that you have command of the sea, and a small Army for your first line, that the system is based. If that be true, your second line goes into its war training mobilisation, not for immediate fighting, but for its war training. You must organise it as closely as you can on the pattern of the first line; have your brigades, your divisions, and every thing ready, so that every man shall understand what his place may be, and what his functions arc. you must give to this second line—because it is a Volunteer Army on a Volunteer basis and you can only give it just so much training as Volunteers are able and willing to take—enough training so that when mobilised on the outbreak of hostilities for their war training they may harden and acquire efficiency as rapidly as circumstances and public spirit will allow. If that is so, the Territorial Army is designed to be as ready as it can be on the outbreak of hostilities and to mobilise to take war training. Six months is what we should like to get. You may have to do your best in great emergencies at the beginning of a war, but I never contemplated that the Territorial Army should be regarded as ready to meet with an equal force of highly-trained troops landing on these shores at the first outbreak of hostilities. In order to resist an invasion you have first the Fleet, secondly your Regular troops at home in the event of sudden or surprise attack. If you are sending your troops abroad, you must be careful not to send more than you can spare consistently with such defence as is to be maintained until the Territorial or second line hardens into efficiency. That is one reason why I do not think these 160,000 men of whom we have heard so 841 much is at all too large a force. You might have to send four divisions abroad within three weeks or a month. You would not be wise, unless you were perfectly sure that your naval dispositions were such as to make it absolutely certain that no blow could be struck at the heart of the Empire, to send more than that until the Territorial Force was considerably hardened. The Regular troops at home would be a formidable force for any invader to contemplate encountering, particularly as week by week would be producing the hardened men of the second line. That is why the Government invited the House of Commons to pass the Act of last session under which a Territorial or second line force could be automatically mobilised for its war training on the calling out of the Reserve. That is the structure of the whole scheme. On the outbreak of hostilities the second line force becomes mobilised, but mobilised to go into war training. The essence of the Act is that the automatic mobilisation is a mobilisation for war training.
I have dealt with this subject, repeating what I have said ten times before, for a reason. I quite agree as to the great authority of Lord Roberts. He is our most brilliant commander of troops—perhaps the most brilliant commander of troops in the world at the present time; but I really cannot follow Lord Roberts's reasoning on the broad question of military organisation. He speaks of preparation for a surprise attack as if the plan was that the Territorial Army was organised to resist the surprise attack—as if we were contemplating a situation when all the Regular troops should be away, and as if we had no Navy which could resist invasion, and the Territorial Force was to be brought face to face with I know not how large a Continental force suddenly descending on these shores. If we relied on the Territorial Force to deal with that situation, I agree that we should rely on very little. I have never put that forward. In the case of such a bolt from the blue we should have, I hope, the whole expeditionary force, especially those actually serving with the colours, at our back. I have never for a moment contemplated that we should be left in such a situation 842 with no protection from the Navy and no protection from the Regular Army; and I am the more puzzled with Lord Roberts's speech because I cannot but remember that only three years ago, in 1905, he was a member of the Defence Committee which gave certain advice which the Leader of the Opposition gave to this House. I understand that his speech was based on calculations made by the Defence Committee—he told us so at the time—and the Defence Committee, of which Lord Roberts was a member, told us that only a raid of 5,000 men or two raids of 5,000 men were to be protected against. It really detracts from the authority of however eminent an expert, if views so totally and diametrically opposite are put forward, and the country asked to accept both of them within so short a period. I believe myself that the right hon. Gentleman opposite probably put the figure too low. I should not like to pin myself to the proposition that not more than 5,000 men could be landed. The sea is wide, accidents do happen, and for a matter of security you must make better provision than would be made by merely reducing the risk to that level. I agree with the principle that you should rely on naval protection against any large invasion, that you should rely on the old British policy of faith in transports and keep at home a second line force large enough to ensure that, if the enemy should bring his troops in sufficiently large numbers, he would require transports of such magnitude that the Navy would have a target to hit.
Now that I have wholly parted company with Lord Roberts, and have admitted that, if the conception of immediate reliance on the Territorial Force in case of invasion was correct, the criticisms of our scheme would be well founded, but have shown what an entirely different basis underlies the Government plan, let me come to some points raised by the hon. and gallant Member which will appear in an entirely new light in view of the principles I have stated. I have always felt that our first duty is to make the Regular artillery of the expeditionary force efficient. For that purpose you require ammunition columns, and the cheapest method of doing that 843 is to get 15,000 efficiently trained men to supply the wastage of war. In the time of the South African war the bulk of the batteries were at home training drafts. There were, I think, forty-five in South Africa, and about sixty at home training drafts. Whether that is the real figure or not does not matter. You must always in any circumstances keep a number of batteries at home to supply your drafts. The necessity is now greater because of the large ammunition columns which are required for the quick-firing guns. The general calculation is that sixty-six batteries are sufficient for the Regular field force and thirty-three as training batteries. These batteries are put on a two-gun basis. I have not reduced the men. If the House wishes to be reassured as to the state of the artillery, I say I have never professed to reduce the artillery; I have reduced other things, but not the artillery, because the artillery was not efficient. I have recognised that I had not only to make economies, but to obtain efficiency; and the state of the artillery since I came into office is certainly no worse, and, I think, a great deal better than it was before. On 1st April, 1906, the establishment was 29,879 Horse and Field; on 1st April, 1907, 29,938; on 1st April, 1908, 30,159. That, of course, includes what we have provided for India, because we treat the Force as one for this purpose. There has, therefore, been no reduction in the Regular Artillery, and I pledge myself to this House not to reduce the Regular Artillery until I can provide for every man who goes off some four or five men who can take his place. If that is so, what would be the position? You would have your ammunition columns, which I regret you have not got at the present time. You would have your thirty-three batteries on a training footing, but they would have a certain amount of Regulars, and they would each have in addition, besides the two guns, four guns more. The guns are all there. Sixty-six batteries have large reserves of guns behind them, larger than was suggested by the Mowatt Committee. We also have four guns in addition to the two used for training for every training battery. Therefore, suppose you did run short of artillery, and suppose we 844 were reduced to extremities, you have a very substantial number of guns, of men, and batteries which can be put on a six gun basis, and if you have succeeded in training artillery and in enlarging the force of artillerists in this country, then you will have no difficulty in making use of these batteries in time of great emergency, but I like to look at these thirty-three batteries as fulfilling the legitimate function of training drafts for the Regular artillery, and of being that support which ought to be behind the Regular artillery in case it had to go abroad. The hon. and gallant Member opposite says that it is not enough, because you cannot rely upon the Volunteer field artillery which you are proposing to raise. I would admit the argument of the hon. and gallant Member if it was directed against the proposition to produce field artillery which was to be fit to take the field immediately on the declaration of hostilities. But I have pointed out that the organisation which we are making of the Volunteer field artillery, and the training we propose to give, is ample for the purpose of bringing together an organisation to take war training on the calling out of the Regular Reserves when mobilisation takes place.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
said that his objections, as far as he was personally concerned, applied with almost equal force to this artillery after it had been embodied for six months. He did not believe its efficiency would be materially increased.
§ MR. HALDANE
I am glad the hon. and gallant Member has come to the real point. I would remind him that on this question of driving, which I think he has in mind, his authority would not be recognised as quite so great as that of those who realise the difference between garrison artillery and horse and field artillery. The hon. and gallant Member is what they call a sedentary artilleryman. The garrison artillery do not depend on driving, nor are they of the class of artillerymen whose opinions have to be directed to the question whether men should make efficient drivers or not. Between garrison artillery and horse and field artillery there is a great gulf fixed. 845 Their mysteries are totally different mysteries, and really the discussion of the last few weeks about the mysteries of the artillery are extremely confusing to the mind of the hon. Member who gives himself the trouble to distinguish between the various kinds of artillery. I said in a moment of irritation last summer that the mysteries made by artillerymen about their craft were almost as great as the mysteries made by the theologians; I apologise to the theologians. Why a skilled and highly-trained artisan should not learn the handling of a gun I do not know. [An HON. MEMBER: The riding of a horse.] Why a bank clerk in London should learn to ride a horse with the Honourable Artillery Company, and a bank clerk at Sheffield, Glasgow, or some other city should not learn it equally well, is a mystery I cannot fathom. The hon. and gallant Member said, quite justly, that I must not put forward my assertions against the assertions of Regular soldiers, and particularly against the assertions of soldiers as eminent as Lord Roberts. To this matter I have given a great deal of attention and consideration; I am always most reluctant to produce the opinions of experts who are advising me, and for that reason I thought it right to refuse to produce the Minutes of the Army Council and Reports of the Inspector-General, which contain all sorts of confidential things. But, in view of the appeal made to me, and repeated again to-day by the hon. and gallant Member, I have done this. I did not think it right to put any pressure or even specific questions, but I referred various eminent soldiers to the controversy which is taking place, and asked them whether they thought fit to express any opinion on the subject which I could read to the House of Commons. I have been furnished with replies by the Inspector-General of the Forces, Sir J. French, and also by the Army Council. The question I submitted to them was this—taking the conception of a second line which I have give a, the second line which is to be trained on mobilisation, on a war footing so as to harden it, could you get an efficient field artillery force? It is the very question which the hon. and gallant Member raised a few moments ago. This is what Sir J. French says to 846 me this morning. I will read it just as I have got it. It is a little long, but the Motion is so important that I think the House ought to have Sir J. French's own words. Sir J. French is not only Inspector-General of the Forces but Inspector-General of the Territorial Force that is to be, and it is his duty to be responsible for efficiency. This is what Sir J. French sent to me this morning and which he wrote under date of yesterday:—Lord Roberts laid down in the House of Lords that artillery requires a much longer and far more intricate training than is afforded by the provisions of Mr. Haldane's scheme. He gave it as his fixed opinion that with so little training the Territorial batteries will prove, to be useless, and even a positive danger to their own side. The Field-Marshal went on to urge the Government to abandon all idea of Territorial artillery, and to spend the money so saved in raising a force of mounted riflemen. In the statement of his case Lord Roberts appears to entirely lose sight of the principle which lies at the very root of Mr. Haldane's scheme—namely, the six months training on mobilisation. His argument is altogether based on the fifteen days annual course, and he even fails to make allowance for the voluntary work and training which will undoubtedly be carried on, over and above the regulation fifteen days, in many divisions. It may be remarked that it is this kind of work which has raised the batteries of the Honourable Artillery Company and Lancashire to a state of efficiency which is universally acknowledged by experts. Allowing for such an amount of training, I cannot think that these Territorial batteries which have undergone it will be either useless or dangerous. It seems to me that such an idea is not borne out either by military history or peace experience. In the American Civil War and in the latter part of the Franco-German War batteries of field artillery did excellent service with just as little, and in many cases even less, previous training. It appears to be generally overlooked that this six months' training, which is to commence on mobilisation, will be carried on under exceptional circumstances. War will be actually in progress. National spirit and enthusiasm will be aroused to the highest pitch. Training will be conducted, and willingly undergone, morning, noon, and night. Every man will be throwing his utmost heart and endeavour into the work, and straining every nerve to shorten the period which must be passed before he can go to the help of his comrades who are falling every day. With efficient instructors more will be done in this six months than could be looked for in two or even three years of ordinary peace training. Our own experience of the early days of the South African war should have taught us this lesson. It was a constant saying of Napoleon that national feeling, great energy, skill, and perseverance had far more effect in converting raw material into soldiers than long spaces, of time. One great object which the scheme 847 has in view is to create reality out of what was little more than pretence. The first step towards this end is to lay down and work upon a thoroughly sound organisation, which shall be suitable to the demands of modern war. How can any organisation be sound or complete without its full quota of artillery? To leave out this, perhaps the most important of all arms, as Lord Roberts proposed, is simply inconceivable. Then, where are we to get it? Of course, all soldiers would prefer the highest trained artillery they could get, but the country insists on economy, and I assume no Regular artillery is available. This scheme, therefore, provides the only means available of getting what we require. In my humble opinion the prospects of securing a sufficiently trained force are quite good enough to fully warrant the experiment. I do not suggest that the Territorial artillery which may be called upon to take the field on completion of the six months training will be equal as regards efficiency, either in personnel or matérial, to the regular artillery of the first line. But what about our enemy? If our best forces are becoming exhausted and require expansion, so do his. Huge gaps will have been made in the ranks of his personnel, which must, of necessity, be filled up by less highly trained substitutes. As regards matérial, the life of the quick-firing gun is limited. Material will suffer to a much greater degree than formerly, and it is certain that after six months of war any enemy we may be fighting will have to put ordnance into the field which will be in no way superior to the converted gun to be issued to the Territorial Army. For these reasons I venture, with all deference, to differ entirely from the conclusions arrived at by Lord Roberts.I told the House that before venturing to put these plans before Parliament, or, for that matter, before my colleagues in the Cabinet, I had them very closely sifted. I submitted them to a Special Committee, the Committee of Imperial Defence, on which Sir J. French himself sat; and the six months plan was very largely the result of the suggestions of Sir J. French and Sir Neville Lyttelton, Chief of the General Staff. Sir Neville Lyttelton at one time was very critical of the notion of Volunteer field artillery, and he was critical because the plans that were put forward three years ago, and the plans put forward earlier, provided for no systematic training on a war footing of the proposed Volunteer field artillery. But the plan now embodied on the outbreak of hostilities would give them as much training as you could at that moment—it may be six months, it may be two months, or it may be one month, still they are progressively improving. It may be that that was one of the circumstances which 848 has made a great alteration in Sir Neville Lyttelton's view. The other is the inspection which he has made of the Volunteer field artillery actually at work since that time. As the hon. Member challenges me I will read the opinion of Sir Neville Lyttelton and the Army Council which I obtained the same day. I gave them the question, and what I am reading is their general pronouncement upon it. The only signature not attached to the document is that of the Adjutant-General, who was absent, but I can say from personal knowledge I have no reason to suppose that he dissents from the conclusions. They say—The necessity of maintaining a second line Army on the basis of citizen service is generally admitted, and given this condition, its limitations as regards the amount of training that can be given in peace are self-evident, and for this reason no very high standard of efficiency can be looked for. This is very apparent in the case of field artillery. It is not in our power to give it the amount of training necessary to bring it up to the standard of Regulars or near it. All we can do is to lay down for it the highest scale of training it can accept, which will give them a reasonable standard of efficiency, and this I think can be done. Proposals were made three years ago to create Volunteer field batteries, but it was only contemplated to give them a month in camp and additional drills, and this I considered inadequate, though I did not object to an experiment on these lines being tried on a small scale. But the training proposed for the Territorial artillery of to-day is far more thorough, as, in addition to the annual camps and drills, on mobilisation it is to be embodied for as long as is thought fit, and the training it will then receive will certainly improve it to such an extent that no invader could ignore it. I am not arguing as to whether we shall get this breathing time or not. It is perhaps possible that we shall not, but I think we shall. Of course if we are attacked in a time of profound peace we shall not, but then the Regular artillery of the expeditionary force will be in the country. It is a question whether, viewing the nature of the greater part of England, 196 batteries are not too many, but that our second line Army should be denuded of all its artillery because it cannot be, brought in peace to a high standard of efficiency is to ignore the purpose for which that Army exists. I have shown this paper to Sir W. Nicholson and Major-General Hadden, and they are both in agreement with it. I may add that Sir James Wolfe Murray, the late Master-General of the Ordnance, was quite in favour of raising Volunteer field artillery.I think that these expert opinions are of interest, and if I am not wearying the House I should like to read the opinion of the Director of Military Training 849 who has worked out this scheme as one of the heads of the General Staff. He says not so much about the general thing as about what he has seen at work. Last summer we had some interesting manœuvres in Scotland, and we brought together cavalry and Yeomanry, as well as Regular and Volunteer artillery. We had field artillery batteries there, and it so happened that they were in camp with a large number of troops for a considerable time on my own small place in Perthshire. I had the opportunity of seeing them closely, and this is what General Haig refers to in his letter. He says to me—You will no doubt remember that two batteries of the Lanarkshire Artillery Volunteers were turned out for special training last summer; and were brigaded with Regulars for about ten days at the Scottish manœuvres. The chief object of this was to enable us to form some opinion as to the standard of efficiency which Volunteer Artillery could reach under the conditions then existing. I attach a letter from Colonel May who as assistant director of training accompanied me specially to watch the work of this Artillery.I fully agree with what he writes, and am of opinion that what "as done by these sections of Volunteer Artillery was satisfactory proof that Volunteer Artillery can become mobile enough, even under the old system of training, to take part in field operations. I did not, however, see this Artillery at practice, but Colonel Wing's report on Allen's (Sheffield) Corps, 4th West Riding of Yorkshire, dated 9th August last, seems sufficient testimony on this head. His words are the practice was very satisfactory.' Wing is now Staff Officer for Royal Horse and Field Artillery to the Commander-in-Chief at Aldershot, and his opinion is that of an expert of to-day. Copy of Wing's report is attached.
In discussing the question of the standard of efficiency to which Volunteer Artillery can be brought, it seems highly important to notice that very great changes are being made with the view of providing better means for training. Briefly put they amount to the following:—
- 1. The Volunteer Authority is now to be organised as Field instead of Garrison—and will be formed into Artillery brigades with quick firing guns.
- 2. A Divisional Artillery Commander and Stall' is provided to direct the training throughout the whole year.
- 3. The training of officers and Non-Commissioned officers of the Territorial Artillery by means of the Regular Training Brigades.
- 4. The methodical association of Volunteer Artillery with Regulars at training centres and camps.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
These training brigades—the whole of their time and energy is not to be devoted to the Special Reserve as we understood the other day?
§ MR. HALDANE
It is their primary function, but the officers and noncommissioned officers will be there to give instruction and help to the officers and non-commissioned officers of the field artillery force, who I have no doubt will go there and be present at the training and will gain great instruction from seeing the work done. It is done every day. You have your Yeomanry officers attached to cavalry regiments, and what can be done in the case of the Yeomanry can certainly be done in the association of Volunteer artillery with Regulars in training mps—Lastly, the General Staff Officer in each Division of the Territorial Army brings the General Staff at Army Headquarters into close touch with the Territorial Force, so that the results of what is being done will be closely watched and proposals for improvements in organisation or training will be carefully thought out, and put forward as necessity demands. For these reasons I deprecate any change in the policy of creating a 2nd Line Army complete in all arms and services.That is the Report of a Member of the General Staff, General Douglas Haig, one of the most modern soldiers in the Army, a man of great distinction and service in the field who deprecates what I have been asked to do, which is to get rid of the Volunteer field artillery. I am afraid I am wearying the House but there is one other Report by Colonel May on Colonel Grant's Lanarkshire batteries. He says this—The strongest argument as to the efficiency of Grant's field artillery in Scotland is to be found in the fact that the day you first saw the batteries on the moors above Cloanden, I was riding with you and pointed them out as Volunteers; you would not believe me at first, and said they were Regulars.This is a very distinguished artillery officer riding with one of the most distinguished generals in the Army, and one of the heads of the General Staff, and if he at first sight took them for Regulars I suspect hon. Members opposite would also have taken them for regulars.I rode into the battery and again inquired, and found that, as I said, they were Grant's people. You will remember that Major Shaw, commanding one of them, showed you and me 851 a bank which they had just driven over, and which a Regular battery had declined to negotiate.This shows the difficulty and danger of criticising field artillery.Before I met you on that morning, a day of mist and rain, I was with the batteries in action, and I formed a good opinion of their fire discipline. Their officers had a satisfactory knowledge of ranging and fire discipline, and the guns were well served. The fire discipline was good, and the guns were well placed considering the difficulties of the terrain. I inquired of the officers of the Regular field battery, which was in action close to them, and who were during pauses in the course of the operations moving about amongst the Volunteer guns, what opinion they formed of the quality of the training displayed. They told me they were surprised at the degree of efficiency which had been reached. The batteries certainly had adequate mobility. The harness and equipment and accoutrements were well put on; the driving was good; and the rules of our training manual as regards fire discipline were complied with. The officers showed a good knowledge of the equipment, the packing of ammunition, etc., and knew their work. I reported this both to you and Mr. Haldane, but I was careful to tell the latter that Grant's corps was an exceptionally good one, trained very ably by an enthusiast, and that he could not expect to find the same efficiency in all Volunteer batteries. I also told him the guns were not shotted, and that until you actually fire shells you cannot tell whether fire discipline is as good as it looks or not. At the same time the efficiency of these particular batteries was illustrative of what might be done by Volunteers properly instructed. I should like to add that I saw Allen's West Yorkshire Artillery Volunteers in practice camp last summer, when I accompanied Sir N. Lyttcl-ton to Fleetwood. On that occasion I saw practice carried out by three batteries. The results were distinctly good. The umpires were Regular officers from the brigade at Sheffield. I made notes and got their reports, which were very satisfactory. I had these typed, and I believe Jeffcott could find them. At any rate I showed them to you, and to Mackinnon and Sir N. Lyttelton. Of course in this case it may be objected that Allen's is a special corps. But, again, if one corps can arrive at such good results, it furnishes an example of what others may do.That is what I say too. If the Volunteer field artillery in the face of the greatest discouragement, without anything like the organisation and equipment which we are giving them, have been able in the case of those two corps to rise to that pitch of excellence, there are other corps throughout the country that can rise to it also.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
Do I understand that these Scottish batteries are 852 on the same basis of organisation as the Lancashire Field Artillery?
§ *MR. HALDANE
Oh, no; the hon. and gallant Member is, I think, under a misapprehension. The Lancashire Field Artillery refers not to Colonel Allen's Sheffield Volunteer Field Artillery corps, training in Lancashire, but to the Lancashire Field Artillery. It is a pure Volunteer corps under Colonel Allen. I have quoted the General Staff, I have quoted artillery experts, and I have quoted the Army Council and the Inspector-General of the Forces, and I do not think I am. under the reproach of having no distinguished soldiers to back my opinion. But there are one or two other distinguished persons I wish to refer to. There are the opinions of eminent statesmen who have expressed their views on the proposition to re-arm the Volunteer field artillery with modern guns. I am in this position, that not mine adversary, but my predecessor in office has written a book about the Army. I will not say: "Oh, that mine adversary had written a book!" but I will say that the book contains a reproach against me for having stopped the good policy of the late Government, which was to produce a Volunteer field artillery. I was going very cautiously at that time. I had to arrest, as it seemed to me, the too rapid progress of a number of experiments. But it is true that this is no new idea of mine. Here I come back to 1900 to the Marquess of Lansdowne, then Secretary of State for War. On 12th February, 1900, he said—It is our intention to re-arm the Volunteer artillery with modern guns. To those now using guns of position we propose to give the semi-mobile 4.7-in. guns…. In the hands of the rest we shall put modern field guns. They will be armed with modern 15-pounders of the latest and most modern type.I fear I can claim no credit in this matter. Now I come to Lord Midleton, who, speaking on 8th March, 1901, said—Lord Roberts is willing to make a great and final step in advance and to agree that with certain training "—much less than we propose to give—he will rely, from the experience of this war on Volunteer batteries, a certain proportion in each of the last three Army corps. The admirable practice made by the C. I. V. batteries in the Transvaal satisfied Lord Roberts that 853 that step could be taken without danger. Therefore in the last three Army corps while there will be a certain proportion of Regular troops, and in each fourteen batteries of Regular artillery, one-third of the Army corps—seven batteries—will be found in each of the last three Army corps by the Volunteers and Militia.The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon has committed himself also extremely deeply about this. He Said in a letter to the Standard, on 17th June last—In 1905 arrangements perfectly satisfactory to the Volunteers and most advantageous to the Regular Army had been made whereby two important brigades of Volunteers were to be supplied with a quick-firing field gun and specially trained as field artillery.Therefore, there are good reasons for making this experiment. I think I have shown beyond all possibility of contradiction that a large body of the most modern and experienced military opinion is in favour of this proposal of including Volunteer field artillery in the second line. We have preserved the Regular artillery intact and given it an organisation such as it never possessed before, and I think we shall do well, now that we have determined, on the Second Reading of the Bill last year, to create a Volunteer field artillery to be careful to do nothing in our speeches to discourage the officers who are working upon it, and who are doing their best to raise a force in the belief that they are rendering a good service to the country. For my part, I have confidence in their power and capacity and am prepared to back them. Hitherto I have been denounced in two directions—on the one hand, that I have been too niggardly in making reductions, and, on the other, that I have done too much. I think I have shown, with regard to the expeditionary force, that there is a great deal of misconception. What we are doing is to keep 68,000 men with the colours to supply drafts, and the reason is that we have to keep a certain number of troops in India, Egypt, and South Africa. As regards India, the Secretary of State for India is responsible for the establishment, and he decides what would be proper for the coming year. It is an establishment which does not merely exist for foreign purposes. It is an establishment which arises out of this, that we are responsible for the 854 safety and well-being of from 250,000,000 to 300,000,000 people in that country, and we have a certain number of white troops there because we are a white Government, and the establishment is that which the experts fix as the one which is consistent with our safety. Then I come to Egypt, where Lord Cromer and Sir Eldon Gorst are supported by a certain force, and on the question of the size and compositicn of that force I am largely guided by the requirements of the Foreign Office. The requirements of the Foreign Office will not admit of a diminution of that force. I wish to emphasise the fact that you have in Egypt the possibility of racial and religious conflict, and those are the considerations which fix the force at its present level. Anybody who argues that that force should be reduced must be prepared to deal with these considerations. We may be on the best terms with France, Germany, and all the European Powers, and yet there may be religious and racial questions in Egypt which involve that force. In South Africa, I agree, there is the possibility of reduction this year. This year I am going to bring home four battalions of infantry and a regiment of cavalry. Our real reduction during the period the Government have been in office is 21,700 men. We have brought the Army down close to where it was just before the war. The Infantry is rather less. That is a very substantial reduction. I have had to build up the Artillery, I have had to give medical service, transport, Army Service Corps, and generally to do what was necessary to provide a thoroughly organised force The reduction, therefore, is much larger than appears, but the result of the organisation has been that we have got a force smaller, but more efficient in the opinion of the military advisers than before, and that has been done at a cost of £5,000,000 less than was being spent before we came into officer I say solemnly to my hon. friends that they may make the greatest possible mistake in driving the War Minister in this matter. Far better let him go slowly, to proceed with a plan in his mind, and think and work it out cautiously. I took office on the pledge not only of economy but of efficiency, and I believe 855 that to be the wish of the Liberal Party. We have tried to make the Army more efficient. We believed we could reduce the number of the men and the cost of the Army, and we have done it. But the task is one of overwhelming difficulty, and it is the more difficult when you have two horses to ride at the seme time, and which I must ride. Under these circumstances I submit to the House of Commons that the rate of progress is one which is sufficiently rapid, and that nothing but reaction—reaction which would defeat the very purpose my hon. friends have in view—would result from pressing me to conclusions which I could not justify.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
The right hon. Gentleman ended on a somewhat pathetic note, when he said he had two horses to ride and that he found the operation difficult. Even an artillery driver more experienced than those on a Volunteer basis, might find the operation beyond his powers. I do not propose to deal with the latter part of the subject, and would only say a few words upon the first horse. Now, Sir, it is not easy always to deal with this question in a non-controversial spirit in answer to the right hon. Gentleman, because he quite unnecessarily drags in controversial insinuations and makes personal attacks. I never in my life heard a speech less party in tone than that which was delivered by my hon. friend near me. How was he rewarded for the spirit in which he approached what is admittedly a most difficult problem? The right hon. Gentleman gets up and with his own profound knowledge of gunnery matters, informs my hon. friend that he did not belong to that branch of the service which would enable him to pronounce upon a question of field artillery. My hon. friend has a perfect right to debate the subject from his own experience, which is much greater than that of either the right hon. Gentleman or myself, neither of whom is either a horse-master or a gun-layer. In fact, my hon. friend did not base his criticisms simply upon his own experience, but upon the observations of those who are still artillerists and with whom he has been in conversation. My hon. friend has behind him a vast body of military opinion. It 856 is not merely a question of what Lord Roberts says, or what this particular general or that particular general says—there may be differences of opinion—but if you asked the experts of the Army what they thought of the Volunteer artillery they would not give a view substantially different from that given by my hon. friend. I think the right hon. Gentleman and I are agreed that at the outbreak of war, and when the whole of the Regular Forces normally in this island are still here, probably we need not have any alarm as to the adequacy of our home defence against any probable or even possible invasion. The second point on which we are agreed, I think, is that if the Volunteers were called upon to show their military capacity against trained Continental troops in the first few weeks after the outbreak of war, they would find themselves wholly unable to rise to the height of the situation. We are agreed that so long as the Regular troops are at home those troops and the Fleet together are adequate. I will put it differently. Those troops are sufficient to require any foreign nation desirous of invading us to make the attempt with so large a force that the Fleet would be amply sufficient to prevent such a force landing. We are agreed in the second place, that if such a force did land and there were not these Regular troops within our shores, the Territorial Force of the right hon. Gentleman, with or without its own artillery, would be quite unable to deal with the situation. The difficulty arises when we consider what may happen if a war has broken out when the expeditionary force has left these shores. If the House want really to get a clear idea where the precise difficulty of the situation lies, it lies there. There are two cases. The first case is that in which the Territorial Army has had its full opportunity of six months training. It is on the hypothesis that they have had a full opportunity of six months training that all the documents which the right hon. Gentleman has just read from his military advisers are based. That is the only hypothesis they take into account. Sir John French not only assumes that the Territorial Army has had its full six months training after the outbreak of war, but he assumes that the invading 857 force is exhausted by six months war. Sir John French lays it down that the invading force will have had to take refuge in an inferior gun with officers of inferior training, and that these hypothetical invaders will be from a nation already exhausted by six months of arduous hostilities. I cannot imagine what the right hon. Gentleman can have said in the question he put to Sir John French which should make that most distinguished officer suppose that the invading force must necessarily come from that nation against whom we had sent our expeditionary force. Sir John French had not before him or did not think it necessary to reply to what are the real difficulties which this country may have to face after war has broken out. I do not think we have a right to hope that if this country is exposed to invasion, the invasion will proceed from a nation already exhausted by having to resist our expeditionary force. I take it that the danger which may assail us and against which we have to guard is the danger that after we have been engaged in hostilities with a foreign country some new and unexhausted enemy will appear in the field. That peril never seems even to have occurred to Sir John French as something which had to be considered by the General Staff. Assuming that the Territorial Army has had six months training, the first question we have to ask is, what will be its degree of efficiency. I do not desire to undervalue it. I conceive that men of the stamp of our Volunteers and Yeomanry, subjected to the severe discipline which I daresay they would be ready and anxious to undergo in some great national emergency, would be far from a negligible quantity after six months training. But I do not think it possible to hope that six months training, even under the most strenuous conditions, would enable our infantry Volunteers or Yeomanry to reach the level of a great Continental army. In what condition would the Artillery be after six months training? I listened most carefully to the expert opinions which the right hon. Gentleman read out. They seemed singularly inconsistent with the opinions given by equally expert authorities only a few years ago, when a very similar question was raised under a Government of which 858 I was a member. These variations, I suppose, must be expected, and we need not be surprised even if the same officer should sometimes in different years give rather different views on highly technical military questions. [An HON. MEMBER: Even Lord Roberts.] Let us take the opinions on which the present Government act. They come to this, that these eminent advisers think that, after six months strenuous training, you may get a certain number of batteries as good as C. I. V. or the Honourable Artillery Company, or perhaps some other of the field artillery which is being created in this country, either on a Militia or a Volunteer basis. I am the last man to say that that degree of efficiency is negligible. On the contrary, there is ample testimony that the C. I. V. and the Honourable Artillery Company did excellent service in South Africa.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Does the right hon. Gentleman really think he will get a sufficient number of corps of that quality to supply the whole of his Territorial Force with the necessary artillery? That is surely a question of fundamental importance on which no light is thrown by these documents. The right hon. Gentleman is relying wholly on this Volunteer artillery to supply the artillery for his Territorial Army. He has produced no evidence that he is going to get artillery up to the highest standard of Volunteer artillery in the past, which, I agree, is not a negligible standard. I do not believe that even at the end of six months it would be safe to rely on such artillery as could be supplied by that training. I believe it would be folly to rely upon them without some addition of those highly trained Regular batteries which can only be produced by long, arduous, and strenuous practice. How do you know you are going to get your six months training for your Territorial Army? The right hon. Gentleman only considers two hypotheses—the hypothesis of the Regular troops being here or the hypothesis of the expeditionary force being away and the Territorial Army having six months training. Is it a 859 law of nature, is it an immutable arrangement of Providence, that the Territorial Army is to have six months in which to train after the expeditionary force has gone? Supposing that you have sent your expeditionary force abroad in the first few weeks of the war, and that long before the six months training is concluded fresh complications arise and a fresh foe menances your shores. That is a situation with which the Government have not dealt. This is not contemplated by Sir John French, and I fail to see how it is met by the right hon. Gentleman with his first line and second line of defence. He says, truly enough, that if you foresaw these dangers you would keep the troops at home. But how can any Government engaged in hostilities with Power A be quite sure that six months will elapse before complications arise with Power B? It is just when you are in difficulties with one enemy that somebody who was your friend may think it convenient, useful, and profitable suddenly to become your enemy. That always seemed to me the fundamental difficulty of the right hon. Gentleman with his Territorial Army, and that is why we think that he is risking a great deal by his reduction of the Regular artillery. The right hon. Gentleman is always dwelling on the fact that he has provided the necessary ammunition for training and made the Regular artillery more efficient. What he has done is this. When he came into office he found the artillery on a three-years basis and rapidly creating its own Reserve of fully-trained men. He has now put it on a six-years basis, and not merely has he diminished by half the number of men who go to the Reserve, but he has diminished it immensely. The consequence is that while under the three-years system we were gradually getting into a position in which we should have an immense body of highly-trained artillery, adequate for the Regular Army and for the Home Army, the right hon. Gentleman has defeated that; and while I do not doubt that the artillery of the expeditionary force is quite adequate for any task it may be required to undertake, it seems to me that we should be far better situated for supplying the Home Army with the requisite artillery under the condition of things which the 860 right hon. Gentleman found when he came into office than under his own scheme.
§ MR. HALDANE
Your batteries abroad were depleted under the three-years system. You could not find drafts to keep them going.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My recollection is that all our advisers, while they thought it absolutely necessary to revert from the three-years system to the seven and five-years system in order to provide drafts for the infantry, were unanimous in the opinion that the three-years system should be retained for the artillery, as it had the incomparable advantage of supplying us with a great reserve of artillery. If I may sum up the contentions I have ventured to lay before the House I put them thus. I am not concerned to discourage Volunteer artillery. I do not wish to disparage such highly trained batteries as the Glasgow battery, the Sheffield battery, or the Honourable Artillery Company. I think they are a very useful addition to our national defence. I am, however, sceptical as to whether a large number of Volunteer batteries can ever be got up to that degree of efficiency which is required; but, even if they could, you ought to supplement them for the purpose of home defence by a highly-trained Regular artillery, and therefore, my most earnest contention—the point I put with the greatest insistence to the Government—is this. Do not let them concentrate their gaze on two passible positions only. Do not let them contemplate only the period when our Regular troops are at home or, as an alternative, the period when they are abroad and the home army has received a long period of training. Other hypotheses must be considered, other situations may arise, and I attach no value to the highest expert opinion when I see that it is based, not on the many circumstances that may arise, but on two possibilities, and on two possibilities only, without taking into account the infinite number to which our national defence may be exposed. For these reasons I do most earnestly ask the Government, not to abolish the Volunteer artillery, not to discourage those who really are competent to turn out batteries of a very high degree of efficiency; but 861 at all events, to remember that to rely on these, and on these alone, is to fly in the face of the experience of all nations. Therefore, I ask them to supplement the efforts of our patriotic, admirable, useful, and excellent citizen soldiers by giving them that expert assistance which is the fruit, and only the fruit, of long, laborious, and painstaking training.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said the House was running two hire? at once, and he proposed to take part in that sport. Both the matters to which he wished to refer should be dealt with by the House with its eyes open. The larger was raised by the Amendment of the hon. Member who moved the reduction of the Army. Before he came to that, however, he wished to make a remark in regard to the other matter which had interested him throughout the whole of his Parliamentary life. The arguments they had heard that night were most familiar to many hon. Members, because they had not moved one bit for the last twenty years. Apart from party feeling, it must be admitted that everybody had endeavoured to try some experiment in the direction of a cheaper artillery for the second line. The great difference was between those who thought it wise to create a purely Volunteer artillery, and those who would try a mixed force. He thought it would be found that those batteries which had been so highly spoken of that evening were mixed batteries—batteries in which they had enlisted besides Volunteers a very considerable number of Regulars of long service. That fact had not been mentioned before. It would be remembered that years ago they were told, as they were toll again on this occasion, of the success of the American Field artillery in the Civil War. There was an element of truth in that, because in that war Volunteer artillery were engaged against artillery of the same description; they were trained to the high state of efficiency to which they attained on both sides simultaneously. They became highly trained by constant practice against one another, but neither side was good at first. The right hon. Gentleman had destroyed the Volunteer Force which had existed up to the present time. 862 They had pointed out that the right hon. Gentleman's scheme would draw the men in the towns, but that it would kill Volunteering in the rural districts. That is what had happened. In his own division, in his own county, the whole of the Volunteer infantry and Volunteer artillery had been disbanded, and not one man would be found in the Territorial Army. In fact, to use the words which he had just applied to his critics, the right hon. Gentleman was tearing up the Volunteer Force by the roots and killing it. The six months training had been thoroughly discussed; but when his right hon. friend first proposed his scheme, he stated in all his speeches what had not been heard that night, that there was to be an organisation of certain portions of the Territorial Force for the purpose of coast defence, and the repelling of raids, and field artillery was mentioned. His right hon. friend said that for the defence of river mouths and similar landing places, it was important now-a-days to have in addition to batteries of fixed guns field artillery. He confessed that he doubted the readiness, under the circumstances described that night, of a purely Territorial artillery for field work. He did not think it would be fitted even for the extraordinarily trying work of manning quick-firing guns for the defence of such positions as the Forth Bridge and Rosyth, or Newcastle-on-Tyne. In an attack on such repairing yards as these, it was a matter of seconds before the fast destroyer run ling in at night would be out of the zone of fire at short range. The artillerymen must, therefore, not only sleep at the guns in the event of a declaration of war, but in anticipation of war. His own belief was that the very high efficiency of Regular artillery was required in cases of that sort, and that we should not be able to deal with them on the Territorial plan. The next question was of much moment and had been often discussed before. Year after year his hon. friend the Member for Cardiff, when he was sitting on the Conservative side of the House, his hon. and gallant friend the Member for Abercromby, and Mr. Claud Lowther and others divided the House for a reduction in the Regular Army on the ground 863 taken that day by the mover and seconder of the Resolution, viz., that if the country could not otherwise bear the rapidly increasing scale of expenditure in the case of the Fleet a means of reduction might be afforded by a change of the system of the Regular Army. His right hon. friend had sustained his position with admirable words. As soon as he took office he told them that our coasts were completely defended by the Fleet. That was the Government theory, but they could not discuss the adequacy of the Fleet or the future scale of it upon that question. They all knew that it was a very costly defence to which the Government were committed deeply, the War Office as well as everyone else. It was said that our coasts were completely defended by the Fleet, and that the Army was wanted abroad oversea and must be of very high quality to strike at a distance, of limited dimensions, and capable of rapid transport. That was the theory, and in a few days his right hon. friend declared that for the first time he had created a really mobile and immediately transportable Army of this description. He had heard that statement too often, not only from his right hon. friend, but from Lord Midleton, and his predecessors, and he could not believe it to be new each time. The 167,000 men of his right hon. friend were very nearly the same as the 100,000 men of the noble Lord who, when Mr. Brodrick, said in this House that he was able to mobilise immediately and transport across the sea a striking and expeditionary force of 160,000. He admitted, however, that the artillery for that force was not complete. The artillery for two Army Corps was he said complete, and he was then completing the artillery for the third Army Corps. They gave him the money to do this, but then they were told that the force he had stated was on paper and did not exist, and that what they paid for did not exist. Was it any more than on paper now? It was no use to say that it ought not to be on paper and that we ought to get it, but under the system of linked-battalions the Home battalions were ridiculously beneath their strength. They all knew the difficulties which successive Governments had had in this 864 matter the fact being that they could not get the recruits.
§ MR. HALDANE
Oh, yes; the recruiting was never better, and will improve as soon as I get rid of the disease of the three years system which at present it is suffering from.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
replied that Lord Portsmouth in the House of Lords a few days ago virtually pledged the War Office to re-introduce that system. He bed read the noble Lord's words with the greatest care and he had admitted that it would not be possible to keep up the Reserve without re - introducing some proportion of men on the system of short enlistment. [Mr. HALDANE dissented.] Well, if they did not do so the system would only break down all the sooner. He never professed to be an economist and he would desire a large expenditure on the most highly-trained branches of the Army, especially upon the cavalry and the artillery. But the Government were not doing this and were diminishing the number of horses for these services, even if they counted the ponies which had been taken back from the mounted infantry. He did not think the Secretary for War had shown them that he had created this expeditionary force which all his predecessors claimed to have created on the same scale and in the same fashion. He thought that the present system was extravagant and that they needed economies. It was too much to bear along with the increasing Fleet, and he, therefore, supported the Motion of his hon. and gallant friend.
§ MR. WEDGWOOD (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
thought the unfortunate Volunteers had had a very bad time from the right hon. Gentleman on the benches opposite. The old Volunteers and the new Territorial Force had been treated in a somewhat cavalier fashion, and more particularly was that the case with the artillery branch. The whole of the argument on the other side was based on the expert opinion of officers of the Regular service. The Leader of the Opposition had said if they took a poll of all the officers of the Regular service he was quite confident that the majority 865 would say that no artillery trained on a Volunteer basis could be an efficient weapon. What would happen if they suggested that solicitors should do the work of barristers? Did anyone think that if one polled the barristers they would come to any other conclusion by an overwhelming majority than that the solicitors were not competent to do their work? Or if it was suggested that county councils should look after matters of Imperial importance, and one polled the members of the House of Commons as to whether the councils were capable of doing it, that House would be almost unanimous in reserving to themselves all matters of Imperial moment. Supposing the Colonial officers who were engaged in the late South African War were polled as to the relative values of the Colonial and Imperial troops engaged in the war; they would come to an almost unanimous opinion that the Colonial troops, although raised on a voluntary basis, were infinitely superior to the Regular troops engaged. Wherever one appealed to parties who were interested, who had a bias unconscious to themselves, for expert opinions, they would get opinions in favour of their own particular branch of the service and hostile to any possibility of anyone else doing the work which they had been specially trained to do. He did not attach any importance whatever to the judgment of Regular officers as to the possibility of Volunteers performing under exceptionally favourable circumstances the work that the Regulars had been accustomed to do. He supposed that he also was liable to bias in this matter, because he happened to have been a Volunteer officer of artillery who went out to the late war, who commanded Volunteer artillery in action, who marched 2,700 miles and was twenty-six times in action He did not claim to be an expert, but he claimed to know something about the services that Volunteer artillery could render, and about the difficulty of training Volunteer artillery. They were not mere position batteries, but were genuine field artillery, having ten horses to each gun with gunners mounted on unbroken ponies collected on the veldt. The opinion of the Regulars on the Elswick battery to which he belonged could be judged from the fact 866 that their guns were in such demand that they were split up and single guns were sent out with each column, because the commanders wanted so have an Elswick gun with their columns. That battery was raised very largely at the Elswick works. It was impossible, however, for any workman, even if he made a Impounder gun, to be intimately acquainted with its complicated mechanism, and these men, although they came from Elswick, were not skilled gunners. They certainly had a certan number of Regulars in the battery, but there were not more than one in six at the outside. He quite admitted that Volunteer artillery did require slightly more training than any other form of the Volunteer service, but what experience did he have? After they were embodied they had three weeks training at Newcastle, and all that time they were excessively busy getting harness, uniforms, etc., and did not have much time for drilling. Then they had three weeks at Aldershot, also a somewhat curious experience because the horses were unbroken, and it was a surprise to him that the casualties did not commence at Aldershot. They had no other training until they got to South Africa, where they had a fortnight in camp, and altogether they had two months training, then went straight to the front. The general impression was that their shooting was a good deal better, largely owing to their having a better gun. He maintained that the experience of the Elswick battery in South Africa showed that it was perfectly possible to train Volunteer artillery in a short time, in six months certainly to fully the equal of the average Regular. He thought hon. Members opposite made a great mistake in always comparing the Volunteer with the ideal soldier. The ideal Regular soldier did not exist except in the imagination. Perfection was not obtained in any regiment of the service, and yet it was the perfect soldier who was always compared with the Volunteer service. It was not a fair comparison, because many of the Regular soldiers in South Africa did worse than the Volunteers. He did not think it fair to compare the Volunteers with the ideal Regular soldier either under the old or under the new conditions, but the training would be superior to what it was in the old times. 867 The training of the Territorial Force was to be far more than that given to the old Artillery Volunteers. There used to be four or five mounted drills a year, and the men used to march up and down the Moor at Newcastle, go through a few evolutions, not of very great necessity from the point of view of real field practice, and return equally steadily and very carefully. That was all the training they had in field artillery work. Under the new conditions they would have mounted drills all the time they were in annual camp, and six months mounted drill before the Volunteer Artillery went into action in time of war. In the old times they never fired a single shell over a land range. Everyone knew it was impossible to judge of the effect of shrapnel except over a land range, and that the result of firing over a sea range was practically nil. So that with the new conditions of artillery firing over land ranges their artillery ought to be infinitely superior to the old and they had the prospect of having a thoroughly successful second line of defence. He hoped his friends in the country who were officers of the Field Artillery Volunteers, and who hoped to become officers of the new Territorial Field Artillery, would understand that all those who had seen artillery in the field, and those who could judge of it from intimate knowledge, were persuaded that the Volunteers with their energy, patriotism, and individuality had in them the making of a thoroughly sound force to defend the country.
§ *MR. ASHLEY (Lancashire, Blackpool)
said that after the extremely illuminating and interesting speech of the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the City of London, he would not go into the question of field artillery. He would point out, however, to the Secretary of State for War that in quoting the American Civil War in support of his case for the Volunteer Artillery he did not quoted an instance of great value. In the first place, the artillery forces on both sides, the Volunteer artillery, were absolutely untrained, and, therefore, the experience gained from that war was of very little value. But if ton. Members read the life of Stonewall 868 Jackson, they would find that the South suffered very much in the beginning of the war owing to the Regular Artillery of the North being so superior to the Volunteer Artillery of the South. He was entirely with the right hon. Gentleman in his efforts to create some artillery for the new Territorial Force, which at the present moment had no artillery at all. It was surely better to have some than none, and though artillery on a Volunteer basis might not be so good as Regular Artillery they could confidently hope that within a given time—six months after the outbreak of war—it would make great strides towards efficiency. He therefore congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on having made some effort to give this force some artillery. Passing to the more general aspects of the case, the House was now discussing the number of men to be voted as the necessary number to defend the Empire. A reduction of 10,000 men had been moved by an hon. Member, one of whose statements was most surprising. The hon. Member had said that the Army could be reduced by 10,000 because the policy of the Government was a policy of peace. That was not only the policy of the Government, but of the Opposition and the country as well. But could the hon. Gentleman guarantee that that was also the policy of foreign nations? If he could, then we could reduce the Army by ten times 10,000 men. But to long as the hon. Member could not guarantee that the policy of foreign nations was a policy of peace we must have sufficient men to guarantee our Empire against invasion. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the reduction had suggested that we should go back to the old system of the long service Army—a system tried before the time of the Indian Mutiny and a dismal failure when the Mutiny broke out. At the present time men did not want to spend all their lives in the Army; and apart from the difficulty of obtaining men under the old long service system, was it likely that men who had spent twenty or twenty-five years in a tropical climate would be as physically fit as men of twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age, who had not 869 been for many years in an enervating climate and were in the prime of life? The Secretary of State for War in a very interesting Memorandum some time ago, had compared very accurately the state of the establishment of the Regular Forces in 1898, the year of the outbreak of the South African War, with the establishment at the present time, and had said we had now 4,000 less troops than then. We had in 1898, 166,000, and now we had 162,000 cavalry and infantry of the line. He did not agree with this reduction of 4,000 men, and he certainly disagreed with the reductions the right hon. Gentleman had made since he Came into office. On what ground could the right hon. Gentleman justify our having a smaller establishment than we possessed at the time of the outbreak of the South African War? Would he say we had too many troops then? We could not find many Regular troops in Great Britain to send out and had to raise troops hurriedly for that purpose, and if it had not been for the assistance rendered by our self-governing Colonies, we should have been in a worse fix than we were. Since then we had become responsible for the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal, which necessitated a garrison of 25,000 men, and we had become responsible for Egypt; we had put ourselves in the position of being the perpetual protectors of the Egyptian people and had had to increase our garrison there. Were these things a justification for reducing our establishment? Or could the right hon. Gentleman say that in exchange for that reduction he had a much larger second line to supplement the Regular Force? He did not think the right hon. Gentleman could, because, after all, these Special Reserves were only their old friends the Militia, under a new name. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman could say that he had a larger number of men to take the place of the Regular soldiers, whose number he had reduced compared with what it was before the oubreak of the war. Even the liability which the Special Reserve had taken upon itself to serve abroad did not help them in any way, because, as the House knew, whenever war broke out, the Militia, who were not liable to do so, always did go 870 abroad. It was very unfair, he often thought, that a man should be called upon to go abroad when he had not enlisted except for service in the United Kingdom, and so far as the country was concerned he did not see that they would be in any better position with the Special Reserve than they were with the Militia. If that were so, he could not admit that even a greater number of men, trained on the Militia basis, could compensate for the loss of a number of men trained in the regular orthodox way. A matt who had served a number of years in a battalion, who had been accustomed to discipline, who had got to know the work of his regiment and had the regimental feeling, was bound to be fat more efficient than any man who had trained either as a Special Reservist or Militiaman, or in any other way, only for a certain time during the year. Could the right hon. Gentleman justify the reduction of the Army which he had made because of the increase in the Army Reserve since the outbreak of the war? It was quite true that the present Army Reserve was very much greater than it was at the outbreak of the South African War, but. then they must remember that after all, this Reserve would very soon dwindle away again—it was purely temporary—and the men they were voting now were the men who would produce the Reserve eight or nine years hence, and not the Reserve at the present moment. It was impossible, therefore" when they were voting the men, to rely on the Reserve which was created under a former state of things; they must look to the Reserve which would be created in the future state of things. Looking at the number of men they were voting, one could not fail to look abroad through the Empire to see whether they had got enough to defend our great Dependencies and our coaling stations. Had they enough troops in India? It had been said that the regular number of battalions, some fifty-eight, had not varied very greatly in the last twenty or thirty years, but he thought all sides agreed that' that number was sufficient. But there was one branch of the service in India which he thought was dangerously inadequate, and that was the Artillery. There were in India at the present moment eleven 871 horse artillery batteries and forty-five batteries of field artillery. They were only enough to take the field with the English troops, but there was no artillery to take the field with the Indian native troops. Surely that was not a proper or satisfactory state of things. How could they expect the Indian native troops to take the field if they did not provide artillery to take with them? In that respect it was impossible to deny that the artillery force in India was dangerously inadequate. Hon. Members had complained as to the garrison kept in Egypt at the present moment. He could assure them that their view as to the size of the garrison was not held by any European in Egypt; in fact, it was rather thought, even since the increase of the garrison two years ago, it was still not sufficiently strong. He did not think the House quite realised that when two years ago there was a difficulty with Turkey, Egypt was on the eve of a serious rising, which if it had taken place might have made it impossible for Europeans in Upper Egypt to escape with their lives. Hon. Members might not remember that, but if they took the line, rightly or wrongly—rightly according to their ideas—that we must directly interfere with the Sultan in the government of his Macedonian dominion—he sympathised very much with that line—they could not expect that the Sultan of Turkey would help in keeping the Mahomedan inhabitants of countries under our sway in that obedience to our rule which he might otherwise do. Therefore, if our foreign policy was carried out in certain directions, they must be prepared to have sufficient troops in other parts of His Majesty's Dominions in order to counteract the effects of that policy which they themselves advocated. He left Egypt to take the case of Malta, whose garrison had been very greatly reduced since the present Government had come into office. When questioned as to this last year, the right hon. Gentleman sheltered himself behind the Commission which had made a Report as to the desirability and possibility of diminishing the garrison. Of course he had no means of knowing what evidence the Commission took, but he did know that when the proposition 872 was made that the infantry garrison should be reduced by one-half, certain night manœuvres were carried out to ascertain whether, in the opinion of the military authorities, a landing could be-effected at the back of the island, and whether the town could be taken if only defended by the present garrison, considered by the Government to be sufficient. That operation took place, and though the night was very rough, and there was great difficulty in landing, the umpires were unanimously of opinion that the-force supposed to represent the enemy, not only landed successfully, but succeeded in taking the town of Valetta and of course the dockyard there. It seemed to him that, in the face of this-very important operation, it was a most dangerous policy for His Majesty's Government to have reduced the infantry garrison and continued to keep it at a. low level. They had heard only that afternoon that large naval works had just been completed at Malta, where a new dock had been constructed. Surely, if it-was worth while to spend millions of money in building a dock, it seemed a penny wise a pound foolish, for the sake of a couple of regiments, to jeopardise our position at Malta, because if war broke out and the enemy landed at the back of the island, the present garrison would not be able to protect it. In the case-of Gibraltar, it was a matter of common knowledge that there was grave dissatisfaction at the absurd reductions of the garrison there. It was extremely hard that men should not get any time off at all, and the only result of these reductions was discontent in the service. It was a question where the men were going, to be found to work the big guns at Singapore, Aden, and other coaling stations. If it was worth while having these fortified places, surely it was not worth while, for the sake of 1,600 garrison, gunners, to seek to make a small saving by running the risk, when war broke out, of finding these important coaling stations in a position in which they could not offer an effective defence against the enemy. There was one other reason why he thought it very ill-advised to reduce the Regular Army, and that was the state of unemployment in the country. He saw, according to the trade unions report in the Labour Gazette that morning, that 873 last February 6.4 per cent. of the people were out of work as compared with 3.9 per cent. in February of last year. That was to say that in February of this year there were more people out of work than at any time in the corresponding month for the last ten years. He was the last person to say that they should make men soldiers simply to give them employment, but surely it was better to teach unemployed men to defend their country than to pay them full wages for doing nothing, as some hon. Members desired. In the present state of unemployment the Government ought to be very chary about reducing the Army and thus sending men into the Reserve, with the result that they would increase the number of those who were suffering from lack of employment. He had quoted the trade union figures, but members of trade unions were after all those who felt the pinch least. It was among the floating population, to which those figures did not apply, that unemployment existed most. He strongly objected to this reduction of 4,000 men, and he went further and said that he strongly objected to the reduction of 25,000 or 30,000 men made by the Government since they came into office. The only result of the reduction would be that in the not distant future a very large expenditure would have to be undertaken by the successors of the present Government to repair the damage they had done to His Majesty's Forces.
§ *SIR H. COTTON (Nottingham, E.)
said he proposed to confine himself strictly to the subject of the Motion. For that purpose he took as his text a sentence from the Memorandum of the Secretary of State for War which accompanied the Army Estimates. When dealing with the question of effecting reductions in the Army, the right hon. Gentleman said—Looking to the future, it is, I am convinced, impossible to make further reductions in Army Expenditure on a considerable scale unless we first of all reduce the number of troops serving abroad.He would have preferred the right hon. Gentleman to speak at the close of the debate when he would have been in a position to reply to the considerations which had been, and would be adduced 874 on this point. And he regretted that when he did speak he did not refer at all to a matter which he himself was convinced was the only way of effecting a reduction in the Army of this country. There was a very small reduction effected in South Africa, but he observed that practically it did not take financial effect during the current year. For some reason or other there was delay in communications with the Colonial Office, and no financial advantage would be gained from this reduction until next year. But at all events it was satisfactory to find that the War Office had been in communication with the Colonial Office in respect of the reduction of the Army abroad. He could find nothing in the Memorandum which showed that the Secretary for War had been in communication with the Secretary for India with the same object. He had addressed the House on more than one occasion on this question of the reduction of the Army in India as affecting the reduction of the Army in this country. This consequential reduction was due to the existence of the linked-battalion system, the Cardwell system as it was called. In this matter he entirely dissociated himself from the observations made by the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Resolution. He favoured the linked-battalion system because it enabled this country and the House to exercise some control over Army expenditure in India. If they abandoned that system and went in for an Indian Army such as existed in old times there would be simply no control which that House could exercise over unlimited expenditure in India. The Secretary for War knew that very well, and had pointed out in his Memorandum that if they did abandon the linked-battalion system the result would be a very heavy and undue burden on the Indian people. With that conclusion he entirely agreed. The Secretary for War had told them, and he had listened to his remarks with amazement—it was not the first time he had made them in that House—that there had been no change in the strength of the Indian Army, certainly for many years, and indeed he had gone so far as to say that that strength had been settled after the Mutiny, and 875 that we still retained the same Army in India as was sanctioned after the Mutiny. That was a complete misconception of the facts. After the Mutiny the strength of the British Army in India was not settled at all. All that was settled was the proportion which the British troops should bear to the natives. It was settled that the proportion should be one-third, or one-half, varying in the different Presidencies, and that there were to be no artillery among the native troops. He went to India forty-one years ago, not very long after the Mutiny. There were then 55,000 British troops in the Army. Lord Lawrence was then Viceroy, and he exerted himself to reduce the strength of the Indian Army. He reduced it by 7,000 men, and at an examination before a Committee of that House he gloried that he had done so. Subsequent Governor-Generals had done the same thing. In Lord Ripon's time the Army was about 50,000 men. At that time there was a Commission in India considering the strength of the Army, consisting of all the most distinguished officers in India, and after discussion with the War Office in this country it was decided that a maximum of 60,000 troops was ample. After some further discussion extending over a year or two more the number was increased to 61,000. And then what happened? There was a sudden panic in this country due to the Penjdeh incident. It was feared that war with Russia was imminent, and that India would be invaded. Lord Randolph Churchill was then Secretary of State for India, and the British Army in India was suddenly increased by 11,000 British, and about 20,000 native troops. This increase remained till the Boer War when the number of British troops was reduced to 63,000 in consequence of the drafts made upon India to supply men for South Africa. At no time during his life was England in a more anxious position than during that time. We were not friendly with some great Powers, and were waging a very costly war. At that time we were able to reduce our British Army in India to 63,000 men. It stood at 79,000 at this moment. These were the facts illustrating the oscillations and the changes which had taken place in the strength 876 of the British Army in India during the past fifty years, and they were completely different from the complacent statement made by the Secretary of State that practically there had been no change made in the strength of the Army since the Mutiny. The British Army in India had fluctuated according to the fluctuating policies which prevailed, and it stood this moment at a higher figure than ever before. What was our position now? We had just triumphantly concluded an Agreement with Russia. What was the importance of that Agreement—did it possess any importance at all, if it did not enable us to reduce a single soldier in that country? They were told it was of enormous strategic importance. He thought it was, and he also thought it was extremely desirable that we should have a treaty with Russia. We stood at peace with her and with the whole world. We had an alliance with Japan, there was the entente cordiale with France, and our position with the whole world was now more satisfactory, as during the Boer War it was more unsatisfactory, than in the course of his lifetime he could recollect. And so it was that they appealed to the Government to take advantage of this Agreement. Let the Secretary of State for War confer with the Secretary for India as he had done with the Colonial Secretary, and consider very seriously whether some reduction might not be made in the strength of the Indian Army in the face of the facts which he had brought to the notice of the House. The Government of the day under the influence of panic had lost no time in increasing the strength of the Indian Army and kept it permanently on the books. Now when we had concluded what was described as one of the most important Agreements in history we were not able to follow it up by the reduction of a single man in the Indian Army. What a satire all this was on our boasted diplomacy. These were the observations he desired to bring to the notice of the House in support of the Motion. It was the third time he had addressed the House on this subject, and he regretted that he had never had the good fortune of speaking in the presence of the Secretary of State for War. He trusted his hon. 877 friend the Financial Se rotary would represent to the Secretary for War the views he had put before the House and urge upon him the advisability of consulting the Secretary for India with a view to reducing the Indian Army.
§ *MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)
said the Secretary of State for War concluded his speech by appealing to hon. Members below the Gangway not to push him too far. That appeal was wholly unnecessary in his case, and personally he regarded with great apprehension the continual efforts made by some of his hon. friends upon the extreme Left to dig holes for the right hon. Gentleman to fall into. The hon. Member for East Nottingham's figures, like his facts, were somewhat erroneous. The hon. Member who moved the reduction had urged that this country could not go beyond a certain expenditure in maintaining the Army and Navy. That argument should not be pushed too far, and hon. Members should bear in mind that they could not leave out of account anythnig that might affect our sea power. Because they had a great Navy—and they were sure to have very heavy building programmes for the Navy for the next few years—it was no use arguing on that account that, they could let the Army down. Hon. Members spoke as if this country had no land frontier to protect, whereas, as a matter of fact they had a greater land frontier in various parts of the world than any other existing Power. He did not wish to enter into these general questions except to refute the doctrine of the hon. Member for New-eastle-under-Lyme that an untrained soldier was as good as a trained one. He had never met any persons taking part in military operations who agreed with that contention in any sense. The figures quoted with regard to the Indian Army had put an entirely false complexion upon this important question. It had not been mentioned to the House that whereas, before the Mutiny the Army in India consisted of upwards of 700,000 men, to-day it was only 228,000. It was quite true that the proportion of European troops was far greater now than it was before the Mutiny and he thanked 878 God for it, because as a matter of prudence, after that great disaster in India it was arranged that instead of the native troops remaining in the proportion of five to one as they were before the Mutiny they should never fall below three to one. The British soldier in India now was in the proportion of .023 per cent. of the population whilst soldiers both British and native were in the proportion of .07 per cent. of the population. Those pitifully small numbers were responsible for maintaining the peace and prosperity and welfare of 300,000,000 of inhabitants of India, as well as for the safety of the lives of our fellow-countrymen, and for the security of the hundreds of millions we had invested in India. He happened to be on the Indian frontier when the scare took place which brought them within an ace of war with Russia and the tune was different then. We had only 74,000 British troops in India now, but that was 6,000 short of what was considered necessary after the Mutiny. The hon. Member for Nottingham said that he did not object to the Cardwell system, although he had argued that they should go back to a long-service Army in India. After consultation with a great many authorities he maintained that a long-service Army in India would be far more expensive to the Indian Exchequer than the present system. Their experience in India showed that they could not raise a long-service Army there conveniently, if at all, at the present day. Under the linked-battalion system no doubt India had to pay a high price for her Army, but for every penny spent she got the flower of the British Army. If any one of those men fell sick he was sent home and another man was sent to take his place, and it was not bad finance if for paying a good price they got a good article. The burden of his hon. friend's speech was that now the Anglo-Russian Convention had been concluded that menace had gone, and therefore they ought to reduce the Army. He was surprised that an hon. Member, who had been in the East, should use such an argument as that. So far from Russia being weaker now through having been relieved of her responsibilities in the Far East, she was all the stronger especially in the Middle East, and therefore they 879 would he madmen in this country if they accepted such an argument. Had hon. Members read the latest evidence contained in Mr. Fraser's hook, which showed that new Russian railways were converging upon the Afghan frontier, by means of which enormous armies could be rapidly placed upon what was practically our Indian frontier? Nobody who knew the actual facts were even likely to come here and say that, because of the Anglo-Russian Convention, they were in a position to reduce the troops in India. He knew that in a book written by the hon. Member for East Nottingham, it was stated that they might remove the whole British Army from India and govern it safely under treaties made with foreign nations. The hon. Member actually thought they could abolish the Army, but he did not think there was a single person in the House who would agree with him, or that his fantastic notions of the sufficiency of treaties was likely to find support in any serious quarter. He had also said that at the present moment England was at peace with the world, but that was an ominous statement, and history proved that the world was often on the eve of an outbreak when such complacent reflections were made. He could not admit the argument that all the great Indian soldiers were opposed to the Cardwell system. Reference bad beer made to the ease with which the garrison could be reduced in Egypt. He was amazed that the same school of thought which would reduce our garrison in Egypt and in India was that very school which encouraged the Egyptians and the Indians to stand up against our rule, and was prepared to treat Macedonia as if it were an English county. The bon. Members who urged those views were the same men who so far from appreciating the peace and prosperity brought upon Egypt by Lord Cromer actually in this House refused to support the small pittance voted to his Lordship. the merest fraction of the money he had saved this country. With regard to South Africa, it could not be an easy thing to reduce the garrisons there, when they heard every day in the House their white brethren treated as if 880 they were unjust judges and oppressors of the native races. Only the year before last there was a serious rising which required the interference of troops. Hardly a day passed when the assumption was not made that humanity was peculiar to ourselves and that man who left this country to administer, or to assist in administering, a foreign country on behalf of Great Britain fell into the depths of inhumanity.
§ *MR. REES
said he failed to see the point of the interruption. It did not appear to him to be pertinent. The hon. Member for Tyneside asked what crimes had we committed that anyone should attack us? Well, what crimes had a Bond Street jeweller committed, but he had to lock up his diamonds? The hon. Member for Tyneside asked who were our potential burglars? He replied, all other nations, so long as we had anything worth taking away from us, and we had all the best of the earth, or a good deal of it. The hon. Member for Blackpool had referred to the question of reduction from the labour point of view, and he was not going to argue the point which he raised, but he was bound to point out that during the debate the addition to the ranks of the unemployed of 10,000 soldiers was treated as a trifling matter. It did not appear to him that the representatives of the dockyard constituencies or the Labour Members really regarded the money spent by the State upon military establishments as unproductive expenditure or wasted money, for loud objections were raised when arsenals and salaries were reduced. Expenditure which produced the wherewithal to support industries and families was, in fact, productive expenditure. He hoped that for the benefit of those who were far away from this country serving us abroad it would not go forth to those who read these debates that the position taken up by his hon. friend the Member for East Nottingham was allowed to pass without being immediately challenged and refuted, both in regard to the facts and to the figures of which he made use. The army in India was far smaller than before the Mutiny, and above all, the European 881 troops were below the figure considered necessary after the Mutiny, not to resist Russian aggression, but to render India safe. Of course any hon. Member could take any view he liked as to the attitude of foreign Powers, and he might believe that they all desired the British nation to retain all the best things in the world simply for the love of the British and their ways, but he did not think that the attitude of hon. Members who were continually assuming that foreign nations were less humane than we were was likely to bring about that position in which we should be able to keep the best of everything without keeping our powder dry. He sincerely hoped in regard to the Indian Army that it would be distinctly understood that the greatest danger would attach to the reduction of the European troops below the present figure. He could not understand why they should be reduced when India paid for all she got, and was a great assistance to Britain in maintaining the Army in its all British aspect. The population and area of India had largely increased, the difficulty of governing it had certainly not decreased, and there was no case for reducing our insurance. He felt very strongly on this subject, and he was most anxious to say that the view placed before the House to-night that because a strategic convention had been established with Russia, important and valuable as he thought it, we could immediately reduce our troops and trust to the good feeling of that or any other nation, seemed to him to be a piece of positive—well, he did not know by what word to describe it consistently with the rules of Parliamentary order so he would resume his seat.
§ *MR. J. M. ROBERTSON (Northumberland, Tyneside)
said the hon. Member for the Montgomery Boroughs had given the House an instructive illustration of the psychology of the militarist mind. He had urged the necessity of continuously increasing the armaments of the Empire.
§ *MR. J. M. ROBERTSON
said the hon. Member, while undertaking to correct the hon. Member for Nottingham, had not been at pains to get the latest figures on the subject; he had brought into the House figures two years old. They were the figures published in January, 1906. That was hardly the way to put correct statistics before the House. But he was not concerned so much with the figures, for that was a, matter of no great importance. He was concerned with what he might term the mental attitude of his hon. friend on this subject. The hon. Member's contention was that they were to maintain the strength of the Army in India at the present enormous figure after having made an agreement with Russia which had been acclaimed as the most advantageous diplomatic arrangement ever made in their time. The hon. Member assured them that this did not make the slightest difference. We might improve our position as much as we pleased, but we could not reduce the Army. If that was so, what was the use of the triumphs of diplomacy? Why should hon. Members be asked to spend their time considering diplomatic arrangements and to speak of them in terms of the highest eulogium when not a farthing of value came from them in the long run? From the point of view of the hon. Member for Montgomery Burghs, diplomatic treaties were futile indeed, because all the nations of the earth were in his view potential burglars.
§ *MR. J. M. ROBERTSON
said his hon. friend adopted the words and he could not run away from them now. He declared that all the Powers with which we had to deal to-day were potential burglars.
§ *MR. J. M. ROBERTSON
said "burglars" was the word used and he proposed to stick to it. His hon. friend did not seem to realise that the principle 883 which he had set forth made out that the British colonists, nay, that the members of the Indian Civil Service, were potential burglars, and that these potential burglars were members of the service to which he formerly belonged, although when such men belonged to another nation he would not accord to them a single good quality.
§ *MR. J. M. ROBERTSON
said he had teen at a loss to know what good quality the hon. Member accorded to the people of any other State. His hon. friend was still exceedingly anxious to destroy as many of them at a moment's notice as he possibly could. What he wished to point out was the kind of temper, the state of mind, the political philosophy, that stood behind this demand to which they were always listening for the perpetual expansion, or at least the fullest possible maintenance, of the armed forces of the Empire. They were asked to take the authority of men whose conceptions of the relations of the States and peoples of the world were worthy of the ages of barbarism, and for whom a great deal less could be said than for those who held such views in the ages of barbarism. A number of hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Benches shared those views. The hon. Member for Blackpool had referred to the position at Malta and Gibraltar, and he seemed to suggest that, notwithstanding the entente cordiale, and the improvement in foreign relations due to diplomatic arrangements, the Empire was more vulnerable and in greater danger than ever. The question was: Were they, or were those gentlemen, morally perverted in the conceptions they held as to the relations between us and foreign nations? An hon. Member had said that we had assumed new financial burdens and new military responsibility in respect of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. That was one of the arguments which came from the other side of the House. He ventured to say that the Transvaal and the Orange Free State would undertake to defend themselves with ease against any enemy that might come against them. As to 884 India, what rational word had the House heard to make them feel that the present figure, enormous relatively to the position of affairs, should be maintained there? He listened with interest to the speech of the Secretary of State for War on this subject, and he failed to discover any hint of a reason, save in one phrase in which he spoke of the experts. Their old friends the experts had declared that the number of the present force in India could not be reduced. The experts had said it, the fiat had gone forth, and that settled the question. He could assure the Government that if they failed to give any more intelligible reason than that for maintaining a force of 76,000 men in India, with Russia prostrate, and with Russia on terms of friendly arrangement with this country in regard to Persia, men of commonsense were forced to put the question: Were we bound to maintain that figure in terms of a secret agreement with Japan? He wished the Government to give an answer on that point. It might be a mistake to make that assumption, but if the Government did not give an explanation, he was bound to come to the conclusion which seemed to afford the only rational explanation for the maintenance of the present force in India. The Army in India was a monstrous burden on the very poorest of the population in that country. There was perpetual famine, the livestock was going down year by year, and there was growing discontent.
That question does not arise now. The question of the condition of India is only relative so far as the Army is concerned.
§ *MR. J. M. ROBERTSON
said he was only dealing with arguments used by his hon. friend the Member for the Montgomery Boroughs, who took up that very question. The present military burdens on India which he and his friends were seeking to reduce were part of the causation of the growing discontent in India. His hon. friend, who professed to speak with a knowledge of India, had never glanced at that aspect of the matter. The growing military burden of the Indian Army was apparently going to expand every 885 decade, and the experts would give the same answer. He and his friends on that side of the House regarded that as a truly dangerous state of things. They were referred to the lessons of history by gentlemen who seemed to feel about history like the undergraduate who said: "It's such a splendid subject, because it does not require any thinking." If there was any lesson to be learned from the history of the great Empires of the past it was that they died of the disease of militarism. Under the Roman Empire almost the whole resources of the State were spent in military enterprises; and the diseases under which that Empire broke down were generated by the military system. That was the very case in India. He was bound to repeat that mere deliverances on the part of experts should not be listened to in the House. Let the experts say when a war broke out how that war was to be conducted, but it did not lie in their knowledge or capacity to tell the House what amount of military expenditure this country was capable of bearing. That was for the House to determine, and they said that the burden militarism pressed upon the nation unduly.
§ *MR. J. M. ROBERTSON
said that that was a most unnecessary interruption. The question before the House was whether the Army could not be reduced by 10,000 men. Surely they could debate such a plain issue. The proposition of his hon. friends was that no reason had been shown why the country should not reduce the Army by 10,000 men. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Foreign Affairs in a speech made by him in 1903 used the expression that a striking force of 80,000 men was all that was necessary.
§ *MR. J. M. ROBERTSON
Well, or even 40,000 men. That declaration was put forward by an eminent member of 886 the Government, who surely spoke with same sense of responsibility, and this was only three or four years ago. Could it be seriously stated that anything had happened since that time to necessitate a striking force of 160,000 men, especially when we were now on good terms with Russia? Would the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether this figure of 160,000 men had been imposed upon us by some secret kind of understanding, and was this country to be tied down to that figure, or was it the final contention of Ministers that the opinion of experts must guide the House?
§ CAPTAIN CRAIG (Down, E.)
said he had heard only a portion of the speech of the hon. Member and it occurred to him that in pressing still further on the House the reduction of the Army by 10,000 men, the hon. Member had transferred the vigorous appeal recently made for the reduction of the Navy to that of the Army. It would be a very grave move on the part of the country to acquiesce in the reduction of the present strength of the Army by 10,000 men, whilst the new scheme inaugurated by the Secretary for War was in a state of transition. No one could say, not even the Secretary for War, in what condition the Army, including the Territorial Force, stood at the present time. Much more, no one could prognosticate what the outcome of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme would be. He had listened for three quarters of an hour to the Secretary for War, and with equal attention to what had fallen from hon. Members on the Government benches, and although he did not pretend to know anything about the very important subjects touched upon, he was sure that nothing had been said which would justify their reducing the Army by a single artilleryman, cavalryman, or Volunteer, If the Government had been in power for ten or fifteen years and had had a settled Army policy laid down, there might have been some ground for moving that the Army should be reduced by 5,000 men, or increased by 150 men, but he was astounded that anyone should have the courage to stand up in the House of Commons and suggest that while the right hon. Gentleman was re-organising his forces they should turn 887 10,000 men of all ranks loose upon the country, who were at present necessary to save us against many an eventuality which no one could foresee. He remembered the Secretary for War when he introduced his Territorial Scheme last year turning to his supporters and saying that his was not a scheme which was going to appeal to the military spirit of the country—that that was the last thing which the Government were thinking of. But he had been refreshed that day to find a different tone in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, who hoped that the military spirit would be present in the minds of the people in times of national peril. Last year when the right hon. Gentleman catered for the support of Little Englanders, he was then of opinion as he was now, that at any time of national emergency the people of this country would come forward in their hundreds of thousands in support of any scheme which the Minister of the day proposed. The difficulty in this country was not to find men but to find a Minister for War who would take advantage of the services of those men who were prepared in a time of national peril to assist the country. His belief was that the right hon. Gentleman's scheme for a Territorial Army from the day it was introduced until now bad been obviously a failure. There was no more readiness for war to-day than there was ten or fifteen years ago. He would not go into the psychological question as to whether the Territorial Army Scheme existed now or not. The right hon. Gentleman had read the advice and the recommendations and opinions of a very large number of expert advisers. He thought that that was a sign of weakness. If the right hon. Gentleman, with the extraordinary ability which he had shown last year, had rested upon his own legs in this House—if he had been prepared to stand on his own foundation—[An HON. MEMBER: That's better]—on his own logical conclusions—[An HON. MEMBER: Better still]—in support of the Army scheme which he brought forward last year, it would hare been better. But what had happened? The right hon. Gentleman confessed that all his aspirations and his logical conclusions had broken down, and he had gone to the expert and 888 said: "Help me out of the trouble I have got into." He conscientiously believed that the Secretary for War had produced that afternoon those expert explanations and opinions in order to bolster up the statements he had made last year to the House of Commons. How was it that last year the right hon. Gentleman had not any document to exhibit to the House? Simply because he was able to produce his own scheme, which he believed to be the best in the interest of the country. Now he was showing great signs of weakness, although in the first instance they were hoping against hope that the country had at last found a Secretary for War who would rise above all party motives and solve the great Army problem. That afternoon those hopes had fallen shattered to the ground." The Secretary for War had on that occasion talked about the exact use to which the Territorial Force would be put, but if he remembered aright last year the right hon. Gentleman said that the Army which was created under his scheme would be entirely for Home defence. Since then, however, the Secretary for War had come to the conclusion that there was no fear of invasion, owing to the great strength of His Majesty's Fleet, and of what use could his Territorial Force be except to cross the seas in support of the Regular Army? Not one word, however, had come from the right hon. Gentleman to-day to show that the training which these forces would undergo would be a training for fighting overseas in support of the Regular Army. If however, they were to be ready only to repel an invasion which was not feared, the whole thing had been turned into a perfect farce. In one breath they were told that these men ought to be trained by going down a certain number of days to the coast—six weeks during the year—to repel invasion, and in the next that owing to the Reserves being so depleted they would still be in the Reserves for the next few years. That meant that in the event of war the right hon. Gentleman would have to call upon the patriotic spirit of the Territorial Army to go to the front, although in the first instance he said he would not call upon them to go out and assist the 889 Regular Army. Then what steps had the right hon. Gentleman taken in that event to train the Territorial Army for going abroad? None whatever. The Territorial Army, which included the Volunteers, the Yeomanry, and the Militia, if it was trained for service abroad would be better trained for service at home, whereas if they were trained for service at home they were practically useless for service abroad. These questions in connection with the Territorial Army gave rise to grave doubts in the minds of many who would like to see the scheme a thorough success. But not only had the right hon. Gentleman reduced the number of men, but he had shown a certain distrust in those who hitherto had been the backbone of this Army in supporting, and encouraging men to come forward and serve the country. The scheme also had a tendency to prove far more expensive to the country than any system that we had had before, and if the right hon. Gentleman had not already seen that it would be more expensive those who were acquainted with the country as it was before the introduction of the Territorial scheme would very soon enlighten him on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman in forming his Territorial scheme not only took over the whole forces of the Yeomanry, the great Militia battalions that existed, and also vast numbers of Volunteers throughout the country, but he took over their liabilities. He was sure that no one could tell what an immense amount of support was given to the Volunteer movement throughout the country. Large landowners in the North and South of England had assisted them by means of voluntary subscriptions, but now the right hon. Gentleman had taken these forces over he found and the country would find that the State would have to pay for them. That was the reason why this Territorial scheme had proved to expensive to the right hon. Gentlemen. They all knew by experience what generosity and patriotism would prompt a man to do.
§ CAPTAIN CRAIG
said he was referring to some remarks about the Territorial 890 Army and the expense of it, but he would not pursue the subject; he only touched upon it because it was alluded to by some hon. Members below the gangway. If, however, he might conclude the sentence he would like to say that the right hon. Gentleman would find that the force had suffered financially and would suffer by having the personal interest which was taken in it by supporters of the movement in times past withdrawn. For himself he regretted that. As to the proposed reduction of 10,000 men at the present serious juncture, it was most remarkable because no details were gone into whatever, and he would like to ask the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean whether he could throw any light at all upon the question of how this reduction would affect Ireland. Ireland hitherto had been studiously kept out of the debates. It would seem to be rather a thorny subject, and many of the questions which he addressed to the right hon. Gentleman last year remained unanswered. He understood that Ireland was the best recruiting ground, and he was delighted to see that since last year matters had improved in that respect. When the Army Bill was then under discussion he had endeavoured to make some remarks, but the Chairman ruled him out of order, on the subject of the intimidation of recruits joining the Army. Since then a whole year had elapsed, and he was glad to say that things had greatly improved. He was glad to have an opportunity of saying that in the House where he had made the charge. If the Army was reduced what regiments in Ireland would be affected? What regiments in Ireland could be spared? It was a very pertinent question, because he, as an Irishman, would speak up for any Irish regiment, whether they were recruited in the North or South, whether they were the Dublin Fusiliers or any other corps. He would stick up for them as being superior to any regiment in England or Scotland, and what he asked was this, was it meant by this reduction to attack any Irish regiment? He thought that those who took the responsibility of moving or supporting such an Amendment should come straight out into the open and mention what 891 their intentions were. There had been in recent debates a great tendency on the part of movers of Resolutions to run away when it came to a division, and some of them on that side of the House were getting rather tired of those cowardly tactics. Hon. Gentlemen of this kind when the time for a division came asked the Speaker's permission to withdraw their proposals. Honour was satisfied as far as they were concerned. They had spread dissatisfaction and yet at the last moment they would not go into the lobby in respect of the pernicious Amendments had put upon the Paper. If there was a reduction of 10,000 men in the Army owing to this Amendment being carried by a combination of Radicals and Socialists, he would ask the mover of it to say what he was going to do with those 10,000 men. This question was raised on the Navy and it was very pertinent to the subject they were discussing. Supposing an Amendment was carried in the presence of the Secretary of State for War to the effect that they ought to turn 10,000 men out of the Army, had the mover or the seconder the faintest idea of what was to become of those men? Were those men to be pensioned or were they to be thrown upon the rates? Were they to be the oldest men in the Army or the latest recruits? Whatever view was taken of it it was a cruel thing to move an Amendment of this kind. If the hon. Member had come forward and said that in future years the standard of the Army ought not to be greater than a certain number there would not be so much brutality in it, as that standard could be provided for by ceasing to recruit more than a certain number year after year; but to come down and move that 10,000 men should be flung out of the Army without any notice was quite a different matter, especially when upon the responsibilty of the Army authorities the men so dealt with might have been recruited the day before or years before. Respectable men were invited to serve their country, and when they had become proficient in the performance of their duties in the cavalry, artillery, or infantry, and had mastered the intricacies of their profession, then it was suggested that the War Office should turn round 892 and say: "We recruited you for service at home and abroad, but now owing to the preponderance of Radical opinion in the House of Commons, and owing to the fact that we have to save money somewhere for social measures at home, we are sorry to say that you, poor Tommy Atkins, 10,000 of you, must go on the streets to-morrow." If such a course were persued it would be impossible to get efficiency, and it was difficult to estimate the wrong that would be done. It would be a cruel thing to reduce the Army by 10,000 men in order that money might be saved to support some particular fad of the supporters of the Government. After all was said and done, when the saving had been effected we might find ourselves engaged in a war which, in consequence of this reduction, would plunge the country into a far worse mess than they were in at the time of the South African War, and cost us considerably more than the saving effected. He did not think the House would listen for a moment to so miserable an Amendment, which had already received more consideration than it deserved.
§ *MR. EVERETT (Suffolk, Woodbridge)
said the Motion before the House was to reduce the armaments of this country, and surely hon. Members would agree that there was some necessity for that. What were the facts? During the ten years prior to the last general election, when hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power, the expenditure on armaments in this country actually doubled, a circumstance quite unprecedented in our history. Yet the British Empire, so far as he knew, was just as safe before those ten years of prodigal and extravagant expenditure as now. What Liberal Members were asking was, why could they not go back to the comparatively moderate Estimates of twelve years ago. The House was well aware that one of the brightest ornaments of the Conservative Party, Sir Michael Hicks Beach, now Lord St. Aldwyn, resigned his office as Chancellon of the Exchequer because he was not willing to be a party longer to the continual increase of expenditure which he could not get Parliament to reduce. It was not as though we had been forced into this expenditure by the action of other 893 countries which we were obliged to meet. The fact was that our increase of expenditure on armaments during the period to which he had referred more than equalled that of Italy, France, Germany, and Russia all put together. Such prodigal, extravagant, and insane expenditure was enough to make Mr. Gladstone and the old economists turn in their graves. He had stated what Lord St. Aldwyn thought of it. Since then the question had been referred to the country with the result that the Party opposite suffered an overwhelming defeat. One reason why the people of this country voted as they did was because they were tired of this constant piling up of expenditure on armaments, and of the increase of taxes and debt which it brought with it. The £40,000,000 a year by which our spending on armaments had been increased by the late Government would have given us old-age pensions nearly twice over. The people wished their money to be spent not on preparations for killing men but for blessing them. Radical Members beseeched the Liberal Ministry, therefore, to do something to reduce the wasteful extravagance in which this country had been encouraged by hon. Gentlemen opposite, so that next year they might have many millions to devote to the purposes of social reform. If hon. Gentlemen opposite would not help in that, they would have to help to pay for pensions out of a super tax on large incomes. He hoped they would like putting their hands in their pockets for that money.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
I do not propose to follow the last speaker in his excursion into the maze of fiscal reform, but to confine my observations to the debate before the House. The debate to-day is sufficiently interesting without our casting our eyes ahead to see whence the revenue must be drawn in the future. It has been an interesting debate. "We have discussed the Motion of the hon. Member for the Tavistock Division for saving money by reducing the Army in order that we may properly maintain the Fleet, and we have also discussed the Artillery Vote raised on this occasion by the hon. Member for Fareham as it was raised in another place only the other day. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for 894 War dealt with both these questions in his speech, and in my few observations I propose to reverse the order in which he dealt with them. I hope the hon. Member who moved the reduction as well as the hon. Member who seconded it will not think I am disrespectful to them if I say that the importance of their Motion was much enhanced when they obtained the support of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. They did not, and certainly the hon. Member who spoke last did not, show how in any way the Home army is to be reduced. The right hon. Baronet to-night, as on previous occasions, had a plan of his own to effect economy by reducing the size of the Army. The seconder of the Motion also had a plan, which was that we should, in order to defend India, revert to the plan for India's defence which was in force previous to the Mutiny. The seconder of the Motion advocated a separate long service Army for India. If that was a plan we could adopt I agree it would carry with it a great diminution of the financial burden imposed on the Army. But is it reasonable at this time to consider that plan? The Mutiny might be attributed to that plan, and certainly the Royal Commission which sat after the Mutiny for all time ruled that plan out of the possible alternatives before us. Let hon. Members think of the climate of India. No man improves as a soldier in the ranks after six years, and no battalion or regiment improves after twelve years. It is going back too far to advocate a return to the idea of a separate Army for India. I claim that the verdict of sixty years ago and the experience of the last sixty years is against it. That is the only suggestion that has been made. The right hon. Baronet, though he has not developed his thesis to-night, has a view of his own, which is that we could have a long-service Army for India and the Colonies and a Force at home, but that we need not maintain a balance between the portion of that Army at home and the portion abroad, whether in India or the Colonies.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
My right hon. friend knows I drew a great distinction between the position of the Artillery and Cavalry on the one hand, and the Infantry on the other.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
And so there would be a long service Army of which more than half, perhaps three-fifths or four-fifths, would be abroad, and less than half, perhaps two-fifths or one-fifth, at home. That is a plan which for my own part I think it sufficient to say will produce no Reserve of Regulars at all. We should be faced with the absence of any Reserve of Regulars; and, if we were faced with the absence of any Reserve of Regulars, no sane man would ask us to discuss the Territorial Army of the right hon. Gentleman. Everybody would say you must have a short service Army in addition to this long service Army, and every man would say that that short service Army ought to train for two years, eighteen months, fifteen months, or a year. Who would say it it ought to train for less than a year? Many would say you could not expect the splendid material in the Volunteers to go into that short service Army, you could not thus outrage the patriotism which animates many of our compatriots. And, taking a reasonable view of the future, the right hon. Baronet's plan would not save money. His long service Army would be an expensive Army though a small one, because every man in it would ultimately have to be a pensioner, thereby creating a large non-effective charge. His short service Army would be more expensive than the Volunteer Force, and he would have to have a Territorial Force as well. That is the argument against the only reasoned suggestion for making economies by cutting down your Regular Army. It is no good to come down to the House and say: "Ten years ago the Army Estimates stood at such and such a figure, and now they stand at a higher figure, whilst in the interim there has been a great deal of waste in the Army." Has there been a great deal of waste? I think it could be proved that there has not been. Ever since the days of Mr. Edward Stanhope, he and his successors have been trying to get better things for the money spent by improving the conditions of service. That leads to an automatic increase which no one, however keen for economy, can resist. When, by State intervention and by passing social legislation, you raise the standard of living of the working man, you cannot allow the soldier to live 896 under conditions which would be put down in civil life. He has to have a good house, better food and clothing, and to have a fair day's amenity for his fair day's work. We rightly insist on that; but it means an automatic increase in the price of your Regular Army. Your Regular Army, Cardwell system or no Cardwell system, is going to cost more than the Regular Army of the same size cost twenty years ago, just as your working man costs more. I do not think I need take up the time of the House any longer on this mere question of a reduction to be made anyhow. If it is made, it must be made somehow, and no plan has yet been brought forward which has stood examination either in the country or by military experts, or by those in this House who inquire into the financial aspects of the problem.
§ MR. MACKARNESS
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman how his own Government managed to do with 25,000, less than we are asked for now?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Before the war we were working on an uphill track. We had succeeded in making the camps reasonable places in which to ask people to live and in adding to the Regular Army what are called, technically, the auxiliary forces. That does not mean what we popularly call the Auxiliary Forces. It means the transport, the Army Service Corps, the Medical Department, and the ammunition columns. It means a number of services which are as necessary as the Regular soldier if the Regular soldier is to be worth the money you pay for him. Prior to that time, which you may put as in the late seventies—I am not making a party speech—the country had been content to keep a certain number of Regular soldiers on the books, so to speak, in the full knowledge—at any rate, on the part of the experts—that they were not an Army and could not be made an Army without the expenditure of a great deal more money, and the men were not being treated as they ought to be treated. It began to be felt, after the Franco-German war, that that would not do. It was necessary for any man in a responsible position, for any Cabinet Minister, and not 897 only the Secretary of State for War, to face the necessity of making the Army on the books a real Army. Mr. Cardwell began it by dismissing the long service system and making some additions to these Auxiliary Forces. From his day until now, his successors have marched along that track, and no successors of Mr. Gardwell car. retrace those steps. Any successor driven to resignation by being asked to retrace those steps would carry the country with him against his colleagues when the country knew what they were being asked to do and not to do. It was the inspiration of all to limit military expenditure. We all know the Fleet costs us a great deal and is going to cost a great deal more. I believe we are at the very limits of the resources of this country under the existing fiscal system. We all feel we have got to do something, either violent in the direction of direct taxation or something not violent in the direction of broadening the basis of taxation. We are face to face with a financial problem to which no man can shut his eyes That being so, naturally it is necessary to see whether you can reduce the cost of the Regular Army by £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 a year. If you could, there is not a man on these benches who would not jump at the chance. Those on these benches, however, who have studied the question, know you cannot without sacrificing the work of thirty years and making it a waste of money to spend the money you do spend on an uncompleted Army. Some of those who support the reduction would answer to me that you really do not want an Army at all if you have a big enough Fleet. But you cannot have a war conducted by a Fleet alone. You have to defend the bases of the Fleet, you have to defend the arsenals and liberate the Fleet if it is to begin to fight. And you must be able to strike a blow if you are ever to end a war. You therefore want a Home Army. That leads me, not unnaturally, to the speech of the Secretary of State for War. I received from his speech to-night the clear impression that the size and shape of his Home Army is not solely dictated by the necessity of supplying drafts to the Army abroad; but, if I understood him, you do require 898 in this island an Army of about the size of his expeditionary force. If it could be a matter of agreement between the two sides of the House from one session to another and from one Parliament to another, that we do need about 160,000 or 170,000 men, in the proper proportion of the three arm?, and with all the accessories that are necessary in order to liberate the Fleet, then, I think, we should have got a standard for the Army comparable with the two-Power standard of the Navy, and have done a great deal for the efficiency of the Army, and something for economy. In every scheme, that has been about the size of the Home Force. It was so in the time of Mr. Edward Stanhope, it was so in the time of Lord Lans-downe, it was so in the time of Mr. Brodrick, and it was so in the time of the hon. Member for Croydon, and it is so now. It is now called an expeditionary force, but the thing of which we have been talking all this time consists of about the same number of battalions of infantry, regiments of cavalry, and batteries of artillery. If that is so, surely I may conclude that the logic of facts drives every man, whatever his theories, to say that it is a force of about the size and shape you want here in England and Ireland if you ever hope to let the Fleet go when you ought. If you try to do both with the same material, it is very much to the credit of economy; but-supposing there were no garrison in India to be reinforced, I say your naval preparations would be an illusion and a snare unless you had at least something between seventy and eighty battalions of infantry, eighteen regiments of cavalry, fifty-four field artillery and howitzer batteries and all their accessories ready at home. You could not liberate the Fleet in the face of popular opinion unless you had between 160,000 and 170,000 trained men here in this island as the tip to the spear, as we call it. That is only your first line. Behind that you require a second line; and, if that number of men, regularly trained, is necessary as the tip to the spear of your whole home defence, so, whatever you have behind it, is artillery the tip to the spear of that Regular Army, and of any Army. Our artillery is the point. It has been said that battles are won by big 899 battalions. They are lost by bad artillery. It is worse than the loss of a battery. It is demoralising to the nation if you cannot fight when you want to fight. Fighting an Army with inferior artillery is like a man with a 12-feet spear fighting a man with an 8-feet spear. The man with the shorter spear cannot fight and has to run away. Therefore, your artillery must be as good as any to which it will be opposed. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech criticised those who were discouraging the Territorial Forces. I do not know whether I was in his mind. I have not discouraged the Territorial Force. I am a member of it, and I am bound to say it would discourage me very much if I thought the guns behind the cavalry regiment in which I was could not compete in range with the guns which would be brought against them. If you want to encourage the Territorial Force give them a stiffening of Regular artillery. You cannot expect men to try to occupy the positions they ought to occupy unless they are backed up by artillery in which they have confidence. Do not let the right hon. Gentleman infer from that that I am opposed to his trying to create Territorial Artillery. I am not opposed to that, but I say he ought not to accompany that experiment, and it is an experiment, by diminishing the efficiency of a single battery of Regular artillery, and he ought to have batteries of Regular artillery to aid this Territorial artillery during its infancy. I take his account of the first line and of the second line—the first line with its Regular artillery, and the second line with no Regular artillery. I understand his plan is based upon command of the sea, and then when war breaks out the first line is mobilised by calling out the Reserve, and the Fleet if need be is liberated. Yes, but how is he going to arrange for these time intervals? Why is everything going to happen in the manner which would best suit his plan. Supposing you have to reinforce the garrison of India before you are at war at all, and that is a contingency. Supposing for Asiatic reasons the Government of India wants 100,000 men, and you have to send really the whole bulk of your expeditionary force, and then war breaks out, 900 your whole plan crumbles. These time intervals cease to exist. You would not be able to liberate the Fleet, and yet under those circumstances the power of liberating the Fleet might not only give the victory in war, but might prevent the war happening at all. The fact that your Fleet was on your shores might pacify the country, but would not otherwise occur if you were really free. We have to contemplate more contingencies than the right hon. Gentleman has taken into account. He may say that if you contemplate every contingency you kill the country by ruining its finances. We do not ask him to contemplate every contingency, but we do ask him to contemplate this fact—it is a fact and not a speculation—that if the contingencies are other and greater than those which he has contemplated, the safety of the whole position will depend upon there being a stiffening of Regular artillery for his Territorial Force. That is why the artillery is the point of the whole of this discussion. Do not reduce the Regular artillery. Keep up the number of batteries which are thought to be needed. Upon that point I should like more courteously to establish what I endeavoured to establish by way of interruption when the right hon. Gentleman was speaking. He cited Lord Midleton in favour of Territorial artillery. I am not attacking Territorial artillery. My case is that you want Regular artillery with the Territorial artillery. And what did he quote from Lord Midleton? He quoted the opinion that you might have a third of Territorial artillery in your second three Army Corps. You will, therefore, have nothing but Regular artillery in your first three Army Corps. That is precisely the plan of the right hon. Gentleman. Then Lord Midleton's idea of a second line was one formed both of Regulars, and of what we will call the Territorial Forces. For the artillery of that second line he said he wanted two-thirds Regular, and one-third Territorial. That is to say, he said he wanted ninety batteries, to put it in figures, and the right hon. Gentleman says he wants fifty-four. Which is right? We say that to have fifty-four batteries alone as the bare complement for your expeditionary force or your home force 901 is necessary to liberate the Fleet is a dangerous course to pursue. You want a margin over that. Lord Midleton asked for thirty-six batteries as a margin. You have thirty-three and you are not using them. You are turning them away from the first line and devoting them to training the second line. That we think to be a fundamental error of judgment. I am not putting the case that the Territorial artillery is a mistake, but that you ought not to divert these thirty-three batteries of Regular artillery form the purpose which they are fitted to fulfil. The right hon. Gentleman really has not met that point. He claims that he has made the artillery more efficient because he can now mobilise forty-two batteries. I hope he will not continue to use that argument. Let us compare plan with plan. Our plan was that there should be fifty-four batteries of field artillery without howitzers. That is the right hon. Gentleman's plan, and he maintains that he has achieved something remarkable by converting thirty-three batteries of field artillery, which are now existing, into training schools in order to make an ammunition column. You might as well take a design for a house of three storeys, and because you have not the fittings for the top storey, build a house of two storeys and a cottage and say you have effected a great economy. It is not an economy. It does not add to the artillery power of the Army in the least. The right hon. Gentleman must know that by other methods than those which he intends to pursue, it was the intention of his predecessor to get ammunition columns.
§ MR. HALDANE
How? You used batteries to train during the war, and you would have had to use them to train even if you had carried out your plan.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Nobody is prepared to assert that we had as much artillery ready before the war as the war demanded. That is not really the question. The question is that after the war when we had been taught in the bitter school of experience we said: "You want ninety batteries of artillery," and the right hon. Gentleman says:" You do not. You want fifty-four," 902 and he says: "Do not argue with me in that way, because I have enabled you to send out to war with ammunition columns far greater than was previously necessary, a larger number of batteries than you could at the beginning of the war." That is not a fair issue. If the right hon. Gentleman says he has not money enough to pay for it, and cannot get it we shall understand it, but if he says it is wrong to aim at the number of batteries you require, and right to have fewer than you require, because you can get your ammunition columns without spending more money he is really misleading the House altogether. He has got to tell the House whether it is wise only to have a Regular Field Artillery for his expeditionary force. He came down with a number of documents from a number of men whose opinion we shall be the first to respect, but as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, not one of these witnesses whom he called expressed his opinion upon this point. The right hon. Gentleman being a lawyer knew very well how to put the question to the soldiers. His main question was, "Taking the constitution of a second line to be trained for six months, can you get an efficient Territorial Artillery?" That begs the whole question, and assumes all we are criticising. It assumes that you have to have his plan, and that having got his plan you are always going to have six months law to prepare the Territorial Force. If I had been asked that, and told I was to have no other artillery than he provides I should have said it was of more value than nothing at all. That is all Sir John French and the other experts have said. They said, to quote Sir John French's words—All soldiers would like the best artillery. This is the only artillery you are going to give us and therefore we like that.It hangs together like a proposition of Euclid, but it does not touch the point which we make, and must continue to make, that it is dangerous now, after the war, to reduce your plan for Regular artillery to a limit which was proved to be utterly insufficient by the experience of the war. It does not touch the point that even if you get six months, you ought to stiffen your Territorial Force with Regular artillery, or the 903 point which we and Sir John French have made that perhaps you will not get your six months at all. And, therefore, we must now, before things go any further, beg him not to take refuge in dialectical points about the provision of ammunition columns, but think in his own mind whether or not it is wise to revert to the plan for Regular artillery which prevailed before the war, to take his chance of a six months respite, and to divert thirty-three batteries of Regular artillery now in existence to purposes which could be performed in other ways, and to divert them for purposes which can only be achieved in the opinion of every military expert by artillery which has been regularly trained.
§ *MR. HAROLD COX (Preston)
said he wished to say a few words in support of the Motion of his hon. friend for reducing the Army. He could never support any reduction of the Navy beyond the point which the Admiralty considered was necessary. He regarded the Navy as absolutely vital to this country, and he supported the reduction of the Army because he had grave fears that, unless they reduced expenditure on the Army, they would be forced to cut down the Navy. He was only afraid that a few years hence they might be forced by international necessities to increase the Navy and he did not see where the money was to come from, unless they reduced the expenditure upon the force which was only of secondary importance to this country. Let the House consider for a moment what the Army was costing. Unfortunately, the real facts in regard to the cost of the Army were concealed by the form in which the Estimates were presented. The whole British Army was the Army in this country and the Army in India, including the native forces. That whole Army cost, not the sum in the Estimates, but about £52,500,000. The French Army cost £32,000,000, the German Army 904 £37,000,000, and the Russian Army, £40,000,000. While we did not pretend to be a great military Power, we were spending more on our Army than any one of these Continental nations. That was a very serious fact indeed. This country could not be supremely strong both on sea and land. We were paying £52,000,000 a year for an Army which was confessedly far inferior to the much cheaper Armies of Continental Powers. The difference in the cost of foreign Armies and ours was not accounted for wholly by the fact that they had conscription. There must be something fundamentally wrong, when we were spending £52,000,000 on our Army whilst Russia was only spending £40,000,000. This country virtually had only one frontier to defend, namely, the North West frontier. How many frontiers had Russia to defend? She had frontiers against Japan, China, India, Persia, Turkey, Roumanin, Austria, Germany and Sweden, and she defended all those frontiers with an Army expenditure less than four fifths of our expenditure for the defence of one frontier. That seemed to him a very serious point and he thought it was the duty of any Government to try and cut down our enormous expenditure. He had been informed by the Secretary of State for War that the cost of the British garrison in Egypt was £620,000, of which the Egyptian Government contributed only £150,000. That was an unjust arrangement. Our occupation of Egypt, which depended upon the presence of British troops, had enormously increased the wealth and happiness of the Egyptian people. Egypt ought to pay for those troops. Why should Egypt be treated differently from India? A point usually lost sight of, was the excessive pay of the common soldier as compared with the pay obtainable by civilians of the same class. In comparison with the work he did, and in comparison with the pay of the class from which he was usually drawn, the common soldier was the best paid 905 man in the United Kingdom. The ordinary private soldier of twenty years of age was fed and clothed, and even had amusements provided for him, and then in addition he got 12s. a week pocket money. He had opportunities in the service that were denied to men in civil life. If he married, he got a house and rations and 14s. a week: his pay was regular no matter whether the weather or trade was bad. If he served on for twenty years he would then get a pension of 7s. a week. There were many people belonging to the same class as that from which the common soldier was drawn who never got more than 15s. a week all their lives, and he thought the House would agree that the private soldier was extremely well paid and yet we did not get the men we wanted. He agreed that the linked battalion system was the best suited to our purposes, but why not link three battalions together instead of only two" then two battalions could be abroad to one at home. The home battalion would of course have to be large, but for the purposes of training that would be an advantage. This experiment might be tried slowly. During the recess, the Secretary for War made the extraordinary statement that the time might come when we could no longer rely upon the Navy, and that we would have to rely upon our Home Forces. That seemed to him to be a very dangerous doctrine indeed, for it ignored altogether the fact that the Navy had a double duty to perform. It had not only to defend our shores from invasion, but also our commerce from capture at sea. Even the right hon. Gentleman's Territorial Army could not perform the function of protecting our commerce upon the sea. Economy was not served by building up a Territorial Army instead of strengthening the Navy. The annual cost of the most modern battleship, allowing for everything, was less than £250,000. The Territorial Army would cost £3,000,000 906 —the equivalent of twelve first-class batteships in full commission. It was patent that our strength in the world would be enormously greater with twelve more battleships than with a Territorial Army, which must of necessity be ill-trained. Modern industrial conditions made it impossible to give Volunteers an efficient military training. We must rely on a professional Army in this country. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman had realised the social and industrial changes that had taken place, not only in this country, but in the whole world during the past 100 years. When the majority of mankind were occupied in agricultural pursuits it was comparatively easy to go away a bit and fight, but that was not an easy thing when men were working in mills or modern workshops. They could not take men out of a mill without disarranging the whole industrial organisation. That was the fundamental difference between an industrial and an agricultural community, and it was hopeless to continue to ignore that fact. Personally, he did not believe that they could ever rely to any appreciable extent upon a Terriorial Army. He went so far as to say that they ought never to attempt to build up an exclusively Home Service Army, for they only wanted soldiers who were prepared to fight abroad. The Leader of the Opposition had disposed of the only excuse for a Home Service Army, namely, the hypothesis that this country, while engaged with one enemy, might be attacked by another. The answer to that hypothesis was that the attack might come so soon that the Home Service Army would not have time for the training which it would admittedly require. Was it likely that the Territorial Army could take the field against the picked troops that would be sent over to fight against us? If an enemy invaded this country they would choose the best men, equipped with the best weapons. Therefore he had been driven to the conclusion that this country must 907 rely exclusively upon its Navy and upon a professional Army. The conditions of modem life compelled us to differentiate, specialise, and professionalise. Our necessities were primarily a Navy absolutely supreme which would make invasion impossible and a professional Army backed by a strong Reserve ready to strike abroad.
§ MR. LUTTRELL
said there had been a very full discussion of the subject, and hon. Members who did not speak when the Vote was in Committee had now had an opportunity of stating their views. He, therefore, asked leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Leave to withdraw being refused,
§ Amendment put, and negatived.