§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Haldane)
On the question arising now I propose to make the statement which the modern custom of the House permits. The Noble and Gallant Admiral who represents Portsmouth in this House the other day observed that he found himself so full of information that it was difficult for him to keep within the limits of moderation. I have deep sympathy for him. On such topics as the Army and the Navy the opportunity for discussion occurs only once a year, and it is very difficult to do it, but this year the task of restraining myself is not quite so difficult as on previous occasions. There are no great far-reaching schemes of reorganisation to be discussed as the purpose 1161 of these Estimates is simply to endeavour to perfect what we have already got, to make improvements in the Territorial Force, and to bring the arrangements for mobilising the expeditionary force as near as we can to perfection. There is one matter to which I should perhaps allude at the outset. The Estimates involve an increase, and I observe that that has not escaped the attention of hon. Friends of mine below the Gangway, but that increase is due to a sharp and rapid rise in the size of the Territorial Force, and I may point out that of the £325,000 increase £304,000 will be balanced in the year which follows the one for, which I am making provision, by the dropping in of a large loan annuity. The policy of not resorting to loans has at least this advantage, that it enables us to keep down the rise in debt, and when, added to that, it is borne in mind that there is a charge this year of £1,150,000 for loan annuities, it is not surprising that fruit should have resulted in the dropping in of an annuity of £304,000, which will begin to take effect in 1911. Therefore the burden of the Estimates, whoever brings them in for next year, will not be so heavy in that respect as the burden to-day. Moreover, the howitzer equipment is approaching completion. That, again, will afford a certain measure of relief, and while it is very wrong to speculate on what Estimates may be in a year, the conditions of which have not yet emerged, I see no reason to suppose that the figure which we have reached this year may not be in excess of that which the Estimates next year may present.
The fact remains that there has been a sharp rise, not only in the Estimates, but in the number of men, at any rate, in the Territorial Force. My hon. Friends may say why did you not foresee this, and why did you not make more provision in last year's Estimates for the men who have come in? I am in the position of not having been sufficiently optimistic—it is not a usual fault of mine—on principle I am an optimist, but last year I did not foresee that the progress of recruiting in the Territorial Force was going to be so rapid. I would ask my hon. Friends not to reproach me for that and for having to make provision for a sharp rise. After all, there are parallels. My hon. Friends, like myself, may recall the story in the Scriptures of Nehemiah. Nehemiah had a commission from the King to rebuild Jerusalem, 1162 and the City he built was large and great. Then he had a period of depression, for few there were who dwelt therein. So it is recorded, and then we have his reflections. He goes on to speak of difficulties which I have not yet had to encounter. He tells us that the nobles obstructed him, and refused to help him. Whatever may be the case of other Ministers who sit on this bench, my experience has been quite different. The Lords-Lieutenant in their associations have helped me splendidly. Moreover, I have had other advantages which Nehemiah did not possess. The "Daily Mail" did not exist in his days. I have had to assist in recruiting not only the powerful influence of that journal, but the devoted help of other newspapers on both sides of politics The "Daily Chronicle" and the "Westminster Gazette" threw themselves with great zeal into the cause. I have even had the assistance of the theatres. I do not know whether there were theatres in Jerusalem in the days of Nehemiah, but there did come days when he had a recruiting boom, because we read in the end quite suddenly that the people blessed the names of those—who were many—who willingly offered themselves to dwell in the city. The position of the Territorial Force is that we have got 40,000 more men than we took money for in the Estimates of last year, and the year is not completed. By care and frugality we have been able to avoid what the House of Commons detests—we have been able to avoid coming for a Supplementary Estimate; but it is absolutely necessary for the safety of that force to make better provision this year, and the whole of the £325,000 which represents the growth of the Estimates is taken up in making provision for a much larger number of men. I will come to the figures in a moment, but I will only say now that from the way in which recruiting is progressing I have not thought it safe to estimate for less than 300,000 men at the end of the year.
That may seem to be an over-sanguine estimate, but it seems to be borne out by the state of recruiting. On 1st January there were in the Territorial Force 271,737 of all ranks. Of these since 1st January and up to 25th February—a period of about eight weeks—4,302 have gone out, some men with short engagements on the termination of their engagements—old Volunteers and others—illustrating the curious phenomenon that the Territorial Force finds a considerable number of recruits not only for the Army but for the Navy. I 1163 think it is a very good sign. It is a sign which is making itself markedly manifest. To balance that 4,802 who have gone out there have come in a larger number of over 9,000–between nine and ten thousand have come in. The result is that recruiting has been going on at the rate of over a thousand a week, and that is certainly not a bad result when you consider that the General Election occupied a good part of the time. If recruiting goes on at that rate there is not much doubt as to what will be the position of the Territorial Force. I now come to the figures on 25th February. The force bad risen from 271,737 on 1st January to 276,618 on 25th February—that is to say, the force on that day stood at 88.5 of its establishment.
It will probably never reach more than 98 per cent. of the establishment. The force to-day is therefore within 10 per cent. of the size which, so far as I can see, it can possibly attain. The House may be interested to know how the various parts of the country are doing in the way of recruiting. First of all stands that wonderful Birmingham district, the South Midland. That district has to-day attained to 96.9 per cent. of the establishment. The North Midland District comes next, and has reached 93.4 per cent. Third comes the Lowland Scots with 91 per cent., and I think it suffices for the rest to say that the very lowest of all the districts is 81.9 per cent., so that there is no part of the force that is not above 80 per cent. of its establishment. Of the arms the most successful in recruiting has been the Yeomanry with 98 per cent. of its establishment. Next comes the Artillery with, I think, 90 per cent., and the Infantry are 88 per cent., so that all arms are well up in their percentage. So much for the recruiting of the Territorial Force.
Perhaps I may refer to the state of the Regulars at this point. The Regulars, so far as recruiting is concerned, are in a very satisfactory condition. We have taken fewer recruits this year for a very good reason. We had to exclude them. We could not take them. The Regulars are choke-full. There is not a single branch of the service in which we were not either compelled to refuse men who came up and wished to enlist or in which, by slightly lowering the conditions, we could not get as many as we wanted. The state of things at the present time is that we have all the recruits we could possibly take, and the 1164 difficulty is to keep the force within the establishment. Of course, there are always fluctuations. Some time ago it was below the establishment, the reason being that drafts were going out; but if you take a period a little later you will find them absolutely full, and I am afraid there may have been times when, notwithstanding my vigilance, the Parliamentary establishment was for the moment exceeded. The object of these Estimates is, as I have said, a single one. It is to do what in us lies at the War Office to improve the conditions of the Territorial Force and also what in us lies to improve the mobilisation of the Expeditionary Force. That purpose is based upon a very important principle, and one which is becoming increasingly important. A great writer prefaced three volumes of a notable work by saying, "This book is the exposition of a single thought," and I believe that the Army Estimates might be prefaced by the expression of this single thought, that what is to be aimed at is to bring the Army and the nation generally into closer relations than they have been in the past, so that the resource and skill and ability of the civilian population may be brought to the aid of the military power. So only in this country shall we have an efficient Army, and our strength and powers of expansion alike depend upon the extent to which that is done, and properly done.
I want to draw attention to the provision in the Estimates for training and improving the conditions of the Territorial Force. This year we made an inspection of the entire Territorial Force through the General Officers commanding in the units of their stations, and they have sent us in information in great detail which is in some respects very interesting. The first thing that is brought out is the enormous advantage to the force of being organised in great divisions. A lot will have to be done in the way of training before you can hope to be able to mobilise efficiently a Territorial division, but you can call them out for training and you can apply the machinery of divisional organisation to every one of the units composing a division, and the effect of each division being commanded by a regular Major-General, with a general staff of trained officers under him, has been very marked upon the quality of the force. The advantage of this is shown in the rapid assimilation of the administration in every point to the administration in the Regulars. A second advantage has been the 1165 uniformity of method in the training of the units. The regiment, the battalion, the brigade, throughout the Territorial Force are now being trained on the same principles as the whole force. A third advantage is the uniformity and the increased efficiency in the theoretical and practical instruction of officers throughout the year, and the fourth advantage has been that the Army Service Corps, the Medical Corps, and so on, have not only flourished under the divisional organisation, but by enlisting the services of civilians of a very high degree of business training, and sometimes scientific knowledge, those services are becoming very efficient indeed, and compare very favourably with those we have in the Regular Army. We are so impressed at Whitehall with what is reported to us of the progress owing to the divisional organisation under Regular General Officers and staffs that we propose to see how we can extend it, and a Committee has been sitting, under Adjutant-General Sir Ian Hamilton, which, I hope, will lead to our extending this to the smaller formations, at least to some extent. The last thing we wish is to discourage Territorial officers, but we think that temporarily, at any rate, in the higher commands, the Territorial officers would be glad to be brought into close contact with Regular officers who give them the benefit of their experience which only a lifetime can impart. As regards numbers and efficiency, the Territorials have done well. A very large proportion of them have remained for fifteen days in camp, and the reports to us are that they are progressing. The Yeomanry in particular have shown themselves anxious to take the very utmost advantage possible of the opportunities given them for coming out into camp.
I come to a much more difficult Territorial arm—the Artillery. The Artillery we always knew would be a great difficulty, and many people believed the Artillery was a plant which would never blossom, but the indications are that it promises to blossom, though a great deal of time has to elapse before it bears fruit. It is a very difficult business to train artillery, but progress is being made. The great difficulty hitherto has been to enable the Artillery to manoeuvre and do gun practice during camp. In some cases, owing to want of ranges, no firing has been done, and the other gun practice had to be carried out on ranges unsuitable for Field Artillery. In others, they have to go for a few days to 1166 some distant land range in order to get opportunities of practice. We have under consideration, and something more than under consideration, the provision of two new artillery ranges. The Treasury have given us the money for the range at Salisbury, and we are also in a position to look out, and we have done something more than look out, for another range in the North, which I hope, when we find—we have not yet satisfied ourselves as to the best locality—will do a great deal to remedy the deficiences of which I have spoken in the training. All arrangements for the acquisition of the second range are made. The only thing which remains is to be satisfied which is the best range. The efficiency of a battery of Artillery depends largely on its commanders, and it will not reach the normal until the commanders have passed through all ranks in the Field Artillery. One hopeful sign is the immense zeal of Territorial Artillery officers. They spare no pains, time, or trouble, to make themselves efficient. They have had considerable obstacles to overcome, and I am glad to say this year we have provided breast harness for their horses, which they wanted very much. The Mounted Artillery Brigade is proving a success. The training will be more easy than for other branches of the Artillery arm and the gunnery arrangements are good. Driving is still difficult to get up to standard. It is very difficult to make a good artillery driver, and there are many other details in which difficulties have to be overcome. But the reports we have received from the Regular officers inspecting are in the main encouraging, and I have no doubt that the determination of the British nation will in the end produce a very fairly efficient Territorial Artillery.
Then as regards Engineers, it is a much easier story to tell. The Engineers naturally are recruited from the very highest skilled class, and are very efficient. The Infantry are progressing. The new musketry course has, on the whole, been successful, and there has been an advance on the old course. We are going to make further provision for supervision by Regular officers of outside corps, and to make provision for their pay and allowances. More range accommodation is badly required. It is not the fault of the Treasury or the War Office that we have not got it, it is the difficulty of getting ranges. We are buying ranges wherever we can, but where we cannot we are providing short ranges—military ranges—for the unit. Of course, nothing except the large range is 1167 satisfactory. This year local courses of musketry are to be held by the highest class, beginning in April. By this means some 448 officers a year will be trained. Then the Army Service Corps were able this year to do their training for their position in the Territorial Force, and they did it on the whole very well. So did the Army Medical Corps. That is progressing satisfactorily. That is the general position of the Territorial Force as regards training.
There are one or two details which I should like to mention. There were complaints last year that the training grants were too limited. We have taken the following course this year. We are asking the General Officers Commanding to work out what training they want to give this year to the Territorial officers, and to prepare an estimate of the cost. That will be communicated to the General Staff at headquarters. I do not know whether hon. Members are familiar with the methods in regard to the training grants. The training grant to the Territorial Force is based upon the difference between the number of men to whom we give money and the number of men attending camp. In the early days that did very well, but the boom in recruiting has put the General Officers Commanding in a difficult position, and therefore we have put a very substantial guarantee fund at the back of the General Officers Commanding, and we have increased our estimate of the number of men who will join the force in the ensuing year. I have no doubt the training money will be forthcoming.
Another point which interests those connected with London is that the Chelsea school for training Territorial officers in the London district has this year been placed on a more satisfactory footing, and will be kept up so long as the General Officer Commanding thinks it useful. I have reason to believe that already there is a prospect that a great many Territorial officers will take advantage of it.
I come to various other details. To begin with, we found that the manœuvres last year, which were on a larger scale than previously, exercised a very beneficial effect both on the Territorials and the Regulars; and this year, thanks to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has been very generous in this respect, we are going to have larger manœuvres still. There is an extra sum of £100,000 in the Estimates for these manœuvres, and with good 1168 reason. My right hon. Friend looked into the matter, and he agreed with the War Office that it is impossible to make sure of what you have unless you test it thoroughly under elaborate manœuvres. The expenditure this year is exceptional, and I am glad to say that manœuvres on such a colossal scale are not likely to recur for several years. The Cabinet took the view that it was worth while occasionally to have manœuvres on a very big scale which will thoroughly test the efficiency of the machine. It is proposed in the autumn of this year to take up an area of country under the Military Manœuvres Act, 1897, for the purpose of divisional training and manoeuvre of the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Divisions quartered in the Alder-shot, Southern, and Eastern Commands, and for the training of the Cavalry Division, which it is proposed to assemble again this year in the manoeuvre area. This area will consist of portions of Hampshire, Dorsetshire, Somersetshire, and Wiltshire.
In addition to the ordinary annual training of the troops under their several commanders, it is also proposed to hold Army manœuvres this year during September in the manoeuvre area, one of the primary objects being to test the supply and transport services by raising one of the divisions at Aldershot to war establishment during these manœuvres. Last year we mobilised a division at Aldershot, but that was essentially not for the purpose of testing it in manœuvres, but for the purpose of seeing how it could march past. I think it occupied sixteen or seventeen miles. This year we are going to mobilise on a much more real scale with the aid of Reservists, or, if we cannot get sufficient Reservists, with soldiers from other units. We propose completely to mobilise one of the divisions with all its auxiliary services and to put it in the field. It will take part in the manœuvres with the other divisions of which I have spoken. A new feature of these manœuvres will be that certain Territorial units will also be given an opportunity of participating. These units will consist of one Infantry brigade, one mounted brigade, and two additional Yeomanry regiments from the Southern command and detachments of Yeomanry scouts and telegraph units from the Western command. I hope that Wales will be represented in these detachments. [An HON. MEMBER: "Will there be Artillery?"] Oh, yes; there will be Artillery, but not Territorial Artillery, in these manœuvres.
§ Mr. ARTHUR LEE
The right hon. Gentleman said he was going to give an opportunity to certain branches of the Territorial Force to take part. Are the Artillery to be excluded?
§ Mr. HALDANE
I think the Artillery will have their own manœuvres this year, but these special manœuvres will be of a high standard, and I should be sorry to risk them by bringing in anything not up to that standard. So far as at present decided, therefore, the Artillery in these manœuvres will be Regular Artillery. It is also proposed during the month of August to test, in conjunction with the Regular troops and in cooperation with the Navy, the degree of efficiency attained by the Territorial Force with special reference to its functions in repelling attacks directed against coast defences. I wish to take this opportunity of expressing obligation to the Navy for the way in which it has co-operated. It is very satisfactory that the Army and Navy are working progressively closer together, both in the Defence Committee and with respect to the relations between the two offices.
The remainder of the funds available will be expended in holding manœuvres on a considerable scale in Ireland and South Africa, and on special manœuvres in the Southern command to test the efficiency of the Army Medical Service in the field. I should also like to mention that Canada will take part in these manœuvres. She is sending over the 2nd Regiment Queen's Own Rifles of Canada and they are expected to arrive about 28th August and take part in the Aldershot Command training and the Army manœuvres. I hope the effect of that will be to give us a good deal of ground for our Army manœuvres.
Now I come to mobilisation equipment. The mobilisation equipment is now in the course of completion, and I hope they will have practically everything for this training. Before I pass from the Territorials, I may mention that the provision of the reserve which the House sanctioned last year is now being carried a stage further. We have made preparations, which I hope will become effective in a few days, for calling the new Reserve of Territorials into existence. Of course, it must be small at first because it means that there must be a certain amount of training, but I hope that in a few weeks men will be able to pass into it. The effect of that will be not only to mobilise quickly the fourteen divisions, but also to enable us to supply mature and trained men if mobilisation 1170 takes place. Besides that Reserve there are two other Reserves which we have under close consideration, and about which we are negotiating with the associations. One is a Veterans Reserve. These veterans can serve a very useful purpose by keeping the Army in contact with the nation and the nation in contact with the Army, and in giving the Army information in regard to bridges and all sorts of local conditions. We propose to have veterans who can be relied upon, if war broke out.
Again, we are collecting what is of great importance, not through the associations but elsewhere, namely, a reserve of technical units—electricians, railwaymen, engineers, and so on—who would be invaluable in time of war, but who would be very difficult to get unless we had them carefully selected in the intervals of peace. Then there is the question of Cadets. We propose to give considerable freedom to-the associations. In all these matters we have made tentative proposals to the associations, but these must not be taken as representing any iron decision on our part. I come now to the associations themselves, and that, of course, raises the question of their funds. The first observation I have to make is that the work of the associations is increasing; the work of the non-commissioned officers who instruct the Territorial Force is also increasing; in both cases because of the increase of the labour which has to be performed. There are plenty of instructors if it were only military duties they had to perform, but what oppresses them is the clerical work. We are going to give the associations a substantial sum this year to enable them to supply clerical assistance and for other purposes. It will work out at about £100 for each Infantry battalion, but we do not want to tie the associations. We are going to give them a little in respect of the salaries of secretaries. The War Office is sometimes blamed for being too niggardly, but if those who make the charge had to watch the giving out of public money as I have to do they would know that you can only get money properly spent if you watch every penny. We tell them that they would not have to return their balances to the Treasury at the end of the year, and that they could keep them for themselves, and this year they have provided no less than about £200,000 of unspent money to their credit. We propose to increase the establishment grant for clerical work and leave them free to increase the salaries of the secretary, of 1171 course, under effective supervision; but we want them to proceed on the footing that they must consider well the justification for the increases which are asked.
The associations have done splendid work this year. The amount of pains and labour which has been given to the solution of difficult local questions is beyond all praise. Every class in the community is represented in the association. We have working men and labour representatives; we have veterans who have served in many campaigns; we have people of every rank and every degree, and some of the best men in the country. The result is that they have done the work with a smoothness and a celerity that are beyond all praise; and not only that, but there are evidences that their permeating effect is being felt in the districts in which they worked. For example, the red cross work is a very valuable work, and the red cross movement is now being brought into line with the work of the associations by the establishment of medical units for the purpose of conveying the wounded from the front to the general hospitals, where, in the event of the invasion of this country, they will be treated. That work is being taken up under the organisation of Sir Alfred Keogh, the Director-General of Medical Service. What he advises has been carried out by all classes, with the result that the country has every prospect of being covered by a network of organisations which will be very valuable for other than war purposes. The first thing that is taught to those who join the associations, women as well as men, is to enable them to deal with accidents and ordinary medical cases, which, I think, is a very valuable piece of training, so that from all we can tell, the red cross movement has a great future before it.
So much for the Territorials. I now come to the Regulars. I first wish to speak of the expeditionary forces. The equipment for the six divisions and the Cavalry Division is, to the best of my knowledge, perfect in every respect. There is nothing wanting for mobilisation. As regards the personnel, that requires more close consideration. There are two points which are very difficult and of which a solution has not yet been completely reached. I refer to officers and horses. Do not let the House imagine that I do not realise the difficulties and the shortcomings that have to be made up in the composition of the Army. Nobody knows them better than I do, as these difficulties have been brought 1172 before me, and I shall deal with them presently. But before doing so I wish to say that it is with officers and horses we have most trouble. If you take the question of what we could mobilise in the six divisions, the answer is this, that, including officers, you could mobilise completely the fighting line of six divisions and the Cavalry Division. I say the fighting line because the auxiliary services are not perfect in every respect, but I wish to add I have no doubt that, although those auxiliary services are not perfect in every respect, the material which we have now our hands on would enable us to mobilise the whole six. Certainly, we could mobilise on the lines of communication with everything complete for five divisions and the Cavalry Division. That brings me to remark that the difficulty is not, as I have said, the fighting line. The personnel of the fighting line is complete. The difficulty is in Army Service Corps and Army Medical Transport. But these exist in what we may call the first and second line, where the big parts of divisions and the lines of communication are concerned, and it is there that the difficulty arises. As regards those, we have now made arrangements which will before long provide the Army Service Corps with such a reserve as will obviate every difficulty, and there are arrangements now completed which I hope will supply the very little that is wanted to make the six divisions perfectly complete, if necessary, in every respect.
I now come to the Cavalry. Here I mar Kay again a word of gratitude to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As he is absent perhaps I can speak of him more freely. He is essentially a fighting man and was a Volunteer once, and last Autumn, at the solicitation of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary (Mr. Churchill) and myself, he accompanied us down to see the great manœuvres. We also had the Prime Minister on a separate day. I always like to bring up a big reserve. But it was quite unnecessary, because my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer entered into the matter with such zest that there was no doubt at all in our minds that we put our fingers on the weak spots that had to be dealt with. The Cavalry who were mobilised last year exhibited themselves. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was taken up to a high place, and the Cavalry manoeuvred before him, and the Inspector-General of Forces stood by him, pointing out the faults, while my right hon. Friend and I stood at a respectful distance. The 1173 result was that the one impression in the mind of all of us was that the needs which had to be made up in the Army were the deficiency of horses and men for mobilisation in the Cavalry Division. And perhaps it would be convenient if I tell the House at this juncture exactly what is being done.
The Cavalry, as the House knows, was not reorganised by Lord Cardwell when he reorganised the Infantry, but remained in the state of single independent regiments. Those abroad were fed with drafts from the large composite depot at Canterbury, which consisted of detachments from all the regiments in India and the Colonies; and all service recruits for regiments abroad were sent there for training before joining their regiments, while the troops for home regiments joined their units at once on enlistment. This was a very bad system, because the recruits who were only trained at the depot were sent away to foreign parts, and they were quite unfit to go away for mobilisation in India. In 1893 another step was taken. The Cavalry was divided into three corps—Dragoons, Lancers, and Hussars—and recruiting was established for the corps in general, and not for particular regiments, the intention being that the regiments at homo should feed those of the same corps abroad. That turned out to require change. Up to 1904 there was a draft-finding depot in Canterbury. In that year it was abolished, and each of the fourteen regiments abroad was linked for supply of drafts with one at home, and all recruits received a training in regiments at home before being drafted away. My predecessor, Mr. Arnold Forster, had proposed to have two large depots for draft-finding purposes, but owing to building considerations this was not carried out. The linked system has worked well so far as drafts are concerned, but the great defect in mobilisation was that there were no proper arrangements for the clothing and equipment of Cavalry Reservists on mobilisation. In the absence of any mobilisation centre each regiment carried about on its back, so to speak, all the arms, clothing, and equipments required for its Reservists on the outbreak of war. There was no provision for organising and training the men at home after the expeditionary force had left.
Part of the reforms of this year consist of this, that six new depots are being created, one in each command, where all 1174 recruits for the Cavalry will be received and drilled for about three months before being sent to their regiments. One of these depots is already at Woolwich. Another depot will be opened at Dublin on 1st April, and one at Scarborough will be opened on the same day. There are also one at Edinburgh, one at Seaforth, near Liverpool, and one at Bristol. These will be the six new Cavalry depots, one for each command. They will fulfil the functions which I have stated. They will perform very different functions from those of the old Canterbury depot and Mr. A. Forster's projected depots. They will not find drafts, which will continue to be supplied by regiments at home. They will serve as mobilisation centres, where the arms, clothing, and equipment of reservists will be stored in peace. On mobilisation they will throw off "reserve regiments" for the reception of recruits, surplus reservists, etc., and for the training of drafts for regiments abroad or in the field, in the same manner as the Infantry 3rd (Reserve) Battalions. The transfer to the depots of the duties of training recruits, looking after mobilisation equipment, etc., formerly done by the "Reserve Squadron" of each home regiment, enables the reserve squadron to be abolished and the establishment of the regiment at home to be reduced, from 714 to 678 all ranks, without loss of effective strength; the result being that the depots will be found without appreciable increase in numbers or cost of the total establishment of Cavalry. Of course, the establishments abroad are not affected by the change, but it was necessary to provide for training of recruits.
Apart from any question of organisation of existing numbers, the experience at the Cavalry manœuvres last year demonstrated that the available strength of our regiments at home was too small to enable them to take the field without incorporating on mobilisation such a number of reservists and untrained horses as would seriously affect their fighting efficiency. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has enabled us to meet the difficulty. The Cavalry is likely to be most severely tested in the opening stage of the campaign before the Reservists have got into shape. Sir John French considers it undesirable, as the result of his inspection, that men who have been a considerable time away from the regiment should be called in immediately on mobilisation. To meet this weakness, eighteen privates and thirty-six horses are 1175 added to each regiment at home, bringing the establishment to 696 all ranks and 523 horses, the total increase being 252 men and 504 horses, at a cost of £30,000 a year, plus £20,000 in the first year for the purchase of horses. In addition to this, we are going to restore the position of Inspector of Cavalry. This was not the only thing which was done on the occasion of the visit of my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We also observed that the Army, spread out as it was, showed itself to be very defective in communication organisation, which is so necessary to an Army acting as a whole. We are making a change in this respect. We are going to create six communication companies—one for each division. They will consist of signalling and telegraph companies, and three special corps of cyclists, while a special officer will be added to the General Staff at headquarters to look after them. I pass to the Artillery, about which I need say very little. We have got now a complete personnel, and at last we are in a position to have a complete mobilisation—the howitzers will be completed, I hope, in the course of this year.
The Infantry Reserve needs a word of notice. At the present time it is very large, being 134,000, but as I indicated to the House some little time ago, in a normal year the establishment would not exceed 115,000. It probably will be larger than that, because we have added 5,000 Reserve Artillery; but I am not satisfied with the future Reserve. As regards the Infantry, we have just now a large surplus. All the regiments do not produce the same amount of Reserve, though I do not know why it is so. While at the present time, and for a little time to come, the Reserve will be a little larger than is required for mobilisation, yet this question will require attention. There is not now so much diminution by wastage as formerly, owing to the better quality of the men, the better standard of recruits, and the better care that they take of their bodies and their minds all round; so that it will be understood that the power of an Infantry Battalion is greater than it used to be, and that the establishment of 720 is much better than 720 would have been a few years ago, when the wastage was larger. But the problem still remains to be considered whether that establishment will produce a proper Reserve. There is certainly no danger for two or three years to come, but it is a subject which ought not 1176 to escape attention, and that is why I like to state to the House everything about it in order that there may be no mistake. As for the men themselves, my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board knows how they have improved in their marching and in other qualities, so that I need not say anything further upon that.
I come to the Special Reserve. There has been a good deal of interest evinced and criticism passed about the Special Reserve. It is a new organisation, and there are no doubt a great many points in which it could be made better, and, therefore, I have appointed the strongest committee I could get, under Major-General Ewart, to investigate the whole question and suggest what improvements we could make in the organisation of the Special Reserve. To illustrate the point, the House overruled me three years ago, or, rather, I will not say overruled, but proposed that we should put all the establishments on the same footing. I am not quite sure whether they were not a little too hasty in that. The twenty-seven third battalions are in a very different position from the seventy-four home battalions for mobilisation. The fourth battalions may be required to be sent abroad or to relieve the Regular troops, or they may have to go to the fighting formation, whereas the third battalions will be in a very different position. The third battalions are battalions in which it is impossible that the bulk of the men should be anything but new to their duties, but the General Staff are satisfied that the men will be able while at that work to receive training and send drafts to the troop battalions oversea. It is obvious, that being so, that the third battalions are in a very different position in these respects from battalions whose function it is to go abroad. I do not say that these third battalions may not go abroad, nor that they cannot be organised up to the battalions that will go abroad, but a great number of them will not be wanted for those functions. Anybody who has the interests of the Army at heart will put the business of getting troop battalion drafts in the first place. It will have to be considered whether the third battalions ought to be linked yet more closely to the Line. In the permanent arrangements that, and a multitude of other questions, will have to be considered, and the problem is not one that can be solved in a hurry. As regards the Special Reserve, the training is to be 1177 under Regular officers. I quote from the Report which will be issued to the House presently on the subject of the Special Reserve troops, and which states that as regards the troops for the Special Reserve it was almost unanimously conceded that they were generally good all round—in character, education, and physique. So they ought, for the training is far longer and better, and it may not be undesirable to consider whether the training for the short period should be added on to the annual training, and whether a change of that kind might not be profitable. That is a matter under the consideration of the Committee of which I have spoken, but until I have got the facts before me, I do not propose to commit myself to any statement. As regards the numbers of the Special Reserve, the establishment is at present 76,166, but that is rather a nominal than a real figure. The Special Reserve Artillery has been reduced by 6,000, and the true number of the establishment will be 70,166. We have at present 67,948, so that the number of Special Reservists is satisfactory. I may mention, as regards employment, which affects both the Regulars and Special Reservists, a good deal was done last year. A great many passed from the colours to civil life, and there were over 20,000 Reservists for whom, through various agencies, over 20,000 places were found. That, I think, is not a bad record. Good work has been done by the Army Medical Corps in reducing disease and illness, assisted through the agency of the chaplains of regiments, and by Dr. McKay in Scotland.
I pass to a wholly different topic. From my earliest youth I have found the horse a most difficult animal to manage, and the worst of it is that one cannot get any advice upon which to act. [An HON. MEMBER: "No advice?"] Oh, yes, I get plenty of advice, but quot homines tot sententiœ. I get advice from hundreds and perhaps thousands of people. Under the circumstances, I was compelled to go to nature as one of my sources of advice. We have divided the question into two heads. One is mobilisation and the other breeding. For twenty years or more this question has been talked of, but absolutely nothing has been done, and therefore it is the intention, lest we make mistakes, to proceed tentatively and do the best one can. We are putting a plan in force very tentatively, and it is based on the existing powers we have under Section 114 of the Army Act. Those powers have existed for many years, though not much, apparently, is known 1178 about them. The police have power under that section to make a census of horses, and everybody is bound to give the police proper information, so that the horses may be ready for mobilisation at the proper time.
§ Mr. HALDANE
If they do not quite agree it goes to a local tribunal. With the existing powers they possess and with the assistance of the Home Office, and I expect with that of my right hon. Friend the present Home Secretary, as well as that of his predecessor, who has rendered great help in this matter, the police took steps to obtain a census of horses in the United Kingdom. I have not got all the results of that census yet, but I give to the House figures which will, I think, prove of great interest. It is quite clear, I think, that the number of horses in the country is diminishing, but I would point out that the number of horses required for transport will not be so great, as motor transport will take the place of horse transport to a very much larger extent. The question is, what do we require on mobilisation? The mobilisation figures are that we require at present 67,278 horses for the Regulars and 86,287 for the Territorials, making a total of 153,000.
§ 5.0 P.M
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
In giving the horses of the Regular Army is the right hon. Gentleman including the horses in the second line transport? The argument was that motor traction would diminish the number required.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I am including all the horses required for mobilisation on the present establishment—that is, 153,000 horses altogether. The natural question one puts to oneself is what have we got towards that, and having found what we have got, what can we get? We have got a peace establishment of the Regular Army, after the usual 10per cent. deducted for defective horses, 16,029, and we have got some 20,000 registered horses. I think that those in the course of time will diminish, but at any rate we have got that number now. It may be broadly taken that we lave got to meet a deficiency of something approaching 120,000 horses in the supply for mobilisation of the Regular and Territorial Forces, excluding what we have in the peace establishment. How has that to be got over? The plan that has commended itself to us is to use the existing powers. I am 1179 far from saying that it is perfect machinery, but I think it is machinery which ought to be put into operation in the fist instance. I could advise a more perfect plan, but I am not sure that I could induce this House to accept it. Under the French system the mayor would be directed, under penalty of heavy fine, to summon every citizen, also under a penalty of a heavy fine, to bring up his horses on a certain day to a certain place to be inspected by the military authorities. I should prefer some other Minister than myself to do that. I think that if such a request were made to a local mayor his reply to the Government would not be very polite, and we should have no control over him of any sort. You have to educate your masters gradually before you get a plan of that kind.
I think the more conservative course is better, and that we should use existing institutions. You have got the power to have a horse census; you may have to make various improvements in the machinery which the sections of the Army Act provide for enabling you to get the horses, but you have got these powers, and the plan we propose is this—to first of all take the number of horses in the Police Census and use that as a preliminary basis, and from the numbers so furnished to work out what will be the percentage in each county that will be required on mobilisation for the Regulars and Territorials, respectively. I may tell the House that the Regulars will only be about one-fifth of the Territorials.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I think the whole of them. Some of them have to come in, and we have the Irish figures. But the census is being taken everywhere. We propose to ask the association to work out on the per centage the number required in each county to produce the quota and the classifications required, so as to give us a list in this way of where the horses are, and descriptions, ages, etc. of the horses represented. That may be a difficult task, or it may be a very light one. I know that in the parish in which I live in Scotland it should be a very easy task. I have not much knowledge of horses, but I spoke to a steward there who should know every horse within three or four miles. There are other people also who, working in the same spirit, could make a rough classification of every horse in the vicinity. It is not every horse that would be required. 1180 You do not want draught horses, or the horse, perhaps, of some distant man with a small farm. What you want to do is to classify only a small percentage out of the total number. You want to distribute the burden easily, and make a list of horses easily got at, and have regard to the burden on individuals. The horses may be taken at war time, but, of course, they would be paid for. I think that is a far better way of dealing with the matter through people resident in the counties on the spot who know their neighbours than to commence in a spirit of officials, and I am satisfied that until a good many years have passed, and until the system has broken down, we are not likely to make much progress in that direction. We shall furnish the association with such money as is necessary for doing what I have mentioned.
That being the plan, how many horses exist, and how many are going to be available? I have not got in the whole of the census, but I have got in the census for the vast bulk of the counties, and for Ireland, and I am in a position to say that there are probably 2,000,000 horses in this country over four years, excluding brood mares and stallions. We want only 150,000, and it is obvious the work of classification is therefore a lighter work than it at first sight seems. This year we are purchasing a good many horses for the peace establishment, which will somewhat diminish the burden. Last year we bought 200 horses and boarded them out, and this year we are buying some more and sending them out on the boarding-out system. We have also supplied the Artillery last year with 452 extra horses, and we are making additions there also. In fact, within the last two years we have added 1,500 horses to the peace establishment. One word about breeding. The President of the Board of Agriculture has been in consultation with me about this matter, and he has worked out with me a plan which the War Office has elaborated with the officials of his Department, and with the consent of my right hon. Friend they hope to bring it forward very shortly. His plan is this: That stallions and mares found suitable for breeding foals for Army purposes should be registered as such at the Board of Agriculture; second, that owners of registered stallions should receive a bonus for every foal produced by their stallions and registered mares; third, that owners of registered mares should receive facilities for offering the foals produced, and fit for sale, direct 1181 to the War Department, and that the War Department should buy three-year-olds instead of four. The earlier sale is more convenient for the owner, as it gives him the opportunity of disposing of those horses which are not accepted. The number of stallions registered would be, say, 500, and of mares not more than about, 25,000. Those would produce about 150,000 foals. By this we should have 60,000 suitable for remount purposes, and if we adopt that system we should get rid of registration altogether. This plan wants a good deal of working out. It is the best we can devise. My right hon. Friend has taken the matter in hand, and I hope we will be able to make an announcement about it before very long.
I pass to another subject, and that is the subject of officers—a subject about which there has been a good deal of conversation and writing, and on which I think also there exists a good deal of misapprehension. It is quite true that the tendency of the time is to provide so many other appointments for young men that there is not that tendency to go into the Army that there once was. On the other hand, the number of capable young men in the country is increasing, and there ought to be no lack of officers, and it does not appear now, after things have been looked into, that there is any great deficiency. Some deficiency there is, but not a deficiency to the extent which is popularly believed. Sir William Nicholson, Chief of the General Staff, with another member has investigated the subject thoroughly, and they have got the bed-rock facts. They took the five years period, 1895 to 1899, and they compared it with the period between 1905–1909. They took those periods so as to avoid war time, and comparing one quinquennial period with another we find that, although there is a diminution in the officers of the Army, it is only a diminution in the second quinquennial period as compared with the first of twenty-one candidates every year. I have no doubt the popular impression is very different. It is probably based on the fact that we have been plucking a good many more, as a higher standard is required.
§ Mr. HALDANE
Undoubtedly we have. In the old days nobody thought of training an officer on certain matters, and we have got a considerably higher standard 1182 before we say a candidate has qualified. The tendency is for the standard to go up. Referring to the tables, the average of candidates who came up in the first periods—
§ Mr. HALDANE
All officers in the Regular Army. That number used to be 871; it is now 850. These 871 are candidates coming up for the first time. Looking at the position as it stands at present, the situation is not so bad as it seems. There is another cause which has made the deficiency in officers seem greater than it is. We have very much enlarged the establishment during the last four or five years by the new staff appointments in the Regular Army and in the Territorials, and we have had to fill up this establishment. Hon. Members will readily appreciate that to fill up an establishment is a different thing from keeping it full when once it has been filled and only the wastage has to be made good. The General Staff are of opinion that the prospects of finding a proper supply of officers are not such as need cause apprehension. But they want very careful watching, because the profession of officer might become less popular than it is to-day. If, however, things should remain as they are, when the establishment is full we shall probably have enough or nearly enough. But we propose to take certain steps to put ourselves in a safer position. To begin with, we have already altered the age at which candidates enter to seventeen and a half, and as soon as the course at Sandhurst becomes a one-and-a-half years instead of a one-year course, we shall lower it to seventeen. We have already settled with the Advisory Committee, of which the hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Sir H. Craik) is chairman, that we will give nominations to cadets from selected public schools who have taken the leaving certificate. A proportion will be nominated by the head-masters and recommended to the Army Council. We hope in that way to-encourage a certain number. There are also other means under consideration with which I need not trouble the House.
Then it is said that the pay of officers is insufficient. If you compare it, as I have done, with the pay of Civil servants, you will find that the officer is at least as well off in the earlier portions of his career. We have, however, already done something, and other things will have to be 1183 done, particularly with regard to the captain and the major. For efficient mobilisation officers we look to the Officers Training Corps, which was called into existence for that very purpose. To mobilise the six divisions there is no deficiency of officers; but to provide for the units left at home, at the depots and so on we should require to draw largely from the Reserve of Officers. The Officers Training Corps, which was designed to give us the means of filling our great deficiency, namely, subalterns, will, I hope, next year reach the very respectful total of 21,000 candidates in the public schools and universities. Just now it is nearly 20,000. Already we are beginning to reap the fruit of that organisation, as fifty men have quite recently taken commissions in the Special Reserve. The only other thing I wish to mention in connection with officers is this. We attach—certainly I attach—the utmost importance to the Staff College. We have decided to increase the Staff College this year by adding substantially to the number of instructors and also something to the number of students who can be accommodated. The General Staff goes on expanding, and after the conference of last year it became in fact, as well as in name, an Imperial General Staff. Sir William Nicholson receives weekly communications with regard to organisation. Lord Kitchener, on behalf of the War Office, accepted an invitation from Australia and New Zealand, and that great organising soldier has given full advice concerning the organisation of their forces, which I hope will bear practical fruit. Sir John French, similarly at the invitation of the Dominion Government, is going to Canada in the summer to give them like advice on the organisation of their forces.
There are one or two other topics to which I wish to refer. The first is the question of the rifle. As the House knows, other nations are considering an automatic rifle. We are considering an automatic rifle, too. But our investigation has led us to suppose that the proper type of automatic rifle has not yet been reached, and that it will be some little time before an automatic rifle becomes a practicable thing. Several have been put on the market, but none of them yet suitable. On the Continent there has been adopted a new bullet which gives remarkable results, and which has a muzzle velocity considerably greater than ours. There they 1184 have an advantage which we do not possess, in that the rifles of the great Powers have a stronger breach mechanism than ours, and, taking a greater charge, can fire a lighter bullet. We have had to deal with this question—how to improve our service rifle so as to get results at all events analogous to those obtained on the Continent. As the result of four years' work we have produced a new bullet which very satisfactorily responds to the tests we have made, and which we propose to adopt tentatively. It is a bullet which resembles in material respects the German Spitzer, which has a very high muzzle velocity and a flat trajectory. The bullet we propose to adopt is larger than the German bullet, and weighs 160 grains against our old 212 grains and the German 150 grains. We have been able, thanks to the researches of the experts, without altering the present rifle at all, to produce much better results than we have under the existing system. Our new 160–grain bullet has a muzzle velocity of nearly 500 ft. greater than the present bullet, and its dangerous space approximates to, though it is not quite so good as, that of the German bullet. That is at 800 yards. The service rifle bullet has 13.7 feet trajectory; with the new bullet it is 8 ft. We are going to proceed experimentally by arming a certain number of companies in various parts of the country and making a test on a large scale. We believe the bullet will turn out well.
I want to say a word about dirigibles and aeronautics. We made a start last year in this subject by getting a plan worked out by the Defence Committee for future progress, giving the rigid dirigibles to the Navy and the non-rigid dirigibles and the aeroplanes to the Army. Then the Prime Minister set up within the organisation of the National Physical Laboratory an Aeronautical Department on a considerable scale. That department got to work almost at once. Since then it has been found necessary to increase its buildings and staff. The Treasury have responded very freely, and the work at Teddington is now in full swing. Since last year we have also reorganised the Construction Department at Aldershot. It used to be under the care of an officer who did remarkably good work, Colonel Capper; but we want his great ability to train the officers and men who are to form the Balloon School and the corps which will navigate the dirigibles. We feel that the practical instruction 1185 should be in the hands of a civilian expert. We have got a man, I think, of great capacity, Mr. O'Gorman, who is very well known in connection with the construction of motor engines and all other matters connected with motors. Mr. O'Gorman has been at work for some time, and has now organised a staff at Aldershot. The Construction Department will be four times the size of what we have had up till now. Various plants have been set up. The next step we propose to take—and we have already decided on the lines of it—is to substitute for the present corps a regular Aeronautical Corps, such as exists in Germany, separate from any other corps in the Army, and devoted to aeronautics. As we develop our dirigibles we shall draw for officers and men on that corps. The present Ballooning School will become the training school for that corps. These are all our arrangements at the present time. Very many people will say: "You seem to be always making arrangements, and never getting any further." But I am convinced Of this, that until we get everything perfectly clear we shall only make very slow progress. For example, Lord Rayleigh's Committee at Teddington, presided over daily by Dr. Glazebrook, has been engaged on all sorts of things in conjunction with Colonel Capper and the experts of the Army and Navy. Such subjects, for instance, have been dealt with as defects in engines and in steering and anchoring apparatus, defects in fabrics, gusts—people do not realise what an extraordinary thing the atmosphere is—the weather influence on the surface of these balloons which may lead to their destruction—the question of electrical charges induced on airships, the illumination of the sky for the detection of foreign dirigibles, the question of the propulsion of dirigibles. These conditions need to be very carefully investigated, and have been under close investigation, and the results are being used for the designs which we are now at work upon. At present we have got one small dirigible at Aldershot designed by Colonel Capper, and so far it has done well. There are coming over from France two more—the Clement Bayard—negotiations for which have been undertaken by the Aeronautical Committee of the House, and if this is satisfactory it is not impossible that the War Department may purchase it. There is also the Lebaudy, which through the patriotism of the "Morning Post" has been offered to us. These are coming over before long. Then we are 1186 working on the designs for a large dirigible of our own, which I hope will be built in the course of the present financial year—certainly we hope to commence it, if it is not brought to completion. Then there is the great Navy dirigible, which is rapidly approaching completion. I believe it will be launched in the summer. As soon as we have made ourselves acquainted with the lessons which these teach, we shall go on working at the construction of dirigibles. We are making our Construction Department at Aldershot under Mr. O'Gorman of such a size that it can cope with the working out of our designs for a fleet, and I hope that the Aeronautic Corps and School, reorganised as it will be under Colonel Capper, will provide for the rest.
So much for dirigibles. The whole subject is, I think, very much in its infancy. I am never alarmed when reading of the progress of other nations in this matter. No doubt we are behind. So we were in other matters. In motor cars, for instance. But when we had mastered the thing we went ahead very quickly. And again, so much in this matter that has been undertaken by foreign nations has already turned out to be unsatisfactory. However much they seem to lead the way, I trust I have made it clear that when we put our backs into the matter we shall find ourselves all right.
Then I should like to say a word or two on a great subject upon which we are concentrating, that is the improvement of married quarters. This—involving the addition of sanitary annexes—is being carried out as rapidly as possible. The item has been increased to £270,000, of which £94,000 will have been spent by the end of this year. The balance will, it is estimated, complete the work. The abolition of single-room quarters cannot be completed until sufficient new quarters are built to house the families whose quarters are taken by the alteration, but where quarters can be had the alteration is proceeding without waiting for new quarters. In the new barracks at Edinburgh it has been decided to build accommodation for an infantry battalion as well as for a cavalry regiment on the new site at Red-ford. An item has also been taken for replacing the huts at Lichfield, and for completing the accommodation for a battalion at Fort Burgoyne, Dover, which will give a much-needed improvement to the barracks accommodation there. We are also improving the lighting of barracks. The electric installation at Aldershot is being extended under the advice of an 1187 eminent firm of engineers, and an installation is to be provided at the Curragh under the superintendence of the same firm. Considerable experience is being obtained of various installations of air gas, and for small barracks this illuminant will probably be the most satisfactory and its use extended. The re-arrangements will take some time, but it is very important they should be undertaken, because I myself have seen that the men cannot read with the lamps we have supplied them with. The improvement of the hospitals is progressing. This year the enlargement and improvement of Arbor Hill Hospital has been in hand, and next year Chatham and York hospitals will be dealt with, and a new hospital will on the loan be commenced at Tidworth. Officers' wards are now being provided at various hospitals. The alterations to provide these at Millbank are in hand. There should be in the future no difficulty in officers obtaining up-to-date accommodation when sick and injured.
The only other subject I have to mention is that of the re-organisation of the Army Accounts Department. By this reorganisation the Army Accounts Department will get what the Public Accounts Committee have wished for some time, that is the strengthening of control by Parliament. The re-organisation is desirable for another reason there is saving of £38,000 per year, of which £11,000 goes into this year's accounts. The system has been worked out very carefully by one whom I miss very much in this House, Mr. Acland, whose services the fortune of a General Election has deprived me of. I do not think I exaggerate when I say that his loss is not only great to me, but great to many Members of the House, whose servant he always was with his great knowledge of all financial matters connected with the Army. However, I have got the assistance of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth (Mr. Mallet). The purpose of this reorganisation is to prepare for war. It is not, like the last, a civilian organisation, which made no preparation for war. On war we should have been compelled to improvise a new system, that would have been disastrous. The training of military men is being carefully proceeded with under the permanent financial heads of the War Office in the whole Army Accounts Branch. The system will also provide for the auditing being separated from the accounts. 1188 I feel that I have detained the House very long, but I have almost done. For five years in succession I have brought in these Estimates. I know not whether I may bring them in again. The future will not disclose its secrets. Great changes have been made in these five years. The old Volunteers and Yeomanry have been transformed into an organised Army. The Militia have been incorporated into the Regular Line as its Special Reserve. The Cardwell system has been completed and carried to its logical conclusion. The Home troops of the Regular Army have been organised into an expeditionary force of six divisions and a Cavalry division. Yet these things are only the beginning, and not the end of wisdom. One of the very greatest of modern military writers in a book, which, although I am a civilian, has been my constant companion during these years, General von der Goltz, in his "Nation in Arms," uses these pregnant words:—The enigma to be solved in the present state of affairs is how to produce a complete relation of the-military to the social and industrial life of the people, so that the former may impede the latter as little as possible, and that on the other hand the full wealth of the resources of the latter may be widened by the healthy state of the former.That is emphatically our problem in Great Britain. I have faith that the foundations have been laid and the structure commenced of an edifice in which the nation and the Army, the civilian and the soldier, will live and work together, and know and sympathise with each other far more closely than in days gone by. Yet how much has still to be done before this ideal can be accomplished no man in this House can realise more keenly than I, who have been engaged all these years in the struggle towards that ideal, do. So little done: undone vast! before we get the sympathy, confidence, and understanding that there ought to be between that branch of the service of the State and the nation. Let us throw our efforts into the work of bringing these two more closely together, and I believe we have not anywhere got within sight of the extent to which you can go under the voluntary system. I believe it is the voluntary system which gives you the greatest chance of bringing the Army and the nation closest together. I see no reason why, if you want to expand the Army or the Reserves, and bring them nearer to civilian sources, you cannot do it but on the voluntary system. Let us throw our efforts into this work—our passionate efforts, for without passion nothing great can be 1189 accomplished. It may be given to me to do what little I can for a little longer, or it may be that the work will pass into other hands. But whatever happens I have small doubt of the result. The burden would be borne by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite as cheerfully as it has been borne by us. Parliament has, I think, already made it manifest that we have quitted the day of idle talk, and that nothing short of strenuous work will be accepted. The War Office and the Army have responded nobly to the call made upon them during these years, and I may add during the South African War. I believe the days of strenuous labour have come to stay for all of us, officers and men.
I feel that right hon. Gentlemen opposite have the same convictions as we have. They may make changes; that I do not dread, if, as I believe, these changes prove to be the outcome of further knowledge and experience. Errors and shortcomings, of which I do not doubt there are many, will be discovered and corrected. I have confidence that as I myself have striven to do my duty in no party spirit, so will those who come after me, whatever be their political faith. If so, progress is assured, and the end will ultimately be attained. And if I am, in days to come, a Member of this House, I shall hope to help them as freely as they have helped me. There must be criticism. It is the advantage of the party system that it provides that criticism, which, restrained within proper limits, is necessary to maintain the level of administration, and that criticism is all the more potent for good if it is not factious.
I have made my confession of faith in a closer relation of the Army to our people believing in the reality of a growing and a better understanding of the needs of the Army by the nation and by Parliament. I leave these Estimates in the hands of the House with the hope that, their shortcomings notwithstanding, they may help to make a step further towards the attainment of that goal which we all have at heart.
§ Mr. GEORGE WYNDHAM
Old and new Members of the House must have admired the spirit which imbued the closing sentences of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I should say that only a man who has worked as hard and devotedly as he has worked during the last few years would have been entitled to speak in the ones of those concluding sentences, and 1190 I will add that no other man who has done so much work would have the clear vision and the frankness to say, as he did, that so much more work remains to be done by himself or by those who may succeed him. If I may say so, not in a spirit of criticism, the new Members of this House who have not had the pleasure of hearing the right hon. Gentleman before will admire his self-restraint and industry, by virtue of which he compressed his remarks-within the modest compass of two hours. He promised at the outset that he would achieve that because there was nothing new in this scheme so far as the design and plan of our land forces is concerned. I agree that is so. These Estimates contained nothing sensational. They show an increase of a handful of men and a slight increase in the cost of the Army, and indeed we are considering the Army Estimates this year under conditions which, apart from the speech, suggest that the Army Estimates are a mere part of a mechanical finance which has to be got through somehow in order that the Government may be carried on anyhow. The danger of not making the best of the opportunity is increased by the fact that after Easter we shall be plunged into an acute constitutional controversy. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has mollified the asperity of that controversy by the tributes which he paid to Noble Lords for the assistance which they have given him, and the reiterated tributes he paid to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the generosity of his support of his most darling project. But this is the proper annual occasion upon which we take counsel together in order to perform our common duty towards one great branch of national defence. The Secretary of State appreciates this. He showed he appreciated it, and his speech shows he appreciated it. He granted, as we all do—and I am sure that I speak for my hon. Friends behind me—the zeal with which the distinguished soldiers who assisted him have laboured in improving the organisation of the Army, but, as I say, this is the occasion for taking stock of the actual results of the things that have been done.
In the speech to which we have listened the points which awakened the most interest on this side of the House and the closest sympathy were the points which dealt not with the present, but the future. We were delighted to hear that perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will consider increasing the establishments of 1191 Infantry battalions above 720 men in the home Army. We were glad to know that the organisation of the Special Reserve was to be inquired into by a Commission. We were pleased to know that we may have remounts in order to secure a proper supply of horses for the Army, and we were glad of the impression that the right hon. Gentleman did not preclude the idea of increasing the pay of the officers. Each of these four points, to every one of which we attach importance, related to the visionary and problematical future. When we come to consider, on the occasion of the annual Army Estimates, what progress has been made and results obtained. I think, in order to gauge these results, we must look at them from two points of view—from the point of view of what was possible and what was done under the old system before the right hon. Gentleman, and, I will add, his predecessor, undertook their measures, and we must look at these effective results from the point of view of how much has been done. The right hon. Gentleman admits that there is much more to be done before we can be satisfied at the progress made. I only touch upon the first point of what has been done—I need not dwell upon it. We are not to forget two things. First, that the old Army could do a great deal. Last May the right hon. Gentleman signed, in common with his colleagues, a very interesting Memorandum, which reminds us that during the war 228,000 odd officers and men of the Regular Army were sent from this country to South Africa. It is well we should remember that, for people often believe that the great bulk of the troops sent to South Africa were Volunteers or Militia, or contingents that came from our Colonies. The second thing we are to remember is that the system which produced that result was universally condemned everywhere upon the ground of its insufficiency and in respect of the number of fully trained men. I need not say another word upon that point, except this, that in respect of the number of fully-trained men there is not much difference nowadays from what was the case when these results were described as inadequate.
I do not want to trouble the House now, but if we are to take stock of the situation and compare the present moment with, say, four years ago, I think we should make other comparisons than taking the actual changes which are published in these Estimates. We have 14,000 1192 odd fewer Regulars, we have 33,000 more added to Reserve, nearly 24,000 less in the Special Reserve than four years ago in the Militia, and 7,000 more added to the Territorial Forces than we had in the Yeomanry and Volunteers. That is to say, that altogether taking the Regular Army, Regular Reserve and Special Reserve, and Territorial Forces, we have 2,469 more men than four years ago, comparing the beginning of this year with 1906. Yes, but in order that that comparison will tell us the truth, we must remember that a large number of the men now in the Reserve are due to provisions which rightly or wrongly, it does not matter, have been abandoned, and we must recollect that the Army Reserve will not continue to stand as it does now, at nearly 134,000 men, because in the Memorandum to which I have referred, the Memorandum of the Army Council last May, we are told that the normal of the Reserve will only be 116,000 men. If that be the case, I suggest that the true comparison between where we are now and where we were four years ago is that we are decreased in numbers by 15,515 men. Granting, as we do, how admirable has been the work done upon the Army—the work of the right hon. Gentleman and his assistants—on organisation it cannot be said that in respect of the number of fully trained men we have acted upon a view universally held and authoritatively expressed with respect to the old Army which sent that large force of Regular troops from this country to South Africa. If we look at what is really effected from the other point of view, namely, from the point of view of what has been done, that impression is intensified. No one can deny that in respect to naval supremacy and to liability to invasion we have been forced to reconsider what was the official Estimate four years ago in respect to naval supremacy. The possibility of our maintaining the two-Power standard is officially discounted in respect to the liability of our shores to invasion. The official raid by 10,000 or 15,000 men has now been increased to an official raid of 70,000 men, and, therefore, many believe it is conceivable that a larger number of foreign troops might be placed upon our shores. That is important. If those to whom we must look for advice tender that advice to this Government, or any other something has happened which we have to take into account since the time when we were told authoritatively that we had not enough fully trained men in this country. What we have to do in the light of this reconsideration 1193 of official authority is to consider how far the results already effected go to meet the exigencies of our military problem. I think we may congratulate ourselves upon the fact that what these needs are is now denned much more clearly and in a manner to secure much more general assistance than was the case not very long ago. We know we have to maintain an Army overseas; that is not disputed. We may congratulate the right hon. Gentleman of having worked out an exact balance between the number of Infantry battalions overseas and those at home, and the exact balance between the number of Cavalry regiments overseas and those at home, but we must regret that that balance is precarious and depends upon the aspect of foreign affairs in other quarters of the world, and we must continue to deplore that the right hon. Gentleman got rid of a certain number of regiments that would have afforded a useful margin for the future. Upon the point of maintaining the overseas army, it is sufficient to say that it would be madness to reduce it or to contemplate its reduction. The second great need is that the Regular Army at home should be organised into a Cavalry division, twelve regiments, and six divisions of all arms, and that the Expeditionary Force ought to be ready to go at any moment when it is thought proper to send it from this country. That is a very important definition. The third need which our force must be prepared to meet is defined in this way. When that expedition has gone we must, in the Territorial Force and in any leavings from the expedition, have a sufficient number of men sufficiently trained in this country to deter any other country from attempting invasion, or enough to secure the defeat of invasion if it is attempted. The right hon. Gentleman will admit, I think, that I have not overstated his account of what the needs are which we have to meet. The question is, Can we meet those needs as stated by me when the right hon. Gentleman accepts my statement that I am not exaggerating those needs?
Let us take the second need, that of being able to send from this country an expedition of six divisions of all arms, and, I ought to add, of being able to maintain it in the field. That is a crucial point. The right hon. Gentleman, in the opening part of his speech, said he would speak about the Territorial Force and about the Expeditionary Force. He made special reference to the body which should maintain 1194 the Expeditionary Force in the field, but all he told us about it was that he intended to appoint a Commission to see whether it could be improved on or not.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I think it is more useful that we should speak on different aspects rather than we should each dilate upon the same aspect. Taking the sending of this force out of the country the question of mere numbers does arise, although I admit not nearly with so much force in regard to mobilisation as to what happens afterwards. It is much more important that we should consider the maintenance of the Army after mobilisation, because if you have a spare number of fully trained men then the period in which you have to have recourse to less fully trained men is more remote. The third great need is after the Expeditionary Force has gone, because if you can leave a certain excess of fully trained men you have a stiffening of your Territorial Force, and you have a model upon which that force can be worked. I do not think I am going too far when I say that it would be madness on our part to fix the number of fully trained Regulars and Reservists in this country down to the bare limits of the requirements of the Expeditionary Force. That would be madness until progress has been made with the numbers and the training of the Territorial Force to which no approach has been made up to the present time, and to which no approach can be hoped for in the near future.
There is another aspect in close connection with mobilisation of the Regular Army upon which I will dwell, in addition to the aspect of mere numbers, and that is the relation of the number of Regulars with the colours to the number of Regular Reserves. The right hon. Gentleman has himself touched upon this point, and it was one of the points which attracted and awakened our notice and riveted it, and we were disappointed when we found he had not made up his mind that the establishments of the Infantry at home ought to be greater than they are. I will give some reasons for thinking that that is a change which should be made. I could submit a good many reasons why the right hon. Gentleman should be ready to consider whether the establishment of 720 in the Infantry battalions ought to be increased. I am going, however, to confine myself to the Infantry, the so-called "Queen of Battle." 1195 My reason for thinking that it would be well to increase the establishment is, in the first place, that in order to have progressive training, and in order to have throughout the year an efficient battalion, you want more than 720 men. Every military adviser, ten years ago, dinned it into the Minister of the day that you could not carry out properly the training of a Regular battalion unless you had 720 men in it. I think if the right hon. Gentleman asked his military advisers they would tender him the same advice which they tendered ten years ago.
But there is another reason for this, and it is one which the right hon. Gentleman himself touched upon. To get a Reserve you must have a certain number of men with the colours, and all the more since, rightly or wrongly, you now require seven years with the colours and five years with the Reserve. Of course, when you have your men serving seven years with the Colours and five with the Reserve your establishment must be greater. On mobilisation, with a battalion of 720 men you have too great an influx of new and unfamiliar faces, and in order to make that up to war strength you must take in at least 500 men. I think you will be lucky if you get 500 serving with the colours and 500 serving with the Reserve. That is too great a change to take place on mobilisation on the very eve of testing your machine by the greatest test that can be applied to men's knowledge and men's nerves.
The fourth reason I submit is, that if it be possible it is well that the peace strength of any military body should approximate to its war strength, and that the size of the battalion should not show too great a difference. Practice at manœuvres, the importance of which the right hon. Gentleman has insisted upon, is not good practice if it takes place with bodies much smaller than those which will actually have to be wielded in war, and that is almost the whole problem. The position you are called upon to defend, the manner of getting to it, the time it takes, and the occupation of that position all depend upon the size of the body you are leading. This is an important matter for the battalion commander, and how much more important is it for the brigadier and the divisional leader commanding smaller numbers. It makes all the difference to the Staff work what is the size of the body they are working with. Staff work, to be of any use when exposed to the 1196 terrible conditions of war, must be almost-automatic in its accuracy and speed, and it is not wise or fair to ask Staff officers who have been doing Staff work with troops of one size to do Staff work in the face of the enemy with troops twice the size, which take twice as long to get to the place to be occupied. The right hon. Gentleman, I am sure, can see the principle of my argument in his Memorandum. He is going to have a division of war size made up by taking in voluntary reservists or accepting volunteers from other regiments. Why is he doing that? When you come to deal with four divisions clearly in order that our General Staff officers may know their business they ought to work in peace with the huge, unwieldy weapons they will be called upon to handle in war.
Then there is a fifth argument which may appeal to the Secretary for War. He is placing the establishment at 720 for the Infantry battalions. May I point out that in the Colonies the infantry battalion establishment is 840, and in India in round numbers it is 1,000. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will make some beginning towards having, as far as may be, symmetrical or less hasty methods of commands in the British Army. It would be well if we could approach something nearer to symmetry in the size of the commands. On the ground that there is something to be said for increasing the total number and improving the training of our battalions and helping to create a Reserve, on the ground that our commanders ought to practise in peace with bodies of the same strength which they will have to wield in war, I trust the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider favourably the number of men now serving in Infantry battalions.
My next point is the maintenance of the Army in the field after it has been despatched from this country. I think the case for increasing the establishment of our Infantry is strong upon mobilisation, but it is much stronger when we come to consider the duty of maintaining these bodies when in the field. You do not want too great a burden placed too soon upon your Special Reserves. The right hon. Gentleman has made himself a party to a strong statement in favour of the necessity of maintaining the Army in the field properly, and I am certain, if he can, he will do all that in him lies to strengthen the machinery we have for maintaining our Army in the field. In the Memorandum I have already referred to (Command Paper 4611 of the Army Council 1197 of last May) the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues at the War Office have accepted and approved a very important statement contained in that Report of Mr. P. MacDougall's Committee of 1872, which states:The completion of the expeditionary battalions to war strength forms the smallest part of the task imposed upon the administration of the Army. These battalions must afterwards be maintained in the field in undiminished numbers and efficiency.How is that met by the Special Reserve? The Special Reserve is far less, even in numbers, than was the Militia four years ago. Then look at the establishment of these seventy-four battalions—the 3rd battalions as the right hon. Gentleman calls them—seventy Line and four Rifle battalions. I cannot agree—and I doubt if any of those who sit behind me, and many of whom are far more qualified than I am to offer an opinion, having served much more recently in the Army will agree—that an establishment of 550 men makes a battalion at all.
§ Mr. HALDANE
On mobilisation it is swelled up to 1,200 or 1,300. The whole of those figures are worked out.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I am perfectly aware of that, but surely the right hon. Gentleman will not deny that, if you are looking at these battalions for the drafts which are to maintain your Army in war within a week or a fortnight of going to war, you would rather have a Reservist who has been trained in his battalion instead of a man merely taught the rudiments of it in a barrack yard. If these battalions are to be schools for the terrible experience of war, then they ought to be made more like the real thing than a battalion, so-called, of only 550 men. I see an hon. Member dissents from that, but will it be asserted that in such a machine as that a man learns all that he ought to know, and know by instinct and habit, in order to be ready to take his place in the front line of the British Army within a fortnight of that army being engaged in war? It might be made better if you had more officers better suited for the work which has to be done in these battalions. We know that the difficulty about officers which occurs throughout the Army really reaches a point in connection with the Special Reserve which seems to ask for something more than a Departmental Committee. Where do the officers come from? Some enter these battalions under compulsion. They are Cavalry officers who might very fitly be very efficient officers in the 1198 Yeomanry; but no, they are sent to do Infantry drill. That retiring allowance or retiring pay or deferred emoluments they have earned by their services are not given to them unless they take up this work instead of officering the Yeomanry—work they are fitted for by their training.
I am not making any charge against the right hon. Gentleman; it is an expedient. But here is one of those weak spots which has got to be strengthened if our protection is to be a reality and not a sham, and it occurs in that part of the machinery for war which, he says, is a greater task than the mobilisation of the Expeditionary Force. Some of its officers are Cavalry officers who are compelled to take service in these battalions in order that they may not be mulcted of the deferred pay which they have earned. The other officers are old Militia officers, often young men who were officers in the old Militia. I regret to believe, but I do believe, that there is a great prejudice against the employment of the young men who were officers in the Militia. I should like to see a greater interchange of officers throughout all the branches of the Army, but I am certain you cannot get the kind of recruit you want in these Special Reserve battalions, and you cannot train them as they ought to be trained unless you can still attract some of the young men who used to go in the Militia and unless you can offer them some career in a service of that kind. That is not being done. A few are hanging on in the hope of things improving, but the time is not far distant when you will lose that sort of officer, and there will be no sort of officer except Regulars, who are compelled to take this somewhat distasteful work in order to secure the pay they have already earned. Until you can make these battalions more like real battalions, they will not be proper schools for immediate warfare, and you cannot make them real live battalions unless they get a better and more congenial stamp of officer than now is the case. Until those two reforms are effected, they are not in any sense proper schools for war, but mere multiplied barrack-yard squads.
The right hon. Gentleman also touched upon the twenty-seven extra battalions of the Special Reserve. He called them the fourth battalions. I do not know whether he means to affiliate them to Line battalions. Those battalions have no reserve at all. They hardly exceed the others in number—I think a little over 560, instead of 550–and they have no 1199 reserve at all. Yet the right hon. Gentleman says, and says truly, that he looks to these battalions on the outbreak of war to take up the positions of garrisons in the Mediterranean to do the work the Militia did during the last war. Is it possible to ask a battalion of well under 600 men to take up work of that kind, if there are no reserves behind them at all?
§ Mr. HALDANE
They were originally to be 800 establishment, but at the request of the right hon. Gentleman opposite I made an alteration to 550.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I understand from the right hon. Gentleman that he concedes that we must increase the establishment of these battalions?
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
We will take it at that for the moment, but just consider how great is the burden now cast upon the Special Reserve, a reserve of the character I have described. It has to do three things, according to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon. The Special Reserve has to grind out the drafts to maintain the Army in the field; it has to find sentry garrisons for the ports of this country; and in more dubious terms we were told that these battalions might also be expected to support the Army in the field and to expand the numbers engaged. All those are necessary functions of our plan if it is to be a good plan, and yet we are asked to believe those three functions can be carried out by boys too young or too short to go into the Army, who go for six months into a barrack yard and are drilled by officers compelled to serve or officers merely tolerated as the remnants of a retiring Militia.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I think if the right hon. Gentleman would go and look at the Special Reserve on Salisbury Plain he would get a very different impression.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I am sorry if I have overstated my case. I have been credibly informed that the men of this Special Reserve are better than might have been anticipated, and have profited enormously by their six months' training. I agree, and I am delighted to hear it, but it does not affect the argument in principle I have adduced to the House, that these bodies, so formed, so trained, so officered, cannot discharge the triple duty which is placed 1200 upon them under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. I am sure he does not wish me either to magnify the progress that has been made or to minimise the needs which have to be met. It is no use deceiving ourselves in this country, because we certainly are not going to deceive anybody else. If it is agreed that you have to maintain in the field an expeditionary force of a Cavalry division, and six divisions of all arms, and then it is stated you are going to do it by this means, I do not think we can even deceive ourselves. Some other, some fuller, and some better means must be devised for carrying out the duties now cast upon the Special Reserve.
The right hon. Gentleman dealt first with the Territorial Force, and, secondly, with mobilisation. I think I have said all I have to say upon mobilisation. There are three other weak points affecting our first line. The horses, the officers, and the conditions under which manœuvres are now carried out in this country. Those three points affect the Territorial Force even more gravely than the first line of the Expeditionary Force—the Regulars, the Reserves, and the Special Reserves. For the moment I pass to our second line, as at present constituted, and I come to the third great need which has to be met, as defined by the right hon. Gentleman and all who take an interest in the matter—I mean the need of protecting this country against invasion after the Expeditionary Force has gone. The right hon. Gentleman has not taken exception to the language in which I said that liability to invasion was a risk which was officially believed to be nearer and greater than was the case in official circles four or five years ago. It is admitted on both sides of the House, and by those who have been responsible for the Army and by the Minister who is now responsible for the Army, that the risk of invasion is not now what it was some years ago, but is a greater risk, and one more imminent than was then the case. It is in the light of that reconsideration of an assumption, coupled with the fact that our capability of maintaining the two-Power standard is officially discounted, that we have to consider what progress has been made with the Territorial Force to meet our needs. If we look at mere numbers I think we may congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the fact that he has got a great many more men this year than he had last year. Speaking at Halifax, he pointed out that the risk of invasion was one which ought to be taken into account He spoke to employers of labour. They 1201 responded, and he had the "Daily Mail" to help him, with the result that there are now 274,188 men in the Territorial Force. Will anybody pretend that in mere point of numbers an establishment of 315,000 would be enough? Not if we consider the duties which are cast upon the Force in accordance with the definition of the needs to be met—the Expeditionary Force gone, the Special Reserve busy performing its triple functions, for not one of which it is adequate, and 315,000 men left to perform the duty of deterring an opponent from attempting an invasion or of defeating an invasion if it is attempted. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman would not contradict me if I state—I am quoting figures given me by the military correspondent of "The Times," and I think they give the views generally entertained—that you will want at least 100,000 of the Territorial Force for local mobile defence. You cannot leave the Wolds of Yorkshire to look after themselves. There are many spots in this country where, if you treat invasions as a real risk, you must have a force to meet it, and a force which must be taken from the Territorial Force. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will say that the Special Reserve can do all the garrisoning needed in this country. It would have to be helped out by drafts from the Territorial Force. I think it has been said we must have a central force of at least 300,000 men in order to crush a raid of 70,000 men. It seems to me that on the mere question of numbers this establishment of 315,000 men represents rather what the right hon. Gentleman aims at, than what he thinks the country needs, if our Territorial Force is to be of such a character as to liberate the Expeditionary Force at the right moment. Nobody knows in war when the right moment for striking a blow may come, and unless we have a better second line than we get under this scheme no Government of the day could liberate the expedition at that strategical moment when it must be driven home if the fortunes of this country are to be assured. Just as in the lifetime of a man a chance comes which he takes or misses, so in the case of a nation the chance comes, and this nation must be empowered to take that chance when it does come. You ought not to have to forego it because our second line is admittedly incompetent to discharge the duties placed upon it.
Then I come to another question, that of training, which is, perhaps, more important. The training is to be fifteen days, 1202 and it must be timely, and if the Expeditionary Force is to be liberated it must be simultaneous. We know men dribble into and out of camp, with a result that no commanding officer is aware what the strength of his regiment will be on parade on a particular day. Unless we face the fact that longer training is required and simultaneous training as well, we are only deluding ourselves in this matter. Our Second Line as constituted cannot perform the duties put upon it. This is not the moment to sketch an alternative policy. Nobody wishes to do so. We are bound to give the plan of the right hon. Gentleman a fair trial, and we mean that it should have one. But it is not giving it a fair trial to say that it does something which its author knows it will not do. It is not fair to our country to say we believe it can do this thing when we do not believe it. I think we must realise that our Second Line is not adequate for the needs which we all agree it may have to meet.
I pass now to a weak point which affects both the First and Second Lines—horses. I am surprised to hear that it is upon the machinery of the county associations which are trying to keep in being the Territorial Force the right hon. Gentleman thinks he can cast additional labours of any kind. I do not think he can. The county associations of this country have been willing servers of their country, but nearly all the men upon them are the men who are busy because they are useful in other walks of life. It so happens in England—I do not know if it is the case in foreign countries—that the man doing nothing and having no business is already on the county associations, but it would be no good asking him to classify horses, although naturally he would be quite ready to undertake the job at a reasonable remuneration. He is not the man who should be called upon to do this work. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman's description of the horse problem. There are two aspects, both important and distinct. First, there is the aspect of getting the horses you require when you want them, and the second aspect is embodied in the question of seeing that you have enough horses of a suitable kind in this country whenever you want them. As to the first point I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can look to the county associations. Just think of the magnitude of the task. I think we have had it that for the peace establishment of the Army we required 15,000 horses, which would 1203 need a register of about 23,000 and that would require on mobilisation of the First Line 31,000 or 32,000 horses. Where are you to find those 32,000 horses? Nobody knows at present. Then, how long does it take to get the horses passed? I believe that in foreign countries three experts, working far more than eight hours per day, cannot pass more than 150 horses a day. Imagine the county association, overburdened at the outbreak of war, undertaking this impossible task and sending experts to examine at the rate of 150 horses per day from 50,000 to 60,000 horses which will be necessary for the mobilisation of your First Line! It cannot be seriously contended that we are grappling with this great problem. If it be contended for one moment that it can be dealt with in this way, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take it from me in the spirit in which I say it, that while we are very grateful to him for having put the problem in the forefront of the discussion, we do not think that his present proposal will very long hold its place, in view of the magnitude of the task which has to be performed, and of the fact that we have no men to do it. The men must be trained experts, they must be both officers and veterinary surgeons; they cannot be mere Skimpoles of the countryside who have nothing better to do. In order to mobilise you must have your classification of horses and concentration as well, and you must by some means or other place obligations on the persons who have the horses, and make it clear to them that they owe it to the nation to bring them up when they are required. Until our countrymen understand that when war breaks out and horses are needed they must be forthcoming, I think it cannot be said that they will be in a state to meet our demands. I know the right hon. Gentleman has been doing his best to educate them on this point during the last few years, but I am convinced that great as is the receptivity which has been displayed there must be a greater increase of it in the days still to come. The other aspect of the horse question is equally importent. How are we to keep up the general supply of horses in this country? I gather from the right hon. Gentleman that he is prepared to favourably consider the idea of buying horses when they are three years old and keeping them until they are four years old on remount farms to be established in suitable parts of this country. I take it that the right hon. 1204 Gentleman puts that forward as the best solution of the problem. But this is a matter which cannot be left in doubt. Are you to buy three-year-old horses on a sufficient scale to make a market at home for young horses, and are you to buy the land on which they are to be kept until they are old enough to be broken? That appears to be the idea in the mind of the Minister of War.
§ Mr. HALDANE
The general plan is to be carried out by the Board of Agriculture, and then I come into it. I only want to guard myself against the suggestion that the War Department is undertaking the whole organisation.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
We are very pleased to hear of this idea for making a market for young horses in this country. We are glad it has been taken up by the Government. I am surprised as well as pleased, because the right hon. Gentleman said the other day, in reply to a question, that he thought the purchase of young horses by foreigners was a good thing, because it encouraged people to breed. At that my spirits sank to zero. We have to create a market at home for these horses, and to prevent other countries, who may be our antagonists in war, from making a market of their own country for our young horses; otherwise they may have a chance of ham-stringing the whole of our preparations for war.
The second weak point is as to the supply of officers for the Army. Only the other day it was stated that the officers of the Army and Ministers of the Crown were the only two classes of Englishmen who had received no increase of emoluments during the last sixty years. That is now no longer true. Two Ministers of the Crown at least are now being more adequately paid for their services, and I think it would be well if the Government would now turn their attention to the other branch and see that the officers of the British Army are given remuneration which would enable them to remain in the Army and will attract others to the Army.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I pointed out that there were only two classes—Ministers of the Crown and officers of the Army—whose remuneration had not been increased for a long number of years. Privates in the Army have had their wages increased by more than 25 per cent. in very recent years. Nobody suggests that that 1205 has been done for the officers, and some increase is undoubtedly necessary if you are to get into the Army the type of man you require. You cannot ask him to work harder and enjoy less prestige on a falling wage in a falling market. There is another point I wish to raise, and that relates to the conditions under which our troops take part in manœuvres. I am not speaking of the restrictions as to access to land, though I was glad to read the report of the Military Manœuvres Commission, which urges the Government to give larger rights of access to the public parks. That was no doubt in consequence of the attitude of members of the Commission, which was largely composed of landowners, and actually presided over by a Duke. They were all in favour of the Army going on the land they would have to defend, and learning their trade without regard to the mere amenities of the very people whose lives the Army protects. That was not what I had in my mind, however, though I hope the right hon. Gentleman will act upon that permission. What I had in my mind was the night lodging of our troops during the manœuvres on the cold ground. That is a matter to which we must turn our attention. I was at the last manœuvres, and I went round with the troops and found they were not protected in any way. I found it very pleasant to sleep in an orchard myself, because it happened to be fine at that time, and I slept on the ground delightfully, but I saw the morass in which one of our first brigades of the British Army had been sleeping three or four nights, a week or ten days before, when there had been continuous rain.
The right hon. Gentleman desires to bring the nation and the Army more nearly together, and, if that is so, need we take 50,000 of our lads and expose them to the severities of an English summer without any protection of any kind? I happened to see the end of the French manœuvres, and I saw how the troops were welcomed in every village and household by the inhabitants, and at our last manœuvres no foreign attaché could believe that men who had been marching twenty-five miles a day were to sleep in the open close by to barns and homesteads and other palatial buildings in which they might have been billeted. Our Billeting Laws are a relic of the past. Every other army which indulges in manœuvres and without manœuvres you cannot have an army, provides billeting for the troops who take part, but our Billeting Laws belong to a 1206 past, and a barbarous past, being enacted at a time when soldiers were caged in barracks all the year round, and then turned out to march from one place to another. Then you had Billeting Laws passed under which they were put up in licensed premises with the statutory right to the cruet stand. Our Billeting Laws were intended only to protect the civil population from the outbreaks which might be expected from the Army in those days. Now all that is changed, and all the 50,000 young men and lads, who were taking part in the manœuvres last year would have been welcomed in any English village and under any English roof, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to say, that these young soldiers should in accordance with the sentiments he has expressed go, not only to the parks of the dukes, but also have an entry, which is now forbidden, into the homesteads they are to protect.
§ Sir CHARLES DILKE
I should not have taken part in this Debate even briefly had it not been for the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I can assure my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for War, that it is with no idea of renewing the conflicts on first principles that I have had with him in the past, that I speak to-day, and had it been only his speech to which I had listened, with its most interesting details of the accomplishment of work that he has been doing in his own way and at his own time, I should not have ventured to speak even for a few minutes to the House. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has enunciated, certainly not for the first time, some propositions which seem to me, and I should think to the Noble Lord who sits behind him, such stupendous heresies that I think that some of us in this House ought to put in an immediate protest against them. The doctrine of invasion has always been pushed much further by the right hon. Gentleman than by his leader—always, and that in the three last Parliaments before the present. The Minister has to-day, as War Ministers always do, played a little for his own hand as against the Fleet; but we must remember that the presentation of the Territorial Army to the country as the main object which we have in view in voting these our Military Estimates, is not in accordance with the true facts. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has asked us to come to the true facts.
1207 The true fact is that we are voting these enormous Estimates, the greater portion of which concern the Regular Army, for the purpose of keeping an expeditionary Army in addition to the Indian Army, and the Army for Colonial defence and in all parts. We talk a little about the possibility of invasion when we talk of our Territorial Army, but we do not—the overwhelming majority of us—believe the country is open to invasion, or that the Fleet has fallen off in its power of doing its duty as compared with days past. In comparison historically with the time when we did stand open to invasion, namely, in the few months of 1859, when France might have invaded us, but did not, because we lost the command of the sea, as we now know, for a certain time against a single Power, the matter is now quite different, and no one of us who is prepared to pay his part and to call upon others to pay their part to keep the Fleet up to the highest standard of efficiency and safety which we at present enjoy—no one of us ought to be prepared to run the Territorial Army on this occasion as though it were the main and most costly portion of the Estimates that are put before the House. The Territorial Army is defensible as the volunteers were defensible. It is an improvement on the volunteer system, and it might have been made without the statute upon which it is based, but that it will add an enormous expenditure to our Army, putting aside the Regular Army, the Indian Army and our Colonial Army, is not the case.
Our Territorial Army in fact cannot be kept in view as the first object which we have to consider in the course of these Debates. The details with which the Secretary of State's speech was mainly occupied are details which in some degree concern the reality of the Expeditionary Army, and in some degree concern the Territorial Army, which is so valuable, but so secondary in the scheme of our defence as compared with the Regular Army and the Fleet. The news that the right hon. Gentleman gave us, or which was welcomed as news by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham), was, I think, no surprise. It could have been no surprise to the Member for Dover that some slight increase of the home battalions was contemplated. No doubt we shall have to-morrow a Motion before the House for a reduction in numbers upon this Question, if Members wish to go back upon that; but it 1208 cannot be forgotten that two years ago, in another place, the Government went almost as far as they have gone tonight with regard to the increase of or the need of increasing these battalions being highly probable, and the announcement which was made on 16th March, 1908, was virtually the same announcement which has been made to-night with regard to their weakness. It was made by Lord Lucas in another place just two years ago and taken notice of by Lord Lansdowne, the Leader of the Opposition. The proposal with regard to the Cavalry is another detail which concerns the Expeditionary Force, but might I urge upon my right hon. Friend the importance which I am sure he knows as well as I do myself, though he did not allude to it, of horsing and of presenting on the field in time of war or at the manœuvres which he is going to have next year a larger proportion of the nominal strength of his Cavalry regiments.
The Cavalry is very costly. The right hon. Gentleman has the Chancellor of the Exchequer by his side, and he thanked him for his generosity. I never looked upon my right hon. Friend as a Cavalryman before, but he is so versatile that we are always seeing him in a new light, and always charming. In regard to Cavalry, however, there are considerations which ought to lead him to exercise a certain Treasury screw to obtain value for the money which he gives, and if at the present moment he will go through the list of the Cavalry regiments of the present day, and of the men and of the horses, he will find that he does not get the return he ought to get from the Cavalry forces. These Cavalry forces are very essential, and I have always been an advocate for them. I believe it is an absolutely necessary force for an Expeditionary Force to have, although it is so expensive. Just count your forces, count your horses and men, and you will find that these regiments for one reason or another have a habit of diverting from the ranks a large portion of highly trained and highly competent Cavalry soldiers. These highly trained men are diverted, so that the result is that the Cavalry officers do not get a chance of handling large bodies of well-trained Cavalry as compared with Continental bodies of Cavalry which they may have to meet in war. But this is a detail which we shall have an opportunity of discussing on the Army (Annual) Bill, unless the arrangements of the year before last are made again, which led to a more amicable state of things.
1209 We shall have, however, at all events, an opportunity of discussing the Secretary of State's plan in regard to horsing on the Army (Annual) Bill, because there is a clause in the Army Act which confers upon him this power of seizing horses, and it has been discussed before on this occasion, when we sat up all night to discuss the matter. The Secretary of State appears to have solved the problem of the way to supply horses in time of war, and the only difference between the plan of the right hon. Gentleman and that of the Secretary of State is that the latter is in favour of having the power of seizing the horses and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover asks us to bring up our horses to have them seized. There was one other point with which the Secretary of State for War dealt fully: he made full confession of the failure of the Territorial Army to produce, or to show any signs of producing, a competent Field Artillery. Some of us upon both sides of the House have urged in successive Parliaments a desire to extend rather than to put an end to the Lancashire experiment of a mixed Field Artillery—a Field Artillery of Militia elements, but containing a large admixture of Regulars. There is a distinguished foreign General, General Langlois, who has written on this subject, and who is a strong supporter of our voluntary system. I can assure my right hon. Friend that he is the greatest living writer on military affairs, and he is a strong supporter, as we are, of the Volunteer as contrasted with compulsory service in this country. General Langlois has most eloquently pointed out the extreme difference between this and other countries in that respect, and has shown many points which he thinks are dominant or most important in which we gain enormously by relying upon voluntary services as contrasted with the system of his own country and others.
On this point of Artillery General Langlois sees no possibility of our ever creating a competent Field Artillery upon the present Territorial Army system. If that is so, I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to lead us to a speedy remedy, and I am convinced, even now, that it would be well, rather than merely strengthening the Artillery, that we should for Territorial purposes again extend that Lancashire experiment of a mixed system to which my right hon. Friend—who is unfortunately in favour of this new plan—put an end three or four years ago.
1210 The words I want to say are on policy, and not on these details. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Wyndham) began his speech and almost ended it with this phrase, which he three times used: "The power to maintain the two-Power standard is officially discounted." If it were, and so far as it has been, it has never, I think, been discounted without strong and very general protest. We have heard it from the War Office, and we heard it from the War Office in the right hon. Gentleman's time. At all events, I was one of those who protested—on one occasion very strongly, and not without support from the other side—against the point to which the invasion doctrine was pushed in the War Office when the right hon. Gentleman represented the War Office. We cannot in these Debates fully discuss these questions. As we all know, the creation of a Defence Committee of the Cabinet was for the very purpose of dealing with such questions. But we have debated it on two occasions, and the last of them was not very long ago—last year—and although we began with more difference among us in this House than there was on the previous occasion, when we all exactly agreed, yet last year, before the Debate was over, we came to an agreement, and I, representing the strong blue-water view, found no fault with the ultimate declaration of the Leader of the other side. We have the power to maintain whatever naval position we think it right to maintain, and this country will maintain it. In the Debates the other day that doctrine was asserted by everyone opposite and by most on this side. It is supposed to be the one certain result of the last General Election that there is a large majority in favour of maintaining our naval position, but we cannot maintain that naval position without straining every nerve to do it, and we shall not be able to put all our energy into maintaining that position if we talk about invasion and tell the people of this country that the fleet cannot do its duty. I will not raise the comparatively secondary questions of cost on this occasion. I have raised them often before. But from the mere point of view of cost, if you put the doctrine of invasion so high, and if you tell them that in any degree their safety depends here upon the Territorial Army trained and serving here at home, then you run a great risk of compromising your naval defence, and taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another, and of being weak at both 1211 points and creating a Territorial Army which could not face a great Continental force landing on our shores, and at the same time detracting from the power of your Fleet so as to make invasion possible. I think it is useless to labour that point. It is useless to speak longer upon it. But I am one of those who never like to hear this invasion doctrine stated in this House without doing the best I can to point out that it is not what the great majority of us really believe in our heart of hearts.
The Territorial Army, like the Volunteers, is really defended by most of us in our hearts, if not in our speech, as a Reserve of the Regular expeditionary, offensive Army for fighting across the seas. Although everyone desires that our expenditure should be put to the best end, that for the defence of exposed situations, like the Tyne, the Tees, the Wear, and the Firth of Forth; for such purposes there should be rapid mobilisation for effective defence against any dashing naval officer who might push forward in the night and do great harm. As regards organised invasion of this country, the money obtained for the Territorial Force on that score will really come out of the pockets of the Fleet, and will detract from that great defence which is the real defence of this country and of this Empire. My right hon. Friend Mr. Haldane has always maintained the view, nowhere stated better than by him in his first speech as Secretary of State for War, that your Army and Army expenditure must depend on policy. No one has put that more strongly. It is no good fighting him; he has both Houses of Parliament and both parties in his pocket. He is a man of legions, political as well as military. The school represented by myself and the dominant school represented by him have differed, not upon the question of policy dictating your armaments, but upon the question of how your policy and your armaments together would work out. He has told you in the sharpest terms that it will be impossible to make further diminutions in our Army expenditure on a large scale unless we first reduce the num-number of troops serving abroad. He knows, I think, that some of us who have put that very same view before the House, almost in the same words, have been largely guided in our fears with regard to the existing system by the danger that its cost would be inconsistent with the ultimate maintenance of the supremacy of our Fleet. But when we have 1212 tried to show that under the present system you cannot reduce the expenditure which he demands, in the same words I have just now quoted, there is, of course, one exception. There is the reduction already tried in South Africa twice by my right hon. Friend. He brought back 8,000 men at two stages—in the first year, none; in the second year, half; in the third year, none; and in the fourth year, half. He brought back none this year, nor does he propose to bring back any next year. As it is the only means of diminishing the expenditure upon the Army on the present system, I think this Debate ought not to pass over without his being asked what are the circumstances at present existing in South Africa, which make it necessary to still maintain there so large and so costly a force. Were it not that our system depends entirely for its results and for its cost per head upon the force that we keep abroad, I should not press him upon this subject, but the service in South Africa is very costly. The expenditure is not shown on a scale that is applied to India: but is not applied to the Colonies. In considering whether the country can or will bear the enormous expenditure which will be necessary and which will be incurred for the support of our Fleet upon an efficient scale in future years, I think we are bound to press for every opportunity of reduction of military force and military expenditure that is consistent with the safety of the country and the Empire. That force in South Africa is now an exception to all rules. It is a large and a very costly force, and I think my right hon. Friend ought to be pressed on the point.
Foreign observers, who have written on our Army lately, give a different explanation of our policy from that of my right hon. Friend. He supported that unfortunate explanation in one or two speeches, in which he spoke of the Army Corps as divisions—a great number of divisions, which we could send across the seas, including a very large force from India and a force from the Mediterranean, Egypt, and elsewhere. In that general explanation the appointment of Lord Kitchener to the command at Malta was in some people's minds justified. Upon the same view the expeditionary force, if you include the nine divisions, or, as some now say, ten divisions, from India, and one from Egypt and the Mediterranean, is one in which our divisions from here form only a little more than a third of the Expeditionary, Force 1213 and not a half? I will not attempt to press for any statement of policy upon heads so grave on an occasion of this kind, but the garrison in South Africa at one time was defended upon grounds similar to those, and I think the House should be assured that the scale of the garrison in South Africa at present is being reconsidered with a view of applying to South Africa the ordinary principles which prevail throughout the British Empire, and with the view of reducing it considerably at the very first moment when it is possible that that reduction can be safely accomplished
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I am fully aware that there are people in this country who seem to think it is perfectly unnecessary to have any Army at all, and would be glad to see it done away with. They are in a minority in this House as well as outside. But I am also aware that there are others who seem to think that whenever they have a grievance of any sort all they have to do is to get up and say, "We will vote for a reduction of the Army by 5,000 or 15,000," or something of that sort. They never consider that by reducing the Army by a fictitious number of that sort they may absolutely injure the whole machine, and that the country expects our principal advisers to tell us exactly what numbers we do require, and they expect us in this House to keep up those numbers and to keep them absolutely efficient, and it is from that point of view that I think we ought all to look at the Army. We want to keep it as small as we possibly can, but big enough to perform the duties which are required of it, and we have to see that sufficient money is spent in order to keep it efficient. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir Charles Dilke) stated that he belonged to the blue water school, and he thought it was a very great mistake to have this Territorial Army.
§ Sir CHARLES DILKE
That is going much too far for me. I was a very active friend of the Volunteers, and I thought the Volunteers might have been improved without the statute. In that sense only was I hostile to the Territorial Army. I was not anxious to see it put into too prominent a position by the justification of the invasion argument.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
That in fact we must not talk about invasion at all, because the people might begin to think it is their duty to defend themselves and their country, and you take their ideas away from the Navy. I am perfectly 1214 certain that the right hon. Gentleman approaches it on a wrong principle altogether. I am perfectly certain that if people are confident that they have a sufficient number of trained men in this country to make invasion impossible, we will not see the Navy tied by the heel in the event of war, as it probably would be if the country was not sufficiently protected by its own troops.
If we wish to test the Army, we ought to test it by certain points, such as numbers, efficiency, personnel, morale, and so on, and I should like to touch on one or two of these points. I am perfectly well aware what an extraordinarily complex machine the British Army is, and how difficult it is for any Minister to settle how strong one part should be, because we have got to look to India, the Colonies, and to the various parts where the regular Army may be engaged. We have also to remember that it is to the Territorial Force, in the event of invasion, and in the event of the Navy, I shall not say being away, but having to look after its own job, we shall have to look to hold the invaders until help comes, or until we can settle them-quietly in our own country. I take the question of numbers of the Territorial Force, and what I am saying is not in any way criticism of the present Secretary of State for War, for I do not think there is any practical soldier in this country who has served in the Army during the last few years who would not be ready to express his gratitude to the right hon. Gentleman for all he has done during his administration. Personally, I have been more or less connected with him in official work, and I for one have the greatest admiration for what he has done. But, at the same time, a great deal still remains to be done, and unless Members of this House can be made to see how much is still to be done, I am perfectly certain we shall never get those weak points put right. We are bound to deal with these questions from a non-party point of view, and try to work them out together, and see if we cannot carry on the system already started and make it thoroughly effective and efficient, no matter what party may be in office. We were told, when the Territorial Army was originally proposed, that we were to expect the number to be 314,000 eventually. We were told also that, in the event of invasion, we might expect the invading force to number 10,000 men. Recently we have been told that we might expect, in such an event, an invading force of 70,000. If the Territorial Army was of the right 1215 strength to deal with 10,000 men, it is a great deal too weak to deal with 70,000, or else it was a great deal too strong to deal with 10,000. Possibly an explanation on that point may be forthcoming. If you really worked out the numbers and see what would happen in the event of mobilisation in this country, you would find that 100,000 men of the Territorial Force would be required for the garrisons in the country, and you would find also that quite another 100,000 would be taken up for what I may call mobile garrisons—that is to say, garrisons at different points around the coast which would wait for the invader, and which would hold him until the big central column could be got to the spot to deal with him in the ordinary way. From that point of view, with the Territorial Force at present 41,000 under strength, when there is very great difficulty in recruiting them, and when a great many of the recruits are taken only for one year, the available force is brought to something like 73,000 to deal with an invading force of 70,000. It may be said, perhaps, that that is not a perfectly fair way of stating the case, because mobile garrisons might be there on the spot. But that is not allowing for wastage, men who are sick, men who are not present, and so forth, but it does mean that if we have to deal with an invading force of 70,000–I do not think it is possible there could be so large an invading force, but we are told on high authority that it is possible—we have to ask whether the present system would give 100,000 to deal with them. There is a well-known dictum by Napoleon, in 1809, that if you have got untrained troops, you ought at least to be in the position of four to one if you intend to attack. No one with the best will in the world can possibly say that our Territorial Force is really a highly and well-trained force. I think they have done better than any other troops in the world could have done when you consider the small amount of practice they have had, and it is no reflection on them when I say that they are not properly trained, or trained sufficiently to meet what possibly would be the best troops in the world, officered by the best officers, and with the very best guns. When Napoleon, in 1809, made the statement I have quoted, he also said, "Let them have heaps of artillery." Can anybody possibly say that our Territorial Artillery is the least likely to be able to stand up to trained German artillery?
1216 I think it is perfectly impossible. That is one of the weak points in the Territorial scheme. We are told that we need not bother about that, because they are going to get six months' warning, and if that is so, we will be able to train our men to meet the conscripts of foreign Powers. I do not know if the War Office have it in writing that they are going to have six months' warning, but supposing they did get warning for that period, it means that we should mobilise at once. Would any sensible nation sit still and see us mobilising our force? Would any possible foe give us six months to enable us to get six times stronger than we are at the present moment? It would be a casus belli, and they would take the first opportunity of forcing on a war. If we do have six months here at home and a war is started, it would mean that if the Territorial troops are not properly trained, or not in greater numbers, we shall have to have the Navy tied here until we train them, and if we have not the Navy tied here, we shall have to tie the Expeditionary Force by the heels and keep it here. It would in that case be perfectly useless for offensive purposes abroad.
We are told that this great Territorial Army is going to be efficiently trained in these six months. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, Who is going to train them? We know that the Regular Army is short of officers and they will have nobody to spare to train the Territorial Force, and we know that the least trained part of the Territorial Force is the officers themselves. Possibly they want training themselves, and they will not be able to make the Territorial army efficient in six or twelve months unless they know the rudiments of their own work. That is one of the weakest points in the whole of this six-months' argument. There are six divisions here, but it is only four divisions that will be sent on the Expeditionary Force. The policy is to keep two divisions at home. If so, how can foreign countries count upon us if we say that we have six divisions for an Expeditionary Force, and we at the last moment find that we are only going to send four divisions? I do not wish to go further in dealing with this question of the Territorial Force. We have heard a great deal about them already, and I am very glad indeed to see that the right hon. Gentleman is dealing with the question of mobilisation, because as the Territorial Force stands at this moment it is absolutely impossible for them to mobilise. The whole of the scheme is really a paper scheme. 1217 Were it to be carried out it would be a farce, and certain Territorial Associations say that they do not think the scheme will work, and in consequence they have not put it in operation. It is perfectly obvious that the right hon. Gentleman knows the weak spots to which I am referring. He is going to see to the getting of some of the stores supplied—stores which cannot be got from civilian quarters. As regards the Yeomanry regiments in Scotland, I do not think there is one, or if there is there is only one, raised wholly in one county. Most of the Yeomanry regiments are raised in several counties. I know of one regiment which comes under six different county associations. When mobilisation comes you have to send to six county associations before you can get the regiment together. That makes a perfectly impossible situation. You can imagine the position of a commanding officer during the rest of the year in peace time when he has got to deal with six associations who have six different forms of accounts.
The question of horse supply is one we shall hear a great deal about during the next few days, and I do not propose to say anything in regard to it now. While it is most desirable to increase the horse supply of the country I do not think we have yet got to the point which the Army man cares most about, namely, how you are going to get the horse supply to the Army itself. I cannot see how you are going to do it except by having boards in districts or counties consisting of, say, a veterinary officer and a civilian, keeping a list of the horses in the different districts. It is impossible for the Territorial Associations to take more burdens in the shape of work, and to take on duties for the Regular Army. When you want a licence for a motor car you do not expect the licensing authority to come to you. When you want a licence for a dog you do not expect the licensing authority to come to you. The same thing is done if you want a game licence. Why on earth, then, should not the people who have got horses save us all this trouble inaccuracy and expense? Why should they not be bound to register the horses instead of leaving it to men flying about to find out where these horses are? I cannot think this would be any hardship on any man. This small board of three or four men in the district could then go and look at these horses, classify them, see what they are like, and save an enormous amount of trouble, and at the same time ensure infinitely greater accuracy.
1218 With regard to the question of establishment, as a cavalry officer one is naturally very pleased indeed to see that the Cavalry establishment will be increased by thirty-six horses and eighteen men. But I take it that this is more or less simply a beginning in order to begin putting the Cavalry establishment on a proper basis. The right hon. Gentleman, I am sure, knows as well as I do that this in no way brings the establishment up to the required standard. According to the best advice that can be got on the subject, he knows as well as I do that if you want to make the Cavalry efficient you will have to increase the present numbers by something like fifty horses and fifty men. Cavalry is not like other arms. You want to go straight away with properly trained horses and properly trained men. If you tie up a squadron with a lot of horses that have never been in the ranks they will make the other horses jib and will not go on themselves. You will also find probably that the reservists are put on well trained horses. I have seen it often. They are less efficient than the men who were regulating the ranks; and the men in the ranks who are more efficient are put on the bad horses, with the result that the whole squadron is made less effective. These horses should be got into those depots about which we have been told and should be trained, and the Cavalry regiment ought to be able to start light away with properly trained horses and men.
And now one word on the question of establishment of the Infantry. We have got three establishments in our Army for Infantry. These are the Indian establishment—our mobilisation establishment, I may call it, or war establishment, of some 9–10, or, roughly, 1,000; then we have got 720 for the home establishment and 840 for the Colonial. If ever we were in trouble the time selected by the enemy would be probably the time in which we were weakest. That would, of course, be the time when our regular Army was weakest, when the drafts go away to India. If you take a battalion at home here of the absolutely full strength of 720, you will find when the drafts go away, and when you eliminate all the sick and the boys, there will be a very large reduction. If you ask a question you will be told that there are no boys under eighteen years old. But the bigger the boy the older he is when he comes up to the Army, and it is an open secret, though we sometimes do not like to look at it, that there are lots of boys of about sixteen whom it would be perfectly 1219 criminal to let go away on mobilisation, but who, if well trained for the next year, would make efficient men. The battalion I have been speaking about would be reduced to something like 350 men by this process of elimination, and that means to say that you have got to fill it up with Reservists up to 940 or 1,000 to make it the proper strength fit for war. That is far too great a proportion of Reservists. In addition, it is using up your Reservists a great deal too soon, and it would be very-much better if we could have those establishments brought nearer the strength that they have got to have in case of mobilisation. Take the armies on the Continent. I suppose of all the big armies the least efficient is the army of Italy. The Army of Italy would have too many reservists on mobilisation, or a proportion of something like two to one, and we propose also to have two to one. That is one of the points on which some of the other Continental nations are very much stronger than we are.
There is one matter which I could not quite make out. Looking at the establishments on page 46 I see that the Special Reserve Supernumerary establishment is 7,552. In trying to make out exactly how many men were there represented on the 1st January, 1910, I found the number was 552. But perhaps I may be wrong in that; I hope I am. Another point to which I would draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State for War, is that something might be done very cheaply to add a great deal to the comfort of the men. The infantry battalions of most of the foreign armies now have gone in for a system of portable kitchens which follow the Infantry on the march, and the men are able to get good warm food the moment they halt instead of getting half-cooked food or food not cooked at all at 12 o'clock at night. This is a matter of special importance for the young men, who are younger with us than those in any other Army abroad. You will find that if you feed the men properly you will save many lives; and it makes an enormous difference in a man's marching powers, in his pluck, and in preventing grumbling. It is well worth spending a little money on this particular point. I am fond of antiquarian research in some ways myself, but the other day we decided to spend something like £4,000 on digging up a moat under a heap of bottles round a certain Royal palace. I think it was a most excellent thing to have done, but it might 1220 have waited, and the money might have been better spent in trying to get these portable kitchens, which mean a great deal for the comfort of the rank and file of the British Army. On the question of officers, when we get away from the various theories advanced as to the cause of the shortage, it all works down again to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not mean the present one, but any one. It is merely a matter of pay. There is no career in the Army now for an officer. His pay for what he has got to keep up is absolutely inadequate. I have been looking at some statistics, and find that the pay of the British officer is exactly the same now to a halfpenny as it was in the time of Waterloo, with the exception of Lieutenant-Colonels.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
But they do not represent the rise in what you might call wages or salary in other walks of life. The cost of living has risen enormously since that time. There is a far higher standard of living. The officers are expected to educate themselves very much more highly than ever they were educated before. All this costs money. The pay of the soldiers has been raised. Take any skilled tradesman in this country, and you will find that his wages have gone up from 50 to 100 per cent., while his work has lessened during the last 100 years, but that the Regular officer's work has gone up from 50 to 100 per cent., while his pay has not been increased in the least. I do not want to see extravagance or anything of that sort, but I do hope that hon. Members will remember how much these officers have denied themselves lately, and how they have worked trying to train themselves in order to train the men, and how they have backed up all these new schemes, and tried to show that they are worthy officers of a worthy Army. I think that something ought to be done to acknowledge this fact and thus encourage officers to come in. I believe it was stated last year by a certain right hon. Member that it was the same in his own profession—the legal profession—and that the pay was very low; but the whole crux of the question is this—how does it work out in practice? You will get lots of lawyers, but you cannot get lots of officers.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will consider this question of the officer's pay. On the subject of arms the Secretary of State has practically told us that we are now going to be given a makeshift weapon, which is not nearly as good as the weapon which is being used at present by any civilised Power in the world. The question of the automatic rifle is being put off to the dim future. I think I know the reason that this automatic rifle is not being dealt with. It is because it is supposed to be expensive, and there is the hope that we will not be forced into taking action by other countries adopting this weapon. They are thinking exactly the same thing. But for every automatic rifle which we have to get they will have to get ten, and it will cost them a great deal more in consequence than it will cost us. So I think in this matter we ought to force the pace, and that we ought to get a rifle that has got a decent trajectory. At present we cannot put in the proper ammunition that foreigners have. They have practically a point blank trajectory at 800 yards. "We are going to have a sort of makeshift that has a 9–ft. trajectory at 800 yards. That simply means that our British soldier will go into battle armed from 50 to 100 per cent. worse than the man who is opposing him.
§ Mr. HALDANE
The Noble Lord is clearly under a misapprehension. The German trajectory is 7 ft. Ours is 8 ft. The French is very much higher. The present trajectory is 13.2.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
Our present trajectory is fourteen, and the new trajectory is expected to be eight. At 600 yards the German trajectory is something like three, and ours is something like six. In any case the new ammunition has not been tried yet, and therefore it is premature to say what the trajectory of our rifle is going to be; still the fact remains that at the present moment the trajectory of our rifle at present is fourteen feet at 800 yards, while the German is as near point-blank as it can be. I suppose you are going to put off the day when you will get an automatic rifle, which, in the opinion of military experts, is so necessary.
§ Mr. HALDANE
We cannot get an automatic rifle, because there is no such thing in existence at the present time as a serviceable automatic rifle. An expert committee has been working at this subject for years.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I do sincerely hope that this question will be settled, and that we shall have a rifle that is efficient for service as quickly as possible. I must apologise for keeping the House so long, but the matter is one in which I take a keen interest. Like my right hon. Constituent opposite, I read the Scriptures, and I know that it is "When a strong man keepeth his palace his goods are in peace."
§ Colonel Sir IVOR HERBERT
I hope I may be permitted to congratulate the Noble Lord on his intervention in our Debate. One feature of this Parliament is the number of officers who have come almost direct from active service in their regiments to take part in the legislative business of the country. A soldier, I welcome the fact as one which will lead to great improvements in the military forces, and be of assistance in regard to other subjects in this House. If I do not follow the Noble Lord in the very extensive survey which he has made of military questions, it is merely because I wish to concentrate my observations on one point which, I think, is in the minds of most hon. Members specially interested in the Army at the present time—I mean the question of horses. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, when he touched upon this subject, must have noticed that there was a general increase of interest in his speech when he came to deal with that subject. It was evidently that for which hon. Gentlemen were waiting on all sides. The right hon. Gentleman has somewhat disappointed me. He divided the subject, I think very wisely, into two parts—that which deals with mobilisation and that which deals with the breeding or supplying of horses. He told us something about the arrangements for mobilisation, but he was silent on the question of supply. That is one of the points which I was glad to observe the Noble Lord who has just sat down drew attention to. The question is as to the manner in which horses are to be supplied in sufficient quantities and sufficient quality for use in the Army. We heard fom the right hon. Gentleman an important statement when he said that arrangements were being made for the purchase of horses of three years, but he did not go any further than that. I personally would have been glad to hear that there was some system by which horses would be 1223 collected, and that there would be a sufficient supply of immature horses being kept to provide the remounts required from time to time in the service. The three-year-old horse, as the right hon. Gentleman must know—although he deprecated the idea that he had ever had much to do with horses—is an immature animal as regards military service. One of the great disadvantages we have to suffer from is having our horses put into the ranks too young. We have to consider, in dealing with this question of horses, the fact that the breeding of horses must necessarily be going down. We know that it is so throughout the country. There is a time coming when the Army must be the principal customer of those who breed horses. From year to year the demand for horses of various kinds is going down owing to the increase of motor traction and so forth, and the time will come when only the higher class of horses will be required by the private owner. But for the Army there will always be required a variety of classes of horses according to the different services to which they would have to be put. This will necessitate, if we are to maintain our mounts in a sufficient state of efficiency, the breeding of half-bred horses on a suitable scale in the country. Everybody who has anything to do with this matter knows that the breeding of half-bred horses is not a satisfactory enterprise from a commercial point of view. There are a great many risks about it, and what we require in the country is some security that those who put money into it will obtain some adequate and quick return.
What farmers would gladly welcome would be some system by which horses would be required by the Government at even a younger age than three years, and by which they would be taken into Government farms or depots and maintained, fed up, and gradually brought into a condition which would make them suitable as remounts when they had attained a sufficient age. Everyone knows who has had any experience of the breeding of horses that the risky time for them is when they are running loose, and are liable to many accidents and also to infantile diseases, while in the hands of the farmers. They are more liable to those accidents and diseases than when looked after in large establishments, as they would be in the Government establishments. Therefore I should 1224 have been glad had the right hon. Gentleman been able to adumbrate some system by which the great question of horse supply could be dealt with. I recognise it is not altogether a military question. It is a question which, like a great many others, rather lies between two Departments, and consequently comes to the ground. It lies between the Military Department and the Department of Agriculture, and I should welcome very much some form of Standing Committee by which both these great Departments could be represented, and which would deal with this great question in a manner which would be satisfactory to the agricultural interests of the country. I only rose to refer to this question, because it was that part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which struck me as the crucial one at the present time. The rest of the very interesting statement which he made to us certainly would meet my approval as a soldier for this reason, that I was glad to see the policy of the right hon. Gentleman is not a harassing policy. He has laid down his lines well, firmly, and with deliberation. I am glad to see that he is going steadily along those lines. There is nothing very sensational or very remarkable in the statement he has made to-day. He told us that the principal aims he had in view were the perfecting of the Territorial Army and the completing of the mobilisation arrangements for the Expeditionary Forces. If I may return once more to the horse question, let me assure the right hon. Gentleman that he cannot complete those arrangements unless he goes a little bit deeper into that subject than has yet been done by his Department. Otherwise, I confess that I find little in anything the right hon. Gentleman said either to criticise or to differ from. The question of the supply of officers is no doubt a very important one, and one on which he laid very considerable stress; but I have great faith in the system he has laid down, and I think it is now doing its work well. Therefore, I do not share the alarm which seems to be in the mind of the right hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) on the subject of the supply of officers, nor do I agree altogether with the Noble Lord who spoke last in regard to the insufficient emoluments of officers. The Noble Lord has entirely forgotten one fact in referring to the emoluments of officers, that in the early part of the last century they usually had to put down a considerable amount of capital in order to become officers. Even if their emoluments now have not been 1225 increased, officers are, at any rate, spared very much of the additional expenditure which existed even at the time when I joined the Army. On the question of the Territorial Artillery, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, I have always been an optimist, owing to my experience as to what might be produced in the way of Territorial Field Artillery, and I am still an optimist. Having seen some Artillery work, however, I realise that the weak spot in it is in the horses, and also in the way those horses are driven. You cannot work a team properly when there is no class in it—perhaps a steed of from 14 to 15 hands alongside a long, raking bay of 16–2 to 17 hands—and when you have boys on them who have never done much riding in their lives, and certainly never had an opportunity of driving. The result is you cannot get unity of work, and you lose the whole of your efficiency.
We have got to learn the fact that it is not the gunner that requires so much the training, it is the driver, if you want to have efficient mobilisation. There is where I have seen defects in those units of Territorial Artillery which I happened to have had the opportunity of seeing. In this matter, as I have said before in this House, I am an optimist, because I have seen good results. I honestly believe if this great question of the horse supply can be satisfactorily settled we shall be advancing a long way towards the solution of that other difficulty of gaining efficiency.
There is one point touched on by the light hon. Gentleman in which I have always taken a very deep interest, and on which I may even claim to be one of the founders, that is the system of interchange between our Colonial establishments and our Imperial establishments. I was delighted to hear the right hon. Gentleman state the fact that a Canadian regiment is coming over here this year. I hope it is only a beginning, but it is a considerable advance. I can remember the time when I made such a suggestion, and when it was treated as the view of a harmless idealist, and as a thing altogether beyond the possibility of ordinary organisation. The right hon. Gentleman and his able advisers have solved that, with the assistance, which I am sure they will always have, of the Ministers beyond the seas. I should like to hear from him in the course of this Debate that we have advanced really a little further than he told us about a few 1226 days ago in answer to a question with regard to the interchange of officers between those units of the dominions beyond the seas and this country. I have not got the figures now, but they must have struck everybody who was interested in the question by the extraordinarily small number of Colonial officers who are doing duty with the Imperial forces. I think that this is a subject which should not be lost sight of. I know perfectly well from my considerable acquaintance with Colonial officers that there is no lack of desire on their part to come and improve themselves and to gain that experience where alone they can expect to find it—that is to say, in association with the Regular Imperial Army. Therefore I hope we may see the discrepancy which was noted a few days ago disappearing in the course of a very short period. I think that we have to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the Estimates he has put before us to-day. They do indeed increase or exceed those which we considered last year, and I have always maintained that our military Estimates are too high considering what we get for them. Therefore I am not disposed to think that we are doing anything but passing somewhat extravagant Estimates to-day, because I believe that we can get better value for our money than we have been doing. I return to the question of the horse supply to add emphasis to the opinion that in dealing with this great question I think we can by such a system, as I have ventured to state, obtain better material, get it more satisfactorily, and have better value than we are having at present.
§ Mr. G. F. STANLEY
The Noble Lord who spoke last from this side so eloquently bore testimony to the chivalry and courtesy which is always extended by this House to any new Member who ventures to address it that that has encouraged me to rise on this occasion, and also because much has been said during the course of the Debate on a subject with which I may claim to have somewhat intimate knowledge during the last five years. I refer to the question of the Territorial Artillery, with which, during the last five years, I have been connected most closely as Adjutant of the Honourable Artillery Company, which, up to two years ago, was the only Volunteer Horse Artillery in this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War stated to-day what he had already 1227 embodied in the Memorandum he sent us, in which occurs the following:—
"I am in a position to state that the whole of the personnel required for the Artillery is trained and available."
It will be very gratifying to know that all the personnel required for the Artillery on mobilisation is available. No doubt it is, but the right hon. Gentleman says that it is trained. I take it that at present, and for the next two years at any rate, we must, to make up the numbers of the Artillery, depend at certain times on a certain number of the Special Reserve, who must be called up. It has always been an axiom with the Artillery, and I do not think it can be disputed, that no man can be considered to be thoroughly trained if he has not had at least one practice camp, and seen live shell firing. If we examine what the Special Reserve do we find that not only have they never seen any live shell fire, but they are never called on to join a battery for active service, that they never will see any live shell fire, and that not only do the Special Reserve never go to a practice camp, but in addition the officers do not get adequate training. I know that every two years all the officers and non-commissioned officers of these training brigades are altered, but there are a large number of gunners and drivers who are kept in these training brigades for many years, and I am perfectly certain it cannot be for the good of the branch of the Army, to which I have the honour to belong, that so many men should go for many years without ever seeing a live shot fired.
To pass to the question of the Territorial Artillery, many hon. Members during the course of this Debate have laid it down most clearly that they do not think that the Territorial Artillery can be of any good. Without entering into any details as to whether the Territorial Artillery can or cannot I would like to point out that for the present it is the only Territorial Artillery that we have, and I think it is our duty to see to it that it should be made as efficient as we possibly can make it. It is somewhat disheartening to a large number of officers and men who spend a good deal of their spare time in trying their utmost to make this an efficient body when they are repeatedly told whatever they do they will never make it into an efficient fighting force. I only give my own personal view about the Territorial Artillery, and I produce it because I have been for the last five years with the Volunteer Hosre 1228 Artillery, and my own opinion is that though it cannot be said to be up to the level of the Regular Artillery, at the same time, I think it can be made into a valuable fighting unit. There are several matters which I think should be insisted upon in order to give them a chance to get up to that degree of efficiency which must be necessary for them. The right hon. Gentleman, Secretary of State for War, says that they are making arrangements to acquire a new Artillery range on Salisbury Plain. I would urge him to acquire that range as soon as he possibly can, for, from what I saw last year when batteries were sent down for practice, what occurred I must describe as a crying shame to them. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman saw it, but I saw it down there. All the batteries had to hurry out as fast as they could, to fire as fast as they could, and they received no instruction, so that the whole system then was a waste, I think, of both time and money.
If we are going to do any good for the Territorial Artillery it is absolutely necessary that they should have time and place in which they can fire their live shell, just the same as the Regular batteries do, and that they get the same kind of instruction as they do. Fortunately, last year during the time their batteries had to go and fire the weather was fine. I think it is not a satisfactory state of things that it depends entirely on having a fine fortnight as to whether those batteries should fire their rounds or not. The Secretary of State referred to the question of the officers of this Territorial Artillery, and stated, and I think, everyone will agree with him, that the efficiency of a battery must largely depend on its commanding officer. I think the officers of the Territorial batteries agree to that themselves that they are not up to the level of what they should be to command a battery efficiently. I do not say that in disparagement of them. I think it is noble the way they spend all their spare time in trying to educate themselves up to the point at which they should be. But I think it is asking too much of the man to go and conduct complicated operations unless he has had the training by going through the different ranks to fit him to be in that position. As far as the Honourable Artillery Company is concerned that does not apply since all the officers came through the ranks, and had to go through the respective steps before they commanded a battery, but with other batteries I have seen commanding officers go down with little or 1229 no knowledge of how to arrange a battery. They have done their best, they have worked very hard, but at the same time I think that the result was satisfactory neither to themselves nor to the batteries which they commanded. As far as the Horse Artillery of the Territorial Forces are concerned, I would venture to urge on the Secretary of State that there is a very simple remedy. You already give them Regular officers, and I would respectfully urge that the officer may not only be Adjutant, but Commanding Officer of the battery until he has trained the other officer sufficiently well to succeed him in that position. As far as the Field Artillery is concerned, the question is rather more complicated. I would urge that the best solution for that is to give them a Regular Lieutenant-Colonel who can instruct the officers and fit them for the responsible position they must ultimately occupy.
To come to the question of the matériel which is supplied to these batteries. We know that the Territorial Force is only for home defence. I do not say that we shall ever be invaded, but we have always to be ready in case we are, and we may be perfectly certain that any country sending a force to invade this country would not send its worst troops. Not only would it send its best troops, but it would give them the very best matériel possible. Against those troops we should have to oppose our Territorial Force, and it is absolutely necessary that they should be given the best possible matériel. When we come to look at what is given them we see that it is not the best. All they are getting is what I may call the "cast-off" from the Regular Artillery. Take the question of harness. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the War Office are going to give us the breast-piece to the harness. That is a step in the right direction. For the last five years I have regularly put my name to a report condemning the old-fashioned harness issued to the Territorial Horse Artillery. I think the Territorial Horse Artillery ought to be given the very latest pattern of harness. The War Office do not give us this at present; they give us the old stuff, which is cumbersome, clumsy, and generally in a somewhat rotten condition. Every time we have asked for better harness we have been told that the old stock must be worked out first. The best way of working out that old stock is to put it on the scrap heap.
1230 With regard to the gun which is given us, it may be a fairly good gun in its way, but it is nothing like the gun issued to the Regular Horse or Field Artillery, and I contend that it is not fair to ask men to give their spare time and to endeavour to make themselves efficient if you do not give them proper weapons with which to do so. My own opinion is that something can be done with the Territorial Artillery, Horse and Field, and it is because I am so keen that it should be a success that I have inflicted myself on the House this evening. I would respectfully press on the Secretary of State that it will be money well spent to equip the Territorial Artillery in the way it should be equipped, instead of waiting for a national disaster, and then to see what we can get out of the wreck.
§ Colonel CHALONER
I feel that the whole difficulty with regard to the question both of the Territorial Force and of the Regular Army is overlooked by successive Secretaries of State for War in this country. I join most cordially with the Noble Lord behind me (Marquess of Tullibardine) in his assurance to the right hon. Gentleman that those of us who spent many of the happiest years of our lives in the Army are most grateful to him for the straightforward honesty of purpose, sincerity, and energy which he has thrown into the work of his office, and congratulate him upon the success which has attended his efforts. But the difficulty lies in the system under which the right hon. Gentleman has to work at the War Office. He frankly admitted that in bringing his Territorial scheme into force he owed a great deal to the Press and to the landlords. I am very much struck by the marked difference in the way in which the landlords of England are referred to when it is a question, on the one hand, of raising taxes, and, on the other, of raising Territorials. When it is a question of raising taxes, nothing is bad enough for them. Every word in the English vocabulary which can express abuse is brought into play to run down the landlords. But when Ministers want to get something out of them in order to make their schemes a success, we hear nothing but kind words and high praise. But, personally, I think that, with all their help, what is really wanted is a complete change in the system. We want some form of compulsory service.
What the Territorial Force fails from now is, first, want of money, and, secondly, want of men. I was glad to hear the right 1231 hon. Gentleman say that the question of money is to be dealt with, and that the War Office are going to be more generous in their treatment of different county associations. I know that it is impossible upon the money now allotted to a county association with which I am connected in the North Riding of Yorkshire, to pay the officers, especially the secretary, a salary equivalent to the duties expected, and, consequently, a salary likely to produce the best class of man, and to secure the best class of work. I am glad we are to get better treatment in that respect. But even that will not be sufficient, because it is impossible under the present system to obtain the men required. With the voluntary system under which up to now the Volunteers and the Territorial Force have been carried on, the number of men who are willing to come in is limited, whereas the demand is increasing. But the supply does not increase with the demand. Therefore, the present system having absolutely failed, the only course is to adopt some system by which the number can be compulsorily brought up to what is required. Quite apart from that, I think such a system should be adopted as a mere matter of justice. In my opinion it is a great injustice that under the present system, A, B, C, and D, should be called upon to do the whole of the work, and also to find the cost—because everybody knows to be a Territorial does cost money—of doing that work for the whole of the rest of the population. We ought to have some system under which every man between the ages of, say, seventeen and twenty-one, should be liable, if he has not voluntarily entered the Regular Army, to serve in the Territorial Force. In that way we should be able to select the best, to take the number we require, and, the service being compulsory, to make them undergo such a course of instruction as, in the opinion of experts, was necessary to make them into good soldiers. Under a voluntary system we have to kow-tow to them, and ask them if they will be kind enough to do this or that, or be good enough to come out for training. If a compulsory system came into force we could fix at once a minimum annual term of service, and determine the course of instruction the men should receive. In that way we should be able to produce a far better class of soldier, and obtain them in the numbers that we require. I know that successive Secretaries of State have been frightened 1232 at the cry of compulsion. I do not believe in conscription; I do not believe that conscription is necessary. But compulsory service for home defence is a very different thing, and I believe it would not only not meet with the opposition of the people of this country, but that, if properly explained to them, it would actually be popular with all classes.
I was glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that something is to be done with regard to a Territorial Reserve, and that the men passing out of the ranks will not be allowed to disappear out of sight, but will be kept in touch, so that should the occasion require they would be there to fall back upon. As regards the Army, I should like to say one word of the question of the pay of the officers, a subject which has already been referred to. I know that hon. Member's below the Gangway think that there is only one person to be considered in this world, and that is the working man—that labour is the only thing that is entitled to attention and respect, and that so long as it is looked after that it does not matter what happens to the rest. I am afraid I do not quite agree with that extreme view. I think the officer of the Army is entitled to consideration, and I think he has had far less consideration than he deserves. One hon. Gentleman below the Gangway said, "Why not give the ranks a job?" My experience, at any rate, in the Army for about sixteen years is that I can answer for it that if you ask the private soldier who he prefers to go into action behind, the man who has gone through the ranks and got his commission or the officer who has not, that ninety-nine out of a hundred of the men there is not the slightest doubt would prefer the man who has not gone through the ranks. It would not be popular amongst the rank and file of the Army if you were to have too many of the commissioned officers coming from the ranks. I am for a certain number. I think it an excellent thing that we should do as we do at present, but to change in a very large degree from the present method certainly would not meet with the approval of the men in the ranks.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke from below the Gangway referred to the fact that in the old days the officer had to pay money in order to go into the Army. That was under the old purchase system. What he said was perfectly true. But he forgot two things. He forgot, first 1233 of all, that the present officer has to pay, or, rather, his parents have to pay, very heavily for him in order to bring him to that state of perfection which is expected now of a British officer before he joins. Secondly, he forgot to say that the money the officer paid under the old system of purchase was not paid to a company or to the Government, but was paid to another officer. If one officer had to pay, another gained by a payment which enabled him, if he was hard up, to remain in the Service, and go abroad to India, perhaps, or somewhere else, which he would not have been able to do if he had not got this sum of money. The claim that the officer to-day has for increased pay is a very great one. I would put it on the ground of common sense. If you want to get a really good article—I do not care whether it is an officer, a horse, a carriage, or anything else—you must pay the best market price. If you want to get, as we do want to get, and as we ought to have, the very best men into the Army as officers, we shall have to pay them better, so as to bring up the pay of the officer to something like what he might get if he adopted some other profession. I feel very strongly on the question, and I would like to add to what has been said already on it, and would press upon the right hon. Gentleman the need for improving the pay of the British officer. Once again I should like to say how grateful I am as an old soldier to the right hon. Gentleman for what he has done to take the question out of the rut of party warfare. I hope that spirit will be followed by those who come after him, and that from these discussions there will come some great improvement, and that reform for the Army which is so badly needed in order that our defensive forces may be brought to that success they need so much.
§ Mr. F. W. VERNEY
The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down asserted that the present system is an absolute failure. Surely he will hardly say that if he looks on page 3 of the Memorandum which has been given to us by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, in which he tells us, "That in one year there has been an increase of 64,105 of all ranks over the strength of the force on 1st January, 1909." That hardly looks like an absolute failure. I should have thought that with these official figures before him the hon. and gallant Gentleman would not have made remarks of the 1234 kind he did. There is one subject to which I venture to call the attention of the House, and that is the subject which was dealt with by Lord Newton's Return in July of last year. It is a subject which has been brought to the attention of the country by the Duke of Bedford in certain articles which appeared in one of our leading journals. That subject is of extreme importance, and it is the necessary amount of shooting required by the Militia. Lord Newton in his return showed that out of the Territorial Forces no less than 7,000 men and 670 officers only fired the recruits' course of musketry. That is to say, that, according to that return, one-fourth of the whole of the Territorial Forces are really not up to the mark, or anything like it, with regard to training in musketry. The annual musketry course of training of a Territorial soldier, so far as practice at the rifle range is concerned, consists of one hour, when he fires twenty-three rounds of ball ammunition. The recruits' course in the old Militia consisted of 105 rounds in ten days, followed by an annual course of seventy-five rounds, lasting about six days. The Territorial soldier then devotes about five hours to musketry in the course of his four years' service, and fires in that five hours only 115 rounds. The Duke of Bedford said:—I do not believe that an annual musketry course for an hour on a range without any judging of the distance practically will teach a man the use of the rifle for the purposes of war.We have had greater authorities than the Duke of Bedford. Lord Roberts himself has written and spoken over and over again on this subject, and I cannot help thinking that it is time that we took the question into very serious consideration. It does not involve a very large expenditure. It implies work more than money. It also means that our soldiers and all belonging to our forces, which perhaps are the smallest in the world considering the duties they have to perform, the area they have to defend, and the enormous coast line they have to look after, should have this question settled for them. What can be done should be done immediately. The changes, I think, nobody could possibly object to. At all events, nobody who has the least interest in naval or military questions. The material we have should be the best—and our soldiers are, I think, the best material—and we, therefore, must demand that the weapons put into their hands should be the finest procurable, and also that their use of these weapons should be such that they will be able to really 1235 and effectively use them if they come to deal with them in the service of the country.
I do think that a target that shoots back at a soldier is a very different thing from a target which when he shoots at it does not shoot back at him, and considering that what a soldier has to face in time of war is a movable target which is constantly returning his fire, it is a matter of the utmost importance that the shooting qualities of every soldier should be brought to the highest possible pitch, so that when the time of trial comes they shall have placed in their hands a weapon they thoroughly understand, and which they can use to the very best possible effect in action before the enemy. I cannot help thinking that there is a great deal to be done, and done at once, in regard to this matter. Other things may take time. The questions which have occupied the attention of the House this evening, such as the provision of horses and other matters of Army administration, take time as well as money. But this is one of those reforms which we may look for immediately in the course of this next year. There should be a very great change as regards the firing practice and target practice of our troops. Having served myself as a Volunteer, I know perfectly well that if this matter is taken in time, and if the subject of firing is taken in hand, the practice at target will become not a burden, but will throw a new interest into the life of the Volunteer. I am quite certain it will be a popular movement, and one which I think everyone connected with the Army ought to encourage to the best of his ability.
Many Army officers have already spoken upon the subject of these Estimates, and upon matters which we all have at heart. I wish to call attention more particularly to matters of detail than to matters of principle. One thing we are told is that our six divisions are ready to be mobilised with six waggons and all necessary equipment. We know that in 907 the general Service waggons which carried stores and blankets for our men were reduced. I had the honour of taking part in the last Army manœuvres, and I know the scale upon which the waggons were issued, which was at a rate of fourteen waggons to the battalion. It seems to me an interesting matter to know how these two figures can be made to agree. Six waggons are to be allowed in mobilisation, while fourteen were issued at 1236 the manœuvres last year. I know that two of these waggons in the manœuvres were employed to carry tents, which I suppose we could strike off in time of war, and two other waggons for supplies. The new system of supplies were in force during the last Army manœuvres, and it would be of interest to know whether that system would be put in force in time of war, or whether some other would be introduced. At the last manœuvres we also had general service waggons for the carrying of implements and tools for digging trenches. It would be of interest to the Army generally to know what answers will be given in connection with these matters. I think it has now been decided that when our Army goes out to fight they will only take one blanket for cover at night. That seems to me to be very insufficient, and it would be very much better to have more waggons upon mobilisation, and if the Army is to fight at an inclement time, we should have waggons to fall back upon so that we should have all that is requisite for our men.
The other point on which I wish to draw attention is the question of ammunition. The hon. Member who has just sat down spoke of how necessary it was that soldiers should be trained in the use of their firearms. I think it is very necessary that that should be done. I noticed in the Army Estimates this year there is a decrease in the amount allowed for small arms and ammunition. It would be interesting to know why this is. The cost last year was much reduced, and I think that is questionable policy. I wish to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he could not see his way to meet those who are anxious to practice at other times, who may be near the range, so that in case the Government did not themselves give all the practice that was necessary they could at any rate facilitate the men and meet the wishes of those anxious to practice by supplying them ammunition at a cheap rate.
§ Mr. WATERLOW
This is the first time I have ventured to intrude upon Army Debates, and I only do so now because I have come into close contact with some of those engaged in that portion of Army work connected with ballooning and aviation. I should like first of all that we should understand what is being done at present by the Army upon this matter. In the Army Estimates I find the number connected with the Balloon School is only eight officers and 149 non-commissioned 1237 officers and men, or a total of 157 officers and men. It seems to me, in view of what has been done in foreign countries, that this part or the service is extremely small for the work that is being accomplished. What have these few men got to do? They have got to run the Balloon School at Aldershot, which is engaged in the training of officers; they have to work the dirigible balloon which the Army has just constructed; they have to work the aeroplanes that the Army has not—and upon that subject I should like to have some information from the Secretary of State for War—they have to work the old balloons and the kites. It seems to me to do all this work, and also to man the two new dirigible balloons which will shortly come into the possession of the Army, you have a totally inadequate number of men for these important services. I understand that the Army is shortly to have two new dirigible balloons, and I am very glad to hear it, because I think the work that can be done by them is very valuable work. Rut I would like to point out that there are two distinct and very clear branches of aviation—there is the aeroplane and the dirigible balloon, and these things have to be dealt with in an entirely separate manner. May I call attention to what can be accomplished by aeroplanes at the present time, and to apply that to a situation easily conceivable? At the present time we have aeroplanes which can rise from the ground and travel forty miles an hour at a height of 1,000 ft. If we had had machines of that description at the siege of Ladysmith and had had men to work them effectively, they could have travelled from our relieving army into Ladysmith and deposited a certain amount of food, and they could have kept up close and intimate communication with our troops in Ladysmith. They could have spied over the whole country and could have brought accurate information of what could be done in that respect, what the country was like, and had that been the case we should never have heard of the difficulties at Spion Kop.
What is being done in the Army with reference to aeroplanes? With regard to dirigibles, Germany has already six or eight, if not ten, at work. What these balloons are capable of doing I am not sufficiently competent to express any definite opinion upon, but I know some of their difficulties and weaknesses. The dirigible cannot be kept on the ground for any length of time without being supplied 1238 with a house of some kind or another to shelter it from the weather; it is a great big, clumsy thing which exposes an enormous surface to the wind, and the difficulty of using such balloons is that wherever they go they have to be followed about by some sort of shed in which to put them, and these sheds are often a sort of small Crystal Palace. That is one of the greatest difficulties of dirigible balloons.
Then there is the difficulty of anchoring them in case a wind gets up, and that requires the assistance of a considerable number of men, and more than is contained in the crew of those vessels. With regard to work at fixed stations, where it is possible to have a shelter for them when not in use, I think they may be extremely valuable in warfare for spying out what is going on in the surrounding country, and possibly in the not very distant future they may be useful in dropping bombs at places that require to be attacked. I notice in the Army Estimates that the total amount of money now being voted for the purpose of these machines is only £52,000. Last year the amount was only £6,300, so that there has been a considerable advance, and this shows that the Army authorities are giving closer attention to this matter. If the Army is to be supplied with dirigible balloons and sufficient men to work and handle them and build fresh balloons of this kind, I think £52,000 is a very small sum indeed. We know perfectly well that foreign countries are spending very much larger sums than we are in this respect. The problem at the present moment is in its infancy, and I do not know what the future is going to be, but from the little experience I have been able to gain I have no hesitation in saying that if aeroplanes make the progress in the next few years that motor cars have done in the last ten years the warfare of the near future will be a very curious and very difficult problem. I can foresee that invasion and raids, of which we have heard so much, may become entirely altered in their character.
Take for example aeroplanes being sufficiently secure as to be able to carry men with a considerable degree of certainty. Aeroplanes are not expensive things to construct, and I can well conceive 5,000 aeroplanes containing 10,000 men rushing across the sea, and dropping into this or some other country. I know this is not an immediately serious problem, but it is a problem of the near future, and has to be considered, and I should be glad to hear that the Secretary for War is considering that danger. If it be true that 10,000 men 1239 could be landed from the air, then the problem of a raid becomes an entirely different one. I can conceive that such a raid would rush across the sea with the object of capturing some port, and the only defence would be to have afforestation in the neighbourhood of that port, because the one thing that is detested by aviators is the presence of a considerable number of trees; what they require is a wide, open country in order to alight. One of the most difficult problems of aviation is that of alighting successfully, and it may be that the defence of our ports in the future will be afforestation.
I apologise for drawing the attention of the House to a duller subject than that which has up to the present engaged the attention of hon. Members. My only excuse for doing so is that this is the only chance I may have for some considerable time. I desire to call attention to the recent Army Order of 1909 which makes great alterations in the audit and pay office. I wish to draw attention to the first Report of the Public Accounts Committee Order of 1905, in which certain conditions were laid down as regards accounting and audit. As the Financial Secretary to the War Office knows, the Public Accounts Committee laid down as one of their axioms that all the accounting officers ought to be under the financial member of the Army Council, and ought to be responsible to him. He ought to have entire control over them.
When the Army Payment Department was done away with in 1905 there were certain provisions in the Royal Warrant which seemed not to carry out this desire of the Public Accounts Committee, with the consequence that an Army Order, 1st August, 1905, laid down very clearly that the Accounting Officer in the different commands should have full power of access to the Financial Member of the Army Council. Where he was desired by the Major-General in charge of Administration to make any payment which he thought not justifiable, not only was the Major-General in charge of Administration to consult the Financial Member of the Army Council, but the Accounting Officer himself was to have full power of access to the same Financial Member, and was empowered himself to report the matter and get directions from him personally. Those provisions in the Army Order entirely satisfied the Public Accounts Committee, and my point is that the new Order does not repeat those provisions. If taken by 1240 itself, it apparently cancels the Royal Warrant on which the Army Order of 1905 was based. I suppose, therefore, it cancels all the provisions founded on that Royal Warrant. It is itself founded upon a new Royal Warrant, and neither in the warrant nor in the appendix to the Army Order, 1909, is there any provision for the maintenance of these conditions on which the Public Accounts Committee laid special stress.
I am quite aware that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War and others several times last Session assured us that no weakening of the financial control of this House or of the position of the Controller Auditor-General was in any way intended, or would, indeed, be effected by any changes. All I can say is there is nothing in this last Order to justify that. On the contrary, the Order, taken by itself, would seem to separate entirely the accounting and audit branches. It would seem to place the accounting branch under the Major-General of Administration, who will give the branch no opportunity of communicating with the Financial Member of the Army Council. The Financial Secretary (Mr. Mallet) shakes his head, but if that is the desire of the War Office, it is not fulfilling the conditions laid down by the Public Accounts Committee. I hope we shall get some assurance that the conditions laid down as necessary for maintaining Parliamentary control over the finance of the War Office will be fulfilled. If the new Army Order does not fulfil those conditions, it might be altered as was the case in 1905. The first Order 1905, in May, was distinctly altered to make it harmonise with the requirements of the Public Accounts Committee in the same way as this new Order might be altered.