§ Considered in Committee.
§ Postponed Proceeding on Question, "That a sum not exceeding £429,000 be granted to His Majesty, to defray the expenses of the War Office, which will come 761 in course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1911."
§ Debate resumed.
§ Major ADAM
When I was speaking upon the Army Estimates, I called the attention of the Committee to the condition of the contract which was made between the officer and the Government when he received his first commission, and I pointed out that although the officer was himself entirely unable to alter that contract even in a single letter, the military authorities took it upon themselves to alter the contract very frequently, and did alter it, and this statement applies to non-commissioned officers in the Army as well as commissioned officers. Only on Friday last I got a memorandum from a large body of non-commissioned officers pointing out the grievances from which they were suffering, and in that memorandum these words occur:—At present any contract with the Government cm be broken by circular letters to the War Office so that no soldier is certain of his future.Exactly the same grievance as I pointed out on another occasion. I should like again to draw the attention of the Committee to one recent instance in which a change in the old practice has been made. Only last year the warrant under which an officer of the age of forty-eight could retire when he was of a certain rank of pension was by a mere stroke of the pen broken by the Army Council, who increased the age from forty-eight to fifty. In that instance the Army Council broke faith with the officers of the Army, and with every man who was looking forward to his retirement, and they broke faith with every commissioned officer in the Army from the rank of second-lieutenant to that of captain and major when they altered that warrant. I pointed out that one of the grievances from which the officers of the Army suffer was that the military members of the Army Council are entirely out of touch with the needs of the Army. With one exception, there is not a single officer in the Army Council who has ever held even a subordinate command in war. What is the result? The result is that the military members of the Army Council, who are responsible for the administration of the Army in professional and technical details, have by slackness in administration destroyed or are destroying one of the greatest assets which the British Army ever had, and that is the regimental esprit de corps. This is the bedrock on which to build up the higher feeling which we call 762 esprit de corps. Whether people wish to shut their eyes to it or not, they must confess that the Army is losing its esprit de corps, and it is the loss of that thing which has denuded our Army of officers and leaves us totally unable to send an expeditionary force out of this country without wholesale transfers from one port to another.
I may say in passing that I, as well as other officers of the Army, do appreciate most cordially the inclusion of the latest recruit in the Army Council, Major-General Dewar. He is a man of extremely broad views, of great experience in the Army, and a man whose counsel will, I hope, prevail among his colleagues. We make as a nation, and rightly so, increased demands upon our officers in the present day. We have made increased demands upon their mental faculties and physical activities, and what have we done for them in return? The pay, as some speakers have already pointed out, has been unchanged for generations; the purchasing power of the sovereign is not what it was many years ago. Emoluments from other professions have increased; the emoluments for the Army remain, not for the soldier, but for the officer, as they were almost at the beginning of the lat, century. I do not think the deficiency of pay is altogether responsible for the lack of candidates coming forward for commissions. The Army holds out certain professional and social attractions which do bring many men forward as candidates for the Army, and this question of pay might to a certain extent be got over if men had any certainty that after spending money to get into the Army their career was assured. I am sorry to say that is not the case at the present time. Frequently his career is cut short by an absolutely unwarranted decision of the Army Council or that other inimitable body which they call the Selection Board, acting, as they often do, in absolute ignorance of the facts, and grounding their decisions on what, I am sorry to say, but I say it advisedly, are confidential reports, often prompted, though one would hardly believe it, by professional jealousy It is a very serious state of things, to which I think it is the duty of anyone who knows it to call attention. It is very often necessary for the efficiency of the whole to sacrifice the part, and, if that were so in the Army, I should have very little to say about it, but the exact reverse is the case. By our system the good are very often eliminated, while 763 the bad are very frequently retained, much to the impairing of the general efficiency of the Army.
I should like to give the Committee a few instances in support of my statement. I will take one instance of a captain, one of a colonel, and one of a general, just merely to show there are so many that you can select any rank you choose. The first instance which I should like to bring to the notice of the Committee is that of a system which expels from the Army a man like Captain Bryce Wilson, a very efficient officer, an energetic Cavalry servant, popular alike with his men and with his brother officers, and retains in his place an officer whose name I shall not mention, but who has been, and still continues to be, a military failure wherever he goes. The troops under his command were always discontented and frequently in open revolt. He was found so inefficient at the beginning of the South African War that he was almost immediately placed in civilian employment, and remained there till long after the conclusion of hostilities. What do you think of a system that expels from the Army a man like Colonel Caldwell, who was probably one of the best men who ever served on the General Staff at headquarters, and promotes over his head a man who had never any qualification for service on the General Staff or for any other service, except one, and that is a servile admiration of those above him? What do you think of a system that drives from the Army a man like General Freddy Benson, late of the 17th Lancers—a man who did excellently well as a soldier both in the field and in peace, and a man who never failed in anything he was asked to undertake, and promotes over his head an armchair soldier, whose name I shall not mention, though, no doubt, it will suggest itself to other Members?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Mallet)
May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman whether, when he speaks of the system expelling these gentlemen from the Army, he means only that they do not get the promotion to which in his view they are entitled?
§ Major ADAM
I mean that when they came up for promotion they were senior to the officers promoted, and that therefore naturally they resigned their commissions. Those are just a few of the idiosyncrasies of the Selection Board. I wish the Selection Board would select with 764 a view to the efficiency of the Service, and not with ulterior motives. Some years ago there were questions in this House and in the other House with regard to the extraordinary irregularity of promotion in the case where an Infantry officer was promoted major in the 1st Royal. The answers given in this House and in the other House by the representatives of the War Office were absolutely infantile. Why could they not tell the answer itself? Everybody in the Army knew the answer. Why were they afraid to say what the reason was? There is another irregularity in this case, because not very long after, being promoted out to India, this same officer, for the same reason, was taken off the Indian establishment, taken out of the Cavalry regiment in India, and whilst he had all the privileges of the promotion going on, he was brought back and given a snug billet in the Infantry Territorial Force in London.
We have all heard of the Woods case. I know nothing about it, and I hold no brief for Mr. Woods, but I have an idea that the authorities at the War Office have not heard the last of the Woods case. There is, however, a great difference between the Woods case and the other cases. In that case an inquiry was held, but in other cases where an inquiry has been demanded such as officers have a right to demand it has been denied. Anybody who knows these cases will easily see why the inquiry was granted in the case of Mr. Woods and denied in the other cases, which were, perhaps, more urgent. In that case the Army Council—and I wish it to be understood that when I speak of the Army Council I only refer to the military members of it—had taken no action. They had this trouble growing, and there was an application for a Court of Inquiry. That Court of Inquiry was granted by the Army Council, and held, because in that Court of Inquiry there was no possibility of any action of the Army Concil coming under consideration. They had taken no action. They had their inquiry, and they acted,—rightly or wrongly I do not know—upon the result of that inquiry. In other cases where inquiry is demanded and refused, it is always where the Army Council first takes action, and then refuses to grant an inquiry because they are afraid to face one. They are afraid that their own action may come under inquiry by the Board. There are many cases, but I will only instance one or two just to show that I have full reasons for my statement.
765 First of all, I should like to instance the case of Captain Bryce-Wilson, of the 5th Lancers, who was, without any warning or inquiry, or possibility of appeal, suddenly placed one morning on half-pay. He has been demanding an inquiry on this subject ever since. He is by the Regulations undoubtedly entitled to one, but his application has been invariably refused. Why? Because they know that the Court of Inquiry would take into consideration the action of the Army Council in placing this officer on half-pay. Captain Wilson is a, friend of mine. He was a brother officer of mine for many years in the old days. I have never had any sympathy with that feeling which is neither cowardice nor indulgence, but which, perhaps, is a combination of the two, and which says, "leave well" or "ill" alone—"let sleeping dogs lie." As long as I think, and I know, that Captain Bryce-Wilson is at the present moment suffering under an injustice so long will I do my very best to assist towards a solution of the question. While I was on the General Staff at headquarters, which I was until I was elected a. Member of this House, I did my best, as far as official means could go, to assist Captain Wilson, but when I was released from the shackles of officialdom the position entirely changed, and at Captain Wilson's request I drafted out a statement which contained the truth of the matter about the 5th Lancers, and this I sent to the Secretary for War, to the officer at present commanding the regiment, and also to the officer who rendered the reports on Captain Wilson—that is Major-General Scobell. I thought that by doing this I would have the opportunity of obtaining an inquiry into Captain Wilson's case, but, curiously enough, contrary to the King's Regulations, no move has been made, either by Major-General Scobell or by the Army Council. 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 typewritten, 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 v)r 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 regiments under his command.Major-General Scobell is on his way home at the present moment from South 766 Africa; he arrives in England at the end of this week, and I hope, when he sees the report of this in the paper, as I intend he shall do, he will appreciate the meaning of the words "wilful and deliberate misstatement of facts." I have tried to make it clear, and I hope he will turn up that paragraph in the King's Regulations which compels an officer in a case like this to refer the matter to his superior authority, the superior authority in this case being the Army Council. I hope sincerely that the Army Council will see that justice is done to Captain Wilson, and that penalties are meted out to those officers who deserve it.
I have one other instance, that of Lieutenant-Colonel Gavin, commanding one of the battalions of the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment. He was some years ago in South Africa, and suddenly, without any warning, without any possibility of appeal, but simply by orders from home, was placed on half-pay and relieved of the command of the regiment. He asked and applied officially to see the report on which he had been judged, and I have here the official letter from the War Office, or rather a copy of it, stating that "it is not in the interests of the Service that these reports should be shown to Lieutenant-Colonel Gavin." He was undoubtedly entitled to see them before they were rendered; but he never did see them, and not only that but he was refused all possibility of admission to them after his application to see them. He came home, and it was not until the expiration of two years that he managed to get hold of the reports. He then found that he had been condemned principally on two occasions, one of which was not true, while the other had reference to an action which his General, as Brigadier, had actually commanded him to take. He never saw those reports, and Lieutenant-Colonal Gavin is still suffering under that disability. He is still asking for a court of inquiry; he is still waiting for justice at the hands of the Army Council.
Again there is the case of Major M. F. Gage, of the 5th Dragoon Guards. It was handed to me as I was coming into the House this afternoon, and it is a case which I sincerely hope the Secretary for War and the Army Council will inquire into. He had sixteen years' service; he went through the South African and Egyptian campaigns, and was passed for promotion, and then he was suddenly told that his services were no longer required. He is still asking why. He is still asking 767 to be allowed to join the Yeomanry or Reserve, and he is still unable to do so. There are a great many more cases, but I do not wish to go into any more, and I have only brought forward these two haphazard cases to show that there are disabilities and injustices in our Army system. I do not say that the decision of the Army Council is wrong in every case, but I consider that they are wrong in a great many cases—so wrong that I say it is contrary to the very elements of primitive justice that it should be possible to have in this highly-organised Army of ours a system under which it is possible that a man should have his career entirely wrecked without warning, without inquiry, without often a knowledge of the action for which he is condemned, and without the possibility of an appeal. I do not think I shall appeal to this Committee in vain when I ask them to come to the conclusion that such a state of things ought to cease. I have thought it my duty, knowing as I do, after very long study of this subject during very many years' service in the Army, that these disabilities do exist, to draw the attention of the Committee to them. There is one man whom the Army looks upon very highly as an administrator and an officer, and I should be very glad if the reports and rumours which we see in the daily Press should become true, and that Lord Kitchener should be appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff. That is an appointment which is next to that which we used to call the Commander-in-Chief, and if we are not to do away with the Army Council and not to have a Commander-in-Chief, then let the man who would put a stop to these—I do not want to use too strong a word—who would put a stop to these deficiencies in our administrative system—let him be appointed to see that the administration of the Army is carried out impartially. I only wish to call the attention of the Committee to these few points and to show how utterly out of touch the members of the Army Council are with the rank and file and the regimental officer. I would ask for an assurance from the Secretary of State for War or his representative that some inquiry should be made into these cases which I have brought forward and that the possibility of others should not exist and that such mal-administration should not occur again in the Army.
§ Captain ARTHUR O'NEILL
I only ask leave to take up a very short time of 768 the Committee to call attention to a question which was raised very early in the Debate by my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester and which I myself brought forward at Question Time. I refer, of course, to the regulations dealing with officers now serving in the Regular Army who happen to be also Members of the House. Under the regulations that existed before the recent change I may remind the Committe that an officer was allowed to be seconded to his regiment on coming into this House for five years or any lesser time during which time he received no pay, but on the other hand lost no advantages in his regiment, that is to say he went up in promotion and kept the same relative position in his rank as if he had been seconded for any other purpose. I ask why these regulations have been altered and perhaps my doing so may strike the Committee as rather curious as my request is rather an unusual one; because if it is acceded to instead of costing the country more and result in asking for more money it would have the reverse effect. My suggestion is that we should go back to the old system and receive no pay instead of receiving half pay as we do at present, or I would put it differently. I have no doubt that the Army Council and those in authority saw some good reason for the change in granting half-pay, but I would ask that an officer on being elected may be given the option of going on under the old system and being seconded without having any pay and losing no promotion or of receiving half-pay and of course losing the chance of promotion as the regulations are at present. We none of us ask, I think, to get any advantage both ways. Let me say just one word or two upon the effect of the new regulations and that is that they literally make it impossible for any officer to rejoin his regiment. There are many causes, and they apply to any rank. I have placed my case in regard to men of the rank of captain, in which there are more officers than in the rank of major. It might happen that a Member might come into this House nearly at the top of his rank, which would be captain, if he serves in this House and comes under these regulations, no matter how short that service may be, he has to go down to the bottom of his rank and come in under some very junior captains who are sometimes officers with only four or five years' service. That, in my humble opinion, constitutes such a hardship that it makes it quite 769 impossible for the officer and those in higher command, up to colonel I might say—makes it quite impossible for them to return. I will quote from the Article 478 in reference to pay and promotion:—An officer on half pay who is fit for military service and who neglects that service when called back to duty shall be removed from the Army.I have not the slightest fault to find with that article, and I assume that officers who are Members of this House are included in it. If so, I am very glad that that should be so, and to think that we in this House may be called upon compulsorily to serve on active service, and I am sure that every other Member of this House who is an officer would cordially agree with me in that, but if that it so, why should those in authority have the power to order us back compulsorily while we are precluded from going back to serve voluntarily in our regiments? For the reasons I have pointed out to the Committee, our position on returning is made absolutely impossible. I have already referred to one of the advantages which would be derived if my suggestion were adopted, and that is one which should appeal to the Financial Secretary to the War Office and those who are in any way responsible for finance, that there would be a saving to the country, which, although comparatively small, would be of advantage. Still, to those who wish to be put upon the old system that would not matter, and I think there would be a fair number of officers who would prefer it at the present time, and who do not desire to give up the chance of ever being soldiers in His Majesty's Army again. Another reason is that we have heard a good deal in the Debate about the scarcity of officers in the Army. That has been admitted by the Secretary of State himself, and that being the case, surely it is hardly the time for bringing forward these new regulations which, instead of allowing officers to return as they could do before, has now exactly the same effect as making them definitely leave the Army before they think of taking up politics at all.
There is another suggestion which was made to me to-day by one of the officers interested in this subject, and with which I cordially agree. The Secretary of State referred to officers losing touch with their regiments, and with military training, and so forth, and said that was one of the reasons why the Army Council had seen fit to make this change. Why should not officers, although not in the Regular Army, 770 be allowed to take some part in regimental duties? It would be impossible for them to do so regularly, but they could at any rate go back to their regiments on conditions which might be arranged for a fortnight, three weeks, or a month, either for ordinary duty or for manœuvres. This, especially as regards a great many of us in this House, would not be at all difficult for them, because many of them happen to belong to regiments quartered in the London district, and they could probably carry out those military duties which might be demanded of them, and which, I think, they would willingly do, without their interfering very much with their Parliamentary duties even as they do now in the case of the many Yeomanry officers who have to go away for a considerable period of training. I hope this Debate may lead us to expect something more than the very doubtful suggestion—it is not a promise—of the Secretary of State that the Army Council were reconsidering this question. I am very pleased that Members on both sides of the House have taken it up, and I am glad to think that opinions have been expressed—and I do not see how anyone could express any different opinion—in support of the suggestions I have made.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. G. F. STANLEY
An hon. Member on this side of the House expressed his hope that the Secretary of State would not base any calculations he might make about the horse supply of the country on the recent police census. I would most cordially endorse that opinion, for of late I have been trying to find out something as to how the police census has been taken. I am sorry to say that I own very few horses. I wish there were more. But the police have never approached me or asked a single word about my horses. I am certain if they asked my groom he, with the usual pride that his class take in the horses they look after, would have said they are the very best in England. But I think it would have been as well if the owner had been asked, because I should have been sorry to say that several of them are utterly unfitted for military purposes. However, if the number had been taken I am perfectly certain they would have all been put down as absolutely fit for military purposes. A friend of mine who had been approached by the police told me the constable asked him how many horses he had. He answered, "Two." The constable, at once wrote it down. He asked him why he was doing that, and the police- 771 man told him he had to do it because he had to get the number of all the horses which might be useful for military purposes. My friend implored him not to include his two in the number, as one was a brood mare twenty-two years old and the other a pony that dragged the garden mower. These two horses I am certain are included in the census of horses for this country, and probably are included in the two millions that the right hon. Gentleman told us in March were available. A census taken on these lines can be of no value whatever. I would urge upon the right hon. Gentleman that some systematic way should be adopted of getting the number of horses which are available for military purposes.
While on the subject of horses I should like to mention the extraordinarily small number which are now allotted to any battery of Regular Artillery. When I first joined, some seventeen or eighteen years ago, we only had three waggons to a battery. Our only idea was to get into action as quickly as possible, generally in the open and across the open. The system of drill was wonderfully easy when you only had to get three waggons up into the firing line. I think it is generally recognised that in future an Artillery duel is bound to be fought largely at first from under cover. That involves a considerable strain on the horses, because one can no longer go straight; one must take advantage of what cover there is, and that means generally going a considerably long way round to get into action. Now, in addition to the difficulties there are of getting into action unseen, a battery of Regular Artillery is supposed to drill with nine waggons. A battery on the higher establishment is only allowed sixty-two horses. The most elementary arithmetician must know that if you have to have six horses in each gun team and in each waggon team, and that you altogether have fifteen such teams, the least you can drill a battery properly with is ninety draught horses, and the Government only gives us sixty-two. I know that the situation is eased sometimes, where two batteries are in the same place, by horses being lent by one battery to another, but that is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs, and it very often happens that the situation cannot be eased in that way, and they have to do the best they can with the few horses they have. It is unreasonable to ask men to train their batteries and expect them to 772 reach a high state of efficiency if they are not given a sufficient number of horses. That point was raised in March by the hon. Member (Captain Cooper), and the Secretary of State made the reply that in no country was the peace establishment of horses kept up to the war establishment. I quite sympathise with that. One understands that that cannot be done. But no other country can stint and starve its batteries in such a way that they cannot turn out to carry out their most elementary drills owing to the want of horses.
Then with the horses of the Territorial Artillery, if they are to be made in any way a success they must be given more opportunities of having mounted drills. I have had some experience in the last three years of what Territorial Horse Artillery means, having been fortunate enough to be adjutant to the Honourable Artillery Company, and the money that is given for a Territorial Horse Artillery battery nothing like covers the amount it must expend if the battery is to be properly trained. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Crawshay-Williams) in the Debate earlier in the year, said that the Territorial Horse Artillery actually was able to work with Infantry, and to work at the end of a fortnight with field artillery, and he did not see why at the end of six months it should not act as horse artillery. I am bound to say that having acquired his experience in the Regular Horse Artillery, his opinion is entitled to some respect. To a certain extent I agree with him. I think that at the end of six months training of a Territorial battery one might be able to turn out a very efficient unit. It is not now a question of drilling the battery; you want to train the drivers. There is a much worse time before them when they come to active service, and when they have to go day after day trekking with little rest and food, and when you have your teams pulled to pieces. I have had personal experience of that in South Africa. I took over a trek from Kimberley to Bloemfontein from an officer who was promoted, and he told me to be careful to watch one particular driver because he was under the impression that he was not driving the horses well, and that the team was being pulled to pieces in consequence. I watched him very carefully, and at the end of a few days I moved that man from the team, and I guarantee that the team went 50 per cent, better after he was out of it. That is the difficulty which will confront the Territorial Horse Artillery, and 773 I think it is essential that they should have as much money given now as possible to train drivers in order that when they go down to camp they may be able to devote their time to really doing drill instead of having to spend a large amount of time in driving drill. If the Territorial Horse Artillery is to be a success, I think you must depend largely on the number of noncommissioned officers and the permanent staff.
In the battery with which I was fortunate enough to be associated, I had nothing to complain of. I had the best possible material, but I saw sent to other batteries men who in many cases were utterly unfitted for the positions they were sent to. This is not difficult to understand. With the present conditions of pay it appears to me that it is only those men who do not see any real chance of promotion before them who are willing to go to the Territorial Horse Artillery or the Field Artillery. As soon as they go to the Territorial Horse Artillery or the Field Artillery their pay is reduced. When Cavalry officers go to the Yeomanry their pay is not affected at all, or it is increased. When a quartermaster-sergeant goes to a Yeomanry regiment his pay is increased a shilling per day. In the case of those who go to the Territorial Horse Artillery we find the pay of a battery sergeant-major and a battery quartermaster-sergeant is reduced from 4s. 4d. to 3s. 9d., and in the case of the Field Artillery a sergeant-major has his pay reduced from 3s. 4d. to 3s. 2d. I think it will be seen that that is a real grievance, and that this system is likely to bar the best men from going to the Territorial Horse Artillery. I think they have another grievance. I cannot understand why it is when these men go down with their units to camp, their separation allowance does not start until the fifth day. In other cases the separation allowance starts on the first day. I think there is a real grievance in that. If the Territorial Horse Artillery or the Field Artillery is to be a success—and I hope it will be a success—I do not think it is likely to be so if the Government adopts such cheeseparing methods and will not pay the amount of money they are entitled to get.
The hon. Member for Woodbridge (Captain Peel) called attention to the grievance of the private soldier in regard to proficiency pay. I sincerely agree with him that that is a real grievance, and I would point out 774 that the small amount of money involved hardly makes up for the large amount of discontent which exists, and the reflex action on recruiting which it produces. I should like to call attention to a grievance at the other end of the scale. It is a grievance with respect to the rank of substantive colonel. I am not speaking from a personal point of view on this matter. I think you will agree with me that the grievance is a real one. The rank of substantive colonel was originally started in December, 1906, and the idea of the rank, as I understood, was that any officer promoted to the rank of substantive colonel was sure of employment in the rank of colonel. Since that day a large number of officers have been promoted. I asked the right hon. Gentleman a question to-day as to how many officers of that rank had been employed, and the answer was that ninety-four had not been employed at all, and out of that number eleven had refused the appointments offered to them, which means that eighty-three officers have not received employment in the rank of colonel. That is a great hardship in this way. When an officer has been in command of a regiment and becomes eligible for appointment to the rank of substantive colonel, if he is not appointed to that rank he knows that he has no further chance of employment, and he goes at once on retired pay, where he gets £420 a year, whereas an officer who is promoted goes on half-pay and gets £300 a year. Therefore as long as he is unemployed he is at a disadvantage as compared with the man who is not promoted to that rank to the extent of £120 per year. Presumably the best officer of the two is the one who is promoted to the rank of substantive colonel, and his reward for being the best officer is to lose £120 a year. If he only lost that for one or two years he would have compensation in the fact that he is able to earn higher pension as colonel, but if he is not employed at all, and goes on retired pay, he has lost the advantage of the additional £120 a year. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that this is a real grievance. (These officers are mostly poor men, and many of them cannot afford to remain on half-pay waiting for employment which never comes. I might say a few words with regard to the Territorial Force, of which I have had much experience. The Force, in the opinion of many of the best judges, is too small for the requirements that it is intended to meet. In the event of the employment of the Territorial Force, a large 775 number must be taken out for garrisons, and the numbers actually available for employment in the field would be comparatively small. The training is necessarily, I may say, inadequate. The difficulties of the circumstances in which the men enlist and the difficulties of the civil employment all tend to shorten the training, which really, compared with that of Regular troops, is distinctly inadequate. The smallness of the force and the inadequacy of the training are, however, things which are more or less unavoidable; but what is avoidable and should be remedied are the defects in the equipment of the Force.
The first question affecting the mounted part of it is the horse question, of which we have heard that in the Regular Army it is very pressing. If it is pressing in the Regulating Army, which will take away all the available horses, it is much more pressing in the Territorial Force. The same horses go out training after training, some of them three and four times in the year with different regiments. I have recognised one horse four times in the one year myself. There are men who are making a trade—I do not say there is any harm in their doing so—in buying up horses in the spring, letting them out to three or four regiments, and turning them out in the autumn. This is convenient for training purposes, but if the Territorial Force were to be mobilised we should not know whether they are going to have any horses or not. This is a pressing matter. There is no good training mounted troops or Horse Artillery if they are not able to be mounted when the crisis arrives. There are many minor points in equipment to which I think the right hon. Gentleman might give consideration. The Territorial officers and men are working very hard to make themselves efficient. They deserve the greatest credit for what they are doing. I think the least that can be done is to encourage them by giving them everything which they require in the way of equipment. In the Artillery the dial sights are not supplied to the Territorials.
I am very glad to hear it. I would like to call attention to a very serious defect in the Yeomanry. The yeoman at present is armed with a rifle, but has no other weapon. A few years ago he had a bayonet, but it has been removed, and now he has no weapon with which to strike a blow at an enemy. A 776 rifle is a very useful weapon in broad daylight, but in the case of night attacks, surprises, and so on firing would be just as likely in the dark to damage one's own friends as the enemy, and the rule of all night work is the cold steel. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to have the question decided as to how the yeoman should be armed. A great many officers are against giving him a sword, for fear that he might proceed to ape Cavalry and become bad Cavalry. I cannot see myself why the yeoman should not be made a cavalryman except that he might not be expected to work in large bodies like the Cavalry; but he is expected to do all the other duties of Cavalry, and why he should not be armed with a sword I fail to see. You say you cannot from the Territorials produce a soldier who requires so much training as the Cavalry, but, at the same time, you proceed to make a far more highly trained branch of the Service in the Artillery. If you can produce an artilleryman—and the right hon. Gentleman expresses no grave doubts as to his Artillery—there is no doubt you can produce a cavalryman with the same training. But if the sword is not considered a suitable weapon for him; if, as some of the military authorities think, that to arm the yeoman with a sword will tend to make him go in for parade movements and sword exercise, and waste time over these things, then do not give him a sword, but give him a sword-bayonet, but give him some weapon that he can use mounted. There must be occasions on which a mounted man will want some weapon that he can use on a horse if you are really to give him the work of scouting in the sort of warfare we shall have to meet with if an invasion of this country takes place. Any fighting that takes place will not take place at Alder-shot or Salisbury Plain, but is most likely to take place in closed country, with lanes and hedges. Parties of scouts and reconnoitring parties going round corners must inevitably run against the enemies' scouts, and the party who is not armed with a weapon which they can use on horseback will have to leave the field open to the other side. It is a very serious question, and I hope it will be decided before long, and that the yeoman will be armed in some way which will enable him to defend himself at night time or in the case of sudden surprise.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
I must apologise to several Members who are much more cognisant than I in matters relating to the 777 Army for intervening very shortly in this Debate; but I think they will excuse me when I explain the circumstances, and will recognise the reasons for my intervention. I rise in a somewhat peculiar and delicate position, as the right hon. Gentleman knows I am employed in a subordinate capacity under him; but I cannot divest myself altogether of that freedom of criticism which belongs to me as a Member of Parliament. I wish to avoid causing, and I am quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman recognises that in years past I have avoided causing, any embarrassment, and I shall not enter upon any of the confidential questions which have to be dealt with by those with whom I meet before the right hon. Gentleman. I shall only detail facts and confine myself to broad principles as to which I am quite certain he will not resent my expressing my opinion. These questions, after all, about which I am going to speak are not matters of political difference, and it is quite possible for one on this side of the House, although a political opponent of the right hon. Gentleman, to exercise his proper rights as a Member of Parliament without infringing in the eyes of all Civil servants the loyalty that is due to him as presiding over the office in which I serve. I wish to deal with the very important question of the deficiency of the supply of officers in the Service. That is a question which everyone in the House will recognise as of supreme importance not to the Army only, but to the nation. In 1902 the attention of the public and of the War Minister became engaged upon this question. At that time a very important Commission—the Akers-Douglas Commission—was appointed to decide the lines on which we were to attempt to recruit the officers of our Army. The Commission laid down certain lines, and following it came the Advisory Board of the War Office, of which I was one of the original members, and which was intended to show on what general principles could be carried out the objects of the Akers-Douglas Commission. The Advisory Board was composed of men in the very highest position—other than myself, of course—in the educational world. There were men representing very great institutions from all parts of the Empire; there were men who held strong opinions developed during a lifetime of service in the cause of education. Every question of any magnitude we had to deal with necessarily led to a wide cleavage of opinion in 778 that Board, and I do not think I was peculiar as a member of that body in frequently finding myself in a, minority, after a long discussion and a division. But after that Advisory Board had done its work there was appointed the Army Qualifying Board, which was to have executive power and carry into practical effect the decisions originally arrived at by the Akers-Douglas Commission and the Advisory Board. Of that Qualifying Board, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, I have been chairman since 1904. I have, with the other members of the Board, necessarily been brought into favourable circumstances for understanding the whole position of the matter. I am certain that whatever opinion we held with' regard to the decisions of the Advisory Board the Qualifying Board carried out with equal loyalty those with which they disagreed and those with which they agreed. The Qualifying Board have to select the examiners and fix a standard of examination for certificates. We have to examine very carefully all the papers sent to us, we have to make the whole financial and other arrangements for the examination, and, finally, we have to decide ultimately upon the fate of every candidate.
As regards confidence in the Qualifying Board, I have only to say—and we think it right that the country should know it, because we have been exposed to a great deal of criticism—that we have not during the whole six years had a single question which was decided by a majority vote. We have had different opinions and manifold discussions, but in no single case have we failed to arrive at a unanimous decision on any question that came before us during those years. That shows, I think, that we have at all events endeavoured to apply ourselves as practical men to the questions before us. I do not arrogate to the Board any special virtue on account of that fact, because we have not had to decide any great abstract question coming before the Board. We were dealing as practical men with the matters which came before us, and we saw the necessity for unanimity. I am here as a critic, but I must also remember that we are open to the criticisms not only of the public, but also to the more drastic and autocratic decision which we may meet with from the right hon. Gentleman himself. It is for him to say whether our duties have been carried out to his satisfaction. For myself and for all my colleagues—I do not wish to give their 779 names, because it would bring upon them a load of very severe and troublesome correspondence—I can say that we have never taken part directly or indirectly by word or by letter to newspapers in any of the controversies which have arisen about our action. We have left that to the right hon. Gentleman to deal with. Let us see what were the objects set before us and what we endeavoured to do. The aim of the Advisory Board was that, if possible, we should select officers from those who were the approved pupils of approved schools and who had gained certificates, or higher certificates, on leaving. Let me remark what that means. It means that boys coming up for examination have not only reached the necessary intellectual standard, but that it is an attestation of character, of capacity, of general efficiency, and that he takes the examination, not as a matter for which he crams, with all its attendant evils, but that he takes in his time and as a part of the course of study at school.
That is the immense advantage gained, as the right hon. Gentleman agrees. These are the picked boys from the schools, and I myself hoped that by giving a free career to these boys we would adequately provide a high standard of officers in our Army. But unfortunately we were disappointed, as the right hon. Gentleman was disappointed, in the result. These boys did not come forward in sufficient numbers to meet the requirements of the Army. We had then to fall back on something more, a substitute, and that was done in accepting the qualifying examination for which we are responsible. I and my colleagues, as the Qualifying Board, are responsible for fixing the standard, but our agents carry out the work. I am quite prepared to admit that it may have defects, but we are not responsible, as the right hon. Gentleman will know, for the lines of the examination, and we are quite ready to consider any question he puts before us with regard to alterations in the present regulations. I myself think there are too many obligatory subjects—too many that must be passed, which may be a burden to the boy's mind and interfere with his general education, and which might be troublesome even to the more fairly intellectual and well trained boys. I would be very glad if, in consultation with the right hon. Gentleman, it were found possible to lower the number of these obligatory subjects, and if that were known through the country amongst 780 the schools I think it would be very greatly welcomed. I think it would also be of advantage if the competitive element, which is a healthy element to a certain extent, were introduced into the examination, so that a boy could have the option of choosing a certain subject in which he thinks he is efficient, so that he might have the advantage in that subject, without being burdened by a large minimum of obligatory subjects. I am quite ready to believe that you can get some good candidates from the schools who would make good officers in the Army, on the recommendation of the school authorities themselves. There are many boys who possess character, physical fitness, and general competence all round which can be decided best by responsible school authorities in whose charge they have been. Those boys, though they may be very good and promising, and though they will ripen into good men and good officers, might not find that an examination is a suitable way of showing their abilities. If the right hon. Gentleman sees his way to consult us upon that I am sure he will find no impediment in any prejudices of the Board.
I am afraid, however, all these changes and examinations, and this is a point I want to place emphasis upon, will only touch the fringe of the question. Other suggestions are made, and amongst them the suggestion that we should give very lavish assistance in the training and education of these boys, and relieve their parents of the burden and the expense of that training. I am quite ready to admit that there may be some whose circumstances require that assistance, and who have sons who, if so assisted, would be valuable recruits to the officers of the Army. But I would not like that to be carried out too far or too generally. Depend upon it that that habit of fostering by State assistance the training to a profession, eventually, upon all economic laws, lowers the status of the profession in the long run. No one has a better experience of that than I have with regard to the training of elementary teachers. They have been injured eventually by the fact that they are coddled and fostered and paid for from the time they are 12 or 13 years of age. The result is that when they come ready to the market with the professional equipment they have got they secure worse positions and less pay because of the fact that they are State trained and State assisted from the earliest days in their career. You should 781 beware of carrying out too far or too extensively any wide assistance to the training of our officers. Remember it is not the best parents, and it is not the best boys who will be attracted by such coddling. The best parent is he who is ready to make sacrifices, and who looks ahead and attempts to realise a great future for his son. What you want to do is to raise the ultimate prospect of the officer in the Army. Without that your attempts to meet the difficulty by altering the examination or by minor arrangements of reform are useless. Remember we are paying exactly the same rate to our officers just now, broadly speaking, as when the Coldstream Guards were embodied as the nucleus of a British Army in the days of Charles II. I do not think that that is a fair condition of things when we consider what is the position now.
It is not, recollect, the subaltern whose pay I want increased. A parent may readily help to support the subaltern in the earlier years of his professional career. It is no great burden for parents, many of whom are ready to put themselves under sacrifices of the severest kind during those early years. They do it in every career, and the subaltern is not worse paid than the ordinary man in other careers; but what is wanted is that after ten or twelve years of efficient and good work in the Army an officer should earn a living wage. Unless you make that change you will not attract to the Army the same class of men that you attract into the Indian Civil Service or the higher posts of the Home Civil Service. Open to the ambitious parent who is ready to make sacrifices in the assurance that those sacrifices shall in the long run have some reward, open to him the hope and prospect that the son can obtain to a competence in his profession, and you will attract far more than any minor alterations or reforms in your examinations or assistance in preliminary training that you can give. I would press that on the right hon. Gentleman. Remember the conditions have changed, the social attractions, the social consideration, the ease, the comfort, and the conditions of an Army career are not now what they were a generation ago. Army purchase, when it was abolished, cut the knot between the long purse and the Army, and, on the other hand, you must remember that the small landowner is a class which is becoming, more and more perhaps by recent legislation, unable to give that large supply of recruits to the officers 782 which they formerly did. Nor do you give what is given in foreign countries —that prestige, that importance, that official recognition which is given, for instance, in the German army. That would not be suited to our social conditions. I am not arguing that it is, and I do not believe that it would be. But, remember, it is an attraction in those foreign countries against which you have nothing to set. You must set against that some inducement, and I urge the right hon. Gentleman to confer a great benefit on the Army, and through the Army on the Empire, by attempting to improve the supply of officers, which my own experience has told me is daily falling lower and lower, and to improve it by offering them a fair prospect of a competence, and a comfortable career for efficient service after an adequate number of years. I think these considerations, supported by the experience which I have had, are matters which ought to be brought before the notice of the Committee and the right hon. Gentlemen.
§ Mr. LEE
I think no one will deny that the Debate this afternoon and this evening has ranged over a sufficiently large number of subjects, and that the Army has been surveyed, so to speak, from China to Peru. I am not going to attempt to deal with more than one or two points that have been raised by Friends of mine on this side of the House. I have considerable sympathy with the views of my hon. Friend who has just spoken, although he may not be in entire sympathy with me. I was a member of the Akers-Douglas Commission to which he refers, and am possibly, partially at any rate, responsible for some of the trouble which has followed upon the recommendations of that Committee. Still I am very hopeful about the future, and I am not ashamed of the part which I have taken in those deliberations. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, in the course of his speech this afternoon, dealt in his usual optimistic way, and I suppose the Secretary of State for War ought to be optimistic, because if he is not he must indeed be a miserable individual—the right hon. Gentleman dealt with the prospect of the Territorial Force. I do not want to refer to criticisms which have been made again and again, not only by myself but by others, from this bench with regard to what we believe to be the weak point in that force, particularly in regard to the Territorial Artillery. I must point out that a considerable time 783 has now gone by since the force was instituted, and with regard to the Artillery he is still only able to give us the comfortable assurance that all will be well some day if only the Territorial Artillery is left alone.
He said that there had been marked progress, that it was doing well, and that it remained to be seen what standard of excellence it would attain. He has told us that on many occasions. But we shall never know what practical standard of excellence the Territorial Artillery has attained until it is put to the real test of war, and I believe that we shall then find that the standard is one which will end in disaster, if the force has to cope with the Regular troops of a foreign Power. However, I have often dealt with that point, and I will not elaborate it to-night. The whole of the right hon. Gentleman's statement in regard to the future of the Territorial Force, and particularly its usefulness in the event of war, which, after all, in the last event, is the only thing for which it is being created, leaves me with the same sense of unreality. He said this afternoon that the Territorial Army itself, which is confessedly an untrained force, is to be reinforced by a Territorial Reserve, which may have had no training at all, behind which there is to be the Veteran Reserve, the duties of which are exceedingly vague.
§ Mr. LEE
Possibly for eight days. From a military point of view the amount of efficiency which they may have arrived at by serving in the Territorial Force in the first place gradually evaporates, until you get beyond the Veteran Reserve, the reinforcement, which I confess I heard of this afternoon for the first time, of the warriors' clubs.
§ Mr. HALDANE
The warriors' clubs are simply social centres where old and young soldiers may meet together. They are not for fighting.
§ Mr. LEE
Then it hardly seems worth while to discuss them on the Army Estimates. After all, in the case of Germany, 784 to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, there is the German regular army. There is no Territorial Force on which the German nation relies for its defence against invasion. The right hon. Gentleman told use to my astonishment, that our expeditionary force was greater than that of France and Germany put together. What does he mean by that? He admitted that the German conscript soldier has, if occasion arises, to serve beyond his own frontier. He would have to do so in case of national emergency. That is the kind of emergency with which we should have to deal in the unhappy event of a European war. Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that the expeditionary force which we could send for Service in the Low Countries is greater than that which could be put in the field on the same ground by Germany and France? That is what the right hon. Gentleman said in the course of his speech. Of course, we know what he was really referring to—the kind of force which is required for service in China or in German West Africa. That is not a case of a real great emergency. If there were a real great emergency, the overseas force which could be produced by either of the great conscript armies would be immeasurably greater than anything we could produce in this country. To attempt any standard of comparison between them is surely ridiculous.
§ Mr. HALDANE
As the Island centre of a great Empire, we have to keep, and do keep, a far larger expeditionary force available for service for a long time than any other Power in the world.
§ Mr. LEE
I am talking about a real ultimate emergency in the case of war, and to suppose that our expeditionary force is really greater than the expeditionary force we might have to meet is absurd in the face of the well-known facts with regard to Continental armies and our own. The right hon. Gentleman says that these Continental armies can only be mobilised for a short time. I do not know why he says that. They have been mobilised in the past for such time as was necessary to bring a war to a successful conclusion. It is true that he says that wars are shorter than they used to be; but does he suggest that in the case of a struggle between this country and any great conscript country the latter would be unable to keep their force mobilised in the field as long as we could? They would be able to keep it in the field as 785 long as was necessary, until war was brought to a conclusion. The whole of the strategic essay delivered by the right hon. Gentleman baffles criticism, because it does not seem to have any relation whatever with the realities of war. The right hon. Gentleman told us again that all we have to consider is a possible raid by 70,000 men. He said that 70,000 men could not come here because of the Navy. If we can count on that with absolute certainty, what is the use of the Territorial Army at all? He is raising it presumably for home defence; but if home defence is unnecessary, except by the Navy, surely his Territorial Army becomes a subject only for academic discussion.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I said that the function of a Territorial Force was to compel the enemy to come in such numbers that they could be intercepted by the Navy.
§ Mr. LEE
That opens up a fascinating vista of controversy. I do not think it is sufficient that this nation should rely entirely upon the Territorial Force having that peculiar effect upon foreign nations that they shall send just that particular force which can be intercepted by our Navy. That assumes a combination of circumstances in our favour which may not always be realised. But I do not want to say anything unnecessarily discouraging about the Territorial Force, which I have always frankly admitted I do not believe is a force capable of defending this country against invasion. After all, we have the Territorial Force, and, as the right hon. Gentleman and others have said, we have to make the best of it.
I want to deal more particularly with a point which has been mentioned more than once, but which was not adequately dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman in his reply, namely, the Mediterranean Command. Many of us have followed the fortunes of this new appointment from the first with considerable interest. In the other House Lord Crewe complained that the criticism directed against this appointment was of a belated character. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will not make that accusation against us here, because, from the very first, we have protested against the appointment. We have never had from the Government any satisfactory explanation of why it was instituted, or of what are the functions 786 which the officer holding it will have to perform; and when we got a sort of explanation from the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon it was even more comic than one could possibly have anticipated. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the appointment. As he knows only too well, the appointment has been considerably varied since it was introduced to an admiring country. It has gone through many kaleidoscopic changes which are now frankly set forth in the White Paper which was issued the other day. I can only apply to this White Paper the language of "Alice in Wonder land." Following the appointment from its inception to its later stages it becomes "curiouser and curiouser." And really in its latest stage it seems even more indefensible than in the first place. What was the real history? The right hon. Gentleman rather gave us to believe this after noon that this appointment was originally instituted—that the original inception was the need for an officer to relieve the Inspector-General of the forces at home from the duty of inspecting the British forces overseas. It has gradually grown; but if the right hon. Gentleman will look back—
§ Mr. HALDANE
I say the position of Inspector-General was a necessity which resulted from the conference of last August—a conference representative of the Overseas Dominions, which came to an agreement on these matters.
§ Mr. LEE
I understand the War Office has not yet come to any agreement with regard to the Overseas Dominions so far as the inspection of their forces by this officer is concerned. We were told in the other House that that matter had been definitely postponed until after the Colonial Conference of next year.
§ Mr. HALDANE
At the request of Canada Sir John French went out to inspect the forces there. At the request of Australia Lord Kitchener went there. We have no reason to doubt we shall have further requests from other portions of the Empire for the inspection of their troops. Of course, we shall send nobody unless he is invited.
§ Mr. LEE
There has been no suggestion in any of the Debates on this question that the War Office were going to attempt to force the services of this officer on the self-governing Dominions. That, of course, would be absurd. But a large portion of the justification for the appointment was that he will eventually perform these duties—as I have no doubt he will be invited to do. But there was nothing of that kind in the original appointment which was held for a time by His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught, and which he finally surrendered, refusing to hold it any longer because, I understand, he regarded it as a sinecure. The appointment was then offered to a distinguished officer, and was accepted in that very distinguished officer's absence from this country when he could not know the circumstances and when he was not able to acquaint himself as to the true inwardness of what it meant. As soon as he discovered what it meant he refused to take it up. The Government were then reduced to hawking this appointment about—like a builder trying to get rid of an undesirable property. They practically offered to change it in any way so as to make it acceptable.
§ Mr. LEE
I have suggested nothing of the kind, but the Government offered this appointment to two distinguished field-marshals. They both refused to hold it. The Government had to try elsewhere. They had no luck with field-marshals. They had no luck anywhere with regard to official approval of this appointment. It has been condemned practically by every distinguished military authority that has expressed an opinion on it. In the Debate the other day in the other House, not only was it stated that the two field-marshals to whom I have referred had showed their disapproval in a practical manner, but Lord Grenfell got up and said, with his great knowledge of the Mediterranean and its command, that the appointment was quite unnecessary. It was condemned by Lord Cromer. Finally, the Army Council had to come down to the lower rank of Generals. I do not wish to make any criticism whatever on the action of the very distinguished officer, Sir Ian Hamilton in accepting this appointment. Apparently, with his well-known gallantry, lie agreed to step into the breach, at the 788 bidding of his superior officers. Apparently he accepted the appointment without it being known even by the right hon. Gentleman himself as to the exact conditions. The right hon. Gentleman told me, in reply to a question last Friday, that he was not able to state what the salary of the position was, what were its allowances, its headquarters, or, in fact, any material information which would be necessary in regard to any appointment, however unimportant, and still more necessary in regard to an appointment of this character.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I wish very emphatically again to say that I said I was not in a position to give the information. I did not say that it had not been worked out.
§ Mr. LEE
I have, however, I think, made out my case. I said I did not make any criticism as to the action of Sir Ian Hamilton. I am quite sure all of us recognise that Sir Ian Hamilton would have taken the position had no salary been attached to it. If the right hon. Gentleman really knew what the salary and emoluments were, where the headquarters were, and other details connected with this post, I think it was a want of courtesy on his part in refusing to supply them.
§ Mr. LEE
Well, the right hon. Gentleman has not been able to produce a single high military authority who is in favour of this particular appointment. No doubt he will tell us that the Army Council has approved it. That really is no answer. Everyone knows that the right hon. Gentleman himself is the Army Council. I cannot believe that he is in a position to produce the opinion of any independent high military authority in favour of this appointment, or, at any rate, any authority which would convince this House that this appointment was in any way necessary in the interests of the Service and in view of its course. Let us consider for a moment what the appointment is and what are its duties, because my objection to it—the ground of my criticism—is 789 that the appointment is and has been from the first absolutely unnecessary. Even were it not unnecessary the officer filling the post is to be called upon to perform duties he cannot possibly perform. He is required to perform duties which must necesarily clash with each other. It might be possible on Military grounds to defend the necessity of having a Commander in-Chief in the Meditteranean. It might also be possible to defend the necessity of having an Inspector-General of Oversea Forces, but it does seem to me absolutely impossible to defend the amalgamation of those two offices. This has already been admitted in principle in the case of Inspector-General at home, Sir John French. It has been said, and said very truly, that because there is at any rate the possibility in the case of a great war that he might be called upon to assume supreme command of our chief Army, therefore it is not right that he should be away from this country on tours of inspection taking him far away from his headquarters and from the scene of his command, and that therefore he should be relieved of those particular duties of inspection which would take him away from, this country. That appears to me absolutely sound, but surely the argument would apply with equal force to the Commander-in-Chief who is to be stationed in the Meditteranean if he is to combine the role of Commander-in-Chief with the role if Inspector General of the Forces Overseas. The more his duties develop, as the right hon. Gentleman wishes them to develop, as Inspector-General, the wider the field which he has to supervise, the more invitations he receives from the self-governing Dominions to inspect their forces, ipso facto, the more he will be disabled from discharging his duties as Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean. He would necessarily be taken away, and when one looks through the list of inspections which tie is called upon to make, even if the self-governing Dominions should not invite him to make inspections, it is obvious that it would be rendered inevitable that he would be called away from his command the greater portion of the year if those inspections are to be anything but of a most perfunctory, and almost impossible, character. We have not yet learned where his headquarters are. The right hon. Gentleman says that for a short portion of the year he is to be stationed at Malta, but, one asks, "Why 790 is he to be stationed at Malta?" The right hon. Gentleman says that one of his principal duties will be to watch communications between East and West. What does that really mean? Malta is not on the natural line of communications between East and West. The great line of traffic between East and West does not pass through Malta. Malta, as a rule, is severely avoided by all the great steam ship lines. In any case, how can the Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean watch this line of communications between East and West if he is away discharging his multifarious duties of Inspector-General of the Forces Overseas—away at Mauritius, Bermuda, Egypt, the Straits Settlement, West Africa, South Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, and almost every other portion of the civilised globe? Let us examine the two functions separately. First of all, the Commander- in-Chief in the Mediterranean. The right hon. Gentleman said it was very necessary for strategic and other reasons that there should be a Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean. To use his own expression, he needs to be a Commander-in-Chief of the "great highway." But what is he to command? He is to command the small garisons at Malta, Cyprus, Egypt—although under what conditions he commands Egypt I do not know; I do not know what becomes of the Sirdar—
§ Mr. LEE
We all know that, but it is a little difficult for an inspector-general, another general, to go into a country inspecting troops which are stationed at any rate under the same flag without coming into some kind of friction with the officer who is on the spot. And what is going to be done in a case like Gibraltar, where the officer the right hon. Gentleman has himself just appointed is a senior in rank to Sir Ian Hamilton? And, again, in South Africa, where there is an officer senior in rank? There may be no difficulty, as the right hon. Gentleman says, but is there any necessity? You have in the whole of this Mediterranean command something like 17,000 British troops. They will have three commanders-in-chief. I am also informed they will have twelve generals. Seventeen thousand men, three commanders-in-chief, twelve generals! And they require this high official to command and inspect them all, and two of these officers, these commanders-in-chief, 791 are senior to the officer who is to command and inspect them. We shall hear, no doubt, about this mysterious Seventh Division. Some of us are a little sceptical about the existence of this Seventh Division, but even if it does exist, or even if it is desirable that it should exist, surely the organisation of that division should be carried out by the Army Council and particularly by the Adjutant-General, the post which Sir Ian Hamilton has just vacated. As I understand it, one of this official's duties is to organise and command this Seventh Division. I think the right hon. Gentleman was justified in saying it was necessary that this officer should have a unifying mind. How can he possibly unify, how can he possibly weld into any sort of cohesion and effective fighting force, a number of isolated units which are scattered over a very large portion of the globe?
The individual units cannot realise that they belong to a division—a division which in time of war would have to take the field as a division commanded by its officer, it is equally impossible for them to prepare to fulfil their duties in that division unless they are going to neglect their duties in the stations where they are. How could they leave those stations in the case of a great war in order to form this phantom division? The right hon. Gentleman is very fond of building up paper schemes, but he has almost surpassed himself with regard to this Seventh Division. It really only exists on paper, and I do not believe it ever can exist anywhere but on paper, and he has set an impossible task to this distinguished officer in calling upon him to organise and command a separate division. Then there is the other function he has to perform—that of Inspector-General. That, I agree, is by itself much more defensible. The right hon. Gentleman put a very good case for the appointment of an Inspector-General overseas who should be a kind of assistant or colleague, on equal terms if necessary, with the Inspector-General of the Forces at home; but if he is merely to fulfil that role surely it would be better that his headquarters should be in this country. It is much easier to get from London to all these different places he has to inspect than it will be to get to them from Malta. There may be some doubt as to whether the kind of inspection he will be able to carry out in the time is going to add very 792 much to the military efficiency of the forces. That is an open question, and I do not wish to dogmatise on the point. The right hon. Gentleman himself saw that it was impossible for this officer to carry out the very thorough and minute inspection which is referred to in paragraph 7 of the latest draft of his duties. It would be quite impossible to do that in all these different stations unless he gave up the whole of his time travelling about the British Empire. If he did that then the whole of the scheme about the command of the Mediterranean and the Seventh Division falls to the ground. There is a good deal that might be said upon this, question of inspection. It might be asked whether, in the case of some of the coaling stations where the garrisons consist mainly of Garrison Artillery and Royal Engineers, the Inspector-General, who is an Infantry officer, is to inspect and ascertain whether they are competent to perform their very technical and scientific duties; and, if so, what becomes of the Inspector-General of Artillery and Engineers who heretofore performed these duties. I consider their powers abroad, at any rate, will be unnecessary, and it seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman has some doubt as to the wisdom or the necessity of these inspections.
In April of the present Session, when I asked him some question with regard to this particular point, and whether the inspection of the troops in South Africa had been carried out by the Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean, in the absence of Lord Kitchener, he replied, almost with heat, and certainly with virtuous indignation:—No; there has been no inspection of the troops in South Africa. It is quite unnecessary, because there is a capable and experienced officer there in the person of Lord Methuen.Is the Inspector-General then only to inspect forces not commanded by capable and experienced officers? The right hon. Gentleman said that it was unnecessary in South Africa, because Lord Methuen was a capable and experienced officer. Now he has appointed a general officer to go and inspect Lord Methuen, who was hitherto regarded as not requiring any inspection. I do not want to enumerate the places which the War Office have told off this unfortunate officer to inspect in the course of the year, in addition to holding his command as Chief of the Mediterranean, which, if he attempted, would take the whole of the year in travelling alone. With regard to the expenses, I think the 793 right hon. Gentleman was well advised in not forming any estimate of what they would be. But that is not the end of the Inspector-General's duties by any means. He is in addition to sit upon the Defence Committee, and he is to be a member of the Selection Board which meets every month in London, and upon whose decision the fate of every senior officer who has a career before him depends. Of course, it is perfectly plain he cannot attend either the Defence Committee or the Selection Board; his name will be put upon documents, and will be used in connection with the decisions at which the Selection Board arrives, and he will be held responsible to a certain extent for decisions in which he has not been able to take part. That is not a fair position in which to place any officer. Then there is the final objection, which, I think, is a serious one at the present moment, namely that this appointment is really a scandalous waste of public money, and I am afraid it is only typical of that career of extravagance in regard to new appointments upon which the Government appears to have embarked. The right hon. Gentleman tried to suggest to us this afternoon, as he has done on more than one occasion previously, that there is no additional expenditure; but being pressed he admitted that the salary alone of the Commander-in-Chief is to be £5,000 a year. In addition to that there is to be a staff, and there is to be travelling allowances and expenses to himself and the staff, which means a very considerable sum. It is inconceivable that the expenses of this appointment can be less than £10,000 a year. The right hon. Gentleman says, "Oh, yes, but then we have reduced other things," but presumably those other things were reduced because, as he said, they were unnecessary and superfluous; and he might as well say that if the Government were to reinstate that high official the Master of the Buck Hounds, who drew a salary of £2,000 a year, they would not be causing any expense to the country because that large salary used to be paid, and they were only providing it, and there was really no increase in the public charge, as for him to say that to maintain this appointment at £10,000 a year is not costing the country anything at all because he has done away with certain other appointments absolutely unnecessary. There is an expense of anything between £5,000 and £10,000 a year for an appointment which no military authority of repute who has yet been produced has approved 794 or commended. There is that one expense, and there is an opportunity for that economy which used in the past, at any rate, to be one of the watchwords of the Liberal policy.
I only wish to say this in conclusion with regard to this appointment: It appears to me to be absolutely indefensible, first of all on the ground of military efficiency; secondly, because the duties which have been detailed to this officer are absolutely incapable of being performed by any one individual, however efficient, however distinguished and however active; and, thirdly, because it is really a wanton waste of public money. The appointment is really a job almost unique in its character. Most jobs are perpetrated in the interest of some individual. This job is perpetrated in the interest of no individual who wants it, because nobody wants it; it is a job perpetrated mainly and entirely, so far as I can ascertain, in order to save the face of the Government. They committed themselves to this long list of duties which was rejected by the officer who in the first instance was called upon to perform them. They then revised the duties very slightly indeed. The distinguished officer who accepted the appointment evidently under a misapprehension, on learning what the duties were, refused to continue any longer. The Government then felt, in view apparently, of the attacks which had been made, it was absolutely necessary, in order to save their own face, that this appointment should be continued, and that an officer should be found to hold it. They have therefore insisted on maintaining this appointment. So far the right hon. Gentleman, or his colleagues in another place, have been unable to give any coherent or intelligible defence of this appointment, and it is because they have not succeeded in making any justification for it that I have opposed it from the first, and shall continue to oppose it by every means in my power.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I ask to be allowed to intervene, because I think I ought at once to say something in reply to the hon. Gentleman. I feel that what he has said he did not intend to say; but, whether he intended it or not, his speech forms a severe criticism not only upon me, but upon one whom I am here to defend—Sir Ian Hamilton—who has accepted the post.
§ Mr. HALDANE
Certainly not. Sir Ian Hamilton or any other officer is perfectly free to accept or decline a post, and to suggest that Sir Ian Hamilton would accept a post which is a scandalous waste of public money, which was nugatory, impossible, and absurd is to make—I know the right hon. Gentleman did not intend it, but in his zeal he has made—a serious reflection upon Sir Ian Hamilton. Sir Ian Hamilton is the last person in the world to take up any position he does not believe in. Every detail of the post was set up in consultation with Sir Ian. Some time ago I had the advantage of consulting both Lord Kitchener and Lord Roberts, and not only they, but every one agreed Sir Ian was the man of all others, who, by his contact with Colonial soldiers, by his distinction in war, and by his general characteristics, was a suitable person for the occupant for the post. He has taken up the post con amore and with his whole heart.
In one breath the hon. Member says the post is so important that no one man can fill it; in another he says there is nothing to do. He says, "You ought to have an Inspector-General, but the expense of maintaining the post and making the inspection will be very great—£10,000 a year!" I know this, that the salary of £5,000 a year is not an excessive amount when the ground that has to be covered is considered. The outlay which anybody holding the post has to incur is not only very great, but it cannot be compensated in salary. Does the hon. Gentleman say there ought to be no Inspector of Oversea Forces?
§ Mr. HALDANE
Therefore, so far as the Inspector of Oversea Forces goes, I have no dispute with the hon. Member. Now we come to the position of Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean. I explained very carefully, and indeed I read the terms of the Memorandum, to show that the duties of the Commander-in-Chief were strictly restricted to the supervision of all questions of strategy and training which occur in changes of position such as this. Sir Ian Hamilton's 796 main duty will be the duty of inspection. He has got not only the Mediterranean, which in itself requires a considerable amount of inspection, but he has got South Africa. In South Africa he has to inspect under a Commander-in-Chief who is senior to himself, and he goes there therefore simply in his capacity of Inspector-General. There is nothing unusual in that. Sir Nevill Lyttelton is inspected by Sir John French, who is his junior in rank; and when you come to the case of Gibraltar it is perfectly true that General Hunter is senior to Sir Ian Hamilton in the rank of generals, but if the hon. Gentleman will only read Regulation 218 he cannot fail to see that this question of precedence is provided for.
Another point made by the hon. Gentleman was, "What a monstrous thing it is that General Ian Hamilton should figure on the Selection Board when he cannot be present at its meetings!" But the hon. Gentleman apparently has no idea of the way in which that Board is formed. The very essence of the Board is that the people who sit upon it should be men in contact with the officers over whom they have to exercise judgment, and from whom they have to make a selection. When the Duke of Connaught was Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean and High Commissioner he attended the meetings of the Selection Board when he was at home, and cases of promotion which involved names coming from places under his command in the Mediterranean, and which involved officers who were commanding those troops, were held back until the Selection Board could have the advantage of His Royal Highness's opinion. I may say the practice will be the same in the case of Sir Ian Hamilton. It has been one of the great disadvantages recently that on the Selection Board there was no one who knew personally the officers in the Mediterranean and who had any knowledge of them and their capabilities. One of the very purposes of Sir Ian Hamilton being on the Selection Board is that he may bring to bear his knowledge of the Mediterranean officers, and that every case may be taken when he is present. Again, as to the Defence Committee, those who know it are aware of the kind of question which will be reserved for the occasions on which he is there, and he will be there very frequently, I have no hesitation in saying that questions will be reserved for his opinion. We have reached a stage in the evolution of the English forces in which 797 it is necessary to have an Inspector-General of the Overseas Forces. It is no longer possible for the work to be done by a single inspector, as the whole globe has to be considered. We have also recognised that no scientific soldier would have a chain of fortresses in the Mediterranean to Egypt, and that Seventh Division of which the right hon. Gentleman speaks lightly, although he would not speak lightly if he knew the work. It is no longer scientific soldiering to have these things detached and without the unifying influence of a commander-in-chief, although a commander-in-chief's functions may be in practice the work of supreme supervision in all the ordinary incidents of peace. The Seventh Division of which the hon. and gallant Gentleman spoke is a division which requires the attention of such a unifying authority. Great changes have been made by the establishment of such an authority. The establishment of the battalion has been brought up to 840 from a small establishment of from 700 to 800, which used to obtain. Amongst the Artillery we have introduced a Camel Corps to make the force in Egypt mobile. The whole matter has been considered by the Committee of Imperial Defence, and the arrangements which have been made are those which can only be best carried further when we have the advice and guidance of someone on the spot who is not only responsible, but in a position to exercise some effective authority. These are the reasons for which we think it right and necessary to add to the position of Inspector-General the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean. I quite agree that this appointment is a very different appointment in many respects to that of Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean under the Duke of Connaught. We have added, in consequence of certain circumstances, to the appointment that of Inspector-General, and we have taken the opportunity of combining them. I think I have shown that they can be combined. The whole matter has been worked out with all the care that we can bestow upon it, and, perhaps, the best testimony that the conclusions at which we have arrived are good is that they have received the acceptance of Sir Ian Hamilton, who will enter upon his work in the best interests of the country.
§ Mr. ROWLAND HUNT
I do not see what is the use of the right hon. Gentleman talking about the component 798 elements of a great unit when he has not got the great unit. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he knows enough about it to deny that the Germans have got about a dozen dirigible balloons in which they travel at night, throwing explosive shells directed by guns. There was an account of these things not very long ago which appeared in a paper. The right hon. Gentleman said he would give £30 for three-year-old horses for the Army, The farmers cannot, do it under £40. If the right hon. Gentleman only gives £30 the foreigners will get the horses just as they have been getting: all the best of them, because in this great Free Trade country we cannot afford to give enough for them.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the Territorial Artillery is making marked progress. I am very glad to hear it, but it consists of obsolete guns, untrained men, and either no horses at all or untrained horses altogether. Whenever anyone goes to inspect the Territorial Artillery all the horses are borrowed from the Regular Artillery in the neighbourhood. The Territorial Artillery really is absolutely absurd. I remember reading in a strong Liberal paper in Wales that they got a lot of carthorses—fine fat carthorses they were, but so fine and fat that their belly-bands would not meet. These Welsh dobbins were having a capital time, and were smiling away at the other poor horses, who had to do double work. That, at all events, is-the account in the Welsh Radical paper. The right hon. Gentleman said it was impossible to estimate what the Territorial Force would be like in three years. I should think he is probably right, except that, as far as I can make out, it will be-quite useless to repel an invasion. I think at present there are 2,400 officers untrained in musketry, and somewhere about 100,000 men also untrained in musketry. What sort of use these men are going to foe if they were ever wanted I am altogether unable to say. I am very sorry to be obliged to tell the right hon. Gentleman so, but the fact is that the Territorial Forces are not only a futile absurdity but an admitted fraud, because they are used to deceive and humbug the people of this country into the belief that they really are a defence against invasion. All the great soldiers know perfectly well that it would be of no use at all to put these men against the trained troops of a foreign country.
Then the right hon. Gentleman is very hopeful about the Territorial Reserve. Will the right hon. Gentleman think how 799 much use they would be with the sort of training they go through in the Territorial Force? Then we come to the Veteran Reserve. I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman thinks about them. I saw them the other day in London—a very fine body of men, with no uniform, no rifles, and no ammunition. The right hon. Gentleman may be very pleased with them and, indeed he has reason to be, for they did not cost him anything. They showed him what might be done if the same thing were done in all the counties of Great Britain, and if the right hon. Gentleman would provide them with some sort of organisation, uniform, and ammunition. After seeing them, I wrote at once to the Lord-Lieutenant of the county in which I live, and asked him if he could not get the right hon. Gentleman to do something in the way of providing equipment. The right hon. Gentleman told us that if we lost command of the sea we should be sure to be starved, no matter how big an Army we had. I think his legal mind must see that there is some fallacy in that. It must surely be true that if you have a couple of millions of fairly trained men you would be safe from invasion, and you could then loose your Fleet to hunt the enemy's Fleet. If you had your Fleet chained like a dog to your shores, what is going to happen to your food supply then? You would be starved if you had no Army to protect you against invasion, and if you could not loose your Fleet to hunt the enemy and protect your food supply. The right hon. Gentleman thinks we could send a larger expeditionary force abroad than anybody else. How many Germans were sent into France in 1870? There were 150,000 if I remember right. I suppose that was an expedition of some sort?
The right hon. Gentleman said that universal military training would prevent recruiting. Really that is another legal idea I cannot understand. Does he remember Colonel Pollock's experiment? He took 100 men and trained them. When they came to him only one man wanted to go into the Army, but when they were trained thirty men went in, and I believe they are in it still. That is absolutely against the right hon. Gentleman's theory. Although a man may not like the idea of military training to begin with, after he has been in for a little he, as a general rule, becomes very keen. It is the other way about altogether from what the right 800 hon. Gentleman says. He says that we get the Army as large as it is on the voluntary system.
A great deal of that is due to the poverty caused by our Free Trade system. The right hon. Gentleman is inclined to smile at that. I think he knows very well that most of the men go in because they cannot get anything into their stomachs in any other way. The right hon. Gentleman is very certain we are only to have 70,000 men sent over here. I would remind him that not only is sea warfare very uncertain—it always has been in history—but Napolean said that in war it is always the unexpected that happens. The right hon. Gentleman would find it very awkward if the 70,000 men were multiplied by three. We are told that the Territorial Force must be watered, nurtured, and nursed, though I really do not know that that is what is generally done with military forces. But as it is quite a useless force, I do not see any good in nursing it. The right hon. Gentleman said he was more and more against compulsion, yet it was he who praised the directors of the Alliance Assurance Company for their coercion, and the people they coerced were the clerks, who are about the most helpless of all the classes of people in this country who join the Territorial Force. I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that although he is so much against universal military training, yet in the Republic of Switzerland it is proceeded with, with great advantage. There is a very good Army, and the people are all in favour of it. There is no militarism that naval men are so dreadfully afraid of. There is no patriotism by proxy, and they do not have strong men shouting when the little boys go to the war. That happened in the case of the South African War. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman one question. I do not quite see if the men of this country are not willing to learn to defend their country and their women and children whom the right hon. Gentleman is going to hire to do it for him. Somebody has got to do it. The right hon. Gentleman's organisation is very good, but we all know that his scheme is not a fair one, because the great majority of the Territorial Army are working men, earning from 15s. to £2 or £3 a week, and they have on occasions to give up the whole of their salary. Under this scheme you are letting off the rich and well-to-do altogether. It is not fair. Everybody ought to be on the same footing, and I quite understand the Labour 801 Members not agreeing to it. Universal military training, on the other hand, is the most just and the most democratic system that ever has been invented or ever can be. Nearly the whole of the Continental nations have that system, and we shall never be safe until this country gets it. I would remind the House that under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme the huge majority of untrained civilians have practically purchased their fellow-countrymen's blood for cash. That is what it comes to—nothing else. They see men die while they are hiding under a white flag. We have had warning enough in all conscience from all sorts of people in foreign countries as well as from our own people. General Von der Goltz in 1900 said invasion was by no means impossible for a bold and enterprising Admiral, and they must not lose a single day in preparing. If the right hon. Gentleman got his full number, a great many of them would be required for garrison work—Lord Roberts put the number at 200,000—and that would leave very few men to defend us. Wellington and Napoleon and all the great leaders in war have said that this sort of troops should be employed in that manner, and, if that were done, we should have nothing like that number, even with the 70,000 which were said to be coming, if they come at all. The late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who was not a warlike person, in 1900 said it was the duty of every man to defend his country in time of national crisis. I do not think you could have a higher authority. And really that is what universal Military training means. I hold that it is not only the duty of every man to learn enough to be able to defend his country, but it is the duty of every woman to see that no man is allowed to shirk his first duty to his native land.
Everybody really knows that the real difficulty is that politicians on both sides, though to a certain extent more on the opposite side, do not show the same courage as some of the leaders of the Socialists do, and are afraid to tell people the truth. That applies even more to the right hon. Gentleman than the rest of his colleagues, because he is responsible for the defence of his country by land. Nothing has been written more clearly across the history of the world than the misery and bloodshed that has been caused when a nation has been rich and prosperous, and when men have refused 802 to defend the riches and prosperity. It is also written on all the pages of history that a nation must always be ready for a sudden and unexpected war. We are not ready. Are we going to prepare in time, or are we going to leave it until it is too late? Is the right hon. Gentleman going to shut the door when the horse has been stolen? I am only venturing to say what all sorts and kinds of people in this country think—that we are in great danger of becoming, as the Foreign Secretary said, the conscript appenage of a foreign Power. I do appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether he is quite sure that the people of this country would not welcome universal military service if only the head politicians on both sides had the courage to ask them.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported.
§ And, it being Eleven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported to-morrow (Tuesday); Committee to sit again tomorrow.