§ Motion made, and Question again proposed, "That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 186,400, all ranks, be maintained 2252 for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at Home and Abroad, excluding His Majesty's Indian Possessions, during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1912."
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Captain JESSEL
Last night when progress was reported I was calling the attention of the Committee to the fact that the effective number of men on the Vote for the Army, the Territorial Force, and the Reserve Force, was short of the establishment to the extent of 80,000. In the course of his instructive speech yesterday the Secretary for War told us that he had got his men for the Regular Army, but he did not tell us that he had found it necessary to reduce the standard of height for the Infantry of the Line from 5 ft. 4 in. to 5 ft. 3 in., and also that the standard of chest measurement has been reduced by an inch and a half. I do not wish to go into particulars regarding the other arms of the Service, but it is noticeable that the standard height of the Royal Engineers has also been reduced. That is a serious matter, and I think the Secretary of State should tell the House some of the defects in the system of recruiting he did not state in his speech, which was of a very rosy description. The fact that there is a total of 80,000 men short in the effective strength is somewhat alarming, and when we come to examine that, we find that the greater proportion is due to the deficiency of men in the Territorial Force and the Special Reserve. When one comes to look at the general Army Returns, one finds that in the year 1911–12, owing to the fact that the men in the Territorial Force enlisted for four years, there will be an exodus of over 100,000 men from that force. That is a very serious state of affairs. We are not face to face with it to-day, but as we are to be very shortly, it should make us pause and inquire what is to be done at the end of that short period when we shall have that tremendous exodus. I shall be glad to know what steps the Secretary of State thinks fit to take in order to face that serious diminution in the numbers of the Territorial Force. The right hon. Gentleman last night drew attention to another serious factor in connection with the Territorial Force. He pointed out the deficiency in the musketry training of these troops. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that there are 100,000 men not properly trained in musketry. I know he is doing all that he possibly can to provide ranges. He has provided 2253 very big ranges at Purfleet, near London, for the use of the Territorial Force. Unfortunately these ranges are constructed in such a manner that it is impossible for the men in the Territorials to go down and fire as they go down. They have to wait until the men from various sections of the country are finished, and they are very often kept there half a day without being able to shoot. These ranges were constructed by Regulars not accustomed to the wants of the Territorials. Although I believe they were principally constructed for the use of the Territorial Army, many of the men are deprived of the chance of shooting because of the unsuitability of the ranges as they at present exist.
The other great deficiency in our Forces is in the Special Reserve. That is one-third short of the establishment of 91,000 men. We have only got an effective strength of 63,000. Hon. Members know that there was always a deficiency in the case of the old Militia force. It was very difficult to get men. The right hon. Gentleman has a plan for adding 200 men to the Special Reserve battalions, and he proposes that these should be men who have gone through their Army service. As I understand the case, these are to be men who have done seven or nine years' service and have finished, and have not offered for twelve years' service. In the ordinary course of events I believe it would have been possible for these men to pass into Section D of the Army Reserve. There are a considerable number in it at present. The question I wish to ask is, how the right hon. Gentleman is going to deal with these men? Is he going to get rid of Section D, and if not, then what will be the difference in the inducement to men to continue in the Section or to go to the Reserve?
§ Captain JESSEL
They get better rates of pay, but I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman as regards the status of those men who go into the Special Reserve. Do they get better pay than the men who are at present serving in the Special Reserve?
§ Mr. HALDANE
They get the pay which is given to Special Reserve men, which is quite good pay, and they are only out for a comparatively short time.
§ Captain JESSEL
I trust we may get in that way a very great improvement in the Special Reserve. In that connection I wish to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on what he is doing as regards the Territorial Reserve, for there he has taken considerable trouble to set up Cadres which will be of the greatest use in time of emergency. I wish now to refer to the Expeditionary Force. It would take too much time to deal with that as a whole. I will take one branch of it alone, namely, the Cavalry portion. The horse question is the one that presses, as the right hon. Gentleman acknowledged himself yesterday. I am not aware whether he has read the criticisms on the Army manœuvres which took place last year. It is appalling to think what we have in reality. As regards the three Line brigades, the statistics show that instead of having 1,460 riding horses in each brigade, they only averaged a very little over 1,000 apiece, and after having been five days in the field the average was reduced to 955 in the case of one brigade, and went as low as 826 in the third brigade. If you add these figures you will find that you have got a deficiency in the whole Cavalry division of something like 1,400 men and 1,400 horses.
§ Mr. HALDANE
May I remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that, as I explained last year, we recognise that. We bought horses last year, but it takes a little time to mature them. There are now enough horses to mobilise the whole of the Cavalry. It was not so at the time of the manœuvres. We had bought them, but they were not ready. The state of things is not to-day what it was at the time of the manœuvres, and I hope the shortage of trained horses will be remedied soon.
§ Captain JESSEL
Out of these four Brigades we might say that there are 25 per cent. short. That is to say, there were only three Brigades in the field instead of four. There is another matter in that connection which makes our Cavalry rather weak compared with Continental Cavalry. We have only three squadrons per regiment, while Continental armies have four squadrons per regiment. They are stronger both in men and horses than the establishment in our Army. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he could not adopt the suggestion of the 2255 hon. Member for Bodmin (Sir R. Pole-Carew), made last night, that is to say, to take outside of the Cadres those men like the servants and tradesmen in a regiment and fill them up with effective men, and also to put another squadron on each regiment. You have done away with the Reserve squadron, and the result is that you make up Cavalry Brigades, which are particularly weak in comparison with those of foreign armies. Then the right hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware that a great many horses are not fit as regards age. They are undersized also for establishment horses, and young horses which are not trained are included. I know quite well that the right hon. Gentleman has increased the number of horses per regiment by thirty-six, and that there are to be an additional five this year. That is all to the good, but it is very important that the Cavalry and Artillery should be as effective as possible, I do not think he would be wasting his money if he put on an extra squadron and brought the horses up to the proper strength.
It always appeared to me that as regards the Cavalry we ought to be perfect and not rely upon Reservists. In fact, we cannot do so because, as the right hon. Gentleman tells us, he is going to take Cavalry Reservists for military supplies and train service. Therefore, I think he ought to set his heart on having absolutely effective men and horses in the Cavalry regiments. Reference was made yesterday to the shortage of officers. The right hon. Gentleman told us, and quite truly, that he has made a great many more posts in the Army for officers, and there are a great many more opportunities for them to rise. I cannot help thinking that the question resolves itself into one of pay for the officers. We did not get the men we have until we paid them better, and it is not really very much pay for young men when they join an Infantry regiment to have 5s. 3d. a day, which is the same pay as existed at the time of the Battle of Waterloo. Things are a great deal dearer now than then, and the cost of living is higher; and if the result of the reciprocity treaty between Canada and the United States is that the cost of food is going to be higher in this country, as some of us believe it will be, it will be a still more serious thing for the officers of the British Army. I really think that the right hon. Gentleman might give some increase of pay in the junior ranks of the Army. Many of us in this House tried to get into the 2256 Army with a competition of five and six to one against us. It was very difficult to get into the Army then. Now, on the contrary, it requires considerable efforts to get officers. The right hon. Gentleman foreshadowed a plan of advising the headmasters of schools to select the most promising of their scholars for Sandhurst. Some of those boys would be a good deal older than the ordinary Sandhurst boy. Is he going to ante-date them in any way, because it is somewhat of a disadvantage to the boys who have already passed examinations? I hope the right hon. Gentleman will remember that point when he comes to reply, because it is of some importance. The hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee) some years ago drew attention to the pay of the men. The result was that the pay of the men was considerably increased. In fact, it is nearly double what it was a few years ago. Why then should not something be done for the officers? With that fairness which the right hon. Gentleman generally displays, I hope he will agree with me on that point.
The hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Crooks) drew attention to the fact that there was a certain amount of dissatisfaction among the men because all of them could not be continued on for pensions. It is perfectly true, as has been stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, that you could not have all the men entering the Army going on for pensions and serving their full time, because it would be impossible then to have a Reserve. I quite agree with that, but I do think that it ought to be made perfectly clear to the men on enlistment that that is the case, and that only a certain proportion of them will be allowed to serve on for pension, so that they will not have any grievance through being misled. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will see that in any recruiting posters which are published that will be made clear. A great deal has been done with respect to the employment of men after they leave the Army. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman could pursue the line of conduct which Sir James Ferguson did when he was Postmaster-General. I know that the Postmaster-General has done a great deal in that way. I would like to suggest something further as regards the great railway companies. There was talk about trying to make arrangements with the railway companies in that direction. I do not think that much has come of that. I suppose that it cannot be done for nothing. I wonder whether the right hon. 2257 Gentleman will agree to remit the Railway Passenger Tax, which is a very small thing, in consideration of the railway companies guaranteeing to employ a certain number of men in the Reserve every year. My next point is with regard to the War Stores. Every year the Quartermaster-General and the Master-General of Ordnance have to certify that the authorised War Reserve of Stores is complete with the exception of temporary deficiencies. Last year the deficiencies were £159,000. This year they are £143,000. That must be a considerable deficiency on the total amount of stores we should have in reserve. A point came out in the evidence before the Public Accounts Committee which is of great interest. It was discussed in this House, and no answer ever was given by the War Office. It was discovered that there is no final authority in the War Office for laying down the number of swords, bayonets, and pistols to be held as a war reserve. The witness for the War Office, in reply to a question before the Public Accounts Committee, said that the Army Council has not seen fit to order any reserve of bayonets, pistols, and swords. There was also a great deal of comment about certain guns and carriages which were shown in the reserve, belonging to War Reserve Stores, but which were not in possession of the War Office as they were lent to the Territorials and to certain educational establishments.
§ Captain JESSEL
The right hon Gentleman will not find it quite so easy to answer the other question as to why no proper supply of swords, bayonets, and pistols nor any authorised supply of standdard pattern was laid down. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to show the House whether the War Reserves are up to their strength, and whether I am right or wrong in saying that a deficiency of £150,000 is a considerable one on the total amount in reserve? It seems rather alarming. We all know that before the outbreak of the South African War there was tremendous difficulty about certain articles which had to be found, such as saddle trees, and that many of the Yeomanry had to go out insufficiently equipped. There is always a danger of these things being forgotten, and it is only by the vigilance of this House that we can ascertain whether what is proposed to be done has been done. On the question of 2258 rebuilding barracks, the right hon. Gentleman has set his face against any loans for the purpose. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand (Mr. Walter Long) that it does not seem a very sensible policy. I do not think that the War Office itself was built out of Estimates, but on loan, and I do not see why the same system cannot apply to building the necessary barracks for the men. With regard to the cost of the Army itself, I think that the Estimates are very unfairly handicapped in one respect. Out of the approximate Estimate of £28,000,000 nearly £4,000,000 is for non-effective services. The non-effective Vote both in the Army and Navy is added to the Army and the Navy Vote, and the consequence is it lends a handle to those who say that your Army costs a great deal too much compared with that of other countries because you have got those non-effective Votes on it. Would it not be possible so to arrange our national finance that all these non-effective votes will appear together on the Pension Fund? Then we should know exactly what we were paying in this country for pensions of all classes of the community, and at the same time we should know exactly what is the cost for our Army and Navy and various Civil Services. The right hon. Gentleman, since he became Minister for War, has taken a most sympathetic interest in the affairs of the Army. Nobody who has ever been in touch with officers of the Army can help recognising that they appreciate very much what the right hon. Gentleman has done for the Army. He has not been able to do everything, for the money does not allow him. But, though he has done a very great deal, yet when he comes down to this House, by his ability and by being able to tell us how the money is managed, I think he gives very often too flattering a picture of the state of affairs in the Army. We on this side of the House cannot forget that the right hon. Gentleman, rightly or wrongly, took 20,000 men away from the Regular Army, and he has, rightly or wrongly, spent a great deal more money on the Territorials. All I hope is that he will see that he is obtaining efficiency for his money corresponding to that which the other forces used to give. It is a dangerous thing to take so many men from the Regular Army, and I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will look up some of the criticisms which have been made, and made in no unfriendly spirit, on this side of the House, because I am sure the adoption 2259 of such a course would be of benefit It is very easy for the War Minister, especially in the case of those officers who are not in touch with their regiments, to make things seem much rosier than they are. As regards the officers on the Staff of the Army, I should like the right hon. Gentleman to ascertain how many of them have recently served with their regiments, because it is not at all a good thing that an officer once on the Staff should always be on the Staff. It is not done in foreign armies, for the reason that officers lose touch with their regiments and it is always likely to lead to a rosier view of matters than the actual facts of the case warrant.
§ Captain WARING
There are one or two points with regard to the Yeomanry which I wish to put to the right hon. Gentleman. The first is that he is going to insist upon the appointment of sergeants instead of sergeant-majors to the permanent staff of the Yeomanry. There is not in the British Army a man who fills a more responsible office than the sergeant-major, because, of necessity, it is quite impossible for the commanding officers who have professional and other duties which call them elsewhere, to be always with the regiment. Take my own regiment. The commanding officers consist of a wine merchant, a solicitor, a master of hounds, and a Member of Parliament, and it is impossible that these officers can all supervise the work of the sergeant-major. I think it is most essential that the man who holds such a post should be one of the highest standing, and of the widest possible experience. The sergeant-major serves his time in that capacity with the Regulars, and he has a large experience. I am bound to say that the temptations of these men are very great. The sergeants got a smaller rate of pay as sergeants, and the temptations will be still greater. The sergeants, many of them, are unmarried, so that even that steadying influence is withdrawn. It is proposed to limit their period with the regiment to two years, though I believe there may be an extension of the time. It would very often take a man two years to get to know his district properly, and then, just as he is beginning to be useful, he would be replaced by yet another stranger. I view this change with considerable alarm, because I am personally concerned, and I should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman why he considers it to be necessary.
2260 Another point has reference to the question of pay of the adjutant brigade-majors of Territorials, who are themselves Territorial officers. I think that everyone admits that the local man who is capable of performing these duties is better than a stray Regular, who, after all, has his eye on his future appointment. Yet the pay of the Regular is four times as much as the pay of the Territorial officer for exactly the same work. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider this point. It is really unfair to the Territorial officer that he should give up the whole of his time to this kind of work and to be out of pocket at the end of it. I do suggest that in the case of the Territorial officer he should be allowed, at the end of the period of his appointment, to receive a commission in the ranks, which would enable him to receive a rate of pay that would compensate him for his work. One other point, as to the question of Reserve officers, who are not now allowed to join the Territorials. There is no better officer to serve with the Yeomanry than the local man who has had four or five years' training in the Regular Cavalry, and who returns, after leaving it, to the district where he was bred and born, and takes up his rank in his own local corps. The junior ranks of the Yeomanry are difficult to fill at the present time, and I cannot understand why the War Office should make it increasingly difficult. The argument is that these officers would be withdrawn from the regiment in the case of war. That is perfectly true, but they are useful in time of peace in training the Yeomanry, to which they naturally belong. As a matter of fact, exception is now made in the case of commanding officers on the Reserve, who are allowed, apparently, to command the Territorial regiments. Why it is supposed that the Territorial regiments, on the outbreak of war, could do better with their commanding officers than with those of the junior rank I do not know. If the idea is that it is better for the Territorial regiments to be commanded by the Regular officers, I think that the same argument applies to the officers of junior rank. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to relax these regulations in some way, or, at all events, to allow the local man, willing to join the Territorial Army and also on the Reserve, to be, at all events, permanently attached to the Yeomanry, so that the regiment will have the inestimable advantage of his services in time of peace for the purpose of training. I do not take these points in 2261 any factious spirit. I think that everybody is anxious to do the best for the Yeomanry, and I do ask that, year after year the work should not be made more difficult.
§ Colonel HICKMAN
I notice that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War takes credit for the reduction of the Estimates of this year compared with last year, by £70,000. I have no doubt that this seeming reduction in expenditure will be received with great rejoicing by Gentlemen below the Gangway, and also by the hon. Members who moved the Motion on Monday. But I think that this reduction is more apparent than real, as an hon. and gallant Friend of mine showed yesterday; because if you really come to examine the Estimates themselves I think you will find that this money is allowed for last year, that it was not spent, that it is going to be spent this year, and that we really are spending more money this year than we did last year. We are all glad to see that more money is being spent on the Territorial Army, and we hope that it will conduce to efficiency. In that respect I am glad to say that the right hon. Gentleman is following the advice of the distinguished and gallant Gentleman who wrote the book, wherein he advised the right hon. Gentleman very strongly that if he wanted to make the greatest possible use of the Territorial Army more money should be spent upon it. I desire to put one or two questions in connection with this particular subject. One is as to rifle ranges. In a great many districts in England we have what are called "snap practices" in musketry. But the present rifle ranges are not considered well fitted for the purposes of those "snap practices." Many of the ranges have been condemned, and the consequence is that the regiments which fired on those ranges will not be able to fire their courses of musketry. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether they cannot make arrangements this year to enable those particular regiments to go through some course of musketry. If that is not possible, I would suggest where those regiments cannot fire the actual practices laid down in the book, because the ranges are not proper for such firing, that the right hon. Gentleman should consider the advisability of instituting a modified course of musketry for those particular regiments, so that they will be able to fire some courses of musketry during the year, and not be classed as inefficient 2262 at the end of the year. I throw that out as a slight suggestion. In my own particular neighbourhood I have to do with several regiments of Territorials; in fact, I have the honour of being an honorary colonel of one of them.
This particular regiment last year was not able to fire on its own range, and it had to fire on another range in the same neighbourhood. That range, although it was not at a very great distance, was one where they could not fire out their practices without having what I call week-end camps. That plan has been strongly recommended, I am told, by the regiments concerned, which derived great benefit from these week-end camps. The men are able to get there on Friday night, so that they fire the whole of Saturday, and then they fire on Sunday. But there are some neighbourhoods where the people, especially those of Nonconformist conscience, object to soldiers firing on the Sundays, notwithstanding that the men have their church parade, and that they do not fire during church hours. Still, while the noise of firing is objected to by individuals in particular places, I have no doubt that the practice of firing on Sundays will have to be discontinued. I would recommend the right hon. Gentleman, if he has any surplus whatever on his Estimates, that it would be a good thing to spend some of the money in making big central rifle ranges, which would take a large number of units. They could have their week-end camps in some such place, for instance, in the Midlands, as Cannock Chase, where there are no people whose susceptibilities could be annoyed by firing on Sundays, and where the greatest possible consideration might be given to the convenience of the Territorial soldiers. Thus the greatest possible efficiency might be obtained for them in the way of musketry. I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman is providing one extra subaltern for each line regiment with machine guns. I think that is a matter for congratulation. But I cannot see that the method of obtaining those officers will conduce to the efficiency of the whole service. I notice that this particular officer to each line regiment is going to be taken out of one of the extra Special Reserve regiments, and I cannot think, that with the deficiency of 800 officers in the Special Reserve, of which the right hon. Gentleman told us yesterday, that they can spare these four line officers and still preserve the same efficiency. In rough figures, taking one officer in every twenty-five, there would 2263 only be 3,300 officers in the Special Reserve, and if you were 800 short, it is a very large proportion. Therefore, I think it ought to be carefully brought home to us whether you can spare four officers from the different battalions and still keep the Sergeants efficient. I would like also if the right hon. Gentleman, when he makes his reply, will tell us on mobilisation how many officers there would be, or how many he expects to have in the Special Reserve Battalions, because they are so short of their establishment now, and there does not seem to be any immediate chance of getting more officers, notwithstanding the ingenious expedients.
We go on to the question of officers in general. Many of my hon. and gallant Friends have talked about the pay of officers, and I entirely agree with them. I would like to mention the fact that in other armies of Europe the particular War Offices in question are so thoroughly alive to the facts that the expenses of the officer class, that is to say, the mode of life which those gentlemen are accustomed to live, have so augmented during the last fifty years that they have been obliged to consider raising the pay of those officers. We have not raised the pay of our officers. In the French Army the pay of the officer is going to be increased about 25 per cent., and also in the Dutch Army. I will take, for instance, the case of the Captain in the Dutch Army, though the whole lot are going to be increased. The Captain gets now £116 per year rising to £215. In future he is to get £215 per year rising to £250. A Captain in the line of an English regiment only gets £200. I leave it for the House to consider whether the mode of life and the expenses incurred by the British Captain are not much greater than of any Dutch captain. We all know that it is so, and that the cost of living in Holland on the Dutch officer is much less than on the English officer. Therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman tells us that it is going to cost a million odd to increase the pay of the British officer up to Engineer rank, I say it is about time we began to do it. We have heard a great deal of talk about it, but if he wants to get a proper supply of officers to fill the Special Reserve and the Line regiments we had better have some deeds, and not all talk about it.
There are many things I think which conduce to the lamentable result of the failure to get officers. There are many 2264 grievances, and one in particular, I would like to bring forward, and that is the state of the officers in the Royal Garrison Artillery. At the present time there are 470 lieutenants in the Garrison Artillery, and at the end of this year there will be 180 lieutenants of eleven years' service. During recent years promotion has gone as follows: In 1907 thirteen promotions, in 1908 five promotions, in 1909 none at all, in 1910 none at all, and this year there have been fifteen. The reason for this slackening of promotions may briefly be stated: first of all, owing to reduction in establishments, then to the conversion of the Royal Garrison Artillery into a Field Artillery, and, thirdly, the raising of the retiring age. Supposing promotion quickens as fast as we can possibly imagine it could, that is to say, to thirty each year, which is much higher than the figures I have quoted, then the 180th subaltern, who will have eleven years' service at the end of this year, would take six years before he gets promotion, and when he becomes a captain he will have seventeen years' service. I ask if that is not a very lamentable state of things, and whether it is not the cause that makes the fathers of young men hesitate whether they will send their sons into a Service where the prospects are so very meagre. I would recommend the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether he could not treat the Garrison Artillery something on the same lines as the Royal Engineers, that is to say, to promote officers with eleven years' service automatically to captains. That would be a great boon to those officers, and at the same time I would also recommend him to consider whether the French and Dutch arrangements are not pretty good, that is to say that after a certain number of years' service that the pay should automatically increase as well. I stated just now that the pay of the Dutch captains was going to be £215 to £250, rising after a certain number of years' service, whether he is promoted or not. I believe that that system obtains in the Navy as well. I would recommend it as a suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman.
We heard a good deal yesterday about a certain book, and I would like to say a few words about it. Last September Lord Esher wrote an article in the "National Review" on the subject of compulsory and voluntary service. Shortly the deductions which he made from his thoughts on the subject and his experience in the changes of organisation and the results of the Territorial system, as he had seen it work, were 2265 that under the voluntary system as regards numbers the Territorial system had broken down. I think the right hon. Gentleman will acknowledge that as the deduction of Lord Esher. It is well known that Lord Esher has been a confidential adviser, not only of the present Government, but also of the late Government when they were in office; and that on all questions of reorganisation of the Army his word practically was law with both Governments. That is the popular supposition in the country in general. How far it is true with regard to the present Government the right hon. Gentleman knows better than I do, but I only give it as the idea of the country in general. It is a curious thing that, following those deductions of the Noble Lord, we have a Motion coming on in the House of Lords, and the next thing is the book. The right hon. Gentleman is defending himself before he is attacked, because the Motion never came on. He wanted to have the first blow in, and he has got it, I think. Still, he will not be annoyed if we have a cut in too. There are certain deductions in the gallant Gentleman's book to which I think we can take exception if we can prove that his opinions varied at different times. In all courts of law, when you have a barrister defending anybody, he tries to make light of the evidence of the opposite side by belittling their consistency and so on. The right hon. Gentleman said yesterday that the opinion of Sir Ian Hamilton after the South African war was identical with the opinion expressed in this book. I believe it is on record, and it is perfectly true, and in fact in this book Sir Ian Hamilton quotes the evidence which he gave before the Commission. He has two arguments in this book against compulsory service. In the first place, he said that the voluntary service conduces more to patriotism, and to the adventurous spirit, and therefore to those particular traits in the Englishman which we ought to try and get hold of, and which make the best soldier. That is practically one argument, the traits of patriotism and the adventurous spirit which we get under the voluntary system, and that we would not get under the compulsory system. That is what we said in peace time. That is his experience at the War Office, and after reorganisation. I should like to read to the House some experiences of this gallant and distinguished officer after actual warfare. This is not the only book Sir Ian Hamilton wrote. I have read several books of his, and when I read the book 2266 about the Japanese War, a Staff Officer's Scrap Book I think he called it, I was delighted to see, at any rate, that there was a puff towards compulsory service in it. I was delighted that a Staff Officer holding such a distinguished position as Adjutant-General should at that time, with the experience of perhaps the biggest war we have had of late years, where the long-range rifle has been brought into play, that he, with the experience of that war, should recommend compulsory service. These are his words about the siege of Anju:—It turned out afterwards that the garrison of Anju consisted at that moment of seventy infantry reservists under the command of a captain; in addition, one noncommissioned officer and eight men of the Supply department were lying sick in the town; one intendant with a non-commissioned officer and interpreter were engaged there in cleaning rice; five trained soldiers and two gendarmes were in charge of coolies, and there were five postmen and nine telegraphists, besides a doctor, an apothecary, and fifty enlisted coolies. The rifles of the men killed at the battle of the Yalu had been sent back as far as Anju, and out of the foregoing heterogeneous crew, no less than thirty men were found who claimed to have some idea of using a firearm. Thus in extremity, the potential garrison might be reckoned to be 100 rifles of sorts!5.0 P.M.
I may mention in passing that this particular scratch body of compulsory enlisted men beat off a very large force of Russians and saved the day; mark the deductions of this gallant Gentleman:—It would be difficult to find a stronger argument in favour of some kind of universal training, or to realise more acutely what a falling off the British show in this respect since the days of their famous ancestors who fought at Agincourt and Crecy. Out of seventy-five Japanese, men of all trades, thirty could handle a rifle. It would be interesting to know what proportion of Britishers, out of a similar mixed crowd, would know the difference between the butt and muzzle of a rifle. On a rough calculation, I should say one in five.I would respectfully ask how far the opinion of this gallant officer of so many opinions can readily be taken seriously by the people of England. I will not go quite so far as my hon. and gallant Friend went last night, but I will say that when you want the actual opinion of an expert you want it of a man who does not change his opinion every ten years. It is only natural that after actual warfare, where he has seen men under fire and knows all the conditions, that he should be better able to judge of the men than he is after he has been sitting in the War Office.
In this connection, after my reference to Lord Esher's article, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to think what will be the condition of the Territorial Army at the end of this year. The question of numbers may not appear to be very pressing at the present moment, because the right hon. Gentleman has got more than the 250,000 2267 for which he asked; but what will be the state of the Territorial Army when something like 600 men from each Infantry regiment have finished their period of service? Does the right hon. Gentleman think that he will be able to make good those numbers? Personally I have grave fears about the filling of the Cadres of these regiments. I have as much sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman as anybody can have. I have done my best to recommend the men in my neighbourhood to re-engage, but I am afraid they will not do so, and I do not see any chance of these regiments being up to anything like full strength at the end of the year. I think, therefore, that the question of whether or not this voluntary system for the Home Defence Army has broken down will be brought very seriously home to the right hon. Gentleman at the end of the present year. Now that the era of compromises and conferenceshas come, I hope that this question, if it does become acute, will be taken up by right hon. Gentlemen on both sides, that they will put their heads together and endeavour to think out something which will be for the good of the country in general, apart from all party considerations. The right hon. Gentleman yesterday twitted the Leader of the Opposition about putting another old man of the sea around his neck. If the right hon. Gentleman had considered what is to happen to the Territorial Army at the end of this year, he might have refrained from using those words, as it is quite possible that there will be a very heavy weight round his neck if the scheme absolutely breaks down. Not that I have any desire to see it break down; his efforts as regards the Territorials have my fullest sympathy, and I have worked very hard to make the scheme a success, and shall always do so. I fear, however, that it will not be a success as regards numbers. Therefore I hope that both Front Benches will combine and see what can be done, not only for the good of the Army but for the good of the Empire in general.
§ Mr. HAMAR GREENWOOD
I speak generally as a whole-hearted supporter of the Minister for War, and as one who has had the honour to hold a commission in a Yeomanry regiment, both before the right hon. Gentleman went to the War Office and since. I think I am voicing the opinion of all those who believe in efficiency when I say that, as far as the Yeomanry is concerned, its present efficiency 2268 is a marked improvement upon the inefficiency which existed prior to the present Minister taking charge. [Several HON. MEMBERS: "No."] At any rate, speaking for the London Yeomanry, I have never heard that proposition questioned. I would also bear tribute to the fact that under the chairmanship of the present Minister for War, the fighting Services throughout the British Empire have been unified. The right hon. Gentleman has brought into line with the whole Army and Navy the tens of thousands of soldiers and sailors, a continually growing number, throughout the Dominions of the Crown. I would ask him to go one step further in that direction. At present a man who has served in the Dominions, however long and however meritoriously, if he comes to the Home Country, gets no credit whatever for his service overseas under the Crown. It would be a great step towards Imperial unification of the Services if service in Canada or Australia or any other Dominion ranked exactly the same as service in the Home Country, and vice versâ. Speaking for at least two Ministers of War in the Overseas Dominions, I know that they are quite prepared to alter their Army Lists to meet what I think is a fair and really Imperial demand. I know officers in this country who have served with distinction in certain Overseas Dominions, who, when they came to England, had to re-enter as subalterns, although they had behind them in some cases ten years' service as captains in an Overseas Dominion.
So much for the complimentary part of my contribution to the Debate. Let me now speak as a candid friend, who, after all, is the only friend who will help the Minister for War in his very difficult position, or will aid the efficiency of the fighting Services of the Crown. It is a great personal triumph to the right hon. Gentleman that the tone of this Debate should be of so exemplary a character. It is about the only Debate that we have from year to year in which partisanship seems to be laid aside and Members on both sides unite to help on the affairs of the whole country. As a candid friend, I think that the publication of the opinion of a salaried officer under the Minister of War is not quite in keeping with the best interests of the Service. It is no compliment to the intelligence of the supporters of the right hon. Gentleman, and it is no compliment to himself that he should lean on a subordinate in his own Department. Further, the very fact that that distinguished general is 2269 criticised in this House, congratulated on one side and abused on the other—
§ Mr. HAMAR GREENWOOD
Well, spoken of in a manner which cannot be called complimentary. The very fact that he is spoken of both in complimentary and in uncomplimentary terms, and that he is not able to reply, shows at once that he should not have put himself, or have been allowed to put himself, in a position in which he could be subjected to such criticism. More than that, as an enthusiastic officer in the Yeomanry and a warm admirer of the splendid efforts of the right hon. Gentleman in the cause of the Army, I must say that the opinion of an isolated general is nothing to me. I would like the opinions of all these generals to be presented to the right hon. Gentlemen, and I should have more faith in his judgment after he had considered the views of all the experts than I have in the judgment of any single expert. Taking a long look into the future, suppose the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Lord C. Beresford) should at some time or other be in a position to publish a Memorandum, it might not be a Memorandum which would receive such support as the present Memorandum has received from certain portions of the House. I would keep every expert in his place. I consider that our admirals and generals are properly, and ought to be, subordinate to the political heads of their respective Departments, and personally I regret that any isolated individual should be selected either from the Admiralty or from the War Office to voice opinions that can be better voiced, if they are acceptable, by the political heads of those Departments. I think it is establishing a precedent which I hope will not be followed if selected men are to be allowed to voice their views as the views of some god-like administrator. I, for one, am prepared to follow the political head of a Department, and hold him responsible rather than acknowledge any supreme merit in view of a military or a naval head.
I wish to deal with two questions, namely, horses and officers—the two great weaknesses of the British Army at home to-day. I was amazed to hear the right hon. Gentleman say yesterday that he has barely sufficient horses to mobilise the Regular Cavalry. That is a most astounding statement, especially when we remember that the Regular Cavalry of the line is something less than 11,000 men and 2270 horses, if there are horses, and that 20 per cent. of the horses are over thirteen years of age. I see that in another column there are 132 horses, the ages of which are not reported at all. I am bound to say that this strikes me as an example of Napoleonic chivalry on the part of the Minister for War to decline to report the age of these veterans of the stables. I maintain myself—speaking as one with some knowledge of horses—that after a horse has passed its thirteenth year it should no longer be called an effective Cavalry horse. Yet 20 per cent. of the small number of horses in the Cavalry of the line are already veterans, and are not qualified to mount an energetic Cavalry man. One other point. The right hon. Gentleman says that he believes there are half-a-million of horses in the realm available for the Cavalry. Does he forget that there were over half-a-million of horses wasted—I mean in a military sense—in the South African War? Half-a-million of horses were killed or died. Here, then, we have this position: We have barely enough horses to mount the Cavalry if they were all called out at one time. We have the experience of the South African War, where during the war every mounted man was mounted at least five or six times. Yet we have not a single horse in reserve, except some 300 chargers let out to certain gentlemen who want a well-trained horse to canter up and down the country lanes. I do not think that I am exaggerating a bit when I suggest that 10,000 Cavalry with only one horse per man is not in a fit state to take the field in any serious sense. Anyone who has had any experience of a squadron will bear me out that in the ordinary camp of peace, where you have spare horses which are treated in the very best possible way and with the best veterinary attention, that out of about 100 horses six, eight, or a dozen will, at the end of a fortnight, knock up—and that is a very gentle training in peace. Experience of our own Army, and of every army, shows that the Cavalry loses horses much more rapidly than any other branch of the service, and there ought to be at least two horses in reserve for every horse led out of the stables in time of war or mobilisation. Let me give my own experience as an officer in a Yeomanry regiment in London. At the present moment certain horse contractors are going round to squadron leaders contracting to supply horses for the annual training. They expect the Government's £5 per head. They admit that they use exactly the same horses for some five 2271 different regiments. My point here is this: If we were to mobilise for service under the Crown, which of the five regiments is going to be mounted? I would not mind doing my share in defending my country, but I object to fight on foot after I have been trained as a Cavalryman.
There is another feature of this matter which is even more serious. When these horses do their camps on the Plain or elsewhere they are all bought up by foreigners who come from European countries. That does seem to me an amazing state of things when we have not enough horses to mount the regular Cavalry. Again, we have five men to one horse in reference to the Yeomanry in London rather than three horses to one man, which is the fair proportion. I welcome whole-heartedly the intimation of the right hon. Gentleman that he is going to bring in a Bill to try to provide for this grotesque hiatus in the mounting of the Cavalry, the Yeomanry, and the Militia. Then in reference to the officers. With other hon. Gentlemen in the House I cheered the suggestion that officers, especially lieutenants and captains, should be paid at a higher rate of pay. I do not myself believe that this side of the House, speaking for a majority on this side, object to pay any man a living wage; but you cannot expect the taxpayer of this country to pay a higher rate of wages to officers so long as you restrict the recruiting of these officers to certain favoured classes or favoured schools. I myself would object, and will object, to any increase in pay until a commission in the Army is open to every man or every boy, no matter in what particular class of life he has been born, no matter whether he has gone to school or not. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is so now."] I know it is in theory, but, as a matter of fact, many speeches in this Debate have shown it clearly that many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have, I think, an erroneous view of this. They think it is only possible to draw officers from certain favoured classes or certain schools. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Yes. I understand that is the view. I myself believe that the examinations are far too strict. I would rather have the nomination of any headmaster of any school than these extraordinarily stiff special examinations which are no more test of capacity for a man to lead in the field than they are a test of capacity for a man to lead in the House of Commons. So far as I know, and I am very glad to know it, most of the distinguished men of our universities remain, and will, 2272 I hope, always remain, on the back benches of this House. Examination is not a fair test when it comes to discovering real capacity in leading your fellow-men, be it on the stricken field of battle, or be it in this peaceful realm of war in the House of Commons. Finally, I thank the Committee sincerely for having given me so patient a hearing. Let me say this: The Estimates before the House do not, and never have, fairly represented the enormous expenditure on the Army. In this respect the Army Estimates differ from the Navy Estimates. In the Navy it is exceptional for the man, after he obtains the rank of lieutenant, to be put to any personal cost in keeping his ship, or his share of the ship, in an efficient condition. In the Army it is different. I venture to say there are millions upon millions sterling that come out of the pockets of willing officers of the Regular Army, as well as of the auxiliary forces. This money is not seen on the Estimates. But it is clear that this money goes to make up the efficiency of the Army, and, therefore, to that extent it does save the pockets of the taxpayer. I think that is a piece of gross injustice to willing and self-sacrificing men. I think the vast majority of the people of this country are actually spongeing upon a small fraction of willing men. I think myself if the country were alive to the expenditure of individuals, both those in the Service and those outside who are interested in it, the county, and, I certainly hope, this House, would not begrudge the increase of the Estimates sufficient to make the Army efficient and independent of this voluntary and humiliating support from individuals. It is the meanest form of patriotism, to my mind, to sponge upon that small fraction of the community that is not only willing to give their best services to the Crown, but are also compelled, under the present circumstances of the case, to shell out of their pockets part of their money. Some of this money comes out of the pockets of those who are not really able to spare it. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister for War compared the junior officer in the Regular Service, with his small rate of pay of 5s. 3d. per day, with the young man going to be a barrister. I am amazed that so eminent a lawyer should make so peculiar a comparison. The man that goes to be a barrister does not, at any rate, risk his life. He risks. I admit, the money of the potential clients.
§ Mr. HAMAR GREENWOOD
He risks much there is no doubt, but after all is said and done the officers of the Army are the first to meet the bullets of the enemy if this country should unhappily be engaged in war. The man who is willing to give the best of his physical and mental powers to enter the Army, if and when he gets there, is called upon—and the country is the first to demand it—for an efficiency beyond the efficiency of the ordinary being. I think, therefore, the risks he runs to life and limb should be taken into consideration in meting out to him a just rate of pay. I repeat this point; so far as I can find from a canvass on this side of the House, the majority of Members in political agreement with me are willing to see the Estimates go up considerably in order that every man who joins the Army may have a living wage; provided—I repeat myself here without apology—provided the proper democratic principle is carried out, namely, that commissions in the Army are open to every man born under the flag who can qualify under a reasonable qualification. There is a concluding complaint I am bound to make. One so rarely gets the opportunity of intervening in Debate that unless you take advantage of the opportunity you do get you may not get another this year. So far as I know, neither the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for War nor anyone else in this House, has ever given the House a clear idea of what the Army is for—why we have an Army at all. It is one of the amazing things that in discussing the Army that we are rarely given a clear and scientific idea as to why we have so many Territorials, so many Regulars, so many Cavalry, Artillery, and so on. I think the House of Commons is entitled, year by year, when these Estimates come on, to the clearest and most carefully thought out and delivered idea what the British Army is for, where it is expected to serve, and what the individual member is expected to do in the case of mobilisation. My own regiment, I am glad to say, was one of the first to volunteer for service in foreign parts. Yet I have never seen in a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War anything about the possibility of the British Army serving in foreign parts. I am bound to confess this with regret that I think the country and this House is not always treated with that frankness and candour in reference to military affairs that the intelligence of Members of this 2274 House and the patriotism of the country outside honestly and properly demand.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
As showing that this matter can be discussed perfectly free from all party bias, let me say that we on this side of the House sympathise with almost, every word that has been uttered by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. The hon. Member opposite in most vigorous language expressed exactly the sentiments which we ourselves feel, and if in one or two points I seem to differ from him it is not that I do not agree with him in essentials. I would not have intervened in this Debate at all except for the peculiar circumstances which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War was good enough to allude to. The hon. Member opposite referred to the case of officers. Now it is quite true that I was called upon by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War to advise in regard to the question of the examination of these officers. That was only from the fact that I have for the last seven years been chairman of the qualifying board of officers, and, of course, it is hardly possible that a person occupying that position could be overlooked and not consulted upon a matter of that kind. It proves that we were actuated with a wholehearted desire to do the best we could in the circumstances, and the right hon. Gentleman and I acted cordially to the end in the matter. I do not think it would be found, under many other constitutions, that people belonging to absolutely different parties could act in such confidential relationship. The right hon. Gentleman has explained that he is hopeful about the new system of examination. I do not myself trust much to that new system of examination. We have tried a system of examination for seven years—and I have had full experience of it at every stage—and it has failed to get us the best class of men we want. We are not doing well under the examination system, and it would be much better to find out some other method.
I cordially agree with the sentiment of the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Hamar Greenwood), and I say when we weigh our educational experience we find that the day of competitive examinations as a means of selecting men for any responsible position is dead and gone. We now see we require far more of the record of a boy's school time and what knowledge of him those in charge of his education have, and by that means we are far more likely to get a good selection than by any system of examination. I cordially join with that 2275 part of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme which gives a large percentage to nomination. I cordially agree with the next point raised by the hon. Gentleman opposite, and that is that you must go down deeper to remove this difficulty. I have repeated over and over again to the right hon. Gentleman the verdict which has been given to us at the Qualifying Board from every teacher in all our large schools, not only the higher public schools, but also from the schools that reach a far lower social grade, and they all say, "You cannot alter the deficiency that now exists in candidates for the Army until you make the Army more of a career by better pay. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Long), pointed out that for more than 100 years the pay of the officers of the Army have not been increased. I think the right hon. Gentleman if my own investigations are correct, might have gone much farther back. There has been no material increase in the pay of the officers of the King's Army since the days of Charles II. I think anyone will find on historical investigation that I am very nearly right. The hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Crooks) appealed in very forcible terms last night on behalf of the men that they should not be limited in their pay to the mere market value of their work, and that we should be more generous. I am not going to ask the right hon. Gentleman to be any more generous than to give these officers the market value of their work. They are not getting it now. Let us look the thing straight and square in the face.
We have altered the social conditions of the Army very materially, and in that I join issue with the statement made by the hon. Member on the other side. He said, upon what basis I cannot for the life of me discover, that there was some idea on this side of the House that the officers of the King's Army must be drawn from a certain social class. He could adduce no proof, but he said that that was generally understood. I wonder on what grounds he argued that. In the old days when the purchase system existed it was utterly impossible for any man to enter the Army who was not possessed of ample means. That tradition has gone on; the Army still attracts a number of people with ample means, but remember we are making life in the Army much more irksome and hard, and we are driving many people away from that career. Let me remind the 2276 Committee also that certain forms of legislation have grievously crippled the large class of small landowners whose sons and families formed a very valuable recruiting ground in the past. They no longer can afford to send their sons into the Army. I am not very anxious as some of those who spoke before me, including the hon. and gallant Gentleman, the Member for Bodmin (Sir Pole-Carew) seem to be, for a large increase in the pay of subalterns. I do not think that is very necessary. A father who sends his son into the Army knows that he would have to make him a very considerable allowance if he entered any other profession. If he goes to the Bar or to the university to be trained as a doctor, the father is always ready to give some allowance, and so he will give it when his son becomes a subaltern in the Army; but what he will not take into his calculation is that in ten, twelve, or fifteen years in the Army he will still have to keep making payments in order to make it possible for his son to live or marry. That is the difference. It is not so much the payment of the subaltern, but the real difficulty is you will not get men who join other professions, and some even who enter upon the adventurous career of the Indian Civil Service, into the Army unless you give terms that enables them in ten or twelve years to look forward to an income of £800 or £1,000, which would put them upon a level with the professions I have mentioned. I agree with one or two parts of the right hon. Gentleman's new scheme, but I do not think that the small ameliorative element he has introduced into the scholarships to carry new boys through Sandhurst will be of any help. You will not get a new social class at all. What difference does it make to tell a man that instead of paying £150 for his boy for a year or two he will only have to pay £80. You do not bring in another class by that; you only save the pocket of the father for a year or two, and you induce him, if you do that, to send his boy into a career which may a little relieve his own pocket for the moment, but which is no more promising for the boy, and will not make him contented in years to come.
The right hon. Gentleman was very severe upon the members of the League, of which I happen to be a member for many years, and on the executive of which I have sat—the National Service League. On behalf of that League. I have to tell the right hon. Gentleman that we have not the least objection to the publication of 2277 the brochure which, I suppose, will form an official document hereafter. I regret the publication of that brochure for reasons quite different. It has, however, I may inform the right hon. Gentleman, greatly stimulated the work of the National Service League. We have had an advertisement of a very important kind, and we are perfectly prepared to answer the not always consistent, not always well-balanced, and not always altogether unfallacious argument of the gallant gentleman who has thus been thrust before the public gaze. That will be done in time. The right hon. Gentleman says with regard to compulsory service, "I do not want to tie round our necks any such burden as that because it will interfere with my striking force, the Overseas Army." We can easily prove that is fallacious, and we shall do so in time. I only omit to do it now because it would take too long, and the right hon. Gentleman will not, I hope, tempt me to do so. I will tell him one fact. Sir Ian Hamilton says the percentage from the Special Service joining the Army is so small that this compulsory national service would yield no proper Oversea Army. But the Special Reserve now yields 16 per cent.
§ Mr. HALDANE
They come in to join the Army. They go into the Special Reserve at seventeen years and get into the Army quickly.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
It is precisely the same percentage that join the Army which the National Service League proposes should be trained every year for the Army, and the number would be 64,000. Without entering upon any argument of the kind whether a little period of service is likely to disgust the men from going into the service of the Army, I can only say what my own reasons for supporting national service are. My chief reason is that it is an educative moral and physical force which is unequalled by any other machinery you can possibly produce. I think the benefit to the rising generation of this country is unquestionable. Even if there was no danger to be met, I should be glad to see this system introduced for the benefit of the rising generation. I believe it trains young men in self-denial, in courage, and a sense of comradeship, and chiefly and above all in a sense of self-respect. I quite admit that these are my main reasons for supporting the theory that training should be compulsory for all. My next strongest argument is 2278 the enormous injustice which is placed by the present system upon the large part of the community which has to take up the burden that others should bear. That has been very well proved and driven home by the hon. Member who last spoke, and I need not say another word about it. Another argument is that the absence of this training may lead to enormous cruelty. According to the common law of this country every citizen may, in a great emergency, be called upon to take up arms, whether he is willing or not. Will you not be inflicting the very greatest cruelty if you have to thrust into the fighting ranks those upon whom you have never conferred the benefit of making the best of their physical capacity, who do not know what it is to act together, and who are not aware of the strength of comradeship and discipline. Would it not be cruel to take men of that sort, without any experience and quite untrained, and thrust them, in a great emergency which may arise—none of us know how soon—into the front fighting rank? I know hon. Members below the Gangway oppose this principle. The hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Crooks) stated the other night, without any argument, his fixed and immovable opposition to any such scheme as that which I am advocating. The hon. Member echoed the portentious declaration that has been issued on behalf of trades unions, but there is much more abjuration in that than argument; in fact, I fail to find one single word of argument in the few lines in which they have maintained the principle, and it seems to be a downright order to their followers as to the opinion they are bound to hold on this subject. We ask for this question only a dispassionate consideration, free from any party bias one way or another. The right hon. Gentleman was kind enough to say that he was going to help the Leader of the Opposition to shepherd back his strayed sheep into the conventional fold. Unfortunately, I am one of those hon. Members not about to be shepherded contrary to my convictions, and if I were I am sure my Constituents would not permit me to do so. I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that he will have to shepherd into the same fold one or two of his own followers. I think I may claim as an adherent a vigorous member of his own fold the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Hamar Greenwood).
§ Mr. HAMAR GREENWOOD
The hon. Member cannot claim me as a supporter of the National Service League.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
The hon. Member supports the same thing only under another name, and I accept him as an ally. Although he does not subscribe to this League, I shall take his alliance at a high value, whether he accepts the principles of the National Service League or not. I know there are many hon. Members on the other side who support the view in the country that this is not a party question, and throughout the country many of the supporters of the right hon. Gentleman's party are adherents to the principle of this League. I will quote a celebrated Member of the party opposite, Principal Adam Smith. I never heard a more eloquent speech on behalf of the principle of compulsory national training than I heard from Principal Adam Smith delivered to an absolutely mixed audience, in which the supporters of the right hon. Gentleman predominated. This is not a question which the nation wishes to discuss on a party basis. I know the right hon. Gentleman cannot in the face of the opposition of his hon. Friends below the Gangway, venture to give his assent to this principle. We know in our own party that the electioneering agents connected with the various caucuses are timid about taking up a new question; they are the last people to be moved by any enthusiasm and any new question must have penetrated into the people before the electioneering agents take it up. We only want a free and frank consideration of this question and nothing more. I am ready to give every weight and support to expert opinion that it deserves, and bow in subservient admission to what it dictates, but when expert opinion asks me to support anything it must try to be consistent. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton pointed out that Sir Ian Hamilton had not since he gave his evidence before the Commission even maintained with absolute consistency the opinion he then held, but in his book he has shown a strong leaning towards compulsory training. I remember that in the year 1902 we had a Royal Commission on Physical Training of which I had the honour to be a member. I had a great deal to do with organising the Commission and carrying on its business, and there were two gentlemen who above all others were ardent in favour of something very like compulsory national training. One of them was Sir Ian Hamilton. The scheme was that after the school days were gone all young men should be bound to go through what he was prepared to call continuation 2280 classes, spending some two or three hours a week at rifle shooting, with regular daily military drill, physical and gymnastic exercises, and with a certain time in camp. If that is not military training, it is something very much like it. This is what he (Sir Ian Hamilton) says:—I think these classes should he compulsory. If they are not compulsory you will certainly fail to secure the attendance of just that element which will of all others most benefit by discipline and it would be a cruel kindness to give them any option in the matter.He compared the benefits drawn from the German system, and hoped it might be introduced to the English boy. He understood then not that they would be frightened from joining the Army, but that this system would popularise the Army and break down prejudice against it. Then there was another right hon. Gentleman whom I think the Secretary for War has shepherded into his fold; that was the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Colonel Seely). The right hon. Gentleman is an expert in military matters, and this is what the Under-Secretary for the Colonies said:—I am I suppose, the only M.P. who frankly says that he is very much in favor of universal military training. I have said this in the most public manner and I say so here, although every M.P. is informed that by so doing he jeopardises his a seat, I consider the matter urgent and important that I have abandoned the question of whether that would be the effect or not.Has the right hon. Gentleman safely shepherded the Under-Secretary for the Colones back to the fold after expressing those dangerous opinions. I am glad to give every weight to expert opinion, but before expert opinion persuades me to give up my belief in the efficacy and the benefit to the nation of national service it must at least try to be consistent.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Colonel GREIG
I intervene in this Debate for a few minutes with the object of saying one or two words upon a subject which has been treated at different intervals, I mean the ordinary Territorial battalion. I wish first to refer to what has fallen from the hon. and learned Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Sir H. Craik). I quite agree with him that the subject of compulsory service, of which he is certainly an able exponent, and which is the object of the Universal Service League, is not a controversial subject in a party sense. I was delighted to hear him say that this is a topic which ought to be discussed without being made a question of party. If that is so, what becomes of the charge made in regard to the publication of the book which has been referred to? Upon this point I differ from my hon. Friend 2281 near me, because I believe that book is a most useful and justifiable addition to the literature and discussion of the subject we have had before us. It seems to me very difficult to distinguish action of that description from action which I understand is adopted by a good many lecturers who are in the service of the league to which reference has been made already. I believe a good many of the emissaries of that league are actually half-pay officers still in the service of the Crown, and yet they are going about disseminating the principles of this league. Action of that sort seems very much on the same footing as the action complained of in regard to the publication of this book. Another reason why the publication of this book seems quite justifiable is that it has rendered this subject interesting to everybody because they have now had presented to them the views of a distinguished officer who had committed himself to that view, and he is only repeating the views that have been adopted by all recent Governments in this country in defence of a system which is already established. I am delighted with the tone the Debate has taken. I have always held that matters affecting the Army, the Navy, and defence generally should, so far as possible, be kept out of the region of party politics. We are all interested in making the Services efficient, and the less they have to do with party politics the better. The general significance of this Debate, from the point of view of the Territorials, has been that the storm of criticism which, in the past, has assailed the new system, instituted between two and three years ago, has subsided. The Territorial Associations have justified their existence in the eyes of men of all parties, and we find the present Government, with the assent of hon. Members on the other side, putting upon those Associations national duties which will be to the advantage of the Army—the collection of information on the horse question, the formation of a Veteran Service for the Regulars and for the Territorials, and so on. The Associations have proved their usefulness. That was the first line of attack against the new system. What came next? A tremendous assault was made upon the creation of Artillery batteries on a Territorial footing. We recollect that in the second year the whole blast of public criticism was directed against that. There is very little said now about the Artillery. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] I know one 2282 or two criticisms are made, but when one recollects what one heard only last year one realises the diminution of criticism which has taken place in that respect.
Friendly criticism is, of course, what we want, and that criticism, I am sure, we are always delighted to have. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Long), I think, started the Debate on those lines. He said he would ask a few questions, not in a hostile spirit, but in a spirit of friendly and real criticism. That is the right spirit. He wanted to test the Territorials by four standards. He said there should be a stiffening by Regular troops, a sufficiency of training, a sufficient number of trained officers, and an adequate provision of Artillery. I am not quite sure what he meant by a stiffening by Regular troops. I think anyone will come to the conclusion that on the outbreak of war there would be a number of Regular troops that could be embodied at the same time as the Territorial Army. Then there should be a sufficiency of training. We are all in favour of that for the Territorial Army. The only difficulty is how to get it in the men's time. Public opinion is gradually adapting itself to this new instrument of war, and I look forward to the time when we shall find employers making conditions such for their employés that they will be able to get away and give the necessary time for training.
A great deal has been said about camping. It seems to be thought that if a man does not go to camp he does not get any training. I can assure hon. Members, as an old Territorial officer, that a large amount of training is given during the year, very nearly equivalent in its usefulness and effectiveness to that given at camp, and even if a man does not go to camp he receives an enormous amount of training, and, although I will not say he will be as efficient as those who go to camp, still you certainly cannot designate him as an untrained man. I have had the honour of commanding a battalion in the old Volunteer Force, and also in the new Force, and it is remarkable what a keenness there has been just recently amongst men who are fitted for it to take Commission rank. The Territorial Force is rapidly getting the right number of younger officers to come forward. Another remarkable development is going on. I think now, nearly throughout the whole of the Force, the necessary specialised officers are being produced. We could not 2283 induce the older officer on being transferred to the new Force to take up special training. It was obviously difficult to do that. Younger men coming in, however, are told by the Commander of the battalion, or other unit, that they have to take up a special line, and they are doing it. You are getting your machine gun officer, your transport officer, and so on, and the Force is far better off in specialist officers than a year ago.
I am not an Artillery officer, but I believe the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly justified in allowing the Territorials to rely upon their own ranks for the Artillery, and I think they are justifying that action. I have not got the quotations before me, but my recollection is that, as a result of the recent manœuvres a good many general officers spoke in the highest terms of the extraordinary progress being made by the Territorial Artillery, which has only had two years' training. I may be wrong, but I think one general officer said it was perfectly remarkable the extraordinary improvement that had taken place in this branch of the Service. I do not say for one instant that they can ever compare with the Regular Army in efficiency, in skill, or in training, but give them time and I do say you will have in that branch a very reliable and useful arm of the Service. Let me turn to what was said by one of the foreign observers at the manœuvres. Here is a remarkable passage which occurred in a report made by Colonel Gaedke, and published in the "Berliner Tageblatt":—Of the three chief arms the Artillery came out best. This is all the more surprising because last year it did so little that some doubted whether it would ever be usable. The officers and men have made great progress. The positions as a rule were well chosen: and the fire control left nothing to be desired. Only one thing requires criticism, that is the slowness of the Field Artillery, for which some observers blamed the drivers. In my opinion this blame is not justified, because the best drivers in the world could have done no better with the horses given to the Artillery.That is not the comment of one of cur own officers, but of a foreign observer who knows perfectly well what he is talking about. Let me say a few words, also, in a spirit of friendly criticism, about one or two matters which have come before me respecting the adjutants and the Permanent Staff. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division, I think, asked what was to become of the adjutants and the Permanent Staff if war took place? We owe a great deal, indeed the main part, of our training to the adjutants, but I 2284 think any adjutant attached to a Territorial battalion would agree with me that he could find amongst the officers men who would be able to step in his place if he had to go back to the Regular unit. It constantly occurs that an adjutant is away from the regiment, with the result that there are plenty of opportunities, of which advantage is taken, for the younger officers to train for the adjutant's duty. I have always held it was a great mistake to shorten the period during which adjutants are attached to a regiment. During six years of command I have had four adjutants under me. I do not know how you can get continuity of training under such a system as that. The difficulty is due to the shortness of the period, which is now down to three years, and, secondly, to the fact that the adjutants are not asked to pass their examinations before they come to the Territorial unit. The result is that during the first year they cannot be of very much service to the officer commanding the battalion, because he is either grinding for his examination or away at signalling quarters. It is necessary during that first year, if the officer commanding a battalion is to work in harmony with his adjutant, that he should have him constantly at his side. If he is successful in passing his examination the adjutant comes back at the end of the year, and he is only two years with the battalion, and by the time he is just getting into the swim he goes away for good. That system does not do much good to the Territorial battalion, and if the time could be lengthened I think it would be a good thing.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand division (Mr. Long) said that the Territorial battalion would fall to pieces if the permanent staff went. The permanent staff consists, as a rule, of three staff-sergeants, and I am perfectly certain if you ask the permanent staff-sergeants of any Territorial regiment, they would say that amongst the sergeants they have trained there would be plenty to step into their places if they had to go back and serve with the Regular unit. It is well known that on mobilisation the sergeant-major is left at the base, and he has got to put in his place a Territorial sergeant. I do not think any difficulty would occur in that respect; the time of many of these men of the permanent staff is nearly expired, and I do not think there will be any difficulty in filling their places out of the Territorial Force. A good deal of criticism is being directed against the 2285 Territorial Army, but it has only been two and a half years in existence. You may criticise its shooting, and say that 33 per cent. of the men have failed this year, but the reason of that mainly—and that reason is rapidly disappearing—is that there are not sufficient ranges. That is one of the things we have to alter in the future. There must be more ranges provided. It is a matter which will take time, but the more ranges there are provided the less difficulty there will be about the shooting. It was the same in the days of the old Volunteers. The difficulty of access to the ranges prevented men going to shoot. The numbers who are attending camp for fifteen days show a remarkable increase, and I think it will gradually be found that employers will adjust themselves to the demands of the Service. Greater numbers are going every year for fifteen days, and after a time it will be quite easy for the men to put in that period, as I am perfectly certain that employers will see it is to their advantage to let the men do so, seeing that they come back much stronger; therefore, from a commercial point of view, it will be a gain to the employers.
I come next to the question of recruiting. I know a good deal already has been said about this. It must be borne in mind when we compare this year's number with those of last year that, though there were 4,480 men less this year than last, the force is going through a transition stage. A large number of men transferred from the old Volunteer force are going away, and their places are being taken by younger men. The efflux therefore just now is much greater than it will be in normal times. When we do come down to normal times then will be the proper time to judge the effect of the scheme. A suggestion was made by an hon. Member opposite that 100,000 men will be going out at the end of four years. I do not think the Secretary for War need anticipate anything of that sort. One hundred thousand men will not go out, and my experience leads me to believe that a great part of that 100,000 men are so pleased with the present system and its attractiveness that they will ask to re-engage, and then you will have a body of men who will form a backbone of the new force which will be of immense service. The great advantage of this new system is that, in conjunction with the scheme of the Army in general, the Territorial Force knows what it is wanted for. As was very accurately stated yesterday its object is to ward off small raids, to enforce that the enemy shall come in such 2286 numbers as to be a concentrated target for the Navy, to garrison the country, and as an ultimate Reserve—and I am sure the Territorials will accept this duty—as an ultimate Reserve for overseas attack. The Territorials are in a far better position than the old Volunteers. They do know what their position is. The new system has brought the ordinary civilian and the military man into a position of better appreciation of each other's place in the defence of the country, and I say that is an enormous advantage. After all we had in the past a Volunteer Force which was good in its own way. It was the nucleus from which this new force has sprung, and I say, without hesitation, that in the present force, well equipped as it is, and being well trained, in a few years you will have an efficient arm upon which you can rely for home defence.
§ Mr. LEE
The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down commenced his speech by eulogising a book to which a good deal of attention has been drawn in the course of this Debate, and I wish to give shortly my reasons for dissenting from his opinions. The question of the evil precedent which the right hon. Gentleman has set on this matter has perhaps been almost sufficiently discussed, but I can assure him that it is very strongly felt, I think, on both sides of the House. There is one point in connection with it which has not been touched upon, and that is his action in passing over the head of the House of Commons and publishing what is really a State document, which ought to have been laid as a Parliamentary Paper for the first time in a book which he circulates upon the bookstalls to be bought by the British public. I think that, in the first place, was a breach of precedent. Then I must really protest against the flippant tone of his remarks yesterday with regard to the publication of a most important document in the book, a document he received from the Admiralty. He said that doubtless that was only the result of an Admiralty document getting into the hands of the War Office. But the point is the publication, with the signature of the individual expert who was responsible for drawing it up, and, I think the view the Admiralty would have would be that it was exceedingly improper to publish the views of the First Sea Lord in that manner with his signature attached. In so doing the right hon. Gentleman has done great injury to the office of the First Sea Lord, and he has also done injury to 2287 a highly distinguished officer who is trusted throughout the length and breadth of the Navy, and whose reputation for silence has been, particularly during the last few years, a great asset for the Service.
§ Mr. LEE
The right hon. Gentleman asks if he has complained? Is it likely that he would make a complaint? The right hon. Gentleman knows it is not a fair question. But on other grounds I object to the system which the right hon. Gentleman has introduced of publishing ex parte statements upon a highly controversial matter, and taking as a support for his argument the view of one officer who happens to agree with him. I do not say he always agrees with him. While I do not wish to enter into any criticism of the distinguished officer himself in this matter, I would point out he was asked for a Memorandum and he produced it.
Further, I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman why he selected an officer who was no longer holding a responsible position at the War Office on the ground that he had been Adjutant-General for a very short time. Is there no Adjutant-General at the War Office now? Has he no views on this subject? Have the Army Council no views? Are they not competent to express an opinion? Why could not the right hon. Gentleman, if he wished, make a statement of considered policy in the Army Council, and publish it in that form, instead of calling in an officer from outside whose opinions are very well worth hearing, but who cannot carry anything like the same weight on account of his very short experience as Adjutant-General, and certainly would not carry the same weight as a Minute of the Army Council. The inference has been drawn, I do not know whether correctly so or not, but the inference has been drawn from the right hon. Gentleman's action that the Army Council as a whole are not in entire agreement with the views set forth in this book. I repeat that inference has been drawn and there can be no contradiction.
§ Mr. LEE
I object to the right hon. Gentleman's procedure. There can be neither statement nor proof to the contrary. I hope I am not asking too much when I suggest the right hon. Gentleman should allow me to make my case out instead of keeping up a running commentary 2288 which makes it impossible for me to proceed. At any rate, we heard this in the other House with regard to this particular matter. Objection was taken to publication of a document on exactly the same grounds as I have brought forward, and the Under-Secretary for War, in answer, said that all he could reply was that he thought the Memorandum of Sir Ian Hamilton would take a good deal of answering. But the right hon. Gentleman makes it impossible for anybody in a responsible position to even attempt to make an answer.
§ Mr. LEE
It was clearly laid down in the Report of the War Office Reconstitution Committee that any military Member who dissents from the policy of the Secretary of State must either resign office or acquiesce in the general policy. How then could any one possibly come forward and express a contrary opinion? It is absolutely impossible, as the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, and any military member of the Council must either accept the right hon. Gentleman's views or else leave the Council. Therefore is it not fair to say he has no opportunity of putting forward his views? My point is that the House of Commons and the country are entitled to know what is the expert opinion of the Board of Admiralty and of the Army Council expressed through responsible Ministers in this House. They are entitled to those views, and I do not think an effort should be made to influence public opinion by inducing an individual officer to put forward, under the ægis of the Secretary of War, the matter which appears in this book. Some of us think it is a most regrettable departure; and it is one which has been almost universally condemned in the course of this Debate. Certainly we all hope it will never be repeated. I listened very attentively, as I always do, to every word of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington (Mr. Lough) was a little ungenerous when he complained of the length of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I do not complain of it on that ground. As far as my recollection goes it is one of the shortest speeches, if not the shortest speech, he has ever made in introducing the Army Estimates. My objection is certainly not to the length of the speech. If I had any objection it would be to his opening observations, in which he said that he intended to deal almost entirely with details, on 2289 the ground that after five years' work, Army questions had passed out of the region of questions of principle. The Government may have passed out of the region of principle, but this great question of defence must surely not be allowed to do so.
§ Mr. LEE
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is delaying me in this way, but as he challenges the accuracy of my statement I will read his words. They are:—After five years of work we have passed out of the region of questions of principle and have got to the field of secondary problems—some of them of considerable difficulty and nearly all of them of detail."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, col. 2077].
§ Mr. HALDANE
What I meant was that for better or for worse, the principles were settled, and we had got to deal with questions of detail.
§ Mr. LEE
I suggest we have to discuss them now. At any rate, I do not propose to follow the right hon. Gentleman's example this afternoon in dealing entirely with matters of detail. I would wish to bring him back to the region of principle, and I would remind him that he himself, after forswearing principles, immediately proceeded to lay one down. He said that his guiding principle throughout his Army administration has been that the Regular Army should be the first and foremost consideration. I should like to show that there has been a sad falling off in the high principle which the right hon. Gentleman set himself when he first went to the War Office. He then used that as his peg for making an attack on the principle of compulsory service, and he proceeded to twit right hon. Gentlemen on this side with regard to their views. He even honoured me with a reference. I will only say this with regard to my views on compulsory service, that if anything can drive me to believe in it as an absolute necessity for the defence of the country, it would be the failure of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme for a Territorial Army. I believe that that risk at any rate exists. Therefore, I do not close my mind at all to the ultimate possibility of compulsory training, although I have not yet made up my mind with regard to it. That is my present position, and I state the fact. To return to the one principle which the right 2290 hon. Gentleman admitted. He said the Regular Army must be his first and foremost consideration, and yet his policy from the first—and this is my complaint against his administration—has been to cut down the Regular Army in order to provide funds for the Territorial Army, and that is not only the result of what he has done, but of what he said he had to do. In one of his speeches after he took office as Secretary of State for War, made in Newcastle on the 19th of December, 1906, he said the first step towards doing something effective to develop the national basis of the Army—that was his Territorial scheme—was to cut something off the superfluous Regular forces. We differ from him entirely as to there being any superfluous members of the Regular Army, but the fact I have stated is not disputed. He set himself out to do that, and he has done it, because after admitting, as I do and have always, that the right hon. Gentleman has done a great deal for organisation in all branches of the Service yet that is the root of his policy.
Since he has been in office the Regular Army has been reduced by over 20,000 men at the present time, which, of course, means an ultimate reduction of 40,000, because of the reduction of the Reserve The Regular Reserve by the year 1913 will have fallen by 30,000, without any fault on his part, because we know that is due to an alteration in the terms of enlistment. The Special Reserve with which he proposes to build up his first line, is 5,000 less at the present time than the old Militia, and it is 70 per cent. short in subaltern officers, and yet in spite of that paralysing factor in the efficiency of the Special Reserve, we were told in another place yesterday by the Under-Secretary for War, that it was proposed to fill up the deficiency in the expeditionary force in the way of drawing officers from the Special Reserve, that force being already 70 per cent. short of juniors officers. The net result of this administration will be that in 1913—one must look ahead in these matters—in 1913 we shall have 75,000 men less available for the Regular Army in case of war. It may be a good thing or a bad thing, in the right hon. Gentleman's view, but at any rate he has reduced the first line, which he said was his first and foremost consideration. Here I should like to interpolate one word in regard to the Regular Army in reference to recruiting, because my right hon. Friend the Member for the Strand (Mr. Long) drew attention yesterday to the great difference 2291 in tone between the right hon. Gentleman's Memorandum and his speech. It was very marked. The Memorandum is pessimistic, but it is nothing like as pessimistic as the Annual General Report of the Army, which tells us the real tale of recruiting. This reveals to us that there has been a serious falling off in the taking of recruits during the past year, both in the Army and the Special Reserve. There has also been a great lowering of the physical standard, and a sensational lowering in the case of the Royal Engineers from 5 ft. 7 in. to 5 ft. 3 in. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman does not think that is a great lowering of the standard, and in his Memorandum he ascribed the falling off in recruits to the prevailing activity in trade. The curious thing is that those words occur in the Inspector-General's report, but they are not the only words. There it is said that the falling off is due to a general revival of trade and to active emigration. But active emigration is not mentioned in the Report or the speech.
§ Mr. LEE
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon if he did so, and I have nothing more to say about it. But the Inspector-General says that every armed branch of the Service except the Army Service Corps has decreased in strength. That is a very serious state of affairs, and it does not seem that the right hon. Gentleman is carrying out his declared policy of making the Regular Army his first consideration. Coming to the Territorial Force, it is 45,000 under establishment, including 150 officers. Ten thousand less than the old Volunteers before the Territorial Force was created. The right hon. Gentleman told us before he first introduced his scheme that an establishment of 315,000 men was the minimum for national safety, but he tells us yesterday that he is quite satisfied with 250,000 in time of peace. But the right hon. Gentleman seems to forget that it is very necessary to have your Army in time of peace, and you cannot count on raising an efficient force after war has been declared. Reference has been made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down to the fact that 32 per cent. of the existing Territorial Force is not qualified in musketry, and I thought that he dealt very optimistically, very lightly, with the prospects of the falling off in the numbers of that Force at the end of the four years in 2292 1913. He thought there was no indication that there would be any general exodus from the Force, but I think we had a general indication of what would happen in June of last year when, out of 17,000 men whose time expired only 1,600 reengaged. That is a very serious symptom which not only gives considerable anxiety, not only to some of us on this side, but I am perfectly certain to the right hon. Gentleman himself, however brave a face he may keep in this House.
We have as the result of his policy a reduction of the first line and the second line, and what have we got for it? A comparatively insignificant reduction in the Army Estimates—I cannot say exactly what it is, but it is somewhere about £1,500,000. I know the right hon. Gentleman has had his difficulties about money, and if the amount of money is lowered we claim that the first care—the first object of expenditure—should be the Regular Army. That is exactly the reverse of the right hon. Gentleman's policy. I asked him the other day in a question in the House not to sanction any further expenditure upon ineffective services at the expense of the Regular Army. He replied that he was not going to do so, and that, in fact, the Regular Army had more money this year than before. Surely that is not in accordance with the facts set forth in his own Estimate. Let me draw his attention to those figures. This year the expenditure provided for in the Estimates for the Regular Army Services is about £200,00 less than last year, and at the same time the expenditure on the Territorial service is about £200,000 more. There, there is a direct transfer of £200,000 from the Regular Service to the Territorial Force. If that is not so the right hon. Gentleman can explain it later. Going back over his whole period of administration the increased amount which he has allotted to the Territorial Army is about £1,150,000 a year and the decreased amount of pay for the Army this year, as compared with 1905–6, is £1,197,000—again an equivalent amount transferred from the Regular Service to the Territorial Force. It is a perfectly understandable policy, but it is one with which I, at any rate, disagree as strongly as it is possible, and indeed I have expressed my views on the subject on previous occasions, and the right hon. Gentleman knows I am perfectly consistent. I venture to say he cannot disprove my case so far. He may say let us see what I have given you in exchange. First 2293 of all there is the Expeditionary Force, about which I have a few remarks to make. I really do wish when the right hon. Gentleman is referring to that Expeditionary Force, for the organisation of which I think he deserves great credit—I do wish he would not indulge in those absurd boasts about our comparative strength and that of other countries. I refer to this sort of thing. He is reported in "The Daily Chronicle" of 4th February, at the prize distribution of the First Battalion of the County of London Regiment, to have said, speaking of the Expeditionary Force:—It is five or six times as big as the combined overseas Armies of Germany and France together.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I did not say our Expeditionary Force, I said our Overseas Army available was five or six times as big as that of Germany and France put together.
§ Mr. LEE
Surely that is the merest sophistry and misuse of words. We are not comparing our Overseas Forces with the small force which Germany maintains, for example, in West Africa, or France in some of her colonies. What we have to consider is the available force which these great Powers, or any great Power, has for purposes of war against any other Power, whether it be a neighbour or at a little distance. He said it was five or six times as great. Let us see what he really means. It certainly suggests to the man in the street that for the purposes of wars which might arise on the Continent of Europe, as they have done through our long history, our available force is as great, or greater, compared with those other countries which might be compelled to engage in the same arena of operations.
§ Mr. LEE
I cannot tell what is at the back of the right hon. Gentleman's mind, but this is the deduction which has been drawn, I think quite correctly, from his remarks. What we have to consider is that our Expeditionary Force may be required, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, in any portion of the world. It may be required, as it has been in the past, on the Continent of Europe. It is impossible to say. The question is whether it is sufficient for that task, and whether it is ready, and 2294 whether it can be used when alone it can be needed, and that is at the outbreak of war. The right hon. Gentleman has told us in this book that the Expeditionary Force is ready to be despatched anywhere at a moment's notice. There is a somewhat striking statement on that point in this book. It says:—The Expeditionary Army is so organised that it is ready for immediate transport by the Fleet to distant scenes of action.And he says quite truly:—The real foundation of our system of defence at Home and Abroad must always be the capacity to promptly assume the offensive.And yet he told us yesterday that the force was complete except for officers and horses.
§ Mr. LEE
The right hon. Gentleman, I think, is misrepresenting me. I have not misstated. He told us yesterday that the shortage was in officers and in horses, and we were told by the Under-Secretary for War in another place that in order to complete his Expeditionary Force it would be necessary to draw officers from the Special Reserve, even from the reserve of officers, which includes such veterans fit for active service, as myself for example. The right hon. Gentleman states that this force is always ready. He says that it is necessary that it should be ready to assume the offensive promptly. Yet in the same breath he tells the country that it will never be called upon to leave these shores until the Territorial Army is ready to take its place—the Territorial Army which is not to be mobilised until the outbreak of war. But if this force is needed at all in Europe it will be needed immediately. We all know that in modern wars the decisive actions are fought within the first few weeks, if not within the first few days. If our Expeditionary Force is to be of any real assistance on the continent of Europe it will be needed at once, and yet the right hon. Gentleman has deliberately made his scheme so that it cannot go until the Territorial Force has been sufficiently trained to take its place. The Under-Secretary for War in another place told us the object of the Territorial Army was to give mobility and freedom to our Fleet. 2295 Surely the position to which we are reduced now is that the actual effect of the Territorial scheme is to tie up both our Fleet and our Expeditionary Force. Really the right hon. Gentleman's whole scheme appears to me to be full of absurdities and contradictions. In the first place, he tells us that the Expeditionary Force is ready to go at a moment's notice. He then tells us in the same breath that it is not to go until the Territorial Army is ready. He told us at Bournemouth on 11th February that no one ever contemplated that the Territorial Army would be ready for war in time of peace. He told us at the Sheffield Cutlers' Feast last year that the Territorial Army would fight on the first day for all they were worth, and not wait for the six months' training. And what will be the result? May I again draw upon this invaluable work? This is the view of Sir Ian Hamilton, which the right hon. Gentleman praises so highly:—They will fight. They do not expect miracles. I have advised you that our existing Territorials on being embodied for six months might reasonably expect to defeat the first line of a hostile regular force if they outnumbered that force considerably.He then says what would happen if they did not have that amount of training:—They would conduct themselves with more zeal than skill. They would suffer heavy losses while proportionately the enemy's losses would be slight. If defeated they would go absolutely to pieces for a time.
§ Mr. LEE
Still, were they respectably handled, and were they in a superiority of, say three to one, they would fight well enough to give the best of enemies a belly full.What does that mean? Then the right hon. Gentleman's scheme proceeds, and this neat dilemma is put before us, that the Territorial Force is intended to force the invader to come in a strength which will not be less than 70,000 men. At the same time we are told that the Admiralty has given a guarantee that it is impossible that the enemy can come in that strength at all, and, therefore, invasion is impossible. If these optimistic hypotheses are sound, and if invasion is impossible, does the right hon. Gentleman think that he is expending the money which the nation provides for its land forces in the best possible way by taking it away from the only force which could strike overseas, and giving it to the Territorial Force instead? That view was directly challenged in this same book which the right hon. Gentleman has laid before us. Sir Ian Hamilton, in the book, says that if the Admiralty can 2296 guarantee that there is no fear of invasion, as we are now told they can, the Territorial Army is useless for national needs. He elaborates the argument at considerable length, and says that as no invasion is possible the military resources of the country should be concentrated upon the fostering of that first line which alone can be used for service oversea. He very properly dilates upon the evils of a defensive policy, and he finishes up with these rather striking words:—Better, then, be quite frank with the people, so that we may get half a loaf out of them in the shape of a force created for oversea purposes, instead of a stone in the shape of a great defensive army of no earthly use except to hang round our neck while we struggle in the slough of insolvency.These are the views of the expert whom the right hon. Gentleman has put forward as supporting his scheme. I have heard it said, "My desire is that mine adversary had written a book." By the publication of this book, improper as it was in the first place, the right hon. Gentleman has placed a weapon in the hands of those who are in favour of compulsory service, and in the hands of those who, like myself, believe that the first line should be the first care, and that money should not, above all, be taken away from it in order to foster any force which is not efficient for oversea purposes, and it is because he has done this, because during his five years of administration he has taken away almost exactly the same amount from the Regular Forces that he has given over to the Territorials as an increased Grant, that I have always opposed the right hon. Gentlemen's scheme, and I shall continue to do so as long as I have the opportunity.
§ Mr. HOLT
I beg to move as an Amendment "That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 171,400, be granted for the said Service."
In proposing this reduction I am afraid I shall be in the unpleasant position of appearing somewhat in the character of the importunate widow, but I hope I may in due course meet with the same success that that enterprising lady obtained. In trying to justify this reduction, I want, first of all, to call the attention of the Committee to the state of affairs in South Africa. I find that in the Estimates for this year we are shown 11,508 men stationed in South Africa. In the year 1898–9, which was after the Jameson Raid, but before the war was becoming imminent, the force in South Africa was 8,662. I want to take another year for the purpose of comparison. The Financial Secretary last night thought it right to take that 2297 year in order to make a comparison with the state of affairs as it is now. The year is 1892–3, when the forces in South Africa were 3,325. I would ask my Friends on the Treasury Bench seriously to justify this state of affairs. What is there in the condition of South Africa to-day that makes it necessary to keep in that country a very much larger force than was necessary in 1898 or in 1892? In both those years we were face to face with two independent foreign States. Those States have now been incorporated in the British Empire, and we have recently been celebrating that incorporation. We are going to welcome them at the Colonial Conference and at the Coronation in the course of a few months. We hear from the Treasury Bench, very properly, as I think, applause at the settlement that has been brought about in South Africa, and we are given to understand on all sides that South Africa may be considered now, and in the future, as loyal to our Crown and to our Empire as is Canada or Australia. I do not think that is disputed. If that is so, let us know why we have got to keep a force in South Africa larger than we had to have when it was disunited and not combined. My right hon. Friend can hardly say it is in order to protect the white inhabitants against the coloured races, because, at any rate, their danger from the coloured races cannot be as great as it was ten or twenty years ago. The white people have themselves become more numerous and more wealthy; and whatever their opportunities were of defending themselves against the coloured races twenty years ago I do not see how anyone can deny that it must be far easier to-day for the white men to defend themselves if by any misfortune it should be necessary for them to do so. In any case I protest against the idea that it is any part of the business of the British taxpayer of this country to provide a defence for the inhabitants of a self-governing colony against others of their inhabitants.
A year ago my right hon. Friend made a sort of explanation something to this effect, that the troops were kept there because the colonists liked them so much, because it was so pleasant for the shopkeepers to have the British taxpayers' money to spend amongst them, and, I presume, because the young ladies found the attentions and the protection of the soldiers very much to their liking. That is no reason why our taxpayers should be bur- 2298 dened with this expenditure, and I seriously think we ought to have a clear definite understandable explanation of the reason why a garrison of 11,500 is now kept in South Africa, whereas in 1898, 8,600 men, and in 1892, 3,500 men were deemed to be sufficient. I submit that the garrison might properly be reduced by 7,500 men, and if that reduction was made in accordance with the Cardwell system of linked battalions we ought to get a similar reduction of 7,500 men at home, and consequently there should be a reduction in the total strength of the Regular Army by 15,000 men. That is the first reason which has induced me to propose 15,000 men as the number by which the Vote should be reduced. I turn now to some other arguments in favour of the reduction. The Financial Secretary to the War Office, speaking last night, told us that the cost per man in the pay of the Regular Army had increased from £66 in 1892–3 to £76 16s. in 1910–11. That is an increase of £10 16s. per head.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Acland)
The hon. Member will remember that I said the greater portion of it was for increase of pay, and that it was very difficult to go back upon that.
§ Mr. HOLT
I was going to mention that very fact. He is paying the men more money, and he is spending some money "in better training and better medical provision." I presume he is not going to say that it is not worth the money. I presume he will tell us that we have got something for the money—better, more respectable, more sober, better educated, and more competent men for military duties. If we have not got that, then the expenditure is utterly wasted, and if we have that, we have in plain English a better fighting machine. The men should be better than those we had twenty years ago. We are constantly hearing that these half-trained Territorials could not stand up against the Army of a foreign Power of equal number. If the hon. Member's argument means anything at all, it must mean that the more you train a man, and the more you improve his position, the more capable he is of dealing in small numbers with our possible opponents, and, therefore, I say, if there is any point or reason in improving the character and the training of the soldier, that ought to reflect itself by making it possible to use smaller numbers. If we cannot get the same 2299 military power with a smaller number of better men, then it seems to me a ridiculous waste of money to try to improve the character and abilities of the men. Our military force has increased since 1892–3, our men are better, and in a military sense more efficient. I want to make a comparison in connection with part of my hon. Friend's speech. He said:—We are enabled, under our present system, to mobilise and embark at very short notice a force considerably exceeding 150,000 men, whereas in 1892, the largest force that was then contemplated for immediate mobilisation and embarkation, was under 25,000 men."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 14th March, 1911, col. 2155.]Let me compare a few of the figures of these two years. In 1911 we are now asked to Vote 186,400 men. In 1892–3 the same Vote was for 154,073. The total number of effectives, excluding India, of all classes is now 653,935 men. In 1892–3 it was 554,464. That is 100,000 more men of one sort and another than were paid for twenty years ago. The total Estimates now amount to £27,690,000, whereas in 1892–3 the amount was £17,631,200. That, I think, ought to show us pretty well what we have got to pay and what we are doing for the pleasure of having this Expeditionary Force of 160,000 instead of a force of 25,000. I would invite my right hon. Friend to tell us for what national danger an Expeditionary Force of 160,000 is required as compared with an Expeditionary Force of 25,000. It seems to me that if you are going to have an expedition to the Continent, it would be much more prudent to go with 25,000 than with 160,000. Either of these would be small enough, and 25,000 would be a much less serious loss to us.
§ Mr. HOLT
I do not know what happened then, but we did not send 160,000. The British force at Waterloo was, I think, about 30,000 men, and they succeeded, I am not so sure about 160,000 under modern circumstances. We had a discussion the other day with regard to the Vote for the Navy. That Vote was justified on the ground of the preparations we would have to make to defend ourselves against Germany. Does anybody suggest that this Expeditionary Force is of the slightest use as a defence against Germany? I do not think the arguments put forward in support of the Navy Estimates can be put forward to justify the Army Estimates, and I venture to say, on the contrary, that if the danger we are said to apprehend is 2300 a reason for giving the Navy Vote, it is a very good reason why greater expenditure should take place on the Navy, rather than that this expenditure should take place on the Army. It is not South Africa that is the cause of danger. I do not think anyone can tell us that it is one of the great Continental Powers that is the danger. I do not think an Expeditionary Force of 150,000 men would be here or there in any contest with a Continental Power. It cannot be the defence of India that is the danger. I understand that we have come to a friendly arrangement with Russia, which makes the invasion of India more remote than before. What is the danger? Do let my right hon. Friend get up and tell the Committee and the country in perfectly plain, understandable English why it is that we now require 100,000 men more than were required in 1892–3. I should have said that the general state of affairs then was more alarming than it is now. There was the episode of Fashoda, but the difficulties with France are gone now. Where is the danger that compels us to keep this Expeditionary Force, and at whose head is it to be hurled? It is not necessary for the security of this country, or of the Empire, or for any defensive purpose whatever. It is only useful for the purpose of attack and offence, and, for my own part, I absolutely repudiate the idea of this country entering upon any foreign war whatever. It is all very well to have an immense power to protect ourselves against aggression, but do let us lay down that we do not contemplate aggression upon others. There remains only one explanation. It is sometimes put forward by the party opposite, but it is one with which my right hon. Friend will not associate himself. Hon. Members opposite say it is a good thing to have a large Army, because it helps to reduce the ranks of the unemployed. I do not often find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee), but it seems to me that we are making an attack upon the whole scheme of the right hon. Gentleman. I want to reduce the regulars, and he wants to reduce the Irregulars.
§ Mr. HOLT
I understand the hon. Member's point of view. I thought he might have asked a little off the Territorials, and that I might have asked a little off the Regulars. I would like to make a final appeal to the right hon. Gentleman. Let him cease trying to satisfy hon. and right, hon. Gentlemen opposite. I do not think he is very successful in his efforts to do so. Let him throw himself, in a figurative sense, into the arms of his Friends on this side. Let him stand forward as the champion of a thoroughly efficient Army, but still an Army not one scrap beyond the needs of the nation. Let him finally, before he leaves office, be able to say that nothing he has done in respect of the Army is in any way the cause of plunging the nation into the slough of insolvency. I beg to move.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I think it will be better to delay what I have to say in general reply to hon. Members to a later stage of the Debate, but it is right that I should try at once to define the attitude of the Government on this Amendment. Of course, we cannot accept it. My hon. Friend who moved it apparently had two different things in his mind. First, he spoke of the garrison in South Africa, and then of the Expeditionary Force. These are two wholly different things, and rest on different considerations. I will endeavour to state why. In South Africa the garrison which we have there is a garrison which we are under obligation to maintain, at any rate, while the new South African Government is organising its force. That of course, must take several years, and that itself makes it extremely inexpedient for us at this time to take away the garrison which exists in South Africa. That garrison might well be wanted there. Suppose that there was a native rising, it is very much better that we should retain it in our own hands with organised troops, and under conditions which we can ascertain at the time, than that we should deal with it with an improvised force. Those who have had experience know what it is to have an improvised force on such an occasion. It is not only for the sake of South Africa that that garrison is there. It cannot be too distinctly understood that what determines the size of the British Army is its requirements in the way of garrisons overseas. There is a great garrison in India of 77,000 men in the British 2302 establishment. No wise persons, certainly not the Government of India, proposes to reduce that garrison. We are responsible for the well-being of some 300,000,000 of people with very different points of view, and with populations among them of an excitable kind. That garrison is certainly not too great, and you may have to reinforce it from time to time. Then there are situations such as that which we have had in China. It is only as late as 1900 that we had to send an expedition to protect British interests there, quite unexpectedly and at a time when there were massacres and risings wholly byond the control of the Chinese Government. We have large interests there in places like Hong Kong, where we maintain a garrison which would be by no means in excess were there to be a rising, which there was some years ago with the Boxers. There are other contingencies which we have to deal with. Supposing we had another rising in the Soudan. In such a state of things you would have to reinforce the garrison of Egypt. There are still other contingencies, which would involve the using of all the strength we have. How are you to deal with those situations?
There is, of course, the Expeditionary-Force at home for reinforcing, on general mobilisation, but there are cases in which you require an Emergency Force. We had at one time what we called the Striking Force, which was organised to go quickly to deal with these cases. That force was organised with the purpose of obviating a general mobilisation, whch is a pretty serious thing, and dislocates trade and industry, and is enormously costly. Therefore, a prudent Government keeps an Emergency Force, sometimes called a Striking Force, ready for mobilisation, and in a position to proceed at once to the theatre of war. We do not now keep up a considerable Emergency Force in this country. We have a certain number, but we do not keep up the number we require to deal with these contingencies. The reason is we have organised that garrison in South Africa for this among other purposes. We have raised the strength of the battalion in the last two years, and we have organised it in connection with other forces which are available; and it is these forces which are to proceed to the theatre of war in case of disturbance. That is one reason. Another reason is that it saves us the considerable expense of keeping up a large Emergency, or Striking, Force in this country. I think I have answered the question why the garrison in South Africa 2303 exists. First for the sake of South Africa, and second because it saves the cost of an emergency force which we would have to provide for and keep here. My hon. Friend has referred to the Expeditionary Force as though that were something which had been built up and created, so to speak, at great expense without reference to anything else. I am not quite certain that I agree with him in looking back with pleasure on the old days when we had an Army which cost £17,000,000. What was the result of that? When the South African War came suddenly we were not prepared, and as a consequence we have a debt of £150,000,000, like a burden round our necks, which would not have been there if we had had an Army capable of dealing with the situation. There are more expensive things than keeping a good Army.
§ Mr. HALDANE
There are various contingencies against which a prudent person protects himself. I come to the Expeditionary Force. I must disabuse my hon. Friend's mind of the idea that this is some costly structure built up independently of what we have got, and which we could very easily leave out. If I am right in what I said at the beginning, the size of the Army which you have to keep up for the protection of the Empire depends on the oversea garrison in India and elsewhere. Under the Cardwell system we have the unit at home undergoing training which is associated with the unit abroad and feeds it with drafts. For our purposes I prefer the Cardwell system in another form. Under the Cardwell system the troops at home do not in themselves constitute a force. They consist of troops who are being trained and fitted to go out on drafts. But as soon as mobilisation comes the seasoned men, having passed through battalions oversea and gone into the Reserve, join the home battalions. These battalions then become, on mobilisation, effective battalions full of seasoned men, capable of taking their part in war. That is the Expeditionary Force. The organisation of the Expeditionary Force costs comparatively little. What is costly is the draft-producing machine, which you must keep up to the extent to which you have got the oversea garrison. The reason we have got the Expeditionary Force is because of the garrisons in India and elsewhere. Unless you are prepared to reduce these garrisons then you cannot affect the 2304 size of the Army at all. I have said, over and over again, what I say to-night once more, that the size of the Army depends upon our policy, our foreign policy, our Indian policy, and our Colonial policy. The War Minister has only got to provide an efficient instrument for giving effect to that policy. India is the great place to keep up our Army at home. It is because the Army in India cannot be prudently reduced below its present dimensions that we cannot reduce the Army at home to any substantial extent. I hope I have made it clear why it is impossible for me to listen to the propositon of my hon. Friend to reduce Vote A by 15,000 men.
§ Viscount WOLMER
In rising to address the House, I claim the indulgence which the House usually extends towards a new Member. I desire to call attention to one particular part of the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. I refer to the organisation and condition of the Special Reserve. As the House well knows the Special Reserve was designed by the right hon. Gentleman as the machine to supply drafts for our Regular battalions in time of war. That organisation has now been in force for about three years, and I think that the House and the country are entitled to examine how the system is working in practice. Those who are interested in the Special Reserve in this country were very glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman is making proposals to try to get a more seasoned class of recruits or privates into the ranks of the Special Reserve, because if the Government were to publish a list showing the ages of the men composing the Special Reserve, I think there would be very general surprise at the great number of men in the ranks who are under the age of nineteen years. When the right hon. Gentleman first introduced a scheme, I believe he spoke about getting a new class of recruit for the Special Reserve. The new class of recruit, as opposed to the old Militia is, as far as I have been able to make out, entirely absent. The man in the prime of life who is required for an efficient Reserve, the man with stamina to go through a campaign, is deplorably few in numbers in the Special Reserve at the present moment. I do not think that is very surprising. I think what is surprising is that the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers should ever have expected that a different class of recruit could be procured under the present system.
2305 In these days of keen industrial competition a man who is fully employed cannot afford to give up the three weeks for training every year—for which I am glad to say the right hon. Gentleman proposes to substitute four weeks—in order to serve in the Special Reserve. For that reason the ranks of the Special Reserve are, and must be, under the present system largely recruited from those who are not in regular employment. Those who are too young or too old for regular employment are not the class of men who are fit for an effective Reserve in time of war. Another point to which I wish to call attention is the organisation of the Special Reserve battalions themselves. I was very glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman proposes to raise the establishment of twenty-seven regiments in the Special Reserve. But the remaining seventy-four are left at their previous establishment. As everybdoy knows, they are not anything like up to strength. As a rule those battalions assemble about 450 to 500 strong. My complaint against the system is that those battalions are divided still into eight companies, because as anyone who knows anything about the Army knows the efficient working of the company system depends on a company being 100 or 120 strong.
If your regiment is only 450 strong, the companies can only be from 60 to 70. As a matter of fact, especially in the Special Reserve, when they go to parade only about thirty men turn up on parade, because the remainder have various duties to perform in or around the camp. It is obvious that you cannot manœuvre thirty men as if they were 120. The whole of the drill book is formed on the hypothesis that your company is about 100 strong, that it is divided into four sections, and that those sections are divided into smaller ones. If you divide thirty men into four sections, and you can only get eight men in a section where you ought to have thirty men, it is obvious that the whole of the drill as described in those regulations becomes something which is very near to a farce. Of course, what happens in practice is this: No colonel can send his companies out to company drill in that condition. He therefore lumps two or sometimes three companies together, and in that composite state they go through the regulations laid down by the War Office. But what is the effect of that? It means that the whole individuality, the whole entity, of the company is destroyed. The whole idea of the company is that it should be an organism by itself, that the men 2306 should know the officers, and that the officers should know the men. If you take three companies and lump them together into one, not only have you got six, seven, or eight officers to drill that company, where you only ought to have three, but also you have got your men working under officers whom they do not know, and your officers are working with men whom they do not know either. What is the result of that? The result of that is that the individuality, the esprit de corps of the company is destroyed, and the whole of the company system, which is the system upon which regiments are at present based, loses half its value.
In the case of the Special Reserve it is an additional drawback that the men, not knowing the officers they are being commanded by, will naturally look to those officers whom they do know, that is to say, the non-commissioned officers. And the initiative of action tends to fall into the hands of the non-commissioned officers, the permanent staff. They are the people who get all the practice, yet are the only people who do not need it. That I would submit is the result of the Government pretending that they have got eight companies when they know perfectly well that they have not. If the Government will look the facts in the face—and their own experience has proved that they can only get so many men under the present system—let them frame their organisation accordingly. But I suggest that it is a profound mistake to say that, whatever the strength of your battalion, you shall have eight companies, and that, with the number of men you can get into the Special Reserve, you shall have so many battalions. You must cut your coat according to your cloth. I would respectfully ask the Secretary of State for War whether he will not give consideration to the advisability not only of cutting down, if needs be, the number of the Special Reserve battalions, in order that those which are left may be efficient in regard to strength, but also—and to this I attach much more importance—that the number of companies in battalions which are not 1,000 strong should be reduced, so that those companies should be able when it comes to the time of annual training to muster an efficient force, a force that would give adequate training both to the officers and to the men. Of course, the Secretary for War will reply that the Special Reserve is only the nucleus, that, when war comes, there will be a great increase in enlistment, and that it is necessary to keep up 2307 this organisation in order that they can cope with the inrush of recruits when the tide of patriotism rises once more.
But I think that if the right hon. Gentleman relies on that argument he is not giving sufficient weight to the human factor in this case. In order that the Special Reserve or any other organisation should be efficient in time of war, they must, within limits, be efficient in time of peace. You cannot expect an organisation that is moribund, that has no strain upon it, to rise into life directly that strain begins to tell.
As long as the annual training of the Special Reserve is divested of a sense of reality, as long as it is difficult for officers and men to conceive that they are really a useful and adequate force, I say it is impossible to expect them to carry out their work wholeheartedly or in an enthusiastic manner. You cannot expect your men to be enthusiastic if, when they come up to parade, their company is split in half and they are put under officers whom they do not know. You cannot expect your officers to be zealous or hardworking if you give them the impression that they are merely playing at soldiers. I submit that the remedy for these shortcomings is that at any rate the number of companies should be cut down. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that he hopes to get a new class of recruit to fill up the ranks of the Special Reserve, but he has not told us why he expects to get any more men, under the change that he proposes to introduce, than he has got during the past two or three years. I do not see, as long as the voluntary system lasts, how you are ever going to get the salt of the country, the men in the prime of life, who are really required for this class of work. Therefore, however the right hon. Gentleman may chop and change the organisation, however carefully he may attempt to sweep together every recruit he possibly can, I think he must recognise that the limit of recruiting capacity for our voluntary Army has been definitely reached. That being the case, surely it is only common sense that the Government should look the facts in the face, and that they should have a number of regiments and a number of companies in those regiments, to secure that each of these units, and each of these organisms, should be complete and efficient in itself.
As long as you are carrying out a system of make-believe, as long as you pretend you have got more men than you really 2308 have, so long will your regiments, when they come out for training, be in a state of inefficiency, and so long will they have an aspect of unreality in the training which is going on. There is, I regret to say, a general feeling throughout all ranks of the Special Reserve that the training is more in the nature of an outing than anything else. Until you can destroy that disastrous feeling, until you give the regiment a sense of self-respect, of knowing their strength and their capacity to go through the work to which they have been put, you will not get that enthusiasm, and you will not get that hard work out of the men by which alone efficiency can be secured. I suggest that it would be much better, and that the right hon. Gentleman would be much more likely to have an efficient machine to supply drafts when war actually did come if during the years of peace the Special Reserve was in a healthy state of efficiency and enthusiasm. You would then have an organisation that would be ready and fit to cope with the difficulty and strain. As long as you have an organisation which is half-hearted and half-depleted, you are neither getting the best sort of men into the Service, you are neither encouraging the best men to join, nor are you training those men who have joined for the work which will be required of them when the strain comes.
§ Mr. GUY WILSON
The Noble Lord who has just sat down will excuse my not following him in the most interesting speech which he has made, and which, I am sure, the House has listened to with the greatest possible amount of interest. In the first place, I should like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on at last promising to deal with what some of us have been pressing on him for some time, and that is the question of a satisfactory rifle for the British Army. In congratulating him I should like to ask him to be very careful, when he decides on this new weapon, not to let us have once more a makeshift weapon like the last rifle which was issued to the troops after the South African War. I also appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to get some outside advice from eminent gun-makers and rifle-makers, besides the advice he will receive from his own technical advisers. I should also like to ask the right hon. Gentleman—I know I shall not receive the support of many soldiers in this House in doing so—whether he will not once more revise the musketry system, at any rate of the Territorial Force. I am not going to enter into the advantages or 2309 disadvantages of bullseye shooting, but I hold very strong views on it. Although I believe that the present musketry taught to the British Army is not the best that could be devised for it, yet I am perfectly certain, as far as the Territorial Army is concerned, that it is quite unsuited. We have only got a very few rounds allotted to us for firing during the year. Instead of being able to use those rounds to train our men we are asked to fire them for the standard test. I think the standard test, so far as the Territorial Force is concerned, is absolutely useless. We do not want to fire rounds in order that the regimental shooting may be compared with that of another regiment.
What we want is to be able to give the men the best possible training in musketry that we can. In order to do that I say that you must give up a number of the standard tests, and you must allow squadron leaders and company officers more discretion in the expenditure of ammunition and as to cost. There is another serious aspect of this question of rapid practice. The Yeomanry is armed with a short rifle, and those who have studied the question know that the short rifle has a much more rapid twist in order to get the requisite number of turns. The result of that is that when you compel yeomen to fire those under rapid practice they will get very hot. The squadron leader, of course, insists upon the man cleaning his rifle before he leaves the range. That is not sufficient, as it ought to be cleaned again the next morning. The point I wish to make is that it is quite impossible for any squadron leader to be asked to be responsible for the condition of the barrels in his squadron. We had new rifles given us, and one barrel is already gone simply because the squadron leader cannot go round the whole of the men the next morning and see whether each man has cleaned his rifle. That you have to leave it to the men. That is one of the very strong reasons why you should give up this rapid practice. Apart from that I think it is a very bad system to waste ammunition. Anybody who studied the Russo-Japanese War knows that in two or three battles the Japanese were not able to push forward and take full advantage of results simply because they had not got enough ammunition. It would be much better, instead of trying to get Territorial troops to fire these enormous number of rounds in a certain time, to train them in slow deliberate fire, at which I am sure they would achieve very much better effect if they were called upon.
2310 I should like to emphasise what has been said about the question of the permanent staff. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider that. It is going to be a very serious matter to the Yeomanry that, instead of being given sergeant-majors we are being given sergeants, and that at the end of two years those men will be taken away from us. That is just the time when they would be beginning to be some use, and when they would know the district. I know that the answer will be that under the old system the sergeant-majors have become a permanence only in name, but that in fact they were not in touch with modern training and could not instruct men in modern methods. It is perfectly true that there are many cases of permanent staff sergeant-majors who have become rather obsolete, but there are other methods of dealing with the matter. Why should not those men be given the opportunity of refreshing their knowledge? I think that would be a much better way than to take the men away just when they are getting useful. I make a further appeal in this respect to the right hon. Gentleman, and that is to look at the question of the permanent staff from a rather different point of view. A man may be good in his own regiment, but he may not be suitable for the Yeomanry, and I should like that it should be much easier for the Yeomanry regiment to return such a man and exchange him without it being any detriment to the sergeant who was so sent back to his regiment. Instead of that, great difficulty is put in our way in returning men. We do not quite receive the support we expect on this matter. We do not always receive the support we expect in another matter, and that is in maintaining discipline. Sometimes the War Office overrides the decision of the regimental officers, who are only doing their best, and a very hard best it is sometimes.
I would like also to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman once more to reconsider the question of Territorial Artillery. I do honestly believe—and I would not rise in this House and say this unless I felt it very strongly—that it is something of a sham and a delusion. I think it is not right that the country should think this force is going to be of very much value. I am not saying anything about the men or the officers. I think they are doing their best, and that is why one hates talking about these things. I believe the money spent on the Territorial Field Artillery would be very much better spent if it 2311 were spent on Regular Batteries of Artillery. I think we have more Territorial Batteries than we want. I know that one of the answers about it is that the Territorial Army is for defence, and that although it may be perfectly true that the Territorial Artillery could not take the offensive, or could not attempt going to action against foreign batteries, yet it would be of very considerable value if it were brought up into a position to act on the defensive. After all, although the Territorial Army is for defence, the best method of defence is offence, and I am perfectly sure, with its British spirit, that the Territorial Army, if ever it is called upon to fight, will not always be content to sit down and act on the defensive. I think it would be a very bad thing for the Army if it were. The right hon. Gentleman has been pressed to reconsider the question of the pay of officers in the Army. I hope if he does reconsider it that he will not be altogether swayed by those who are pressing for an increase in the pay of the junior ranks, and especially of the subalterns. Those of us who have inquired into the subjects in the best regiments, and when I say best regiments I mean the regiments, and I believe this practically refers to every regiment where soldiering is of first importance, a boy, when he joins, can live on very little indeed, and wants a very small allowance from his parents besides the pay. I think the right hon. Gentleman might consider giving an increase of pay to the officer when he begins to get into a certain position, such as that of Senior Captain. That is just the time when he is probably and possibly settling down and may be getting married, and it is at that time money is of very much more value and use to him than it would be when he first joined the Army.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Sir SAMUEL SCOTT
I should like to endorse every word that has fallen from the lips of the hon. Member in respect to the proposed change in the permanent staff of the Yeomanry. I do hope with him, and with many of my hon. Friends who know about this that the right hon. Gentlemen will not make the proposed change, but that his decision will be reconsidered. The right hon. Gentleman told us the other day, during the Debate upon Army Forces, that he knew no subject or no question connected with the Army which was in such a chaotic condition as the question of the supply of horses on 2312 mobilisation. I would tell him another matter in connection with mobilisation which is in an even more chaotic condition than that of horses, namely train arrangements on mobilisation. It may seem a small matter, but so far as I know, no scheme is in existence or has been worked out by the General Staff in connection with the various railway companies by which troops can be mobilised. If you begin to realise the vast amount of work which will be thrown upon the railway companies if a sudden demand for mobilisation was made you would find it would be impossible to carry out the various movements of the troops, the collection of stores, the replacing of garrisons and other details which will be necessary without a most careful time-table being prepared. Unless the right hon. Gentleman will take this matter up in time of peace I fear it will very much delay his mobilisation in time of war. I do beg and press upon him to very seriously consider this matter. There is not a single Continental Power which has not got a complete time-table for every unit on mobilisation. The unit knows the exact time it has to go to the station, the exact hour its train leaves, the same as in India. In this country, so far as I know, the matter has never been tackled and apparently never will be tackled unless we press for it in this House. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look into it and, at all events, be able to tell us something about it later. I must say it is with great pleasure I heard the right hon. Gentleman in his opening speech state that he was now going to deal with this question of horses. We do not know the details of his scheme, but what we do know is that he is going to introduce legislation on this matter. It is known to some people, but I am afraid is not known far enough that under the Impressment Act every horse in this country is liable to be taken. But, however liable horses may be to be taken, you cannot collect your horses or know where your horses are without some machinery. Therefore I welcome legislation on this matter. I presume that no new powers for taking horses will be introduced; at any rate, I hope not. I take it that all the right hon. Gentleman proposes to do is to take legislation for systematising the power which he already has. I understood from his remarks that he proposed to supply county associations with officers under the Remount Department who 2313 would carry out registration. Under whose command will those officers be?
§ Mr. HALDANE
They would be put at the disposition of the associations by the General Officer Commanding in Chief.
§ Sir SAMUEL SCOTT
It seems a divided command, but no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will give further details later on. I am sorry to hear that he is bringing in the county associations to such an extent. In his Memorandum he has pointed out that he had a scheme last year, that he tried the county associations, and that in some counties the scheme was a success, but in others a failure. Therefore, I suppose that, on the whole, we may say that his scheme under the county associations was more or less a failure. The hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee) elicited from the right hon. Gentleman that the fundamental standpoint upon which the numbers of the Territorial Army were based was a three to one basis as against any possible invasion of a foreign power, the possible strength of which the right hon. Gentleman has put at 70,000. The right hon. Gentleman in reply to a question stated that if the Expeditionary Force left this country we should have 422,596 men here. I was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should put forward such misleading figures. It is no doubt perfectly true that he has these numbers on paper; but can the right hon. Gentleman really suggest that these 422,596 men would be available to meet the enemy on landing? I suggest that he would not have more than 370,000. He has taken his regulars, the Regular Reserves, and the Special Reserves—and so far as the Special Reserve is concerned, he counts the men twice over; because the men in the Special Reserve who enlist also in the Regular Army appear both on the establishment of the Special Reserve and also on the establishment of the Regular Army. He has also taken 7,000 Regular Reservists from abroad. How long will he take to collect them? He has made no reduction whatever for sickness and other causes, which in Continental Armies, is put at 30 per cent. Taking a much lower figure, I suggest that out of these 422,596 men, he will not have more than about 380,000.
When I pointed this out last year the right hon. Gentleman said, "Yes, I have my 380,000 men; what more do you want to meet an invasion of 70,000?" When I pointed out that a large number of these men would be required for garrisoning our 2314 various defended ports and for replacing the two Divisions which would be taken from Ireland to make up the Expeditionary Force, he pooh-poohed the idea of any of these men being in garrison. He said, "If an enemy were to land in this country, what would your garrisons be doing? Do you think they would be sitting still?" Does the right hon. Gentleman still maintain that opinion? Does he still intend to leave no garrisons in Ireland under his Territorial scheme? Does he still intend to leave our Arsenals and other defended places in this country absolutely without a man to defend them? He would require at least 160,000 men for garrisoning Ireland and our defended ports, and at least another 80,000 or 100,000 for local defended areas. That would bring down his total to little more than 100,000. I say, therefore, that our present Territorial Army is not sufficient in numbers for the duties it may possibly be called upon to perform. We cannot leave our ports undefended, we cannot leave Ireland without a large garrison, and these 100,000 are the only troops that we should have available. It is absolutely essential that we should have a sufficiently large central force, which we have not got at present to meet invasion.
The right hon. Gentleman told us yesterday that he has increased the buildings at Sandhurst, that he is going to take in boys at a younger age, and that he is going to give a large number three terms instead of two. I have several times pressed him to introduce during one term a short course for Cavalry officers. At present a Cavalry officer goes to Sandhurst and is taught Infantry drill to a large extent, and though he may possibly now have a few veterinary lectures, he is taught nothing whatever about stable management. It would do him no harm to be taught how to groom a horse in a practical manner, and to be left to groom his own horse for a time. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look into this matter.
§ Sir ALBERT SPICER
It is with some diffidence that I venture to intervene in an Army Debate. My only apology and, I hope, my justification is the fact that, soon after he came into office the right hon. Gentleman appointed an Advisory Committee to the Army Council on the moral and spiritual welfare of the soldier, and he I did me the honour of asking me to take a place on that Committee. I have always looked upon the work of that Committee in a broad light as being that we should do what we could to help the ordinary soldier in his life outside his military duties. I 2315 had had no experience whatever in connection with military affairs, and, with a view to enabling myself to take a more intelligent part in the work, I determined that, whenever I had an opportunity, I would, with proper introduction from the War Office, inspect as many of the British camps as I was able to do. During the time I have been on the Committee, in addition to visiting some six or seven camps in this country, I have visited every one of our encampments in South Africa, from Wynberg in Cape Colony to Roberts' Heights in the Transvaal, and I have also inspected our four chief barracks in Malta. As a result, I am afraid I shall not be a very economical Member to-night, although I do not think the suggestions that I shall make will cost a great deal.
One fact that struck me in many of my visits was that a building for public worship is usually included in the map of a new cantonment, but in too many cases the money voted for the encampment is all used before the building for public worship is erected. I do not think that that is quite helpful to the thoughtful soldier. It must be borne in mind that we are succeeding in getting a better class of men in the Army to-day. The testimony all round is that we are drawing our soldiers from a wider class and from respectable and comfortable homes. Therefore, I do not think it is quite a credit to a Christian nation that in too many of our camps the provision for public worship for the various denominations is not quite what it ought to be. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he could be a little more generous with regard to this provision. Coming to institutes and recreation buildings, I think a little more money should be spent in making the buildings more attractive; especially ought they to be well lighted. After all, if we are to keep the soldier at home in the encampment in the evening, we must make the buildings attractive. The officers are doing a great deal for the soldiers in the way of entertainments and lectures, but it makes a very great difference if some of the buildings are, as I know is the case, very badly lighted. If we are to attract our soldiers, as we are doing, from better homes, we must treat them—if I may say so—even with more self-respect in regard to their food, and the way it is served. I do not make any complaint of the quality of the food, but it is not served and it is not cooked 2316 in many cases as it should be. I hope the time is not far distant when the right hon. Gentleman will be able to provide, at any rate, a trained cook for every kitchen. The cookery school at Aldershot is doing good work, but it seems to me it needs enlargement. We need to train there a larger number of men than are being trained at the present time, because one over and over again had evidence of the need for such reform. Many of the officers who received my letter of introduction gave me every facility for seeing everything and asking any questions I liked. I can speak in the most appreciative terms in the way in which I was allowed to ask any questions. This matter of more trained cooks—one trained cook, at least, for every kitchen, will make all the difference, not only to the comfort of the men, but to the officers as well. I recollect in the barracks at Malta one of the officers who was taking me round complained that the joints they had at mess were a perfect disgrace; they were so badly cut by the butcher. I went afterwards into the barracks at, I think it was, St. Andrews, and I asked the same question there with regard to this matter. The cook, who was an Aldershot-trained man, said, "Oh, we take care of that matter; we go and superintend the butcher while he is cutting up the meat." So that these trained cooks do make an immense difference for the comfort of the soldiers.
Again, I think there is a great difference in the way the meals of the soldiers are served. Some officers, of course, are much keener than others in regard to this, and are in this and other matters a potent influence in the soldier's life. I can tell very clearly in any camp I now go through what the interest is the officers are taking in the life of their men. I had an illustration of that—and one of the most satisfactory—in South Africa. In this instance the officers took an interest in their men. I found myself a year or two later in Malta, and I found that the officer who was at the head of this special encampment had been transferred to Malta. I found the condition of his camp just as good as it had been in South Africa, showing how much can be done—and I will say is being done—in regard to this question.
May I also plead with the right hon. Gentleman for a more generous recognition of the Army Temperance Association; that they should be allowed to have a hut for every unit, where, of course, there are sufficient members. The accommodation makes all the difference, so far as I can 2317 see by observation to the numbers who use these Institutes, Recreation rooms, and Army Temperance Rooms. I know that in asking that each Army Temperance Association shall have a hut to themselves that that means the furniture and barrack equipment will be supplied free. More or less combined is the matter of industrial training. A good deal is being done at the present time, but the money is only being provided for capital expenditure in connection with the various classes. I suggest to my right hon. Friends as to whether the time has not come when we should go a little beyond that. After all these men are only in the Army for a certain number of years—eight, ten, or twelve years. Then they drift back again to civil life. A certain proportion of them while they are in the Army pick up a good deal, come out of the Army, and can find employment fairly easily.
But there is a certain and a fairly large percentage of these men who know nothing outside their military duties. I have no doubt most of us have had experience of that in our own Constituencies. We are asked to get situations for old soldiers, and not only old soldiers, but those who have served their time and have come back to civil life. We question them as to their capacity for work, and we find that outside their military duties they simply know nothing, and appear to have lost a good deal of their elasticity. Only the other day I had one come to me. I made inquiries, and suggested to him to undergo training as a chauffeur. I told him where be could learn in the city, and said if his friends—he was not such an extremely poor man—would pay half of the fees, I would pay the other half. He coolly said, "If my friends will do that will you guarantee me a situation when I have learnt?" I said, "Really I am not your wet-nurse"; but it was just an illustration of what one may come across again and again. Many of these men, no doubt, have been good soldiers. Having learnt nothing outside their military duties, when they drift back again to civil life they seem to be completely lost. They help to swell the problem of unemployment. I only wish a good many more officers when they are staying at home on furlough could be made members of unemployment committees. The officers I find the keenest with regard to industrial trainings are those who have had some experience of this kind. I know the difficulties of the officers. They say we have got all our work to do to train these 2318 men in their military duties, and we have not time for other work. I know, too, that the men themselves, in too many cases, are not keen. But I find that the officers who have been on unemployment committees when they are on furlough, when they have gone back to their work, are keen for industrial training. They have had practical experience of the difficulty of finding situations for the men.
I venture to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman whether the time has not come when, in addition to providing the capital cost of the articles necessary for industrial training, something might not be done to put greater inducement before the men. The very men we want to get hold of are the very men who are not prepared to sacrifice anything. They look to the future without any care, yet they are the very men we want to teach some useful employment while they are in the Army. These men are excellent in civil life when you want them to do a piece of work quickly, but they find it very difficult to do hum-drum work day by day, or week after week. If we could do something to help them to get some industrial training during their soldier life it would be far easier to get them into civil work when they come back to civilian life. I trust the Secretary of State for War will bear with me in the various suggestions I have made, and will be able to do something in the direction I have indicated.
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
I am sorry that the Secretary of State for War has just left his place, because it was to the Secretary of State and not to the Financial Secretary that some of us upon these benches since the opening of this Parliament have addressed questions with regard to the supply of food to the Army which is a matter of vital moment to some of our constituents. I was very pleased to hear the speech of the hon. Baronet who has just sat down in regard to this question of cooking. But I really think when he described to the Committee how many of these very unsightly joints he had seen in kitchens for the soldiers of this country, and how very badly they were carved, he really put the cart before the horse. No matter how good a carver a man may be, no matter how good a cook you may have, or how sharp you may have the edge of the knife, if you have an inferior joint to carve you cannot make it look artistic, and if the hon. Baronet went a little further and instead of laying the blame on the cooks ascertained from the Financial Secretary 2319 where the meat came from that was so unsightly and so ill-cooked and badly carved probably he would find that the contract for the supply of this meat was the Swift Meat Company, of Chicago, and the American Meat Trust, with which I am sure the hon. Baronet has no sympathy whatever. The United States Government of America are at the present moment engaged in doing everything they can to combat the illegal methods of the American Beef Trust, and I suppose the hon. Baronet is also aware that all over Australia and New Zealand the Governments of these Colonies are doing whatever they can to prevent this American Meat Trust spreading its ramifications in the Colonies.
§ Sir A. SPICER
I know perfectly well what is good meat and what is bad meat, and I mentioned the meat I saw, and I have no complaint to make of it.
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
The hon. Baronet has not grasped my point. Did he satisfy himself that the bad cooking and bad carving was in connection with frozen meat supplied to the troops?
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
I am very glad the hon. Baronet agrees with me so far that it is very difficult to make frozen meat look to advantage or look as well as an English or an Irish joint would look. At the present time the Curragh Camp and Newbridge are the most considerable in Ireland, and the Swift Beef Trust, which the United States are fighting by trying to put an end to their illegal practices, have the contract for the supply of frozen meat three days a week for the soldiers there—two days a week frozen beef and one day frozen mutton. I have asked the Secretary of State for War if he had satisfied himself that this frozen meat is wholesome food. He says it is; but I doubt it very much. An hon. Member for one of the divisions of Shropshire asked some questions the other day of the Secretary of State for War as to whether it was a fact, in the case of animals partly affected with tuberculosis or partly affected with other diseases, that the diseased parts were cut away and the rest of the carcases allowed to be used for human food, and the right hon. Gentleman was unable to show the House that such a thing did not occur in Chicago. I drew the right hon. Gentleman's attention in a supplementary 2320 question to the fact that several of the local authorities in this country will not allow any part of a carcase to be used for food if any portion of it was condemned as being diseased; they insisted upon the destruction of the whole carcase. I hope we will have some final statement from the Secretary of State for War as to what possible methods there is by which the War Office authorities can satisfy themselves when they give a con-tract for frozen meat to a foreign meat company, such as the Swift company, of Chicago, that 75 per cent. of the carcase, 25 per cent. of which has been condemned, is not supplied as food to the soldiers in Great Britain and to the soldiers in Ireland. I say there is no possible method by which you can detect whether portion of the meat supplied is not from a carcase another portion of which has been condemned as unfit for human food. I am told by the Secretary of State that the reason frozen meat is supplied is one of economy, and that frozen meat is got because it is cheaper than fresh meat, and that it is as wholesome and nutritious as home-grown meat. If it is as wholesome and nutritious as home-grown meat, why is it not supplied to the soldiers every day?
§ Mr. ACLAND
We naturally give them a change in the same way as we give them beef one day and mutton another.
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
The hon. Gentleman tells the Committee seriously that although the Secretary of State for War has told us repeatedly that the reason the troops are supplied with frozen meat is one of economy, the real reason is in order to give them a change, and that the War Office, I suppose, does not care anything about the twopence a pound extra. If you want to give them a change, why not give them salt meat. Salt meat would be very much more of a change and more appetising for men than having them fed for a whole week either on fresh beef or fresh mutton. The Secretary of State for War wishes the Army to be as popular as possible. He also desires that the best raw material that can be got to make soldiers of should be supplied by the War Office. What is your action in the county Kildare and all over Ireland? It is not easy to persuade the ordinary farmer to draw a distinction between the War Office that is responsible and the Commanding Officer. I can state as a positive fact that the continued action of the War Office in this matter in regard to the contract for the troops at the Curragh is undoubtedly 2321 making the whole command unpopular in the county Kildare. It is making the Army unpopular in Ireland, because the average farmer thinks that the Commanding Officer is responsible. The farmer does not see the distinction between the Commanding Officer and the Secretary for State for War, although if he saw them together he would see the distinction at once, but he never gets that opportunity.
Everybody in Ireland, and especially those in the county Kildare, is fond of sport, and the last thing I should dream of doing is to interfere in any way with sport in Ireland. I am sure every officer who has had experience in the Curragh will agree with me when I say that all the officers of that camp have always been permitted to ride over the lands of farmers in the neighbouring counties. If an offiecr there is a good man to ride he becomes the most popular man in the place, and if he is not a good man then they do not think much of him. In this way you are making the Army and the officers unpopular. It has been put to me seriously by several farmers in the county Kildare whether they shall continue to allow the whole of the officers in the Curragh and Newbridge to ride over their lands when the soldiers are being supplied with frozen meat from Chicago, and when the farmers on the spot are not getting the chance of supplying soldiers with fresh meat at a reasonable price. Is there anything more calculated to make the Army and officers unpopular than that? According to the statement, which I remember very well, made by the present Leader of the Opposition, there is a limit to human endurance, and the farmers of county Kildare have concluded that there is a limit to human endurance. The last thing Kildare farmers would like to do is to say to the officers from the Curragh, "You must not ride over our land unless we have a chance of supplying fresh meat to the troops of the Curragh."
There is not a larger cattle-raising county in Ireland than Kildare. The constituency which my hon. Friend represents in North Kildare raises as many fat cattle as any constituency in England, and my Constituency in South Kildare is the largest county for the production of winter cattle. There are more cattle bred in North Kildare than any other county in Ireland, and in this cattle-raising county, where they live by raising cattle, we have the British Army at Curragh and the other troops in the neighbourhood, supplied and 2322 fed with frozen meat by the Swift Company of Chicago, which is an illegal company. The farmer who has his land alongside the Curragh and who permits the officer to ride over his land every day in the week from the beginning of October to the beginning of April has to export his cattle over here to compete with the live cattle from the United States and Canada. We are coming to the time when, if this policy is continued by the War Office, there will be a limit to human endurance. According to the specification in the meat contract for the Curragh, the fresh meat must be either heifer or bullock beef, cows and bulls being prohibited. Can the right hon. Gentleman give any guarantee that the frozen meat supplied by the Swift Meat Company to the troops at the Curragh is not one-half cow and one-quarter bull beef, the very class of meat which you prohibit in your fresh meat contract.
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
I am pleased to hear the hon. and gallant Member confirm that statement. He knows, and his brother officers know, how popular they were with the farmers, and he knows every word I am saying is God's truth. You will get amongst the frozen meat from Chicago both cow beef and bull beef, although you prohibit your local contractor from supplying beef of that description. I think that is a serious matter in the interests of the health of the soldier, and I think you should look into it and see whether the statements I have made in this connection are true or not. Now that the contract is running out, and a new specification will have to be prepared by the War Office in the month of April, I ask the Financial Secretary to see what alteration can be made in the direction I have indicated. I believe the contract ends at the end of May or the beginning of June, and I think it is the custom to issue the specification in the month of April.
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
I wish to ask whether issuing their terms in the specification of issuing their terms in the Specification of April next, to eliminate from that specification the whole question of frozen meat. Nobody can seriously contend that it is as nutritive, and no one can seriously contend that it is good for the health or for the development of the physique of the soldier as fresh-killed meat. It is a mere question of cheese-paring. The Secretary 2323 of State for War himself admitted it was a mere economic question. We get it, I believe, about a halfpenny per pound cheaper. It is cheap and nasty. Would it not be better, not only in the interests of the health of the soldier, but in order to make the Army popular in Ireland, to have fresh-killed meat? The action of the War Office is calculated to make the Army unpopular. Neither I nor my hon. Friend desire that either the Army or the officers should be unpopular in Kildare, and we think it is in the interests of the Army, as well as in the interests of the health of the soldiers, that you should change the specification of the contract you will issue in April, so that next time these Estimates are discussed I may have the pleasant duty of commending the Financial Secretary to the War Office for his common-sense and for having acted in the best interests of the Army.
The hon. Member has kindly referred to me, and I hope I may be allowed to justify the sporting character of all the farmers in Kildare and to testify to their willingness at all times to allow officers and men to ride over their land if they can get over it. I think the Financial Secretary might well consider whether it is desirable to cause friction when it might be so easily stopped, and he might at the same time consider whether it is not for the benefit of the British soldier that he should be fed on fresh-killed meat instead of on frozen meat brought from abroad. The Secretary of State for War, speaking about the Territorial Force yesterday, made a statement of numbers which hardly agrees with the statement circulated with the Estimates. Perhaps the Financial Secretary will explain. The right hon. Gentleman yesterday told us that since the beginning of this year there had been a net increase of 5,400 in the Territorial Force, but we were told in the circular sent round that there had been a decrease of five officers and 4,880 men since 1st January, 1910. Are we to take it that the recruits enlisted in the Territorial Force since the beginning of January have been to the number of 10,285?
§ Mr. ACLAND
The increase to which my right hon. Friend referred was the increase, I fancy, during the month of February. That is the figure he gave.
Then I may take it the increase this year has not been to the extent of 10,285. No doubt the figures 2324 were not in the least intended to be misleading, but I think I may fairly say that to a certain extent they do mislead one. We find that the increase in the Territorial Force since January, 1910, only amounts to 515, whereas we were led to believe it amounted to 5,400. That is a rather serious matter when we remember that next year, as everyone will agree, will settle whether the Territorial Force is going to get its men or not. The four years of those who came in two and a half years ago will expire next year, and it will be very curious, and, indeed, it will be vital to the Territorial Force, to see if those men take on for a further period of service. If they do not, the Territorial Force, I think, cannot possibly get its numbers. The strength, as shown by the right hon. Gentleman in his Return this year, is only 9,696 officers and 257,156 men, whereas the real establishment is 11,288 officers and 303,257 men. That is a deficiency, as the Committee will observe, of 1,592 officers and 46,101 men. If next year the soldiers at present serving do not re-engage I hope the Secretary of State for War will have up his sleeve another patriotic play in order to get some new men to take their places. The right hon. Gentleman talks quite happily about having only reached 257,000 in strength. When the establishment is 303,000 and you have only 257,000, I do not think there is very much cause for self-gratification. I think, as one of the tests whether this scheme has really succeeded or not, we might ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would be prepared at any time within the next two months, or even within the next six months, to order a general mobilisation of the Territorial Force. If he were to order such a mobilisation I think his eyes would be considerably opened as to the enormous deficiencies he has got in his Territorial Force.
There is another thing in this Memorandum that rather astonished me. I see, he says, that 1,055 officers and 17,189 men have accepted liability for foreign service. Nobody would deny the patriotism of men who are willing to leave their usual avocations and go abroad on foreign service, but I would ask whether this Territorial Force was not designed wholly and solely for home defence, and if you are perfectly satisfied with some 50,000 below establishment and yet allow over 18,000 to serve abroad, I want to know where you are to get the force which you say is the minimum necessary for the defence of the country. The right hon. Gentleman, in his Memorandum, makes reference to 2325 Artillery ranges, and when I read that I really thought that at last someone in authority had come to the conclusion that the first thing necessary to teach the Territorial Artillery to do was to shoot. Having had experience for some time of the Territorial Artillery, I had despaired of the authorities ever realising that the most important thing we could do for that Artillery was to teach them to handle their guns smartly, well, and accurately. I was delighted when I saw the right hon. Gentleman had devoted considerable sums to purchasing ranges for the Artillery. I have information from an officer that some Generals in authority are distinctly objecting to much emphasis being laid on the necessity of teaching the Territorial Batteries to shoot. Some of the officers commanding the mounted brigades consider it does not matter so long as you make them manœuvre well during the fortnight's training, and one General officer, I am told, made the statement that he would sooner the batteries shot less so long as they manœuvred well with the whole of their brigade. It is very discouraging to anyone who wishes to see them shoot well and be successful if that is the attitude the General Officer commanding the Division takes up. I was pleased when I saw this extra land was being bought for ranges, and I personally thought the Secretary of State for War had taken a very wise step, and was going to insist upon the batteries shooting every year. Imagine my horror when I heard the right hon. Gentleman say yesterday that they were only going to shoot every other year. You cannot train a man to shoot by giving him three days' practice in every two years.
§ Mr. ACLAND
That is not the intention at all. It is very difficult to give the men adequate training if you have to move them in the middle of the training from the place in which the manœuvres are being conducted to the place where the shooting is being done, and the object is to enable them to have complete practice when once they enter upon it.
The point is how many rounds are you going to give them? That is a matter of great importance. If you are only going to give them the same number of rounds as at present it does not matter whether the training is spread over fifteen days or three days. I take it the present intention is that the batteries are only to go down and shoot once every two years, and, in that case, a man might be in the Territorial 2326 Artillery for four years and never see a shot fired; he might not be able to go down in either the two particular years in which his battery practised. Yet that man would be expected to go into action without ever having seen a shot fired. I wonder what the idea of the Government is in having heavy guns moved about if, at the end of the time, you are unable to use them. It reminds me very much of the statement made, after a rather meteoric career in the Royal Horse Artillery, by a gentleman who retired many years ago. He was heard to declare that the Royal Horse Artillery would be a very good service if it were not for the guns. It strikes me that the Secretary for War thinks he is going to make very good Territorial Artillery so long as he does not ask them to shoot. Last night the hon. and gallant Member for Kirkcudbrightshire (Major McMicking)—who did very distinguished and gallant service with the C.I.V. Battery in South Africa, and is well qualified to speak on matters connected with Artillery work—said it would be foolish to create an Army without creating Artillery. No one will dispute that.
Every one will agree also that it is foolish to create Artillery if you are not going to create good Artillery. If you are going to create an Artillery in which the rest of the Army can have no confidence you, will find it a menace rather than a support. Everybody who has ever been in action knows perfectly well that if the Artillery are shooting badly it is naturally difficult for the Infantry to go on. If they do not get good support from the Artillery it is asking too much to call upon the Infantry to attack a position, and, equally, it is asking a great deal of any Army in a defensive position to do its work if the Artillery are not doing the work which they ought to do to maintain that position. I think we must ask ourselves whether the Territorial Artillery, as we have got it, is one that may be expected to give good support to the Infantry when it attacks, or when it is holding a defensive position. I must own that when the Volunteer batteries were first formed I was personally under the impression that, under certain conditions, it would be possible to get Territorial Artillery.
I thought it was possible, and I sincerely hoped it might be so. I saw a great many batteries shooting two years ago. I quite agree it is hardly fair to judge their merits on the first, or rather second year, when they had hardly found their legs. I am bound 2327 to confess, too, there were many incidents which are much better left unsaid. I have since inquired of a great many officers who watched the Territorial Artillery during last year's practice, and the general opinion seems to be that you might teach the gunners their gun drill and work if opportunities were given, but that to expect men to be able to drive a gun over rough ground when you only take them out six times in a year is to ask more than any human being can do. Naturally it is impossible for officers to go straight into all this technical and difficult work in connection with batteries and to ask them to do it properly without any previous experience in command of the battery. That, again, I think is asking more than is possible.
I recently asked the Secretary for War if there had been any reports furnished by Regular Artillery officers who had been in command of Territorial Artillery practice camps, and if there were such reports, were they likely to be published? The right hon. Gentleman told me that such reports had been furnished, but the Government had no intention to publish them. I cannot help thinking that if these reports had been favourable the Secretary for War would have been only too eager to publish them, and as he does not intend to do so my impression is strengthened that the reports were not as favourable as he could have wished them to be. I do not know who the officers commanding these practice camps were, and, even if I had known and had asked their impressions regarding the Territorial Artillery, I do not suppose they would have given them to me. But there were other officers who were present and were able to watch the shooting—officers senior in the regiment to which I have the honour to belong and who have spent all their lives learning the work. I spoke to more than one, and from everyone came the same answer—that the work that these Territorials did, considering their opportunities and limited chances of practice, was beyond all praise. They could not go further than that. They could not say, in any single case, that the work they were able to do at practice camps was such as to give one the impression that they would be in any way an effective fighting force if it really came to the stern realities of war. I was very much impressed by what one of the very senior officers said to me. He said he had been very much struck by the way in which officers commanding batteries 2328 had done their very best to learn the routine and the drill; but, as every Artillery officer knew, the only way to learn to shoot a battery was by constant practice.
In the Regular Artillery every officer from the first time he goes down to a practice camp is expected to fire at least one series, so that he gets practice every year in ranging a battery. Yet we ask these Territorial Artillery officers, who have never seen a gun fired, to go straight down to the camp and to hit a target which it takes all the time of the Regular officers to do. As one distinguished officer in the Royal Artillery said to me: "If they, with their very limited opportunities and very small amount of practice are able to command batteries efficiently, then those of us who have spent the whole of our lives learning our profession have been wasting our time."
I received further confirmation on that point from a Territorial Horse Artillery officer himself. He was very outspoken about it. He told me that he had never seen a gun in action in his life before he went into a Territorial Horse Artillery battery, and gave me to understand that he did not know very much about it when he was talking to me. He asked me whether a fairly efficient Artillery was better than having none, and whether I did not consider that the men, with the work they did, might become a fairly efficient force. I answered his question by asking him another, and inquired what kind of Artillery he expected this Territorial Artillery would be pitted against, and what kind of Artillery he thought any invading force would bring over with them? His answer was that he did not suppose any invading force would bring over any other Artillery except the best. My contention to him was, and my contention is now, that the only way of competing the best Artillery is to put the best Artillery against it. If one accepts that standard, as I think one must do, I think any body who has ever seen any of these batteries so far as they have gone cannot possibly say that they have reached that standard of efficiency. I hope the right hon. Gentleman is going to make the same change with regard to the Artillery as I think he foreshadowed with regard to the permanent staff of the Yeomanry. There is nothing more foolish and nothing more likely to prevent the Territorial Artillery having any amount of success than to remove their officers every two years. In the first place you will not get the good men to come back. As it is now, a good man 2329 is willing to go to the Territorial battery because he gets security of tenure. He goes there for five or six years, and he knows that during that time he is not going to be moved about. He also knows that it may be worth his while. He may be married and not wanting to go to India, and by that means you get good men for these appointments, but if you move them about every two years the best men will not take it. The man who thinks he has a chance of becoming battery sergeant-major will not take on one of these appointments because he will ruin his chance of attaining to that position. And if the right hon. Gentleman wanted to adopt any attitude which would prevent the success of the Territorial Artillery he could not do better than take up the one he has done about the Territorial Artillery Staff.
I was one of those who hoped and anticipated that the Territorial Army might become an efficient force, and it is with very great regret I consider that these hopes and anticipations have not been realised. I hope that anything I have said will not be thought to reflect in any way upon the zeal and earnestness of officers and men of these batteries. Wherever they were stationed nothing could be better than the zeal and the energy which they have put into the endeavour to serve their country in a very difficult branch of the Service. But I think it is asking too much of them to expect them to be a sound and efficient force if you do not give them far greater opportunities than there are at present available for them, and even if you do give them those opportunities I am afraid their other avocations will prevent them from being able to turn this into a good, sound Artillery force. I wish to make one or two other remarks which affect the Regular Artillery. One of them is only a trifling point. We have been talking a good deal about horses, and I think it is well to see what are the regulations which are made by the War Office with regard to the management of horses. To go back a few years. When I first joined the Artillery we were never allowed to clip our horses in winter. The result was that the horses got hot, and if you took them out gave drivers a lot of extra work and never got dry. After many representations we were allowed to clip them. As everybody knows if you clip your own horse you put a rug on it after doing so, and we naturally expected in the Artillery that we should be allowed to put rugs on the horses when we clipped them in the battery. I do not know why Government horses should be 2330 considered different from other horses, but not only were we not allowed to put rugs on them, but we were not supplied with any rugs, and we were not allowed to buy them. What was the result? You cannot keep condition in horses unless you keep up animal heat, and if you do not give them some extra food you must give them some covering. There is a standard War Office text book called "Animal Management," and on pages 69 and 70 it strongly advocates the use of rugs, but what is the use of giving a text book which advocates some particular principle, and then forbidding you to carry it out.
There is one other matter on the subject of horses that I wish to bring forward, and that is the extreme shortage of horses that are supplied in the batteries at present. The quick-firing gun has naturally altered altogether the question of ammunition supply when in action. In the old days before we had the quick-firing gun each battery only had three waggons, and these manœuvred some distance away from the batteries. It used to be the usual thing to put the bad horses in the waggon teams, and the captain of the battery had to get along as best he could. With these quick-firing guns they have to be supplied with ammunition always at hand, and for that purpose the number of waggons has been increased to the number of nine, six in the first line and three in the last line. Those actually manœuvring with the guns are practically part and parcel of the guns, and if they are to manœuvre with them it is obvious that those six waggons must have just as good a team of horses as the guns. The other three waggons do not manœuvre quite up to the battery, and they can go slower, but they must also have six horses per waggon. Notwithstanding these facts the establishment of horses in a horse artillery battery has not been increased since the quick-firing gun was introduced, and what is the result now? If two horse artillery batteries are stationed together it is possible for one battery to turn out its gun and it first line of waggons by borrowing horses from the other battery and the consequence is that they cannot drill so often as they ought and as they are required to do. It is obvious that the horses cannot go out every day of the week. If the battery is only a single battery station it cannot borrow horses anywhere, and the consequence is it has no practice at all with its first line of waggons. The result is this, that no single 2331 battery of Horse Artillery can ever have any practice with its two lines of waggons. It seems to me ridiculous to have such silly inefficiency as that. No one expects that a peace establishment should be kept up to the standard of a war establishment, but to have it kept so low that you cannot carry out the ordinary drill is to ask men to fit themselves for service without giving them proper opportunities of doing so. If anything could bring home what the deficiency of horses per battery is a cutting I have from "The Globe" of 8th March about mobilising the Royal Horse Artillery at Aldershot shows that matters are even worse than we think, for it says:—On Sunday last, orders were issued at Aldershot for the mobilisation of the 8th Brigade of the Royal Horse Artillery with its ammunition column. The turn out, to an ordinary spectator, was splendid, but the responsible authorities can hardly think so for this practice mobilisation reveals only too truly how deficient the brigade is in material, both in men and horses, and waggons. To turn out this one brigade of two batteries at war strength, no fewer than seven batteries had been broken up in order to supply the deficiency in men and horses. For this purpose. A Battery of the Royal Horse Artillery with all its officers was utilised for the ammunition column, while the men and horses of the 48th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, Aldershot, and the 31st Brigade, Ewshott, had to be requisitioned.And these two batteries are out of what the right hon. Gentleman calls the Expeditionary Force, which is always ready to go abroad. The right hon. Gentleman may expect, and, I think, does get, efficiency from the Artillery in all its branches, but I think it is absolutely wrong to expect men to fit themselves for the stern realities of war if you do not give them enough horses to perfect themselves in all branches of their drill. I think it cannot be brought home too much how necessary it is that the establishment of horses for the Artillery should be thoroughly revised and thoroughly looked into, and I feel confident that, given a sufficiency of horses, there is no better Artillery in the world than ours.
§ Mr. CRUMLEY
I wish to say a word or two about the meat issued to the troops. The Americans are an agreeable people, and if it is possible by some process to extract all the juice from the meat they send over here for the purpose of making Bovril, I think that must be the case. To try and eat the meat supplied to the troops in Ireland seems to be nothing better than eating a piece of plank; it is as dry as sawdust. In the contracts issued in this country tenders are invited for cows not exceeding four years old, and bullocks not exceeding five years old. 2332 I do not know how they can ascertain the age of these bullocks or bulls from America in a frozen state, because in this country, when there is any suspicion about the age of an animal, the officer in command calls the Commissary Officer and he will send for the head of the animal and examine its teeth, and on a board in the stores, as a rule there is a photograph of the quarters of beef, and they can tell the age by looking at some portions of the bones of the animal as described in the photograph. The young men of the Army, that is the unmarried men, must eat the frozen beef and frozen mutton. As a rule two days in the week are allotted for the supply of meat to the married people, and it is generally arranged, by the authority of the officers in command, that those two days are exempt from taking any of the frozen meat. Therefore the married people never have to take any of this frozen meat, they refuse to take it in fact, and I know myself that they would pay 2d. a pound more for fresh meat rather than take frozen. The average price in Ireland for fresh meat three days in the week would be from 4¾d. to 5d. a pound. To supply the troops in the three Kingdoms with good, fresh home killed meat would cost about 5½d. a pound, which would enable the small farmers to break up and till their land and fatten cattle. My opinion is that the Government should take this into consideration, as they are large landlords to the tenant farmers of Ireland, and they should encourage them in every way that is possible.
There is no mode of gaining knowledge as to the sex of the animals sent here from America, and America is excluded from giving the necessary information that is required by the military authorities in this country. The meat is taken in and there are none of those things which may indicate the sex of the animal. These animals come from America, and they are guaranteed by some veterinary authorities to be sound, and I am sure that is all correct; but we have no knowledge that these bullocks or bulls may not have ploughed the land in America for ten or twelve years before they were killed. There is no information whatever in this country as to their age. Therefore, I think it is the duty of the Government to examine into this question of supplying our troops, especially in Ireland, and to provide them with a good article of food, and at the same time encourage the small farmers to rear cattle suitable for the purpose. I think if hon. Gentlemen dined a 2333 few times off this frozen beef or mutton they would not be more than satisfied with it unless after a long day's fasting when they were ready to eat anything that came in their way. I again say there is no nutriment in the meat, and if science has come to such a high pitch in America that it is possible to extract the juice from the beef before it is put on to the ice, I am sure that is what is done.
§ Mr. BARNES
I understand the question now before the House is a reduction of men, but fortunately the rules of the House are sufficiently elastic to enable us to range all over Army matters, whether in relation to feeding or to the conditions of working people in the workshops. I merely rise to ask one or two questions. The first one is in regard to a Motion that was put forward from these Benches last April in regard to wages. I want to carry the mind of the right hon. Gentleman back to that time, and remind him that we brought forward a Motion the sense of which was that the War Office should pay in Woolwich Arsenal, the Pimlico Factory, and elsewhere, at least as good wages as are paid by the best employers outside. We were not met on that occasion as we should have liked, and near the close of the Debate it was suggested by the then Postmaster-General that the matter should be remitted to the Advisory Board, that Board being one not only of the War Office, but of all the Departments. It was thought that in consequence of the matter being remitted to the Advisory Board some good result would accrue. We have waited eleven months since the matter was remitted to the Board. I myself asked questions last year about it at least half a dozen times. I have written three or four times to the War Office, and I understand that my colleague the Member for Dept-ford (Mr. Bowerman) has already asked questions this year. My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich (Mr. Crooks) raised the question last night, and I want to know if we are going to get any satisfaction in regard to that matter before this Debate concludes? [An HON. MEMBER: "You voted against the Motion last year."] Well, there was a reason for that. The Opposition, I suppose, thought they had a chance of embarrassing the Government—for which I do not blame them—and for that purpose they took advantage of our over-confidence in the Government. We were induced to believe that the Government meant business when they remitted the matter to the Advisory Board. I am inclined to think—well, I will not say what 2334 I am inclined to think. We believe we are now going to get a reply, and, therefore, I do not want to say anything which would ruffle the feelings of the right hon. Gentleman. I live in hope that the reply, after eleven months' delay, will be satisfactory.
The next question which I wish to address to the right hon. Gentleman has reference to something which appeared in the "Daily Chronicle" of Monday last. I find there a statement about a tournament to tour the Empire which is to cost £2,500 a week for three years. I understand that the object of the tournament is to popularise the Army and Navy all over the Empire. It is stated that that tournament is to open at Easter, and that fifty officers and 500 men are to take part in it. They are to have a band sixty strong. What I want to know is whether there is to be a charge on the public funds for this, and, if so, on what Vote shall we have an opportunity of discussing it? I should like to refer to a matter which was mentioned more than once yesterday and to-day. I think it is only right that a word should be said about it from these benches, because it is a strictly Labour matter. It was raised by the hon. Member for Central Finsbury (Major Archer-Shee) and took the form of a suggestion that there should be encouragement given for the industrial training of soldiers while in the Line. That was carried a little further to-night by an hon. Member who suggested that expenditure should be incurred by providing materials for that purpose.
I do not want to say a single word that could be construed as implying lack of sympathy with the soldier when he leaves the Line. I know he is taken away from the industrial ranks before he can be trained to a calling. He is taken away before he is twenty years of age, and therefore when he has served his time, possibly he may be at a disadvantage as compared with other people. But I do want to say that I disagree in toto with the idea put forward on both sides of the House, that by merely giving industrial training to the soldier while he is in the Army he will have a better chance of employment outside, and that something will be done to lessen unemployment on the whole. It seems to me that is an altogether erroneous notion. In every one of the occupations I have heard mentioned there is now a surplus of men, and therefore, as you train men now in the Army and fit them to take places outside easier than they could otherwise do, in exact proportion do you 2335 shove men out at the other end. Therefore for that reason I wish to warn the War Office that from our side no support can be given to any project which carries with it the spending of public money for such a purpose, which seems to me not a public purpose at all, however much it might help these men who have served their time in the Army.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I think, it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I reply now to the question put by the hon. Member as to the minimum wage at Woolwich and elsewhere, and also to some of the questions which the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Crooks) raised last night. With regard to the delay since the Government decided to refer this matter to the Advisory Committee last year, I am unable, I am afraid, to give any explanation, because I have not really been conversant with what has occurred during that time. But at any rate I can say now what has been decided and I can say that the new rates that have been decided upon will come into operation on and from 1st April next, so far as possible. That is in a fortnight's time, at the beginning of the new Financial Year. We are taking money in the Estimates to pay the extra rates of wages from that date. As the hon. Member will see when I come to state what has been arranged, it may not be possible to fix the new rates in some cases at 1st April, but where the new rates are agreed to in the months following April the increased rates will date back to 1st April, so that those whose wages are altered in, say, May or June will not suffer. They will get the rates as from 1st April. We asked the Advisory Committee to advise us what were the wages usually paid to men doing the same sort of work as our own—the men who had a minimum rate of wages of 23s. a week. They told us, after very careful inquiries, that the average commercial rate paid by good employers for work of that type was something about 25s. 6d. a week. That at once brought up the question of privileges, which I have more than once talked over with the hon. Member who raised this question. He believes, and I am rather inclined to agree with him, that it might be better to do away with our system of giving privileges altogether, and not to reckon privileges as having any equivalent in wages. We have not done that, but we have gone a step in what he will regard as the right direction. We 2336 have left the privileges as they are, but instead of reckoning them as being equivalent to a wage of 1s. in the £1, we are going to reckon them now as only equivalent to a wage of 6d. in the £1, and therefore only as equivalent to 6d. when we are considering the figures named to us by the Committee, which is 25s. 6d. After that recommendation was given a conference was held with the Admiralty, who, of course, are affected, and with representatives of the Treasury and the Departments concerned, and what they agreed to report to this House is that there should be an increase in the minimum of quite unskilled labour up to 24s. in every case. That will apply to Woolwich, Pimlico, Deptford, and West India Docks.
§ Mr. ACLAND
It applies to the places I have named, and not to places I have not named. We found that our system had been to have on the minimum wage not only men who were doing quite unskilled work, but men whose work demanded a certain amount of skill and ability. And we have come to the conclusion that that is not right, and that instead of having men of different classes and different degrees of skill all on the minimum wage, it is only justifiable to have on the minimum wage men who are doing quite unskilled work. We have decided, therefore, to re-grade all the work where the work demands any degree of skill and intelligence. The result of that re-grading, which means giving more than the mimimum of 24s. to men who were doing anything but quite unskilled work, will be that we shalll arrive at an average wage for the classes affected of 25s. In some cases it is 24s., in others 25s., in others 26s., and so on, but the general result aimed at will be an average of 25s. by the classes whose work was investigated by the Advisory Committee, which with the privileges, which we reckon at 6d., will bring them in conformity with what the Committee told us as to the rate of 25s. 6d. The change will also entail that men who have been on a scale of wages which began about the old minimum, or began, perhaps, at 24s., will now be moved up in the scale. If they began at the old minimum they will begin 2337 at the new minimum. If they began at 24s. before they will begin at 25s. now, and so on.
We considered that there was no justification for an increase in the minimum at Enfield and Waltham, and found that the rate of wages there was quite different in general employment from that which prevailed in the London districts. But although we shall leave the minimum at Enfield and Waltham at what it is now, there will be the same re-grading as at Woolwich and similar places, so that the men whose work involves any skill or responsibility will get more than the present minimum 23s. rate. We also think, as a result of what the Committee told us, that the time has come for reviewing the rates we pay in all our out-stations. When the minimum was taken from 21s. to 23s. some years ago that was not held to necessitate the review of wages in out-stations. But we are now asking the responsible officers whether the general rate of wages paid in the districts has risen since the last alteration of wages in the War Office Establishment, and if the reports we get show that there has been an increase in the rates outside we shall make the same increase in the wages of men in the War Office Establishment. It has also been decided that the minimum wage shall only apply to the lowest grade of work, and that those who are doing work of a superior degree of responsibility will receive a wage above that minimum. Those questions of rates at the out-stations particularly will take some time to work out, and it is because of that that we have decided, when we increase it, to date the increase back to the 1st April, because we do not want to have men in one place complaining that men in another place have had some increase, but that their turn has not yet come.
§ Mr. CROOKS
Have you considered that Waltham and Enfield are within the twelve mile radius, within which trade union rates are recognised?
§ Mr. ACLAND
The information we had with regard to rates actually paid by local employers in Waltham and Enfield did not justify those who have considered it in recommending the Treasury to make the same increase in Waltham and Enfield as in the case of Woolwich and Pimlico. We could only put the matter before the Committee and take the information given us as to rates actually paid by good employers in that district.
§ Mr. BARNES
The War Office themselves pay the mechanics union rates. Why should they not pay these men?
§ Mr. ACLAND
The rate for skilled mechanics may be the same at Waltham and Enfield as at Woolwich. The rate for unskilled labour may not be the same. It is quite a possible fact, surely, and it would be a fact we should have to go upon. Our rule is to pay the district rate, and when we are shown by a Committee, not representing the War Office, but all Departments, that the district rate is lower in one place than in another, we are not justified in departing from that information put before us.
§ Mr. ACLAND
It will not be laid on the Table, and for this reason—it was presented to us on the strict condition that it should not be published. It contains a considerable amount of information; our conclusions were based on the information which was given and only given under a pledge of secrecy; and the Report was only presented to us on our undertaking that it should not be made public.
With regard to the more important question raised by the hon. Member for Woolwich last night as to transferring men from the torpedo factory to Greenock, he said, truly enough, that there was a disposition for one Department, in this case, to say that something which affected another Department was no concern of theirs, and he added that the War Office might be inclined to make out that this was primarily an Admiralty matter, as indeed it is. We have, of course, the men employed in a particular Department, but they have always been wholly employed for the Admiralty; and it is primarily an Admiralty matter to find work for these men when the factory is transferred to Scotland. But that does not give us an excuse for leaving it wholly to the Admiralty. One Department has got to help another, and I think I shall be able to show we are doing the best we can to help in this difficulty by finding work for the men, some of whom are willing to go to Scotland, but many of whom do not want to be transferred to the North, and leave Woolwich, where they have been for so many years. One of our difficulties is that since we have had these vacancies in our Ordnance Factory at Woolwich men who, although reluctant, were still ready to go to Greenock, have been induced to 2339 withdraw their willingness to go North in the hope that they will get work at Woolwich, and so avoid the necessity of moving. Therefore, although we have been able to absorb some of these men, it has not been possible to open places for them very widely, or else, of course, they would have all preferred to take places which would have enabled them to stay where they were.
I believe all the men under sixty years of age were given the chance of employment at Greenock, and what has been done only concerns those who refused that chance. We have been already able to find work for ninety-eight such men, who did not want to go to Greenock, in our Departments. With regard to a further sixty-nine men, a list of their names has been sent to the Admiralty, and I am authorised by the Admiralty to state that they have circularised all their dockyards and asked them to give preferential treatment in employment to that list of sixty-nine men. There is a further set of forty-eight men whose case was brought to my notice last night by the hon. Member for Woolwich, and who are due to go this week. We hope to be able to offer work to a good many, if not all of those men, but there is reason, and I think sufficient reason, why we cannot offer them work for the next week or two. We can take eight of them temporarily for work, but until we have had communication with the representatives of the Admiralty and found out what the orders are likely to be for the coming year we cannot tell how much work there will be in our Departments. I hope it may be possible for the Admiralty to be able to occupy these men in the next week or two. Certainly we shall endeavour to find out, as soon as we possibly can, what the work of the different Departments will be, and we shall, of course, take on as many as we possibly can of those men whose notices have been given to them this week. I think my hon. Friend will see that, having found work already for ninety-eight, and having sent a list to the dockyards of sixty-nine, and being resolved, as we are, to do the best we can for the forty-eight who have received their notices quite recently, we really have done all that could reasonably be expected to be done at the present time.
This Debate has ranged over a great many subjects, and I should like to bring it back to one point and one point only, more especially 2340 as the right hon. Gentleman, in his opening remarks, devoted some time to it—namely, the shortage of the Territorial Force. The establishment is now some 45,000 or 46,000 short in men, and some 1,500 in officers. The difficulty is certainly very acute at present, and I think there is every sign of its becoming still more acute. We have had the opinion of a great many distinguished Gentlemen on this very question, but I think I need only quote one, that is the opinion of Lord Esher, who has said that he thinks it will be almost impossible to obtain these numbers by the voluntary process. We have, against that, the opinion, the hopes, expressed by the right hon. Gentleman. I submit that hopes are no substitute for horses nor for men. However optimistic we may be, however much we may indulge in these hopes, if the day of trial came it would be of no use relying on them. There is one point which it is generally claimed would solve the difficulty. It is said that we can always rely on the patriotism of this country for the men to come forward. That is perfectly correct, for patriotism is one of the deep-seated virtues of the people of this country and can be relied upon in emergency. But patriotism is not a virtue that can be called on morning, noon, and night. I mean that nobody gets out of bed in the morning saying, "How can I practice the virtue of patriotism to-day and help my country?" It is a quality that can be called upon in time of emergency, but I put it that the time of emergency is perhaps rather too late.
Gentlemen opposite say, "That is all very well, but you must not say that this country is not patriotic." But I say that to be always relying on patriotism would be like always relying on any other virtue, like loyalty, for instance. We had an example of loyalty at the all-night sitting recently, when hon. Gentlemen opposite were loyal to their leader; but I think that is not a kind of loyalty that you could call upon every night of the week. It is not a thing that you could call on perhaps more than once a month, although I daresay we shall have opportunity before very long for another all-night sitting. I cite that as an example to show that whatever the virtue may be, you cannot be constantly calling upon it, as you cannot always be calling upon patriotism. At the present moment the Territorial Force is dangerously short in numbers. There is no doubt, however, that even the numbers we now have in the Territorial Force are 2341 greatly due to one or two lucky chances—windfalls as the Chancellor of the Exchequer would call them.
In the first place we had an extraordinary rise in recruiting owing to a very clever play. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that we had great accession of strength, especially in London, where it amounted to 11,000 in a fortnight, owing to the feeling raised by a patriotic play, but it must not be overlooked that these men recruited together will all leave together when their time expires. We had those men moved by the patriotic spirit, and through the efforts of one of the daily papers that not only worked up an extraordinary amount of enthusiasm, but even successfully suggested to officers to appear on music-hall stages to recruit. That would not be possible a second time, or at least I doubt it. I dare say the right hon. Gentleman's numbers will go up this year if the Coronation is properly worked. It is a perfectly legitimate way of recruiting, as was clone last year when certain troops had a review and received colours at Windsor. It is a perfectly legitimate way of recruiting to afford troops the honour of appearing before His Majesty. Therefore the figures may probably go up, but, Sir, there are not always Coronations to help us. I come back to the point that you have not got your numbers, and you are not likely to get them on the authority of nearly everybody who has looked into the question. You have got your minimum of 312,000. The probability is that the number was only arrived at after a great deal of bargaining between the right hon. Gentleman and the Cabinet—the 1906 Cabinet, which was particularly addicted to economy, though we have not seen much of it lately. The bargaining was probably between the Army officers and the right hon. Gentleman. I shall get no enlightenment from the right hon. Gentleman on this point, but if the numbers were not arrived at by bargaining they can only have been arrived at in two other ways. The gentleman who was representing the Army must have come into the right hon. Gentleman's room and said, "My number is 312,000, what is yours?" It would be a coincidence if both arrived at the same number. The third possibility is that the Army gentleman came in and said. "We should like 270,000," and that the right hon Gentleman said, "Oh, no, that is not enough, take 50,000 more. Like the selling of a horse or the buying of a house, the 2342 probability is that the minimum was arrived at after a severe amount of bargaining.
We have never succeeded in getting that minimum, and it is quite certain we are never likely to do so. We have tried everything and we have failed. The minimum I imagine is the number we really think is necessary, and if we cannot get it by persuasion and by all the others arts, and by windfalls it seems to me there is only one possible solution and that is that you must have some form of persuasion or some form of compulsion, or, if the hon. Member for Blackfriars objects to that, I shall put it another way and say some form of amiable coercion. Hon. Gentlemen sitting below the Gangway opposite ought not to object to that method of dealing with national defence, since they are perfectly ready to coerce their fellow workmen to support them, so that compulsion or coercion on those benches ought to be looked on as a sort of long lost brother. I do not wish to deal with this in any party spirit or as an opponent of the Territorial Force. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that for the past year and a half I have done my best to help the Territorial Force, even to the length of endangering my eyesight. I am a warm admirer of the Territorials, but I look facts in the face, and I come to the conclusion that, as we cannot get these numbers that way, we shall have to find some other way. I should like the question discussed not as a party question. The danger of that is that if it becomes a party question it can be so easily misrepresented in the country. You will have the party cry that it is coercion, a blood tax, Conscription, and all that sort of thing. You can misrepresent it just as the policy of Tariff Reform is misrepresented by invariably shouting out "Hungry Forties." Every argument in a way about Tariff Reform always comes back to the small loaf and the big loaf and the "Hungry Forties," and, in the same way, on the question of providing these numbers, you can raise a real good Conscription bogey.
What I propose, and I do not apologise for suggesting this because the right hon. Gentleman dealt with the question, and it is in Sir Ian Hamilton's book which has been mentioned, that the right method and fair method, and what seems to me to be the only solution, is to assign a quota to each county to find. Tell off each county in proportion to the population to ballot for the quota of men which is its particular share. Hon. 2343 Members would be surprised to find how very small that quota is. At present one county, probably owing to a very keen Lord Lieutenant or very keen Yeomanry officers, takes an enormous amount of interest in the matter, and provides the numbers, whilst another county shirks responsibility. I worked the matter out on the old census, and if each county did its duty it would work out at something not quite eight per thousand of the population. As the population increased that number would decrease. Thus, if a recruiting officer came across a village where there were a thousand people living he would say, "I want eight of your men, that is your quota." That is all it is. If everybody took their share it is extraordinary how small the burden would be. I have the figures here, and I will take any county you like. In Berkshire, for instance, it would be 2,268; in Dorsetshire, 1,600; in Leicestershire, 3,500; and so on. That is if each county did its share, and it seems to me perfectly fair, reasonable, and logical that each county should do its share. Why should any one county shirk its duties? I have also had four counties worked out in divisions. I have taken the constituencies, simply because the Government have indulged us so frequently with General Elections that nearly everybody now knows what constituency he is in and what the boundaries are. I will take one county as an example. In Norfolk, in the North-West Division, the number would be 412; South-West, 348; North, 429; East, 406; and so on. In that way you would get every part of the country doing a fair share of the work. That seems to me a perfectly fair way.
In conclusion may I give what I think would be the advantages of this scheme? In the first place, you would get the men without any trouble. There would be certain administrative difficulties, but the right hon. Gentleman and his staff would make very light of those. It is purely a matter of organisation and detail. The second advantage is that you would be able to have fifteen days' real training. At present, as everybody who has anything to do with the Territorials knows, the greatest difficulty a captain has is to get his men out for training. He has practically to go, cap in hand, to all the employers; he has almost to grovel, except in some fortunate cases, to get the men out, and then he does not get more than 50 per cent. or 60 per cent. Even then you have to go rather lightly, or you will have 2344 the men fed up, and they will not come out a second time. It should not be so, but it is the fact. Under this scheme, however, you would tell a man to be present on the Monday, and he would leave on the following Saturday week. There would be no question about letting him off. At present about half the number come out for seven days, which includes the day of arrival, the day of departure, and the Sunday, so that the time left for actual training is not much.
The third advantage is that you would solve the officer difficulty. You have not got sufficient officers for the force. According to the Memorandum you are 1,500 short. By the very law of averages under this ballot you would get certainly forty or fifty gentlemen in the ranks, from whom, if necessary, you could pick your officers. The majority of officers come from a certain class, and you would get a number of these in the ranks by the operation of the ballot. The fourth advantage is that the scheme is really democratic. You would not get only certain people, you would get the whole population mixed up by the chances of the ballot. It would popularise the force. If the hon. Member for Blackfriars (Mr. G. N. Barnes), for instance, was caught by the ballot he would carry his constituents with him. The mere fact that he was serving in the ranks would induce half his Constituents to try to get into the ranks to serve with him. The fifth advantage is that you would produce good feeling amongst all classes. The sixth, about the most important of all, is that all would equally bear the burden. It would men only about 5 per cent., or one in twenty, but we should all run the risk. If we all knew that our names were in the hat it would be no hardship at all. Nobody could complain, or, if he did, he would be laughed at. I thank the House for having listened to me. I believe that this solution, if put before the people, would receive general approval. I should not have the slightest hesitation in putting this before the Constituents of the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Crooks), or of any other Member. I am sure I should carry the audience with me, because the scheme is perfectly fair as between man and man. It would not only put the Territorial Force on a proper footing, but it would appeal to the common sense of the people of this country.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I do not rise with the least idea of interfering with the length of the Debate. I think it has been an admirable Debate; but I have so many 2345 points to reply to that if I go on any longer I shall lose the thread of them. There are one or two things I wish to state now in order that hon. Members may have an opportunity of considering them when making their speeches. The hon. Member for the Honiton division (Major Morrison-Bell has indeed done for the Territorial Force a very fine piece of work, which the House has had an opportunity of seeing in the tea-room lately. Nobody who does not know the amount of detailed labour required to produce that map can realise what a service the hon. and gallant Member has rendered. When he spoke of the numbers of the Territorial Force he put a question to me to which I think he did not expect to get an answer. He asked how the establishment of 311,000 was arrived at. He suggested that there had been some sort of bargaining between the soldiers who wanted more and the civilian authorities who wanted less. The matter is really very simple. The organisation of the Territorial Forces was determined by the General Staff and afterwards approved by the Defence Committee. The General Staff worked it out in this way: they constructed a force on paper of fourteen divisions of Infantry, fourteen mounted brigades, and the proper complement of Artillery. Then they added the Auxiliary Forces, Medical Transport, and so on. That gave a certain number of units, and a certain number of establishments for each unit. When you add these establishments together you get the figure of 311,000, which is the maximum rather than the minimum. The purpose of the general staff was to devise an assemblage of units and to co-ordinate it into divisions of brigades, so that it would be an effective force for the defence of the country. That is how it worked out in units, and the numbers are the result of the units. I very much regret that the units are not nearly full. We have 272,000 out of the full establishment of units. Still, that is an average of five-sixths of the establishment of the Units of the Regular Army. All I can say is that I do not think anybody can forecast at a distance of only three years from the beginning what the result will be hereafter. There are many commanding officers and authorities who are very sanguine that all their units will receive their full complement. There are others who take a very pessimistic view.
As to another subject to which reference has been made, I was responsible for the 2346 publication of the book of Sir Ian Hamilton, because I felt a very great anxiety about the result on enlistment for the Regular Army of any form of compulsory training or service. I thought if the right arguments could be placed fully before the public that the gravity of the issue would be realised as it never before has been adequately realised. Whatever might be thought of the expediency of the general rule of the publication of a book of that kind containing memoranda by an officer, I for one say again that on the balance the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. The fact that the book has been so much quoted and read shows how necessary it was to gather these materials together and put them in some kind of authoritative form before the public.
I pass to the subject that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Long) dealt with. He spoke of the reduction in money and in numbers. He said that the reduction in numbers was much in excess of the money equivalent that was provided. I am not quite sure that he quite got hold of what the amount of the money reduction was. I will tell him; then I will speak of the reduction in numbers. His figures bore a strangely familiar ring to me. I have seen something like them in the papers. First I take the 1905–6 Estimates. I compare like with like. The Estimates were £29,813,000. That was not the only expenditure on the Army in that year. There was spent on loan £1,287,000; making a total of £31,100,000. This year's Estimates are £27,690,000, which, together with £300,000 on loan account, makes a total of £27,990,000. This gives a total decrease of £3,110,000—which is the correct figure. Then let us see what the £3,000,000 is worth. The right hon. Gentleman said we have 80,000 troops less, and included in these, he said, are 50,000 Regulars. I take the 50,000 Regulars. I do not know how he got that figure, but I think he was comparing the establishment given in the General Annual Report of 1905 with that given in Vote A in the Estimates of last year. Unfortunately that is a very misleading comparison. The regimental figures for 1905–6 included a very large number which was taken to cover "pool" certain disbandments made by the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member—no less than 13,000 men. Therefore the figures for that year were 208,300; and for 1910–11 the figures of the regiments were 184,000 with a small 2347 "pool" of 850, and the real reduction between the two is therefore not 50,000, but 25,074, which is the number of Regulars that have been disbanded between 1905 and now, but of that number 5,300 were reduced in the previous year, and although they really went through the colours in my time they had really been reduced by the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman opposite was a Member; that would give a total of 17,000 off the establishment. The result is that my reduction amounted to 20,000, no more and no less. Then the right hon. Gentleman turned to the Reserves, and before I say anything about the Reserves let me point out what the Reserve in units which I reduced were. They included 3,000 Chinese troops and also a considerable number of Indian and Colonial troops. Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not reckon in his Reserves the Chinese Reserves as Regular Reserves. It comes down to this, that the reductions we made were eight line battalions and a battalion of Guards, and very little else effective besides.
Therefore, when you compare like and like the reduction of the Reserves is very different from what the right hon. Gentleman's figures made them appear to be. Looking at the final fact to which the right hon. Gentleman drew attention, he used figures to calculate an ideal reserve for ideal purposes. The strength of the Reserve in 1905–6 was 77,405; the corresponding figures for this year is 136,337, not a decrease, but an increase of over 48,000. Of course, I am not suggesting that that is any credit to me. It is the outcome of the three years' system, and it is larger than it will be, and, at any rate, it is larger a great deal than would be the result of the nine years' system. Under the nine years' system we got to 115,000, and this is sufficient to mobilise the troops.
I think I have, at any rate, shown that these difficulties of the right hon. Gentleman require a great deal of consideration before they can be accepted as having any remote resemblance to the facts. So far from having reduced the Artillery, I have increased it. In 1905 we had at home 105 batteries of Horse and Field Artillery, and there are now 113 batteries, the difference being due to eight batteries brought home since 1905. No batteries have been reduced, and although no new ones have been raised we have added six Howitzer batteries, using the material of 2348 certain training batteries for that purpose. Take the numbers at home on 1st January, 1906. The Horse and Field Artillery in that year were 16,262. There were, with the Regular Reserve of Artillery, 8,185, making 24,447 in all. On 1st June, 1910, the figures were: Serving, 17,324; Regular Reserve, 16,889; and Special Reserve Garrison Artillery adapted to field artillery purposes 7,044, making a total of artillerymen of 41,257, as against 24,447 on 1st January, 1906, or an increase of 16,810. I do not want to go into these details too closely, but to-day you can mobilise the whole Artillery force, the divisions have their proportion of five guns to every thousand bayonets and sabres of any nation, except the Germans, and, as far as I am competent to judge, your artillery was never in a better condition as regards weapons, numbers, or the training of the men. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about horses?"] I am coming to that. The hon. Member for Preston made a statement about horses and he said that in order to bring up the full strength of a battery it was necessary to use up the horses and personnel of two batteries. He said that was in time of peace. That is the whole point. When you mobilise these large reserves to war strength there will be no necessity to take the personnel of these batteries. As regards horses we are better off than we were, although I agree we have a great road to travel.
I did not say it was necessary to take all the horses to mobilise, but in order to teach the men ordinary drills you had to have the horses from another battery to make them fit for war.
What I said was that the establishment of horses was so small in England that in order to teach the men the ordinary work and drill you had to borrow horses from another battery at any time.
I must apologise for interrupting again. What I said was that the establishment needed in order to teach ordinary drill to use two batteries was first of all you want six guns and nine waggons. By no possible means could you borrow sufficient horses from another battery to turn out the nine waggons, and to do this you had to borrow the horses from the battery alongside.
The right ton. Gentleman challenged my figures. I say that to train a battery properly you have to give it a sufficient number of drills in a week, and, if you have two batteries along side each other, the horses cannot go out every day, and the battery cannot drill sufficiently to be trained properly.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I have yet to learn from the Inspector-General of Artillery that its training suffers from certain technical arrangements which have to be made. The point is, I am challenged with having reduced the artillery, and I think I have blown that to atoms. With regard to the Royal Garrison Artillery, on 1st January, 1906, there were serving 10,108, and there was a Regular Reserve of 4,965, a total of 15,073. Owing to the recommendations of the Owen Committee, appointed in the time of the late Government, there were reductions of the fixed armaments abroad in certain places, but, notwithstanding these reductions, on 1st June, 1910, there were still serving 8,156, a reduction of 1,952, but there was an increase in the Reserve, which stood at 8,096, and a Special Reserve addition of 865, making a total of 17,117 and a total increase of 2,044.
§ Mr. HALDANE
The hon. and gallant Member is not taking the dates I have here. I compared 1st January, 1910, with the present time. He takes a date in October. I know from motives of economy the late Government reduced the Regular Army very nearly as much as I did, and they reduced the block of Garrison Artillery before I came into office.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I must look into this. I am perfectly certain my figures are quite right. I got them from the Adjutant-General himself. I see the figures in the Annual Return obviously includes the 2350 Mountain Division; they include the Indian figures as well as the figures at home. It is not confused. The hon. Gentleman has used them for confusing purposes.
§ Mr. HALDANE
The moment I come to look at it I find the Royal Garrison Artillery is put down as including the Mountain Division. The Mountain Division remains, and for anything I know it has been increased. I am dealing with the Establishment, excluding India and the Colonies. I have not the slightest doubt that my figures are accurate. I come now to the question put to me by the hon. and gallant Member for South St. Pancras (Captain Jessel) as to the reserve of pistols, swords, and bayonets. The hon. Member seemed to doubt whether we had a reserve, because no numbers were given. The numbers are now settled, and we shall probably announce them in the course of a few days. But whether we do announce them or not I may state that we have an ample reserve—one in excess of the figures we are likely to fix for that reserve. For some reason it has not in the past been customary to give these figures, but I can assure the Committee that the number of pistols, swords, and bayonets in store just now exceeds the number likely to be fixed for that reserve. There was another question as regards the guns in store. I do not know why the Public Accounts Committee called attention to that matter. The guns were there, and they could have been got at the shortest notice. They had been lent to the Territorial units while their own proper guns were coming from Woolwich. I do not think the Controller and Auditor-General really had anything to do with that. His business is to see that public money is spent as directed by this House: it cannot matter to him whether the guns are at A or B establishment. They were there.
§ Mr. HALDANE
No; the point was that they were not at Woolwich, where they should have been naturally stored. I come now to a speech which I listened to with great pleasure—the maiden speech of the Noble Lord the Member for the Newton Division of Lancashire (Viscount Wolmer), a speech which everyone will agree was as admirable in manner as one would expect from the son of such a distinguished father. He spoke of matters on which evidently 2351 he had a great deal of first-hand information. His point really was that with battalions 580 strong—which is the establishment of seventy-four battalions—you cannot get eight companies. It is quite true that for the purposes of training small companies are not advantageous. But these battalions will certainly on mobilisation have a strength of over 1,000, and in many cases of 1,300; they take in all the ex-Reservists and the immature men. They therefore swell up on mobilisation to very large units, and large companies will have to be provided for. It is necessary that the training in time of peace shall be based on what will be the units in time of war.
With regard to the training which has been going on during the past few years the reports of the Inspector-General of Infantry and of Generals Commanding who inspected the units under their command represents the training of the Special Reserve as advancing every year. I quite agree with the Noble Lord it is not well to train in small companies, but if his idea is to limit the number of companies to form then the danger would be that we shall be working our organisation on one line in time of peace and on another in time of war. I now pass to another point, raised by the hon. Member for Finsbury (Major Archer-Shee), who asked what is being done for the soldiers in the way of giving them more human conditions in the early stages of their career, looking after their comforts and their moral, mental, and material interests. He said truly and it is a very bad thing that soldiers have insufficent light. I have seen soldiers working in barracks with oil lamps. They cannot read, and have to go to bed to pass the evening. But I am glad to say that that state of things is somewhat modified. We have already spent £50,000 on the introduction of the electric light, and this year we have £45,000 in the Estimates for that purpose. In the provision of married quarters there has also been a large expenditure, and I hope the state of things will be changed before long. Then there was a point taken about the horsing scheme by the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Marylebone (Sir Samuel Scott), who asked whether the officers we propose to detail for the assistance of the Association would be theoretically charged with this work, and whether they were under the command of the military authorities or of the Association. They will be 2352 under the command of the military authorities. They will be detailed to the assistance of the Association, and what is intended is that the General Officers Commanding should work in close conjunction with the Association in their command, and be able to give the assistance which the Association requires. In that way we hope to provide machinery in time of peace, and by other means for mobilisation. The hon. and gallant Gentleman also referred to the number of Territorials who would be locked up in garrisons in time of war, and he took rather a dubious view, but while I am not prepared to state the figures in regard to those who would go into garrisons under these circumstances, I think he has greatly over-estimated them.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I think he very largely over-estimates the number of men who will be there, and I need not tell him that if there were invasion people would not be allowed to stay still in barracks.
§ Sir SAMUEL SCOTT
Does the right hon. Gentleman adhere to what he said last year that in the event of invasion of this country he would denude the forts and arsenals of their garrisons and utilise them as a central force?
§ Mr. HALDANE
The central force is quite independent. The number taken by the garrisons in those places is not nearly so large as the hon. and gallant Baronet supposes.
§ Sir SAMUEL SCOTT
Has any plan been prepared in the event of mobilisation for the supply of stores?
§ Mr. HALDANE
Yes, that has been worked out. The whole matter has had the closest attention of the general staff. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Hickman) asked how many officers there would be left in the Special Reserve on mobilisation. We have got an abundance of officers for mobilising six divisions, and I have said we should have to draw upon the depots and upon the third battalions for a certain number of its officers and they would have to be replaced. We have made a temporary arrangement for replacing them, and the permanent service to which we look is, of course, to the Special Reserve of officers, as to whom we hope the Officers' Training Corps will produce 2353 a substantial number. It is already beginning to tell. One hunderd and fifteen have joined recently, and we have reason to think a very substantial number is on the verge of coming in.
§ Colonel HICKMAN
What I really wanted to know was when certain officers were taken away how many officers would remain who were originally in the Special Reserve regiments who knew their men.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I should not like to answer on the spur of the moment. A certain number will remain as a nucleus. The deficiency is mainly a deficiency in subalterns, and it matters less whether subalterns know their men than whether the senior officers know them. The other question the hon. and gallant Gentleman asked was what had been done to encourage officers. There is a very much larger number of staff and other appointments which are open to officers when they reach the rank of captain and upwards than before. I am not sure that is not a better way to help an officer by providing for him a large number of chances in addition to regular employment than the mere mechanical one of raising his pay automatically. It is the plan of the Navy, and I think there is a great deal to be said for it.
§ Colonel HICKMAN
I should like to say that that system does not improve the esprit de corps of the regimental system.
§ Mr. HALDANE
You cannot have a large staff without joining the regimental officers. The true remedy is a system which we are trying to put in force. An officer goes to a staff appointment and returns to his regiment for duty after his turn. That is the plan in Germany and in France, and I believe it to be the best plan. It is very desirable, not only that the regimental officer should get staff knowledge, but that staff officers should go to the regiments. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Waring) asked whether I really thought it was a good thing to have moved for the sergeant-majors of Yeomanry to the sergeants. I can only tell him this question has just been thrashed out by a very powerful Committee at the War Office on which very influential representatives of the Yeomanry sat. The conclusion they came to was that while sometimes the old sergeant-major was a very admirable person, there are occasions when he is not so good, and they thought it would be better that young active men up to modern methods should 2354 be put in on the footing that he should show what is in him, and that we should have that circulation which always keeps you young and with fresh blood and in contact with Regular men. Otherwise he would be an admirable and exemplary person in some cases and a rather slack one in others. I should have thought, and I am certainly advised by my experts, that there is a great deal more to be said for the circulation of the young active sergeant, with his modern Cavalry experience, who, if he does not suit, will be removed, and we are going to try to get the very best men we can for the benefit of the Yeomanry. The old sergeant-major was very often admirable, but very often he was not.
§ Mr. GUY WILSON
I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he aware that every Yeomanry officer is against this, and that regimental officers are equally against it, with the result that nowadays you cannot get sergeants, to say nothing of sergeant-majors, to look upon it as a plum to take the position? Commanding officers have literally to order sergeants to go, because they know that they will be out of pocket.
§ Mr. HALDANE
It certainly contracts my information that the Regular Cavalry officers are against the system, or that the Yeomanry commanders are against it. They were represented on the Committee, and the conclusion was come to after close consultation. At any rate the system has not been tried, and it is premature to form a judgment about it when you do not know what is going to happen. Yeomanry commanding officers are very conservative, and I think my hon. Friend is also very conservative in this matter.
§ Mr. HALDANE
It was a very powerful and competent Committee, and the late Adjutant-General was the chairman. Distinguished Cavalry and Yeomanry officers-sat upon it, and took evidence for a long time. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who were the officers?"] I think I have dealt with the main part, and the questions which were addressed to me. There is one thing which I sympathise with very much. I was asked whether it was right that officers should have to pay out of their own pockets for certain charges. That is a system which I wholly condemn, and if the hon. Gentleman will bring to my notice any case where it has happened I shall be very glad to deal with it.
§ Earl WINTERTON
The right hon. Gentleman has travelled over a considerable amount of ground on general Army questions. I hope I may be allowed to say, without any disrespect to the right hon. Gentleman, that there are many hon. Members on this side of the House who think that a somewhat undue amount of time has been taken up by those who sit on the Front Bench opposite. The Secretary for War and the Financial Secretary to the War Office have each spoken twice. I only refer to this matter to suggest that at a time when business is so congested they might, if possible, compress what they have to say into smaller compass. If they allowed more Members to speak probably business would be expedited. That is intended in no spirit of discourtesy, because I have always met with the greatest courtesy myself at the hands of the right hon. Gentleman. But one particular point that I myself rather object to is that the Financial Secretary thought it necessary to rise in order to reply to a point which we thought had been quite well replied to by the right hon. Gentleman himself. Since the introduction of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme for the creation of the Territorial Force and of an Expeditionary Force, I have been a humble but consistent opponent of the right hon. Gentleman's policy, and since that policy was introduced in 1907 I and others on these Benches have in many Debates and discussions urged again and again points against it which we believe the march of events, and what has taken place particularly in regard to recruiting, have proved to be true.
It seems to me that this Debate should be conducted not so much on small details of expenditure or administration, such as those raised by the hon. Member for Blackfriars (Mr. Barnes) and the rate of wages at Woolwich. Important though these matters are, and perfectly legitimate though it is to raise them, what are they compared with the national defence of this country? The hon. Members are quite entitled to raise them, but I rather regret that from these Benches we have not had from either of the hon. Gentlemen who spoke in the discussion any references to the defence basis of the country from a bigger standpoint. What was it that the right hon. Gentleman and his Government laid down almost four years ago? I cannot do better than quote the words of the Foreign Secretary (Sir Edward Grey) himself when he proposed this revolution, as he and the right hon. 2356 Gentleman said then it was, in what had hitherto been the military policy and organisation of the country. The Foreign Secretary used these words:—The object of His Majesty's Government was to organise on two lines with, in our opinion, greater efficiency, economy, and strength. The first object is to organise the Regular Army at home, providing it could be used abroad on the outbreak of war.The right, hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War used even stronger words. He said:—The Array will, in future, have two lines, with bridges between, over which the regular officers will pass for training on commanding the second line. The first line will be mobilised completely to the extent of six divisions and four Cavalry brigades. All my calculations are based on complete mobilisation, and the result will he that on mobilisation our effective strength will be from 50 to 80 per cent. more effective than at the present time.On another occasion the right hon. Gentleman said:—When these plans are completed we shall be able to mobilise 160,000 men.11.0 P.M.
I could multiply examples taken from the right hon. Gentleman's speeches as to what the intention of the Government was. The intention, as I understand, was to have in this country an Expeditionary Force 160,000 strong, complete in all details, with all the organisation required for filling what I may call the historic rôle of the British Army in European warfare, that is acting in concert with the troops of a nation with which we have an alliance. That was the historic rôle of the British Army.
§ Earl WINTERTON
The right hon. Gentleman is not going to deny here and now that one of the objects which he had in the formation of the Expeditionary Force was to provide against the probability which might arise of a fight in Europe? He is not putting Europe out of the category. I put the question to the right hon. Gentleman because on his answer depends a great deal of the policy of more than one foreign country, whether that Expeditionary Force is not intended to be used in Europe?
§ Mr. HALDANE
The Expeditionary Force was never intended to affect foreign policy. It was created to be as perfect an organisation as possible, with the troops at home under the Cardwell System.
§ Earl WINTERTON
That may be a Parliamentary answer, but it is not a real answer to my question. My question is, 2357 Did the right hon. Gentleman, in the formation of this Force, intend to rule Europe out of his calculations? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will answer that.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I did not intend to rule anything out of my calculation, nor did I make a calculation with regard to any particular place.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I think the right hon. Gentleman's interruption was entirely unnecessary. I arrive at the conclusion, which I laid down at the beginning, that this Expeditionary Force is intended to carry out the historic rôle of the British Army, whether in Europe, South Africa, India, or anywhere else. It is obviously childish to deny that what was at the back of your mind was that in the event of a European War the Expeditionary Force would be available. It may not be convenient to mention the matter publicly in this House, and I do not press the right hon. Gentleman for an answer, because it might not be in accordance with public policy that it should be mentioned; but every student of foreign policy and military affairs knows what the right hon. Gentleman had in his mind. At any rate, if he did not rule Europe out of his calculation, why keep the Force at home? If the Navy is sufficient, and if the Territorial Force is sufficient for our defence, why should not the Expeditionary Force be sent to India or to other places to do the work it would be called upon to do? It is obvious that the intention of the right hon. Gentleman was that this Expeditionary Force should be used in Europe or elsewhere as might be required.
The second point is that when the right hon. Gentleman brought in his Bill we were to have a Second Force, equally organised, equally complete in units, and in all those points required in these days to make an Army, to act as a second line of defence—the Territorial Force. That was the intention of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman said many other things in those very optimistic days which, I think, he has somewhat left behind. I notice in his speeches, many as they have been during the present Debates, that the optimistic rosy way in which he used to look at these questions is now discarded. I notice in the Memorandum several remarks which seem to me to show conclusively that the right hon. Gentleman is by no means as certain of the nature of the boat in which he embarked as he was when he brought in this scheme. The first condition of the Territorial Force laid 2358 down by the right hon. Gentleman as necessary to make it efficient for the purpose of acting as a Home Defence Force for repelling invasion or, as the right hon. Gentleman prefers to call it, raid, was that it must be sufficient in numbers, and that the minimum should be 300,000, excluding the Special Reserve. What are the figures of the old Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers? I have here a printed reply of the right hon. Gentleman to a question of mine. It is so badly printed it is rather difficult to read it in this light. The War Office do not keep very efficient duplicating typewriting machines. According to this return, in the year 1907, the total of the old Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers was 359,620; in 1908, 349,141; in 1909, the year when the Territorial Force and Special Reserve came into operation, 275,372; in 1910, 342,223; in 1911, 330,610.
What do we deduce from the figures I have mentioned? In 1911 we have actually 12,000 men less in the Territorial Force than we had in 1910. What, to my mind, is the most damning thing from the point of view of success is that actually now, after four years of your scheme, after all those unparalleled exertions on the part of the Territorial Force, four years after the "Flag-Lieutenant" and the "Englishman's Home" have been brought forward in order to encourage recruiting; after four years of other exertions too numerous to mention; after the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman and the peregrinations of the Presidents of County Associations; and after the much abused Dukes used their high territorial influence, the net result of all that is that you have actually less by 20,000 men than you had in the old Militia, Yeomanry, and the Volunteers, and, as an hon. Friend says, less 3 per cent. who are non-efficient. I do not go into the question of shortage of officers, although that is sufficiently serious. I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that he smiles at that. I do not object to his smiling as I have frequently smiled at what he has said. I can assure him, as I can assure my hon. Friends, as one who has watched the right hon. Gentleman very closely for the last four years, that the only answer which he ever gave, or ever gives to any criticisms either by my hon. Friends or right hon. Friends, is a smile of apparently happy content. Those are the figures four years after the formation of the great scheme by which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Haldane) wished his name to go down to 2359 history as a War Minister. Does anyone deny that it is the right hon. Gentleman's magnum opus? Some of us heard his speech yesterday, believing it was his swan song, and that he will not have many more opportunities of speaking here. I will only ask whether he thinks it satisfactory that after four years, during which this scheme has been in operation, there are 20,000 men less in numbers, with besides the shortage of officers and 33 per cent. of the men inefficient. The right hon. Gentleman, in one of those delightful sentences which I shall miss very much if by any unhappy mischance he is translated to another place, and which I describe as "Secretary-of-State-for-War-isms," after stating that the strength of the Force on January 1st, 1911, was 9,696 officers and 257,156 other ranks, says:—The reports which have reached me since the beginning of the year about recruiting are encouraging. I hope that the financial provisions which I have been able to make in these Estimates will remove some of the difficulties the County Associations have hitherto experienced, and have the effect of stimulating the now of recruits.That is interesting, because I understand that the financial provision that he is making has nothing whatever to do with recruiting. I have been a member of a Territorial Association ever since their formation; I have seen some of the difficulties with which they have had to deal; and in my humble opinion the reason why the right hon. Gentleman is making these further grants has nothing whatever to do with the obtaining of recruits, but to prevent the Associations in some cases from becoming absolutely bankrupt. They cannot buy one-tenth of the things they require. Though I should be glad if any money that is spent had the most desirable effect of bringing in more recruits, I have seen nothing to lead me to suppose that that will be the result. The figures which I have given of the Force just after it was started were the result of unparalleled exertions on the part, in towns, of leaders of Society, Conservatives and Liberals, and of all classes, except the trade union leaders, who did little or nothing to help the Force, and, in the country districts, of members of the much-abused territorial landlord class.
In the case of the Sussex Association, of which I am a member, we had as chairman one of those devastating Dukes, who are the object of so much ridicule and indignation on the part, not of the right hon. Gentleman, but of a colleague who sits very near him. This "blackmailer" went from one corner of 2360 Sussex to another, speaking night after night, and I have not the least doubt that by his own exertions he succeeded in obtaining a large percentage of recruits for the Force. Others, more humble but equally reprobate, did the same. I, for instance, left my proper duty of criticising the Government and perambulated the country, sleeping in uncomfortable places, and so on. We all did our best. The serious part of the situation is that we are certainly not going through all those efforts again. An hon. Member says he thinks the Force will succeed. He is very optimistic. There is no evidence of it in the figures I have quoted or in the debate to which we have listened. Whether it succeeds or not, I believe every Member of the present Territorial Associations of the counties—who have done our best to make the Force a success—although we all shall do our best I think, it will be impossible to give the unparalleled exertions that most went through when the Force was first founded. Again, we are not likely to have recourse to a method of recruiting that no other nation would adopt, having a stage play in which there was an invasion, in order to get the people to join the Territorial Force. The right hon. Gentleman showed that he really thought about it, and showed that he really agreed with what I have said—on this point when he got up yesterday, and used words which I was surprised at. They were scarcely referred to in the Parliamentary reports. He made a most remarkable admission. He said that although everyone would deprecate the horrors of war—I think those were his words—that he regretted to say that it was now ten years since a war-had taken place.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I said that the Territorial Force was suffering from the excellent disease of ten years of peace.
§ Earl WINTERTON
The point I want to make is this: Nothing could show the weakness of the present system better than that it should be necessary for a war in order that recruiting should be brought up to the mark. But in time of scare you have hon. Gentlemen opposite like the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Leeds (Mr. O'Grady)—I do not think he is as unpatriotic as his speeches would lead us to believe—coming forward—
§ Earl WINTERTON
I know there are hon. Gentlemen opposite who have served; but the observation was intended as a jibe to those who, like myself, have done their best for the Force in view of the other duties on their shoulders. Some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite below the Gangway may have served in the Regular Forces, but my point is that none of them give any encouragement whatever—not a single one of them—to the Military Forces of this country.
§ Mr. T. RICHARDS
Several of the trade union leaders are members of the County Associations, myself among them.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I am very glad to hear it. I am glad that there is one white sheep amongst a good many black ones. But the junior Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) has again and again called attention to the danger of these Forces. I invite some hon. Gentleman below the Gangway when I sit down to get up and make a speech in support of the Army. I never heard one yet. I say that if you had an outbreak of war every Englishman would be ready to serve his country. The right hon. Gentleman stated a great truth, greater perhaps than he intended, when he said that what the Territorials are suffering from is ten years of peace. Of course, that is what every Second Line Force suffers from. People come forward when there is danger of war, untrained and unfit, and they go to meet certain death at the hands of their opponents. So much for the question of numbers. On the question of training, when the right hon. Gentleman first introduced his Territorial scheme, he claimed that the training would be vastly superior to the old Yeomanry and Militia. I believe the training is improved in many respects, and the organisation of the Force is superior to that of the old Auxiliary Forces; but does any man seriously contend that the training of the Territorial Force to-day is sufficient to repel an invasion or a raid even of a small kind on these Islands? It is interesting as showing the kind of standard adopted by the right hon. Gentleman to direct attention to his remarks in the statement he published a few days ago, dealing with the officers for the Reserve. He said:—There is reason to think that one of the obstacles experienced by candidates is the length of the period of probationary training (twelve months) required of those who do not hold certificates from the Officers 2362 Training Corps. While that period cannot be considered longer than is desirable for the training of an officer, at the present day, it is useless to maintain a standard which experience has shown to be prohibitive.Although the right hon. Gentleman himself does not consider twelve months too long for the training of officers, he goes on in the next paragraph of his Memorandum to say it must be reduced to nine months. Do hon. Members below the Gangway opposite consider that a proper or a safe state of affairs in our Second Defence Line—the Line which, if the Expeditionary Force is sent away, would be the only Force left, when it is absolutely impossible to obtain a sufficient number of officers to do the training which is required, and when you have to reduce it to a period far less than is required. That is playing with the question of national defence. The appearance of that statement in the Memorandum at all seems to show that the right hon. Gentleman realises the weakness of that position. Upon the question of the Territorial Force I would like to put this point to the right hon. Gentleman. Perhaps he will not answer me, but I know there are some replies which might prejudice our position abroad.
Does the Secretary for War really think that public opinion in this country during the risk of an invasion by a great European Power would stand as a counterblast the sending away of your Expeditionary Force to act in conjunction with our allies on the Continent of Europe, leaving the Territorial Force to defend us as our only military defence? I do not believe it would. Anyone who has had any experience of an invasion, or the risk of invasion, knows that the first difficulty you have to deal with is your population at home. I shall probably have the sympathy of hon. Members below the Gangway when I say that there are on the verge of hunger thousands of people in this country who, when an invasion was on the point of taking place, would require a very strong force to prevent them rioting and doing considerable damage to property. I saw in Paris on the 1st of May last year 20,000 troops employed to prevent a Socialist procession marching on the city. Does anyone believe that this great city of London in time of war, when there was a risk of invasion, and with the enemy's ships at the mouth of the Thames—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh! Oh!"] That is not so much out of the bounds of possibility as some hon. Members opposite seem to think. I am not now dealing with the question of whether they would ever land 2363 or not, but it has been laid down by military experts that in the event of a great war—which God forbid!—a fight might take place within a reasonable distance of the mouth of the Thames. What would be the effect of that upon the people of this great city of London? It would require a very considerable force indeed to keep order. You had an example recently in London of what can happen in Sidney Street. Whilst you have such an element in your midst does anyone believe that the people of this country would allow the Territorial Force to be the sole authority for keeping order and acting as our military defence as well? Of course they would not, and the right hon. Gentleman knows very well that tremendous pressure would be brought to bear to prevent the dispatch of the Expeditionary Force. The clerk in Streatham would say, "I know nothing about the interests of France or any other country, and I am not going to see the Guards I pay for go away, and leave my house at the risk of being rifled by the Germans."
§ Earl WINTERTON
That interruption shows the state of mind of hon. Members opposite. They still see a paradise in the thousands of people who would suddenly appear under arms. Where they would come from and what we should do with them I do not know. When it takes seventy policemen, who are trained and disciplined, to surround two anarchists in a house, it is not likely that a thousand clerks in Streatham would be of much value against a single company of German soldiers. What does the hon. Member opposite think would happen to those men who come out? They would be shot as spies because they would have no uniform.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I do not believe public opinion would stand the defence of these shores being left to the Territorials alone, and I do not believe the hon. Gentleman is serious in his interruption or honestly believes it. Take the case of the city of London. Does he think the Territorials would be sufficient to guard this town after the Regular troops had been sent abroad with the Expeditionary Force? I say the Expeditionary Force would never be sent abroad, because the Government would be afraid to do it. I 2364 am speaking of matters within my own knowledge when I say that throughout Europe every friend of this country, whether he be a Frenchman, an Italian, or a German—after all, there are still some friends of this country left in Germany—assumes that in the event of European complications between this country and another great Power the issue of the fight would depend upon our ability to send the Expeditionary Force overseas. It could not be sent overseas, because you have not the organisation for it.
The right hon. Gentleman has admitted in his speech this afternoon that his Railway Mobilisation Corps is not yet in an efficient condition. He has admitted that his Mechanical Transport Corps is not yet formed. He has admitted a shortage of horses. He has admitted that the Army Medical Corps is not up to requirements. He has admitted all these things; but, above all, whether he has admitted them or not, whether the Force is ready or not, it would not be allowed to leave on account of the simple fact that public opinion in this country would not stand its despatch. We have had no answer really from the Front Bench on that main question of national defence. We have had answers on many points of detail, very important in themselves, connected with clothing, rates of wages, guns, and with particular branches of the Army, but we have had no detailed arguments from that bench on that general question, and I invite the Home Secretary (Mr. Churchill), who is peculiarly successful in his arguments about this hour of the night, and who has perhaps given more attention to this question than his colleague—he has been to the manœuvres of a great many European Powers, he has studied this question from an early age, and he has seen actual service—to say before this Debate closes whether he considers the Territorial Force is sufficient in numbers and is of a standard of efficiency in training and organisation to act as the Second Line of Defence of these shores. Does he think the Expeditionary Force fit to leave these shores, and does he think public opinion would stand its leaving if it were in a position to do so? I should be interested to hear his answer.
I believe we have no Army at all in the Continental sense of the word. We have not got an Army. We have merely got a police force which serves in India, South Africa, and other parts of the Empire. I cannot conceive why, when hon. Gentlemen opposite take the line that the Navy is 2365 all-sufficient for the defence of these shores and attempt to prove that the Expeditionary Force would not be used in Europe, they do not take the bull by the horns and send the Expeditionary Force, the Regular Army, overseas to learn its duty in that part of the world in which it may be called upon to serve from their point of view. They do not do so because they would be admitting absolute need for national service in this country, and the voluntary system has broken down, and that the whole scheme of the right hon. Gentleman has fallen to the ground like a house of cards. The right hon. Gentleman has been compared with the French War Minister before the great war of 1869. To me he is not a sinister figure but really a pathetic one. To me he is merely a Minister who has endeavoured, quite honestly and conscientiously, and according to his lights and to the best of his great intellectual ability, to build up an impossible system for the defence of this country. He has been overwhelmed by an impossible position; he has had to work with a voluntary service, which has made it impossible to create any adequate scheme for the defence of these shores. It is a subject for criticism rather than commiseration. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman imagined his name would go down to history as that of the one who solved the problem of the defence of these shores. If he did so he never made a greater mistake. His name will merely go down to history as one of a long line of War Ministers—some Tory and some Radical—who have endeavoured under an impossible system to have an Army for the defence of these shores. I venture to say he will be one of the last of the line. I think in a very few years we shall have sitting on that Bench a Government which, by force of circumstances and possibly against their will, will be compelled to adopt the only solution of this grave problem—viz., universal national service.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
I find myself in agreement with one statement of the Noble Lord who last spoke, and that is that this is an occasion for general considerations in connection with the defensive forces of the country rather than details. In this connection the Secretary for War may remember that in the year 1906 I drew attention to the enormous expenditure on military forces in South Africa. A very large garrison was stationed there, and I ventured to suggest that a considerable saving might be effected by a reduction of 2366 that garrison. I give the right hon. Gentleman full credit for having reduced that garrison from 20,000 men to the figure it now stands at—11,500. But the answer he gave to my hon. Friend the Member for the Hexham Division of Northumberland (Mr. Holt) I heard with considerable regret, because it appears to me he is abandoning the settled policy of this country since 1861, when a Committee went very fully into the question of our Colonial garrisons and the results of our policy. On that ocacsion it was laid down that the self-governing Colonies were to take care of their own defences, and the Imperial troops were to be withdrawn as soon as possible, while if for any consideration it was deemed necessary to retain any troops the Colonies were to pay for them. That policy has since been consistently acted upon, and in all the self-governing Colonies of the Empire there are now no Imperial troops. Some of the Colonies, no doubt, protested that they were unable to form a Colonial Force, and arrangements were made for the retention of Imperial troops at their cost. Such an arrangement was made with Australia, and a considerable period was allowed to lapse before the Imperial troops were withdrawn. The hon. Member for Hexham in his speech pointed out that the time had come when it was unnecessary to retain a very large force in South Africa, and that the experience of the past would justify them in withdrawing some 7,500 of the 11,500 troops still there. He pointed out very correctly that in past times a less number than this was amply sufficient. They have a United South Africa far stronger in resources, men and money and in everything which goes to the strength of a State than they ever had, and yet we maintain this enormous garrison there without asking for any contribution from that Colony.
At a period when we are presented with enormous Estimates for the Navy, it does seem to me a time when we should secure every legitimate economy which is consistent with maintaining the efficiency of our defensive Forces, and when we should obtain every contribution which we have a right to ask from those who are perfectly ready and willing to share in the defence of Empire. It therefore seems to me that some further and better answer was due from the right hon. Gentleman than the reply which he gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney. My hon. Friend pointed out that he would not only save 7,500 men in South Africa, but would also 2367 save 7,500 men in this country who were associated with the Force in the Colony, and he ought to take this step, as he has frequently told us that it is only by the reduction of the Oversea Forces that we can hope to see a reduction of the Forces which we have to maintain in this country. Therefore, my hon. Friend has shown that in the reduction of the Force in South Africa, there is nothing in the situation which presents any difficulty or any danger. The Colony is in a perfectly peaceful state; the natives are perfectly loyal and contented; there is good order and good government there in a greater degree than there ever was before, and there is no necessity for maintaining that large Force. Therefore, if this economy can be made, it ought to be made. The right hon. Gentleman told us that the four Premiers of South Africa resisted reduction of the numbers at this time, but I should like to ask him if those right hon. Gentlemen stated that they were prepared to contribute to the cost of these Forces in that Colony. That is a question which ought to be put. If South Africa has not organised its Defensive Force it is fair to ask them to make an adequate contribution towards the cost of the troops which are maintained there not for our purposes, but for their purposes. The right hon. Gentleman only so recently as 1909 drew attention to the principles which ought to govern us in this matter as regards the Colonies. In his Memorandum for 1909 he pointed out that it was essential that the Colonies should take care of their own defence. He referred to the Report of a Committee which had considered the subject and said:—The whole tenor of the Committee's Report was that the responsibility and cost of the military defence of the self-governing portions of the Empire ought to be borne locally. The Committee recommended the complete withdrawal of Imperial troops serving in the Australian Colonies, in New Zealand, and the West Indies. With respect to the South African Colonies, and all those similarly circumstanced dependencies, which contain large European populations, they reported that their security against warlike action or domestic disturbance should be to provide, as far as possible, by means of local organisation; but the main object of any system which is adopted by this country should be to encourage such efforts, not merely with a view to diminishing Imperial expenditure, but for the still more important purpose of stimulating the spirit of self-reliance.He tells us himself the presence of Regular troops in the self-governing Colonies had a distinctly deleterious effect in that it tended to prevent the Colonial Governments concerned from developing their own military resources. The right hon. Gentleman himself two years ago 2368 drew attention to that principle, yet apparently to-night he has abandoned that principle, and he does not propose to ask any contribution from the Colonies to the very serious expenditure which is now made on their behalf. The right hon. Gentleman gave another reason besides the requirements of South Africa, and that was that the troops there might be used for reinforcing our troops in other places. Having regard to that, I should like to observe, in the first place, that it is very expensive to retain troops in South Africa. By question and answer the right hon. Gentleman has admitted that it costs as; much to maintain one man in South Africa as would maintain two men here. Then from the point of view of strategy it is: a very bad thing to have your forces spread all over the world instead of concentrated at a point at which your garrisons can be reinforced anywhere throughout the Empire. Again I call to witness the right hon. Gentleman himself, because in the Memorandum he says:—The tendency of modern warfare is to strike a blow at the heart of the hostile. Power. It is, therefore, desirable to concentrate the troops required for the defence of the United Kingdom as much as possible, and to trust mainly to Naval supremacy for securing against foreign aggression the distant dependencies of the Empire.
I had hoped when the right hon. Gentleman replied to the requests of the hon. Members for Banff and Hull they would have met with more sympathy than they did. There is undoubtedly a desire, I believe, among the large majority of Yeomanry officers, certainly in this House, and I believe throughout the length and breadth of the country, to retain for preference sergeant majors instead of appointing sergeants in their places. First of all, from the point of view of the men, you place him in a false position altogether. You ask him to keep up the position which has hitherto been kept up by the sergeant-major on a far less rate of pay, and the men in the squadron want a man of considerable age to whom they can look up. A young sergeant will not command the respect of those under him, and he will in most instances be younger than the Yeomanry sergeants themselves. From the point of view of squadron leader, undoubtedly he is in some cases a man who places great reliance upon the non-commissioned officers, and he expects to find a man of experience placed at his disposal.
You can take any squadron or any regiment in the country, and you will find 2369 the majority of men who command the squadron have not leisure to look after it during training time. Being in this House, I am unable to give the attention to the work which I should like, and the other squadrons of the regiment to which I belong are commanded by business men. One is a barrister, another is a gentleman in trade, and a third is a gentleman who has business abroad. Is it possible for these men to give that attention to their business which is absolutely necessary in order that the squadrons may be kept up to a full state of efficiency. I am sorry that the Home Secretary by talking to the Secretary for War is preventing the right hon. Gentleman from listening to my argument, for after all he is a squadron leader himself and I have reason to believe that he would be affected if he got a sergeant for his squadron instead of a sergeant-major. There is undoubtedly in the theory put forward by the right hon. Gentleman that you are going to get a better class of non-commissioned officer the greatest fallacy you can possibly produce. In the first place can any reasonable man believe that any commanding officer of a Cavalry regiment is going to voluntarily allow the best non-commissioned officers to be sent away from his regiment? The thing is too preposterous and silly. He has never any desire to part with any of his non-commissioned officers, and yet you look to him to send them away from their own regiment on the possibility of their doing some good to a regiment with which they have hitherto never come in contact. The theory is that you are going to get the pick of the non-commissioned officers.
For the ounce of theory offered by the right hon. Gentleman I can produce four solid facts which are worth more than his theorising. One regiment was asked to supply non-commissioned officers as sergeants for the Yeomanry, and instead of selecting the best non-commissioned officers they called for volunteers. I can tell you the reason why in each of these cases the non-commissioned officers who volunteered were willing to go to the Yeomanry. Three of them were men who thought they had no chance in their own regiment, and the fourth was one who wished to fill up his time in the Yeomanry until it was time for him to get his promotion. Another contention is that when you get a man into the Yeomanry as sergeant-major he really becomes pot-bellied and useless. With the advance 2370 of years some officers are inclined to become more rotund than in their youth; but I have yet to learn on what assumption the right hon. Gentleman can suggest that slackness and sleekness are synonymous terms. It is the misfortune of some of us to increase in weight and figure, but I have yet to learn that slackness accompanies sleekness. I do not know whether that comes from the right hon. Gentleman himself or the Financial Secretary. But if there is slackness accompanying the sleekness with this particular class of noncommissioned officers I want to know what the adjutant is doing to allow that slackness to take place? The right hon. Gentleman has been very reluctant to meet the wishes of those who sit behind him with these particulars, but I hope that even now, though a little late, possibly with the assistance of the Home Secretary, he will make the alteration and return to the old system of appointing men of considerable age who command respect in place of these who at present are being appointed to these different positions.
With regard to the Territorial Force I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he cannot institute a more considerate feeling between the War Office and the Territorial Associations. The right hon. Gentleman would be the first to admit that he has received very loyal and genuine support in what is not a party but a purely national matter. He has received support from every class and every party in the country practically without exception, and has received more support from Members of the party represented on this side of the House than possibly he has received from Members of the party opposite. Possibly it may be that Members on this side of the House or those represented by them have more leisure or more inclination to give such support. At any rate he cannot complain of the support that has been given throughout the country. I would ask him to place a little more confidence in those who have undertaken the duties of Territorial Associations. We are to-day tied up with red tape. Whether it emanates from the War Office or from the Record Offices of the different districts under whose influence they come I am unable to say. I will give a small instance. In my own particular district we find we can effect an economy by sending the men to camp to shoot—by continual shooting for three days. It would necessitate an expenditure which is not so great as sending the men there by train—return 2371 tickets on three occasions. Yet we are allowed the funds to send the men there on three occasions, although we could more economically and profitably do it by sending them to camp for three days. That is prevented by red tape. I cannot believe that the right hon. Gentleman was brought up in the atmosphere of red tape, as some of us have been brought up who have been connected with the Army. But certainly there is the inclination after getting away from the Regular Army to burst the bonds of red tape that previously tied us. But if the right hon. Gentleman continues in the atmosphere of red tape which always has, and always will, surround the War Office, I believe that he will be still more bound by these objectionable methods which prevail there, and I believe that there really are in that office those who ultimately hope and desire that when they are placed in their shrouds their very shrouds will be bound with the red tape with which they bound themselves in their life-time. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will do something to place more reliance upon those who in the main are the chosen representatives of the different districts, and give them a freer hand in the working of Associations, and liberate those who are civilians and not accustomed to this uncongenial form of restriction, further latitude, and, if so, I believe he will receive in return greater services from those Associations than he ever received in the past.
§ 12.0 M.
§ Colonel YATE
I must express my dissent from the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt), who moved the reduction of the Vote by 15,000 men. The hon. Member who sat next to him suggested that we should reply on diplomacy to take the place of those 15,000 men, but I would suggest that the strength of our diplomacy depends on the strength of our Army, and if the hon. Gentleman would move an addition of 15,000 men to the strength of our Forces, then, but not until then, could I co-operate with him in any way whatsoever. I would certainly like to express my gratitude for the expression of generous sympathy from both sides of the House regarding the question of officers' pay. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War said that sooner or later the question of officers and their pay would have to be faced. That is a statement which we all hope will bear 2372 fruit, and I think we may almost look to see some result next year. I am perfectly sure that the country generally does not know in the least what the pay of officers is. If hon. Members turn to page 142 of the Estimates, they will see that the pay of the second-lieutenant is 5s. 3d. a day, of the captain 11s. 7d., and of the colonel 23s. As to the pay of the second-lieutenant, it will be acknowledged that a young man cannot live upon 5s. 3d. a day, buy his uniform, and bear other expenses without an allowance from his father.
Then there is the captain, an officer of from nine to eighteen years' service, and say from twenty-seven to thirty-six years of age, probably the best years of his life. He has to live on 11s. 7d. a day, or a little more than £200 a year, a salary that can be aspired to by any clerk in a bank or City office. The captain is a man who has to exercise powers of leadership, and one on whom it is conceivable national interests may depend in time of war. Then there is the colonel commanding the regiment on pay amounting to £420 a year—a sum upon which it is impossible to keep up the position of a command like that, and moreover there is nothing further for the majority of officers to look forward to when at fifty or fifty-two years of age they are compelled to leave the Service. We cannot wonder that in these circumstances many men who have got to the rank of captain, and see nothing before them, leave the Service and go off to British Columbia or some other part of the Empire to make a career. Nor can we wonder that fathers can no longer induce their sons to join the Army, in which their fathers before them have served for generations. But passing from the pay of the officers, I ask, first of all, that more sympathy should be shown in the treatment of officers. We want to see officers saved from many petty annoyances and expenses that are entailed upon them in their Service.
I will take one or two instances. I would specially protest against the charge of one penny per day for furniture. It is a little thing, but it an annoying and bothering charge. More consideration should be shown to officers in regard to change of quarters. I have known of officers having three houses on hand owing to the frequency of movement. It is particularly hard lines on married officers in this respect. 2373 The married subaltern on 6s. 6d. a day has no quarters found for him. Houses are often very expensive, and time after time he may be left with them on his hands. Then there are the things which officers have to pay in order to keep up the efficiency of the regiment. There is the band subscription. Surely the band is a thing that belongs to the State. Why should officers be called on to keep up the band, and why should it not be kept up by the State? officers might well be saved all these charges. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand (Mr. Walter Long) gave an instance of an officer who had actually to pay for the ground on which his men trained in order to keep up their efficiency. I have heard of cases in which officers had to pay to provide bicycles for the men, so that the regiment would keep up its training and not get a bad name.
In all these matters, if the officer is only treated fairly, generously, and with consideration, I am sure, despite the smallness of the pay, that the State will have no more loyal servants than it has in its officers. As to the officers of the Special Reserve, I gathered from the Report of the right hon. Gentleman, and I would ask him to correct me if I am wrong, that if the Regular Army and the Expeditionary Force were to be mobilised tomorrow that there is not a single battalion of the Reserve Force that could be moved owing to the want of officers. The right hon. Gentleman said that he hoped to be able to reduce the deficiency of 921; but here is a matter on which the whole Army depends and yet we have a thousand officers short and nothing beyond a hope that the deficiency will be made up. A point was raised by the hon. Baronet the Member for Lichfield regarding the proportion of Cavalry and Artillery in the Army. I would desire to support what the hon. Baronet said. We have a small Army, and for that reason we ought to be specially strong in Artillery, and if the proportion in foreign armies may be five guns per thousand men, our proportion should be six guns per thousand men.
§ Colonel YATE
I am glad to hear that. There is another subject I have not heard mentioned, and that is about the Mounted Infantry. The present scheme of taking men and officers from a lot of different regiments and putting them together for a time for training, then dispersing them 2374 without any idea of the same men and officers serving together again seems to me to be a wrong idea. It lacks cohesion and esprit de corps. The men and officers should grow up together as they do in ordinary regiments. Why should there not be whole battalions continuously serving as Mounted Infantry instead of the scratch companies which are embodied to-day and gone to-morrow? Take the Rifles and let them be formed into Mounted Infantry, the companies being trained in rotation. The whole I battalion would be ready to be mobilised I as Mounted Infantry in time of war, the men would know their officers, and the officers would know their men. That would be an infinitely preferable system to the one we have.
Speaking of the 407 Voluntary Aid Detachments for R.A.M.C. work, the right hon. Gentleman said that 308 were composed of women and ninety-nine of men. How many of those ninety-nine have been raised by the St. John's Ambulance Brigade, and how many by the Red Cross Society? I would suggest that in order to avoid overlapping the work should be divided between those two organisations, the men's detachments being raised by the St. John's Ambulance Brigade, and the women's companies by the Red Cross Society. I was delighted to hear the sympathetic manner in which the right hon. Gentleman spoke on the question of employment for old soldiers. He said:—I desire to impress upon the House what the nation owes to these men who have borne the heat and burden of the day with the Colours, and who come back deserving our consideration. I hope that in every quarter interest will be maintained in this problem of how to provide our soldiers on leaving the Colours, to which they have given the best years of their life, with employment.These men are handicapped in their race for employment and deserve special treatment. The only special treatment given them is a promise of half the vacancies in the Post Office. A large proportion of the men put down their names for employment as postmen on leaving their regiments but very few of them get it, because half the vacancies are reserved for telegraph boys. What on earth have the telegraph boys done for the country that they should take the bread out of the mouths of deserving old soldiers? Instead of half the vacancies being reserved for them, let the boys be told that if on attaining the age of eighteen years they enlist and put in seven years with the Colours, with good Conduct, then and then only they will be given 2375 employment in the Post Office, and let all the vacancies be reserved for old soldiers. I say that I am glad to see that this question has received consideration lately by a Standing Committee, and that that Committee has done something towards the attainment of the object I seek; but it has not done nearly enough. Nothing can be satisfactory in this respect till all vacancies in the Post Office are reserved for old soldiers and sailors, and the boy be told that he will only be kept on after the age of 16 on the understanding that he is to enlist. That there is no such order to this effect is a distinct injustice to the old soldier, and it is a distinct injustice that he should be superseded by a boy of 18. It is too, a distinct injustice to the lad of 18 who is put early into this coveted appointment, remains till he is 30, and is then dissatisfied for the rest of his life.
These remarks of mine about the Post Office apply equally to every branch of the Government service. We are the only country that treats its old soldiers in the way that we do. In France the old soldier has a right to certain employment under the State. Nothing will be satisfactory till the same rule applies in this country. If the Army and Navy is to be placed on a satisfactory footing, employment will require to be guaranteed to the men who have served their time with good conduct with the Colours. I would appeal to the Government, and especially to the Secretary for War and the First Lord of the Admiralty, to have another Committee appointed, not to deal with the Post Office alone, but to deal with this question of employment in every branch and department of the Government service. Rules should be framed that these men who serve their country shall have first claim for employment given by the country in every department of its services.
One word about the Cadets. I was very pleased to hear what the right hon. Gentleman said on that subject yesterday. He said that since January fifty-one units, consisting of 122 companies, had been "recognised and many other units were awaiting recognition. "Our purpose," he said, "is to make the Cadets a better organised and better arranged Force." I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will succeed in this effort. He will, I think, have the support of the whole country. I think all will agree with me that unless we do something for the training of our youth we shall lose our national 2376 physique. We have mentally educated our youth and have done nothing for their physique. We must make the latter training equally compulsory with the first or we are done. Under the stress and strain of the industrial life of our great cities the national physique is rapidly deteriorating. No one can deny that. We had proof of it yesterday in the statement given by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Torquay that 50 or 60 per cent. of the recruits who now come forward for enlistment have to be rejected because they are not up to the standard. When we look around and see the boys in our great cities and compare them with the bright, intelligent, eager lads that you see in your Cadet Companies and Boys Brigades, then one feels that this excellent training should be extended to all boy alike, and not only to those who volunteer for it.
No one can gainsay the fact that boys enlisted in our Cadet Corps start life with a far better chance than those boys who have not been drilled in such corps. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War has lately offered some recognition to those Cadet Corps, but I ask him not to limit it in the way he has done. I ask him to follow the example of our Colonies such as New Zealand and Australia and make Cadet training universal throughout the country. Let every boy in our elementary schools be trained as junior Cadets and let every boy in our secondary schools be trained as senior Cadets. Begin this training in the public schools at Eton and Harrow, and then work downwards so that we may show the working man that it is not a question of putting extra burdens upon the poor but that of imposing extra duties upon the rich. There is no working man in this country with whom I talked who does not know the benefit of training to boys. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to consider this question and see whether, with the help of the County Councils and the County Education Authorities and the Minister for Education, he cannot do something to give more training to the youth of the country before the national physique of our race is lost. If we are to keep up our standard it is most important we should train our children.
I feel it very hard to have to go into the important question of the Army at such a late hour as this. Having sat here 2377 throughout the hours of this Debate wishing to bring important questions of Army organisation to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman it is very difficult to put one's views as one would wish at such an hour before the Committee. It is not altogether fair that we should be given such scant opportunities for putting these matters before the right hon. Gentleman. As there are many hon. Members still waiting to address the Committee, far better able to criticise the system of the right hon. Gentleman than I am I enter this protest against the action of the Liberal Government in not giving Service Members a proper opportunity of criticising their Estimates and their scheme. The right hon. Gentleman said the general principles of his scheme were accepted. Does the right hon. Gentleman wish us to believe that the whole Army and everybody responsible for the defences of this country are convinced that the principles which he is doing his best to carry out are the best? If he does I venture to differ with him—
From my view of the speech the right hon. Gentleman made yesterday he, practically speaking, said that. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to lay down what the principles were. The first was that you had to train a sufficient number of men to keep up the Overseas Army. He said:—The Regular Line must be our foremost consideration.I am quite with him. We are told we have to maintain our Overseas Forces, and I maintain that the only way we can do that is to have a long-service Army. If that is the only object, I do not think we should follow the system we are doing. But, in thinking of the way in which we are going to keep up our Army, I feel sure that we do not want to consider that matter only; we want also to consider whether we wish to have a striking Force at home. We have had it laid down that the duty of the Territorial Force is to repel raids, to garrison this country, and perhaps eventually to fight in the first line. I wish to pay every compliment I can to everyone who is good enough to serve his country in the Territorial Army. We all appreciate very much the men who do it; but I feel sure those officers and men who take the trouble to make themselves as efficient as they can, do so in the belief that they are training themselves not only to garrison this country in time of war, 2378 but also to take their part in the defence of the country as trained units. Why do we pay this enormous sum of money for generals and staff officers for the Territorial Force unless they are meant to go into action and fight like Regular soldiers?
I question whether this expenditure upon staff, generals and organisation in the Territorials is altogether necessary. It would certainly be preferable to spend that money on troops which could be used in service across the frontier. I am not saying anything disrespectful to the Territorials, because I believe they would, if necessary, volunteer to fight wherever their services were needed, but I do not think we are getting to the bed-rock of army organisation when we simply talk round our subjects. We are told that our Regular Army is kept at home to find troops for our Oversea Force. We are also told that the Territorials are not to fight against Regular troops until after they have had six months training, and that their duty is simply to garrison England. I think it ought to be laid down clearly what the duties of these men are. In his highly interesting statement the Secretary for War did not lay down what he was organising these different forces for. I think after all, when the War Minister addresses this House again it would be a distinct advantage if he would tell us the results of the training last year. I have not yet been able to get the report of the manœuvres which took place last year. I put a Question down on the Paper to-day on the subject to which I have received a written answer.
There is one point I should like to refer to in reference to training. I have gone through a good deal of training myself as I have been for eighteen years a regimental officer. We go out to manœuvres and do a lot of hard work, but we seldom hear the result of our efforts. That is not a satisfactory way of going on, and when one knows that the Territorials this year were given training in the manœuvres it would have been of considerable interest if we had been told what the result was, what the reports were, and what the officers who inspected those manœuvres thought of them. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give the Committee some information on those points. It is not sufficient simply to send a report to the divisional officer or brigadier. Those are not the people I have a great interest in at the present moment; I want to see the regimental officers helped as much as 2379 possible. I hope I may still be allowed to give my services as an officer. I feel that the position of regimental officers is something which the War Office ought to keep in mind. I invite the right hon. Gentleman not to pay too much attention to the staff officers, but call in occasionally the advice of the regimental officer. If he does this he will I am sure get a considerable amount of sound advice, and perhaps advice of a more honest nature than that given by those men who know that their future depends more or less upon laying before their superiors advice which they believe their superiors wish for.
I have known men who have grown up in the Army gradually alter their opinions when they have got mixed up with the staff and have a prospect of becoming generals and rising to even higher rank. The change of view is not altogether in the direction of what is strictly for the good of the Army, of the individual regimental officer, or of the private soldier. I should like to say a few words on behalf of the rank and file of the Army. I should be glad to see brought into our Army system some betterment of the conditions of pay, food and clothing of the private soldier. Hon. Members in all parts of the House have from time to time expressed an earnest desire to see old soldiers who have completed their military service given better chances of civil employment; we have all regretted very much to see so many old soldiers out of work. I put forward this view with some diffidence, but I do think there is too much coddling—too much looking after the soldier. During his service he is not taught to rely upon himself; his meals are cooked for him, and his clothes provided. Certainly if he be careless he may suffer a little inconvenience from stoppages of pay in order to replace boots or clothing, but there is nothing in his treatment to bring home to his mind the value of self-reliance, and I think it would be a great advantage if we could by some means introduce a system into the Army which would result in the private soldier appreciating a little more the value of the money he gets and of the excellent way in which he lives.
We have heard complaints about the meat provided for the soldier as well as about his pay. I am only too glad to back up the plea of the hon. Members from Ireland that home-fed and home-killed beef only should be supplied, not 2380 only in the interests of the farming industry in this country but also on account of the soldier himself. But the fact remains that everything appertaining to the life of the soldier is cut and dried for him, and it does not induce him in afterlife to be so good and careful a man as we wish to see him. We are all agreed that the old soldier is as good a servant as one could desire to have in any class of life. We know that a great many men are forced by necessity to go into the Army; perhaps they have been unlucky in their start in the battle of life; they may, too, have been careless, foolish and spendthrifts. But they are taken care of in the Army and often they turn out extraordinary good soldiers. It is not always the steadiest men—whom one would naturally choose to employ in times of peace—who turn out best when it comes to fighting: it is frequently the case that the unsteady fellow rushes to the front and proves himself the most desirable soldier of all. At the same time that is the man I wish to help. I have at the present moment a great deal too many who come and apply to me, and for old sake's sake I am ready to help them, but I do think we should do something by our system to try and teach a man of that kind something which would be of use to him in civil life by not giving him so much of the best without letting him know that he has to pay for it. I think if we altered our system a little bit, and did not have absolutely all the rations given out to the man, but accustomed him to have money given into his hands, and to look after himself, we should teach the soldier the value of money. I think that is a thing we neglect a good deal in the training of our Army at the present moment. The thing is to give him the money, and not the rations. Of course, it would be too expensive, and there are a great many arguments against it, but I think it would lead to less unemployment afterwards among our old soldiers.
I mentioned the private soldier first but I now wish to again come to the point of the officers. We have had suggestions from the right hon. Gentleman about slackness, but I am not aware of it and I do not see how increasing the cost to the parents of a young man coming into the Army is going to improve the officers in the Army. It appears to me that increasing the length of the term at Sandhurst will not improve matters. At present the parent has to pay two sets 2381 of £70 or two sets of £120 according to his position, and if we make him pay three times £70 or three times £120, I do not see how we are lessening the expense to the parents and encouraging a larger number of officers to come into the Army. I do not think that is a good principle and I personally think a course at Sandhurst is not generally necessary to equip the officers of our Army, and it is not necessary to increase the course there. I do not believe that attendance there is such a great advantage to an officer in after-life and that he gets any better off because he has done his year's training at Sandhurst. I have never at any moment felt that the lack of training at Sandhurst has stood in my way at all, and I do not think any officer would say that the training he got there contributed to make him more efficient in any part of his service. If you wish to instruct officers more thoroughly it would be better to increase their training in colleges for officers, instead of only having the Staff Colleges which you have at the present moment, and if you started schools for Infantry, and later in life for the regimental soldier.
If you wish to spend money on educational purposes on regimental officers, I think that attending school on the system of the Cavalry School would be an advantage, and is more likely to encourage parents to send their sons into the Army than this long course at Sandhurst. I also think that the long course at Sandhurst sickens a great many officers, who otherwise might turn out useful soldiers. A young man of eighteen who has attended a public school, whose masters will say he is a born leader of men, who is just beginning to feel that he is in a position to do something in the world, if he is sent to the restricted discipline which is now in force at Sandhurst, will very likely not have his career advanced. I ask the right hon. Gentleman most seriously to consider that if he is going to give these privileges to the young men who are recommended, he should not send them to Sandhurst, but send them straight to the Regular Army, send them to the Special Reserve, and allow them to go through a course of training there, and if he has some ten or fifteen of these officers in any particular place, allow some regular officer, and there are plenty of them who would be only too interested, to instruct them and give them a grounding at a Special Reserve depot.
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
I am glad I have caught the Chairman's eye because the point I want to make is one that I should not have a chance to make for another twelvemonth. It is based on a series of questions which I put to the Secretary of War whose answers have not been of a satisfactory character. The Committee listened this afternoon to an eloquent speech from the hon. Member (Mr. Hamar Greenwood) on the advantage it would be to the Army if you increased the facilities for promotion from the ranks. I think that will be the feeling of every good soldier. If you can make a man in the ranks feel he has a reasonable, opportunity of rising in his profession you are increasing the popularity of the Army and its efficiency. The answers I have received from the Secretary for War when compared with the return brought out at the instance of the hon. Member (Mr. John Ward) have shown that during the last five years the facilities for the private soldier to rise to the highest position in the Army have gradually been closing up. Of 3,248 commissions issued from 1906 to 1910, 264 were rankers. Of the 264 only 64 were combatant commissions, and 200 were for quartermasters and riding masters. The proportion of combatant commissions from the ranks was one in 46. The comparison I want to make is with the period 1885 to 1896. During that period, instead of having only one in 46, we had one in 18. The question I wish to ask the Secretary of State for War is whether there has been a change of policy, and, if so, what are the grounds for that change of policy. I hope he will be able to give an answer which will be satisfactory to the country, to the Liberal party, and to this House.
§ Mr. HALDANE
If any soldier in the ranks wants to get a commission, he has only to get recommended by his commanding officer. I take the greatest interest in this matter myself personally, but my difficulty is to get men who are willing to come forward. In the first place the expense is an impediment, and secondly, the standards are so high that the men do not easily come up to them.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I would like to say in regard to what fell from the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Kella-way) that we can all sympathise with his 2383 desire to see more promotions from the ranks, but, as the right hon. Gentleman explained pretty well, so long as the pay of the junior ranks in the Army is as low as it is, it would be certainly impossible for any man who came from the ranks, very possibly married, to live on the pay given to a second lieutenant. Without entering into details, I think the Labour Members would probably agree with me that they cannot live in London as Members of this House under a certain sum—we will say £200 a year. Do they think a subaltern, who only gets £100 a year—half the sum which they consider necessary for themselves—can buy an expensive uniform and keep a wife and family on the pay he receives? I wish to refer to the point raised by two hon Members, who, speaking from the Irish Benches, called attention to the question of the meat contracts for the Army. I do not want to go into details on that point, but it is very important if you want to get recruits for the Territorials, especially the Yeomanry, that you should stand well with the farmers in this country. You ask them to join but you do not buy a single thing from them. You get nearly all your stuff from abroad and then wonder why they do not join. The right hon. Gentleman regrets that people are going abroad. There were forty went from his own village about two months ago, including my own sergeant-major. They went to Canada, where they will be better treated. There is not one single thing in the way of farm produce bought in the place.
The right hon. Gentleman was asked questions by an hon. Member on these Benches with regard to meat in the Army. He was asked, was diseased meat or meat cut off diseased animals bought for the Army, and he gave us to understand that this was not the case. I asked him the other day if any deduction of weight is allowed off Australian and Queensland meat in Army contracts and, if so, for what purpose. His reply was that there was not. Then why was this circular sent out by the Director of Army Contracts:—Moreover, the Australian shippers of meat have decided for the present to remove all flanks and briskets representing roughly about 30 lbs. of meat from the forequarters, on account of the outbreak of a disease found to affect only those parts of the animal. In these circumstances, it has been decided to reduce the minimum weight for quarters of Australian beef supplied under the present contracts to 160 lbs., or to 130 lbs. in the case of forequarters, from which the flanks and briskets have been removed.I will not dwell on this, but would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman about the 2384 new bullet. I do not wish to be in the least offensive to the right hon. Gentleman, but I do not think he has treated us with quite enough candour in this matter, because certainly the facts of the case have not tallied with the replies given to various questions on the subject. We have been put off with all sorts of replies as to trajectory, ballistic effect, the danger zone, and so on of this new bullet. France in 1904 adopted a pointed bullet, and Germany adopted one in 1905, and the States in 1906, but we are still lagging behind. I know that the right hon. Gentleman says we have got one, but we have some reason to be sceptical about it, because he told us that we had one last year, and he made absolutely identically the same statement as he is making this year. I do not want to find fault with him for not finding a new bullet, because it is very difficult to get a bullet that will suit the present rifle. But what I want him to do is to be honest enough to say so.
I am perfectly certain that the House will see him through, if he thinks he cannot make a satisfactory job of the present bullet, in getting a new rifle, because if we are to have an Army hon. Members on all sides would desire to see it properly armed. I find it a little difficult to put some of his statements regarding this bullet alongside his present statement and understand exactly what it is he means. On February 28th, 1910, in answer to a question by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme as to whether any conclusion as to the issue of pointed bullets for general use had been come to as a result of experiments carried out the previous autumn, the right hon. Gentleman said: "The experiments have been so far successful that an extended trial will shortly be made, and the ammunition is now being manufactured for this, and will be issued to the troops." I need hardly say, so far as I know, that the ammunition was neither manufactured, in extensive quantities at all events, and certainly it was not issued to troops and was not successful.
I have some reason for saying it was not successful, for the right hon. Gentleman now admits it himself, although he told us on the last Army Estimates that it was successful. I have got all the quotations here. On the Army Estimates of last year the right hon. Gentleman said, "As the result of four years' work we have produced a new bullet which very satisfactorily responds to the tests we have made" and then he went on 2385 to say, "The bullet we propose to adopt is larger than the German bullet. It weighs 160 grains against our old 212 grains and the German 150 grains. We have been able, thanks to the research of the experts, without altering the present rifle at all, to produce much better results than under the existing system. Our new 160-grain bullet has a danger space approximate to, though not quite so good as, the German bullet." He went on to tell us a little later last year that it was better than the French bullet, but not quite so good as the German, and that in any case it would fill the gap satisfactorily. If that was so, what we want to know is why on earth we have not had that bullet. I know the reason very well. The real reason is that it was found not to be a good bullet, and to be unsuitable. This deadly engine of war, which could lick the French ones into fits, and was nearly as good as Germany's, was found to be inaccurate.
The right hon. Gentleman made experiments with another bullet, a 174-grain one—and here, so far as the stopping power is concerned, I have no complaint against the right hon. Gentleman, for he did me the honour of giving me an opportunity of shooting with one of them, and the haunch of venison that resulted was somewhat damaged. That was because of the inaccuracy of the bullet, not because of the inaccuracy of the rifle. He now tells us they have this 174-grain bullet, and he used about that exactly the same words as he used about the 160-grain one last year. It was to be made in great quantities, though we still had a stock of the preceding one. Here we were to have two stocks of the two bullets. We would rather like to know which of these very efficient bullets we are to use. The right hon. Gentleman told me the other day with regard to the rifle that the work of resighting was proceeding rapidly. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that there are 586,114 of the rifles issued to the Army at the present moment. Are there 586,114 in reserve? He refuses to answer. If there were there would be no reason why he should not say so. The work is going on pari passu with the bullets, he told us, and these rifles are being resighted at the same time as the bullet is being made. That was what we were led to understand. What the right hon. Gentleman said with regard to the 174-grain bullet was that the present rifle would not take a sufficiently large charge to fire a bullet like the German 2386 one, that the trajectory of the new bullet, though not so good as the German, was quite as good as the French. That was word for word what he said last year about the other bullet. I do not think I need go on quoting. The words are the same.
On the top of all this enormous expenditure for resighting the whole of these rifles we have two large issues of ammunition, and on the top of that the right hon. Gentleman says he is going to bring in a new rifle with which he is now making experiments. Might I humbly suggest to him that as he has managed to go on without these bullets for some time, a little longer time would not make much difference, and that instead of making two bites of a cherry he should only make one, and issue the new rifle with which he is experimenting. Why put the country to the expense of tinkering with these rifles we have at present when the right hon. Gentleman can get a very effective rifle, with an effective bullet, if he will wait a little longer? He is also bringing in the new bullet, and may I ask in connection with that whether he has arranged with the various Colonies who arm themselves with their own rifles, and whom we expect to come out and help us if we are engaged in war? Are we going to get two sets of ammunition, which will all get mixed up, and each inaccurate for the rifle of the other, or are they to-be put to the expense first of resighting and then of getting a new rifle of different calibre? It would be far more satisfactory to bring in a new rifle and be done with it.
There are two other points which I should like to raise. There is first the question of aeroplanes. I do not wish for one moment to criticise the balloon department at present. That would hardly be fair, as it has only just been started, and you cannot expect a new department to be absolutely right, especially when it has to deal with a new kind of armament. When I say that I do not mean that there is not plenty of room for criticism. The right hon. Gentleman spoke a great deal the other day about his consistency of policy. He then went on to twit Lord Midleton for his flirtations, as he called them. Flirtations! Why, the right hon. Gentleman is an absolute coquette himself. The whole time he has never yet known whether he is going to say yes or no with regard to aeroplanes. He has been playing with the subject the whole time. One year we are going to have aeroplanes, and the next year we are not going to have 2387 them. I am not going to touch on the question of dirigibles, because honestly I know very little about them, but I did have the honour to be associated with the building of the first Army aeroplane in Scotland, at a time when we were able to keep secrets more effectively than the right hon. Gentleman is able to do at Aldershot.
The first criticism I shall make upon that point, and I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me, is that, although it is quite fair that he should be anxious, as every one is anxious, to get good machines, that is perfectly useless unless you have got men who know how to use them. Otherwise it would be simply suicidal. No matter how good the machines were, they would be quite useless, and would be broken up in a week. What has he been doing to help these officers in all these years to make themselves experts in the art of flying? You have now got certain officers who are experts, but if you have, is it any thanks to the right hon. Gentleman? They owe very little to him. He owes a great deal more to them. It costs something like £250 to take a course, and they have taken these courses at their own expense. Now they have come back, and they reasonably think that the right hon. Gentleman should have first-class machines for them. Instead of that, they have some machines which are such that they are absolutely certain to break their necks if they go up in them. I do not think that is fair to them. Even if the right hon. Gentleman had borne the expense of their training—and I think he might have borne that expense—he should not have asked them to risk breaking their necks on third-rate machines.
I do not think there will be so many mistakes in future, and I note with pleasure that he has added an expert aviator to the Committee. He spoke the other day of five machines which he had got, and said that three of them were of the latest pattern. But he did not tell us that he got the whole five of them in one year, and therefore there could not be much difference in the time they were bought which would indicate whether they were of a later pattern or not. I can quite understand why he did not mention two of them. One of the machines bought was of the Wright pattern and when it was got it was all spliced and tied up. It had happened an accident and was not fit to take the 2388 field; but the War Office has stuck to it. The next machine bought was a Bleriot. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman on whose advice they bought that particular Bleriot machine, because I think they decided to buy a Bleriot when they saw that a Bleriot had flown the Channel. But they bought the wrong type. If they had bought a Bleriot of the right type they would have done right. The next thing they bought, and it was a pig in a poke, was a Paulhan machine, which turned out to be rather good although it was untried when they got it. They wanted to be up-to-date and they got this Paulhan machine.
The Farman is a good machine, and I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman is going to buy four more of them. They thought they would make a Farman of their own and they have got it and call it a Havilland. Mr. Cody goes up in his own machine and makes rings round it, going up a thousand feet above it. I think therefore that the right hon. Gentleman should not tell us we are a long way before others, and that every thing is splendid, when the fact is, in my opinion, that we are a long way behind. Another point upon which I must say a word or two is the question of those who are put in charge of the machines. I do not intend to say a word against those who are in charge, but it does seem curious that we should not have an expert in charge of our aeroplanes. We should have a real expert, by which I mean one who has had something to do with such machines. We had Mr. Graham White on the Committee, and a manufacturer of balloons, but I do not think there is any necessity for a very clever mathematician, and there is no particular reason why an expert in motor-car making should be an expert in aeronautics.
There are other smaller points I should like to raise, but before I do so I want to say one thing quite straight, speaking as a British soldier and an officer who does take some interest in our own men of the British Army. I say it was a most unworthy remark of the hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division of Glasgow when, referring to the British soldier, he said he was going to put every obstacle he could in the way of the soldier getting work after he left the Army. There are something like 500,000 British working men in the British Army, and surely these men ought to be able to look to the Labour Members to give them a helping hand to get employment when going out of the 2389 Service. The hon. Member apparently thinks he should not help them because they are not trade unionists. These men leave the Army, and the Labour party even say they ought not to be taught a trade in it, and that they ought to clear out of the way so that the trade unionists may get work. Now I say that the men who have borne the heat and the burden of the day in the Army, in the work of defending their country, ought not to be turned away and told to emigrate. They are the people for whom we should get employment and I believe they are among the best people. We ask equal treatment. I think the hon. Gentleman will understand my attitude. He gets indignant when he finds trade unionists trodden upon and that is natural. Well, I want to stick up for what I may call my own end of the scale as well as he does for his. I have served in several countries, and in various parts of the world, with these workmen as soldiers. They are the best friends I have, the best friends I ever had; I would possibly not have been here to-day if it had not been for them, and I want to stand up for them. If the Labour Members are not going to stand up for them I will do so in every way that I can.
Another point upon which I would like to ask a few questions of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War is with regard to the Cavalry. These questions have not been answered yet. He told us a great deal about the horses, but he most scientifically avoided the point about their age. He never told us what was the age of the horses. He has not told us whether he can mobilise his divisions with horses of a proper age. I should like to press for an answer on that point. How many horses are there above six years old and under fifteen in the first-class Cavalry Division, and how many are there in the country above six years old and under sixteen years old that are trained? If it is perfectly suicidal to send to your Cavalry, which I admit is splendid in personnel and beautifully trained, out on service with four-year-old horses which would break up at once, or to send them older horses which are untrained, what is the use of teaching men the use of the lance and sword if you are going to send them horses which are not accustomed to either weapon, and which would probably turn round every time the rider used his hand or a shot was fired? That is a particularly weak point in the Cavalry.
2390 We have probably as good Cavalry as any in the world. They are well-trained, splendid men-at-arms, far superior in their training to the men of any Continental army. The result is that they are the better soldiers, but they are not given a chance, because you do not give them properly trained horses. A further point is the question of the Infantry establishment. It has not been raised to-night, but it was raised during the Debate last year. I can fully appreciate the advantage of the additional numbers in the arrangement which the right hon. Gentleman spoke about—what we call grading. But that is only a temporary expedient for a temporary crisis, and I think he will acknowledge that we should get the matter properly adjusted. Really nothing has been done with regard to bringing the whole establishment of Infantry regiments up to their strength. I think even the right hon. Gentleman himself would agree with me, and that he would have had it done if he had the money. If he did not take that view, I do not think he would occupy the position of Secretary for War. Because we must all remember that it is on the Expeditionary Force that we depend almost entirely. It must be ready to move off at a moment's notice almost. It is understood that the proper strength of a battalion is upwards of 1,000. He told us it was over 800, and in the Colonial establishment and in India it was 1,000. I was pleased to hear that. But even suppose that the proper strength, roughly speaking, at home is 720—it might be an abundant number if they were all thoroughly seasoned men of a certain age. But if you have to mobilise you may have your 700 men, but you have to deduct the whole of the youths and the sick and unfit from that establishment. Probably also the very moment when they are most wanted—when we may be subject to attack—will be the very moment when the Indian drafts are away, so that the battalions will be reduced by these eliminations to something like 350 men.
The right hon. Gentleman says it will be all right, because he has his Reservists. But there will be something like 650 Reservists who will be absolutely unfit to march, because they have been following sedentary occupations, unless, owing to the kindness of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, they become tramps. The right hon. Gentleman talked a great deal about stiffening the battalions. I am afraid he will stiffen the 2391 battalions if he puts in 650 Reservists. It is far too big a proportion of Reservists at first. It means that you will be living on your capital. These Reservists ought to be a smaller number, and ought to be used more as refills. The right hon. Gentleman is making far too great a call on his Reserve. Looking at the matter from the point of view of a commanding officer at training time, it is very unsatisfactory to have a very large number of recruits. These recruits cannot be taken for ordinary drills, for they have to do recruit training. The result, I believe, will be that on any single day in the whole year no commander supposed to be commanding 100 men will have more than 40. You will have your old sham skeleton enemies, with one man doing duty for three. You ought to have a group or section system, with the men changing on mobilisation. I fear the result will probably be the fiasco we had at the beginning of the South African War, men not knowing each other and not knowing their officers. There is one point upon which I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman, and that is with regard to the Special Reserve. In the last clause in his summary the right hon. Gentleman says he is doing what he can to stop the drain from the Special Reserve into the Line.
The right hon. Gentleman told us that something like 10,000 men per annum go from the Special Reserve into the Line. He cannot possibly afford to do without these men, and that is the first reason why he dare not discourage it. The second reason is that with these men going from the Special Reserve you get men who have already been six months or three months in the Special Reserve itself. They are partially trained and far better men than you can get in any other way. The right hon. Gentleman told us in the Army Estimates last year that he was at last getting into the Army men who were clean in body and clean in mind. The right hon. Gentleman boasts that his whole desire is to try to get a little more unanimity of feeling between the battalions, and yet the first thing he is going to do is to pass men from the Special Reserve into the battalions. He will lose a great deal of esprit de corps. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will answer me about the bullet; and let me know how many of these splendid trained Cavalry horses he is getting which are over the age of six and under sixteen and ready to go with 2392 the Cavalry Division. I await also his answer on the meat question, and who advised him to buy the bad aeroplanes.
§ Captain BARING
I should like to join in the protests of my hon. Friends against our being kept up at this hour. I have sat in the House through this Debate, which has been carried on in the most friendly fashion. The right hon. Gentleman has always been courteous, but two hon. Members on his side have moved Amendments which have occupied a considerable amount of time and switched us off from the general discussion. I think the right hon. Gentleman might have shown us more consideration and given us another day. I wish to bring the Committee back to the question of the employment of old soldiers. My reason for doing so is to ask the Secretary for War why the Report which was made by the Committee over which Sir Edward Ward presided in 1906 has never been given effect to. This Committee went particularly into the question of the employment of old soldiers and into the question whether it could be arranged that a private soldier who had served a certain amount of time should be allowed to count his Army service towards pension in civil employment under Government. I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to the exceedingly strong recommendations which were made by this Committee. They noted that the system was in force in a small way in the Navy, and went on to say:—"We recommend that similar treatment should be accorded to ex-soldiers and sailors who having received no Army or Navy pensions are eventually appointed to pensionable posts in the Civil Service, and that if there is no power under the existing law to carry out this recommendation early steps should be taken to obtain legislative authority to remedy this legitimate grievance."
That Committee reported in 1906, and this is 1911! I should like to ask why nothing has been done. I know it is not within the province of the Secretary for War's Department, but is a matter for the Treasury and the Post Office and other Departments in which old soldiers serve. May I offer the suggestion that if the right hon. Gentleman would grant this concession it would be worth a great deal to him on his recruiting posters. If it is a question of expense do not let us go the whole hog to start with, but let us from now onwards try this concession. I should like to remind the Committee that yester- 2393 day the right hon. Gentleman said he was quite satisfied with the recruiting for the Army, and that it was up to his numbers. How has he filled the Army? Partly by the old system of juggling with the standard. He has reduced the height of recruits in some cases to a very unsatisfactory height. It is an inch lower than a year ago. If the Army was to be mobilised with recruits of that standard of physique you would have an increased ratio of men unable to go to the front, and when they got to the front there would be an increased ratio of casualties. I see the Home Secretary is present. He is one of the greatest offenders in the matter of employment of old soldiers. I find that the Metropolitan Police, which are under his charge, are giving employment in a steadily diminishing ratio to old soldiers.
Three years ago 19 per cent. of the vacancies were taken by old soldiers, two years ago 12 per cent., and last year only 9 per cent. There may be some valid reason for this diminution, but I should like the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Haldane) to speak to his right hon. Friend and find out what it is, because the Metropolitan Police Force and the Constabulary generally is a source of employment to which many old soldiers look. It is a most popular form of employment. I should like to inform the Home Secretary this his Force and the City Police are the only two services which employ less and less old soldiers. Every county constabulary employs more and more. Might I say one word on the subject of the officers and mainly because I think the point of view of the regimental officer is one which does not get as fair treatment as it should at the hands of the War Office and those in authority? There is a point in every regimental officer's career when he begins to think whether he is going to stay on soldiering or whether he will go. I believe that a very little tender handling by the War Office at this period would save many a good officer to the British Army. There is a time—and I say it in no derogatory sense—when the ordinary regimental officer's career savours rather of dulness. If he could only get a change it would help him to tide over the uncertain period when he does not know whether he is going to stay on or not.
The right hon. Gentleman maintains the pleasant fiction that staff officers go back to regimental duties. They go back for months, when they ought to go back for years. A regimental officer often sees one 2394 man get four or five staff billets when he does not get one. If the good man could be given, say, three, and the indifferent man or the man who has not been so energetic one, it would preserve him to the Army for a longer period. In the speech which the right hon. Gentleman made in introducing these Estimates he foreshadowed a most sweeping change in the transport of the Army. I do not know whether we shall be able to discuss that on a later Vote. If we are, the right hon. Gentleman should issue some Paper for the information of Members which will give us in print some details of what he foreshadowed the other day, because it is rather hard to have to pick out of his speech all the various points we should like information upon. In anticipation of that may I say here now that I was rather perturbed to hear that the right hon. Gentleman proposes to reduce the drivers of the Artillery Ammunition Column by so large a number as 4,400. It seems to me that is going rather near the danger line, and for this reason: Though you may depend on your mechanical transport in a European country, you would be obliged to have a certain number of these drivers to look after your native drivers in case we were at war in the East or in Africa. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not reduce these drivers to so low a number that you would have to withdraw some of your trained Artillerymen to look after your ammunition column in case we had to fight abroad. If he is going to reduce the number to this extent a situation may arise when he will have to borrow trained Artillerymen after all, and that would be a bad mistake. The right hon. Gentleman told us a good deal about aeroplanes and dirigibles, but he did not tell us whether this country is in process of being provided with a gun for defence against dirigibles.
§ Captain BARING
I was not aware of that. It is a thing the German Army has been working on for some time. I most heartily approve of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal to get what he called veterans to join the Special Reserve, but it seems to me that we should work on a wider scale than that. Once the country has gone to the expense of training a man for the Army it should never lose sight of him. There should be some system adopted by the War Office, such as that which is now being taken up by a private 2395 organisation, whereby it is known whether a man is alive, whether he is in the country, and which keeps that man informed of any changes in Army matters which might affect him. Take this veteran Reserve. The man would get a postcard to say that this veteran Reserve was being formed, and that he could join if he wished. The information I suppose is on a card hung up in post offices or somewhere else, but it may not come to the knowledge of hundreds of thousands of old soldiers. I should like to see some system by which such men would be kept in touch with Army matters. It would be a benefit both to them and to the Army.
§ Mr. HALDANE
May I make a suggestion. I think this has been one of the best Debates we have had for a long time. The speeches have been full of points, although they had not always been in agreement with my policy. There are a good many Members still who wish to speak, but it is nearly two o'clock, and there are no reporters here, and the speeches are of a character which should not be thrown away. What I wish to say is that we would be willing to give a clear half-day for the Report stage, so that we can deal with every subject connected with the Army. We are prepared to find that extra time within the next few days. Also, I may say we are on the look out for a day when there can be a general discussion of Army policy, possibly on the Vote for the Defence Committee a little later on. [After consultation with the Master of Elibank.] The Patronage Secretary thinks he could find another Vote which is more suitable. He is in consultation about that. I suggest now that it would probably be for the advantage of everybody to defer the speeches which have to be made until the Report stage, and to bring these proceedings to a conclusion now. We are entirely in the hands of the Committee. It seems to me a convenient course, and one which will lead to more convenient discussion than can be the case at this hour of the morning.
§ Mr. H. W. FORSTER
I do not think the suggestion of half a day for the Report stage has been accepted on this side of the House. We should not regard it as in any degree adequate after the limited amount of discussion which has gone on yesterday and to-day. The Secretary of State for War, following a suggestion made earlier, suggested that a 2396 Vote might be found on which the general discussion might be resumed at a later date. That undoubtedly was suggested by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition at Question time, but I think, so far as we can gather, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War could not give us a definite pledge without consulting the Prime Minister. The Secretary for War makes an appeal to us to bring these proceedings to a close now. I think he would have stronger ground for that appeal if he could give us a distinct understanding that a day should be provided and that some Vote should be put down upon which the general discussion could be resumed. It could not count as one of the allotted days of Supply. It would be understood also that the Vote set down would be a Vote that would not on an ordinary occasion give rise to a discussion on its own merits. It is obvious we should be asked to forego a great deal if we were to give up to the general discussion one of the important Votes raising questions which would be germane to the Vote itself. Therefore I do not think the proposal the right hon. Gentleman has made is quite good enough under the circumstances. Let me recall to the right hon. Gentleman the circumstances of this Debate. Less time than usual has been given to the Motion which will be submitted from the Chair before the Debate concludes.
The right hon. Gentleman and his colleague have of necessity consumed a large portion of the time in the Debate to-day. There are a large number of Members on this side who are interested. A certain number of them have spoken but a large number still desire to speak, and the right hon. Gentleman has borne tribute to the value of the Debate so far as it has gone. If the only people to be considered were my friends who have already spoken there would be no objection to adjoining our discussion and resuming it on another occasion, but those who still have to find an opportunity of delivering the speeches they desire to make will be greatly prejudiced if the Debate is now adjourned until some future date; By a process of exhaustion their opportunity has drawn a great deal nearer now and I think it is very hard that after sitting here for two-days, hour after hour, waiting to get an opportunity of speaking, my hon. Friends should now be deprived of the opportunity of addressing their views to this Committee. It is now approaching two o'clock 2397 but it is not yet "a little late." I do not know whether the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman ought to altogether induce my hon. Friends to close the Debate for this evening, but I have done my best to submit to him that I think he would appeal with greater force and more effect if he was able to give us a distinct understanding as to the resumption of the Debate on a future date.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I think I am in a position to give a pledge for the Prime Minister that there shall be a day to which the hon. Member has referred. My right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary, will consult with him about it, but I would not like to say it would not be an allotted day on supply. We might put down one of our Votes with the understanding. But everything was open to be discussed upon it. That is a matter for consultation as to which Vote you wish to have set down. I am quite willing to undertake there shall be an extra day given for Report on that understanding that we get the Votes to-night.
§ Lord BALCARRES
The right hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension. He was asked to give an extra day, but it must not be an allotted day. It is the right of the Opposition to have four allotted days for the Army Estimates if it so desires. It is not giving us an extra day to say you will change the subject, but that the day shall be an allotted day. The whole point is that there should be extra time, and not time allotted already.
§ MASTER of ELIBANK
I quite appreciate the point of the Noble Lord. I think I shall be able to give a pledge on behalf of the Prime Minister that we shall be able to meet the Noble Lord's wishes and the wish expressed by the Leader of the Opposition to-day.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
Before the Debate is adjourned, will the Secretary for War answer some of the questions which have been put to him?
§ MASTER of ELIBANK
I wish to point out that I have given a distinct pledge on behalf of the Prime Minister that we will find an extra day as requested by the Leader of the Opposition at question time, and repeated by the Noble Lord. With regard to suspending the eleven o'clock rule, perhaps the hon. Member will allow me an opportunity of consulting with the Noble Lord and the Leader of the Opposition as to whether they consider it absolutely desirable to do so. I can assure him, I give a distinct pledge of an extra day in view of the interesting Debate which has taken place to-day, and also to give an opportunity to other Members who wish to speak.
§ MASTER of ELIBANK
The eleven-o'clock rule will be suspended if it is so desired by the Opposition.
§ Mr. HUNT
I must have a pledge of some sort or I will go on. I have got two-or three words to say. I understand there is a great deal of dissatisfaction among many of the soldiers about pardons. These men thought that if they came forward they would get a pardon, but when they gave themselves up they found there were very severe penalties attached. I do not suppose the right hon. Gentleman intended that, but I do think he ought to inquire into it and see whether or not there is a large number of men who gave themselves up thinking they were really going to be pardoned. It comes to a question—When is a pardon not a pardon? The answer in this case is—When it is given by the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for War. I do not think that should be so, and I do think the right hon. Gentleman should go into the matter. The 2399 next thing I want to say something about is a matter of general interest, the question of feeding in the Army. The Secretary for War said in answer to a question of mine that he knew nothing about the American regulations. I think he ought to know about these regulations. The President of the Local Government Board knows all about them. I understood him to say so. Under these regulations malignant tumours and parts of the animal affected by other disease can be cut out and the remainder of the carcases are then stamped as fit and wholesome food and are presumed by the American Government to be fit for human consumption.
I can send the right hon. Gentleman the American regulations if he would like to see them. The President of the Local Government Board has acknowledged them and he also said he had seen the American statistics showing that hundreds of thousands of carcases have been stamped by the American Government as being fit for human food from which malignant tumours and abcesses had been cut out. That is the meat the right hon. Gentleman is buying for the British Army—at all events some of it. It is provided because it is supposed to be cheap. I cannot believe that to be right. Our own laws do not allow the remains of a carcase from which diseased parts have been cut out to be used as human food, and the Secretary for War has no justification for buying stuff from America and risk giving our soldiers diseased meat. A great American doctor in his book on American meat states:—No matter how close the scrutiny of the visitor, nor how keen-eyed the inspector or the representative of the Foreign Government, they cannot discover the greatest of all abuses—the utilisation of detestable stuff. Nothing in the way of outside inspection or observation can forbid the use of diseased meat in the tinned meat or in the sausage, so long as its use for food purposes is permitted by the regulations of the United States.That is how the matter stands at the present time. I ask the Secretary for War to put it straight to the American Government that he will buy no more meat from America until the American regulations are altered, so that no meat is allowed to be used which is taken from diseased animals. The right hon. Gentleman need not have any doubt about it. America cannot afford to lose her best customer. There is one other matter I wish to bring forward. I do not think the War Office treats those soldiers well who have contracted disease through no fault of their own, but through the 2400 hardships they have suffered when serving in the Army. There was a typical case in Shropshire only the other day. A man enlisted in the Shropshire Light Infantry in 1906. He went to India and was invalided home, suffering from consumption. He was sent to Netley and remained there a couple of months and was then discharged as consumptive. The authorities sent down to the medical authorities in Shropshire to say that he was consumptive, and that the disease was catching. He had nowhere to go. Having given some of the best years of his life to the Army and having caught the disease while he was in it, the right hon. Gentleman rewarded him with the maximum amount that he said he could give, namely, eight-pence a day. He had to live in the house of his father, who was a small agricultural labourer, with six children living in the same house. That is not right.
The War Office has no right to send a consumptive soldier to spread consumption in rural districts. They ought to look after their own sick. It is not fair to the local authorities. It is the same with other diseases. It is not fair that the War Office, having brought about the injury to the soldier, should turn him off with that sort of pension. I have several other cases of the same sort in which I have had to appeal for an addition to the pension. I really think that if the right hon. Gentleman can find £5,000 a year for a superfluous general to take up a command which has been refused or given up by two distinguished officers, he could find something to help common soldiers who are injured or who become diseased in the service of their country. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider this. A great deal has been said about the horrors of war. If we had a war the sufferings of the women and children in this country would be very bad indeed. [Interruption.] If the right hon. Gentleman had given me the promise that he would suspend the Eleven o'clock Rule I would agree not to go on, but I have seen too much of these Front Bench gentlemen.
§ MASTER of ELIBANK
I have agreed with the Opposition that the question of the suspension of the Eleven o'clock Rule shall be left in their hands. If the hon. Member's Leader asks for the suspension of the Eleven o'clock Rule, we will gladly accord it.
Sir HENRY DALZIEL
I should like to say a word upon this. As I understand the matter, when the offer was made—which was a very generous offer—that the Opposition should have another day in addition to the ordinary four days—which is a tall order in regard to Army Estimates, because it will deprive us of the opportunity of raising matters many of us wish to bring forward—the Patronage Secretary to the Treasury offered that extra day provided the debate closed when he offered it. It was distinctly refused by the Opposition, and we have been detained for a considerable time longer than we should have been. For my part I must say that the very generous offer not having been accepted, it ought not to be open at any moment to go back upon the refusal. I sincerely hope the Government will now withdraw their offer of a day and go right through and get this Vote to-night.
§ 2.0 A.M.
§ MASTER of ELIBANK
Perhaps I may point out to my hon. Friend that my offer was only not acepted by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Hunt).
§ Question, "That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 171,400, be maintained for the said Service," put, and negatived.
§ Original Question again put, and agreed to.