§ Resolution reported, "That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 186,400, all ranks, be maintained 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."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I wish to raise a subject—the supply of Regular officers—which has been, I think, raised in this Debate previously, because it formed one of the most important parts of the right hon. Gentleman's speech when he was introducing his Estimates. In all the various discussions initiated on this subject since I have been a Member of this House there seems to have emerged no solution of the difficulty. Nothing effectual has been suggested either by the Army Council or by the right hon. Gentleman who presides over its deliberations. They seem to attempt to settle this problem by what I and some of my Friends consider every possible means except the right one. In the last statement of the right hon. Gentleman there was a proposal that certain competitive examinations should be open at a reduced scale of fees for purposes of obtaining Regular officers for the Army. A reduction is to be made from £150 to £80 a year in certain cost for the purpose of trying to meet this difficulty, but I am sure the right hon. Gentleman and his Council must see that, so far as obtaining any new supply of officers for the Army 422 is concerned, it is utterly futile to hope that a proposal such as this will have any beneficial result whatever. A mere reduction of the fees which have to be paid from £150 to £80 a scholar is of no consequence at all so far as being an inducement to the children of the working classes and of the poor, and gives them no opportunity to qualify for positions previously closed to them. It is a moral certainty that amongst the working classes there must be boys quite capable of occupying these positions if there was but the slightest chance of their getting over the economic and social difficulties that surround them. But to suggest that they should be compelled, even where exceptional aptitude is shown, to provide their boys with £80 a year for the purpose of giving them a proper training or education for these positions is utterly absurd. It makes the Army, at least so far as the commission appointments are concerned, an absolutely dead letter, a blank, a preserve to which it is utterly impossible for the class to which I belong to ever gain admission, and for that reason the proposal suggested to deal with this annual difficulty is utterly absurd.
On each occasion when these Army Estimates have been before the House I have suggested that greater opportunities should be given to compete for the commissioned ranks. I suggest now, and I shall prove from facts and figures that there is little or no opportunity for such people, however competent they may be, to join the Army as rankers and go through the ordinary rough-and-tumble of the Army, to get even to the lower commissioned positions. The Army at the present time is conducted solely as a sort of appanage of the aristocracy, and the whole of its organisation seems to be directed towards making a commissioned 423 career in the Army an impossibility except for the sons of wealthy parents. And it is for the purpose of impressing that on the Army Council and upon the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War that I am making these few observations this afternoon.
It is true that the barriers at present opposed to competent boys of poor parents are so high as to exclude from the commissioned appointments in the Army the class to which we belong. There would be no justification for reducing the amount for boys entering upon their school career for this purpose from £150 to £80 a year if it was not already recognised by the right hon. Gentleman that financial considerations and not ability are to a very great extent the stumbling block in obtaining the new supply of officers which would give the right hon. Gentleman and the Army what they require. He has made a beginning, but it is a very poor beginning and a very bad beginning. It is so small that certain hon. Gentlemen have already declared it will make no difference whatever. The practical situation seems to me to be this, that unless some better opportunity is given to boys of the working classes to compete for these positions there is only one other course open to the right hon. Gentleman if he wishes to get competent officers for the Army, and that is to give an opportunity to the private soldier who shows ability and shows by his soldierly qualifications that he is entitled and is capable of undertaking the task of an officer. Does the right hon. Gentleman or any of the Service Members of this House imagine or pretend for one moment that out of the hundreds of thousands of common soldiers of the Army there is not sufficient ability to fill up those two or three thousand positions if the common soldiers were given a chance? Do they pretend for a moment that the standard of intelligence in the ordinary soldier, especially those in the non-commissioned ranks, is of such a low order that they could not at once supply competent men to undertake these duties if you gave them the chance? I venture to suggest that there is not an officer here present who would make any such suggestion.
The custom and the old-fashioned methods of these appointments hang still about the whole Department, and the business and organisation of the Army. I do not wonder at it, because it is only some thirty 424 or forty years ago since it was considered that the best test for determining who was most competent to fill the position of commissioned officers was the amount of money a man could afford. And it is only thirty or forty years ago since it was definitely understood that only men of large means who could buy commissions were competent to serve as officers in the Army, and the introduction of even a single ranker into a commissioned position since that time would be a great step forward. But when one considers that the constant complaint of the Army Council and of the Secretary of State for War is the shortage of officers, and at the same time what little effort is made to avail of the talent that must be in the Army it does seem to me a little surprising.
We are told it is all a question of the salary of the commissioned officers. It is nothing of the sort so far as the ranker is concerned. Even the lowest commissioned position would be superior in that respect to the highest non-commissioned position. [An HON. MEMBER: "But there would be a greater expense."] Never mind, we will deal with that. The suggestion is that if you raise the salaries of the officers it will give a better chance to rankers to go in for commissioned positions. I do not believe anything of the kind. I believe the complete opposite will be the result. If you make the commissioned ranks more highly paid than they are at the present moment it would be more difficult for the ranker to attain to them. Whatever you do the ranker will be handicapped as compared with the others. Supposing, for instance, you were to double the pay of the officers; it is a moral certainty that you are going tot have a luxurious mess and that things are going to be conducted on an aristocratic basis, and the man who has an income of £1,000 a year in addition to his Army pay will always be in a much better position than a ranker who has only his pay to rely on, even if it were double what it is at the present time.
I think the tendency towards the solution of this difficulty should be on another and an entirely different line, and should not go to make the commissioned position one of greater luxury, but should do something to reduce the cost of the officers and of arriving at a proper proportion between the position he occupies and the pay he receives. I think it is not so much a question as to whether the pay the ranker would receive if he was given a commission 425 would be sufficient to maintain him but rather a desire that the ranker should not take up a position which would bring him into association with commissioned officers. I believe the whole history of the Army shows that the supposition exists that the officers ought to be drawn from the wealthy and upper middle classes and that the common soldier should be drawn exclusively from the poor. It is almost like a religious faith; the class consciousness of the officers is almost as severe and straitlaced and ruthless in its application as the caste of the Brahmins in India. I understand from the Army List that these are the figures with reference to the commissioned positions. I first come to field marshals. Well, of course, you cannot expect that a worker would ever be competent to occupy a position of that kind. There are nineteen generals in the Army List, none of whom have ever been in the Army except occupying commissioned positions. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hector MacDonald"). No, he did not become a general; he was only an acting-general. There are thirty-one lieutenant-generals in the official list, none of whom ever served as a ranker. There are 110 major-generals, none of whomever served in the ranks. There are 734 colonels, of whom six, it is stated, served in the ranks. There are 1,028 lieutenant-colonels, four of whom served in the ranks. There are 2,289 majors, thirty-nine of whom, I think, served in the ranks. There are 5,854 captains, of whom 155 only served in the ranks. There are 4,963 lieutenants, of whom 130 only served in the ranks. There are 1,595 second-lieutenants—that is the lowest commissioned rank—of whom only twenty-two served in the ranks. Therefore we may take it for granted, so far as that list is concerned, that the opportunity for a soldier to rise from the ranks to the commissioned positions in the Army is practically nil. It would be quite possible out of the hundreds and thousands of men in the Army, with proper regulations, to get the whole of the commissioned appointment filled practically at once if only the right hon. Gentleman and those who control the Army wanted the ranker to have a chance. Of course, he gets no chance at all. It used to be said that the private soldier in the British Army, as in the French army, carried a field-marshal's baton in his knapsack, but there is no evidence of it in these figures. I always imagined that there was at least one ranker who became a general in the Army. Like the 426 Noble Lord opposite, I thought Hector MacDonald was an instance of that, but I am given to understand that the mere fact that he had been a ranker prevented him getting beyond a colonel. I know he was an acting-general, but he never got beyond that, and could not do so, because he had not been introduced to the Army through one of the public schools. It seems to me that we have very good cause of complaint in regard to the present method of filling these appointments, and there ought to be some better opportunity given to the men of rising from the ranks. The Secretary of State for War, in answering the question of mine the other day, said there were plenty of opportunities at the present time for competent men to come forward and fill these commissioned positions. The right hon. Gentleman said that if a colonel, for instance, was to suggest that he had a man in his regiment who was competent to fill the post that he would immediately report him for that position. That is a most surprising statement. If the poor ranker has to rely upon the colonel of his regiment, who is generally an aristocrat, and would not even dream of allowing him in his mess——[HON. MEMBERS: "No"]—if he has to rely upon the colonel, then I say there is no possible chance for a private soldier to rise. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give me an instance where only, in the most exceptional cases, a colonel ever gave such a recommendation as that which has been suggested.
Let me call the attention of the House to a little thing which I learned while in Switzerland some time ago in connection with the Swiss army. After the manœuvres were over we were taken to a certain depot where the men were being trained for general officers, and we asked how it was they had been left stranded when all the rest of the Army were disbanded. We were told that they were still training for commissioned positions. As a matter of fact these men, who thought they were competent to hold official positions were still rankers who had been overlooked by their superior officers in their regiments, and they had appealed to the President of the Canton, as they were entitled to do, thinking they had all the qualifications for a commissioned position although poor men. They had been overlooked, and had appealed to the Military Council of the Swiss Republic, and that Council had admitted their appeal, and while the rest of the Army were disbanded they were undergoing the training that their superior 427 officers would have prevented them undergoing but for this right of appeal of the private soldier in the Swiss Army. Why cannot some machinery of that kind be set up in this country? What is the position of the private soldier here who feels that he is entitled to a post of this description? The right hon. Gentleman says, on the recommendation of his colonel, he could be given a chance. But supposing the colonel is not willing and does not believe in the ranker coming into the officers' mess, what appeal will that soldier have? I am not sure that the King's Regulations would not give any private soldier a court-martial who went over the head of his colonel and made any special appeal to the right hon. Gentleman. I am not certain about that, because I have never seen it put to the test, but I know from experience that the King's Regulations are such that a fellow can scarcely breathe in the Army, let alone anything else. I am extremely doubtful whether it would not be considered an offence against the discipline of the Army to allow a private soldier to appeal against the judgment of his superior officer. I am afraid that the man who protested against the failure of his superior officer to properly give him the recommendation to which he was entitled would be severely dealt with, and would find himself in a most difficult situation.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I should like the right hon. Gentleman, when he replies, to give in chapter and verse what the rights of a common soldier are. We want to know to whom he can appeal and who will listen to the appeal, and we want particularly to understand that the private soldier's position in his company or regiment will not be affected by virtue of the fact that he appealed against the decision of his superior officer. I think the best thing he could do after that would be to purchase his discharge or he might find himself in Parkhurst Prison. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh," and "Prove it."] All I have to say is that you can go and turn up the Army Annual and look at the list of courts-martial, which number thousands every year, for the most trifling offences, and the severity of some of the 428 punishments would be an eye-opener if they could be dealt with seriatim in this House. I do not believe there is at the present time the slightest chance, no matter how competent a man may be who is a ranker—whatever ability he has in the profession he has adopted—of ever getting one of those appointments. There is a sort of social caste that absolutely prohibits the chance of a poor man ever getting one of these appointments. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] But that is shown by the figures that I have already quoted to the House. I am very pleased the right hon. Gentleman has given me a return in reference to these commissions from the ranks. I do not know whether this is the policy of the right hon. Gentleman or whether he has looked carefully into it but I believe that on general grounds he is responsible for the policy of the Army Council, although on details of this kind perhaps he is not responsible. I suggest that when the figures come out it will be shown that the policy of the Army Council during the last four or five years has practically closed one or two important avenues to commissioned rank on the part of rankers and that the tendency is not to give the common soldier a chance in our Army.
It seems to me like a bit of hypocrisy to complain every year that there is a shortage of officers as the figures show, when you are practically excluding some of the best material you could possibly have for manning these positions. I do not know whether it is the case or not, but if I know anything of military history, I think the armies which have been most successful are those which have given the common soldier a chance. I believe that is the history of all armies, but I am not quite sure about it. I know that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) is an expert on the subject, and I know he was in the Soudan when I was there, and I do not know whether we were not both better employed then than we are now. I am not quite sure whether the most successful armies as fighting machines have not been, as a matter of historic fact, those armies where the whole of the officers of the army and the whole of the official positions have been open to competence, whether it has been hedged round with poverty or wealth. I am afraid ours is an aristocratically governed Army and an aristocratically controlled Army, and it is considered almost sacrilege that a poor man should hold any position in it. For 429 that reason I think we have good cause to complain that these vacancies continue from year to year and no effort whatever is made to make use of the material we have at our disposal. The lot of the common soldier is bad enough, it is true, and I have already drawn the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that the soldier gets no chance with reference to pensions. The short-service system was introduced for the sole purpose of avoiding pensions, and the private soldier gets very little chance of following his profession with any security after; and when in addition to that, no matter what his educational acquirements may be, he stands no chance of making anything beyond a sergeant-major in the Army; I think it is one of the most disgraceful things attached to the whole affair. I have drawn the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to some thirteen or fourteen cases during the present Parliament of men who have served twelve or thirteen years in the Army—including four or five years of foreign service—who have been discharged from the Service on account of ill-health, contracted abroad, who have made application for a pension and who have been told that their service is not of a sufficiently long character to have a pension. I do not know when an officer is entitled to a pension, and I am not sure that he has to serve thirteen or fourteen years in order to get a pension.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
All I have to say that the officer is better able to make provision for the future than a man who is serving in the Infantry of the line at 1s. per day. The right hon. Gentleman, I know, will quote the 3d. mess allowance, the money for kit, and so on, but let the right hon. Gentleman have a couple or six months in one of the Infantry regiments and see what the requirements of the mess are, and the absolute necessities that have to be provided, with reference to his kit and other matters, and he would at once know that the wage paid to a man is only 1s. clear per day. The extras given to him really ought to be supplied by the Department, and, as a matter of fact, his actual wage is the usual "bob" a day and nothing more. That is my impression, 430 and I have heard nothing to alter my opinion. It is a disgrace that there should not be greater opportunities for the common soldier to rise from the ranks. The improvement in the quality of the recruit would be enormous, if only such opportunities were given. A man who has his mind about him and wants to make his way in life is not likely to be a ranker in the Army if he can never get beyond the rank of sergeant-major. You would tap an entirely new class if you gave an opportunity for a larger proportion of rankers to become officers. The Secretary of State and the Army Council are, therefore, from the point of view of the Army itself, by making it impossible by their policy for rankers to rise, really lowering the status of the Army and making it impossible for the best elements of the State to join the Army. I believe it is injurious from every point of view. I therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman if he cannot give me any promise that greater facilities will be given, or at least that he and the Army Council will take the matter into their consideration and see if there are no ways and means by which our Army could be brought more into touch with the requirements of the day.
I have listened with great interest to the remarks of the hon. Member, and I think I have never heard more inaccuracies in such a short space of time. I do not say he wishes to misrepresent the case, but I can assure him that he has very seriously misrepresented the matter as it stands in the Army at the present moment. Every private who enters the Army has the chance given him of rising to commissioned rank. It would very likely surprise the hon. Member to know that no difficulty at all is put in the way of a private rising to commissioned rank by any colonel or officer in His Majesty's Service. The difficulty really comes more from his own comrades. The hon. Member will perhaps be surprised to know that the hardest part of a man who rises from the ranks is to get on with the comrades he has left. No difficulty comes from the officers; in fact, they do all they can to help the man who has got a commission. I can speak from certain experience, but I touch upon the matter very lightly, because it is an extraordinarily difficult question with which to deal. I remember an officer who had risen from the ranks who I happened to Bee in South Africa. I was not with the Regulars at the time, but I was talking with 431 men of a Regular regiment, and I was surprised to hear of the unpopularity of this officer, not with the officers but with the men. I have asked why this is so difficult, and one of the reasons I was given by a private himself was that officers who had risen from the ranks knew too much about the privates themselves.
I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will deal with this question, but I think a protest is due from everybody in the House who knows the true facts. The hon. Baronet sitting behind the hon. Member at the present time (Sir Ivor Herbert) will bear me out when I say that no difficulty at all comes from the officers. The colonels do all they can to help men when they get commissions. There is no doubt the question of cost comes into it, but it comes into every single walk of life. I have noticed even in this House that hon. Gentlemen sitting on those benches seem to take an answer with very much better grace even if they are being bowled out from other Ministers than from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. John Burns). The difficulties of the right hon. Gentleman do not come from the Members of the Treasury Bench, but from what I might call the rank and file. They seem to make it as hard as they can for the right hon. Gentleman to make an answer. Exactly the same thing applies in the Army. I can assure the hon. Member—and I should like to have an opportunity of talking privately with him—that he is mistaken and unconsciously libelling the officers in the Army. I hope he will get up his subject a little more carefully, and then he will see that he has been very much mistaken.
§ Major ARCHER-SHEE
One of the subjects with which I wish to deal is that brought forward by the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward). I think there is a great deal to be said for more commissions being granted to the ranks. At the same time, I think some of the statements he has made are wide of the mark. In the first place, I could not accept the figures he gave of officers now holding commissions who have served in the ranks. The Secretary of State for War, replying to a question not long ago, said that the number of commissions granted to the ranks during the last five years was 264 altogether. The figures given by the hon. Member for Stoke, I think, showed a very large decrement on that number. If 264 432 commissions have been granted to the ranks during the last five years, it must be clear that there are a great many more officers serving who have won commissions from the ranks. His argument that there were no general officers who had risen from the ranks were also wide of the mark. It is obvious that men who win commissions from the ranks are very much older than those who get their commissions in the ordinary course. Consequently, it is very much more difficult for them to get through the various grades till they arrive at the rank of a general officer. The hon. Member said he thought that if the officers' mess expenses were cut down a great deal more it might be possible for men who had won commissions from the ranks to live with the officers. I do not think that can be done to a greater extent than it is done at the present time. If the hon. Member would visit some of the Infantry regiments at Aldershot, I think he would find that the expenses of the officers' mess have already been cut down to most modest limits. Unless the officers of the various regiments were to live on just bread and butter, or on workhouse fare, I do not quite see how they could cut down expenses to any greater extent.
The hon. Member alluded to the fact that there were economic difficulties. I ventured to state last year that was the main reason why men did not come forward for commissions. I believe it is far more owing to that reason than to any other that there are not more commissions taken up by men in the ranks. A subaltern of Infantry gets very little more pay than a sergeant-major, and he has two or three times the expense of a sergeant-major. His uniform is much more expensive, and he has any amount more expenses than a sergeant-major. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why"?] The fact is common knowledge in the Army if it is not in this House. I have known several non - commissioned officers who could easily have got commissions if they had been willing to apply, but they did not apply because they felt they were far better off as sergeant-majors than they would be if they became commissioned officers. There certainly have been too few commissions granted to the ranks during the last five years, and, I think, in view of the fact that riding masters have been abolished, and that, consequently, one avenue, at any rate, has been closed, there certainly should be more advantages given. Those who win commissions from the ranks should, I think, be given some special allowance to 433 enable them to keep up the standard of living expected of them as officers. Officers are expected to keep up a certain standard of living which is not expected of a sergeant-major. That is so in every walk and rank of life. The higher you get, perhaps, the higher standard of living you have to observe. For instance, hon. Members who sit below the Gangway opposite, and many of us in this House, do not have to wear the same clothes, and do not have the same expenses as the man who, say, is working for the Westminster Borough Council. The expenses must, of necessity, be greater, and therefore some extra grant should be made.
There is another point in connection with these commissions. The pensions are inadequate. An officer who has won his commission from the ranks can retire at the age of fifty-five with a pension of £200 a year, whereas if he had gone through the ordinary course he could retire at the age of fifty with a pension of £300 a year. That is an anomaly which can be put right with very little expense to the public. In addition to the pensions for officers who win their commissions in the ranks being inadequate I should like to ask what is the meaning of the War Office Pensions Committee now sitting. In my opinion, and, I believe, in the opinion of the majority of the whole Army, of all ranks, the pensions certainly do not err on the side of generosity.
§ Major ARCHER-SHEE
I regret if I have transgressed. I will deal next with the question of the number of men in the ranks at the present time. I regretted to see in the statement made by the Secretary for War when he introduced the Army Estimates the admission that there has been a serious drop in the number of men coming forward to join the ranks. The right hon. Gentleman says it is owing very largely to the improvement in trade. If one argument were wanted more than another to emphasise the need of opening up some other way of recruiting our Army it is the argument that our recruiting depends on the necessities and wants of the poorer men in this country. I cannot believe it is a healthy state of affairs when our recruiting has to depend on the absolute necessities of poor men. It also shows most clearly that our Army is under-paid 434 and that men will not join it except as a last resort. I believe that the economies that are practised in the Army Estimates are practised at the expense of some of the best men of this nation—the rank and file of the Army. They are under-paid. So, too, are the officers, and the right hon. Gentleman, in his opening statement, told us we should require another million pounds a year to bring the pay of the officers up to what it should be.
The number of recruits who went from the Special Reserve to the Army was, according to an answer given to the hon. Member for South Wolverhampton (Colonel Hickman) no less than 10,200 out of 62,000 men in that Special Reserve. I think that point answers most conclusively the argument brought forward in the book on Compulsory Training by Sir Ian Hamilton, who said that if we had to resort to the proposals of the National Service League it would ruin recruiting for the Regular Army. We have in the Special Reserve very much the same sort of training, although with greater liabilities, as is advocated by the National Service League. Yet we have one-sixth of that force going into the Regular Army, and thus proving that these men, after they have undergone some training, like the life, and go forward with it. Instead of acting as a deterrent to recruiting, this training becomes a great stimulus. I may mention that no fewer than 1,000 men went on to the Navy, and that should constitute a reply to naval critics who have been making suggestions in the same direction. I do not know why this book on Compulsory Service was ever published. I cannot understand how this officer was ever asked to write his opinion. He is a distinguished and great officer, but at the same time he was never responsible for framing the strategical requirements of this country; he only held the position of Adjutant-General for less than twelve months, and in that position he was only responsible for obtaining recruits, the number of which had been communicated to him by another Department of the War Office. He was not responsible for their training. If it was considered necessary to publish the opinion of an officer who at one time held these views, then I think the Chief of the General Staff should also be invited to publish his views on the subject.
While I am on the question of the Mediterranean Command, I should like to say that the trip of an officer to Bermuda to inspect a battalion of troops there is 435 nothing less than a deplorable waste of public money. It would be just as useful if the ship which is going to take hon. Members of this House to the Coronation review were also to visit Bermuda. We should no doubt enjoy the journey, but I do not see it would be any more useful from the point of view of public efficiency. Regarding the pay of officers, a good many remarks have been made in the course of this Debate, and the Secretary for War has himself admitted the great grievances under which the officers suffer. I do not propose to say any more on that point, except to point out that the disinclination to come forward to serve as officers, and the fact that a great many officers are leaving the Service is due not only to the inadequacy of pay, but also to continual acts of injustice, as in the case of Colonel Waldron, and other officers, who have been passed over without any ostensible reason after many years of distinguished service. I think that uncertainty in these matters is a cause of grave and serious discontent, and that it should be remedied as soon as possible.
I believe the Cavalry School comes on this Vote. If the right hon. Gentleman were to take the opinions of commanding officers of Cavalry regiments at the present time, and if he were to give them an indemnity against the consequences, he would find that the vast majority are of opinion that the Cavalry School is not performing its part in the educational system of the Army, owing to its constitution and owing to the syllabus of instruction carried on. The Cavalry School was formed when it was decided to abolish riding masters, and the original idea was that officers of Cavalry regiments should go there to be specialised in equitation and to pick up such other knowledge as the facilities of the school would allow. Unfortunately it has deteriorated. Young and promising officers are taken away from their regiment for a whole year and they learn very little more at the school than they would do in their own regiment. Consequently, commanding officers are very much biased against the Cavalry School. I believe there are only two ways in which that institution, which is certainly a desirable institution, can be made really effective. Either, in the first place, it should be made an establishment where young officers, after leaving Sandhurst, can go through all their courses-through the riding school and their drill—and then join their regiment as fairly efficient 436 Cavalry officers; or else you should make it an establishment which will act as a sort of professor's course for officers who have done several years' service in the Army and would be able to go through all those courses for which they are now withdrawn from their regiments at irregular periods.
§ Major ARCHER-SHEE
No doubt I shall have an opportunity of dealing with this point later on. I think I shall at any rate be in order in calling attention to the number of horses in the Cavalry Brigade at Aldershot, one of the component parts of the Expeditionary Force. The other day they mobilised a regiment at Aldershot, one of the regiments first for service, the 3rd Dragoon Guards. It was mobilised on 9th March, and it was found to be 128 men and 163 horses short. If that was the result of mobilising one regiment in the Cavalry Brigade at Aldershot what would have been the result of mobilising the whole brigade? I believe there would have been a whole regiment short in one brigade, and then, I would ask, what would have been the result of mobilising the Cavalry Division? I believe, as a matter of fact, the Cavalry are not sufficiently horsed. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman has admitted that, and I do suggest that the position of the Expeditionary Force in this respect should be seriously looked into. We are living in a fool's paradise. We imagine we have an Expeditionary Force fully equipped. We are short of horses, and our brigades are short of men as well. Our Infantry is armed with a rifle the worst in Europe—absolutely the worst—and with ammunition inferior to any other country's ammunition. All I can say is I hope that in the future, as in the past, and in spite of all these serious limitations which our Expeditionary Force has to contend with, I hope that a little British Army will still go a very long way.
In rising to address the House for the first time I do so because I would like to put forward one or two of the thoughts that strike me on this occasion. There is the question raised by the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward) with regard to men not getting appointments in the commissioned ranks as they ought, and I should like to draw his attention to one fact, namely, that one of the most distinguished generals we have 437 in the Army to-day, who is entrusted with the education of the officers in the highest branches for war, is an officer who has done many years' service in the ranks. Another point I would like to deal with to-day is whether we could not achieve some greater economy by means of adapting our system of an Imperial Staff more to the needs of this country at the present time. We have in the Admiralty and in the Army both the necessary staffs which deal largely with the same questions. The Admiralty have a staff which deals with strategy and operations of war, and we in the Army have an Imperial General Staff which deals with almost identical things. I wonder if by that means economy could not be effected and possibly greater efficiency obtained so that if this country should ever go to war we should be in a better position to utilise the forces which this country has at hand and which have been voted by Parliament.
I would suggest for the consideration of the House that we might form an Imperial Naval and Military Staff with advantage, because the problem which this country has to solve is not a problem such as other nations have to deal with. It is a combined military and naval problem. If this Expeditionary Force is required to take part in operations over-sea it cannot do so unless it is escorted and protected by the Fleet—the operations of war must be in their essence combined military and naval operations. I think we found during the stress of the South African War that there were delays in getting our troops on the scene of action, and efficiency was not properly maintained when it was a question of soldiers having to wait on the Admiralty for transport. I think if we could by some means form an Imperial General Staff which should have representatives of both the Navy and Army upon it and also representatives of our great Dominions over-seas and India, we should do something to see that this money is expended to the fullest possible advantage not only to this country, but (o the whole Empire. I know it is a large question, and it is one which must have great difficulties in the way of its solution, but the only possible justification of the enormous Estimates which we are voting is that the money should be applied to the one great object which is absolutely essential, namely, the defence of this country.
If we fail in doing that, or fall short in doing it, I think there are grave objections to this large expenditure, and I hope that some arrangement may be possible where-by 438 the heads of these two great Departments through a central Imperial General Staff may be able to consider these problems in the really efficient way in which they should be considered to ensure that we get the very best results so that if that crisis should ever come to this country which everyone of us hopes will never come, we shall be prepared. We have at the present time a system whereby the Army and the Admiralty are brought into touch, and that is by our Imperial Defence Committee. If we could further expand and further develop that system and under that Committee form an Imperial Naval and Military staff with representatives of the Over-sea Dominions and India upon it, I think in that way we should get some really valuable co-operation between the Naval force and the Army in the event of war. In the Debate of yesterday it was mentioned by the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Lord C. Beresford) that he did not think there was a sufficiently effective or efficient war staff, and I think that by some such methods as I have suggested we might be able to solve that problem, and also achieve a great result for the safety and defence of this country.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
I do not often disagree publicly with the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward), but I do think on reflection he will be sorry that he made those rather unfounded accusations against the officers of His Majesty's Army. He said that if any man complained that his commanding officer had not treated him fairly he would very shortly find himself in Parkhurst Prison. That means that the officers of the Army are capable of revenging themselves on the private soldier who complains that he has been unjustly treated. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will regret what he said, and I should like to say something in defence of the officers of the Army who in my experience have been most anxious for the welfare of the private soldier, and are generally only too anxious to help him on in his career if it is possible. I beg the hon. Member to put away that thought, and to believe that the officers of the Army are just as willing to help the private soldier on as the private soldier is to see one of his own class going into the commissioned ranks. Although the officer is glad to see that also, I agree with the hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Devonshire when he said that for his own sake and that of the other men it is not always desirable that this promotion should take place, because a man when he 439 is advanced from the ranks knows too much. It is a great disadvantage that any man should know too much, and there are many things which for the sake of discipline should be overlooked—not only should the officer turn a blind eye on such occasions but he should absolutely pay no attention to them at all. I think that is one of the reasons why there has not been a larger number of commissions given to men from the ranks.
Then the hon. Member said he did not think that if there was an addition to the pay it would help the man who had no private means at all, but surely in that he was going against the common sense of Members of this House. Surely if you increase a man's pay from 5s. 3d. a day, which is the entering pay in the Infantry, to 7s. 6d. or 10s. it must make it easier for the man who has nothing at all than to leave the pay at 5s. 3d. That seems to be common sense. Of course you will never do away with the distinction between the man who has no private means and the man with £500 a year, but you will make it much easier for a man to get on in the Army if an increase of pay is given, an event which I am sure, whatever Government is in power, must come about in the next few years. May I be allowed to say how glad I am to see that the hon. Gentleman has got more officers from the Universities and more are coming forward, because, excellent as the great bulk of our officers are who come from Sandhurst and Woolwich, I think it well that the Army should have a leaven of men who have greater experience of life. I should also like to say that I agree with the extension of the period at Sandhurst from two to three terms, because it is obvious that we shall get a better educated man by that means. I also agree with the right hon. Gentleman in his adding officers, at the expense of the Special Reserves, to our Infantry battalions. The number of officers being short, we must put them into the best place, and certainly that is with the Regular battalions and not with the Special Reserves.
I do not know whether the House realises that at the present moment we have less men in the Regular Army than we had before the South African War broke out. That seems to me to be a most unsatisfactory state of affairs, because no hon. Member I am sure will get up and say that we found we had enough men at the outbreak of hostilities. We had not enough men even to carry on the first 440 six months of the war, and I suppose we cannot hope that in future we may not have to face a big war like that, and yet we go on gaily reducing the numbers that we found in the Army at the end of the war. Of course, we could not maintain them in that position, but it is another thing when we are over 10,000 short of the numbers we had at the commencement of the struggle. If one looks at the garrisons abroad also one surely must be struck by the small number of men, say, in the Mediterranean and at Malta and Gibraltar. It is the fact that the garrisons have been reduced at those places during the last four years, and I do not know of any new situation which would make garrisons which were only just sufficient ten or fifteen years ago too large at the present time, and which would render it safe in the case of Malta to reduce our garrison by two-thirds and of Gibraltar by one-half. I think we are entering upon a very dangerous policy in that respect, for if we look round the world we see a very general unrest in North Africa and the East. If you consider the case of Egypt, it is a well known fact which must be known to right hon. Gentlemen opposite that our garrison there is none too large. I was going to say, but of course it is only a matter of opinion, that it is notoriously greatly insufficient, and where is the right hon. Gentleman going to get reinforcements for Egypt if wanted. If he had Gibraltar and Malta at their old strength he would have been able to ship men to that country in the case of a fanatical outbreak or rising, but at the present moment he could not practically reinforce Egypt under a fortnight or three weeks from these shores.
We have not only to take into account our own obligations but international obligations, as we are the guardians of international peace in that country. I say, with a full sense of responsibility, having been many times in that country, that all those in authority there, be they Egyptians or Europeans, are unanimously of opinion that our garrison is too weak, and, if there was a national rising, the position of the garrisons outside the towns of Cairo and Alexandria would be very dangerous. Then as to India, it seems to me that we have the lowest margin of safety in that country, and considering the great increase of the population and the unrest which has grown up in the last five years, I consider our garrison in India is unduly small. It may be said how do you propose to meet this decrease in numbers? Do 441 you propose largely to add to the Estimates? I think, if no other way can be found, certainly the Estimates must be added to, and we must have more men in our Regular Army, but surely there is in some other way a solution of the difficulty. Is it not possible to have some of our home-serving battalions adopt a system of enlisting for three years with the colours and nine with the Reserve, instead of nine with the colours and three with the Reserve, thereby we should build up a very much larger Reserve, and be able to do away with some of our men now serving in the ranks, and in that way we should have a larger Army without any increased cost.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I came to the House under the impression that we should continue the general discussion on the Army policy of the Government, but another day is to be allotted later on to that, and we are now concerned with Vote A alone. It will be very useful for us to clear up a matter of doubt on Vote A before the discussion is continued at a later date. Perhaps it is well to have quite clear in our minds what we are discussing. On Vote A we are discussing the numbers of men in the Regular Army at home and over-sea, exclusive of India. The location of these forces is conveniently displayed on page 24 of the Estimates, and anyone can see exactly where every unit of the Army is posted. In order to discuss that to any advantage we have to ask ourselves what these troops are for and what purpose will they fulfil. The numbers borne on Vote A—seventy-four battalions at home and twenty-two abroad, exclusive of those in India, exist for several purposes. In the first place, they exist in order to take their turn in all the seventy-four battalions abroad, those in India, as well as the twenty-two, in the Mediterranean and those in the other dominions; and in the second place, they exist in order to be the principal component part in the Expeditionary Force of six divisions and a Cavalry Division. Let the House be under no misapprehension as to the importance which the Secretary of State for War himself attaches to that Expeditionary Force. There is much in this little book from which I dissent, but there is one page in it, attributed to the pen of the right hon. Gentleman himself, which I think a valuable contribution to our discussion upon Army policy and which is strictly pertinent to the Vote we are discussing. He defines the place which the Expeditionary Force takes in the strategical dispositions of the 442 country. I must read a few lines in order to show exactly where the reference comes in. Speaking of the principles of strategy, the Secretary of State for War wrote:—First in the order of importance comes sea power, backed up not only by adequate over-sea garrisons, but by an Expeditionary Army kept at home in time of peace, but so organised that it is ready for immediate transport by the Fleet to distant scenes of action, and is capable of there maintaining a long campaign with the least possible dislocation of the social life of the nation.The Vote we are discussing to-day provides the most important part of that Expeditionary Force, and in order that there may be no misconception as to the importance which the Secretary of War attaches to it, I will quote another short passage on page 20 to this effect:—The true strategical foundation of all adequate defensive preparation is the power of rapidly assuming the offensive by striking wherever the blow will have most effect. It may be at some distant point in the enemy's organisation.That disposes of the somewhat amateurish views which I do not charge the right hon. Gentleman with, but which are summed up in the epigram that if your Navy is all right you need not bother about the Army, and if your Navy is wrong you will be starved into surrender in a fortnight. We have it from the Secretary for War that six divisions ready to start at a moment's notice are an integral part of the defence of this country. Bearing that in mind, I was very pleased to hear the reference of my hon. Friend (Mr. Ashley) to the fact that the strength of our Regular Army at the present moment does not in itself amount to such numbers as to fill our minds with complacency. We have fewer Regular soldiers now than we had, I will not say before the war, but in 1906, when the right hon. Gentleman took office. I am not talking of establishment, but I take the strength of the Regulars upon 1st January this year, and I find it to be 166,331 men, whereas on the 1st February, 1906, they were 179,698. That, on the official figures, is a reduction in the strength of the Regular Army of 13,367. Anyone who remembers the large number of the Regular soldiers who were sent to South Africa will not at the first blush believe that you can send out that Expeditionary Force with fewer Regular soldiers than you had at the time of the South African War. A great deal of expansion is necessary in order to give the confidence which these figures are calculated to dispel. I am not attacking the right hon. Gentleman for the work which his advisers have done, but no amount of ingenuity 443 and patience applied to the working out of detail will ever make up for a deficiency in the main article which you require in order to achieve a necessary object. So that on the mere question of strength there is something to be said. But we cannot, even when discussing numbers, think merely of the number of heads. We have to think of the years of discretion inside those heads and of the robust or not robust character of the bodies which support those heads. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major Archer-Shee) pointed out earlier in the Debate that a great many of our recruits are very young boys, and that the reasons that induce them to join the Army are not in all cases, indeed, in many cases, the reasons that Sir Ian Hamilton attributes as leading people to join a Voluntary Army. He says in almost impassioned words:—Voluntary service is inspired by the spirit of self-expansion, by a spirit of self-confidence so genuine and so deep as to engender the belief that others will be benefited by being brought under the flag. The spirit of imperialism, the adventurous spirit, the appreciation of the romance of war, the true spirit of the professional army can only there find its true expression.We almost expect on turning over the page to read that the article can be supplied at Selfridge's. It is a mixture of philosophical reasoning with lyrical appeal which is familiar in a column which appears very frequently in the Press. But these are not the reasons which induce a number of boys to enter the Special Reserve in order to become the men whom we are discussing on this Vote—lads supposed to be seventeen, but often sixteen; one we heard of the other day aged fifteen. The standard of the Special Reserve has been reduced to 5ft. 2in. or 5ft. 2in. A great number go into it in order to get into the Regular Army. It is their way in. We must, holding in view the fact that these Regular Forces exist in order that an expedition of six divisions may start at a moment's notice, bear in mind not only the number, which might with advantage be greater, but also the stamp and virility of those who go in for the Regular Army, and we must deplore that so many of them will not be fit to take their place in the fighting line for a considerable period. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman supposes that I am omitting from regard the fact that these boys will be left at home, and that the Reserve will be called upon to take their place in the Regular Forces. I am not omitting that for a moment from the suggestion I am 444 making. On the contrary, the third purpose for which these Regular troops exist is to create a reserve. The first is to take their turn in the garrisons abroad, the second is to fill up the main part of the expedition of six divisions, and the third purpose for which the men under Vote A exist is to create a Reserve, and in respect to that there is a point I should like the right hon. Gentleman to clear up. The Reserve, fed out of these men voted under Vote A, stood this year at 136,337, but the normal number which will be reached is 116,006. I have read the right hon. Gentleman's speech carefully in the OFFICIAL REPORT, and I find he said that in the year 1913–14 the number of the Reserve would be not 116,000, but 106,000. That may have been a misreport, or it may not be, and this is what the Committee ought to know, the fact that in the year 1913–14 we shall go 10,000 down below the normal.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
That is what I wanted to get at. That is very material to the Vote on the numbers as the machine which creates the Reserve.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I explained that it makes all the difference, because under the nine years' system you have the battalions all the fuller of mature men, and the fuller they are of nine years' men the smaller the Reserve will be. The fuller they are of three years' men the larger the Reserve must be. It is as broad as it is long.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
That is quite familiar to me, but neither is broad enough nor long enough, and it is very pertinent when we are asked to vote these numbers for the Regular Army, which is the machine which creates the Reserve which is necessary in order to have an Expeditionary Force at all, to know that in two years' time the Reserve will be 10,000 less than the normal and 30,000 less than it is at the present moment, and if we know that, I think we are not only entitled, but bound, to look very carefully into the numbers which are provided, and to ask ourselves with some anxiety whether those numbers are sufficient? Upon this point I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, I am afraid it is for the third time, whether he sees any objection to having more symmetry in the establishments of these battalions of Infantry which we are voting? If he would make the Home establishment 445 correspond in numbers with what I will call for short the Colonial establishment he would, at no very great cost, do a great deal to minimise the danger to which I have invited the attention of the House. We are voting this afternoon seventy-four line battalions of Infantry at home, and also twenty-two line battalions of Infantry which are in the Mediterranean and in the Dominions oversea, exclusive of India. The establishment of these twenty-two battalions is 840 men, the establishment of the seventy-four battalions at home is only 720. If he would make the seventy-four battalions of 720 men up to the twenty-two battalions of 840 men he would achieve two great objects. The first is that his reserve-creating machine would at once begin to turn out the article which will be so anxiously required in two or three years time at a much greater pace, and the second is that when he mobilises for this expedition, instead of having, in order to turn a battalion of 720 men into a fighting battalion of a thousand, to bring in 500 men to take their places, he would have under the officers who will have to lead them in war a larger proportion of men whom they have trained in peace. Just to sum that up, in voting these numbers we have to consider the purposes for which they exist, to take their turn on the foreign roster, to fill up the main body of the Expeditionary Force, and to create a reserve without which that force cannot go over sea. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman for the third time that a practical step in the right direction would be taken if he would make the establishments thoughout the force at somewhere about 840, or some such figure as that.
There are only two other points with which I wish to deal. The first is in respect of Artillery. What has been done and what has not been done to the Artillery? My hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee), will speak upon the particular numbers in question, because there has been some controversy between him and the Secretary of State for War upon the exact numbers. I hope the Secretary of State will give him an opportunity of putting that point before he replies. I cannot understand the difficulty which seemed to exist during the Debate last week with my right hon. Friend the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Long) for saying that the Regular Artillery had been reduced. When the Secretary of State for War says that the Artillery has not been reduced most people 446 infer that there are as many batteries of Regular Artillery now as there were. I know he does not mean that. He is going back upon an arrangement he made soon after he took office—an arrangement by which he diverted a certain number of Regular batteries into training brigades in order to get trained men for the ammunition columns. His contention was that these batteries were there, but that they were not effective, because there were not a sufficient number of trained men for the ammunition columns, the size of which had largely increased naturally with the development of quick firing. If the number of your batteries had been kept in the line, it would have been necessary to supply them with ammunition columns, but it is not quite illuminating to say that you have not reduced the Artillery when you do away with a certain number of batteries in order to have ammunition columns for those you retain. At any rate, I should like it to be known that that is what happened, and that my right hon. Friend the Member for the Strand Division was substantially correct in saying that the right hon. Gentleman had reduced the Regular Artillery. If a further confirmation is needed, may I refer the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that on the Estimates two-years ago he took some credit to himself, very justly I think, for having put back some of these batteries into what I may call the firing line of the Regular Artillery. I should like to have that point made clear. He said that two years ago whereas there were, sixty-six batteries ready to go with the Expeditionary Force, there would be seventy-two, and whereas there were thirty-three in the training brigades, there would be only eighteen now in the training brigades and there are nine others not in these categories. There are ninety-nine batteries in each case, but he had reverted from the original policy, and had given twelve batteries back to the Regular line batteries. Was not my right hon. Friend substantially accurate when he said that the Secretary of State had reduced the Regular Artillery? You must have ammunition columns, and a sufficient amount of Artillery for the Expeditionary Force, and we think you must have a stiffening of Artillery for the Territorial Force also. We have had Regular batteries diverted for the purpose of ammunition columns and still credited to the Regular Artillery.
In the course of his speech the other day the Secretary of State for War, when dealing with mechanical transport, said 447 that advantage has been taken of the change of system—that is, using mechanical instead of horse transport—to convert the whole of the divisional ammunition columns into mechanical transport ammunition columns. I do not know, but I ask, whether that is going to liberate a certain number of artillerymen who are diverted into the ammunition columns, and if so, whether they are going to be put back into the Regular Artillery. I think that is a point which ought to be cleared up.
There is one other matter strictly relevant to this Vote. Are we getting enough officers for the Regular Army, and are we getting as good officers as we used to get in days gone by? That goes to the very foundation of the reality of our preparations for war. If we are not, it is impossible to train the Regular Army, and still more to train the Special Reserve. The Secretary of State for War is full of ingenious resource, and almost every year he comes down with some new plan for getting officers into the Army. The standard is to be diminished or increased. The examinations are to be more severe, or they are to be abrogated altogether. There are practically none. When I was a youth and went into the Army there was a fairly stiff competitive examination. It was 5 to 1, or 7 to 1, against anyone getting into Sandhurst, but now you have only to present yourself with a good character and you get in. That is, I think, a deplorable state of affairs. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will wish to be always endeavouring to get officers from somewhere else to handicap these young men so that they shall not have the advantage of any superiority. The thing is complicated beyond all understanding. The University comes in, and a young man is made younger than he is in order that he may not be handicapped in his career by others who have been attending the military schools. Does not that suggest that those whom you wish to take His Majesty's Commission are, not being offered an adequate inducement? I do not believe that any further ingenuity on the part of the right hon. Gentleman can avail unless he does something not only to induce youths to come into the Army, but to induce parents and guardians to allow them to come in. When you ask a youth of sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen years of age whether he is going into the Army, he says, "No, my father thinks he really could not pay me an allowance, while I could not earn my 448 own bread and butter, and had no prospect of making any contribution to the general budget of the family." That lad, with all his aspirations and spirit of imperialism, his feelings in regard to the romance of war, and other things, which induce people to enter a voluntary army is not allowed to enter.
The right hon. Gentleman in his speech the other day went very near stating that something would have to be done. His first reason why people did not come forward was the fear of being plucked. He said, "I quite agree that the pay of the officer is not what it ought to be. Sooner or later we shall have to face the question of officers and see what can be done." Can we go on saying that sooner or later we shall have to face the question of officers. Is it not patent that the inducements are not sufficient? When the rates of pay in every other class have gone up, is it not absurd to suppose that you can get officers for the same money which was paid sixty, eighty, or 100 years ago. It is clear to me that if that part of our military organisation which we are discussing is to be a reality and not a pretence, we must do something to increase the establishments of battalions at home in order to procure a reserve-creating machine. It is clear we must do something to get into the British Army a sufficient number of young men in every way calculated to serve in that force with distinction to themselves and with honour to their country.
§ Colonel BURN
I rise to refer to one or two points which I think are very important. There is no doubt that the shortage of officers is a question with which the right hon. Gentleman and the military authorities have to grapple now. It is one of the most serious difficulties this country has to face at the present moment. I listened to the speech the other night of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. J. Ward) with much interest. I think if the pay of British officers was raised, and not allowed to stand where it has been for the last 50 or 100 years, there might be a possibility of inducing men to join the Army and to get their commissions through the ranks. I do not agree at all with the hon. Member for Stoke as regards the treatment of the ranker who gets his commission. In my own experience one of the most respected officers in the regiment in which I serve was one who came from the ranks, and I can say that in the regiments officers make things as easy as possible for those men who are not so well off as 449 their brother officers. They try to make things comfortable for them, so that they can serve. But to-day the pay is not sufficient to maintain the position which has always been held by officers in the British service, and if you expect good men to do good work, then I think it is necessary for the Government to face this question and realise that the time has come when they must pay officers something like the same terms as in other professions which are accessible to young men of the same class.
The hon. Member for Stoke said that a man who gets his commission from the ranks is at a disadvantage, that his promotion is stagnated, and that he does not attain the high ranks in the Army. Well, in the first place, a man who gets his commission from the ranks must serve a certain number of years in order to show that he is fitted to hold a commission. Therefore he takes junior rank naturally to the cadets of Sandhurst or Woolwich, or wherever it may be. It is not given to all the private soldiers who join the Army to have brain to enable them to pass the examination they have to pass, because before they can get even recommended for a commission they have to take a first-class certificate, the examination for which is by no means an easy one, and not only have they to do that, but when they come for promotion from subaltern to lieutenant they have a very stiff examination to pass. That examination has nothing trivial in it. It is a difficult one, and it is one which is sufficiently stiff to make officers go to a crammer and study specially for it. Therefore I say a man who has joined as a private soldier and who has not had technical education, but has had discipline instilled into him, and has learned drill and everything a soldier should know, does not go to those studies in the same way as others who have joined the Army as officers. If the right hon. Gentleman would consider the offering of sufficient inducements to men of the intelligent and educated classes to join the ranks of the Army by holding out some prospect to them at the end of their service, by letting them feel when they are soldiering in the ranks of the regiment they are qualifying for promotion and for some appointment when they leave, and that they are doing something for themselves and can count the time when they are serving their country as regards their pension. If that inducement were held out to that class of young men to join the Service in the ranks you 450 would get many who might be well qualified to hold commissions if they proved themselves fit, and were recommended by their commanding officers. I am certain that the commanding officers take every-think into consideration, and are only too anxious for advancement if the man is fit to be advanced. But there are many difficulties for him, and I will not allow that the difficulty is the one suggested by the hon. Member for Stoke as regards his position in the regiment when he is given a commission. He has every opportunity, and is given every opportunity, but I do feel that if the inducement I suggest was given to the man when he first joins or proposes to join the Army, the class of men you would get in the ranks would be a superior and a more intelligent type, and that among those you might select many who would be fit to hold commissions when the time came, when they were recommended for them.
§ Mr. LEE
I understand that it would be for the convenience of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Haldane) if I rise for a few moments to draw his attention to two points that have been touched upon in the course of this Debate, which I hope he will give a specific answer to when he replies, as I understand he is going to do. The question has been raised of the actual reductions which have taken place in the Regular Army during the period of the right hon. Gentleman's administration; and there has apparently been some difference of opinion between him and myself and my colleagues on these benches with regard to this matter. I do not think he would now dissent from the statement that he has reduced the Regular Army serving with the colours by something like 20,000. That I think he admits. Of course, it is clear from the returns, and indeed the right hon. Gentleman has taken credit to himself in speaking, and in considering the views of his hon. Friends below the Gangway, that he has made that reduction. At the same time he tells us that the fighting strength of the Army has been increased. Of course it is a little difficult for a mere layman to reconcile those two statements, and to understand how an Army which is weaker in strength can be at the same time stronger for the purposes of war. We entirely dissent from the claim which the right hon. Gentleman put forward that the Army is better equipped for the purposes of war than it was at the time when he took office. But one particular feature of these reductions about these controversies arose the other night. 451 On Tuesday of last week the right hon. Member for the Strand (Mr. Walter Long) stated in the course of his speech that the right hon. Gentleman had reduced the Regular Artillery. That was denied by the right hon. Gentleman at the time. He said, on 14th March:—I have added to the Regular Artillery and I have added to the personnel, which is a little larger than it was when I took office.In an interruption later that evening I ventured to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that, taking the figure from the general annual return of the Army, so far from having added to the personnel of the Regular Royal Artillery, those figures showed he had reduced it by nearly 6,000 men. The right hon. Gentleman denied that, and he denied it quoting from figures which, he said, were the latest official figures, and which entirely disagreed with the official return which had been published and laid before Members of the House only two days previously. He went further, and accused me personally of having brought forward these figures not for the purpose of eliciting the truth, but, to use his own words, I had used them for a confusing purpose. That is, I think, rather a serious charge to bring against a Member of this House, who led or misled by the official figures, arrived at a certain definite conclusion, and who was told by the Minister in charge of the Department that, in quoting from those figures, he was using them for a confusing purpose. I was not content to have the matter left there, and I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman which he answered yesterday. I asked him definitely to give the figures as to the strength of the Royal Artillery serving with the colours on 1st January, 1906, and 1st January, 1911. He gave those figures yesterday. They show Royal Horse Artillery an increase of sixty-six men, Royal Field Artillery a decrease of 108, Royal Garrison Artillery, to which I referred particularly the other night, a decrease of 5,554, Royal Garrison Artillery, mounted, a decrease of 59, and Artillery clerks a decrease of 73, showing a total decrease, according to the right hon. Gentleman's own figures, of 5,729. I ventured to suggest the other night that the decrease was nearly 6,000. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Strand said about 6,000. The right hon. Gentleman now admits a decrease of 5,728. That being the case, I do not think I am asking too much in suggesting that the right hon. Gentleman might withdraw the statement 452 which he made the other night, and if he cares to go further and apologise for having accused me of having put forward statements merely for the purpose of confusing the House—at any rate, that is a matter which I leave entirely to him. He will be the best judge as to whether that course will be advantageous to him or not.
There is one other point arising on this Vote which has already been discussed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham). That is as to the deficiency of officers. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman takes seriously enough—at any rate, for the public—the condition to which this deficiency of officers reduces the efficiency of the Army. Because he has told us in a quotation which has just been made by my right hon. Friend that the Expeditionary Force is ready to be transported anywhere at a moment's notice. I know that we have been told by the Under-Secretary for War in another place that in order to make it available a number of officers would have to he drawn from the Special Reserve. We then learn from the right hon. Gentleman's memorandum that he is going to take away from the Special Reserve a large proportion—two-thirds—of the Regular officers, which we have already reduced; and yet he is going to take away from those battalions the officers which he requires for the Expeditionary Force. Why, there would be nothing left. The shortage of officers is really a most serious matter, which affects the whole structure of military efficiency which he claims to have set up. The reasons of this shortage, I think, nave been laid before the House very fully by other Members. It would not be in order to discuss the question of rates of pay, but no doubt the main reason for this deficiency is a financial reason. The right hon. Gentleman really knows that it is so. I believe further, from remarks which he has made, that he would be glad if he could get more pay for the officers, because that would remove many of his difficulties. But there are other things he might do besides increasing the officer's pay. For example, the treatment which has been extended to officers of the Garrison Artillery during the last few years has been of a character which very naturally discourages officers from entering that branch of the Service. Promotion has come absolutely to a standstill, and has done so over a large period of years. There is a slight movement now.
453 The right hon. Gentleman, when his attention has been brought to many questions, continually expressed his sympathy and the intention of the War Office to do something to remedy that state of affairs. Year after year he has made that promise, and year after year nothing whatever has been done. The result is that a very large number of some of our most distinguished and highly trained officers have had their careers absolutely ruined. They have no possibility of promotion so far as the Army is concerned, and their career is at an end. And yet the right hon. Gentleman is surprised at the fact that more do not come forward to share the same fate. I think if the right hon. Gentleman had lived up to the expressions of sympathy and the pledges which he practically gave that he would deal with this case, he would find that the difficulty of getting candidates for the Army would not be as great as it is. Then we tap another source of supply, the drawing of officers from universities. We all agree that that is a very useful reservoir from which to draw. There again the War Office has taken no steps to encourage the coming forward of candidates from universities. The position, with which no doubt the right hon. Gentleman is familiar, is this: That the student of a university who may wish to go into the Army starts with an initial disadvantage in point of age. But in addition to that he has to pay additional fees for attending lectures on military subjects in the university, additional fees which, in many cases, he can ill afford. Everyone knows that the expenses of university life are great enough as it is. If in addition to that, in order to qualify for the Army, he has to incur more expense in the way of attending fresh lectures, it is not only difficult for him but it directly discourages the coming forward of university candidates. I happen to know that an application has been made to the War Office for some recognition of this fact and that a small capitation grant of something like £10 should be made by the War Office for every successful university candidate to cover some of the necessary expenses to which he has been put. I understand that to be the case. I think that it is a mistake; the amount of money involved is extremely small, and the amount of encouragement to be given might result in a very large number of additional officers being obtained. If I may use the term, it is just one of those lubricants which would make the machinery work, and which I think the right hon. Gentleman is making 454 a great mistake in refusing. It is quite clear, of course, that he will never get the number of officers he requires until the question of pay is taken in hand. It is not merely a question of money, however. My right hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) knows of the time when he and I were in the Army. My right hon. Friend was there a little before me, but we both belong to the old school. When we went into the Army the life of an officer was comparatively easy compared with what it is at the present day. Then the officer had a great deal more leisure; there was the life of adventure, of sport, of travel, as well as the life of the profession, and we reckoned all that in. I think the present state of things is quite right; I am not in the least criticising it. But now when a man goes into the Army he is expected to give the whole of his time and to work as hard as men in any other profession. He is expected to pass every kind of examination, and so on, yet no recognition is made of these facts in the shape of increased emoluments. The hon. Member for Stoke very properly raised the question of the difficulty of getting men into the Army, and suggested that in their case the emoluments were not sufficient. But at any rate a great deal has been done for the men, but nothing whatever has been done for the officers, and until the right hon. Gentleman persuades the Treasury and his colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take up that matter in all seriousness, I do not believe it is possible for him, by any of these minor expedients of scholarships and so forth, to get the particular officers he has in view, if he is going to make the Regular Army sufficient for the purpose of war.
I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to clear up this question about the numbers of the Artillery. He has gone out of his way to make a somewhat serious charge against me and my right hon. Friend the Member for the Strand Division, and either he ought to prove it or he ought to apologise.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Haldane)
As to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Walter Long), I made no accusation against him, excepting that he is wrong. Against the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite I said that he was confusing counsel by using confusing figures in a misleading way.
§ Mr. HALDANE
"Confusing counsel." I entirely accept the hon. and gallant Gentleman's explanation that he did not mean to use the figures in a misleading way. I entirely acquit him of all moral reproach upon that subject, but I am sorry that I have to draw attention to the fact that, intellectually, it is quite impossible for anyone to understand the statements of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. That is not his fault, but it is his habit to skip from point to point, so that it is impossible for people to fix their attention on what he is talking about.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I do not skip from point to point. We are dealing with three separate points in regard to the Artillery numbers—the numbers which serve at home, the numbers which serve at home and abroad, including India, and the numbers available on mobilisation, which, of course, include not only those actively serving with the colours but those in the Reserve. I have been trying to keep the comparison to what is the number on mobilisation with what was the number in January, 1906; what was the number serving with the colours in 1906 as compared with those serving to-day. I will give the figures upon these different bases to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and he will find that there is no inconsistency between them. He asked me a question, which I answered yesterday, whether it was not the fact that there had been a reduction in the Garrison Artillery. I shall give the hon. and gallant Gentleman the figures in a moment. I was dealing in the speech I made on the Estimates with the numbers serving at home and in the Reserve, and I said so very distinctly and answered upon that basis. I now answer upon the more general basis as to those available for mobilisation, and those serving both at home and abroad. I take the Royal Horse and Field Artillery. On the 1st January, 1906, the numbers at home serving were 16,262; in the Colonies, 2,887; and in India, 10,283. Still taking January, 1906, our case is that the Reserve Artillery had been reduced.
§ Mr. HALDANE
It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman to say, "No, no." He 456 only darkens counsel and confuses the argument.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that the men of the Reserve are as highly trained as the men in the ranks?
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
Does the right hon. Gentleman say that they are more highly trained than the men in the ranks?
§ Mr. HALDANE
They are more highly trained than the young men. On the 1st January, 1906, the number of the Regular Reserve was 8,185, and this gives a grand total, taking these figures into account, of 37,617. That number was of course available for mobilisation at home and abroad. I now come to the 1st January, 1911, when the number serving was 16,644 at home, as compared with 16,262 in 1906; in the Colonies, 1,578, as compared with 2,887; in India, 11,167 as compared with 10,283; the Regular Reserve, 16,969, as compared with 8,185; Special Reserve, with the men taken in the training batteries, 6,325, or a grand total of 52,683, as compared with 37,617. The hon. and gallant Gentleman laughs. I really cannot understand why he laughs at these figures. Perhaps he will kindly explain.
§ Mr. HALDANE
Now the hon. and gallant Gentleman jumps away altogether, and is talking about Garrison Artillery. Perhaps he will wait a little until I come to the Garrison Artillery. It is necessary to pin the hon. and gallant Gentleman down, but it is an exhausting process, I admit. However, I will do my best.
§ Mr. W. R. PEEL
I have here a report of what the right hon. Gentleman said on the point. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order, order."]
§ Mr. HALDANE
I am coming to the Garrison Artillery. It is a matter of common knowledge why the Garrison Artillery were reduced. There were various 457 reasons for the reduction. The Owen Committee, which was appointed early in 1905 to consider the armaments of defended ports at home, made a number of recommendations. Certain places were strengthened, including naval bases, and so on. In these changes a reduction of the Garrison Artillery took place abroad. But my answer to the question put to me was about Garrison Artillery serving at home, and as to the force we could raise. Here are the figures. On the 1st January, 1906, there were serving 10,108 at home, and 7,500 abroad; 5,373 in India; and there was a Regular Reserve of 4,965—a total of 15,073 at home. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member that there were reductions abroad of the Garrison Artillery, but these were owing to the recommendations of the Owen Committee. Steps were taken to increase the Reserve, and, though the position on the 1st January, 1911, still shows a reduction, yet, so far as concerns those serving at home—which is what I was discussing the other day—there is an increase in the number we could mobilise. The numbers serving is 7,947 at home; the Regular Reserve, 8,286; the Special Reserve, 849—making a total of 17,082, compared with 15,073 in January, 1906. If we pass to the Colonies, then, of course, there is a reduction. The Owen Committee made a reduction from 7,500 to 5,201; in India the reduction is from 5,373 to 4,144, which brings out a reduction of 1,519 men all over. Then the hon. and gallant Gentleman raised another point, which was reinforced by the right hon. Member for Dover. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said, "You have not got as many batteries as you have had before; you have taken them for training batteries." Really the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten what he used to know about military organisation. Does he really imagine that batteries with mounted guns could be put into the field, or were put into the field, during the South African War. Nothing of the kind. About half of them were kept for the purpose of training recruits at home.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
Of course, that is so, but the right hon. Gentleman must recollect that all those additional batteries were formed during the war. Only fifteen of them were in the policy of the Government before the outbreak of the war. In the very first days of the war we rushed those fifteen batteries into one year instead of five each year, and we went on as fast as we could to make the batteries up to the total 458 number. The right hon. Gentleman knows that you cannot make Regular batteries like that during a war, but the policy of the then Government was to have that number of batteries. But the right hon. Gentleman changed that policy.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I know that you cannot do it during war, and you cannot do it during peace. If you have got so many guns divided into so many batteries it is perfectly evident to anybody familiar with those things that you cannot put all those batteries into the field. The reason is that you require a number of them for the purpose of training recruits. Even at the height of the South African War he had to keep those guns and batteries at home in order to train his recruits.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I know that the right hon. Gentleman did alter the number of batteries, which was the policy of this country.
§ Mr. HALDANE
That is my next point. The right hon. Gentleman agrees you have to use a portion of your Regular batteries for training recruits. The difference between him and me is that instead of using the batteries haphazard we have taken and allotted a number of batteries for training recruits, using the least possible number and organised scientifically, we are using less guns and less men for the purpose, and we are training our troops with less cost to the efficient fighting batteries of the fighting line. That is the difference between us. The result is that whereas the number of batteries which the right hon. Gentleman could mobilise was lamentably short, the batteries which we can mobilise are far more than the number which he could have mobilised in his time. We can mobilise between seventy and eighty batteries, as against his forty-two.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The right hon. Gentleman speaks as if there were scientific certitude about his proceedings not to be found in any other Adminstration. May I remind him that he thought it quite right in 1908 to have thirty-eight batteries training, and reduced them in 1909 to eighteen, so that he, too, is ready to change his mind, and has to make shifts and expedients like other people.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I learned wisdom and reduced the number to eighteen, but how did I do it? I did it by substituting for a certain number of Special Reserve men a new reserve of Regulars. We began to build up a suitable Reserve, and I was 459 able to reduce the number of Special Reservists I had to train. I was able to add a Howitzer battery to each division. Those things are not my doing. I consulted the most eminent Artillery specialists whom I could find. I believe it to be a good organisation, and I believe that Artillery officers will tell you it is a good organisation, and that the Artillery has never been in so strong a position as to-day. So far from being reduced, it has been increased, and enormously in efficiency. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover reproached me about the Reserve coming down to 106,000 in the year 1913—I am quoting the figures from memory.
§ Mr. HALDANE
The present high figure of the Reserve (138,000) is due in the main to the three years' system. That system operated very badly for the battalions abroad, and had to be dropped, but it made a very good reserve in some respects. On the other hand, the nine years' system gave you plenty of well trained men with the colours, but run down the Reserves. It is true that under the nine years' system, the full benefit or detriment of which we are now just entering upon, that the Reserve will go down to 106,000, but we are already taking steps against that. We have formed a large pool this year which will bring up the numbers wherever they are deficient. Although 106,000 is a smaller Reserve, still if your battalions are full of nine years' trained men in distinction to three years' trained men, your battalions require many fewer Reservists to mobilise. Therefore, I say the House need have no apprehension about the drop in Reserves in 1913. I come to the question of establishment. I said last year that I thought the question of 720 men was one which we should have to consider carefully. I reduced the establishment, but it is a question whether 720 is not enough. I was able to make that reduction owing to the reduction in wastage due largely to the splendid services of the Army Medical Department. They have reduced the wastage so much that a battalion of 720 is much better today than a battalion of 750, or even 800, would have been without the reduction in the wastage. The soldier is a better soldier, there is less wastage, and the general conditions are better.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I would not like to answer that off-hand. I have never lost sight of that difficulty, but so far as the reserve is concerned, we consider that at present we do better by taking a pool of a number of unallotted men whom we can allot to the battalions that need them, rather than by increasing the establishment of a particular battalion which may turn out not to need the increase. The way we have dealt with establishments this year is by doubling a pool from 1,850 to 3,700. I come to the other suggestion that we should try and make our battalions of even establishment at home and abroad in time of peace. I do not see any good in that. The two things are not comparable. Abroad the men are of full age and are practically ready for war. At home your battalion is a mere training establishment, and its size must depend on the amount of drafts required. You certainly do not require an establishment of a thousand, which is the establishment in India. You must consider what proportion of Reservists your battalion properly absorbs on mobilisation.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The principal argument in favour of having a larger establishment than 720 is to provide for an influx of 50 per cent. on mobilisation.
§ Mr. HALDANE
It is a controversial point. Those, I think, were the main points which the right hon. Gentleman made. He said you have reduced your men, and how can you say your Army is more efficient? I agree we have reduced the men by 20,000 with the colours; but, then, we have organised them and we have brought them into proportion, with the result that to-day we can mobolise, so far as personnel is concerned, and so far as material is concerned, almost perfectly, six divisions and the Cavalry bar the question of horses.
§ Mr. HALDANE
Then I will not discuss it. So far as numbers are concerned, you could mobilise only something like two and a half divisions in 1906, compared with the six divisions that we have now. I issued a statement two years ago showing the number of men capable of serving abroad. I think it would be convenient that I should have that brought up to date and re-issued to show the effect of all these changes in producing the men.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The right hon. Gentleman said the other day that he had 2,400 more officers able to go abroad, including the Special Reserve. Was he including in the earlier period the Militia or not?
§ Mr. HALDANE
I wish to correct one statement which I made rather against myself. In comparing the 106,000 with the 138,000, I included a certain 19,000 in the 138,000 and excluded them from my calculation of 106,000. The true comparison should have been between 119,000 and 106,000. Many interesting points have been touched upon in the course of the Debate. There is an enormous amount yet to be done before we get as far on the road with the Army as we ought to do. There are more details to be worked out. Some of the points made in the discussion were, I think, not very sound. The hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward) seemed to have a notion that we have some prejudice against men from the ranks getting commissions. We should be very glad for competent people to come from the ranks and get commissions. That they do not do so is not our fault. There are two or three reasons for it. In addition to the question of pay and expenses, somehow or ether there has not been the enthusiasm for it in the Army that one would expect to find after the speech of my hon. Friend. I have taken an interest in the matter myself and have seen some of the men. I have helped one or two to commissions, but I have had to find places for them in Colonial regiments, such as the West India Regiment and so on, where the rate of pay is higher and the men are away from the expenses at home. Otherwise they could not have taken the commissions. But there are very few places of that kind. It is a very hard struggle, and great self-restraint is necessary. The distinguished general officer alluded to by my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Major H. Guest) is an illustration of a man who, by virtue of iron character and resolution, was able to face the difficulties. He rose from the Tanks, and is one of the most brilliant soldiers in the British Army to-day, and commands every respect. What he has been able to do other people could do.
My hon. Friend also referred to the question of a joint Naval and Military Staff. I enter with great delicacy and trepidation on all matters touching the Navy in this connection. In the Army we enjoy the benefits of a General Staff, but the conditions 462 in the Navy may be different from ours. I may point out, however, that on the Defence Committee a great deal more real joint General Staff work is done as between the Army and the Navy than the public realise. Nowadays there are Committees on which no layman at all sits. Soldiers and sailors sit together and work our joint problems. These Committees are always sitting, and are practically Standing Committees. One hon. Member suggested that the pay of the rank and file should be raised. A man can now save, after he has been in the Army two years, 1s. a day if he likes. I would like to know in what other occupation the men are taken such care of and 1s. a day can be saved with the same ease. The rates of pay of the officers, unfortunately, are not nearly so good. All I can say is that there are many opportunities of getting additional benefits than there used to be. The problem we have to consider is a very complicated and difficult one. I have no doubt that sooner or later it will be dealt with. In the meantime we have considerably enlarged the number of appointments open to officers of a certain rank. Certain criticisms have been made of the Cavalry School. It is admitted on all hands to be a great improvement on no Cavalry School at all. There will never be agreement as to the kind of teaching that should be given. The Cavalry School and its teaching are the work of the General Staff, and if you talk to Cavalry officers and men who really understand Cavalry training, which is the most critical of all military science at present, they, from their knowledge, will tell you that the training that is being given is on right lines. What is wanted is more accommodation rather than a different kind of training. I think I have now dealt with most of the points that have been raised.
§ Colonel LOCKWOOD
I wish to refer to the deficiency of officers and the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to deal with it. I am sorry he has not adopted a more courageous line. Up to the present he has suggested palliatives, but nothing that is really likely to be of any permanent use. He stated just now that there were many more opportunities for certain officers to obtain a higher rate of pay than the ordinary ranks were entitled to. They are not the men about whom we are most anxious. We are anxious about the ordinary regimental officer, who, after all, is the most valuable asset in the Army, 463 whether he remains with his regiment for love of the regiment, or whether he feels that his ability lies more in the line of regimental officer than in that of staff officer. In the old days the Army was more or less a hereditary profession. The sons of men who had served in the Army naturally went into the Army. For some reason or other that seems no longer to be the case. There is no doubt that to-day men put their sons into the Navy in preference to the Army. Amongst his palliatives the right hon. Gentleman has lowered the age for cadets. I cannot help thinking that if he were to face the question and declare that the shortness of officers was due to the deficiency of pay he would do much better. Both sides of the House agree that the pay of the officer is insufficient. The military authorities are spending, I believe, something like £250,000 at Sandhurst. That is a large sum, and if such an amount can be found for an establishment like Sandhurst, I think it would be better to face the difficulty at once, and ask the Government to provide more pay for the officers in the Army. The Secretary of State has found fault with the headmasters of public schools for their apathy in the matter of providing officers. I would suggest that if the examination for the Army were more adapted to the course of study pursued at the public schools it would be a great advantage, and more officers would be obtained. That, again, is a palliative. Headmasters are always anxious to see a large proportion of their students enter the Army; but, as a matter of fact, a boy has to leave the public school and go to a crammer in order to be forced into the particular line of examination that is insisted upon. Even now I do not think it is too late for the right hon. Gentleman to have the courage of his opinions. He believes that the Army, so far as the officers are concerned, is underpaid. Let him make that absolutely clear, and ask for a larger sum. I do not for a moment believe that the Nation would grudge the money. When I was an officer the life was not nearly so expensive. We were not expected, in those days, to devote ourselves entirely to the profession. I think it is a great advance that at present officers are expected to, and do, devote themselves entirely to military matters. At the same time, I think their pay should be increased, and if that were done, I believe the shortage 464 of officers would be dealt with most effectively.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Sir JOHN JARDINE
In the presence of so many hon Gentlemen who have spoken with knowledge I do not presume to criticise the details of military expenditure or some of the other questions which have been raised. But on this question of the supply of officers I would like to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. Not having had the honour of serving in the Army myself, I have found a substitute in the shape of a son who was at a public school, and it is from his experience that I want to put a general question on this matter of recruiting. Like a great many more, my son was anxious to enter the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. He worked for it not merely in the public school, but so great was his desire to serve His. Majesty in the Engineers or in the Artillery that he was eager to go to France to perfect himself in the language; in the holidays he spent his time with a tutor learning the higher mathematics. Why—and this is the question I want to put—if there is, as was shown at that last examination for cadets going to Woolwich so much competition, many more coming forward for the examination than the number of cadetships offered, and so much desire to enter these branches of the Service that young fellows are willing to spend laborious days working for examination—why should there be so much difficulty in getting recruits for the military college at Sandhurst? There may be an answer, but it has not yet occurred to me. It is a matter of interest to parents.
As regards the nomination system, there is only one reply that has occurred to me. Many of the families of professional men—I speak from my experience—I allude more particularly to military officers in the Indian Service, often have a large number of children eager to get on. The first thing that presents itself at the younger age is admission to the Army. I know from personal acquaintance that many of these young men are persevering and diligent, and at their father's desire they work hard. They used to go up to the examinanations. I would like very much to know if anything has occurred to cut off that supply of energetic and persevering young men coming from well disciplined homes, and, analogously from many homes of the other professional classes? I do not think that this particular point has 465 been alluded to in this very interesting Debate. More particularly would I like to have answered the first of my questions as to why, if there is plenty of competition to get into Woolwich, there should be an absence of it in any desire to get into the Military Academy at Sandhurst?
§ Sir REGINALD POLE-CAREW
I want to say that from personal experience that I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the Horse and Field Artillery. The Reserve man, good as he is, is not and cannot be, as good as the man in the ranks when war breaks out. We proved that in South Africa. If that is the case in regard to the Infantry, how much more must it be so in regard to very highly-trained and highly technical units of the Army, like the Field and Horse Artillery? It is quite impossible to imagine that they can be as good; more especially if they only have three years' training in the ranks to begin with. Although the right hon. Gentleman tells us that he has consulted experts—I have no doubt he has—I will answer for it that if he will put a ballot out amongst officers of these two branches of the Artillery he will get a very different reply. I consider this to be a very serious question. The question with our Army is not so much what the right hon. Gentleman tells us it is, how many men we can mobilise, as the quality of the men, of the regiments, of the units, when war first breaks out. I want to say one word about the men themselves. I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward.). He told us that the men were underpaid; badly done-by when they are in the ranks. I think he said they had "a bob" a day. All I can say is that the men now are extremely comfortable. As long as they are with the colours they are well-fed, well-looked after, they have well-equipped institutes, coffee bars, libraries, and reading and writing rooms. The difference between now and the time when I joined is perfectly extraordinary. No, that is not the point! I believe that the inducements to join the Service as they now are are ample to get the best men. But our experience teaches us that if you want to get a good class of man you must provide for him, or give him some hope for the future. I gave an instance last week as to how, I think, we got the best men that I have ever seen in the Brigade of Guards, and that was by giving them a preference for a billet in the Metropolitan and other police forces when they had done their service with the colours. I will give you another instance 466 to show how we lost a very good class of man many years before that.
When I joined we had long service and pensions. When that was in force we drew a great number of our best men from Devonshire and other counties in the West of England. The moment that was abolished not one single one of these men came to us. They all went to the Marines. I say that all proves that there is a class of men in this country which we do not tap at the present time—a class of man who, when he joins, thinks of the future. If we would only look to these men's future we should get them. Not only is that a practical suggestion, but I do think that any Government which takes the best years of a man's life should, after that man has served his Government, King, and country well, consider it not only right, but a sacred duty to do something more for him. I should be out of order in talking about the Marines, so I shall say nothing about them, though I have a scheme for them. But I should like to say one word about the officers. It is perfectly true that they should have more-money. As I have said before, they ought to have a little more sympathy shown to them. More than that, they ought to have some sort of guarantee that they will have more fair play than they get now. I am talking of what I know. I know this: the Reserve man who is allowed to wander about the country looking for work, or out at elbows, or perhaps starving at home, because he is too proud to beg, is the greatest deterrent to recruiting; in like manner, the officer who is obliged to retire from the Army, either because he has not had fair play himself, or because he sees that other men do not get fair play, and therefore does not wish to run the risk himself, is the greatest deterrent possible to getting officers to join the Army. In the one case if the man is old enough to judge for himself he takes advice from the officer who has left the Army. In the other case, and it is one which was mentioned here this evening, the parents will not allow their boys to join. If the Government would only consider that a little-more, and consider that regiments and regimental officers are the people who fight battles and not the General Staff, it would be a very great improvement. I have been worrying the right hon. Gentleman—at all events I am afraid he thinks I have been worrying him—on the question of the Yeomanry and Territorial adjutants. I know he will say that is a very small question, and so it is. But 467 it is merely a question of fair play. I had the honour of serving for many years under, I think, the best Commander-in-Chief that I ever saw in the British Army. That was the late Duke of Cambridge. He had the greatest and widest knowledge of the British soldier and the British officer of any man in my lifetime who has been in his position. He always said: "Remember this, the big things are important, but the little things in their way are equally important." If he was living now, if he was our Commander-in-Chief, I do not believe we should have the shortage of officers in the British Army from which we are now suffering. I would beg the right hon. Gentleman to understand that although it is necessary to have a staff—I do not care whether you call it General, Imperial, or even Brilliant—to remember that a general officer with good regiments and good regimental officers could fight a battle and might win; whereas a general and staff could not fight at all.
§ Mr. PEEL
I just want to say a very few words on the curious attack that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War has chosen to make on my hon. Friend beside me. First of all he told us that he was guilty of skipping about from point to point, apparently not following any consecutive story. I have listened to a good many speeches from my hon. Friend, and I confess I have always found him exceedingly lucid and exceedingly clear. I only wish the multitudinous harangues I have listened to from somebody else were quite as lucid and quite as clear. I want to call attention to a particular point on which the right hon. Gentleman has attacked my hon. Friend. The other day, when he was commencing the discussion on the Army Estimates, my right hon. Friend who represents the Strand Division suggested that the right hon. Gentleman had reduced the number of men in the Artillery. The Secretary for War rose up at once, and hurled himself headlong at my right hon. Friend, saying, "Nothing of the kind, no such reduction has taken place." Then my hon. Friend below me asked a question, and from the answer it was quite clear that there has been a reduction, but the right hon. Gentleman qualified his answer to that statement. "Yes," he said, "if you look the world over, but not if you take the force at home"; and when he was defending himself from the attack made by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Strand, he says he limited his remarks to 468 the reduction at home. I have here a report of the discussion as it took place, and I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to show any evidence in that report that he was confining his observations to the Army at home. I say that was not so, and it is quite clear from the report that his observations were perfectly general. I will only quote the last sentence. The right hon. Gentleman said:—Certainly I have not so far as I am aware——We see there is a qualification.reduced either the men or the guns. I have added to the Regular Artillery, and I have added to the personnel, which is a little larger than when I took office."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1911, col. 2114.]There is nothing whatever to show that the right hon. Gentleman's words were so limited, and when he brought so severe a charge against my right hon. Friend he was relying, I am afraid, upon the fact that my right hon. Friend had stated he had to make himself up upon the matter. There is one other point, and it is this. The right hon. Gentleman has had to admit that there are certain deficiencies in his Army. First of all, as regards the Expeditionary Force, there is a shortage of officers and there is a great lack of horses. These are great omissions and defects in the mobility of a force which is to be ready in the briefest time to go abroad. I wish to allude now to what the right hon. Gentleman said about the supply of officers, because the observations he made seemed to me to be thoroughly unsatisfactory. He said it was enormously difficult to see how to remedy that matter. I quite believe that, especially when he stated that this Expeditionary Force is to be ready to go abroad at a moment's notice. The right hon. Gentleman said:—I feel that sooner or later we shall have to face this question of the officers and see what is to be done.That is the statement in regard to an Expeditionary Force that is to be ready to go abroad at a moment's notice. I find on looking at his Memorandum, he says: "That in order to equip the Expeditionary Force with extra officers, he has got to borrow from the Special Reserve Battalion," and a little later on he says: "That in order to get officers from the Special Battalion, he has got to reduce their training with the Infantry from twelve months to six." First of all he has to borrow his officers from another force, and then he has got to reduce the period of their training from twelve months to six, so that he has to make it less efficient in order to get the officers at all. I should like to call attention to the following 469 statements made by the right hon. Gentleman, speaking for the Army, as reported in "The Times" of 29th November, 1910. He was talking about our defences and about the three lines of defence, and he said:—The third line was the Regular Force and the great Territorial Army. In naval and military defences they were absolutely and fully equipped to meet all emergencies and situations, and the person who said we were not so was in a blue funk.I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman, after the observations he made this afternoon, is in a blue funk; but I think that instead of levelling these personal attacks against people on the Front Opposition Bench, and accusing them of misleading the country, it would be better if he did not try to bluff the country by making these kind of speeches outside, pretending that this Expeditionary Force is ready to start at a moment's notice, fully equipped, and then coming down to the House of Commons and saying: "It is all perfectly right; but I have not got enough horses and officers."
§ Colonel YATE
I should like to ask the Secretary of State for War will he tell us what is really the proportion of Artillery per thousand men in our Army to that of any army on the Continent? And what is the proportion of guns per thousand men in our Expeditionary Force of 160,000 men? My argument is that if a Continental army has five guns per 1,000 men we should have six.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Acland)
I can only give the same answer as was given by the Secretary of State for War a few days ago, namely, that we stand second in the proportion of guns per thousand men in the armies of Europe. Germany has a larger number, but we come second, and all other Powers have fewer.
§ Colonel YATE
There can be no doubt, I think, but we should come first. Then there is one other question. I cordially agree with what the hon. and gallant Member for Bodmin (Sir R. Pole-Carew) said. So long as the soldier is with the colours he is all right, but what we really fail to do is to find him employment afterwards. I would ask the Secretary for War to appoint a Committee or Commission to inquire into this matter, so that employment may be found for ex-soldiers and sailors in all the various Departments, not only in the Post Office, where they get half the vacancies, but in order that they may get a fair proportion of employment in all 470 other Departments of the State. I will not say anything about the officers just now. The right hon. Gentleman made a definite statement that that problem will be faced, but I ask for a definite statement as to whether greater consideration could not be given to officers in connection with the matter of deductions from their pay. Officers are put to great expense, and deductions and subscriptions which are now made from their pay ought to be provided by the State. The upkeep of a band ought to be a State matter. It used to be a deduction of two days' pay for the band, but why should it even be a single day? Then, with regard to the present system of Mounted Infantry, why should we not have whole battalions of Mounted Infantry? I should like to have a definite statement on these matters.
§ Mr. HOHLER
I am not entirely in accord with some of my hon. Friends in reference to the pay of the soldiers. There is at least one matter in which I think they are entitled to relief. Does the Secretary of State for War know that their allowances for food, lodging, and so forth, if they happen to be in a superior position, are taxed? Hon. Members opposite are agreed upon one thing, namely, that a tax upon food is unjust, and I ask if that is so that relief in this connection should be given to the soldiers. You give it to the officers, and I make my plea in favour of the private soldier. I should like also to have the real explanation as to why it is that Engineers who are re-engaged are deprived of the benefit of their former service. I know we shall be told that the Engineer's pay is expensive, but they enter His Majesty Service as trained mechanics, and we are bound to pay them as such, or they would never enter the Service at all. But when they are re-engaged you only allow them their Engineer's pay, and refuse them the benefit of the continued service pay which substantially every other branch of the Army gets. You get these men for twelve years, and if they want to make the Army their profession for twenty-one years you say they can only do so at the expense of losing their Service pay. If you told these men that when they first engaged you would not get them at all. I think it is a great injustice. The Secretary of State for War has often promised an explanation, but I take it there is no explanation but the simple one I have offered. You refuse these skilled men who are entitled to their Engineer's 471 pay the Service pay to which men in other branches of the Army are entitled.
There is another point with regard to the staff-sergeant of the Army Ordnance Corps. At question time we have very little opportunity of cross examining Ministers, and we have to wait until such an occasion as the Army Estimates to raise these matters. I have put questions to the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the staff-sergeants in the Armoury Section of the Army Ordnance Corps. The state of things is past belief. I think I am right in saying there are 320 staff-sergeants and only about 30 quartermaster-sergeants. It takes a staff-sergeant a matter of something like eighteen years before he can get promotion. I should say that is a state of things which is very wrong, and inflicts grave injustice on those mechanics induced to enter the Army on the assumption that they will get the benefit of being able to enjoy that promotion which is enjoyed in all other ranks. What was the answer of the Secretary of State for War? I venture to say it is ridiculous upon the face of it. He said:—The reason why there are so many armourers serving as staff-sergeants, and why they have to spend so long a time in that rank is that in the Army Ordnance Corps an armourer starts as a staff-sergeant, whereas in other services he would have to serve first in the rank of private, corporal, and sergeant. I am not prepared, as at present advised, to consider a reorganisation of the section on the lines suggested by the hon. Member.I had suggested that they should be revised on the lines of the Army artificers' section. Observe this answer. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister for War seriously says that the staff-sergeants are not allowed to rise because they joined as staff-sergeant, and do not go through the usual gradations. The reasons they start as staff-sergeants is because you are taking skilled mechanics, and you are bound to pay them what they would command in the market. Why do you not allow them the benefit of the Army increases of pay such as are paid to other ranks? The ordinary labourer can rise to the rank of corporal, sergeant, and quartermaster, but these men are kept as staff-sergeants for eighteen years, and you do nothing for them. Again, they are trained up at their own expense. I think the answer to my question suggests a want of knowledge. As regards the first part of my question, the armourers are enlisted and trained at the expense of the State. I want to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to this fact. If my information is correct, and 472 if I am correctly informed, the answer is entirely misleading and inaccurate. When I put this question I am told there could have been no staff-sergeants with more than two years' service, and, therefore, the vast majority of them have all been trained at their own expense.
As regards the rest of the question we were told that proposals are under consideration with a view to some acceleration of promotion in the armoury section. I asked the right hon. Gentleman what his consideration amounts to? Has he done anything? I find from the Army Estimates that the position which existed six months ago is still continued. What consideration has he shown, and what does he propose to show? I have dealt with two services, both of them entirely recruited from our mechanics and artisan classes. You have a shortage in your recruiting in the Royal Engineers, and I gather from these Debates that you have had to reduce the standard there for your recruits. If you pursue the same policy in regard to these skilled men, and if you refuse to them the benefits of the Army and tell them when they have been with you twelve years that they cannot be re-engaged, you will find the same shortage amongst this section as well. The result will be that you will be driven to train these men yourselves at an immense cost to the State. I ask the Secretary for War to deal with both these points and justify what he has done with reference to the Royal Engineers. Perhaps he will tell me what he proposes to do, and what his careful consideration means in regard to the staff-sergeants. In January, 1907, the Secretary for War issued a circular letter cutting down the number of men who could be re-engaged to 10 per cent. I am not so much concerned about what is paid. If you told the officer when he joined that you were going to take him only for seven years, and that at the end of that period it is quite optional whether you continue his services or not, I am sure you would not get any officers. These men are as anxious as any officers are to make the Army their profession in life, and earn their position in it, and to deal with them by an arbitrary letter declaring that you will not re-engage more than 10 per cent. of them is a grave injustice. Here are men of excellent character, and they desire to make the Army their profession. In fairness to the men I think this practice ought to be done away with, and there ought to be under the regulations some unalterable minimum standard of re-engagement so 473 that the men will know that they are not to be subject to having their whole career destroyed after serving seven years. If they knew that only 25 per cent. of them were to be re-engaged when they joined they would enter the Army with their eyes opened, but you issue these letters, and alter the conditions from time to time under circumstances dependent solely upon the state of the labour market.
In that celebrated book of Sir Ian Hamilton it was said that the Army draws recruits from the unskilled labour market; but, by this practice, you are casting them back upon the unskilled labour market after they have passed the best years of their life in the service of the State. I think the private soldier has a strong case for redress at the hands of the War Office. I ask the Secretary for War to deal with this point in a sympathetic way, and allow 25 per cent. to be re-engaged. There is another rule which operates most harshly upon the private soldier. At the expiration of seven years the men pass to the Reserve, and then they get some small payment per day, and are called up annually for service. I ask whether that is an advantage to them in their civil life? Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that when he instituted his Territorial Army scheme he called upon the patriotism of private employers to grant the time necessary for the training of the men. These men have got to come every year for training, and you have made their position infinitely worse than when they entered the Service, to say nothing of their advanced years. I suppose it is reasonable that Members of Parliament should consider the evils arising in their own constituencies as a result of this state of things. In combination with the Admiralty, the War Office issued some regulations to the effect that only a limited number should be allowed to be employed at the dockyards, and they are largely drawn from the garrison towns. Some of these professions in the Army are almost hereditary, and you find father, son and grandson all following in steps, and naturally they drift into these great garrison towns. Now, you are making regulations which cut down the percentage to be re-engaged. I hope something will be done to meet the points I have raised.
§ Mr. BAIRD
I wish to say a few words upon the question of the Mediterranean Command. With regard to the appointment of the General Officer Commanding the Mediterranean, together with the appointment 474 of Inspector-General of the Oversea Forces, the right hon. Gentleman has not justified any increased expenditure that has been incurred by that appointment. Two things occur to me as being worthy of consideration. In the first place the command which the general officer holds is a very singular one. He commands troops at Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus and, I think, Egypt. Now, it is well known that the facilities for communication between the various parts of that command are by no means very good. As a matter of fact, it is easier to communicate from Malta to London than between Malta and Gibraltar; and it is easier to communicate between Gibraltar and London than between Gibraltar and Malta. Those physical difficulties seem to have considerable bearing upon the utility of the creation of this command. After all, those stations have hitherto been commanded by officers of very high rank, and is it absolutely necessary that they should be subject to frequent inspections by officers still higher? Has anything occurred to justify the institution of the system of inspection to which these officers of high rank are now to be subjected? I have not been able to discover in the Votes what is the total cost of this appointment. I see that the General Officer Commanding in the Mediterranean, and the Inspector-General of Oversea Forces gets £5,000 a year, and that has to cover all allowances. I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman could tell us who pays for the cost of inspecting, for example, the troops in Egypt when the Inspector-General goes there, and what Vote the expenditure will appear upon? Who will pay when the general officer goes to South Africa, as presumably he will. When the general officer commanding in the Mediterranean goes in his capacity of Inspector of Oversea Forces to South Africa, who will take charge of his command? Do the various officers commanding at Gibraltar and Malta and so on become independent once more, or will one of those officers be put in command of the others? That is an important point, more particularly if the command is to be looked upon as a whole, and if it is contemplated, in the event of war, to mobilise it.
§ The question of mobilisation is also an important one. Is that command to be mobilised during what is known as a precautionary period, and, if so, where? I am quite prepared for the right hon. Gentleman to say that it is not desirable to divulge secrets of that sort, but it would 475 be of great interest if he could find it possible to broadly indicate what are his views and intentions with regard to this important subject. Do these various commands under the Inspector-General mobilise after war has been declared? I suppose in that case provision would have to be made for the temporary garrisons which would have to hold the posts from which the troops mobilised would be withdrawn. There are, indeed, a large number of questions connected with the Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean and the Inspector-General of Oversea Forces on which it would be of very considerable interest to those in that part of the world to have some information, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us some explanation. I should like to know, also, if any increased expenditure has been entailed since His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught abandoned the appointment of High Commissioner and Overseas Inspector. I am bound to say that, as the Votes are circulated, it is extremely difficult to ascertain what is the cost of this inspectorate and command. I should be obliged if the right hon. Gentleman could give us some information on that subject. I presume, if any increased expenditure has been incurred, the right hon. Gentleman has satisfied himself that the services rendered justify the increase. I think the House is entitled to have some information as to the nature of the services rendered, and to be told in what respect they are an improvement on what has taken place hitherto.
I want to extend slightly the remarks made by the hon. Member for Chatham (Mr. Hohler) with regard to the Service pay of the Engineers, and the effect it must have upon recruiting. I raised this question on last year's Estimates, and the right hon. Gentleman then gave us some explanation of the alteration, but that explanation was a most unsatisfactory one, and is still considered unsatisfactory in the Service. One understands that he does not wish to keep what he last year picturesquely called the "stiff'uns" in the Army, but that can only apply to the private soldier and cannot apply to non-commissioned officers, who entered the Army with a view of making it their profession. I called the right hon. Gentleman's special attention to these men, because it is a great injustice that they should be asked to join the 476 Army on certain conditions, and then only be allowed to re-engage on terms which mean an actual loss of 7d per day. That is a large proportion of their pay. It is a very serious matter to them, and cannot be said to be an encouragement to that class of men wanted to join the Army and make it their profession. These men have either to re-engage on terms by which they lose 7d. per day, or they have to give up the Army as their profession and the right to their pensions, part of which they have already earned in the sense that they have served some of the time required to earn them. I notice from the Estimates that there is a reduction this year in the Service pay which is grouped with good conduct pay of £66,000. I am afraid that indicates no repentance on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, but a determined persistence in what I must still think is the very evil course of depriving men of pay which they doubtless thought when they joined the Army they were going to enjoy. If this £66,000 is really a saving in Service pay, it is an unholy gain which the right hon. Gentleman is making at the expense of men who seem to me to be most deserving.
§ Mr. ACLAND
Perhaps I may be allowed to reply to some of the matters dealt with since my right hon. Friend spoke, although the House will agree that many of them are technical in character. The hon. Member for Chatham (Mr. Hohler), I think, suggested that it was a breach of faith to the Engineers that they did not obtain proficiency pay for the period for which they extend. They enlist, of course, only for a period of three years, and it is perfectly clear to them, or it should be, what pay they will get for that period. It is undoubtedly a fact that from the point of view of the Army we do not want a large number of these men to re-engage, and I think it is quite justifiable to make an arrangement for the period for which they extend separate from that made for the years for which they enlist. The whole of the Army depends upon the Short Service System, and if all these men were allowed to extend that system would tumble down. It is natural they should in many cases desire to extend, but I do not think it can be considered an injustice to them, although it may be a loss to them.
§ Mr. ACLAND
The Engineers, of course, have corresponding to proficiency 477 pay their Engineer pay, which is not enjoyed by the 10 per cent. in the Infantry, for instance, who are allowed to re-engage. I hope the hon. Member will give me an opportunity of discussing the question of the armourers with him personally, but I cannot help thinking he is making some confusion between the armourers and the armament artificers, who are a different class. As far as my information goes, the answer given by my right hon. Friend the other day with regard to the training of the armourer class is perfectly correct. They are certainly trained under the Government service and do not pay for the process of their training. These men, of course, are not the men of the highest skill who look after the big guns. The armourer is generally simply a mechanic who has obtained sufficient skill to understand and look after a rifle. They engage with the pay of a mechanic in the rank of staff-sergeants, and as they do not pass through the regular grades up to the rank of staff-sergeants, we think it quite natural that they should not enjoy the benefits——
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted, and forty Members being found present——
§ Mr. ACLAND
I was pointing out that the armourer could not expect it both ways. He could not expect to obtain the pay of a mechanic when he joined and also to have the advantages he would have enjoyed with regard to extra pay if he had started at the pay of a private in any arm of the Service. The hon. Member complained about the difficulty these men have in obtaining employment after leaving the colours. I think he has not quite realised the significance of the figures given by the Secretary of State in his speech in introducing the Estimates as to the very large proportion of men now leaving the colours, particularly if they have characters of any kind, who do obtain satisfactory employment. That has been developed to a great extent in the last few years, both under the last Government and under the present Government, and the machinery which exists for obtaining employment for men of all arms of the Service who leave the colours is now, I believe, in a more satisfactory condition than it has been before. I do not say there is nothing left to be done, but, when the hon. Member complains that we only allow 10 per cent. of these men, as we do in certain cases, to extend their service, 478 he ought to remember that for the 90 per cent. who have to go very good arrangements are in existence, some private and some War Office, by which they can, and by which many of them do, obtain employment.
It is not considered that the money which is spent on the appointment of Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean and on the inspections which he carries-out in the different parts of his command is wasted. The German Army, I believe, have no less than six inspecting officers going round all the time inspecting the troops in the different parts of the German Empire, and I believe they think they get very good value for the salaries of those inspecting officers.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ACLAND
The hon. Member asks for the total extra cost. It is, of course, rather difficult to say what the travelling expenses of any particular officer will be for any particular year, and you cannot from the Estimates add together the salary and the separate travelling and other allowances. I can give the hon. Gentleman an estimate privately of the amount if he would like to have it, but I cannot give it out of the Estimates. I can, however, show that the total expenses of the superior commands in the Mediterranean has not materially increased, though there has certainly been some slight increase owing to the creation of these fresh appointments. With regard to the inspection of troops in the West Indies it is not simply a question of visiting one island. There is more than one place in the West Indies in which our troops are stationed, and they will be visited. If Sir John French had remained in charge it would have been part of his duty to visit these troops in these islands, just as it is part of the duty of the officer who now holds the appointment. It is considered, on the reports which we have received, that the extra expense is certainly justified, that better results are obtained from our troops in the Mediterranean, and that a better and more uniform system is established by having this officer as Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I should not have intervened in this Debate but for the very unnecessary attack made by the Secretary for War on the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee). The right hon. Gentleman 479 complained that the hon. Member had travelled over a great deal of ground and had not stuck to the one point before the House. But I would like to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that we have not as yet had an answer of any kind to many of the points we have raised. It ill becomes him to accuse anyone on this side of the House with being diffuse in speeches or statements. We would welcome from him a more definite reply on such questions of military policy as have been raised than we have hitherto succeeded in getting. I ventured to put some questions to him the other night about the distribution of the Army and the state of the Expeditionary or Striking Force should war unhappily break out. I have had no answer to my question. I can quite understand the right hon. Gentleman may have reasons for refusing to reply—reasons connected with foreign policy which would show it was not in the interests of the country to give an answer, and I should not have made strong complaint of the refusal to reply had it not been for the totally unnecessary attack on the hon. Member for Fareham.
Some questions have, however, been put which might well be answered. One had relation to the Inspector-Generalship of the Over-seas Forces and the High Commissionership in the Mediterranean. It seems to me that the old and salutary rule that an officer in high command, either in the Army or Navy, should not be attacked in this House where he has no opportunity of replying, carries with it an equal code of honour, that officers in high command should not consent to write extremely contentious books dealing with extremely contentious questions. Therefore, when officers choose to throw themselves into the arena of party they must not complain if those who sit on the other side of the House criticise their doings. It is a notorious fact, not so far perhaps mentioned in this House, but certainly well known outside this House, that the distinguished general who now holds the Inspector-Generalship of the Over-seas Forces is a gentleman to whom the Secretary for War is indebted for something beyond his mere military position. He has been a consistent supporter of the right hon. Gentleman's policy. It is a notorious fact, too, both in the Army and Navy, that it is the custom for those who represent those services in this House to try and repay, so far as they can, those who support their policy. The Inspector-General of the 480 Forces Over-seas has been the only general who has been a consistent supporter of the right hon. Gentleman's policy.
§ Mr. HALDANE
It is no more my policy than it is the policy of the Leader of the Opposition and of Lord Lansdowne.
§ Earl WINTERTON
Sir Ian Hamilton has been a consistent supporter of the right hon. Gentleman. He may have carried out the policy of the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors as a soldier should do, but it was not until the present Secretary for War took office that he supported that policy as against the bulk of military opinion in this country. It is easy for the right hon. Gentleman to challenge that statement, but I am absolutely certain that if every general officer in the Army were asked privately his opinion whether he was in favour of compulsory service nine out of every ten would reply in the affirmative. An hon. Member opposite asks what authority I have for saying that. My reply is that my authority is to be found in the opinions I have heard expressed by general officers, in the opinions discussed at military dinners and in articles in magazines and in the Press. Neither the right hon. Gentleman nor any other War Minister could expect more definite proof. We have a right to assert that Sir Ian Hamilton is a gentleman to whom the right hon. Gentleman is indebted in a great degree. There are very few general officers who would have written such a book. What followed? A place is found for Sir Ian Hamilton—a totally unnecessary place, and in consequence of that I shall have no hesitation in voting against this Estimate should a division be taken. It is a notorious fact that long before he wrote the book Sir Ian was the only general who publicly advocated this policy, and the right hon. Gentleman quoted his opinion more than that of any other officer when he was making speeches on public platforms. The post to which Sir Ian was appointed was refused by another very distinguished officer. It is one of the most serious accusations that can be brought against the military policy of the Government that they invented this post. It was refused by a man admittedly the greatest soldier on the Active List before it was offered to Sir Ian Hamilton. I do not wish to labour the point further.
It is a notorious fact that the post has been created, but, that being so, let us, 481 for goodness sake, make the amount spent upon it as small as possible. I regard it as an absolutely useless post. Why, if this post is required, did not the right hon. Gentleman find out the necessity for it earlier in his term of office. The disposition of the forces in the Mediterranean and over-seas had been exactly the same for the last five or six years prior to the appointment of Sir Ian Hamilton. Why was it that the combined intelligence of the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessor and the combined intelligence of the general officers at the War Office and of the civil side of that Department did not discover that the post was required? Why was it only fortunately discovered when Sir Ian Hamilton happened to be out of a job?
§ Mr. HALDANE
The higher standard of inspection made it necessary to have this additional inspector, as the work was so enormously added to.
§ Earl WINTERTON
That is really an interesting admission on the part of the right hon. Gentleman. I have always heard that the object of creating this post was to have someone over-seas who could take charge of the troops in the event of the outbreak of war. But now we are given to understand that the appointment was rendered necessary because the standard of inspection has greatly increased. But I believe that the standard of efficiency of the British garrisons in Egypt was quite as high before Sir Ian Hamilton became inspector as it is now. I had the privilege of witnessing General Maxwell inspect the troops there. I have seen something of the disposition of the troops there, and I venture to assert that, as far as Egypt is concerned, neither more nor less efficiency has been the result of the appointment of Sir Ian Hamilton. I rather look upon the right hon. Gentleman's interruption as a slur upon those general officers who were inspectors of these forces before Sir Ian Hamilton was appointed. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can bring any fact forward to show that there has been any alteration of the disposition of the forces in the Mediterranean and overseas since Sir Ian Hamilton was appointed. I repeat it is a useless post, and that the appointment was made in a way which I cannot characterise in Parliamentary language, but for which people outside have a short and expressive word, the meaning of which we all know. The sooner this useless post is abolished the better and I believe that when, in due 482 time, Sir Ian Hamilton retires, it will be abolished, and the right hon. Gentleman will come down to this House and explain in a speech of some length why it is possible to do away with it. Meanwhile let us make it as cheap as possible. I would ask is it necessary to send this most distinguished officer to Bermuda to inspect a single battalion?
§ Mr. HALDANE
He is going to the West Indies, and if Sir John French had remained at his post he would also have done so. The cost will not be so great.
§ Earl WINTERTON
The Government action in connection with the mail service to the West Indies may, I imagine, make it necessary to provide a special cruiser to take Sir Ian Hamilton and his staff, and that will involve very considerable expense. But I do not wish to pursue that unhappy theme. We hear a great deal of talk about efficiency and of avoiding unnecessary expenditure, but, in face of all that, we have this unnecessary post created in order to find a position for a general with whom the present Secretary for War happens to be exceedingly friendly.
I desire to refer to one other question, and that is a point raised in the very interesting speech of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward). Besides the question of men not being able to obtain commissions, one of his main complaints, was the difficulty which the men find, out of the low rate of pay they obtain, in supporting life. I think it was unfortunate that the hon. Member should have gone out of his way in making a point on that subject to say that the officers were all right, and that the only people affected were the men. He would have strengthened his case had he put it upon no class basis, and pointed out that the whole pay of officers and men is miserably inadequate. Due regard has not been had in this matter to the cost of living, and the standard of living demanded by the class of men from whom the private soldier is recruited, and particularly in regard to the class of men from whom officers are taken. It appeared particularly plain to one speaker, that as far as the officers were concerned the complaint might be remedied if the cost of living in the officers' mess was lower than it is now; but I believe that the cost of living in the officers' mess is as low now as it is possible to make it. It is infinitely lower than it was, and you cannot make the expense lower than it is at the present time without causing actual hardship. In 483 Germany the pay of the officers has been increased, but in this country it is stationary. In the case of the men, they are, I think, rather better off, but I still consider that the pay and the allowances made to them are too low.
I think also that steps might be taken to see that they get employment when they leave the colours. The Financial Secretary in his speech mentioned that more men found employment now than was the case some time ago. That is a fact; they are found posts or employment, but it is mainly through the agency of philanthropic institutions outside the Army, and I do not think the right hon. Gentleman or his Department have yet shown the amount of interest that they ought to show in this question, or that they have done nearly enough to obtain posts for these men. The hon. Member for Stoke referred to the difficulty that these men have in obtaining employment, and I would add that difficulty is increased because many of his friends object to ex-soldiers and sailors being given a preference in any Department over which the Government has control. I think that is a mistaken and unpatriotic policy, and I should like to see myself ex-soldiers and sailors given every possible preference. I would very largely increase their opportunities of obtaining employment. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give attention to this question, because in it lies a very great deal of the difficulty that we at present suffer from in regard to recruiting. Reference has been made to the shortage of officers, and on that point I would like to say, having had opportunities of learning the views of officers who are at present on the active list, that I am convinced that a great deal of that shortage is due to the way that they have been unnecessarily interfered with by the authorities during the last few years. A very interesting point really arises on the whole question of the recruiting of officers. I am not sure whether my hon. Friends near me will agree in what I am about to say, but I believe it to be the fact.
Until a few years ago—until the South African war—we found that the average officer who joined the British Army at miserable wages did so when the work of the Army was not the big business that it is to-day. In those days they had a very good time, and did little work; but the South African war rudely dispelled the idea that it was possible to have an Army of amateur soldiers, and that exposition 484 was increased by what took place in the Russo-Japanese war, when we were shown conclusively that if the officer was to be any good at all he had to be the highest expert in his profession possible. To-day the officer is expected to do far more than he was before these wars and is expected to do quite as much as any officer in any Continental Army. He does it cheerfully and—this is the point—he is paid a miserable rate for being a soldier. Before those wars, no doubt, he was also paid a miserable rate for joining the Army, but he could have a more or less good time. Today, however, he has to work extremely hard and make himself acquainted with the details of his profession, and you cannot any longer compete with civilian employment on those conditions. To-day if you expect a man to do a day's work and not half a day's work you must pay him a proper rate of wages for it. Take the case of a family of three sons, all of whom have to earn their living in some way. They have been educated at the public schools, at Eton and Harrow, and properly fitted for a start in life. Two of them go into the City—say, on the Stock Exchange—or engage in other commercial pursuits. They earn a decent livelihood, with a prospect of being able to marry and settle down in course of time. The third one goes into the Army, everyone knows that he cannot live on his pay, that he has very few prospects, and at the outside he cannot make enough money until forty-five or fifty years of age to be able to set up a home for himself. The truth is that in these democratic days, when we have a tax upon the idle rich, it is an anachronism to appoint people to the Army who have not enough to live on, because they cannot live on their pay.
§ Earl WINTERTON
An officer cannot live on his pay, and I have known scores of cases. Has not the hon. Gentleman occasionally had so-and-so pointed out to him, as he has done, a very creditable thing, in that he has actually succeeded in living on his pay? I say there is not one officer in ten who can do it.
§ Earl WINTERTON
It is practically impossible, and, judged by the standpoint of other employment, you have the case as I have put it of three brothers taken from the same school, two going into business or commerce and the other into the Army. I am assuming that they all start with absolutely nothing, except, perhaps, a small allowance from their father. Two of them go into the City, and at twenty-five or thirty they have earned enough money to set up a home, whereas the Army man cannot do so until he is forty-five or fifty. Every class has its particular standard. The class of men you get as officers are being paid below the standard they would get in civilian employment. Very likely the same applies to the men, though I am not so familiar with that. Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway insist on trade union rates of wages. We ought to have a trade union wage for officers, and it ought not to be below what the same class of men, with the same attainments and abilities, would earn in civilian life. Most emphatically we have not got it at present, and though one here and there may succeed in living on his pay, the vast majority do not do so. You are asking them to do a full day's work and giving them a quarter of a day's pay. You will never have an Army until you pay enough money to make it efficient and obtain the men you require. The right hon. Gentleman is a pathetic figure, because he is dealing with an impossible system. His colleagues will not allow him the money he requires, and the system will not allow him to obtain men by the only possible way. All he can do is to deal in half truths and in half facts. You will never get an Army under the present system which will be of the slightest use for the purposes for which we require it. The whole of these debates are in truth unreal, and all we can do is to keep down the expenditure, such as it is, to as low a level as possible in order that we may have money to spend on a more effective Service, the Navy.
§ Colonel BAGOT
I have very great sympathy with what was put forward by the hon. Member (Mr. J. Ward). I and other officers in the Army have very great sympathy with the difficulties in the way of men rising from the ranks and becoming officers, and I sympathise with the hope that that will, as time goes on, be altered. But I have no sympathy whatever with the chief reasons that he gave for the difficulties which beset men in that position. So far as regards pay and having 486 to live with men who are better off than they are, there is considerable difficulty, but I have no sympathy with the argument put forward that officers in the Army as a rule belong to a sort of aristocratic caste which rather makes it uncomfortable or difficult for men who have risen from the ranks. For the very great number of years since I first joined the Army, having served in various branches of the Service, my experience has invariably been that the men who have risen, greatly to their credit, from the ranks and have become commissioned officers, are treated by their brother officers with the greatest possible consideration. It is perfectly obvious that the man who has worked his way up from the ranks and finds himself amongst officers who have more income than he has, and are accustomed to live in a way that he cannot afford, are in a difficulty, but in every regiment there are always men who have risen from the ranks, and I know that our officers give them every possible opportunity by excusing them from subscriptions or expenses wherever they can. I do not think the charge brought by the hon. Member is worth considering at all, but I most fully agree that, especially in these days, it ought to be possible and comparatively easy for any man to rise gradually to the commissioned ranks, and if possible to the highest rank. Undoubtedly there are great difficulties in the way. One of them is, that a man who has served in the ranks finds himself associated in his work with subalterns and men who are many years younger than himself. That, of course, is not an easy position. Then there is, of course, the difficulty of pay.
I do not urge the right hon. Gentleman to spend more and more on the pay of officers, but I think one of the most important things is that wherever it is possible for a man to rise to the commissioned ranks special circumstances should be taken into consideration, and that he' should be given, at all events, pay which would enable him to live with his brother officers. We are very short of officers. Of course, to grant commissions to men who have passed from the ranks will not settle that question, but it will always help it, and I think it most important that the right hon. Gentleman should take into consideration, even if it costs more money, that part of the remarks of the hon. Member, and, so far as he can enable these men who have had all the experience and the 487 knowledge of the ranks to receive commissions and to remove those difficulties which undoubtedly exist, and which make their position as commissioned officers rather uncomfortable. At the same time I entirely repudiate the idea that officers in the Army form a caste in themselves, and that any difficulty whatever is placed in the way of these gentlemen. I have seen very often the greatest consideration given to them. The hon. Member said one of the real reasons why a man who had risen from the ranks was not popular altogether, as a general rule, with the rank and file was that he knew too much. In my experience of the Army I believe that is a true saying, though it should not in the least stand in the way of men rising from the ranks. It is undoubtedly a fact that a man who has been through the ranks, though he may be a most excellent officer, is not altogether as popular as the average officer, for the very good reason that he knows too much about the men. He has associated and lived with them, and they cannot take him in quite as easily as they can a commissioned officer. But I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take into consideration whether a great deal cannot be done to make the position of officers who have risen from the ranks easier and to give considerably more commissions to men who are deserving of them. I think if men who join the Army as a profession begin at the beginning as private soldiers with a chance of making it a profession for life, it would help in getting officers to a certain extent and it would also be a great benefit to the Army. At the same time I most emphatically contradict the statement that there is any sort of class feeling amongst officers in the Army that the position of a man who has risen from the ranks is in any way made difficult or complicated, because I have always seen the exact opposite to be the case.
With regard to some remarks by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Wyndham) on the subject of examinations, I think the real remedy will be to pay the officers something, making it more like a real profession. In the olden days the Army was rather looked upon as more or less an amusement and a pleasant way of passing the time. No doubt in many cases it is, but the pay of an officer does not make it a profession compared with what a man with the same ability might get in other walks of life. An increase of pay to officers would certainly be of very great advantage in the case of the private 488 soldier who rises from the ranks. Something should be done to give him a sufficient inducement to make the Army a profession for life. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) expressed the view that the examinations were not of very great importance, and that practically a very small amount of knowledge was required for entering the Army. I have seen officers in the Army who would make first rate leaders of men, and who had every qualification except a certain amount of book learning. After all, there is moderation in all things, and I should be strongly opposed to allowing the examinations for officers to fall below a fairly high degree of merit. When I joined the Army, I remember that the older officers were men who had got in by purchase and nomination, and no sort of examination was necessary. An officer in my battalion invariably kept an English dictionary on the orderly room table. It saved him a great deal of trouble when writing to ask the orderly-room clerk how to spell certain words. We have in these days men in high positions who are very much better educated, and it would be perfectly ridiculous to have officers who were not at least as well educated as men in other walks of life. Although the examination is not everything, still, if a man has the physical qualities it is right that there should be an examination for the position of officer in the Army. There is no doubt that on account of the shortage of officers the standard of the examination had to be reduced. The remedy is to pay the officers a little more.
We in these days talk about conscription and how to get subalterns; but I do not think that in this country we shall ever stand anything like compulsory service for the Army. We are a very rich country, and we will have to pay more and we can afford to do it. We may use all sorts of nostrums with respect to small details as to the way in which you are to get a full complement of officers; but the real remedy is to be found in better pay. I am sure that everybody connected with the Army looks with the greatest respect on the work which the Secretary of State for War has done for the Army. I am sure he recognises that we shall have to pay more, and in the meantime I think that any proposal to reduce the examination for officers getting into the Army should be resisted as very bad. It would be very much better to have 489 reasonably high examinations and to pay the officers a little more. Having seen during many years officers who had risen from the ranks serving with other officers, I entirely repudiate the idea which has been put before this House that they are in any way handicapped or made uncomfortable by any class opposition on the part of those officers with whom they serve. I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman will do something to remedy the present state of matters.
§ Mr. HAMERSLEY
As to the question of officers, it is perfectly true that some extra pay must be provided, but I would also urge on the right hon. Gentleman that more attention should be paid to the encouragement of those officers who by their industry have made inventions or improved the equipment, and who have spent a great deal of time and labour on these inventions. There should be some reward for the work they have done and the results they have achieved. I know from my own knowledge a case in which an invention has been adopted by the War Office. That invention was the result of work extending over a considerable time, but the inventor has not received any reward for his skill and trouble. There are many cases of that kind. If you want to induce men to come into the Army as officers and make it their profession for life, surely you should treat them as civilians would be treated in their profession for life. Surely it should be our duty and the duty of the War Office to encourage the very best class of men you can get to enter the Army as officers by letting them know that if they devote their time to the needs of the country they will at least receive some reward for their work. I hope that suggestion will be seriously considered, because, although these things may possibly be regarded as little in relation to the whole Service they are of very great importance to individuals as a means of keeping them out of the Army as officers.
I wish to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the practice in regard to the relieving of men on foreign stations, such as Malta, who happen to get ill, or who suffer from any form of invalidity, whether mental or physical. They are left until a trooper comes in the ordinary course to remove them, whereas if they were sent away when the doctor says that it is necessary for them to go many a life might be saved. An instance happened at Malta recently with respect to which I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to make personal inquiry. A man 490 took ill had to wait considerable time for a trooper, because the authorities there would not incur the expense of sending him away by an ordinary ship. Unfortunately, the man died quite insane, although he might have been saved if he had been allowed to go in an ordinary ship. I desire that formatters of that kind the right hon. Gentleman will try to find a remedy. There is no difficulty in remedying these matters, and it only requires to have attention called to them to ensure that that will be done. Compulsory service has been discussed in this Debate at very considerable length. I do not think for a moment that the question of compulsory service would apply to the Expeditionary Force. That force must no doubt be a voluntary force. That has been thoroughly proved by the history of the German Army. There, where they have an expedition sent out to certain wars, they always volunteer to go. They do not use their compulsory service. But unless the right hon. Gentleman can make good the deficiency, I think, so far as Territorials are concerned, some method of universal training will have to be adopted. I do not know whether I am in order in discussing the deficiency of the Territorial Forces.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Emmott)
The hon. Member cannot discuss the Territorial Forces on this Vote.
§ Mr. HAMERSLEY
I was afraid that I could not do so. But with regard to the question of the officers, the right hon. Gentleman has admitted that something must be done to increase their pay. It seems to me a most extraordinary thing if a War Minister admits that it is necessary, in order to have efficiency in the Regular forces, that this thing should be done, and that it is his duty, and the duty of all of us, to see that our Regular forces should be efficient, yet he does not do anything. I cannot for the life of me see why he does not do now what is required. If it is necessary for the efficiency of the Service to spend a certain amount of extra money in order to give men the same inducement to join and become officers that they have to go into civil life, then why does he not take that course? What would be the end of any business transacted on such lines as he adopts? In ordinary occupations of life, if you know that a certain thing has got to be done in order to achieve a certain object, you go and do that thing, and do not put it off to an indefinite future. No one can tell when the 491 efficiency of the Army may be put to the test. We are justified in asking the right hon. Gentleman, if he knows that to make the Army efficient he has got to do certain things, why does he not do them at once?
In the Debate on the Navy the other day it was stated in all parts of the House "We believe in an adequate Navy." Even the opponents of expenditure stated they believed in an adequate Navy. You lay down a standard and live up to that standard. But those critics never said what they thought was adequate. The right hon. Gentleman on the Government Bench (Mr. McKenna) said what was adequate and lived up to it. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War knows what is adequate in the ease of the officers of the Army. I ask him to live up to that. We all recognise the great good he has done, the hard work and energy he has displayed, and the great help he has been to the State in the work he has accomplished. But I entreat him not to stop at what he has done, but to go on and complete the edifice which he has started to build, and to make it perfect by doing what he admits we should do but what for some unknown reason he does not do.
§ Mr. GOLDMAN
There seems to be a general concurrence of opinion that one of the causes of the shortage in the Regular forces, more particularly with regard to officers, is the fact that the Army as such does not offer a sufficient inducement as a career for a promising man. Evidence is given that by increasing the Army allowance you will probably receive a greater number of officers in the Army. Many instances have been brought to my knowledge of officers who have done from six to eight years' service and are only receiving pay—this applies particularly to junior ranks—at the rate of £13 per month, while, taking their mess charges and the various essentials of expenditure, these items come to more than the amount of their Army pay. And the result is that the Army is closed to many a capable, competent man simply because he has not outside resources for his maintenance. I hope also that the Secretary of State for War will find it possible to make some statement with regard to the Royal Garrison Artillery. This point was raised a few years ago, and I believe it was raised in recent Debate by the Member for Wolverhampton.
§ This question of the congestion of officers and the slackness of promotion was 492 pressed upon the Secretary of State for War so far back as 1910. He acknowledged the stagnation in promotion, but believed it was only a temporary matter and that immediate relief would be given, and that promotion would flow soon in the ordinary course. We have in the Royal Garrison Artillery 470 subalterns to-day, and since 1908, I believe, there has been only fifteen promotions from the position of lieutenant to that of captain. What are the chances of any subaltern to-day who has done from six to nine years' service if he happens not to be in the very first rank of those who are likely to come in for promotion? Therefore, I would like to suggest to the Secretary of State whether, in this particular branch of the Service, it would not be possible automatically to promote a certain number of lieutenants after they serve a certain number of years? Let us take, for the sake of argument, a period of ten years, and say that all lieutenants who had given ten years' service in the Royal Garrison Artillery shall receive promotion to a captaincy. And on this very question of the stagnation in the promotion of officers I would suggest whether some remedy cannot be found perhaps in amending the whole system of pensions. It seems extremely unfair that an officer who has served nineteen years should receive only the same pension on retirement as an officer who has served fifteen years. Perhaps a graduated system of pensions could be introduced varying according to the number of years that officers have served in the Army. Assuming that there is a graduated system of pay according to the years of service after fifteen years the whole system should be equally applied in the case of pensions.
§ Supposing a lieutenant has Army pay at the rate of £250 a year. If he received three-fifths of his income on retirement, after fifteen years' service, his pension would amount to £150 per annum. If a system of that kind were established, and I believe it to be feasible, in my opinion it would relax the congestion that exists in the Army at the present moment, and would afford greater facilities for promotion, while removing one of the great deterrents to young men joining the Army as a profession. I trust the Secretary for War will give us some assurance with regard to an increased allowance being paid to officers, and that he will see whether it is possible to meet the congestion which exists, particularly in the Royal Garrison Artillery and some other branches of the 493 Service, and so remove what is at present a great defect.
§ Mr. NEWMAN
In the discussion on Votes A and 1 of the Army Estimate, I had on the Paper an Amendment for the reduction of Vote A—a proposal which should have met with the support of enthusiastic economists on both sides of the House. There were, however, so many Members desirous of speaking on that occasion that I had not an opportunity of submitting the Amendment for the reduction. It was my purpose to deal with the Mediterranean Command and the Inspector-General's Report, and I now take the opportunity of bringing that subject forward. In the whole system of command in the Mediterranean we have too much overlapping. I remember a few years ago being stranded near a small Irish town surrounded by bogs, and I took the occasion to visit the Infantry barracks there. I asked the officer on duty how he liked his quarters, and how he enjoyed the hunting. He said he did not hunt, and that all the game had been shot away. I suggested to him that he must find it very dull? His reply was that it was the best station in the whole of Ireland. "Why?" I asked him. He replied, "Because we have no 'gold hats' here." He meant that they were off the track of the inspecting officer, and that he had not to be pulled out at five o'clock in the morning to prepare for inspection. In regard to the Mediterranean Command it is quite contrary to the particular case to which I have just referred in respect of "gold hats."
In the early part of the Session I endeavoured to elicit from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War certain facts and figures in regard to the Mediterranean Command. The right hon. Gentleman told us that our establishment in the Mediterranean was 17,559 troops. What the actual number would be if the troops went out on active service I could not say—probably they would number about 12,000. These 12,000, of an establishment of 17,000, would have seven generals, with their staff, and the pay of the seven generals from Army funds would be £13,463 a year. There is the Inspector-General (Sir Ian Hamilton) of the ordinary forces and the Mediterranean Command, with a salary of £5,000 and a residence, I presume, at Malta. When Sir Ian Hamilton starts on his tour of inspection of the Mediterranean garrison and the Egyptian garrison he first of all 494 goes to Gibraltar. I myself had an opportunity of seeing the inspecting officer land at Gibraltar. What does he find when he gets there? He finds the Governor and Commander-in-Chief, with a salary of £5,000 a year, which is not, in fact, paid out of the Army funds. He is a Colonial Governor—I do not know why——
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
If the Governor of Gibraltar's salary is on the Colonial Vote, then the question does not arise now.
§ Mr. NEWMAN
At any rate, this Commander-in-Chief has a salary of £5,000, he has also a staff of ten, and of course a residence. Then we go on to Malta, where, as we all know, are the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief and Governor of Malta. The Governor's salary is £5,000, of which only £2,000 is from the Army funds. He has a staff of eighteen, with two brigadiers, each having a salary of £750. In Egypt you find a major-general with £1,098 a year, and a staff of five, but I should say that they are certainly necessary. This is the allowance of "gold hats" in the Mediterranean, but it does not stop there. In addition to these commanding officers and the inspecting officers there are two inspecting officers who are members of the Army Council.
§ Mr. NEWMAN
These two officers went on a tour of inspection. They have been in Cairo. I do not know what the Master-General of Ordnance found to inspect in Cairo. He might go to the old fort or Fort Alexandria. The tour, I ascertained in reply to a question, cost the country a certain number of hundred pounds. I do not want to say a word against Sir Ian Hamilton or any of the officers in his command, but I was talking the other day to a civilian who brought forward the subject of the command of the Oversea Forces, and said if there was one billet in the Army that he would not take it was that of Sir Ian Hamilton. I said, "Why?" "Well," he said, "fancy having to travel about over sea, and being on a steamer all the year round." I said to him, "I think you are making a mistake. Where do you suppose he goes?" "Oh," he says, "He has to go to Australia and New Zealand." I said, "No, he has got no more right to inspect the troops of the Commonwealth or the troops in Canada than he has to inspect the troops of the garrison outside Paris unless he is asked to do so." 495 He asked me what he has got to do, and I told him he has got to inspect the garrison of the Mediterranean and certain places like the Bermudas and the West Indies. He is going there just now, and it is about the only sea trip he will take. When he goes to Bermuda, what will he inspect? He will inspect the Colonial Governor, an aide-de-camp, a staff of two, and a battalion of Infantry. We were told earlier in the Debate he is also going to inspect the garrison in the West Indies. I would like to ask exactly what garrison in the West Indies. I recollect making a tour in the West Indies in 1906, and at St. Lucia we took on board the remains of the garrison and the details of the Artillery which were then withdrawn. I recollect also that the barracks in the Barbados was empty as the battalion of Infantry had been withdrawn. I do not know that we have any white troops in Jamaica.
§ Mr. NEWMAN
All he has got to inspect in the West Indies is the garrison of Bermuda and one battalion at Jamaica. What we are doing now is wasting splendid soldiers like Sir Ian Hamilton and other men in these petty commands. I served as military secretary at Malta, and I know the heartburnings that went on. There were gallant officers there with nothing to do except to organise balls and dances. There was no room in that small island for two general officers, and there is no room in the Mediterranean. I would suggest to the Government, in order to prevent over-lapping, to withdraw a few of the gold hats from the Mediterranean and find better work for gallant soldiers than inspecting each other and wasting money.
§ Captain BARING
I wish to join with my hon. Friend in protesting against this waste of public money, £5,000 for inspecting the Over-seas Forces, a post which has already been twice condemned by two of our leading soldiers, and which I think, if the Secretary of State went outside the War Office he would experience great difficulty in finding support for amongst soldiers. The only argument I have heard so far from the Financial Secretary in support of these posts is that the German Empire has six inspectors-general, and that therefore it is a very good thing that we should have two. The conditions are absolutely different, and there is no analogy between the requirements of the 496 British Army and of the German Army. It is very well known that the German Army is, I suppose, the most complicated and the most highly organised and perhaps the most efficient machinery for war that this world has ever seen. Everything is laid down as to what should be done, not only on mobilisation, but before. The generals, probably in every portion of the German Empire, are in touch with the War Office in Berlin, and under its direct orders. The conditions which obtain in the Mediterranean, in our Over-seas Dominions, are absolutely and totally different. We have got men who may be face to face almost at any time with a crisis, and who, under such circumstances, would have to decide for themselves. I say it is derogatory to them and to their dignity, and it is bad for their responsibility and their military efficiency that they should be inspected at any time in their careers, when they are governing Malta, or Gibraltar, or any other Overseas Dominions.
I should like the House to consider who those general officers are who are in command of the Mediterranean. Most of them have superior service to Sir Ian Hamilton, and some slightly less. They are all of them men absolutely competent in my opinion, and I think in the opinion of the House, to come to any decision on any question which may suddenly present itself to them. They find themselves, thanks to the fact of having an Inspector-General over them to a certain extent, and I believe to a very great extent, divested of the responsibility which is very rightly and properly theirs. It is very well known that every single one of these general officers is able to come home once a year during the ten years of his command. He is then able to report himself to the War Office, and to inform them of the situation in that part of the Dominion he happens to be responsible for. He is able to tell the Army Council or the Imperial Committee of Defence what is required, and he is able to give them the whole benefit of his experience. That, however, is, in my opinion, completely upset by the action which the Government have taken. These gallant officers when they come home may find themselves told although they have twelve months' experience of their office that the Inspector-General has been there for the week, or perhaps less, and that he has formed certain opinions, that the War Office are acting on his opinions, and naturally do not attribute the same weight to the opinions of 497 the man who is responsible for the remaining twelve months of the year. I think that that is a very wrong system. When general officers arrive at that seniority and have assumed that responsibility their position ought to be given full weight, and they should not have anybody over them to come and interfere in their commands at certain periods of the year. In what I am now saying, I do not refer to Sir Ian Hamilton himself, but only to the appointment. He is Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean, and presumably he is Commander-in-Chief for some purpose. What that purpose is I do not know, and what position he would assume in case of war has never been revealed to the House. Supposing a war broke out or a situation arose demanding his presence, what would happen if he were inspecting in South Africa or the West Indies or some other portion of his command? I understand that he might at the invitation of one of the Overseas Dominions be inspecting the forces in Australia or Canada, or even in China. That seems to detract very considerably from his value as the man to take command in case of a crisis in the Mediterranean. I am sorry that on this occasion the economists on the other side should not see fit to make one of their sporadic efforts to save the country money. I can assure them that the Army as a whole looks upon this position as nothing but a waste of public money. Several attempts have been made to raise a question connected with the employment of soldiers on their discharge from the Army. Many of the recommendations on this subject made by Sir Edward Ward's Committee in 1906 have been carried out, but one of the most important recommendations has not been acted upon. The specific point I wish to raise is whether or not the War Office are prepared to carry out the recommendation of Sir Edward Ward's Committee, that soldiers who enter civil employment under the Government should be allowed to count towards their pension the years they spent in the Army. That is, that a man who spends seven years in the Army, and is then forced to retire should not feel that he has absolutely wasted those seven years of his life. This is very much a matter of arrangement between the War Office and other Departments of the Government
§ Captain BARING
The Treasury, of course, is the power behind the Throne in all these questions. The Secretary of 498 State has power even over the Treasury, if he puts the matter in the right way. If he assures the Treasury that it will conduce to the comfort of the soldier and improve recruiting, the Treasury will be well advised to yield to his demand and allow the little extra charge that would be involved. This matter was referred to by Sir Edward Ward's Committee as a legitimate grievance, and I suggest that it is the business of the Government to remedy it. I should like to hear from the War Office that they are in favour of the proposal, that they are prepared to use their influence with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that they will not ride off on the plea that they have no power in the matter and that it is purely a question for another department. They have great power in the matter. The request is not put forward in any party spirit, but from a genuine desire to meet a well-grounded grievance, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give me some assurance on the subject.
§ Sir WILLIAM BULL
I should like to second the remarks of the last speaker with reference to old soldiers who have entered other Government employment. Inasmuch as I represent the Borough of Hammersmith, in which there is one of the largest prisons in London, where a great number of old soldiers are emloyed as warders and in other positions, I feel very strongly on the subject. These men who, from the very fact that they have excellent characters from the Army, have been able to enter the prison service, ought to be allowed to add towards their pension the years they have served the State in one capacity to those which they have served in another. I wish also to ask whether the Secretary of State will favourably consider the proposal to allow a distinctive uniform to be worn by the suggested Veteran Reserve.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I was very much struck by the speech of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward), which I do not think has received the attention it deserves. I do not agree with the hon. Member, but I think he puts forward a view of very considerable interest, namely, that there is a grievance felt by the rank and file of the Army on the ground that there are not sufficient openings for them to become officers. That is certainly a grievance we ought to consider, especially when it is pointed out that 499 it has a prejudicial effect on recruiting. It seems to me that we ought to look at the real facts of the case and see whether or not anything can be done in the direction indicated by the hon. Member. He made, as I think, many unfounded allegations against the officers of the Army. He said, for instance, that officers showed class prejudice, that they were reluctant to welcome rankers into the commissioned ranks, and that if a ranker managed to get into the commissioned ranks he would not be well received, but would, in fact, be ostracised by the officers. I do not think that that is at all the case. Indeed, many officers who speak with far more authority than I can, have, and I think rightly so, given an emphatic contradiction to the hon. Gentleman. Still, if we recognise that the fault, if fault there be, does not rest with the officers of the commissioned ranks, yet that does not in the least prevent us from seeing whether there is really not some grievance which might be remedied. I think we can perfectly well turn our attention to the facts of the question, putting aside—well, I hardly like to describe it as "clap-trap," but that is what it really amounts to—that with which the hon. Gentleman tried to support his arguments. There is no doubt that you want to hold out to the man who wants to join the Army every incentive that you can, every provision that you can make, in openings for him to rise in that profession, even to the highest ranks. I quite recognise that there is a good deal in the contention that officers promoted from the ranks meet with considerable difficulties from the comrades that they have left. I think that, no doubt, is the case. The hon. Member stated that one of the main difficulties was that those comrades whom the newly-made officer had left felt that he knew too much. That means not that the officer who has been promoted knows too much of military matters, but of some of the little dodges, perhaps I may call them, of the old soldier, which the old soldier would rather he did not know. But we have to consider whether or not a system can be devised which would enable, I do not say the "ranker," the man who joins the ranks, to become an officer, but the man of the class contemplated by the hon. Gentleman who will feel that the Army offers him a career.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
That is a very nice expression; but I think if hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite would consider for a moment they would see that the circumstances of the case really make it impossible for what they wish to be the case. The question of age and time come in. I do not see how anybody joining the ranks in normal circumstances—enlisting, that is—can, by sheer weight of age, compete on even terms with those who join as officers at a younger age. I mean that that is the thing that stops them. An hon. Member mentioned a distinguished general. I always thought that gentleman was a general. It was only to-day that I learnt for the first time that he was only an acting-general. Still that is only an exception that proves the rule. It is only an isolated instance, and does not prove anything. But I think I am right in saying that there is the fact of age to pre-vent any man who joins as a private soldier from reaching probably the highest ranks, no matter what his position in life or education may be. Therefore, I do not think it is reasonable to suppose that many men who join the ranks of the Army will be promoted, or can be promoted, owing to age to the commissioned ranks—to go no higher. What I do think is this: That is ought to be open to anybody, irrespective of their means, to become officers in the Army. For that reason I welcome the proposal of the Government to give scholarships, as from the speech of the Secretary for War in introducing these Army Estimates I understand they are going to do. I think it is far better that you should get officers drawn from a wider social sphere than you do now by means of these scholarsips, than that you should attempt to do by means of promoting men who have enlisted.
After all, to get your efficient officer, you must train him young. The man who has gone through the mill as a private soldier, and is promoted through the noncommissioned ranks into the commissioned ranks, no doubt knows the strictly professional part of the business—if so I may describe it. But there is grave doubt whether such a man, with that training, would ultimately make as good an officer as the man whom you have trained from his youth up to be an officer and nothing else. Being a private soldier, or even a non-commissioned officer, and being a commissioned officer, is not the same thing, and I certainly think that being a commissioned officer, especially in the higher ranks, demands qualities which I do not 501 know are produced by the experience of the man who serves through the ranks. So I say that I think that the right way to move in this reform is to extend the system, which I am glad to see has been founded by the Government; giving scholarships to attract men from a wider social sphere than has hitherto been the case. I sincerely hope that this system of scholarships will be successful. It is rather a surprise to me that more has not been said about these scholarships in this Debate than has been said. The matter seems to me to be important. I hope the scheme will have the effect of producing officers in greater numbers than are produced at the present time. But at the bottom of the whole question, as has been said, lies the question of pay. I disagree entirely from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke when he says that if you increase the pay you will increase the class privileges of the officers, and you will not help the man drawn from the poorer classes of the community to become an officer. I think that is a most untenable proposition. What is the argument for paying Members of this House? I do not think there are very many arguments in favour of the proposal. I believe there are a great many against it. But the only arguments I have heard in favour of it is that persons will be able to become Members of this House who otherwise would not be able to do so.
Exactly the same case seems to me to apply to the Army, without the disadvantages which apply to paying Members of this House. Because, although the rearing of a class of professional politicians may not be desirable, yet I do not think it at all undesirable that you should rear a class of professional officers for the Army. Therefore if you raise the pay you are more likely to increase the officers than by any other ingenious method which the Government may see fit to adopt. It is ridiculous, it is merely putting a mist before our eyes, to pretend that the pay of the Army officer to-day is in any way adequate Everybody knows that it is nothing of the kind. What I want to know is why the Secretary for War, instead of skirting all round the question, does not come down boldly, and say that he must have an adequate scale of pay for officers, especially in the junior ranks? This House I think would be quite ready to accede to his demands, and I should imagine he could make the demands so irresistible to the Treasury that they would be bound to give way before them. Why should you expect men to give their whole time and 502 a good deal of their training and education to fit themselves to become officers, and expect them to do it at a salary which will hardly adequately compensate a clerk in a Government office? I think I am right in saying that the pay of second division clerks in Government offices probably compares very favourably with the pay of officers in the Army. Moreover, there is always this to be borne in mind, that ultimately the officers of the Army stand as food for powder. That consideration is one which, at all events, entitles them to a higher scale of pay than other people who are engaged in civic positions and occupations. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is their salary?"] Very minute indeed. The question is complicated by a great many allowances, so it is very difficult to say what actually the pay of the officer is.
I now come to another point: that is the one dealing with the number of sergeants who are in future to be on the staff of the Regular Cavalry regiments of the line. I understand there is to be a great change in policy on the part of the War Office in dealing with these sergeants. In future, instead of the Territorial Yeomanry regiments being afforded the assistance of sergeant-majors of Cavalry they are to have sergeants during the course of their career with the colours and that the idea is sergeants shall be with the colours and shall go for a certain time, which, so far as I can see, is not yet accurately foreshadowed, but, say for two years from the colours to the Yeomanry of the Territorial Force. What effect will that have on the Cavalry of the line? I do not know if I should be in order in discussing what effect it will have upon the Territorial Force, but I am certain it will be bad. Will that procedure not necessitate an increase of the staff of non-commissioned officers of the Regulars, because if not it seems to me that in addition to doing harm to the Territorial Force you will be doing harm also to the Regulars. It is hardly to be supposed that the Regulars are going to part with their best sergeants. You may be certain that the sergeants they will send to the Territorial Force are men for whom they have no particular use, and who will not be wanted at the regiment when the period of their service at the Territorial Force is over.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
The best officers usually have the interests of their regiments most at heart, and what is for the 503 efficiency of their regiments is that which most appeals to them, and while they are usually patriots, I doubt whether their patriotism will induce them to prefer the Territorials, as the Secretary of State for War does, to their regiments. I should like to know what arrangements are to be made for Cavalry regiments to enable them to send to the Territorial Force their best sergeants who are of great value and use to the Army. No doubt we shall have an opportunity of discussing that later on when the general discussion is resumed, or when discussing the Votes connected with the Territorial Army. I hope the Secretary of State for War will bear that in mind when we come to deal with these matters.
I should like now to call the attention of the War Office to the question of horses, which comes under this Vote. I was rather perturbed to find the other day that the Secretary for War rather threw cold water upon a Friend of mine when he asked a question in conection with the buying of horses. The right hon. Gentleman rather suggested that the Army Remount, officers were wasting their time in going to centres where horses were collected for the purpose of buying them. He said very often when they went there they found they could only get one or two to suit them out of those brought together. I hope that in connection with the buying of horses for the Cavalry he will bear in mind the importance of buying them direct from the breeders. Let him not be discouraged by preliminary failures in buying horses direct. Of course, there will be failures, because when you take the general breeder he may at a particular time only possess one or two horses up to the standard required by the War Office, and you have to show him that if he has got good horses the Army will buy them.
It has very often happened that where there has been a collection of horses the buyer has gone down and very likely only wanted one or two horses altogether, and therefore had to pass by many suitable animals. That is not the way to do it. The buyers ought to reserve themselves for these occasions when the horses are collected together and buy a good many, in order to encourage breeders on other occasions to show horses which they can sell to the Government. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will bear that in mind and not be too much guided by his expert 504 advisers in the Remount Department. It saves a great deal of trouble to the Army buyers to buy through dealers. No doubt the dealers have served them admirably in the past; I should be the last to deny that. At the same time if the right hon. Gentleman wants to encourage breeding and the production of horses for the Army he will do much better to buy direct from the farmers by means of the collection of horses as was suggested to him the other day. I have discussed this matter with many farmers and I always found that the one point to which they attached great importance was that the Army authorities might buy direct from them. I venture to hope the right hon. Gentleman will give attention to some of the points which I have raised this afternoon.
§ Colonel HICKMAN
I was very glad to see from the Memorandum sent round by the Secretary of State for War that there has been an increase of 2,200 recruits. And I imagine that it has something to do with the report on recruiting in the Blue Book, wherein it is stated that there was an increase of 7,400 men last year as compared with the preceding twelve months in recruiting, and an increase of 7,000 odd added to the Special Reserve. It appears to me from what I have read in this Report that there is a good deal too much red-tape about the matter, and that when the supply of recruits of the proper physical requirements, that is to say height and chest measurement, is free we ought to be able to take for the Army as many of these men as we can get, and not be compelled to stop because just at a particular time we do not want quite so many men. Later on we find in the same Report that, having stopped last year the flow of recruits at a particular time, because we did not want beyond a certain number, afterwards when we did want them and the trade of the country was improved we could not get the same class of men and had to lower the standard. Therefore it appears to me that the efficiency of the Service suffers very much from this red tape. I very much welcome the new direction taken by the Secretary for War in taking 2,200 more men in order to give elasticity to recruiting. I hope that this is a beginning in this line, and that he will be able in another year to extend it still further, and have still more elasticity. I notice in this Report that a great many men, after their service, were taken on in civil employment, and I find that under the headings of "exemplary," 505 "very good," and "good" characters of men discharged last year, employment was found for 17,000 odd men. I also find that there were something like 27,000 odd men altogether in need of employment, which shows that there was a deficiency of employment of 10,000 men. I think that is a question which needs serious consideration.
I am glad to note that at any rate one prominent Member of this Government is taking this subject seriously to heart, and that is the Postmaster-General, who last year instituted a regime in which he allows the boys who are telegraph hoys and messengers, when they arrive at the age of sixteen—which was the usual time to be discharged—to be continued on in the Post Office up to eighteen, when they can be enlisted as recruits in the Regular Army on the understanding that they should receive further service at the Post Office on their discharge from the Army. I hope other heads of the Government will take an example from the Postmaster-General, and that many more billets may be found for old soldiers in the future. This brings me to a much larger subject in the way of finding employment for old soldiers, and it occurs to me that it is not only the Government and Government offices who ought to be obliged to find billets for old soldiers, but also employers of labour all over the country, who should be compelled by law to have a certain percentage of men in their works who have served their country in some capacity or other. If such a proposal were carried to its natural conclusion there would be no trouble in getting recruits. Take, for example, John Jones. If he had two sons who could not find employment when trade was bad, and he saw his neighbour John Smith, who had also two sons, and directly they came back after serving in the Army or Navy they easily dropped in for billets, would not John Jones be inclined to say, "This is good business. I will put my sons into the Service, so that their future shall be secured." If we went into this matter in a business-like manner, and made provision for these old soldiers after their service, we should find there would be a great encouragement given to recruiting, and that every farmer, when he found his sons coming to the age of eighteen, or whatever age was required for service, he would put them straight into the Army, so that they would be able to have employment afterwards instead of probably having to join the ranks of the unemployed.
506 There is another subject which I have had much at heart, and that is the supply of officers. These reports show a very sad diminution in the number of officers necessary for the Army and the Special Reserve. I understand it has been necessary to take from the extra Special Reserve regiments four officers each in order to make up the numbers in the Regular regiments. It is very deplorable to resort to such an experience, and at the same time run the risk of doing great damage to the efficiency of the Special Reserve. There are several reasons, in my opinion, which tend to deter farmers from putting their sons in the Army, and one is a want of confidence in the present regime. Before we had an Army Council there was much more confidence, and we had no trouble in getting officers to join the Army. Ten years ago, when an officer had a grievance and thought himself ill-used, the usual method was to go to see the Military Secretary at the War Office, and if he did not get satisfaction there he saw the Commander-in-Chief, and then he was sure to get satisfaction in an honourable, straightforward manner. That system does not obtain now. If an officer goes to he War Office now he has to see a dozen people, because there is no man there with full responsibility, and the only answer you get is, "This is the decision of the Army Council." I leave hon. Members to think what sort of satisfaction any man could get when responsibility is divided amongst so many people.
We old soldiers hear stories of how one officer is promoted over the head of another, and we want to know why, because we cannot understand it. We find that one general officer, senior to another, is passed over by a certain member of the Army Council, and we wonder why that is done. Then we read a little later, when the Army Estimates come on, that the Secretary for War at that particular time—I am not referring to the present Secretary for War—is reducing Artillery or Infantry and presumably we cannot help thinking that that particular member of the Army Council is fighting the War Minister, and we see his promotion is a sop to it. These things go on all over the country, and although they are little to start with, like a snowball, they get bigger and bigger, and when all these things are talked about by old soldiers the result is that fathers decide not to put their sons into the Service. It would be a great advantage if the Secretary for War would do something to establish the 507 confidence in the present regime which used to obtain under the old Commander-in-Chief.
I think enough has been said about the pay of officers, but I have not got much satisfaction out of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the Royal Garrison Artillery. He told me that the era of promotion has begun again. I should like to know how many officers he expected to promote in the Royal Garrison Artillery this year? If I take thirty as the outside number there will still be 180 subalterns at the end of this year with eleven years' service, and it will take seventeen years before the last of these is promoted to the rank of captain. Some of them will die meanwhile, but that does not help us much. These things do not conduce to fathers sending their sons into the Service, and I still recommend the right hon. Gentleman to consider this question of the Royal Garrison Artillery officers. Surely it would not be very difficult, and it would not cost much money if, after the service of eleven years an officer was automatically promoted to the rank of captain, whether you gave him the pay of captain or not. That would very much help those officers and tend to make the Service more popular instead of discouraging other men from sending their sons into the Service.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
There are a few questions I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, but I have no intention of allowing him to chloroform me with figures and then to put a pin into me as he tried to do to some other hon. Gentlemen. I cannot quite understand his statement that the Reservists are better than the men at present serving in the Artillery. He tried to get out of it by saying "Better than the young soldiers." Everybody knows an untrained recruit is not as good as a trained Reservist, but it is perfectly impossible to say that a Reservist who has been away from his corps for some years can be quite as fit and quite as trained as the man actually serving with the colours, providing that man has had sufficient service to learn his work. The right hon. Gentleman tells us he is improving the guns, the new Howitzers, and so on; but they are perfectly new weapons to the Reservists who have not been trained in the use of them. I do not see anything in the Estimates with regard to an establishment for training or looking after the horses he is going to mobilise in time of war to make 508 up his Cavalry Division. He told mo the other day that there were some 4,000 horses required, that 3,500 are registered, and that, as to 500, he does not quite know where they are. I want him to assure us that those horses have been trained to the use of the sword, the lance, and the rifle. Otherwise you will have to have a large number of men to train them and really make them fit for Cavalry work.
A good many hon. Members—and especially the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward)—have raised questions with regard to the officers. Possibly hon. Members below the Gangway think that because we are officers all we care about is the pay of the officers, and that we do not care about the pay of the men. We can, as a matter of fact, raise many points with regard to the men on a later Vote. The question of the men has also been taken up to a very great extent. Otherwise we should not have got the recruits. The pay of the men certainly compares very well with the pay of unskilled men in other walks of life. I can quite understand that the question of officers has a somewhat disquieting effect, as he admits, on the right hon. Gentleman, because, in spite of all his cheery optimism on all occasions, the right hon. Gentleman has failed, where others have failed, in getting officers, for the simple reason that he is not meeting outside competition by giving adequate remuneration. Men can get far better pay outside for far less work. It practically means that the right hon. Gentleman has not come up to date in the matter of pay. There has been an increased cost in living during the last century, and the regimental officer is almost the only class, whether high or low, whose pay has not correspondingly increased. I will give a very good case in point. About the beginning of the nineteenth century the pay of house stewards in big establishments throughout the country was something like £30 or £40 per year, but to-day they get as much as £130, whereas the pay of the subaltern is exactly the same now as it was then, about £95. The allowances in the way of board and lodging are much less in the case of the officer also. That gives you a very good example of how the pay of an officer is not being raised in the same way as the pay in other branches of life. An officer is not now doing the sort of half-time work he used to do and is not the half-skilled man he used to be. To-day it is really a hard profession. He has to pass a good many examinations and has 509 to be a skilled man. You require him to work probably both day and night.
You have therefore doubled your requirements of him, but you have not touched his pay. I do not think it really touches the point when the right hon. Gentleman says, "We give more billets for captains." There are exactly the same number of officers in a regiment to-day, and that does not help the subaltern, and does not tend to encourage men to put their sons in the Army. There are now far more attractions outside the Army for the very class of men you want to keep in this country to command our recruits than there used to be. They can get civil billets in our Colonies, and it is very much easier to become an expert, say, in forestry and get a billet worth £1,000 a year on a rubber plantation than it is for a subaltern to rise in the Army. You have also to remember that under the blessings of a Liberal Government the number of officials in the Civil Service has vastly increased, and the official most wanted is the very kind of man we should like to get in the Army. That naturally again increases the competition. It is very difficult to know how to deal with this competition unless you give an adequate wage. Have an adequate day's work and get the best you can out of them, but remember you are the British Government and that if you want good officers you must pay for them. The right hon. Gentleman has put his finger on one very weak spot, and that is the expense to a poor man of providing a good education for his son. It is not very easy for him to send his son to an expensive preparatory school, and then possibly to a public school, with the off-chance of getting him to Sandhurst, and afterwards to provide an expensive uniform. The uniform has to be provided. What does he get? He gets £95 and probably most of that in the first year will have to go in uniform. His father may help him, but, on the other hand, his father may not be much better off than himself. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman's statement with regard to Sandhurst was quite satisfactory. He told us he was going to give bursaries and that that would encourage poor men to put their sons into the Army. That is a very good idea, but it does not necessarily follow that it is the sons of poor men who will get the scholarships. I do not see why the son of a rich man should be allowed to compete, as these scholarships should be for the benefit 510 of poor men's sons. He hopes that if a rich man's son secures one he will give it up in favour of a poor man's son, but I do not think that a boy who has worked very hard would be willing to do so, or that it would be fair to expect him to do so. The results of his labour ought not to be taken away from him. I, therefore, do not see that the bursary scheme is a sound one. After all it is a question of money. There is a wastage of 800 officers every year in the Army, and it is difficult to keep up the supply. I think that with advantage the example of the Navy might be followed. It might be well to have cheap preparatory schools on the lines of Osborne. It would almost pay to work them at a loss in order to get officers. You would get them young. A man would say, "Here is a chance of getting a cheap and good education for my son, therefore I will put him in for it, and if he does well he may get into the Army." A lot of boys do not go into the Navy or the Army because they cannot get the education required.
I would like to point out that there are a good many expenses to which officers are put which I do not think are quite fair. As a distinguished general said this afternoon, it is the small points that really tend to the unpopularity of the Army, much more than big points. It is the little points which create an impression of meanness. I do not mean to say that they are actually mean. But I would like to give a case in point. Take the question of barrack furniture. The idea of having this furniture was to provide it for the convenience of the officer as it would cost him less. The War Office provided it and charged him one penny per day, which at first he cheerfully paid. But in course of time he came to realise that the furniture had already been paid for. I think one may take the capital value of the furniture in an officer's room at £10. For that he is charged 30s. a year, which works out at about 15 per cent. The furniture was supplied in 1903. It is practically indestructible. Its capital value was paid off last year, and the Government are now making 15 per cent. sheer profit upon it. I do not think it would be possible to put a higher value than £10 upon it. Then let me take the case of the mess furniture. For that again the officer has to pay 1d. per day, and, there are usually about twenty officers in the mess, and each has to pay 30s. a year. I think I shall be on the safe side if I put the capital value of that furniture at £600, and the 30s. paid per year represents 5 per cent. of that amount. As a 511 matter of fact, I have overstated the coat considerably, because, in answer to a question I put to him the other day, the right hon. Gentleman told me its value was only £275. There may be breakages, but they are to a great extent paid for, and may be considered apart. I think the Army Council will acknowledge that this furniture has been pretty well paid for. We understood that they contemplated increasing the furniture, and that they asked for suggestions from the officers, but the fact remains that mess officers are paying 5 per cent. on £600 for a capital outlay of only £275. It should also be borne in mind that an officer may be away on manœuvres for three or four months at a time, and he is still charged a penny per day for the furniture he is not using.
I would suggest to the right hon. Gentle-main that it is these little pin-pricks which induce people to say there are so many unnecessary expenses in the Army. Another point I wish to raise is in regard to the amount charged officers for horses. Any civilian can now get a horse for 30s. a year, but an officer may not do so unless he keeps it out of barracks. He has to pay £10 for a horse which he is allowed to hunt, or less for one that he may not hunt. I do not think that such an expense should be imposed upon officers. I cannot see why they should not have a free horse in exactly the same way as the men have, but at the present time you begin by charging him £10, and you began by telling him the horse would become his own at the end of six years, a privilege now taken from him, whereas any civilian can get a horse for 30s. a year and do what he likes with it. I think the officer should be allowed to have a 30s. horse; it would be far better looked after and much more valuable in the event of mobilisation, for it would be kept under the eyes of the commanding officer. I think it very unwise to make any limitations such as that the officers shall not hunt with the horse, because it is the horse accustomed to hunting that it is desirable the officer should have. I again want to point out that it is these small pin-pricks which are perfectly unnecessary, which irritate the officers, and which give the Service a very bad name.
I felt that I was bound to join in the Debate on this question of officers because I have served myself, and I realise where the shoe pinches. Another point with regard to these officers is the question of examination. 512 Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me any other profession in the world where the higher one gets the more he is examined. How many of right hon. Gentlemen on that bench would if they were examined to-day get into their present positions. But life in the Army is one continuous round of examinations for the officer in order that he may show that he is qualified for his post. He is put under good officers to see that he is kept up to his work, and I think it would be very much better to trust to the brigadier and to brigade work to see that the men are fit for their work. If they are not then get rid of your brigadier or your officer and see that the officers are properly looked after. Instead, however, of the officer being subjected to such conditions his whole life is a plague of examinations. He is crammed up, and afterwards he forgets all about it. By far the best examination he can have is plenty of experience at his own work, and I think active service ought to count. I will give my own case as an instance of the folly of examinations, because as I am not going back to the Army it will affect nobody and I have no complaint. I was in the South African War, and I had command of three regiments for the best part of three years, and I obtained lieutenant-colonel's rank. I was fortunate enough not to be caught asleep by our friend the enemy, and was favourably mentioned. When I came back, I was told that if I wanted to go back to the Blues I should have to pass an examination to see if I was fitted to be a major, having been a major since 1898 in the Egyptian Army on Service and having received a brevet. These are a few of the things which really lead to grumbling in the Army, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can inform me if there are examinations in other armies on the same scale as ours. He knows what goes on in Europe better than I do, but I think he will find that there is only one army that really goes in for examinations on the same principle as we do, and I think that is the Chinese Army.
In regard to what the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward) said about ranker officers, although there are many more experienced officers in this House than I am, still I think it is possible that I have had more to do with that class than any other hon. Member in the House. The matter was entirely under my control, and I had to promote these officers. They did very well on the whole during the war, and 513 I think if you have the right class of men in the ranks you certainly might promote many of them. If you have war you get a large number of that class of men, but as things stand at present, with only £95 a year to look forward to when a man comes to be lieutenant, you cannot expect a large class of right men to come into the Army for promotion later on. I think if it were recognised that the ranks were one of the channels through which officers might be permitted to join you might get a good many men of good class—I am not speaking in the social sense—to come in if they knew there was a good chance to get on. But if you do that you must raise the pay, and, above all, you must make it clear hat it is a good channel for the purpose of getting on. The men must, however see that they have got a good education, because to-day it is prefectly impossible for a man to go through all the branches of military life without being a thoroughly educated man and trained in his work. It will count for a great deal if you have gone through the ranks, and if you are the right type to promote. Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, if they want to encourage promotion from the ranks, must help us to get a living wage. They talk a great deal about their own living wage, but there are others who want a living wage as well.
§ Mr. CROFT
I should like to endorse what has fallen from the Noble Lord. It is essential, if there is to be more promotion of the kind desired by the hon. Member (Mr. J. Ward), that we should see a higher grade of men passing into the Army year by year, and when he took out his percentage figures of promotion he failed to tell the House that at the present moment the Army is very largely being recruited, unfortunately, from the ranks of the unemployed, and not from the type of men who would be likely in the end, or at the time at their disposal for learning their work, to prove to be good officers. It is also most important that the question of the pay of subaltern officers should be grappled with at the very earliest possible moment. I am not a Regular officer, but I have been attached to Regular regiments, and I cannot understand how any subaltern officer can possibly exist in the Service under the sweated conditions under which he is employed at present. In addition to the question of the payment of officers, there are these countless little vexatious matters which are disturbing the life of the British officer. I believe there are 100 514 senior lieutenants of the Royal Garrison Artillery who will be bound to be superannuated in the very near future, and I believe if promotion continues at the same rate in the Royal Garrison Artillery as it was two years ago, it will take ninety years for a junior second lieutenant to become a captain. The position in that corps is indeed for the junior subalterns hopeless, and I would strongly urge the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether it is not possible to find some method of exchange, either into Colonial regiments, or for service in some other corps in order to relieve the tremendous pressure in the Royal Garrison Artillery.
I have heard several personal grievances on the question of university candidates coming into the Service and going over the heads of officers who have been through Sandhurst. As a university man, I am only too glad to see facilities given to those who are at the universities to enter the Service, and I believe they make as good officers in the end as a public school man. But the man who goes through Sandhurst has probably marked out the Army as his career for many years, and he has been trained in his youth for that Service, and there is nothing more disheartening than for a junior officer constantly to find a university candidate put over his head, though he may have done-very well at Sandhurst.
Again, I cannot understand why the right hon. Gentleman persists in the policy of paying junior adjutants in the Territorial Force more than the senior adjutants who are continuing in the Force. I have watched the work of these adjutants since the right hon. Gentleman introduced his scheme, and they have been set a task which certainly has never been equalled amongst adjutants in the auxiliary forces, and such as I do not expect will be equalled again. It has been largely owing to the efforts of these adjutants that the right hon. Gentleman has the force, small enough in all conscience, of which he is able to boast. But here we find junior adjutants brought in and given increased pay, and the right hon. Gentleman tells us the reason is because he is getting a better class of adjutants than those who are in the force at present—I think his words were, "To encourage a better class." That seems to me to be a very extraordinary proposition, that juniors should be serving at exactly the same work whilst the senior officers are receiving less pay. Apparently the Yeomanry are to be docked of a certain amount of their pay.
§ Mr. CROFT
Another ease of great vexation in the Service is the apparent lack of method with regard to sending troops to various parts of the Dominions on service abroad. We find that regiments are suddenly, at very short notice, ordered to go to some distant station. The result is that the officer who has at great expense taken and furnished a house and settled his family suddenly finds himself under orders to go to some other part. There, I think, the commissioned ranks might be greatly popularised if the right hon. Gentleman would consider, among other reforms, whether he could not devise some more satisfactory method of dealing with this question. With regard to the fact that officers are so frequently out of pocket I should like to mention one instance. Last year I find that several Regular officers were attached to manœuvres where they had to go down to instruct the Territorial Force. I believe those officers received no extra pay, and that they were very much out of pocket for the splendid service which they carried out. I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman could see his way in future to arrange that when the Territorial Force have the advantage of the services of these Regular officers special payment will be given for this kind of service. As to the great shortage of officers in the Regular Force, and the Special Reserve, I do not think it has been made perfectly clear that those officers will not be superseded by Regular officers in respect of promotion. I should be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman would let them know what their position is in that matter.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
The Secretary of State for War has referred to the deficiency of officers as being, as it undoubtedly is, a most grave and urgent question. It is with the greatest possible respect that I venture to think that the right hon. Gentleman has ascribed that deficiency to the wrong cause, and that he proposes to apply the wrong remedy. The main cause to which he ascribes the deficiency of officers is the insufficient training of those who come up for examination at Sandhurst. He told us that a large percentage of them were plucked. I venture to think that that is not the true cause of the deficiency. If my figures are right, I find that the average number of candidates for examination has fallen considerably in recent years. Taking the period from 516 1895 to 1899, the average number of candidates coming up each year was 871, while in the period from 1905 to 1909 the average number of candidates has gone down to 820. So really you have a deficiency not merely of officers, but of candidates. Therefore, we must look to some other cause than inability to pass the examinations. Supposing the right hon. Gentleman's reason for the deficiency were correct, the remedy he proposes is to lower the age for admission to Sandhurst. How that is going either to improve the numbers or the quality of the candidates who come up I cannot for the life of me understand. If a boy is ignorant at 17½ he must be more ignorant at 16½, and there are probably no more boys of one age than the other. So that neither in numbers nor in quality are you going to improve the position by lowering the age. Not only are you not going to improve the position, I think you are going to do something which is positively injurious to the candidate, because to my mind—and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate the point—the most important years you can have at a public school are those between sixteen and eighteen. In those years a boy makes not only most proficiency in games and athletics of all sorts, but I think his mind, intelligence and general culture are far more improved during those years than in any other period of his school career. In those years he takes more part in the debating and literary societies of the school and altogether makes greater progress as a human being and as a man capable of filling a position in life. Yet you propose to take him away earlier from school and cause him to lose some of the most valuable years of his school life and send him to Sandhurst in an immature state.
The reason why there is a deficiency of officers is not the reason given by the right hon. Gentleman. The real reason is because the career of an officer does not offer the same advantages that any other career would do to a man of similar independence and ability. What you must recognise is, if you want to get a supply of officers up to a proper standard you must first of all increase the pay of the officer while he is in the Army and increase his prospects when he leaves the Army. It has been said from these benches, I believe with perfect truth, that the pay of officers in the Army has not increased in the last 100 years. [An HON. MEMBER: Two hundred.] I have heard it said nearly 300—not since the reign of Charles II. I do 517 not know whether the right hon. Gentleman can confirm that or not, but I believe that it is perfectly true that it has not increased since Waterloo. Yet what branch of life is there in which the pay of an educated man has not gone up since then? The whole scale and standard of existence has gone up, and so has the cost of existence. Why the officer, of all men in this island, is supposed to live on the old pay when the cost of living is higher and be content with it is a matter beyond my comprehension. The truth is, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, if you want to get a proper supply of well-qualified officers you must give them a decent wage. You must give them something like the scale of pay which they get in any other walk of life, and not let us be told that there is no money for this. There is money for everything if the right hon. Gentleman will put his back to it and go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I take up my Army Estimates and see millions spent—I do not say unprofitably spent—but they are spent. The money is found for everything. Year after year this complaint is put forward, and the occupant of that bench admits "it is a lamentable thing. I am doing my best, and I hope some day to reform it."
Why is it not performed? The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War has already a great reputation; he has pleased, I believe, the majority of officers in laying down schemes of Army organisation which in time, and under proper conditions, will turn our military forces into an effective Army. Let him go one step further; let him go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and get more money, and, given the fulfilment of that condition of reasonable pay, we shall get a sufficient number of officers.
§ Captain GILMOUR
I only rise to ask for more information on the question of horses. I noticed that the increase has only been seventy-three horses as regards the Cavalry, if you exclude those horses which are boarded out. How far does the right hon. Gentleman's experience go to show that those horses which have been boarded out can really adequately fill the place of horses of the Regular battalion. I am one of those who are in favour of the boarding out of horses, but you should make it quite certain, as regards the increase of the number of horses for Cavalry—an increase which was shown to be very necessary in the manœuvres of the last two years—that if you have to draw upon 518 horses which have been boarded out, they are in fit condition to fill up the gap. I notice, too, that a large proportion of the horses in the Service—I confess a much larger proportion than I had imagined—are over thirteen years of age. I do not say anything against a horse that is seasoned, and which has done its work satisfactorily up to the age of thirteen, because we may, generally speaking, take it that such a horse is sound; but I do think that it is a dangerous thing to have too large a proportion of horses over that age, which may be called upon to do more than the actual Services of peace time. Horses of thirteen years of age may do peace service perfectly well, but if they are called upon to do war service we might find that a considerable proportion of them would not last for any length of time. I urge upon the right hon. Gentleman that this is a point which should be taken into consideration. These horses over age might be drafted out for the purposes of the Territorials, and in that way we could carry on our establishment on a proper and sufficient basis.
§ Mr. HENRY TERRELL
There are several questions on which information would be very useful, but I only desire to put one, and if I succeed in getting information, I shall be satisfied at any rate to-night. In the table on page 24 of the Estimates there is a summary of the Forces we are asked to vote for to-night. It is headed, "Distribution of Regimental Establishments," and on page 11 you will find there are two columns, one headed "Establishments of All Ranks," and the other entitled "Effectives, All Ranks." What I want to get at is what is meant by "Establishments of all ranks." I remember when the right hon. Gentleman entered upon the office which he now holds he told the House and the country that he proposed to organise the Army on business lines; and he asked for a little time in which to do that. He said he wished, first of all, to ascertain precisely what the duties which the Army had to perform were, and, secondly, what force was required in order to efficiently discharge those duties. His expression was that he proposed to take stock of the Army to see exactly what was wanted, what we had, and what we ought to have. I mention that in the hope of establishing just what we are asked to vote for. Have we there the force which the right hon. Gentleman was advised was necessary in order to discharge the duties 519 which are imposed upon our Army both in time of war and in peace. In other words, is the establishment which we are asked to vote for that which in the opinion of the military experts is necessary and adequate for the protection of the Empire. Believing that, but being a little doubtful, I asked the right hon. Gentleman a question lately as to the meaning of the word "Establishment" in the Estimates. He told me that the Establishment in the Army Estimates means the number of officers and men who are authorised. I would venture to suggest that that cannot be quite the meaning of the word in the Army Estimates. The Estimates, I understand, do not authorise anything, but I imagine mean what the right hon. Gentleman proposes should be authorised, and for which he takes the authority of the House. He goes on to say that the word has no reference to any matter of opinion. If it has no reference to any matter of opinion may I ask where we will get in these Estimates or elsewhere, what forces are requisite and necessary for the defence of the Empire in the opinion of the military advisers of the right hon. Gentleman. If this proposed establishment does not represent that then I ask what does the proposed establishment mean. How are the figures arrived at; how is 255,000 arrived at if it does not really mean that figure which the military advisers of the right hon. Gentleman say are necessary and adequate.
The only other matter to which I wish to refer is with regard to the horses which we are asked for. With regard to horses, we do not have, as we have with regard to the men, two separate columns, one showing the number of the establishment, and the other the number of the strength. We have only one column, showing the number of the establishment. Have we got, in fact, on the strength of the Army, the number of horses and mules for which the right hon. Gentleman is asking authority? In the matter of horses and mules, does the strength correspond with the establishment, or is it, as it is with regard to men, a very different thing? The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the Regulars are up to the establishment, but, according to the table on Page 11 of the Estimates, in England, including home and Colonial, they are some 2,000 short, and the Regular Reserve is some 3,000 short. Taking these two items alone, the establishment does not correspond with the effective strength of the forces, and I 520 wish to know whether the same thing prevails with regard to horses. If the horses are below the establishment, what steps does the right hon. Gentleman propose to take to bring them up to the proper number? A Cavalry regiment without horses is not much use as a Cavalry regiment; in fact, to the extent to which it is short of horses it ceases to be a Cavalry regiment. If we are to deal with the Army on a business footing, the first thing we ought to see is exactly what it is that we want both in horses and in men; and, secondly, that we have really got that which we are advised is necessary.
§ Mr. ROWLAND HUNT
I wish to say a word or two about officers. Things are very different to-day from what they were thirty-three years ago, when I wanted to get into the Army. The class who used to send their sons into the Army—the country squire, and so on—can no longer afford to do so, and the result is a great shortage of officers. It is really a question of finance, and unless the right hon. Gentleman gives a living wage, I do not see how he can get the officers he wants. Moreover, men will not enter the ranks as private soldiers, because they know perfectly well that, however good they may be, they will never be able to become officers, owing to the pay being insufficient. People cannot afford to give their sons an allowance of £200 or £300 as long as they are in the Army, with the knowledge that when they are superannuated or leave the Service they will have no prospect of getting a living. That, I think, really is the difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman has to provide for. He must remember also that the officer of the present day is worked very much harder than was the officer of thirty-two and thirty-three years ago. Now, the officer gets no more pay, and parents are far less able to put their sons into the Army than they were. They say, too, "Our sons are harder worked and receive less for it." Like the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I agree that you must put the Army on a business footing. The right hon. Gentleman is always talking of business principles and clear thinking. He will, I think, think sufficiently clearly to see that what has been stated is the real reason why you cannot get a sufficient number of officers at the present time. Unless you can alter the present conditions, I do not see how you are going to get the officers. You might get some from the ranks. That is a good thing if 521 you give them a living wage, and do not ask them to be generals before they know their duties as subalterns; which, I think, has rather been the case when you consider the examination. In the old days the men coming from the ranks had not a great deal of difficulty in learning a subaltern's duties. The right hon. Gentleman said that the great difficulty now was that the men who came from the ranks did not know enough. That, I think, is because the authorities try to make generals before the men know their duties as subalterns.
Just one word about horses. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to get horses there will be no difficulty if he will pay farmers £40 for three-year-old horses. You can get, if you pay this, plenty of horses, and the right sort of horses. But if you offer £30 whilst the foreigner offers £40 you will not get the horses, but they will go out of the country.
§ Mr. BURDETT-COUTTS
My view of the purchase of three-year-old horses, the point last raised by my hon. Friend, who has just spoken, is that it will undoubtedly cost the country more to purchase horses at three years of age—they will have to take the risk of the fourth year, always the most risky year for a horse—at the same time the practice would greatly encourage the breeding of horses in this country, and would also secure to the Army a better selection of horses that are suited to their purpose. I think for these reasons, although the horse would cost more, still that would be the better way of imposing the greater cost if it has to be met by the taxpayer. I listened to the definition of the word "Establishment" given by an hon. Member to-night; but whatever may be the exact definition of that term, whether it is the number of men and horses required in time of war, or whether it is only the number of men and horses required in time of peace, I imagine it will be perfectly legitimate to say that the "Establishment" should at least contain the elements of expansion for time of war. With regard to the question of horses, I have listened to many speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, and I have noticed running through them an indication of consistent purpose to enable the Defensive Forces of this country to meet the emergencies of a great war, or at least to ascertain the conditions which would make them capable of meeting such an emergency, and it is 522 from that point of view I wish to make one or two remarks upon the question of horses.
The House will remember what happened at the beginning of the South African War. At that time, undoubtedly, there were far more horses in this country suitable for war purposes than there are now. I do not think that proposition will be contested for a moment. But the necessary number of horses could not be obtained, and we had to go to other countries for them, and then we are all familiar with what took place, owing to the hopeless confusion into which the Remount Department got in supplying horses for the Army suitable for South Africa, the terrible mistakes made, the entire ignorance of where the proper sort of horses could be obtained, what prices they could be obtained at, and the want of organisation for obtaining them. It is to provide against a repetition of that state of things that I wish to offer a few suggestions. I have said that in my opinion this country does not, and will not, afford the supply of horses necessary to go through a great war. You will have to get them from other countries. Are you in any better position now—and that is my whole point—than you were at the beginning of the South African War with regard to knowledge as to where the horses can be obtained? I think not. I have not seen in any speech which the right hon. Gentleman has made, or in any public opinion expressed in regard to the Remount Department, anything to indicate that you are in a better position with regard to knowledge and information on this subject now than you were then.
In what I am going to say I hope it will be believed that the last thing I wish to suggest is anything that would injure the horse-breeding industry in this country, or anything that would make us rely less, so long as we can legitimately rely, upon the supply of English horses. I do not think we can rely upon this country for our whole supply to meet the needs of a great war. Therefore, I would offer a suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman. The normal supply of horses in time of peace can, of course, be thoroughly well met by the breeders of this country, and I am in favour of anything that can be done to so far increase that home supply as to bring it nearer meeting the demands of a great war than it has ever done before. But even when you have done that you will 523 have to draw horses from other countries in time of war. I have stated what was—and I believe still is—the state of ignorance of the War Office at the time of the South African War with reference to the supply of horses and the conditions under which they can be obtained. The suggestion which I am about to make is one which I think will obviate those difficulties. I would suggest that in time of peace we should obtain small drafts—they would have to be quite small and need only be small—the class of horses we want from other countries, but particularly from our Colonies. I suggest that, as a normal thing, the War Office should obtain, say, from South Africa, Australia, or Canada small drafts of horses, and that they should be placed out in different regiments, such as the Artillery, the Cavalry, or the Mounted Infantry, in this country. Their progress should be carefully watched, and papers kept recording where the horses came from, exactly what sort of service they have performed, how they have met the needs of what we may call active service, although not in war time. By that means you would have a definite knowledge which were the best horses for war purposes, which were the most qualified to perform the various services required, which had the best staying power, the best constitution, and so on, all of them subjects of the greatest possible importance when preparing for a war.
If through a series of years you secured this supply of horses, and you collated all this information, when a war came you would know exactly which were the best horses you could get, and you would know where to get them from. It is no difficult matter to carry that out. You have your Consuls and Consular Agents in other countries, and you have various agencies in the Colonies, and you could put those officials under a system of supplying constant intelligence to the War Office of the horses available and the prices ruling from year to year. Putting that information side by side with the information you get with regard to the horse itself from his service with the English troops, you would then be in a position to take steps with some hopes of success towards supplying the demand of a great war. I am not speaking in any haste. I witnessed what took place in South Africa. That war afforded the finest opportunity we could ever have of really ascertaining the 524 merits of the different horses obtained from the different countries. I believe the opportunity was entirely missed, and, with the exception of certain general impressions one got that the Canadian horses from the North-West were very good, and that the Argentine horses were very bad, there was no accurate data obtained from all the vast material for information supplied by that war which would guide us in the future. All I suggest is that there should be a constant and sustained method and effort, on a very small scale, to supply that information. Knowing the earnestness of the right hon. Gentleman in all these military matters, I venture very respectfully to call his attention to this suggestion.
§ Captain SPENDER CLAY
I quite agree it is essential the right hon. Gentleman should have a good knowledge of the number of horses available in our Colonies, but the best horse which can be obtained is that bred in this country, and I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that before he goes elsewhere he should do all he can to increase the number of horses produced in this country. With that exception, I cordially agree with the remarks made by my hon. Friend on the subject of horses. My own opinion is that our old friend the London bus horse did as well as any in South Africa. I wished more particularly, however, to make a suggestion which the right hon. Gentleman may think valuable or the reverse. I have noticed during the time I have had the honour of serving in the Army that when horses are cast from the Service they generally do not get their full supply of corn. The greater part of his food is given to the horses which are looked upon as being on the strength of the regiment. That is a very good principle indeed.
I quite understand officers commanding Cavalry regiments wishing to give extra corn to the horses in full work. But I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the sums obtained for the sale of cast horses might with advantage be placed to a special fund to be used for replacing animals not really serviceable in the ranks. It is well known by Cavalry officers that on manœuvres a horse after one hard day may go off its feet. That horse is no good for a Cavalry regiment in time of war. It may be in the prime of life, but still it ought to be cast, and if Cavalry officers had power to feed it up and pass it over to somebody who does 525 not know everything about it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!" "Oh!"] I do not suggest that the commanding officer of a Cavalry regiment should become a coper. I do suggest that, as we want the best horses in the Army, it would be better to transfer such an animal to another branch of activity, where he might be perfectly useful, and thus not endanger the lives of the men who are serving their country in time of war. I therefore suggest that not only old horses cast for age or infirmity, but that all horses not suitable should be cast by the commanding officer, after consultation perhaps with the chief veterinary officer of the district, and that the money thus obtained should be administered for improving the horses of the regiment.
I have another point which may strike some hon. Members as rather fantastic. We all know that angels come in unawares, and that sometimes we get a really good horse in a Cavalry regiment—one far above the ordinary value. My suggestion is that if you get a horse of this kind it should be in the power of the commanding officer, under the advice of the chief veterinary officer, to sell that horse at a high price. He may be a good hunter—which would fetch a good sum, and I would sell him and apply the surplus over the cost price towards improving the general value of the horses of the squadron. Let me give a case. At the present moment there is a horse at the Cavalry School for which I am informed on the best authority a sum of £1,000 has been offered because of his jumping powers. It may be very nice to have such a horse in the school, but it is not good for the Army. I would sell a horse of that kind and apply the money thus obtained to improving the horses of the whole squadron: you could thus get an extra 10 per cent. value put on each of them. I would suggest that there are in a great many regiments horses of exceptional merit which would really be more useful if they were sold to gentlemen who were prepared to pay a high price and the money applied towards bettering the horses and getting rid of bad horses. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will consider these suggestions of any value whatever, but I do humbly commend them to his notice.
§ Mr. G. J. SANDYS
I desire to make one or two brief observations with regard to one portion of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which has certainly 526 attracted very considerable attention in the country, and to which I think very little allusion has been made in the Debate, namely, to the pay and establishlishment of the Air Battalion to which the right hon. Gentleman referred in his opening remarks. I must say that there is very little information with regard to this very important question contained in the Army Estimates themselves, but, as I was particularly interested in this question, I naturally turned to the index and found there a reference to ballooning. Turning up the reference I found that the Ballooning School in the Estimates of 1910–11 consisted of certain officers, but according to this year's Estimate none of the officers are on the Establishment, and the whole school seems to have entirely disappeared. The other reference on page 73 of the Estimates, which is the only indication that we have of the establishment of the Air Battalion which is to take the place of the Ballooning School, merely refers to the superintendent, assistant superintendent, and three supervisors of the Ballooning School. As our attention has been directed to this question of the newly-formed Air Battalion, and as £133,000 is to be allocated to that particular branch, in voting the sum of £20,000 I really think we are entitled to know what the establishment is of this new battalion which is going to be raised, and for which we are asked to vote money when by some curious mischance there appears to be no reference whatever to this armament in the Army Estimates. Therefore, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he would give us some intimation of what this establishment is going to consist of, and the number of officers who are going to be appointed to it.
There are one or two questions I should like to raise with reference to the pay of these officers. We understand from the right hon. Gentleman's speech that the officers are going to be attached to this battalion for a period of four years, and it is held out to them as an inducement to join it that they are to receive, I understand, engineers' pay in addition to their ordinary regimental pay, but I notice that this engineers' pay is only to be drawn on the appointment of an officer after a probationary period of from three to six months. On what grounds is the length of this probationary period going to be fixed, during which, I understand, these officers are not going to receive any extra pay in addition to their regimental pay? I would 527 also like to ask why should not officers who are engaged on this very dangerous and very necessary work draw this additional pay to which, I think, they are really entitled since they have taken this work instead of having to wait for the probationary period of from three to six months. It seems to me that as this extra pay is evidently going to be granted to these officers on account of the exceptional character of the work which they are asked to undertake, it is only fair and just that the extra pay should begin directly the work is commenced.
There is ample opportunity for an officer who is beginning this work in three or six months to break his neck. I certainly think when work of this exceptionally dangerous character is being undertaken, and after all it is really more dangerous when the officers are beginning than when they become more accustomed to it, the additional pay which they are offered should certainly start from the very commencement. There is no reference to officers who have been already appointed in the Army Estimates or attached to these battalions. Of these officers, he tells us, four have obtained pilots' certificates, and that six other officers on the active list are already certified. I should like to ask if we are to understand that these officers who have taken the trouble, many of them at their personal expense, to make themselves efficient in the art of aviation, in spite of the fact that they have gained a pilots' certificate, are to wait for three to six months over this probationary period before they obtain this full pay which has been promised them when they are definitely appointed to the Air Battalion. If that is the case, it seems to me this is a very mean and paltry form of economy. We are asking officers to risk their lives in this very dangerous Force, and at the same time we are refusing them that additional pay which is absolutely owing to them.
§ Sir SAMUEL SCOTT
I see that on this year's Estimates the right hon. Gentleman has taken £15,000 in respect of the registration of horses, as against £7,500 last year. I should like to how many more horses were registered this year, or how many more he proposes to register. The right hon. Gentleman well knows that the greater part of this money is going to very large firms, and he is quite unable to say what horses he will get. He may pay possibly £1,500 to one firm in respect of 3,000 528 horses, but he cannot say what horses he is going to obtain. They will be simply the horses the firm chooses to produce. I do not often say that there is a waste of money on the Army Estimates, but I venture to say that the £15,000 proposed to be spent this year on the registration of horses is nothing more nor less than an absolute waste of money. If the right hon. Gentleman still proposes to continue this policy of the registration of horses, I hope he will tell us whether he proposes to register the 30,000 horses he is taking money for, and whether he considers that he will get that number of good and efficient horses?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
There is a separate Vote for the registration of horses. The question cannot be discussed on the Vote now before the House.
§ Mr. PETO
I rise to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the question of officers' pay. I do so for two reasons. In the first place it is well within the knowledge of hon. Members how exceedingly reticent and retiring the commissioned officer always is in the matter of pay. Therefore I think it is not unbecoming that a civilian should raise the question of officers' pay; and, secondly, the right hon. Gentleman led the House to believe that he regarded this question, and particularly as it relates to the junior ranks, exceedingly sympathetically. In his speech the other day he told the House that it was not possible to entertain any question of increase of pay in the commissioned ranks. I venture to call attention to a hardship which I think is larger than that referred to by the hon. Member for the Wells Division (Mr. Sandys). I refer to the condition of some officers who are left in command of companies without any recognition whatever of the additional responsibility and work which is placed upon them, I would suggest that in the meanwhile, before the pay of the commissioned ranks can be considered as a whole, the right hon. Gentleman should take into consideration as a business proposition that some recognition should be given to officers who are called upon to perform duties which belong to higher ranks than those which they have reached. In that way a very great grievance might be remedied. I do not suggest that to any subaltern who takes temporary command in the absence 529 on leave of his superior officer any recognition should be made, but that a subaltern who is left for more than say one or two months in command of a company should get some recognition. If the right hon. Gentleman will kindly consider that suggestion from a private Member, who is a civilian, I think he might be able to do something which would go a long way to meet the grievance which undoubtedly exists.
I wish to ask one or two questions in connection with the Air Battalion. How much of the money that is being devoted to the Air Battalion is going to the pay of those officers who are going to navigate—if that is the right term—the lighter machines, and how much to the pay of those officers who are going to drive—if that is the right term—the heavier air machines—that is to say, the aeroplanes? Although I have looked through the figures I have not been able to ascertain how much goes to the one Service and how much to the other. If one has to some extent as a civilian studied these two methods of navigating the air, one is naturally interested in ascertaining, if possible, which is the one that is expected by the authorities to be of the more use in war, and particularly when one is interested in the personnel of these Services. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman why in his Memorandum he suggested a weight of 11 stones 6 lbs. for the officers who would receive consideration in applying to be taken on in this new Aero Battalion? I am not aware that as regards aeroplanes the actual weight is a very great factor with the equation. I have myself been up in aeroplanes, and I went up for military purposes, if I may say so, because I was interested in it, and I was at a meeting where Mr. Grahame-White, who has been quoted in this House as an expert and recognised by the right hon. Gentleman as an expert, had been demonstrating before us what he could do in the way of carrying despatches over the country.
I turn to the question of the personnel. Am I in order in asking the question as to the weight of the gentlemen who are to form part of the Air Battalion?
May I ask whether being limited in the number the right hon. Gentleman therefore had to limit them in their weight? In fixing the amount of money for this Air Battalion, and the number of men which he could afford to take on did he take into consideration in this Vote the fact that in order to teach these men it was necessary to take down the telephone wires which stretch over Salisbury Plain? Because is it not a fact that these telephone wires——
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member should confine himself to the number of men who have got to be voted for the Army.
I regret very much that I should have offended against the Rules of the House. The point I wish to make is this——
§ Sir RANDOLF BAKER
I listened to the Secretary for War the other day when he introduced the Estimates, and I was astonished to hear him say that the pay of subalterns compared favourably with what was received by young men in other professions and walks of life, and that they were not nearly so badly off as some other people. But it should be remembered that those who enter the Army when on active service incur risks which are not encountered by civilians, and they are entitled to some extra remuneration in respect of the extra risks which attach to the soldier's life. Nor do I think that the right hon. Gentleman has taken into consideration at all the fact that in other professions and walks of life the prizes are greater than can be won by the majority of men who enter the Army. I do think that the Secretary for War ought not to use such an argument as that which he advanced about the pay of junior officers. In answer to a question by an hon. Friend of mine a day or two ago, the right hon. Gentleman said there were 1,000 general officers on the active Service list of the British Army, whereas there are not very many more than 4,000 on the active list of the German Army. But if you compare the size of the Germans Army with ours, we should not be obliged to have 1,000 officers when the German Army has only 4,000. I think the right 531 hon. Gentleman might reconsider this question with a view to ascertaining whether it is not possible to reduce the number of Generals for whom places are found in this sort of way, for then he would be able to increase the pay of the subalterns. We heard from the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward) a good many reasons why the Army career is not open to men risen from the ranks of life, and I do think that until the right hon. Gentleman can see his way to increase the pay of the subaltern it will be absolutely impossible to get a large number of men risen from the ranks. The right hon. Gentleman has told us of the case of the Infantry officer who has to spend £100 beyond his pay, and the Cavalry officer has to spend very much more. In these circumstances you cannot expect to get men except from the wealthy classes. The right hon. Gentleman has a shortage of officers in the Special Reserve. A great friend of mine who has joined a Special Reserve regiment told me that he had to spend £150 in the purchase of his kit before he could join. It is perfectly obvious that the right hon. Gentleman is never going to get the subaltern ranks filled up if these enormous expenses have to be faced. He cannot hope to find a large number of people prepared to spend £150 in order to join the Special Reserve. I do not know whether I should be in order in raising a question in which I take enormous interest—namely, that of rifles.
§ Sir R. BAKER
There is another question upon which I feel great interest, that is the question of aeroplanes. I had the privilege of being present last year at the manœuvres on Salisbury Plain——
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That question does not arise on this Vote, except so far as the number of officers or men who are employed in the work is concerned.
§ Sir R. BAKER
I bow to your ruling. I intended to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has really taken into consideration the very valuable work that was done by a certain officer who was not attached to the Force at all. We were, last year, I think it is generally admitted, absolutely lacking in that branch of the Service. I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is giving 532 enough to attract the highly-trained expert you will require, and whether he has got sufficient men to carry out this new and extremely important branch of our service. I do hope he will give us an assurance that he is going to give sufficient pay to attract those men who have to run such risks and amongst whom there has been such a high percentage of loss of life, and to attract a sufficient number of men into the service.
§ Mr. CLIVE
I think we have some reason to complain that it is impossible for either the right hon. Gentleman or the hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench representing the War Office to reply to the number of questions put during the last two hours. Both Gentlemen have exhausted their right of speaking, and I can only hope that the points that have been raised will be borne in mind by the right hon. Gentleman, and that he will, by his action, act on them. I desire to emphasise one or two points. I think the question of subalterns' pay is left in a very unsatisfactory condition. The right hon. Gentleman expressed sympathy with them and admits they are paid too low, but does not promise or hold out any hopes of any improvement in that respect. I think the sympathy he has expressed may be misunderstood, and may possibly draw young officers to the Army on the false pretence that they may join in the hope of an improvement in pay which may never materialise. As the right hon. Gentleman has arrived at the frame of mind to express sympathy and to recognise a grievance of long standing, I think he should add that reform to the large number of reforms he has carried out in the British Army. Another point which has been mentioned is the question whether the soldier's service should be allowed to count for pension when they join the Civil Service.
§ The question has been raised for a good many years, and it has always received considerable sympathy in all quarters of the House, but nothing has been done in the matter. The position as between a man who joins the Civil Service and after a certain number of years gets a pension, and a man who serves the same number of years partly in the Army and partly in the Civil Service, is that the latter finds himself in a worse position than the man who has been a civilian all his life. That is a great injustice, and it is very much felt by the best class of soldier. It is sometimes said that if a 533 soldier were entitled to count his Army service towards pension, the Treasury in their desire for economy might give a preference to civilians for these civil posts. That is a danger, as it is quite compatible with the sort of false economy sometimes exercised by the Treasury. But we have two safeguards against it. One is the War Minister for the time being, who should make it his special duty to look after the interests of the old soldier. He has every reason for seeing that the ex-soldier is treated fairly in this respect, because these matters directly affect recruiting. The other safeguard is the House of Commons itself. Every man would have pressure brought to bear upon him by his constituents to see that fair-play was given to men who had served the country in the Army.
§ I must congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on one remarkable change in the last few years which does not appear in Vote A, but is even more important than an addition to the number of men, and that is the great improvement in the health statistics of the Army. There is a very notable and noticeable advance in the condition of the Army, and the right hon. Gentleman and those under him have undoubtedly done a great deal in that respect to add to the efficiency of the force.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I hope that my hon. Friend, before he presses it upon the Government, will give some further consideration to the question of counting Army service towards pensions when a soldier subsequently enters the Civil Service. The suggestion at first sight commends itself to all of us, and though it might involve the country in considerable expense our first leanings are in its favour. But it is not quite so simple a matter as my hon. and gallant Friend supposes. It is not merely the watch-dog qualities of a jealous Treasury, anxious to save expenditure by hook or by crook, which has led to the refusal of this concession hitherto. It has been as much the consideration of how it might work out in the Army itself. The more the Government can do to find employment for the ex-soldier the better will the effect be on the Army. Nothing has had so profound an effect on recruiting for any branch of the Army as changes in the prospects, whether for the better or for the worse, of civil employment, when the men leave' the Army. I think that is illustrated by the Guards, 534 and by other military changes. I am strongly in favour, even at some expenditure, of multiplying the opportunities of the employment of old soldiers in civil life. I think the right hon. Gentleman might press that question upon his colleague the Postmaster-General in connection with the effort the Postmaster-General is making, with the approval of every individual in this House, to diminish the amount of boy labour at the Post Office, without any opening for the boys when they arrive at manhood. If old soldiers were employed to do the work the boys now do I believe that would be a reform worth paying for in the interests, not merely of the Army, but of the community at large.
Even then there would not be civil employment under the Government for all the old soldiers. When you have extended that employment to the uttermost there will still be a great many left who will have to look for work elsewhere. And the real difficulty in treating the Army service for pensions is this: that if you reckon it for pension purposes when the men come into civil employ by the Government, and not when he goes to private employment, then the favoured ones who get Government employment are doubly favoured. Not only are they fortunate in the fact that from the moment they leave the Army they get Government employment for the rest of their working life, with perhaps a pension calculated on the civil work, but because they are so picked out from their less fortunate brethren for this civil employment, which the others have not got. Again, their Army service is to become pensionable, whilst the Army service of the others is not. I am not at all certain that if you are to count Army service for pension that it would not be in the real interests of the Army, and a more equitable course, to pension those who you could not afterwards employ rather than those fortunate enough to secure employment. I hope I have said enough to show my hon. and gallant Friend—with whom I had the pleasure of being for a short while associated at the Treasury—that it is not merely Treasury prejudice or meanness which has refused this concession. It raises a very big question, and might emphasise the inequality that already exist between those who find civil service under the Government and those who do not.