§ Motion made, and Question proposed:
§ "That a sum, not exceeding £429,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the expense of the War Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1911."
§ Mr. GEORGE WYNDHAM
We have read a good deal in the Press and we shall no doubt hear a good deal in the course of this Debate on the subject of the Mediterranean Command, but I do not propose myself to dwell at any length upon that matter, important though it be, for the excellent reason that I have never been able to understand, and do not understand now, why the post of Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean was ever created. It has from the first seemed to me a mysterious plan. On the face of it we send one of our foremost soldiers to perform duties which must, by the necessity of the case, overlap the duties of other, but also important, soldiers, and in addition to that we place him in a position which brings him of necessity into very delicate relations upon political matters with our Consul-General in Egypt, and which brings, or may bring, him into delicate relations with the Governments of our self-governing Dominions. We have never yet had any explanation of that plan. It has always been mysterious, and so far it remains incomprehensible, and will do so until the Secretary of State for War speaks. The interest which a mystery evokes has been accentuated by the interest which a personality evokes. Everybody, when considering the Mediterranean Command, has had in his mind—I will not say at the back of his head, but in the very forefront of his intelligence—the fact that in Lord Kitchener we have not only a great soldier but a soldier with gifts for organisation which are truly rare, and -which are acknowledged not only by all his fellow-soldiers but throughout the world. All must deplore that such gifts for organisation should not find a place in our Army system at a time when everybody feels that organisation is that -which our Army system most demands. 690 With these two observations, first on the mystery of the plan, and next upon the necessity, if it be a necessity, for using the gifts of that experienced man in the work of organisation, I express the hope that the Secretary of State, when he comes to deal with this recondite subject, will throw some light upon it.
Passing to other topics I am afraid I must ask the indulgence of the Committee and the patience of the Secretary of State for War, because it seems to me we ought, if we can, to make the best use of our opportunities. I do not remember the salary of the Secretary of State for War being put down for discussion in the month of June. We are generally occupied in other affairs, and my desire will be, so far as I can, to turn this opportunity to the best account. In the first place, I wish to ask the Secretary of State what progress has he made in the directions, the desirability of which he conceded generally, in principle, when we discussed the Army Estimates in March last? And the only other question which I shall attempt is to throw out diffidently some suggestions on a subject which he may agree with us in thinking deserve consideration before the Estimates of next year are framed. To my mind, by far the most important matter upon which we approached to agreement when we were discussing the Estimates introduced by the right hon. Gentleman was this: I think he assented when I did more than suggest, when, with all the power I could command, I put to him that it was most desirable that we should in respect of our land forces, as a whole, have, if not a principle, at any rate, a rule of thumb, which would be respected by both political parties, no matter who was in power. The rule of thumb, which I thought we might adopt with effect in respect of our land forces was this, namely, that we should maintain the existing standard of strength for each of the three organic parts of our land forces, and by the three organic parts of our land forces I mean our oversea army, our expeditionary forces maintained by a special Reserve, and our Territorial Forces. Those are the three organic parts of our land forces as at present systematised. If we accept, as we do until it fails, the system of the right hon. Gentleman, we ask that there shall be a minimum standard preserved for each one of those three organic component parts. That is to say, you are not to rob Peter to pay Paul. The argument by which I defend that, as a desideratum, is this: Our 691 Army, as is well known, has to subserve various objects. The problem it has to solve is complicated. For that very reason, since we must have distinct branches for those three great purposes, it follows as a corollary that each one of those branches must be adequate for the purpose which it has to perform. For example, take the oversea army. It is no use to say that because you have got an expeditionary force of six divisions, therefore you are to bring troops back from this or that part of the Empire. With regard to our oversea army, it is assumed confidently—I do not mean with confidence as to the accuracy of the figures, but as to the necessity of maintaining those figures—that seventy-four Infantry battalions and fourteen Cavalry regiments is a minimum compatible with safety when you have to keep watch and ward over so extensive an area.
It is perfectly true there was a time when intelligent people said you could reduce the garrison of India. Nobody suggests that now. It is perfectly true there are men who say now you can reduce the garrison of South Africa. It may be so, but if you can reduce a garrison in one part of the Empire, then that garrison must go to another part of the Empire. You cannot reduce the total of your oversea Army when you have to guard so large a perimeter. It is analogous to the case of a besieged town if with a small garrison you have to defend a large perimeter. Although you may and must take troops from one quarter to another quarter, you cannot, except you do grave evil, diminish the total forces which guard that perimeter in detail. If that be true of the oversea Army, it is equally true of the expeditionary force. You must have six divisions of all arms and a division of Cavalry ready to go. If that be true of the expeditionary Force and of the Special Reserve to maintain it, it must be equally true of the Territorial Force, which must be of such numbers and with such training as to be able to release the expeditionary force at any moment when the destiny of our race demands that that force should go. If we can agree upon that I do not ask the Secretary for War to assent to more at this moment, but I say that his attitude now is the attitude which he observed last March. If we can have a rule of thumb under which each one of those three organic parts is to be kept at least to its existing minimum, then it only 692 remains to see that each one of those parts shall have adequate training to enable it to perform the duties which it exists to discharge. The Secretary of State for War will not dissent if I add that a great deal of work has to be done, and probably a great deal more money has to be spent, before, certainly in the case of the Special Reserve and the Territorial Force, either of those two bodies will be adequately trained to perform the duties which they have to discharge. Those are broad grounds of policy. I introduce them because in my opinion it is only in the light of the view taken by this House, and, if possible, by both parties in this House, and applying broad questions of policy, that we can usefully discuss other matters which are subsidiary to that policy of what are the land forces which this nation should adopt as a whole.
I want now to address myself to matters which may by comparison be called matters of detail. In doing so, in order to make myself intelligible, and, I hope, for the convenience of the right hon. Gentleman, I will take each of those three organic parts of our land forces, and in respect to each one I will ask him, first, what progress has been made in the direction in respect of which we approached agreement in March, and also upon each one I will submit certain matters which I hope he will see his way to consider before he puts forward his Estimate to-day. Taking the first organic portion of our land forces, the oversea Army, in our Debates in March we said nothing about that. We were satisfied with it as it was, and I have only now in June to ask one question, to which I should like an answer, Who is responsible for the strength of the garrison in Egypt at this moment? The garrison in Egypt at this moment consists of a weak Infantry brigade and one regiment of Cavalry. Who is responsible for that apportionment of the amount of strength taken from our oversea Army to be placed in Egypt? Is the right hon. Gentleman? And is the Government satisfied with so weak a garrison for Egypt at this moment? That is all I have to say about our oversea Army. I proceed at once to the second organic part of our land forces, the expeditionary force. When we were discussing the statement of the Secretary of State for War earlier in the year, I think we nearly came to an agreement upon certain matters which we raised, and in respect 693 of each one of which we were promised favourable consideration. The first was this. We asked the Secretary of State whether he considered that the establishment of Infantry battalions at home ought to be only 720 men rank and file. We urged, in the view pressed by us, that the total number of our Regular Army now was less than it was at the end of the South African War, although important bodies reported at that time that those numbers were not sufficient.
We urged, on the ground merely of increasing the total number of Regulars, that a good way of doing it—and which will not come into collision with the right hon. Gentleman's principle—was to increase the establishment of the whole of his expeditionary battalions. We adduced other arguments. We pleaded that it is impossible to have what is called progressive training, on which so much stress is laid by military authorities, with a battalion of small size, owing to the men being detached for duties of one kind or another. You cannot train the first squadron, then the company, and then the battalion if the number of the battalion is standing at a low figure. We gave another reason. The Army Reserve now stands at over 130,000, which is in excess of the normal. If you increase the establishment of our expeditionary battalions you will create a Reserve at a greater rate, and that we consider to be a desirable object. We have also to bear in mind what will happen on mobilisation. A number of men, on account of age or inadequate training, are left behind and Reservists are brought in. If the establishment is only 720 there is too great an influx of new faces to make the establishment an efficient instrument on mobilisation. It works out at about half and half, and that is too great a proportion of new blood in a body which has to face the great needs and dangers of a campaign. Then we have heard that it is perhaps imprudent to train your battalion leaders or brigade leaders and leaders of divisions with their battalions smaller than they would have to handle on an outbreak of war. It is quite true that when you have been campaigning for some time all the bodies diminish in size; but the critical moment is at the outbreak of a campaign, and, therefore, it is wise that your Army leaders should, in time of peace, be practised with bodies of the size which they will have to handle at the most difficult moment of war—namely, its outbreak.
694 There is a good deal to be said about having symmetry of command throughout our Army. I do not believe the Secretary of State for War will defend his ideal of having an establishment of 720 for the Infantry battalions in the Army at Home, an establishment of 840 outside this, country, and a thousand, I think, in India. Let us try to aim at symmetry in this matter. On all those grounds we urge that there should be an increase of the establishment of the Home Infantry battalions. The Secretary of State for War met us with a mixture of verbal agreement and a suggestion of encouragement, which raised hope in our breasts. Now that some months have elapsed, has he made some progress in that direction, so that at any rate next year the establishment of the Home Infantry battalion will be increased? The next matter on which he aroused our expectations was in respect of the officers of the Army. Everybody knows that the supply of officers of the Army is one of the weakest links in our chain. We urge that it was impossible to expect to get officers if they—alone amongst all classes of public servants and those who are engaged in private enterprise—had to receive no increase in their pay, not only for twenty years, but I think for generations. The Secretary of State for War said he did not preclude the consideration of an increase in the pay of officers of the Army. We want to know whether he has considered it, and whether he is advancing any further in that direction? The third matter which we discussed in connection with this branch of our land forces was the question of horses. I do not know whether there was any approach to agreement upon that matter, except to this extent, that everybody either asserted or allowed that we have not got the horses now, and that the horses on our register are a sham, and calculated only to mislead the public. This question of horses is twofold. One aspect of it is to discover how many suitable horses there are in this country. It is upon that aspect that the Secretary of State for War usually speaks. He has had a horse census taken by the police. Our contention is that unless you have a classification of the horses which are needed, according to the purposes for which they are wanted, any census, any register is but another delusion. We do not believe that the police of this country, aided it may be by gentlemen already overworked, belonging to the county associations, can carry 695 out any classification which may be necessary. The facts are these. For the expeditionary force—I am talking on that branch alone; I hardly dare to think of the horse question in respect of all the other branches of the Army—we have got 15,000 horses on the peace establishment, we have 23,000 registered, and we will require another 31,000 on mobilisation. It is of importance, and vital importance, as to the 23,000 horses now registered, and the 31,000 horses not yet registered, that the whole of those 54,000 horses should be classified by experts and not by policemen or by overworked members of the county associations.
That is done with every other army in the world. They have small committees, I think of three—a soldier, a veterinary surgeon, and the third an assessor. They go through the horses to see which are fitted for the particular jobs they have to perform. Unless that is done—I do not wish to use any excessive term—the police register is so much moonshine. Taking the police register such as it is, I should like to ask this question. Is there going to be a fresh register of horses next winter? Because, obviously, unless this work is done by experts who keep a controlling eye over the work which they have to perform, the register made by the police is absolutely valueless and a waste of time. Why, half the horses may have been sold out of the country. Unless there is such a classification, and unless it is kept up to date, then I am afraid we are not in a position to discover how many horses there are in this country which are suitable for the purposes which must be subserved should the expeditionary force be mobilised. That being so, we must be forgiven if we are still rather in a state of anxiety as to other separate branches of the horse question, namely, how are we to foster a good and secure horse supply in this country? We have never yet had any information leading us to a conclusion of the right hon. Gentleman that there are hundreds and thousands of horses over and above the needs of the Army. All that we hear, all that we see, leads us to believe that horses most suitable for military purposes are being bought in our markets and shipped for the military purposes of other countries. Believing that, and knowing, if we are right, that this is a danger to this country, we hold that something should be done to foster and secure our horse supply. I think nearly all those 696 who have studied this subject have come, some of them regretfully, to the conclusion that you cannot have a number and the kind of horses that you want unless you are prepared in this country to pay the price and to buy at the age which obtain in the case of purchases made by foreign Powers for foreign armies; that is to say, you must buy your horses at the age of three years, and you must pay a price which will give a profit to the man who breeds the horse. I do not believe that that will involve any great additional public charge. I believe that you could buy a three-year-old suitable for your purposes at the price of £30. I think it would cost you £13 to keep that horse for a year, and when it was four years old its cost would be £43. That is somewhat more than we pay now, but it is not much more, and is it not worth while paying £43, not only for horses in the Army, but to maintain in this country that supply of horses, in the absence of which we might as well have no Army at all?
I have dealt now with three matters which we did discuss in March, in respect of the expeditionary force. I will now venture to open some fresh ground in that connection. I would ask the Secretary for War whether he and his advisers consider that ninety-nine mounted riflemen, taken from the Army Reserve, are a sufficient number of mounted men to act as protective cavalry for one of our divisions? I think the point is of some importance, and in order that the right hon. Gentleman may not misunderstand what I am about to say, I would like to make it clear that I am not talking of a Cavalry division. A Cavalry division is four brigades of Cavalry, which acts as strategical Cavalry in front and on the flanks of the Army, but detached altogether from that Army. That leaves to our expeditionary force what are called the protective Cavalry. As I understand, the ninety-nine mounted men are drawn from the Army Reserve for this protective Cavalry, what has happened? When we altered the size of our divisions to the Indian scale, when, instead of having a division of two brigades, we adopted divisions of three brigades, and when, at the same time, we increased the Artillery division, we never made any increase in the number of mounted men who were to act as protective Cavalry, We adopted the larger Indian division, and we added to the Artillery division, but we have made no corresponding increase in the number of mounted men or 697 Cavalry divisions. In the Indian Army there is one Cavalry regiment to each of these big divisions, and there is one Cavalry regiment to each of the large divisions in every foreign army. We used to have a squadron with our small divisions, but now that the division is half as big again we have only got these men drawn from the Army Reserves. Under the old system—I am not arguing for the old system as against this one—when we had small divisions, and three of these divisions in an Army Corps, we had, for nine divisions of that size, corresponding to six of the larger size, equal to six Cavalry regiments.
It is perfectly true that the strategical Cavalry has been largely increased, but at the time people speak of you had two brigades acting independently, and now you have four. But that is a theory which has never been tested in war. Personally I agree with all military experts in the use of large bodies of strategical Cavalry, but you can carry a theory too far. Whilst you are carrying that out you ought not to cut away, as I think you have done, the protective Cavalry, and I think also, though in a minor degree, those larger bodies of Infantry. The right hon. Gentleman may say, "Yes, but where will you get them? Are you suggesting we ought to have more Cavalry?" I should like to suggest we should have more Cavalry. I do not do so on the principle that you cannot have too much of a good thing, but still we have not any great force of Cavalry in this country. I suppose, since I have said that we ought to have protective Cavalry for these divisions, that I must make some suggestion as to where they should come from. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he still requires four Cavalry regiments in South Africa? If he does, then he will have to raise more Cavalry regiments in this country in order to provide for protective as well as strategical Cavalry for the expeditionary force. The same argument applies in respect of field companies of Engineers. When we had a smaller division we had two field companies, now when we have got a large division with three brigades I think we ought to have one field company of Engineers with each brigade. I agree with all those who have studied these matters and who consider that you ought to include Engineers with each one of, the brigades, or, in the case of Cavalry, a protective force, and that you ought to have an adequate proportional increase of mounted troops and Engineers' companies with the 698 large divisions. I make one other suggestion in respect of the expeditionary force, and it is in the nature of a question. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether there has been any trial of the new Vickers' machine gun. I understand that it is asserted to weigh only 26 lbs., whereas the service guns weigh 60 lbs. I know the right hon. Gentleman is aware of the great advantage it was in Manchuria to have light guns with campaigning troops, and so I ask whether this much lighter gun has been tried, and, if so, with what results?
I pass from the expeditionary force, and I come to the Special Reserve, which exists to maintain the expeditionary force during the first six months of active service. When we were discussing the Special Reserve in March last we had to criticise it. I do not suppose that anybody on this side of the House believes-that the Special Reserve, as at present constituted, can perform the duties that are allotted to it. The right hon. Gentleman himself more than admitted that something was wanting in respect of the seventy battalions of the line, the four battalions and the several ordinary battalions of the Special Reserve. He told us he had appointed a Departmental Committee to investigate into it. Will he tell us this afternoon whether that Committee has sat, and, if so, what is the result of the investigation? Besides those battalions, as the Secretary of State for War very well knows, there are twenty-seven Special Reserve battalions to whom he looks for garrisons in the Mediterranean stations in the event of the expeditionary force going abroad, besides all the other duties they have to perform. We urged earlier in the year that those battalions, with an establishment of little more than 560 men, had no reserve. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, when that was pointed out to him, said that he thought it very likely that the establishment of those battalions would be increased. Perhaps he will be able to tell us whether that likelihood is to become a certainty. We have pointed out that he looks to those battalions to supply the Mediterranean stations, and when they do not have a full establishment and no reserve obviously they could not perform those duties unless that establishment was increased in respect of the Special Reserve. I do not feel at all justified in making any suggestion, but I do say that I am expressing a sentiment very widely held through- 699 out the country that more light is needed on the Special Reserve altogether. We do not know where we are, and each new departure of the right hon. Gentleman serves to foster in our minds—I do not call it suspicion—but an apprehension that in his eagerness for new schemes, and for getting newer schemes, he is always undertaking some new theory before he has made one of his old theories a solid block in the wall of our national defence.
We had the experiment of the right hon. Gentleman inaugurating the Special Reservists in his line battalions for the purpose of this year's manœuvres, but that is an experiment. It is no part of our solid continuous system of defence. He wanted people to see what a division is like with all the troops in it. When calling out the Reserve of what he says is the Special Reserve as an experiment, let us watch through a microscope to see what happens. Approving as we do, there are "buts" in this matter. Does he think that these men of the Special Reserve will have the physical fitness necessary to acquit themselves with credit, when they have to face the fatigue of army manœuvres, and manœuvres are no joke? Take those of last year. On the very first day several battalions marched twenty-five miles and some thirty miles—nay, they shed new lustre on our small British Army. Foreign attachés were amazed at the manner in which they performed those feats of endurance. Does anybody believe that men in the Special Reserve who have not had continuous company training, and battalion and divisional training, when called out in the Special Reserve will be able to march side by side with men who have been trained as men are trained for a prize fight or a walking competition? I do not think they will. I think they will break down, and I think you will destroy the new credit which is attached to the marching power of the British Army and to your manœuvres all round. Let us hope it may not be so. Am I right in understanding that in order to put men of the Special Reserve into line battalions for the manœuvres that the training of some battalions of the Special Reserve has been cancelled this year? I understood that this is the case, and if so are we not attempting to run before we walk? Is it not rushing beyond all the bounds of temerity in order to carry out an experiment? My arguments or series of questions are cumulative, and the point is this, that we 700 ought to make good one part of our military scheme before we embark upon some new experiment which detracts from the chance of perfecting the old experiment almost before time has been given to carry it out. I will not say more about the Special Reserve.
I come now to the third organic branch of our land forces, in respect of which I would put the same question, namely, how far we have got in respect of matters touched upon in March, and then I will touch on some other matters of importance. When we were discussing the Territorial Force in March for the first time I understood from the Secretary of State that he was not quite satisfied with the Territorial Artillery. For years we have been saying that, granting as we do the splendid devotion of the men who go into that branch, it is impossible to make an Artillery in this way. We are still convinced, and confirmed in our conviction, that the plan which we suggested was the right one—that you ought to make more Regular Artillery than is needed for your expeditionary force in order that you might have a stiffening for your Territorial Force. Nothing that the right hon. Gentleman will say will shake us out of that belief. Therefore we welcomed earlier in the year some symptom of disquiet in his mind, and we want to know what, if anything, is going to be done to make our Artillery of the Territorial Force a reality, and thus to assist towards making that Force a reality? That Artillery is a sham. I pass from the question of the Artillery, with which everyone is familiar, and I come to the very important question of the recruiting for the Territorial Force. A year and a half ago, when we were discussing the Territorial Force, the right hon. Gentleman was able to come down to the House and say that there had been such a boom in recruiting that he was more sanguine than he had been at an earlier period. He went on to say that if there had not been that boom, the question of conscription or of national service in this country would have come nearer than it had ever come before. That was in March, last year. Even in last March, although nothing like the year before, the right hon. Gentleman said that he was within 10 per cent. of all he expected to get, and that you could not expect more than 90 per cent. Is not that a very specious way of putting the argument, when so many people believe, as I certainly do, that your establishment 701 is a minimum, and not even large enough? The total works out at 315,408 men, and we are told that this is the mathematical number which would secure us in safety in certain contingencies, but then it is a minimum number. Even if there were 315,408 men, the right hon. Gentleman ought not to be satisfied, and ought not to ask us to be satisfied.
When the right hon. Gentleman says he is within 10 per cent, of the total, we say we are not satisfied with the establishment, and we say that 315,000 men is not enough. We have been told by those who are in a position to instruct us that we ought to have at least 100,000 men for local mobile defence, and another 100,000 for garrisons. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell me that that will be done by the Special Reserve. Just think of all that the Special Reserve has to do. It has to maintain the expeditionary force, defend garrisons on the Mediterranean, and mobilise for the second line, so that really you cannot get any more out of the Special Reserve. What you want is to get more men in it, and when properly trained, you want from your Territorial Force 300,000 men as a central force to crush or deter the theoretical raid of 70,000 men. Of course, if the raid is bigger, your theory crumbles to the dust. But taking the official estimate of a raid of 70,000 men, I maintain that 500,000 is the minimum number for your Territorial Force, compatible with safety. Do not tell us that you ought to be blessed because you do not expect to get more than 90 per cent, and you have got within 10 per cent, of that.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Haldane)
What I said was that you could never have your establishment perfectly full, for this reason. My expert advisers tell me that at best you can never get up the last man, and that you always have 3 per cent, or 5 per cent, sick; and what I said was that we were approaching the maximum that we could hope to get.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
That argument is incompatible with the defence that the establishment is based on the fact that it is the exact number required. You cannot have it both ways. If it is true that you cannot come up to the establishment, then the establishment should be over the minimum demand that you yourselves lay down. And I think that that contention gains in strength if, as a number of people not on one side in politics believe, your minimum establishment is too low 702 and ought to be 500,000 instead of 315,000. Since last March I have been credibly informed by gentlemen who have worked, and are working with the utmost zeal for the Territorial Force, that recruiting is not so good. They attribute that not to a temporary slump following a temporary boom, but to the fact that we seem to have reached the ultimate dead-level of the matter. The number hangs between 270,000 and 280,000, just where the old Volunteer strength used to hang. There seems to be something inherent in this nation, that under the existing system there are, as a normal, between 270,000 and 280,000 men who are ready to give up their holidays and their leisure to serve their country, when nobody else will make any sacrifice of the kind, and that there are no more. If that is true, we have to reconsider the whole situation. If it is true that the Territorial Force, after the enormous help it has received from willing hands and clever brains, cannot get beyond the normal strength of the old Volunteers, I think the right hon. Gentleman, no less than every other man who loves his country, will have to think again and try to discover some system which will give you either your minimum of 350,000, or the minimum which we think desirable, of between 400,000 and 500,000. The fact is, we have not got the number which the right hon. Gentleman has laid down as the minimum required, and not nearly all of these perform the minimum amount of training which he lays down. I have not the figures with me, but many thousands of the Territorial Force did not attend camp at all last year.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I was going to say 20,000, but I find that 23,000 did not attend camp at all last year. The maximum training under this scheme is fifteen days; the minimum is eight days. How many of the Infantry did fifteen days? Hardly any. How many did eight days? That is, eight days all together, because that is the point. You want simultaneous training. Eight days with a whole battalion is worth fifteen days of people dribbling into and out of camp. If you have not simultaneous training during your minimum number of days, to play at brigade drill, to meander about with divisions on Salisbury Plain, and to put up sham fights with three to one against Regulars, is all part of unconscious self-deception. It has no relation to any of the facts of war or to any of the probabilities of what would happen to 703 people who did not prepare for war. You had better have four months initial training in a barrack square and make the best of the men who have had the beginning of a training, without allowing patriotic men to give up their leisure and to make monetary sacrifices, in order to drift in and drift out of camp, when they are never there altogether under the officers who would have to command them in time of war. We do not get the minimum number; we do not get the minimum training; we do not get simultaneous training. The best that can be said under these circumstances is that all work hard, and that the Secretary of State for War deserves our respect and gratitude for having given us something which is a great deal better than the old Volunteers, because the old Volunteers, or some of them, never went into camp except as a form of holiday, which they enjoyed. [AN HON. MEMBER: "No."] I am using too sweeping language, and I withdraw it altogether. But I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree that we had in the Volunteers a number of men whose principal concern were the social amenities of volunteering, coupled with a personal interest in rifle shooting. Rifle shooting is all very well, but it is not soldiering. It is an important, and, indeed, indispensable adjunct of soldiering, but it is not soldiering at all. A man who can shoot well at a target and win prizes may be no help, but some hindrance, to you when you have to move bodies of men twenty or twenty-five miles a day in relation to other bodies over intervening country. He becomes a danger if you believe that, because there are 270,000 people who can shoot, therefore you are safe. You are not safe; you are living in a fool's paradise. The right hon. Gentleman got rid of the idea that the existence of so many people in the country who could shoot well at a target meant safety.
Now I come to the new suggestions of the right hon. Gentleman, Since we discussed these matters last March the Secretary of State has launched no less than three Reserves for the Territorial Force. I have been approached by persons who know far more about these matters than I do, and they have pulled me in two different ways. Some of them have said. "Whatever you do, associate yourself and the Unionist party from the outset most cordially with these new Reserves for the Territorial Force. Others, who also have more knowledge of military matters than I can pretend to, have begged me forth- 704 with not only to pour cold water upon them but to condemn the whole thing out of hand. That is the situation in which I find myself. I think we must consider these Reserves in the light of the circumstances I have just described under which they are launched. One must discriminate between them. They have been very well received in the Press. The House of Commons has not yet had an opportunity of discussing them. In the eulogies which have been passed upon them there has been somewhat indiscriminate praise of the idea of having a veteran Reserve. There has been a complete failure to draw a distinction between the three Reserves of the Territorial Force: first, the Reserve, supposed to be a real Reserve of the Territorial Force; secondly, the technical Reserve, of which I do not mean to say anything more; and thirdly, the veteran Reserve. The Order of 21st May is marked "Provisional," and my remarks also are provisional. But surely we must canvass this matter very closely and look at it not with animosity but with a very careful eye, and almost through a microscope, if we bear in mind the circumstances of the Territorial Force from which the right hon. Gentleman is trying to throw off a Reserve. In principle I conceive that the Territorial Force ought to have a Reserve. But is it possible to make a Reserve out of it so long as the Territorial Force is only what I have described it to be? If you had an expanding Territorial Force, if you had so many recruits coming in that you could turn them away, if you only kept in the Territorial Force the men who are ready to do their fifteen days in camp every year, and if the men were ready and able to fire all their rounds at the target and not in the air, something might be said for trying to throw off a Reserve from such a force; but, what, as I understand it, is being done, is this. You are superimposing upon a shrinking force a new body of men who will, put it as you please, either crush it or extract from it all that is good in it. The Committee will realise that personally I cannot for a moment admit that fifteen days in camp, even if every man was in camp fifteen days, is enough, or that four years of these fifteen days is enough, or that anything is enough until you have at least four months' initial training and some simultaneous service in the next three or four ensuing years. But for the sake of argument, and making the best of things as they are, I take the right hon. Gentleman's own 705 specification of a fifteen days' scheme. Is it wise to try to have a Reserve until the Force is up to its establishment, and all the men do the whole of the minimum specification of training? If you pick out of the force the men who have done fifteen days in camp and have fired their rounds satisfactorily, whom have you left? You have the men who have done eight days or no days in camp. This Reserve is to be made up of men in the Territorial Force who have for four years done fifteen days in camp. I have shown that 23,000 men have not been in camp at all. The great bulk of the Infantry are not even being asked to go to camp for more than eight days. If you take into this Reserve 33 per cent, of the establishment, which is 41 per cent, of the force, what is left in the Territorial Force are men who have hardly been to camp at all, and men who have not fired their musketry courses under any proper conditions.
That is a fundamental criticism of this plan in its provisional state. I could go into detailed criticism, but that I wish to avoid. I will raise other points later if need be. The money arrangements for this scheme are totally inadequate. But we have now to decide whether it is wise to have a Reserve when the main body does not come up to the establishment and when the men in it are not trained even up to the very low minimum laid down. The right hon. Gentleman by this device is, I think, running a grave danger. He runs a danger of undoing his own work. I am afraid if he goes on creating this Reserve before he has made the Territorial Force a reality, he will invent again another sort of soldier. We have had too many sorts of soldiers. He will revive the "pot-hunting" Volunteer. Because these Reservists are not to be obliged to go to camp or to drill at all, and they are to be allowed a certain number of rounds of ammunition at the public expense. What sort of soldier or defence is that—the man who engages in target practice at the public expense, and is not subject to do a single day's duty in the whole course of the year, from 1st January until 31st December? That Reserve is, I am glad to think, provisional. I hope we shall hear more about it before any attempt is made to create it. I must say a word upon the Veteran Reserve. The idea of having corps of veterans in this country is certainly one which all must cordially accept. But is there not some confusion of thought revealed when the Veteran Reserve comes 706 out in the same regulations with the Territorial Force Reserve, and when these veterans are looked to apparently to perform in some part the duties which are assigned to the Special Reserve, or to the Territorial Force, or to the new Territorial Force Reserve? If the Veteran Reserve is to be an honourable retreat and social distinction for men who have really served their country all will welcome it. But why should they cease to be veterans at the age of fifty? The two ideas are incompatible. The idea of turning them out of their retreat at the age of fifty suggests that you are looking to them to perform active service. What becomes of the idea of honourable retreat and the social distinction? Let us by all means say that every man who has faithfully served in the Army, the Territorial Force, or in any branch of the public service, shall at the end of his service with the Colours, and after his service in the real Reserve, be regarded as a veteran for the rest of his days, and elicit that respect and admiration which he deserves from his fellow countrymen. Do not, however, let us mix up the two things together.
In conclusion I would say that you cannot make a Reserve until the Territorial Force has had longer and simultaneous training. In that Reserve you should only have the men who have performed that training, and in the veterans you should only have the men who have both performed the first and the second—who have served right through the first engagement, and then through their Reserve engagement. I dread the multiplication of these paper schemes. We have one after another. As soon as one plan does not come up to the expectations of its author, another plan is launched. It is as if a man who failed to fill a cask because it had too many holes then said: "I will catch the leakage in a sieve." I must very rapidly mention, and only mention, another subject which I think deserves the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. The provision for buildings for the Territorial Force is altogether inadequate. There is a skimping, and perhaps a necessary skimping, which prevents that Force, such as it is, from being effective. Again, I, for my part, do not believe that you will ever have an Army properly shod if you give the men an allowance, and leave it to them to supply their own boots. The ordinary Englishman who goes into the Army has no more idea of what a pair of boots ought to be to march twenty miles 707 in than he has of steering an aeroplane. Look at the boots they come to camp in. You must supply a standard boot. The same is true with regard to their shirts. Englishmen who have had fair chances in early life wear flannel shirts. But the people who go into the Territorial Force do not wear flannel shirts; they wear linen shirts. To make a man march in boots which he has chosen for himself throws him open to the chance of laming him for life. To make him wear a linen shirt is to doom him to die of pneumonia. To let him walk about in fancy-coloured socks is to incur on his behalf the risk of him having gangrene. In the Regular Army —in every Regular Army—the importance of the supply of boots, shirts, and socks is recognised as next to morale and discipline—and, of course, the food—as the things upon which their marching and fighting capacity depends. The mere allowance dealt out by harassed Secretaries of county associations is insufficient for the boots, shirts, and socks which are necessary, if the members of the Territorial Force are to enjoy average health. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman a question or two, first, whether the new sighting of the converted rifles give satisfaction? Many complaints have been made to me about them. I would also ask him whether he has heard complaints from the inspecting officers of the new Maxim equipment model, which does not ride on the horses nearly as well as the old one? I would ask him—and this is my last question—in respect to the Territorial Force, whether he will make specialists additional to the establishment? As things are now, at any rate in the Yeomanry Reserve you have, you have one Maxim—two Maxim guns—each with an officer. You have signallers with an officer. You have Scouts with an officer. All are excellent methods of specialism, though I think in attempting signalling we are asking for more than we can expect to get. If you take four or five of the shrewdest and keenest officers out of the regiment you are preventing that regiment from being adequately officered for its normal purposes. If you can get officers—and you can get them—to perform these special functions, then you ought to increase the establishment of the regiment by that number of officers. It is vital for the officers; it is also very important for the men. In respect of the men, no less than of the officers, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to make these specialists additional to the 708 establishment. In putting this point I shall be very glad if any information can be given. We shall not reach our goal until the three organic powers of our land forces are each maintained at the minimum strength and until each is adequately trained in the duties which it expects to perform.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I should be ungrateful did I not begin by acknowledging cordially the friendly tone which has run through the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. He has made his criticisms, a good many of them very kindly. They are not altogether criticisms with which I find myself in agreement, but he has made them in a spirit and fashion which renders discussion of this kind of the highest utility. It is well that the programme of the Army for the year should be subjected to close scrutiny. If I may say so, I think it is fortunate that we have been able in this month to have an unusual amount of discussion of the state of affairs. I do not know how I shall best consult the convenience of the Committee in replying to the questions put to me by the right hon. Gentleman, but probably this will best be done by taking the points in their order and as shortly as I can, though this may take me some time. The first topic which the right hon. Gentleman alluded to was the Mediterranean Command. He asked me for some explanation of it. I have given it very simply in dealing with the Mediterranean Command as it is now in the Parliamentary Papers published the other day. In August last, at the Conference of the Oversea Dominions, certain conclusions were come to which made the situation somewhat clearer. The Dominions Overseas, through their representatives, agreed with us here that we should, as far as possible, endeavour to fashion the various Armies of the Empire on a single pattern — that in the form of service regulations, of training, of weapons, there should be as far as possible similarity of pattern, so that in case of necessity the different elements might form the component elements of a great unit. That was followed by the formal creation of the Imperial General Staff. A great deal of work which has been consequent upon the establishment of that Staff, the interchange of officers between the Dominions and the General Staff at home is going on, and there is no doubt that foundations have been laid—I do not say more—on which progress may be hoped for. But we 709 are still at the beginning. There is one thing which is essential. It is very well that there should be co-operation between an Imperial General Staff and its branches all over the Empire. But you want something more. Just as the General Staff at home has had the advantage of an Inspector-General to inspect the forces and see that things are up to the standard which is required, so we require an Inspector-General of the Overseas Forces who can do the work adequately. Under the old arrangement Sir John French was charged with the duties not only of inspecting at home, but of inspecting abroad. He was very much overworked. He discussed the question with me of the separation of the work into the work of two Inspectors-General. It is not extravagant for two Inspectors-General. I believe the German Army has six Inspectors-General. We certainly require an Inspector-General for these new developments who will be able to give a great deal of his time to the work of inspecting overseas. Of course, he will not go to the self-governing Dominions unless they wish to have him. But a good deal of time has been spent in conference with the representatives of the Overseas Dominions, and I feel certain that the presence of an Inspector-General—of a soldier who, like Sir Ian Hamilton, has not only won great distinction in the field, but is known to have commanded Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders, as well as his own countrymen on the field of battle—will be an encouragement to those with whom he is brought in contact. As regards the duties of Sir Ian Hamilton, they will, of course, extend to not only such work as there may be in connection with self-governing Dominions, and the new organisation which is in progress, but to the very large body of British troops that are overseas—outside India. India looks after herself. There is a Commander-in-Chief there. He is really, in some measure, Inspector-General. But we have large bodies of troops in South Africa, Egypt, Gibraltar, and Malta, and in distant stations like the Mauritius, Bermuda, Hong Kong, and other places which I need not enumerate, which have to be inspected, which work of the new Inspector-General certainly will be work which will occupy a good deal of his time.
But that is not all. Between the West of the Empire and the East there is a long line of communications. In the event of any military concentration having to take 710 place we should have to be familiar with the patrolling of the great military highway between the East and the West, that chain of posts which we have, beginning with Gibraltar and extending through the Mediterranean to the East. We have three considerable bodies of troops at Gibraltar, Malta, and Egypt, not to mention Cyprus, and we have extensive arrangements which would have to be made for reliefs and for the use of that highway. Therefore for work which is of more than a mere spectorial kind it is necessary to give executive powers to someone if that highway is to be organised. There are questions on which the General Staff requires to be advised, and they can only be advised by somebody who is, at any rate, a good deal on the spot. Then the Inspector-General must be in contact with troops at some point, and as he cannot be with troops at home in the same way as a home Inspector-General, Malta is a convenient place for him to be in contact with those troops. His work will be the work laid down and defined carefully in the Memorandum which has been presented and laid on the Table of Parliament. The first five or six paragraphs of that Memorandum point out that his executive functions as Commander-in-Chief will be more than the functions of a mere inspector. He will have to deal with questions of strategy, defence, training, and tactics. The work of these great fortresses, administrative work, and the ordinary work of commanding the troops inland, will belong to the Commanders-in-Chief, where the command of those great forces has combined with it the position of Governor representing the Crown. The work of Sir Ian Hamilton will be to survey and to coordinate the different arrangements connected with strategy and defence all along that great highway; a unifying mind will be brought into operation in a way which has never been possible before, and the only difference between what has been done in the last three years and the present scheme is a difference to which I will at once allude. When I first discussed this matter some time ago we thought that the post of Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean was one which might well be combined with the High Commissionership conferring high civil distinctions and of the representation of the King on great occasions. When I came to talk this over with Sir Ian Hamilton, he himself was the first to suggest that the opportunity had 711 come, particularly in the light of those Conferences last August, for making this post a purely military one, with the position of Inspector-General limited, so far as the command of the Mediterranean Station was concerned, to Malta, but discharging his functions free from what I may call civil duties. We therefore decided to abolish the position of High Commissioner in the Mediterranean, and to make the post a purely military one. Sir Ian Hamilton will, therefore, be Inspector-General, with the special duties of Commander-in-Chief of the great highway, to which I have referred. The work which he has to do will bring him to London for a considerable part of the year, and he will sit on the Defence Committee, and will be in close consultation with the General Staff. But for two or three months he will be in contact with troops pre-eminently desirable in the case of an Inspector-General in Malta, which will be the point from which he will discharge such duties as may have to be discharged at that time. Like every Inspector-General who does his work thoroughly, he will have a great deal of travelling to do, but we hope that, under this new arrangement, the Inspector-General will possess facilities not available under the old system. It is, perhaps, not immaterial that we can have an Inspector-General in this position with no additional cost, and Sir Ian Hamilton's appointment will not involve any extra cost.
§ Mr. HALDANE
When three or four years ago we reorganised the position in the Meriterranean, we found there a Major-General in charge of the administration, who seemed to us to be useless, and it was by the reorganisation of the staff in this and other points that the money was found for the Mediterranean Command. Matters have been going in that fashion ever since. By the arrangements which have been made now the cost of the combined offices of Inspector-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean will not be more than was the cost under the system that has obtained up to now.
§ Mr. HALDANE
Five thousand pounds a year. I pass now to the next topic taken up by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I entirely agree with him that we must settle what the component parts 712 of our Army are, and we must see that each component part is kept up to its standard. We come to the oversea Army. The first question the right hon. Gentleman put was as to who is responsible for the apportionment of the establishment in Egypt. The answer to that is that within the last two or three years, we have somewhat increased the garrison in Egypt. The garrison in Egypt is adjusted in consultation with various authorities, and at the present time we are of opinion that it is sufficient. It must be remembered that there has been a certain amount of reorganisation. The Egyptian garrison now forms a component part of what is called the Seventh Division, a Division which can be brought together under arrangements that have been made. Only three days off, at Malta, there is a brigade which could reinforce it, and we have other arrangements under which the garrison in Egypt could be more rapidly reinforced than in the past. I have no reason to think that the garrison in Egypt is unsatisfactory at the present time.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I cannot give the figures, but it is a substantial increase since I came into office. I shall be able to inform the Committee of the details later on, but I am right in saying that the garrison has been increased within the last three years. The next question the right hon. Gentleman raised was whether it was sufficient or satisfactory that the establishment of the Infantry battalions at home, the battalions of the line, should be 720. Well, of course, the establishment is in one respect more satisfactory than it was in regard to the strength corresponding with the establishment. You have not only got your stength of 720 corresponding to the establishment, but owing to the wonderful work of the Army Medical Department and other forces of a moral and social kind, wastage is very much less than it was. The result is that an establishment of 720 does all the work that is requisite in finding drafts. The drafts question, which gave great difficulty some time ago, has disappeared. But there are other questions. I do not attach the same importance to larger numbers as does the right hon. Gentleman, but there is the question of the Reserve. That is a question which requires careful consideration. We are too apt in this country to act first and think afterwards. It is 713 better to work out what the effect of your Reserve will be before you talk of adding to your establishment. At the present time the whole matter is under consideration, but I am not yet in a position to say whether it is necessary to increase the establishment of these battalions in order to preserve an adequate Reserve. That is a question which involves the most minute actuarial calculations. Those calculations are being made at the present time, and I hope in good time, before the next Estimates, to have made up my mind on that subject, and to be able to take action or not to take action according to the advice given me. But I quite agree that the question of the Reserve is one that wants very close watching. It is very true that our Reserve is not very high just now, but after a little' it will go up again; the shrinkage will be temporary. Nevertheless the Infantry Reserve is a matter which requires careful study and watching, and that study is being bestowed on it at the present time. Now I come to the question of the supply of officers. I do not say much about that, because we have got it under careful consideration, not so much in the matter of pay, which is a very big question, and will have to be considered, but in regard to the question at the root of the matter, namely, whether we can somehow relieve the burden of the cost of the education of candidates for the positions of officers of the British Army. The whole matter is under consideration at this moment, and it would be premature on my part to make any statement about it. The whole question of the modes of admission to the Army, of the training of officers, and of their education, is a subject which requires most close consideration. Now I come to the question of horses—the most controversial and, perhaps, the most difficult we have to deal with. So many experts have different plans for dealing with the horses question that I have come lately to congratulate myself on not being an expert and in knowing very little about horses, but I have given it the most earnest attention and have studied, I think, every scheme that has been brought forward. I would entreat the Committee to let us do one thing at a time, and the first thing is what we are doing, namely, to find out how many horses we want, and the second is how many horses there are in the country. Well, that has been done. I need not trouble the House with the figures in detail, but I have here the results of a careful analysis of the police census. Ex- 714 cluding the horses under four years old and brood mares, there are available horses to the extent of over 1,600,000. These we have analysed into saddle horses, heavy draught, and light draught, and a small class of horses still used for farming purposes. Of course, I do not estimate that all these horses would be useful, and I write them down to a figure of, say, 500,000. What is the next 'step to be taken?
We have worked out the basis of this scheme which I explained to the Committee when the Estimates were before the House last March. We worked it out on the quotas which each county would be called upon to produce on mobilisation. These we have not published yet, because the time has not quite come to do so. Presently we shall communicate with the county associations and then will be the time to show the work that has been done by this Committee. It is no use discussing these things in the abstract, or on the lines of the working of what county associations will have to do before you know the number of horses to be operated upon, or the proportions to be required. Until you get that question in the concrete it is no use endeavouring to make anticipations or at all events to be confident that you will succeed in them. What we have to do is to put the problem to the county associations, and that we hope to do in the course of a very short time. The work has been going on very carefully, and we are now far on with it, and the only thing quite certain is that notwithstanding the great decline in the number of horses in use in this country, there are still three or four times as many horses suitable for Army purposes as will be necessary for mobilisation. Of course I do not forget that mobilisation is not the only thing. The question of wastage is a very serious matter, but still, the number of horses is such as to provide enough for that also. Therefore it is a question of organisation and working out, and until the problem is presented in the concrete it is impossible to pronounce definitely upon it.
When we come to the county associations we will consider with them whether our plan proposes to allow enough for the work, whether they require more veterinary assistance, and what is to be done to make the plan succeed in full. There is no desire to prevent the spending of public money so far as it is required, but my experience is that one is extremely apt to run away on a plan which involves the spending of national money far beyond 715 what really would have been necessary if you had known what you were about when you started. Therefore I want to go very cautiously in this matter and not to spend public money until I know what I am about. I should like to add that my Noble Friend Lord Carrington has a plan of a scheme at the War Office on behalf of the Board of Agriculture, to which I think I alluded on a previous occasion. His scheme is for the purchase of three-year-old horses bred from registered mares and suitable stallions, and these three-year-olds will be purchased from farmers, the War Office taking them as they require them.
§ Mr. HALDANE
We have not got the scheme in existence yet, but it is obvious they must be purchased from the breeders. These are horses bred from mares and stallions which are the subject of public Grant, and therefore it would be obvious that they would be bought from the breeders.
The next question the right hon. Gentleman put to me was the question about Mounted Infantry and divisional Cavalry. I am not sure where he got his figure of ninety-nine mounted men. My information furnished me, and I have verified it, is that there are to be mounted brigades which are to consist of 1,500 men, and consequently that the protective mounted men with the divisional Cavalry, as it is commonly called, consists of two companies of Mounted Infantry each of about 150 men, making 300 in all; so I do not know where the right hon. Gentleman got his information from about the ninety-nine.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I did not invent the phrase "protective Cavalry." There is the new Cavalry, as the Committee knows, that operates far away from the Infantry, and then there is what is called the "Divisional" mounted troops.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
In your expeditionary division, which is strategic, you are using twelve regiments—four brigades—and you have only two other line regiments in this country, and the regiment made out of the Household troops. What are your "Protected Cavalry," as the phrase is understood, and your Divisional Cavalry to come from? I believe the mounted brigades of which we heard are Protected Cavalry, and what I was asking was, What is Divisional Cavalry? I purposely avoided the phrase "Cavalry Divisions," the old expeditionary division was small. The small divisions were grouped into three in the army corps, and there was a regiment in each army corps. Therefore, there were two regiments to every three of the small divisions of the mounted force.
§ Mr. HALDANE
The screen Cavalry as distinguished from the strategic consists of two mounted brigades, each generally of 1,500 mounted men, and they are Cavalry and Mounted Infantry, and Horse Artillery. That is screen Cavalry. I have published all these things.
§ Mr. HALDANE
No. I am informed that it should be 300. I have expert advice upon the matter, and I gather my answer as right.
§ Mr. HALDANE
Oh, certainly, what is called the Divisional Cavalry is Mounted Infantry. That is the essential upon which the thing is worked out. That is how the matter stands, and the details of the organisation has been published. Then there was another point which the right hon. Gentleman raised. He said there should be more Engineers, but I am told that the field companies of Engineers to divisions are enough. Then there was another point which he presented, and that was the state of the Special Reserve and the work of the Departmental Committee.
§ Mr. HALDANE
The matter is receiving attention. As regards the Special Reserve, a Departmental Committee has 717 been sitting for some time, and it has worked out a good many theories, which it would not be at this moment expedient to publish. There is still a great deal of that work to be done. There is no doubt that the Special Reserve men are men if very good quality; the men we have been training this year and last year point to that. Whether the form of the present organisation of the Special Reserve is the best or not remains to be seen. At present the Special Reserve consists of something like 550 of an establishment. Of course that is only the peace establishment. The war establishment will be very much more, something from 1,100 to 1,300 on mobilisation. Their function is to occupy stationary positions, and there, under the plans worked out by the General Staff, gave both trained drafts and protect the work. Of course there is another class of Special Reserve whose function is to work in the lines of the relief of communication and other matters.
What the Departmental Committee are considering is whether we cannot improve the organisation by drawing some sort of distinction between the two classes of Special Reserve work and adapting certain plans for their work. It would be premature to say anything at this moment. The Committee has not reported, and I am not in a position to say what their recommendations may be as regards the Special Reserve and other battalions for training this year.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he means that the twenty-seven extra battalions are being investigated by the same Committee as the seventy-four?
§ Mr. HALDANE
Yes, we are investigating the Special Reserve as a whole, and the General Reserve of the Army. The Special Reserve is not for mobilisation; it is used to make up the wastage by drafts, and we are investigating the whole question.
§ Mr. HALDANE
The Artillery stand on quite a different footing. The Artillery Reserve is 5,000, and it has also got a Special Reserve of similar dimensions—I think the number is 6,000, and with that 6,000 and 5,000 the Artillery would be adequately mobilised for service.
Are we to understand that the Special Reserve is never to be mobilised in battalion in case of war, but is only to be drafted away to the field of battle to make up wastage?
§ Mr. HALDANE
That depends upon what you want the battalion for, and, as I said, we are considering whether certain battalions might not be fitted for mobilisation, going abroad and doing work upon the field, and whether other battalions might not have to be differently considered. All they will have to find will be drafts, and the question is whether differential treatment for these two purposes is necessary. I say nothing about it now, because it is under the consideration of the most expert Committee I could get together, which has to report to the Army Council. Then as to the Special Reserves joining in the big manœuvres to take place in August. It is quite probable that the men who will go there will have had their full six months' recruit training, and that several of them will not have had their annual training, so they are going to take their annual training in the manœuvres. They would have had about the same time if they had come out for their annual training in the ordinary way. We think this is the finest training to fit them up as Regulars, and the manœuvres are to be on the fullest organised scale.
With regard to the Territorial Force, my reports coming in show that the Territorial Artillery are making marvellous progress, and there is no good ground for being gloomy about them at all. They are doing well, and it remains to be seen to what standard of excellence they will attain. It is certainly not possible to make predictions about them a priori, Nobody's a priori views are to be relied upon as to how the Territorial Force will turn out. There is only one thing to do, and that is to assist in every possible way by watching, by care, and by building up the Force where it is deficient. It is impossible by any amount of prevision to estimate what the Territorial Force will be after three years if it goes on in the fashion it is going on at the present time.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the recruiting, and said it was bad. I have heard it is wonderful in some places, and bad in others. I have no reason to believe it is bad. On the other hand, I hear of places where it is abnormally good; but until we have the figures, which we shall have eight or ten days after 1st 719 July, and until we get a survey of the whole field, we shall not know what is really its condition. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman it is not 80 per cent, of the establishment only that has been reached; it was nearly 90 per cent, last March, and the other figures, I think, were 89 and a fraction. What I did say then, and what I say again, is that you will never get up to the absolute figure of the establishment, because there always passes out of the Teritorial Force a certain number of people, and it takes a certain time for their places to be filled. My experts tell me that, even with ideal recruiting, there must be a small margin short of the establishment, and the only question is how close we can get to the establishment. We have got behind the Territorial Force a Reserve, and I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it was not safe to base a Reserve on the Territorial Force. To begin with, nobody who is not fitted ought to be recommended, and the associations only accepts on recommendation. There are plenty of men who are very good, and will continue very good with a certain amount of training, after having had four years' experience in the Territorial Force. The Reserve gives you a bank behind the Territorial Force on which you can draw for mobilisation up to the full establishment in the event of war breaking out, and to fill up the wastage of war.
The right hon. Gentleman said we ought to have 500,000. That may or it may not be. He also hinted that it would be an excellent thing if we could get these by four months' embodied training in time of peace, and he seemed to suggest that in order to secure them there should be some form of legal duty resting on the people. I should just like to take this opportunity of saying that I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman. Careful consideration of this question has convinced me that all schemes for mixing up a compulsory and a voluntary system in this country are doomed to failure. They are founded on a strategical misconception of the most extraordinary kind. Just see what our position is. We have settled our strategical basis. We live on an island, and the command of the sea is vital to us. If we have command of the sea, the trouble of an invasion assumes a different aspect than if we had not command of the sea. You cannot be invaded with the force by which you could be invaded if you had not command of the sea. The com- 720 mand of the sea is our first strategical necessity, and the second strategical necessity, which is of almost equal importance, is that we should have a very large expeditionary Army. When people talk of the small Army of Great Britain I smile. The small Army of Great Britain of an expeditionary character is larger than the expeditionary armies of France and Germany put together. It is true that every man under these Continental systems is bound to serve oversea under the law of his country, but it is well known that for long expeditions these countries call upon volunteers, and they cannot get volunteers in anything like the same number that we are able to get them in this country where our genius and our system are quite different.
It is the essence of our system that we recruit a professional Army for oversea service which, because it is professional, enlists for a long service, and that we should get it on a voluntary system. We require 150,000 troops, and the wonder is we get them. I have inquired on the Continent, and they tell me there they could not hope to have the stream of recruits for long oversea service that takes place in this country where the whole arrangements are voluntary. That being so I hold to the conviction that the next necessity to our Fleet commanding the sea is our expeditionary Army—our Regular First Line. We must keep that up, and also the forces requisite for India. I for one am not disposed to run the risk of giving rise to the condition of things which obtains on the Continent, where you cannot get your recruits with anything like the facility or in anything like the numbers we get them here. That is all I say. It is impossible to mix a compulsory and a voluntary system. You can have the one, or you can have the other. You may have a splendid voluntary system and get your recruits, and you may have a compulsory system, but you must have it compulsory right through.
I am not arguing against the Continental system, because, if I were a German, I should think the Army should be raised on a compulsory basis. You could not get it large enough on any other footing. It is the same with France. Then I remember what they want these things for. They want them for their home defence and for operations over the frontier in a neighbouring country. Their wars are on a tremendous scale, but they are short. They could not keep a nation in arms mobilised for a long time. We may have to keep our 721 Army mobilised for five years for expeditions oversea, and we can keep the largest army in the world mobilised over sea for that period. We are the centre of a great and scattered Empire, and it is because we are a sea Power and the centre of a great and scattered Empire that we have the kind of Army we have, and that that kind of First Line is necessary—a First Line which I think I have shown we can only rely upon getting on a voluntary basis. I should just as soon think of interfering with my jugular vein unnecessarily as I should of taking any steps to interfere unnecessarily with that system. I cannot be sure we can get it under any other system. Until I can be so sure I shall continue to believe the burden lies on the other side, who want to make this tremendous and sweeping change. That is the first reason why I am against this system of embodying men for four months compulsorily. My second is that the problem of getting officers is difficult enough at the present time, and how to get the body of officers—5.000 or 6,000—that would be required to train these recruits brought in by compulsion of the law passes my comprehension. They would have to be Regular officers; they would have to be got at enormous cost, and you would have the greatest difficulty in getting them at all. You would have something which would tend to destroy the supply of officers for your First Line if you attempted to succeed in the Second Line. That shows the difficulty of mixing a compulsory and voluntary system.
No other nation has solved this problem, and the desire to solve it is based upon a misconception of the strategical position of this country. What is it? It is that if we have the command of the sea all we require is a Home Defence Army just large enough to force the enemy to come in such a size that the Fleet can destroy it. If you have not command of the sea, then you must starve. If you can force the enemy to come in such size that the Fleet can destroy it then you are safe. What is that size? After a great deal of consideration, I think, by both Front Benches, acting on the advice they have had at their command, they have put it at 70,000. I doubt very much whether 70,000 men, horses, and guns could be brought over in face of a Navy commanding the sea. I rather think the force would have to be less.
Be that as it may, with the 70,000 to be dealt with our position does not appear to be a very bad one. In time of peace you will have the expeditionary force at home, 722 the Special Reserve and the Territorial Force, in all about 600,000 men; and after the expeditionary force is withdrawn you will have the Territorial Forces embodied, trained and in training, which will give you 300,000. I therefore cannot see any advantage in resorting to what the right hon. Gentleman seems to suggest to be the proper course of providing for the compulsory training of 400,000 men instead of the present system. It would be expensive. It would be ruinous to our supply of officers and it would be ruinous to our recruiting for the expeditionary force, and, when you add to that the fact that it is based on the greatest misconception, then I say frankly to this Committee that, having considered the matter for four years, I have come to the conclusion which I have ventured to intimate, and I cordially and respectfully concur in the view arrived at by the Leaders of both parties in the House of Lords last year when they threw out the Bill brought in for that purpose.
I have few words to say about the Veteran Reserve, of which the right hon. Gentleman has spoken. First of all, we want to know how many Veteran Reservists there are in this country and then we shall be able to see what can be provided in the shape of the most appropriate organisation for them. Warriors' Clubs and other institutions may be instituted for those who have a higher aim—those who can do great service in stimulating the military spirit and system in this country—but in these matters we must proceed step by step. My right hon. Friend has referred to the equipment of the Territorial Force and has complained that the provision for buildings are quite inadequate. I think I have been hearing the same complaints as have reached the ears of the right hon. Gentleman. He seems to think that the War Office is held back by a parsimonious and stingy Treasury from providing proper headquarters. That is a complete misconception. When the Territorial Force was started we said we did not want to put our hands into the pockets of the Treasury too deeply, and we told the Territorials, "We will provide proper headquarters." But I was careful to say that we should confine ourselves to those things which were necessary for military life and that they must not expect luxuries. I have therefore been compelled to turn a deaf ear to appeals to build drill halls large enough for all kinds of purposes; to appeals for swimming baths and recreation rooms on a very 723 large scale—matters which used to be covered by subscription under the old Volunteer system. Of course, I do not want to discourage voluntary subscriptions, but I would point out that these are things which cannot be provided out of Army Funds. They are not necessary for Army organisation, and if you take money out of the Estimates for them something else which is necessary will have to suffer. There is only a certain amount of expenditure which can be justified as necessary for the emergencies of the Service. We have had to deal with a good many people who hold other opinions. They have said, "It is necessary we should have these things on the scale we have suggested"; but our experts—our Engineer officers—have thought otherwise and have advised us what is actually necessary. There has no doubt been considerable delay in carrying out some of these works in consequence. May I point out that up to 23rd May last we have spent in capital expenditure on headquarter buildings £636,000, and we have under consideration a further outlay of £415,000, including provision for certain large ranges. A great part of that work has gone forward smoothly, but it also includes some of the items which have been in controversy and as to which people say we are starving the Territorial Force. On additional property held on lease, since the Territorial Forces started, we have spent upwards of £20,000 a year for ground rents, and we have already spent a further £60,000 in making good dilapidations. The great bulk of the work has been done, and what remains to be finished will I hope be completed in a comparatively short time. Besides that, we have made a recent addition to the Grant to the county associations to meet certain expenses, and we have also under consideration the question of increasing the salaries of the secretaries of the associations. There is also the question of ranges, with which considerable progress has been made. The difficulty, about ranges, I am sorry to say, is increasingly great in this country. But the War Office has been making a resolute attempt to deal with it. Presently we shall have a number of new ranges. There is a great range at Purfleet. It has been constructed at a cost of over £200,000, and it will assist very much the Metropolitan and the Essex corps. It will be completed towards the end of the year. Then there is a range near Birmingham, which has cost us £35,000, and which is ready for use. There are other ranges in Lancashire 724 and Northumberland, which we have under consideration, in addition to smaller ranges, and, further than that, we have provided a number of miniature ranges.
§ Mr. HALDANE
That is an Artillery range, and in regard to that there have been certain legal delays which have led to arbitration. The general criticism of the right hon. Gentleman amounted to this: There is a great deal still to be done. Nobody knows that better than we do, but there has been substantial progress this year, and the end of the second stage is, I think, in sight. That is the stage for providing the Territorial Forces with headquarters. There will be a third stage, which will be to make good the many defects we have discovered, and which must be put right. But, on the whole, the organisation has grown, and we hope it will continue to grow. It is no use being too sanguine about reaching the point of perfection. You cannot do that until years have elapsed. The Territorial Force has been in existence for only a little over two years. It must have time to grow. The best thing to be done is to water it and to nurse it and not to pull the plant by the roots to see what progress has been made. I think we may congratulate ourselves on the fact that the creation of this Territorial Force has not been a party controversial matter. Men of different political opinions have been of one mind on the subejct, and I confess I think the argument of the right hon. Gentleman is but a further manifestation,, if it were wanted, of the fact that the nation is determined to go on with this national institution.
§ Sir CHARLES DILKE
We had understood that the question of the Mediterranean Command would be discussed to-day at greater length than it has been as yet, but as it may still be the subject of further speaking I shall not attempt to anticipate the general discussion. I will only say that the defence given by my right hon. Friend, which is probably an adequate defence, would have stood more strongly before the public had it not been for the notorious fact that the difficulty about the present Overseas Command has grown step by step out of certain arrangements made to meet personal necessities. I think no one in this House, whatever his views, would desire to speak otherwise 725 than with the highest respect for the Duke of Connaught, but the arrangements made at that time were largely personal, and depended upon his princely position as well as upon military considerations.
Then afterwards, when the matter was discussed in this House very much across the Table, it was rather discussed as a question personally relating to Lord Kitchener, and on the ground of the merits, and it may be the demerits and defects of those who were named in connection with the post.
I cannot help thinking that these repeated changes in the status and the peculiarity of the circumstances of this command, declined first in the case of the Duke of Connaught, and then by Lord Kitchener, may to some extent prejudice it in the public mind. I cordially agree with the statement of my right hon. Friend, however, that the present holder of the post in its new form is a man who is likely to be acceptable to the great self-governing Dominions. He was a well known and popular commander in South Africa, and is well versed in Colonial soldiering, and that is a fact I think which will help in the direction of inducing the Dominions to take a more friendly view of that which at first sight might have offended some prejudices had the post been held by a man less well known than is the new Inspector-General in the Mediterranean. I should have thought so all the more clearly had it not been for a speech made in another place by one whose authority on the subject of the opinion entertained in the Dominions ought to rank very high. Lord Northcote showed some alarm after his experience in Australia as to the reception which this appointment might receive. The discussion on this subject to-day must be of a tentative character, but I may point out that the defence of this proposal given by the Secretary of State for War is not based upon two pages issued on this subject in previous years, but only upon a three-line paragraph recently published. I cannot mention this post without an allusion to the question of cost, not only in connection with it, but in connection with the Commands-in-Chief, and the Inspection, and the cost of the Headquarters Staff, and of the War Office. I shall not deal with this matter at length for two reasons. In the first place, it has been the subject of repeated promises which have been made ever since the Report of the Esher Committee, from both sides of the House, 726 that the cost of the War Office would be diminished, and also that of Headquarters and other Staffs, and that the cost has not diminished. Another reason why I shall not deal with it at length is that a day has been set apart for a Debate on the Report of the Public Accounts Committee, who have so prominently and frequently dealt with it that if we discussed the matter now we might possibly anticipate what some hon. Member may desire to say upon that occasion. It may suffice here to say that the Report of the Public Accounts Committee contains a paragraph of tremendous strength and, although that paragraph alludes to the reorganisation of the War Office and of the Army Accounts Department, they still continue to express grave doubts as to the form of the Accounts. It also-refers back to the reports of 1908 and 1909, in which these promises were made, both with regard to a reduction of the cost of the Headquarters Staff and the administration of the Army.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I have always maintained that we had too big a body and too little a head in the Army, and now that we are getting a larger head and a smaller body I think we have got to be about normal. We have reduced the cost of the Accounts Department very considerably.
§ Sir CHARLES DILKE
Yes, but we have yet to see whether the new Department is efficient. The Accounts Department is a weak spot in the opinion of many. I will not deal with the Report of the Public Accounts Committee on that subject. It is disagreeable reading for the Army, and the only reason I mention it to-day is because the question comes up in regard to the new creation of these high commands. I do not think the prospect which is held out to us of the head swelling more and more is one which we can regard with equanimity. The body, no doubt, requires a thinking brain, but the brain is not the only part of the head that swells, and I cannot but think there is room for careful watching of the cost, not only for what is called War Office and Headquarters' Staff expenditure, but in regard to staffs in other parts of the Army, whether at home or in the Mediterranean. The right hon. Gentleman opposite asked some other questions, and he, very naturally, did so. They have been asked very frequently, and will go on being 727 asked, and have reference to the shortage of officers. He did not press the matter at any length, and the reply was neither very complete nor very satisfactory. I am not going to attempt, however, in the presence of others who are far more competent to deal with that branch of the subject than I can pretend to be—I am not going to attempt to reopen the old discussions, or to say the old things which were said before, and to which we know the ordinary answers, but there is one consideration which is, perhaps, not sufficiently borne in mind. In our Army we have a high proportion of regimental officers as compared with foreign armies. There are very strong and excellent reasons for having a high proportion, although we do not always get it, and the difficulty of getting officers, and, perhaps, the difficulty of keeping them, is increased by the fact that an enormous proportion of the officers in our Army are taken off from their proper duties and put on to perform other duties. You will find a great number of them detached from their regiments, or, being with their regiments, having their time taken up with useless formalities which do not exist in other armies. The right hon. Gentleman, by increasing the power of commanding officers in regard to sentences, is doing his best to decrease courts-martial, but the service on courts-martial is enormously greater in our Army than it is elsewhere in other armies.
In some of those other armies they have a small number of specialist officers who give their attention to such matters, but no army takes up the time of so many officers for so long upon this work as ours. Then there is the inspection of accounts and other matters which are unknown abroad, and I cannot help thinking that just as our blue jackets are much too valuable to be employed as gardeners, so are our Army officers much too valuable to be taken off their real work and employed upon details which they should not have to do, and in doing which they are employed much more in our Army than in others. The next point raised was as to the character of the Special Reserve, and I confess that the answer of my right hon. Friend reminded me painfully of our old Debates on the Territorial Army Bill, which he most successfully carried and which I most unsuccessfully opposed. It reminded me of those Debates because of our inability to obtain any real idea of what the real position and the future of the 728 Militia was going to be, or whether they would remain here or go abroad. They were said to be going to be available to perform a number of services, and, indeed, whatever service was mentioned, they were said to be going to perform it, and after those Debates I confess I heard with a great deal of amusement to-day that the whole, or a great number, of the battalions of the Special Reserve were again to go into the melting-pot. It is a curious reminder of those long and, I am afraid, useless, Debates which we had upon the Militia Clauses of the Territorial Army Bill, that we find now that the whole thing is as unsettled as it was when the Debates began.
Then the right hon. Member complained of the composition and size of the famous expeditionary force, which, it will be remembered, was criticised by the Leader of the Opposition and others on the first day that it was mentioned here.
The right hon. Gentleman did not see how we could despatch so large an expeditionary force, properly equipped and with all its horses, but to-day we get a definite point, also an old friend in a new form—the question of Cavalry apart from the Army Cavalry—that is to say, brigade and divisional Cavalry. I do not understand what the answer was, but I know the document which was mentioned, which I have always insisted really meant that the Cavalry, other than the Strategic Cavalry of the Cavalry Division, was to be Mounted Infantry drawn from Infantry battalions. There was a point as to using a certain proportion of Yeomanry, but I did not see where the Cavalry came in and took their place. Their place was taken by Mounted Infantry—that is to say, not regular Mounted Infantry organised in any regiment, but Mounted Infantry drawn from different Infantry battalions. This was a scheme to which I have always been rigidly opposed, and while I do not go so far as the right hon. Gentleman opposite in asking for so large an expeditionary force, I am thoroughly with him that in any circumstances, whatever the size of the expeditionary force should be, it should be supplied with Cavalry in the ordinary sense of the word, or Mounted Infantry who are regular Mounted Infantry, and in that sense Cavalry—not merely Mounted Infantry drawn from infantry battalions, but trained as Mounted Infantry beforehand in time of peace. We chop and change not only as to questions with regard to matters like Cavalry and 729 the expeditionary force, but we also change with regard to another matter which was mentioned here to-day almost as if it were fresh, although the right hon. Gentleman opposite knows the whole history of that question. He suggested that the time had now come when we ought to be able to withdraw some, if not the whole, of the Cavalry at present in South Africa. My right hon. Friend has always theoretically agreed that a self-governing Dominion, such as the South African Union has now become, has to provide for her own defence, and will be proud to do so like the others, and although we possess in South Africa responsibilities outside the four States which form the Union, yet Basutoland is not a country in which Cavalry could operate, although it is a great country for the supply of ponies and horses. It is not a country where Regular Cavalry regiments would be wanted, and I cordially support the suggestion that these Cavalry regiments should now be brought home. Unfortunately, last year the Under-Secretary for the Colonies gave one reason for keeping the troops, including the Cavalry, continuously in South Africa, and my right hon. Friend gave another, and I thought both were bad. Perhaps they were equally bad. Every Colony really contains a large number of persons who ardently desire the presence of Cavalry regiments in their midst. That demand always exists though it is somewhat artificial. My right hon. Friend harked back to the old heresy of troops in South Africa being definitely stationed there for use elsewhere. That was a doctrine which, when looked into by the House of Commons, was rejected by the great majority of the House, although it had many strong friends. The cost of keeping troops there alone is of course an element which must be taken into consideration—the enormous additional cost involved by keeping a force in South Africa as compared with keeping it at home. I think when we consider what we shall have to pay for our Navy in future years that is an overwhelming reason against keeping that body of troops in South Africa.
Not only have we chopped and changed about our Cavalry system, but in one other matter to which I must refer we have done the same. I mean what we call to-day light guns, which we were told the example of Manchuria had conclusively demonstrated to be necessary. Every other country has increased its mountain 730 artillery steadily while we have virtually-abolished ours except in India where it is a native body, while, just as an afterthought, we kept some in South Africa. When we abolished them altogether at home the whole of the establishments in Monmouthshire were swept away, and the Militia, which co-operated with them, were also, of course, turned out of the Garrison Artillery. It shows how we chop and change, and if my right hon. Friend achieves the result of getting a more consecutive policy in matters of that kind I am sure he will be wise. But we cannot forget how we have chopped and changed in regard to the drill and instructions of our Cavalry and the principles of Cavalry work, and, as regards Mountain Artillery, while every other power was going on steadily in the direction of extending and improving its mountain battery system-There is one other matter which was referred to—the shortness of recruits for the Territorial Army. I will not go over the old story of the change from the improved Volunteers into the present Territorial Army system, but it is not fair to count, as against the old system and in favour of the new, the Yeomanry either as regards strength or efficiency, because they were more strong and as efficient before the Act was passed as they are now. They have nothing to do with the Territorial Army Act. They are nominally a portion of that Army, but they are the same as they were before the Act was passed. As regards the Artillery, I am not going to repeat what I have said before. The right hon. Gentleman did not sharply dissent from what was said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and, as far as I am concerned, I will not reopen that controversy. But as regards the Infantry, the worst point, as I foresaw, of the change from the more elastic Volunteer system to the more stiff imitation of the Regular system in the Territorial Infantry has been—I will not say everywhere but in many counties, because the system works differently in different places—that in large parts of the rural districts you have lost that admirable recruit, the rural Volunteer, and when people suggest that he was only a pot-hunting Volunteer, who worked for his shooting and his prizes, of course the man I mean did not. He was a really conscientious and patriotic Volunteer, and a better type of non-commissioned officer than was got out of these men it was impossible to find. That is, of course, one class of recruit, and a very superior type, 731 properly to be attracted by a Territorial Army and not competing with the Regulars, as some Volunteer townsmen do, that you have lost by the new system, and whom you might have now in an improved version of the old one.
There is a little chaff perhaps on the subject of veterans in the Service. I suppose by the reply of the Secretary of State he meant it rather as an honour when he said he wished to raise the age above fifty than as a very effective contribution to the actual strength of the Infantry, the Artillery, or the Cavalry. But it would be easy to push the matter too far, because undoubtedly both in Germany and in France you can find examples of distinguished veterans who continue to serve at an extraordinary age. Bismarck will occur to anyone, being an active territorial officer up to his death, and I remember a distinguished Frenchman who is still living who twenty years ago was a lieutenant at 60, and when he appeared in the street in uniform people used to say he was very old for a territorial lieutenant. They do undoubtedly keep men at great ages, though they cannot be useful in any way, but it is very important in the case of a Volunteer Territorial Army to avoid everything which will savour of the ridiculous. If you allow men in a Volunteer Territorial Army to appear in their uniforms at an age at which they will be useless for service in the field you impart an element of ridicule which reduces them and puts them on a par with miniature rifle clubs and. all those little social bodies connected with prize shooting, which certainly prejudiced the Volunteer movement in the military mind, and which are discouraged in the new Territorial Army. One wounding feature in connection with the change from Volunteers to Territorials has been the confiscation for the benefit of other people of the drill halls with which many battalions have provided themselves with great public spirit. I never like joining in the attack on my right hon. Friend for not buying and building more drill halls, but in the arrangements to get rid of certain battalions they have in many cases plundered one locality of an adequate drill hall for the purpose of handing it over as a storehouse for another battalion which has a very good drill hall in its own place.
There is one question I should like to ask for the purpose of reassuring excitable and nervous people who are affected by violent statements in the Press. I assume 732 that there is no shadow of foundation for recent mixed military and naval scares which have been set up in connection with all sorts of new inventions. It has been said that the whole manufacture of ammunition for the Army could be paralysed at any moment by the dropping of a small amount of fire on a single spot. I think there has been such a positive statement made—to my mind ridiculous—in a quarter so important, and backed by at least three considerable speakers on a great scientific occasion, that it is almost worth asking the Secretary of State to stamp on a rumour so absurd.
§ Sir SAMUEL SCOTT
I think many of my Friends on this side of the House will join me in congratulating the right hon. Gentleman upon his statement in respect of what the War Office is doing as to the horse supply. It is somewhat difficult, of course, to understand what the intentions of the War Office are in regard to horses until we have further details of the scheme, but I think from the words the right hon. Gentleman let drop that we can congratulate him on making a great step in the right direction. I only ask his attention to one matter. As he well knows, every year in the Cavalry a large number of mares are dropped, some for one reason and some for another, and a good many of them are not too old to breed from and might be utilised, instead of being sold as they are for a very few pounds, by being farmed out to farmers and others and used to breed the right sort of horses that the Army requires.
I should like to allude to another point with respect to the expeditionary force which I do not think any speaker has yet touched upon, that is the supply of officers on mobilisation. I believe the number of officers required for the expeditionary force on mobilisation during the first six months would be something like 7,300, while the whole number of Regular officers actually serving in the country is only about 6,600;and in addition to this number, which was actually put down in a Paper issued, I think, last year, of 7,300, a large number of officers would also be required for the purpose of line communications, depots and other staff work and other purposes necessary for mobilisation. This is entirely exclusive of all the demands that would have to be met to supply officers for our troops oversea. India alone on mobilisation, would require at least 5,000 officers, and then a large supply of officers would also be required in our 733 Colonies and elsewhere in order to complete mobilisation. I venture to say that the supply is totally inadequate, and I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to assure the House that there are officers available outside of the 1,800 officers in the Army Reserve. He has also, of course, the Special Reserve, but he has already told us that the Special Reserve is not to be utilised on mobilisation.
§ Sir SAMUEL SCOTT
That is almost still more remarkable. If the right hon. Gentleman is going to take away the whole of the officers from the Special Reserve, is he going to leave them without officers? I can only judge from what the right hon. Gentleman has said that this does not apply to the officers of the Special Reserve.
§ Mr. HALDANE
A Special Reserve officer is different from an officer of the Special Reserve. We hope to use Special Reserve officers on mobilisation.
§ Sir SAMUEL SCOTT
I agree that Special Reserve officers and officers of the Special Reserve are different, but I hope we shall have more information than we have yet received as to how these officers are to be utilised on mobilisation. I do think this matter of the expeditionary force, and especially the officering of it on mobilisation, is one of the most serious problems the right hon. Gentleman will have to deal with. I hope he will be able to assure the House that he has dealt with it, and that the supply of officers is adequate.
The right hon. Gentleman in his speech this afternoon informed the Committee that after the expeditionary force had left this country he still would have 300,000 men available. What provision has the right hon. Gentleman made for his garrisons? I know that when the Estimates were brought before the House in March last the right hon. Gentleman stated that the garrisons were included in the force available for meeting an invader. Therefore it appears that he intended, on the invasion of this country, to denude the garrisons and leave our ports, dockyards, and other important places entirely without a man to defend them. I should therefore like to ask the right hon. Gentleman if that is still his intention, or, if that is not his intention, how does he propose to produce the 300,000 men and also, in addition, the 160,000 to 170,000 required to garrison this country and Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman must remember that Ireland must be garrisoned as well as this 734 country. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, before this Debate is finished, will be able to satisfy the House that there is an adequate supply of Regular officers and also Regular officers of the junior ranks to fill up the expeditionary force on mobilisation.
§ Captain BARING
I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to the new regulation under which officers on the active list of the Army are allowed to sit as Members of Parliament. From an answer given by the right hon. Gentleman at Question Time he showed himself thoroughly aware that there was a certain sense of grievance under which some hon. and gallant Members of the House are suffering, and he said the matter was still under consideration. As this is a matter which closely concerns the Membership of the House, I will trespass on the time of the Committee for a few minutes to put them in possession of the facts. Up to the election of 1906 any officer on the active list who chose to come into the House of Commons did so by surrendering his pay while maintaining Army rank. Two years ago a regulation came into force—and I regret that I did not draw attention to it at the time—providing that an officer who comes into the House of Commons should no longer maintain his rank, but that while drawing half-pay he should be put at the bottom of the rank at the time. That has the undoubted effect of saying to the officer who wishes to come into the House of Commons that he is not wanted. It places him in a position of losing all the back service which he may have to his credit, and if he ever discovers that he is not fitted for the House of Commons, or that he cannot afford to remain a Member, it makes him unable to go back and resume his profession with the same rank. This matter has got to be looked at from two points of view. One is the point of view of the House of Commons, and the other is the point of view of the Army. I think the Committee will agree with me that it is to the advantage of the House of Commons that there should be military Members here, and for choice that they should be men who come fresh from the exercise of their profession, who are able to give criticism of some value and who are able to a certain extent, and with due regard to discipline, to state th:3 views, grievances, and feelings of the Army. During the time I have had the honour of a seat in this House I do not think that the duties which ought to be 735 fulfilled by military Members have been in any sense overstepped. I think the House is willing and anxious that that state of affairs should remain. The only question we have to consider now is the efficiency of the Army, which the right hon. Gentleman very properly referred to in the answer he gave at Question Time. I may remind the Committee that the period for which an officer might serve in this House without losing rank in the Army under the old rule was five years That is the period for which most staff appointments run, and it is one after which many officers return to their regiments after serving as adjutants of Volunteers, filling various appointments abroad, and many appointments which are more strictly military than service in the House of Commons. The question I wish to put to the right hon. Gentleman is whether we can suggest any further modification of the rule which would increase, or might be supposed to increase, the efficiency of the officer who comes for five years to the House of Commons. I personally see no drawback to their doing the same as officers of the Yeomanry or the Militia, and undergoing a period of training with their battalions if they happen to be at home. That period of training could be given during their service in the House of Commons, provided, of course, that that was compatable with the performance of their duties as a Member.
I should like also to ask the right hon. Gentleman to contrast the way in which naval officers are treated with the way in which military officers are treated. A naval officer does not lose his seniority by becoming a Member of this House, and he also goes on half pay. I may instance the case of the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Lord Charles Beresford) who is now sitting in the House for the fifth time to the satisfaction, I think, both of the Service to which he belongs and the House. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman opposite will get up and say that the periods during which the Noble Lord has served in the House have done anything to detract from his efficiency as a Naval officer. Therefore, I think what is done in the Navy in that respect should be done also in the Army. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to reconsider this regulation. I believe it is an entirely retrogade one and entirely opposed to the sentiments which were 736 expressed three years ago when the right hon. Gentleman came to the Table of the House and said he wished to make the Army more identified with the nation. If there is one way that you can make the Army more identified with the nation, it is to allow members of it to sit in the House of Commons. Although there are many hon. Members fully equipped and able to give information on Army matters to the House, there must be certain things on which regimental officers just returned from duty must be better informed than anybody else, and I think it would be a pity if the House of Commons were to lose the assistance of those hon. and gallant Members. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to return to the rule of 1906 or some modification of it, and thereby relieve some of us from a certain sense of hardship. I see the Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Mallet) in his place, and I should like to say a word as to the extraordinary effect of this regulation from the financial point of view. Up to 1908 military Members who sat in the House of Commons were perfectly content without any pay at all. Now, however, the Treasury is in such a beneficent mood that they have come forward and given us half-pay for doing nothing. Of course, hon. Members who have no wish to return to the Army are pleased with that beneficence, but I think some of us would willingly forego half-pay if we could return to the rule which obtained before 1908.
§ Sir COURTENAY WARNER
I do not wish to go into the grievance which the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Baring) has mentioned, but I think we all sympathise with what he has said. I wish to draw attention to a matter which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) referred to in his speech, namely, the increase in the number of Infantry. I think those who have watched the Infantry training lately will all agree that it is not the want of numbers in the Infantry which gives cause for complaint, because, after all, the numbers could be filled up pretty easily. The real difficulty in the Reserve and in the Regular battalions is not as regards the number of men, but the men capable of training those who come up—commissioned and non-commissioned officers. The present number has been somewhat cut down through the wholesale alteration of the unit, depot, and the Special Reserve staff. That has been beneficial, 737 no doubt, in some respects, but at present there is a difficulty in getting sufficient men as recruiting sergeants, and there is great stress both in the Regulars and the Reserves to get men as good instructors to train the Infantry. I think the one thing that is really required, both for Regular Infantry and for Reserves, is increased numbers, increased encouragement for non-commissioned officers, and also some means of overcoming the great difficulties of finding officers to fill up the regiments when mobilisation takes place. The hon. Baronet the Member for Marylebone (Sir Samuel Scott) pointed out that there was a shortage of officers in the Special Reserve. There is no doubt that if the establishment could be filled up there would be plenty of officers. Every special Reserve battalion has got twenty-one subalterns, five or six of these, or four certainly, would be drafted into the Regular battalion on regular mobilisation, and there still would be plenty of subalterns if we could only get the full establishment up. What I hope the Secretary of State for War will do is to devise some means of encouragement to get young men to become officers in the Regular Army, or to get sufficient training to be sent out with the Regular Army when the time of mobilisation does come.
There is one remark I wish to make on the question of the training, or, rather, the setting out of manœuvres of the Special Reserve. When the Special Reserve Regulations were brought in there was a great deal of objection taken to doing away with the old Militia. It was an understood form of bargain with the Gentlemen objecting that when the drafts were sent out in Special Reserve officers and men should be taken together. Now, as I understand, in these manœuvres—though I do not think any of the Regular regiments are overburdened with officers, and many of them might be let off manœuvres—yet in the Special Reserve the men have to be drawn and the officers left behind. I think of all the people in the world who would require manœuvres and would require to be taught what goes on in actual warfare it is the Reserve officer. I think they might certainly be allowed, even if they were not going with the men, to be attached in battalion and sent to country manœuvres at the same time as the men are. I know that some battalions object very strongly to 738 the officers being left at home, and I hope that the Secretary of State for War will consider that point. It is one that does not concern me or my battalion, but it is a grievance which I have heard of. The right hon. Member for Dover made the point that the Reserve battalion would not be able to march. I have been for over thirty years in a Reserve battaion in the Militia in the old days, and one thing we never found any difficulty in was marching as well as any Regular battalion. It was the one thing that we could always do well after about a week's work in getting into condition. I believe that the less men have marched, the less strain they have put upon them, the more likely they are after a certain period to get into condition. It can be done after a week or two, and they are then able to walk long distances. I do not believe that manœvres ever helped a man permanently to walk. There is no doubt that a man who is not in condition, if he has not had a week or fortnight's training beforehand, cannot walk; but the man certainly who has had great hardship is less likely to be able to endure continual marching than the man who has lived a comparatively easy life and is put into training for it. I think that would be the experience of foreign armies as well as our own.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
That is not the point. These special Reserves are not to have the annual training and not to join Army manœuvres.
§ Sir COURTENAY WARNER
I think the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken in that, because I understand that one of the battalions is going to have the three-weeks' training, and then they are going out for three weeks' manœuvres. The men have to do six weeks. I think that is the case with the Lincolnshire battalion, and I suppose it is also the case with the other battalions. But I think the one thing men do not require long practice at is learning to walk. Most of us have learned to walk tolerably, and once we get into condition we can always manage to get over that difficulty. One thing that is necessary for the Reserve is that they should have good men to train, and I might plead that in the case of Special Reserves we should have four weeks. With three weeks it is a desperate rush, and it is not sufficiently well done. I believe the six weeks' training, when they join at the depot, for 739 recruits is more than is necessary. They get no company drill and no battalion drill They are simply taught the preliminary training. They really do want four weeks. I am quite sure all the Special Reserve battalions would be very much more efficient if they only had five weeks on joining and an extra week or six days for the training when they go out to annual training. On Salisbury Plain I noticed at once the difficulty, where they had not been taught company drill or battalion drill, and that difficulty existed for the first week or two. I think, therefore, it is very necessary to have this four weeks instead of three weeks, and I trust that the Committee of Inquiry, of which the Secretary of State for War has told us will look into this matter, and decide that that is so. I think that most of the general officers on Salisbury Plain would give their evidence in favour of four weeks, and I am quite sure that it would be a change in the right direction.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
Allow me strongly to support the plea on behalf of the officers of His Majesty's Army who are now Members of this House, which was put forward by the hon. Member for Winchester (Captain Baring). I am sure that the only people who can possibly be aggrieved by reverting to the old conditions are the officers of the hon. Member's regiment, and when I was a soldier, though one or two or even more members of the regiment were also Members of the House of Commons, nobody grumbled that these men should go out and get their promotion the same as any other officer in the regiment, and I think it must discourage young officers who wish to get on in their profession from coming to the House and giving us the benefit of their experience if they are to be put down permanently at the bottom of the stage, and, even though they have given up their pay, are to have no opportunity outside this House of getting on in their profession. Therefore I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman will consider this question as he has done other subjects. The right hon. Gentleman made a very long and very illuminating speech. It was really in the nature of soothing syrup. Everything was the best of all in the best of all possible worlds. Everything was being considered carefully. Therefore the House of Commons was to wait and see what was going to turn up. That was the gist of the speech as far as I could make out. While we have been 740 waiting to see what was going to turn up in the Special Reserve for two or three years, the old Militia has been done away with against the wishes of many hon. members of the last Parliament. They were 86,000 strong when the late Government went out of office. The right hon. Gentleman has replaced them by Special Reserves, which are 70,000 strong. Therefore we have lost at once by the change 15,000 men. Will anybody get up and say that the Special Reserve are better than the old Militia?
§ Sir COURTENAY WARNER
Yes. The men are stronger men and better men than the old Militia. I am speaking from experience.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
The hon. Member says that he speaks from experience, and that is the exception that proves the rule. I have only heard of one Militia battalion refusing to go on foreign service, so that there is practically no difference as to foreign service between the Special Reserve and the old Militia. There we have a grave deficiency—I admit it existed in the case of the Militia as well—of 1,183 lieutenants in the Special Reserve. I need not labour the Special Reserve because the right hon. Gentleman will admit that it was in a very unsatisfactory state. If it were not so, would he have this Committee sitting to find new means of putting it upon a satisfactory footing? So far as I am informed, comparing the old Militia with the Special Reserve, we are not better off but worse off than we were. The right hon. Gentleman made one very important declaration; that is to say, he defined definitely and clearly his attitude in respect to compulsory service. That is very important, because I remember that in the first two or three years of the last Parliament the right hon. Gentleman flirted in a rather outrageous way with compulsory service. The right hon. Gentleman said, "If you do not accept this Bill of mine there is nothing left but compulsory service," and I do not blame the right hon. Gentleman for his attitude. I only wish to point out to the Committee that the right hon. Gentleman has now come down, rightly or wrongly, very definitely on the side of the fence which is opposed to compulsory service. I, personally, if I may say so, agree with him to a certain extent. I entirely admit that we are on a different footing absolutely from Continental nations. Compulsory service, 741 as understood in France and Germany, is alien to our wishes, and, indeed, unnecessary for our needs, but I think that under certain circumstances the old Militia ballot, or something resembling it, might and ought to be revived if we cannot get the men in any other way. The right hon. Gentleman stated he thought one of the chief reasons against compulsory service was that it would interfere with recruiting for our Regular Army. The right hon. Gentleman may have good reasons for bringing forward that argument, but he gave no reasons. He simply stated that as a fact, and he did not say why. If you take the age for the Territorial Army some years later, say twenty, than what you take for the Regular Army, from seven teen to eighteen, I cannot see why there should be any diminution in the stream of recruits for the Regular Army if you had some form of compulsory service. I have the honour of being one of the backers of a Bill which was introduced within the last two years, and is going to be introduced again by the hon. Baronet the Member for Marylebone, which sought to revive in a certain form the old Militia ballot. That is to say, that if this House, in its wisdom, decides that 310,000 men are needed in the Territorial Forces, and that if that force cannot be got up to full strength by voluntary means, then it shall be in the power of the Government of the day, by means of a ballot, to recruit in each district up to the required number which has been allocated. What is there undemocratic in that? Surely, if the House of Commons, elected on a popular suffrage, says that a certain number of men are necessary, there is nothing undemocratic in the House of Commons saying that the Government should go to the people of the country and say, "As you have not come forward voluntarily, we j must insist on a certain number of you coming forward, chosen by ballot, to fill up the gap." If the Government say that 310,000 men are necessary to defend this country, surely there is no reason to refuse, on so-called democratic principles, to fill up the number by this method. I can see nothing undemocratic in it. It applies to all. It applies to the duke and to the coster. Surely if they decide that even 300,000 men—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member had better wait until the Bill comes up, and he can then deal with the question.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
I was led into that matter by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War having dealt with it. I have developed ray argument as much as I wish, however. There is one subject of importance, though it is rather a side issue, which has been referred to, namely, the garrisoning of Egypt. For private reasons I had occasion to spend two or three months in Egypt, and I had the fortune to meet various military men. While it was not contended that the garrison of Egypt was seriously below its strength, if you take the total number of 5,000 or 6,000 men, yet it was seriously contended that, with the danger of unrest in Europe, and with the fact that there were no white troops between Cairo and Khartoum, in places where there are fanatical populations, the white inhabitants, in the event of riot and disorder in those centres, would only have the native police to defend them. I think, if the right hon. Gentleman will look into the subject, he will see that in the large railway and commercial centres between Cairo and Khartoum there are no white troops to defend the white inhabitants. It is true that if murders were committed they would be avenged within a week or ten days, but that would be very small compensation to the bereaved wives and children. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question in regard to the new howitzers for the Army. Two years ago I was on Salisbury Plain and saw experiments with howitzers, and I know that they were then thought to be very satisfactory. That is two years ago, and yet I see, in the explanatory statement of the right hon. Gentleman issued in February of this year, that these howitzers will not be completed before the end of the present financial year; that is to say, practically another year from now, while the first delivery is not to take place until June. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will state the reason of this unexpected delay. Two years is a very long delay in the provision of howitzers, which are so extremely important to the Army. One word about the Territorial Force. I understand from the speeches of the Secretary for War and the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Dilke) that recruiting for the Territorial Force is good in some places and bad in others, and that the number of the Territorial Force does not reach to the number of the old Volunteers and the Yeoman^—about 272,000 men, I think, is correct. I hear from a good many sources that a great danger is threatened to 743 recruiting for the Territorial Force owing to the fact that, unfortunately, many employers of labour, especially in the Metropolitan districts, are beginning to refuse leave to men to attend the camp.
It is very easy to abuse employers for refusing; still, it does undoubtedly entail a great burden on employers who are asked to give leave to their men to go to camp. It is also very hard that patriotic employers, who have to send two or three Territorials to camp, should be penalised, while men who do not employ Territorials get off scot-free. There, again, you come to the question of compulsory service in order to make it equal all round. I do think that if the right hon. Gentleman will consider the possibility, not of calling out all the Territorials, or practically all the Territorials, in July and August, but allow them to come out from May to September for practice and training, there would be far less difficulty with employers than at the present moment. Remember that July and August for many employers are the heaviest months of the year. In those months the catering trade is very busy, all transport is great, and everything pertaining to holiday traffic keeps men employed. The training of the Territorials would be just as good if it took place with the brigades and with the artillery as with the big divisions.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I must say that when I was a soldier and attended manœuvres, the instruction, whatever it was, which I got from the manœuvres decreased with the size of the manœuvres; that is to say, if I went out for training I really learned something with a small body, if I went out with a battalion I learned a little, but if I went out for the ordinary manœuvres I learned nothing except walking along the hard, high road. I would put it to the right hon. Gentleman that he might look into the subject and see whether it is absolutely necessary that all the Territorials should come out at one time or whether their coming out might not be spread over six months. I think it would diminish the difficulty of employers, and incidentally recruits would be induced to join the Territorial Force.
§ Sir IVOR HERBERT
If the right hon. Gentleman felt that he had any criticism on my part to meet he certainly took the right way to disarm it in the very clear 744 declaration which he made to-day with regard to compulsory service. On that point I am entirely at issue with the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. But I rose to support, with him, the protest which has been made from those benches and by the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester against the regulations in regard to officers who are elected Members of this House. It would seem indeed to every Member of this House, if he were not aware that the right hon. Gentleman can hold his own against all comers, that he was afraid of criticism, because there can be no doubt that the fresh blood imported into this House in the present Parliament has had a very vivifying effect on the Debates of this Assembly. I drew attention to that in the Debate we had before Easter, and I think it must have been patent to every Member of this House that these officers, who have done good service already in the House—unfortunately they sib mostly on one side; still, that is their misfortune, and not their fault—have come straight from service with their units, and they are able to speak with fresh experience, whilst those of us who have been in this House for a few years, and have been entirely separated from the Army, feel that cur experience has gradually become rather old, that we ourselves are becoming mere and more old fogies, and that we are certainly not of the same value to a Secretary for War like my right hon. Friend, who wishes to do his best for the Army, at the younger Members who have come into the House. Therefore I think it is most desirable that the Regulations, especially as to officers who serve in this House, should not be such as to impose disabilities upon them. I would go further than that. I am not a constitutional lawyer, but I have some idea of what is constitutional and what are the privileges of this House. I am not sure that, in putting these disabilities upon persons duly elected to serve in this House the right hon. Gentleman has not committed a breach of privilege of this House. At any rate, I should be very glad to hear from him when he replies that he will carefully consider the arguments that have been put to him, and so very well put to him, by the hon. Member for Winchester, and that he will not be afraid of any criticism that may come from those benches provided it comes from competent officers.
§ Captain R. F. PEEL
I desire to speak briefly in regard to the pay of the Army. No doubt the Secretary for War has done- 745 a great deal for the organisation of the Territorial Forces, but besides the organisation on paper you must have the men with whom to organise the forces, and in that respect I am quite sure that whether the number of the Territorial Force be 315,408, or, as the right hon. Member (Mr. Wyndham) suggested, 500,000, the problem of raising that number would be impossible if you do not offer strong inducements to the men to join. One hon. Member suggested the revival of the Militia ballot, but for my part I consider that the best recruiter is the contented old soldier. If you have men in your Army who at the end of their period of service go away contented with their lot, and contented with their pension, it will mean a vast increase in recruiting throughout the country. The Secretary for War may go down to posterity with the praise of all men for what he has done in regard to the Territorial Force; at the same time, he may go down to posterity possibly as having worked the regular soldier in the Army rather more and paid him sometimes rather less. Under the late Government, the private soldier who had served a certain number of years and had attained a certain standard of proficiency got 7d. proficiency pay, but to-day, though the standard of proficiency is higher, only sixpence is paid. That is contrary to the usual practice in nearly every profession in the country. Apparently a man in the Army is to be worked harder and his pay in some cases is to be less. Another point I should like to raise is that the work of attaining to the standard of proficiency has been made certainly very much harder. I know of a battalion which the year before last had some 125 marksmen, and last year they had something like six. With this very sudden rise in the standard to be attained to get proficiency pay, many soldiers, who have worked a good many years, resented, and became disgusted because they thought the Government were trying to save a certain amount of money at the expense of the private soldier. That is not the way to get a contented mind and a good recruiter when he is going away. There should be a gradual system, so as to give the men a chance of drawing proficiency pay.
There is another point in connection with this matter. There are men who were drawing proficiency pay or Service pay as it is called before 30th September, 1906, at the rate of 7d. per day. When airy of those men wanted to re-engage for 746 twelve or twenty-one years, what reward did they get for serving in the Army for many years? Those men are engaged for the extended purpose at 6d. per day, or Id. per day less than they had before reengaging. Surely those are men you wish to have in the Army, and they are men who do much to strengthen and to stiffen the rank and file. The number of those men eligible for proficiency pay is not very large, and the number amongst those who extend their service must be very few, so that it would cost the Government very little, at any rate, to give those who re-engage the rate of pay they had previously. As to the question of clothing, I do not think the new system under which the men are given a certain allowance instead of being given a regular issue of clothing is altogether satisfactory. Previously the men on joining received a free kit, and at the end of certain periods other garments were supplied, and they probably sufficed. Under the new system, which came into operation on 1st April, 1909, there is an allowance in lieu of that. I think that will probably result in some men attempting to make their garments last a great deal longer, and they will take the allowance instead of using it to obtain new clothing. That will put a heavy responsibility on the company commander. I hope that these points I have mentioned will receive favourable consideration from the Secretary of State for War.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
I think some Members of the House will be a little disappointed that we did not hear more from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War as to the scheme of a census of horses which he brought forward at an earlier stage. I quite admit it may be unfair to ask him to produce his scheme before it is really ready. At the same time he told us that the census was taken, and I should like to point out to him the danger of drawing any serious conclusions from that census. That is the result of experience of other hon. Members beside myself. I have a fairly handsome horse which goes into a mowing machine. Nobody consulted or asked me about the census when it was being taken, but I have reason to believe that that noble animal has gone down on the census as being fit for Army purposes. There must have been many such instances under the conditions under which the census was taken, and in which no effort was made to inquire as to age, soundness, or other qualifications. It 747 must be a task of infinite difficulty to sift such a census, or to place any reliability upon it. The problem that we have to face is that the supply of light horses is decreasing. The advent of the motor cars and a few other things will no doubt tend to decrease that supply of light horses, which almost entirely exist for the sole purpose of hunting. Nobody practically breeds light horses except for hunting and a certain number for harness purposes. How are we going to increase the supply? There is no use in registration. How are we to prevent the decrease continuing and turn it into an increase? I am glad the Government have not adopted the very foolish and almost mad scheme which some people suggested of stopping the export of horses, and thereby killing the horse trade. No more ridiculous scheme has ever been suggested, because it is difficult to keep the breeding of light horses going on in this country, and if you did anything of that kind you would discourage the trade to a very serious extent. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on resisting the strong proposals which I know have been made to him to adopt a system of that kind.
There is another thing which the Government are doing which is not sufficiently known, and if the people of the country knew more about it there would be a good deal better results. I only found out recently that the Government are prepared to give prizes at local shows where there is a chance of the exhibit of a sufficient number of horses fit for Army remounts or animals likely to suit. I am quite certain if the right hon. Gentleman would have a circular sent round to the committees of the various shows explaining the conditions and limitation as to price, quality, number of entries, etc., he would find that he would give a great deal of information, and that he would get a great deal of information. He would find out the districts where there was the best chance of obtaining a supply of horses, and he would give the farmer a chance of producing his animal direct to the Government. At present there is too much being done through third parties. I am quite certain the right hon. Gentleman wants to prevent that, and that he would rather deal direct. His difficulty is that the Government cannot spend, say, a whole afternoon in trying to settle the difference of a five-pound note in the price for a horse which, as everybody who is acquainted with the matter knows, is not an 748 easy thing to do. If the horses were shown at local shows, the Government could buy if they were shown under certain conditions, and, in addition, they would find out where the best supply came from, instead of going to certain dealers and finding a certain supply ready made, without knowing exactly where they came from. At the same time, by doing so, the Government would be conferring a distinct benefit on the breeders of light horses in this country.
Another thing which the Government, I understand, contemplate doing is to show in various shows horses of the type they desire to have. That would be a most admirable thing, because there is no use in sending out pictures, and especially such as the combined efforts of the Board of Agriculture and the War Office have recently produced. I am quite sure that private owners would lend horses. I would be only too glad to lend any horse which they might think would be a good type as as Army horse to show at the local shows. That would encourage those who have the breeding of light horses to continue. The most difficult point is that of price. In the course of the Debate it has been stated you can buy a three-year-old for £30, presumably, I suppose, because a four-year-old costs £40, but I do not quite follow the reasoning. I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that the only way by which he can really encourage the breeding of light horses is to make it a profitable trade. I think he can give up the idea that a three-year-old can be obtained for £30. I do not believe a horse could be profitably bred for that sum. I am perfectly certain that the supply will not be increased or the decrease checked unless it is well known that you can breed light horses for profit. I know it is a platitude and that many people have suggested to the right hon. Gentleman to spend money, but I think he will find that that is the only way of checking the decrease, which is a serious matter at the present time. If you are going to get a supply of light horses suitable for the Army you must give something in the way of inducement, and a profitable margin is necessary to make the traders go on breeding.
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman has read the Report of the Horse Supply Committee of the Hunters' Improvement Society. I do hope that before the scheme is completed those who compile it will carefully study that very valuable Report, because it has been drawn up by men of very great experience, and some of the 749 recommendations in it are most valuable, and especially those which deal with the retention and the means of making it easy to obtain the retention of more stallions and registered mares in this country than there are at present. They suggest that a sum of £50,000 should be spent, and when we compare that with the enormous amount spent by foreign nations I think the right hon. Gentleman will not be paying a very excessive price for the considerable results that may accrue from this scheme. At an earlier stage of this Session the right hon. Gentleman gave an undertaking that a simple drill book for Yeomen would foe provided. That would be a very great advantage and a very great help. It is at present necessary for the Yeoman to wade through the pages of the Cavalry drill book to find out his requirements. I hope that, if possible, a Yeomanry drill book will soon be issued, explaining as far as possible the real functions of the Yeomen of the Territorial Force. It is absolutely absurd to say that the Yeoman can be made what is called a Cavalry soldier. The sooner we do away with that idea the better. You can get a most valuable product—you can train a man to be a more or less efficient scout, an efficient horseman, and very likely efficient with his rifle, and if you can get the combination of those three you will get a very valuable and useful unit. Do not let us try to call him a Cavalry soldier, or set him to know the more elaborate drill which at present are contained in the Cavalry drill book.
Another small point, but one which would make a considerable difference to the comfort of the Yeomanry, is that they should be allowed, as soon as possible, to have the carbine buckets. The advantages arising there from are so obvious that I need not recapitulate them. I would also ask the right hon. Gentleman if it is not possible for him to reconsider his determination as to the length of training. I believe that it would be possible to get a large proportion of many Yeomanry regiments to come out for a week before the complete training began. If you could have even a week of extra training for a certain number of men you would start with some men who had had more training than others, and the whole lump would be leavened by those who had been trained more efficiently. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will find it possible to pay the expense of these camps and their extension. If he could see his way 750 to encourage something in the nature of week-end camps, the musketry would be very much improved, even if the combined training were only for a few days. Further, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to make it more easy for the Territorials associations to deal with the Army Council than it is at the present moment. In regard to matters of small detail there are constant complaints. The West Riding County Association have interviewed the right hon. Gentleman or his subordinates, and he knows that they have a considerable number of grievances to urge. There is a strong feeling on the part of a large number of county associations that they are not treated with sufficient confidence, and that in matters of detail they are not allowed a sufficiently free hand. There is a dangerous feeling that if that is the manner and the attitude to be adopted towards them by the Army Council it will not be worth their while to continue their work. There are on the associations men who have given the best work of their lives, and are prepared to go on doing so, to make the organisation a success. I think they are worthy of more encouragement than they are getting at the present time, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to bring about some improvement in that respect.
§ Colonel GREIG
Several remarks have been made with reference to the Territorial Army as to which, perhaps, some practical knowledge from this side might be valuable. First, let me say with regard to the Militia Ballot Acts, about which people talk so glibly, that although those Acts are still on the Statute Book, before you can put them into operation you will have to remove the exemptions which make distinctions between classes, and also the Clause which permits a man who has been chosen to buy himself off. Turning to the speech of the right hon. Member for Dover, I am afraid the sources of information upon which the right hon. Gentleman relied are a little unreliable. He rather twitted the Secretary of State upon having produced new schemes while his old schemes were still unworked out. But the formation of the Reserve is a logical development of the scheme already in operation. Under the old Volunteer system it was long desired by many Volunteer officers to have some kind of Reserve. As soon as you had your new Territorial system such a Reserve became 751 logically possible, and that logical possibility is now being carried out. As to any idea of sapping the present force, or of doing anything to deteriorate it, the right hon. Gentleman is labouring under an entire misapprehension. You can fill up your Reserve at once to 100,000 if you cared to admit all those men who are still fit for military service and have gone through the Volunteer system; but the Secretary of State and his advisers have very wisely confined the admission to the present Reserve to men who are now serving in the force, although they may have done a portion of their service in the old Volunteer force. They have to conform to certain somewhat severe conditions, such as having attended camps and so on, which makes the formation very slow and gradual but at the same time you get thoroughly good men who have experience of the present system. In some of the battalions that I know the number of men going into that Reserve is remarkably small owing to those conditions, which I think are perfectly wise.
The right hon. Member for Dover referred also to the establishment, which he said was a minimum. I do not think ha thoroughly understands how the Territorial establishment works. It is quite different from that of the Regular Army. Quite wisely again the Secretary of State and his advisers have fixed the establishment of a Territorial Infantry Company at over a thousand, because they know that you cannot always get quite up to the establishment, and that if you do not have a large establishment you will not have your companies full for the company officers to train. The result of that is that the company officers do now get large companies for training, owing to the fact that you can recruit nearly up to the thousand. When you are approaching that point the question always arises to the company officer, "Dare I recruit any more?" because if he oversteps the limit he may be surcharged by the association for incurring expenses to which he is not entitled. Therefore the establishment is not in any sense a minimum; it is certainly a maximum, and a very dangerous maximum when it is approached.
As to the number of the force at the present moment, I do not think Members quite realise what is going on. We are not yet through the transition period. The number now in the whole force is something like 270,000, the establishment being 312,000, and that number has been subject 752 to an effiux which is much more rapid now than it will be when we have got rid of the transfers from the old Volunteer Force. A battalion with which I am acquainted lost 142 men during the year. Of those men, fifty-nine had served their time, thirty-eight had gone abroad, thirteen were struck off, thirteen resigned for business reasons, nine were transferred to other corps, eight left through ill-health, and two had bought themselves out. Thus 42 per cent, of those resignations were represented by men who had served their time under the old and the present system. A great many of the old transfers who stood by the different units while they were going through the critical period are now going out, and for a year or so there will be a considerable drain, although some of them, of course, have re-enlisted for another year. Therefore we have not yet reached the time when you can judge what is the efflux and the influx of the corps, so that the figures of the total number are at present a little misleading, and the criticisms based upon them are not quite correct.
There is one matter with regard to which I scarcely agree with the Secretary of State, and that is the question of headquarters. It is not a mere luxury. The Regular unit is recruited on quite a different principle from the Territorial unit. It is recruited on the principle that it is an occupation competing with other occupations, and that its rewards commend themselves to men of military instincts. The Territorial battalion has to commend itself to quite a different class of man—the man who has patriotic and national feelings, but who at the same time is giving up his leisure and energies, and in many cases a good deal of money, and who thinks he ought to have a place where he can meet his friends with similar desires. It is there that the headquarters come in. You will solve the difficulty of getting the Territorial Force properly constituted when you provide proper headquarters for the different units, in addition to proper ranges. A good deal of rather stinging criticism has been directed against the Territorial Force, but, after all, it is a mere question of the transition period. Get your rifle ranges, and you will have the musketry question solving itself. I should like also to urge that units should be allowed to have quarter-masters, and that funds should be provided by which they can pay them. Under the Territorial scheme these is still an enormous amount of accounting to be done. The value of 753 the property of the headquarters is much more than in the case of Regular battalions. The Territorials have not to go on service like a Regular battalion; therefore there are many things in use for military purposes which cannot be provided for out of public funds. These have all to be taken care of, and it is only proper that there should be some man constantly present to look after them. You cannot put more on the adjutant. You want someone whom you can pay, and to whom you can look to have the thing properly done. That can be arranged for if a little more money is provided. I wish to confirm what the Secretary of State has said with regard to our being still in the transition period. Do not pull the plant up by its roots; give it time, and I have not the smallest doubt that the force which is gradually being evolved will become a really useful one, and a far better one than the old Volunteer Force.
§ Lord ALWYNE COMPTON
The hon. Member opposite (Colonel Greig), who is a staunch defender of the Territorial system, says, "Get your ranges." That is what we have been trying to do for many years. I recollect that after the South African War we were told that the whole lesson of the war was that we should secure rifle ranges. In my own county we have been trying for years to get them, but we have received no assistance from the county association, and I have very little hope that we shall ever get much assistance in that way. A speaker on this side of the House said that he hoped and thought that the name of the right hon. Gentleman would go down to posterity in connection with the Territorial scheme. I have the greatest respect and admiration in many ways for the right hon. Gentleman. I think it is the common knowledge of everybody that he, out of many statesmen, has devoted all his great abilities to the Department over which he presides. I hope his name will not go down to posterity in connection with the Teritorial scheme, because I believe that Territorial scheme is doomed to failure. I feel on this subject really that there is only one thing which is of supreme importance: that is the question of voluntary against compulsory service. Do not let me for a moment be misunderstood. With regard to the troops in India, with regard to the defences of the Crown in other parts of the world, and with regard to expeditionary forces, I have no doubt whatever in my own mind that the present voluntary system is the right one. I have 754 had some experience in these matters, I have served in India, Egypt, and other parts of the world. I am quite sure that the foreign form of service in any state or form, would not suit us in this country. The voluntary system is a perfectly right one for the troops in India and other foreign parts. Nothing else would suit. I know there have been people—and soldiers of distinction—who have condemned it, but the voluntary soldier is always better than the compulsory one. In regard to home defence and the home Army, it is a different matter altogether. Here, again, I claim to have had a certain amount of experience, because, having been a soldier, I have served with the auxiliary forces of the Crown both before and after the right hon. Gentleman introduced his scheme. We remember the scheme of the Secretary for War Lord Middleton. We remember the scorn with which the Foreign Army Corps were discussed in this House. For my part I always feel that it matters very little what you call them. You have the same problem ever before you; you have the same difficulties in regard to the auxiliary forces of the Crown. I cannot conceive why the people of this country generally have not come quicker to the idea that compulsory service would be a good thing, in the first place in the interests of the auxiliary forces themselves, and in the second place for the men of this country. I cannot profess myself to be a friend of the Territorial scheme. As far as my own experience is concerned as a commanding officer of an auxiliary regiment, I think I may say fairly that I have had no good out of the Territorial scheme at all. The Yeomanry under my command are a little bit different to the Infantry forces under the scheme, because the Yeomanry Force was already in existence before the right hon. Gentleman brought his scheme forward. We have, I think, succeeded in keeping our men together in spite of the right hon. Gentleman. All he did was to swoop down upon us, to give us less pay, and to ask for a different form of enlistment. It has been in spite of that that we have kept our regiment together. Again, so far as the local associations are concerned, the idea was perfectly sound—to bring into cooperation the local people, and to ask for their assistance in regard to the auxiliary forces. But as it has turned out, although the idea was sound itself, my county, at least, has derived very little advantage from it. The result, as I see it, has been 755 that the War Office have made use of the local associations in order to shield themselves from the many requests which we have to make.
What man is there on either side in this House who can deny that he knows thousands of young men of the working classes, who, at an adult age, should be doing something—should, at any rate, have taken some steps—to train themselves to arms, in case they are called upon to use them! What man is there in this House who does not know scores of men of the better classes and of higher education who should certainly feel it their duty to become officers of the Auxiliary Forces of the Crown? We all of us know thousands of them. I am bound to say myself, as far as the Yeomanry is concerned, that, as a general rule, once a young man joins, and finds how pleasant it is, he is quite content to stay and serve. What objection can there be to some form of compulsory service which would attract both of these classes—the working classes and the higher classes? I have no doubt whatever as to the result. I will not weary the House by producing an elaborated scheme now. It should not be beyond the wit of man to produce something in the nature of depots in the country where men could be trained; the exemptions from that being permission to join either the Reserve, or the Yeomanry, or the Territorials. The result would be that we should have our ranks filled. I have contended over and over again that although the right hon. Gentleman may be successful in obtaining the men for the Territorial Army, he has a difficulty in getting the officers. The best officers that we get into our Auxiliary Forces are, very many of them, very busy men. Idlers are no use to us at all. We must obviously have men who have shown, by having an occupation of their own, that they are worth something. Once you make it compulsory, for however short a period, for a man to learn how to bear arms—I do not care whether it is three, or six, or twelve months—the difficulties of the situation would fade away. My own view of the matter is that the right hon. Gentleman has set himself a problem to solve which it is impossible to solve under existing circumstances. I have dealt with this matter before. I have also been bold enough to advocate compulsion in my own Constituency, and have found many supporters. I believe if hon. Members in their own constituencies would be bold 756 enough to stand up and explain matters frankly that they would receive a great deal more support than they think. In these democratic days it is rather a fashionable policy to foster and pander to the working classes of this country. We are ready to do everything for them. We are ready to relieve their taxation. We are ready to take responsibility from them—the responsibility they ought to bear of their children both as to education and now, as I understand, in the matter of food. Let us ask them in return, first, for some of the younger period of their lives, to give up three, six, or twelve months, in order to learn how to bear arms, so that when the moment arrives—if it should arrive—when they are called upon in the defence of their country they will not be merely an armed rabble, but men competent to take their places in the field and to do their duty as Englishmen.
§ Major ADAM
It has frequently been my duty, as representing a Constituency containing one of the largest Government ordnance factories, to call attention, both in this House and outside, to the attitude of the Army Council towards the employés of that place, and more especially to the attitude of those members of the Army Council under whose special jurisdiction the Royal Arsenal comes. But this evening for a few moments I would like to call attention to the attitude of the military members of the Army Council towards the officers and men of the Forces of the Crown. I think it does not require a very high standard of intelligence to see—I think everybody in this House and outside this House will agree with me in the statement—that if we are to have an Army, no matter whether it is a large or a small Army, whether we are militarists or anti-militarists, so long as we are called upon as a nation to pay a large annual bill for the maintenance of the Forces of the Crown, they should be efficient. I do not lay very much stress upon the term "efficient." I think probably the word "efficient" is the last refuge of the theoretical politician. But no matter what our general opinion, we may be all agreed that the Forces of the Crown, whatever they are, should be efficient. To be efficient they must be contented. To be contented we must have administration carried out in an impartial spirit. There are so many aspects of this matter with which we would like to deal. There is no want of matter; it is the selection of one subject which is the 757 difficulty. Some larger questions have been touched upon this afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover and by the Secretary of State for War.
They have alluded to our haphazard military policy. It may seem a strange thing that it has never yet been laid down by anybody, soldier or civilian, what is the task the British Army is called upon to perform, and so long as we have no ruling on that point our military policy must be of a haphazard sort. We might talk about the anomalous distribution of our forces, and I should like very much, if I had time, to say something on what I consider our very inadequate armaments. Compared with the foreign nations, we are behindhand in armaments and in military inventions of the day. But I turn from those rather entrancing subjects to one which, less attractive, is necessary to be dealt with for several reasons, and that is the administration under which our Army is carried on. It is a subject which strikes at the efficiency of the whole of our forces, and it is also a subject which does not lend itself very well to debate either in this House or outside of it; and we see very few articles in the public Press dealing directly with the administration of the Army. It is for that reason I wish to say a few words on the subject. I wish to deal more especially with administration as it refers to the officers of the forces than to administration as it refers to the enlisted men; not that I am not cognisant that there are many hardships from which the enlisted men and non-commissioned officers suffer. But their enlistment is for a short period—seven or eight years the majority of them—and any disabilities from which they suffer must be of a comparatively temporary nature, whilst those disabilities which are suffered by officers are suffered by men who go into the Army with a view of spending their whole life in it and making it a career. It does not seem that any Secretary of State for War has ever grasped the fact that we ought to have for officers in the Army a system of promotion by which the best men should always come to the front. I think that nobody, however biassed he may be on this subject, will disagree with that statement that there should be a simple system by which the best men should come to the front without partiality, 758 favour, or affection. Look at our system of promotion as it is. We have a number of small lists for promotion—I think the exact number is 117—and each of those lists works in a watertight compartment, or almost so. We have promotion by selection—that is not favoured by the officers of the Army, and I think rightly so—but these small lists all work independently of one another. The consequence is that in some corps, in some Cavalry corps for instance, there are junior captains twenty-three and twenty four years of age, and in other corps we have subalterns grey-headed, or bald headed, such as, for instance, at the present time in the Royal Garrison Artillery. The time will come when those officers will have to retire through age, and the good may be pushed out when they come to the top of the tree just as well as the bad. Of course the ideal system would be a system such as that in America where every cadet who passes out of West Point is available for, and is able to take his place in, either the Cavalry, the Artillery, the Infantry, or the Engineers. I am sorry to say that our boys pass out from Sandhurst and from Woolwich with practically no knowledge of the other arms of the Service and a mere smattering of information about the arm of the Service to which they are about to be appointed. We cannot reach the ideal at the present time I know, but by grouping regiments we might approximate towards that ideal so that there should be a general list for promotion for the Army—a volunteer list. It would not be compulsory, but if when a man came to the top of his rank and was offered promotion outside his own corps and refused it he would then have no grievance. But if he was a keen soldier, anxious to get on, there is no reason why he should be delayed by this lack of promotion. There is another point on which I have also spoken in this House, another disability from which officers suffer, and that is the confidential report. I am aware that the confidential report is an absolute necessity in the Service. It would not be possible to carry on for six mouths without it, but I do say this, that no confidential report should be filed in the archives of the War Office until it has been signed by the officer to whom it refers. An instance came to my knowledge some time ago, before the South African War. There were two Cavalry regiments stationed in South Africa. No Inspector-Generals of Cavalry took the trouble to go to South Africa in those days and the annual inspection of 759 this corps was carried out by an Infantry General. A very nice, rotund, amiable old gentleman came down to inspect one of the regiments, and he had jotted down in his notebook several very difficult manœuvres which he would ask the Cavalry officers to perform. One of the movements was a very difficult one. It was moving a whole regiment by trumpet sound at the gallop and bringing them up at a certain point. In the Cavalry you always align your troops behind their mark; in the Infantry you bring them shoulder to shoulder. But the Infantry general did not know this difference, and when the manœuvre had been very successfully carried out he went up to the officer who had performed this and said, "You just missed it." As a matter of fact he had not just missed it; he had done it very well, and the colonel of the regiment offered a few expostulatory remarks. The general was not to be told how to carry out his work, and he put something down in his notebook. It was thought the incident had been closed, hut this officer was an exceedingly good Cavalry officer, and he applied for several things after that. He was always told by the War Office, "No." No reason was given, and after seven years of waiting for some extra regimental employment, in disgust he threw up the Service. Then he went to the War Office, saw the military Secretary, and, as he had left the Service, he was allowed to see the report. There was a confidential report seven years old, in which it was stated, "Inefficient in drill." If the officer had seen that and had had to sign that report, such a mistake would never have occurred. But the whole of the officer's career was ruined simply on account of a confidential report which he had never seen. I do not say those instances are very frequent, but I do say that everything should be done to guard against the possibility of such a thing occurring. The officers of the Army are ill-paid; they are also ill-pensioned. Much is demanded of them; they are hard worked both mentally and physically, and they suffer from several disabilities. For instance, there is no appeal to the law of the land against the decision of the Army Council. This presses even more hardly upon the officer than upon the enlisted. If a man is awarded a punishment by his commanding officer which interferes with his pay even to a very small amount, he has some appeal to a court-martial. Although a court-martial 760 is very rough-and-ready justice, still it is an appeal, a third opinion, a revising opinion, brought in to judge between the commanding officer and the man. But in the case of an officer there is no possibility of any such appeal, no matter what the decision may be. No matter whether his career is entirely ruined by a decision against an officer, yet there is no appeal against it to the higher military authorities. Another disability, and it is a right one, is that the officer at the present time is so hemmed around by regulations that he is unable to air his grievance—to state his case either in the Press or on the platform. This is quite right, but the result ii that the nation never hears of the things that happen, and it goes on very complacently, thinking that all is well. If people knew as much about the Army as I do they would know that all is not well. I had an opportunity of speaking in this House on the Army Estimates, and I called the attention of the House to some of those perennial and systematic grievances from which the officers of the Army suffer, and the few remarks I was able to make at that time produced such an enormous amount of letters to me that I was absolutely astounded to think that the discontent amongst officers, both retired and serving, is so great as I can assure this House it is. I was absolutely surprised at the result of that correspondence.
And it being a Quarter past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.