§ Resolution [12th March] reported, "That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 186,600, 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, 1913."
§ Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution reported, "That a sum, not exceeding £8,536,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of the Pay, etc., of His Majesty's Army (including Army Reserve) at Home and Abroad (exclusive of India), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1913."
§ Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ Major MORRISON-BELL rose—
Yes, Sir. I wish to move a reduction of this Vote by the sum of £100, in order to draw attention to the Territorial Force.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I do not know whether I am in order on this Vote, but I wish to call attention to the retiring pay of officers.
§ Question, "That the House doth agree to the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution reported, "That a sum, not exceeding £2,602,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the expense of Works, 1284 Buildings, and Repairs, Lands, and Miscellaneous Engineer Services, including Staff in connection therewith, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1913."
§ Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.
§ Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the Resolution, 'That a sum, not exceeding £1,843,000 be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Rewards; Half-Pay; Retired Pay; Widows' Pensions; and other Non-Effective Charges for Officers which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1913."
§ Question again proposed. Debate resumed.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I beg to move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £100.
I move this Amendment in order to call attention to a certain Army Order issued in the year 1909, which alters the age for retirement on a £300 pension from forty-eight to fifty in all cases except where officers have reached the age of forty-six at the date of the issue of the Order. I submit that this reservation is wholly inadequate, and operates so as to do serious injustice to those who have attained the rank of major, and who have had twenty years' service or upwards. There are a number of majors in the Army to-day who are simply serving on in order to obtain their pensions. They are within reach of pensions, but they have had these two years added to the period of their service. In the first place, that appears to me to be a breach of the contract of service entered into by those officers when they first entered His Majesty's Army. In the second place, I should like to submit to the House that keeping on these officers of high ranks, when they know in most cases there is no further chance of promotion for them in their regiments, tends to create a lack of interest amongst, officers generally in the work of their profession, and tends to discourage the younger officers, who are often men of great ability, from remaining in the Service, to the prejudice of the Service and of the regiments in which they were serving. I quite admit there was what is called, I believe, "a revise" made in the course of last year in the case of those who joined earlier in 1285 life, so as to enable them to earn their pensions after twenty-eight years' service at the age of forty-eight, and not, as under the recent Army Order, at the age of fifty. That does not touch the case of a large number of officers who join at twenty-two or twenty-three and who have entered the Army through the medium of the university or the Militia. The right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary, in his Memorandum, lays special strain upon the value of the university candidates in the Service, and he emphasises the fact that there has been seventy-two during the last year to enter the Service through the universities, which was a 10 per cent. increase upon the previous year. But these are the very men who, under this Army Order, are going to have a discount put upon the rewards which they might naturally expect as a result of long service. If you are going to encourage men to go through a university education as a means of access to the Army, surely you ought not to take any steps which would deprive them of the reward which would naturally fall to them in other circumstances at a comparatively early age.
Both from the point of view of those officers, and from the point of view of the regiments in which they serve as officers, I feel very strongly that this is a reactionary step, and that you ought not to do anything to discourage these men, who in most cases have not the means to enable them to retire from the Army without their pensions, from leaving in ordinary circumstances; they may not leave now until they serve long enough to obtain the pension which they have fully earned. That puts a damper upon the enthusiasm of the young officers, who may be largely impressed by the lack of keenness of their superior officers, and who themselves may transmit that lack of interest to the men they command. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to make some further relaxation of this Order so as to do justice to men having long service but who joined later than the age of twenty. I ask him, in the interests of the Service, to do nothing to restrain the energy of such men, or to put a damper upon their enthusiasm.
§ Major ARCHER-SHEE
In August, 1911, Army Order 237, to which my hon. Friend has referred, was issued, and the pension of retired majors over the age of forty-eight is cut down by that Order from £300 to £200 a year. It is, as the hon. Member said, true, that it only refers to 1286 those officers rather late in life. This question of altering the conditions under which officers serve is a very important one. It is really a serious hardship to a very large number of officers in the Service. The War Office issued this Amendment to the Royal Warrant in 1911, nine years after the Boer war, but it was during the Boer war that a large number of officers joined the Service over the age of twenty-two and between the ages of twenty-five and thirty, and these in nearly every case are hit by this Order. These officers, having served through the war as volunteers, decided that the prospects in the Regular Army were good, and gave up their own careers in order to join the Army. Although they might not have been able to arrive at the higher ranks of colonel or general, at any rate they had the prospect of being able to retire on £300 a year after attaining the age of forty-eight. Nine years after the war, by a stroke of the pen, the War Office entirely alters the conditions of their service. A journal which is notorious for its support of the Government had a leading article on this matter only last December, in which it described this procedure as larceny by Army Order.
That was not an improper description of what has occurred. These officers were not people who joined not knowing the conditions of their service; but they were men of mature age, who looked at the matter from every point of view, and the War Office, acting under the name of the Crown, have no more right to break their bargain with these officers than an officer has to break the contract which he makes to serve his country with loyalty, courage, and devotion. It has been said, in extenuation of the War Office procedure, that this only affects a very few officers. If that is so, it makes the case still more strong for putting an end to this injustice. These officers are in nearly every case men who have seen service, and who are now well advanced in life, and it is particularly hard for them to find that their retiring allowance is cut down, and when they go into civil life they will not be as well off as they had hoped to be. The age of retirement has been raised from forty-eight to fifty, and this has been done in the name of granting them a boon. But it is no boon to make officers serve on for another two years before getting their retiring allowance, but on the contrary it is a very great hardship. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, who 1287 always treats everybody with the greatest fairness, to seriously look into this matter. We have tried to raise this point at question time, and the usual official War Office answer has been returned to us. This is our only opportunity of bringing the matter forward, and I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to look into it. I know an instance where no less than five officers in one battalion are affected, and I have had letters—one from Egypt, and communications from other parts of the country—showing that these officers are hit very hard by this particular Order. The War Office came out with a Memorandum in December pointing out that in most cases the alterations, as carried out by this amendment of the Royal Warrant, were advantageous to the officers concerned, but in this case it is a great disadvantage, and not only that, but it is a breach of the contract made by the War Office when these officers joined the Service.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
As the Under-Secretary for War can only speak once in reply, perhaps he will allow me to add a word or two at this stage. I invite him to consider the more or less specific requests which have been made by the two hon. and gallant Members who have addressed the House. May I point out that this Vote has not been discussed in Committee, and it deals with the deferred emoluments of the officers, half-pay and retired pay. We all admit that one of our great difficulties is to secure enough of the right type of officer for our Regular forces. There are two ways of accomplishing this object, and one of them I cannot discuss now. The other method many people think of greater value, and it is giving the officers some expectation in middle life when they marry and have to meet greater charges. That is provided for under Vote 13. It is true that in the Army as in any other profession you cannot get your proper share of young men if you do not hold out adequate prospects to them between the ages of thirty-four and fifty. In the Army the prospects of a man after twelve, fifteen or twenty years' service are far less attractive than in any other profession; and less attractive than the Navy and the Civil Service. In the Army there is less certainty than is the case in the Civil Service, and the emoluments are very low. In addition the War Office, acting under pressure it may be from another Department which I will not refer to, are apt either to diminish the amount of the emoluments which the men 1288 expect they will receive, or else you attach new conditions to the receipt of those emoluments.
Under the head of retired pay when an officer serves many years and has perhaps distinguished himself in the field, and wishes to retire he is entitled to a certain number of hundreds a year. Then the Government comes in with a new condition which nobody dreamt of when the officer entered the Service and made his contract with the State. The War Office steps in with a new condition under which they say the officer is not to draw his money unless he serves in the Special Reserve. That condition presses with great hardship on all officers, and it amounts not only to a breach of contract, but to an interference with the whole of the man's wishes and expectations. When you tell an officer who has served in the Cavalry that he cannot draw the pay he has earned unless he becomes an Infantry drill-sergeant in a barrack yard, training the Special Reserve, the right hon. Gentleman, who knows as much about this as I do, knows perfectly well that to force a Cavalry officer who has earned this reward by active long service to take up the work of drilling young recruits for five months in the year is, I will not say undignified, but it is a hardship to which an officer ought not to be exposed. So much for the retired pay, and now I wish to refer to half-pay. Owing to the war a number of officers who had performed distinguished service, who had commanded independent units of all arms in the field, some Infantry, some Cavalry, and some guns under their command, and who led columns, and for two years escaped the disaster which overtook too many of them, those officers for those services so well discharged got promotion, and they were pleased and everyone was delighted. But what a delightful reward they are getting for services of that kind. If you have not employment for them, I think their remuneration for services of such import and so well discharged ought to be something more than is now provided under conditions totally different for officers who have distinguished themselves by leading all arms in the field against the foe.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Colonel Seely)
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for putting forward his case with so much clearness and moderation, and also for his compliment in saying that I know as much about this question as he does. I cannot 1289 lay claim to exclusive knowledge in this matter, but from the circumstances of my own life I know a great deal about officers who have retired after service. I will explain this somewhat technical matter. In the first place, I would like to dispose of the suggestion which I think was running through the minds of everyone who has spoken in this Debate, and of those who applauded that suggestion, an idea that this is a design on the part of the War Office to save money by paying officers less than before. If that were so, naturally everything that has fallen from every hon. Member who has spoken would lead to the suspicion that the War Office were not treating their officers fairly. Let me dispel that illusion by giving the estimates which expert financiers have prepared. I think a careful study of the matter will show that those financiers must be right in this case. They inform me that the total amount which the State will have to pay to these commissioned officers in tins respect will be greater than it was before. I hope those hon. Members who have spoken of a breach of faith and of a breach of contract in this matter will accept this statement.
§ Colonel SEELY
No; but it seems to be assumed that the policy of the War Office is to reduce the amount paid to this class of officers, and that is not so. It varies the amounts payable somewhat, and some get more and some get less, but the House may accept it from me that the total is more, and I think we may dismiss from our minds any idea that the War Office is unfairly penalising retiring officers as a class, because that is not the case, as the total amount payable to them is larger, and not less, than it was before. It is said that we are paying some of them too little and some too much, and that we are bound to make the relative amount of officers' retirement pay precisely the same, but I do not accept that view. To accept that view you would have to lay down that not only must an officer be sure of receiving a certain emolument, but also that the people senior to him will retire at the same age and at the same time. To call this a breach of faith is a misuse of language in its strictly accurate sense. One can imagine innumerable cases which would cause more hardship than that which has taken place and will continue when you lay down specific terms under which an officer can continue in the Service. You 1290 increase the stringency of the examination for promotion and by a stroke of the pen you increase the advantages of the junior officers below. Will anyone say that it is a breach of faith to raise the standard under which officers can be permitted to command?
With regard to the actual amounts payable to officers, I would point out that those who were commissioned before 31st August, 1911, have the right to retain the £20 after fifteen years' service, £200 to captains or subalterns, and officers who were majors before that date to retired pay of £300 on retirement for age. The point raised by the right hon. Gentleman is another one altogether. He raises a question with regard to the 1910 Order, which, of course, is not the same point, as that raised in the Amendment, but similar to it, and one may say germane to it. We have had some discussion on the 1910 Order, but here again it is not a question of a breach of faith, because obviously it is open to the War Office to insist upon officers fulfilling certain conditions before retiring. I demur respectfully to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that it is not right for the State to say when an officer retires he shall serve a certain number of years in a certain branch of the Service. I do not think it is unfair. I think it is absolutely justified. When an officer undertakes to serve His Majesty, he undertakes broad obligations to serve His Majesty for a given number of years under certain conditions. The number of years may be fewer or larger, and it may be open to him to retire under certain conditions or under no conditions, but he undertakes a broad obligation to the State, and for it to be laid down that if an officer wishes to retire and get a pension of a certain amount we are debarred from imposing upon him any conditions as to further service in the Special Reserve or the Yeomanry is a proposition I cannot accept. If it had been put forward when the right hon. Gentleman was in office, unless the War Office was then composed of an entirely different kind of person than it is now, he would have been the first to vehemently repudiate so great an assertion of abrogation from the rights of the Executive.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I cannot accept the fight hon. Gentleman's last remark. I altogether repudiate what he attributes to mo as my sentiment at the time I was at the War Office. It is well known, the 1291 retired pay was given at one time to make up for certain other privileges which were withdrawn. It goes right back to the pre-abolition of purchase. It is not fair when you have made a contract with a man to alter the conditions on which you fulfil that contract.
§ Colonel SEELY
I do not admit the statement that we have altered the conditions. I have no doubt whatever that the Order of 1910 is strictly within not only the legal, but also the equitable rights of the War Office. There can be no doubt it has resulted in a considerable advantage to the State. I do not admit the officers who give this further service to the Special Reserve or the Yeomanry, if they want to get a pension at an early age, have any grievance, nor do I admit that they feel they are badly treated.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
Perhaps we might have one word as to whether—although it may be legal and, at any rate, within the power of the Crown—it is wise to insist on a Cavalry officer going to the Special Reserve instead of to the Yeomanry. That was the sub-head of my first point. My second point was whether, in view of the great number of colonels, you ought not to reconsider the question of reducing half-pay in order to get people to join the Army in the future.
§ Colonel SEELY
It is a little difficult to follow the devious courses of the right hon. Gentleman's argument. He now springs an entirely new point upon the House, that a Cavalry officer should not go to the Special Reserve.
§ Colonel SEELY
It is not a question of being financially unfair, which is the whole point of the Amendment, but a question of policy: whether the mounted officer should be posted to an unmounted arm. I think the right hon. Gentleman, if he will refresh his memory with some of the little books with which he was so well acquainted in days gone by, will find that the Reserve rights amply cover, and more than cover, the Order of 1910. He now puts to me the question whether, even if it is within the law, it is within equity. I submit to the House with confidence that we were justified in making this condition I also submit that it is nearly two years since this happened, and we really cannot possibly go on for ever discussing 1292 these points. We are well advised to continue a system under which we get excellent service from officers when they find it necessary or desirable to retire from the Regular Army. With regard to the Order of 1911, I will again point out that it is not a policy of reducing the total emoluments to officers, but a policy of giving rather more to one set of officers and rather less to another set of officers. It was most carefully considered by those at the War Office who have a knowledge of the rights and the wrongs of the question without any idea of economy, because it costs more, and with the sole desire to arrive at a fair decision. The opinion of eminent soldiers was obtained before this scale was changed. It is therefore one which is justified, and which the House can very properly accept.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
The right hon. Gentleman has not made out a very good case for the action of the War Office. I do not admit his contention that, they are within their legal rights, but, whatever the legal position is, surely it is the height of wisdom on the part of a Government Department, not only to keep the letter of the law, but also to keep the spirit of the law. It is notorious that the Army as a whole is very short of officers, and it is not wonderful that it should be so, because in these days an officer has to work, and quite rightly, very hard; he has to pass many examinations he did not have to pass in the old days, and generally he has to lead a strenuous life, whereas twenty years ago, when he had done his morning work, he was practically free unless he was on guard or at manœuvres. That is all changed, and very rightly changed, and yet not only has the pay of the officer not increased, but his retiring allowance and half-pay has not increased.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
I admit it has slightly increased, but a junior officer now has very little more prospects of getting higher retired pay than an officer who joined in 1885 or 1890. Surely, it would be good policy on the part of the War Office to stretch the law as far as possible as far as the retired pay is concerned in favour of these officers, for the very human reason that, it they do not, they will still diminish the source from which they draw their officers. Therefore, if my hon. Friend goes to a Division, I shall certainly support him.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I hope the House will excuse me if I, as a layman, offer a few remarks upon a question connected entirely with the Army. I do so because, in common with a great majority of Englishmen, I have a natural regard for that Army which has filled so glorious a page in the history of our country. I want to deal for a moment with the questions of half-pay, retired pay, and widows' pensions. If we desire to encourage that class of officer which has always in such a distinguished manner upheld the traditions of the English Army, it is necessary we should give him something to look forward to in after years. His retired pay, his half-pay, and the pension which will be granted to his widow if he is a married man, must always be taken into consideration when one considers whether he will join His Majesty's Army. I see the right hon. Gentleman is smiling at my remarks.
§ Colonel SEELY
It was only on the point of the widow's pension. He could not look forward to the widow's pension while he was still alive.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
No, because fortunately women have not yet got into this House and are not yet officers in the Army. Widows, I would remind the right hon. Gentleman, are persons of the female persuasion, and cannot look forward to something which would accrue to them if they were in the Army when they are not in the Army. It is the widower or the person who will some day be a widower—the right hon. Gentleman will have to pay the debt of death some day, and his wife will be a widow—who enters the Army, and he will naturally look forward to see what the right hon. Gentleman is going to provide under this Vote. I would suggest he should alter and modify the determination he has already taken. He said this Vote was going to give rather more to one set of officers and rather less to another set of officers. I have not the slightest objection to his giving rather more to one set of officers, but I want to know why he is taking away from others. It is a wrong policy, and it is not a consistent policy. If you are going to give to one set of men, why take away from another set of men? On the contrary, if it is right to increase the various benefits which will accrue to one set of officers under this Vote, it is a fortiori right that all officers should be included in the benefits the right hon. Gentleman is going to give to the one set. I am very glad I had the good fortune to be 1294 able to join in this Debte. Although I am, unfortunately, only a member of the civil part of the community, I think this House should express its abhorrence of the principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, and its determination that a man who has devoted the best years of his life to the service of his country should not be treated worse than a man who, after all, has only done the same thing.
I listened with very great attention to the right hon. Gentleman's remarks. No man can make a clearer statement than he when he chooses, and no man can gloss things over better than the right hon. Gentleman when he wishes to do so. I challenge the Fin[...]cial Secretary to point out why it is ne[...]ssary, when increasing the benefits under this Vote to one particular branch of the Service, to decrease them to other branches. Is it because the right hon. Gentleman has received orders in no way to increase the Vote? While he is bound to maintain the efficiency of the officers of the Army, is he afraid to go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and ask for an additional Grant, in order to enable him to give a similar amount to those unfortunate gentlemen whom he is cutting off with a lesser amount than they received before? Let the right hon. Gentleman exercise his great powers of persuasion on the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am sure if he were to go to him and point out the desire of the House of Commons, as expressed in the Division which will shortly take place on this Vote, that, the increased sum should be given in order that men may be attracted to join the force, I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer would refuse it. Perhaps the Under-Secretary for War will put up the Financial Secretary to state that everything I have said is correct, and to undertake that he will do his best to see that my proposals are carried into effect, and that the amount given to the officers shall be the same in every respect. I hope my protest will not be without some effect. There is not a very large number of Members on the other side of the House. I count only seven, but I will appeal to those seven to support us in the Lobby, and, in the short time at their disposal, to exercise their influence with those who are returning from the smoking room to record their votes also in our favour.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I do not think that the Under-Secretary dealt adequately with the point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Finsbury, 1295 and I really doubt whether the right hon. Gentleman even appreciated the point which my hon. and gallant Friend was endeavouring to bring to his notice. Surely it is no answer to the case which has been raised for the right hon. Gentleman to say, "We are giving just as much in a lump sum to these officers, or rather more." If it is more, I am not sure that the action of the War Office should not be called into question for exceeding the amount arranged. But I do not think that the gross amount matters to anybody except the taxpayer. What matters to the officer is the amount that each individual will receive, and the whole point is whether the individual officers are going to get the retiring allowance which they were led to expect they would receive when they joined the Army. It seems to me that if any officer on retirement finds that he is going to get less in consequence of the promulgation of this Order than he would otherwise have received he has a distinct grievance against the War Office, and that there has been a breach of contract. The question arises more particularly in connection with the officers promoted to major on and since the 31st August, 1911. These officers joined during the war, and it is natural to suppose that, when they joined, they looked to the whole remuneration, including retirement allowances, which they would get during their short period of service, and calculated the reasonable probability of being called upon to retire with a certain rank. Is it to be supposed that this did not influence their judgment, and that they did not expect to retire as major? To say you are entitled, because they happened to be promoted after a certain date, to cut down the retiring allowance which officers who were promoted before that date have got, seems to me to be going much too far, and it would seem also that in so doing the War Office are breaking their contracts with individual officers. We have so far received no answer on this point.
If the right hon. Gentleman will look at it from an impartial point of view, and not take for granted what he is told by his advisers at the War Office, I think he will see that these officers are labouring under very great injustice. Here is a case which has been put into my hands as illustrating the point. It is the case of an officer who was first commissioned in 1900, a fortnight before his thirtieth birth- 1296 day. In the ordinary course of events he should be promoted major in three or four years' time from now, and then he would be nearly forty-six years of age. Presumably, if he retires under the age regulation as major at fifty years of age his total service would not exceed twenty years, and he will receive a pension of £200 instead of £300, the amount for which he would have been eligible had not this Army Order been promulgated. That is a concrete example of the case I am putting to the House. Will anyone contend that an officer joining in 1900 would only look to the retiring allowance he would get as captain or lieutenant? Of course, he would look to the allowance he would get as major, and the fact that, by the misfortune of the Service, he was only promoted after the 31st August, 1911, surely is no earthly reason why the Government should break the contract which they made with him. I consider it really approaches something in the nature of a scandal. It is, in fact, a gross injustice inflicted upon individual officers. What is the use of the right hon. Gentleman saying that the total amount granted is the same as before, if not more? That does not matter at all. If an individual officer gets less, it does not matter to him what the total amount may be. I really think the War Office should reconsider their attitude on this question, and should take care that no one single officer shall get a smaller retiring allowance than he had reason to expect under the terms of service which were in existence when he joined the Army.
It bears a rather bad complexion, seeing that in time of war you use every endeavour to attract officers to your service—and naturally at such times you get them—if, years afterwards, when peace is declared, and when your promises come to mature, you alter your arrangement with individual officers and give them less than they were led to expect they would receive at the time they joined. In private life actions of this kind are characterised by very hard names. I do not know why the same hard names should not be applied to them when they are committed by a Government Department. I feel the right hon. Gentleman would be well advised if, through the Financial Secretary, he would undertake to reconsider this Order, with a view to insuring that officers shall not be thus mulct, and that it shall not be possible for them to say that they have been misled in what I would venture to describe as a thoroughly disgraceful manner.
§ Colonel YATE
I wish to raise points in connection with widows' pensions and the commutation of pensions. I think it will be admitted that the pensions to widows of Army officers are too low. I should like to ask the Financial Secretary if he is prepared to consider the question of the pensions to widows of officers killed in battle. There is a most rigorous examination in these cases as to whether the husband has left any money, and if it is found he has done so the widow gets no pension. Surely if a man goes out to fight for his country and is killed in battle his widow should have a pension, whether or not he may have happened to leave her £300 a year. I trust the Financial Secretary will consider this question and see if some reform cannot be effected in this matter. The widows of men who are killed while on active service certainly deserve to be treated liberally. My second point is with regard to the commutation of officers' pensions. We all of us know cases where officers have commuted their pensions and they have eventually found themselves in absolute penury. If such commutation is allowed the Government, I submit, ought not to be permitted to make money out of the transaction. It was acknowledged in answer to a question which I put some time ago that the Government have made many thousands of pounds out of commutations. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will undertake to see that the commutation rules are reconsidered, with a view to preventing officers unduly risking their money, and with a view also to insuring that the commutations are carried out on such terms as will enable the officers to get the full advantage of their pension without the Government making any money out of it.
§ Lord CHARLES BERESFORD
There is another side of the question of retiring allowances and half-pay. There is no officer or man in the service who does not look forward to what he is going to get when he leaves the Service, and if your retirement allowances are small and inadequate, you reduce the chances of getting officers and men. You will consequently have a shortage of officers for the Regular Army. When the existing shortage was referred to in the course of this Debate, one hon. Member below the Gangway very properly suggested that more men should be promoted from the ranks, but if they are to be they must have proper pensions and retiring allowances to look forward to on leaving the Army. 1298 The position of officers in this respect today is more or less of a scandal. Some officers of the British Army get a very great deal less pay than artificers in the engine rooms of the Navy. I do not say that these artificers are overpaid. In my opinion they ought to get more pay. But I do not think the proportion is a correct one. You have added enormously to the work of the officers, and the point I want to raise is this: unless these retiring allowances and widows' pensions, and similar points are attended to, you will continue to get a shortage of officers for your Army, and if it is proposed to fill up a greater number of vacancies with men from the ranks, it certainly is essential you should give them the full advantages to which they are entitled when they leave the Army. There was a promise made last year by the Financial Secretary that attention should be given to the pay of the officers of the Army.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Tennant)
That does not arise on this Vote.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
The promise was then made with regard to full pay. Now I should like to have a promise that the half-pay will be considered. You are going to add to the officers of the Army, and you are very properly going to join men from the ranks. You must increase their allowances when they get on half-pay and retired pay, because the present half-pay and retired pay is not sufficient. I hope the hon. Gentleman will give us some idea of what will be done in this direction.
§ Major ANSTRUTHER-GRAY
I should like to say a few words in support of my hon. Friend's (Colonel Yate) request that the pensions of widows of officers killed in action should be taken into consideration. Many hardships have occurred in consequence of the shabby way in which widows of officers killed in action have been treated. It may be that the widow has, for the moment, a certain income, but she may lose that. I think the question of her income ought not to have anything to do with the matter, and that the fact of the officer having been killed in action ought to be quite sufficient to give his widow a 1299 certain right on the State. If that were done it would help to remove one of the grievances with which officers have to cope. With regard to the commutation of pensions the State ought not to make money on a matter of that kind. An officer, if he commutes his pension, ought to be in exactly the same position financially as if he did not do so. It is a shabby thing for the Government to make money out of the commutation of pay. With regard to the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the reduction, I cordially agree with them that officers who retire ought not to be deceived. They join the Army and serve under certain conditions, and if by the stroke of the pen those conditions are altered for the worse, I think the officers have a distinct grievance. I believe that that has a good deal to do with the shortage of officers with which we are faced to-day. If young officers are expected to join the Army and to serve their time they ought not to be open to maltreatment when they retire. There is only one way in which to get men to serve properly, that is to pay them well and keep faith with them. If the Government do that, they will have a chance of getting the able and energetic young officers that they want, and if they do not do it they will be faced with an ever-increasing shortage, which is apt to lead to disaster in the time of war.
§ Mr. MALCOLM
I should like in a few words to say how the new proposal of the Under-Secretary strikes a layman in these matters. I wish the House were fuller than it is, for if everybody really understood what was going forward they would to a man vote against the Under-Secretary, in spite of party ties. It is an amazing theory that he has set forth. It is the theory that if a man signs on with a knowlege that he is going to get certain pay and ultimately a certain pension, further services may be required of him later on in his career, which he must perform before that pension which the Crown promised to give him will, in fact, be paid to him. The matter may go very much further than the Under-Secretary imagines. It may be that hereafter the widow may be expected to give certain services before a pension will be granted to her. Why should the Army be signalled out for this extraordinary change in a contract, for such it really is, a contract with officers which the Government are not ready to fulfil, but which the officers must 1300 fulfil under very severe penalties? The ordinary old age pensioner has no services to fulfil beyond the fact that he happened to be born seventy years ago. Why is the Army officer, who is really underpaid at the present time—if he were better paid it would be a far more popular Service—signalled out for this treatment? Those of us who want to see the Army more popular cannot but view with the greatest mistrust and disapprobation these extra services which are put upon men, while the Government is not prepared to fulfil its side of the contract towards a most deserving and energetic class I hope that this Order may be reconsidered by the Government, that this Vote may be put down for another day, and that the Government will see that on all sides of the House there is an undoubted feeling that the officers are being badly treated, and in a manner which should not be extended to any who get their pensions under the Crown.
I hope that we shall have an assurance from the Financial Secretary that these alterations will not continually be made in the half-pay, and, at any rate, that it will not be reduced again for a period of years. There is no doubt a feeling amongst officers who join under certain conditions that they do not like to find out, after they have done some years' service, that the conditions have been altered. I do not mean to say that when they actually join they think of the amount of retired pay they are going to get, but it certainly brings a certain amount of soreness if, after having served, say, for twenty years, they find that the conditions are altered. I will not refer to my own case, but I will say that it creates a certain amount of soreness if, instead of getting what you expect at the end of twelve years, you have to go on for fifteen years for the same amount. That causes hardship. We should all try to make the Army as popular as we can in view of the great shortage of officers. It is undoubtedly difficult to get officers, and this particular point has a certain bearing upon the popularity of the Service. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Hamar Greenwood), who speaks with great force on Army questions, has used the expression that officers are sweated. That is probably not too strong an expression. If the Financial Secretary says now that he cannot reconsider this particular point, let us get an assurance that nothing will be reduced for a period of 1301 years, and that the officers' hopes and expectations on retiring are not going to be altered by any Army Order, suddenly issued at a moment's notice. In view of the shortage of officers, we shall welcome any statement that the hon. Gentleman can give us.
§ Mr. HAMAR GREENWOOD
With the greatest reluctance I find myself in absolute disagreement with the right hon. Gentleman the under-Secretary. I think myself that the shabbiest page in English history is the treatment of the broken soldier. In reference to these majors who come under the Order of September last year—and this is the first opportunity we have had of debating that Order—I think they have been treated most shabbily. Most of these men joined at a time, and anyone who has any memory cannot forget it, when the fortunes of war of this country were at a very low ebb, and now, after luckily surviving the hardships of a bitter campaign, by a mere exercise of the will of somebody at the War Office, they suddenly find their retiring allowance reduced, as I understand it, from £300 to £200 a year. To most of these men £100 a year means all the difference between a struggle and comfort. I am bound to confess that in this matter I think the War Office should be most particular as representing the Crown. The Crown, above all persons. If I may describe the Crown as a person, should be most careful, first, in making the contract, and, secondly, in seeing it fulfilled, and that it is not fulfilled in any cheese-paring spirit, but with an allowance on the generous side. In regard to contracts with officers—and I go further and say, even in contracts with the humblest soldier in the ranks—it is not the business of the War Office to exercise a discretion in regard to money or pay unless it has the Vote of the House of Commons. I submit that the Under-Secretary has no right to break the contract made by the War Office with these particular gentlemen without the consent of the House of Commons, and, so far as I am concerned, he will not get my consent to it.
§ Sir REGINALD POLE-CAREW
I wish to thank the hon. Member who spoke last for the kind way in which he backed up what I consider to be a far more important question than £ s. d. to the British Army. I have before ventured to express in this House the view that there should be, from the point of view of common sense and the 1302 desire we all have to see the Army properly officered, a feeling that when a man joins the Army he will be treated with a sense of fair play. I am certain from my own experience, and it has been a pretty long one, as a British officer that it is not so much a question of what pay he gets, but whether he will be treated fairly. I know from personal experience that it has happened before, and I am afraid it may happen again, that after a man has joined under certain conditions some alteration has been made in the law, and he is not able to finish his service under the conditions under which he joined.
That is one of the deterrents to officers joining the Service at present. It is no use to say that when a boy joins he does not know. If he does not know his parents know, or his guardians know, and he is not allowed to join, whereas if he were treated with fair play I think we might hope to get more out of him for the Army. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to consider this, and to acknowledge that the officer in the Army has as good a right to be treated fairly as any working man in the country. I wish also to say a word in support of what was said by the Noble Lord (Lord Charles Beresford). We all wish to see more promotions from the ranks. We all hope it may be made possible. If you are going to promote men from the ranks, and do not treat them fairly in the way of pay and allowances, they will not accept commissions. I am thankful to say I have always been on the very best terms with the men in the ranks. I have seen them offered commissions, but they are not always accepted with avidity, and they are not always a success when they are given. One of the main points of the men is that they will tell you that the officer is not treated with fair play, and they prefer not to put themselves in that position.
§ Sir J. JARDINE
I think if the difference made by this Order is as great as has been represented, between £200 and £300 a year for an officer who retires as major, an explanation is really necessary of the alteration of the Order. As one long serving for a pension, and intimately acquainted with the feelings of Army officers on the subject of pensions, I say it is essential that there should be something determined beforehand which the Government arranges to pay, and to which the officer is looking forward during the whole length of his Service. In India the doctrine is that a pension is deferred pay, 1303 and I think we require a clear explanation of this change. It may, perhaps, be said that the prerogative of the Crown extends to the financial Orders about pensions, irrespective of any previous Orders which have been passed, that that is one of the conditions of service of the military force, and that there is no remedy. If that is the case, and if along with that there has been a moral certainty—or, something like it, a reasonable expectation—on the part of a particular officer that at a certain period of the service, on retirement, he could get a certain amount of pension, all the more as a matter of good faith, it is required that the Crown should act up to what was the implied promise.
§ Colonel BURN
I should like to say a few words on what I consider to be a very great grievance on the part of retired officers. After all a man serves his country and he knows, or rather he imagines, that after a certain number of years he will be given a pension of so much per annum, but in the event of war many officers who are on the retired list gladly give their services to their country again, as was the case in the South African war, and the War Office on their part are only too ready to employ them. But the retired officer loses all the pension, whatever it may be, that he has earned by so many years service to the Crown. All this is most unjust. If the officer gives his service to his country again, it is a hardship that he should be mulcted in that fashion after he has earned it by so many years service. It is a very small thing for the Treasury. It is not a matter of very many thousands of pounds during the whole of the war, but it is mean treatment to the officer who has done his duty by his country. Moreover, if a soldier has earned a pension, and if he gives his service again to his country during a war, I do not think the War Office would for a moment suggest that he is to lose the pension he has earned. I have never heard this brought up in the House of Commons before, but I know how officers were treated who were in the Army Reserve or who joined the Reserve and once more did their service in the South African war. These pensions were lost to them during the time they were at service in South Africa, and it is not fair and just treatment, because no one for a moment will assert that a pension in any way compensates an officer for the hundreds, and even thousands, that he has spent in 1304 twenty or twenty-five years' service in order to earn that pension. Everyone knows that life in a Cavalry regiment cannot be undertaken unless you have an income to meet the expenses which are entailed, and I think when you have bought your pension at a very dear price, if you give your service again to your country, it is not very fair treatment on the part of the State to mulct you of that pension. I do not think anyone would suggest that the income that has been earned by private individuals who join the Service under those conditons should be mulcted, and therefore why are you going to treat the Soldier in this way? I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give his attention to the matter and see that a real injustice is remedied.
I wish to draw attention to the fact that this is eminently a financial matter, and we have had no apology for the conduct of the Government from the Financial Secretary. His colleague, the Under-Secretary, has done his best to defend him, but the real culprit in this matter is the Department represented by the Financial Secretary. I should like to draw attention to the way in which this policy was undoubtedly settled by the War Office. They went to their financial side and said, "We wish to accelerate the promotion of officers. What can you do for us?" The financial side said, "We will offer a larger retiring allowance to a certain class of officers, and we will set to work and see how we can find the money." When they came to look round, the only way they could find the money was by pinching—that is the only word to use—another class, and that is undoubtedly a shabby way of doing it. It is in the interests of the Service at large and of the taxpayers that there should be better promotion in the Army. The taxpayers and the country at large should pay for it, and there is no reason why, if that is desirable, another class of officers, and especially such a worthy class as are going to suffer under this new policy, should be made to surrender part of their well-earned pension. I cannot help thinking that if hon. Members opposite support the Government in their action to-day they will feel rather ashamed of what they have done. I hope the Financial Secretary will now give the House his reason for the Government's action, and will say whether the outline which I have given of the manner in which this policy was arrived at is not absolutely correct.
§ Mr. TENNANT
If I thought that what the hon. and gallant Gentleman informed the House was true I should feel very unhappy. I should be very loth for it to go out to the country and the Army generally that the Army Council have robbed a certain class in order to give better terms to another class. That is not true at all. The hon. and gallant Gentleman talks about fair play. There is no one who is more anxious to show not only the strictest fair play, but the most generous treatment to officers than I myself or the Army Council. I am not a military man myself, and I cannot speak with first-hand knowledge, but I am informed that this scheme, which we adopted only last year, has been very well received on the whole. It is a more generous scale than that which we had before. On the whole it is more generous, and for hon. Gentlemen to get up one after the other and say we are mulcting the officers of part of their retired pay is really not to put the matter in the right light at all. It is misleading the public.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
Is it or is it not a fact that some officers are getting less than they otherwise would have got?
§ Mr. TENNANT
I do not know whether that is so or not. If the Noble Lord would bring any individual case of hardship to me I will certainly consider it. For one case of that kind, suppose it to exist—I want to be very truthful; I do not want to say it cannot exist, because one sometimes makes mistakes—there will be hundreds of cases in which the retired pay will be increased by the new scale. With regard to widows' pensions, of course there should be a proper allowance for widows whose husbands have been killed in action, who have served admirably and probably brilliantly. Page 107 of the Estimate gives this scale. I do not say it is what you would call an over-generous scale—it has been in force for a long time—but I do not think anyone is left out. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman has any particular item which he would like to consult me about I shall be glad to hear what he has to say. With regard to commutation that is done on a regular scale, which has been in existence for a considerable time. This is the first time my attention has ever been called to it. As the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows, it is often a great advantage that the recipient of a pension should be able to commute it. It enables the re- 1306 cipient to set up in business of various kinds, or it may be that for family reasons the recipient wishes to give something to a son for the purpose of starting him for himself. There are lots of cases of that kind which must occur to the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and it would be a great pity if there was no power to commute a pension. The hon. and gallant Gentleman indicated that the Treasury was making money out of the system of commuting pensions.
§ Colonel YATE
What I said was that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury had acknowledged, in answer to a question of mine, that the State had made more than £200,000 out of the system. As regards the question of widows' pensions, there is one point I would like the hon. Gentleman to consider.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Member is entitled to explain anything he has already said, but not to go further than that.
§ Mr. TENNANT
I was not aware the Secretary to the Treasury had admitted that the State had made £200,000 by the commutation of pensions, but since the hon. and gallant Gentleman tells me I am willing to accept the statement. I am sure all that has not been made in connection with Army pensions. There are a great many other kinds of pensions. With regard to the widows of officers who have been killed, I think they all receive pensions.
§ Colonel YATE
Not if they have private means. I ask the hon. Gentleman if that is not an unfair thing if a widow should happen to have £200 a year she should be deprived of a pension?
§ Mr. TENNANT
I presume that originally pensions were given in necessitous cases. If the hon. Gentleman will draw my attention to cases where widows have been deprived of pensions I will make inquiry. It would not be a proper thing to offer a pension of £150 to the widow of an officer who has a considerable fortune left to her. I do not think that is what the House wants. That really would be a waste of public money, and I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman will agree with me.
§ Mr. TENNANT
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggests that a person who is left well off should receive a pension of £150, I cannot agree with him, and I do not think the House will agree with him. That is not what the fund is intended for. It is intended for necessitous cases of the widows of men who have served their country. If that is so, I am sure there is nothing in the charge which he brings against the War Office.
§ Mr. GIBBS
I certainly think that the scale wants revising as regards the superior officers. When a man becomes a major he has already spent a good many years in the Service, and if he leaves the Army it is very difficult for him to take up civil employment. It is more easy for a subaltern or a lieutenant to take up civil employment. If any revision takes place there should be a greater difference between the pensions paid to widows of captains and lieutenants and those paid to the widows of field marshals, generals, colonels, and majors. I notice that there is only a difference of £20 a year in the pension given to the widow of a major and that given to the widow of a captain. I think the difference ought to be far greater than that. The pension given to the widow of a major ought to be more than £70 a year, and the pension given to the widow of a lieutenant ought to be more than £40.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
The reply given by the Financial Secretary shows the gravity of the charge which has been made by my hon. Friend. The case is this. The officers had hopes held out when they joined the Army that certain terms would be allowed to them, although I gather from the hon. Gentleman's answer that the terms of retirement have been made rather better than they were, and that generally speaking there is satisfaction. That is no answer at all to those whose position is made worse—the men who reasonably reckoned on a larger income than they now receive. The difference between £200 and £300 to a man of small means is very great indeed. It is no small matter to him. The Financial Secretary said he knew of no such case. He certainly said that some would receive less and some more. My hon. Friend will produce cases in which it does happen that the position is made worse, but there is no use doing this unless when the cases are brought before their notice the Government can be induced to say that they will make good the 1308 loss. We wish to get from the Government an assurance that officers will be allowed to choose between the terms of retirement under the new Order and the old Order. If the new Order gives better terms, they should be allowed to go on under it, but if the old Order is better, they should be allowed the terms it gives. The question of public expenditure in this relation is not important, and yet it is highly important to the individual concerned. A matter of a few hundred pounds a year to the Treasury is not a matter of importance, but a few hundred pounds a year to the officers concerned is all-important. I do press the Government to give us an assurance that in the limited number of cases where officers will be reduced from what they had reason to anticipate they will allow these officers to go on under the old Order.
This is a matter that greatly affects the honour of the public Service. If you induce people to come into your service by holding out hopes and then disappoint them, you do what would be regarded in the ordinary relations of life as a shabby and dishonourable thing. I am sure no hon. or right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench would dream of treating one of his own domestic servants as the Government propose to treat these officers. They would not say, "We hold out the hope that you will have a pension of so much," and then say, later on, "You are only to have a pension of two-thirds of the amount." I put it to the Government that they are creating an atmosphere of discredit round military employment. These things give the impression that officers are not fairly treated, that the Army is a poor profession, and that no one looking to his own interest will serve the Crown in that way. It is that general impression that lies at the root of the great shortage of officers. People say, "You are turned out at middle life and. have no future before you." Both as a matter of policy and of honour I press the Government to give us an assurance that these officers will be allowed to choose between the old Order and the new Order, and to say which they will come under.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I desire to say a few words on the same lines as the Noble Lord. The Financial Secretary, like his distinguished colleague, is, if I may say so, a kind of rabbit. The right hon. Gentleman (Colonel Seely) had been sitting there in his burrow the whole time, and it took a great deal of effort on the 1309 part of hon. Members to get him out of it. When he did come out of it I must say he did not retire unscathed back to his burrow again. When men join the Army, like anything else, they join under certain conditions exactly as the Noble Lord said. If you engage a servant you tell him what his conditions are, and if he has a fixed retiring sum you tell him what it is. In the Civil Service you deal with a man in exactly the same way. But that is not the method with the Army. Since I joined I think the terms have altered three times altogether. It is not fair, I think, to break your contract with a man who cannot, so to speak, protect himself without running the risk of ruining his position. It is not fair to alter the conditions if you want to economise—well, I will not put it on the grounds of economy, but you have no right to alter the conditions on which a man joins without his consent. You ought to give him a choice of one or other Order. If you were making money on the change I could understand the reason for altering the terms, but if you are not making money on it, why not give him a choice?
It certainly is quite wrong, if a man joins the Army under certain conditions, and is told that when he leaves after so many years' service he will get £100, that the contract should not be kept. That £100 is really a sort of deferred pay. You have not been paying enough while he is in the Service. It is surely not right that he should be asked to give his service again in order to get that, when you have already told him he may get it without service. If you want Reserve officers to go and serve in the Army afterwards, you can say, "Yes, you are entitled to the pension we give you, but if you go and serve on the Special Reserve, we are prepard to pay you a still further retaining fee." The question I wish to ask is, Does the right hon. Gentleman think it is fair that the Government should break its contract with the officers and change it in that way? That is really the whole point I wish to raise. What in now being done by the Government in this matter makes a very bad impression on the whole of the country. Fathers put their sons into the Army, and they are really the best recruiting agents. They will say, "This is not good enough; we will not put them into the military service."
§ Colonel SEELY
I can only say a word by leave of the House, but I desire to remove a misapprehension. If any blame is to be imputed in this matter at all, 1310 which I do not believe, it is applicable not to my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary (Mr. Tennant), but to myself. The Army Council Votes come under my special purview as Army Councillor, and not under that of my hon. Friend. I admit that the Army Council system is not fully applicable to debates in this House. The other point on which I have been specially appealed to is to say that we do not mean-to treat officers unfairly. This matter was considered and settled by a Committee on which a large number of distinguished officers sat. Therefore it is possible, and even likely, that the view that I put forward to the House earlier in the day that no injustice was in point of fact effected, and still less intended, is probably the correct one. It was impossible to save money over it; indeed, it is admitted that there was a slightly extra cost; and it is inconceivable that distinguished officers should have recommended steps so unjust as the Noble Lord (Marquess of Tullibardine) seems to think were recommended.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
Does the right hon. Gentleman think it right to impose service on a man for his money where formerly he got the money without service?
§ Colonel SEELY
I do not think that we can go back on the question of officers going into the Yeomanry and Special Reserve. There is a conflict of opinion as to whether it is just or not. I think it is. I have said all that I can say on that point. The Financial Secretary said that if there are any cases of hardship—I believe that if there are any there are very few—they would be carefully inquired into. As responsible Minister I repeat that pledge, that if there are any individual cases of hardship caused by that Order they would be inquired into. I understand that this point will be raised on the Secretary of State's salary, and it can then be thoroughly thrashed out. Meantime, as we have spent two hours on this matter, and in view of the important concession that has been made, I hope the House will now come to a decision.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
May I ask can this question be raised on the Secretary of State's salary? If not, I would suggest that the Government might consent to adjourn this Motion until later on.
§ Question put, "That the sum of £1,843,000 stand part of the Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 189; Noes, 117.1313
|Division No. 39.]||AYES.||[5.35 p.m.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Parker, James Halifax|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Hackett, John||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Alden, Percy||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Pointer, Joseph|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Hay ward, Evan||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Helme, Norval Watson||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Barnes, George N.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick)||Henry, Sir Charles||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Barton, W.||Hinds, John||Primrose, Hon. Neil James|
|Beale, William Phipson||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Radford, George Heynes|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Benn, W. (T. H'mts., St. George)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||John, Edward Thomas||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Boland, John Plus||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Roberts, George (Norwich)|
|Brace, William||Jones, W. S. Glyn (Stepney)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Jowett, Frederick William||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Brunner, John F. L,||Joyce, Michael||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Keating, Matthew||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Kellaway, Frederick George||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Kilbride, Denis||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Lamb, Ernest Henry||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Clough, William||Lansbury, George||Sheehy, David|
|Clynes, John R.||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Leach, Charles||Shortt, Edward|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Cotton, William Francis||Lewis, John Herbert||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Crooks, William||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lyell, Charles Henry||Snowden, Philip|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs, Louth)||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Macdonald, J M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Sutton, John E.|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Tennant Harold John|
|Devlin, Joseph||M'Callum, John M.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Dewar, Sir J. A.||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Dickinson, W. H.||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Dillon, John||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Verney, Sir H.|
|Doris, William||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Duffy, William J.||Masterman, C. F. G.||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Menzies, Sir Walter||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Millar, James Duncan||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Webb, H.|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Mooney, John J.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Needham, Christopher T.||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Nolan, Joseph||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Norton, Captain Cecil William||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Nuttall, Harry||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Gill, Alfred Henry||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Glanville, Harold James||O'Grady, James||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Goldstone, Frank||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Greenwood, Glanville G. (Peterborough)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Baldwin, Stanley|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Baird, John Lawrence||Banbury, Sir Frederick George|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Banner, John S. Harmood|
|Ashley, W. W.||Balcarres, Lord||Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)|
|Barnston, Harry||Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Grant, J. A.||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Gwynne, R S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Bird, Alfred||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Quilter, Sir W. E. C.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Helmsley, Viscount||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Butcher, John George||Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Stanier, Beville|
|Campion, W. R.||Horne, Wm. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hunt, Rowland||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Cassel, Felix||Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cator, John||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Swift, Rigby|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Kerry, Earl of||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Law, Rt. Han. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Lewisham, Viscount||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (St. Geo.Han. Sq.)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Faber, George D. (Clapham)||M'Ncill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Malcolm, Ian||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Fell, Arthur||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Fleming, Valentine||Wills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Forster, Henry William||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Foster, Philip Staverey||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Mount, William Arthur|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||Newton, Harry Kottingham||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. C. Bathurst and Major Archer-Shee.|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Nield, Herbert|
Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
Before we pass this through I want to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office as to certain details connected with this very voluminous Vote. At the bottom of page 102 you will find the statement. "One Field Marshal (British Establishment), although not in Army employment, receives no half-pay whilst employed as Agent and Consul-General in Egypt."
I object entirely to the principle that because Lord Kitchener is employed under the Government he should have his half-pay docked. That is a principle which has been very much objected to by hon. Members opposite, and especially by hon. Members below the Gangway. The Government say, "Here is a distinguished officer who by his past services is entitled to a certain amount of half-pay as long as he is not employed by the War Office. But because he is employed by another Government Department he shall therefore not receive his half-pay as long as he is so employed." That is an entirely wrong principle. We on these benches often have been abused because we employ old soldiers in receipt of pensions, and we perhaps are able to employ them at less wages than we otherwise should do. We are called sweaters, and every sort of accusation is made against us. What is wrong in that case is equally wrong with the Government Department. I ask the Finan- 1314 cial Secretary to explain on what grounds of justice he has docked Lord Kitchener the half-pay which he is entitled to, and which he has earned by his past services to the British Empire, because he happens to be filling a most important post under the Foreign Office in Egypt at the present moment?
Then, on page 103, he will see that the rates of half-pay are rather extraordinarily arranged. A colonel gets £300 a year, and a lieutenant-colonel gets £300 a year, half-pay. It seems to me rather badly arranged. Either the colonel is getting too much or the lieutenant-colonel is getting too little. On active service their pay is different, and why should they receive the same amount on half-pay? Then there is the question of lieutenant and second lieutenant. The lieutenant gets from 3s. to 4s. 8d. a day, whereas the second lieutenant's half-pay ranges from 3s. to 3s. 2d. a day. Why does the one get so much or the other so little? There is a distinction in the ranks. The second lieutenant is an officer who has served probably in the Cavalry for two or three years, or, in the case of the Guards, for four or five years. It seems to me absurd to say that the retired pay of these two ranks should be the same. The minimum in each case is the same, but we know that the length of service as between the two ranks is very different. At the top 1315 of page 104 we see that a general officer who has been in command of a regiment, on retiring receives from £990 to £1,185 a year. The general officer who has not had the luck to command a regiment, but has seen just as much active service, on retiring receives from £600 a year up to £1,000. Why should a general who is lucky enough to obtain command of a regiment receive such a large amount of money compared with the officer who does not receive the command of a regiment? I think it is very hard on an officer who has perhaps not had so much social influence to obtain command of a regiment should retire on £600 a year, whereas a man with social influence who has obtained command of a regiment gets £990 a year. At the top of page 105 I see that the chaplain-general when he retires receives £600 a year. I do not complain of that.
There is only one chaplain-general, and I think £600 is not too much for him to receive. But when I look at the bottom of the page I see that officers of the Colonial and the Irregular forces who went through the South African war receive retired pay ranging from 3s. to 10s. a day—that is to say, those officers who went through the South African war from 1899 to 1902 are retired at the rate of £55 a year to £180 a year, whereas a chaplain-general, who may never have seen a shot fired, retires at the rate of £600 a year. I submit to the House that that is a very great disparity. Either the chaplain-general is getting too much or these officers are getting very much too little. Personally, I consider that the officers are paid too little. The officers of the Colonial corps, who came forward to help this country in the time of her greatest need when our Regular troops required reinforcement, were men who sacrificed their profession, many of them their businesses, in order to come to the aid of the Mother-country, and yet at the present moment they are receiving the paltry rate of £55 a year, or £1 a week up to a maximum of £3 a week. I should like some information as to the chaplain-general's £600 a year retired pay, and as to the retired pay of a chaplain at the rate of £340 a year, while officers of the Colonial corps receive only £180 a year.
§ Mr. TENNANT
The first point is as to the field-marshal who is in Egypt, and the answer to the question put by the hon. Gentleman is that the salary is a matter of private arrangement with Lord 1316 Kitchener, who made no objection; in fact, it was an agreement with him that he should be paid whatever he is paid, and that his half-pay should not be given to him in respect of his services, because he is receiving his present salary. I do not know what that salary is.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
Is it only a private arrangement in the case of Lord Kitchener, or is it a special arrangement made under the Regulations?
§ Mr. TENNANT
It is both; it is a special arrangement under the Regulations, and it is by private agreement that Lord Kitchener is getting what is paid him now. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is the amount?"] I understand that he gets the same salary as his predecessor got at the Foreign Office. I do not know the amount. The hon. Member asked why a colonel and a lieutenant-colonel should receive half-pay at the same rate. I do not see why they should not. These scales have been arranged for a long time. They are not new; and there has never been any particular reason for altering them; nobody has ever suggested that they should be altered. If the hon. Gentleman could give any adequate reason why they should be altered, one might consider it. The hon. Gentleman simply asks the question why two sorts of colonels get the same half-pay, and the answer is that it has always been done, and no reason has been given as to why the course hitherto pursued should be altered. As regards the chaplain-general, whose retired pay is £600 a year, while, as the hon. Gentleman points out, the officers of Colonial corps receive from £55 to £180 a year, I would answer that the chaplain-general is a very distinguished officer, who has been in the Service a long time, and £600 a year does not seem out of place, as I am sure the House will agree. I should like the House to note that while it is the function of this House to keep guard upon the expenditure, all that hon. Gentlemen opposite ever do, as far as I can make out, is to suggest that we ought to spend more money on the Army, and not less.
§ Mr. TENNANT
It is quite true that the officers' pay has not been increased, but that subject is not in order at this time. For officers of the Colonial and Irregular Forces £185 a year does not seem to me at 1317 all inadequate. Indeed, I am rather agreeably surprised that they are remunerated on that scale. I think I have answered all the points raised by the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I do not rise to criticise the reply of the Financial Secretary. He has attempted to answer the four technical points put to him, but I must take exception to what he said. Under our present proceedings the policy of the Estimates can be rarely ever reviewed, and it really is a complete departure from the purpose for which this House exists if a Minister who responds for the Estimates says that there is nothing new in those Estimates, and that they hare existed for ten years. In older days every one of those Estimates was closely examined by this House, and if, now and again, the Army Estimates do come up for criticism, then I say, with all submission, the Ministers who are responsible for them should be prepared—as the hon. Member was—to answer any questions which are addressed to them. I think that must be laid down. When the hon. Member says that we are here to diminish expenditure, I must point out that questions with respect to individuals often raises large questions of policy in regard to which individuals may have a great effect over the whole Army. I must tell the Under-Secretary quite frankly that my hon. Friends are not satisfied with his reply on the Amendment, and, as this is a matter of so much importance, they asked me to move the adjournment of the Debate, but I do not see my way to do that. After this discussion the Under-Secretary and the Financial Secretary will give their attention to this matter, and I want, if we can, to get to the very important Vote which comes next, and which deals with pensions, awards, and gratuities of commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers, warrant officers and men in the Army. That is a matter which has been rarely discussed, and I hope will be discussed this evening.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I should like to ask the Under-Secretary for War for some information as regards items on Page 109:—Annuities payable for ten years to the National Debt Commissioners for the repayment of sums advanced by them in commutation of pensions for wounds in each of the following years.6.0 P.M.
Then I see, beginning with 1901 and going down to 1904, that no commutation has been made, but I see that in the years commencing with 1905 and ending with 1911 that in each of those years commuta- 1318 tions were made amounting in one or two cases to fairly large sums. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he considers this a wise policy. I know that some Friends of mine on this side of the House will not altogether agree with the views I hold upon this question. The Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Lord C. Beresford), with whom I was discussing this question, rather disagreed with me and was in favour of the policy of commutation of pensions, whether for wounds or anything else. I think it is a mistaken policy, not from the point of view of the Government, but from the point of view of the recipient of the pension. In nine cases out of ten the lump sum received for the pension is generally spent within a very short time. It is put into some little business, or used for the purchase of a house, or for some other purpose, and very often the unfortunate person who is attracted by the expectation and hope of getting a large sum in his hands finds that he is very much worse off than if he had been content to get his certain allowance, which would have kept him, if not in comfort, at all events out of the workhouse for the remainder of his days. The right hon. Gentleman may get up and tell us that the Government saves money, but, though I am and always have been a great believer in national economy, I do not believe in national economy when you are going to get the better of certain people who have served you well, and without too great remuneration. I have a little diffidence in speaking on this point when there are so many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen connected with the Army. I must not discuss this practice in connection with the men, as it arises on another Vote, but I hope the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent (Mr. J. Ward), who is a great supporter of the private soldier, will, when the next Vote comes on, support me in preventing the Government saving a little money by commuting the pension of the private soldier. I feel very earnestly on this subject, which I mention, not with any desire to prevent the officer receiving the lump sum, but because I believe he would be better off if he remained a pensioner. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman will tell us that it is at the option of the gentlemen themselves. That is not the point. You must sometimes look after people and see that they are directed in the right way. The right hon. Gentleman should look after these people and should 1319 not put temptation in their way. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take my remarks to heart.
The hon. Member for Blackpool referred to the retiring allowance of the Chaplain-General, and contrasted it with the allowance given to the officers attached to the Colonial corps in South Africa. I am perfectly certain my hon. Friend in bringing that matter forward did not in the least wish to reflect on the Chaplain-General, who is a very distinguished officer, and it would be well that no impression of the kind should get outside the House. He merely wished to contrast the two things. I desire to ask a question about the chaplains. It appears that for the two years the number of the chaplains has not varied, but the retiring allowances vary by £91, the respective totals being £12,894 and £12,803. As the numbers remain the same, what is the reason of the difficulty?
§ Mr. TENNANT
The chaplains are given retired pay according to the length of service, and therefore there is a slight difference between one year and another.
§ Sir REGINALD POLE-CAREW
On the subject of the commutation of pensions, I do not entirely agree with the hon. Baronet the Member for the City (Sir F. Banbury), for the reason that I think it would be difficult to lay down a hard and fast rule on this subject, and I do not think it would be fair to do so. There is many a man who wishes to realise, at any rate, a certain portion of his pension. He may want to go to Canada, or he may think that it will be better for him to realise it than to give the Government the advantage if he died in a year or two. I think I am right in stating that only half the pension may be commuted. Under those circumstances I consider it would be far better not to interfere with the present Regulations. As to the point raised by the Member for Blackpool (Mr. Ashley) with regard to the pension of colonels and lieutenant-colonels, I cannot understand, like the hon. Member, why, if a lieutenant-colonel receives £300, a colonel should not receive more. It may be that the lieutenant-colonel is receiving too much, but it may be that the colonel is receiving too little. In any case, I cannot 1320 see that it is just or fair that a man who who has served in the rank of colonel should only receive the same as the lieutenant-colonel. They are two different ranks. If you do that, why not make the general retire on the same allowance as the colonel or the field marshal. Surely that would not be common sense. A man is not promoted to the rank of colonel unless he has performed good and efficient service as a lieutenant-colonel, and you might just as well say that a subaltern is entitled to the same pension as a colonel.
§ Colonel SEELY
I am glad to see that the hon. Baronet the Member for the City, is a convert to paternal Government, as he urges us not to allow the commutations of pensions. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we get a great many requests from officers for commutation. We impose certain restrictions and, on the whole, I think we have held the balance evenly between the view which he holds and that which has been expressed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken. It is rather hard to impose even as many restrictions as we do because there are many cases where an officer wants a lump sum either to secure a house to live in or for some such reason. With regard to the allowance to colonels and lieutenant-colonels that has been the rate for a number of years, and if we were to alter it we should be exposed to the same attack as we were exposed to in having altered the relative status of officers. There is a great difficulty in making an alteration, though I admit at first sight it is anomalous that a lieutenant-colonel should get the same rate as a colonel. It would be impossible to alter it without criticism, except in the case of future officers, where it would not be effective for twenty years or more.
§ Resolution reported, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,917,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals; of Out-Pensions; Rewards for Distinguished Services; Widows' Pensions; and other Non-Effective Charges for Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, and Men, etc., which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1913."1321
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
There are two points to which I desire to draw attention. The first is with regard to the pensions given to soldiers when they receive employment in the Post Office or other branches of the public service. I think that the public service, whether in the Army or the Post Office, should be treated exactly the same. I think if a man has been in the Post Office and goes into the Army he ought to be allowed to count his service in the Post Office towards his pension from the Army. Equally so, I think if he goes from the Army to the Post Office he ought to be allowed to count his service in the Army towards his pension. Take the case of two men, one of whom joins the Post Office service and the other the Army. The man in the Post Office counts from the day he started. Then, in the other case, if the man leaves the Army and goes into the Post Office—
§ Colonel SEELY
On a point of Order, I would ask whether it is in order that on this Vote, although, no doubt, it is an important matter, and has been discussed frequently, it would not affect the charge coming on the Army Estimates if the proposal which the Noble Lord makes were adopted. It would increase the charge on the Post Office and other branches of the Civil Service.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I was about to interpose. The Noble Lord must raise his point on the Post Office Estimates, out of which the pensions should, in the Noble Lord's opinion, be paid. The pension earned during the man's engagement in the Army is paid to him in any event out of Army Estimates.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I was afraid it might be out of order. If I take the case of a man who goes into the Post Office first and then goes into the Army, the difference will fall on the Army Votes. I know several such cases. It is an important point, and evidently it is one the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to discuss.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I hope we shall get an opportunity of discussing it another time, as it affects the 1322 question of recruiting, which is a very important one for the Army. I wish also to refer to the Regulations affecting the grant of good conduct medals. The matter is dealt with in Article 1743 of the King's Regulations. Under the Regulation a man, before he can get a good conduct medal, must serve eighteen years. During the last sixteen of those years he must not have had more than six entries on his defaulter's sheet, and he must have an absolutely clean sheet for the the last nine years. There are certain qualifications of that requirement. If a man performs an act of gallantry on service he may cancel one of the entries on his defaulter's sheet, but the entry must not have been incurred during the last nine years of service. A man might have seven entries in the first nine years of his service, and if he performed an act of gallantry he would be able to knock off one of them, leaving six only, which would entitle him to a good conduct medal. Then take the case of another man who during the whole of his eighteen years did not commit a single fault, and had seven acts of gallantry put to his credit during a campaign. The man might have been as gallant as the right hon. Gentleman himself was in South Africa. When the right hon. Gentleman came back from the war no doubt he was very happy, all his friends feasted him, and so on. But he is an educated man, who can look after himself. No doubt, too, he had his mess out there, and was not kept from drink the whole time. But suppose this man had been three years in the war, and had not seen a glass of beer during the whole time. On coming home the War Office gives him his pay in a lump sum. There are a lot of sharks about, who perhaps get him into trouble, and the man in the last few months of his service is run in. For that one entry in the last year of his life in the Army he is debarred from getting a good conduct medal. I think that is eminently unfair. I quite understand what the War Office is aiming at. They say, "We do not care what a man is when we get him. We reform him, and if during the last nine years he has been a really good character he ought to be entitled to a good conduct medal." I hold, however, that a man with six entries at the beginning of his career is not as good a man as the one who never had an entry in the whole of his eighteen years, except for the one accident, perhaps after a campaign in which he performed several acts of gallantry. The medal is enormously prized, and is a great help to 1323 a man in getting employment after he leaves the Service. I think the Regulation ought to be altered. I do not want it relaxed in a sense, but I think we do too much at one end of the scale and too little at the other. I agree that the Regulations must be strict, but there might be a little latitude allowed to commanding officers, who know more about the men and how they have conducted themselves, to decide whether or not an entry in the last year of service should be passed over.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to second the proposed reduction. I agree with every word said by my Noble Friend about the advantage it is to a man in obtaining civil employment if he can show that he has received a good conduct medal. The point I particularly wish to raise is with regard to the reduction in the pensions, compassionate allowances and gratuities, to the widows and children of warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men. The amount this year is £47,870, as against £52,700 last year. I wish to know why that reduction has taken place. It may possibly be urged that the number of men in the Army is not so large as it was a few years ago. But it must be remembered that soon after we were, unfortunately, blessed with the advent of a Liberal Government the number of men in the Army was considerably reduced. Therefore, I do not think that that would be a very sound argument. There must be some other reason. The probability is that there has been some of what was described a little while ago as "pinching" on the part of the Government. The items on which the Government exercised the very small love of economy which is in them are these small items, which they pick out for economies of a few hundred pounds. They are matters of no importance when one considers the object for which the money is required. Even from the financial point of view there is not much gained by these small economies. I am not as a rule against small economies, but in this particular case they are not very wise. I notice, on the other hand, that out-pensions have increased by £25,000. It seems rather curious that out-pensions should have increased so much while other pensions have diminished.
If the right hon. Gentleman will turn to page 119 he will find a footnote:—Certain lands and premises, the property of Kilmainham hospital, of the nominal rental value of £67, are let to the War Department, but no rent is paid for them.1324 This is a very small point, but these are the only occasions on which we have the opportunity to criticise the action, and especially the book-keeping of the Government. This is a question of book-keeping. What is the object of occupying the property of Kilmainham Hospital and not paying a rental? I shall probably be told that there is a cross-entry, that it will appear on the one side as an asset of Kilmainham Hospital, and on the other side as a debit to the Army Votes, and that it will come back again in the form of an Appropriation-in-Aid. That is true. But the system is wrong. The amounts actually paid and received should be set out clearly in the accounts, not only of the Army, but of every other branch of the National Service. To leave out any mention of rental for this property and merely put in a footnote of this kind is very slovenly and slipshod book-keeping. I am sure that the Chief Secretary, with his great experience of banking, will agree with me. [Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh, but I succeeded the right hon. hon. Gentleman on the board of one of the large London banks, and I know the reputation he left behind him there. What does the Undersecretary mean by the nominal rental value? Why is not the real value put in? Does he not know what the real value is? Does not the Financial Secretary know? Apparently nobody knows what it is, and therefore, to avoid any difficulty, they put in the nominal rental. Surely we ought to know whether the most is being made out of this property. I see an hon. Member from Ireland below the Gangway, and I believe Kilmainham is in Ireland. Here is another grievance to Ireland, which I hope the hon. Gentleman will assist me in ventilating. I do not know that I have anything further to say upon that point, but I really do trust that we shall have a further explanation when the right hon. Gentleman replies. On page 118 I see an item, "Pensions to widows and children of non-commissioned officers and men killed or dying during war service," and later I see, "Pensions to the widows and children of non-commissioned officers and men of the Territorial Force accidentally killed on duty." This latter comes to a very small amount: widows £46, children £22. The next item I note is: "Gratuities to soldiers' widows on remarriage, £600." It seems to me that the £46 and the £22 are very small, and I should like to know why? It has been suggested to me that the reason is that 1325 when a non-commissioned officer or man of the Territorial Force is killed on duty that his dependents do not always receive what under this Estimate we in our innocence suppose they will receive.
I am unfortunately not a member of the Territorial Force. I have been, however, told on very good authority that what happens in a case of this sort is that the Territorial Force is say on duty, and the guns are going into action: The team runs away; two drivers are seriously injured—not killed on the spot. They are taken away, and they linger for a fortnight, by which time the Territorial Force is no longer on duty, its members having gone back to their civil vocations. The men, therefore, are not actually on duty when they die. I am told that the pension to the widows and children can only be granted if their bread-winner is killed while actually on duty. The War Office shield themselves under the plea that the death of the man did not actually occur while he was on duty. I am not making what in my opinion is a very serious charge against the War Office, because I am not really in a position to say whether this is what actually does occur; but the information I am putting forward is from a man who is never, or rarely ever wrong, and I should like some explanation. Nothing would give me greater satisfaction than for the right hon. Gentleman to get up and say that I had discovered a "mare's nest," but I am afraid it is not so.
Another point. I see on page 114, Chelsea Hospital—Assistant Secretary, salary £750. The amount has the letter B attached to it. Looking down I see that B connotes, "Personal to present holder." Would the right hon. Gentleman kindly inform us what there is personal to the present holder which entitles him to receive this amount? I presume the next holder will receive a less amount. In addition to the Assistant-Secretary, I see there are twenty clerks, including boy clerks, employed at the Chelsea Hospital at salaries amounting to a very considerable sum. These staff clerks have salaries rising £350 to £450 per year. I should have thought that was a very large number of clerks to carry on the necessary work at the hospital. I have always held the view that we waste a considerable sum of money in our Army by payment for the civil services of clerks when a greater part of the money ought to go to the militant section. Again, I may be possibly wrong here——[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, 1326 hear"]—I did not say I was, I only said I possibly might be; and twenty clerks may be necessary to carry on the work, but I should have thought if we had what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hackney would call a "business Government" the work could be done with less than twenty clerks, and the money given to those objects which I have outlined as requiring a little more expenditure upon them.
§ Colonel SEELY
I rise at once to answer the points put to me by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London, though (referring to the presence of Mr. A. J. Balfour) the House will note with pleasure that there are two Members for the City of London present. [General cheers.] Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will realise from the response with which that announcement is greeted that the pleasure of seeing him back is by no means confined to one side of the House. With regard to the points raised, I shall endeavour to reply, and if my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, who has given way to me, has a point to put forward, of course I shall gladly answer it afterwards. I think, however, I had better answer the questions put to me while they are fresh before the House. As to the medal granted for good conduct, it is quite true that it is a very great assistance to the men, but that is only because, it is so sparingly given. If you were to relax the Regulations under which it is given you would pro tanto reduce its value. It is not as though the award of these medals and the consequent allowance which go with them are diminishing. I am glad to say the awards are increasing. No man, even the sternest economist, would be sorry to see that they are increasing. The numbers have increased largely. Speaking from recollection, from 1903–9, six years, the numbers have nearly doubled. If the Noble Lord will look at the provisions in this year's Estimates he will see that during the last year there has been an increase of no less than £2,000.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
The right hon. Gentleman mistakes me. My point was that it was the wrong men that get it. You give it to the worst men, and do not allow the better men to have it.
§ Colonel SEELY
I do not agree with the Noble Lord in this, as in many other, things. He may be right; I think he is wrong. I think the system that he proposes will not give the medal to the better men; it would only open the door wider 1327 to a much cherished distinction. I cannot agree that the proposal of the Noble Lord would be in the best interests of the men, although, no doubt, it is so intended. As to the points put forward by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City, I took a note of five. The first point is about pensions to widows. The hon. Baronet asks why they have decreased, while, conversely, the pensions to men have increased. The answer is that only one thing can happen to a man to rob him of his pension. Generally speaking, that is that he should die. Other things may happen to the widow and children. Of course, they can die like other people, but, in addition, the widows may remarry. They then receive one year's pension, and no more. The children, too, only receive the pension up to a certain age. These are pensions given in respect mostly of soldiers who died during the South African war, and on active service. As that period gets more remote, of course, the number of pensions will diminish. I can assure the hon. Baronet that in this case it is not parsimony on the part of the Government.
The next point was with regard to the assistant-secretary of Chelsea Hospital. The footnote B, "Personal to present holder," means that this higher rate is given to the present holder because of his exceptional long service, and because he is an exceptionally well-qualified man. The note is one meant to all and sundry that the next man will not get so much. This, therefore, is an advance towards economy which I think the hon. Baronet will support. As to the twenty clerks, so far as my knowledge goes—and it so happens that I am ex officio on the committee which dispenses pensions—these clerks are necessary. I agree with the hon. Baronet that a most careful watch requires to be kept to see that the staff does not unduly increase. But I am told that they have plenty of work to do, and that they work very hard as well. Then there is the important point in principle, although not in amount, in relation to Kilmainham Hospital—this nominal rent of £67 per year. I frankly throw myself on the mercy of the House. I do not understand why a nominal rent only is charged, and no one whom I can find on the telephone or elsewhere knows either; but this I do know, that my right hon. Friend (Mr. Birrell), whose reputation as a banker I am glad to find stands so high 1328 in the estimation of the hon. Baronet, tells me that it makes no difference whatever to the public purse. It is a fact that what is called a nominal rent only is charged, but it would make no difference at all whether you charge £67 or £6,700, for they both belong to the State. It is a matter of accurate accounting. I undertake before next year that this matter shall be carefully looked into, and if it can be put under a more appropriate heading, or on a more businesslike footing, it certainly shall be done. At the same time I must guard myself by saying that the thing is strictly in accordance with business precedents, and that this is a proper method of accounting for this item. I trust I have now dealt with all the points.
§ Colonel SEELY
The point is this hardship may arise in the particular case, in the case, for instance, of a man being run away with when on a gun and dying as a result. His widow would receive a pension or a gratuity; but hard cases often arise, cases which are on the border line, and are sometimes brought to the notice of the House, where the question is whether a man has been on duty. These cases apply not only to the Army, but the Civil Service. A man may be run over when going to his office; the question arises then, was he on duty? According to the Treasury, he is only on duty when in his office, or, in the case of the Army, when on parade. There the case put by the hon. Baronet would not arise, but inquiries are being made as to when liability does arise with the view to regulating compensation where injuries are received, and with a view to seeing whether what is now regarded as being on duty would under an amended scheme be brought in.
§ Mr. J. WARD
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman or the Financial Secretary a question or two relating to some of the matters in the items that have already been dealt with by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London. The suggestion is made that the pensions for the men are increased, but that pensions for the widows are decreased. 1329 On turning to the Estimates one discovers there is a deduction of something like £25,000 in the sum total to be paid to the men this year in the shape of pensions by Chelsea Hospital. I get many hundreds of applications from all over the country for pensions from Chelsea Hospital. When I refer to page 116, which deals with pensions and other uneffective charges for non-commissioned officers, etc., I find a reduction of nearly £25,000. I have been wondering whether the Department is tightening up the Regulations as regards the granting of these pensions. At any rate such hard cases have been brought under my notice recently that I have begun to collect the names of the men, the regiments to which they belong, the services they rendered, and the replies they receive when they applied for pensions to Chelsea Hospital, and I have already a budget of men who have done ten, twelve, and thirteen years' service, either actually with the Colours or the Reserve, and whose health has been broken by foreign service, and these men are not entitled to a fraction of compensation or pension in any shape or form. When I get the whole list together it will be an eye-opener for those who look upon the Army as affording a reasonable outlook for success in life. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not a fact that service with the Colours only counts, and that no amount of time in the Reserve is calculated for pension in any circumstances? I understand that in order to avoid pensions in the case of poor men, privates and noncommissioned officers, the tendency is to curtail the period of service with the Colours and to extend the period of service in the Reserve with the sole idea of cutting down the expenditure we are now discussing. I am not sure whether that is so, and I am asking the right hon. Gentleman and the Financial Secretary whether that is the policy that has been pursued, and whether it does not account a good deal for the grievances of the men whose cases I am dealing with.
On page 118 I find the hon. Baronet opposite only referred to the case of one or two higher up on the page, but down at the bottom I find that in the last year in the case of three widows the pension is put down at £69. One would scarcely imagine that that pension is sufficient for one, let alone three. Taking the case of non-commissioned officers or men who were either injured or died from war service, I find that in the case of a private soldier 1330 being killed his wife is entitled to 5s. per week pension only, and if he left children 1s. 6d. a week is considered sufficient for their keep. Why if these people were to dispense entirely with this charity, for it is nothing else, and were to apply for out-relief, the guardians would not have the impertinence to offer these poor people 1s. 6d. to keep a child for a week. As a matter of fact the rate of out-relief for any pauper is infinitely superior to this sum for the widow of a soldier who has been actually killed in the service of his country. When one considers how we spend money by the million in things that are of very doubtful value, and how cheeseparing we are when it comes to the point as to whether we should give decent recompense to those left behind as the result of the death of men in the service of their country, it is remarkable indeed that year after year this House should allow these figures to continue without making some effort to improve them. I should be out of order if I were to move an increase in the Vote, and I should not like, of course, to move to reduce it. If it was a question of the right hon. Gentleman's salary, I should go into the Lobby with the hon. Baronet opposite so vexed do I feel at the way the common soldier is treated, not only himself, but his wife and family.
I thank the House for affording me this opportunity of drawing attention to what I consider to be one of the most disgraceful things in connection with Army administration, namely, the small amount of care we give to the dependents of the private soldier who loses his health in foreign service. Here are men who have done six or seven years' service with the Colours, and then after four or five years' service in the Reserve, they are called up to go to war. They were just as good soldiers for effective fighting purposes and they were paid as part of the Army when in the Reserve. Yet when these poor fellows, after so many years in foreign service, and whose Reserve service on the eve of war may just be run out, but who then join and give their services to their country in time of war have the whole of their Reserve service entirely struck out of account. I could give the right hon. Gentleman cases of poor old soldiers asking for a pension who have had twelve or thirteen years' service a portion with the Colours and portion with the Reserve, and whose health is shattered or broken, but who have been refused pensions. If the right hon. Gentleman could see the replies which they have 1331 got, I am sure he would feel ashamed, because he is a very honourable and high-minded gentleman. Just as a while ago he threw himself upon the mercy of the House, I am sure if he went through my little budget he would again beg for mercy. I do hope that before this Vote comes on next year he will see that something is done to remedy this injustice.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The Under-Secretary for War is well aware that we cannot move to increase this Vote, and it is sufficient, as every parliamentarian knows, that when anyone is dissatisfied with the policy of the Government or actuated by legitimate curiosity as to what that policy may be, the only remedy is to move a reduction, to show that they are not satisfied. The hon. Member for Stoke, who has just sat down, hopes we shall hear more on this point when this Vote comes on next year. How often during recent years have non-effective Votes been discussed? We were told earlier in the afternoon that we might or might not raise questions in reference to officers on the salary of the Secretary of State for War. Everybody knows if we had a day for discussing the salary of the Secretary of State for War we should deal with these larger questions of policy which we have been debating for two or three days. This afternoon, and perhaps only this afternoon, have we an opportunity of reviewing the provision made by this country for the officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the Army, their widows and children in the public service and also in the Territorial Force. I confess I have not in recent years, largely because these Votes have not been discussed, been able to follow as closely as I should wish what has been happening in respect of Head C for non-commissioned officers and men. I think it is very important we should go into the matter to which we all know sufficient regard is not given; we all know any sense of grievance in these provisions is one of the most adverse factors in the popularity of the Army.
I believe the Board that sits at Chelsea and of which the Under-Secretary of State is a member—at any rate, it was so in my time—under the chairmanship of the paymaster-general, and with the assistance of many distinguished officers, have been working hard at some of these problems, but I do not think their work is finished. Where you have a regulation as the Under-Secretary has said, you will have hard cases. I think the regulations were drawn 1332 in such a way as to create hardship. They have to be interpreted, no doubt, very strictly, and through the strict interpretation of these regulations you get a number of hard cases every year. Then I think applications should be made to the Treasury to have the regulations altered. Of course, the definition of what is "duty" is one that is very hard to lay down in a fair way, and we used to get and still get, I believe, absurd results. A boy who is a trumpeter injures himself the first day blowing his trumpet and gets a pension for life. That may be all right, but a man who serves in India and injures his health through service in India gets next to nothing at all. You have the case of young boys accepted improperly for the Army and who break down because of their physical imperfections, and after their service they are saddled upon the country for the rest of their lives. The men who have had their health shattered in this way are thrown back as wrecks upon the labour market. I think, when you get hard cases of that character, it is a good thing these Regulations should be reviewed by the House of Commons. It may be that on this point matters have been put straight, but I want to know what advance has been made. One word about Items F and J, which are the rewards for distinguished conduct, long service, and good conduct, and rewards to warrant officers and non-commissioned officers for distinguished or meritorious services. The Under-Secretary for War said that these rewards were cherished, and that it would be unfair to distribute them more broadly. I notice that under Item F the rewards are £7,750, and that is the total sum. I also find that the recipients number 775 men, and that is only £10 each. I think we ought to have a much larger sum than this to reward services of this kind. The right hon. Gentleman should be obliged to us for discussing this Vote, because when a Vote is discussed notice is taken of it by the War Office and the Treasury, and when it comes up again next year probably some effort may be made to improve it. That is why I am speaking upon this question.
The other point I wish to put is in regard to Sub-head K, which refers to pensions to widows whose husbands have been killed or have died on active service. I feel that we may reasonably ask the Government to consider carefully this question, and the allied question of allowances to the widows and children of the men who have been killed whilst on duty. The sum 1333 involved is not immense. I do not wish to institute a comparison with the sums paid in the United States of America for generations after the war, but it is only ten years since the South African war, and there have been small campaigns in Somaliland and elsewhere, and a great many of our men have been killed or have died in war. It certainly does seem a very small sum to pay £23,000 a year for all the Regular soldiers, Militia, Volunteers, and Yeomanry who took part in that war. I am simply calling attention to the fact that these sums are not a very excessive charge, and I think I am justified in repeating that, at a time when recruiting is not good, it is in this direction as well as to the pay at the beginning of a soldiers' career that you have to look if you wish to attract more recruits into the Army. Recollecting these facts, I was glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that he does think some change is necessary in the Regulations governing the amount paid to the widows and children of the men who die in the Service. That is important to the whole Army, but when you come to the Territoiral Force, which is not paid, then it is very important that you should not have these hard cases which resound through the whole countryside. You ask a man to serve and you do not pay him, and he has to go to extra expense in order to take part in military service, and if he is killed when doing what you ask him to do, then, if you want the Territorial Force to succeed, that is precisely the case which you have to treat generously.
Anybody who has served in the Army must have come across cases where dissatisfaction has been expressed in regard to these Regulations, and I agree with what the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward) has said, to the effect that you are not by this treatment encouraging men to stay on to earn a pension. I think it is a great misfortune that men anxious to serve their country should not be allowed to do so. In regard to pensions given to non-commissioned officers and men after twenty-one years' service, I think somewhat of a hardship is inflicted on those men who are allowed to retire after eighteen years' service, with a reduction of 25 per cent. of their pension. That means that a man who has served twenty-one years is, after he has finished eighteen years' service, allowed to take his discharge, but he only receives a pension which has been 1334 reduced by 25 per cent. I think that is a case where a certain amount of hardship arises. I have had several men coming to me who have received reduced pensions, saying they did not understand that the reduction was going to be anything like 25 per cent., and I think the amount of the reduction should be distinctly laid down in the Regulation, and a man should clearly understand that after eighteen years' service he will receive 25 per cent. less in regard to his pension than he would receive if he continued to serve twenty-one years. I think we ought to make that point as plain as we possibly can, because many men have taken their discharge upon a misunderstanding. Therefore I most respectfully ask the right hon. Gentleman, who, I understand, is a member of the Board which administers these things, to consider this hardship in order to see whether that regulation cannot be better worded and made clearer to the soldier. Such hardships are frequently inflicted, and I think it would be well if the right hon. Gentleman would consider that point.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
There are a couple of points I want to put to the hon. Gentleman before he replies. I wish to ask, in the first place, a question about meritorious gratuities and allowances. I quite understand the view of the Government, but I put this case as one which I think is a hard one, and which has come under my own personal observation. If, in the Regulars, a sergeant is promoted to quartermaster, he cannot receive meritorious gratuities provided for in Vote C, because, very rightly, he is making service towards a pension as a commissioned officer. But supposing the same man is a sergeant in the Regulars, and he becomes a quartermaster in the Territorial Force, that man is equally debarred from meritorious medal or gratuities. When he is a quartermaster in the Territorial Force he is serving towards a pension, and therefore he is placed at a double disadvantage, and this is a disadvantage not only to the individual but to the Service as well. Because he happens to be promoted to quartermaster he does not get this gratuity medal, whereas if he had remained in the ranks he would. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the great difficulties arising with reference to recruiting, will see the importance of this point. If a sergeant in the Regulars knows that he will be penalised and will not receive this gratuity if he goes into the Territorial Force you will 1335 not get the class of men in the Territorial Force you want. I should like the Financial Secretary to answer that point when he gets up, and perhaps he may be able to announce that the Army Council will take this matter into consideration. This would certainly remove a sense of injustice, and it would have more effect than hon. Members might think in getting the best class of warrant officer into the Territorial Force, where they are so much wanted, because it must not be forgotten that the warrant officers are the backbone of any force. With regard to pensions, I do not think they are provided for on a lavish scale. We have heard from all sides that our pension scale is inadequate. Not only is it inadequate, but I think it is felt by the rank and file and by the non-commissioned officers that their opportunities for earning a pension are unduly curtailed. Take the case of a boy who at fourteen joins the Post Office, where he remains until he is nineteen. He then enlists in the Regular Army, and serves on till it is time to get a pension. I submit to the right hon. Gentleman that the War Office and the Army Council ought to permit that man to count some portion of his previous service.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Yes, when the case arises, but the hon. Member is dealing with a purely imaginary case.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
Then, lastly, I wish to ask why why there is this inadequate gratuity to men who have been awarded the Victoria Cross. The Victoria Cross is only given in cases of extreme rarity for great valour, and it seems to me you ought to give a gratuity on a very much higher scale. Ninety per cent. of the recipients only receive a gratuity of £10. It is quite arguable whether a man should get a gratuity at all added to an honour given for distiguished service, but if you are going to give one surely £10 a year is ludicrously inadequate when he has risked his life under exceptional circumstances and under conditions which his companions in arms have not thought themselves competent to undertake. Finally, I would ask why there are a few, perhaps half a dozen, of these brave men singled 1336 out to receive a larger gratuity? Ninety per cent. receive £10, one gets £50, and three or four £22 and £22 10s. Why do the Government think £10 sufficient in the case of 90 per cent. and why are there a few of these brave men receiving an exceptional reward?
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
I would like to ask the hon. Gentleman if it is possible for him to give a clearer definition of "on duty." I know there is a great diversion of opinion as to what it means, but it is a matter of very great importance. It will be within the recollection of the hon. Gentleman and of a great many Members of the House there was a sergeant who was injured at some Yeomanry sports. We had a discussion with the Under-Secretary on the point, and he told us last year the matter was being gone into, and that in a short time we should be able to have some definition as to what view the Army Council took in respect of that man. I do not know that we have had any information since. That was a case of a man who was injured at the regimental sports, and it should certainly come under the definition of "on duty." Regimental sports are practically a regimental duty. Every man and very officer is supposed to take part in the sports, and an individual who does not take part in them loses a certain amount of prestige. It is therefore a matter of great importance that it should be considered "on duty." I should also like to allude to the question of pensions. The present scale of pensions given to widows and children of men who have given their lives in the service of their country ought to be a matter of shame to the country. The sums are very small, and it is only right and fitting that the Government should make it their business to revise the pensions and give an undertaking that they are going to do so.
§ Mr. TENNANT
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Blackpool (Mr. Ashley), asked me two or three questions, one of which was with regard to remuneration being given to certain sergeants promoted to quartermasters in the Regular Army and denied to those who are promoted to quartermasters in the Territorial Force. That is a matter to which my attention has 1337 not been called before. It appears to be an anomaly, and I will certainly have it looked into with a view, if possible, to remedying it. Then he asked me about the Victoria Cross. There are few recipients of the Victoria Cross. There is a definite annuity of £10 a year to each private soldier who has received the Victoria Cross for gallantry, but a special annuity is given in special cases where it can be proved there is a reason for it, such as old age or infirmity occasioned by causes beyond the man's own control. The cases to which the hon. Gentleman alluded, where £22 10s. and £50 were granted, were special cases where it was necessary and desirable to give the men a larger pension. There is one case of £40, another of £30 4s., another of £22 12s., and a further case of £50 in the Infantry. Those, no doubt, are special cases where the men require an extra annuity and where they are not able to keep themselves without it. I am sure the House will approve of that. The hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. J. Ward) raised the question of pensions to widows and of allowances to children of soldiers killed in action. I should like the House to realise this is not an old charge upon the public fund. It has been taken over from the Royal Patriotic Fund. I do not say that as justifying the amounts, but rather as a reason why they are of that particular sum. My hon. Friend may be perfectly right—I am inclined to think he is—that they are smaller amounts than ought to be given, on the understanding that they are the only means of subsistence of those persons. If that is so, I agree they are too small, and I will see if anything can be done. I must not be taken as promising, but I will really go into this question—this is the first time my attention has been called to it—and see if anything can be done.
The right hon. Gentleman called the attention of the House to the question of regulations in hard cases. It is quite true, if you make regulations—and you must make regulations for pensions and gratuities—there must be cases on the borderline, and there may be, and there often are, hard cases which we all deplore. The Noble Lord asked me if I could tell him what is "on duty." That is one of our regulations. If a man is injured while "on duty" he receives a gratuity. The Noble Lord referred to regimental sports. I entirely agree that if a man is hurt during regimental sports, which are almost 1338 part of his military duty, he ought, and in point of fact does, receive a gratuity. I want the House to realise that the whole of these cases are being gone into and that regulations are being drawn up. I will give a fair illustration, without laying down any hard and fast law, which will give to the House an indication of what governs such cases. If a man plays football during camp and is hurt, we do not consider that is his military duty, and, sorry as we are, we do not think the public funds ought to be drawn upon in that case. On the other hand, if a man is hurt riding from his own house to parade, he is made a recipient.
§ Mr. TENNANT
That will give an indication that we are not at all disposed to be ungenerous. On the contrary, we want everyone to feel that those in the Army are being treated fairly in such matters. The right hon. Gentleman opposite also illustrated the case of a man who had returned and was ill, owing to long service in India. These cases, as the right hon. Gentleman is aware, are considered by the Royal Commissioners at Chelsea. They have quite eminent advisers, and, if they are satisfied that the illness of the man is in fact due to his service, he receives a pension or compensation or gratuity. I admit it is not very easy to decide if a man has rheumatism, for instance, whether it would be held under the Workmen's Compensation Act to arise out of his employment, but where it is established that a man's illness is traceable and is directly due to his duty he receives a gratuity or compensation. The Noble Lord also asked me if I would try and do something to simplify the code by which pensions are granted. I will certainly bring that to the notice of the Commissioners, and it is to be hoped that the code may be so framed that he who runs may read. Finally, I have to deal with one other point. It seems to me very necessary that we should have barbers at Chelsea for the old pensioners. They are very aged and decrepit, and there is no adequate reason why this accommodation should not be provided for them.
§ Question put, "That '£1,917,000' stand part of the said Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 163; Noes, 90.1341
|Division No. 40.]||AYES.||[7.34 p.m.|
|Adamson, William||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Grady, James|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Hayden, Jonn Patrick||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Helme, Norval Watson||O'Shaughnessy, P. J|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles Peter (Stroud)||Higham, John Sharp||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Pearce, Robert (Staffs,, Leek)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Barton, William||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.|
|Beale, W. P.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Jardine, Sir John (Roxburgh)||Pointer, Joseph|
|Benn, W W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||John, Edward Thomas||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Johnson, W.||Radford, George Heynes|
|Boland, John Plus||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Jowett, Frederick William||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Brace, William||Joyce, Michael||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Keating, Matthew||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Kilbride, Denis||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||King, Joseph||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Lamb, Ernest Henry||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Roch, Walter F.|
|Cameron, Robert||Lansbury, George||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Runciman, Rt. Han. Walter|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Leach, Charles||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Clough, William||Lewis, John Herbert||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Clynes, John R.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Cotton, William Francis||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Col. J. E. B.|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Sheehy, David|
|Crumley, Patrick||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Shortt, Edward|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Macpherson, James Ian||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||M'Callum, John M.||Snowden, Phillip|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Devlin, Joseph||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Sutton, John E.|
|Dillon, John||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Tennant, Harold John|
|Doris, William||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Duffy, William||Martin, Joseph||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness;||Masterman, C. F. G.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Meagher, Michael||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Menzies, Sir Walter||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid.)||Millar, James Duncan||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Molteno, Percy Alport||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Mooney, John J.||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Morgan, George Hay||Wiles, Thomas|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Morrell, Philip||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Gill, Alfred Henry||Neilson, Francis||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worces., N.)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Nicholson, sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Nolan, Joseph||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Norton, Captain Cecil W||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)|
|Goldstone, Frank||Nuttall, Harry||Young, William (Perthshire, E.)|
|Hackett, John||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Hunt, Rowland|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Cassel, Felix||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath)|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Castlereagh, Viscount||Kinloch-Cocke, Sir Clement|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Cautley, Harry Strother||Larmor, Sir J.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Cave, George||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)|
|Baird, J. L.||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Cecil, Lord Robert (Herts, Hitchin)||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)|
|Banbury, sir Frederick George||Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh|
|Barnston, H.||Denniss, E. R. B.||Mackinder, Halford J.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, S. Augustine's)'|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Doughty, Sir George||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Duke, Henry Edward||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Fell, Arthur||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Forster, Henry William||Mount, William Arthur|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Goldman, Charles Sidney||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Bird, Alfred||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid.)||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Howins, William Albert Samuel||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Butcher, John George||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Pollock, E. M.|
|Salter, Arthur Clavell||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Sanders, Robert Arthur||Touche, George Alexander||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Sanderson, Lancelot||Valentia, Viscount||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Scott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Wheler, Granville C. H.||Younger, Sir George|
|Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Swift, Rigby||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Marquess of Tullibardine and Mr. Gibbs.|
|Talbot, Lord Edmund||Wolmer, Viscount|
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution reported, "That a sum, not exceeding £145,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the expense of Civil Superannuation, Compensation, and Additional Allowances, Gratuities, Injury Grants, etc., which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1913."
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Perhaps the Government will find it convenient to state how many Votes they propose to take during the course of the present sitting? They have made very rapid progress, and I think the forecast of business which the Prime Minister threw out has been carried into effect.
§ Colonel SEELY
As far as the Army is concerned this is the last Vote we shall ask the House to take to-night, but it is proposed to go on with the Supplementary Votes.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I presume it is not intended to take the whole Vote for the Insurance Commissioners. I hope the Lord of the Treasury, whom I see on the Front Bench, will be satisfied with some of the minor Votes.
§ Question put, and agreed to.