That a sum, not exceeding £429,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the expense of the War Office which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1911.'
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Haldane)
I wish to ask the indulgence of the House while I lay before hon. Members a statement which I feel I ought to make at the earliest possible moment, in reply to some remarks in Committee of Supply by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, the Member for Woolwich (Major Adam), and which affected others beside myself. Of what he said of myself I have no cause to complain—
§ Major ADAM
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but if he alludes to me, I said nothing personally against the Secretary of State for War.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I have just stated that I have no cause of complaint. But the hon. and gallant Member did say something about some not here to speak for themselves, and I feel that it is due to them that. I should rise and make a statement on their behalf. I do not propose to discuss the views of the hon. Member about the system of promotion in the Army, or the qualifications of the military members of the Army Council. As regards the latter, their records of service may be left to speak for them. In regard to the former, the present system has been evolved during a long series of years, and though, perhaps, not ideally perfect, is probably the one most in harmony with the traditions, and best calculated to meet the existing requirements of the British Army. There are however, some specific instances of alleged maladministration that the lion. and gallant Member brought to notice. I do not know whether he obtained the consent of the officers concerned before initiating a public discussion of their affairs.
In any case the responsibility must rest with him, since he has compelled me, in defence of the administration of 516 the Army and of the senior officers against whom he has made accusations, to inform the House in detail of the circumstances of each of the cases specified. He stated that Colonel Callwell was practically expelled from the Army owing to his supersession by a junior officer. In regard to that I can only say that Colonel Callwell was not superseded, and that the Army Council regretted his retirement, which took place at his own request. He has written some valuable books on military subjects, and did well on the General Staff under the Director of Military Operations. On the completion of the tenure of his staff appointment at the War Office he, as a substantive colonel, had for a time to be placed on half-pay; but when a vacancy on the Staff occurred at home for which he seemed fitted by his rank, qualifications and service, that vacancy was offered to and accepted by him. Shortly afterwards he asked leave to withdraw acceptance, and applied to retire from the Army. Meanwhile another opportunity for employing him in an equally suitable and better paid appointment abroad had occurred, and he was given the opportunity of accepting it. He again declined, and adhered to his determination to retire.
The hon. and gallant Member next referred to Major-General Sir Frederick Benson, who retired when not selected for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant-General. No one recognises more fully than myself the good services rendered by Major-General Benson, which last month were rewarded by His Majesty with a K.C.B.; but in selecting Major-Generals for promotion to Lieutenant-General regard must be had to the number and nature of the Lieutenant-Generals' appointments likely to become vacant and the possibility of employing the officer if promoted in one or other of these vacancies. Moreover, owing to the establishment of Lieutenant-Generals being fixed at twenty and that of Major-Generals at eighty-four, only about one Major-General out of four can expect to be promoted. In Major-General Benson's case it was considered that there was practically no chance of employing him in a Lieutenant-General's appointment, and for that reason he was not recommended for promotion.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I thought it right to put my remarks in writing as accuracy in 517 these matters is absolutely essential. I have checked this statement over with the distinguished authorities with whom I act.
The hon. and gallant Member for Woolwich also referred to Major-General Scobell, more particularly in relation to Captain Brice-Wilson and the 5th Lancers, and made a statement which, he said, contained the truth about that regiment. With respect to Major-General Scobell, the hon. and gallant Member made a private communication to me on 15th March last worded in the terms which he repeated to the Committee on 27th June. I had perhaps better read what the hon. Member said:—The only way in which I can benefit Captain Wilson, even indirectly, is, I am advised, to read that statement to the House. I have it type-written, so that there may be no mistake and that I may not be led away by rhetorical exaggeration. It is as follows: That Major-General H. J Scobell, 512, Royal Irish Lancers, did render to your superior authority a confidential report or confidential reports of an officer or officers under his command, which report or reports contained wilful and deliberate misstatements of fact, thereby deceiving those in authority to whom the report Or reports were rendered, and causing injustice to be done to one of the regiment's under his command.'"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th June, 1910, col. 763.]12.0 M.
My reply, on March 19th, was as follows:—I have considered your letter of the 15th inst. and the statement accompanying it, in which you allege that Major-General Scobell, when in command of the 1st Cavalry Brigade, rendered misleading confidential reports on certain officers, presumably of the 5th Lancers, whose names you do not specify. In justice to Major-General Scobell it is impossible for me to discuss such n charge in private correspondence, nor am I prepared to reopen the question of the 5th Lancers, which, after careful enquiry and consideration, was decided on its merits more than two and a half years ago. The action then taken was, in my opinion, fully justified by the circumstances of the case.The vagueness of the charge is apparent. The nature and dates of the reports, and the names of the officers reported on, are not specified. Possibly the reason these particulars have not been given is that the hon. and gallant Member is not acquainted with them, and has based his charge on unverified rumours.
When a General Officer commanding, in pursuance of the regulations, reports confidentially on those under his command, and when these reports are confirmed by higher authority, how can the Army Council impute bad faith to the opinion which the General Officer commanding is bound to express merely because the junior officers who are adversely reported on, and to whom the adverse reports are communicated, do not concur in that 518 opinion? The hon. and gallant Member for Woolwich seems to think that the removal of Captain Brice-Wilson and other officers of the 5th Lancers to half-pay was due to Major-General Scobell. He is quite mistaken. It was due to the representations submitted to the Army Council in the autumn of 1907 by responsible officers of much higher rank than Major-General Scobell, who, from personal inspection, were strongly of opinion that the regiment would not be as efficient as it ought to be until certain officers had been removed therefrom.
In these, as in other matters, the Army Council endeavour to act without partiality, favour, or affection. They are anxious to retain the services of every regimental officer who is deserving of retention, but they cannot disregard the adverse reports of responsible commanders and inspecting officers, and the interests of the regiment and of the Army generally must be the paramount consideration. I may add that Major-General Scobell returned from South Africa on leave a few days ago. He took an early opportunity of calling at the War Office, and in accordance with paragraph 446 of the King's Regulations, has since written officially calling attention to the statement of the hon. and gallant Member for Woolwich as impugning his character as an officer and a gentleman. It now rests with the Army Council to investigate the indefinite charge made against Major-General Scobell, so far as such a charge can be investigated without particulars being given. Being well acquainted with the case, I feel confident that the result will be the complete exoneration of Major-General Scobell.
The case of Captain Brice-Wilson has been referred to on several occasions in this House, and there is little to add to the explanation given by me on 30th July, 1908. The hon. and gallant Member appears to be unaware that Captain Wilson acknowledged the receipt of copies of the adverse reports which had been made on him, and that he had been informed that those reports might militate against his further advancement. When at a later date it was deemed advisable in the interests of the 5th Lancers to remove certain officers, and among them Captain Wilson, it was decided that this officer, though placed on half-pay, should be allowed to retain the appointment of Superintendent of Gymnasia at York, which he then held. In January, 1908, 519 an account of Captain Wilson's case appeared in the "Daily Mail," containing matter which could only have been furnished through the connivance of that officer. Three attempts were made to obtain a satisfactory explanation from Captain Wilson for this serious breach of the King's Regulations, but without result, and it was therefore decided that he could not be permitted to retain his extra regimental appointment, from which he accordingly had to revert to half-pay. Captain Wilson exercised his rights under Section 42 of the Army Act and appealed to the King. The whole case was reviewed, and laid before His Majesty, who was pleased to issue no special instructions thereon. A further petition was afterwards received from Captain Wilson's wife, when the case was again reviewed and laid before His Majesty. Captain Wilson's case has received every possible consideration, and the position in which he now finds himself is the direct outcome of his disregard for the regulations of the Army.
In the case of Lieutenant-Colonel Gavin, quoted by the hon. and gallant Member, the facts do not bear out the construction it is sought to place on it. Colonel Gavin was originally promoted, after some hesitation, on account of the reports that had been received on him. During the first year of his command (1903) it was clear from the reports of the officers under whom he was serving that he was not a success as a commanding officer, and he was warned that he must remedy the defects brought to notice. In the following year Colonel Gavin was informed by the General Officer under whose immediate command he was serving that his removal from the command of his battalion would be recommended, and the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, who was acquainted with all the facts of the case, supported this recommendation. The War Office letter referred to by the hon. and gallant Member was in accordance with the procedure in force at that time, under which only the annual confidential reports, if adverse, were communicated to officers. Since then the rule has been altered so as to include any special reports which may be made, or called for, upon an officer. The case was considered by the Selection Board at the time, and it was decided that the retention of Colonel Gavin in command of his regiment was neither in 520 the interests of the regiment nor of the service. Colonel Gavin thereupon appealed to the King, and the case was again reopened and considered, the previous decision being adhered to.
The last case brought to notice by the hon. and gallant Member is that of Mr. J. S. Gage, late Lieutenant 3rd Dragoon. Guards. This officer joined the Army from the Militia in 1900 and retired in 1906. From the first the officers under whom Lieutenant Gage served reported indifferently upon him, as lacking in the qualifications necessary to a cavalry officer. Owing to the constant adverse reports, rendered over a course of five years by six different Commanding Officers and General Officers, the Army Council decided that there was no alternative but to call upon Lieutenant Gage to resign his commission, which decision, however, conveyed no reflection upon his honour or character, but merely that he was not adapted to the requirements of his profession. This officer was fully aware of the contents of every adverse report that was made on him, and of the reasons why it was necessary to call upon him to resign his commission. That is all I have to say. In the case of the 5th Lancers, the advice upon which we acted was the advice of the Inspector-General of the Forces at the time, and of General Sir John French, then General Officer Commanding-in-Chief at Aldershot, who personally investigated the case and reported to the Army Council.
§ Major W. A. ADAM
At this late hour, and being totally unprepared to speak, I can do nothing but go over the points touched upon by the Secretary of State for War. I think, however, that if the right hon. Gentleman had intended to allude to the speech which I made on the Army Estimates some ten days ago, it would have been more courteous, especially to a young Member of the House, to have warned me of his intention. I can only say in reply to the Secretary of State that I listened intently to what he has addressed to the House, and in all his remarks there is not one single confutation of any fact which I stated in my former speech. I will take the facts as the Secretary of State took them.
The first case the right hon. Gentleman alluded to was that of Colonel Callwell. He told us that Colonel Callwell was not superseded. I do not understand the expression "superseded" if it does not mean 521 when an officer senior to another officer is passed over by an officer junior to himself for promotion or for a position for which he is well qualified. If that is the meaning of supersession—and I think it is—then Colonel Callwell was superseded. The next case which the Secretary of State mentioned was that of Major-General Sir Frederick Benson. Major-General Benson was near the head of the list of Major-Generals at the time that he came up for promotion, and without anything being said against him, as the Secretary of State admits, he was passed over, superseded. by an officer junior to himself. Naturally Major-General Benson had no other course than to retire. That is the way that the Army has lost, is losing every day, and will continue to lose, perhaps its very best officers. A man's career is not ensured to him, and he knows that any day he may be passed over by the extraordinary decisions of the Selection Board, which the Secretary of State has praised so much, but whose decisions officers of the Army, no matter how intimate they are with the cases which come before the Board, cannot understand, nor can they understand how they are given.
I have no hesitation in saying that the Selection Board, according to the practice now in the Army, has no possibility of finding out the best men for the posts it wishes to fill. It simply goes on reports, perhaps some years old. I do not say it is the fault of the Selection Board. It is the fault of the whole system. The Selection Board, when a case comes before it for decision, has not before it the data which it ought to have in a highly organised Army like our own. Then the Secretary of State for War alluded to the case of Captain Brice-Wilson and the 5th Lancers. That is a notorious case. The Secretary of State said that I probably relied on hearsay and rumours. I did no such thing. I based my statement on a report which I had seen myself, and I have not the slightest intention of withdrawing that statement either in this House or anywhere else. The Secretary of State said that the reports were communicated to Captain Brice-Wilson. So they were, but if we take into consideration the circumstances under which those reports were communicated, a very different aspect is put on the case. According to the letter and spirit of the Regulations, every officer in His Majesty's Service has the right to see a confidential 522 report that may be prejudicial to himself; he has the right to see that report and be allowed to express an opinion on it and give notice of appeal before any use is made of the report. The reports were never shown to Captain Brice-Wilson. It was only by accident, after they had been rendered to the superior authority, that they came to his knowledge. He asked to see them, and it was only after many weary weeks of waiting that they came back and were communicated to him. No doubt a decision had been come to on them a long time previously. Captain Brice-Wilson tried to get an inquiry into his case at the time, and he has been trying ever since, but he has never been successful.
The Secretary for War refuses to reopen the case because, he says, there has been full inquiry into it. I do not know what the Members of this House understand by the word "inquiry." To my limited knowledge an inquiry should cover and hear both sides of the question. But the inquiry conducted into the case of Captain Brice-Wilson has only dealt with one side of the question. It has only seen the reports of the Colonel Commanding the regiment and of Major-General Scobell. It has never heard what Captain Brice-Wilson has to say. The appeal which he made in this case was suppressed by the very officer or officers who had rendered the reports, and Captain Brice-Wilson is still asking for an inquiry.
Not one word of what the Secretary for War has said to-day confutes any of the statements which I made in my original speech. I take it in cases like this—and we have many of them—I have only picked out three or four haphazard—I say in cases where there is doubt as to an officer's efficiency for his position, and it is the intention of the Government to supersede him or to place him outside the Active List of the Army, then surely, in justice to himself and to the whole of the Army, that officer should be told on what ground he is condemned; he should be given a full right of appeal against the decision, and, if that appeal is not to be entertained, then surely he ought to have, in common justice, a Court of Inquiry, before which the facts on both sides of the case might be stated. The Army Council and the Selection Board judge these cases on reports by senior officers. They never hear the other side of the case. I sincerely hope, for the sake of Captain Bryce-Wilson, and for the sake 523 of those other officers whom I have mentioned, the Government will see fit to hold—what should have been held in the first instance—a Court of Inquiry to hear both sides of the question.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I feel confident that those who have heard the statement of the Secretary for War in reply to my hon. and gallant Friend will share with me reluctance to express any opinion upon what we may call the merits of the Debate. I am asked, "Why?" We sometimes call ourselves—in a popular phrase—the High Court of Parliament. When we say that we think chiefly of this chamber. It is true, in a sense, the House of Commons does supply—only informally, perhaps—the ultimate tribunal before which hard cases can be brought.
Now I will answer the question "Why?" which an hon. Member puts to me. Would anybody ask any court to adjudicate upon matters affecting the personal honour and prospects of men of high position at twelve o'clock at night for no earthly reason? Surely the Secretary of State for War could hardly have been aware of what he was asking the House to do when at midnight he raised this question without even giving notice to my hon. Friend of his intention to do so. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, ten days ago—I am speaking from memory and I think it was on Monday week—in what is called the dinner hour, criticised and criticised severely—I am not going to pronounce any opinion on whether he was right or wrong in his criticism—the system which now obtains for relieving officers of their positions in the Army and promoting others, and in support of his contention he instanced a number of cases. That is on Monday week, and we have not heard a word about it since till now. There are very few Members of this House, except those who read the OFFICIAL REPORT, who had any knowledge that so pointed an indictment had been brought, supported by arguments which had, from the necessity of the case, reflected upon the capacity, and in some cases upon the personal honour, of men many of whom we are proud to call our friends. General Scobell is a personal friend of my own, and how can I be expected to speak impartially on this matter when I have had no opportunity of examination and of putting myself in a position to speak as a juryman and in a frame of mind to judge of the matter. This criticism being made 524 on Monday week, now without a word of warning to the House or to the hon. and gallant Member who had obviously taken great pains, and for no reason which anybody is able to fathom the Secretary of State for War asks us to take the report of the vote of his own salary.
That is from the point of view of Parliamentary life a most lamentable course. The right hon. Gentleman said the matter was so grave that he had had to commit his statement to writing. If it was of that gravity was not there some other channel of communication which he might have chosen, or if he thought this was the proper channel of communication was there not some other hour of the day or night more suited than the present for the declaration of a statement so grave that a Minister of the Crown who has an easy command of words felt it necessary to commit it to writing and read it out to the House. From that point of view, even if this House is the proper tribunal for deciding this question, which is a more serious one than one dealing with large sums of money, because it affects the reputation of men in the Army and the esteem in which they are held by their friends. I think the Secretary of State for War has been most unfortunate in selecting midnight as the hour for bringing up such a matter, and bringing it without any notice to the House or to the hon. Member he was replying to after ten days. He did not impugn either the honour of the hon. and gallant Gentleman or the veracity of the statements he made, and I think it was most unfortunate to make such a statement at such an hour.
There is, perhaps, something else to be said, though by comparison it sinks into insignificance. We have a right to complain that the Government should take the Report stage of the right hon. Gentleman's salary to-night. Some of us were led to understand it was necessary to get this Vote on the score of money. I could not believe that. On this day week automatically the Government will get this amount of money. The amount involved is less than half a million. If the Government had chosen, we would have given them Votes embracing far larger sums without debate. It now appears that the reason was that the Secretary of State wished, late at night, to make a considered reply to a verbal speech delivered ten days earlier, and by rising first and confining his remarks to that one point, he has defrauded every member of the House of 525 the opportunity of speaking upon other questions, except by moving reductions on this or that point. The right hon. Gentleman has deliberately exhausted his opportunity of dealing with the many important point which can be raised on the Army Estimates in order to make a written reply to a verbal attack delivered ten days before. That is a departure from the spirit of the new Supply rule. It is well understood that it is within the right of the Opposition to select what Vote shall be down on one of the allotted days of Supply, and if they were not satisfied with one day the Vote was never finally disposed of until they were satisfied. The end of Supply comes within the week. Why are we asked to close the whole of our opportunity of discussing War Office affairs? I wanted to know, and now I know, and the reason is that the Secretary for War, misguided, no doubt, by a desire to vindicate those he has to defend, felt it was incumbent upon him to make that statement at the earliest moment. It is unfortunate that the earliest moment occurs ten days after the attack was made, and that it leaves no opportunity for the House to discharge its functions as a High Court of Parliament.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I feel the force of what the right hon. Gentleman says. This question can be raised on Vote 13 and the Government is willing to put that Vote down as first Order for Tuesday. My reason for making the statement to-night is that I thought I ought to make it at the earliest opportunity I could, and it is necessary that we should get this £430,000 to-night. I make the suggestion simply for the purpose of showing the right hon. Gentleman that I have no desire to burke enquiry.
§ Sir A. ACLAND-HOOD
I really cannot fall in with the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman. May I point out to the House that it was under strong protest from me that this Order was taken tonight? I was told it was necessary, because the Secretary of State wanted his salary. I do not know that it was required for his own pecuniary reasons, but it was represented to me that it was necessary he should get the Report stage of the Vote to-night. I have a very strong feeling, and I think every old soldier will agree with me, that this system of confidential reports requires very careful consideration and overhauling. It is a system 526 under which very grave injustice is often done to officers, and they find it difficult to get any redress. It is not only the case in the Army, but it is going to be the case in the Navy. My complaint is that having been asked to take this Vote to-night for the purpose of giving the necessary money for the Army, it appears now the real reason is that the right hon. Gentleman wanted to answer at half-past twelve certain questions which were asked at half-past nine ten days ago. I do not accuse the right hon. Gentleman of funking, but I do complain that when this Vote is put down for discussion at this time, he should take the opportunity of making an attack on my hon. and gallant Friend—[An HON. MEMBER, "No."] I say it was an attack. It may or may not have been justified, but it was an attack. I say the right hon. Gentleman ought to have given my hon. and gallant Friend (Major Adam) notice that he was going to deal with this matter.
I have a further grievance. We have asked the Government for extra days to discuss Supply. There are many questions which we want to discuss, and the Government had plenty of time, but they chose to waste two days on the question of Women Suffrage. Some hon. Members went up in one lift in favour of the ladies and came down in the next lift against them. I complain of the mismanagement of business which has wasted two very valuable days just at the time of the Session when they might have been given, and ought to have been given, to the discussion of important Votes in Supply. I think the case is very strong. The Government, with the view of putting their political opponents into a difficulty, took short Votes on Account, thereby depriving them of those ad hoc discussions in Committee of Supply which are in accordance with the ordinary practice of the House. They lumped everything in these Votes on Account, and when fair and legitimate grievances are brought up we are told that English, Scotch, and Irish, Army and Navy, and whatever other grievances there may be, can all be discussed on the Appropriation Bill. How many days are the Government going to give to the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill? It seems to me that it will last nearly as long as the discussion on Woman Suffrage. The right hon. Gentleman has offered to put down Vote 13 as the first Order on Tuesday. Is not that a non-effective Vote? Are we to discuss on that Vote 527 the question of the right hon. Gentleman's reason for placing these officers on half-pay?
We were already promised many other questions on the Appropriation Bill, and I understand it was for next Tuesday. Then we had Cordite next Tuesday. Does the right hon. Gentleman count that as non-effective? Perhaps he will allow me, with great respect, to say that it is the right of the Opposition and not of the Government to ask such Votes as they want taken in Committee of Supply, and it is especially the right of the Opposition at this particular moment, when the Government refuse us extra time and we only have, apart from Votes which I believe are mainly for Scotland, a day. It is our right to say which Votes we want to have on that day. We have already got the two Cordite Votes on the Army and the Navy, and I believe they will take some time. We decline to be put off by the right hon. Gentleman with Vote 13, a non-effective Vote. We have many other things to discuss after Cordite. If he really wants to discuss that non-effective Vote, and he plays the game on Tuesday, he will be sitting here until six o'clock on Wednesday morning. I really think we are being treated very badly. I was asked some days ago if I would agree to the taking of this Vote after eleven o'clock, because the Government wanted money, and I refused to do so. I said it was perfectly evident that the money would come under the Appropriation Bill guillotine on this day week or to-morrow week. Anyone who has been in this House not only as long as I have been, but even in the last Parliament, knows quite well that the ordinary time for passing the Appropriation Bill is about the 10th of August. All this talk about the Government wanting money now is nonsense. It is bad management, and I can only say that I am surprised that I, as Chief Whip, should have been asked to agree to a Vote to-night to provide money which is absolutely necessary!
§ Sir A. ACLAND-HOOD
Yes, really necessary! But it is apparently necessary for the right hon. Gentleman to make a speech which he did not dare make ten days ago.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I am not quite convinced by the explanation which the 528 Secretary of State has made, and I think I will submit a motion that the further consideration of this Resolution should be adjourned. What is the right hon. Gentleman's case? That another opportunity, which he says, and quite truly says, is a more appropriate opportunity for discussing this matter might be afforded on Vote 13. If it is a more appropriate opportunity why does he select this less appropriate opportunity? The right hon. Gentleman has taken the whole House by surprise when, without any notice, before my right hon. Friend, who is entitled in ordinary circumstances to catch the eye of the Chair, he intervenes with a written statement which might be more appropriately brought forward on Vote 13, but which he chooses to bring forward at this very inconvenient moment, taking a departure from the ordinary natural course, and making it difficult for many of my hon. Friends to take part in the Debate by occupying a considerable part of the time which is open to the House to discuss the matter at all, and then in the end telling us that a better opportunity would be afforded on Vote 13, and that it can be put down, if we wish, on Tuesday as the First Order. He mistakes the whole position, which is usual, not only between the Opposition and the Government, but between my hon. and gallant Friend and the Government. It is a very important issue. It affects a number of gallant officers. From another point of view it is not an ordinary House of Commons issue. Why is the ordinary business of the House on Tuesday to be upset by putting down Vote 13? If the right hon. Gentleman wanted to make his statement he should have put Vote 13 down to-day. He could have given proper notice, so that everyone would have known what was going to happen. Instead, he has taken a highly novel and inconvenient course, and put us in the position of having to consider a judicial question which ought never to be raised late at night, when the House is not fit to deal with the matter. Everybody knows that some Members are tired, some are excited—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"]—and some are foolish. The proper opportunity for discussion was earlier in the afternoon. Since the right hon. Gentleman thinks it so important as to deem it necessary to write every word he was going to say, I really think he might have given a little time and taken some other business. Why did he not put down Vote 13 [Non-effective 529 Services] for the purpose of discussing this matter? If all this importance is attached to it, it is not a fit hour at which to raise it. In view of the way the Government have handled their business, and of their unfairness and discourtesy to my hon. and gallant Friend, I protest against a matter of this kind being taken at this hour, and I move, "That the further consideration of the Report be adjourned."
Mr. STANLEY WILSON
I support the Motion, and appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to be reasonable. Up to the present time the Government have been fairly reasonable, but I think the reason of that is largely due to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Waterford, from whose usual place I am speaking. We have listened to-night to a most important statement by the right hon. Gentleman, so important that he had it written and read it to us from the Table. I think a statement of such importance ought not to be made in the middle of the night. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke just now showed that the Government have plenty of time, and the statement could have been made at a time different from that which has been chosen. I maintain that the right hon. Gentleman, by the method he has adopted, has not treated my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich in a fair and proper way. He is a new Member, and I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to have shown to him every courtesy. I think the least the Secretary for War could have done was to give him fair warning that he intended to answer him in debate this evening.
In the circumstances the Noble Lord is entirely justified in moving the adjournment of the Debate. If the right hon. Gentleman does not accept the Motion I think the House will agree that he will be treating us in a most extraordinary manner. Those of us who were Members of the last Parliament were accustomed to be ridden over rough-shod by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. We were then a weak body only 160 strong, but still even in those days, I think hon. Members opposite will agree, we were able to put up a fair fight. I should like to remind the right hon. Gentleman of one particular occasion, of which he will have a vivid recollection, when we sat up on 530 the Army Annual Bill until 6.30 on the following evening. We are a great deal stronger now on these Benches than we were in the last Parliament, and I believe there are many young Members who are very ready and willing to win their spurs in all-night sittings. If the right hon. Gentleman is reasonable we shall all be reasonable, and I ask him to accept the Motion.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I have listened to the appeal made by the hon. Member opposite and I say, whether it is mismanagement or not as was suggested that it is not a question of War Office salary, but that the troops cannot be paid unless I get this money to-night. This is a case in which we must have the money to carry on the Service. I am stating what is an actual fact. As I have said before, I quite recognise that there may be a desire to comment on a statement which I made not by way of initiating any debate, but in defence of an officer whom I had no opportunity of before defending. I was, unfortunately, out of the House at the moment, it was at the dinner hour, when the reference was made to Major-General Scobell and the other officers. I had no opportunity of having a full knowledge of what had been said, or of dealing with it that night. I think it may be quite reasonable that something further should be said; and I am not in any sense trying to dictate in any way to the Opposition. I quite recognise that it is their choice as to what Vote should be put down. I am willing to take any course that is most convenient to the House. If they wish they can have Vote 13 [Non-Effective Services] put down on Tuesday, and that will give them the opportunity—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Then take the Cordite Vote [Vote 9.—Armaments and Engineers Stores] in that case, and the further discussion will be taken on the Appropriation Bill. I need not say I have not the smallest wish to preclude any comment on the grave statement I have made to-night. I only assure the House I had the feeling that I ought to make a statement in this case at the very earliest opportunity, and I did what I conceived to be my duty to-night.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The right hon. Gentleman has again brought the Debate round to Major-General Scobell. I do not think he is entitled to do that after having just stated that his reason for putting down 531 this Vote to-night was that it was absolutely necessary to get something less than half a million to pay the Army. I do not think he is conducting the Debate in a fair manner by raising a subject at one o'clock which ought not to have been raised at twelve o'clock, and a subject raising the personal honour of a respected officer, Major-General Scobell, who has many personal friends on this side of the House. How then can it be the case that this Vote had to be put down only because the Government wanted money? We have had it from my right hon. Friend (Sir A. Acland-Hood) that the Government were offered other Army Votes bringing in millions instead of this Vote which brings in less than half a million—[An HON. MEMBER: "No."] That is so. I am speaking with my right hon. Friend by my side, and he has objected altogether to this Vote being taken to-night. He has been absolutely unable to say why it was necessary to put down a Vote of less than half a million. No counter proposal has been made. Let me put it this way. My right hon. Friend was prepared to take Army Votes which would have amounted to larger sums of money, and non-contentious ones, too. So that if money was the object the Secretary for War might have had more money. The right hon. Gentleman is not entitled to say in reply to the Motion for Adjournment that he cannot accede to it because money is the object. It is not the object!
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I think the right hon. Gentleman has even now missed the real gravamen of our complaint, because I think that we on this side of the House, who wanted to raise other questions, have great cause for objection to the course which has been taken. The personal question which has been raised by the Secretary of State for War is certainly of great public interest, but it is not the question that many of us came down to the House to discuss on the Report of these Army Estimates. By the action of the right hon. Gentleman we are entirely shut out from raising these questions. The right hon. Gentleman insisted upon addressing the House first, and so prevented my right hon. Friend from moving any reduction by way of Amendment; so that the main Question was put from the Chair and, therefore, that power of moving amendments was taken away from us. What is the result 532 of that? It is that the right hon. Gentleman must get his Vote without answering a great many things which we raised when the Army Estimates were discussed on 27th June, and also without answering those points which we are anxious to raise this evening. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will bear in mind that on 27th June he got up and answered my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee), who had raised a very important question upon these Estimates, but he entirely ignored a great many other—which he perhaps was pleased to call minor—points which had been raised by other Members interested in various branches of the Army. I think we have a considerable grievance in the matter. We are very well justified in pressing this Motion for Adjournment on the Government. After all, it is surely absurd to offer this excuse, or it is a confession of gross mismanagement on the part of the Government. It seems difficult to believe the Government when they come down and tell us that the Army cannot be paid unless this Vote is carried to-night. Are we to believe that the whole of the pay of the British Army is run to so fine a point that if this Vote is not carried within a given hour the whole of the military organisation will he upset? I submit that the proposition is ridiculous. It is either incredible, or it is incredibly foolish.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman one question. I am rather inclined to support him on this occasion. I understand he wants £400,000, and must get it to-night—[The SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR assented]—otherwise he will not be able to pay the men. Is that another triumph of Free Trade finance? If the right hon. Gentleman really assures me that that is the question, as I here put it, I feel tempted to vote with him.
§ Lord BALCARRES
Do I understand that the Army Council does not transfer money from one Vote to another?
§ Mr. HALDANE
We have had only Vote A and Vote 1: that is the only money we have had. It was at the request of right hon. Gentlemen opposite that this Vote, which includes my salary, was put down ten days ago. We should have been glad to put down another Vote, but at the request of the Opposition we put down this Vote.
§ Lord BALCARRES
That is no doubt the case. But my question was whether the Army Council transfers money from one Vote to another? Do I understand that the whole of the money already voted for Army services has been expended?
§ Lord BALCARRES
The pay of the whole Army has been voted. Ten years ago when the Supply Rule was set up it was found, by universal practice, that it was adequate to allow Votes to remain open until Supply was closed, practically to the end of the Session. Is it not extraordinary mismanagement that the right hon. Gentleman should find himself now without any money at all?
§ Mr. HALDANE
I should have taken other Votes much larger in amount had it not been for the request of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Lord BALCARRES
The right hon. Gentleman is not quite candid with the House. We asked for the Vote of the Secretary of State's salary then, no doubt, in order to discuss his policy. We did not ask for the Secretary of State's Vote to-night, because we did not want to discuss his policy. We want to discuss his policy not at the end of a long Education Debate after eleven o'clock, but when we can have a proper debate, with an opportunity of moving a reduction. The right hon. Gentleman says that we asked for this Vote. I deny it absolutely. On being told that the right hon. Gentleman wanted money, we said, "Certainly, so far as Members on this side are concerned, we will give without debate non-controversial Votes carrying more money than the Secretary of State's salary." The Secretary to the Local Government Board says we have no right to take it.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Masterman)
I said nothing of the kind, and I am not Secretary to the Local Government Board.
§ 1.0 A.M.
§ Lord BALCARRES
I apologise on both counts. If the right hon. Gentleman would answer the question I have put twice it would simplify matters, namely, Whether it is the practice and within the power of the War Office to transfer money from one Vote to another Vote?
534 Really, the right hon. Gentleman has no for taking this Vote against the wishes of the Opposition when he could have got larger sums on other Votes which, as we all know, as the right hon. Gentleman will admit, before the Appropriation Bill is passed, can be, in the Army as in the Navy, transferred from one Vote to the other. I should like to say one word in conclusion. When we passed a Supply Rule ten or eleven years ago, it was an understanding in the House and upon that understanding alone, I take it, that change got through. The understanding was to the effect that, questions of high policy apart, there rested absolutely within the right of the Opposition of the day the selection of the bulk of the Votes to be discussed. One or, perhaps, two days were within the right of the Nationalist Members, and the Labour party in the House, at that time a very much smaller party than it is now, had a kind of understanding with the Government of the day that they could name their day, which was generally the Home Office. I say that has been the point. We said then, and it has been universally admitted, that when high questions of policy arise the Government has the right to veto any particular Vote being taken. It is very easy to imagine that circumstances may arise when, in the public interests, it would be most undesirable to take, say, the Foreign Office Estimates. But the contrary is growing up, and the right hon. Gentleman, I think most improperly, has forced this Vote upon us against our will, to the great inconvenience of Members. He has not even given notice to the Member most concerned, and by the way he did it he prevents our moving reductions. I really think the right hon. Gentleman ought to adjourn this Debate. It is no good saying the Appropriation Bill is the proper time. We all know you cannot conduct a set Debate on the Appropriation Bill as you can on the Estimates; and he forgets that we have lost our day for Irish Estimates, and that the First Lord of the Treasury this afternoon practically allocated the Second Reading of that Bill to the Irish Estimates. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will adjourn the Debate.
§ Lord CASTLEREAGH
I think the right hon. Gentleman is treating the House in the most extraordinary way. I cannot believe that he is short of money as he said that he is, and that it is impossible that the forces can be paid, and I think he can 535 perfectly well accept the Motion moved by my Noble Friend, accept the Motion for Adjournment, and put down this Debate for to-morrow. The right hon. Gentleman has treated the House in a most extraordinary way. If we go back to the beginning of this Debate, he rises in his place and so he is precluding all Amendments. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman what course he expects us to take? How does he expect us to raise all these important points on the Army of which there has not been adequate discussion? Does the right hon. Gentleman expect the Financial Secretary to answer our questions? I for one say that I am not prepared to accept the answers from the Financial Secretary. I expect the right hon. Gentleman to answer all these important questions which are sure to be raised if this Adjournment is not accepted. The right hon. Gentleman rose in his place and read to us a typewritten statement—a statement which I have no doubt he has taken sixteen days to prepare. Well, he has had sixteen days to inform the hon. and gallant Member behind me of his course; and I think it would have been very courteous on his part if he had first of all taken some other opportunity of making this very important statement, and if he did not take another opportunity, certainly of giving notice to the House and my hon. and gallant Friend.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I want to ask this. Has the right hon. Gentleman not already got the pay for the Army? What has happened to it? He has got the whole of the pay. He tells us that the soldiers are not going to he paid to-morrow. Supposing something had happened here to-day that the House had had to be adjourned or something of that sort, does he mean to say that not one single soldier would have been paid to-morrow? Why have things been run so fine that we have come absolutely to the last cent? The whole of the money has been "blued," or spent on something else. All I can tell him is that if that is the case surely the credit of even Free Trade is not so bad that he could not have borrowed the money temporarily to have paid the soldiers for one day more or two or three days. The hon. Member for Swansea, for example, and other hon. Gentlemen opposite would have been only too glad to have guaranteed the money at the bank. Does the right hon. Gentleman really mean to say that he has not 536 received the whole of the pay for the Army for the whole year? He has received it, well, why cannot the men get it? Where is it?
§ Mr. HALDANE
According to the invariable practice, which has prevailed from time immemorial, it has been spent on all sorts of things, to keep up buildings, and everything of that kind.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
We are faced with the fact that the whole of the money voted for the Army so far this year has been spent in other services. To-morrow morning, if anything happens here to-night, the Army is not to get a single penny. The whole of the Army will be suspended. I think that is perfect rubbish, and the point is a rotten one, or if true, it is a perfect scandal.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
The Secretary for War has to-night set us a very bad example. In the first place he has set a precedent for a method by which one of the great spending departments of the State can come to the House and do the Members out of their right of reducing the Vote. That is a most unfortunate thing to happen to a Liberal Government. If the precedent is followed it will be possible to prevent the Opposition at any time, whatever party it may consist of, from making effective criticism of that Department. The other example he has set us is that we have to-night had the privilege of listening to the reading of a long type-written statement. I almost expected that Mr. Deputy-Speaker would have called the right hon. Gentleman to order, because I find that a Member is not permitted to read a speech, although he may refresh his memory by a reference to notes. The right hon. Gentleman did not refresh his memory by reference to notes; he read every word from a long type-written document which he had either prepared himself or had prepared for him by some official.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
I was about to connect it with the Motion by pointing out that when the Secretary for War comes here and reads a speech, and admits that the matter is a very grave one indeed, he cannot expect that matter to be passed over at this time of night without giving a reasonable opportunity; at a reasonable hour and on a reasonable day, for discussing the merits of this very 537 grave question. It seems to me the House is being treated in a discourteous manner, and, I also suggest, not in a Constitutional manner. In these circumstances we are entitled to protest in the clearest manner against the course a Minister of the Crown has taken. We are entitled to have it fully discussed, and to have an opportunity of going into the Lobby to enforce our views.
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
I wish to ask the Secretary for War whether he has no other suggestion to offer as to occasions on which hon. Members on this side of the House may bring forward some of the questions they wished to discuss other than on the Appropriation Bill. That Bill was hypothecated to Irish affairs. When a question was put earlier in the evening with regard to education, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that education was to be raised in the Appropriation Bill. It is evident that all the various points which may be raised in regard to Army affairs cannot be raised after Irish affairs, and Education has been dealt with in the Appropriation Bill. There is another point. We have not heard quite definitely whether the officers and rank and file of the Army will not get their pay at some stated hour this afternoon supposing that the Debate is adjourned. One understands that transfers are made as between one vote and another, and that a sum voted for Army pay might
§ properly have been applied to other Army purposes. If it is true that the money does run out this afternoon, how far are the Government and the Secretary for War justified in allowing the general amounts available for the services to be cut so fine? We were told earlier in the Session that the Government were taking one small vote on account after another because they were reverting to older and sounder methods of finance. We are entitled to ask the Secretary for War whether it is an older and sounder method of finance to allow the pay for the Army to run so fine?
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
One other point I should like to urge is that the answer given by the Secretary for War against the Motion for adjournment is inconclusive. He remarked that the Debate upon his salary was asked for by this side of the House. We did not merely ask for a debate on the salary, but a day on which it should take place. I think he will admit that we did not ask for it on this day and at this hour.
§ Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 114; Noes, 146.539
|Division No. 96.]||AYES.||[1.20 a.m.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Dalrymple, Viscount||Llewelyn, Venables|
|Adam, Major William A.||Dixon, Charles Harvey (Boston)||Lloyd, George Ambrose|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Du Cros, A. (Tower Hamlets, Bow)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Arbuthnot, Gerald A.||Duncannon, Viscount||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||[...], Sir W. H. (Southwark, W.)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hn. A. (S. Geo., Han. Sq.)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Falle, Bertram Godfrey||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh|
|Bagot, Captain Josceline||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Mackinder, Halford J.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Macmaster, Donald|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Gibbs, George Abraham||Mason, James F.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gilmour, Captain John||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Baring, Captain Hon. Guy Victor||Goldsmith, Frank||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Barnston, Harry||Gooch, Henry Cubitt||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. (Glouc., E.)||Grant, James Augustus||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Greene, Walter Raymond||Newman, John R. P.|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gretton, John||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Bonn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Haddock, George Bahr||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Nield, Herbert|
|Bird, Alfred||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Brackenbury, Henry Langton||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Peel, Hon. Wm. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Brassey, Capt. R. (Oxon, Banbury)||Heath, Col. Arthur Howard||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Helmsley, Viscount||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Butcher, John George (York)||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Rawson, Col. Richard H.|
|Calley, Col. Thomas C. P.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rothschild, Llonel de|
|Cater, John||Hunt, Rowland||Rutherford, Watson|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Kerry, Earl of||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Colefax, Henry Arthur||Keswick, William||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole (Walsall)||Kirkwood, John H. M.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Stewart, Gershom (Ches., Wirral)||Valentia, Viscount||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Sykes, Alan John||Walker, H. de R. (Leicester)||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Talbot, Lord Edmund||Walrond, Hon. Llonel||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Torrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)||Younger, George (Ayr Surghs)|
|Thynne, Lord Alexander||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Tryon, Capt. George Clement||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. H. W. Forster and Lord Balcarres.|
|Tullibardine, Marquess of||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Radford, George Heynes|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Haworth, Arthur A.||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Allen, Charles Peter||Hayward, Evan||Rainy, Adam Rolland|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Hazleton, Richard||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Henry, Charles S.||Reddy, Michael|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Higham, John Sharp||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Hindle, Frederick George||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Barton, William||Hogan, Michael||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Holt, Richard Durning||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)|
|Brace, William||Hooper, Arthur George||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Robinson, Sidney|
|Brigg, Sir John||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Bryce, John Annan||Illingworth, Percy H.||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Keating, Matthew||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||King, Joseph (Somerset, N.)||Seddon, James A.|
|Clough, William||Lambert, George||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Leach, Charles||Shackleton, David James|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lehmann, Rudolf C.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Soares, Ernest Joseph|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Lewis, John Herbert||Summers, James Woolley|
|Crawshay-Williams, Ellot||Lyell, Charles Henry||Sutton, John E.|
|Crosfield, Arthur H.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Crossley, Sir William J.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Thomas, David Alfred (Cardiff)|
|Cullinan, John||M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Toulmin, George|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Davies, Ellis William (Elfion)||Mallet. Charles Edward||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Manfield, Harry||Verney, Frederick William|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Marks, George Croydon||Vivian, Henry|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-shire)||Masterman, C. F. G.||Walsh, Stephen|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Millar, James Duncan||Walters, John Tudor|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Mond, Sir Alfred||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Elverston, Harold||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Waring, Walter|
|Falconer, James||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Muspratt, Max||Watt, Henry A.|
|Furness, Stephen||Neilson, Francis||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Gelder, Sir William Alfred||Nuttall, Harry||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||O'Brien, William (Cork)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Gibbins, F. W.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Gibson, Sir James Puckering||Ogden, Fred||Wilkle, Alexander|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Parker, James (Halifax)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Guest, Major C. H. C.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Philipps, Sir O. C. (Pembroke)||Wing, Thomas|
|Hancock, John George||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Pointer, Joseph|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Pollard, Sir George H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Master of Ellbank and Mr. Gulland.|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Primrose, Hon. Nell James|
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
The first point I wish to raise is in connection with the Territorial Force, and it is a point which I have raised in previous Debates. It is true it is only a minor point, but it is one of great importance to the Yeomanry and the Territorial Force. It is that we really do want, and must have, some training 540 manual more satisfactory than we have at the present time. We have now a drill-book, which came out, I think, in 1907, and that is only an amending drill-book to the one which came out in 1898. It is based entirely upon Cavalry, and there is no recognition of the fact that the Yeomanry is based upon entirely different principles from the Cavalry. The Yeomanry drill to-day in single rank, whereas the Cavalry drill in two ranks. It makes a great difference in the drill, and anyone who has to deal practically with the question will realise there are many difficulties connected with not having a proper manual of training. It is no use going 541 to the War Office on the matter. Very often officers who are directly in touch with troops and squadrons can point to small practical difficulties that do not come within the recognition of more senior officers, and, therefore, although these points are not raised by major-generals or lieutenant-generals, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will pay some attention to them. The defect makes it very difficult for men to learn their work. There are men in the Yeomanry who are very keen. They are very anxious to learn all they can about it, and they find every difficulty thrown in their way, because in order to get any appreciation of what they are there for, what Yeomanry training is, and what their duties are, they have to dig into three or four different books and find out from the different pages to which they are referred what their functions and duties really are.
If that could be put into one small simple book which the Yeomanry could learn, it would be a very great advantage to the force. I think that the Yeomanry officers in this House will agree with me, although I do not wish to exaggerate the importance of the point. There is another point which I think requires discussion and answer with regard to the Yeomanry, and that is the point which was raised by an hon. Member on the Estimates, and that is whether or not it is proposed to give the Yeomanry some white arm. A great many of us feel very strongly on this point. I was at manœuvres a year ago and with a squadron of Yeomanry, and for the time being I was attached to a regular cavalry regiment. The cavalry have gone back gradually to shock tactics, and they do a good deal of charging, as I think the right hon. Gentleman knows, as he has been at the manœuvres. The Yeomanry will be called upon no doubt when on active service to serve very often with Cavalry, and to make up regiments, and, maybe, to make up brigades. But the Yeomanry has no weapon whatever to charge with, no arm whatever which can be used in the charge. Take another point. The Yeomanry, it is supposed, would have to fight, if ever they do fight, in the roads and lanes of this country. Anybody who has done any manœuvres or field days in this country knows quite well the difficulty there will be, and the surprise there will be, and how the Yeomanry will find themselves at a disadvantage for want of an effective arm. I do hope the right hon. 542 Gentleman will apply his own commonsense to this question. Of course, nobody would suggest that the white arm is in any sense a rival to the rifle. We all want the Yeoman to be a good rifleman; we all want the main part of his training to be devoted to the effective use of the rifle and the taking up of positions from which rifle-fire can be directed. But we do say that circumstances will arise over and over again when the rifle is not a sufficient weapon—when there must be some other weapon in addition.
We want a white arm, but we do not want a bayonet to put on the rifle only, because, although they may be useful dismounted, the bayonet on the end of a rifle is of very little use to a man on a horse. What we want is a slashing white arm of some sort. I do not think it would be much use giving the Yeomanry a sword with a point such as the Cavalry have, because it comes easier to Englishmen to slash and hit than it does to point. The Latin race always use the point more naturally than the blow. For the Yeomanry we want some slashing, hitting sword which can be used with ease in a skirmish and mêlée on horseback. There is another point in connection with the organisation of the Territorial Force and the Yeomanry branch, and that is, what is the proposed organisation in time of war? At present the Yeomanry requirements are organised into four squadrons, but I have heard rumours to the effect that on mobilisation they would be reduced to three, and that one of the squadrons would be split up among the others so as to increase their strength. I protest very seriously against that proposal if it is the case. I only ask if it is the case; I may have been misinformed. If it is the case I venture to suggest that it is a bad proposal, because, after all, that squadron which is split up loses its identity entirely, and all the officers, who have had all the worry and trouble and bother of training that squadron during peace time suddenly find men whom they have at last brought to the state they have been aiming at, taken away from them. I think that would be a great disaster and very unfortunate not only for the particular squadron but for the other squadrons which have so many strange faces put amongst them.
Then there is the very important question, the horse question. I am rather sorry to have to raise it to-night after we have had a rather controversial discussion, 543 because I do not want this horse question to be regarded in a controversial light, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not take it as such. I purposely refrained from raising it on the Army Estimates when they were in Committee because there were other very important questions which had to be discussed, and I did not think we should get a good Debate upon horses. The right hon. Gentleman is aware that we have had a Committee sitting on the Hunters Improvement Society for some time, and we have brought out a report, and I believe the right hon. Gentleman has seen that report. At all events, it has been sent to him. It would be out of order for me to discuss the "breeding" parts of our recommendations; they would be more appropriate, no doubt, on the Board of Agriculture Vote or on the Development Commission. But I think I might call attention to those of our recommendations which deal with the co-operation which the Army should give in the matter of horse breeding. First of all let me say that I do not quite follow what the right hon. Gentleman proposes. I gather that he is going to buy a certain number of three-year-olds for the Army; well, that is all very good, but unless he is going to buy these three-year-olds at the same price as he now goes for older horses, I do not think it will be doing much good, for, after all, what is the gravamen of the charge in connection with horse buying now? It is that they give an average price which does not pay anybody to breed.
No man can sell a horse which he has bred to the Army at the average now given and make a profit out of it. He is probably suffering a loss, and therefore, as it can only be done at a loss, it cannot be expected that anyone will go in for breeding Army horses. You may say, roughly, that a horse will cost at least £10 a year to a breeder, and therefore by the time the horse is three years old it has cost, certainly, £30 to produce. Well now, if the Army goes to that man and says "you must sell us that horse for £30." there is no profit, and no inducement for anyone to breed it. If he can raise the price and give £40 for three-year-olds, there would be just a small modicum of profit which might turn the balance slightly in the direction of encouraging breeding, So, I do hope, that if he is contemplating buying three-year-olds he will realise the relative necessity of increasing the price 544 at the same time, so that if he prefers, as he probably will have to do, to buy a certain proportion of older horses then let him pay a higher price for them than he does now. After all, it is very largely a question of price. It is quite true that it is not a branch of agriculture which will be much enjoyed in by anybody. I do not mean to say nobody will set up to breed horses at that price, but what will happen is this.
The Army can if it will afford encouragement to ordinary light horse breeders. These horses are destined for more valuable purposes than the Army; they are destined to supply the demand for high-class riding horses of all kinds. If the breeders have a chance of getting rid of thoroughbred animals, which are not of the highest class, but which are very serviceable animals for the Army, at a reasonable price, they will be encouraged to breed horses, because they will be able to get rid of the misfits. I further ask that the Army should give a price that will pay the breeder. Army buyers are good judges, and often buy extraordinary horses for the money they pay, but it is bad for the Army to go on bleeding the horse-breeding industry by stinting the price. There are fewer people engaged in the industry, and there are fewer demands for misfits because of the development of motor traction, and it is more difficult for the breeders to get rid of them. If they look upon the Army as a last resort they might think it just as well to shoot the foal instead of keeping it to sell to the Army. Another way in which the Army might help horse-breeders is by keeping in closer touch with them. Good attempts have been made in this direction recently. There have been gatherings at which horses have been assembled for inspection by Army remount representatives. The owners of horses require experience as to the sort of horses which the Army will buy. When it is understood that an Army buyer is coming down, people will gather every sort of horse they have not been able to sell to anybody else under the impression that it will do for the Army. The Army is quite right in not buying them. When the breeders come to understand that the horse required for the Army is a fairly good one, better results will come from these meetings.
The other day the Secretary for War said the Army would put their breeders under the new scheme of the Board of Agriculture. I hope he does not mean to confine 545 his buying to breeders who have registered mares and sires under that scheme. Do not let it be understood that only those people who have come in under the Government's scheme will have the chance of selling to the Government. I am afraid of too much red tape. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will endeavour to give assistance to horse breeding by making it part of his policy to buy only a certain class of mares. If they were bought at four years old they would be bought at too high a price. Foreigners give higher prices and get better mares. I suggest that the Army might buy these mares before the foreigners want them, say at two or three years, and should then leave them with the breeder for a year for breeding purposes, and the mare should not be claimed for the Army unless there has been an opportunity of breeding from her at that early age. I will not go into the question whether or not that is injurious, because most experts are agreed that it is not injurious to breed from young mares. When the mare had to be taken for Army work you would have left some progeny to carry on the strain, and so diminish the lack of horses which exists at present. An additional advantage would be that it would be impossible to cast the mares from the service at a much earlier age than now. They would be valuable brood mares. The number of mares in the country is extraordinary. I am told the percentage is as high as seventy or eighty. That is all to the good, because you have a certain portion of stock which would be conceivable breeding stock, and which you can utilise if you encourage private enterprise to keep up the supply of horses. The annual demand for the Army is 3,000, so that the authorities cannot do very much, but they should do what they can to foster the industry. I have only touched upon what I must describe as rather a minor question, because I do not wish to embark on the larger questions connected with Army policy which were raised the other day.
I should like to add that it seems to me rather a pity that the idea is getting about the country that the War Office is unsympathetic to the Territorial Association. I am no longer a member of a County Association myself; and I do not speak in any sense as directly representing an Association, but one cannot help hearing what is going on, and I am sorry to say it appears to me there is considerable friction exist- 546 ing between the War Office and the County Associations. A good deal of that friction is due to the fact that the War Office will not regard the County Associations as composed of business men and energetic men, who are ready to give their time and trouble to the undertakings which they have in hand. The War Office seems more inclined to regard them as the children who want to be led in leading strings. The War Office does not give them a free enough hand to deal with a great many matters. There is far too much correspondence, and the sending of papers from the County Associations to the War Office and back again. Perhaps a County Association wants to alter a door in the side of a building. They have to write the War Office. Such things as these are very galling and harassing to the County Associations, and if the right hon. Gentleman does not alter them will go far to spoil the success of his scheme, which otherwise, at all events with regard to organisation, appears to me to be satisfactory. It is a pity that the War Office does not get out of its habit of red tape and of persisting in treating the Associations as if they were merely minor departments at Whitehall. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will remedy the position in this respect.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I wish to say a few words with regard to a point raised by the Noble Lord who has just sat down. I know, of course, that ignorance of orders is no excuse in the Army. At the same time I must say that I was not aware that this Debate was coming on, and so I did not prepare things I should liked to have discussed on the subject. There are, however, a few general matters with which I should like to deal. One is that in the Army Estimates we were told that six divisions were ready for war, but we see from a discussion in another place that two of those divisions are not ready. I never thought they were. I am not criticising the right hon. Gentleman on the point, but I do hope that something will be done to get these two remaining divisions prepared for mobilisation as soon as possible. If that is not done it means that the whole establishment substance will be absolutely upset. The arrangements for the drafts and the expeditionary force will be upset if those two divisions are not up to strength. It means that the Territorial Force will have to fill up the gap, and there will be a far bigger drain on the so-called general service soldiers in the Territorial Force than might 547 otherwise be expected. I do hope, therefore, that something will be done to hurry on the effectiveness of these two divisions. Otherwise it will be difficult indeed to have any settled policy for the Territorial Force.
A very short time ago everybody in the counties, no matter of what party or station, no matter whether peers or labour men—everybody in the various counties worked together to try to make the Territorial Army a success. There was a sort of wedding between the Territorial Force and the Army which were joined up in one great entity. All of us were, so to speak, bridesmaids, and the right hon. Gentleman gave the bride away. But one would have thought this married couple would not have been launched out without it being seen that there was a sufficient supply for the natural increase that would occur. That increase is beginning, and the money which may have been sufficient for a commencement will not go far enough now. At the present moment there are a great many points in regard to which the Treasury will have to be sympathetic if the Territorial Army is really to be the success which we all hope it is going to be. It is perfectly absurd to think that it can go on on nothing. Patriotism is all very well. People are very anxious to do what they can, but you cannot go on making bricks without straw. You cannot go on unless you supply sufficient money to carry it on properly. What is very irritating is the sort of grandmotherly legislation there is at headquarters. I have been in the Army some eighteen years, and I say without the slightest hesitation that there is more bother, red tape, and difficulty in getting things done now than ever there has been in the period I have known. There is no trust even in the divisional generals. We were told the generals would have a great deal of power, but that is not so. Every point which you submit to a divisional general eventually goes up to the War Office, comes back again, and takes an enormously long time to be cleared up.
I am talking about subjects which I know perfectly well. I do not want to give particular details, but I will give the sort of case. We heard a great deal some time ago that it was impossible to get ranges in the country because of the trouble that landlords were causing and so on. That may or may not have been 548 the case in some parts. But I know of one case in my own part of the world. Just before the Territorial Forces were formed it was proposed to make a range. It was passed by the military authorities, and at that time all the officer commanding the regiment had to do was to make the range. Then out came the Territorial Force. It stopped the making of the range. Then the fun began. That is over two years ago. That range is not made yet. Sanction may have been given now owing to the Chairman of the Territorial Association having gone to the War Office, and really explained the matter himself in person. First of all there were strong letters from the local military authorities, and the Territorial Force Association had to put up with a good deal of abuse for not getting it done. They took all the trouble they could, got way-leave and so on, and then the matter was shelved for a long time. We heard nothing for weeks and months. Then a short time ago the General Officer Commanding complained that the range had not been made. The Association said it was not their fault. The War Office then suddenly woke up and ordered the range to be made. I suppose it was some new officer in the War Office who next asked, "For what do you want this range?" After two years of hard work at it, writing and writing, we are suddenly asked, "For what do you want this?" Then it was stated what the reason was. They said, "Oh, there is another range which is only fifteen miles off." But, at the same time, in Scotland there are certain high hills, and in this instance there was a very high hill between the two places. That is the sort of thing which I think might very well be left to the Territorial Association. They are not children; they are the best possible men in the counties—land experts looking after works and men, who are in touch with the labour men in the place. Yet you tie them up. Why not say "There is the money, run yourselves. If you are not efficient we will send down a general, and get rid of you." Instead of that, we are tied by the hands.
I know of a case where a magazine was wanted. Four years ago the ordnance authorities wrote and said this regiment was not looking after its ammunition and it ought to have a new magazine. Immediately steps were taken to get a magazine made. From that day to this there has been correspondence going on with regard to this blessed magazine, which is simply 549 four walls about the size of the table here. Yet there has been very nearly as much spent on postage as would pay for slates on the top of it. But the people concerned were not allowed to put up four brick walls. We were offered free land, and they wanted to know why we had consented to a yearly tenancy instead of a long lease. The reason is obvious. The people knew the locality, knew the man they were dealing with, and they were offered the land for nothing. Here we are hung up simply because we are not supposed to know how to build four brick walls. This is the sort of thing that might be left very much better to the local authorities. It would give much less work to the War Office and give a great deal more satisfaction. Let people think that they have some rope.
Then, so far as the personnel of the Territorial Force is concerned, there are one or two little points that I wish to raise. We have a very fine ship only just launched, but it wants a certain amount of tar. It is not right yet, and we won't spend the money to make it absolutely watertight. A very little more money would do it. It is perfectly certain that in any new case of this sort that you must have a certain amount of grumbles, but there is no reason why you should go out of your way to do certain—what I might call meannesses. Everybody wants economy, but what the British soldier cannot stand is little pin-pricks of meanness. I am not accusing the right hon. Gentleman. He nearly always puts these things right when his attention is called to them. It is not desirable that anybody should keep going to the Secretary for War over the heads of departments. Yet anybody who goes to the Departments knows what an enormous time it takes to get anything arranged, and if it is a small matter we never hear anything more about it.
I believe the permanent staff of the infantry regiments on mobilisation have to go back to rejoin their regular units. In peace time it is necessary to have these experts to keep men together, to train them and so on, and it is money well spent—there ought to be one to every company. But instead of that I understand it is the case that they go back to special reserve or depot.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
The War Office has had a wash out, then. The next point is that if you are going 550 to have a permanent staff pay them properly. There are two or three cases which I think really are mean cases, and which we have sent up time after time to the War Office without getting redress of any sort. Surely it is wrong to appoint a man to be an adjutant of a regiment and not pay him the proper salary of his rank. The pay of officers in the Army is not so high that you would think the War Office—I mean the system generally—should actually want to take off half the salary a man deserves for absolutely nothing. I know two cases in Scotland. There are adjutants serving who belong to the regular forces; they left the Army the other day. They are particularly keen officers, closely connected with the districts concerned. These officers were selected as adjutants. Apparently, as a rule, these officers ought to be entitled, all adjutants are, to £36 19s. 9½d. These officers are only being paid £8 6s. 8d. a month. How on earth can you expect an officer, in the station in which he is expected to live, living on that sum without allowances of any sort? I am told the reason is that he belongs to the reserve. A married man with children has to do on £8 a month that for which he would be paid £36 in the regular Army.
If a man is worth his job he should be paid properly. I understand that the principle is that the War Office do not wish to have volunteer adjutants. Take the case of some regiments. A man has to be in the drill room every day. He is away where houses are expensive. I know one who has between four and five thousand acres in a mountainous district in Scotland to look after. Can he do that on the money paid him? It is neither honest nor for the good of the service, and is resented by all ranks. With regard to the permanent staff it is most desirable that they should be properly paid on the same scale. In certain regiments it happens that there is not a cavalry man suitable for the job, and in that case you get an infantry sergeant. I know one infantry sergeant doing a cavalry job who is kept on infantry pay. If he is doing the work he should have the pay of the rank. This is a case of pinching. A man cannot get redress. He is threatened, and told there is going to be trouble if he complains, and that he will be sent back to his regiment. If he is a married man, he has to get on with £3 a month less, which means a great deal to him. I think that is a case the right 551 hon. Gentleman might look into. It is one of injustice, and injustices do not grease wheels.
Then there is the question of the cyclists' regiments. If you want them to be efficient, you must give them sufficient money to hire cycles. It is absurd to say that the coast is guarded by a splendid cyclist battalion when they have not got cycles or the cycles are so bad that they are of no use. Some of the cycles are of different kinds. Some of the men can go quickly; others go slowly. Half the men are dead beat and the other half efficient. It would be much better if some system could be adopted whereby there would be regimental cycles. The allowance is so poor that it is difficult to get sufficient cycles for the training. The fact is you have a sort of hope that the man who has a cycle will come in and lend it to you for nothing. But the man who has a cycle never does come in; he generally joins the Yeomanry. Do not let people be lulled into false security by dwelling on the cyclists' corps. Another point is that no allowance is made for a drill field. That is an absurd order. I understand that in one particular division no such allowance is made. It may be by the ruling of the local Territorial Association. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look into the matter, and that the regiment will be given an allowance for a drill field as well as a drill hall.
Another point I wish to raise is rather important as concerning the officers. It is most important that we should do all we can to get the officers in the Territorial Force properly trained, but at present I do not think they are given proper facilities. The officers are the most difficult people in the Territorial Force to deal with as regards training. I get no difficulty, so far as I am concerned, to get the men and non-commissioned officers to drill and go to training courses, but officers, who work all night and all day during actual training, will do very little at other times. [An HON. MEMBER: "Mix them."] Certainly—I would like to see them mixed, but to do that you must have universal service. If you had universal service for the Territorial Army, not for the foreign army, you would solve all these questions. Then you would put the whole lot into the ranks and pick the best men. But returning to the point in question, if the War Office wishes the officers to go through the courses they ought to treat them justly. 552 An officer who goes through a training course is entitled to pay if he passes, but is not entitled if he does not pass. Territorial officers are very often men who have very little capital, and the expenses of the journey and so forth mean a great deal to them. They work very hard and learn a lot, but, perhaps, they fail on one point, with the result that the whole allowance is taken away from them. That is neither right nor fair. The instructor in command of the particular course ought to be given a little latitude and should be allowed to recommend that a man who has worked very well, but, perhaps, failed on some one point, should have a portion of his pay, at any rate.
§ Mr. G. F. STANLEY
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War has had to listen to many suggestions and criticisms, and to the former he always has a sympathetic reply. I hope he will pay especial attention to the appeal which is made to him to give the arme blanche to the Yeomanry, so that they may have a weapon which they can use in enclosed country. I am speaking for the Artillery when I say if we have to fight in England we shall not trust very much to the Yeomanry, who would have to escort us down narrow lanes whilst they are only armed with rifles. It is quite possible under those conditions that the Artillery of the defending force must be subjected to more danger than the attackers would be. I believe the right hon. Gentleman really means the Territorial Artillery to be a success. But how can he expect that if he does not give them the best materials to work with? The equipment given to Territorial Artillery is almost all open to condemnation. They are given the old pattern harness. Although the right hon. Gentleman has done something by taking the collars away—a portion of equipment that gave very considerable trouble when the batteries went down to camp—the horses are still overloaded with an enormous amount of harness.
The very cheapest thing the Government could do would be to scrap every bit of that harness, as would have to be done if the Artillery went on active service. Then, again, the guns are a great deal too heavy for Field Artillery work. It is no good giving these drivers—men with the best intentions of the world and very highly trained—guns that they cannot get along with. And if the Territorial Artillery had to go on active service with the guns it has at present, in a very few 553 days all the horses we have in England, or which the right hon. Gentleman says we have, would be by no means sufficient to horse those guns. Another little, but important, matter is that of giving these batteries dial sights. The right hon. Gentleman said recently that they were to be given these soon. "Soon" is not a good enough answer. They ought to be given them at once in order that they could train their men before they go down to camp, so that when they get down there they may be able to be put to some use. An hon. Gentleman asked how they were going to manage in direct laying if they did not have the dial sights. The right hon. Gentleman replied, "I am told it is perfectly easily done." It has been done, I know, but if the right hon. Gentleman had taken the trouble to inquire first he would not say that. In the Artillery formerly we had to do it, and we did it with wooden arcs. I have seen batteries whose errors with those wooden arcs would be something like 30 per cent. At present each Horse Artillery Battery has a regular adjutant. It is only in human nature that the officers commanding these batteries cannot be so thoroughly trained that they will not rely to a very great extent on the advice of these regular Horse Artillery adjutants. I venture to say that when they go on active service they will rely still more entirely on the advice of these Regular adjutants. But the right hon. Gentleman has determined that when they do go on active service they shall not have this advice and that these officers shall be taken away from the batteries. I contend that it is impossible to raise these brigades to that pitch of efficiency to which we all desire that they should come. The right hon. Gentleman has been subjected to a great many criticisms of his policy during these long Debates, and I think he has generally given the soft answer which turneth away wrath. There was one question raised to which the right hon. Gentleman answered with rather more than his customary vehemence. I refer to the question of the command in the Mediterranean, a most important point which cannot be sufficiently cleared up.
The hon. Member for Fareham raised this question of the Commander - in - Chief in the Mediterranean, and the right hon. Gentleman in his reply seemed to insinuate that he was bound to get up and answer at that moment, because he considered it a direct attack on General Sir Ian Hamilton. I am the very last person 554 ever to engineer any attack on General Sir Ian Hamilton. I have the greatest possible respect for him, and as a junior officer no one has had more kindness from General Sir Ian Hamilton than I personally have had. I am perfectly certain that he will do his utmost to make this post a success. It is no attack on General Sir Ian Hamilton when I say that the fact of his having accepted this post does not make out that the post is an important one, for I contend that General Sir Ian Hamilton had no option but to accept the post. The right hon. Gentleman told us that General Sir Ian Hamilton was perfectly free to refuse the post. Well, in theory that may be true, perhaps. In theory it was possible for him to say that he would not go to it. But I contend that for all practical purposes he was absolutely bound to go to that post, because otherwise he would have completely stultified not only himself but the Army Council of which he had been a military member for over a year.
When we come to look over the history of the Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, it is rather curious. We know well that it was given to the Duke of Connaught some years ago, and that he decided last year that it was a sinecure and that it was only honourable for him to give it up. It was a very good card, no doubt, for His Majesty's Government to be able to play by saying that they had appointed Lord Kitchener to that command. The Army generally was willing to say that Lord Kitchener, being the magnificent organiser he is, might possibly make something of it. But the Army began to ask questions when months went by and Lord Kitchener did not take up the post, and the duties were exceedingly efficiently carried out by a junior officer. That has continued for several months, and now the right hon. Gentleman comes to this House, after repeated inquiries have been addressed to him, and says that, to his great regret, Lord Kitchener has decided not to accept the post. I think everyone is entitled to look into that matter. There are two questions that strike one. The first is whether Lord Kitchener ever accepted the post at all. The right hon. Gentleman nods his head. I take it that he did accept the post. Then did Lord Kitchener accept that post unconditionally? If he accepted the post, one would like to know what it was that, after a tour round the world on Government business, induced Lord Kitchener to say that he 555 could not accept the post. The right hon. Gentleman makes no sign when I ask him if Lord Kitchener accepted the post unconditionally. I therefore conclude that Lord Kitchener did make some conditions. The only conclusion therefore is that the Government did not see fit to concede those conditions. If that is so, I think we are entitled to have some explanation of the whole facts of the case. Now we are told that this post is a most important one.
The right hon. Gentleman said, the other day, that he could not define an elephant, but he knew one when he saw it. We must be forced to the conclusion that either the right hon. Gentleman cannot define an important post when he sees it or else that the Duke of Connaught and Lord Kitchener do not know an important post when they see one. There is no question about it that there has been much discussion and much comment on this particular post in the Army, and I cannot help thinking that it would be far better if the right hon. Gentleman would tell us plainly and only what happened. If, as is generally believed in the Army, the Government made a mistake and created
§ this post and then discovered that it was not wanted, it would be far better if the right hon. Gentleman would get up in this House and tell us that after the Government had created the post they discovered that it was not wanted, but that an Inspector-General of the Forces Overseas was wanted, and they had decided to make that appointment instead. Trying to cover up a mistake by statements which do not clear up the matter is the worst possible policy for the right hon. Gentleman to pursue. I am certain that the whole Army has distinctly mistrusted this policy, and would welcome any statement which would clear up the confusion.
§ Mr. HALDANE rose in his place, and claimed to move "That the Question be now put."
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
May I ask if we are not entitled to an answer from the Secretary of State for War?
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 114; Noes, 83.557
|Division No. 97.]||AYES.||[2.40 a.m.|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Allen, Charles P.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Anderson, A.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Haworth, Arthur A.||Reddy, M.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Hayward, Evan||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Hazleton, Richard||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Barton, William||Higham, John Sharp||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Hogan, Michael||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Brace, William||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Robinson, S.|
|Brigg, Sir John||Hughes, S. L.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Illingworth, Percy H.||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydfil)||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Samuel, J. (Stockport)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Keating, M.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Chancellor, H. G.||King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Seddon, J.|
|Clough, William||Lambert, George||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Leach, Charles||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Corbett, A. Cameron||Lehmann, R. C.||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Levy, Sir Maurice||Summers, James Woolley|
|Cullinan, J.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Toulmin, George|
|Davies, E. William (Elfion)||M'Curdy, C. A.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dawes, J. A.||Mallet, Charles E.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness)||Masterman, C. F. G.||Vivian, Henry|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Millar, J. D.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Waring, Walter|
|Elverston, H.||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Falconer, J.||Muspratt, M.||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Neilson, Francis||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Furness, Stephen||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Gibbins, F. W.||Ogden, Fred||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Gibson, Sir James P.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Wing, Thomas|
|Guest, Major C. H. C.||Pointer, Joseph||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Hancock, J. G.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Gulland.|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Radford, George Heynes|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Fitzroy, Hon. E. A.||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Adam, Major W. A.||Gastrell, Major W. H.||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Arbuthnot, Gerald A.||Gibbs, G. A.||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Gilmour, Captain J.||Rawson, Col. R. H.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Grant, J. A.||Rice, Hon, Walter F.|
|Bagot, Captain J.||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Rutherford, Watson|
|Baird, J. L.||Hamersley, A. St. George||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Baring, Captain Hon. G.||Heath, Col. A. H.||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Barnston, H.||Helmsley, Viscount||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Henderson, H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Stewart, Gershom (Ches, Wirral)|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hohler, G. F.||Sykes, Alan John|
|Bird, A.||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Brackenbury, H. L.||Hunt, Rowland||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Brassey, Capt. R. B. (Banbury)||Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Brotherton, E. A.||Kerry, Earl of||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Calley, Colonel T. C. P.||Llewelyn, Venables||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Carille, E. Hildred||Lloyd, G. A.||Ward, Arnold (Herts, Watford)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Cater, John||Macmaster, Donald||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Morpeth, Viscount||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Cooper, R. A. (Walsall)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)|
|Dairymple, Viscount||Newman, John R. P.|
|Du Cros, Alfred (Tower Hamlets, Bow)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Forster and Lord Balcarres.|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Nield, Herbert|
|Dunn, Sir W. H. (Southwark)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
Question, "That the House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.